Review of Shut Up and Give Me the Mic by Dee Snider

I got Shut Up and Give Me the Mic because I like a few Twisted Sister songs and I like Dee Snider’s movie Strangeland. The fact that I found it at the Dollar Tree didn’t hurt. I wanted to learn more about how Twisted Sister got their start, which I did, but parts of the book were really boring. I had to make myself keep reading at some points. It’s refreshing to read about a rocker who didn’t do crack, didn’t drink a bottle of gin every night or sleep with every groupie available. That part was cool, but he had/has a huge ego (which he’ll mention repeatedly). It also ends sort of abruptly.

The book covers Dee’s career with local New York bands until he eventually ends up in Twisted Sister and everything took off from there. He met his wife, TS got a following and they got a record deal. Dee explains how things like royalties, making/promoting albums and tours really work and how much money the band actually gets, which is good information for anyone in a band. He also mentions all of the milestones he missed with his first son: most of his wife’s pregnancy, his son’s first steps, his first words, etc, because he was out on the road. You can tell how much he really loves his family and I liked that part.

After living the high life for so many years and then having the last Twisted Sister album and tour fail miserably and making some less than wise business decisions, Dee had to file for bankruptcy two different times. He lost just about everything except for his family and his wife’s hot pink jeep. Trying to pull himself back out of the hole was a humbling experience and it seemed to really open his eyes.  Then the book just ended! He mentions that to learn about what it was like for him to make Strangeland you’ll have to read his next book, but I don’t want to!

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Review of “A Hard Day’s Night” by Mia Kerick

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A Hard Day’s Night is about a Beatles obsessed high school senior named Lennon who spends a “gay day” with his best friend Fin. They do all the stereotypical stuff that gay guys like based on a google search and hilarity ensues.  It’s a really quick read and the characters learn about who they really are in the process of doing these ridiculous (and expensive) things. I know it’s supposed to be a fun story, but I just kept thinking about how much money Lennon must have spent on everything and how ridiculous that was. It could’ve gone towards his college education. Some parts are sad and others are angsty. I don’t want to give much away. I liked the ending. I’ve read other books from this author and enjoyed them as well.

I got this for free from Reading Deals in exchange for an honest review and they hounded me relentlessly even before the review was due and even after I explained that I’d had a seizure and had to go through a month of tests and appointments.

Review of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

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I saw the movie version of this book and enjoyed it and I like both of the authors so I picked it up when I saw it on one of my trips to the thrift shop. I’m so happy that I did. The book is easily ten times better than the movie (in my opinion). While the movie focuses on (view spoiler)[ everyone driving around NYC looking for a drunk Caroline (hide spoiler)] the book actually focuses on Nick & Norah’s relationship, music and the adventure they have during one crazy night.
I loved learning more about the two main characters and why they were how they were. They were much more interesting and well developed in the book than in the movie. Norah definitely has trust issues and I really don’t blame her and Nick is coming off of a bad break up, but I feel like they’re a great couple anyway.
I love the descriptions of the music and the concerts in the book . I got so excited reading the scenes where they’re in the crowd watching the band and moshing and found myself smiling and reading faster. It made me miss going to shows. I like that some familiar songs (Green Day ones) are used as well as ones that are made up for the book.
If you like fun adventure stories full of punk music, New York City, love, and youth…read this book.

Huge Birthday Book Haul

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Hi everyone! I am really behind on posting. These are all of the books that I bought on or around my 30th birthday (11-12-16). They are from the thrift shop, Dollar Tree and a Harvest Bazaar that a local church was having. I found a ton of R.L. Stine’s Fear Street books! Thanks to the great prices, all of these books only cost me $11.22 total. For 36 books! The books I got are:

  • Room 13 by Henry Garfield
  • The Scent of Shadows (The First Sign of the Zodiac) by Vicki Pettersson
  • The Taste of Night (The Second Sign of the Zodiac) by Vicki Pettersson
  • Sister by Rosamund Lupton
  • Blood Memories (Vampire Memories #1) by Barb Hendee
  • Hunting Memories (Vampire Memories #2) by Barb Hendee
  • Memories of Envy (Vampire Memories #3) by Barb Hendee
  • The Graces by Laure Eve
  • Trinkets by Kirsten Smith
  • Every Which Way But Dead (Rachel Morgan #3) by Kim Harrison
  • Cheerleaders: The First Evil by R.L. Stine
  • Cheerleaders: The Second Evil by R.L. Stine
  • Cheerleaders: The Third Evil by R.L. Stine
  • Cheerleaders: The New Evil (Cheerleaders #4) by R.L. Stine
  • The Thrill Club by R.L. Stine
  • Truth or Dare by R.L. Stine
  • The Dead Girlfriend by R.L. Stine
  • The Boyfriend by R.L. Stine
  • The Girlfriend by R.L. Stine
  • Party Summer by R.L. Stine
  • Silent Night by R.L. Stine
  • The Dead Lifeguard by R.L. Stine (Accidental repurchase. Oops!)
  • Betty Crocker’s Easy Meatless Dishes
  • Night Terrors edited by Lois Duncan
  • Strangest of All by Frank Edwards
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch #15 Harvest Moon by Mel Odom
  • Twilight #21 Evil on the Bayou by Richie Tankersly Cusick
  • More Ghost Stories
  • Railway Ghosts and Highway Horrors by Daniel Cohen
  • Pillsbury Fast and Healthy Magazine low-fat Italian!
  • Evernight by Claudia Gray
  • Tantalize by Cynthia Smith
  • Spin Magazine’s Underground USA
  • Stories of Ghosts, Witches and Demons edited by Freya Littledale
  • The Shadow and Other Strange Tales by Howard Goldsmith
  • Hereafter by Tara Hudson

Have you read any of these books? If you have, were they good? I’ve read Tantalize and most of the R.L. Stine ones before, but I wanted them for nostalgia’s sake. Now I just need to find time to read.

If anyone is interested, I also filmed a Youtube video of this haul.

Review of Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent by Anthony Rapp

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Without You is a very emotional book. It covers some of the happiest times in Anthony Rapp’s life (being in the musical Rent) and the saddest moments (watching his mother fight cancer). I felt bad for him because I can’t imagine how hard it is to watch anyone, let alone your mother, waste away.

I liked learning more about Anthony’s start in show business and I loved the parts about Rent. It’s one of my favorite musicals. You can tell how much he loves singing and performing. His joy radiates off the pages. It was great to learn more about the other people in the cast and the director too.

The parts about his mother and what it was like seeing her so sick were really sad. There are also some unresolved issues between them. He’s really hard on himself for expressing any kind of emotion and that often leads him to fits of rage or to snap at people. I’m happy that he found someone to talk to about that. It’s just not healthy for anyone.

Ultimately, the book is a celebration of his time in the play and of his Mom’s life. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Anthony Rapp, Rent or biographies.

Go Big or Go Home: The Journey Toward the Dream by Scotty McCreery w/ Travis Thrasher

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According to Scotty McCreery, “Go Big or Go Home” is a travelogue, not an autobiography. He covers his life from childhood until now though.

He starts off talking about his childhood love for Elvis and how that influenced his music. He also talks about how the American Idol audition process really works. I thought they just sang in front of the judges, but apparently there are a few more steps that they don’t show on TV. It shows how determined he was. I liked learning how and why he chose the songs that he sang on the show.

Scotty comes across as a humble and down to Earth guy, despite the fact that he’s rich and famous now. He talks about his love of his home town of Garner, NC, sports (especially baseball) and music. It’s cool that he’s still such a fan of music even though he’s part of the industry now. You can tell he really appreciates all of the opportunities that he’s had. Another thing that I like is that he talks about the charity work that he does. He doesn’t brag about it, but he does promote some causes that are important to him. Maybe it’ll help them get some more donations.

Mixed in with the chapters are little blurbs from his fans, called “McCreerians,” from around the world. He has fans ranging from kids to grandmothers. My own Gramma was a fan of him, though she couldn’t remember his name and referred to him as the “cowboy kid” when we watched that season. While most of the book is positive, he talks about the time him and his buddies were robbed at gun point. He doesn’t really dwell on it, but he mentions how scared he was and how much more he appreciated life afterwards.

My favorite quote in the book is “We can’t ever get five minutes of our life back. We can remember them in the music, however. We can replay them and allow them to transport us in sound and lyrics. We can find comfort and joy in the melodies.” It perfectly sums up music’s ability to remind us of a time, place, moment or person.

I’d recommend this to anyone that’s a fan of Scotty. I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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.