For hard-core Spelling (either Aaron or Tori) fans only.


Hollywood memoir 101.

Depending on whom you ask, Aaron Spelling (1923-2006) is either a genius who helped chart a course for modern TV or a schlockmeister who completely destroyed the tube. The creator of Charlie's AngelsBeverly Hills 90210 and The Mod Squad was as visible as any TV producer around, so much so that the female members of his family became visible in their own rights, in part due to their own work (daughter Tori) and in part due to their proximity to the man himself (wife Candy). This kind of visibility inevitably leads to a book deal or two. Tori has pumped out a slew of titles, and Candy has written one of her own, Stories from Candyland (2009), a tepid memoir from a C-list celebrity whose claim to fame was her marriage. Unfortunately, her sophomore effort is similarly passable, a stale Hollywood memoir that is entirely paint-by-number: Here's my childhood, here's how I became famous, here are my famous friends, here are the obstacles I've had to overcome, and here's how I came out the other side a better person. This isn't to say that these books aren't sincere and heartfelt; they're just far too predictable, and that's the case here. Spelling fails to provide any great revelations, just pedestrian anecdotes about her famous friends (Dean Martin, Michael Jackson, Liz Taylor, Joan Crawford, etc.), a semi-candid dissection of her often rocky relationship with Tori and a recounting of her life after Aaron, in which she became a morning-news show fixture, a philanthropist and a producer. Though she’s clearly a kind, unpretentious woman, she's a peripheral figure, the person next to the person.

For hard-core Spelling (either Aaron or Tori) fans only.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-118-40950-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.



In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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