Biographies

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

book review | Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein

tokyo vice jake adelstein japan crime book coverAuthor: Jake Adelstein
Title: Tokyo Vice
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir
Pages: 335
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

Ah, I wish I knew how good Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein is sooner. For it fell down my TBR list quite a few times. But hey, I got to it at last, and it’s better later than never!

About the Book: Jake learns Japanese and moves there in pursuit for journalist career. The rules are different there, and the book picks up the pace here, setting up an amusing tune of this white jewish man jumping traditions and politeness hoops in a foreign country. All that said, work goes well, including the whole structure of building relationships with co-workers, sources, cops… Which can get quite costly.

One day a yakuza contacts him, letting him know that Jake’s name was mentioned in trustworthiness context. This is where the story starts getting darker, for Jake gets to see beyond Love Hotels, Hostess clubs, where people dress up for you, to be your best friend until you run out of money. Beyond that there’s dark, gritty, nightmarish web of debt, loan sharks, human trafficking, and destroyed lives.

My Opinion: This is a very, very masterfully written book. With facts, memories, experiences  woven into one smooth if nightmarish tale. Don’t know about you, but Japan to me was always that dream country, something exotic and far, far away, so very different from anything we know here. But truth is much more simple. Yes, there’s differences. Yes, there’s plenty of pros, pluses. But there’s just as many cons, minuses. Just as in any country.

A very good book. Reminded me of this one I read long ago called “Yakuza Moon“. This one gets a 5 out of 5. And no, it is not made to slander. Merely a country this journalist lived in, a place where he found this, and was in a position to make a difference, no matter how small.

Categories: 5-5, Biographies, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, mafia, murder, True Crime 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

“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

Shane Dawson “It Gets Worse: A Collection of Essays”

3Oddly, second collection of memoir essays by Shane Dawson, “It Gets Worse” (ISBN 1501132857; 256p.; Goodreads) was, well, worse. Ironically, because it didn’t get any worse: I feel like he already told the darkest stories in his previous book. But that being said, I still did enjoy reading it, I am absolutely happy that I did, and if there’d be a third one, I’d read it too.

This time stories revolve on three main topics: dealing with new knowledge of sexual orientation; paranormal activities due to dead loving grandma; becoming a film director. The first topic lead to some fine stories of terrifying world of dating apps, kind strangers, and self-acceptance. I like how there’s the common theme for likely a lot of people with the less common sexual orientations: once you figure out what is it, it shines light on your whole life experience so far. Shane, too, seemingly figured a lot of things of why it was the way it was. Second topic scared the living hell out of me, for I have no reason to think people lie when they tell stories like that. Avoid reading stories about his grandma at night. Nightmares for days. And the third topic, my favorite, was of him breaking free as a film director. Shane’s humor is definitely not for everyone, and sometimes those who encouraged it to blossom, end up misunderstanding everything the most.

So, all in all, it’s worth reading both of these books, they’re good. Shane’s a very interesting person, and I’m happy that he’s finding happiness, little by little. I’ll give this book a 4 out of 5, for it lacked a little. But as I said before, if there’d be more, I’d read more.

Categories: 4-5, Biographies, Books: Everything, Books: Funny! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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