Book Review

Life is Full of Possibilities

Life is Full of Possibilities

By | February 18, 2015 at 5:05 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- The Possibilities By Kaui Hart Hemmings Fiction ----- Grief is a powerful human response and people grieve in different ways. In Kaui Hart Hemmings’ The Possibilities (Simon & Schuster, 276 pages), a mother seeks to understand her place in...

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Sometimes Family Makes You Feel Like Dirt

Sometimes Family Makes You Feel Like Dirt

By | February 11, 2015 at 9:45 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Dirt by David Vann Fiction ----- Dysfunctional families are often found in literature. Perhaps reading about other families is a way to minimize our own family’s odd or despicable behavior. In David Vann’s Dirt (HarperCollins, 260 pages) a...

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The Fruit of Our Labor

The Fruit of Our Labor

By | February 5, 2015 at 3:40 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Honeydew By Edith Pearlman Fiction ----- There are endless tales of how we humans toil with life. In Edith Pearlman’s Honeydew (Little, Brown and Company, 279 pages) we get a taste of the eccentric in 20 short stories. In “Castle 4,”...

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A Celebration of Writers and Readers

A Celebration of Writers and Readers

By | January 29, 2015 at 1:12 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons The Second Annual Rancho Mirage Writers Festival celebrated the craft of writing and the joy of reading. With 800 people in attendance and 40 authors, it was an exciting event with multiple programs at three different venues. Here are some highlights...

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A God of Equality and Grace

A God of Equality and Grace

By | January 22, 2015 at 4:05 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Prostitutes, Virgins and Mothers By Paula Trimble-Familetti Non-Fiction ----- It is amazing that a book written more than a thousand years ago about events that took place in a culture, time and place near the edge of recorded human history still...

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Success For New PSIFF Symposium

Success For New PSIFF Symposium

By | January 15, 2015 at 11:15 am | No comments

The Power of Words: Books to Screen By Heidi Simmons----- Susan Rosser and Barbara Keller had an idea over a dinner conversation: “How interesting would it be to have a dialogue between authors of books and filmmakers to learn more about the artistic process of adaptations...

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PSIFF Takes a Look at Books

PSIFF Takes a Look at Books

By | January 8, 2015 at 3:11 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons The Palm Spring International Film Festival launched a new event this year called The Power of Words: Books to Screen. If you’ve read this column over the last several months, you know how much this subject interests me. With a record-breaking year of...

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Great Adaptations

Great Adaptations

By | January 1, 2015 at 1:37 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons If you go to the movies during this award season, you will most likely see a movie adaptation from a book. Over thirty-five books were made into movies last year. I find it a cop-out to say the book was better than the movie, because what’s really being...

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2014 Favorites

2014 Favorites

By | December 23, 2014 at 8:45 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons I love to read a good story. Few things compare to being completely engaged in a compelling narrative. Reading is an intimate, personal experience that can take you from where you sit while reading into an alternate universe. In this literary...

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Something For Everyone: A One-Stop Shop

Something For Everyone: A One-Stop Shop

By | December 18, 2014 at 5:35 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons What if I said you could get all your holiday shopping done in an hour and find the perfect gift for everyone on your list – even grandkids. It would be a dream come true, right? The local Barnes & Noble can turn the Christmas nightmare into a sweet...

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A Living Hell For 33 Miners and Their Families

A Living Hell For 33 Miners and Their Families

By | December 11, 2014 at 1:08 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Deep Down Dark by Héctor Tobar Non Fiction ----- One of the greatest human fears is being buried alive. Add to that the terrifying concern that you may be unimportant – that your life doesn’t matter since extracting you is too difficult. Then,...

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The Lure of the Dark Continent

The Lure of the Dark Continent

By | December 3, 2014 at 9:45 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson Fiction ----- A new world has emerged since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Great Recession. These events have not only impacted the US but also the world. African countries have become destabilized and...

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Being Frank

Being Frank

By | November 27, 2014 at 11:30 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford Fiction ----- Americans are polite people. We are a country of citizens who mostly prefer to avoid confrontation and difficult emotional situations. But underneath lurks cynicism, hostility and regret. In...

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War and Peace

By | November 19, 2014 at 8:05 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Unbroken By Laura Hillenbrand Non-fiction ----- We are at the cusp of losing history from those who lived it. The first person narrative and personal experience of the 16.5 million people who served in World War II is fading. Their inside knowledge...

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A Shocking Revelation

A Shocking Revelation

By | November 13, 2014 at 11:40 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Revival By Stephen King Fiction ----- There are big mysteries we live with everyday. Electricity is one of them. No doubt we take electrical current for granted. Hit a switch and the lights come on. Put a charger into a socket and our electronic...

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A New World and a New Generation

A New World and a New Generation

By | November 6, 2014 at 12:52 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Promote Yourself By Dan Schawbel Non Fiction ----- Author Dan Schawbel was the keynote speaker at the October 30, 2014 Annual Coachella Valley Economic Summit. He spoke about Millennials in the workplace and the importance of businesses to...

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If Looks Could Kill

If Looks Could Kill

By | October 30, 2014 at 3:16 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Bird Box By Josh Malerman Fiction ----- What if just one look at something could kill you? Would you ever open your eyes? In Josh Malerman’s Bird Box (Ecco, 272 pages), seeing is believing, but also deadly. The story begins with Malorie, a...

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Ebola: a History and a Warning

Ebola: a History and a Warning

By | October 22, 2014 at 7:40 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- The Hot Zone By Richard Preston Non-Fiction ----- Ebola, the deadly virus from Africa is here. It has made its way to the United State and has spread. So far, there have been eight cases and only one death. The government and health...

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How the Middle East’s Past Shaped the Future

How the Middle East’s Past Shaped the Future

By | October 15, 2014 at 8:55 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Lawrence in Arabia By Scott Anderson Non Fiction ----- How did the world find itself in such a quagmire in the Middle East? The problems there today seem to be overwhelming and unsolvable. With no specific plan to battle ISIS, there is little...

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Gone Girl Again

Gone Girl Again

By | October 8, 2014 at 5:25 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ------- Gone Girl By Gillian Flynn Fiction ------- If you haven’t read Gone Girl (Crown Publishing, 419 pages) by Gillian Flynn, the movie version is now in theaters. Flynn also wrote the screenplay. So if you liked the movie, then you will certainly...

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On Behalf of Children

On Behalf of Children

By | October 1, 2014 at 4:50 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- The Children Act by Ian McEwan Fiction ----- Any personal relationship takes work to maintain. Marriages are especially complicated – children or no children, careers, extended family – there are many intimate things that can build up...

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Scott & Kate

Scott & Kate

By | September 17, 2014 at 9:24 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Kate Remembered by A. Scott Berg Biography ----- There is no doubt that good friends and lasting relationships make life full and beautiful. Experts say if you have just two close friends you are very lucky. In A. Scott Berg’s, Kate...

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Heeeeeres Bushkin!

Heeeeeres Bushkin!

By | September 10, 2014 at 9:20 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin Biography ----- Joan Rivers had an amazing life as a comedienne and businesswoman. When she first performed on “The Tonight Show,” Johnny Carson immediately liked her. Rivers said she was grateful to Johnny...

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Street Kid to Movie Star

Street Kid to Movie Star

By | September 3, 2014 at 6:15 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- A Life of Barbara Stanwyck Steel-True 1907-1940 by Victoria Wilson Biography ----- After being together for a decade and with six children, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were married. Their marriage, on the scale of global events and news,...

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Plagues, Time-Travel & Demolition Derbys

Plagues, Time-Travel & Demolition Derbys

By | August 27, 2014 at 9:36 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Rant by Chuck Palahniuk Fiction ----- The majority of fictionalized stories have recognizable characters and settings where life unfolds in familiar ways no mater how dramatic. Then there are the fictional stories of Chuck Palahniuk. His...

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A Lesson in Spy Craft

A Lesson in Spy Craft

By | August 20, 2014 at 3:40 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews Fiction ----- The world is going crazy. Relationships between United States’ allies and enemies appear to be getting more intense and unpleasant. It is hard for regular citizens to know just what governments...

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Dog Days of Summer: Books About Our K-9 Friends

Dog Days of Summer: Books About Our K-9 Friends

By | August 13, 2014 at 11:11 am | No comments

By Heidi Simmons It is officially the dog days of summer. That time of year when the heat languishes and the humidity builds as we drift in the doldrums. The ancient Romans used the term “dog days” to describe this season when Sirius, the Dog Star, is the brightest...

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A Square Fits Into a Circle

A Square Fits Into a Circle

By | July 30, 2014 at 6:30 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- The Circle by Dave Eggers Fiction ----- Ever wonder just how far this whole crazy internet idea will go? In Dave Eggers’ The Circle (Knopf, 504 pages), one social media corporation intends to rule the world. The story begins with Mae...

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True Wit

True Wit

By | July 23, 2014 at 4:50 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Jacky’s Diary by Jack Mendelsohn Hardbound Comic Strip Anthology ----- Beginning today, comic book aficionados and fanatics will gather in San Diego for Comic-Con International to celebrate the world that all things comicdom entails and...

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A Heavy Hitter

A Heavy Hitter

By | July 16, 2014 at 8:30 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- The Art Of Fielding by Chad Harbach Fiction ----- Is this baseball season? I really don’t know anything about the sport. Maybe that’s not completely true, because I did love to play the game as a kid. But of course playing it and watching...

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Generations In The Wild

Generations In The Wild

By | July 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen Fiction ----- There is a very romantic notion about making a home and building a life in the American wilderness. With hard work and perseverance, many of our ancestors successfully carved out an existence and...

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YA Meets the Art World

YA Meets the Art World

By | July 2, 2014 at 7:40 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- The Goldfinch By Donna Tartt Fiction ----- On the bestseller list since its debut last October, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, (Little, Brown, 775 pages) continues to be a run-away success. Is everyone reading this book because everyone else...

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Summer Reading List

Summer Reading List

By | June 25, 2014 at 2:50 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons The solstice has passed and it is officially summer! At this time of year, it seems appropriate, maybe mandatory, to make a reading list. Something about this warm season says relax -- and reading does exactly that. It is great to enjoy a good book in a cool...

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A Feel For The Sentence

A Feel For The Sentence

By | June 18, 2014 at 6:05 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons The author of White Oleander and Paint it Black recently lectured in Rancho Mirage to graduate students of the UCR Palm Desert Low Residency Creative Writing program. Her topic? “The Art of the Sentence.” This may seem obvious and too simple for grad...

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No Place to Hide

No Place to Hide

By | June 11, 2014 at 3:50 pm | No comments

By Heidi Simmons ----- The Apartment by Greg Baxter Fiction ----- Everyone wants a safe place to call home; a space that is secure and keeps out evil. But what happens if the evil is within? In Greg Baxter’s, The Apartment (Twelve, 208 pages) finding a...

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