Posted in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

REVIEW: No Encore!: Musicians Reveal Their Weirdest, Wildest, Most Embarrassing Gigs by Drew Fortune

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*Heads Up That There’s Discussions of Drug Use*

This hilarious, sometimes horrifying, collection spans four decades and chronicles the craziest, druggiest, and most embarrassing concert moments in music history—direct from the artists who survived them.

From wardrobe malfunctions to equipment failures, from bad decisions to even worse choices, this is a riveting look into what happens when things go wrong onstage and off.

No Encore! is an unflinchingly honest account of the shows that tested the dedication to a dream—from Alice Cooper’s python having a violent, gastric malfunction on stage to Lou Barlow’s disastrous attempt to sober up at Glastonbury, from Shirley Manson’s desperate search for a bathroom to the extraordinary effort made to awaken Al Jourgenson as Ministry was taking the stage. As Hunter S. Thompson famously wrote, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

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I think music holds a special place in everyone’s life, no matter whether you listen to whatever is on the radio or if you are an aspiring musician yourself. Sometimes we fall in love with a singer or a band and can forget that they are people too. I know I have talked a couple of times about my favorite band Rascal Flatts and I have had to remind myself that even these people you look up to make mistakes too. They may be big mistakes or small mistakes, but at the end of the day, they’re human as well.

I found No Encore! to be an entertaining read. I am not familiar with the world of rock n roll as I think the target audience is. There’s only a small handful of names I recognized.

Even knowing that, I think No Encore! is a must-read for any music fan. There’s plenty of stories that will make you bust out laughing. If your local library also has this book, then you can just read the tales you want and still get a good feel for the collection as a whole. 

I would highly recommend this collection for music lovers and fans of any of the musicians or bands in this anthology. These stories are worth the read and are a love-letter to the fans.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

REVIEW: The Last Book on the Left: Stories of Murder and Mayhem from History’s Most Notorious Serial Killers by Marcus Parks, Ben Kissel, and Henry Zebrowski

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Since its first show in 2010, The Last Podcast on the Left has barreled headlong into all things horror, as hosts Henry Zebrowski, Ben Kissel, and Marcus Parks cover subjects spanning Jeffrey Dahmer, werewolves, Jonestown, and supernatural phenomena. Deeply researched but with a morbidly humorous bent, the podcast has earned a dedicated and aptly cult-like following for its unique take on all things macabre.

In their first book, the guys take a deep dive into history’s most infamous serial killers, from Ted Bundy to John Wayne Gacy, exploring their origin stories, haunting habits, and perverse predilections. Featuring newly developed content alongside updated fan favorites, each profile is an exhaustive examination of the darker side of human existence. With appropriately creepy four-color illustrations throughout and a gift-worthy paper overboard format, The Last Book on the Left will satisfy the bloodlust of readers everywhere.

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I have been listening to The Last Podcast on the Left for a couple of years now. I love how they talk about these serial killers and rips the curtain mainstream media has placed around them and expose them for who they indeed are.

Years of researching serial killers has revealed that most of these criminals are not the monsters of nightmares they are so often portrayed to be by “true crime entertainment” but are more often huge dorks who couldn’t get anything right in their lives so they turned to murder and mayhem. -Henry Zebrowski of Last Podcast on the Left

However, on their podcast, they talk about more than just serial killers and true crime. They also discuss various paranormal and occult topics. They recently finished up a series about the history of lobotomy, and I found the subject to be fascinating as well as a bit gross.

This collection of serial killer histories is worth the read for any true crime fan, and I feel it’s a great introduction to the podcast itself. Marcus tells the story, and Henry and Ben interject with jokes and humorous comments. Although, when the subject revolves around UFOs and aliens, Henry tends to take over the story and adds pieces of his research.

Overall, if you are looking for a true-crime read that’s not afraid to have a sense of humor, then I would recommend Last Book on the Left. This collection is perfect for fans of the podcast or looking for an introduction to true crime. This story will leave you laughing while double-checking the locks on your doors and windows.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Novels

REVIEW: Beyond the Fray: Bigfoot by Shannon LeGro and G. Michael Hopf

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It’s argued that the recent search for Bigfoot officially began on September 21, 1958, when journalist, Andrew Genzoli of the Humboldt Times, featured a letter from a reader about loggers in Northern California concerning large footprints they’d found at a worksite. What began as a fun article turned into an almost instant national sensation, and since stories of the elusive creature have poured in, not just from California and the Pacific Northwest, but from around the world.

BEYOND THE FRAY: BIGFOOT features some of these personal eyewitness accounts and terrifying encounters, most taken from the transcripts of the popular podcast, “iNTO THE FRAY.”  These stories are unique and scary. They will leave you wondering what this creature is and will no doubt give you pause before you cross the wood line and enter the woods.

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This novel is an anthology of people who have had encounters with the legendary Bigfoot. I have a casual interest in Cryptozoology, and I’ve been looking for a good Bigfoot book to read for a while. I am also a bit embarrassed by my casual interest in things like Cryptozoology, UFOs, and other supernatural experiences.

This anthology is an excellent quick read. Each chapter starts with the host’s thoughts about the upcoming encounter, just like I was listening to a podcast in the same niche. I always enjoy hearing thoughts from a third party. I feel the most credible witnesses to these creatures, in my opinion, are those who aren’t going into the deep woods looking for Bigfoot.

However, this novel isn’t full of stories about Sasquash. There’s Dogmen, Dire Wolves, and other creepy crawlies that go bump in the night. I find the idea of Dogmen and other creatures to be more interesting than Bigfoot. I might go into more detail on my thoughts on Cryptozoology and other paranormal things in a later blog post.

Overall, I would highly recommend Beyond the Fray: Bigfoot if you’re itching to dip your toes into the weird world of what goes on deep in the woods in the middle of the night.

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Posted in Movie/TV Reviews, Non-Fiction, Personal Blogs

REVIEW: The Confession Killer

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From IMDb.com

Henry Lee Lucas was known as America’s most prolific serial killer, admitting to hundreds of murders, but, as DNA results contradict his confessions, will they expose the biggest criminal justice hoax in U.S. history?

I have been a fan of true crime for the past few years. My first memory of being fascinated with true crime, was when the Casey Anthony trial was going on in Florida. However, I’ve only been really invested in learning about true crime since the big boom of true crime trending on the Internet. Although I believe the true crime genre has always been a focal point in society ever since the very beginning.

I had never heard of Henry Lee Lucas before I got invested in the genre. After I listened to a few podcasts that discussed his crimes, I just brushed him off as another severely mentally ill individual who murdered whoever crossed his path.

I watched this docuseries while I was at home recovering from a bad cold, and I was shocked at how out of control this story ended up being. Not only do you have another mini-series that is “this is why he’s evil”, and “this is why he’s innocent”, but you get a conspiracy to cover up the Lucas case.

This was a fascinating watch. I was enthralled as they kept showing pictures and videoes Lucas helping the Texas Rangers and other detectives from different areas close these cold cases by “confessing” to them. I was shocked at how many crimes he actually confessed to, and seeing them on a map was stunning. However, when they discuss the timeline of his crimes, and how many contradict each other was impossible to ignore.

I liked how they had various people who both knew Henry Lee Lucas, and have had a part in the case. It was interesting to see how not only were the Texas Rangers the highest power in law enforcement before the FBI fully developed a behavioral analysis unit but for the fact they had the power to make the mistakes they made during the case disappear or become “confidential”.

I can understand how much pressure more rural town police departments have when a murder happens in their town, and they aren’t trained per se, but hearing about a serial killer who is confessing to all of these seemingly mysterious murders would ease their case-load.

The only issue I had with this docuseries is I wish they had discussed more of Lucas’s background. They mention that his mother was physically abusive and was a prostitute. As well as how his father has a severe drinking problem that caused him to get into a train accident where he lost both of his legs. Lucas even discusses this in the clips of the interviews they had with him. However, I kind of wish they went further into his childhood.

Overall, I really enjoyed his mini docuseries. The focus was on the victims’ families and not glorifying what Lucas had done. It was a real deep-dive into an investigation that was corrupted and severely mishandled. Hopefully, we can learn from their mistakes and not repeat these events going forward in the world of crime-solving.

I would recommend this docuseries for fans of true crime, and for anyone looking for a good watch on Netflix.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

REVIEW: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

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*History Spoilers*

The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines brightly in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.

I first came across this nonfiction novel by listening to a podcast called Stuff You Missed in History Class. The way the narrators of the podcast discussed this story shocked me. It is a heart-wrenching story of young women who were just trying to support their country, in the end, to be poisoned and wasted away is difficult to hear.

This was a “Goodreads Choice Winner” in 2017. I can see why this historic story won. A tale of 1920s America and the mistreatment of the female workers is what makes this interesting to read. The coming age of nuclear energy is clear in this memoir.

The Ramifications from this outbreak of what’s proclaimed to be “not harmful” and “a miracle medicine” caused laws and legislation to be put in place so that workers have rights if their workplace caused them harm. As well as regulations and laws about protecting a worker from radiation poisoning and keeping the Earth safe from fallout debris.

I would highly recommend this novel if you’re interested in true stories about the 1920s America and scandals involving large corporations. This memoir will have you reaching for the tissues and make you feel for those workers and their families.