Monthly Archives: July 2012

Bad Timing for Now Outdated Joe Paterno Biography

When sportswriter and biographer Joe Posnanski started writing a book about Penn State football’s former coach Joe Paterno this past January, it began as a story about college football’s winningest coach, who was forced to deal with a massive scandal toward the end of his life.

But six months later, the story of Joe Paterno has changed dramatically, and yet Posnanski’s biography of the coach, entitled Paterno, is still set to come out next month. According to The New York Times, publisher Simon & Schuster is now limiting its press for the biography, cancelling events from the tour and interviews with the author.

After all, most of the information in the Paterno biography is now out of date. Earlier this month, the Freeh report, released by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, found that Paterno failed to report accusations of child sex abuse by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky as far back as 1998. As a result, the Joe Paterno statue was removed from the outside of Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, and PSU suffered a number of sanctions, including vacating Paterno’s wins from the past 14 years — meaning Paterno is no longer the winningest coach in college football.

But with Simon & Schuster already acquiring the book for $750,000 and printing 75,000 copies , it’s too late to make any changes. Simon & Schuster is now defending their decision to move forward with the book, as Julie Bosman explains.

If Simon & Schuster were to lose close to $1 million on the book, it would be an unpleasant but not particularly significant sum for an imprint of its size.

[Simon & Schuster publisher Jonathan] Karp heatedly defended his author, pointing out that the book had been under a strict embargo and that review copies had not been distributed. Few people, he said, have read it.

“I will say this — I think there has been a lot online about this book,” Mr. Karp said. “And I’m amazed by some of the vitriol with regard to Joe Posnanski, who is a truly gifted writer. People can pass all the judgment they want about Joe Paterno, but Joe Posnanski deserves a chance to be read.”

According to the article, however, some smaller bookstores have already decided not to carry the book.

This is not the first time a quickly-written bio has faced bad-timing issues. Earlier this year, a number of Jeremy Lin books were written, prior to his trade from the New York Knicks. Those books were soon outdated.

Will Simon & Schuster be able to take the blow? Probably. But it’s not going to do much for Joe Paterno, except for remind people of the scandal that has stained his career.

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New ‘Sweet Valley High’ Spin-Off Available in E-Book Format

Before Harry Potter and Twilight, there was The Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High. Well now, Sweet Valley is back. Sort of.

The young adult author who wrote the series, Francine Pascal, has written a 6-book Sweet Valley spin-off called The Sweet Life. According to Entertainment Weekly, the series is only available for e-readers. It takes place three years after the setting of last year’s Sweet Valley Confidential; in The Sweet Life, the twins are 30 years old.

Each e-book comes out Sunday nights from July 15th through August 12th and only costs $1.99 a piece. But the news doesn’t end there. Starting October 1st, the first 12 books in the original SVH series will be made available for e-readers for the first time with original covers included.

Click here for an excerpt of the first new Sweet Life book.
Get Book 1 of The Sweet Life for your Kindle here for just $1.99.

Here’s the second book in the series.

And here’s the third and most recent one to come out.

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Review: Deuce Delaney

Recap: As young teenagers, we all made mistakes, but not like middle schooler Deuce Delaney. Deuce — whose real name is Mansfield, but prefers “Deuce” — sets off stink bombs, steals money to buy tranquilizer guns, and does some of the normal teenage stuff too, like smoking, drinking, and terrorizing his younger sister.

In this modernized story about the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf,’ Deuce starts off as a boy with an imaginative mind. He thinks he sees a ghost or creature near his secret hiding spot in the woods. He follows clues through a sewer to find out what the creature is. But the story quickly moves past the ghost story to one of a boy who can’t escape trouble. Deuce is constantly being grounded. He gets his friends into trouble. In an attempt to do well, he joins clubs but is soon kicked out of them. He gets suspended from school, fails a class, and has to attend summer school. And that’s where he meets another troubled boy like himself, named Russell.

That’s when things start to escalate. When Deuce tries to put out a fire in his school, he is blamed for starting it. He realizes that Russell probably had something to do with it. But Russell mysteriously dies, and Deuce is the only one who knows how. He must prove it to those who don’t believe him.

Analysis: Deuce Delaney is a coming-of-age story, combined with mystery, action and thriller. Sadly, the most exciting parts of the novel are saved for the beginning and end. Upon beginning the book, Delaney reminded me of Now and Then in that it combined themes of growing up with uncovering a mystery. But that ghost/creature story was completely dismissed until the end.

Much of the middle of the novel was devoted to Deuce’s mishaps and troublemaking. I understand that this is what the author, Michael Murray, intended. Showing what a “bad kid” Deuce is serves to explain why people in authority positions wouldn’t believe him in the end when he uncovers the mystery. But while this character-developing portion of the book serves a purpose, it’s very long; so long, in fact, that the reader forgets about the “creature” from the beginning altogether.

That being said, the writing itself is well-done. Told in first person, the author does a good job of writing or speaking as a 13-year-old would. It’s a little disorganized, but very self-centered and straightforward, which is fitting for Deuce’s personality. At the end, Deuce proves his point, but it leaves me wondering how much he really learned and if he grew from this experience at all.

Get Deuce Delaney for your Kindle for only $2.99.


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Study Shows E-Book Library Borrowing Isn’t Popular

One of the things I’ve always loved about libraries is that you can read for free. That’s the point, right? Since I was a little girl, I have been a huge supporter of the library. So when it came time for me to get an e-reader, I wanted the Nook, the only one  — at that time — that could download e-books from the library.

But according to the Associated Press, a recent Pew Research Center study shows e-book library borrowing is not very popular. Here are the reasons why:

1. People don’t know if their libraries offer e-books for download.

2. Libraries offer a limited selection of e-books.

3. The e-books are not offered in the available format for a particular e-reader.

4. Some publishers don’t make their e-books available at libraries because they’re scared it will hurt sales.

Though I love borrowing e-books, I think these are pretty valid complaints, except for #1. (I’m sorry, but if you’ve got an e-reader, one of the first things you should do is find out if your library offers e-books. And these days, most do.) The limited selection of e-books — whether it’s the library’s or the publisher’s fault — is a major issue. Finding an e-book you want at the library is extremely difficult because there aren’t many titles, and of the ones that are available, there’s typically only one copy, forcing people to go on a waiting list sometimes for weeks. Not to mention, if a publisher offers its print books in the library, there’s no reason not to offer its digital copies. Overall, this study is not very surprising, but brings up good points.

What do you guys think?


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Folger Shakespeare Collection Now Available as E-Books

One of the most popular and accessible versions of Shakespeare’s work is now available in e-book format. According to The New York Times, Folger Shakespeare just converted the collection a few weeks ago, featuring scene summaries and notes in the e-books.

Simon & Schuster collaborated with Folger Shakespeare to put plays like Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and The Merchant of Venice for $5.99 each.

I’m sure Shakespeare himself never expected people to be taking notes and studying his work, let alone reading it in a digital format. I would love to see how the notes and summaries play out in e-book format. Though I’ve never thought of Shakespeare in such a modern format, I think the interactivity of an e-book would only further encourage students — adults for that matter — to read his work.

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Review: The Great Gatsby

RecapThe Great Gatsby is a classic novel about love and money  and the way they develop Jay Gatsby, a man who spends his life chasing two things – fortune and a woman named Daisy. Gatsby lives on Long Island, throwing lavish parties regularly and flaunting his money in a 1920’s pre-Depression era. Across the way live his former flame, Daisy, and her husband, Tom. Next door is the new neighbor and narrator, Nick Carraway – one of Daisy’s cousins.

Gatsby and Nick quickly become friends, though Nick has a difficult time learning Gatsby’s story. He ultimately finds out that Gatsby and Daisy used to date until he enlisted in the Army. By the time he came back from the war, Daisy had married a man named Tom. Nick reconnects Daisy and Gatsby, and their old feelings soon return.

Meanwhile Tom is having an affair with a woman named Myrtle. When her husband finds out about their affair, it results in an argument and devastating car crash. It’s a crash that leads to two more deaths in this small group of people. And just when you think Daisy might end up with Gatsby after all these years, it becomes clear how shallow and definitive Daisy’s decision to marry Tom always was and always will be.

Analysis: The Great Gatsby is a rarity; it’s one of those classic novels that toes the line into popularity, something not often accomplished by books that are praised for their literary prowess.

But Gatsby’s combination of the setting (the Roaring Twenties), scandal, and themes about love and greed make for a book that both appeals to readers and makes a greater social statement.

Not to mention, Fitzgerald’s descriptions and use of symbolism are breathtaking. The eyes on a large billboard near the railroad track represent Gatsby’s stalking obsession with Daisy and his need to be with her. The use of a billboard also emphasizes commercialism, advertising, and money. Green lights along the water and coming from Daisy’s home symbolize Daisy herself and her real true love – money. After all, she married Tom for money. That’s what encourages Gatsby to force wealth upon himself and appeal once again to Daisy.

But above all else, it’s Gatsby that both amazes and astounds us. He’s wealthy, but it’s new, dirty money. He’s kind but only to those that help him. And he’s fun, but only if he’s getting closer to his ultimate goal. As Nick often admits during his narration, Gatsby engrosses him with that beautiful smile, even though there’s something devilish about it.

MVP: Gatsby. Brooding, complicated, and charming. He’s the perfect bad boy in every way, and despite his massive flaws, he’s what draws us all into this classic novel.

Get The Great Gatsby in paperback for $9.


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E.L. James’ Husband To Publish YA Novel

Could the next bestselling author be the husband of E.L. James, who wrote the international bestselling series Fifty Shades of Grey? Possibly.

According to Entertainment Weekly, James’ husband Niall Leonard is writing a “gritty” young adult fiction novel for Random House Children’s Publishing. The novel, called Crusher, is about a teenager accused of murdering his stepfather, something that Leonard says he’s been wanting to publish for quite some time.

[…] it finally all came together last November when my wife encouraged me to take part in the Nanowrimo novel-writing event.

The novel will be released by Doubleday in September.

I’ve got to wonder how easily Leonard will be able to ride the coattails of his wife’s success. Fifty Shades of Grey is popular because it took an underground, not-so-popular type of fiction and made it more accessible. A fantasy thriller for teens is something we’ve seen before. Also, since Leonard and his wife do not share the same last name, people generally won’t put two and two together; I don’t think her success will necessarily rub off on him. What do you guys think?

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Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I was on vacation, and then I moved. Without cable and internet, it’s been difficult to blog! But things will be back up and running next week. Lots of good posts coming your way! Thanks for reading 🙂

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Penguin Publishing To Offer E-Books at NYC Libraries

As e-book sales continue to rise, e-book borrowing is not as popular. Some of that is because publishers fear that offering their e-books in libraries will stagnate sales. Such is the case with Penguin Group USA.

But now the company is changing its tune. According to The New York Times, Penguin will begin offering e-books to New York City libraries through a new pilot program next month. If successful, the program will expand to libraries throughout the country.

The program, in conjunction with 3M, will allow library users in several boroughs to borrow e-books on compatible devices. New titles will not be immediately available. There’s no word on how long the pilot program will last.

Despite their concerns about diminished sales, I still think offering e-books in libraries as well as bookstores is a move in the right direction. Whether they like it or not, e-books are the way of the future, and it’s important for publishers to be ahead of the curve. What do you guys think?

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Review: Have A Little Faith

Recap: The lives of two clergyman are juxtaposed against each other in this true story, written by bestselling author Mitch Albom. Have A Little Faith weaves together the stories of Rabbi Albert Lewis and Pastor Henry Covington.

Rabbi Lewis — or the Reb — is Albom’s childhood Rabbi, a Man of God, who asks Albom to write his eulogy. As one would assume, Albom immediately thinks that the Reb is close to dying. But he’s not. In fact, he lives for another 8 years. It’s during this time that Albom spends much of his free time flying from his Detroit home to his hometown in New Jersey to meet with the elderly Rabbi and learn about his life both in and outside the Temple.

Albom was never particularly close to the Reb. In fact, Albom is not very religious at all. He married out of faith. He only attends synagogue on the high holidays, and yet here he is, researching a man he barely knows so he can write his eulogy. It’s not your average task, but it’s one that Albom takes on and begins to enjoy, as he gets to know this wonderful, spiritual man and restore some of his own faith as well.

It’s during this time that Albom also meets Pastor Henry Covington, a Pastor at an old Church that’s falling apart at the seams in downtown Detroit. When Albom decides he wants to donate money to a charity, he comes across the disheveled Church and offers to help out with a gaping hole in its ceiling. Henry suggests that Albom learn more about him before he gives him money. In doing so, Albom comes to find that Henry is a former criminal, drug dealer, and alcoholic who went through a religious rebirth until he found himself literally preaching to a choir. Of course, Henry’s background makes Albom skeptical. But in meeting with Henry and the Reb, he learns that sometimes you just have to have a little faith.

Analysis: Like any Mitch Albom book, fiction or nonfiction, Have A Little Faith focuses on life, death, and the afterlife. It’s also a tearjerker. So if you’ve ever read a Mitch Albom book, consider yourself prepared on some level.

That being said, Faith‘s focus on religion is something that stood out to me, something that separated it from his other books. And though I only consider myself to be slightly more religious/spiritual that Albom, it was still consuming and enjoyable. As a Jew, I could relate to Albom’s tales of spending time in a synagogue. But all that aside, Albom does an excellent job of weaving together the two religions, the two clergymen, and two different belief systems, pointing out that ultimately, all religions preach the same core values.

As always, Albom’s writing is succinct — probably from his journalistic background — yet moving. Albom doesn’t write much, but what he does is powerful.

MVP: The Reb and Henry. It’s impossible to choose a favorite among these two prolific men, who have been through so much and overcame their pasts in order to help others in the future.

Get Have a Little Faith on your Kindle for just $6.97, free for Amazon Prime customers.

Or get it in paperback for $10.98.

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