Biographies

book review | The Club King by Peter Gatien

The Club King Peter Gatien Rise Reign Fall new york nightlifeAuthor: Peter Gatien
Title: The Club King
Series: –
Genre: Memoir; Nonfiction
Pages: 246
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I love biographies of club owners who made it before 2000s. It’s always interesting to peek behind the curtain of scripted danger and/or curated freedom. “The Club King: My Rise, Reign and Fall in New York Nightlife” by Peter Gatien is one of the better examples of such memoirs.

About the Book: Poor childhood, an accident that left the boy without an eye, and a personality he built out of this all. A well defined path, with clear cut offs around what’s “not for him“. This lead to the mysterious club owner with an eye patch, a series of well known club names, firm hand on the nightlife, and dizzying heights that came with it. Peter Gatien helped shape the nightlife as we know it.

My Opinion: Author has a very interesting personality. Had he not reigned himself in when he had to, the tale would’ve been short and sad. Had he not cared for the people who worked for him as much as he did – possibly same would’ve happened too. Instead, he built visions, took calculated risks, and boldly marched ahead of the trends, setting them in stone for all I know, seeing how the last glimpses of clubs he described sounds so familiar still. It’s a great book of what smart determination can bring you, and just how much work it takes outside of “dreaming big”, if nothing else.

A great book. Firm 5 out of 5.

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

book review | Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff

charlie leduff detroit an american autopsy we are aliveAuthor: Charlie LeDuff
Title: Detroit: An American Autopsy
Series: –
Genre: History; Memoir
Pages: 304
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

Digging into my nonfiction folder I’ve discovered “Detroit: An American Autopsy” by Charlie LeDuff. And it’s a very fine memoir.

About the Book: This is a memoir of a journalist and his city. Passionate, angry, full of determined home. Hope that something can be done, and determination to do all he can, as a journalist, knocking on all the doors, ringing all the damned bells, to reach someone, anyone, to help the living people in Detroit. A city where fires never cease for arson is cheaper than a movie. Where people rarely call the cops, and cops, in return, rarely come.

My Opinion: I know nothing of the Detroit as it is today, but if even half the good people described in this book got to something, I’m sure it’s a beautiful place to be. Author describes the crimes, the life, life and death in Detroit, the constant fires, and unreported bodies. And the good people within that do everything they can, people who don’t take life for granted, and try their best to get the most from it not just for themselves, but their family, their neighbor. You can feel the beating heart in these dark stories.

It’s a very fine piece. Probably not for everyone, but I can give a solid 5 out of 5.

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

book review | A Confession by Leo Tolstoy

leo tolstoy a confessionAuthor: Leo Tolstoy
Title: A Confession
Series: –
Genre: Philosophy; Classics
Pages: 108
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

Figured, it’s not a bad time to tidy up those book shelves, and sort them out and away after this whole nasty shebang is over. As a result, I kinda need to read at least some of them. So I began with the shortest one there was, “A Confession” by Leo Tolstoy. How he had faith, lost it, sought it, and found it again.

About the Book: In this short biographical work of philosophy author describes his life nuances that one way or another steered him away from faith. How it affected and even eroded his life, what were the consequences of that, and how he sought after the meaning of life via this prism of faithlessness or godlessness, however you want to call it. He found answers through very deep digging and process of elimination, and, depending on how you view this book, they’re interesting.

My Opinion: I am not religious, at all. But this book, as I said, depending on how you view it, can be very good. Basically, Leo Tolstoy lost the meaning of life and went out to find it again. On his way, deducting answers that didn’t fit the bigger picture, he managed to find a path: life can only be defined around one self, for only your life is in your hands in such a sense that you can only be responsible for your own actions and choices. Taking this in, the answer to the age old question “why ware we here?” becomes clearer: because we are, they say. We are, because we are. So if we indeed are just because, and our life can only be defined around ourselves, does that not clearly point to what’s the meaning of life, after all? If you are just to be, and your being is defined by you, then your meaning of life is… Whatever you make it to be.

It’s a pleasant thought, and a nice short read to that. A 4 out of 5; though I think I need a new scale or system when rating biographies or otherwise biographical works.

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

book review | Letters from an Astrophysicist by Neil deGrasse Tyson

4 Astrophysicist_Mech_r5.inddAuthor: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Title: Letters from an Astrophysicist
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction; Science
Pages: 247
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

I have no clue where I got “Letters from an Astrophysicist” by Neil deGrasse Tyson from. But since I needed something short, I took it, and read it. It is, as the title suggests, a book of letters from people, and author’s replies to them.

About the Book: Letters vary from kind fan mail, to questions, to pointing out of mistakes, to young people writing in search for motivation to do what they love. And then there’s the hate mail, accusations, and outright insults. But author keeps face, responds as appropriate, by letter, paragraph, or just a little sentence, and is mostly respectful even with the worst. All except for one or two who really made fools of themselves with their denseness. It’s much more fun to read than one would imagine reading someones letters might be.

My Opinion: The book provides food for thought, lots of interesting little and big facts, and this kind little push to not be afraid to make mistakes, be different, and just outright learn.

A good book for a lazy evening without wasting time too much. A solid 4 out of 5, because it was a bit too short. Now, if it was a series of books with letters…

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

book review | Naturally Tan by Tan France

Tan France Naturally Tan Queer EyeAuthor: Tan France
Title: Naturally Tan
Series: –
Genre: Biography; LGBT+ Literature
Pages: 304
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

I was pretty much a kid when the first, old Queer Eye came out, teaching me about choosing right clothing sizes, and hair care. When new Queer Eye came out on Netflix, I got through all I could as fast I could, for it was even better than the old one. So now I’m reading host bio’s, starting with Naturally Tan by Tan France.

About the Book: Tan tells us of his life and what it was like growing up a gay brown boy from a Muslim family in Britain. It’s not easy now, so it wasn’t easy then. But he persevered, and managed to find happiness, joy, and even a wild streak, as say the one that got him on a plane to New York with his friends, his parents none the wiser. He got through many jobs until he finally landed the one in Queer Eye. How that happened, and some very fun behind the scenes of the show are all in the book too.

My Opinion: Tan is a very dear and wonderful person. The book worth the time, for at the very least you’ll learn more about style and the show that you love.

A firm 4 out of 5 from me, with hopes that there’ll be another book someday.

Categories: 4-5, Biographies, Books: Everything, Books: LGBT, Books: NonFiction, LGBTQ+ Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Something in the Blood by David J. Skal | Dracula lit.

Something In The Blood David J Skal Dracula Bram StokerAuthor: David J. Skal
Title: Something in the Blood
Series: –
Genre: Biography; Nonfiction
Pages: 672
Rate: 3/5 | Goodreads

My final book on Dracula this year. I followed this resolution of one Dracula book a month fairly loosely, reading books where Dracula was a mere secondary character or, like in “Something in the Blood” by David J. Skal – a product. But all in all this was a strange and fun challenge that got me enjoy one of my most favorite topics. Sadly, this book wasn’t so great of an end to it.

About the Book: David J. Skal attempts to tell us about Bram Stoker’s life, his bed-ridden childhood and an illness of seven years that mysteriously went away. Of his a tad odd family, his work in literature and theater. How vampire Count Dracula came to be, and what he became, evolving through the years, outliving the author himself.

My Opinion: This was supposed to be a biography of Bram Stoker with great interest in Dracula, as title would imply. Instead it was a biography of any and all, sometimes in very great long-winded detail, gothic horror author of Stoker’s times. Sometimes the connection was clear, other times we got to read of a friend’s wife and her life after her husband has died. It’s interesting if you’re curious of how one was supposed to navigate the nuances of literature in Victorian England to not end up in jail. But if you’re just here for Bram, this is too heavy of a book to read.

The book is spread too wide to only have Bram Stoker’s face on the cover. I give it a 3 out of 5 for what was a very heavy and hefty read. If you just want Bram Stoker’s biography, read the authors word at the back of “Dracul” book by Dacre Stoker.

Categories: 3-5, Biographies, Books: Dracula, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Hollywood Godfather by Gianni Russo | memoir

hollywood godfather gianni russo gangster mobsterAuthor: Gianni Russo
Title: Hollywood Godfather
Series: –
Genre: Memoir; True Crime
Pages: 304
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

While “Hollywood Godfather” by Gianni Russo has its own issues and problems, deriving mostly from the times it all took place in, and the inequality dominating the masses back then, the story itself was a fascinating read.

About the Book: If you’re wondering where you’ve heard the name or seen the face – Carlo Rizzi from Godfather, and many more. A real life mobster in a movie about mobsters, and he wasn’t even the only one. Gianni Russo tells us in detail how the movie got produced, what events took place, and what people got to be in it. Being a business man at the core, he also mentions what markup he made on soda cans he was selling to the crews. From estrangement with his parents, to first business ventures re-selling pens, to meeting a mobster who’ll become a father figure, to making it in the world. Gianni Russo leaves us with words: “yes, you can“, so if you needed any more motivation…

My Opinion: It was funny to read about the need to fake danger for the bright stars rubbing shoulders with mobsters, wanting to imagine they’re part of this thrilling world. From trash bags filled with newspapers, to introductions. Even more fun was to read about all the people Gianni Russo knew, such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and so on, what where they like. There’s many historical events too, mob orchestrated happenings involving politicians, assassinations, and such. And while I wish he would’ve spoken out about some issues, instead of just glossing over them, I enjoyed the book, and the people I get to know in it. Some things will never look the same ever again.

I never know how to rate a memoir. It’s one thing to rate a creation, a whole other to rate someone’s life. So, taking in writing, and how captivating it was, I give it a 5 out of 5.

 

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

book review | Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

permanent record edward snowden book cover biographyAuthor: Edward Snowden
Title: Permanent Record
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction; Biography
Pages: 352
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

Edward Snowden with his biography “Permanent Record” is here to remind us all how deep in “1984” by George Orwell plot we are. It’s am amazing book, and also very scary one too.

About the Book: The Internet as we knew it has long as changed. They bribed us with convenience, taking our anonymity online. And if we want it back, we have to jump loops, like start using Tor browser. But, let’s face it, we’re slaves to habits and comfort, and we’ll use what we’re used to using. This way further becoming a commodity with illusion of invisibility behind a keyboard. From the smartphone in your pocket, to Alexa or Siri awaiting instructions in the corner of your very home. And here’s how it happened…

My Opinion: You could say that such tracking is more likely a thing in US, or other countries that aren’t as nice as yours when it comes to human rights. But this is why you need this book, for such thinking merely means you no longer notice how many things reach us from exactly the places that monitor us. From the device you’re reading this on, to the software used for it, to the browser you’ll open, and likely, to the page you’re going to enter in it. This way we become commodities no matter where we are: from a company that wants to sell you socks, to the company who wants you to buy it with your card, to whoever wants you to enter all of those digits into those slots. Hopefully though this book will scare you as much as it scared me. And, at the very least, you will fight for your rights to not be monitored the next time people with lack of understanding of what a smartphone is will decide what we’re allowed to share on the internet. We’ve lost one battle already, and I do hope you know how to use VPN.

It’s a great book that I highly recommend to everyone. 5 out of 5 from me. Thank You, Edward Snowden.

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

book review | American Kingpin by Nick Bilton

american kingin silk road nick biltonAuthor: Nick Bilton
Title: American Kingpin
Series: –
Genre: True Crime; Biography
Pages: 328
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

Everyone has likely heard of the Dark Web. Possibly even the Silk Road on it, one of the most notorious sites on the other side of the internet. American Kingpin by Nick Bilton is a book about its creator, biography of a man who made a dark market place so resilient, it still exists, even after his imprisonment for life.

About the Book: Dark Web is a strange and, well, dark place. And yet we’re separated from it by a mere browser and a few clicks. But most of us spend all our lives unaware of this Other Side, let alone venturing into it. In the end, that’s really the point: to remain invisible, unmonitored, anonymous. Ross Ulbricht was merely one of the many people with questionable morals, who found a way and justification to exploit the human need for the forbidden, the dangerous, and the illegal. According to him, a government has no right to tell us what we put in our bodies, we ought to remain autonomous over it. And yet substance fitting excuses evolved to accommodate such things as weapons, organs, and even suicide kits, manuals and all.

And while Ross was eventually found and imprisoned for life, Silk Road remains active and is now known as the most resilient dark market place on the whole Dark Web.

My Opinion: Let me just clarify right now: not only do I not suggest you go see for yourself, I very much suggest you don’t. Your safety depends on more than just a browser, believe you me. Rather, read this book first and see what little, minuscule things have finally brought this Kingpin down and brought FBI to his doorstep. As for the book itself, it’s good. Clever writing will not bore those who are familiar with the tale, and will ease in, and entertain those who had no clue such a place existed or could even be possible.

It’s a good book I could recommend for the mere fact of how well it portrays our fragility of safety online. 4 out of 5, solid.

Categories: 4-5, Biographies, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

book review | Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

julie and julia powel book coverAuthor: Julie Powell
Title: Julie and Julia
Series: –
Genre: Memoir; Nonfiction
Pages: 310
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I love Julie and Julia movie, it’s my favorite thing to have playing in the background, even if it is an exception to the rule of what mostly fills the air around me. So when my slightly melted brain realized the movie is based on Julie Powell memoir, I hurried to rectify my mistake.

About the Book: Julie Powell was going through a mental crisis in her life when a glimpse in the horizon made her stop a moment. It was Julia Child’s cookbook, full of recipes and memories of cooking with her mother at home. So she set herself a goal: all 524 recipes, tried, tested, completed, and blogged about. All in a year. She made herself a goal, creating herself a purpose, and exiting the stormy sea that sometimes is life. It got me thinking, actually, what if that’s the true meaning of life, eh? To set yourself a goal. For, and I’m sure many would agree, the darkness tends to lift when there’s something to move forwards to. And, in Julie’s case, it was a fantastic tale of a year full of food, mistakes, nightmares, joys, celebration…

My Opinion: You really don’t need to know the author or her blog beforehand. Personally I don’t even like cooking, nor anything about cooking, unless it’s Asian kitchen, that one fascinates me. So why did I like it so much, you’d ask? Well, because it’s a tale, a true tale, no less, of a person who decided to move forwards, even if the dot in the horizon was really nothing, a trick of light. If you’re not sold, I suggest you watch the movie, I think it’s on Netflix too, this way you’ll know for sure whether you’ll like it or not.

A good book with no need of prior knowledge to enjoy. A firm 5 out of 5!

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

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