Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: “My Private Lennon” by Sibbie O’Sullivan

I need to be honest, I really wasn’t expecting much when I bought a copy of My Private Lennon: Explorations from a Fan Who Never Screamed by Sibbie O’Sullivan. I believe the book came up as a recommendation on Amazon while I was perusing other books. “Another fan book…”, I thought. But, it was only 165 pages long and was published February 17, 2020, making it current. Why not…I need to start reading and reviewing more books.

Reading this wasn’t like reading just another fan book. Yes, she and her friends talked endlessly about the Beatles. Yes, she had teen magazines about the Fab Four. And yes, she did see the Beatles during a dress rehearsal at the Ed Sullivan theater in August 1965, an event she has barely any memory of except for the photo she took of John Lennon on stage. And YES, this book is so much more than just another fan book.

Sibbie O’Sullivan weaves her personal life in with the stories of the Beatles, their wives and their own personal life choices. And she does it in a brutally honest way. She tells stories of the innocence of being a teenager to becoming sexually promiscuous, a shotgun wedding, divorce, friends, family, etc. She ties her stories in with the feelings of Cynthia, John & Yoko, but in a way to show how she can relate to what they must have been feeling at the time. Her stories are told so much deeper, more emotional and grown-up than other Beatle fan books that’s I’ve read. Honestly, and maybe it’s the voyeur in me, but I couldn’t put this books down. I even believe that if she had left the Beatles out of it, it still would be a great read. By the time I finish, I thought, “I hope she feels better now”. It’s a beautifully written memoir. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Dear Prudence: The Story Behind The Song” by Prudence Farrow Bruns

Dear Prudence: The Story Behind the Song: Bruns, Prudence Farrow ...I’m a person who loves numbers and statistics. Every morning I check various stats on several of my websites. I like to know that my efforts aren’t going unnoticed and that I’m not wasting my time doing all this reading and writing. One of my stat pages likes to tell me keywords that I should be using to attract more readers. One of them was “prudence bury”. Not sure where the “bury” came from, but I decided to look on Amazon to see if Prudence Farrow Bruns had written a book. Sure enough, I found Dear Prudence: The Story Behind The Song, a self-published book by Prudence Farrow Bruns put out in July 2015.

Anyone that reads this blog on a regular basis knows by now that I’m not a fan of spending a lot of money on some of the books I read. Unless they are a signed first edition, I usually find a cheap used copy somewhere. In this case, there were no inexpensive used copies of this book, so I had to devise another plan. Turns out, Amazon is offering free trials of their Kindle Unlimited plan. I believe I get the first two weeks (or months) free before I have to cancel to avoid being charged, but I decided this was the best way to read a book that I wasn’t sure I was going to like.

For those that don’t know, The Beatles wrote the song Dear Prudence about Prudence Farrow after meeting her in India in 1968…

Turns out, the dramatic stories that I had heard about why the Beatles wrote this song for Prudence aren’t quite true…at least not according to Prudence herself. Or was she holding back in this book? Well, she kind of leaves it all up to the reader to interpret.

This book is basically a memoir of her life from start to finish. And there were moments while reading it that the words, “spoiled brat”, “poor little rich girl” and “first world problems” all went through my mind as she proceeded to destroy her life throughout her teenage years. But upon closer examination, where were her parents? Both  actors/directors, her parents spent vast amounts of time away on location while Prudence and her FIVE siblings were left with governesses and maids. Finally deciding she needed to pull her life together after a bad acid trip, she discovered meditation and yoga and heard of a guru in India that she desperately wanted to meet.

Prudence finally sets foot at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with her famous sister Mia on page 199 of this 224 page book. That leaves just 1/5 of the book for her to meet the Beatles and have a song written about her (John and George arrive on page 204). And as predicted, the whole actual story behind the song is uneventful and there isn’t really a whole lot to tell about John, Paul, George and Ringo except small talk or to say they told her they wrote a song about her and that she didn’t actually hear it until the White Album came out.

I guess I came out of this book thinking, “If she wanted to write her memoir, why didn’t she just do that?!” Why hide it behind a song? Because…then she couldn’t cash in on the Beatles link and sell more books! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Love Me Do! The Beatles Progress” by Michael Braun

After a friend sent me a link to the April 2020 list of Rolling Stone magazine’s 10 Best Beatles Books of all time, I immediately ordered a copy of the #1 pick –Love Me Do! The Beatles’ Progress by Michael Braun.

(Note: While doing research on this book and it’s author to try to provide a nice background story, I noticed that the author of the Rolling Stone list is a writer who I had exchanged private messages with a year or so ago on Facebook…Colin Fleming. Let’s just say that after about a week, he screamed at me and blocked me for “insulting him”. After reading his very opinionated personal blog, I realized…it wasn’t me! How this will play out in this review, we’ll see.)

According to Rolling Stone (or Colin Fleming), this book beat out all the books you would expect to see on a Beatles top ten books list, including books by Hunter Davies, Pete Shotton, Allan Williams, Geoff Emerick, etc. (most of these have been reviewed in the past on this blog). I was curious as to why a book published in 1964 would be considered the best of all time since it obviously didn’t cover the Fab Four’s entire career?

Well, because this book doesn’t hold back. Reporter Michael Braun had a first hand account of what went on in the private (or not so private) moments in the Beatles world as they toured Europe and the U.S. in 1963 and early 1964. It provides conversations that either no other reporter would dared to print or they weren’t paying attention to what was going on around the mop tops. Braun listened and observed what was going on and being said about the Beatles and by the Beatles. A whole lot of snarky remarks were flying everywhere our boys went. Unfortunately, this didn’t presented John, Paul, George and Ringo in the best light at times and some reviewers of Love Me Do in 1964 grabbed onto those moments to pan the Beatles. (See 3 reviews of Love Me Do from 1964 at the bottom of this review)

Still, this is a more than worthwhile book for any true Beatles fan to add to their collection. Is it the best book? Is it better than say Mark Lewisohn’s works? I personally don’t think so, but it is a great book for those who want to know. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book and Movie Review: “The Magic Christian” by Terry Southern

A couple weeks ago, I finally decided I needed to see the movie The Magic Christian that is mentioned so often in Beatles books when discussing Ringo or the year 1969 when it was filmed and released. After watching the film, I decided to buy a copy of the book to see…well, read the reviews and you’ll understand…

I tried to find this movie on-demand from several outlets, but eventually I ended up renting this movie from Amazon Prime for about $3.99. The opening credits of The Magic Christian could draw anyone in to wanting to see this movie. Besides the author of the book, Terry Southern, the other writers of the screenplay and script include: Joseph McGrath, Graham Chapman, John Cleese and Peter Sellers – who also stars in the movie with Ringo Starr. There are guest appearances from Richard Attenborough, Spike Milligan, Roman Polanski, Rachel Welch, John Cleese, Gram Chapman and Yul Brenner. Denis O’Dell, who was the Associate Producer of this film, was also the AP of A Hard Day’s Night, Magical Mystery Tour and How I Won the War. Sounds like a winning line-up, huh? There is even a scene where it appears John and Yoko make a cameo, but when looking at the credits on IMDb, it was just two un-credited actors.

I fell asleep after the first 45 minutes and had to watch the second half the following day! The whole thing seems to want to tell a story, but without explanation as to why. Ringo was heralded for his acting in this film, but he really does nothing more than follow around Peter Sellers, his adopted billionaire dad, Guy Grand, in the movie. Ringo’s lines are limited to mostly just one sentence. The plot – they go around spending millions of dollars making rich and poor people look like asses for being so greedy. But why?

I decided that I needed to read the book for more clarity on the who, what and whys to what was happening on the screen….

So I ordered a used copy of The Magic Christian book which took way too long to arrive (damn media mail!). The book, published in 1959, is just 134 pages and can be easily read in a day. Again…it took me two.

The first difference I noticed between the book and film is that Peter Sellers didn’t match the physical description of his character Guy Grand who was “rather stout”. The various scenarios/scenes portrayed in the movie are in the book, but not necessarily in the same order, sometimes with a little more detail or a little less. And Guy Grand does pull off several more antics in the book.

But the major difference…there is no adopted son (aka Ringo’s character Youngman Grand) in the book! I spent the entirety of my reading waiting for him to pop-up, but he never did. Why? Why did Terry Southern and the other writers decide it was necessary to add this character? Was it just to add a Beatle to the film’s line-up and pull in his fan base? Sure seemed that way to me, but I’ll have to do a little research to be sure. Either way, it didn’t work…the critics hated the movie, but loved the book.

So, did I find my answer to the who, what and why of the film in the pages of the book. No. I’ve read it’s an observance of greed in America, but the film was set in England. Does that mean that the author/screenwriters thinks Brits are as greedy as Americans? I have no clue what he thinks. My advice is, don’t feel obligated to watch or read this story because you’re a Beatles or Ringo Starr fan! And for that reason…

I rate the movie: 1 out of 3 Beetles!

 

 

 

I rate the book: 2 out of 3 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “And in the End: The Last Days of The Beatles” by Ken McNab

Several months ago, I received an advanced reader copy of And in the End: The Last Days of The Beatles by Ken McNab. I was asked by the publisher not to review it until closer to the release date of August 18, 2020, but since I have two other books in my stack of books to be reviewed and since I couldn’t really put this book down, I decided to review it early.

Ken McNab, a journalist for Scotland’s Evening Times, has done a fantastic job of detailing the year 1969 in the life of the Beatles. Not only is it a blow by blow of their recording and business dealings, it goes into what was going on in their private lives as well. From the conflict caused by the hiring of Allen Klein as their manager, to the birth of McCartney’s first child, McNab gives a month by month history the Fabs.

I loved that this book was divided by the months of that year. It was so easy to just sit down and read a chapter a day and be able to pick up the next day to read what happened next. It’s a smooth and easy read of what many would consider the destruction of the Beatles as it happened. The infighting between McCartney and Lennon; Harrison’s desire to get out on his own; Ringo’s ability to always get along and follow with whatever may come.

The only problem is that December 1969 was not the end, but Ken McNab does include a brief Epilogue to fill in the blanks of what transpired in 1970 when The Beatles officially called it quits as a band.

And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

This book can be pre-ordered on Amazon along with their price guarantee of giving you the lowest price offered before the release date.

 

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Book Review: “Me” by Elton John

Very rarely do I ask a publisher for a review copy of a book, but when I heard about the release of the autobiography Me by Elton John, I knew I wanted to get an advanced copy! Unfortunately, the copy showed up too close to the release date for me to get it read and reviewed in time, so I set it aside until I could give it the time and attention it deserved.

And it didn’t disappoint…

This book is everything you would expect it to be. Flamboyant and over the top like the man himself! It’s a real page turner, with never a dull moment. And at just about 350 pages, you almost feel like there is so much he had to leave out in order to keep it down to a decent size.

But don’t get me wrong…Elton doesn’t hold back in the stories he does tell. In fact, there are a couple of TMI moments when you want to yell at the page and say, “I could have done without that little tidbit, El!” Still, he keeps it real and quite humorous. He admits his downfalls, excesses, addictions and flaws whether it be with people, drugs, or sex. He talks openly and honestly about his family, friends and foes on the way to stardom including Freddie Mercury, George Michael, Ringo, Rod Stewart, John Lennon, Billy Jean King, Gianni Versace and his tumultuous relationship with his own mother.

And for the Beatles fans, every Beatle gets a shout out at some point in his story and he even mentions May Pang and John’s Lost Weekend.

I know a lot of these rock star autobiographies are just a lot of hoo-ha, with so much of their lives glossed over and conveniently forgotten. There is also a tendency to want to make themselves appear to be like you and me, but I can honestly tell you that they are not like you and me and they are not approachable without being accosted by their bodyguards. But taking that all into consideration, Elton does do a great job of letting us all know what a prima donna he can/could be, his tantrums and his addiction to buying expensive luxuries that he doesn’t really need. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “It’s All In Your Head: Get out of your way” by Russ

It’s interesting what shows up in your mailbox when you get on a major publishing company’s list of reviewers. Several weeks ago, I got an email asking if I would be interested in reviewing a digital version of It’s All In Your Head: Get out of your way by Russ. I said, “Sure. Send it on over!” I got no response and no .pdf. A couple weeks later, a hard back copy of the book showed up via the postal service! Much better…I really don’t like reading ebooks anyway.

So…who is Russ?! I had to look him up too. Turns out he’s a multi-million dollar selling rapper from Atlanta. And what does he have to do with the Beatles? Well, nothing really, but he does quote John Lennon near the end of his book.

It’s All In Your Head is a self-help book from beginning to end with Russ explaining the way he got to be the superstar that he is. But it’s not just about those looking to make it in the music world. His words and ideas go well beyond the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and the music industry. If you want to think of it in terms of the Beatles, then just remember Lennon’s words in the early days of the Beatles, “Where are we going boys?”…to the Toppermost of the Poppermost! John never let doubt sink into his head about being a rockstar. He never gave up. And that’s the same way of thinking that Russ says made him what he is today.

The one downfall to Russ’ idea, though, is that he had the financial support of his parents. After dropping out of college to pursue his music full-time, he was allowed to continue to live in their basement where he created his own beats and songs 24/7. He had a couple jobs to help him with his little expenses, but pretty much he relied on his folks to carry him while he did nothing but believe that one day he would be a worldwide phenomenon. Most people in this world don’t have that luxury. But putting that one downside aside, his words are a source of inspiration to anyone that knows what they want. This little 150 page book is a book of inspiration.

“I’m an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it.” – John Lennon

Never give up…never doubt what you were truly meant to do…just do it and great things will happen.

*Note: this book contains profanity, but would you expect anything different from a rapper?

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “The Beatles from A to ZED” by Peter Asher

I’ve been slacking…I know. Summer seemed to be going along just fine, but somehow I lost control of my time to read when fall hit! During this time, though, I’ve been reading an Advance Reader’s Edition (that I got in July) of The Beatles from A to ZED by Peter Asher. I thought I would have this review out months ago and I must apologize to not only my readers, but also the publisher – Henry Holt and Company for my tardiness. The book will be released on October 29, 2019, but you can pre-order it now through Amazon where it’s currently ranked at #8 in Beatles books!

Most of my readers are familiar with Peter Asher, either because he’s the brother of Paul’s ex-girlfriend, actress Jane Asher, or because he worked for Apple Records, or because he was a member of the famous duo Peter and Gordon. Now a days, you can find him hosting his own radio show on Sirius XM’s Beatles’ station called “Peter Asher: From Me to You“.

Peter came up with the idea of using letters from the alphabet as a fun and interesting way to organize topics for his radio show and was inspired to write the book using this same format. The book, about 250 pages long, is filled with not only Beatles’ song titles to represent each letter, but also people, places and things that start with the corresponding letters that were a part of Beatles’ history. And Peter came up with some dozy subjects to discuss in each chapter and you’ll find yourself almost playing a game in your head as you read as to which songs and subjects he’ll cover.

This book is an easy and fun read. It might take a little getting used to, though, since it’s written almost like a script to his radio show. It reads as if your listening to Peter on Sirius XM or if you’ve ever heard him speak or sing in his lovely English accent, completely freestyle! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 BEETLES!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Malibu 90265” by Linda Lane and Nancy Lee Andrews

Malibu 90265 Linda Lane Nancy Lee AndrewsYou know those moments when you’re bored and find yourself doing ridiculous searches on the internet and stumble upon something so unexpected that you just have to get it? Well, that’s how I came about reading Malibu 90265 which just happened to be co-authored by Ringo Starr’s former fiancé Nancy Lee Andrews (and Linda Lane)! It’s also my justification for reviewing it as a Beatles related book on this blog, because one has to wonder if Ritchie was the influence behind any of the male characters.

Published in 1990, Malibu 90265 is exactly what you would expect it to be by the name and book cover image…a steamy romance novel that contains all sorts of debauchery and sexual exploits that would be expected of the Hollywood/Malibu crowd! Nothing seemed to be off-limits to Lane and Andrews as the write about a circle of friends and lovers in this 310 page romance novel.

Don’t get me wrong here…I’m not a fan of romance novels. I can probably count on one hand the number of smut novels I’ve read in my lifetime. It just ain’t my bag, baby! But when I found one authored by someone that I know, I had to dive in head first to see how deep Nancy would go. And to tell you the truth…she goes pretty damn deep into the sex scenes, only proving that she’s not only sexy on the outside, but on the inside too! From the story lines, it’s obvious that Andrews and Lane are feminists too, as the female characters prove themselves in this book.

If you need a beach read this summer, or just want to see another one of Ms. Andrews’ many talents on display, you can actually pick up a used copy of this book for $0.01 on Amazon.com! Don’t be shy…you know you want to read it! Indulge your senses. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “The Meaning of Contentment” by Mary McGuinness

The Meaning of Contentment by Mary McGuinnessSome of you may remember me NOT reviewing a book called Mary’s Prayer several years ago because of my rule not to review books of people I do PR work for. Well, The Meaning of Contentment by Mary McGuinness is the follow-up book that was just released this past December 2018…And since Mary has been doing such a swell job of promoting her own books, she hasn’t needed my help in any way…so here’s a review of her latest book.

For those that haven’t read Mary’s Prayer yet, Mary McGuinness wrote the book to tell the story about her struggles when she developed depression and panic attacks in her mid 30s while working as an accountant in Glasgow, Scotland. She talks of being forced to drop out of the workforce and her need to make peace with the fact that things will never be the same for her. Mary talked a lot about how music, especially that of the Beatles and John Lennon, really spoke to her during this difficult time and helped her to understand what she was going through.

Now, Mary McGuinness has continued her personal story in The Meaning of Contentment. In this 256 page memoir, McGuinness continues the story of how despite her best efforts to return to the workforce after getting an Honors Degree in Psychology, the universe led her in another direction. It was though helping her elderly uncle John with his daily needs that Mary learned that sometimes life isn’t about working 9 to 5 and bringing home a paycheck and that maybe her focus should be about helping others who also struggle with the hardships of life. She learns that contentment is found in some of the most unlikely places.

It takes a brave soul to be as open as Mary McGuinness is in this new book (and in Mary’s Prayer). Combined, the books cover 20 years of her personal battle with depression and panic attacks. She also continues to tell the story of her love of The Beatles and John Lennon and how her trips to Liverpool and The Peace Tower in Iceland brought so much joy back into her life. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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