Category Archives: Bonus Book Reviews

Bonus Book Review: “A Short History of Drunkenness” by Mark Forsyth

Last month, I was informed that the Blogging for Books program that sent me free books to review would be coming to an end this month. They recommended another program called First to Read which is basically the same deal, but I can only get the books in ebook versions. I’m really not a fan of ebooks. I’m old fashioned and want to actually turn pages and display my books on my bookshelf. Still, I decided to take the plunge and this is the first book I chose. On another note, I’m probably going to go off topic for the next couple of weeks as I give my brain a little rest from the Beatles so I can dive into more Fab Four adventures later this month with a clear head.

A short history of drunkenness Mark ForsythA Short History of Drunkenness: How, Why, Where, and When Humankind Has Gotten Merry from the Stone Age to the Present by Mark Forsyth is 256 pages long and will be released on May 8, 2018, but is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and other online booksellers. It is exactly what it says it is and it is as witty as it sounds!

A Short History of Drunkenness starts at the very beginning of the invention or discovery of alcohol. Though there is no record of exactly when man found out about the inhibition releasing effects of fermented berries, Forsyth followed the clues and research the best he could to draft the story of early man’s drunken life. The author goes on to tell the history of the early Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Vikings and other cultures beliefs and rituals involving alcohol, and that of their Gods of beer, wine, gin and other libations.

This book follows the chronological history of intoxication from early man to American prohibition. I had hoped when I offered to review it that it would include modern day stories, like that of John Lennon getting drunk in L.A. and walking around with a sanitary napkin adhered to his head in the 1970’s, but unfortunately it did not (I’m sure if Mr. Forsyth had tried to include drunken stories of the rich and famous, the book would have been proven to be way to long!). Still, the lack of our living gods of music didn’t take anything away from this book.

The one drawback to this book is when the author (who’s born, bred and still living in London, England) breaks into a strange tirade in the last pages of the Prohibition chapter at the very end of the book:

All non-Americans agree that America is stupid. For that matter, quite a lot of Americans agree that American is quite peculiarly stupid, like an embarrassing cousin at a family wedding. American stupidity is famous, and of a quite special kind. It’s a unique sort of stupidity that allows them to put a chap on the moon…

There’s more, but I’ll let you read it. It’s a little offensive and I’m not sure why we deserved such a tongue lashing. I mean we (and by that I mean not me!) did elect a stupid teetotaling President who says and does stupid things and is hated by most of the world, but… I guess I can forgive Mr. Forsyth his discretions since the monarchy has never seemed to get over the fact that they no longer own the colonists! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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Bonus Book Review: “21 Ways to a Happier Depression” by Seth Swirsky

21 Ways to a Happier Depression: A Creative Guide to Getting Unstuck from Anxiety, Setbacks, and Stress seth swirsky21 Ways to a Happier Depression: A Creative Guide to Getting Unstuck from Anxiety, Setbacks, and Stress written by Seth Swirsky was released on April 4, 2017 and is just 112 pages from start to finish. If you’re wondering where my current obsession with Seth Swirsky came from, I’m going to have to lay the blame on Paul McCartney’s stepmum Angie McCartney! Angie interview Seth on her Tea Fix Tuesday show last week and now I can’t seem to get enough Seth in my life (but fear not, my Hollywood crushes only last about 2 weeks!) You can watch Angie’s interview with Seth below.

As I said above, this book is only 112 pages and most of those are filled with watercolor pictures and quotes. But don’t let that deter you from getting a copy of this book for either yourself or someone you know who suffers from depression or has tendencies to just get in a funk now and then. Seth has tackled his own occasional depression and his clients (he holds a masters degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University) with the 21 very simple suggestions that he used to write this book.

This book is an easy read…almost too easy in its writing. There were times when I felt like it could be written for a child if the topic weren’t so adult in nature (though, I believe parents could use some of the techniques to help a depressed child). Another slight flaw is that several of the suggestions involve going out and spending money to help bring you up when you’re down…and for a lot of people, that’s just not feasible, which (I believe) might make a depressed person sink even lower. To Seth’s credit, none of his spending suggestions are outrageously expensive, but I have to wonder about a single mother on government support with little to no spare income? None the less, I will be keeping my copy of 21 Ways on my nightstand where I’ll be able to pick it up when I need a little pick me up from the daily grind. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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Bonus Book Review: “The Book of Joe: The Life, Wit, and (Sometimes Accidental) Wisdom of Joe Biden” by Jeff Wilser

The Book of Joe Jeff WilserI’ve never wanted this blog to be political and I still don’t, but when I saw this book available on the Blogging for Books site, I really wanted to read and review it. The only thing I’m asking of my readers is that you do not make political rants in the comments sections.

The Book of Joe: The Life, Wit, and (Sometimes Accidental) Wisdom of Joe Biden by Jeff Wilser  is 204 page simply written biography of Joe Biden, the Vice President for 8 years under President Barack Obama. It’s not a very deep book, that’s not what the author intended. Instead, it reads like a tribute to a great man who has dedicated almost a half-century to public service.

Joe Biden’s young life was a struggle due to his studder. But that affliction is  just one of the many challenges that Joe would encounter throughout his life. It is a life of struggle, pain, and tragedy mixed with accomplishment, victory and love. Love not just of family, but of fellow man including his enemies and those on the other side of the political aisle.

I loved reading this book. It opened my eyes to so many things I never knew about our former Vice President. It’s not all mushy gushy…it’s the real story, even with all of Joe’s faux pas, mis-spoken words and wrongs. And let’s not forget the bromance he has still going on with Obama to this day and all the memes that just keep coming long after the party is over in White House.

And just to make this book ‘on topic’, in 2018, Joe Biden published his summer playlist which included ‘Come Together’ by The Beatles. And for that, and all the reasons above…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 


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Bonus Book Review: “New York Times: Footsteps: From Ferrante’s Naples to Hammett’s San Francisco, Literary Pilgrimages Around the World”

New York Times FootstepsWait! Before you change screens or move on to something you think may be more interesting than another review from my BloggingForBooks collection, bear with me for a few minutes and hear me out on why I chose to read – The New York Times: Footsteps: From Ferrante’s Naples to Hammett’s San Francisco, Literary Pilgrimages Around the World.

Let me start by asking my readers: Have you ever gone to New York City to see the Dakota building where John Lennon lived and died? Have you ever walked through Central Park to see the Imagine circle in Strawberry Fields? How many of you have gone (or hope to go) to Liverpool to see the Cavern Club or the houses that John Lennon and Paul McCartney grew up in? How many of you have looked up the meaning behind a Beatles’ song and wondered what inspired John, Paul George or Ringo to write it?

I personally have gone to the house near me where Jim Croce once lived. And his grave is less than 2 miles from my house. I visit it often. People make pilgrimages to France to see Jim Morrison’s grave or to Woodstock to see where history was made with the largest most peaceful concert that world had ever seen.

Well, if you’re also a lover of interpreting words, books and songs, or just finding the meaning in the world around us, than this book will truly fascinate you.

Footsteps began in 1981 as a short-lived series of articles in the New York Times. Writers writing about writers is what this 290 page collection of 38 articles is all about. The reporters retraced the steps of famous authors such as Twain, Hemingway, Kerouac, Fitzgerald, Lovecraft, Shelley, Yeats, Byron and the Brothers Grimm. Imagine that Lake Geneva in Switzerland was the back drop to Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein or that the blinking green lighthouse from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was an actual lighthouse on the French Riviera. This collection of articles lead you down the streets, alleys and waterways that were the inspiration behind so many of the great classic novels that we know today. Though I did find that a few of the reporters get a little side tracked in telling more about the city than the author that lived there, I looked forward to reading each new story. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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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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