RIP author Cynthia Heimel, whose books were very funny and ribald.
Obituary Note: Cynthia Heimel
whose first book, Sex Tips for Girls, "established her in the early
1980s as a fearlessly funny writer about men, feminism, female
friendships, flirting, birth control and lingerie," died February 25,
the New York Times reported. She was 70. Heimel later adapted Sex Tips
and But Enough About You, a 1986 collection, into the play A Girl's
Guide to Chaos, which opened later that year off Broadway at the
American Place Theater.
"I used to say about Cynthia's writing, and her being, that she had the
soul of Janis Joplin in the voice of Hedda Hopper," said novelist and
comedy writer Emily Prager. "She was a voice for liberation with
manners, freedom without regret and the blues with a grain of salt."
Heimel published several more collections, including If You Can't Live
Without Me, Why Aren't You Dead Yet? (1991), Get Your Tongue Out of My
Mouth, I'm Kissing You Goodbye! (1993) and If You Leave Me, Can I Come
I think this is a great idea for Barnes and Noble, who have had to close a number of stores due to so many people buying books online. Still, there's nothing quite like a physical bookstore with real booksellers and customers who are one's fellow bibliophiles. If there were a B&N closer to me than 20 miles away in Issaquah, I would happily show up for the book club meeting and discussion.
B&N Launches National Book Club
Barnes & Noble has launched the Barnes & Noble Book Club, a national
book club that will meet seasonally at the company's 632 stores to
discuss "some of the greatest books being published." The book club
meetings, all held on the same day, will be led by B&N booksellers and
feature "exclusive content and special in-store promotions for book club
The book club's first pick is The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer,
which will be published by Riverhead Books on April 3. The B&N Book Club
meetings about the novel will be held on Wednesday, May 2, 6-7 p.m.,
Liz Harwell, director of merchandising, commented: "Meg Wolitzer's The
Interestings firmly established her as one of the most important writers
of our time, and The Female Persuasion further cements her importance
with a timely story about a young woman who meets a mentor that changes
her life. The Female Persuasion is a must read of the year."
B&N is offering customers an exclusive edition of the book that includes
a reading group guide and an essay by the author. Book Club participants
on May 2 will receive a free regular, tall, hot or iced coffee and one
free cookie from the café, and one signed copy of the book will
be given away. Customers are asked to sign up at the customer service
counter in store to participate.
On May 2, Wolitzer will appear at B&N's Upper West Side store in New
York City for a discussion, q&a and book signing.
Tower Record's Russ Solomon was an icon in the business and book/record world. I don't know of anyone my age or a decade younger who didn't visit Tower Records looking for a great album or a good book or two. RIP to this man who died in a great way.
Obituary Note: Russ Solomon
Russ Solomon, the charismatic, hard-driving, smart and funny founder and
longtime head of Tower Records and Tower Books, died on Sunday at age
92. He left in a way that seemed appropriate, which the Sacramento Bee
captured in the headline of its obituary
"Founder of Tower Records dies at 92 while drinking whiskey and watching
His son, Michael Solomon, told the Bee: "Ironically, he was giving his
opinion of what someone was wearing that he thought was ugly, then asked
[his wife] Patti to refill his whiskey. When she returned, he had died."
Tower Records were iconic stores, which began in Sacramento in 1960,
then spread across the country and around the world, with branches as
far away as London, Tokyo and Singapore. The stores sold some books, and
there were a few freestanding Tower Books locations. The company also
sold videos. At its height in the 1990s, the company had 200 stores and
sales of more than $1 billion a year.
As the Bee noted, Solomon was a retail pioneer and "operated on a
philosophy that was obvious to him but extraordinary for its day: Build
big stores and pack them with as much music as possible."
Unfortunately for Tower, in the early '90s, superstores then became the
rage in a variety of categories. In the book world, Borders and Barnes &
Noble expanded across the country. Then Amazon opened, and soon digital
downloading of music became popular. Tower, which had expanded rapidly
and had high debt, began to have serious problems. The company closed in
2006, although a few franchise operations continue in business
All Things Must Pass http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz36258971, a
documentary by actor Colin Hanks about Tower that starred Solomon, was
released in 2015.
Famously in the Tower headquarters lobby, Solomon had a collection of
ties that he had cut off dressed-up visitors; attached to the ties were
the former owners' business cards.
And Megan Zusne wrote: "Thanks to Tower Records, to Russ Solomon, I
experienced a book career of a lifetime! And now, heavily involved in
the music business (and even living in a city and state that has never
had a Tower store), I carry a certain cachet, since EVERYONE seems to
have heard of Tower Records and its reputation as the hippest place to
work on the planet. Thank you, Russ Solomon."
I need a copy of this book, which I think I could have written, if I would have had the resources and stamina to do so.
Book Trailer of the Day: Surviving & Thriving With an Invisible Chronic Illness
Surviving & Thriving With an Invisible Chronic Illness: How to Stay Sane
and Live One Step Ahead of Your Symptoms http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz3628508 by Ilana Jacqueline (New Harbinger Publications).
Blood of a Thousand Stars by Rhoda Belleza is the sequel to Empress of a Thousand Skies, which I believe I read last year. This book didn't move quite as fast as the first book, but it was still a good read, and it provided a nicely wrapped up ending for the conflicts begun with the first book. Here's the blurb:War tears the galaxy apart, power tests the limits of family, and violence gives way to freedom in this exhilarating sequel to Empress of a Thousand Skies.
With a revolution brewing, Rhee is faced with a choice: make a deal with her enemy, Nero, or denounce him and risk losing her crown.
Framed assassin Alyosha has one goal in mind: kill Nero. But to get his revenge, Aly may have to travel back to the very place he thought he’d left forever—home.
Kara knows that a single piece of technology located on the uninhabitable planet Wraeta may be the key to remembering—and erasing—the princess she once was.
Villainous media star Nero is out for blood, and he’ll go to any means necessary to control the galaxy.Vicious politics and high-stakes action culminate in an epic showdown that will determine the fate of the universe.
While the prose was nice and clean, the plot zigged and zagged more than once, and I felt it was dizzying and disjointed a couple of times. But I liked Kara and her journey, though I found both sisters to be a bit too much of martyrs and self-effacing to the point of ridiculousness (must heroines always hate themselves and doubt that they have any talent or value?). Aly, meanwhile, grew into a character whom I really enjoyed. So I'd give this book a B, and recommend it to anyone who read the first book and wants to see who ends up on the throne.
Compulsion by Martha Boone is a rather odd YA novel that weaves Native American lore and civil war-era plantation stories into a tale of family feuds and Romeo and Juliet-style love triangles. Here's the blurb:All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead—a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.
Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead. Publisher's Weekly: In Boone’s debut, an expansive Southern gothic tale, Barrie Watson is sent to live with her aunt Pru on Watson Island after Barrie’s shut-in mother, Lula, dies and her godfather is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Barrie was born with a “finding gift” that compels her to seek what is lost or left unsettled, and amid the Beaufort and Colesworth clans—the founding families of Watson Island, along with Barrie’s forebears—Barrie learns she isn’t the only one with a gift. Curses plague Watson Island, ghosts haunt its mansions, evil spirits live in its woods, and a frightening “Fire Carrier” emerges at night over its waters. Together, Barrie and a handsome Beaufort boy named Eight seek justice and to right old wrongs. Though the novel is grounded in the present day, there’s an old-fashioned quality to Boone’s dialogue and characters; she skillfully blends rich magic and folklore with adventure, sweeping romance, and hidden treasure, all while exploring the island and its accompanying legends. An impressive start to the Heirs of Watson Island series.
I really liked the fact that the characters in this book weren't all white heterosexual teenagers who were rich and spoiled, with fabulous parents. Barrie's godfather is a gay drag queen with impeccable taste and a wonderful wit, and the mansion she's staying in is falling apart. Meanwhile, her beau, Eight, is living a rich life that is still sterile to him, and the Colesworth heirs are impoverished and angry and truly awful, violent people. Barrie seems a bit too naive and willful, as she insists on letting herself be drawn into traps that everyone else could see miles away. Her needy whining about doing "anything" for family is almost pathological, as is her clinging to Eight as if he's the only boy in the universe whom she can ever love, when she's only just met him. Eight seemed like a creepy dweeb to me, someone who could read what any given person wants, and chooses to use his "gift" to get with as many young women as possible. And Barrie's Aunt Pru is just pathetic. Still, the book was a page turner, as Boone has a storytelling "gift" of her own. I'd give it a B-, and recommend it to anyone who likes folklore in their YA paranormal romances.
Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce is the first book in a new YA series by the prolific fantasy author. I've read more than a few of Pierce's works, and I love the fact that she's always had strong female protagonists who refused to be pigeonholed into 'traditional' female roles. Pierce's protagonists are warriors, healers and leaders. Which is why I was so confounded by the young boy protagonist, Arram, and surprised that most of the women/girls played peripheral roles in the story. I understand wanting a middle eastern protagonist who isn't the usual white kid, but why, of the three main characters (who are in what amounts to magic/wizards school, just like Harry Potter) does the lone female, Varice, have to be so giggly and have her talents be mainly found in the kitchens, making food and mothering her two male cohorts, Arram and Ozorne? She's even described in a stereotypical sexist fashion, with Arram drooling over her "curves" and her beauty, and longing to kiss her, even before he's 12 years old (apparently puberty comes very early in this world). The description of Arram's errections as a prepubescent child, were nauseatingly pedophilic, and totally inappropriate. Why sexualize such a young character? Though he's a prodigy with his magic, he's also insufferably arrogant and immature, and more than once he whines about having to basically take orders from his female teachers, one of whom ends up dead. Here's a blurb:Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm's most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness—and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the "leftover prince" with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram's heart, Arram realizes that one day—soon—he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie. In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom's future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies. Publisher's Weekly: In the intriguing first book of Pierce’s Numair Chronicles, set in the medieval fantasy world of her Tortall books, she provides an in-depth look into the magical education and youth of Arram Draper, who later becomes the powerful mage Numair Salmalín. At age 10, Arram is the youngest mage in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak. His raw talent or Gift is enormous and difficult for him to control; it both gets him into trouble and gets him noticed. He quickly makes friends with his roommate, prince Ozorne Tasikhe, and the lovely and kind Varice Kingsford. Although Pierce touches on weighty subjects including slavery and the environment, they’re balanced by the relatively lighthearted adventures of Arram and his new friends. She makes the most of the university setting, hinting at possible conflict ahead by way of Ozorne’s wish to avenge his father’s death.
I really didn't like Arram, and I wasn't too fond of his manic depressive prince friend Ozone, either. Neither seemed like they had much in the way of compassion or intellect when it came to slaves or women, as they were focused on themselves. And Varice, as I've said previously, comes across as vapid and boy crazy, interested mostly in her clothing, how she looked and in flirting and being girly. I was so disappointed by this portrayal of the few women in the book, that I nearly wept. I was also somewhat disappointed by the rough road of a plot, not smoothed at all by the often disjointed prose. This is not the Tamora Pierce whose work I've read and loved in the past. I don't know what has happened to make the author dish up this messy stew of a novel, but I certainly hope that its only temporary, and that eventually Pierce will get back to writing heroines and engaging stories full of wit and charm. It makes me sad to say that I can only give this novel a C, and I'd only recommend it to die-hard fans who don't really care what she writes, as long as it happens within the world of Tortall.