Category Archives: Bonus Book Reviews

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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Bonus Book Review: “Long Players: A Love Story in Eighteen Songs” by Peter Coviello

Long Players A Love Story in Eighteen Songs Peter CovielloLong 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!

Just sayin’…

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Bonus Book Review: “The Unknown Unknowns: Bookshops and the delight of not getting what you wanted” by Mark Forsyth

The Unknown Unknowns

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.

 

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