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Book Review: The Birth of Loud

The Birth of Loud tells the story of Fender versus Les Paul, how they each got their starts and how they came to end up creating their now well known guitars.  It was 42 chapters and a lot of drama and very interesting.  I don’t know much about guitars so it was interesting to read about how they were creating them and what materials they were using and what kind of tones they were hoping to achieve out of them.  It was also interesting to read that Gibson had denied the idea that was brought to them for one of the guitars!   Also interesting was how Les Paul was give a Fender to try out – even though the two were kind of competitors and enemies.

Definitely a really interesting musical read.  I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.  This book was released January 15, 2019 through Scribner.

About the Book

A riveting saga in the history of rock ‘n’ roll: the decades-long rivalry between the two men who innovated the electric guitar’s amplified sound—Leo Fender and Les Paul—and their intense competition to convince rock stars like the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton to play the instruments they built.

In the years after World War II, music was evolving from big-band jazz into the primordial elements of rock ’n’ roll—and these louder styles demanded revolutionary instruments. When Leo Fender’s tiny firm marketed the first solid-body electric guitar, the Esquire, musicians immediately saw its appeal. Not to be out-maneuvered, Gibson, the largest guitar manufacturer, raced to build a competitive product. The company designed an “axe” that would make Fender’s Esquire look cheap and convinced Les Paul—whose endorsement Leo Fender had sought—to put his name on it. Thus was born the guitar world’s most heated rivalry: Gibson versus Fender, Les versus Leo.

While Fender was a quiet, half-blind, self-taught radio repairman from rural Orange County, Paul was a brilliant but egomaniacal pop star and guitarist who spent years toying with new musical technologies. Their contest turned into an arms race as the most inventive musicians of the 1950s and 1960s—including bluesman Muddy Waters, rocker Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton—adopted one maker’s guitar or another. By the time Jimi Hendrix played “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969 on his Fender Stratocaster, it was clear that electric instruments—Fender or Gibson—had launched music into a radical new age, empowering artists with a vibrancy and volume never before attainable.

Book Review: U2

U2 is rock-and-roll royalty. U2: The Definitive Biography is the first unauthorized biography of the band to document their career. The book contains previously unpublished photographs and interviews with the band’s friends and business associates.  It also goes into the bands humanitarian work.

I’m not a huge U2 fan so while there are some myths about the band “debunked”, I really didn’t know there were myths to begin with.  This book goes pretty in depth with the history, from the band just starting out to more present day.

The photos included in the middle of the book are pretty fantastic, beginning with photos of Bono when he was 15 or 16 years old!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.  This book was released May 8, 2018 by Thistle Publishing.

About the Book

John Jobling takes readers beyond the myth in this unauthorized biography to present the first comprehensive account of the illustrious Irish rockers in 25 years. Drawing on extensive interviews with insiders including record label scouts, studio presidents, politicians, music critics, and childhood friends, Jobling investigates the U2’s most personal relationships and controversial business practices, delivering a vivid portrait that traces the rock phenomenon from its conception to post-punk champions to political crusaders. Filled with captivating revelations, reader will learn:

– How Bono, the Edge, and Larry Mullen, Jr. worshiped with a Charismatic Christian church that practiced speaking in tongues during the band’s early days

– Insider stories of the genesis and recording of classic albums such as The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby

– Creative tensions within the band and power struggles among management

– How the disappointments of the Rattle and Hum film and PopMart Tour spurred the band to greater creative heights

– Both the successes and controversies of Bono’s wide-sweeping philanthropic and political ventures

– The disconnect between the band’s personal lives and public personas

Sure to inspire debate with every music lover, U2: The Definitive Biography humanizes the band and paints an honest picture of a band’s rise to the top, plunging into the heart and underlying soul of this iconic rock and roll band.

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Book Review: It’s a Question of Space

It’s a Question of Space is an astronaut, Clayton C. Anderson, who lived in space for 167 days answering questions sent to him via social media about what it’s like to be in space and be an astronaut. Growing up I always wanted to be an astronaut so I was drawn to this book to find out what it would really be like.  There’s also a fun mention of Lance Bass in the book, so that is always a plus.

This was a very interesting read and I liked it as a Q&A moreso than just a book to read through since if I wasn’t particularly interested in a question (though I will admit there weren’t many of those) I could just skip over it to the next question.  I learned a lot and really enjoyed this book!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated. This book was released July 1, 2018 from University of Nebraska Press.

About the Book

Having spent over 150 days on his first tour of the International Space Station, it’s safe to say that Clayton C. Anderson knows a thing or two about space travel. Now retired and affectionately known as “Astro Clay” by his many admirers on social media and the Internet, Anderson has fielded thousands of questions over the years about spaceflight, living in space, and what it’s like to be an astronaut. Written with honesty and razor-sharp wit, It’s a Question of Space gathers Anderson’s often humorous answers to these questions and more in a book that will beguile young adults and space buffs alike.

Covering topics as intriguing as walking in space, what astronauts are supposed to do when they see UFOs, and what role astronauts play in espionage, Anderson’s book is written in an accessible question-and-answer format that covers nearly all aspects of life in space imaginable. From living in zero gravity to going to the bathroom up there, It’s a Question of Space leaves no stone unturned in this witty firsthand account of life as an astronaut.

Book Review: Mascot Nation

Mascot Nation focuses on the controversy over Native American Representation in Sports.  To be honest I watch a decent amount of sports but have never really thought about how Native Americans are represented especially at the mascot level.  I know that news picks up every now and then about wanting to change some of the mascots to something different, but change never really seems to happen.  This book goes into more detail about that and how there are polls that seem to be skewed to say that Native Americans aren’t offended by it – and if they aren’t, why should anyone else be? But most of these polls taken can’t prove that only those voting were Native Americans.

This book focuses more on the academics of the issue and it definitely opened my eyes a bit and will have me looking at this controversy in a different way now.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.  This book was released October 8, 2018 through University of Illinois Press.

About the Book

The issue of Native American mascots in sports raises passions but also a raft of often-unasked questions. Which voices get a hearing in an argument? What meanings do we ascribe to mascots? Who do these Indians and warriors really represent?

Andrew C. Billings and Jason Edward Black go beyond the media bluster to reassess the mascot controversy. Their multi-dimensional study delves into the textual, visual, and ritualistic and performative aspects of sports mascots. Their original research, meanwhile, surveys sports fans themselves on their thoughts when a specific mascot faces censure. The result is a book that merges critical-cultural analysis with qualitative data to offer an innovative approach to understanding the camps and fault lines on each side of the issue, the stakes in mascot debates, whether common ground can exist and, if so, how we might find it.


Andrew C. Billings is a professor and Ronald Reagan Chair of Broadcasting in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media at the University of Alabama. He is the coauthor of Olympic Television: Broadcasting the Biggest Show on Earth and Media and the Coming Out of Gay Male Athletes in American Team Sports. Jason Edward Black is chair and a professor of communication studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is a coeditor of Decolonizing Native American Rhetoric: Communicating Self-Determination, the author of American Indians and the Rhetoric of Removal and Allotment, and a coeditor of An Archive of Hope: Harvey Milk’s Speeches and Writings.

Book Review: How To Date Men When You Hate Men

I was really looking forward to reading How to Date Men When You Hate Men.   Except that the book ended up being not at all what I was expecting and it ended up taking me forever to actually finish it.  As someone who is using dating apps and is ‘over it’ and definitely in a state of ‘hating’ men… I thought I would be able to relate more to the book and was looking to laugh a little bit more with someone who is dealing with the same crap that I am.  Except it doesn’t seem like the author is dealing with the same crap at all (yet all my friends using the apps seem to be) and she is actually going out with guys but then kind of seems to write off that it isn’t a date.  *shrugs*  The plus was in the end she didn’t reveal that she had found a guy that she was dating, that would have just been a stab in the heart if it was how it ended.  There were a few things that hit home and made me laugh but for the most part I felt like this book missed the mark.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated. This book was released January 8, 2019 from Flatiron Books.

About the Book

Book Review: Girls Resist!

Girls Resist! is an activism handbook for girls who want to try and make some change in the world.  One of the ways to fight back mentioned in the book was to see what kind of unconscious bias you have. I took the Career & Family test and was told “Your data suggests a moderate automatic association for Male with Career and Female with Family.”  Some of the others I took did not give me the answers I “expected” to get.  You can see your biases for yourself at!

At the end of each chapter where it discusses an issue that girls might face, there is always a way to “fight back!” listed and ways to do it and be involved within your community to help fix some of these issues.

I think this book is a great read for young girls who might feel like they don’t matter and their voice is not being heard. It gives a lot of ways to help get them to realize that they do matter and they can be heard as well as some ways to get out there and resist!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.  This book was released on August 7, 2018 from Quirk Books.

About the Book

An activism handbook for teen girls ready to fight for change, social justice, and equality.

Take on the world and make some serious change with this handbook to everything activism, social justice, and resistance. With in-depth guides to everything from picking a cause, planning a protest, and raising money to running dispute-free meetings, promoting awareness on social media, and being an effective ally, Girls Resist! will show you how to go from “mad as heck about the way the world is going” to “effective leader who gets stuff done.” Veteran feminist organizer KaeLyn Rich shares tons of expertise that’ll inspire you as much as it teaches you the ropes. Plus, quotes and tips from fellow teen girl activists show how they stood up for change in their communities. Grab this handbook to crush inequality, start a revolution, and resist!

Book Review: Girl Boner

Girl boner is geared towards ‘good girls’ seeking sexual empowerment.  There are journal exercises throughout the book and stories from abuse victims as well as ways to self are and pointers on sex positions.  It seems like a woman’s pleasure is always an after thought to the man’s, so this book helps educate the women and hopefully help make their sex lifes a little bit more pleasurable.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

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Book Review: Fantastic Failures

Fantastic Failures is all about people who have changed the world – but not without falling down first.  Some of the names that you will probably recognize that are included in this book include – Harry Potter author JK Rowling, Media superstar Oprah, movie director Steven Speilberg, NASA brain Katherine Johnson… The moral of the story is, be persistent and keep trying.  Fall down 7 times, stand up 8.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  Just think of all the things we would not have if the people in this book gave up after their first attempt didn’t go as they had planned for it to!


I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Even the most well-known people have struggled to succeed! Find out what they learned and how they turned their failures into triumphs with this engaging and youthful guide on how to succeed long term.

There is a lot of pressure in today’s society to succeed, but failing is a part of learning how to be a successful person. In his teaching career, Luke Reynolds saw the stress and anxiety his students suffered over grades, fitting in, and getting things right the first time. Fantastic Failures helps students learn that their mistakes and failures do not define their whole lives, but help them grow into their potential.

Kids will love learning about some of the well-known people who failed before succeeding and will come to understand that failure is a large component of success. With stories from people like J. K. Rowling, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Sonia Sotomayor, Vincent Van Gogh, Julia Child, Steven Spielberg, and Betsy Johnson, each profile proves that the greatest mistakes and flops can turn into something amazing. Intermixed throughout the fun profiles, Reynolds spotlights great inventors and scientists who discovered and created some of the most important medicines, devices, and concepts of all time, including lifesaving vaccines and medicines that were stumbled upon by mistake.


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Book Review: We Are The Nerds

We Are The Nerds tells the story of the birth and tumultuous life of REDDIT, the Internet’s culture laboratory.  It may be a surprise to many, but I do not spend much time on reddit at all.  I am aware of what it is and I know a ton of people who spend hours there checking everything out but for whatever reason it never really clicked as a place for me to check out. However, I am a nerd and I am all about the internet and making webpages and apps and the like so getting to read a bit about how everything behind the scenes went down before the site was created and then trying to figure out how to balance its popularity as well as know what to censor and what not to censor was really interesting to me.  A lot of fun stories from behind the scenes, some sad ones as well.  I learned a lot, even if it did seem to take me forever and a day to actually end up finishing the book. (Where has all my free time gone!? No wonder why I have no time for reddit…)

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

A riveting look inside Reddit, the wildly popular, often misunderstood website, whose intensely-engaged users have changed the culture of the Internet–“a must-read for anyone hoping to make sense of the century ahead” (Ashlee Vance, bestselling author of Elon Musk).

Reddit hails itself as “the front page of the Internet.” It’s the third most-visited website in the United States–and yet, millions of Americans have no idea what it is.

We Are the Nerds is an engrossing look deep inside this captivating, maddening enterprise, whose army of obsessed users have been credited with everything from solving cold case crimes and spurring tens of millions of dollars in charitable donations to seeding alt-right fury and landing Donald Trump in the White House. We Are the Nerds is a gripping start-up narrative: the story of how Reddit’s founders, Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, rose up from their suburban childhoods to become millionaires and create an icon of the digital age–before seeing the site engulfed in controversies and nearly losing control of it for good.

Based on Christine Lagorio-Chafkin’s exclusive access to founders Ohanian and Huffman, We Are the Nerds is also a compelling exploration of the way we all communicate today–and how we got here. Reddit and its users have become a mirror of the Internet: it has dingy corners, shiny memes, malicious trolls, and a sometimes heart-melting ability to connect people across cultures, oceans, and ideological divides.

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Book Review: Widespread Panic in the Streets of Athens, Georgia

Widespread Panic in the Streets of Athens, Georgia is all about a concert that was held there back in 1998 and referred to as “Panic in the Streets”.  This book is not really a biography of the event, but instead a recount with stories from people who were there.  This was not a casual event, people didn’t just show up, it was all planned.  There even was a wedding at the concert!  This concert opened the door and brought a lot more music festivals to Athens and it still being talked about 20 years later!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

In April 1998, legendary southern jam band Widespread Panic held a free open-air record release show in downtown Athens, Georgia, its homebase. No one involved could have known that the predicted crowd of twenty thousand would prove to be nearly five times that size. The ultimately successful show, now known as “Panic in the Streets,” went on to become a cult favorite of Panic fans and a decisive moment in Athens music history. This event still holds the record for the world’s largest record release party, but the full story of how the event came to be has not been told until now.

Widespread Panic in the Streets of Athens, Georgia places readers at the historic event, using in-depth investigation and interviews with the band, city officials, and “Spread Heads” who were there. Told as much as possible in real time, music journalist Gordon Lamb’s narrative takes the reader from conception to aftermath and uncovers the local controversies and efforts that nearly stopped the show from happening altogether.

This deeply researched and richly sourced book follows every stage of the concert’s development from the spark of an idea to approximately one hundred thousand people from all over the world packing the streets of a legendary music town. Taking us back to 1990s Athens through vibrant, on-the-scene writing, Lamb gives us the story of a band on the verge of greatness and a town reckoning with its significant place in music history.


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