Category Archives: Books

A triumvirate of mysteries certain to add extra chills to the New Year

Halloween may be happy, especially if those treats are full of sugar and sass.

But what about tricks . . . those things that go bump in the night and cause you to have nightmares? We offer some New Year advice, especially for those who need to begin new chapters in their lives.

Be forewarned: This triumvirate of mysteries are certain to chill you, more bone-thrilling than the coldest winter blast. Save the dates. If you dare.

A Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes (on sale December 27)
Another volume in the Ghostly Southern Mysteries series . . . Proprietor of the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, Emma Lee can see, hear and talk to ghosts of murdered folks. And when her high school nemesis is found dead, Jade Lee Peel is the same old mean girl-trying to come between Emma Lee and her hot boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, all over again.51yhp9wpqpl There’s only one way for Emma Lee to be free of the trash-talking ghost-solve the murder so the former prom queen can cross over. But the last thing Jade Lee wants is to leave the town where she had her glory days. And the more Emma Lee investigates, the more complicated Miss Popularity turns out to be. Now Emma Lee will have to work extra closely with her hunky lawman to get to the twisty truth.

 

Final Exit by Lena Diaz (on sale January 31)
After a tragic mistake nearly destroyed his life, Special Agent Kade Quinn will do whatever it takes to save his career. His latest mission? Track and capture the remaining EXIT operatives to determine if they’re still a threat. But his next target, a stunning female assassin, is both elusive and dangerously appealing. Bailey Stark has outsmarted the FBI so far, but she’s tired of running. Tired of watching her friends ambushed by government agents in tactical gear and never seen again. She suspects they aren’t being evaluated-they’re being exterminated-and she’s determined to convince Agent Quinn his mission is a lie before it’s too late. 91mpyn9dbvlBailey doesn’t want to rely on him. She definitely shouldn’t desire him. But she knows teaming up with the skilled, sexy agent may be her only hope. Kade doesn’t want to believe Bailey’s claims, but he promises to keep her safe. Trusting one another is difficult. Fighting their attraction is harder. And as they uncover the disturbing truth behind his mission, staying alive will be nearly impossible. An EXIT, Inc. thriller.

A Ghostly Mortality by Tonya Kappes (on sale February 28)
Yet another volume in the Ghostly Southern Mysteries series . . .
Only a handful of people know that Emma Lee Raines, proprietor of a small-town Kentucky funeral home, is a “betweener.” She helps ghosts stuck between here and the ever-after-murdered ghosts. Once Emma Lee gets them justice they can cross over to the great beyond. But Emma Lee’s own sister refuses to believe in her special ability. In fact, the Raines sisters have barely gotten along since Charlotte Rae left the family business for the competition. After a doozy of an argument, Emma Lee is relieved to see Charlotte Rae back home to make nice.91zti4cxfjl Until she realizes her usually snorting, sarcastic, family-ditching sister is a . . . ghost. Charlotte Rae has no earthly idea who murdered her or why. With her heart in tatters, Emma Lee relies more than ever on her sexy beau, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross…because this time, catching a killer means the Raines sisters will have to make peace with each other first.

 

 

“Poldark Season 2” comes to Blu-ray and DVD, a must on PBS fans’ Santa’s wish list

Neither pestilence, starvation nor betrayal can stop Ross Poldark from fighting for justice in his native Cornwall. Aidan Turner returns as the ex-officer, class warrior, lover and mining entrepreneur, called by The New York Times “the noblest, hottest, most down-to-earth hero.”

Also back is co-star Eleanor Tomlinson, playing Demelza, the miner’s daughter who is Ross’ equal in passion, wit, and daring—which is, of course, why they marry.

PBS Distribution will be releasing Masterpiece:  Poldark Season 2 on DVD and Blu-ray on November 22, 2016. The program will also be available for digital download.

New this season—or thrust into prominence from last—are Gabriella Wilde as Caroline Penvenen, a flirtatious young heiress under the watchful eye of her rich uncle, Ray, played by John Nettles; Luke Norris as earnest young doctor Dwight Enys, who only has time for his patients—and for Caroline; and Henry Garrett as Captain McNeil, Ross’ old comrade from the war, now hunting smugglers and an opportunity to woo a certain married lady.

All of these characters inhabit the imaginative world created by Winston Graham in his bestselling Poldark novels, published between 1945 and 2002. Comprising 12 volumes, the epic commences in 1783, as British officer Ross Poldark returns to Cornwall, fresh from the American Revolutionary War. Poldark: Season 2 takes the plot into Graham’s fourth volume, Warleggan.

Viewers of the first season will recall that Ross shocks his relatives and neighbors when he shows up from America, since all had presumed him dead. Then he sets about upending their lives—threatening the copper mining interests of his uncle and cousin, Charles and Francis Poldark, and the rival operation of upstart George Warleggan. He is also ensnared in a romantic web that connects him, Francis, and George to the beautiful Elizabeth. Nevertheless, Ross happily marries Demelza and they have a daughter. But in the final episode of Season 1, an epidemic takes the child away, and a shipwreck and drowning are blamed on Ross.

So at the start of Poldark Season, Ross stands accused of murder and “wrecking”—luring a cargo ship to the rocks for plunder. It’s a capital offense, the judge is unsympathetic, hostile witnesses have been bribed and Ross appears headed for the gallows. It’s just the first in a string of suspenseful episodes every bit as precipitous as the steep cliffs of Cornwall.

 

Bob Dylan’s lover (well, one of them) pens a book about their lives and love on the road

Britta Lee Shain was a friend of Bob Dylan until he asked her to join him on the road in the mid-’80s . . . at which point she became more than a friend. In an intimate and elliptical memoir of their time together, at home in Los Angeles and on tour with Tom Petty and the Grateful Dead, she offers a unique portrait of the romantic, earthbound and poetic soul trapped in the role of Being Bob Dylan.

As she coos: “I’ve never seen a Bob Dylan smile, except in photos or on the stage. Not the real thing.”https-%2f%2fcdn-evbuc-com%2fimages%2f21528364%2f166417865266%2f1%2foriginal

Entire libraries of books have been written about Dylan, but few—if any—offer any lasting insight into the man behind the shades. Until now. Written with the elegance of a poet and storytelling snap of a novelist, Seeing The Real You At Last: Life and Love on the Road With Bob Dylan (Jawbone Press, $19.95), is a poignant and tender romance that reveals Dylan’s playfulness, his dark wit, his fears and struggles, his complex relationships with the men and women in his life and, ultimately, his genius.

Adam Kirsch’s “The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature” is a winner

Jews have long embraced their identity as “the people of the book.” But outside of the Bible, much of the Jewish literary tradition remains little known to nonspecialist readers. The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature (W. W. Norton & Company, $28.95) shows how central questions and themes of our history and culture are reflected in the Jewish literary canon: The nature of God, the right way to understand the Bible, the relationship of the Jews to their Promised Land, and the challenges of living as a minority in Diaspora.
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Author Adam Kirsch explores 18 classic texts, including the biblical books of Deuteronomy and Esther, the philosophy of Maimonides, the autobiography of the medieval businesswoman Glückel of Hameln, and the Zionist manifestos of Theodor Herzl. From the Jews of Roman Egypt to the mystical devotees of Hasidism in Eastern Europe, The People and the Books brings the treasures of Jewish literature to life and offers new ways to think about their enduring power and influence.

This luminous new work is an essential exploration of a rich literary tradition from the Bible to modern times. Can I hear an amen?

Esther Schor speaks volumes about Esperanto, the language that never was

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Honoring Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof on a 1987 stamp

When Esther Schor stumbles, she falls into the most fascinating subjects. Seven years ago, the author stumbled into the language and the world of Esperanto, with little sense of how it would change her life or how she would be gripped by the story of its creator, Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof.

A Polish Jew, Zamenhof had the idea in 1887 of putting an end to tribalism by creating a universal tongue, designed to be a second language to the entire world, one that would compel its users to transcend nationalism. Basing his invention on rational grammatical principles that would be easy to learn, politically neutral and would allow all to speak to all, Zamenhof launched a utopian scheme full of the brilliance and grandiosity that characterize all such messianic visions.

In Bridge of Words: Esperanto and the Dream of a Universal Language (Metropolitan Books, $32), the first full history of a constructed language, Schor traces the life of Esperanto from its creation, through its turn-of-the-century golden age as the great hope of embattled cosmopolites, to its suppression by nationalist leaders and its resurgence as a bridge across the Cold War. She follows Esperanto’s fortunes in the present, where it lives vibrantly on the Internet and is seen by its users as an essential human counterpart to twenty-first century globalization. And she recounts the impact of this language—which changes the very way one sees others—on her own experience, leading her to upend her life in pursuit of fulfillment.
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Rich and subtle, Bridge of Words is at once a biography of an idea, an original history of the twentieth century, and a spirited exploration of the only language charged with saving the world from itself. It is also a story of personal transformation, as Schor travels the globe in pursuit of Esperantists and discovers not only a language but a better way of being.

A great book, and we offer the opinion of it by another noted author, Jonathan Rosen: “Esther Schor has crossed continents, tunneled under the Tower of Babel, brooded over the Twentieth Century’s darkest traumas and brightest dreams, and spoken endless Esperanto in an effort to understand how a language freighted with human tragedy still lives like a kiss on the lips of its speakers. This is a beautiful, mysteriously moving book by a fearless writer who set out to find the soul of a language, knowing full well that it was her own soul she was after all along.”

Making dinner making you go to pot? Andrea Chesman serves up food for thought . . . in one dish!

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do . . .

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Photo and recipe from book, permission of Storey Publishing

Three Dog Night got it all wrong . . . at least when it comes to the kitchen. In 101 One-Dish Dinners: Hearty Recipes for the Dutch Oven, Skillet & Casserole Pan (Storey Publishing, $16.95), best-selling cookbook author Andrea Chesman has arrived to save those cooks who are ready go to pot. She comes to the rescue with no-fuss recipes that solve the dinner dilemma deliciously and nutritiously by using just one dish. One, as in a more appropriate lyric: One singular sensation . . . 4fdc6c68be46242ce3fa33a185d04941-600x0-c-default

In 101 One-Dish Dinners, Chesman shows off the versatility of Dutch ovens, skillets and casserole pans. Classic baked dishes like ham and potato gratin, chicken pot pie and vegetable lasagne go head-to-head with diverse stovetop suppers like jambalaya, seafood paella and pad Thai. For those looking for something a little lighter but still filling, there are plenty of meal-in-a-bowl salads and timeless soups. A recipe for success: The ability to serve up a nourishing meal with little fuss and fewer dishes!

Seconds anyone?

A Thanksgiving treat: Stuff yourself on the new take of “Anne of Green Gables”

Too many TV stations air too many turkeys on Thanksgiving. Never PBS. After your day of thanks, give your local public television thanks for airing L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.

This is the classic Lucy Maud Montgomery story that tells the tale of Anne Shirley, a precocious young girl taken from an orphanage and placed in the care of the uptight Marilla Cuthbert and her brother, Matthew. The conservative Marilla has a profound effect on the adventurous Anne and creates a journey of learning and personal engagement that has resonated with generations since L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables was first published in 1908. The book remains an iconic work of Canadian literature and has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide and been translated into 20 languages.

Directed by John Kent Harrison and based on the original script by Susan Coyne, this adaptation, filmed in Canada, stars critically acclaimed Martin Sheen, who portrays Matthew Cuthbert, one half of the brother-sister couple who care for Anne Shirley.

Some people Anne, and not Annie, is the most famous in the world. Whatever. Ella Ballentine stars as Anne in the two-hour, made-for-TV movie. “My mom read Anne of Green Gables to me when I was younger,” Ella recalls. “And every now and then the cartoon came on TV, so I saw little bits of that. Then I did an episode of Reign on the CW, and Megan Follows is on that. I didn’t have a scene with her, but my mom was telling me, ‘Oh, you know, she played Anne of Green Gables before.’ And I thought, ‘How cool is it to be Anne of Green Gables?’ So then when there was the audition for this, I got really excited.1297803878688_original

Is there anything specific in today’s world that she would miss if she could go back in time to the late 1800s, when Anne of Green Gables is set?

Without an eye on an iPhone: “Modern hospitals,” she says.

Maybe she knows that we will remind you the PBS film is just that the doctor ordered? Can’t wait? PBS Distribution offers it on DVD on November 8.

 

In a feline funk? AC the Cat is back and in a purr-fect picture book

Sometimes it pays to be in a funk. We let the cat out of the bag: While working at a local Milwaukee paper store, Kate Funk decided to make a birthday card for her friend featuring her sourpuss-face rescue cat, AC, wearing a tiny party hat next to a paper birthday cake and simple backdrop made of construction paper.  Remarkably, AC didn’t mind wearing his party hat; in fact, he seemed to enjoy it.51ebme3gtql

The birthday card turned into a series of cards, a calendar and Funk’s hilarious book of photos, The Best Cat Book Ever: Super Amazing, 100% Awesome.  Now, AC returns in The Best Cat Book Ever: Part II (St. Martin’s Griffin, $12.99) crammed with scores of more funny, costumed cat photos that feline fans everywhere will love. Think of the feline feat as a purr-fect rip-off of Wegman and his wondrous Weimaraners.8111khw6ll

Funk has come up with some even more hilarious, increasingly ridiculous costumes for him to model, from the “Yes We Can!” lady to Max from Where the Wild Things Are to Back to the Future’s Marty McFly.  Kate also goes much deeper into hipsterdom and dresses AC as a whole host of Wes Anderson characters, as well as all twelve zodiac symbols.  Each photograph in the book has been carefully constructed by Kate, including the backdrops, props and costumes.  Unlike most cats, AC loves posing for the camera, especially if treats are involved.

We end with a quote from AC: “Dogs drool, cats rule”!

 

Springsteen’s autobiography is a bestselling boss . . . it’s sent people racing in the streets

I’ve never been a Bruce Springsteen fan. It hasn’t to do with him, it has to do with my lack of interested in rock music. Give me show tunes, film soundtracks, easy listening, vintage pop and, of course, anything by the world’s greatest entertainer, the Boss Bassey.

Since Springsteen has written his autobiography,  he seems hotter than ever. His publisher, Simon & Schuster, didn’t even have to issue an official press release . . . when word got out, his fans simple pre-ordered or bought tickets to his selected appearances in which he appeared and attendees received a pre-signed book. (We hope this means he really did sign them. We’ve know Shore Fire, his PR firm, too long to think otherwise.)  Born to Run was released internationally on September 27.

We understand he draws large crowds, very much the way Dame Shirley or Babs draws them. Someone counted that fans (2,000) packing the Barnes & Noble near Highway 9 in Freehold, N.J., on the book’s release day. He greeted more than 1,000 fans at N.Y.’s Union Square Barnes & Noble. Tickets for Springsteen’s meet-and-greet at the Philadelphia Free Library sold out in nine minutes. In Los Angeles, fans began lining up outside The Grove shopping center three days early. Ticket demand for his appearance at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, crashed the store’s website. Such mass appeal is to end: Springsteen wraps his U.S. series of appearances with a stop at The Harvard Coop in Boston on Monday, October 10.

The book is so hot it saddles the top spot on various bestselling lists and various editions (hardcover, ebook and audio editions) have been unleashed in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and India; rights have already been sold to publishers in nine countries.  Our fave review is from the Irish Times, who coos that the book is “darkness on the edge of genius … Bruce Springsteen is one of the great short story writers. At his wildest he’s Damon Runyon. At his best he’s Raymond Carver.”

According to Bruce, he has been privately writing the autobiography over the past seven years. He began work in 2009, after performing with the E Street Band at the Super Bowl’s halftime show.

In Born To Run, Mr. Springsteen describes growing up in Freehold, New Jersey amid the “poetry, danger, and darkness” that fueled his imagination. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song “Born to Run” reveals more than we previously realized.btr_331_500_s

“Writing about yourself is a funny business,” Springsteen notes in his book. “But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I’ve tried to do this.”

“This is the book we’ve been hoping for,” adds Jonathan Karp, publisher of Simon & Schuster, who paid BS oodles of six-figure cash. “Readers will see their own lives in Bruce Springsteen’s extraordinary story, just as we recognize ourselves in his songs.”

Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor and originality found in his songs.

He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as “The Big Bang”: Seeing Elvis’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work and shows us why the song “Born to Run” reveals more than we previously realized.

But the book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll.

Rarely has a performer told his own story with such force and sweep. Like many of his songs, Springsteen’s autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences.

We have one question: Why no mention of Dame Shirley?

Ann Patchett returns after five years . . . and what a doozy “Commonwelath” is

It’s taken five years, but the wait was worth it. Commonwealth (Harper, $27.99), the first novel in 1825 days from New York Times bestselling author Ann Patchett, is a wallop of a book. It tells the emotionally intricate, enveloping story of two families torn apart by divorce and reassembled into one imperfect union by remarriage.

Unfolding through shifts in time and point-of-view, the masterful narrative bears the hallmarks that have graced the best work of this gifted storyteller, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and Orange Prize: brilliantly-drawn, flawed character we feel we know; a surprising plot that nonetheless resonates with the familiarity of our own lives; and an intrinsic feel for the humor that sustains us through the inevitable disappointments and heartbreak we encounter.

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Ann and a novel idea: Spend time in Nashville’s in Parnassus bookstore

It is chance that brings the Cousins and the Keatings together, and chance that will tear them apart. Looking for a way to spend a Sunday afternoon and escape the tedious demands of a household full of preschool-aged kids, deputy DA Bert Cousins crashes the christening party for the new baby daughter of Fix Keating, a cop he barely knows. Bert comes bearing a large bottle of gin, which lubricates the previously-dry party, and leads to the fateful moment where he kisses Keating’s beautiful wife, Beverly. That brief encounter sets the dissolution of both marriages in motion.

We promise (and our dear readers know we hold true to our promises) not disclose too much . . . just enough to snatch up a copy of the tome that the Chicago Sun-Times describes as “Patchett is a virtuoso storyteller,with an ability to create characters we can innately understand.”

Bert and Beverly, with her two daughters, Caroline and Franny, move to Virginia, while Bert’s four children—Cal, Holly, Jeanette and Albie—stay in California with their mother. But every summer, the four Cousins kids fly to the East Coast to become temporarily part of a blended family. The six siblings forge bonds, not so much out of any real affection, but for their shared antagonism toward their parents. An act of daring, performed without Bert and Beverly’s knowledge, seals the children’s connection. When one of them dies under tragic circumstances, the others unite in their sworn secrecy about what has really occurred.

Years later, with the now-grown children living disparate lives, another event closes the distance they have placed between themselves and the past. Franny has told her lover, a renowned novelist, about the family story, and he has used it as the basis for a runaway bestseller. The unintentional result of Franny’s revelation forces the Cousins and the Keatings to close long-abandoned ranks and come to terms with the full measure of their shared story.commonwealth

And, with adept scrutiny, but a light touch, Patchett brings every character in Commonwealth to luminous life. As they struggle to overcome their own mistakes, and all that has been imposed on them by the mistakes of others, each seeks a mooring in a world that offers little stability. This tour de force novel captures what family means as it explores the ways we survive being part of one.