Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar (4 out of 5)

•March 9, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I saw Sammy Hagar with Van Halen a few times. Three years ago, the Narc and I saw him at Rib Fest in Naperville. No matter how often I saw him, he was fantastic! I was a fan before I read his book. It took me awhile to find it; this copy was buried in the bookshelf from Ikea that is now breaking apart at the back. (Stay away from Ikea bookshelves!). Sammy’s memoir was released a few years back in paperback, so it can be found at most bookstores and online at the fall of brick and mortar known as Shamazon. It’s a trade paperback. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t as funny as David Lee Roth’s memoir was, but Sammy isn’t batshit crazy, so his book wasn’t going to be. Good, reliable narration, a healthy dose of humor, and great stories. I especially enjoyed that Sammy was just a genuinely nice guy, and it showed. The beginnings of his career, up to and including Van Halen and the bitter end (TWICE!), his tequila business, his personal life, and his newest venture, Chickenfoot, are covered completely, and you leave the book the way you would leave after a few shots of Cabo Wabo- satisfied and having made the acquaintance of a nice dude and someone who loves his job and yet can still rock your socks off. A great book for your resident hard rocker fan.


The School for Psychics (#1) by K.C. Archer (3 out of 5)

•March 9, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The start of a new series put out by the folks at Simon & Schuster. Thank you to Wendy for the advance. This is out on April 3, 2018. If you want a quirky series with a strong female lead who is the epitome of feisty and unpredictable, this is the series for you. On the back of the advance, it advertises this as stay-up-all-night reading. I would not go that far. I would say that it’s a decent read with supernatural elements that the open-minded readers who like ‘niche mysteries’ will enjoy.

Teddy Cannon is a 20-something firebrand who’s played with the wrong people at casinos, and her scam (and time) is up. Evading a snarky loan shark/casino boss, Teddy is panicked when her last resort runs out of gas. Suddenly, a mysterious man rescues her, reads her a laundry list of her misdeeds, and offers to help her out, because she has a unique gift for reading minds. Teddy fights the chance, but after realizing she is out of vanishing acts in her bag of tricks, she takes his offer to become a student at the highly lauded School Of Psychics. Teddy quickly makes friends and butts heads with two or three of her instructors, and she quickly realizes shit is not going to be as easy as she thought. And that’s before the students start disappearing! Can Teddy get her head out of her ass, swallow some of her impulsive pride, and buckle down to not only find out what’s happening with the disappearing student body, but to graduate? You have to read to find out.

I really enjoyed Teddy as a character; however, she behaves like many cliches you would expect her to have, given the way the plot sets up. She is almost too much of a pain in the ass in most of the book, and that got annoying. I also guessed what was going on, and was right! That takes a bit away from it, as well. Promising start to the series, but hopefully Teddy calms down a little bit in the next one and we get to see more of the magic that was implied.

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta (4 out of 5)

•March 8, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I was trucking along with my reading. Until the Winter Olympics. I was hooked, and lost many a night to them. My book colleague Len had this in his Top 10 of 2017, and Dan mentioned wanting to read it. Dan doesn’t read anything if it’s not on Twitter, so I dug through bookshelf #3 and found the advance. It didn’t take me long to get into it, and finish it. I am a Tom Perrotta fan, and this is definitely one of my favorites of his. I like how in touch with the outside world he is, and how well he hit upon suburbia mentality and the “shame cycle” associated with the word “porn”. The characters are real, subject matter is real, and yes, there are adult situations and comedy present. Such is a Perrotta.

Eve Fletcher has a serious case of empty nest syndrome percolating after her son Brandon goes off to college. Eve finds comfort in the small screen- of her computer or phone, and on a website called Yes, it’s exactly how it sounds. Eve finds herself enjoying this new “past-time”. She begins to come out of her shell, and loosen up a bit more; especially in her approach to her female coworker. Is Eve so loosened up that she’s about to embark upon a midlife sexual re- awakening? Adding to this, she gets a text in the middle of the night saying, “U R my MILF”. Color Eve intrigued.

Meanwhile, Eve’s son Brandon is away at college. Pardon my French, but Brandon is kind of a dick. He’s using his girlfriend at home, and the minute he hits college, he bonds with his roomie, but ultimately, finds the “hard living party time college lifestyle” is anything but. His grades start tanking and he begins seriously slacking. Brandon’s seriously bogus views on the opposite sex get him in big trouble, too. He tries to fit in, while it becomes more obvious that he is a square peg in a hole. How ironic that as one young man begins to have to confront his shitty outlook on women, sex, and school, his mother is beginning to see life and those around her in a whole new light. Perrotta is a whiz kid at painting the subtle differences in both characters at the beginning, middle, and end of the book. I really loved the character of Eve, and really wanted to smack the shit out of Brandon. These reactions are just further evidence of how well Perrotta writes those lives and how seamlessly we find ourselves on the outside looking in. A great book club pick, and definitely one of my favorite novels by Mr. Perrotta.

I’ve Got This Round: More Tales of Debauchery by Mamrie Hart (5 out of 5)

•February 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This isn’t Mamrie’s first round. Nor is it her first book. That distinction belongs to You Deserve A Drink, which was also the title of her wildly popular YouTube show. I’ve Got This Round was released in hardcover on February 6th. Anyone who enjoyed her first collection about being coupled, getting into merriment, and drinking wildly inventive cocktails with the girls, will enjoy this one more. With a very different angle.

This time around, Mamrie is recovering from heartbreak. She realizes that her long-term relationship isn’t ringing bells of excitement for her at any level, and she comes into this with an outlook that is begging for change, so she breaks off her relationship, then throws herself into any extracurricular activities that will distract her from regret. In this round, we’re treated to more travel shenanigans, bucket-list goals (Hello, Moulin Rouge!), going on a Backstreet Boys cruise just because, and fighting with an air mattress with its own agenda. Anyone who loved Samantha Irby’s essay collection, We’re Never Meeting In Real Life, will enjoy this. A great gift for that independent gal who loves living one day, multiple drinks, at a time.

Closer Than You Know by Brad Parks (4 out of 5)

•February 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This one is out on March 6, 2018, brought to us by Dutton Books (Penguin Random House). I got an advance from the publisher sometime last fall. And then the holidays. You know what that means in retail. It means no books get read until after January!

Melanie heads to pick up her son from the lady who does daycare for her. She’s in a hurry because the lady is OCD about punctuality, and she is quite late after getting pulled over for a speeding ticket. She gets there, only to have the sitter tell her that the Department of Social Services came and took Alex away, before lambasting her as a bad parent. Melanie is beside herself with grief and worry. She gets home and finds her house torn apart by the cops, and is then told that cocaine-a lot of it- was discovered in the house and she’s going to be arrested. Melanie tries to get ahold of her husband Ben, to no avail. She gets nailed for what she claims is a setup. Right on the heels of her son suddenly being taken by Social Services? Not a coincidence, it turns out. The public defender takes over Melanie’s case, her husband has been hiding stuff from her, and no one seems to care that her infant son has been taken from her. Meanwhile, prosecuter Amy gets pulled into the case against Melanie, whom she is familiar with because Melanie was one of the victims of a cold case serial rapist who has never been caught, and that Amy is still working on. It’s a case of a lot going on at the same time, and when Melanie’s husband Ben enters the picture, you aren’t sure what is going on, with whom, and why. And that is where shit got very interesting with this book. You have to hang in there for a bit and be patient, but the payoff is worth the paint sniffing. This was the first Brad Parks novel I read; it won’t be the last.

The Most Dangerous Man in the World: Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon and the Hunt for the Fugitive King of LSD. By Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis (5 out of 5)

•February 7, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This one goes back to December, too. Blog posts are WAY behind. I am working in too many salt mines to keep ahead as I usually try to. That’s ok. I’m still plugging away at the book(s). I’m still battling some health things, so if I am quiet, you can bet your bippy it is due to work being nuts, caregiving catching up to me, or the like. If you’re lucky, the Martians will come and get me soon. 😀👽

This book was released in November. Currently available in hardcover, it’s a quick read into my favorite kind of history- WEIRD history. I’m sure you’ve heard of weird science. So why not weird history? Originally, I thought it was a true crime book, but after reading the inside cover, I knew I had to read it. I should also add here that I have two entire pages of notes in which I find parallels between Nixon and Trump. Not sure much of that will find its way here, but some of it may. This has nothing to do with current politics. This book is from a time in history fraught with war, riots, assassinations, etc. Let’s hope these are not repeating themes, my friends.

Covering a time period between July, 1971 and January, 1973, this eye-opening look at a year and a half of odd history is fascinating, funny, and at times eerily reminiscent of what power-mad politicians in the Oval Office do when unleashed on the public. Tim Leary is known as the man who popularized the phrase “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out”, as well as championing the cause of exploring the therapeutic properties of psychedelic drugs under controlled conditions. Under the oft maniacal eye of the regime under Richard M. Nixon, his platforms on the subject came under intense scrutiny, to the point it resembled a witch hunt. In Minutaglio and Davis’ capable hands, that strange time in history is brought to life in entertaining fashion for those of us who weren’t even born yet. Nixon’s time in the White House has been profiled time and time again, but to see his vendetta (it cannot be called anything but) highlighted in such a manner, makes this a book that boggles the mind. How did it get to the point that the peace-loving Leary found himself on the run all over the globe from Nixon’s goon squad? How did Nixon come to calling Leary “the most dangerous man in the world”, in a time where the war in Vietnam should take precedence over this? Truly a book that any historian should read.

Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign In American History by Katy Tur (5 out of 5)

•February 7, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I read this book in December. Kind of a funny story, actually. My neighbor wanted the Barack Obama book by White House photographer Pete Souza. That’s the $50 hardcover that many sought at Christmas, and many are still waiting for (New Printings. Get the ball rolling, Hachette Book Group!) in the now second week of February. I told her we didn’t have it. We took a trip to Anderson’s in Lagrange, where we weren’t greeted until we left and I wondered how a bookstore could have that many pairs of socks on wall space that could be housing book posters and the like. Linda told me to just go ahead and get this book instead. She read it, her daughter-in-law read it, and then she passed it on to me. I read it in two days. Katy Tur is a correspondent for NBC News, and against her better wishes, she finds herself being assigned to Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign. Tur is an ambitious girl who is getting ready to leave for London on vacation to see her boyfriend when a prime opportunity to jump the shark and grab the brass ring presents herself, in the form of interviewing Trump in a lead story. The story takes off from there. Tur is as objective as she is equally puzzled at parts throughout the book. She gives you the behind the scenes, and you can almost sense parts of the book where she is scratching her head with the oft strange and unbalanced behavior of the Donald. And this book is leading UP TO his victory over Hilary Rodham Clinton! The book and the events in it are almost like a Lego KFC accident you can’t look away from, AKA a book you can’t put down. Highly recommended. Out now in hardcover.