PBS Distribution offers two hot new “Nature” titles on DVD

Mother Nature, with some help from  PBS Distribution, has two new hot NATURE titles: Nature: Shark Mountain and Nature: The World’s Most Wanted Animal on DVD and Digital HD. Both titles are also available now on Digital HD.

Nature: Shark Mountain
In the dead of the night, a team of filmmakers jump into the ocean to film hunting behavior on the reef. But first, they must make it through a pack of as many as 50 large and dangerous sharks gathering just below the surface. It is not a dive that many would make. But with Howard and Michele Hall, two of the world’s leading underwater filmmakers, something incredible is always just about to happen.

Thousands of sharks–silkies, white tips, black tips and hammerheads–hunt along the volcanic reefs of Cocos Island, so many that the island has also become known as Shark Mountain. But the waters around this tiny outpost in the Pacific are filled with ocean life so rich and diverse that the island and a twelve-mile zone all around it has been designated a Costa Rican National Park and World Heritage Site.

Shot in spectacular high definition video, the program takes viewers on the underwater journey of a lifetime, showing the wonders of Cocos. Yet it is a world that is disappearing as the years pass, for even places as remote and protected as Cocos are at risk in today’s world.

Nature: The World’s Most Wanted Animal
Pangolins are often described as “the most endangered animal you’ve never heard of.” The world’s only scaly mammal, pangolins are now trafficked at a higher rate than rhinos, elephants and tigers combined, for medicinal use in China, Thailand and Vietnam. Very little is known about even their most basic biology, and this is hampering conservation efforts–pangolins almost always die in captivity. In Namibia, conservationist Maria Diekmann found herself on the frontline of the battle to save these wanted animals after unexpectedly becoming a surrogate mother to an orphaned baby pangolin named Honey Bun.

On an emotional journey, Diekmann travels to Asia to better understand the global issues facing pangolins, before joining forces with a Chinese megastar to help build a campaign to bring awareness to the plight of these surprisingly charming creatures.

Jackie Chan’s “Bleeding Steel” co-stars? Thrills, chills and deranged, mech-enhanced villain

Jackie Chan is back. Big time. The Honorary 2016 Oscar recipient plays Hong Kong police inspector Lin Dong who, while tracking down a deranged, mech-enhanced villain, discovers that a geneticist’s lost biochemical invention has been surgically implanted into his missing daughter.

With help from a hacker, Lin tries to connect the dots between the device, a sinister army, and a strange phenomenon called “Bleeding Steel” . . . which also is the  name of the non-stop thriller arriving on Blu-ray (plus Digital), DVD and on Digital August 21 from Lionsgate. The  action-packed drama reminiscent of ’80s techno-sci-fi thrillers, is currently available On Demand.

A dog that talks? Flies planes? Meet the foxy Archie!

And we thought our dog Oona was not your normal dog. Then we/she met Archie. He has unimaginable talents that include talking and flying planes! Archie tags along as his owner Sydney runs away to join a struggling family circus.

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But clumsy Sydney’s only hope of stardom is a fake ventriloquist act featuring his wisecracking, woofing pal. Together they’re a hit and the circus is saved—until a villain plots to steal the priceless dog and trade him for big bucks.

Step right up for thrills, chills and laughs, Archie-style, with Archie 2 (Lionsgate).

Featuring Michael J. Fox as the voice of Archie, along with Sara Canning and Robin Dunne, this animal adventure won the Dove Seal of approval for all ages.

Is there room for Oona?

New bio of Madeleine L’Engle, “I’m painting a portrait of one of the spiritual giants,” says author

Lauren Bacall once told us that she earned her own of her wrinkles. She called them her “time lines”.

Wonder if she ever read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time? The author was known for her fascinating perspectives on science, art, story and faith. She was also a lightning rod for controversy—too Christian for some, too unorthodox for others. Somewhere in the middle was a complex woman whose embrace of paradox continues to be a beacon for generations of readers struggling to reconcile faith and science, art and religion, sacred and secular.

In A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle, Author of A Wrinkle in Time, (Zondervan, $19.99) Sarah Arthur explores L’Engle’s spirituality and what her story means for each of us, now, in our own unique moment and within a larger narrative. Arthur recounts stories about L’Engle from friends and family as well as interviews with writers and thinkers who have been profoundly shaped by L’Engle’s writing.
“I’m painting a portrait of one of the spiritual giants who has gone before us,” writes Arthur. “And I’m encouraging a new generation of readers to seek and trust her as a spiritual guide. To borrow imagery from A Wrinkle in Time, we’re Meg Murry and she’s Mrs. Whatsit, traveling through time to challenge and encourage us.”

Arthur traces L’Engle’s spiritual journey through seven key movements including her self-proclaimed lonely childhood, her fascination with science and faith, her writings as a whole—specifically A Wrinkle in Time—and her influence on generations of artists who now embrace art as a spiritual vocation. Arthur also explores L’Engle’s paradoxical propensity to blur fact and fiction, and the impact of that tendency on her closest relationships.

Charlotte Jones Voiklis, L’Engle’s youngest granddaughter and literary executor, penned the foreword for A Light So Lovely.  In it she recalls crying the first time Sarah interviewed her. “We talked about my grandmother’s life: her habits, milestones and challenges, and what we each knew to be her impact on others. As we spoke, what moved me to tears was Sarah’s willingness to look at Madeleine and accept her as a full and flawed human being; an icon and iconoclast, not an idol.”

For a new generation that has known nothing but the increasingly polarized and contentious climate of contemporary religious discourse, L’Engle’s embrace of paradox is a welcome path forward. Arthur writes, “Let’s strike a match, light a candle. Let’s illuminate the life and legacy of this extraordinary woman such that we experience both the grace and the struggle that helped her share a generation and beyond. Because ultimately, it’s not her own light we’re drawn to, but the light of Christ she lifted up, however imperfectly, to the world. By knowing her better, we might better understand our own particular darknesses, in this unique chapter of American history, and how we’re called to be light-bearers too.”

Harper Design’s “The Secret Garden” is a stunner, another gem from MinaLima

There are gorgeous book. And then there is Harper Design’s new edition of The Secret Garden ($29.99).

Once again MinaLima has woven their most creative hands. The classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett, about a young orphan called Mary Lennox who is sent to live with Archibald Craven, an uncle she’s never met, is beautifully illustrated with interactive features from the visionary design studio behind the graphics for the Harry Potter film franchise.

Stunning indeed!

The Secret Garden by [Burnett, Frances Hodgson]

Part of Harper Design’s series of deluxe reimagined children’s classics, this captivating unabridged gift edition takes readers on a memorable journey that teaches them lessons about hardship, friendship, happiness, and restoration. Originally published in 1911,  Burnett’s beloved classic has captured reader’s hearts for more than a century. Die-hard fans should know that The Secret Garden will also be brought back to life on the big screen soon, in a new live-action film adaptation from Disney and Universal starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters. The book has been adapted for the big-screen film before, perhaps most famously in 1993.

While waiting to have your own copy of Harper Design’s new book, we’ll share some of The Secret Garden‘s 10 interactive features. They include

  • A layout of the Manor House and grounds
  • A map of the Secret Garden
  • A dial showing how plants grow throughout the season
  • A cut-out paper doll of Mary and her clothes
  • A removable letter to Dickon from his older sister, the maid who tells Mary the story of the garden

PBS offers America’s Best Streets, Monuments and Modern Marvels

Yep, they are the best.
A new series from PBS Distribution takes audiences on a lively exploration of American architecture, design and urban planning. Hosted by Geoffrey Baer and produced by Dan Protess, the series illustrates how our built environment came to be and how our monuments, streets and modern marvels reflect our nation’s history, values, ingenuity and hopes for the future. Take a tour of the places where American history was born.

Episodes for this program include:
10 Monuments That Changed America
Explore the stories behind ten wholly-original American monuments and the historical moments that inspired them. From the Statue of Liberty to Mount Rushmore, and from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the AIDS Quilt, discover pivotal moments in the evolution of American monuments when daring artists found new ways to honor our history.

10 Streets That Changed America
Trace the 400-year evolution of Broadway in New York from a Native American road to a poster child for the “complete streets” movement of the future. Also visit the Boston Post Road; St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans; and Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. It’s an episode about how streets have connected the nation, divided communities, and changed the way Americans live, work and shop.

10 Modern Marvels That Changed America
Meet arrogant engineers who have scoffed at the laws of nature and defied naysayers by undertaking amazing feats of engineering. Each story in this episode includes a fun physics lesson and a tale of human folly, from the Hoover Dam and the Interstate Highway System, to the Holland Tunnel and Eads Bridge. Find out which 10 modern marvels made the list.

BEST BEACH BOOKS FOR JUNE: SCIENCE, POLITICS AND MORE MOVIE STARS (PART TWO)

Fifteen years after The Devil Wears Prada was published, Lauren Weisberger revisits one of her favorite characters from the novel—Emily Charlton, first assistant to Miranda Priestly, now a highly successful image consultant who has just landed the client of a lifetime. She’s working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.When Life Gives You Lululemons Karolina Hartwell is as A-list as they come. She’s the former face of L’Oreal. A mega-supermodel recognized the world over. And now, the gorgeous wife of the newly elected senator from New York, Graham, who also has his eye on the presidency. It’s all very Kennedy-esque, right down to the public philandering and Karolina’s arrest for a DUI—with a Suburban full of other people’s children. We can’t reveal more because we just pissed in pour pants. It’s that funny!

Now we know why Ronan Farrow won a Pulitzer. In War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence (W. W. Norton & Company, $27.95), he reveals how America is becoming a nation that shoots first and asks questions later. Or never. And while this is a new extreme, Farrow shows us it is not unprecedented. Herr Adolph Frump is putting his foot onto the throat of a diplomatic enterprise that has been weakening for decades—and history tells us that the consequences could be catastrophic. The book brings the State Department into vivid focus, as Farrow personalizes epic events and offers an account of American statecraft at once conversational and trenchant. War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American InfluenceHe provides readers with a page-turning, character-driven narrative, using the personal stories of
those whose lives were affected—and sometimes destroyed—by the decline of American diplomacy to shed light on this unsung transformation in America’s place in the world. War on Peace  contains interviews with every former secretary of state alive; Farrow also unearths previously secret documents and speaks with hundreds of insiders—from whistleblowers to ambassadors to generals, spies, and warlords—to reveal how the power to make foreign policy slipped from America’s civilian diplomats and into the hands of its uniformed officers, the consequences around the world, and what might be done to change
course.

Nikola Tesla invented the radio, the induction motor, the neon lamp, and the remote control. His scientific discoveries made possible X-ray technology, wireless communications, and radar, and he predicted the Internet and even the smart watch. His image appears on stamps;Life magazine lists him as one of the one hundred most famous people of the last millennium. 

And yet, his contemporaries and fellow inventors Thomas Edison and Guglielmo Marconi achieved far greater commercial success and popular recognition. In Tesla: Inventor of the Modern [W. W. Norton & Company, $26.95 hardcover], Richard Munson asks whether Tesla’s eccentricities eclipsed his genius. Ultimately, he delivers an enthralling biography that illuminates every facet of Tesla’s life while justifying his stature as the most original inventor of the late nineteenth century.

In Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film  (St. Martin’s Press; $27.99)  Don Grahamoffers a larger-than-life narrative of the making of the classic film based on Edna Ferber’s controversial novel. Taking a wide-angle view of America—and Texas—in the Eisenhower era, Graham reveals how the film and its production mark the rise of America as a superpower, the ascent of Hollywood celebrity, and the flowering of Texas culture as mythology. Featuring James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor, Giant dramatizes a family saga against the background of the oil industry and its impact upon ranching culture—think Spindletop Hill in Beaumont, Texas, and the fabled King Ranch in South Texas. Almost as good as the film.

In Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History (Liveright, $28.95) Yunte Huang recounts the peculiar, and often ironic, rise of Chang and Eng from sideshow curiosity to Southern gentry—an unlikely story that exposes the foibles of a young republic eager to tyrannize and delight in the abnormal. Famous for their quick wit (they once refunded a one-eyed man half his ticket because he “couldn’t see as much as the others”), Chang and Eng became a nationwide sensation, heralded as living symbols of the humbugged freak.  Their unrivaled success quickened the birth of mass entertainment in America, leading to the minstrel show and the rise of showmen like P.T. Barnum.

And it is here that we encounter a twist. Miraculously, despite the 1790 Naturalization Act which limited citizenship to “free white persons” (until 1952), Chang and Eng became American citizens under the Superior Court of North Carolina. They then went on to marry two white sisters—Sarah and Adelaide Yates—and father 23 children despite the interracial marriage ban (in place until 1967). They owned 18 slaves and became staunch advocates for the Confederacy, so much so that their sons fought for the South during the Civil War. Huang reveals that it was perhaps their very “otherness” that worked for them: they were neither one individual, or quite two.

Forty-five years after Bruce Lee’s sudden death at 32, Matthew Polly has written the definitive account of Lee’s life. Following a decade of research, dozens of rarely seen photographs, and more than one hundred interviews with Lee’s family and friends, Bruce Lee: A Life (Simon & Schuster, $35) breaks down the myths surrounding Bruce Lee and delivers a complex, humane portrait of the icon.

The book  explores Lee’s early years: his career as a child star in Hong Kong cinema; his actor father’s struggles with opium addiction; his troublemaking teen years; and his beginnings as a martial arts instructor. Polly chronicles the trajectory of Lee’s acting career in Hollywood, from his frustration seeing role after role he auditioned for go to a white actors in eye makeup, to his eventual triumph as a leading man, to his challenges juggling a sky-rocketing career with his duties as a father and husband. Polly also sheds light on Bruce Lee’s shocking end—which is to this day is still shrouded in mystery—by offering an alternative theory behind his tragic demise.

When Henry Alford first wrote about his experience with a Zumba class, little did he realize that it was the start of something much bigger. Dance would grow and take on many roles for Henry: exercise, confidence builder, an excuse to travel, a source of ongoing wonder and—when he dances with Alzheimer’s patients—even a kind of community service.  Tackling a wide range of forms with gusto (including ballet, hip-hop, jazz, ballroom, tap, contact improvisation, swing), And Then We Danced: A Voyage into the Groove (Simon & Schuster, $26) takes us through the works and careers of luminaries ranging from Bob Fosse to George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp to Arthur Murray, Isadora Duncan to Savion Glover. Equal parts memoir and cultural history, this laugh-out-loud book will inform, entertain and leave readers tapping their toes.

 

Stop dishing out lunchtime $. Feast on “Lunchbox Salads: More than 100 Fast, Fresh, Filling Salads for Every Weekday”

Summertime . . . and the heat is on. The last thing anyone should worry about is food. Good food. Even great food. Our lives are so busy and fast-paced that buying a $12 salad for lunch seems almost reasonable in the name of health. But what if you can make a salad that’s just as good, if not better, at home—for a fraction of the cost? And what if there’s a way to bring it to work in a way that gets it there without dreaded wilted lettuce and soggy croutons?

Food for though: Lunchbox Salads: More than 100 Fast, Fresh, Filling Salads for Every Weekday(Da Capo Lifelong Books, $18.99) Naomi Twigden and Anna Pinder teach us what to keep on hand, how to construct a salad you’ll enjoy, and how to transport your masterpiece to the office.

All of the recipes are simple yet filling and are designed to keep hunger at bay and your energy high. Each takes no more than thirty minutes to prepare and requires no more than ten ingredients. Some of the highlights include:

  • Candied Miso Tomato Salad
  • Kale + Walnut Pesto Salad
  • Red Pepper + Fennel Quinoa Salad
  • Balsamic, Beet + Red Onion Salad
  • Smokey Broccoli + Bacon Salad
  • Eggplant + Almond Falafel Salad
  • Cabbage Caraway Chicken Salad
  • Ribboned Zucchini Salad with Thai Fishcakes

With full-color photos throughout and easy to follow vegetarian recipes (as well as tips for incorporating meat options), this cookbook contains fourteen sections, each with a different main ingredient ranging from carrots to cauliflower, sweet potatoes to squash. Sprinkled throughout are recipes for salad’s best friend, soup—including a delicious paprika-laced Green Bean Minestrone. The final section focuses on sauces and dressings—everything from a classic Buttermilk Caesar to a zingy Coconut-Lime. Typical healthy food can be boring and limiting, but Lunchbox Salads proves once and for all that iceberg and romaine aren’t the only options.

 

Best Beach Books for June: History, Horror and Movie Stars (Part One)

It’s been called “the publishing event of 2018.” With good reason.  Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s The President Is Missing (Knopf/Little,Brown $30) is a superlative thriller . . . one that can really happen, and one that must not be missed. The mystery confronts a threat so huge that it jeopardizes not just Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street, but all of America. Uncertainty and fear grip the nation. There are whispers of cyberterror and espionage and a traitor in the Cabinet. Even the President himself becomes a suspect, and then he disappears from public view.

Set over the course of three days, The President Is Missing sheds a stunning light upon the inner workings and vulnerabilities of our nation. Filled with information that only a former Commander-in-Chief could know, this is the most authentic, terrifying novel to come along in many years. And a timely, historic story that will be read-and talked about-for years to come.

A book about Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, as a beach read? Absolutely. And much more entertaining than, say, a collection of Peanuts. In President Carter: The White House Years (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, $40) Stuart E. Eizenstat presents a comprehensive history of the Carter Administration, demonstrating that Carter was the most consequential modern-era one-term U.S. President. The book is behind-the-scenes account of a president who always strove to do what he saw as the right thing, while often disregarding the political repercussions.


In 1923, Mary Pickford and hubby Douglas Fairbanks, along with the “Beverly Hills Eight” Harold Lloyd, Rudolph Valentino, Will Rogers, Tom Mix, Fred Neblo and Conrad Nagel,  eight stars of the silver screen leveraged their fame to campaign against the annexation of Beverly Hills, the young city they called home, to Los Angeles. Their campaign was a success, and politics in the U.S. would never be the same again.The Battle for Beverly Hills: A City's Independence and the Birth of Celebrity Politics by [Clare, Nancie] For them, Beverly Hills was a refuge from Los Angeles and its relentless press. Instead of the larger, institutionally corrupt police force, Beverly Hills had a smaller, separate constabulary that was less likely to work hand in glove with the studios and more willing to look the other way at violations of the Prohibition Act.  In The Battle for Beverly Hills (St. Martin’s Press, $27.99) Nancie Clare reveals how the stars battled to keep their city free from the clutches of a rapacious Los Angeles and lay the groundwork for celebrity influence and political power. With a nuanced eye and fantastic storytelling, Clare weaves an irresistible tale of glamour, fame, gossip, and politics.


 Adventures of a Young Naturalist–The Zoo Quest Expeditions (Quercus, $26.99) is the story of those voyages. Staying with local tribes while trekking in search of giant anteaters in Guyana, Komodo dragons in Indonesia, and armadillos in Paraguay, he and the rest of the team contended with cannibal fish, aggressive tree porcupines, and escape-artist wild pigs, as well as treacherous terrain and unpredictable weather, to record the incredible beauty and biodiversity of these regions. Don’t take our word for it: Says Barack Obama of Attenborough: “A great educator as well as a great naturalist.”


Charles Manson. Swastika carved into his forehead. What a fucking monster. In the late summer of 1969, he and “family” brutally slayed of a actress Sharon Tate—26 years old and eight months pregnant with her first child—as well as other victims, including a hair stylist, a coffee heiress and a businessman. After months of dead-ends, false leads and near-misses, Charles Manson and members of his “family” were arrested.9780718092085, Hunting Charles Manson : The Quest for Justice in the Days of Helter Skelter, Lis Wiehl  Former federal prosecutor Lis Wiehl’s Hunting Charles Manson (Thomas Nelson, $26.99) is a historical thriller of the crimes and manhunt; in the process, she reveals how the social and political context that gave rise to Manson is eerily similar to our own.


Immortalized by Shakespeare as a hunchbacked murderer, Richard III is one of English history’s best known and least understood monarchs. In 2012 his skeleton was uncovered in a UK parking lot, reigniting debate about this divisive historical figure and sparked numerous articles, television programs and movies about his true character. Richard III: England's Most Controversial King by [Skidmore, Chris]In Richard III: England’s Most Controversial King (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99)  acclaimed historian Chris Skidmore has written the authoritative biography of a man alternately praised as a saint and cursed as a villain. Was he really a power-crazed monster who killed his nephews, or the victim of the first political smear campaign conducted by the Tudors?


When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Chief Inspector Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation. The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London. The Girl in the Ice (Grand Central Publishing; $12.99), Robert Bryndza’s  first book in the Detective Erika Foster series. Front CoverIn will take hold of you early on and won’t let up as the investigation ebbs and flows through suspects and suspense. The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong—resulting in the death of her husband—and with her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer begins closing in on her, but will she get to him before he strikes again?


Here,  first major biography of Tiger Woods—sweeping in scope and packed with groundbreaking, behind-the-scenes details of the Shakespearean rise and epic fall of an American icon. In 2009, Tiger Woods was the most famous athlete on the planet, a transcendent star of fame and fortune living what appeared to be the perfect life—married to a Swedish beauty, father of two young children, and at the peak of a brilliant athletic career. book coverWinner of 14 major golf championships and 79 PGA Tour events, Woods was the first billion-dollar athlete, earning more than $100 million a year in endorsements. But it was all a carefully crafted illusion. As it turned out, Woods had been living a double life for years—one that exploded in the aftermath of a Thanksgiving night crash that exposed his serial infidelity and sent his personal and professional life off a cliff. Tiger Woods (Simon & Schuster, $30) is based on three years of extensive research, and drawing on more than 400 interviews with people from every corner of Woods’s life.

Maxine Peake creates a Hamlet that is both timeless and unique for today

To be, or not to be: that is the question . . .
To be honest William Shakespeare’s most iconic work, Hamlet,is the ultimate play about loyalty, love, betrayal, murder and madness. Every production is defined by its lead actor. Or actress.

Save the date: On June 12, Omnibus Entertainment releases the DVD of a stripped back, fresh and fast-paced staging by Sarah Frankcom for Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre in which Maxine Peake creates a Hamlet that is both timeless and unique for today. Though the part has a long history of being performed by women, Peake is the first female actor to be cast in a major production since Frances de la Tour assumed the role 40 years ago.
This above all: to thine own self be true.

Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some