Book Review

Casinos and Corruption

Casinos and Corruption

By | March 22, 2017 at 7:40 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- The Whistler by John Grisham   Fiction ----- The Coachella Valley may have the country’s best “Indian” casinos.  Our local tribes have been leaders in Native American gaming rights for decades.  Tribal members, as well as the...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 03/23 - 03/29 2017

Male Dominance and Female Survival

Male Dominance and Female Survival

By | March 15, 2017 at 8:15 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Difficult Women by Roxane Gay  Stories ----- What does it really mean when someone is described as difficult?  Perhaps the onus is on the one making the claim?  Could it be that difficult people are merely functioning on a different...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 03/16 - 03/22 2017

The Power of Community

The Power of Community

By | March 8, 2017 at 2:00 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman  Fiction ----- Human beings are not designed to be alone.  Often, when people lose the one they love, it is a lonely and painful adjustment to continue on with life.  In Fredrik Backman’s A Man...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 03/09 - 03/15 2017

The Not So Simple Life

The Not So Simple Life

By | March 1, 2017 at 1:53 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Unsettlers by Mark Sundeen Nonfiction ----- Part of the American spirit is the desire to be independent and live free.  But in today’s world, freedom comes at a cost.  In Mark Sundeen’s Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 03/02 - 03/08 2017

Misfits and Oddballs

Misfits and Oddballs

By | February 22, 2017 at 1:30 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh  Stories ----- Is there any doubt that human beings are complicated creatures?  A collection of 14 short stories, Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Press, 304 pages), men...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 02/23 - 03/01 2017

The Broken Pull Together

The Broken Pull Together

By | February 15, 2017 at 2:05 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- What You Break by Reed Farrel Coleman Fiction ----- Does our past affect our future?  Does it lie in wait?  Or, is our past a part of our present?  In Reed Farrel Coleman’s What You Break (Putnam, 358 pages) the past not only...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 02/16 - 02/22 2017

Jack Mendelsohn 1926 – 2017

Jack Mendelsohn 1926 – 2017

By | February 8, 2017 at 4:48 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons There is something very special about a man with a great sense of humor.  Add a high level of intelligence, artistic ability, kindness, generosity, and a full head of hair and you have a picture of the marvelous and talented Jack Mendelsohn. If you...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 02/09 - 02/15 2017

RANCHO MIRAGE WRITERS FESTIVAL – The Fiction and Poetry Authors

RANCHO MIRAGE WRITERS FESTIVAL – The Fiction and Poetry Authors

By | February 1, 2017 at 9:55 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons Out numbered by nonfiction authors, but nonetheless appreciated, RMWF fiction writers and poets brought color, humor, imagination and a hyper-reality to the weekend event. At the same time Senator Barbara Boxer talked about her career, compassion and...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 02/02 - 02/08 2017

The Razor Sharp and the Dim Witted

The Razor Sharp and the Dim Witted

By | January 25, 2017 at 8:05 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen Fiction ----- Perhaps the best part of reading fiction is escapism. Need a break from your sweet, but “usual” friends, or cold climate or mundane existence? Reading is your ticket to an ever-changing and colorful life....

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 01/26 - 02/01 2017

Unborn Secrets

Unborn Secrets

By | January 18, 2017 at 11:50 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Nutshell by Ian McEwan   Fiction ----- Human procreation is a miracle.  When it comes to awareness, there is still so much we don’t know about fetal brain cognition.  How much do the unborn know?  What emotions do they...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 01/19 - 01/25 2017

A MAN OF SPIRIT: Huston Smith 1919 – 2016

A MAN OF SPIRIT: Huston Smith 1919 – 2016

By | January 11, 2017 at 11:05 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons So much of the world’s most serious troubles are centered around differing religious beliefs.   Unfortunately, there are religious extremists and fanatics in every religion thinking their way is the only way.  We are a country that...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 01/12 - 01/18 2017

Legacy in Writing

Legacy in Writing

By | January 4, 2017 at 11:05 am | No comments

Author and Actress Carrie Fisher 1956 - 2006 By Heidi Simmons Most of us know Carrie Fisher as the brave and beautiful Princess Leia of Star Wars.  It was a role that empowered and dignified women.  Leia was made into an action figure that appealed to both boys and...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 01/05 - 01/11 2017

Favorite Reads in 2016

Favorite Reads in 2016

By | December 28, 2016 at 5:50 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons Reading is a blast!  At the end of the year, it’s very rewarding to take a look back and remember the books that made an impression on me.  From my CVW 52 columns, here are the books I most enjoyed and remember. MEMOIR Life in Parts by Bryan...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 12/29 2016 - 01/04 2017

BOOKS:  The Perfect Gift

BOOKS:  The Perfect Gift

By | December 22, 2016 at 11:25 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons When it comes to gift giving, there are four things that make a gift perfect.  One, it's best to find a gift that is personal, thoughtful, intriguing, exciting and fun.  Second and third, the gift should be easy to find and easy to wrap.  And...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 12/22 - 12/28 2016

THE KIRKUS REVIEW

THE KIRKUS REVIEW

By | December 14, 2016 at 8:18 am | No comments

Insiders Guide to Good Reads and Good Writing By Heidi Simmons Hollywood producers have "Variety," medical doctors have "JAMA" and book buyers have "Kirkus."  Since 1933, "Kirkus Reviews" has been providing honest criticism of fiction, nonfiction, teen and children's...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns, Week 12/15 - 12/21 2016

Close to Death

Close to Death

By | December 7, 2016 at 9:15 pm | No comments

Bby Heidi Simmons ----- When Breath Becomes Air   by Paul Kalanithi  Memoir and The Still Point of the Turning World by Emily Rapp  Memoir ----- We are all mortal.  Death is inevitable, yet it is something we rarely talk about.  As...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

Much To Do About Nothing

Much To Do About Nothing

By | November 30, 2016 at 4:05 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Seinfeldia by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong  Nonfiction ----- Reruns of the 90's sitcom "Seinfeld" can be found around the clock somewhere on the hundreds of channels televisions now support.  One streaming company touts the complete...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

Octopus Creatures Resurface

Octopus Creatures Resurface

By | November 22, 2016 at 5:02 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ------ At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft  Fiction ----- Alien movies always intrigue me.  I like to see the creative genius of filmmakers as they visualize fantastic technology and strange creatures from other worlds.  The best...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

The Man Behind Walter White

The Man Behind Walter White

By | November 16, 2016 at 9:10 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- A Life In Parts by Bryan Cranston  Memoir ----- The AMC series "Breaking Bad" changed how we watch TV.  The show's excellent writing and production values influenced small screen storytelling in refreshing new ways.  The main character...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

Girls In Trouble

Girls In Trouble

By | November 9, 2016 at 9:05 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- The Girls by Emma Cline  Fiction ----- Charles Manson didn't kill Sharon Tate, her unborn baby or her close friends.  His followers did the horrific crime.  Part of the fascination around Manson was how he was able to manipulate those...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

Possession Obsession

Possession Obsession

By | November 2, 2016 at 11:20 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay Fiction ----- The idea of "possession" is terrifying.  Whether it is a result of a psychological breakdown, schizophrenia or a full-blown demon, it is a horrific problem to overcome -- if indeed it can be...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

Observing Motel Sex

Observing Motel Sex

By | October 28, 2016 at 12:45 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese Nonfiction ----- People are fascinating to observe.  Just look at the growing popularity of reality television programs.  Perhaps there is a voyeur lurking in all of us.  But most of what we spy is...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

A Life and Death

A Life and Death

By | October 20, 2016 at 8:35 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi Memoir ----- Death is often difficult to talk about and it feels especially strange to consider one's own passing.  Yet, death is a reality we all face.  In Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air (Random...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

Free to Love

Free to Love

By | October 6, 2016 at 11:15 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- With Love From the Inside by Angela Pisel Fiction ----- I often wonder just how many innocent people are on death row?  I'm one who doesn't have a lot of faith in the judicial system.  I want to, but it's difficult.  It seems those who represent...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

The Women I Love

The Women I Love

By | September 28, 2016 at 9:25 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons I have been approached by men, more than once, who have told me they will not read anything written by a woman. One said, he wouldn't even read my column when he saw the author was female. This genuinely surprised me and gave me pause. I hadn't given...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

The Men I Love

The Men I Love

By | September 21, 2016 at 12:44 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons Since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, male authors have dominated the written word. William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Edger Allen Poe, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury, Leo Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.D....

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

Trees of Life

Trees of Life

By | September 15, 2016 at 3:10 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Barkskins by Annie Proulx Fiction ----- Can civilization reverse the damage that's been done to the earth over the last three centuries? Is there time to save the planet for continual human habitation? In Annie Proulx's Barkskins (Scribner,736 pages)...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

Back to School – Young Adult Reading

Back to School – Young Adult Reading

By | September 8, 2016 at 12:55 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons School is back in session and homework is now the norm for students. Often, required reading feels like it usurps any leisure reading. However, "outside" reading is still encouraged and celebrated by educators. Studies have shown that students who read for...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

Election Year

Election Year

By | September 1, 2016 at 2:46 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Extreme Prey by John Sandford Fiction ----- It is only weeks away until the citizens of this country will elect a new President. It has been a strange and wild campaign season and the craziness is not just about voting. In John Sandford's 26th "Prey"...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

By | August 18, 2016 at 5:31 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- The Vegetarian by Han Kang Fiction ----- Some books read like dreams while others are about dreams. The Vegetarian by Han Kang (Hogarth, 188 pages) is a nightmare and a reawakening. The story begins with the narration of the protagonist,...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

Learning to Fly

Learning to Fly

By | August 11, 2016 at 5:43 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald Nonfiction ----- Having a close relationship with an animal can be tremendously satisfying. When we love and know a creature, we can be rewarded, changed and inspired in ways our human relationships cannot deliver. In...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

A Cold World

A Cold World

By | August 3, 2016 at 8:48 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Zero K by Don DeLillo Fiction ----- Slowly but surely science and technology are moving toward cures for human disease. What if a new medicine or remedy became available after one’s death that might have reversed a deadly illness? If a body was...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

Art and Craft

Art and Craft

By | July 28, 2016 at 4:00 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- The Fat Artist by Benjamin Hale Stories ----- A dominatrix, a lawyer, a pool man and a drag queen are just a few of the characters living on the edge in Benjamin Hale’s The Fat Artist and Other Stories (Simon & Schuster, 288 pages). Author...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

Monster Madness

Monster Madness

By | July 21, 2016 at 10:37 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Monster: A Love Story by Liz Kay Fiction ----- Love is complicated. Or is it? In Liz Kay’s Monster: A Love Story (Putnam, 368 pages) an emotional heart and an intellectual head don’t add up to a manageable relationship. The story is told by...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns

Conflict Diamonds

Conflict Diamonds

By | July 21, 2016 at 10:26 pm | No comments

Where emphatic fantasy fiction bends to uncover authentic, primal humanity at its best By Morgan James What originally began with G.M.O. foods, lead to the harvesting of synthetic organs in medical applications, which led to an obsessive addiction that humanity couldn’t...

Posted in: Book Review, Columns