Sunday, January 29, 2017

Week Three Prompt Response

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!
The Lunatic Café is the fourth book in the series. I used Novelist to find this, I looked up the author and clicked on the ‘series’ tab and selected the Anita Blake series. The books are listed in order.

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.

I would probably ask this person a few more questions about why she liked the book. Prodigal Summer is like a romance, but some of Kingsolver’s other books fall under historical fiction and other themes. The Poisonwood Bible by Kingsolver is a highly rated book on Good Reads and considered a better read  than Prodigal Summer, but it is 546 pages, so that may not solve the pacing problem.
From personal experience, I would recommend some Virginia Woolf titles, such as To The Lighthouse. Woolf’s style has beautiful, lyrical writing, and has a faster pace.  I’d also suggest Anthill by Edward O. Wilson and Daughters In Law by Joanna Trollope, which is somewhat of a family drama but has strong family themes with a rich writing style and see if some other titles that Novelist pulled up would interest this reader and go from there.
I spent a lot of time looking at books for this one since I can’t really ask more follow up questions here. I used a modge podge of Novelist and Good Reads to get my recommendations. I used Novelist to give me some similar authors and stories. I also tried the appeal mixer tool on Novelist which was extremely helpful.  Then I used Good Reads to look up the books to get some good plot information and the general vibe from reviewers to check on the pacing. I would definitely use the appeal mixer tool with this patron to see if there’s anything that sticks out.

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!
The Pillow book of the Flower Samurai by Barbara Lazar would be a recommendation, as a well rated historical fiction romance similar to Memoirs of a Geisha. However, not sure if the patron is looking for any romance, suspense, adventure. I found 71 results on Novelist that look like well rated adult historical fiction novels that take place in Japan.  The majority of the results appear to be romance, but a variety of time periods from ancient Japan, WWII and more are well represented.

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?
The Man with a Load of Mischief by Martha Grimes & Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. These books form their descriptions sound like they’d be more light hearted (so not overly creepy) but still a well-rounded page turning mystery.
I used a combination of Novelist and Good Reads again. Good Reads sometimes has better descriptions of the books than Novelist does.

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 am Legend by Richard Matheson. A movie was made out of this book and it is a bestseller zombie book like The Walking Dead and World War Z. Another lesser known title would be Blackout, by Mira Grant, which is a similar dystopian thriller.
Novelist provided some results that I was satisfied with in this case. Hopefully this patron will feel the same way.

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.
 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is one I can think of off the top of my head. It’s a bestselling book with a movie that came out within the last year. However, it’s more or less fanfiction.
Literary is still pretty broad so I’d love to ask for some subgenres that may be preferred. One of the most recent books that have been made into a movie is Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly (2017 movie release). In March another movie is coming out for The Zoo Keeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman.
Other more recent books that are more “literary” may be The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, and Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. It would help if I knew if this patron had a preference with reading more literary classics that have been adapted into movies or literary books that have been published more recently.
I actually turned to google for this one since it’s easy to come up with a quick list of recent and upcoming book-into-movie adaptions. Buzzfeed has a useful article, as well as some other social news websites. 

7. I love thrillers but I hate foul language and sex scenes. I want something clean and fast paced.
I just read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton and it’s fairly clean. Mild curse words but they are seldom and no sex, unless you count one particular dinosaur on dinosaur mating scene that gets a three sentence mention. This person sounds like a big fan so I’d want to ask more about which ones they’ve already read so that way I don’t give her a list of all the clean best sellers if this person has read a lot of them.  Novelist has a selection of Christian thrillers, which are likely clean so I would ask of any of those sounds of interest. If not, the internet has very reliably recommended Mary Higgins Clark for clean thrillers. She’s very popular so if this patron has read a lot of Clark already then some read-a-likes Novelist recommends. The Good Reads discussion board was the place to go for looking for clean authors, as I was having a hard time with the authors that Novelist recommended. Sex is everywhere in thrillers. I did find Castle Cape by C. L. Withers which has glowing reviews on Good Reads and is from what I understand, very clean but fantastic thriller.   

How I find Books!
I use Good Reads and book lists that I find online for the most part. I also watch a lot of reviews/book talks on youtube from various users. If you look up polandbananasbooks on youtube I watch a lot of her videos because she reads a lot of YA (which is my personal cup of tea). She may be a little too energetic for some viewers though…she’s loud!  I do enjoy Novelist, although I don’t like that at least on my end I get timed out every once in a while and have to start over.  

Thriller: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Image result for jurassic park book

Book Information:
Crichton, M. (1990). Jurassic Park. New York, NY. Alfred A. Knopf. 
ISBN: 0-394-58816-9

Synopsis: Paleontologist Alan Grant and his paleobotanist graduate student Ellie Sattler, along with a consulting team made up of a cynical mathematician and a lawyer are invited by billionare and CEO of International Genetic Technologies or InGen to his private island off the coast of Costa Rica to visit and experience a new “biological preserve”. The team soon discovers the wonders of this mysterious island, but due to catastrophic circumstances and a bad storm they find themselves trying to simply survive the night, let alone avoid a global disaster.

Characteristics of Thriller:

·         Fast Pace
The entire 400 page book covers the span of a short twenty four hours, with a few short chapters in the beginning a couple days prior to set up the scenario. From there, it’s non-stop action and suspense. (I’ve seen the movie so I kinda knew what was going to happen, but it was still a page-turner)

·         Extreme detail and technical language
The scientific detail is impressive. I’m not sure what lengths of research Crichton did to create such believable geneticists, paleontologists, not to mention the mathematical theories (Chaos theory) and computer coding in this book.  That being said, there are pages and pages of details, graphs, and charts strewn throughout the text. Some of the science is surely fictional given that these scientists can clone dinosaurs, but the theory in essence likely came from legitimate scientific research on genetics and cloning. It wasn’t too technical; as a reader who knew practically nothing on any of these topics, I could follow along.

·         National/International ramifications Dinosaurs. Smart, fast, lethal, carnivorous dinosaurs that somehow are breeding when they aren’t supposed to, getting loose and might have even found a way off the island? Yes, I think that would justify an international crisis.

·         Strong, loner-type protagonists
The main characters in this book, Alan Grant (paleontologist), Ian Malcolm (Mathematician) and Timmy (child) fit this description pretty well. Not much is known about Malcolm and his cynical, “I told you so” personality makes him pretty unlikeable to most of the gang except for Grant and Timmy, who are the other intelligent main characters. Grant, with the most expertise on dinosaurs is definitely the loner-type who would rather be out digging for fossils than teaching classes at a university, which he only does the bare minimum for. Timmy is a dino-obsessed kid who would rather read books than play sports. He’s able to keep up with the adults and is smart enough to protect his sister.  It’s almost hard to believe how calm this kid gets when facing a Velociraptor or a T-Rex.

·         Weak secondary characters
These are most of the people that die.  A few of these secondary characters are likeable, and some make it out alive with a few scratches. Others are not so lucky, and quite frankly, most of them are so annoying that they deserve their fate. A common situation for these secondary characters is that there is only one person who knows how to do a particular thing, who ends up going missing, leaving all the other weak secondary characters to stand around being clueless.
One secondary character who is an exception to this rule is Ellie Sattler, who is almost a main character but doesn’t get enough page-time as the three male main characters above. She’s brave, smart, and puts up with a lot of sexist comments from all the male characters in the book (except Grant, who already knows she’s awesome). Unfortunately she spends most of the book taking care of wounded people and doesn’t get to say a lot. When she is given the opportunity to take action (after insisting that she do so despite male protests), she is marvelous.

·         Dark tone
The secrecy, illegal, unethical genetic research and shady business transactions that happen with InGen and other genetic companies the book describes create a very dark tone.

·         Focus on a profession
The main focus is on the Genetics and Science profession, however, this book does highlight several professions, including Paleontology, Mathematics, and Computer Science.

Read A Likes:
Relic by Douglas J. Preston
Fragment by Warren Fahy
The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly
Chimera by Mira Grant

Utopia by Lincoln Child

Saricks, J. G. (2009). The Reader's Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. Chicago, IL. American Library Association. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Reading Profile

Once I started working in libraries I finally had time to read for fun again.  Last year, I set a reading goal for myself to keep myself accountable to read while in the MLS program. My goal was 30 books and I ended up succeeding by reading 33. I've upped my goal to 40 books this year so I'm excited to keep going. I'm a hardcore YA reader, and I also used to read a lot of children's fantasy, such as Artemis Fowl, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Inkheart. In particular I enjoy YA fantasy, romance, distopian/utopian/paranormal setting stories. I have started to branch out into other genres, such as adult historical fiction, mystery, sci-fi, and fantasy. My favorite historical fiction so far (I haven't read much) is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I'm currently reading The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon in that series.

Making a list of favorites is one of the most difficult things me, but here is a glimpse at my top 5 favorite series (always subject to change):

1). Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
2). The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
3). Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (I've read the first four books so far)
4).  The Mortal Instruments series by Clarissa Clare
5). Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke

Favorite authors - might give some of a you a better idea of what I read:

J.K. Rowling
Jane Austen
Sarah Dessen
Cornelia Funke
Jim Butcher
James Patterson
Orson Scott Card
Eoin Colfer

Just off the top of my head.