Posts Tagged ‘award-winner’

Fun Home

April 11, 2012

Author: Alison Bechdel

Genre: Autobiography; Graphic novels (Nonfiction); Memoirs; Family and relationships; Adult books for young adults;

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 232

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania

Time Period:  1960’s – early 1980’s

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: This graphic memoir—graphic as in comic strip, not explicit (though there is an explicit moment)—centers around the author’s slow revelation that she is a lesbian and her relationship with her closeted English teacher/historical house restorer/funeral home director father.  It’s full of references to Greek myths and American novels and plays that will please literary folks and non-literary types as the graphic representations help convey the meaning of the references.  This dark but not depressing multiple award nominee and winner will appeal to readers that like a more mature coming-of-age memoir.

Subject Headings: Bechdel, Alison, 1960 – Comic books, strips, etc.; Father and daughter; Closet gay men; Lesbian teenagers – Coming out; Brothers; English language teachers;  Gay men; Undertakers and undertaking; Parent and child; Children of divorced parents; Funeral homes; Teacher-student relationships; Divorce; Death; Historic preservation; Cartoonists – United States.

Appeal: candid; darker; humorous; introspective; melancholy; moving; moody; poignant; reflective; sophisticated; thoughtful; eccentric; quirky; realistic; sympathetic; well-developed; authentic; character-centered; issue-oriented; literary references; accurate; contemporary; accessible; chatty; conversational; direct; frank; informal; smart; straightforward; witty; award winner.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: witty; reflective; candid

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Epileptic by David B.  This is another moving and thoughtful memoir told in a graphic medium.  Epileptic, like Fun Home, is about a family with problems and how the author came out of the experience, though the problems are different.

You’ll Never Know by Carol Tyler.  This moving and thoughtful story is the first book in this 3-part graphic novel/memoir that centers around the author’s relationship with her father and how it affected her later relationships.  Bechdel’s memoir Fun Home is also a moving and thoughtful graphic novel/memoir that focuses on her relationship with her father.

Running with Scissors by August Burroughs.  It’s not a graphic novel but, like Fun HomeRunning with Scissors is a candid, engaging and witty coming-of-age memoir.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Family Matter by Will Eisner.  Though this candid graphic novel only covers a day in the life, it too reveals family secrets that include suppressed dark family secrets.

Martin Bauman: or, A Sure Thing by David Leavitt is also a character-driven, moody and witty coming-of-age novel. Though this tale about an insecure writer struggling to come out of the closet may be based on the author’s own life, it seems that Leavitt may have also had a mentor-type figure that strongly shaped the author’s life.

Escape from “Special” by Miss Lasko-Gross is a coming-of-age graphic novel of a girl trying to get through a difficult childhood with hippie parents.  The muted colors of the artwork is similar to Fun Home (Fun Home uses grayish blues and Escape uses smoky grays) in that it evokes a moody tone throughout the darkly humorous story.

Name: Ally C.

The Chili Queen

February 23, 2011  Sandra Dallas

Title:  The Chili Queen

Genre:  Historical Fiction/Western

Publication Date:  September 2002

Number of Pages:  292

Geographical Setting:  New Mexico

Time Period:  1880s

Series (if applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:

The Chili Queen is a brothel in Nalgitas, New Mexico set in the 1880s.  Addie French is the owner and Madam.  She left her home as a young girl after enduring abuse and hardship at the hands of her stepfather.  She started hustling people for money with sleight of hand tricks.  She then fell into “hooking” at the Chili Queen after getting caught red-handed hustling.  After diligently saving her earnings from the hookhouse, she buys it from the owner.  Now, as the owner of The Chili Queen, she sees herself as the matriarch who takes in strays and gives them an opportunity to make a way for themselves.

On her way home to Nalgitas, a woman named Emma Roby sits next to her on the train.  Emma is in pursuit of a husband with whom she has been corresponding, and is a so-called mail-order bride.  When it turns out that the potential husband is not interested in marrying Emma after seeing her in person, she shows up at the Chili Queen looking for a place to stay and some comfort from the new friend she met.  Not only do her and Addie begin to form a relationship, Emma meets and finds friends in Welcome, the cook and maid and also, Ned Partner, an infamous outlaw and frequent Chili Queen patron.  The four of them hatch a plan to get rich quick in hopes of making each of their dreams come true.

The story is told from all four perspectives and gives the readers an opportunity to get know each character through four different eyes.  The colorful dialogue and descriptive writing really helps set the stage for the Old West.

Subject Headings:  New Mexico; Female friendship; Outlaws; Women; Boardinghouses; Domestic fiction; Historical fiction; Nineteenth Century; House of Prostitution; Bank robbers

Appeal:  Builds in intensity, easy, dramatic, atmospheric, multiple points of view, intriguing, character-centered, romp, historical details of the Old West in the 1880s, intimate, colloquial, witty, bittersweet, homespun, descriptive, award-winning

3 Terms that best describe this book:  swindling, bittersweet, Old West

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour – traveling man thru the Western countryside, personal narrative, making it on your own, social life and customs

The Sundance Kid:  the Life of Harry Alonzo Longabaugh by Donna B. Ernst – history writing, true crime, 19th century outlaws, bank robberies, the West (United States)

The Oregon Trail:  an American Saga by David Dary – history writing, hardships and triumphs of those who migrated west, geographic overview, descriptive

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty – epic story of two friends who are cattle ranchers in the 1800s, character-driven, bittersweet, descriptive, strong sense of place

Work Song by Ivan Doig – historical fiction of the American West, character-driven, bittersweet, homespun

Me and the Boys or The Glorious Adventures of Gini Kincaid:  My Perilous Times in the Territory by Ellen Recknor – historical western stories, humorous, outlaws, women adventurers, 19th century, resourcefulness in women

Name:  Jeannine Kropski

Fun Home

November 18, 2009

Author:  Alison Bechdel

Title:  Fun Home: a family tragicomic

Genre:  Gay/Lesbian

Publication Date:  2006

Number of Pages:  240

Geographical Setting:  Beech Creek, Pennsylvania

Time Period: 1960 – 1980

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: A non-fiction account of the author’s life that describes growing up living in Beech Creek, Pennsylvania with her closeted homosexual father, a distant mother and two brothers.  The family ran the local funeral parlor part time and her father was also an English teacher at the local high school. Her father is killed in an accident that may or may not have been a suicide. The book talks about what it was like to grow up in a family like this as well as the author’s realization that she, too, is gay.  She also works through her relationship with her father in hindsight as she learns the facts of his life and also in relation to the accident and his death.  The story is told in a graphic novel format.

Subject Headings:  Bechdel, Alison, 1960-Comic books, strips, etc., Father and daughterComic books, strips, etc., Closet gayComic books, strips, etc., Lesbian teenagersComing outComic books, strips, etc., BrothersComic books, strips, etc., English language teachersComic books, strips, etc., Gay menComic books, strips, etc., Undertakers and undertakingComic books, strips, etc., Parent and childComic books, strips, etc., Children of divorced parentsComic books, strips, etc., Funeral homesComic books, strips, etc., Teacher-student relationshipsComic books, strips, etc., DivorceComic books, strips, etc., DeathComic books, strips, etc., Historic preservationComic books, strips, etc., CartoonistsUnited StatesComic books, strips, etc., Autobiographical comic books, strips, etc., Autobiographies (Adult literature) Comic books, strips, etc., Graphic novels (Nonfiction)

Appeal:  Non-fiction, Memoir, Graphic Novel, Graphic, Gay/Lesbian, Intellectual, Literary, Realistic, Frank, Humorous, Ironic, Books, Authors, Past, Childhood, Sad, Fast paced, Emotional, Historical, Award Winner, Accessible, Artistic, Relatable, Discovery, Father/Daughter, Mother/Daughter, Family, Relationships, Coming Out.

Three terms that best describe this book: Intellectual, Literary, Relatable.

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

3 Non-fiction

Loving Ourselves: The Gay and Lesbian Guide to Self-Esteem by Dr. Kimeron Hardin – This book talks about self-esteem and self-worth for those in the gay community.  Written by a licensed clinical psychologist.

The Way Out: The Gay Man’s Guide to Freedom No Matter if You’re in Denial, Closeted, Half In, Half Out, Just Out or Been Around the Block by Chris Nutter – A book to help men deal with their homosexuality and to be a more authentic person living a true and authentic life.

The Other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses and Families, Revised and Expanded Edition by Amity Pierce Buxton – Insights and coping strategies for straight spouses and their families to cope with a homosexual partner and parent.

3 Fiction

My Heartbeat by Garret Freyman-Weyr – The story of a young girl, Ellen, who has a crush on her brother’s best friend, James.  When some kids at school ask her if her brother and his friend are in love, she doesn’t understand, but wants to find out what was meant.  When she asks her brother, Link about this, he refuses to discuss it.  James and Link have a falling out because of the secrets they share and Ellen, who loves them both, tries to help them repair their friendship and learn and understand the truth.

Lessons by Kim Pritekel – A girl goes off to college more so to escape her controlling parents than to choose a course of study.  She doesn’t really know herself yet. She finds friendship and maybe love with her Psych 101 TA who used to be her childhood babysitter.

David Inside Out by Lee Bantle – The story of David whose friend comes out to him but he doesn’t want to seem “gay by association” even though he has the same feelings.  The coming of age story of a boy trying to deal with his homosexuality.

Name:  Chris S.

His Majesty’s Dragon

May 27, 2009

Product Details

Author: Naomi Novik

Title: His Majesty’s Dragon

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Publication Date: Del Rey Books, 2006

Number of Pages: 384p

Geographical Setting: Locations through out Europe

Time Period: Early Nineteenth Century

Series: Temeraire Series Book 1

Plot Summary: In this adventurous, alternative universe, dragons are tamed by nations of the world as a fighting force, bonding to a handler, at hatching, and trained in the Aerial Corps in the pursuit of warfare. Will Laurence, British Navy captain of the Reliant, experienced in battle, captures a French frigate with a dragon’s egg on board. Dragons are very valuable creatures it turns out, and are used by the Air Force by both sides. Even though England has France outgunned in the way of ships, France is outgunning England 2-1 in the way of fighting dragons. Dragons are intelligent, and are able to talk from the time they hatch, but they will typically bond with just one person, usually one of the first people they see upon hatching. This egg is about to hatch, and it is necessary for one of Laurence’s officers to agree to bond with the dragon: which is a problem, because that will mean leaving the Navy, and for that matter will put great stress on any possible normal human relationships. The Aerial Corps, it seems, is a somewhat raffish and also secretive group. And when the new dragon hatches, he chooses Captain Laurence himself. Laurence and his dragon, Temeraire, are then forced into the world of the Aerial Corps where things are done in a slightly different way than Laurence is used to in the Navy. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest ploy, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their initiation of battle.

Appeal: Award winning, speculative fiction, meticulous world-building, well-defined, charismatic, understatedly human characters, confident and elegantly polished prose style, emotional depths, gorgeous and inventive battle scenes, intelligent fun, addicting, polished, exciting, adventurous, gilded fantasy, original, entertaining, stylish, witty, engaging, thoughtful, and tense action.

Subject Headings: Great Britain–Officers, Ship Captains, Dragons, Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1815, Military Life, Military Tactics, Battles, Partnership, Animal/animal relations, Human-animal communication, Nineteenth century, Alternative histories,

3 terms that Best Describe the Book: tense action, speculative fiction, compelling

Similar Fiction Authors: Alexander Kent, Robin D. Owens, Anne McCaffrey, Patrick Rothfuss, Jack Campbell, Kim Newman, Michael Cassutt,  J. Gregory Keyes , Harry Turtledove, Patrick O’Brian

Authors and titles Non-fiction: Blundering to Glory : Napoleon’s Military Campaigns.  By, Owen Connelly; The disasters of war. By, Francisco Goya; The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the birth of warfare as we know it. By, David Avrom Bell.

Annotation By: Allison Robins

The Lone Ranger, Volumes 1 and 2

March 18, 2009

Author: Matthews, Brett (writer) and Cariello, Sergio (illustrator)
Title: The Lone Ranger
Genre: Graphic Novel; Western
Publication Date: 2007; 2008
Number of Pages: 160 p.; 140 p.
Geographical Setting: Texas, Wyoming, other Western locations
Time Period: 1869
Series: The Lone Ranger. Serial comic book, series continues to present

Plot Summary: A “reboot” of the iconic Western story—which has been a serial staple for decades, on radio, in film, on television, and in books and comics—Brett Matthews and Sergio Cariello’s new comic The Lone Ranger goes back to the roots of the mysterious masked hero, skillfully and engagingly revealing his family history, his the origin of his friendship with Tonto, his motivation to become a masked vigilante, and the development of his particular “no-kill” moral code. The hero’s origins are revealed in flashbacks presented throughout the series, and the first twelve issues (collected in six-issue hardbacks) sets up his transformation into the Lone Ranger and his quest to find and bring to justice the man responsible for the death of his family. While faithful to the source mythology, the new series does make some changes to the “classic” version of the characters. The author and artist collaborated carefully to make sure that Tonto, the Native American man who joins the Lone Ranger’s quest, was a more three-dimensional, less stereotypical character with his own backstory and motivations and relieving him of his broken English and unquestioning devotion. The interior and cover art is vivid and atmospheric, beautifully capturing the Western landscapes and framing the action and characters within it.

Readers who turn to this incarnation of The Lone Ranger because of a childhood affection for the 1950s TV series will be pleased with the detail and care given to the characters but may be surprised by the graphic violence portrayed. The Lone Ranger’s no-kill code does not entirely prevent him from committing other acts of violence, and most of the other characters have no qualms about killing. This is a comic meant for teens and adults, not children. The series won the 2006 Eisner Award winner for Best New Series and Best Cover Artist, and True West magazine’s awarded the series the “Best Western Comic Book of the Year” in their 2009 Best of the West Source Book.

Subject Headings: Lone Ranger; Tonto; Western stories; Texas; Texas Rangers; adventure; comics and graphic novels; serial publications; series characters; interracial friendship; vengeance; law and justice; vigilantes; Old West.

Appeal: action-oriented, award-winner, character-centered, cinematic, colorful, darker, detailed characterization, detailed setting, details of Old West, details of Texas Rangers, dramatic, engaging, episodic, evocative, explicitly violent, faithful characterization, familiar characters, flashbacks, hard-edged, melodramatic, menacing atmosphere, psychological, recognizable characters, rural atmospheric, series characters, strong secondary characters, suspenseful, sympathetic characters, vivid, well-developed characters

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

· Rangers of the Lone Star. Zane Grey. (Classic Western author, Texas Rangers)

· Lonesome Dove. Larry McMurtry. (character driven Western featuring retired Texas Rangers; see also McMurtry’s “prequels” featuring the characters’ careers in the Rangers.)

· Bat Lash: Guns and Roses. Peter Brandvold and Sergio Aragones (writers); John Severin (illustrator). (Comics and graphic novels, Western, update of classic Western comic book character)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

  • Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers. Robert M. Utley (history of the Texas Rangers in the 19th century)
  • Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State. Randolph B. Campbell. (Texas history)
  • Hollywood’s West: The American Frontier in Film, Television, and History. Peter C. Rollins and John E. O’Connor, editors. (essays about Hollywood’s interpretations of the West)

Name: Cynthia