Category Archives: Bonus Book Reviews

Bonus Book Review: “Three Women” by Lisa Taddeo

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!

 

 

 

 

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Bonus Book Review: “I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai

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.

 

 

 

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Bonus Book Review: “King Con: The Bizarre Adventures of the Jazz Age’s Greatest Impostor” by Paul Willets

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!

 

 

 

 

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Bonus Book Review: “Rock Critic Law: 101 Unbreakable Rules for Writing Badly About Music” by Michael Azerrad

Rock Critic Law Michael AzerradRock 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!

 

 

 

 

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Bonus Book Review: “Pop Charts: 100 Iconic Song Lyrics Visualized” by Katrina McHugh

Pop Charts: 100 Iconic Song Lyrics VisualizedI love when I unsolicitedly get on a publisher’s mailing list to receive review copies of books.

Pop Charts: 100 Iconic Song Lyrics Visualized by Katrina McHugh showed up on my doorstep last week from Harper-Collins. As I was deep into another book, it took a day or two to pick up, but what a fun book it is! This 7.5″ x 7.3″ books is 216 pages of pictorial descriptions of lyrics from popular song from the sixties to present day with the answers on the back of each picture page. And yes, there is a Beatles song and a Lennon song contained in this visual version of Name That Tune.

Some of these songs are going to jump right off the page at you, while others are going to leave you stumped (I admit to not knowing anything about Beyonce’s lyrics). I handed the book to my 28 year old son and his girlfriend to look at and was surprised when they got lost in it’s pages trying to figure out the images. If I could express one issue about this book, it’s that I wish the pictures were in deeper colors instead of the washed out pale images. I’ve uploaded 3 of the pages below for my readers to look at and see for themselves. I put black borders around them because they got washed out even more on this page. Still, this is a fun book to have or to gift to a friend who’s a music freak. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bonus Book Review: “The Cats Came Back” by Sofie Kelly

The cats came back sofie kellyI’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.

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Bonus Book Review: “The Darker the Night, The Brighter the Stars: A Neuropsychologist’s Odyssey Through Consciousness” by Paul Broks

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.

Well done!

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.

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