Books: NonFiction

book review | Unlearn by Humble the Poet

humble the poet unlearn book coverAuthor: Humble the Poet
Title: Unlearn: 101 Simple Truths for a Better Life
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction, Inspirational
Pages: 288
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

I like Humble’s music. And I like his Twitter or IG feed. So, figured I should probably read the “Unlearn: 101 Simple Truths for a Better Life” by Humble the Poet too. And, you know what? It was pretty great.

About the Book: Nobody can give us happiness. Not only they can’t, even if they could, they don’t have to. Nobody owes you happiness, no matter what you gave them. Happiness has to be made, for you, by you. Not so easy, you say? Well, if it was, we’d not need books like this, right? Instead Humble teaches us to be more conscious about our lives. It’s hard to do, because we’re often blinded by emotional strain, stress, pain, but it’s possible, even if it means seeking professional help. You can choose to do something about yourself, for yourself. Even if it’s one conscious glimpse while you’re drinking your favorite tea: it’s good, isn’t it? And isn’t that happiness?

Little drops like that add up, and teach you to be more aware of the good things, even in the face of the dark days you might be having. That’s one great thing I took from this book. Another, and not the only one, be sure, was the time to start lesson. Want to do something, start something? Okay, start. Don’t wait for new years to make resolutions. Don’t wait for the first day of the month. Don’t even wait for that Monday. Start now. That’s the difference between “One Day” and “Day One“.  Which one will it be for you?

My Opinion: Humble writes in this very friendly and familiar manner. He doesn’t spew philosophy to an audience, no, he’s telling you simple things you might know, or you might not, joking with you, telling you a little bit of his own personal experiences, telling you that you can do whatever you set your mind to. Because when you truly want it, truly, you will have it. There’s no commitment, there’s no “do this every day and…” stuff. Humble’s real and simple.

It’s a light read that might just help you reconsider some things in your life. I’ll give it a very solid 4 out of 5, because there were a couple of edges that I could’ve done without, and that’s just my personal take. Other than that, it’s a good book worth the time.

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Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Philosophy, Self | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | McMafia by Misha Glenny

mcmafia misha glenny book cover underworld criminal organized crimeAuthor: Misha Glenny
Title: McMafia
Series: –
Genre: True Crime, Nonfiction
Pages: 398
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I love reading sensible literature on organized crime, where author doesn’t choose a side, and, due to moral obligations, doesn’t try to paint one or another side a deeper shade of one color. One of such well balanced books is McMafia by Misha Glenny, who has a very healthy view on this all.

About the Book: This book goes through a variety of organized, global crime, its underground industries and their origins. From the times of economy downfalls through, say, the fall of soviet union, or the breaking of Berlin wall, to today. And all across the world.

Crime takes many forms and shapes. And so do reasons for it. Be it extreme poverty and thus a need to make a buck for bread by stealing or selling, or selling the stolen. Or be it flaws in law, criminalization of something you require. It could be medication your country deemed illegal. Or it could be part of your lifestyle: from illegal caviar, to illegal counterfeits. And many more, including drug cartels, mafia, mafiozos of Russia, yakuza, hackers, crackers, and so on. And you know what’s the worst of it? We too are a part of it.

My Opinion: This is a very smoothly written book, with sensible steps from one topic, to another. Each one of those is explained in depths, with origins of criminal organization at hand, how it came to be, to what it does, how it does it, and why it does it, if applies. To actual governments, and law: how they’re handling it, if handling it at all. As for our involvement, well, that’s true. And it’s scary. From materials required to, say, build our laptops, where a company doesn’t ask about the origins of this metal, or that dye. To scam emails, engineered web pages, and our inability to take precautions while on that enticing world wide web.

This is a very worthy read that I would highly recommend to anyone. I give it a 5 out of 5, for many, many reasons.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, crews, gangs, etc, mafia, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Go Down Together by Jeff Guinn

bonnie and clyde true crime go down together jeff guinn biography book coverAuthor: Jeff Guinn
Title: Go Down Together
Series: –
Genre: True Crime, Biography
Pages: 468
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I always had a liking to Bonnie and Clyde stories, but somehow never watched or read any true, not romanticized stuff about them. After all, I didn’t even know that at first they weren’t Bonnie and Clyde, but rather Clyde and Bonnie. But then, a few days back, I watched this great Netflix movie “The Highwaymen” and decided I must take that one book that I have on the pair of criminals two rangers were pursuing there. The Go Down Together by Jeff Guinn.

About: Everyone has at least heard of the famous bank robbers in love, Bonnie and Clyde, who robbed together, ran together, shot together, and died together too. But rarely anyone knows what those two were really like, and what was their life on the road, on the run.

Both Bonnie and Clyde grew up and lived during the Great Depression, when the economy in United States fell so very drastically, that a young man would find it hard to get a job, and a young woman would likely add to her meager pay by finding a different sort of clientele. Yet one shouldn’t be fooled. These two were not so much pushed into the life in crime, as they leaped to it seeking thrill, action, and fame. They got it, alright, but one’s left to wonder if they’d be happy with the price they paid for it. The cold nights in make-shift camping spots, cold food in fear that a fire would be spotted, injuries that left them both crippled, and no way back to a normal life.

Mine: This is a dark story with an almost humorous streak to it. Both Bonnie and Clyde had their share of misfortune and even cruelty. Luck seemed to turn away from them when they most needed it. But they rolled with the punches as best they could, charming public who, for once, had entertainment in their lives. Bonnie and Clyde stole from businesses and banks, rarely touching clerk’s wallet, so it’s almost like they didn’t rob the poor, poor thought. They’d steal your car, but leave it where you could retrieve it. And if you rather had insurance money, all you had to do was ask, and they’d happily drop it in a ditch, and set it on fire. This is what public saw, and this is why they often turned a blind eye on this pair. All while they dealt with the dark side criminal world, hell, barely its surface, for no true criminal took them very seriously, was serving.

Author did a great job of making a smooth story to not feel dull. At all times it’ll keep your attention, and you’ll come out knowing who the famous or infamous pair truly was. I’m giving it a strong 5 out of 5, and recommend you watch The Highwaymen at some point too.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, heists, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

book review | “Packing for Mars” by Mary Roach

Mary Roach Packing for Mars cover bookAuthor: Mary Roach
Title: Packing for Mars
Series: –
Genre: Science Literature, Space
Pages: 334
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

Mary Roach is something of a delight for me. Way back in the day I’ve read her book “Stiff“, about corpses, their treatment, use, etc. It was very interesting, informative, and yet hilarious. I couldn’t wrap my head around it of how can a book about dead people be this amusing, and perfectly respectful. So when I came across my favorite topic – Mars, by one of my favorite authors of Science Literature – Mary Roach… Well, here we are.

About: We’ve all seen the glory of being an astronaut. You’re a living star, a pioneer of space, almost as famous as Loki or Thor. We even waved the Moon off in want to explore a real planet: Mars.

So, how is your day? What do you eat? Do you exercise? Do you bathe daily, wash your hair? How often does the Nature Call you to the bathroom? Do you have enough clothes to last you a week without washing them, or do you do your laundry more often? And how are all these things done in zero G, in a cramped little space with little to no privacy?

If all these questions can be solved and optimized then, according to this book, a two year voyage to Mars could begin for a human being too. But it really does mean two years of calories that are varied enough to not drive the crew insane for having to eat the same mush day in and day out in a cramped space with no real privacy, not to mention the question of intimacy. All and more will be answered or at least discussed in this book.

Mine: At times I laughed. Other times I hysterically howled. Mary Roach has finessed the art of tackling the less glorious sides of the topics we all love. No one will really tell you how the first astronauts used the bathroom. Mary Roach requested to use one of those herself, since… Well, it takes very specific adjustments. You’ll likely not hear about the ickier experiments either, like how often must you bathe, how much oils does your body produce, when does it stop producing excess of it. From potential rat birth in space, to, ah, different kind of floaters. Truly, if you ever wanted to be an astronaut, or are curious of this topic, give Mary Roach a chance. The book is amazingly written, you’ll never be left to your own devices. She’ll explain everything, joke with you, lead you through it, give you more details, and you’ll have a hell of a time.

This was a fun read. It added to my previous read, Apollo 8 too, since it touched upon those missions, and that smuggled contraband in form of a beef sandwich. Mary Roach remains among my favorites, so this book gets a 5 out of 5 for sure.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: Funny!, Books: NonFiction, Science Books | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

science | “All That Remains” by Sue Black

1Author: Sue Black
Title: All That Remains
Series: –
Genre: Science, Memoir
Pages: 368
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I’m surprised and a little bit ashamed that I’ve not heard of this author before, or at least I don’t recall. This was a very curious read of a very intelligent person, an amazing woman, and her job.

About: The book presents a handful of various cases with information on them available in public domains. Sue Black chose these as the most memorable to her, and proceeds telling us about it, of what happened, why it happened if it’s know, what exactly was done, how it was solved, and so on. There’s always this personal touch to every story, vividly painted surroundings, respectful jokes, and tales of adventures. And the cases themselves range from kidnappings, dismembering, mass murder, war, or mass death due to natural disasters.

Mine: The information provided will never be dry or left unexplained. You don’t have to have any knowledge prior to read this, for I certainly don’t. Author is very meticulous, but very human too, so it’s always very interesting to read what she has to say, her insight, and details of cases too. I was glad to read of her views, the science behind it, and I’m just in general glad I got to reading this.

If I get my hands on any more works by Sue Black, I am absolutely reading it. This one gets 5 out of 5 and I very much so recommend to those who aren’t made uncomfortable by death. It’s okay if you are, though. We’ve all the right to our feelings.

Categories: 5-5, Biographies, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

nonfiction | “Apollo 8” by Jeffrey Kluger

2Author: Jeffrey Kluger
Title: Apollo 8
Series: –
Genre: History, Nonfiction
Pages: 320
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. I absolutely had no clue how does one become one, and the fact I’m from Eastern Europe likely didn’t help either. But hey, I’ve read all about space and universe that I could lay my hands upon. This, I guess, is a tribute to that kid that still kinda wants to be an astronaut.

About: Before Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong, the first man on the surface of the Moon, there was Apollo 1, Virgil Grissom, a blood curdling fire, and many, many more mistakes to come, with too many good men dead. But neither United States, nor the rest of the humanity were willing to give up just yet. So there was Apollo 2, and then Apollo 3… Up until Apollo 8, the first one to reach the Moon’s orbit. Approximately one third of the Earth’s population that had electricity and television available have been up and watching whatever footage there was. And this is the tale of those people they watched, their families, people on Earth who regulated the flight, and so on.

Mine: I love how this book is written. It’s always from third person, but very personal anyway. There you get to read a view from beside a wife of an astronaut, practically hear the child roll their eyes, because their dad is just an astronaut, no big deal, Billy’s dad is a fireman, now that’s a something! Merely because they grew up in this environment, with their old dad being an astronaut, with his old friends being astronauts. And over there you read from beside an engineer who is sweating bullets in dread, demanding tests ran on every single thing, every detail, in dread, in memory of that Apollo 1. And the moment it starts feeling too much like a fictional novel, a movie, author gives you all of the facts, all of the sources for the facts, and even audio recordings of the most important stuff.

The book is very well written. If you’ve any interest in how humanity finally stepped on the Moon, take this one. 5 out of 5 from me.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Historical Books | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

history | “A Brief History of the War of the Roses” by Desmond Seward

1.jpgAuthor: Desmond Seward
Title: A Brief History of the Wars of the Roses
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction, History
Pages: 320
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

Not gonna lie, sometimes, when reading history books on better known, closer countries, if I know little to nothing of what’s going on, other than the few most famous or infamous names: I feel like an utter idiot. Back in the day I really loved history. I even wanted to study it. But the want melted away, and never returned.

This is a very well written, not at all dry history book of fifteen century England. It reads like a book with a little extra facts, all the people feeling very realistic in a sense that they could be characters. During this period of time Yorks and Lancasters tore at each other for the crown, and this particular war was called War of Two Roses. Here author steps in again, and lets you know why’s that, and how it wasn’t very accurate, really. It’s really entertaining, and easy to follow.

An interesting book, as, I feel, history books should be. I’ve no clue of how accurate it is factually, but if you’re curious on the topic, I can recommend this book. In fact, I’ll give it a 5 out of 5, and will keep the author in mind, in case there’s more interesting history books he wrote.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Historical Books | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

nonfiction | “The Satanic Bible” by Anton Szandor LaVey

1Author: Anton Szandor LaVey
Title: The Satanic Bible
Series: –
Genre: Philosophy, Occult
Pages: 272
Rate: 3/5 | Goodreads

I remember the days when this book appeared. In Lithuania, it disappeared just as quickly, leaving a lot of strange young adults reeling, searching for it. I wasn’t one of them back then, but admittedly I was always curious about all religions. I think the problem was the predominantly god-fearing population I grew up in, never able to become part of it, because none of it made sense. Why would I fear a god who is all loving and forgiving? Why would he make someone this way, and then punish them for being this way? You get my meaning, right? Yet I forgot about this book up until AHS came out with Apocalypse, the Antichrist, and LaVey. So I figured I’ll serve the angsty goth teen that I was, and get this book for myself now.

About: The book right away agrees that yes, the doctrine could be called humanitarian philosophy, and not satanic religion. But that’s really the point. While it teaches you to be a better person, because it really does, believe you me, it also arms you. It arms you against the religion that likely dominates your surroundings, and finds a way to tell you you’re somehow wrong. It points out all the flaws in Christianity, and thus opposes it openly, acting like a sort of, well, for the lack of better word, adversary. For as long as Christianity stands, telling you that you should be afraid of God’s wrath, and thus should maybe sacrifice him a goat or something, there will stand a satanist, telling you the god on earth will never tell you to fear him, nor will he ever ask you to shed blood, because we’re all gods in our own way, and all life is to be respected, and not harmed.

But this great part is very short, likely, added together, no longer than one fourth or third of the book. The rest is translated Enochian texts, prayers, invocations and such.

Mine: It’s a great book that’ll tell you you need to love yourself, care for yourself, and respect others as much as they respect you. Meaning there’s no other cheek, get rid of toxic people from your life. It tells you that consent matters. It tells you that you’re not to be a dick. It tells you there’s no taboos if everyone consents. And then proceeds on telling you so very much about sex, how it should be free and available for all, how you need to seek what you want in it, fulfillment, and so on. I mean it’s all well and good, but I feel like if you’re not 14, you’ll be rolling your eyes at the overbearing emphasis here.

So, all in all, I’m glad I got this book, and that it showed me what this religion is all about. No, it’s not made to convert you, nor is it written in the biblical style either. It’s a very simple philosophy book, with a little too much of not so interesting stuff. So I give it a 3 out of 5, for while I’m glad I’ve read it, it felt like it was written for way younger people than myself, if you get my drift.

Categories: 3-5, Books of Occult, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Philosophy, Self | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

“Mafia Prince” by Phil Leonetti

1.jpgAuthor: Phil Leonetti, Scott Burnstein, Christopher Graziano
Title: Mafia Prince
Series: –
Genre: Biography, True Crime
Pages: 328
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I read this book twice, for I really wanted to make sure I understood what has happened, and how it all went down. It’s a beautiful story of a personal evolution. Ability to grow above the life you seemingly were born into.

About: This is a beautiful dark story of an often romanticized topic: Mafia. Little Nicky Scarfo ruled Philly’s Mafia Family, La Cosa Nostra, this thing of ours. Under his rule everyone got out of their way, for these people, this mob, was ruthless and cruel. On some incidence a man took his own life in fear they came to brutally murder him, even though it was a mere chance. Scarfo’s nephew, Crazy Phil Leonetti ruled as his second in command, earning his name as the crazy one, following the rules obediently, putting Family above all else, including his own son. But as time went by, and good men, loyal men died for mere fact his uncle thought they were too proud of the job they did under his orders, Phil started questioning him as the boss, and the whole structure too. And he wasn’t the only one tired of a ruthless, paranoid boss.

Mine: I greatly respect people who are able to rise above their given life. Phil Leonetti is a great example of it. Born into Mob to be as good as the Prince of Crime, he obeyed, he lived it, he breathed it, and he killed for it. But he evolved when the chance presented itself, and made sure his own son didn’t have to belong the way he did. He got out when he could, and took anyone willing and able with him, in a sense. Once he saw the stupidity behind aggression, he did his best to straighten himself, and build a better life, outside of the crime for himself and his family. I wish them all luck in it.

It’s a good book, good new perspective. Mafia is not Sopranos. It’s brutal, horrible, and death is easy. Being trigger happy will not keep you safe, loyalty will not keep you safe, for nobody is ever safe in a life like that. 5 out of 5, and then a few extra points for the final word of Leonetti.

Categories: 5-5, Biographies, Books: Everything, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NonFiction | “Discipline Equals Freedom” by Jocko Willink

1Author: Jocko Willink
Title: Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction, Self Help
Pages: 189
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

Don’t know about you, but I always need an extra kick as December creeps in. November is just such a meh month. So I picked up the shortest book by my favorite motivator, Jocko Willink, and learned me some things.

About: The book goes through three points of your health. The mind, motivation, mentality, and that little evil voice that tries to sabotage you, by telling you you’ve done enough, rest now. The food, what you eat, how that affects your body. And, of course, the physique, discipline of working out. Author is straight forward, there will be no coddling, but he’s not going to be mean to you either. He’ll teach you exactly how to catch yourself sabotaging your own work and, hopefully, you’ll apply it. Because you might not be able to do all the workouts he so extensively described here. But in his own words, you surely can do something. So do something. Do anything. Do.

Mine: I like how Jocko Willink found that golden middle between patting your shoulder, and outright kicking your butt. He’ll tell you you can do it. He’ll tell you you will do it. And he’ll also tell you, that if you think that you can’t, you’re lying to yourself, so do more. On purpose, out of principle, do more, beat that little voice, because you can, and you will. And I love it. There was a little too much of work-out routine descriptions, and since I don’t know all the English terms for them, I skimmed over most. But I did love how he explained the usage of such physical activity. Mind you, though, I live with manic depression. This book reads very different while depressed, and while not. So if you didn’t like it at some point in life, give it another shot. Good luck, and hang in there.

It was a healthy read, and indeed has got me going with motivation and want to do more. We’ll see if I can stop sabotaging myself. This one gets a 4 out of 5 from me, but I admit, I am curious about what other ones might be like.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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