Monthly Archives: August 2012

‘The Jefferson Lies’ Bestseller Dropped by Publisher for Factual Errors

It takes a lot to have a publisher completely drop an author’s book and ask that bookstores stop selling it. Such is the case with David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed about Thomas Jefferson.

According to Huffington Post, publisher Thomas Nelson decided to stop the presses after the bestseller took heat for having factual errors. The Jefferson Lies is Barton’s attempt at telling the “true” story of Jefferson, one that makes him seem less racist, less bigoted, and less secularist, as Meredith Bennett-Smith explains.

In an early press release for the book, Barton was depicted as a historian’s version of David, battling against the Goliath forces of secularizing liberal revisionists, USA Today notes.

“History books routinely teach that Jefferson was an anti-Christian secularist, rewriting the Bible to his liking, fathering a child with one of his slaves, and little more than another racist, bigoted colonist — but none of those claims are actually true,” the press release stated.

But as it turned out, many of Barton’s claims were hard to verify, and in July the book was voted “the least credible history book in print,” by readers of the History News Network.

Religious groups were starting to organize protests, while other religious experts condemned Barton’s writing. Now it’s finally come to a head. The book is still available through Amazon, but Thomas Nelson has stopped new shipments, recalled copies from bookstores and asked other retailers to stop selling the e-book.

I don’t know about you, but all this controversy actually makes me want to read the book more than ever. Am I the only curious one? What do you guys think?

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Movie Based on David Sedaris Essay To Begin Production

For years, David Sedaris has been making people laugh with his funny — and maybe sometimes exaggerated, but who cares? — nonfiction essays and anecdotes.

Now, according to Entertainment Weekly and Indiewire, one of his essays is becoming a movie. Production is set to start next month on “C.O.G.,” which stands for “Child of God.” It’s  an essay included in his 1997 book Naked. The essay tells the story of the time when a young Sedaris and a “fanatical Christian” tried to sell stones at a local fair.

The EW article goes on to list a number of Sedaris’ stories that could also be turned into movies. I’ll admit: I’ve never read any of Sedaris’ work. That being said, I must agree with EW‘s Stephan Lee that Sedaris’ work might be better suited to an HBO series than a feature film. It will, however, be interesting to see his stories translated to the big screen.

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‘The Sweet Life’ Available as Audiobooks

A few weeks ago, I told you about a new Sweet Valley High spinoff e-book series that hit the Interwebs this summer. All six of the e-books have since been released.

But according to Entertainment Weekly, they’re now also available as audiobooks.

Check out the free snippet from book #2 here.

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‘Hunger Games’ Outsells ‘Harry Potter’ on Amazon

Sorry, Potter fans. Hunger Games fans are better than you …in terms of Amazon sales anyway.

According to Deadline, The Hunger Games trilogy is now Amazon’s top-selling book series of all time, outselling Harry Potter. Sales numbers include both physical books and e-books. Exact sale numbers are not being released, according to The New York Times.

Despite The Hunger Games’ obvious popularity with young adults, it’s still surprising, considering there are seven Harry Potter books that were released over 10+ years, compared to only three books in The Hunger Games trilogy, released over four years.

Another close call on the list? No surprise here: E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, which is still number one on The New York Times bestseller lists for print, e-book, and paperback trade fiction.

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Review: The Night Circus

Recap: Gripping, spellbinding, and moving, The Night Circus tells the story of two children who are raised by their magical guardians to become great magicians themselves and battle to see who is better. Celia and Marco learn the basics of magic during their childhood years, knowing that eventually they’ll be competing in a game. They don’t know who will be their opponents or where they’ll play. But the two ultimately become involved in a circus — a night circus — open only from dusk til dawn.

Marco is the assistant to the circus director; Celia, a performer — the illusionist — showing off what her father taught her. The two use the circus as a public venue for their competition, creating vibrant, mystical tents that go far beyond what a normal circus engineer could create. Whereas people come to the circus, assuming its performers are manipulating tricks, Celia and Marco are using actual magic.

Little do they know, their game is affecting everyone involved in the circus, including Friedrick Herr Thiessen, who makes clocks for the circus; and Poppet and Widget, a set of twins who were born into the circus family and develop their own magical skills.

Suddenly, the game between Marco and Celia is not just a game. It’s real, and it gives the circus a life of its own. That only complicates things when the opponents inevitably fall for each other.

Analysis: Magic versus manipulation is a theme strung throughout this fantastical and romantic web of a story. Celia and Marco insist they don’t manipulate; they perform real magic to create the trickery on display at the circus. But as much as they’d like to think otherwise, they are also masters of manipulation. They control the entire circus and in some mystical way, the lives of those involved in it. Celia and Marco are constantly trying to juxtapose manipulation and magic, when in reality, they’re proof that the two in inherently linked.

Another important factor in the novel is time. The story takes place in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, a time period in which magic and the circus was hugely popular. Author Erin Morganstern emphasizes the importance of the time and setting with the book’s format. Each chapter and section is dated, explicitly showing the timeline of the story. When a subplot about a boy named Bailey enters the novel, two timelines converge — one moving forward, another moving back. Of course, there are the not-so-subtle winks at time as well, such as Friedrick Herr Thiessen’s clockwork.

The beauty of this story is the relationship between Marco and Celia; they start off as opponents and end as lovers. Once they realize what a large part they play in the circus, they’re willing to sacrifice it all for each other and, more importantly, the future of the circus. Their ability to make magic might die, but they still want the public to experience it.

MVP: Celia. She’s the one with the most talent and power, but she controls it. She uses it for the right reasons, knowing that her actions affect far more people than herself.

Get The Night Circus in paperback now for $10.20.

Or on your Kindle for $9.99.

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‘Fifty Shades’ Classical Album Available for Download This Week

For those who have read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, you know the role classical music plays in the story. Christian often puts on classical music while he and Ana have their “alone time.” But it’s much more than that.

For Christian, classical music is a coping mechanism. He often plays pieces on the piano when he wakes up from nightmares. He also puts it on in his car while he drives Ana around town.

Now according to Entertainment Weekly, bestselling author E.L. James is a releasing an album of classical music that inspired her while she wrote the trilogy. James selected the pieces, which were mentioned throughout the books as well. The album is available for download Tuesday. The CD will be released in September.

The 15-track album includes music by Bach, Chopin, and Verdi. EW‘s Ray Rahman reveals the track list:

1. Lakmé (Act I): Flower Duet (Mady Mesplé, Danielle Millet)

2. Bach: Adagio from Concerto #3 BWV 974 (Alexandre Tharaud)

3. Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasilerias #5 — Cantilena (Barbara Hendricks)

4. Verdi: La Traviata Prelude (Riccardo Muti / Philharmonia Orchestra)

5. Pachelbel: Canon in D (Sir Neville Marriner/ Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields)

6. Tallis: Spem in Alium (The Tallis Scholars)

7. Chopin: Prelude #4 in E minor, Largo (Samson François)

8. Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto #2 — Adagio Sostenuto(Cecile Ousset, Sir Simon Rattle / CBSO)

9. Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (Sir Adrian Boult / LPO)

10. Canteloube: Chants d’auvergne, Bailero (Arleen Auger)

11. Chopin: Nocturne #1 in B-flat minor (Samson François)

12. Faure: Requiem — In Paradisum (Choir of King’s College, Cambridge / Stephen Cleobury)

13. Bach: Goldberg Variation — Aria (Maria Tipo)

14. Debussy: La Fille Aux Cheveux de Lin (Moura Lympany)

15. Bach: Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring (Alexis Weissenberg)

 

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Writer Admits to Fabricating Bob Dylan Quotes in Book

A bestselling book was recently removed from bookstore shelves across the country and Amazon’s rankings after its author revealed he fabricated some of the quotes in his book.

Imagine: How Creativity Works, written by Jonah Lehrer, was released in March and reached the #14 spot on The New York Times non-fiction bestseller list as recently as last week. But according to The New York Times, the book was subsequently pulled when an article in Tablet magazine explained Lehrer fabricated some of the Bob Dylan quotes used in his book.

This is not the first time Leher has done something like this. He also writes for The New Yorker and admitted just a month ago that he recycled some of his writing from other publications for an article in The New Yorker. His boss reluctantly kept him on the staff, but not after his most recent stint. Lehrer has since resigned from The New Yorker, while publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt removes his bestselling book from bookstore shelves.

This is one of the more serious fraudulent writing cases in recent years, as Julie Bosman explains.

A publishing industry that is notoriously ill-equipped to root out fraud. A magazine whose famed fact-checking department is geared toward print, not the Web. And a lucrative lecture circuit that rewards snappy, semi-scientific pronouncements, smoothly delivered to a corporate audience. All contributed to the rise of Jonah Lehrer, the 31-year-old author, speaker and staff writer for The New Yorker, who then executed one of the most bewildering recent journalistic frauds.

As a journalist, blogger, and someday hopeful author, this is not just a mistake; this is an act of betrayal. Lehrer misconstrued someone’s words to fit his story, lying to his audience. Whether you consider yourself a journalist or not, that’s simply not right. I’m glad the truth came out, and hope other journalism frauds are also caught in the act.

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Review: My Story, My Song

Recap: Every person who has reached a high level of success has done so because of his or her parents. If the person had good parents, they motivated and supported their children. If the person had bad parents, he or she learned from their mistakes and chose not to repeat them.

That’s why the story of Lucimarian Roberts, Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts’ mother, is so inspiring. She is one of the good parents – a mother who encouraged her children to keep trying and who taught them the importance of love, kindness, and bravery. That’s the story we read in My Story, My Song, which was told to Missy Buchanan by Lucimarian Roberts. It also features chapter commentary from Robin Roberts herself.

­­Lucimarian Roberts was the first person in her family to attend college – Howard University on a scholarship, no less. She married one of the original — and few black — Tuskegee Airmen. She raised four successful children, and moved them around the world to 27 different places because of her husband’s job. She taught. She played piano, sang, and recorded a CD. She gave back to her community, participating in Church groups and local organizations wherever she lived. Not to mention, she lived through Hurricane Katrina, survived a bad case of pneumonia, mourned the loss of her husband in 2004, and dealt with her daughter Robin’s battle with cancer.

Lucimarian Roberts shares her story in this spiritual, uplifting book that makes you realize anything is possible.

Analysis: It’s clear that Lucimarian Roberts is a strong woman. She relies on God and music to fight through the difficult times. In My Story, My Song, she tells her story, lesson by lesson instead of chronologically. It works, allowing the reader to focus on what she did and not when she did it.

As a fan of Robin Roberts, however, I had hoped to hear more from Robin herself. Robin writes commentaries for each chapter, but they’re brief anecdotes that don’t entirely correspond with the chapter.  Lucimarian delivers small glimpses into Robin’s life, like the Thanksgiving she spent with Robin and Diane Sawyer after her husband passed away —  but it took me a while to realize this story’s not nearly as much about Robin as it is about Lucimarian.

The story is also very focused on religion, including Bible passages and hymns throughout the book. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not something that piques my interest. However, I respect that this is a large part of Roberts’ life and therefore makes sense that it’s included.

That being said, it’s still a moving story about a woman who has had to deal with so much and seems to have conquered it all.

MVP: Lucimarian Roberts. Read above.
Get My Story, My Song in hardcover now for $10.98.

Or get it on your Kindle for $9.99.

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All-Star Author Rock Band Calls It Quits

What if Stephen King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan, and Mitch Albom all played in a band together? Well, they did — for the past 20 years. Unfortunately, I never knew about this all-star author rock band until a few months ago, when the group decided to call it quits.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the band, called The Rock Bottom Remainders, gave their last televised performance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson last week. The band decided to call it quits after its founder, Kathi Kamen Goldmark, died in June.

The band members, which have been a revolving door of authors throughout the years, admit they’re not that good. But this was an opportunity for them to live out their secret dream of being rockstars. And the best part? The money raised from performances goes to a number of different literary organizations.

Click here for EW’s exclusive clip of their last performance on The Late Late Show.

 

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Publishers Modernizing Classics’ Cover Art to Entice YA Readers

Thanks to Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games, young adult fiction is more popular than it’s been in quite some time. To lure some of these teen readers into the classics, publishers are re-designing the covers of classic books like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

According to this article by The New York Times, it’s a mindfreak that seems to be working. The new covers are brighter, handwritten, and more youthful. Some are even directly inspired by the Twilight series, with a black background and single red rose.

Many publishers are doing it, and most can since many of the novels are in the public domain — meaning anyone and everyone has free access to them.

According to the article, a number of businesses are selling classic novels now more than ever. It’s a plus for bookstores and even teachers who are happy to see young people reading older books. But of course, there are some bookstores that aren’t seeing much of a change in sales — even teens who prefer the originals.

“If kids want to read ‘Emma,’ they want to buy it in the adult section, not the teen section,” [Elaine Petrocelli, who owns the bookstore Book Passage] said.

“Kids don’t want to feel like they’re being manipulated.” […] For classics like that and “Pride and Prejudice,” [15-year-old Tess Jagger-Wells] said she preferred her hardcover editions with their flowery covers to the more modern versions.

“It’s fun to have the originals in your house to look at and show people,” she said. “It kind of goes with the feeling of the classic as something that’s treasured, something that you want to keep. The new covers make the books look like cheap romance novels.”

Personally, I prefer the old-fashioned covers because I think that’s part of what makes a classic classic. But I’m also past the YA fiction age. What do you guys think?

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