Author

Joanna Poncavage

Joanna Poncavage has 14 articles published.

Joanna Poncavage loves New York and native plants and lives on a horse ranch/organic farm in the Poconos. Joanna’s career includes reporting on food, health, the arts, crime and general quirkiness for The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, Pa., and writing and editing for Rodale’s Organic Gardening magazine. She is currently a contributor to Mother Earth News and is at work on a collection of short stories.

Colette’s Rules: Her 10 Tips for Success as Movie Debuts

in Pop Culture by

“Colette,” the movie starring Keira Knightley as the tradition-smashing French writer, comes to theaters Sept. 21. It’s a well-done period biopic with a great pedigree: Director Wash Westmoreland and his late husband Richard Glatzer, who worked together on “Still Alice,” wrote the screenplay. After its premiere earlier this year at Sundance, reviewers called the movie a “female empowerment saga” (Variety), tackling “sexual liberation, the repression of women’s voices, the power of art to change society” (ScreenDaily). It was Colette’s own words that made her powerful. In a lifetime spanning two centuries, both chronologically and metaphorically, she wrote 50 volumes of novels, short stories, newspaper articles and drama reviews. Her novella Gigi became the basis of the Academy Award-winning movie and…

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“There There” Offers Visceral Vision of Urban Indian Life

in Fiction by

There There (Knopf) by Tommy Orange tells the stories of 12 people of Native American descent in Oakland, California, Deep East Oakland, that is, where crime is so rampant a failing mall has been turned into a police station. Like more than half of all Native Americans today, they are urban Indians. “Urban Indians feel at home walking the shadow of a downtown building,” writes Orange. “We came to know the downtown Oakland skyline better than we did any sacred mountain range, the redwoods in the Oakland Hills better than any wild deep forest.” Urban Indians are the direct result of the Indian Relocation Act of 1952, which encouraged Native Americans to assimilate and find jobs in cities by leaving reservations,…

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Strange Stars: A Must-Read For Sci-Fi and Pop Music Fans

in Pop Culture by

Long, long ago, in a movie theater far, far away, a young lad named David Robert Jones watched a London screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 lost-in-space tale had a life-shaking effect on the person who would become David Bowie. At the time, Bowie was just a skinny singer with a dream, and a penchant for science fiction. After identifying with Robert Heinlein’s novel Starman Jones, about an Ozark farm boy who wants to go to space, Bowie devoured Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, Isaac Asimov and all that the Golden Age of sci-fi could provide. Some of his earliest songs were abbreviated science fiction plots of strange worlds, strange creatures, stranger things. And in 1969, five days…

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“Ohio” by Stephen Markley Introduces New Voice(s) in American Fiction

in Fiction by

Ohio by Stephen Markley (Simon & Schuster) deserves to be only the first of a series because its characters are worth more than one book, and the story of their America is worth more than one look. This sprawling, spiraling novel begins one summer night in 2013, as four former high school classmates are about to meet again in New Canaan, their Rust Belt Ohio town. Each is traveling from far corners, each bearing memories that must be obeyed and secrets that will be revealed. The book is narrated from each of their viewpoints in a gripping saga that slowly builds into a symphony that hits all the right notes. New Canaan is a snapshot of so many places in…

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Comic Thriller “Death and Taxes” Pits an IRS Repo Squad Against the Mongolian Mob, Radioactive Cows and a Murderous Eunuch

in Fiction by

Mark Douglas is an IRS accountant, a former Marine content to hide out in his cubicle and audit suspicious tax returns. His latent thirst for action is satisfied by occasional forays into the field, armed with tear gas, a bull horn, and a rental truck to haul in whatever pays the back taxes of the most egregious evaders. Life is good for Mark. After long days at the office courting carpal tunnel syndrome, he joins his co-workers at their local watering hole to relive past glories deciphering fraudulent tax returns, ponder unexpected consequences of tax loopholes, and ogle busty barmaids. Mark’s boss, Lila, is a beautiful and sexy tax prodigy. One day, she discovers “odd jiggles” in three seemingly unconnected…

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Seduced by Trotsky’s Assassin: John P. Davidson tells the inside story

in Non-Fiction by

Paris, 1938. A young social worker from Brooklyn, Sylvia Ageloff was in the French capitol to study the language. And as a member of Leon Trotsky’s inner circle, she was also an American delegate to an organizational meeting of the Russian revolutionary’s followers. And, marked by Josef Stalin’s secret agents, Sylvia was about to become a pawn in the plot to kill Trotsky, as John P. Davidson depicts in The Obedient Assassin: A Novel Based on a True Story (Delphinium Press, February 2014). Bookish, bespectacled, and Jewish, Sylvia was swept off her feet by a handsome, mysterious aristocrat. “She fell in love,” says Davidson, “and because she was in love, she missed clue after clue, and turned a blind eye…

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25 Years Ago, Eleanor Hibbert’s Death at Sea Ends Life-Long Historical Romance

in Fiction by

When English author Eleanor Hibbert died aboard a cruise ship 25 years ago on January 18, 1993, she didn’t die alone. Buried at sea somewhere between Athens and Egypt in the Mediterranean, Hibbert took with her at least eight pseudonyms, including Victoria Holt, Jean Plaidy, and Philippa Carr, to name only her three best-known. Hibbert’s long career produced 200 books that were translated into 20 languages, selling 100 million copies. After her death, her literary estate was valued at nearly 9 million pounds (which is almost $13 million US dollars today!). Hibbert’s final cruise was her usual solution for escaping cold, dark English winters. Her exotic destinations often turned up later in her books, and although she’d break for games…

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Healer and Star Child Ariyana shares her spiritual gifts

in Non-Fiction by

Ariyana, a beautiful Japanese-born California businesswoman turned channeler and healer, speaks with a comforting and confident voice. A multi-millionaire entrepreneur who discovered her inner Star Child, Ariyana is an old soul from the Seventh Dimension, here on this planet to lead it away from destruction. As she reveals in her book, Light Atonement (Prospecta Press, 2015), “I am here to teach, and to bring messages. I want to convey that each one of us has the power to make a difference.” About a dozen years ago, Ariyana, was president of a thriving furniture company, married with two beautiful children and a life of material success and freedom. “My goal in college was to become successful and make a lot of…

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Andrew Gross on why it’s sexy to write women as heroes

in Thrillers by

What would you do, if, on the day your whole life was crashing down around you, fate threw you a chance to turn it all around—would you take it? Would you take that chance, even if it were illegal, immoral, and dangerous? Hilary Cantor, the desperate single mom in Andrew Gross’s new book, Everything to Lose (William Morrow, April 22), has only seconds to decide when she finds half a million dollars in a wrecked car, next to its dead driver. She’s just lost her job, her deadbeat ex-husband has stopped sending her money, her house is under water, and her special needs son needs to stay in a school she can no longer afford. Her choices will keep you…

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JUST ANOTHER DAY IN LEONARD LAND: Curvaceous corpses, heroic cops, pure evil, dry wit

in Fiction by

Beautiful women are turning up dead on the beach, artfully arranged on lounge chairs in front of the Florida motel recently purchased by a former Detroit homicide detective. O’Clair had been hoping for a quiet retirement with a lower body count, but the clues are pointing to case files he thought were long closed. Eyes Closed Tight is Peter Leonard’s sixth crime novel, but it’s the first one published since the 2013 death of his famous crime-writer father, Elmore Leonard. British writer Martin Amis, also a son of a famous author (Kingsley Amis, author of Lucky Jim), calls the elder Leonard “a literary genius” and “the nearest America has to a national writer.” Ask the younger Leonard how he feels…

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Rich as sin: money and murder on Wall Street

in Fiction by

The rewards of Wall Street come fast and furious. Too fast for some; not fast enough for others. The Street is where big money is made and it’s all based on the same drive – greed. This is where the Milken’s and Boesky’s seemed joined at the hip in a cacophony of insatiable debauchery. So, how far would you go to be rich? Not just comfortably rich, but rich beyond your comprehension of rich? Rich as sin? Richer than Midas? In Nothing Personal: A Novel of Wall Street Mike Offit plumbs the deeper depths in which greed sinks to keep the wealth rolling in. Having worked the ‘Street’ for 25 years, Offit has written a novel that takes his readers on…

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Live acid-free this holiday season

in Potpourri by

Thirty years ago, Dr. Jamie Koufman was one of the very first larynologists taking care of throat and voice disorders with laser surgery when she noticed something strange. Many patients suffering from acid reflux were being misdiagnosed because they were without the usual symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. Her new book, Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure, explains how acid reflux affects one in five Americans and masquerades as sinusitis, asthma, chronic coughs, allergy-like symptoms, sore throats, and esophageal cancer. “In the last 50 years our normal American diet has become more acidic, thanks to the increasing amount of acids added to packaged and canned foods that are making up more and more of our meals,” says Koufman.…

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Smart, Strong And Beautiful: Thriller Heroine Is A Winner

in Thrillers by

Jamie Freveletti had just won the 2010 International Thriller Writers Best First Novel award for Running From the Devil, her debut novel that begins when heroine Emma Caldridge’s hijacked plane crashes in a guerilla-infested Colombian jungle. (And then things get really bad.) Overcome with emotion at the Thrillerfest awards ceremony, Freveletti was in the ladies room repairing her tear-stained make-up when her agent told her more good news: The estate of Robert Ludlum was seriously considering her to write the next novel in the Covert-One series. In Sept. 2012, Freveletti’s The Janus Reprisal became the ninth Covert-One thriller. “It hits hard,” she says. “I tried to get as close to Robert Ludlum as I could with pacing. He’s such a…

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Life, Love And Family In America’s Most European City – New Orleans

in Non-Fiction by

After a long career in urban policy and land planning, Peter M. Wolf decided to look back at the city he calls home, even though life took him elsewhere long ago.  My New Orleans, Gone Away, a Memoir of Loss and Renewal (Delphinium Books, 2013) is a bittersweet memoir of family and place. Inspired by the devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina, Wolf’s book begins in the middle of the last century and describes a period in the South that was special, and that’s now gone away. Ancestors on both sides of Wolf’s family arrived separately in New Orleans from France and Germany in the 1840s. Over the next hundred years, their descendants became leaders in the city’s sugar, cotton and…

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