Saturday, January 28, 2017

Week 3 Prompt

Reader's Advisory Prompt Questions

1. I am looking for a book by Laurell K. Hamilton. I just read the third book in the Anita Blake series and I can’t figure out which one comes next!

I searched the keywords Anita Blake in NoveList. The first two results were Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. The first result was a novel series; the second result was a graphic novel series. Looking at the details for both, I concluded that the patron was most likely looking for the next novel, rather than graphic novel, because the graphic novel series did not go up to four volumes. The next novel is the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton is The Lunatic Cafe based upon publication date.

2. What have I read recently? Well, I just finished this great book by Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer. I really liked the way it was written, you know, the way she used language. I wouldn't mind something a bit faster paced though.

For this question, I looked up Prodigal Summer in NoveList to find its writing style. It was described as descriptive, lush, and lyrical. I searched by those appeals and added in a fast-paced. One recommendation would be Yellow 
Emperor's Cure by Kunal Basu. It contains the same writing style elements as well as a fast pace. Its genre does fall under the historical fiction category, though. Another option would be The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Galbadon. This book combines the writing styles descriptive and lyrical with a fast pace. It is also character-driven in the storyline like Prodigal Summer. This book falls under the categories of historical fiction and mystery.

3. I like reading books set in different countries. I just read one set in China, could you help me find one set in Japan? No, not modern – historical. I like it when the author describes it so much it feels like I was there!

I searched the key words "ancient Japan" with the writing style selected as richly detailed. Some of the first titles that came up were part of a mystery series. Since the patron wanted to focus on historical fiction and did not mention series at all, I found the best result with the search to be The Teahouse Fire by Avery Ellis. It's writing style is richly detailed and is about turn of the century Japan. This book should be packed with the details that the patron asked for as well as a focus on the historical side of Japan.

4. I read this great mystery by Elizabeth George called Well-Schooled in Murder and I loved it. Then my dentist said that if I liked mysteries I would probably like John Sandford, but boy was he creepy I couldn't finish it! Do you have any suggestions?

After searching NoveList for Well-Schooled in Murder, I found that this book is actually the third book in the Thomas Lynley Mysteries series by Elizabeth George. My first suggestion for this patron would be to read the first book in the series, A Great Deliverance. If the patron were to show resistance to continuing with this author/series, I would recommend the Ruth Rendell's Chief Inspector Wexword mysteries series. The first in this series would be From Doon with Death. This series/author has the same writing style as Elizabeth George and focuses on murder mysteries where the characters play a main role. I found Ruth Rendell by doing an author read-a-like search.

5. My husband has really gotten into zombies lately. He’s already read The Walking Dead and World War Z, is there anything else you can recommend?

I started with looking at The Walking Dead. The top read-a-like for this book is The First Days by Rhiannon Frater. It is the first book in the author's series titled As the World Dies. It share the same genre, pace, and tone as The Walking Dead while also containing zombies. I then decided to look at World War Z as well, because (from watching the movies and television show, which I know isn't exactly accurate to the book) I think that these two books have a different feel to them. I wanted to provide a couple of options that might work. The top read-a-like for World War Z is I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. While this book doesn't exactly contain zombies, it does contain people who are altered by a virus that exhibit zombie-esque behaviors. It also shares the same genre, pace, tone, and writing style as World War Z.

6. I love books that get turned into movies, especially literary ones. Can you recommend some? Nothing too old, maybe just those from the last 5 years or so.

This question is a bit tricky. Literary fiction can have a wide range of writing topics and styles. If the patron is interested in something on the classic literature side, The Great Gatsby may be one that he or she is interested in checking out. Life of Pi by Yann Martel was also made into a movie five years ago. If you want something more face paced and thrilling, Room by Emma Donoghue was made into a movie about two years ago. Some of my personal favorites (though the movies are slightly over five years old) are The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Both The Help and Water for Elephants would also fall into historical fiction. Water for Elephants and The Time Traveler's Wife have themes of love. It really depends upon what subject matter you are looking for. (Some of these books were found through using the genre filters Books to Movies and Literary Fiction. Some were found through a literary fiction list on GoodReads.)

7. I love thrillers but I hate foul language and sex scenes. I want something clean and fast paced.

For this one, I had a hard time finding a setting on NoveList. I tried finding lists on GoodReads, but that didn't result in much. So, I resorted to Google. I searched the term "clean thrillers" and it took me to a discussion on GoodReads. I looked at the recommendations there and then compared them to the book results in NoveList. I found Mary Higgins Clark to generally be considered a clean author and her profile on NoveList put her in the thriller/suspense genre. Her newest book is The Sleeping Beauty Killer, but she has oodles of books. 

Personal Tools
When it comes to looking at books for my personal reading, I tend to use GoodReads. GoodReads has a recommendation tool, but I tend to find that it doesn't always provide recommendations that I am interested in reading. Instead, I will look at a book that I have read already that I want a read-a-like of on the GoodReads site. Once you are on that books profile page, they have sections to the side and under the synopsis that are titled "Readers Also Enjoyed" and "Lists with This Book". They may also have section where other books in that series are listed and/or other books written by that author. I find that these are more helpful than the recommendation tool, because they come from other readers. GoodReads also does a yearls award for many different categories. If I am stuck on what to choose, I will look at their awards for the most current year. Before I choose a book, I skim a lot of the reviews. I do this both on GoodReads and on Amazon. Once in a while, I might check out the New York Times Bestsellers lists for inspiration or the website I really like the format of Your Next Read. It provides the recommendations in a web like format. You can then click on the different books to learn more information and get further recommendations based off of that book. It creates another web for each book you choose. They also have lists if you don't have a particular book in mind.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thriller Annotation: Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry

Details -
  • Title: Under the Harrow
  • Author: Flynn Berry
  • Publication Date: June 14, 2016
  • Genre: Thriller
  • # of Pages: 219 (Kindle edition)
  • Setting: present-day England (London, Oxford, and Marlowe)

Synopsis -
Nora is on her way to meet her sister at her home in the English countryside for one of their regularly-scheduled dinners. She imagines her sister as she cooks dinner in the kitchen or snuggled up with a bottle of wine waiting for Nora to arrive from London. The scene that she walks in on is much more shocking and sinister than she had expected. Nora finds her sister's bloody body riddled with stab wounds on the second floor of her home. We follow Nora as she recounts her most influential memories of Rachel, attempts to come to terms with this tragic event, and tries to find her killer. We watch as Nora obsesses over this event and her attempts to solve it. Will Nora be able to convince the police to keep the case open? Will Nora's investigations put herself in danger? Will she ever find the person who attacked Rachel as a teenager and is it the same person who killed her? Read Under the Harrow to find out.

Thriller Characteristics -
  • Contains a thriller-esque pace in the sense that it moves quickly from one event to the other.
  • The main character, Nora, is independent. At the same time, we are able to sympathize with Nora's vulnerability at losing her sister. Amidst this loss, she still prefers to go it alone.
  • Combines elements of mystery. We work with our main character to find who murdered Rachel and who attacked Rachel as a teenager among other smaller mysteries.
  • The tone is dark at times. There is mention of a neglectful childhood, partying, drugs, arguments, her sister's attack, and graphic details of the murder.
  • The character exhibits obsessive and paranoid qualities. 

Read-a-Likes -

Awards or Lists -



My Thoughts -
This book disappointed me. With all of the hype, raving reviews, and comparisons to Gone Girl, I expected much more from this book. It was a quick read, yes. Yes, there were secrets that I longed to know. The plot, however, did not match the thriller label in my opinion. There weren't the twists and turns and surprises that I expect from a thriller book. The conclusion came very quickly and was a bit of a let down. The writing could be tricky to follow at times. There would be mention of an event that happened earlier in the book that I could not remember reading. There were times where I started to doubt the narrator's sanity, but I think that I was just looking for breadcrumbs at that point. Yes, I read it quickly. The short chapters made it easy to read. It just wasn't a real attention-grabber like I had expected it to be. After reading this book, I am amazed at all of the reviews that have placed it as a gripping thriller. My personal opinion: don't bother with Under the Harrow. Check out the read-a-likes instead.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Reading Profile

Obviously, I enjoy reading. I like a good range of genres: mystery, thriller/suspense, historical fiction, fantasy, literary fiction. I never pick up a romance novel. The titles and covers usually make me cringe. I also don't tend to pick up realistic fiction. Part of the reason I like to read is to escape into another world. One of my favorite settings is turn of the century England. I like a book with a fair amount of secrets. I also really enjoy series.

What really pulls me into a book, though, are the characters. The plot may be why I pick up a book, but I stick around for well-developed characters. I want to see characters that have layers and real personalities. I want to connect and empathize and grow with the characters. That is what makes a book for me.

I am/was currently reading A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin. It is the second book in his series A Song of Fire and Ice. I really enjoy the different view points. For someone who has so many characters (SO MANY CHARACTERS), he does a very good job of developing all of their different personalities.

I am putting it on hold right now to read books for our genre reviews. This time a few years ago, I would have had it finished. Right now, I am working full time, take graduate classes full time, have a 1 1/2 year old son running around, and am expecting a second son in May. My biggest wish right now is that I had more time to read (and also sleep.)

Some of my favorite books/authors (these are the ones that I keep up with and typically re-read):
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series
Alan Bradley's Flavia deLuce series
Kate Morton's books (especially The Secret Keeper)
Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games series
Cassandra Clare's multiple different shadowhunter series
Charles Finch's Charles Lennox Mystery series
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series

As you can see, I am kind of all over the place.