Author Archive

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog

August 15, 2012

Author: Grogan, John

Title: Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog

 Genre: Non-fiction

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 291 p.

Geographical Setting: Florida, United States.

Time Period: Contemporary

Series:

Plot Summary: This story follows Marley, an adorable hyperactive Labrador retriever, and his owners as they embark on a journey of growth as a family. Since the first days at his new home, Marley proved to be a charming trouble-maker mastering the art of adventurous mischief. Grogan, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and his wife decided owning a puppy early in their marriage. Little did they know that Marley would make such an impact in their lives. In this heartwarming and humorous memoir Grogan includes unforgettable anecdotes full of hilarious naughty behavior, such as the time when Marley was kicked out of obedience school, or when he shut down an entire beach, and the time when he swallowed an 18-karat solid gold necklace. Not much was out of Marley’s reach, even protecting a teenager neighbor after a stabbing attack. But more than an adorable bad dog, Marley became inspiration, comfort and support for this family through good and difficult times.

Subject Headings: Labrador retriever – Florida; Dogs as pets; Men and dogs; Dogs; Human/animal relations.

Appeal: Emotionally-charged, heartwarming, humorous, engaging, homespun, lighthearted, upbeat, friendly, family-centered, moving, details of pet-owner relations, dog-centered.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  heartwarming, humorous, engaging.

 ***

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson. Adam March is an ambitious businessman who suddenly looses everything, including his job and family. He is sentenced to community service at a homeless shelter where he meets Chance, an abused pit bull mix, who teaches him about survival.  Just Like Marley and me, this inspirational read strongly emphasizes the power of dog companionship and bonding through life changing events.

Stay by Allie Larkin. After seeing the love of her life getting married, followed by a Rin Tin Tin marathon, drunk and heartbroken Van Leone makes an impulse online puppy purchase. To her surprise, she receives a peculiar one-hundred-pound German Shepherd that responds to Slovakian commands only and introduces her to a handsome veterinarian. This funny chick lit story shares Grogan’s upbeat, dog-centered, and feel-good elements.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. In this inspirational and moving novel, a philosophical lab terrier mix named Enzo narrates his life story as companion for a family from which he has learned what he needs in order to return as a human on his next life. This novel also features strong human-pet relationships with humorous and heartwarming tones.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horrowitz.  Based on cognitive science, this book provides some insight about how dogs perceive the world around them and their relationships.  This a good read for those who would like to get better understanding about their Marley-like energetic and neurotic dogs.

Cherished: 21 Writers on Animals They Have Loved and Lost by Barbara Abercrombie. This is a moving collection of tales celebrating beloved animal-human experiences. Columnist Grogan certainly knows how painful the loss of a pet can be; readers will find comfort on these joyful and tender stories authored by different writers.

Imagine Life with a Well-Behaved Dog: A 3-Step Positive Dog-Training Program by Julie A. Bjelland. With 15 years of experience, Bjelland offers practical and helpful information and advice emphasizing a simple and effective approach for positive dog training. For those who want to avoid the embarrassment of being kicked out of domineering obedience schools.

Fanny Camargo

For One More Day

August 13, 2012

Author: Albom, Mitch

Title: For One More Day

 Genre: Inspirational

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 197 p.

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: Contemporary

Series:

Plot Summary: This is an inspirational story about Charley “Chick” Benetto, a broken man on the verge of suicide. Chick was a child of divorce forced to choose between his mother and his father. Soon after choosing his father, Chick gets abandoned and bitterly returns to his mother. After her death, a grief-stricken Chick forms a family of his own, but later loses his job, becomes regretful, depressed, alcoholic and eventually lonely and isolated. His daughter’s rejection triggers a suicide attempt that unexpectedly takes him to an ordinary day at his childhood home where he gets a second chance to spend time with his lost mother. During that day Chick learns family secrets, seeks forgiveness, discovers her mother’s self-sacrifices, and regains awareness of the destructive path in his life. Inspired by his mother’s loving guidance he decides to make a change a try to put his life back together.

Subject Headings: Personal Transformations; Loneliness in men; Alcoholics; Nervous breakdown; Mother and adult son; Ghosts; Single mothers; Divorced women; Mothers – Death; Men — Suicidal behavior; Depression in men; Grief in men; Ambition in men; Coping in men.

Appeal: Emotionally-charged, gentle, family-centered, homespun style, haunting, hopeful, psychological, moving, nostalgic, dramatic, inspiring, domestic.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  Family-centered, nostalgic, moving.

***

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes. In this story, wealthy middle-aged divorcé Richard Novak has mastered isolation by choice. Two incidents force him to reconnect with his family and establish new relationships. Just like For One More Day, this story is psychological and centers on relationships and personal transformation.

Life’s Golden Ticket by Brendon Burchard. The narrator of this story finds himself in a peculiar abandoned amusement park per her dying fiancé’s request. Guided by a wise groundskeeper, the narrator embarks in a profound psychological journey to self-discovery. This is also an inspirational novel emphasizing past memories, self awareness, and overcoming difficult circumstances.

Blame by Michelle Huneven. Patsy MacLemoore is a young, smart and wild history professor that wakes up once again in jail, this time after running over and killing a mother and daughter in her driveway. She spends several years in jail sobering up, trying to atone for her misdeed until new information turns up to change and bring a different light on her life. Besides its psychological nature, this novel shares Albom’s subjects of alcoholism, guilt and regret, and rebuilding a life.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

           The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. In this auto-biographical account computer science professor Pausch thoughtfully reflects about his experience as a terminally ill cancer patient. This is an inspiring choice for readers looking for real life stories of lessons learned, spirituality, family and relationship in adversity, and the pursue of dreams.

           Unfinished Business: What the Dead Can Teach Us about Life by James Van Praagh. Written by medium James Van Praagh, this book provides thought-provoking information, theories and stories about ghosts and spirits and their experience and relationships with their living loved ones. Chick’s encounter with his lost mother is sometimes described as other-worldly, this may interest those curious about hopeful ghostly messages about healing.

           Living Through the Meantime: Learning to Break the Patterns of the Past and Begin the Healing Process by Iyanla Vanzant. The author describes a “meantime” concept generally fueled by past experiences that tends in cases cause confusion, anger, disappointment, frustration, anxiety, apprehensiveness, etc. For those considering self-help options to heal and get their life back together.

Fanny Camargo

The Homeland Directive

August 8, 2012

Author: Venditti, Robert & Huddleston, Mike

Title: The Homeland Directive

Genre: Graphic Novel / Action Thriller

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 148 p.

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: Orwellian present

Series:

Plot Summary: This political/medical thriller takes place in a dystopian present setting where Dr. Laura Regan, head of the National Center for Infectious Disease, is a dedicated researcher and authority in the viral and bacteriological field. Her research partner is suddenly murdered and she is framed for his death. Soon she is drawn in the middle of a dangerous bio-terrorist conspiracy and has no option than evade law enforcement in order to uncover the truth. With the help of three rogue federal agents Dr. Regan manages to escape mercenaries and invasive cyber-detectives before the threatening scheme takes a dangerous turn against the lives of all Americans. In The Homeland Directive readers will find a page-turner government frame-up story with visually sophisticated artwork.

 

Subject Headings: Women researchers; Virologists; Murder investigation, Intelligence officers; Political crimes and offenses; Conspiracies; National security United States; Fugitives; Communicable diseases; Frame-ups; Civil rights.

Appeal: Cinematic, fast-pace, paranoid, intriguing, thought-provoking, thrilling, dangerous, suspenseful, action-oriented, plot-centered, political, unique artwork.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  Cinematic, fast-pace, intriguing.

Similar Fiction Authors and Works

Edmondson, Nathan. Who Is Jake Ellis; The story follows Jon Moore, a mercenary spy runaway, and his psychic invisible protector Jake Ellis. This is another fast-pace, action-packed and cinematic graphic thriller featuring a fugitive, secret agents, and suspense.

Willis, Connie. Doomsday Book; Kivrin is a time-traveling history student stranded in the Middle-Ages with the Black Death around the corner. To complicate the situation, a virulent influenza epidemic has also erupted at the Oxford research facility of her original time period.  This interesting science fiction plot deals with biological threads to civilizations and appeals to readers interested fictional apocalyptic stories associated with infectious, viral and bacteriological diseases.

Edmondson, Nathan. Activity. A military fictional thriller that follows a highly-trained and secret unit that gathers global conflict related intelligence to defend American interests. Just like The Homeland Directive, this graphic novel centers on advanced and secret missions and operations connected to potentially real larger threads to society.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Guillemin, Jeanne. Biological Weapons: From the Invention of State-Sponsored Programs to Contemporary Bioterrorism. A historical account focused on the issue of war and biological weapons from a military and political angle. This book includes information about biological agents and disease transmission, as well as the threat of bio-terrorism proliferation and national security.

Ventura, Jesse. American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies, and More Dirty Lies that the Government Tells Us. An account of controversial government conspiracies and cover-ups.For those who enjoyed the intriguing political aspects of The Homeland Directive, Ventura’s investigative work provides insight to real acts of deception in America.

Solove, Daniel J.. Understanding Privacy. A comprehensive overview of the concept of privacy, its complexity, and the boundless debates it generates in today’s evolving technological society.  The Homeland Directive tackles the question of personal privacy vs. national security; this thorough look at this relevant subject may interest those who would like to explore the topic further.

Fanny Camargo

Gonzalez and Daughter Trucking Co.

August 1, 2012

Author: Escandón, María Amparo

Title: Gonzalez and Daughter Trucking Co.: A Road Novel with Literary License

 Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 304 p.

Geographical Setting: Mexico and United States.

Time Period: Contemporary

Series:

Plot Summary: At the Mexicali Penal Institute for Women in Mexico, a more or less laidback jail, female prisoner Libertad creates a library club. She is unwilling to reveal her crime. Instead, she starts reading for her fellow inmates the story of Joaquin, a former literature professor and fugitive of the Mexican government, who escapes to the United States, becomes a truck driver, and falls in love. Joaquin unexpectedly finds himself alone with his young daughter and has no other option that to make their 18-wheeler their home. As the daughter grows their strong relationship get affected by Joaquin paranoid and controlling attitude. The tension intensifies after the girl’s random encounter with a man which eventually causes the conflict that separates them.  During her time at prison, Libertad bonds with a group of peculiar inmates. They build friendships and camaraderie while discussing the readings. The prisoners become very intrigued by the story and after discussing the twists and turns of the tale they soon realize that the story is Libertad’s own. The story ends with a surprising, compelling and joyful twist.

Subject Headings: Women prisoners; Fathers and daughters; Fugitives; Trucking; Prisons for women; Book discussion groups; Mexico.

Appeal: Emotionally-charged, heartwarming, hopeful, humorous, optimistic, engaging, eccentric and sympathetic characters, family-centered, plot-centered, details of trucking live style, details of women prisoners, conversational, jargon language, psychological, domestic.

 

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  Emotionally-charged, engaging, domestic.

 

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

Across a Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande. This story is about love, loss, migration and discovery. Two women meet in desperate circumstances and develop a strong connection at a jail in Tijuana. This book also deals with Latina prisoners, their emotional domestic situations, and friendship.

Last Exit in New Jersey by C. E. Grundler. This suspenseful story features a strong young woman determined to uncover the mystery of her cousin’s and their tractor trailer disappearance. Along with her trucker father, Hazel becomes target of death threats and decides to take matters into her own hands. Just like Escandón’s novel, this story presents a courageous female protagonist and her father-daughter relationships within a trucking frame full of humorous tones.

Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig. A young revolutionary socialist and a middle-age homosexual build a strong relationship while sharing a cell in an Argentine prison. This book not only takes place in jail, but also shares elements of compelling and psychological dialogue, as well as story-telling as part of the plot.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman. This autobiographical work recounts the author’s experience in a correctional facility after being convicted for drug trafficking. An interesting reading with real insight about the criminal justice system and the lives of women in prison.

CB Slanguage Language Dictionary – The Official by Lanie Dills. A New York Times Best Seller about Citizens Band (CB) radio lingo, the standard reference for CB radio jargon. A lot of readers enjoy the trucking slang references in the book. It may come handy for (CB) radio enthusiasts or when encountering a big rigger on the expressway.

The Book Club Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to the Reading Group Experience by Diana Loevy. According to the publishers, this is a resource full of ideas to entertain reading group members and enrich their book club experience. Libertad Gonzalez, the protagonist, starts a library club in prison engaging her fellow inmates through her story telling. This could be a helpful guide for those who become inspire to start their own reading group.

Fanny Camargo

The Women

July 16, 2012

Author: Boyle, T. Coraghessan

Title: The Women: A Novel

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 464 p.

Geographical Setting: Mostly Chicago and Wisconsin.

Time Period: 1880s-1930s

Series:

Plot Summary: A Japanese apprentice narrates this fictional biography of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. However, the perspective that depicts this eccentric and flamboyant Wright comes from four women who loved him. Chronologically in reverse, the story starts with the young Montenegrin dancer Olgivanna and life at Taliesin, the center stage of scandals, turmoil and tragedy. The struggles of his relations are further portrayed by the recounts of previous relationships that also bore plenty of commotion. Miriam, his distressed and morphine-addicted southern artist wife, is resilient to break the new couple apart.  Mamah was sadly one of victims of the massacre at Taliesin. His first wife Kitty, the mother of six of his children, was abandoned after 20 years of marriage when Wright falls for Mamah, who was the wife of one of his clients.  The ups and downs of each of these relationships, the media reaction — not different than today’s celebrity fixation, and Wright’s complex personality are captured by Boyle’s rich descriptive prose to deliver a character-driven story full of historical and vivid details.

Subject Headings: Wright, Frank Lloyd, 1867-1959 — Relations with women; Architects; Husband and wife; Men/women relations; Twentieth century; Extramarital relations; Scandals; Women’s role — United States — History — 20th century.

Appeal: Detailed characterizations, multiple points of view, tragic, detailed setting, historical details, dramatic, moody, descriptive, atmospheric, nostalgic, lush, passionate, domestic.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  Detailed characterizations, multiple points of view,  domestic.

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

Horan, Nancy, Loving Frank: A Novel; A fictional account from Mamah Cheney about her love affair and relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright and Chicago society’s reaction.

McLain, Paula. The Paris Wife: A Novel; A story portraying the relationship of a celebrated American writer and his first, out of four wives. Ernest and Hadley Hemingway and their marriage in 1920s Paris.

Ebershoff, David. The 19th Wife: A Novel; For historic murder mystery fans looking for an intriguing fictional tale set in the late 1800’s polygamist Utah community.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Drennan, William R., Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders; Investigative account of the atrocious 1914 massacre and destruction of Taliesin.

Hess, Alan, and Weintraub, Alan. Frank Lloyd Wright: The Houses; Displays Wright’s residential architecture. Stunning photographs, floor plans, and archive images, texts and essays.

Wright, Frank Lloyd. Frank Lloyd Wright: An Autobiography; First published in 1932; Wright’s own version about his work, philosophy, and personal life.

Fanny Camargo