My literary local for the month of September is Robert J. Carvounas. Robert is a local Huntington Beach resident and wrote a book on a famous landmark called the Golden Bear.
I have never had an author change my mind about a review, but I missed the mark with this book.
Here is what I wrote and what sparked a discussion with the author: This is a very BRIEF history of the Golden Bear. It leaves out many details about the local music scene and the influence the Gold Bear had on local musicians.
The Golden Bear started out as a restaurant and evolved into a music venue that showcased everyone from local bands like Honk to Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt. I spent a lot of time there from the late 1970's until it closed in 1986.
Taken from Robert's web site:
Just mention the name "Golden Bear" to a Huntington Beach local and the utterance is usually met with a knowing smile and regretful tilt of the head. Almost everybody— young and old— still remembers the once great landmark. This book is not intended to be— nor could any one text ever be— a recounting of all the great memories from countless individuals over three generations. Instead, it is meant to provide the historical context for those memories. It is the story of the people behind the Golden Bear. From Harry Bakre— whose talent and vision gave birth to the Golden Bear when Huntington Beach itself was still in it's infancy— to Del Kauffman, George Nikas, and the Babiracki Trio who presided over the Huntington Beach landmark when it was a legendary live music venue. It contains their personal stories and recounts some of their interactions with legendary performers— and also with their community. It is a story about Huntington Beach businessmen who created a legacy that still reverberates to this day. It is a story of success, a story of triumph, and ultimately a story of defeat and great loss. The world lost the Golden Bear when it was demolished in the summer of 1986.
Here is what Robert has to say about his book:
Wow. A book review... never thought I'd see that. Thanks Mary. In response: I PURPOSELY didn't concentrate on the music because that was secondary to me. The music lasted for 23 of the 57 year existance of the Golden Bear. Plus, if you know about the Golden Bear, you probably know something about the music. It's the earlier history and the people behind the Bear that most people don't know about. And, it's their contribution to our community that is the reason the Golden Bear existed at all! The bands would (and did) play a million other places. In addition: I was 15 years old when it closed. I didn't live in those times to see the local bands play there... they most probably didn't amount to much in the larger music scene so most people my age never heard of them before! Sorry. I wasn't going to try and recreate a history of music that I don't know and don't like. For instance: I LOVE the Dixie Dregs and could have written pages about their performances... but WHO ELSE would care about that? Music is subjective and for every person that remembers (or wants to read about) a certain band, there are 100 others who've never heard of, and don't care about, that band. To me: the Golden Bear owners gave Huntington Beach that entertainment, the bands would play anywhere somebody would allow them... big difference there, in my mind anyway. The focus of MY book is on the (pre-music) early history and the locals who presented the music to our community and gave us a place to see the bands we love... it's not about the bands (how boring and unoriginal would that be???) So, I hope that explains it. There is plenty of room for Golden Bear history. If somebody wants to write (or read) a book about music at the Golden Bear or the Orange County music scene, please sit down and write one. I was simply not interested in that. Thanks again and take care. Robert J. Carvounas
Before I did my research, I too thought of music when I thought of the Bear. But during my research, I started to feel a strong connection to those locals who presided over the landmark day in and day out, year after year... rather than bands that floated in and out a couple times (or less) per year. It's great to remember the music, for sure. And, I hope my book gives people the historical context into which they (myself included) can fit all of their special memories of that great place! Rather than having those memories exist in a vacuum of information about the past.
I think it is great when local authors actually do the research and write about local landmarks. If there is no one to write it down in an easy to read form, then a lot of information is lost for future generations.
Defenders of the Scroll: History, Legend and Lore by Shiraz
A teenage boy.A dark wizard.A mystic scroll. And the fate of a world hangs in the balance. . . When Alex "the Axeman" Logan is pulled from his world to help young princess Dara save her kingdom from the Shadow Lord, he thinks there has been a mistake. He's a teen guitar player close to failing 11th grade, not some defender of the realm. All he has are some school books, his wits, and his love of fantasy movies. Overnight his life is history. Alex must confront the Shadow Lord and his minions when he is thrust into a land that has changed from a magical paradise to a barren, hopeless, helpless realm invaded by a dark army. But Alex is not alone. He has the help of Dara, a magic scroll, and a band of unlikely companions drawn from his own history books: a hardened Roman Legionnaire, a swift Japanese Samurai, a mighty African Warrior, a fiery Amazon Archer, and a spirited Shaolin Monk. Can Alex become more than he believes and lead his small band of Defenders to the Hall of Shadows, the birthplace of the Shadow Lord? The fate of the realm and everyone in it rests on him.Winner in the Fantasy category of the 2009 National Indie Excellence AwardsFinalist in the Action-Adventure and Young Adult Fiction categories of the 2009 National Indie Excellence AwardsFinalist in the Multicultural Fiction and Best Overall Design Fiction categories of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book AwardsHonorable Mention in the Sci-Fi category of the 2009 New York Book FestivalHonorable Mention in the Sci-Fi and Teenage categories of the 2009 Beach Book FestivalHonorable Mention in the Wild Card category of the 2009 San Francisco Book Festival
About the Author
Shiraz was raised just outside Toronto, Ontario and like the characters in this book, currently has no home. His life as a software developer has allowed him to live on four continents and keeps him moving almost every year. While he has had a passion for writing since he was eight, this is his first published work.
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Speak (March 5, 2009)
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Forever (April 1, 2009)
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (May 5, 2009)
Why should humans be the only ones lucky in love? Dogs need a little devotion, too—and they’re barking up the right tree with these charming personals. They cater to canines of all types: sires or dams, purebreds or crossbreeds, altered or whole. Whether a doggie is hoping to hook up for a romp in the park, to prowl the back alleys for delicacies, or just to lounge lazily on the deck with the humans, there’s a match made in dog heaven right here. Featuring hilarious color photographs of pups of all shapes and sizes, it will help Fido and Fifi find their soul mates, companions, or flings. What a great gift for Rover…and his owner, too!
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Sterling (October 28, 2005)
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (March 10, 2009)
REALLY LIKED IT
This is a perfect summer read. There is nothing too demanding and it is well done for pure Chick Lit fluff. It is nice how the author gives us a different sort of character to like in Marcy. Of course after "settling" for a marriage that is merely a convenience of circumstance, Marcy find true love after she is humiliated by her husband's affair. Hedge Fund Wives is just a nice way to spend an afternoon.
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Avon A (May 5, 2009)
In this amazingly timely story about what the wealthy do when Wall Street lays an egg, the author of Gilding Lily once again delivers a witty and insightful treatment of today's woman, as she explores the sacrifices they make, the bargains they strike, the rules they follow, and what happens when it all starts to fall apart.
Who could have guessed that Wall Street would go south just as Marcy Emerson and her husband moved east? Down to earth Marcy relocated from Chicago to New York when her husband was offered a big time job as a hedge fund manager.
She gives up her own job—after all, hedge fund wives don't work! And while at first it's fun to shop all day and party all night, Marcy quickly learns that life among the rich can be anything but easy and that behind every smile can be a stab in the back.
Still, it's not until her husband leaves her for his thinner, blonder mistress—a woman who is higher up the social ladder than the original Mrs. Emerson will ever be—that Marcy decides to stand on her own two feet once again, and fight for the things that are far more important than money.
About the Author
Tatiana Boncompagni, author of the novel Gilding Lily, is a Manhattan-based freelancer who has written for The Financial Times Style and Shopping pages, the New York Times Sunday Styles section, the Wall Street Journal Weekend section, Vogue and InStyle. A graduate of Georgetown University's prestigious School of Foreign Service, she worked for the Wall Street Journal Europe in Brussels, and, later, as a reporter for the Legal Times in Washington, DC. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and two children.
When Mercury is in retrograde, the only guarantee is anything that can go wrong, will.
Penelope Mercury, an intrepid reporter at the New York Telegraph, has pounded the pavement for five years from city borough to borough, carrying out her boss's eccentric orders to break stories that seem inconsequential to everyone but him. Finally, she is inches away from being promoted to her dream job -- covering courtroom drama for the paper -- but after one spectacularly disastrous day, she is fired instead.
Lena "Lipstick Carcrash" Lipp encrass has a pretty fabulous life, even by a socialite's standards, as a top editor at the high fashion magazine Y. Long lunches with her girlfriends and afternoons spent shopping at Bergdorf's are all in a day's work. But when Lena's always indulgent parents abruptly cut off her cash flow and kick her out of her beloved West Village duplex for refusing to work for the family business, she is forced to confront the reality of what it takes to pay the bills.
Dana Gluck, a workaholic lawyer, had been married for two years to a man who was perfect on paper but increasingly critical in reality. She hoped that her dreams of motherhood would be fulfilled soon, which surely would also fix their marriage problems. Instead, her husband leaves her for an exchange student/model who, to make matters worse, promptly gets pregnant.
When fate conspires to have these three very different women move into the same SoHo apartment building, they soon discover that having their carefully planned lives fall to pieces might be the best thing that could have ever happened to them.
About the Author
The deputy editor for the New York Post's Page Six column, Paula lives in New York City. Mercury in Retrograde is her first novel.
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Atria (June 2, 2009)
Ghost Huntress Book 1: The Awakening by Marley Gibson
This is a very fun read. I didn't think I was going to like it at first and then realized I had read 150 pages without even realizing it. If you watch the Ghost Hunter series on TV then you are going to love this story. All of the science on the show is brought to life by the teenagers, but with better comments. The character of Kendall really brings the idea to life. There is some "language", a few kisses, but nothing anyone should object to. Nicely Done! I just got my hands on the second one in the series and read that there is a third one as well.
The first in a trilogy. Get out your tape recorders, crystals, and extra batteries— you’re about to go where our world meets the spirit world.
Psychic Kids, Paranormal State, Haunting Evidence—these and countless other television shows are making believers out of millions of people: Ghosts exist, and they’re living right beside us. For centuries, individuals have been trying to prove the existence of ghosts. But without hard evidence, it’s been difficult to make the case. But now as science and technology have progressed, ghost hunters have been able to use scientific means, along with more traditional psychic tools, to make their case. Photographs, video recordings, and sound recordings are all producing some amazing results.
In this new series, Ghost Huntress, meet Kendall Moorehead, a seemingly typical teen. When her family moves from Chicago to the small historical town of Radisson, Georgia, her psychic abilities awaken. She’s hearing, feeling, and seeing things that seem unbelievable at first, but with the help of the town psychic, Kendall is able to come to terms with her newly emerging gift. So, together with her new BFF, Celia, Kendall forms a ghost hunting team. They’ve got all the latest technology. They’ve got Kendall for their psychic. Now they’re going to clean up Radisson of its less savory spirits.
The story is fiction. The science is real. Welcome to a new reality.
About the author: http://www.marleygibson.com/
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Graphia (May 4, 2009)
In this stunning follow-up to the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown demonstrates once again why he is the world’s most popular thriller writer. The Lost Symbol is a masterstroke of storytelling--a deadly race through a real-world labyrinth of codes, secrets, and unseen truths . . . all under the watchful eye of Brown’s most terrifying villain to date. Set within the hidden chambers, tunnels, and temples of Washington, D.C., The Lost Symbol accelerates through a startling landscape toward an unthinkable finale.
As the story opens, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object--artfully encoded with five symbols--is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient invitation . . . one meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom.
When Langdon’s beloved mentor, Peter Solomon--a prominent Mason and philanthropist--is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations--all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.
As the world discovered in The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, Dan Brown’s novels are brilliant tapestries of veiled histories, arcane symbols, and enigmatic codes. In this new novel, he again challenges readers with an intelligent, lightning-paced story that offers surprises at every turn. The Lost Symbol is exactly what Brown’s fans have been waiting for . . . his most thrilling novel yet.
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Books; 1st edition (September 15, 2009)
I can already hear (well, OK, read), the reviews of this one: formulatic, unrealistic, yada, yada, yada. If you take this book as a good mystery and thriller and not expect literary greatness, you have a wonderful page-turning experience that is just plain fun!
Book Review: I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser (166)
One life. Six words. What's yours?
True tales of love, loss, good friends, and bad hair days filled Not Quite What I Was Planning, the New York Times bestselling first book in the Six-Word Memoir series—and an international phenomenon. Some of the most compelling were by teens, so now SMITH Magazine has compiled a book written entirely by these bold, brash truth-tellers. From cancer to creativity, prom dates to promiscuity, and breaking hearts to breaking laws, the memoirs in this collection reveal that often the youngest writers have the most fascinating stories to tell.
Met online; love before first sight.
Hair's pink to piss you off.
I fulfilled my awkwardness quota today.
I'm seventeen, engaged, and not pregnant.
My mom had my boyfriend deported.
Late for school every single day.
According to Facebook, we broke up.
SMITH Magazine founding editor Larry Smith has worked as an editor at Men's Journal, ESPN: The Magazine, and Might. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Popular Science, on Salon.com, and many other places. Larry lives in New York City
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (September 1, 2009)
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Candlewick; Reissue edition (July 22, 2008)
Eugenie has spilled plenty of fey blood in her time, but this enemy is shrewd, subtle, and nursing a very personal grudge. And the men in her life aren t making things any easier. Her boyfriend Kiyo is preoccupied with his pregnant ex, and sexy fey king Dorian always poses a dangerous distraction. With or without their help, Eugenie must venture deep into the Otherworld and trust in an unpredictable power she can barely control. Reluctant queen or not, Eugenie has sworn to do her duty--even if it means facing the darkest--and deadliest--side of her nature...
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Zebra Books (Mass Market) (August 1, 2009)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Doubleday (September 8, 2009)
Intimate, hilarious, and sobering, Wishful Drinking is Fisher, looking at her life as she best remembers it (what do you expect after electroshock therapy?). It's an incredible tale: the child of Hollywood royalty -- Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher -- homewrecked by Elizabeth Taylor, marrying (then divorcing, then dating) Paul Simon, having her likeness merchandized on everything from Princess Leia shampoo to PEZ dispensers, learning the father of her daughter forgot to tell her he was gay, and ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed.
Wishful Drinking, the show, has been a runaway success. Entertainment Weekly declared it "drolly hysterical" and the Los Angeles Times called it a "Beverly Hills yard sale of juicy anecdotes." This is Carrie Fisher at her best -- revealing her worst. She tells her true and outrageous story of her bizarre reality with her inimitable wit, unabashed self-deprecation, and buoyant, infectious humor.
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 8, 2009)
ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS BOOK -- READ IT NOW!
In the heart of New York City, hidden in the back room of an old Laundromat, are nine rare and valuable plants. Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire tells the story of this legendary garden, and the distance one woman must travel—from the cold, harsh streets of Manhattan to the lush jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula—to claim what is hers.Lila Nova lives alone in a plain, white box of an apartment. Recovering from a heartbreaking divorce, Lila’s life is like her home: simple, new, and empty. But when she meets a handsome plant-seller named David Exley, an entire world opens up before her eyes. Late one night Lila stumbles across a strange Laundromat and sees ferns so highly-prized that a tiny cutting can fetch thousands of dollars. She learns about flowers with medicinal properties to rival anything found in drugstores. And she hears the legend of nine mystical plants that bring fame, fortune, immortality, and passion. The owner of the Laundromat, Armand, presents Lila with a test: if she can make the cutting from a fire fern grow roots, he will show her the secret of his locked room. But Lila is too trusting, and with one terrible mistake she ruins her chance to see Armand’s plants. The only way to win it back is to travel, on her own, to the Yucatan. Deep in the rain forests of Mexico, Lila enters a world of shamans and spirit animals, snake charmers, and sexy, heart-stopping Huichols. Alone in the jungle, Lila is forced to learn more than she ever wanted to know about nature—and about herself. An exhilarating journey of love and self-discovery, Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire brings together mystery, adventure, and heat, in every sense of the word.
About the Author
MARGOT BERWIN earned her MFA from the New School in 2005. Her stories have appeared on Nerve.com, in the New York Press, and in the anthology The Future of Misbehavior. She worked in advertising for many years and lives in New York City.
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Pantheon (June 16, 2009)
If you like weird, you won't be able to put this book down. After reading it, I thought this reminds me a lot of the first time I read a Christopher Moore book. It was completely different from anything I have read lately. I don't know whether to classify this as a romance, chick lit, or what. It was just such a pleasure to read something unique. Although the story is a pretty basic "finding yourself" book, the different quests Lila undertakes are something wonderful.
REALLY LIKED IT
A Demon...Not Just In Bed - Practical Josephine 'Jo' Burke has no patience for the paranormal - even if she's been having some strange visions lately. But if she is losing her mind, at least it would explain her new attraction to her co-worker, the least suitable man she could ever fall for...Maksim Kostova has no idea why he's so drawn to feisty mortal Jo, but he does know how she feels about the supernatural. Forget about her accepting him for what he really is, she'd never even believe him in the first place. Or would she? When Jo confesses to him that she's been seeing visions of a dead girl, it seems anything's possible...
About the Author:
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Brava; 1 edition (May 1, 2009)
This is the perfect end of summer read for me. Great likable characters, hot steamy stuff and a decent plot help make this a really quick read. This could have been just a romance book with a male character that had "demon" slapped on him, but it did build nicely around the fact that Maksim had to overcome his "demonness" to match with Jo. I hope the next book in the series will go more into detail about the details.
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (February 3, 2009)
Book Review: It's Not That I'm Bitter . . .: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World by Gina Barreca (158)
In a world where eye cream is made from placenta, Gina Barreca is the lone voice calling out “But wait, whose placenta is it?” She asks the crucial questions: Why is there no King Charming? Why does no bra ever fit? Why does are there no tutus in XL? Why do more intelligent women have trusted psychics than have trusted financial advisors? While she definitely wants everyone to know that she's not bitter, Gina does want to know why no one realizes that Anne Bancroft was only thirty-six when she played Mrs. Robinson, the quintessential cougar. In "It's Not That I'm Bitter..." Gina shouts out her message to women everywhere: “You are smart enough to conquer the world, so please stop weeping when you try on bathing suits at T.J. Maxx.” As Gina declares "The world lies to us and we want to believe. We want to believe that, if we wear a pair of palazzo pants with a latex escape hatch built into the stomach area, we’ll appear five pounds slimmer instantly… We torture ourselves, even though we are smart broads." In deliciously quotable essays on the ability of both chin hairs and tweezers to affect your life, the reason every woman believes she’s crazy, the possibility that the "glass ceiling" may just be a thick layer of men, and thoughts on intimate conversations she’d have with Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Cindy McCain and Sarah Palin, Barreca gleefully rejects the emotional torture, embraces the limitless laughter, and shows other women how they can conquer the world with a sharp wit, good shoes and not a single worry about VPLs.
About the Author
GINA BARRECA, Ph.D. is a professor of English and Feminist Theory at the University of Connecticut and author of Babes in Boyland, They Used to Call Me Snow White, but I Drifted and I’m With Stupid: One Man, One Woman, and 10,000 Years of Misunderstandings Between The Sexes Cleared Right Up (coauthored with Pulitzer Prize-winner Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post). She grew up in Brooklyn and now lives in Storrs, CT. Go figure.
Visit Gina Barreca online at http://www.ginabarreca.com/
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (May 12, 2009)
I was looking for a light, funny read and this was just what I wanted. If you like Jen Lancaster or Laurie Notaro, you will probably enjoy this one. Barreca is witty and snarky, but sometimes can be a little bit preachy. This was a very quick read.
Her Fearful Symmetry: A Novel by Audrey Niffenegger
ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT
Six years after the phenomenal success of The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger has returned with a spectacularly compelling and haunting second novel set in and around Highgate Cemetery in London.
When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers--with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another.
The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. They come to know the building's other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin's devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth's elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt's neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including--perhaps--their aunt, who can't seem to leave her old apartment and life behind. Niffenegger weaves a captivating story in Her Fearful Symmetry about love and identity, about secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life--even after death.
About the Author: Visit her site: http://audreyniffenegger.com/about
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Scribner (September 29, 2009)
If you love a good ghost story, this one will appeal to you, although it is an extremely twisted ghost tale. I finished this book several days ago and I am still thinking about it. The characters are all very different with quirks that are likable. Just when you think you have the plot figured out, it takes a left turn and makes you turn the page to find out what happens next. I didn't think that Niffenegger could duplicate the success of The Time Traveler's Wife, but she did. I can also see why this story took her several years to write.
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (September 22, 2009)
THE COUSINS' WAR
Philippa Gregory, "the queen of royal fiction,"*presents the first of a new series set amid the deadly feuds of England known as the Wars of the Roses.
Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.
The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.
With The White Queen, Philippa Gregory brings the artistry and intellect of a master writer and storyteller to a new era in history and begins what is sure to be another bestselling classic series from this beloved author.
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Touchstone (August 18, 2009)