Category Archives: Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

You “auto” grab “Pontiac Trans Am” for the car connoisseur in your life?

Let us steer you to Pontiac Trans Am (Motorbooks, $40), a must-have tome that chronicles the car’s full history, from early days burning up both race tracks and Hollywood to its final days as the most potent muscle car made. Author Tom Glatch has done a revving good job.

The early ’60s saw American auto manufacturers desperately trying to sell cars to the emerging baby-boom market. Pontiac attained success with its original muscle car, the GTO, but as successful as the GTO was, it was handily outsold by Ford’s grand-slam home-run pony car, the Mustang. In response, Pontiac entered the pony car market in ’67 with its new Firebird, a model that became one of the most iconic cars of the classic muscle-car era.

Introduced for ’69, the Trans Am version Firebird became the standard bearer for automotive performance in the U.S. market and kept the muscle car flame alive throughout the dark years of the ’70s and led the charge when performance reemerged in the ’80s. When muscle cars became dormant for a generation it was once again the classic pony cars that jump started American performance.

The battle that raged between Firebird, Camaro and Mustang in the ’80s rejuvenated the U.S. auto industry’s interest in high-performance muscle cars and the Trans Am remained the most potent car of the lot until the bitter end. Pontiac Trans Am: 50 Years chronicles this ultimate version of the Firebird’s rich history, from the early attempts to reach the youth market in the early ’60s, through the potent and turbulent years of the classic muscle car era, the resurgence of muscle in the ’80s, to the car’s continued popularity in both the automotive world and in popular culture today.

Perhaps you ‘auto” grab one for the car connoisseur in your life?

Allow the noted writer to take you on a tour of his bathroom in “Henry Miller Asleep & Awake”

Think of Henry Miller Asleep & Awake (IndiePix Films) as a cinema verité “dear John”. The quiet ticking of a clock gives way to the stirrings and rumblings of a lump hidden under the blankets. Pajama-clad, the lump throws back the covers, stretches, groans and grumbles. He rises and goes to his mirror in a tiled room he knows well.

The man is literary legend Henry Miller, the author of the infamous, groundbreaking Tropic of Cancer, and the room is his bathroom. It’s a miraculous shrine covered with photos and drawings collected by Miller over the course of his long and fruitful life. Graciously, in his raspy, sonorous voice, he points out the highlights of his improvised gallery speaking on various Buddhas, Blaise Cendrars, Hieronymous Bosch and Gaugin; several Japanese writers; Hermann Hesse; a stone carving by Jung; women he found attractive; his tendency to hear “celestial music” in airplanes; the relationship between Zen and sex; the fact that “most writers don’t look so hot” (because they spend so much time alone); and the question of identity, which “harasses” him.
This portrait from Emmy-winning director Tom Schiller, filmed in 1973 when the author was 81, is a voyage of ideas about life, writing, sex, spirituality, nightmares, and New York that captures the warmth, vigor and high animal spirits of a singular American artist.

It’s not tough picturing the Beatles, but for the record, “Visualizing the Beatles: A Complete Graphic History of the World’s Favorite Band” deconstructs the fab Four album by album 

Beatles fans will twist and shout when they get a gander at th beautifully designed and endlessly fascinating, Visualizing the Beatles: A Complete Graphic History of the World’s Favorite Band (Dey Street Books, $26.99). It’s  quite nifty to flip through; the illustrations and graphics are colorful and highly informative and entertaining. The data and infographics present a fresh and innovative new way of understanding Paul and John and George and Ringo.

y648.jpg (505×648)We realized why the magical history tour of the career of the Fab Four, explored album-by-album,  has that addictive “feel good” look: The authors, John Pring and Rob Thomas, are professional graphic designers with a slew of top tier corporate clients. Do you want to know a secret?  Having a successful Kickstarter fund for this book didn’t hurt.

“As designers, we wondered what it would look like to visualize The Beatles and chart their story—the evolution of their music, style and characters—through a series of graphics,” write Pring and Thomas in the introduction. “What might presenting the information in a totally different way, never done before on this scale, tell us that we hadn’t noticed or appreciated previously?”

Copyright 2018, from the book

Organized by album from Please Please Me to Let It Be, this stunning book deconstructs:

  • Song lyrics
  • Which Beatle carried how much of the songwriting load
  • Instruments used
  • Style evolution of their active years
  • Album designs
  • Track length
  • Who took lead vocals when
  • Success of singles across the world
  • Tour dates
  • Hairstyles . . .
  • And let is be said  lots more!

Honey, be alert! The buzz is building for the nifty “Turn This Book into a Beehive”

This book is causing quite the buzz! Flying in for inspection: Turn This Book into a Beehive! And 19 Other Experiments and Activities that Explore the Amazing World of Bees (Workman, $19.95),  an indispensable guide with a removable book jacket and tear-away paper nesting tubes that turn into a home for mason bees, with each “room” providing space for 10 to 12 mason bee babies!

Honey, bees abound. Most of us are familiar with the honeybee, a keystone species revered for its supreme pollinating skills and feared for its notorious stinger . . . a damn stinger that under my dog’s collar and stung poor Oona! (I killed that damn bee . . . with relish.)


But what about the mason bee, the unsung hero of the insect world? The mason bee pollinates as many flowers in a single day as 100 honeybees, and mason bees don’t sting, making them nature’s non-aggressive super-pollinators. So, how can we help sustain the lives of these friendly buzzing bees?

Packed with 19 sensory-driven experiments and activities that offer a deeper understanding of what it’s like to be a bee, this nifty book provides an early introduction to environmentalism and offers inspiration for burgeoning conservationists. Readers can make a buzzer that replicates the noise made by a bee’s wings, trace back the ingredients and materials in their favorite foods and clothing to see just how closely mason bees influence our daily lives, and create safe sprays that will make everything from urban gardens to open yards a welcome, healthy environments for these super-pollinators.
Readers will even learn how to plant a bee-friendly garden!

The book also introduces readers to the complex social hierarchy of the honeybee world by showing how integral each player is to the beehive, from the forager scout responsible for tracking down flowers and other food sources to the esteemed queen, the largest bee in the colony responsible for laying all the eggs—about 2,000 in a single day! May we suggest that after you make a beehive, use the remaining portion of the book to kill those honey horrors?

Keegan Allen shows the mythical magic and dark dreams of “Hollywood”

Marilyn Monroe said it best: “Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents.”

Keegan Allen shows it best with his lavish tome Hollywood: Photos and Stories from Foreverland (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99). Allen, an actor; photographer; bestselling author and musician best-known from the No. 1 hit show on Freeform, Pretty Little Liars; reveals the Hollywood we see—and the one we don’t—with a photography narrative featuring more than 250 emotionally charged color and black and white photos. No wonder his first book, life.love.beauty, was a national bestseller.Image result for keegan allen

The Hollywood native grew up in a world that millions
visit and many more imagine. In his new book he turns his eye and camera to the place he knows best. Hollywood captures the beauty
and glamour of the place itself—with unusual angles of the famous sign, the Chateau Marmont at twilight, secret local hideaways, red carpets and more—but also the darker side of dreams unrealized in the faces, hands, eyes and footsteps of those who live on the fringe of celebrity. His photos are enhanced by revealing, intimate captions, lyrics, and other writing, as well as exciting parodies, and iconic emulations.

A book that will engage and surprise Keegan’s legions of fans and followers, Hollywood is an essential gift for anyone who has visited or imagined this storied place

Perlman, Shatner and Hough . . . oh my! Journey with the family with “Steam Engines of Oz”

Ever since Judy’s Dorothy found herself on the Yellow Brick Road in 1939, there have been countless adaptations of the treasured film. Perhaps too many.

But on June 5, Cinedigm will unveil an imaginative new take on the classic Oz mythology with The Steam Engines of Oz,  based on the graphic novel of the same name by Arcana Studio. Think of this flick as a thrilling animated adventure with a modern steampunk twist. Featuring the voice talents of Ron Perlman, William Shatner and Julianne Hough, it’s a journey perfect for the whole family, and it steams onto shelves in a Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack, and will also be available via Digital through all leading platforms and VOD.

Set a century after Dorothy first clicked her ruby slippers together, the Emerald City is no longer a magical land but a toxic, heavily industrialized wasteland ruled by the iron fist of the once beloved hero, the Tin Man, who has seemingly lost all heart.  Oz’s only hope rests with a young engineer named Victoria Wright, who assembles a motley crew of  ill-mannered munchkins, mischievous flying monkeys and, of course, the not-so-Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow for a quest to find the tin man’s heart.

Along their journey, they ultimately learn that friendship and determination can overcome any obstacle, and together end, up teaching everyone in Oz that a heart should not be judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.

 

Just what the doctor ordered: ” Who-ology: The Official Miscellany”

Who  thinks they know everything about Dr. Who? You think you do? Harper Design has just what the doctor ordered: Who-ology: The Official Miscellany ($19.99).

How many planets has the TARDIS visited?

What’s the best way to defeat a Sontaran?

Doctor Who: Who-ology Regenerated Edition: The Official Miscellany by [Scott, Cavan, Wright, Mark]Who are the members of the Doctor’s family?

What are the 20 best ways to defeat a Dalek?

What are the galactic coordinates of Gallifrey?

And you thought you knew all the answers?

Packed with amazing facts, figures and stories, Who-ology is an unforgettable journey through 55 years of Doctor Who. Test your knowledge of the last Time Lord and the worlds he’s visited, from Totters Lane to Trenzalore. Get lost in guides to UNIT call signs, the inner workings of sonic screwdrivers and a complete list of Doctor Who monsters and their creators. Who-ology is an utterly unique tour of space and time.

This revised and expanded edition features new material and covers Matt Smith’s final season, all three seasons of the Peter Capaldi era as well as the 2017 Christmas special introducing the first female Doctor played by Jodie Whittaker.