I spent this past weekend at the Abbey of Gethsemani on a four day silent retreat. No…I’m not Catholic, nor am I super religious! But if you ever want a long weekend of peace and quiet to hike, meditate, read or write, it’s a great place to go. Unfortunately, I think I may be going to hell in a hand-basket after my weekend. I took a whole stack of books to read and do research. I even took a book about the Beatles, but instead, I ended up reading Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.
Three Women is the true story of women who the author followed for almost a decade and chronicling the stories of their very different, but very real sex lives. One woman after being gang raped in high school ends up married to a man who won’t even kiss her (it offends him), let alone hug, cuddle or have sex with her. The second woman’s story made headlines several years back when she reported her high school teacher for having an inappropriate relationship with her after he was named Teacher Of The Year in North Dakota. The third woman is a very beautiful and wealthy restaurant owner with her husband, who just happens to like to watch her have sex with other men. (And I was reading this at an Abbey!)
The author opens the book by explaining that she had intended to include both men and women in her research, but realized early on that men to feel as deeply as women do about their sexual activity. They don’t carry their prior sexual relationships with them for the rest of their lives as strongly as women do to the point of shaping them into who they are in middle age.
This book is really well written,but her vocabulary did make me wish I had a dictionary handy several times. I was afraid that it would read like a smut novel, but these women’s sordid tales are nothing to get excited about (pun intended!). And I truly believe that somewhere in these stories lies something that every women will be able to relate to in their own lives. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!
I was really surprised last week when I looked at the receipt that I was using as a bookmark and saw that I’ve been reading I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai for over a month and a half. I don’t think there are too many people who don’t recognize who she is, but the quick story is that she was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan when she was 15 years old for speaking out about the importance of education for women and girls.
Malala begins her story from the very begin of her parent’s life in the Swat valley in Pakistan. Along the way she talks about Pakistan’s history and shaky relationships with India and some of it’s other neighboring countries. She tells of how the Taliban took over the valley where they lived, blew up schools and tried to install sharia law. Her father spoke out and Malala was quick to follow in his footsteps and joining him talking to the press, government officials and meetings about the importance of keeping their schools open and educating all their children.
This book flows along quite nicely and is a smooth easy read. Of course, as an American, some of her thoughts about the U.S. and our government did make me cringe a bit. I had to stop and ask myself if she was right in her thoughts not to trust Americans or maybe because of the inability to trust her own government, every other government came under suspicion? This paranoia on her part becomes especially heightened after the Navy SEALs flew into Pakistan undetected and killed Osama Bin Laden and again after she was shot and they were trying to decide which country would be best to provide her the medical she needed. I’m not saying England wasn’t the best choice, I’m saying there was some U.S. bashing that went along with the decision. She’s also highly competitive as shown from the stories she tells about her siblings, school work/awards and friends, which can make you wonder about her motivation.
All in all, it was a good read and I’m glad I finally got to read her story and well, she did win a Nobel Peace Prize. I’m a little upset that I paid full cover price for it ($16.00), but I was at a new local independent bookstore and wanted to show them my support. Under any other circumstance, I think borrowing this book from the library or buying a used copy from Amazon would have sufficed. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 3 out of 4 BEETLES.
Here’s another book review from my First to Read list, but if you’re an avid reader and love true crime or biographies, this book is excellent. King Con: The Bizarre Adventures of the Jazz Age’s Greatest Impostor by Paul Willetts is due to be published on August 7, 2018 but you can pre-order it now. It’s the story of Edgar Laplante who was born in the late 1800’s Rhode Island to white Anglo Saxon parents, who’s troubled childhood eventually landed him in a reform school, but did nothing to reform a man who would go on to be one of the greatest con men in the world!
Author Paul Willetts starts Edgar’s story in 1916, when Edgar is in his mid-30’s and living in California, but Willetts occasionally finds the opportunity to flashback to Edgar’s early years to help explain how he was to become one of the greatest con men in the world. And when I say world, I mean, America, Canada and Europe. After a long stint of traveling, singing and speaking across the U.S. claiming he was the famous Canadian Iroquois Indian athlete Thomas Longboat, Edgar would adopt the persona of Chief White Elk. As the Chief, he toured the U.S., Canada and eventually Europe, conning the unsuspecting out of money he claimed was going to go to American Indian causes in America, but instead was lining his pockets and paying for his extravagant lifestyle and drug & alcohol addiction. Along the way, Edgar would not only con two women into marrying him (one of which was half native American and one British), he would dupe two European contessas out of their fortune.
I couldn’t put this book down. Edgar Laplante’s life is so far out that you actually start to feel like the author must be making this all up and you’re falling for a con story yourself by believing that any one man could pull of what Mr. Laplante did. It’s an incredibly fascinating story that makes one wonder if someone could pull this off today with the technology and fast paced world we live in now? Oh, and if you need a Beatles connection, Chief White Elk did spend some time in Liverpool and stayed at the Adelphi Hotel. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!
Rock Critic Law: 101 Unbreakable Rules for Writing Badly About Music by Michael Azerrad is another book I got from Harper-Collins over three months ago. The copy I got is an unedited proof and according to the letter I got with it, this book won’t be released until October 18, 2018 (Amazon says the release date is December 15th). I’m not sure why they sent it out so early. I wrote to them in May and asked if it was okay to post a review, but they said they would prefer if I hold off until the month before publication (it is available for pre-order on Amazon). And so, this book has remained on the end table in my living room collecting dust for months and at this point, I just need to move it to the bookshelf. I’m going to defend this early review by saying that this book already has 5 reviews on GoodReads.com!
Author Michael Azerrad has written for most of the major music publications: Spin, Rolling Stone, Revolver, Mojo, etc.. He’s also the author of Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana and Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991. Several years ago, he started a Twitter feed under the name @RockCriticLaw and he set about making up ridiculous, yet profound, rules for anyone who reviews rock music.
For obvious reasons, I found this topic intriguing since no one had ever told me that there are rules for what I’ve been putting out on my blog for the last nine years. I’ll start by saying that the Introduction to this book may have more words than the 101 rules themselves. The rules are taken from Azerrad’s Twitter feed and some were even contributed by Twitter followers. Here are some of the rules:
All fan bases are either “devoted,” “dedicated,” or “loyal.”
Bass players are the only musicians that can be “nimble.”
If there are three or more bowed instruments on a track, then you MUST note the “lush orchestration.”
It doesn’t take long to breeze through these rules even with their comic illustrations on the facing pages to add to the humor behind each one. It’s disappointing that the book ends so quickly and makes me wonder if Azerrad should have held out until he could have made a “500 rules…” book to give the reader more bang for their buck, since the book retails for $23.99 and takes less than 30 minutes to read. And even though I was amused by it and got it for free, I probably won’t be keeping this book around to reread or use as a reference guide for my future reviews. It might just be easier to follow him on Twitter. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!
I’m finally somewhat caught up on my First to Read books after posting this review (I have two more books on the docket, but the reviews aren’t due until August), so I’m going to pour myself back into my stack of Beatles books as soon as I step away from the keyboard today.
I guess I should have paid closer attention to the details of The Cats Came Back before signing up to review it. I didn’t realize that it was the 10th book in a series called A Magical Cats Mystery by Sofie Kelly. This would explain why I got so lost in some of the characters and their back stories. Still, it was an enjoyable read just like I had hoped it would be and provided me with a nice break from reading books about the Beatles and other biographies.
It’s always nice to dip into some light fiction and a couple of cats to take one away from the harsh realities of today’s world…and Hercules and Owen are just the cats to do it! Though, I get the impression that the fictional small town they live in has a very high crime rate if the author is on book ten.
Another book from my list of First to Read list, The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Stars: A Neuropsychologist’s Odyssey Through Consciousness by Paul Broks is due to be published on July 3, 2018.
What an amazing story! I’m actually honored to be able to have read this book before it was released. Paul Broks does a fantastic job of combining the tragedy of his wife’s death from cancer with his beliefs as a neuropyschologist. As a man who doesn’t believe in an afterlife, the author opens up about his internal struggle of knowing that he will never see his spouse again. At the same time, he justifies his atheistic point of view by sharing some of his work with his patients and scientific studies done on consciousness. But he doesn’t stop there in his explanation or self-exploration. Broks also discusses the beliefs of the great ancient philosophers of Greece and Greek mythology to enforce his point of view.
If there is one downside to this book, it’s that about midway through, the author gets a little to technical in his explanation of brain function for the layman to understand. Still, this book is a must for those that enjoy philosophy, psychology and the afterlife.
Note: Anyone who enjoys reading can sign up at First to Read. You get the privilege of reading early releases of various genres of books in exchange for your reviews.
Long Players: A Love Story in Eighteen Songs by Peter Coviello is a book that wasn’t even close to what I thought it was going to be about when I anxiously volunteered to receive an advanced copy for review from First to Read. Here I thought I was going to get a book/study about music and relationships and how they intertwine and effect each other. Instead, I got the story of a man who cries at the drop of a hat and likes to make mixed tapes/CDs for people he knows. I’m not sure where I went wrong, but less than 100 pages into this book, I had to stop reading it because I just didn’t care. And the fact that if you took away the author’s adjectives, adverbs and prepositions, this story would have ended a lot quicker! Way too many words… But really, it’s not you…it’s me!
Bear with me while I continue to clear the books off my end table and reading list…
The Unknown Unknown: Bookshops and the delight of not getting what you wanted A is by Mark Forsyth, the same author of one of my previous reviews Short History of Drunkenness. It was the subtitle of this book that drew me to it after my recent tour of used bookshops in Baltimore. I love going in bookstores…especially used bookstores. But I digress…
I guess I should have paid a little more attention to this books description before buying a paperback copy online, as it appear in my mailbox in a thin brown envelope! The book measures just about 4″ x 5″ and is only 23 pages long. It reminds me of those little word search books you find out the checkout counter at your local grocery store.
Still, it’s an amusing little book that’s probably just as witty in the $1.99 ebook version as it is in the $5.94 + shipping paperback version! Mark Forsyth has proven to me with both the books I’ve read of his that he is capable of tickling my funny bone in his British humor sort of way. If you’re bored and have an extra $1.99 in your account, download a copy.
So here I am, behind on my reading again. The past 2 1/2 weeks have turned my world askew. Not only did my son’s girlfriend move in with us while they save to buy a house, my husband got laid off from his job last week. My quiet reading time is now very limited due to the extra people needing my attention. But, I’m determined to get caught up with the ever growing stack of books on my end table and in my e-reader, so let’s get right down to it…
Bella Figura: How to Live, Love, and Eat the Italian Way by Kamin Mohammadi is another ebook I requested from First to Read. According to Amazon, the book is 6″ x 8.5″ and is 304 pages (it was 290 pages on my iPad). It’s due to be published on May 8, 2018.
Bella figura translates to ‘beautiful figure’ in Italian, but means a whole lot more than that. It’s about taking care of yourself and showing your best ‘you’ to the world at all times. It’s one of the many lessons learned by author Kamin Mohammadi from her cast of real life characters that she meets after she left her high powered job in the publishing industry in London, England, to move into a friend’s apartment for several months in Florence, Italy to write a book.
Bella Figura is very much a chick book. I’ve never read Eat, Pray, Love (or seen the movie), but I can assume that it’s very similar and would appeal to the same crowd. I enjoyed the book and looked forward to reading what Kamin experienced in her year long, month to month adventure in the Tuscany region of Italy. Each month is presented with a new Italian word, lesson, seasonal food and adventure as Kamin learns to live the Italian way. And as someone who spent two weeks in Italy in 2000, I can tell you, it’s nothing like America or the U.K. The lifestyle and people are unique and even I have been known to say that I would love to retire to the countryside of Abruzzo, Itlay. One of the few drawbacks of this book is that Ms. Mohammadi tends not to translate some of the conversations she has with her acquaintances, leaving the reader to guess what was said even when there is very little context to go on. I can only recommend that you’re either familiar with the language or keep your computer open to Google translate when reading this book. I have no doubt that I will be recommending it to my grown daughter who spent a semester in Rome during her college years as I think the lessons contained within it’s pages are for every woman. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!