Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category


Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

9781602862418_df7f5A year after it was controversially featured as the opening film at Cannes, American audiences will finally get to see the bio-pic featuring Niclole Kidman as Princess Grace, titled after the book it is based on, Grace of Monaco by Jeffrey Robinson (Perseus/Da Capo; Audio, Dreamscape).

It is not coming to the big screen, however. In quite a comedown from opening the Cannes Festival, it makes its U.S. debut on the cable network Lifetime on Memorial Day, May 25th.

The film was booed at Cannes and the kinder critics said is was “not Kidman’s finest hour.”

Embargoed Jolie Bio Arrives in August

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Andrew Morton’s unauthorized book on Angelina Jolie, gossiped about for nearly a year (she slept with her mother’s boyfriend! The New York Daily News; she cheated on Brad with a rocker! The Star) is coming August 3rd, says USA Today‘s Book Buzz column. Large libraries we checked have it on order.

Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography
Andrew Morton
Retail Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press – (2010-08-03)
ISBN / EAN: 031255561X / 9780312555610

Do the Sirens Call to Female Readers?

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

The introduction to this week’s NYT Graphic Books Best Seller lists notes the rise of Gotham City Sirens, a new series from DC Comics featuring the misadventures of iconic female antagonists: Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and the Joker’s main squeeze, Harley Quinn. DC Comics frequently feature enticing female characters who are also strong, smart, independent, and well able to stand up to the big boys of the DC Universe including Batman, Superman, and the whole host of Justice League men. Birds of Prey, a long-running series following the crime-fighting trio of Oracle (Barbara Gordon, once Batgirl), Black Canary, and the Huntress, remains one of the few titles to feature an all-female team bristling with both smarts and fighting skills.

You’d think that these series would be a natural place to engage with a female audience. Strong female characters? Check. Action crime plots? Check. All of these women, as written by writers including Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, and Chuck Dixon, are well able to give Buffy Summers a run for her money. The big difference? Take a look at the cover for Gotham City Sirens. The image is clearly, overwhelmingly intended for readers who want to ogle women: teenage and adult guys. It’s not just the cover, either (click for a preview of the first issue from Newsarama.) Female superheroes not only have to contend with ridiculous costumes (check out Project Runway guru Tim Gunn smartly tearing apart the costumes designs in this priceless video), but are drawn in poses that defy logic to emphasize actual physical prowess. Good girl art, as such sexualized, pin-up style comic art has been termed, is still a frequent style in superheroine tales. Women may deduce right alongside Batman, but their body shapes and fighting contortions make it very clear their purpose is to be on display.

Of course, manga has its fair share of pin-ups too. Rosario+Vampire, currently occupying the top spot on the NYT manga list, is a fine example of scantily clad young ladies squarely aimed at a male audience. However, manga balances out such titles with two things: comics for girls, like Gentlemen’s Alliance, Black Butler, and Nightschool on this week’s list, and comics that cater to girls’s desires to ogle pretty boys, as with Gentlemen’s Alliance and Alice in the Country of Hearts. Harem manga, aimed at young male readers in Japan, features a hapless young man surrounded by a bevvy of buxom young ladies who all want to date him. Think Judd Apatow comedies with about ten bombshell starlets instead of just one.  Reverse harems feature instead an ordinary girl suddenly gaining the romantic attention of a wide array of gorgeous young men, and Alice in the Country of Hearts is a classic example.  In the manga publishing world, there is at least that balance, while in the U.S. mainstream comics world, comics for girls are almost nonexistent and comics for those who like a little male eye candy are even more scarce.

So what’s a woman who wants female heroes to do? Mainstream superhero comics give you very little choice: either you ignore the cheesecake pin-up art and read for the stories or you stop reading and go find your superheroines with more normal body types somewhere else. Comics outside mainstream continuity feature a plethora of excellent, intriguing female heroes who need not fit the spandex suit. For younger readers there’s Emily Edison, Alison Dare, Rose from the world of Bone, and GoGirl!. For adults there’s Tara Chace in Queen and Country, Liz Sherman in Hellboy, Maya Antares from Red Star, and Jenny Sparks in The Authority. Many female readers, teens and adults alike, turn to manga for their kick-butt women. Favorites include Nausicaä from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Nobara in Crimson Hero, Miura Ito from W Juliet, Arena Pendleton from Train + Train, Nana Osaki in Nana, Alice Malvin in Pumpkin Scissors, and Rukia from Bleach.

I’m all for readers enjoying the sexiness where they find it, but as a reader, I get tired of conflicting messages. If there aren’t fully-realized characters to balance out the sex bombs and vixens, we’re left with the message that sexy posing is all women are good for in the superhero world.  To those who claim that the men are just as exaggerated and sexualized, I say until there’s a comic where Batman periodically preens in his bedroom and then runs around fighting crime in only a speedo, there’s nothing in the portrayal of male heroes that compares. Do these pin-up comics sell in the short term? Of course. Do they lose a potentially large audience? Speaking for the many women open to reading comics who glance at such covers and immediately turn away, I’d say, yes.

A Year of Alice

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Alice, of Wonderland fame, is getting a mini-revival this year. As USA Today points out, in addition to the novel that imagines the life of the real-life model, Alice I Have Been, a new biography of Lewis Carroll is coming out next month, as well as the Tim Burton movie in March.

Alice-themed book clubs, anyone?

Alice I Have Been
Melanie Benjamin
Retail Price: $25.00
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press – (2010-01-12)
ISBN / EAN: 0385344139 / 9780385344135


The Mystery of Lewis Carroll: Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful, and Sometimes Lonely Man Who Created “Alice in Wonderland”
Jenny Woolf
Retail Price: $27.99
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press – (2010-02-02)
ISBN / EAN: 0312612982 / 9780312612986

Palin Bio

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

When S&S’s conservative imprint, Threshold Editions, known for its fall bestseller, Obama Nation, signed up an unauthorized bio of Sarah Palin back in September, speculation was that the book’s success depended on whether she won her bid for the  vice presidency.

The book, Trailblazer, was released this week and even though Palin is not the vp, it’s making headlines. The author, Lorenzo Benet, is Assistant Editor at People. This week’s issue features the book is a story about Bristol Palin and her new baby (the online version is the #1 most-read story of the week).

The big “news” in the book that’s making headlines? Palin kept her pregnancy with her son Trig a secret because she wanted to shield her daughters from media attention.

The book was embargoed, so it was not reviewed prepub and few libraries have it on order. It is currently at #1,056 on Amazon, making it unlikely to appear on weekly bestseller lists.


Trailblazer: An Intimate Biography of Sarah Palin

by Lorenzo Benet

  • Hardcover: $25; 256 pages
  • Publisher: Threshold Editions (February 17, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1439142343
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439142349

The NYT Discovers Plummer

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Christopher Plummer may be getting late coverage by the Times, but he’s getting it in spades. His memoir came out in early November; this Sunday, the NYT Book Review features it on the cover. The daily Times reviews it in today’s issue.

The Book Review says Plummer “writes and reports almost as well as he acts.” The daily Times calls the book “long, but rarely boring.” It’s also received strong reviews in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

Most large libraries own it with comfortable holds to copy ratios.

In Spite of Myself: A Memoir 

Christopher Plummer 

  • Hardcover: $29.95; 656 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (November 4, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0679421629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679421627

A Resounding “Lecture”

Friday, January 25th, 2008


The Last Lecture
By Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow

  • Publisher: Hyperion (April 10, 2008)
  • Hardcover: $21.95
  • ISBN-10: 1401323251
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401323257
  • Unabridged CD: $21.95
  • Publisher: Harper Audio
  • ISBN-10: 1401323251
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401323257

In September of last year, Jeffrey Zaslow wrote a moving column in the Wall Street Journal about dying professor Randy Pausch’s last lecture — so moving that Oprah had Pausch reprise the lecture on her show in October, millions of people watched the video on the Web, and Hyperion paid a substantial advance for a book based on the story (we probably don’t need to remind you that Hyperion published the blockbuster Tuesdays with Morrie).

And then Zaslow and Pausch began a race against time to finish the book. Hyperion has just announced that the book will be published on April 10th. Happily, Pausch may live to see the publication.

By the way, in March last year, Zaslow wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal called “Of the Places You’ll Go, Is the Library Still One of Them?” In it, he talked about the library in his suburban Detroit community and his hope that his “girls would see the library as an oasis where they’d learn to understand themselves and the world.”

It’s Not PBS

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

It’s as difficult to imagine Paul Giamatti playing John Adams as it is to imagine HBO doing a mini-series on the second president (isn’t this PBS territory?). Nevertheless, the HBO mini-series John Adams begins in March, based on David McCullough’s bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning biography. Produced by Tom Hanks it also stars Laura Linney as Abigail. Last Fall, the NY Times referred to it as “HBO’s most anticipated mini-series.”


Simon and Schuster is issuing a tie-in edition (the above is from S&S’s Summer catalog. The actual cover will be in color). It’s a good opportunity to replace worn-out copies.

On Sale: January 29, 2008

Paperback: $20

ISBN 13: 978-1-4165-7588-7

ISBN 10: 1-4165-7588-X

Walker Surprise

Monday, January 21st, 2008


  • Hardcover: $24.95
  • Publisher: Touchstone (August 12, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1416537481
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416537489

Breaking book news over the weekend is that Herschel Walker, 1982 Heisman Trophy winner, has multiple personality disorder, which he reveals in his upcoming book, Breaking Free. Several people close to Walker are quoted in the Atlanta Journal Constitution saying the news comes as a complete surprise to them. His former coach, Vince Dooley, added, “All I know is whatever personality he had when he had the football was the one I liked.”

Simon and Schuster is not releasing advance copies. A publicist is quoted by ABC News, saying “Everyone’s questions will be answered when the book comes out,” indicating that the it will be embargoed.

The above image is from p26 and 27 of the Summer ’08 Touchstone/Fireside catalog, available on the Simon and Schuster Web site.