Books & Reviews 📚

Books #110-#112

I’m currently reading Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It’s a 900+ page book, but it’s slow and boring thus far and I’m thinking of temporarily abandoning it. I love huge books and I’ll read a 2000+ page book, but it must be exciting and able to keep my focus. Anyway, let’s get the latest reviews.

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Book #110: Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson

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How often does one hear a story about an Ethiopian child adopted by Swedish parents? Well, this is Marcus Samuelsson’s story and although the first part of his childhood was nice to read, as the story drag on, it became about the self and it turned me off to the point where I started to skim pages.

This book is not a memoir. It is a self-serving PR machine that serves to give more publicity to a man who has catered for the Obamas at the White House and has appeared on many television shows. 

Before I get dirty, Samuelsson was raised by wonderful Swedish parents after he was orphaned in Ethiopia. [His biological father is another story by itself.] This man missed his father’s funeral because of some visa paperwork that prevented him from traveling. This man also missed his grandmother’s funeral and this woman was a huge source of inspiration for him becoming the chef that he is today. This man couldn’t fathom why Christina (a wonderful girl he’d been dating for years) was still hanging onto him after he left Sweden to pursue his dream of working in a Swiss restaurant. He thought when he left home, he would’ve been leaving everything behind including the girl. Yet, he goes to Austria on an internship and knocks up another girl during a one-night stand thus producing a daughter whom he refused to meet until she was 14.

No, really. He paid the child support (this was all down to his mother for he wanted to skip out of paying it. The bastard!) but refused to meet his own flesh and blood because he was busy crafting a career in New York and marrying a model, some Ethiopian woman. How does he make up for lost time with his daughter? He took her to meet Kanye West at a party because he wanted to be seen as the world’s coolest dad.

This man treats the most important people – his adopted parents, his daughter, women in general – like hand me downs. Yet, YET, this very same man has the utmost gall to turn around and talk about sending monthly financial support to his biological family in Ethiopia. I was turned off by all the FOOD, FOOD, FOOD! Yes, I know that he’s a chef, but this is supposed to be a memoir and I found the f-bombs off-putting as well.

At one point I grew frustrated with the book and started skimming. If Marcus was likable before reading this rubbish he calls a memoir, he is certainly unlikable now after coming across as a narcissistic jerk. I mean, he is such a hypocrite. He ponders how his birth father never looked for him, yet he had a daughter he never saw until she was 14. Dude, you were ADOPTED. You should know what’s it like to miss parents.

At the end of the day, we all make mistakes and we hate to admit it, but Marcus came across as ungrateful and self-serving. Maybe he should’ve kept those things to himself instead of revealing them to the world. We have our plates to clean too. He also overplayed the race card and his dislike of French gastronomy was so personal that it felt as if he was holding a grudge against the French. And he was too repetitive for my liking.

I am thankful that my money was not part of this marketing scheme. No, chef, please pass the plate. 1/5.

Book #111: Cross Justice by James Patterson

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“And in this life, a man is only as good as his word.”

After 3 and a half decades, Alex Cross is finally coming home. Home to Starksville, North Carolina, where a cousin of his has been accused of a murder. He reconnects with distant relatives and learns that some events of his past are wrong where it concerns his parents. Many readers complain that too much goes on within an Alex Cross story, so here’s a breakdown of what to expect:

^ Cross’s cousin is on trial for an unthinkable murder. 

^ In Florida, a cross-dressing killer name Coco is causing havoc. 

^ A subplot about Cross’s daughter Janine and her athletic career. Pretty soon we’ll see her in Olympics!

Patterson surprises with his shocking twists, but I must say, I already knew who was Alex Cross’s father even before we crossed that bridge. I would’ve given this book four stars (heck, even five!) had it not been for the ending. That part where said Jason Cross burst into the courtroom with his hostage at gunpoint. 3/5

Book #112: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

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I devoured this book in one sitting. Although some parts were hilarious, some parts dragged and I found myself skimming through some chapters. Offill has written a book about marriage and motherhood and I admire her writing style. It was kind of refreshing to read. 

The main protagonist is known as ‘the wife’ throughout the story. The husband and baby also didn’t get names. At one time, the wife wanted a life in art (hello, ‘art monster’!), but she ended up teaching in a college after having a child. The book revolves around the mindset of the wife who is trying to figure out her place in this world. 

Depicting the rise and fall of a marriage, the book is easy to read and it has its moments, but with the characters having no names, it underscores their lack of identity. At the end of the book, I was still wondering who were these people. 

I especially found this bit hilarious:

And that phrase – “sleeping like a baby.” Some blonde said it blithely on the subway the other day. I wanted to lie down next to her and scream for five hours in her ear. (Page 26)

🤣🤣🤣🤣This brought back pleasant memories of the prank war that never was between Dr. Spencer Reid and Derek Morgan on Criminal Minds. I was all #TeamReid! Morgan had it coming for him!

This book is a 3/5.

I know it’s still early in May, but I DNF’ed 3 books and carted them off to the library. It’s been a fantastic reading month! I love watching my TBR go down. 😄

Books & Reviews 📚

Book #91: I Am Zlatan: My Story On and Off the Field

Daring, flashy, innovative, volatile—no matter what they call him, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of soccer’s brightest stars. A top-scoring striker with Paris Saint-Germain and captain of the Swedish national team, he has dominated the world’s most storied teams, including Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, and AC Milan. But his life wasn’t always so charmed.

Born to Balkan immigrants who divorced when he was a toddler, Zlatan learned self-reliance from his rough-and-tumble neighborhood. While his father, a Bosnian Muslim, drank to forget the war back home, his mother’s household was engulfed in chaos. Soccer was Zlatan’s release. Mixing in street moves and trick plays, Zlatan was a wild talent who rode to practice on stolen bikes and relished showing up the rich kids—opponents and teammates alike. Goal by astonishing goal, the brash young outsider grew into an unlikely prodigy and, by his early twenties, an international phenomenon.

Told as only the man himself could tell it, featuring stories of friendships and feuds with the biggest names in the sport, I Am Zlatan is a wrenching, uproarious, and ultimately redemptive tale for underdogs everywhere.

“I’ve never enjoyed being around uptight people. I like guys who go through red lights, if you know what I mean.”

Zlatan Ibrahimović.

I’ve always wondered why the need to seek so much attention in front of the footballing world and this book answered that question although I skimmed through some unnecessary chapters.

His story begins as a ‘problem child’ growing up in Rosengård, Sweden. His parents didn’t have time to pay special attention to him and his siblings, but they turned out all right. Yes, he’s flashy and arrogant, but what Zlatan likes the most is the center of attention and when that is taken away from him, he becomes mad.

Perfect example: FC Barcelona.

There, Zlatan was playing at the best football club in the world. He’s scoring goals week in, week out, the fans love him, they scream his name, the center of attention. He manages to sound like a bitter school child when he complained ‘then Messi started saying things.’ Was he dumb then Zlatan? However, I’m reading Messi by Guillem Balague at the moment and the fog became clearer: Zlatan gave Pep an ultimatum: ‘The midget had to be dropped!’ Pep eventually takes away the attention from him, and Zlatan is all mean and bad. There is no Z in team! If we go back to the time when Messi started to ‘talk’ Rijkaard had promised Leo that he would eventually play in the center, but it didn’t materialize until Pep.

Another example: Juventus was relegated to Serie B in 2006 due to a cheating scandal and they had both championships voided. Serie B? Zlatan was too BIG for the second division and even refused to join the team for an away match. He was rude to coach at the time, Didier Deschamps and like the diva who was now used to getting everything he wanted, he called his agent and asked for a move. Juventus wasn’t good for him anymore, but who were the likes of Gigi Buffon, Alessandro Del Piero, and even Giorgio Chiellini, who stayed with the team? Juventus won Serie B and returned to Serie A the following year.

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The book was kind of frustrating to read and I’ve had to put it down twice. The third time I returned to it, I just wanted to finish and get it over with hence, I read the remaining 16 or so chapters in one day. Zlatan feels and thinks that he is more important than any club and the reason why the club wins a league or a European Cup is due to his goals. In his mind, he is a god and the team needs him for they’ll lose when he doesn’t play. Basically, the book is Zlatan v the World. He is important and famous and everyone hates him because of that. He needs to get over himself. He has played for some of the greatest teams and scored some beautiful and memorable goals, but he remains bitter and unforgivable.

Zlatan is full of himself, and sadly, some people like his attitude. If you don’t want to read about the cocky, annoying, irritating man that is Zlatan whose dictionary includes 3 main words (stupid, boring and the ‘f’ word), then go out and buy that Pirlo book. It’s supposed to be good. This book was not inspiring, nor was it meant to be. It was just a peek inside Zlatan’s world. The reviewers who called this book the most inspiring book they’ve ever read was not honest with themselves. I am certain some of them gave up halfway, but hey when you got friends in high places eh? 😉

COVER:

It captures the man that is Zlatan. 4/5.

OPENING:

Pep Guardiola, the Barcelona manager, with his gray suits and brooding expressions, came up to me, looking a little self-conscious.

VERDICT:

love coffeelove coffee

Books & Reviews 📚

Book #90: No Excuses: Growing Up Deaf and Achieving My Super Bowl Dreams

Trailblazing Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman Jr.—the first deaf athlete to play offense in the NFL—tells his inspirational journey of persevering through every obstacle, remaining dedicated to the hard work and a no-excuses attitude that ultimately earned him a Super Bowl victory. Great for readers of all ages.

Even at a young age, if anyone told Derrick Coleman what he couldn’t do, he’d just reply, “Watch me.” Diagnosed as hearing-impaired at age three, he faced a potentially limited future, but neither he nor his family were going to let that happen. Now Derrick shares the story of his remarkable journey toward NFL stardom, of the friends and colleagues who cheered him on when skeptics tried to chip away at his confidence, and of how every challenge he faced only strengthened his resolve.

At the heart of his story is his unconventional family, whose one constant was always love. When Derrick was misunderstood as “difficult,” or bullied and laughed at by schoolmates, he removed his hearing aids and listened instead to his mother’s advice: Never let anyone else tell you how far you can go.

Playing football became an outlet for Derrick’s restless energy and a way of proving he could forge his own path. As a senior at UCLA, he became a standout, an award-winning player who led his team with eleven touchdowns and demonstrated to the world what his heart had known all along: He had what it took to be a champion.

No Excuses is more than just Derrick Coleman’s story as a sports legend, inspirational role model, and icon. It’s a motivating and unique testament to the human spirit, to the potential inside everyone who has ever faced difficult obstacles. It’s about aiming high in life, giving it your all, and never ever settling for excuses.

“Life is too short to settle for excuses. If you settle for excuses, then you’ll always arrive at second best. Aim for your dreams, don’t doubt yourself, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a failure, and put in the work.”

I love football, not soccer, therefore, I am not an NFL fan, but this book was recommended while I was searching for books on Lionel Messi for the library and I put it on the list. 

This review is going to be short.

Derrick Coleman Jr. made history by becoming the first legally deaf offensive player in the NFL. He has never let his hearing impairment set him back and at 27, he has already won a Super Bowl with the Seattle Hawks. Russell Wilson also plays for this team.

The book is easy to read given that it’s short and you don’t have to like soccer to read this young man’s life journey thus far.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The fact that the book had no pictures save for the two photos of Coleman as a youngster on the back cover. I think a few pictures would’ve been nice for it would’ve added that personal touch to scream ‘Memoir’!

QUOTABLES

^ The only person who can say no to you is God, and He wouldn’t put an opportunity in your sight if He didn’t know you could handle it. (pg 213)

^ When life hands you a setback, you don’t grovel. You don’t sink to a low level. You do what’s right and never forget who you are. (pg 121)

^ If you’re still mourning something that happened or didn’t happen years ago, then you’re going to miss out on all the great opportunities that God has placed right on your doorstep today. (pgs 55-56)

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COVER:

The cover portrayed a serious and determined young man. 5/5.

OPENING:

One game.

That’s all I ever dreamed of playing.

One game in the NFL – and it couldn’t be a preseason game – it had to be one regular season NFL game. For years, my sole focus was making that dream a reality.

VERDICT:

love coffeelove coffeelove coffee

Books & Reviews 📚

Book #89: Facing the Music and Living to Talk About It

Nick Carter was only 12 years old when he rose to international fame as a member of the best-selling boy band Backstreet Boys. While he was living the dream of young musicians everywhere in studio and on stage, there was much about his life behind the scenes that soon became a nightmare of his own making. Raised in an atmosphere of fear and neglect, Nick carried his childhood chaos with him into his career, self-sabotaging through the abuse of alcohol and drugs to the point where he – and his heart – nearly imploded. When Carter’s long road back to mental, physical and spiritual health was interrupted by the drug-overdose death of his sister, Leslie, he vowed to share all that he has learned about overcoming life’s challenges – particularly self-defeating behaviors – with others. What results is a rare memoir that combines deeply personal recollections with constructive advice to help you replace your most damaging, self-defeating behaviors with new habits to reclaim and enrich your life.

“Your environment can shape you. If you don’t decide what you want to do with your life and go after it, you’ll end up just taking what life give you.”

It’s been a while since I wrote a book review so I’m excited to start back. My goal is to write at least 200 reviews for the blog and we’re at only 89. 

We have here a memoir/self-help book by Nick Carter. Writing his name just takes me down memory lane for the Backstreet Boys used to be my favorite band and the piercing blue-eyed blond was my favorite. My favorite songs were “Quit Playing Games With My Heart” and “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely”.

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Anyway, I’m here about Nick’s book. As I mentioned, it’s not a tell-all memoir. Rather, it is a self-help book and I get the sense that Nick wants to help people who’ve threaded familiar paths, but it appeared a little repetitive. However, it is one of the best rare memoirs I’ve read given that I don’t care for celebrities’ stories. The book is packed with statistics on binge drinking and smoking, two nasty habits Nick worked hard to get over. 

Nick grew up in a dysfunctional family, something he was always vocal about and being in the spotlight made him a target for spiral downfalls. Although he is trying to be a better man as each day passes by, there is still the nagging thought that he might relapse. It’s a repetitive thing we’ve seen over the years with celebrities; they say they’re on the mend and 3-5 years later, they’re falling off the wagon and reverting back to their old ways. That’s when they realize that they’re not strong enough. 

Over the years, Nick has matured, and he is now married and he is also a dad. I must say that fatherhood looks good on him.

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His goal is to motivate readers and although I am not motivated, I really enjoyed this book. Nick bares everything from his past to his readers as if he was talking to a personal friend. He was brutally honest and it felt like I was attending a therapy session. Nick encourages readers to keep fit, eat healthily, and to work on their goals. He also got spiritual for a moment when he talked about thinking good thoughts so you won’t be tempted by the devil (it takes more than this, but cleaning out your mind and replacing the negative with cleanliness is a good start). So, the real take away from this mem-self-help, is that everyone struggles with something, but we can overcome them with the right mindset. I have no idea what Mr. Carter is up to lately, but once he’s still a part of the industry, peace may not be permanent in his world.

QUOTABLES

The entire book is almost quotable and since I’m a quote collector, I’ll share a few of my faves:

^ We all want to help others who are struggling in their lives, especially if they are our loved ones, but as these universal survival methods prove, you have to save yourself first. Being a martyr or a victim does no one any good. You need to be strong, stable, and secure before you can see anyone else to safety. (Page 24)

^ There is shame only in wasting your life by not making the most of your talents and your gifts and the precious time you’re given. (Page 24)

^ You can’t go back and make things better either. And you certainly can’t fix everyone in your life. But you can fix yourself and that should be your focus. (Page 47) This was my message for Postive Monday this week! 😃

^ And remember, the people who are best for you may not always tell you what you want to hear, but you can count on them to tell you what you need to hear. (Page 70)

^ Remember you have the power to choose a positive attitude even negative things happen to you. (Page 79)

There are two wrong ways to handle mistakes. One is to pay no attention to them at all and just keep making them. The other is to get angry and depressed but not learn from them or make corrections. (Page 82)

^ Like so many other child celebrities, I stayed young in all the wrong ways for too many years and had a lot of growing up to do. (Page 225)

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COVER:

I love how stripped down the cover is! 5/5 for me.

OPENING:

While writing this book I took a break to get together with some old friends and a few million other people. That’s when I found myself standing on a stage in New York City’s famed Central Park kicking off the Labor Day weekend. I was performing in public for the first time in many years with all of the original members of Backstreet Boys. This was the launch of our 20th-anniversary reunion tour and it was being broadcast around the world as part of the television show Good Morning America.

VERDICT:

love coffeelove coffeelove coffee

Books & Reviews 📚

Book #67: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)

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When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.

Author: Jenny Lawson
Publisher: Berkley (April 17, 2012)
Chapters: Titled chapters that I am too lazy to count
Pages: 363

I was robbed of a sense of fulfillment and America has to answer this question, HOW DO YOU FIND THIS GARBAGE FUNNY? ARE YOU DEPRIVED OF LAUGHING GAS?

I have no idea who Jenny Lawson is and I don’t intend to know her anyway, so there is no point (now) in me looking for her blog no matter how popular she might be in the blogosphere.

This memoir is overrated and the cursing was a huge turn-off. I can’t take someone seriously when they curse… especially in a memoir… especially where it doesn’t seem to fit! The curse bombs were there to give her a hip feeling, but it felt forced.

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I tried to finish this book. I really did, but when I reached ‘If You See My Liver, You’ve Gone Too Far’ I just had it!

HOW IN THE WORLD DID THIS OVERRATED MEMOIR GET RATED SO HIGH? HOW? HOW??? Why was this piece of junk made into print? I wouldn’t even use the pages of this book to go to the toilet if the world ran out of toilet paper!

The author was so wrapped up in trying to be funny, she succeeded in making her family sound like a bunch of sick individuals. I did not want to know how to clean a deer. Her father was a taxidermist and a psychopath. I mean, which sane person finds a dead squirrel and decides to stick their hand inside it and make a puppet out of it. And which father – taxidermist or not – throws a live bobcat at his daughter’s suitor? How is this acceptable by loving standards? And readers find this funny?

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The book is not funny, it’s just overdramatic! I yawned throughout some chapters and when I fell asleep on the last one I was trying to read, it was the last straw. The book is pure drivel. Rambling drivel. The author was happy to focus on her so-call “crazy” childhood and “mental illness” making it seem extreme. Sister, please! It wasn’t funny. You ain’t funny. You aren’t that messed up like you want people to think. No one cares about your vagina (I believe this is her favorite word. No, really! I must have seen it like a dozen times before she dedicated an entire chapter on it) You had/have it better than a lot of people and what do you do? You whine.

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Nothing about her childhood was intriguing. Waste of time, waste of money (I am thankful that I didn’t have to buy this garbage! Had I bought this book, I might have been kicking myself hard in the liver.) It was not funny and maybe these so-call reviewers need to stop kissing people’s behinds and be honest about their reviews for once. That’s right, I’m talking to you, friends and acquaintances of the author and you too, People.

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If you think something is wrong with my humor, it’s intact thank you very much. Lawson tried way too hard to present herself as this crazy wacky doodle (anything other than herself) and she believed it too.

Let’s Pretend I Never Attempted to Read This Drivel.

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QUOTABLES:

Later that night I sat out on the porch, looking at the same stars I’d stared at when I was ten and had longed to travel to places that existed only in mind. They were places like Egypt or France, but they were the Egypt and France of a child’s mind, filled with blurry visions of perfect pyramids, and warm sands, and Eiffel Towers, and something that people called “wine.” (Page 116)

The only best part of the book because I can relate. PLUS! Everyone knows how I feel about (Ancient) Egypt and France.

VERDICT:

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Buffalo West Wing by Julie Hyzy

Books & Reviews 📚

Book #15: Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?

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Author: Steven Tyler
Publisher: Ecco (May 03rd, 2011)
Pages: 390

BLURB:

Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? is the rock memoir to end all rock memoirs—the straight-up, no-holds-barred life of Grammy Award-winning,  Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and all around superstar legend Steven Tyler, lead singer of Aerosmith (and celebrity judge on American Idol). This is it—“the unbridled truth, the in-your-face, up-close and prodigious tale of Steven Tyler straight from the horse’s lips”—as Tyler tells all, from the early years through the glory days, “All the unexpurgated, brain-jangling tales of debauchery, sex & drugs and transcendence you will ever want to hear.”

review

…REVIEW!

“Life is short. Break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that makes you smile.”

I don’t like memoirs. I’ve stated the reason why in my first memoir review, but I still have a few more to go.

Anyways, I remember growing up on Aerosmith. I liked many of their songs, including “Janie’s Got A Gun”, “Angel” and “Dude Looks Like A Lady”. To this day, I still like “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” and “Dream On”. I like/d Steven Tyler too. He is hard not to like. He is blunt, yet, compassionate. A flamboyant dresser, never a top looker (in many people’s opinions and he is all right with this), but oozes confidence from his pores likes blood. He was also the sole reason I watched American Idol. When he left, I never tuned back in. He is effortlessly cool and I wished he was my grandpa.

In a nutshell, this is Mr. Tyler:

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And his Tylerisms is my kind of mannerism.

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Basically, this memoir is about sex, drugs, more sex, creating music, drugs, even more sex, medical terms, more sex… I couldn’t stop altering between those. Then it was using, rehab, relapse, detox, back to using, back to rehab, back to re… makes me wonder if he’s using/thinking about using now.

However, there were light moments as well and I learned about the origin of some of the album titles and songs. ST wanted to name the band The Hookers, but no one liked it. I wouldn’t have liked it either and I can’t believe the band and Joe’s wife, Elyssa didn’t like “Dream On”! What was wrong with them? That song redefined Aerosmith.

“People ask me all these questions about ‘Dream On.’ ‘What does it mean?’ What do you mean, ‘What does it mean?’ It means Dream On. You figure it out. You’re the one listening to it make up your own meaning.”

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Steven also makes excuses by pulling the rock star card about can’t keeping it in the pants because he’s a man and what’s a man to do when women (groupies) throw their desperate selves at him just because he’s a rock star. Steven, I got news for you: There are men like you who keep thinking about sex all the time and then there are men who think about their loved ones while out on the road and refrain from jumping a groupie’s bone. And that’s just it, you’re a rock star. Had you not been a rock star, thousands of women wouldn’t have given you the second glance, time or day.

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Sometimes I feel as if he rambled, wanting to set things straight and clear the air, but overall, I think it was as honest as I can get while reading a rock star’s diary, erm, I mean a memoir. He holds no punches. Steven was a genius, a troubled soul, a creative banshee, the best rhymer I know and a thief, but overall, he is a survivor. He has come a pretty long way!

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So, the noise in his head doesn’t bother me, but if you’re not a rock fan, an Aerosmith fan (I don’t rock out anymore), or simply don’t know what you’ll get from Steven Tyler, you won’t like this book because Tyler is Tyler and Tyler is offensive, rude, and nasty. In another life, he’d be Jack Sparrow’s long lost father.

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Yeah! I can’t UNSEE that either! 😛

QUOTABLES:

> Because nowadays, everything’s recycled. There’s nothing new. Everything’s in quotation marks. What wasn’t before?

– Chapter 4; page 101

> I believe in life imitating art, but who is art and why is je imitating me anyway?

– Chapter 4; page 117

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RATING:

3

NEXT UP:

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The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat