Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chick lit or not...

This sounds like a good read... The book is Easy on the Eyes by Jane Porter, available as a trade paperback from 5 Spot books for $13.99.


At 38, Tiana Tomlinson has made it. America adores her as one of the anchors of America Tonight, a top-rated nightly entertainment and news program. But even with the trappings that come with her elite lifestyle, she feels empty. Tina desperately misses her late husband Keith, who died several years before, and her family, who she lost at age fourteen. And in a business that thrives on youth, Tina is getting the message that her age is starting to show and certain measures must be taken if she wants to remain in the spotlight. It doesn't help that at every turn she has to deal with her adversary - the devilishly handsome, plastic surgeon to the stars, Michael Sullivan. But a reporting trip away from the Hollywood madness and into the African wilderness opens Tiana's eyes, mind, and heart and changes her forever.

Monday, July 27, 2009

That was The Week That Was @Starbucks!

Click on the orange link below to read about what happened last week in the land of Pike Place Roast.

Starbucks week in review: undercover Starbucks, protests, petitions and pastries

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Video Preview of a Book Now Available in Paperback...

The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton was recently (May 5, 2009) released as a trade paperback and it looks like a great read! Our local Target store has it on sale for just $11.20. Click on the orange link below to see a video preview of this story set in Palo Alto, California:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The President and beer...

So now we know that President Obama thinks that a good way to work things out is for people to meet and talk over a beer or two... It sounds great to me! (I wonder if this technique would have helped Jimmy Carter?)

Photo: flickr (aixcracker)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Target as a Tastemaker for Books...

As noted in this article from the New York Times Book Review, Target is turning itself into a major purveyor of books... Click on the orange link below to read the fascinating article.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Starbucks and Hershey's Agree on a Divorce!

Click on the orange link below to read about the split between the King of Pike's Place Roast - the McDonald's coffee knock-off (OK, well it tastes like it!) - and the King-Kong of Chocolate!

Starbucks and Hershey's end partnership to offer premium chocolate

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Not Guilty of the Crime...

Not guilty of the crime...
by Joseph

Thirty-six years ago I was charged with a crime
Convicted without a trial, my name bloodied and bowed
I met my accuser who served as judge and jury
She sentenced me for life with no credit for the time...

I had thought she was a friend or I had supposed
A bad assumption in terms of what trespassed
To this day my guilt is assumed, though
I was released to live on my own recognizance...

By what right do you tell someone they are wrong -
When they have been as close to you as the day is long?

By what right do you judge, unless money is power
Which may be true but does not excuse
Abusing those with less status - but perhaps more heart -
Than you.

Photo: flickr (peterastn)

Note: This is not about a sexual assault or other major crime, but about something that happened long ago between two college classmates. One accused the other of stealing a vinyl record album!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Preview of an Interesting New Book...

This is an interesting preview-description of a new book, Provenance, from today's edition of flavorwire:

In Provenance, investigative reporters Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo chronicle one of the boldest art forgeries of the 20th century. The story follows John Myatt, a talented but downtrodden artist of "genuine fakes," who was connived into a fraud scheme by con man John Drewe. The duo's deception included spectacular imitations of second-tier artists, as well as an elaborate process of infiltrating the archives of the world's most prestigious museums.

The authors portray the deceptive glamour and romance of art forgery with the detailed wit and well-paced narrative of a suspense thriller. It may lack the fictional flair of, say, The Thomas Crown Affair, but Provenance's gory details are just as enticing.

Though Myatt and Drewe were eventually caught out - an inevitability, considering that Myatt's allergy to classic oil paint forced him to use an alternative - the carnage they wrought is still largely evident. Of the approximately 200 forgeries sold, more than half remain unaccounted for - unknowingly hung on the walls of museums and private collectors around the world.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Review of the Book Building a House with My Husband...

Here is a fine book review, written by Ann Pietrangelo, of Rachel Simon's book Building A Home with My Husband. Enjoy!

Blog .:. Ann Pietrangelo .:. A Writer’s Journey

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

An Excerpt from a Very, Very Good Novel...

Take it from me, Greetings From Somewhere Else by Monica McInerney is a very good novel. Click on the orange link below to read an excerpt from this book which is now available as a trade paperback.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Finding Korea on El Camino Real...

Ok, so as noted in this article from the San Francisco Chronicle, there may be no "true" Koreatown in northern California, but there's a pretty good stretch of things Korean that runs from Santa Clara to Sunnyvale (and let's throw in Cupertino while we're at it). Click on the orange link below to read the article.

Friday, July 17, 2009

An Interview with Anne Rivers Siddons...

Click on the orange link below to read an interview with 17-time best-selling author Anne Rivers Siddons. This interview was conducted last year by Bonnie Mason of the very fine DivineCaroline website, but is timely as Siddon's latest novel Off Season has just been released as a trade paperback... It's perfect to take along on vacation!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What the Heck Are You Up To, President Carter?

I remember hearing Jimmy Carter tell us that he would never let us down when he accepted the Democratic Party's nomination to run for president. Then it seemed only months later that President Carter was delivering his infamous "malaise" speech. Now Ohio University professor Kevin Mattson has written a book about that period. Click on the link below to see a preview-review-overview of the new book What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?, as written by Frank Gannon.

Note: You can also read an excerpt from the book here.

Image: Amazon

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It was Inevitable, Wasn't It?

Click on the link below to see why they call it Beer-BQ!

Photo: flickr (Glynnis Ritchie)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Read an Excerpt from a New Book...

The Year That Follows is a new novel by Scott Lasser - released on June 6, 2009 - that tells the story of woman who must find her nephew after her brother's sudden death. "Cat is a single mother living in Detroit when her brother is killed in New York, and she sets off in search of his child." As she is about to leave, she gets a call from her long-lost father...

Click on the orange link below to read a short excerpt from this Random House book:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Giving Boston Fans Their Due...

Here's an article by author Julianna Baggott giving a tip of the hat to the fans of the Boston Red Sox (click on the orange link below):

Photo: flickr (wallyg)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Los Angeles in Black and White...

Here is a photograph of L.A. in the '30s, a time when I would loved to have lived there (in fact, any time in the forty years between 1930 and 1970 would have been perfectly fine). In this vintage photo of famed Hollywood Boulevard you can see the Roosevelt Hotel sign at the rear left.

Photo: The New York Times

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Merry Go Round

Merry Go Round
by Jenny Dalton

How did you pull the wool over their eyes?
It's some trick you pulled, but I am unfooled
Then the sheriff called
and the bible thumped
It's some badge you wear
like you're exalted

It's alright now 'cause I am all that he became
Standing down, staring at infinity
Ride and ride, we'll ride those horses round and round
Dodge and burn
on the merry go round

Underneath your skin, a dark hazard waits
Is this bridge on fire? Were you too late?
This history repeats itself
It's some horse you mount
like you're wiser

Photo: flickr (richiesoft)

Separation from the Herd and Joni Mitchell's Blue

I love music but I do not always feel the need to agree with the biggest critics. For example, I've been a Beatles fan since I purchased the Swan Records label ("Don't drop out!) version of the 45 "She Loves You." And I own everything they've recorded, even the 6 CDs known as Anthology, but I was simply never much of a Sgt. Pepper's fan. Sorry, that album just didn't roll right for me... I'd rather listen to Straight Up from Badfinger.

Similarly, I am and always have been a huge Joni Mitchell fan but - quite honestly - Blue was never my favorite of her many great albums. Blue was a very good collection of naked, angst riden, songs but there's a sameness about the group that I found at first interesting and later just tiring. Because of that, it is not an album I'll go back and repeatedly listen to.

Another way of thinking about Blue is to say that the songs of heartbreak and loneliness might have made up a Carol King or Carly Simon album. Not that there's anything wrong about that, but I failed to see the great originality within.

For me, personally, Joni's For the Roses is a far better album with much more variety. On Roses, we hear a hit single ("You Turn Me On I'm A Radio"), heartbreak folk-rock songs ("See You Sometime," "The Girl in the Bleachers"), classical oriented creations, jazz-based songs, and some songs written on the piano while others were written initially for guitar. It is a more eclectic and original gathering, despite that fact that critics tend to label it as simply "transitional." Whatever...

With Roses, Joni was moving and growing and never standing still or being satisfied with herself. With Blue, she stood still - or sat in one place -sounding tired and defeated... Perhaps Blue was actually her Let It Be.

Friday, July 10, 2009

From Whom It Comes...

From Whom It Comes
by Ken Volonte

One good thing about staying up all night,
Was feeling the sun on my face through the window,
There at my desk where I wrote in the dark.

No all nighters for me,
Cramming down Faulkner or Murleau-ponti;
Kept awake with esketrall,
Given by my cousin willingly.
I tried it once or twice enough to know,
That if I didn't know it then,
I wouldn't learn it till I didn't have to.

But writing a poem with the sun in my face,
I felt that I could trust myself,
To trust the world and risk it all.
I felt like I could do anything,
And so I did.

Photo: flickr

Next: Separation from the herd and Joni Mitchell's Blue.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Review of the book Poorly Made in China...

Here is a review of the book Poorly Made in China by Paul Midler. This review - click on the orange link below - is from The Epoch Times newspaper and was written by Phil Randell.

Image: Powell's Books

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Some first final words on Michael Jackson...

"Unquestionably, his music was legendary. That's what will last." Aretha Franklin

I was not a late adopter to Elvis Presley. I was just 6 years old when I first heard his music and I knew on instinct - in the words of Bob Dylan - that I'd heard the sounds of a jail break "and I didn't even know that I had been locked up." When my father, in December of 1956, wanted to take me to see a Disney film, I agreed on one condition: that we would first stop at the record store around the corner from the movie theater. That's how I acquired my first 4-song Elvis Extended-Play 45.

The next September I was asked by relatives what I wanted for my birthday, and my answer to all was the same: "I only want Elvis records."

I was not a late adopter to The Beatles. I spent so much time at the three record outlets downtown that I was given hundreds of the "The Beatles are coming!" orange and white Capitol records sponsored stickers to hand out at my junior high school. Mission accomplished.

I will admit to being a late adopter to Michael Jackson (MJ) when it comes to buying his music. No one has to explain the fact that MJ's music was everywhere in the '80s, from nightclubs to dance clubs to city streets to your very own car radio. We thought, foolishly, that he'd always be around - wasn't he always young? - so we would add his music to our personal library at some point down the road. Then, just a matter of days ago, time ran out.

I remember now the first thought that went through my brain, on a night of business travel in L.A. many years ago, when I heard of John Lennon's death: "We'll never be young again." Childhood's end. (The end of the innocence.)

With MJ's death we again got older, a bit more quickly. But I need to say something here about his talent as a singer. Listening recently to some of his best and most famous songs - fast ones and slow ones - it finally ocurred to me that he had the same perfect timing as his friend and mentor Diana Ross. Take any MJ song and tell me where you would change his vocal... It's not possible. There's not a single instance where he should have come in a half-second earlier or a half-beat later.

Such is genius. Such is having The Gift. Such is being blessed with once-in-our-lifetimes talent.

MJ started something... the way he made us feel happy to be alive... he rocked our world and helped us to come together... it didn't matter whether we were black or white. His talent shone a light on us and our needless fears. He became the man on stage, in a small and somber world, who performed joyfully under the brightest of lights. We didn't have the need or the right to ask for anything more...

It was enough.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Review of the New Pop-Culture Book, The Big Rewind...

Click on the orange link below to read this review from USA Today of the new book The Big Rewind: A Memory Brought to You by Pop Culture by Nathan Rabin.

A Day to Look Back and Remember...

Photos: Los Angeles Times

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Perfect M.J. Collection?

A married couple who are friends are mine happened to have previously owned Michael Jackson's HIStory 2-CD collection. After his death, they realized they could take 15 of the 30 tracks on HIStory to produce a fine one-CD collection. Here's the track listing they came up with which seems like a great career overview with the perfect song chosen as the closer:

1. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
2. Don't Stop Til You Get Enough
3. The Girl is Mine
4. Rock With You
5. The Way You Make Me Feel
6. Man in the Mirror
7. Beat It
8. Billie Jean
9. Thriller
10. Bad
11. Black or White
12. Come Together
13. Scream (duet with Janet Jackson)
14. D.S.
15. You Are Not Alone

Image: Amazon

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Jackson Music Sales: Off the Wall - ABC News

Jackson Music Sales: Off the Wall - ABC News

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Image: Amazon

Sad News: Former Titans quarterback McNair shot to death...

We were very sad to hear the news of the death of retired NFL quarterback Steve McNair, a great competitor and a humanitarian. Click on the orange link below to see this report from ESPN.

Former Titans quarterback McNair shot to death

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Photos: The Tennessean (Nashville)

A Review of The Dream by Harry Bernstein...

I just finished reading The Dream by Harry Bernstein and found it to be an excellent memoir. Here's an earlier review from the New York Times Book Review:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Next to Caffeine Goodness in Seattle!

Click on the orange link below to read the Seattle Examiner review of the Victrola Beacon Hill coffee shop.

Victrola Beacon Hill

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Photo: flickr (litlnemo)

Munchy the cat

Munchy the cat
by Joseph

Munchy the cat leads
the good life
retired, on furlough
every day...

He owns the yard,
he owns the house,
He owns the beds
Everything goes his way...

Once he was a young
A fighter, the toughest
cat pound for pound
Battling all the time
And winning almost
every round...

Now these days he
relives in his head
the days when he was
hearty and hale
Living off the interest
on his priceless tales...

He's now the cat
Ready to publish his
When he finds a
Who speaks Felinese.

Photo: Joseph (Munchy's Archives)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

When authors go wild...

Just yesterday we told you about an author who lashed out at a reviewer for the New York Times Book Review. Now it turns out that mega-author Alice Hoffman, whose latest book we will not mention or picture here, has blown a couple of gaskets. As reported by USA Today: "Author Alice Hoffman is getting media attention - not so much because of her 21st novel... but because of her behavior. Hoffman, incensed by a review of her novel that ran in The Boston Globe on Sunday sent out Twitter posts calling reviewer Roberta Silman 'a moron'... She also lashed out at a blogger who was moderating a Barnes & Noble discussion of the book. Hoffman apologized in both cases."

Whew! Maybe we should hold off on the bold coffee for now and just serve decaf, at least to certain prominent writers.

By the time we got to Woodstock...

A new book was released the day before yesterday called The Road to Woodstock, written by "the man behind the legendary festival," Michael Lang. Here's a first look at the book...

Click on the orange link below to read this article by Jim Fusilli.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A bit of controversy surrounds the New York Times Book Review...

I tend to shy away from reading the New York Times Book Review - perhaps not seeing myself as that worldly and all - but last Friday I literally forced myself to do so, after the issue arrived in electronic form in my e-mail box. I remember thinking that the most "interesting" review, and a long one, was Caleb Crain's review of the latest book by Alain de Botton. De Botton's book is The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work.

Never having seen The Pleasures, I certainly could not take sides but it seemed like a tough review. Apparently author de Botton thought so, too. According to the Los Angeles Times, de Botton "left an angry message" in the comments section of Crain's blog. Here's a short excerpt of that message:

"... (yours) is a review driven by an almost maniac desire to bad-mouth and perversely depreciate anything of value. The accusations you level at me are simply extraordinary. I genuinely hope that you will find yourself on the receiving end of such a daft review some time very soon -- so that you can grow up and start to take some responsibility for your work as a reviewer. You have now killed my book in the United States, nothing short of that. So that's two years of work down the drain in one miserable 900 word review."

Again, I don't know - nor will I venture to guess - who was wrong and/or who was right. But I did find two follow-up comments by readers at a media site. One (Laurel_Ann) said that the author's attack on the reviewer was "bad behavior," but also possibly a shrewd P.R. move that could result in increased attention being given to his book (at least at the L.A. Times), and maybe even result in increased sales.

Another person (Andy) wrote, "Perhaps if his book cannot stand up to one 'miserable 900 word review,' then he should stop writing books."

And now we return to our usual programming.