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 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.

Return to Midway by Robert D. Ballard and Rick Archbold

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The cover of this book drew me in and, after reading about Ballard’s discovery of the Titanic and other ship’s wrecks, I knew it would be interesting.

I didn’t know much about the Battle of Midway before reading this. I’d heard about it, but that was it. The book presents a detailed account of the battle and the ships involved. Ballard brings two American and two Japanese veterans with him to search for the ships involved, two American and four Japanese. I thought it was great that the veteran’s were able to accompany Ballard on this expedition and that they got along.

Most of the book focuses on telling what happened during the battle and looking for the ship is written in updates that are like journal entries. Given the amount of time that they had and the amount of technical issues with their surveillance robot, they didn’t have time to find all of the ships. They did find the USS Yorktown though and that’s the one that’s featured on the cover.

For being at the bottom of the ocean, I was surprised at how well the ship had held up. It was in one piece, you could still read the name and numbers painted on it and the guns looked like they were ready to fire. It was eerie and amazing at the same time.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes reading about history, war and shipwrecks.

Organizing Plain & Simple by Donna Smallin

 

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I found this book at the thrift shop and it seemed like it would help me to get organized. A lot of the tips were things that I’m already doing, but I did get some useful ideas from it.

The author covers the entire house on room at a time and includes sections for insurance. She gives helpful guidance on what to keep or toss, how to organize things and a list of what you should really need for each area. I don’t have kids, a garage or cellar, so those areas didn’t help me much, but it was still a nice read. Smallin’s tone is light and fun. She really knows what she’s talking about and conveys it in a nice way.

I learned more about my refrigerator (I’ve never really thought about how to use my crisper drawers.) and which fruits and vegetables I should and shouldn’t put in there.  I also learned that I can store Christmas lights by wrapping them around an empty wrapping paper tube. I never would’ve though of that. No more fighting with tangled strands of lights for me! There’s a list of helpful websites and I’ll be checking out a few of them.

I would recommend this to anyone who is trying to get organized and declutter their home.

Penny Pinching: How to Lower Your Everyday Expenses Without Lowering Your Standard of Living by Lee and Barbara Simmons

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I found this book at the thrift shop last week and thought it would be a fun read. It really was. This is the 5th edition of Lee and Barbara Simmons guide on how to save money on your every day expenses and it was written in 1999. It was neat to see how things have changed in the past 17 years. Most of the sections were still relevant, but the one about phones and internet is really outdated.

Most of the things in the shopping section I already knew. I’m a coupon user, I always check out after holiday/season clearance sales and shop at thrift stores. I have a book habit and I’m on a budget.  It has good suggestions for people that are looking for a few quick ways to save.

The section about automotive expenses wasn’t relevant to me, but there was a lot of good information on how to choose insurance, car part, etc. The insurance section also has great information in it. I learned all about different kinds of health and life insurance and what they do, or don’t, cover.

My favorite section was the one about phones and internet. I learned how to really get the most out of a payphone (Remember those?) It brought back memories of using calling cards to call people with when I moved, 1-800-Collect commercials and that annoying AOL dial up noise. The book predicts that people will be able to get their internet through their phone or cable provider and they were spot on. Most companies have a phone/internet/cable bundle now.

If you’d like a few tips on saving and a trip down memory lane, I suggest checking this out if you can find a copy. I gave it 3/5 stars.

Review of Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

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I was excited when I won this book from Goodreads Giveaways because it had great reviews and I’ve heard good things about it. I really enjoyed most of it. I like Goldberg’s writing style and it flows well.

I like the writing exercises that are in each chapter. I’ve done a couple of them and I plan on doing the rest. I feel like she gives some good tips on how to write and how to manage your time.  That was helpful. I like the timed exercises the most.

It’s neat that the author ties her ideas about writing into her zen beliefs, but some of it didn’t work for me. There were also a few times where it seemed like she was “humble bragging” or where things were just far-fetched. I honestly had to force myself to finish the last few chapter.

I would rate this book a 3.5/5 stars. If you like writing, check it out.

How May We Hate You?: Notes from the Concierge Desk by Anna Drezen & Todd Briscoe

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“How My We Hate You?” is a fun, quick read written by two hotel concierges who work in New York City. After having a popular blog by the same name, they wrote this book about some of the more interesting (aka crazy) people that they’ve encountered.

Some sections are written by both of them and others have separate entries by each of them. Even though I don’t work in a hotel, I do work in retail. I swear some of the same people have come through my store.

If you’re looking an entertaining read, I recommend this one. Especially if you have ever worked in retail or hospitality.

I got this book for free from the Blogging For Books website. All opinions are my own.