Category Archives: Books

Professional chef Cameron Stauch explores the clever ways that Vietnamese cooks transform imitation meats into exquisite, uniquely delicious dishes

We are happy to serve up some exciting news about a cookbook that W.W. Norton releases on March 13. This is no ordinary cookbook:  The dishes in Vegetarian Việt Nam ($35) make use of the full arsenal of Vietnamese herbs and sauces to make tofu, mushrooms, and vegetables burst with flavor like never before.

In the years he spent living and cooking in Vietnam, professional chef Cameron Stauch learned about a tradition of vegetarian Vietnamese cuisine that is light and full of flavor. He dishes out an essential introduction to meatless Vietnamese cooking; the nearly 100 recipes  have been  devised over centuries by Mahayana Buddhist monks.

Featuring practical and sophisticated recipes, Staunch explores the clever ways that Vietnamese cooks transform imitation meats into exquisite, uniquely delicious dishes such as Lemongrass Chile “Chicken” Strips Stir-Fry, Turmeric Tofu Wrapped in Wild Pepper Leaves, Sweetened Sticky Rice with Shredded Coconut, Green Mango Rice Paper Ribbons, and Soy Ginger Glazed Eggplant. Seconds anyone?

In these versatile and wide-ranging recipes, Staunch teaches the home cook how to use annatto seed oil, toasted rice powder, tamarind liquid, and nutty mushroom pâté, among other Vietnamese pantry essentials, to produce the spicy, tangy, crunchy and sweet dishes that will have readers wondering how they ever lived without vegetarian Vietnamese meals

Cameron cooks banh xeo pancakes for lunch.

With a lavishly illustrated glossary that helps you recognize the mushrooms, noodles, fruits, and vegetables that make up the vegetarian Vietnamese pantry, Vegetarian Việt Nam will unlock an entire universe of flavor to people who want healthy, tasty, and sustainable food.

THE SOUNDTRACK TO “CHARLOTTE’S WEB” COMES TO LIFE ON Varèse Sarabande

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” 
― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
Every time we read the book or watch the animated film (yes, the book is much better;  no wonder it won the Newbery Medal from the American Library Association), we think of White’s genius and the web of life lessons he has woven.
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Varèse Sarabande has just released the first-ever CD of the film’s soundtrack. The album features original songs and lyrics by the legendary duo of Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, with performances by the film’s stars Debbie Reynolds, Agnes Moorehead and Paul Lynde. GayS relish this trio: Paul was a major queen, and rumors still exist that Debbie and Agnes were long-time lovers.
The film was released in 1973. Young farm pig Wilbur (voiced by Henry Gibson) attempts to avoid a dire fate. Of all the barnyard creatures, Wilbur’s staunchest ally is Charlotte (voiced by Reynolds), a thoughtful spider who devises an intriguing plan to keep the gentle little swine out of the slaughterhouse. Although Charlotte’s efforts, which involve words written in her delicate web, seem far-fetched, they may just work.

What do Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey have in common? Bob Roth’s “Strength in Illness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation”. Ohmmm . . .

Ohmmmm.

I have been practicing TM, Transcendental Meditation to some, for many years.  Stress melts. Tightness dissolves. The mind opens, relaxed and rested.

I have been telling people about TM for decades. Let’s face it: Everyone we know is stressed. No matter where we come from, or what we do, stress is an epidemic that threatens our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. While there is no cure, there is a simple practice that dramatically changes how we respond to life’s challenges: the Transcendental Meditation technique. This 5,000 year‑old technique has a clear impact on our 21st century problems.

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Ohmmmm.

I have been telling people about TM for decades. But instead an introduction to Bob Roth. The co‑founder and vice president of the David Lynch Foundation has studied and taught Transcendental Meditation for more than 40 years. Once a skeptic, he is now one of the most experienced and sought‑after experts in the world. He has brought TM to millions of people, working not only with celebrities and business leaders, but also with inner‑city schools, veterans’ hospitals, women’s shelters, HIV/AIDS clinics, and prisons.  Medical experts agree that the epidemic of stress is damaging our physical and emotional health at younger and younger ages. While there is no one single cure, the Transcendental Meditation technique is a simple practice that dramatically changes how we respond to stress and life’s challenges.

In Strength in Illness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation ($24), Roth breaks down the science behind meditation in a new, accessible way. He highlights the three distinct types of meditation—focused attention, open monitoring, and self-transcending—and showcases the evidence that Transcendental Meditation is the most effective way to reduce stress, access inner power, and build resilience. The book is so free of gimmicks, mystical verbiage and over‑inflated research studies.

Roth’s  clients include Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Dalio, Ellen DeGeneres,  Howard Stern, Tom Hanks and Gisele Bündchen.  Another client:  Gwyneth Paltrow, who calls the book “the simplest, most engaging, and easiest-to-understand guide to Transcendental Meditation.”

All together now: Ohmmmm . . . 

Two essential Simon & Schuster books: “Norwich” and “Robicheaux”

Norwich, a charming Vermont town of roughly 3,000 residents, has sent an athlete to almost every Winter Olympics for the past 30 years—and three times that athlete has returned with a medal.

How does Norwich do it?

To answer this question, New York Times reporter Karen Crouse moved to Vermont, immersing herself in the lives of Norwich Olympians past and present. There, amidst the organic farms and clapboard colonial buildings, she discovered a culture that’s the opposite of the hyper-competitive schoolyard of today’s tiger moms and eagle dads. In Norwich, kids aren’t cut from teams. They don’t specialize in a single sport, and they even root for their rivals.

book coverWhat’s more, their hands-off parents encourage them to simply enjoy themselves. Making it to the Olympics is seen not as the pinnacle of an athlete’s career but as a fun stop on the way to achieving other, longer-lasting dreams. Norwich, Crouse realized, wasn’t just raising better athletes than the rest of America; it was raising happier, healthier kids.

Full of inspiring stories of Olympians who excelled on and off the sports field—and had a blast doing so—Norwich: One Tiny Vermont Town’s Secret to Happiness and Excellence ($26) is the book for every parent who wants to raise kids to be levelheaded, fulfilled, and successful.


Dave Robicheaux is a haunted man. Between his recurrent nightmares about Vietnam, his battle with alcoholism, and the sudden loss of his beloved wife, Molly, his thoughts drift from one irreconcilable memory to the next. Images of ghosts at Spanish Lake live on the edge of his vision.

book coverDuring a murder investigation, Robicheaux discovers he may have committed the homicide he’s investigating, one which involved the death of the man who took the life of Dave’s beloved wife. As he works to clear his name and make sense of the murder, Robicheaux encounters a cast of characters and a resurgence of dark social forces that threaten to destroy all of those whom he loves. What emerges is Robicheaux ($27.99), not only a propulsive and thrilling novel, but a harrowing study of America . . . the nation’s abiding conflict between a sense of past grandeur and a legacy of shame, its easy seduction by demagogues and wealth, and its predilection for violence and revenge. James Lee Burke has returned with one of America’s favorite characters, in his most searing, most prescient novel to date.

Essential reading: David Cay Johnston’s examination of the Frump Administration’s first 100 days and the “termites” that are being appointed to destroy existing government policy

If you hate Adolph Frump as much as we do, then jump into It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America (Simon & Schuster, $28), David Cay Johnston’s examination of the Frump Administration’s first 100 days and the “termites” that are being appointed to destroy existing government policy and agencies from within–and what that means for the lives of all Americans in terms of taxes, employment, health care, the environment, immigration, education, foreign policy, trade, and other crucial issues.

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No working journalist knows Frump better than Johnston, who first met it in 1988 and has tracked it ever since. When Frump announced his campaign in June 2015, Johnston was the first national journalist to write about a potential Frump presidency. More recently, Johnston was the journalist who received a copy of Frump’s tax return in the mail, as revealed on Rachel Maddow’s show. Johnston takes a close look at what the mainstream press stopped covering years ago: the workings of the federal government agencies and how that touches the lives of all Americans, from our wallets to our health care to our safety. He also provides unique insight about how our lives are affected by many actions that the new administration quietly approves without drawing the attention of the Washington press corps. This book is essential reading for all Americans.

 

Simon & Schuster releases the sobering, important “Anatomy of a Genocide:  The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz”

The details in the book are sobering and scary. In Anatomy of a Genocide:  The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz  (Simon & Schuster, $30), Omer Bartov explains that ethnic cleansing doesn’t occur as is so often portrayed in popular history, with the quick ascent of a vitriolic political leader and the unleashing of military might. It begins in seeming peace, slowly and often unnoticed, the culmination of pent-up slights and grudges and indignities.

Anatomy of a genocide 9781451684537 hr

The perpetrators aren’t just sociopathic soldiers. They are neighbors and friends and family. They are human beings, proud and angry and scared. They are also middle-aged men who come from elsewhere, often with their wives and children and parents, and settle into a life of bourgeois comfort peppered with bouts of mass murder: an island of normality floating on an ocean of blood.

For more than two decades Bartov, whose mother was raised in Buczacz, traveled extensively throughout the region, scouring archives and amassing thousands of documents rarely seen until now. He has also made use of hundreds of first-person testimonies by victims, perpetrators, collaborators, and rescuers. Anatomy of a Genocide profoundly changes our understanding of the social dynamics of mass killing and the nature of the Holocaust as a whole. Bartov’s book isn’t just an attempt to understand what happened in the past. It’s a warning of how it could happen again, in our own towns and cities—much more easily than we might think.

The book is a fascinating and cautionary examination of how genocide can take root at the local level—turning neighbors, friends, and even family members against one another—as seen through the eastern European border town of Buczacz during World War II.

Somewhere out there is a genius songwriter. Her name is Cynthia Weil, now starting a new chapter of her life

On our list of favorite female songwriters: Cynthia Weil. We have never lost that lovin’ feeling for her. And we are not kidding. Somewhere out there are other good female songwriters, but Weil, a Grammy award-winning and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, is a genius. Make that Genius. 

Weil, still as stunning as special
Collaborating with her husband, Barry Mann, she has written countless standards.  Our all-time favorite is “Blame It on the Bossa Nova”, a song that was a huge hit for Eydie Gorme, a friend we so sorely miss.

Weil has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (only the third woman to receive this honor in the non-performing category). She has been honored with multiple Grammy nominations and two Grammy awards for “Somewhere Out There,” which won the awards for “Motion Picture Song of the Year” and “Song of the Year.” Weil is so important in the history of pop music that she is featured as a real-life character in the Tony Award-winning musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

Weil. Such a novel woman. It’s only fitting, then, that her new children’s book, 806: A Novel (Tanglewood Publishing, $16.99), has a teen songwriter as its main character.  The book hits shelves on March 13.

806: A Novel806: A Novel takes readers on a life-changing road trip with more than a few twists and turns. Taking on the thought-provoking topic of sperm donor kids seeking their father while facing challenges and disappointments along the way, the story is balanced by its humor, newfound familial relationships, and heartfelt moments. Teens will connect with KT, Jesse, and Gabe for different reasons during their journey as they race through the book to discover how everything turns out.

We told you she was a genius. By the way: Is it any wonder that “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”, is the most played song of the 20th century? I pray she will continue making her own kind of music.

Walk in famous female footsteps with the novel ” Women’s London: A Tour Guide to Great Lives”

A book that’s a most novel idea! Women’s London: A Tour Guide to Great Lives (IMM Lifestyle, $19.99) provides the perfect opportunity to explore sights, statues, plaques and buildings associated with famous and some not so famous women who have left their mark on London’s heritage, culture and society.

Save the date: The book will be released March 15.

Super stories include scientists; reformers and royals; military and medical pioneers; authors and artists; fashion and female firsts. From the women who made up the suffragette movement, to the first Muslim woman to enter Albert Hall, to one of the first women to climb Mount Everest without oxygen support, women have been making amazing strides in London throughout history. And you can follow those female footsteps, thanks to author Rachel Kolsky.  Equally compelling: Color photography and specially commissioned maps.

Prince Harry gets his “inside story” told twice … in one good book and one nasty tabloid. Ouch!

Love is in the air. When in Great Britain. And everyone [well, almost everyone] is just wild about Harry.

Prince Henry of Wales has made headlines all over the world with his unruly antics [think Nazi], but instead of being sidelined as the House of Windsor’s biggest liability,  Harry has emerged as the jewel in the crown of the modern British Monarchy.

Prince Harry: The Inside Story by [Larcombe, Duncan]

Take a poll, and Harry [usually] ranks as the most popular member of the monarchy after Her Majesty herself. He has won the public’s heart as the lovable rogue prince and royal heartthrob for girls and women around the world. What sets Harry apart from the rest of his family is the twinkle in the eye . . . the ability to rip up the rule book and let his natural cheekiness shine through. Wonder is that red hair has something to do with this?

Prince Harry: The Inside Story (Harper360, $16.99), Duncan Larcombe’s insightful and entertaining biography of the rebellious royal, recalls Harry’s Eton exploits, his military career and his tempestuous love life, as well as revisiting some events that the prince would probably prefer to forget, such as his notorious Nazi fancy dress which landed him in a global storm of criticism. But despite a string of incidents that would normally destroy the career of any aspiring public figure, Harry has a mysterious gift. The more scrapes Harry gets in, the more the public seem to love him.

harry

But with his military career over, Harry is at a crossroads facing not just the pressure of full-time Royal work ahead, but the possibility of carrying the burden of the British throne in the future. Will charm and personality be enough to prepare him for a life under the microscope of Royal work?

Perhaps causing the most stress is Harry’s upcoming marriage to “actress”  Meghan Markle.   Since Duncan’s tome doesn’t come out until March 16, maybe he should update the Markle material? A palace insider also says that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall spun into a drunken rage shortly after the couple’s engagement announcement. The thing that particularly irked Camilla was the fact the ring features two diamonds from Princess Diana’s personal gem collection.

A palace insider told the Globe that Prince Charles’ wife has been whispering vicious comments about Markle while attending parties and events with Britain’s elite. Camilla allegedly branded the Suits actress a “brazen hussy” and “an embarrassment to the royal family.”

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Camilla has apparently taken issue with things like Meghan being older than Harry. She’s also said to be unhappy that Meghan is previously divorced, a commoner and not even British.

A royal mess?

 

Great news busting out: The Day Scott Ian took Madonna to a strip club to see an exotic dancer with 42GGG boobs!

A new year. A new crop of musical memoirs.  The first (and a really good one): Scott Ian’s Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life (Da Capo, $26).

Ian, rhythm guitarist and cofounder of the thrash-metal band, Anthrax, has seen his share of dive hotels, dirty tour buses, and decrepit green rooms. In Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life, he collects his craziest stories to give an honest account of life on the road for a touring musician. Along the way, he recounts his encounters with celebrities such as Kirk Hammett, Dimebag Darrell, Trent Reznor, Steven Spielberg and David Lee Roth.

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Throughout the book, Scott Ian steps up to the line and purposely crosses it, chronicling everything from witnessing an enema contest involving Fruit Loops backstage at Madison Square Garden after a Nine Inch Nails concert; to accompanying Madonna to a strip club to see an exotic dancer with 42GGG breasts; to blacking out after dinner with Mario Batali and Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio at the Palazzo in Vegas (only to wake up and discover he’d somehow managed to play online poker in the middle of the night—and won!); to having his sexy storyline with Christina Applegate edited out during a guest appearance on Married with Children; to seeing his hero, Lemmy Kilmister, in a pair of Daisy Dukes; to punching Michael Stipe at a loft party “because everybody hurts.”

Let us treat you to a bon mot from chapter three: “I’ve done a lot of interviews over the last thirty-three years. A LOT. It’s safe to say that the number is somewhere in the thousands, and of those thousands of interviews and tens of thousands of questions I’ve been asked there’s one question I’ve been asked more than any other: ‘What is the craziest thing you’ve seen on tour?’”

With chapters like “What If We Were the Dicks?” and “Sorry Never Felt So Good,” Access All Areas is told with an artist’s eye for detail, a performer’s knack for storytelling…and an utterly inexplicable lack of embarrassment.