Category Archives: Bonus Book Reviews

Bonus Book Review: “Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung” by Min Kym

Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym is another book from the Blogging for Books program. I chose this book because of it’s musical storyline and to give me a little break (and to clear my head) from all the Beatles books of late.

This is the true story of Min Kym who was born in South Korea, but her family moved to London for her father’s work when she was young. Still, the household remained respectful of their Korean traditions such as bowing to each other and the father eating first followed by the children and then the wife. These cultural difference would be at odds within Min’s psyche and would contribute and exasperate many of the struggles throughout her life.

Min was born a child prodigy of the violin. From the moment she picked one up, it became part of her and she would never let it go. Music schools, lessons, concerts, competitions were her life by the age of seven. By 21, she would meet the violin that would become her other half. A 300 year old, £450,000 Stradivarius that never left her side. Wherever Min went, so the Strad went in a case slung over her back. Until that fateful day 10 years later in a London cafè when 2 men would cause a distraction while a 3rd slipped part of her soul out a back door. Would it be found? Could she replace it with another violin? Could she continue to play without it?

I can’t say this is one of the best books I’ve read…the writing leaves a lot to be desired, but does get better the farther the reader gets into it. Still, this is a touching story of being a child prodigy and growing up in two very different cultures at the same time. I hope to someday be able to see Min play…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!





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Bonus Book Review: “Crazy is My Superpower” by A.J. Mendez Brooks

I received this book for free in exchange for a review on Blogging For Books.

You may think I’m crazy for actually volunteering to read Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules by former WWE superstar wrestler A.J. Mendez Brooks or as she was professionally known AJ Lee, but the title is deceiving (and the cover is awful). There’s a lot of information and personal pain packed into this little book by this petite, powerhouse of a woman. I was seriously surprised by how much I loved this book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her story.

April Jeanette Mendez was the third child of poverty stricken couple Janet and Robert Mendez. Evicted from there apartments/homes no less than 20 times during her childhood, her family spent a good deal of time living in cars, motels and with very patient relatives. Despite all this, AJ was able to get straight A’s in school and went on to get accepted to NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. At the age of 12 she announced to her brother and dad that someday she would be a WWE wrestler and when art school didn’t work out for her, nothing got in her way to make her dream come true. Not being told she wasn’t pretty enough (actually, they told her no one wanted to have sex with her!) and not her bipolar disorder.

I was seriously surprised by how much I loved this book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her story. If it wasn’t for some of the four letter words (hey…she is a Jersey girl!), I would say every little girl should have this book on her reading list. Every young woman who doubts herself should read this book.

I feel with every ounce of my body, and nothing can stop me from raising my voice. I do not fear fighting for what is right. I do not fear standing up, even if I have to stand alone. I am beautiful when I am confident enough to be ugly. I am stronger when I am vulnerable. And I will never apologize for any of that. There is endless power in giving zero fucks. There is endless power in being a crazy chick. – AJ Mendez

You got the world by the balls, AJ! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!





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Bonus Book Review: “Red-Blooded American Male” by Robert Trachtenberg

This is another book I signed up to read for free in exchange for a review on Blogging For Books,

If you’re hosting a Girls Night Out, or want to present the hostess of one with a gift, this is the coffee table book for you! Just place it on your table and watch your girlfriends (or boyfriends if they’re in touch with their feminine side) enjoy the Red-Blooded American Male: Photographs by Robert TrachtenbergThis book is filled with the most gorgeous photos of the double X chromosomed Hollywood elite. You no longer will have to guess what Joel McHale looks like in a white towel or imagine Steven Colbert sewing an American flag. Brett Michaels as a Revolutionary soldier…Tommy Lee Jones arm wrestling Meryl Streep. Jerry Seinfeld. Elon Musk. Larry David.  They’re all in here looking their ab fab. This book makes me proud to be a red blooded American female!

I salute you Robert Trachtenberg! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!





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Bonus Book Review: “Spaceman” by Mike Massimino

I’m not a space junkie like some folks and I don’t remember sitting in front of the TV during the first moonwalk (but I was probably there). I caught an occasional glimpse of a Space Shuttle take off or landing, but I didn’t schedule my days around them.

No, I’m the person who knows Mike Massimino from his guest appearances on the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory. So when I saw his book, Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe, available for free in exchange for a review on Blogging For Books, I snatched it up!

What a great to read, this book should be on everyone’s list of must read books. It’s written so that anyone can understand the studying, training and work involved in being a NASA astronaut. He describes his two missions to repair the Hubble telescope in layman’s terms that make you feel like you were there. And it’s written with humor and grace.

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!


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Bonus Book Reivew: “Go Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee

I pre-ordered Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee months before it’s release and it’s been sitting on my shelf since its release on July 14, 2015. This will tell you how far behind I am on my everyday reading list as compared to my Beatles blog list!

I had a hard time trying to go into reading this book with an open mind when there was so much talk about it on the internet immediately after it hit the shelves. Reviewers had no beef about putting their opinions in their headlines when the posted their reviews. But after reading it for myself, I see this book differently.

So many wanted to blast this book. The general opinion seemed to be – Why would Harper Lee make Atticus Finch, everyone’s hero from To Kill a Mockingbird, into a racist in her follow up novel?! So many people seemed disappointed that Ms. Lee didn’t put out another Pulitzer Prize worthy novel with an obvious hero stepping out of the shadows and teaching scores of people how to be human. Ah…but she did…

I was happy to read the vision that Harper Lee had for her characters from To Kill A Mockingbird. This was her story to write as she saw it. And though it wasn’t at all what any of really expected (wanted), I was entertained by just by the fact that I got to finally find out what became of Atticus, Scout, Jem and Dill. I’m thrilled that Lee, after many years of refusing to publish this work, finally gave her permission to let us step back into Maycomb, Alabama, with Go Set A Watchman.

There is still a lesson to be learned in Go Set A Watchman, but I think it’s a much harder pill to swallow than the simpler lesson Harper Lee taught us in To Kill A Mockingbird. Bravo to her for pointing out the error of our ways!


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Bonus Book Review: “David Bowie Retrospective and Coloring Book” by Mel Elliot

I received David Bowie Retrospective and Coloring Book by Mel Elliott from a new program I enrolled at Crown Publishing called Blogging for Books. I look over their list of recent releases and if there is anything I’m interested in, they will send it to me in exchange for my review. When I chose this book to review on this blog, I had hoped that the author would mention that David Bowie‘s first number one hit “Famewas co-written by John Lennon. Unfortunately, the song gets no mention in this book.

This book is smaller than I imagined it to be. It measures 8.25″ x 8.25″. Its cover is dark blue with the title printed in a metallic copper and matte red finish. The book is listed as being a paperback, but is actually a stiff cardboard cover. Also includes a red ribbon for bookmarking fastened to its binding.

From the title page to the discography and awards, this book is all black & white text and images to color. Even the text is hollow for the readers express their artistic style with geometric backgrounds to keep one busy. The book highlights David Bowie’s fashion style and is filled with illustrations of his many costumes over his 50 year career.

David Bowie Retrospective and Coloring Book is going to cause a lot of mental anguish to die-hard Bowie fans unless they are provided with two copies of this book…one for their collection and one to actually color. But don’t look for any new revelations or deep thoughts in the text of this book. It’s primarily brief descriptions, with credits to the designers, of his costumes for photo shoots and on tour.

This book is best suited to collectors or fans. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles.







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Bonus Book Review: “Dick Van Dyke: A Memoir” by Dick Van Dyke

I’ve creates a new headline for books that are not Beatles related in nature. If you see “Bonus Book Review” in the headline, you will know that book doesn’t mention the Beatles, making it easier to just pass-by the review if you’re not interested.


I love this man! And I’ve been wanting to read My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir by Dick Van Dyke since it was released in 2011I finally bought a copy a year ago and am just now getting around to reading and reviewing it. And believe it or not, I will mention the Beatles several times in this review!

Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention, but I never noticed that throughout his long career, Dick Van Dyke has always made family friendly movies! In fact, he insisted on it. A devout, church going family man, he saw his career in show business as his job and a way to provide for his wife and children. And he considers himself one of the luckiest men alive to have been to do what he loves and raise a family.

Probably best known for his role in his hit series, The Dick Van Dyke Show, it came as a surprise to me that the show was actually canceled after the first season. But, it was during the reruns that following summer that Americans started tuning in and fell in love with the show, causing CBS to do an about face and continue the madcap series for another four years.

While the Beatles were heading back to the U.S. for their second tour in 1964, Mary Poppins was hitting the big screen. And though the Billboard charts were dominated by the Fab Four, Super-cali-fragil-istic-exp-iali-docious, sung by Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke, hit No. 66 on the Hot 100 in 1965. “Mary Poppins” was nominated and won several awards for it’s songs including two Oscars. Dick Van Dyke loved making this movie, but at 39 years old, said it was difficult at times keeping up with dancers that were almost half his age.

The making of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968 was a whole other story for Dick Van Dyke. He turned this roll down several times, but every time, they would come back and offer him more money, until it hit the seven figure range. He didn’t like the script and thought their were too many holes in the plot. When he finally accepted the part, he made it perfectly clear that he would not be revisiting the English accent he had used in Mary Poppins because of the heat he got (and still gets) for how bad it was! Even though the film became a huge success and is considered a classic children’s film, he still doesn’t like the way it turned out. As you watch the clip below, keep in mind that he was 42 at the time:

Now here’s a unique tie to the Beatles that’s not mention in this book. In 1974, Dick Van Dyke make a made-for-tv movie called The Morning After, that much is mentioned and talked about. And even though I was just 10 years old, I distinctly remember seeing this movie…it moved me that much. It’s the story of a man who destroys his life by abusing alcohol. The soundtrack contained the song Yesterday by Paul McCartney and it was played at the end of the movie. Dick did this movie because of his own dependence and battle with alcohol.

I could go on and on about Mr. Van Dyke and continue to sing his praises and talk about his career, but it would be best for my readers to just pick up a copy themselves, even if it’s a library copy. I think you’ll find his life amazing. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!







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