With My Eyes Wide Open: Miracles and Mistakes on My Way Back to KoRn by Brian Welch

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KoRn is one of my favorite bands, so I had to request this when I saw it on NetGalley. I was excited when I got approved and I read this in two days. The book is about Brain “Head” Welch’s decision to leave KoRn, get clean and raise his daughter. Along the way, he became a Christian, made some music, wrote books, and went through some hard times.

Unfortunately, Brian made some horrible decisions and ended up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. He really got swindled by someone he thought was a friend. Instead, the guy was using him for his money and got him in all kinds of legal trouble. It got so bad that he eventually had to file for bankruptcy.

I could tell how much he loves his daughter, Jennea, but he didn’t always make the best decisions for her. When he was touring he decided it would better if she was enrolled in an online school. She felt alone a lot, got addicted to getting attention on the internet and started cutting herself. As a former cutter, I know how hard that can be to deal with and I can’t imagine how helpless he felt. He was able to get her help, in the form of a group home for teens, and there is a letter from her at the end of the book. I thought that was nice since the reader hears (reads) a lot about her.

I was happy for Brian once things started getting better for him and I love that he’s back with KoRn now. I was surprised that he said he’d forgotten how to play their bigger songs like “Falling Away From Me.” I figured that after playing them thousands of times he’d just go right back to it, even if it had been eight years. He talks about how the other band members were either sober or getting sober and how nice it is that Fieldy, their bass player, is also Christian.

The books mentions religion quite a bit, especially at the end. It didn’t really bother me that much until the end where it seemed overly preachy. If you’re Christian or religious, that might not bother you. Brian also mentions that him and Fieldy pray with fans after their shows and at music festivals. I guess that’s cool of them, but I wouldn’t want to do that if I were at a metal concert.

Overall, it’s a good book about a guy who’s trying to get his life back on track. I gave it 3.5/5 stars. The book will be released on May 17th and can be ordered here.

My review of Yes! My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania by Daniel Bryan with Craig Tello

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I really enjoyed this book. I liked getting to learn more about Bryan. He talks about his life before wrestling, his time on the independents, his relationship with Brie Bella and what it was like for him to get to WWE. The book was written before he was forced to retire due to his injuries.

Yes! is really an expanded version of the WWE 24/7 article chronicling what his life was like in the week leading up to his match against Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 30 in 2014. Each chapter starts with a black and white photo, a date and time, and a description by Craig Tello from WWE.com. After that, Bryan starts his story. I liked the format, but there is a lot of text per page. Craig’s parts are kind of cheesy since he tried to fit as many of Bryan’s nicknames in there as possible(Yes Man, Bearded Superstar, The Beard, etc). There’s also a photo of Bryan on the bottom of the pages that does the Yes! chant when you flip them. I thought that was really neat.

Bryan comes across as being a very humble guy from modest beginnings who just really loves wrestling. You can feel how passionate he is about it and how much he loves going out there and having a great match, no matter how many people are in the audience.  The way he talks about his wife, Brie, is very sweet. I learned more about her through this book too.

There are some funny stories mixed in to break up the seriousness. The ones about traveling with Sheamus and Ted DiBiase are great. I laughed out loud while reading it on the bus.

I loved getting more insight into moments that I saw on TV, like his time in NXT and the Nexus invasion. I remember how excited I was when they asked him what he was going to do since he lost the NXT show and he said “Daniel Bryan might be done, but Bryan Danielson–God knows what’s going to happen to him.” I’ve been a fan of his since 2003 when I saw him in Ring of Honor, so it was very cool to me that he used his real name. That’s not something that wrestlers using a stage name really do. I figured he’d go back to ROH, but instead he ended up being part of the Nexus storyline on Raw. There were a few hiccup in his career after that, including being fired from WWE for  few months, but he gained a loyal fan base. When he started using the Yes! chant, it blew up and became a huge thing. Fans of other sports started doing it at basketball games and fans still do it today when they like something that they see in the ring.

Going into the WrestleMania match, you can really feel how happy he was. He was about to win the top prize in WWE and he was getting married. Unfortunately, his happiness was short lived. His father passed away and then he had a series of concussions that would lead to his retirement. The last chapter of this book was so sad that I almost cried.

I rated this 4 out of 5 stars. The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars was Craig’s use of the same phrases and nicknames over and over. I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson, professional wrestling, biographies and feel good stories.

Review of Spring 2016 Penguin Teen Preview Sampler

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This sampler was ok, but it’s not the best one that I’ve read. It’s not the worst either.
The Dark Days Club is the only one that I want to read the rest of. I’m a sucker (no pun intended) for vampire books and I want to know more about the “ghouls.”

Salt to the Sea isn’t something that I normally read. The writing was nice, but books set in war times don’t interest me much.

I have been hearing a lot about Rebel of the Sands, but I’m not sure that I’d be interested in reading more of it. The main character was ok, but I couldn’t see why the book is being so heavily hyped by people.

Wink Poppy Midnight is another one that I’ve been hearing a lot about. The characters were interesting, but I had trouble knowing who was talking. I’m not sure if that was a formatting issue or if the author really does abruptly switch characters.

The Passion of Dolssa was alright. The idea of the main character using her visions to help people find their match was nice.

I like getting these samplers because they help me decide whether or not I want to read books that I’ve been hearing about and they help me discover new ones. I got this for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.