Category Archives: Books

Finally, the true and inside story of Hollywood’s forgotten force (and Garbo’s lover), Salka Viertel

Salka Viertel was once the highest paid writer on the MGM lot. She was also Greta Garbo’s lover, for whom she wrote five films.  A side note: So close were they that Viertel  bought a house next door to Garbo; when in 1969 Viertel  published her “autobiography” The Kindness of Strangers, she revealed their true relationship. Garbo never spoke to her again, avoiding her on the streets of New York City.

Garbo’s on the left

For the scores of wartime refugees fleeing persecution under Hitler she opened her doors to, Viertel was a lifeline. A courageous woman with a fascinating life and an incalculable impact on the lives of others, she has been long overdue for her moment in the spotlight.

So we can thank Donna Rifkind, whose biography, The Sun and Her Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler’s Exiles in the Golden Age of Hollywood(Other Press, $30) shines a light on this remarkable story.

Actress-turned-screenwriter (Viertel declared herself  “neither beautiful nor young enough” to be a movie star), she left Berlin for Hollywood in 1928, bringing with her the bohemian spirit of the Weimar era. She would work with the luminaries of Hollywood’s Golden Age, including George Cukor, Irving Thalberg and David O. Selznick. At her house in Santa Monica she opened her door on Sunday afternoons to scores of European émigrés who had fled from Hitler—such as Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht and Arnold Schoenberg—along with every kind of Hollywood star, from Charlie Chaplin to Shelley Winters. In the living room (the only one in town with comfortable armchairs, said one Hollywood insider), countless cinematic, theatrical, and musical partnerships were born. As Nazi domination grew in Europe, Viertel poured herself into the refugee cause, arranging for jobs and affidavits for Jews and anti-fascists seeking safety in America.

Garbo in perhaps her greatest film, “Queen Christina” (1933). Her lover wrote five film for her. Viertel co-wrote the film with Harold Marsh Harwood. She also co-wrote(with Clemence Dane) the 1935 classic “Anna Karenina”, a snatch seen below.

If Viertel’s name has been largely forgotten in America, it is because too few people believed what she accomplished was important. Now, alongside our current moment’s interest  in recovering historically-overlooked women’s creative contributions, investigating women’s ability to survive and flourish in sexist Hollywood, and considering the moral obligations of Americans to displaced people in a world undergoing a vast refugee crisis, the questions Salka asked herself in the ’30s and ’40s about how one should live—and the answers her life exemplified—are as vital as ever.

It’s impossible to understand the true history of Hollywood without knowing the story of the dramatic, courageous figure of Salka Viertel and her rescue mission.

Three new books, two for Young Adults; one for the young and young-at-heart

Sometimes the holiday season goes so fast, perhaps faster than Santa at his maximum speed, that good things fall aside.

And so we have picked them up.

Think of this as a sprinkle of great news.
Kate Stempel has written her first children’s picture book, entitled Sprinkles, that was published by FriesenPress, Canada’s largest publishing services provider, at the end of September.  They say the book is meant for those ages 7 to 11, but I say it’s for everyone young and young-at-heart. Kurt Hershey has done the whimsical illustrations.

Sprinkles is a feel good story about Sky, a young baker extraordinaire (modeled after the author’s own daughter), who is selling her famous cupcakes (think yummies with double chocolate and marshmallow frosting; graham cracker sprinkles; and caramel drizzle) to raise money for the local animal shelter where she found her beloved dog, Cocoa. Everyone is crazy about Sky’s cupcakes . . . everyone, that is, except Mr. Conway.

So Sky and her mom begin mission impossible as they try to help a lonely elderly man find a reason to smile again. Join Sky, her mom and Cocoa as they explore how the smallest gestures in life–such as mini cupcakes, mini trees and mini moments of humanity–can sometimes have the greatest impact, and how friendship and responsibility come in all shapes and sizes and how such actions give back to a community. Sprinkles will delight girls and boys by teaching them to imagine, smile and show compassion. Just ask Mr. Conway.

Interested in more about the book? Visit sprinklesthebook.com.
One thing you will learn is that 10% of book sales are donated to Citymeals on Wheels, a New York City and area organization that delivers food to the homebound elderly,  ensuring they never go a day without a nutritious meal and a warm visit.

Another chapter you must begin: Castle of Concrete: A Novel (Young Europe Book) by debut YA author Katia Raina.

Through vivid imagery and compelling characters, debut author Raina creates a vision of Soviet Russia in the early ‘90s—a time of political upheaval, demonstrations, and divisive prejudice against Jews. In the midst of this turmoil, Sonya Solovay, a timid Jewish girl, leaves her babushka in Siberia to reunite with her once-dissident mother now living near Moscow, and to begin her New Life. When Sonya starts school, she finds herself drawn to Ruslan Valentinov, a mysterious muddy-eyed boy who may be an anti-Semite.

Castle of Concrete is a stunning debut novel with powerful messages and a vibrant narrative that combine to paint a picture of a different time and place. But ultimately, it’s Sonya Solovay’s own story that fascinates.

Visit katiaraina.com for more information.

And there’s a virus you just might want to catch: In C.B. Lyall’s debut YA fantasy The Virus of Beauty (Austin Macauley Publishers), 15-year-old soccer star Wilf Gilvary, living in present-day Hong Kong, wants nothing to do with magic despite his stern wizard father’s efforts to make his son use his gifts.

After his father’s sudden death, Wilf still refuses to explore his powers when his 20-year-old stepsister, Myra, insists that they leave the normal world for new lives in the Magical Realm. A visit from a repulsively ugly and desperate witch forces Wilf to reluctantly accept that he is indeed a wizard.

An engaging fantasy and just think: This is Book One!

Find more information @ cblyall.com

Petrucelli Picks: 2019 Gift Guide: The Year’s Best from the Cohen Film Collection

We like to think of the Cohen Film Collection as competition to the Criterion Collection; Cohen 2K and/or 4K restorations are stunning; they usually add fascinating bonus tracks and keeps their prices at amounts the average person can afford.
This year, the marvels we considered Cohen’s Best of the Year . . .

At the very top of the list moves that silence remains golden. Buster Keaton, one of the most important and highly-regarded comedians of Hollywood history, is celebrated in three volumes.  Comedian? Also  film director, producer, screenwriter and stunt performer.
The Great Stoneface’s brilliance is seen in three essential restored Blu-ray volumes.
The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 1 features The General and Steamboat Bill, Jr.)
The Buster Keaton Collection
The General is considered to be the last great comedy of the silent era, and it consistently ranks as one of the greatest films of all time on international critics’ polls. Orson Welles called the film the greatest comedy, the greatest Civil War movie, even the greatest film of all time.
Set during the Civil War and based on a true incident, the film is an authentic-looking period piece that brings the scope and realism of Matthew Brady-like images to brilliant life.

Keaton portrays engineer Johnnie Gray, rejected by the Confederate Army and thought a coward by his girlfriend (the so-underrated silent icon Marion Mack). When a band of Union soldiers penetrate Confederate lines to steal his locomotive, Johnnie Gray sets off in pursuit. In Steamboat Bill, Jr., as the son of a steamboat captain, Buster falls in love with the daughter of a rival steamboat owner. When a cyclone rages, Buster proves himself a hero by rescuing his love and her father from a watery grave.

The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 2 features Sherlock Jr.  and The Navigator. In Sherlock Jr., Buster plays a movie projectionist who daydreams himself into the movies he is showing and merges with the figures and the backgrounds on the screen. While dreaming he is Conan Doyle’s master detective, he snoops out brilliant discoveries.

The Buster Keaton Collection - Volume 2 (Sherlock Jr. / The Navigator) [Blu-ray]And in another hilarious comedy, Keaton and his sweetheart are cast adrift on a deserted ocean liner. The ship finally runs aground on a desert island where the two unfortunates are chased by cannibals. A box office success, The Navigator is also one of Keaton’s most revered films.

The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 3 features Seven Chances and Battling Butler.  In Seven Chances, Buster gets word that if he can be married by seven o’clock that evening he will inherit $7,000,000. When his sweetheart refuses, he proposes to everyone in skirts, including a Scotsman.
The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 3 (Seven Chances / Battling Butler) Hopeful still, he advertises for a bride and is horrified to discover 500 would-be-brides hot on his trail in a hilarious chase to the finish. Keaton remarked on occasion that Battling Butler was his favorite of all his films. Based on a Broadway play, the story revolves around a case of mistaken identity between two Alfred Butlers, one an effete millionaire (Keaton), the other the heavyweight champion of the world (the marvelous Francis McDonald).

Coincidence brings them to the same backwoods Kentucky neighborhood, where Butler-the-flop finds love with a mountain girl, but not before antagonizing Butler-the-brute into a Madison Square Garden grudge match.



A classic of French cinema, Joan of Maid is Jaques Rivette’s ambitious two-part historical epic starring Sandrine Bonnaire.  For Joan the Maid: The Battles, the first installment of his powerful yet restrained two-part study, director and co-screenwriter Rivette surveys the revelatory period where Joan met with royalty, joined the army and led the French into battle against the English.
Joan the Maid [Blu-ray]As Joan,  Bonnaire gets at the reality behind the legend, showing the matter-of-fact courage of a teenage girl. Joan the Maid: The Prisons, the second part of Rivette’s diptych, brought leading lady Bonnaire a César Award nomination for her powerful performance, as she plays out windows in the final two years of Joan’s life, from the battlefield victory, to prison life, to the stake.


The Return of Martin Guerre is one of the most stunning, beautifully filmed atmospheric movies of all time. One critic said “it literally looks like it was painted by Camille Pissarro”.
A thought-provoking story, indeed: In medieval France, some villagers challenge a man’s claim of identity when he (as he says) returns home from some time in the army.

So how do you prove that you are who you say you are, hundreds of years before fingerprinting and DNA? The village dentist is dragged out, as is the midwife who delivered him and the shoemaker who brings a wooden last he made of the husband’s foot before he went off to war.
Gérard Depardieu and Nathalie Baye, who has the difficult job of playing either his wife or his co-conspirator, depending on what’s actually going on, offer solid, riveting performances.


Gérard Depardieu also stars in the lovely Get Out Your Hankerchiefs, a  complex, funny, sad, uncomfortaable and very French look at love and sexual dynamics. Depardieu plays a man who truly loves his wife, but is so bothered by his wife ‘s depression that he decides to ask a stranger to be her lover.
No luck, and now the two men are bewitched and
befuddled.Get Out Your Handkerchiefs
What does work is her love affair with a precocious 13-year-old boy who, in many ways, is the most mature character in the film. And she wants his baby!
This is an unconventional comedy  that charmed and shocked the Oscars and went on to become one of the most talked-about French films of the decade.



Starting in 1999, Claude Lanzmann made several films that could be considered satellites of Shoah, the 9 1/2 hour documentary of the Holocaust he made without using a single frame of archival footage. Shoah: Four Sisters is a continuation of Shoah, comprised of interviews conducted in the ’70s that didn’t make it into his completed monumental work. In the last years of the late director’s life, he decided to devote a film to four women from four different areas of Eastern Europe with four different destinies, each finding herself improbably alive after war’s end: Ruth Elias from Ostravia, Czechoslovakia; Paula Biren from Lodz, Poland; Ada Lichtman from further south in Krakow; and Hannah Marton from Cluj, or Kolozsva’r, in Transylvania.

Survivors of unimaginable Nazi horrors during the Holocaust, they tell their individual stories and become crucial witnesses to the barbarism they experienced. Each possesses a vivid intelligence and a commitment to candor that make their accounts of what they suffered through both searing and unforgettable. The frankness of their words, their intensely scrutinized faces, and their bravery as they revisit unimaginable experiences will make them lasting presences in the moral universe of younger generations. Lanzmann’s films remarkably stay within the immediate present tense, where the absolute horror of the Shoah is always happening.


Between the Lines, the sophomore 1977 film by trailblazing writer/director Joan Micklin Silver, marked her second independent production and theatrical follow up to the acclaimed Hester Street. Some consider this an adult version of The Front Page. At the offices of a Boston alternative newspaper, the staff members enjoy a positive and open-minded work environment.
Between the Lines Music critic Max (the brilliant Jeff Goldblum) uses his influence to score dates, while news reporter Harry (the brilliant John Heard) is dating the lovely Abbie (the brilliant Lindsay Crouse), the publication’s lead photographer. However, it seems as though their relatively carefree days are numbered when the owner of a major publishing company buys the paper, leading to more money, but even more changes.
Keep your eyes peeled for Michael J. Pollard, Marilu Henner, Lewis J. Stadlen, Joe Morton, Lane Smith, Jill Eikenberry and a slew of mother big and small-screen faves.



 

PETRUCELLI PICKS: THE MUST-HAVE PBS DISTRIBUTION GEMS OF 2019

PBS Distribution tops the list (yet again) for its must-see, must-have programs, specials, miniseries and documentaries. These are just a small sleighfull, dozens of others can be found at shoppbs.org.

The best of the best: Ken Burns: Country Music.
Ken Burns: Country Music DVD
This eight-part, 16-hour documentary series chronicles the history of a uniquely American art form, focusing on the biographies of the fascinating characters who created it. More than eight years in the making, the film follows the evolution of country music from its diverse and humble origins as it emerged, by the end of the twentieth century, into a worldwide phenomenon. Filled with memorable musical moments, interviews with more than 80 country music artists, and evocative footage and photographs, Country Music weaves an unforgettable story that is both intimate and sweeping.

Other top choices:
The bitter, partisan battle that played out during monster and deviant  Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings reflected deep divisions in Washington that may seem unique to America’s current political and social moment. But as the FRONTLINE investigation Supreme Revenge reveals, the intense politicization on display during the Supreme Court confirmation process, and the transformation of the Court itself, has been a shift decades in the making.
FRONTLINE: Supreme Revenge DVDOffering both critical context on the state of America’s judicial system and a gripping political narrative, Supreme Revenge is a must-watch look at the battle for control of America’s highest court.

Trace the improbable journey of Robert Shaw’s life and career, from his childhood as a preacher’s son in rural California through his meteoric rise as a star of popular music during the Great Depression, with Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices.
An early champion of civil rights, his chorales were among the first to break the color barrier in the American South. Shaw performed the music of Bach in the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and, with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, brought audiences to tears in East Berlin in the darkest days of the Cold War.
American Masters: Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices DVDShaw believed great music could have a profound influence, whether in individual lives or in bringing communities together. His eventful journey is brought to life in the film by interviews with legendary musicians including Yo-Yo Ma, Sylvia McNair, Alice Parker, Marietta Simpson, and Florence Kopleff, among others.

It’s 1969, and things have taken a darker turn for the old Cowley team. With Endeavour, Thursday and the gang now scattered across Oxfordshire, it takes a series of brutal crimes–including the death of a young schoolgirl, a fatal act of sabotage,
Masterpiece Mystery!: Endeavour, Season 6 DVD a deadly campaign of gossip and rumor in a picturesque village and a murder at the Bodleian Library–to reunite them. Welcome to the riveting Masterpiece Mystery!: Endeavour, Season 6.

In iconic settings such as the First Ancient Theatre of Larissa, the historic Church of Pammegiston Taxiarchon at Pelion and the newly opened Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performs works by Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Debussy, Ravel and the contemporary Greek-American composer George Tsontakis.
ODYSSEY: The Chamber Music Society In Greece Odyssey: The Great Music Society in Greece also offers a sumptuous taste of Greece itself, exploring the history, mythology and ideas that have inspired classical music for centuries.

We all know the riddle: What came first, the chicken or the egg? The Egg: Life’s Perfect Invention takes a fascinating look at what is perhaps nature’s most perfect life support system. These remarkable structures nurture new life; protecting it from the outside world at the same time as allowing it to breathe.
NATURE: The Egg: Life's Perfect Invention DVD They are strong enough to withstand the full weight of an incubating parent and weak enough for a hatchling to break free. But how is an egg made? Why are they the shape they are? And perhaps most importantly, why lay an egg at all? Step by step as the egg hatches, host David Attenborough reveals the wonder behind these incredible miracles of nature.

Words from a Bear takes audiences on a journey through the expansive landscapes of the West, when N. Scott Momaday’s Kiowa ancestry roamed the Great Plains with herds of buffalo, to the sand-painted valleys of Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico where he showed superior writing skills as a young mission student.
American Masters: N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear DVD The biography gives a thorough survey of Momaday’s most prolific years as a doctorate fellow at Stanford University, his achievement of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1969, and his later works that solidified his place as the founding member of the “Native American Renaissance” in art and literature, influencing a generation of Native American artists, scholars, and political activists.
Historical photos and original animation will complement captivating interviews with Robert Redford, Jeff Bridges, Beau Bridges, James Earle Jones, and Joy Harjo to bring audiences inside the creative core of this American Master.

Enjoy all five seasons of the outstanding historical family saga Poldark, here in Poldark: The Complete Collection. Set against the spectacular landscapes of the Cornish coast, Poldark is full of unforgettable characters, captivating storytelling and fiery romance.
Poldark: Seasons 1-5 Complete Collection (Masterpiece)In the more than 150 minutes of bonuses, go behind the scenes with cast and crew in special featurettes from all five seasons; meet the skilled people who design the vivid scenery and create the lavish costumes and hear from the actors who bring to life the compelling heroes, heroines and villains of Cornwall.

Louise Brooks, the ’20s silver screen sensation who never met a rule she didn’t break, epitomized the restless, reckless spirit of the Jazz Age. But, just a few years earlier, she was a 15-year-old student in Wichita, Kansas, for whom fame and fortune were only dreams. When the opportunity arises for her to go to New York to study with a leading dance troupe, her mother insists there be The Chaperone. Norma Carlisle, a local society matron who never broke a rule in her life, impulsively volunteers to accompany Louise to New York for the summer.
Masterpiece: The ChaperoneWhy does this utterly conventional woman do this? What happens to her when she lands in Manhattan with an unusually rebellious teenager as her ward? And, which of the two women is stronger, the uptight wife-and-mother or the irrepressible free spirit? It’s a story full of surprises . . . about who these women really are, and who they eventually become.

PETRUCELLI PICKS: 2019 GIFT GUIDE: THE YEAR’S BEST DVD/BLU-RAYS FROM FILM MOVEMENT

Film Movement has the knack to move things around . . . actions that move film fans to explore genres, watch movies previously unknown to them, introduce themselves to new directors, new actors, new talent.
We took such actions this year and discovered a trove of treasures; films that moved us to tears and laughter and the promise to keep our minds and hearts open.
A small sampling of Film Movement flicks that must be added to your must-see list:

Oh! The genius of Fritz Lang . . . M, Metropolis,  Fury, Scarlet Street,  Rancho Notorious, Clash By Night, The Blue Gardenia, The Big Heat.  After more than two decades of exile in Hollywood, the master filmmaker Lang triumphantly returned to his native Germany to direct a lavish two-part serialized cliffhanger from a story he co-authored almost 40 years earlier: 1959’s The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb, which together would become known as Fritz Lang’s Indian Epic.

Operating outside the Hollywood system and given more freedom and resources than he had seen in years, Lang returned to remake the exotic adventure The Indian Tomb, which he originally helped to pen in 1921 but didn’t have the opportunity to direct himself. With breathtaking location shoots, a large international cast, elaborate sets and a jungle’s worth of danger and treachery, Lang crafted a blend of evocative images and montage that, in the twilight of his career, once again proved him a virtuoso of film form.
Initially released in America as Journey to the Lost City, a radically condensed 90-minute version, these exotic masterpieces are finally presented in all their original splendor, featuring more than three hours of breathtaking cinematography and cliff-hanging suspense, in this new 4K restored edition. The release of the film is cinematic history.


It’s been described as “less a swan song than a meteor shower rendered in Technicolor”, a fab phrase that we wish we came up with. Cassandro the Exotico! is a stirring feature portrait of a lucha libre legend in his waning years in the ring. The latest documentary portrait from director Marie Losier, whose 2011 film The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jay followed the gender reassignment journey of musician and artist Genesis P-Orridge, puts the spotlight on another, very different gender-bending LGBTQ+ performer.

Famed as much for his flamboyant drag and sky-high pompadour as for his show-stopping kicks and flips, 47-year-old Saul Armendariz — known in the wrestling ring as Cassandro — is a champion “exotico” wrestler, a luchador who performs in drag with generous doses of camp vamping between back-breaking suplexes. His trailblazing ascent as one the industry’s first openly gay wrestlers has resonated internationally for a quarter century- the story of an underdog and a queer icon simultaneously fragile and mighty. Losier captures the moving, at times humorous, and always colorful dualities of this legendary figure with her talent for forging intimacy with a subject while celebrating his individuality broadly.
The film, shot entirely on 16mm film, follows the “Liberace of the Lucha Libre” in his final years of competition, struggling with opponents and the cruel passage of time, while melding tender encounters and larger-than-life fight scenes into a stylish whole that reflects the vivid textures and hues of a dazzling life in sport.
Dazzling, daring and diversely different, Cassandro the Exotico! is the Best Film Movement Film of the Year!

We never had heard of Arvo Pärt, but That Pärt Feeling The Universe of Arvo Pärt introduced us to the most performed living composer in the world. Who knew?
He is considered to be something of a recluse, and his person and work have rarely been documented on film. In this documentary we get to know Pärt as an artist combining an incredible sensitivity with humor and energy in his work.


The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s celebrated philosophical children’s book about friendship, love and respect, is one of the world’s most widely translated literary works. In The Miracle of the Little Prince, director Marjoleine Boonstra visits the people who have translated this little masterpiece from French into Tibetan, Tamazight (North Africa), Sámi (northern Finland and Scandinavia) and Nawat (El Salvador). All of these languages are under threat. Passionately enthusiastic language researchers, teachers and translators talk about how the observations of an alien prince on earth are interpreted in their own culture.
The Miracle of the Little Prince They also recall the first time they read the book, and, naturally enough, discuss the linguistic challenges they faced how do you translate water faucet if there’s no such term in your world? This original approach and the exquisite, calm cinematography allow for the telling of personal stories that are as bizarre, human and painful as the experiences of the titular prince. It s a film that inspires wonder a testimony to the imagination and the solace and liberation it offers.


Bursting with the colorful street style and music of Nairobi’s vibrant youth culture, Rafiki is a tender love story between two young women in a country that still criminalizes homosexuality. Kena and Ziki have long been told that “good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives”. But they yearn for something more. Despite the political rivalry between their families, the girls encourage each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society. When love blossoms between them, Kena and Ziki must choose between happiness and safety.
RafikiInitially banned in Kenya for its positive portrayal of queer romance, Rafiki won a landmark supreme court case chipping away at Kenyan anti-LGBT legislation. Featuring remarkable performances by newcomers Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva, Rafiki is a hip tale of first love.


The Mad Adventures of “Rabbi” Jacob, a riot of frantic disguises and mistaken identities, has been magnificently restored in 4K and has been released on Blu-ray fpr the time in North America.
Victor Pivert, a blustering, bigoted French factory owner, finds himself taken hostage by Slimane, an Arab rebel leader. The two dress up as rabbis as they try to elude not only assassins from Slimane’s country, but also the police, who think Pivert is a murderer.
The Mad Adventures of 'Rabbi' JacobPivert ends up posing as Rabbi Jacob, a beloved figure who’s returned to France for his first visit after 30 years in the United States. Adding to the confusion are Pivert’s dentist-wife, who thinks her husband is leaving her for another woman, their daughter, who’s about to get married, and a Parisian neighborhood filled with people eager to celebrate the return of Rabbi Jacob. A hoot!


Umar Bin Hassan hasn’t even hit 70 yet, but he walks with difficulty and there’s sadness and fatigue in his eyes. As a member of The Last Poets, a group of performance poets who expressed the progressive spirit of the times starting in the late ’60s, he was a major influence on later hip-hop artists. In one of his best-known pieces, “Ni****s Are Scared of Revolution”, he criticizes his black brothers’ destructive, macho behavior.

Scared of Revolution, based on Christine Otten’s book, The Last Poets, concentrates on Hassan’s personal life, in which he still fights his demons. He grew up poor with a violent, unpredictable father, which in turn left him with an inferiority complex. In the course of his adult life, he has had a string of bad relationships and left children without a father figure. In his darkest hour, he also battled a crack addiction.
“Deep inside, Umar was scared of the revolution himself,” says fellow member of The Last Poets Abiodun Oyewole. But, as this intimate documentary portrait shows, Hassan takes control of his life again, breaks the destructive cycle and does his best to be the devoted father and grandfather that he was never fortunate enough to have.


We save the best for last. With an emphasis on “best”.
Since its launch in 2015, the Film Movement Classics label has been dedicated to seeking out distinctive films of the past from around the globe, and offering these digitally restored classics to cineastes everywhere. We go excited—truly, really excited—when we found out that Film Movement has acquired a baker’s dozen of British classics from the ’40s-’60s for Blu-ray and digital release on the Film Movement Classics label beginning this month.
That gasp you just heard? That was me. Yes, that excited.
Each of these new home entertainment releases has been digitally restored for optimal enjoyment, and each release will feature numerous bonus features for an unparalleled viewing experience.
The first two British classics to be released on December 20 are The Titfield Thunderbolt and Passport to Pimlico, both hailing from Ealing Studios, whose output from the ’40s and ’50s helped define the Golden Age for British Cinema and the birthplace of the most delectable crop of films to decorate postwar cinema.
The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953), the first Ealing comedy to be made in color, tells the story of the inhabitants of Titfield, who endeavor to prove that their single-track railway is the only form of transport for the village. The villains of the piece are two unsavory characters who have introduced a smart brand new single-decker bus to Titfield. Crump and Pearce, owners of the bus company, are determined to cease the running of the Titfield train, by fair means or foul. The film starred Ealing regulars including Stanley Holloway, Naunton Wayne, George Relp, John Gregson and Hugh Griffith. Extras on the Blu-ray include, “Making The Titfield Thunderbolt“, “The Lion Locomotive” and a Locations featurette; Home Movie Footage from Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe; Slocombe on Charles Crichton audio interview, the original trailer and an archival stills gallery.
Starring Stanley Holloway, Hermione Baddeley, Margaret Rutherford and Paul Dupuis, Passport to Pimlico (1949) is one of the most whimsically charming Ealing films from director Henry Cornelius. When an accidental explosion of an undetonated WWII German bomb unearths a buried cellar containing both fabulous riches and an unknown royal charter from King Edward IV that cedes the surrounding land to the last Duke of Burgundy, the town of Pimlico is turned upside down.
Since the charter has never been rescinded, the London district of Pimlico is now legally the long-lost Duchy of Burgundy, and therefore no longer subject to British law, including postwar rationing and pub closure hours. The locals, quick to see the opportunities, do their best to take full advantage of the situation.  Extras include a Locations featurette with Film Historian Richard Dacre; an interview with BFI Curator Mark Duguid; a restoration comparison and an archival slideshow.
Yes, dear readers, as Film Movement Classics reveals other releases, we will be the first to let you know. For instance . .  .
The next release, arriving on February 18, 2020, is The Alastair Sim Blu-Ray Collection. Though he is perhaps best known for his role as Scrooge in the 1951 film adaptation of A Christmas Carol, Scottish character actor Alastair Sim is one of the best-loved and most prolific actors in classic British comedy. Often appearing in multiple roles, he starred in more than 50 films beginning in 1935 and was both critically acclaimed and unfailingly popular, regularly topping the cinema-goers popularity polls. This specially-curated set includes Hue and Cry (1947), Laughter in Paradise (1951), The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954) and School for Scoundrels (1960).
 
We tell us this  so that any cash Santa brought you must be set aside so you can buy this invaluable collection.

PETRUCELLI PICKS: GIFT GUIDE 2019: THE BEST DVDS/BLU-RAYS OF THE YEAR

Before making Hollywood epics such as Tora! Tora! Tora! and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, director Richard Fleischer started his career with a series of low-budget B-features, often taking ripped-from-the-headlines tales of crime stories and spinning them into noir gold,  of which an exquisite example is 1949’s endlessly entertaining Trapped.

A young Lloyd Bridges stars as hard-boiled hood Tris Stewart, a convicted counterfeiter doing time in the Atlanta pen. When a fresh batch of fake bills starts circulating, treasury agents bail Stewart out to help lead them to the maker of the fake plates. But Tris double-crosses the Feds, hooking up with his gun-moll sweetie (22-year-old Barbara Payton in her breakout role). They plan to heist the plates and hightail it across the border. With the Feds closing in and the double-crosses piling up, Stewart finds himself between a rock and a hard place. Will he trapped for good?

Although long sought by the Film Noir Foundation, Trapped was believed to have suffered the unfortunate fate of many B-films of the era—oblivion. But when a private collector deposited a 35mm acetate print at the Harvard Film Archive, the Film Noir Foundation and UCLA Film & Television Archive (with support from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Charitable Trust [The HFPA Trust]) sprang into action, restoring the film. The result, presented in a Blu-ray/DVD dual-format edition by Flicker Alley, honors the pitch-perfect performances, assured direction, and gorgeous cinematography of this edge-of-your-seat, noir classic.


Olive Signature line has released  a Blu-ray edition of Bells of St. Mary’s that is a significant improvement over the DVD released by Republic Pictures 100 years ago. The lack of specks and soot and and scratches leads us to believe the film has been (greatly) restored, though why Olive doesn’t use this bragging point is beyond us.
The Bells of St. Marys (Olive Signature) [Blu-ray]This is not a true “Christmas film”, but the warmth and heart and humor and luminous Ingrid Bergman make it worth a few viewings. We are still a bit surprised when we admit that she and co-star Bing Crosby (as a nun and a pastor at odds with each other) have appealing chemistry together.


Have an appetite for a dark, delectable comedy in the tradition of cannibal classics Eating Raoul and Delicatessen? Look no further than A Feast of Man (IndiePix Films), certain to satisfy your hunger (and funny bone).
A Feast of ManWhen a wealthy and eccentric New York playboy prone to mischief dies unexpectedly, his four closest socialite friends  are summoned to the late aristocrat’s country home overlooking the Hudson for a viewing of his video will. Only things don’t go quite as Wolf, the executor of the estate, had planne: Gallagher’s posthumous wish is to put his dearly beloved to the test—each will become a millionaire overnight if they can unanimously agree to consume his dead body and the group, has until the end of the weekend to reach a decision.  Funny food for thought!

Say hello to the ultimate Tony Montana experience with the Scarface “The World Is Yours” Edition Gift Set (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment). This gem is chockfull of goodies: The 1983 film is 4K UHD; experience the unforgettable film like never before with HDR for brighter, deeper, more lifelike color.
There’s also more than 2 and a half hours of bonuses, including the brand-new Scarface 35th Anniversary Reunion Feature, with an all-new conversation with director Brian De Palma and actors Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer and Steven Bauer. Another Blu-ray bonus: Both the original theatrical and alternate censored versions of Howard Hawks’ newly restored 1932 version Scarface. Perhaps best of all is the limited edition, individually-numbered replica of one of the most iconic props from the film.


After a 30-year-old bachelor, leaves his corporate job to pursue his dreams as an artist, he embarks on a new life as an Uber driver while working on a graphic novel titled Pixelia, which just happens to also be the name of this IndiePix Films release. One day, a transgender woman gets into his car and changes his life forever; they spend the whole day together, opening each other’s minds: she shares her desire to adopt a child, while he narrates the story of his graphic novel.
After a special bond quickly forms, he realizes his own queer identity, and the couple start to make their way in a culture that is not always friendly to alternative ways of life.
This LGBTQ festival favorite, made on a show string budget, is a prime example of India’s budding queer cinema movement.

The Broad City Complete Series(Paramount) has everything a queen or two could ever need. In addition to every single freakin’ episode, there are special features including outtakes, deleted/extended scenes, and every episode of Hack into Broad City and Behind Broad CitysPlus, a special features only disc with more than 30 minutes of additional extras. Yaaaas!


Frank Capra’s heart-warming masterpiece is the best-known and most-loved holiday film.  Now you can watch It’s a Wonderful Life (Paramount)  holiday classic like never before, newly remastered from the original film negatives and more vibrant than ever with stunning clarity.
With the endearing message that “no one is a failure who has friends”, Capra’s heartwarming masterpiece continues to endure, and after more than 70 years, this beloved classic still remains as powerful and moving as the day it was made.


Not to be catty, but little heroes can romp to the rescue with the PAW Patrol pups, as the canine crew use their tools, tech, vehicles and problem-solving skills to save Adventure Bay.
Each pup has a unique job and skills, but the pack must always come together as a team to save the day. The 3-DVD set PAW Patrol: Best in Snow Collection (Nickelodeon) deserves a spot in each kid’s stocking.


For the young and young-at-heart: Bumblebee & Transformers Ultimate 6-Movie Collection,
including Bumblebee and all five Transformers films, from visionary director Michael Bay and legendary producer Steven Spielberg.


Baby Boomer boom! The Toys That Made Us (Screen Media) is an American television series created by Brian Volk-Weiss. The first four episodes of the series began streaming on Netflix on December 22, 2017, and the next four were released on May 25, 2018.
The eight-episode documentary series, as it was originally touted, focused on the history of important toy lines. The first four episodes focus on the Star Wars, He-Man and G.I. Joe toy lines with subsequent episodes featuring LEGO, Transformers, Hello Kitty and Star Trek. The Bu-ray set includes a free collectible!


Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orphee & Eurydice in one of opera’s most beautiful masterpieces; his exquisite drama introduces us to Orpheus, the poet and musician whose every word and note communicate the most overwhelming love for his Eurydice.
Gluck: Orphee et Eurydice [Blu-ray]This production features Gluck’s reworking of the original German opera into a French-language production which contains thrilling ballet sequences that will come to vivid life under the direction and choreography of the legendary John Neumeier. This production stars Dmitry Korchak as Orphée with Andriana Chuchman as Eurydice and Lauren Snouffer as Amour.  Oui!


Democracies should protect their citizens, especially the most vulnerable among them, but the United States is increasingly failing to do so especially in areas like the Rust Belt, the manufacturing heartland of the nation that includes Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The investigative documentary The Corporate Coup d’Etat (First Run features) shows how corporations and billionaires have taken control of the American political process, and in doing so have brought economic hardship and ruin to vast swaths of the country. It combines insights from political thinkers and journalists with the experiences of citizens from the Rust Belt, where factory closures and outsourcing have left it desolate and people hopeless.
Corporate Coup d'Etat, TheThe film argues that the crisis predates Adolph Freak’s election by many years: Decades ago, U.S. democracy began selling its soul to big corporations; lobbyists and business-friendly politicians took control in Washington, gradually undermining the will of the people. Provocative and revealing, The Corporate Coup d État exposes what happened and where we are now.

Other First Run features topping the list:
Tattoo Uprising reveals the artistic and historical roots of today s tattoo explosion. This sweeping overview explores how tattoos were used in early Christian practices, how they were discovered halfway around the world during the voyages of Captain James Cook, and how they exploded in popularity in America beginning with artists like Ed Hardy.
Tattoo UprisingThere’s an unforgettable appearance by  Werner Herzog, who allows a rare glimpse at his Ed Hardy tattoo.

Spanning three generations, Chasing Portraits is a deeply moving narrative of the richness of one man’s art, the devastation of war, and an unexpected path to healing. Moshe Rynecki was a prolific artist who painted scenes of the Polish-Jewish community until he was murdered during the Holocaust. Chasing PortraitsFor more than a decade his great-granddaughter, Elizabeth, has searched for the missing art.

An elderly man, Octav Petrescu (portrayed by the brilliant Marcel Iures), returns to his childhood villa in Romania to sell it. Arriving there after a decades-long absence, Octav wanders through the atmospheric house and undulating grounds that surround it and is confronted and transformed Octavby the memories and spectres of his youth, eventually finding answers to questions that have cast a shadow over his adult life.

From Oscar-nominated Josh Aronson and featuring a new song from Jon Bon Jovi, To Be Of Service is a documentary about veterans suffering from PTSD who are paired with a service dog to help them regain their lives.
To Be of ServiceThe film follows these warriors with their dogs as this deeply bonded friendship restores independence and feeling for the men and women who so courageously served our country.


Inherited from Maria Montessori in 1907, the Montessori Method is a child-centered educational philosophy that celebrates and nurtures each child’s desire to learn, an approach valuing the human spirit and full development: physical, social, emotional and cognitive. The Montessori Method is increasing in popularity both in the U.S. and abroad.
Curious to see how the Method works first hand, filmmaker Alexandre Mourot sets his camera up in the oldest Montessori school in France (with kids from 3 to 6) and observes. He meets happy children, free to move around, working alone or in small groups. Some read, others make bread, do divisions, laugh or sleep. The teacher remains discreet.
Children guide the filmmaker through the whole school year, helping him understand the magic of their autonomy and self-esteem–the seeds of a new society of peace and freedom, which Maria Montessori dedicated her life work to.
Such is the wonder and joy of Montessori: Let the Child be the Guide.


Holy high notes! Melody Makers (Cleopatra Entertainment/MVD Visual), a chronicle of the birth of music journalism from the world’s oldest and longest standing seminal music magazine, Melody Makersis not just another music documentary; through a series of interviews from artists and journalists of the time, the film tells the true story of the rise and fall of the world’s most influential music publication and uncovers an era of tremendous creative freedom.


Who says the holidays can’t be a horror . . . and we don’t just mean when the in-laws come. George Roy Hill’s landmark science-fiction classic, Slaughterhouse-Five, tells the tale of World War II soldier Billy Pilgrim and how he was abducted by aliens. The flick took home the Jury Prize at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival and has been a favorite of sci-fi fans ever since.  Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote the novel the book is based on, famously claimed, “I drool and cackle every time I watch that film.”
Slaughterhouse-Five [Blu-ray] Not only is Arrow bringing this to Blu-ray for the first time in North America, but it comes with a brand new 4K restoration and a spaceship-load of special features. Yippee!


He was a true genius. And Kurt Weill’s Street Scene is an amazing mélange of show tunes, arias, jazz numbers, folk songs and spirituals, a true musical melting pot that aptly underlines the rich variety of characters that populate the New York City tenement block in the ’30s that’s the focus of this exceptionally vital and criminally undervalued work.
It was meant meant to be a truly American opera, half-way between his The Threepenny Opera and Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story and drawing from the famous play by Elmer Rice (recipient of the Pulitzer Prize when it was published in 1928).
Kurt Weill's Street Scene [Blu-ray]Weill wrote Street Scene shortly after fleeing Nazi Germany. When he discovered the vitality of the American musical scene, his focus became to reconcile the Broadway musical with European traditional opera, jazzy and North-American tunes with an almost Puccinian-like lyricism. Under Tim Murray’s vivid and precise baton, the superb production by John Fulljames perfectly renders the vitality and energy released by the streets of New York that proved to be a great inspiration to the theatrical mind of the composer.
Released by BelAir Classiques, the staging generously evokes a bygone era of American history, simultaneously looking rundown and part of a dreamscape worth longing for.


 

 

 

PETRUCELLI PICKS: GIFT GUIDE 2019: THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR (PART DEUX)

Without a doubt, our favorite (read: best) holiday book of the year. The 1942 Sears Christmas Book (Dover Publications, $19.99) is a faithful facsimile of the retailer’s 1942 Christmas edition . . . weeks after first “reading” it, I am looking forward to reliving those bygone years again and again.
The 1942 Sears Christmas Book also provides an interesting look at how merchandise has evolved over the years. In 1942, Sears shoppers could purchase toys as well as housewares, clothes, furniture, candy, and gifts to send to servicemen (all at prices that now seem astonishingly low). The wartime catalog even includes information about the importance of saving scrap metal for munitions and encourages readers to buy war bonds.
Nostalgia has never been nicer!


Picking this book as one of the year’s best is easier than picking a guitar. Guitar: The World’s Most Seductive Instrument (Workman Publishing),s an obsessive, full-color book presented in an irresistible slipcase, features 200 instruments in stunning detail.
Get thisclose to Prince’s Yellow Cloud; Willie Nelson’s “Trigger”; Muddy Water’s Thunderbird; and “Rocky,” lovingly hand-painted by its owner, George Harrison. Met historic instruments—Fender’s Broadcaster; Les Paul’s “Log”; the Gibson Nick Lucas Special, the very first artist model—and stunning acoustics from a new wave of women builders, like Rosie Heydenrych of England, who’s known to use 5,000-year-old wood retrieved from a peat bog, and quirky one-of-a-kind guitars, like Linda Manzer’s Pikasso II, a musical marvel consisting of four necks, 42 strings and a thousand pounds of pressure.


War sucks. Yet Vicksburg: Grant’s Campaign That Broke the Confederacy (Simon & Schuster, $35) tells the full story of  the last stronghold of the Confederacy on the Mississippi River. It prevented the Union from using the river for shipping between the Union-controlled Midwest and New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. The Union navy tried to take Vicksburg, which sat on a high bluff overlooking the river, but couldn’t do it. General Grant moved his army south and joined forces with Admiral Porter, but even together they could not come up with a successful plan.
At one point Grant even tried to build a canal so that the river could be diverted away from Vicksburg.is year-long campaign to win the city.
Donald L. Miller brings to life all the drama, characters, and significance of Vicksburg, a historic moment that rivals any war story in history.


Cute book, clever design. The Queeriodic Table: A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Culture (Summersdale , $13.99) plays on the periodic table to celebrate all aspects of the culture in small, easy-to-digest sections.
Celebrate the richness of modern queer culture and its vast history with this fascinating introduction to all the essential elements that helped sculpt the queer community up to the present day.


Stephen King calls the book “one hell of a suspense novel.” We couldn’t agreed more.  ?—Stephen King
Linwood Barclay’s Elevator Pitch (William Morrow, $26.99) begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds, non-stop, to the top. Once there, it stops for a few seconds, and then plummets.
Right to the bottom of the shaft.
It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again, in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world—and the nation’s capital of media, finance and entertainment—is plunged into chaos.
You expect us to give more away?
Take the elevator to the bottom floor and go get your copy!


People from all over the United States visit Nantucket Island to celebrate Christmas in a charming Early American setting. From the Christmas Stroll along cobblestoned Main Street to the Festival of Trees held each year at the historic Whaling Museum, Nantucket celebrates the holiday season with traditions and decorations that transform the island into a winter wonderland.
Can’t make it this year? Opt for Lesley Linsley’s Christmas on Nantucket (Globe Pequot, $29.99) as she takes readers on a holiday tour through this picturesque island, offering her own ideas for recreating a quaint Nantucket-style Christmas along the way.


The Wild Bunch has been named one of the greatest Westerns of all time by the American Film Institute. With good reasonSam Peckinpah’s film is the story of a gang of outlaws who are one big steal from retirement. When their attempted train robbery goes awry, the gang flees to Mexico and falls in with a brutal general of the Mexican Revolution, who offers them the job of a lifetime. Conceived by a stuntman, directed by a blacklisted director, and shot in the sand and heat of the Mexican desert, the movie seemed doomed. Instead, it became an instant classic with a dark, violent take on the Western movie tradition.
In The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film  Bloomsbury Publishing, $28), W.K. Stratton tells the fascinating history of the making of the movie and documents for the first time the extraordinary contribution of Mexican and Mexican-American actors and crew members to the movie’s success. The Wild Bunch is an authoritative history of the making of a movie and the era behind it.


Written in Gary John Bishop’s  irreverent, in-your-face style that resonated with the hundreds of thousand of fans who read his  Unfu*k YourselfStop Doing That Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back (HarperOne, $22.99) reveals our deepest subconscious machinery, with a real-world approach to powerfully translate our most negative thoughts and behaviors into a vitalizing, sabotage-free future.
Think you’ve unfucked yourself? Yet why do you act the way you do? Do you ever feel like you get stuck in destructive cycles that hold you back from living the life you really want? In a dynamic, compelling and aha-filled journey, the book helps you connect the dots of your “stuff” all the way from your past to the present. You’ll make sense of yourself as you uncover how to interrupt those destructive cycles of yours and make the kind of profound shift needed to get your life on track.


Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen ( W. W. Norton & Company, $25.95) is a charming account of Mary Norris’s lifelong love affair with words (pencils and punctuation kept her busy in The New Yorker’s celebrated copy department)  and her solo adventures in the land of olive trees and ouzo.
Along the way, Norris explains how the alphabet originated in Greece, makes the case for Athena as a feminist icon, goes searching for the fabled Baths of Aphrodite, and reveals the surprising ways Greek helped form English. Filled with Norris’s memorable encounters with Greek words, Greek gods, Greek wine―and more than a few Greek men―Greek to Me is the Comma Queen’s fresh take on Greece and the exotic yet strangely familiar language that so deeply influences our own.


Since the moment we first entered Downton Abbey in 1912, we have been swept away by Julian Fellowes’ evocative world of romance, intrigue, drama and tradition. Now, in 1925, as Downton Abbey prepares to close its doors for the final time, Jessica Fellowes leads us through the house and estate, reliving the iconic moments of the wonderfully aristocratic Crawley family and their servants as they navigate the emerging modern age.
St. Martin’s Press has released two scumptions books that fans will relish. Downton Abbey A Celebration: The Official Companion to All Six Seasons ($22.99) is crammed with  in-depth cast interview, as well as a complete episode guide for the first five seasons and a teaser for the sixth.
Downton Abbey: The Official Film Companion (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99) brings the world and the characters of our favorite fictional country house to life.
Featuring spectacular photographs from the production, interviews with the cast and crew, and a look into the historical and geographical backdrop of the film, this official guide to the film is made to be treasured and loved by fans across the globe.
The film revolves around the King and Queen making an official visit to Downton in 1927, and not only sees the return of all the main cast from the final television series, but also introduces some great British actors to the world of Downton, as we meet the royal family and their retinue. The accompanying book is lavishly illustrated with stunning shots from both behind and in front of the camera, which capture some wonderful off-guard moments during filming, as well as the original costume illustrations.


Did you know that one of the world’s sharpest and most forensic minds inhabited the persona of an attractive old lady, with pink cheeks and blue eyes and a gentle, rather fussy manner? Discover the secrets of Miss Marple in Murder, She Said: The Quotable Miss Marple (William Morrow, $16.99).
It’s a tiny tome of her quotes and sayings, and an essay by Agatha Christie (the Queen of Crime who created MM) appearing for the first time in any book.


Experience the work of Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest painters, inventors, and scientists of all time, in a brand-new way. Courtney Watson McCarthy has crafted many brilliant pop-up books, and Leonardo Pop-Ups (Thames & Hudson, $34.95) is the most dynamic.
Featuring many of Da Vinci’s most enduring artworks, both as illustrations and pop-ups, including The Vitruvian ManThe Last Supper, and, of course, the Mona LisaLeonardo Pop-Ups also includes Da Vinci’s self-portrait, an overview of his architectural designs, and inventions such as a flapping ornithopter.


Spanning every episode of Game of Thrones across all eight seasons, Kim Renfro goes deep into how the show was made, why it became such a phenomenon and explores every detail you want to know.
The Unofficial Guide to Game of Thrones is the perfect book to look back at all you may have missed or to jump-start you on a second viewing of the whole series. Valar morghulis!


We would not have honey without honeybees. Without the pinhead-sized chocolate midge, cocoa flowers would not pollinate. No cocoa, no chocolate. The ink that was used to write the Declaration of Independence was derived from galls on oak trees, which are induced by a small wasp. The fruit fly was essential to medical and biological research experiments that resulted in six Nobel prizes. Blowfly larva can clean difficult wounds; flour beetle larva can digest plastic; several species of insects have been essential to the development of antibiotics. Insects turn dead plants and animals into soil. They pollinate flowers, including crops that we depend on. They provide food for other animals, such as birds and bats. They control organisms that are harmful to humans. Life as we know it depends on these small creatures.
With ecologist Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson as our capable, entertaining guide into the insect world, we’ll learn that there is more variety among insects than we can even imagine and the more you learn about insects, the more fascinating they become. Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects (Simon & Schuster, $26) is an essential introduction to the little creatures that make the world go round.


Nelson DeMille and Alex DeMille’s blistering thriller The Deserter (Simon & Schuster, $28.99) is and features a brilliant and unorthodox Army investigator, his enigmatic female partner, and their hunt for the Army’s most notorious—and dangerous—deserter.
When Captain Kyle Mercer of the Army’s elite Delta Force disappeared from his post in Afghanistan, a video released by his Taliban captors made international headlines.
But circumstances were murky: Did Mercer desert before he was captured? Then a second video sent to Mercer’s Army commanders leaves no doubt: The trained assassin and keeper of classified Army intelligence has willfully disappeared.
And we ain’t telling you anything else: Why spoil the read?


1973 was the year rock hit its peak while splintering―just like the rest of the world. Ziggy Stardust travelled to America in David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane. The Dark Side of the Moon began its epic run on the Billboard charts, inspired by the madness of Pink Floyd’s founder, while all four former Beatles scored top ten albums, two hitting #1. FM battled AM, and Motown battled Philly on the charts, as the era of protest soul gave way to disco, while DJ Kool Herc gave birth to hip hop in the Bronx. The glam rock of the New York Dolls and Alice Cooper split into glam metal and punk. Elvis Presley’s Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite was NBC’s top-rated special of the year, while Elton John’s albums dominated the number one spot for two and a half months.
Just as U.S. involvement in Vietnam drew to a close, Roe v. Wade ignited a new phase in the culture war. While the oil crisis imploded the American dream of endless prosperity, and Watergate’s walls closed in on Nixon, the music of 1973 both reflected a shattered world and brought us together.
Celebrate the year with 1973: Rock at the Crossroads (Thomas Dunne Books, $29.99). You will be glad you did.


 

PETRUCELLI PICKS: GIFT GUIDE 2019: THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR (PART ONE)

Doris Day once reminded us that “four legged animals are much nicer than the two-legged ones”. 
We have always agreed. And how we relish Extraordinary Dogs: Stories from Search and Rescue Dogs, Comfort Dogs, and Other Canine Heroes (St. Martin’s Press, $27.99), which portrays more than 50 working dogs, along with the police officers, firefighters, veterans and other trained volunteer handlers who serve side-by-side with them.
Extraordinary Dogs: Stories from Search and Rescue Dogs, Comfort Dogs, and Other Canine HeroesTheir moving stories and beautiful photographs are an unprecedented glimpse at Comfort Dogs and Search and Rescue Dogs, along with bomb-detecting TSA dogs and canine ambassadors from across the United States.
Extraordinary Dogs is both a portrait of what love, hope, courage, and heroism look like in their purest forms and a tribute to the eternal and impactful bonds we forge with our furry friends.
We can’t be catty about What I Lick Before Your Face and Other Haikus By Dogs (Atria Books, $14.99), an adorable tiny tome that filled with picture-perfect photos of dogs as each  shares its innermost feelings in poetic form.
This book confirms what we’ve all long suspected: Inside every dog is the soul of a poet.

 


For a look at another dog, try MacTrump: A Shakespearean Tragicomedy of the Trump Administration, Part I (Quirk Books, $15.99). The clever satire, written in iambic pentameter in the style of Shakespeare, wittily fictionalizes the events of the first two years of the Frump administration.
MacTrump: A Shakespearean Tragicomedy of the Trump Administration, Part INo one thought that MacTrump—Lord of MacTrump Towers, Son of New York—would ascend to the highest position in the kingdom. Yet with the help of his unhappy but dutiful wife Lady MacTrump, his clever daughter Dame Desdivanka, and his coterie of advisers, MacTrump is comfortably ensconced in the White Hold as President of the United Fiefdoms, free to make proclamations to his subjects through his favorite messenger, McTweet.
MacTrump soon realizes he has no true allies. Will he be able to hold on to his throne? Only time will tell in this tragicomic tale of ambition, greed, and royal ineptitude.


We can’t wait to try Bull Penis Soup. That recipe (yes, it’s real, from Bolivia) is one of the tasty tidbits found in Bizarre World: A Collection of the World’s Creepiest, Strangest, and Sometimes Most Hilarious Traditions (Adams Media, $15.99), a survey of the most bizarre, creepy, and sometimes hilarious customs from cultures around the world.
Bizarre World: A Collection of the World's Creepiest, Strangest, and Sometimes Most Hilarious TraditionsJourney across the globe to understand how various cultures approach everything from grief, beauty standards, food, parenting, death, stress management, happiness and more. Try the soup. Delicious!


The Little Book of Outdoor Wisdom (Falcon Guides, $24.95) is a collection of all-new essays from legendary climber and outdoor writer John Long, an exploration of what connects us fundamentally to the outdoors and of why we return again and again.
Through evocative anecdotes and sketches, told in Long’s visceral yet poignant style, readers will rediscover their love for nature and glean a deeper appreciation for its rejuvenating effect.


Blending biology, chemistry, and physics basics with accessible—and witty—prose, The Science of Rick and Morty: The Unofficial Guide to Earth’s Stupidest Show (Atria Books, $17) equips you with the scientific foundation to thoroughly understand Rick’s experiments from the hit Adult Swim show, such as how we can use dark matter and energy, just what is intelligence hacking, and whether or not you can really control a cockroach’s nervous system with your tongue.
The Science of Rick and Morty: The Unofficial Guide to Earth's Stupidest ShowPerfect for longtime and new fans of the show, this is the ultimate segue into discovering more about our complicated and fascinating universe.


Two mysteries that kept us up way beyond bedtime: Lieutenant Eve Dallas fights to save the innocent―and serve justice to the guilty―on the streets of New York in Connections in Death ( St. Martin’s Press, $28.99) the gritty and gripping new In Death novel from author J.D. Robb. Nope, we cannot give away anything else.
Connections in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel (In Death, Book 48)Everyone knows Mary Higgins Clark has superb skills at the cut and paste keys, but we enjoyed Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry (Simon & Schuster, $26.99). When investigative journalist Gina Kane receives an email from a “CRyan” describing her “terrible experience” while working at REL, a high-profile television news network, including the comment “and I’m not the only one,” Gina knows she has to pursue the story. But when Ryan goes silent, Gina is shocked to discover the young woman has died tragically in a Jet Ski accident.
Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry: A NovelGina realizes someone—or some people—will go to depraved lengths to keep the story from seeing the light. Nope, we cannot give away anything else.


This Tender Land (Atria Books , $27) is a magnificent novel about four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression. The Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.
This Tender Land: A NovelOver the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, William Kent Krueger’s tome is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.


In May 1974, as President Richard Nixon faced impeachment following the Watergate scandal, the House Judiciary Committee commissioned a historical account of the misdeeds of past presidents. .
The account, compiled by leading presidential historians of the day, reached back to George Washington’s administration and was designed to provide a benchmark against which Nixon’s misdeeds could be measured.
Yes Adolph Frump will be added.
Presidential Misconduct: From George Washington to TodayOne reason why Presidential Misconduct: From George Washington to Today (The New Press, $29.99) is a must. What the report found was that, with the exception of William Henry Harrison (who served less than a month), every American president has been accused of misconduct: James Buchanan was charged with rigging the election of 1856; Ulysses S. Grant was reprimanded for not firing his corrupt staffer, Orville Babcock, in the “Whiskey Ring” bribery scandal; and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration faced repeated charges of malfeasance in the Works Progress Administration.
Now, as the Asshole and his subordinates face an array of charges on a wide range of legal and constitutional offenses, a group of presidential historians has come together under the leadership of James M. Banner, Jr.—one of the historians who contributed to the original report—to bring the 1974 account up to date through Barack Obama’s presidency.
This new edition is designed to serve the same purpose as the original 1974 report: to provide the historical context and metric against which the actions of the current administration may be assessed.


Hands down, Handful of Stars: A Palmistry Guidebook and Hand-Printing Kit (Harper Design , $39.99)  is a beautifully illustrated, step-by-step guide to the ancient art of palmistry with a novel twist. Pre-printed perforated sheets designed by hand analyst Helene Saucedo especially for the book—along with a a nontoxic ink pad, ink roller and gel pen—enable readers to create a palm print and record notations on a single sheet of paper.
This unique volume, housed in a deluxe slipcase box,  appeals to novice hand analysts and makes a great gift for inquisitive minds of all ages.


When you think back to Christmases past, what (if anything) made it magical? Looking towards the future, what would your perfect Christmas be? What would you change? What should we all change?
Last ChristmasLast Christmas (Quercus Publishing, $26.99) is a beautiful, funny and soulful collection of personal essays about the meaning of Christmas,  featuring the writing of such people as Meryl Streep, Bill Bailey, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman, Caitlin Moran, Richard Ayoade and Emily Watson. This gem of a book, introduced and curated by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise, celebrates the importance of kindness and generosity, acceptance and tolerance, and shows us that these values are not just for Christmas.


Adam Savage—star of Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters and one of the most beloved figures in science and tech—shares his golden rules of creativity, from finding inspiration to following through and successfully making your idea a reality.
Every Tool's a Hammer: Life Is What You Make ItAs he says: “Every Tools a Hammer (Atria Books , $27) is a chronicle of my life as a maker. It’s an exploration of making and of my own productive obsessions, but it’s also a permission slip of sorts from me to you. Permission to grab hold of the things you’re interested in, that fascinate you, and to dive deeper into them to see where they lead you. This book is meant to be a toolbox of problem solving, complete with a shop’s worth of notes on the tools, techniques and materials that I use most often. And if everything goes well, we will hopefully save you a few mistakes (and maybe fingers) as well as help you turn your curiosities into creations.”


For the first time ever, 75 beloved songs from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and The Children’s Corner are collected in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers (Quirk Books, $19.99), a charmingly illustrated treasury. 
From funny to sweet, silly to sincere, the lyrics of Mister Rogers explore such universal topics as feelings, new siblings, everyday life, imagination, and more.
Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: Wonderful Wisdom from Everyone's Favorite NeighborA Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister RogersThrough these songs—as well as endearing puppets and honest conversations—Mister Rogers instilled in his young viewers the values of kindness, self-awareness, and self-esteem. But most of all, he taught children that they are loved, just as they are.
A second fun book: Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Wonderful Wisdom from Everyone’s Favorite Neighbor (Clarkson Potter, $15) that shows how the wisdom of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is as relevant for adults as it is for children.
Revisit some of Mister Rogers’ greatest guidance that we learned alongside Daniel Tiger, X the Owl, King Friday the XIII and Henrietta Pussycat.


In the Carnival days leading up Mardi Gras, Detective Caleb Rooney comes under investigation for a murder he is accused of committing in the line of duty, as a Major Crimes detective for the New Orleans Police Department. Has his sideline at the Killer Chef food truck given him a taste for murder?
While fighting the charges against him, Rooney makes a pair of unthinkable discoveries. His beloved city is under threat of attack. And these would-be terrorists may be local.
As crowds of revelers gather, Rooney follows a fearsome trail of clues, racing from outlying districts into city center. He has no idea what-or who-he’ll face in defense of his beloved hometown, only that innocent lives are at stake.
The Chef (Grand Central Publishing, $16.99) is James Patterson at her bet. And most thrilling.

Based on Michelle Obama’s bestselling memoir, the gorgeous Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice (Clarkson Potter, $19.99) features an intimate and inspiring introduction by the former First Lady and more than 150 inspiring questions and quotes to help you discover—and rediscover—your story.
Printed on cream writing paper, with a grosgrain ribbon, foil-stamped cover and removable half-jacket, the journal includes thought-provoking prompts designed to help you reflect on your personal and family history; your goals, challenges, and dreams; what moves you and brings you hope; and what future you imagine for yourself and your community.
Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice
Writes Mrs. Obama in the Introduction to the Becoming journal, “I hope you’ll use this journal to write down your experiences, thoughts, and feelings, in all their imperfections, and without judgment. . . . We don’t have to remember everything. But everything we remember has value.”


Elvis has not left the building. The conventional wisdom is that Las Vegas is what destroyed Elvis Presley, launching him on a downward spiral of drugs, boredom, erratic stage behavior, and eventually his fatal overdose. But in Elvis in Vegas: How the King Reinvented the Las Vegas Show (Simon & Schuster, $28), Richard Zoglin takes an alternate view, arguing that Vegas is where the King resurrected his career, reinvented himself as a performer, and created the most exciting show in Vegas history.
Elvis’ 1969 opening night in Vegas was his first time back on a live stage in more than eight years. His career had gone sour—bad movies, and mediocre pop songs that no longer made the charts. He’d been dismissed by most critics as over the hill. But in Vegas he played the biggest showroom in the biggest hotel in the city, drawing more people for his four-week engagement than any other show in Vegas history. His performance got rave reviews, “Suspicious Minds” gave him his first number-one hit in seven years, and Elvis became Vegas’s biggest star.


In an age when living in a modern society often equates to comfort and ease, why is it that we are so interested in these primal aspects of being human when they are no longer really necessary? Why are we still so fascinated with making fire or stone tools in this social media-driven digital age? Why are we urging our children to run back out into the wild?
The answer to all of these questions—to why we seek out the natural world—can be found Primal (Falcon Guides, $18.95), and stares us in the mirror every day: We long to fulfill our natural destiny as upright-walking hunter-gatherer-nomads. It’s who we are.
Primal: Why We Long to Be Wild and Free PaperbackFrom the telling of anecdotes and stories from author Nate Summers’ 20 years as a survival specialist to conversations with world-renown survival and human nature specialists to digging into the rewilding and free-range parenting trends, Summer explores how humans have—and continue to—pursue “survival” situations to fulfill their deep, soulful longings.


A book about trash . . . for holiday giving? And why not Much has been written about landfills and the monumentality of rubbish, but little attention has been paid to “litter,” the small trash that soils the urban pavement, like the bits of chewing gum that some artists decorate.
Talking Trash: Cultural Uses for Trash (Yale University Press, $35) looks at refuse in its early stages, when it is still tiny and unassuming, still lives in the city, and has yet to grow, leave the metropolis, and accumulate in landfills.

PETRUCELLI PICKS: GIFT GUIDE 2019: THE BEST CELEBRITY TELL-ALLS OF THE YEAR (PART DEUX)

Oh! We so love tattletales, books that reveal the underbellies of stars and singers and criminals and musicians and authors and politicians . . . even if they are written by the celebs themselves.
Our picks for the best of 2019 continue. . .

Herman and Joe Mankiewicz wrote, produced, and directed more than 150 pictures, including triumphs as diverse as the Marx Brothers’ Monkey Business, Pride of the Yankees, the infamous Burton-Taylor Cleopatra and Guys and Dolls. But the witty, intellectual brothers spent their Hollywood years deeply discontented
and yearning for what they did not have, a career in theater.
The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics (Hollywood Legends Series) Herman gambled away his prodigious earnings, got himself fired from all the
major studios, and drank himself to death at the age of 55. Joe was a
critical and financial success, but his philandering with stars like Joan Crawford and Judy Garland distressed his wives, one of whom committed suicide. He wrecked his own health using uppers and
downers in order to direct Cleopatra by day and write it at night, only to be very publicly fired by Darryl F. Zanuck, a humiliation from which he never fully recovered.
What lives! What stories! What delicious drama! It can be found in The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics (University Press of Mississippi, $35).


Blue: The Color of Noise (St. Martin’s Press, $27.99) is the remarkable story―in pictures and words―of Steve Aoki, the superstar DJ/producer who started his career as a vegan straightedge hardcore music kid hellbent on defying his millionaire father, whose unquenchable thirst to entertain―inherited from his dad, Rocky Aoki, founder of Benihana―led him to global success and two Grammy nominations.
Aoki–also known for his outrageous stage antics (cake throwing, champagne spraying, and the ‘Aoki Jump’) and his endearing personality–recounts the epic highs of music festivals, clubs and pool parties around the world, as well as the lows of friendships lost to drugs and alcohol, and his relationship with his flamboyant father. Illustrated with candid photos gathered throughout his life, the book reveals how Aoki became a force of nature as an early social media adopter, helping to turn dance music into the phenomenon it is today.


Throughout her rise to fame and during some of the most pivotal moments of her life, Demi Moore battled addiction, body image issues and childhood trauma that would follow her for years―all while juggling a skyrocketing career and at times negative public perception.  As her success grew, Demi found herself questioning if she belonged in Hollywood, if she was a good mother, a good actress―and, always, if she was simply good enough.
As much as her story is about adversity, it is also about tremendous resilience. In the deeply candid and reflective memoir Inside Out (Harper, $27.99),  Demi pulls back the curtain and opens up about her career and personal life―laying bare her tumultuous relationship with her mother, her marriages, her struggles balancing stardom with raising a family, and her journey toward open heartedness.


In an arresting mix of visceral, soulful storytelling and stunning visuals, Face It (Dey Street Books, $32.50) upends the standard music memoir while delivering a truly prismatic portrait. With all the grit, grime, and glory recounted in intimate detail, the book re-creates the downtown scene of 1970s New York City,
where Blondie–a band that forged a new sound that brought together the worlds of rock, punk, disco, reggae and hip-hop to create some of the most beloved pop songs of all time– played alongside the Ramones, Television, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Aesthetically dazzling, and including never-before-seen photographs, bespoke illustrations and fan art installations, Face It brings Debbie Harry’s world and artistic sensibilities to life.


Rollicking but intimate, Still Here (Farrar, Straus and Giroux , $28) tracks one of Broadway’s more outlandish and direct personalities, Elaine Stritch.  We accompany Stritch through her jagged rise to fame, to Hollywood and London, and across her later years, when she enjoyed a stunning renaissance, punctuated by a turn on the popular television show 30 Rock. We explore the influential―and often fraught―collaborations she developed with Noël Coward, Tennessee Williams and above all Stephen Sondheim, as well as her courageous yet flawed attempts to control a serious drinking problem. And we see the entertainer triumphing over personal turmoil with the development of her Tony –winning one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, which established her as an emblem of spiky independence and Manhattan life for an entirely new generation of admirers. I’ll drink to that, and one for Mahler!


With her second memoir, Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years (Hachette Books, $30), Julie Andrews picks up the story with her arrival in Hollywood and her years in the film industry, from the incredible highs to the challenging lows.
Not only does she discuss her work in now-classic films and her collaborations with giants of cinema and television, she also unveils her personal story of adjusting to a new and often daunting world, dealing with the demands of unimaginable success, being a new mother, the end of her first marriage, embracing two stepchildren, adopting two more children, and falling in love with the brilliant and mercurial Blake Edwards. Co-written with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, and told with Andrews’s trademark charm and candor, Home Work takes us on a rare and intimate journey into an extraordinary life that is funny, heartrending and inspiring.


With candor, humor and warmth, Olivia writes about her life and career and cancer in the must-have Don’t Stop Believin’ (Gallery Books, $28). Available for the first time in the United States, this edition includes a new afterword by Olivia.
She speaks about her childhood, her father’s role in breaking German Enigma codes during World War II,  her feeling about about stardom,her beloved daughter Chloe, meeting the love of her life, and her passion and unwavering advocacy for health and wellness.
“I hope this story of my life from my early years up to today will bring some inspiration and positivity to the reader,” Olivia says. “We all share so many experiences in our own unique way.”
Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992; the diagnosis “came the same weekend my father died of cancer, so you can imagine the shock”, she remembers. Learn more @ onjcancercentre.org.
Olivia has always radiated joy, hope and compassionate.
She continues to be a force for love, for goodness, for strength, throughout the world.
“I also  believe that when you go through something difficult, even something as dramatic as cancer, that something positive will come of it,” she says.
Don’t stop believin’.


As a young man Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.
Douglass spoke widely, using his own story to condemn slavery. By the Civil War, Douglass had become the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot.
In Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon & Schuster, $37.5), David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. This is an important, compelling biography, the winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in history.


Condé Nast’s life and career was as high profile and glamourous as his magazines. Moving to New York in the early 20th century with just the shirt on his back, he soon became the highest paid executive in the United States, acquiring Vogue in 1909 and Vanity Fair in 1913. Alongside his editors, he built the first-ever international magazine empire, introducing European modern art, style, and fashions to an American audience. Conde Nast: The Man and His Empire (St. Martin’s Press, $32.50) was written with the cooperation of his family on both sides of the Atlantic and a dedicated team at Condé Nast Publications; here Susan Ronald reveals the life of an extraordinary American success story.


Recalling pivotal moments from her dynamic career on the front lines of American diplomacy and foreign policy, Susan E. Rice—National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama and US Ambassador to the United Nations—reveals her surprising story with unflinching candor in Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For (Simon & Schuster, $30).
Rice provides an insider’s account of some of the most complex issues confronting the United States over three decades, ranging from “Black Hawk Down” in Somalia to the genocide in Rwanda and the East Africa embassy bombings in the late ’90s, and from conflicts in Libya and Syria to the Ebola epidemic, a secret channel to Iran, and the opening to Cuba during the Obama years.
Intimate, sometimes humorous, but always candid, Tough Love makes an urgent appeal to the American public to bridge our dangerous domestic divides in order to preserve our democracy and sustain our global leadership.


Before he stole our hearts as the grooming and self-care expert on Netflix’s hit show Queer Eye, Jonathan Van Ness was growing up in a small Midwestern town that didn’t understand why he was so over the top. From choreographed carpet figure skating routines to the unavoidable fact that he was Just. So. Gay., Jonathan was an easy target and endured years of judgement, ridicule and trauma—yet none of it crushed his uniquely effervescent spirit.
Over the Top: A raw Journey to Self-Love  (HarperOne, $27.99) uncovers the pain and passion it took to end up becoming the model of self-love and acceptance that Jonathan is today. In this revelatory, raw, and rambunctious memoir, Jonathan shares never-before-told secrets and reveals sides of himself that the public has never seen.


Twyla Tharp is revered not only for the dances she makes—but for her astounding regime of exercise and non-stop engagement. She is famed for religiously hitting the gym each morning at daybreak, and utilizing that energy to propel her breakneck schedule as a teacher, writer, creator and lecturer. This book grew out of the question she was asked most frequently: “How do you keep working?”
Keep It Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life (Simon & Schuster,  $27) is a series of no-nonsense mediations on how to live with purpose as time passes.
From the details of how she stays motivated to the stages of her fitness routine, Tharp models how fulfillment depends not on fortune—but on attitude, possible for anyone willing to try and keep trying. Culling anecdotes from her life and the lives of other luminaries, each chapter is accompanied by an exercise that helps anyone develop a more hopeful and energetic approach to the everyday.


Common, the man who owns a Grammy, Oscar and Golden Globe, follows up his best-selling memoir One Day It’ll All Make Sense with Let Love Have the Last Word (Atria Books, $26), an inspiring exploration of how love and mindfulness can build communities and allow you to take better control of your life through actions and words.
Common believes that the phrase “let love have the last word” is not just a declaration; it is a statement of purpose, a daily promise. Love is the most powerful force on the planet and ultimately, the way you love determines who you are and how you experience life. He explores the core tenets of love to help others understand what it means to receive and, most important, to give love.  He knows there’s no quick remedy for all of the hurt in the world, but love, for yourself and for others, is where the healing begins.


As part of Motown’s legendary songwriting and production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, Lamont Dozier is responsible for such classics as “You Can’t Hurry Love;” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch);” “Stop! In the Name of Love;” “Heat Wave;” “Baby Love;”  “You Keep Me Hanging On;” and on . . . and on.
After leaving Motown, he continued to make his mark as an influential songwriter, artist and producer with hits such as “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” “Band of Gold,” and “Two Hearts,” a chart-topping Phil Collins single that earned the pair a grammy and an Oscar nomination.
In How Sweet It Is: A Songwriter’s Reflections on Music, Motown and the Mystery of the Muse (BMG Books, $27.99) Lamont takes us behind the scenes of the Motown machine, sharing personal stories of his encounters with such icons as Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy. He reveals the moments that inspired some of his timeless songs—and pulls back the curtain on the studio secrets that helped him and his colleagues create “the sound of young America.”


P. T. Barnum is the greatest showman the world has ever seen. As a creator of the Barnum & Baily Circus and a champion of wonder, joy, trickery and “humbug,” he was the founding father of American entertainment—and as Robert Wilson argues in Barnum: An American Life (Simon & Schuster, $28), one of the most important figures in American history.
Wilson’s vivid new biography captures the full genius, infamy and allure of the ebullient showman, who, from birth to death, repeatedly reinvented himself. He learned as a young man how to wow crowds, and built a fortune that placed him among the first millionaires in the United States. He also suffered tragedy, bankruptcy, and fires that destroyed his life’s work, yet willed himself to recover and succeed again. As an entertainer, Barnum courted controversy throughout his life—yet he was also a man of strong convictions, guided in his work not by a desire to deceive, but an eagerness to thrill and bring joy to his audiences. He almost certainly never uttered the infamous line, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” instead taking pride in giving crowds their money’s worth and more.


Why shouldn’t we despise the asshole who’s about to be impeached? Protect your wives and daughters since Frump’s proclaimed his  seduction technique is to “grab ’em by the pussy.”  In Golden Handcuffs: The Secret of Trump’s Women (Gallery Books, $28), Nina Burleigh, explores his attitudes toward women by providing in-depth analysis and background on the women who have had the most profound influence on his life—the mother and grandmother who raised him, the wives who lived with him and the ugly daughter who is poised to inherit it all.
Has any president in the history of the United States had a more fraught relationship with women than Donald Trump? He flagrantly cheated on all three of his wives, brushed off multiple accusations of sexual assault, publicly ogled his eldest daughter, bought the silence of a porn star and a Playmate. The books proves is one sick motherfucker.


Winston Churchill called him World War II’s “organizer of victory.” Harry Truman said he was “the greatest military man that this country ever produced.” George Catlett Marshall was America’s most distinguished soldier-statesman since George Washington, whose selfless leadership and moral character influenced the course of two world wars and helped define the American century.
Long seen as a stoic, almost statuesque figure, he emerges in the pages of George Marshall: Defender of the Republic (Dutton Caliber, $34) as a man both remarkable and deeply human, thanks to newly discovered sources.
Set against the backdrop of five major conflicts—two world wars, Palestine, Korea, and the Cold War—Marshall’s education in military, diplomatic and political power, replete with their nuances and ambiguities, runs parallel with America’s emergence as a global superpower. The result is a defining account of one of our most consequential leaders.


In 1975 Andrew Ridgeley took a shy new boy at school under his wing. They instantly hit it off, and their boyhood escapades at Bushy Meads School built a bond that was never broken. As Wham!, R and George Michael, found themselves riding an astonishing roller coaster of success, taking them all over the world. They made and broke iconic records, they were treated like gods, but they stayed true to their friendship and ultimately to themselves. It was a party that seemed as if it would never end.
Wham!, George Michael and Me: A Memoir Hardcover And then it did, in front of tens of thousands of tearful fans at Wembley Stadium in 1986.
With WHAM!, George Michael and Me, (Dutton, $28), one half of one of the most famous bands in the world, tells the inside story of  his lifelong friendship with George Michael, and the formation of a band that changed the shape of the music scene in the early ’80s. Ridgeley ‘s memoir covers in wonderful detail those years, up until that last iconic concert: the scrapes, the laughs, the relationships, the good, and the bad. It’s a unique and one-and-only time to remember that era, that band, and those boys.


 

PETRUCELLI PICKS: GIFT GUIDE 2019: THE BEST CELEBRITY TELL-ALLS OF THE YEAR (PART ONE)

Oh! We so love tattletales, books that reveal the underbellies of stars and singers and criminals and musicians and authors and politicians . . . even if they are written by the celebs themselves.
Our picks for the best of 2019 . . .


Since he never wrote his memoirs and seldom appeared on television, most people have little sense of Mike Nichols’ searching intellect or his devastating wit. They don’t know that Nichols, the great American director, was born Mikail Igor Peschkowsky, in Berlin, and came to this country, speaking no English, to escape the Nazis.
Life isn't everything: Mike Nichols, as remembered by 150 of his closest friends. They don’t know that Nichols was at one time a solitary psychology student, or that a childhood illness caused permanent, life-altering side effects. They don’t know that he withdrew into a debilitating depression before he “finally got it right,” in his words, by marrying Diane Sawyer.
In Life Isn’t Everything: Mike Nichols as Remembered by 150 of His Closest Friends (Henry Holt and Co., $30), Ash Carter and Sam Kashner offer an intimate look behind the scenes of Nichols’ life, as told by the stars, moguls, playwrights, producers, comics and crewmembers who stayed loyal to Nichols for years. This volume is also a snapshot of what it meant to be living, loving, and making art in the 20th century.


Why recommend Free, Melania (Flatiron Books, $27.99) about woman who’s to the most discipicable piece of scum in the world? She’s not stupid. She married the asshole because she got a green card and lots of moolah should he leave her for say, Stormy Daniels.
Free, Melania: The Unauthorized BiographyThis “First Lady” thinks she’s the “new” Jackie Kennedy, mainly because her Sugar Daddy buys her expen$sive duds she could never have afforded if she stayed back in Slovenia. Now that we think about it, use the book for kindling.


A Wild and Precious Life (St. Martin’s Press, $27.99) is remarkable portrait of an iconic woman. Queer Edie Windsor became internationally famous when she sued the U.S. government, seeking federal recognition for her marriage to Thea Spyer, her partner of more than four decades. The Supreme Court ruled in Edie’s favor, a landmark victory that set the stage for full marriage equality in the US. Beloved by the LGBTQ community, Edie embraced her new role as an icon; she had already been living an extraordinary and groundbreaking life for decades.
A Wild and Precious Life: A MemoirIn this memoir, which she began before passing away in 2017 and completed by her co-writer, Edie recounts her childhood in Philadelphia, her realization that she was a lesbian, and her active social life in Greenwich Village’s electrifying underground gay scene during the ’50s. She was also one of a select group of trailblazing women in computing, working her way up the ladder at IBM and achieving their highest technical ranking while developing software.


More notable queer writing: How We Fight for Our Lives (Simon & Schuster, a stunning coming-of-age memoir. Saeed Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears.
How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.


Nikki Haley is widely admired for her forthright manner (“With all due respect, I don’t get confused”), her sensitive approach to tragic events and her confident representation of America’s interests as our Ambassador to the United Nations during times of crisis and consequence.
In With All Due Respect (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99), Haley offers a first-hand perspective on major national and international matters, as well as a behind-the-scenes account of her tenure in the Trump administration.
With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and GraceThis book reveals a woman who can hold her own―and better―in domestic and international power politics, a diplomat who is unafraid to take a principled stand even when it is unpopular, and a leader who seeks to bring Americans together in divisive times.


We never liked him when he shackled Princess Di. We never liked him when married a horse named Camilla. But we do like King Charles: The Man, the Monarch, and the Future of Britain (Diversion Books, $27.99). With exclusive interviews and extensive research, Robert Jobson debunks the myths about the man who will be king, going beyond banal, bogus media caricatures of Charles to tell his true story.
King Charles: The Man, the Monarch, and the Future of BritainJobson―who has spent nearly 30 years chronicling the House of Windsor, and has met Prince Charles on countless occasions―received unprecedented cooperation from Clarence House, the Prince’s office, in writing this illuminating biography.


Sir Ian McKellen has starred in more than 400 plays and films; he is that rare character, a celebrity whose distinguished political and social service has transcended his international fame to reach beyond the stage and screen.
Ian McKellen: A BiographyThe breadth of his career―professional, personal and political―has been truly staggering; add his tireless political activism in the cause of gay equality and you have a veritable phenomenon. Garry O’Connor’s Ian McKellen: A Biography (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99) probes the heart of the actor, recreating his greatest stage roles and exploring his personal life.


Stan Lee was the most famous American comic book creator who ever lived. A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99) presents the origin of “Stan the Man,” who spun a storytelling web of comic book heroic adventures into a pop culture phenomenon: the Marvel Universe.
A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan LeeHow he got to that place is a story that has never been fully told―until now. Danny Fingeroth’s  book attempts to answer some of those questions. It is the first comprehensive biography of this powerhouse of ideas who, with his invention of Marvel Comics, changed the world’s ideas of what a hero is and how a story should be told.


Princess Leia is gone, she flew off into the stars in 2016. In Carrie Fisher: A life on the Edge (Sarah Crichton Books , $30) Sheila Weller’s turns her talents to one of the most loved, brilliant, and iconoclastic women of our time: actress, writer, daughter and mother Carrie Fisher.
We follow Fisher’s acting career, from her debut in Shampoo, the hit movie that defined mid-’70s Hollywood, to her seizing of the plum female role in Star Wars, which catapulted her to instant fame. We explore her long, complex relationship with Paul Simon and her relatively peaceful years with the talent agent Bryan Lourd.
Carrie Fisher: A Life on the EdgeWeller sympathetically reveals the conditions that Fisher lived with: serious bipolar disorder and an inherited drug addiction. Still, despite crises and overdoses, her life’s work―as actor, novelist and memoirist, script doctor, hostess and friend―was prodigious and unique. We witness her startling leap―on the heels of a near-fatal overdose―from actress to highly praised, bestselling author, the Dorothy Parker of her place and time.


No one needs to say farewell to Sir Elton John since there are two fascinating book about the original rocket man. In Me (Henry Holt and Co. , $30), his first and only official autobiography, John reveals the truth about his extraordinary life, from the early rejection of his work with song-writing partner Bernie Taupin to spinning out of control as a chart-topping superstar; from half-heartedly trying to drown himself in his swimming pool to disco-dancing with Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth; from friendships with John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, and George Michael to setting up his AIDS Foundation to conquering Broadway.
Me: Elton John Official Autobiography All the while Elton was hiding a drug addiction that would grip him for over a decade. In Me, Elton also writes powerfully about getting clean and changing.
An ideal companion: Elton John by Terry O’Neill: The Definitive Portrait, With Unseen Images (Cassell, $34.99). John and O’Neill worked together for many years, taking more than 5,000 photographs.
Elton John by Terry O Neill: The definitive portrait with unseen imagesFrom intimate backstage shots to huge stadium concerts, the photographs in this book represent the very best of this archive, with most of the images being shown here for the first time. O’Neill has drawn on his personal relationship with John to write the book’s introduction and captions.


In The Bourbon King: life and Crimes of George Remus, Prohibition’s Evil Genius (Diversion Books, $27.99), Bob Batchelor breathes life into theThe Bourbon King: The Life and Crimes of George Remus, Prohibition's Evil Genius tale of George Remus is a grand spectacle and a lens into the dark heart of Prohibition. That is, before he came crashing down in one of the most sensational murder cases in American history: a cheating wife, the G-man who seduced her and put Remus in jail, and the plunder of a Bourbon Empire. Remus murdered his wife in cold-blood and then shocked a nation winning his freedom based on a condition he invented—temporary maniacal insanity.


JAY-Z: Made in America (St. Martin’s Press, $25.99) is the fruit of Michael Eric Dyson’s decade of teaching the work of one of the greatest poets this nation has produced . . . as gifted a wordsmith as Walt Whitman, Robert Frost and Rita Dove. But as a rapper, he’s sometimes not given the credit he deserves for just how great an artist he’s been for so long.
JAY-Z: Made in AmericaThis book wrestles with the biggest themes of JAY-Z’s career, including hustling, and it recognizes the way that he’s always weaved politics into his music, making important statements about race, criminal justice, black wealth and social injustice. As he enters his fifties, and to mark his thirty years as a recording artist, this is the perfect time to take a look at JAY-Z’s career and his role in making this nation what it is today.


Janis Joplin has passed into legend as a brash, impassioned soul doomed by the pain that produced one of the most extraordinary voices in rock history. But in Janis: Her Life and Music (Simon & Schuster, $28.99), Holly George-Warren provides a revelatory and deeply satisfying portrait of a woman who wasn’t all about suffering. Janis was a perfectionist: a passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it.
Janis: Her Life and MusicShe was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was socially acceptable. She was a sensitive seeker who wanted to marry and settle down—but couldn’t, or wouldn’t. She was a Texan who yearned to flee Texas but could never quite get away—even after becoming a countercultural icon in San Francisco.