Author Archive

The Alcoholic

April 18, 2012

Author: Jonathan Ames (writer) & Dean Haspiel (illustrator)

Title: The Alcoholic

Genre: graphic novel

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 136

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: Present day

Plot Summary: Jonathan A. became an alcoholic after his very first drink.  At fifteen he was at a party with his best friend Sal when the two got drunk for the first time.  It made him feel confident and cool for the first time in his life.  From then on he would spend every weekend drinking and vomiting.  He learned to use the weekdays to recover and prepare for another binge.

The Alcoholic is the self-narrated story of two and a half decades of Jonathan A.’s life of alcoholism and sobriety.  The story centers on Jonathan’s character and the interpersonal relationships that are all encompassing in his life.  Jonathan puts all of himself into a small number of these relationships, all of which end sooner than he expects. The pain of separation drives him back to alcohol and drugs over and over again.  Jonathan repeats the process of self hatred and self repair that he began as a teenager throughout the rest of his life.  Although Jonathan grows to understand this process, it is not clear if he will ever overcome it. The book is illustrated in a realistic black and white style, which adds to the gritty and melancholy tone of the book.

Subject Headings: alcoholics – fiction, New York – fiction, graphic novels, September 11, 2001 – fiction, fictional memoirs

Appeal: addiction, character centered, urban setting, novelists, alcoholism, realistic art, 9/11, rehabilitation, failed relationships, therapy, family deaths, gritty, bleak, dark, melancholy, explicit, candid, disturbing

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: melancholy, character centered, addiction

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Dry by Augusten Burroughs

Alcohol addiction, recovery, and relapse are at the center of this memoir.  This book shares an urban New York setting with The Alcoholic.

American Widow by Alissa Torres (author) and Sungyoon Choi (Illustrator)

This autobiographical graphic novel chronicles Alissa Torres’s struggles with the loss of her husband, Eddie.  Eddie was killed on 9/11, the second day at his new job.  This graphic novel shares the time and place setting of New York during the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Z. Scoblic

In this candid memoir, Scoblic documents her life of addiction and recovery. Her addiction began in high school and followed her through college and her early adult life.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Filthy Rich by Brian Azzerello (writer) and Victor Santos (illustrator)

This bleak and gritty graphic novel is set in New York City.  Richard Junkin was a failed pro-football player and now a failed car salesman.  Things only go downhill from there after Junkin takes a new job as a bodyguard.  The black and white realistic illustrations add to the gritty tone of this noir-style graphic novel.

Richard Stark’s Parker: the Hunter by Darwyn Cooke (writer, illustrator) and Richard Stark (author)

This graphic novel is a gritty and bleak adaptation of Richard Stark’s crime novel Hunter.  The story is set in New York City in the 1960s.  The dual toned artwork sets a dreary and melancholy mood.

Blame by Michelle Huneven

This novel tells the story of Patsy MacLemoore’s guilt over the tragic results of her alcohol addiction.  This addiction story centers on themes of guilt and redemption.

Name: Noel M.


Finding H.F.

April 11, 2012

Author: Julia Watts

Title: Finding H.F.

Genre: GLBTQ, YA

Publication Date: 2001

Number of pages: 165

Geographical Setting: Kentucky, Georgia, Florida

Time Period: Present day

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: H.F. is a sixteen your old girl who is living in Morgan, Kentucky and being raised by her grandma.  H.F.’s mother left her shortly after she was born and was never to be heard from again.  H.F. stands for ‘Heavenly Faith’, representing her Memaw’s hopes for her when she was born.  H.F. loves her devoutly Baptist Grandmother, but would not dare let Memaw know she is a lesbian.  After falling for Wendy, the new girl in school, H.F. is sure that an eternity of Memaw’s hell would be worth it to be with Wendy.  Wendy reciprocates H.F.’s feelings for her, but is not ready to accept who she is.  After one night together at Wendy’s house, Wendy tells H.F. to leave and forces her walk across town back to Memaw’s.

H.F. discovers a letter hidden in her Grandmother’s room one night that prompts her to take a road trip to Florida.  She drags along her best (and only) friend Bo.  Bo is an outcast at school and at home for being too effeminate and not living up to his dad’s expectations.  He may also be gay like H.F., but she can’t be sure.  Bo happens to also own an old beat-up Ford Escort.  Together they leave Kentucky for the first time in Bo’s old Ford.  On their way to Florida they make several stops in the towns and cities along the way.  The two friends discover how different and big the world is outside of small town Morgan, Kentucky.

Subject Headings: lesbian fiction, southern fiction, homelessness – youths, homophobia

Appeal: descriptive writing, the south, character centered, religion in the GLBTQ community, class distinctions, optimistic outlook, coming of age, romantic, road trips, lesbian relationships, alcoholism, bullying, self-discovery, adopted children, encouraging

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: coming of age, lesbian relationships, self-discovery

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Living at the Edge of the World: How I Survived in the Tunnels of Grand Central Station by Tina S. and Jamie Pastor Bolnick

This book is an autobiographical story of a teenage girl who is trying to survive homeless in the city.  This is similar to the story of the three homeless teenagers H.F. and Bo meet in Atlanta.

Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and its Consequences by Sarah Schulman

This nonfiction work outlines the cultural problem of the domestic abuse of gay and lesbian youth.  Homophobia in family members is a constant theme in Finding H.F..

Lifeguarding: A Memoir of Secrets, Swimming, and the South by Catherine McCall

This memoir is about the harsh family life of a lesbian girl growing up in Kentucky.  This story also deals with  alcoholism.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

This book is an award winning classic GLBQ YA novel.  Liza and Annie struggle with the consequences of homophobia in their schools and at home in New York.  This story also deals with class distinctions, as does Finding H.F.

Finding Somewhere by Joseph Monninger

This Ya novel is about two sixteen year old girls who go on a road trip west to save a horse who was scheduled to be euthanized.

Gravity by Leanne Lieberman

This coming of age story is about a teenage girl who struggles with being caught between her family’s Jewish religion and her own sexual orientation.

Name: Noel M.

Lost & Found

April 5, 2012

Author:  Jacqueline Sheehan

Title:  Lost & Found

Genre:  Women’s Lives

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages: 278

Geographical Setting:  Maine

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: Rocky Pelligrino

Plot Summary:   Rocky (Roxanne) came home one day to find her husband Bob unconscious on the bathroom floor.  Her instincts, left over from her lifeguarding days, kicked in, but it was not enough to save him.   His death came suddenly from a heart condition that put him at risk for cardiac arrest.  Rocky decided to take a yearlong leave of absence from her job as a psychologist.  She felt she could no longer counsel her patients while she was grieving herself.  She decides to move east to Maine, somewhere where no one would know of nor ask about her recent loss.  She falls right into place in Maine making new friends, finding a place to rent, and starting a new job as the Animal Control Warden.  While on the job, Rocky volunteers to provide a foster home for a wounded black lab she names Lloyd.  With the help of her new canine friend Rocky begins to overcome her grief.  At times the perspective switches to Lloyds and the reader sees how the lab is actively trying to help Rocky through her grief.  Eventually news of Lloyd’s previous owner surfaces and Rocky is faced with the possibility of losing the relationship that has been holding her together.

Subject Headings:  Animal welfare – fiction, heart attacks – fiction, Maine – Fiction, psychologists – fiction

Appeal:  heartwarming, remarkable pets, heart disease, widows, loss, grieving, new careers, friendships, relaxed pace, cancer, archery, animal cruelty, emotional disorders, eating disorders

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: heartwarming, overcoming grief, remarkable pets

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Dog Years (2007) by Mark DotyDoty relies on the unconditional love and joy of his two retrievers, Beau and Arden, to comfort himself and his terminally ill partner Wally.  Dog Years is a story of remarkable pets and of dealing with death and grief.

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World (2008) by Vivki MyronThis heartwarming book is about a librarian who unexpectedly adopts a cat.  The remarkable pet becomes a library mascot and fosters lasting friendships.

Dogs and the Women Who Love Them: Extraordinary True Stories of Loyalty, Healing, and Inspiration by Allen AndersonThis book is collection of stories about women who were healed or nurtured by their extraordinary dogs.


3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

 Abide With Me (2006) by Elizabeth StroutWidower Tyler Caskey is grieving from the loss of his wife Lauren in a small town in 1950s Maine

The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst  – Paul Iverson investigates the mysterious death of his wife with the help of his dog Lorelei.  Paul believes he can get Loerelei to communicate with him the true nature of his wife’s death.

Home Safe (2009) by Elizabeth Berg – Helen Ames has recently lost her husband Dan.  In her grief she is no longer able to maintain her career as a writer.  This Women’s lives genre novel deals with grieving and overcoming loss.

Noel M.

The Hidden Reality

March 28, 2012

Author: Brian Greene

Title: The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos

Genre: Non-Fiction, Popular Science, Science Writing

Publication Date: January, 2011

Number of Pages: 384

Geographical Setting: The Cosmos

Time Period: Present

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Physicist and popular science writer Brian Greene successfully takes ideas and theories on the cutting-edge of modern-day physics and makes them accessible to a wide audience in The Hidden Reality.  The purpose of the writing is to introduce the scientific theories in physics that allow for parallel universes and to explain how scientists came to them.  Greene demonstrates how, rather than seeking out any possible scientific excuse to talk about alternate realities, scientists came to these various theories reluctantly. According to Greene, while trying to make mathematical sense of strange phenomena uncovered in quantum physics and cosmology, scientific theories that allowed for parallel universes began to emerge.

To accomplish the goal of the book, Greene reviews, in accessible language, the chains of scientific discoveries in math and physics from the 19th century to the present day.  The ever growing complexities of the scientific findings he outlines are sure to challenge most readers.  Greene takes great care, however, to shield the reader with poignant analogies and simple language.  For the more mathematically adept, he includes the formulas behind the theories he references in the notes section.  Once he is satisfied the reader has the requisite understanding of the questions and gaps in scientific understanding, he introduces readers to the exotic theories scientists have come up with to explain and fill those gaps.  Finally, Greene brings the reader up to speed on the current debates and experiments in physics and cosmology.  He explains what discoveries scientists, working at CERN and elsewhere, may uncover that could advance or dispel confidence in the various theories in The Hidden Reality.

Subject Headings: Physics, Theoretical Physics, Cosmology, Quantum Physics, General Relativity, Astronomy

Appeal: fascinating, compelling, educational, scientific, well-researched, challenging, engaging, thought provoking, scientific theory, accessible, analogous writing, academic, complex, awe-inspiring, mysterious

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: challenging, scientific writing, thought provoking

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Grand Design (2010) by Stephen Hawking

Hawking takes the concepts of multiple universes and string theory and explains how scientists are using them to create a unified theory on why the universe exists the way it does.

Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions (2005) by Lisa Randall

This book is also a popular physics book that uses analogies to explain the current theories in quantum physics.  Randall focuses on string theory and its multiple hidden dimensions, a large topic in Greene’s book.

– Decoding Reality: The Universe as Quantum Information (2010) by Vlatko Vedral

This popular science book explores the theory that the mysteries of quantum physics can be better understood through the idea that information is physical and is the basic building block of the universe.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Spin (2005) by Robert Charles Wilson

This science fiction book runs wild with the theory of general relativity with a plot that involves aliens suspending the entire planet Earth in time.  It also deals with cosmologically ideas on the eventual death of our solar system and galaxy.

Properties of Light: A Novel of Love, Betrayal and Quantum Physics (2000) by Rebecca Goldstein

One of the gaps in modern physics that Greene outlines in his book is the failure of scientists to link general relativity with quantum mechanics.  The characters in this literary fiction novel attempt to do just that.

The Light of Other Days (2000) by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter

This science fiction novel expands on the current understanding of quantum physics. The story involves scientists with an advanced knowledge of quantum physics who can create wormholes. The wormholes can bridge distant points, even into the past.

Name: Noel M.


February 22, 2012  David Morrell

Title:  Creepers

Genre:  Suspense, Horror, Adventure

Publication Date:  2005

Number of Pages:  365

Geographical Setting:  Asbury Park, New Jersey

Time Period:  Present

Series (If applicable):  Frank Balenger

Plot Summary:
Frank Balenger, a journalist, joins history professor Robert Conklin and three of his former students on an illegal exploration of an abandoned hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey.  The team calls themselves Infiltrators, people who break into abandoned historical buildings and leave without making a mark.  Balenger prefers to call them Creepers.  He is with the team to cover a story on urban exploration for the New York Times.  Their target, the Paragon Hotel, was once owned by wealthy heir Morgan Carlisle.  It is now set to be destroyed by the city in just a few days.  The team is able to break into the hotel, but what they uncover will call into question the team’s commitment to leaving without a trace.  And they may not be the only group of creepers in Asbury Park.

Subject Headings:
Hotels — New Jersey — Asbury Park — Fiction.
Abandoned buildings — Fiction.
Architecture — New Jersey — Fiction.
Serial murders – New Jersey — Fiction.
Suspense Fiction.

Appeal:  Hectic, confined, plot twists, exploration, heists, abandoned hotels, voyeurism, strong antagonist, plot-driven, action-focused, agoraphobia, violent, Jersey Shore, kidnapping, strong sense of place, infiltration

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  suspenseful, fast-paced, spine-chilling

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Access All Areas: A User’s Guide to the Art of Urban Exploration by Ninjalicious.
Ninjalicious is the founder of, the source of one of the epigraphs in Creepers.  This book is a real world guide to the infiltrating activity depicted in Creepers.  It also contains non-fiction accounts of infiltration stories.

4th of July, Asbury Park: A History of the Promised Land by Daniel J. Wolff.
This book will interest readers who found the depiction of a declining Asbury Park compelling and would like to learn more.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson.
The novel depicts the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.  The book follows one of the lead architects of the fair, as well as a serial killer who stalks the fair for victims.  Similar to Creepers, this book is a suspense story with a strong place setting.  Dr. H.H. Holmes is a serial killer who targets women, as does the antagonist in Creepers.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Liberty Falling by Nevada Barr.
Anna Pigeon is a park ranger who moves to New York City.  She finds herself connected to a series of strange events and murders that she must piece together.  This book is a plot-driven suspense novel with a strong sense of place.  The protagonist is also depicted exploring abandoned buildings.

Wicked Prey by John Sandford.
Officer Lucas Davenport is investigating the murder of another police officer by a group of thieves.  An array of villains gets back at Davenport by attacking his family. This novel is a fast-paced and violent suspense novel.

The Lake by Richard Laymon.
Leigh West and her daughter Deana are the targets of serial killer Candyman.  The Lake is a fast-paced suspense and horror story involving a serial murderer.

Name:  Noel M.