Guitarist K.K. Downing Discusses His New Book “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”

 

Picture by: Pauli Juppi

Ken “K.K.” Downing is a founding member of the heavy metal band Judas Priest. He was active with the group from its inception in 1969 to his departure from the group in April of 2011. Downing has recently released a book via Da Capo press title “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”. Media Mikes had a chance recently to speak with Ken about the creation of the book and where he plans to go next

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background behind the writing of the book?

Ken Downing: Since my departure from the band eight years ago lots of people have been asking me if I would like to do a book. Year after year I just kept saying no and then finally last year I decided to finally do it. I sort of had three basic ideas for doing this. I thought it would be a good opportunity for fans to get to know me a little bit better. That probably sounds a bit ridiculous after having been around for so long now but, there is always another story to tell. I wanted to share how I started off in life and ended up playing some of the biggest stages in the world. Lastly I wanted to bring some sort of closure to the banter which was being thrown about across the internet related to my position within the band.

AL: How did you go about selecting what memories or stories you wanted to include in the book?

KD: That was really the difficulty part as I didn’t have a plan or anything. My ghost writer Mark Eglinton helped quite a bit with this side of things. He helped me dig a bit deeper along the way as we approached things chronologically as one lives life. As we moved along we paid attention to what would come to the surface and tried not to dwell on certain topics too long as we wanted to keep the book moving. If I had elaborated too much on things this would be a very thick book. (Laughs) It was difficult at times as I wanted to keep things honest and after forty years in rock and roll there were a couple stories we had to leave out. (Laughs)

AL: How did you get connected with Mark (Eglinton)?

KD: Mark came to me through my website which is run out of Helsinki, Finland. I had been approached previously by a bunch of other people about doing a book but Mark was in the UK and he made a couple trips down to see me where we just talked and got to know one another. I felt that worked well and we went from there. We did things in chunks based on a certain amount of years. That let me focus on one specific time period at a time. Mark and I would just basically talk. Every now and then he would prompt me to elaborate more on certain periods of the band. Both Mark and his brother have been rock fans for a very long time so he had a fans perspective of what other fans might want to know more about.

AL: Was it hard revisiting some of your earlier years growing up?

KD: It was. I had always kept a lot of those memories be it good or bad to myself. My childhood was very personal to me and I had never shared my experiences with anyone. To have someone hear them and then in turn document them for others to read was something I really had to think about. To keep things transparent we went ahead with it. I may have skirted around a couple things or been less descriptive but it’s all there. When you are born in to a dysfunctional family things are going to be a bit different so I didn’t have to go into too much detail.

AL: Had you let any of the people included in these stories know beforehand that you were releasing a book on your life?

KD: No not really. I had talked to my mom as I was a bit concerned she might get a little emotional about me telling the family story. As it happened when I spoke with her she told me she was not worried and she also mentioned she had read Ozzy Osbourne’s book and loved that one. (Laughs) When she did get the chance to read my book she affirmed that that’s how things were so I was pleased with that.

AL: Now that people have had a chance to read the book, are there any pieces you feel you should not have included or been so detailed with?

KD: I feel a little relieved now that it’s out and that I have not received any real adverse repercussions. The general feedback has been much better than I was expecting. Every now and then I think about other things I would have mentioned but didn’t. That seems to happen though be it with this book or records you always want to turn out the best product so you keep working and working at it. Eventually you just have to stop and turn it in. I wanted to put out something that people could get their heads into and find it just as enjoyable as watching television or something.

AL: With the completion of the book are you looking to now shift your focus back to music?

KD: I am thinking with the coming winter here in the UK I am going to disappear into my music room and just see what happens next. I have a few ideas I might want to play about with but this game for me is all about getting that chance to jump back into Judas Priest. If I am not doing that then the name of the game is creating new material.

For more in on Ken you can visit his official website at www.kkdowning.net

Be sure to check out our review of “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest” here.

Book Review: “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest” by K.K. Downing w/ Mark Eglinton

“Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”
Author: K.K. Downing w/ Mark Eglinton
Da Capo
Hardcover: 277 pages

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

As guitarist for the iconic British heavy metal band Judas Priest, Ken “K.K.” Downing lived the fast-paced, opulent life of a rock star. It was a far cry from his tedious, impoverished childhood in the heart of England. In “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”, Downing recounts his forty-plus years with the band recounting events such as his first meeting with vocalist Rob Halford and guitarist Glen Tipton to stories of touring with bands like AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

There aren’t many music fans out there who can’t name at-least one Judas Priest song. From “Living After Midnight” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” to “Breaking the Law” the band has a memorable catalog that for many was the soundtrack of their youth. “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest” is the chance for fans of the band to see just what was going on behind the scenes during the bands early years and on up through guitarist K.K. Downing’s departure from the group in 2011. Over the course of the books 277 pages the guitarist and his collaborator Mark Eglinton give detailed accounts of the bands formation, the growing pains all new bands go through and what the band was like during the recording of some of the most influential heavy metal records in music history. Downing is candid and no subject seems to be off limits as he recounts his own personal struggles as well as inner turmoil between band members, management and producers giving the reader a fly on the wall perspective that until now was not available.

At times I did find the stories to be a bit drawn out with a few too many “poor me” moments for my liking. Yes this is a memoir/autobiography and those types of things come with the territory however there were some redundancies and details that probably could have been thinned down or omitted completely with a little more editing. Do not get me wrong, the book still has a bunch a really cool moments and stories that aside from the people who lived it have/will never be experienced by most so being able to read about those is worth it. There are also some really great photos included the hardcover book comes with a super cool metallic like slip cover which will look awesome displayed next to other Judas Priest and music memorabilia.

Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection First Time Ever on Blu-ray!

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, A LANDMARK COLLECTION SHOWCASING THE LEGENDARY MONSTERS IN MOTION PICTURE HISTORY

UNIVERSAL CLASSIC MONSTERS: COMPLETE 30-FILM COLLECTION AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY ON AUGUST 28, 2018 FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Universal City, California, August 22, 2018 – Thirty of the most iconic cinematic masterpieces starring the most famous monsters of horror movie history come together on Blu-ray™ for the first time ever in the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection on August 28, 2018, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Featuring unforgettable make-up, ground-breaking special effects and outstanding performances, the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection includes all Universal Pictures’ legendary monsters from the studio that pioneered the horror genre with imaginative and technically groundbreaking tales of terror in unforgettable films from the 1930s to late-1950s.

From the era of silent movies through present day, Universal Pictures has been regarded as the home of the monsters. The Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection showcases all the original films featuring the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Starring some of the most legendary actors including Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester in the roles that they made famous, these films set the standard for a new horror genre and showcase why these landmark movies that defined the horror genre are regarded as some of the most unforgettable ever to be filmed.

Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection includes a 48-page collectible book filled with behind-the-scenes stories and rare production photographs and is accompanied by an array of bonus features including behind-the-scenes documentaries, the 1931 Spanish version of Dracula, Featurettes on Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., and Jack Pierce, 13 expert feature commentaries, archival footage, production photographs, theatrical trailers and more. The perfect gift for any scary movie fan, the collection offers an opportunity to experience some of the most memorable horror films of our time.

The Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection includes Dracula(1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Werewolf of London (1935), Dracula’s Daughter (1936), Son of Frankenstein (1939), The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Invisible Woman (1940), The Mummy’s Hand (1940), The Wolf Man (1941), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), The Mummy’s Ghost (1942), The Mummy’s Tomb (1942),Invisible Agent (1942), Phantom of the Opera (1943), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), Son of Dracula (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), The Mummy’s Curse (1944), The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944), House of Dracula (1945), She-Wolf of London (1946), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954, and includes a 3D version), Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955), Revenge of the Creature (1955 and includes a 3D version) and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956).

 

BONUS FEATURES:

  • Behind-the-Scenes Documentaries
  • 3D Versions of Creature from the Black Lagoon and Revenge of the Creature
  • 1931 Spanish Version of Dracula
  • Featurettes on Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., and Jack Pierce
  • 13 Expert Feature Commentaries
  • Archival Footage
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailers

 

Film Review: “The Book Club”

BOOK CLUB
Starring:  Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton and Candice Bergen
Directed by:  Bill Holderman
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  1 hrs 44 mins
Paramount

Our Score: 4 out of 5 (stars!)

Between them they have 13 Academy Award nominations and 4 Oscars.  THEY are Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen and together they form the members of Paramount’s latest comedy, “The Book Club.”

Keaton plays Diane, recently widowed.  Fonda is Vivian, a wealthy hotel owner who refuses to sleep with men, meaning she’ll have sex but she won’t stay the night.  Bergen is Sharon, a Federal Judge whose husband (Ed Begley, Jr) left her 18 years ago and continues to date much younger women.  Steenburgen is Carol, married to the recently retired Bruce (Craig T. Nelson) who seems to have lost all interest in everything but his old motorcycle.  Each month this quartet of ladies meets and discusses a book they have recently read, an appointment they started in the 70s with Erica Jong’s “Fear of Flying.”  Feeling like the last few months entries have been lifeless, Vivian decides to spice up things by introducing the “50 Shades of Grey” series to their reading tables.  And spice things up it does.

There is nothing more enjoyable than seeing professionals at the top of their craft and “The Book Club” does not disappoint.

The film takes an honest, but humorous, look at love after 60.  It’s not all roses and champagne.  As the book begins to stir their desires, the three single women meet similar aged men who have refused to let age slow them down.  Diane meets a handsome airline pilot (Andy Garcia).  Vivian rekindles an old romance with Arthur (Don Johnson) while Sharon explores the world of on-line dating with both Richard Dreyfuss and Wallace Shawn.  The story has its great share of laughs but also some emotional times of reflection, all driven by a true all-star cast.

FYI, the four leading ladies also have between them 38 Golden Globe nominations (14 wins) and 12 Emmy nods (5 wins).  They should have called this film the Golden Girls.

Reading a Book vs Watching a Movie

Different people have different personalities and preferences. Some prefer reading while others would rather watch. Both have some similarities and differences. This article is, however, going to focus more on the differences between reading a book and watching a movie. Generally, when reading, we personally create visual images of unfolding as they happen in the narrative, whereas when watching, a visual image is already created for us. Books tend to be more exploratory and expressly bring out emotions, feelings, and expressions of its characters.

Pictures Vs Imagination

While movies utilize pictures as their key tool in storytelling, thoughts and imaginations dominate in reading books. Books involve a narrative that is used to create visualizations of what the character actually looks like, their feelings, emotions, and expressions. Reading is more personalized and leaves more room for creative imagination. It enhances one’s ability to create and imagine characters in their own perspective. Reading, therefore, has a more personal appeal as opposed to movies. However, when watching movies, the director takes charge of your thoughts by using sound and visual effects to skew the way you see and feel things. Movies tend to eliminate entirely the individual creative imagination within us. All you have to do is simply sit back and wait to be wowed by the director.

Time Factor

Whereas in movies time consumption is efficiently limited, reading books can considerably take a lot of time. It may take days or even weeks to finish reading larger volume books. A standard movie takes only around 2 hours to watch and conveniently packages most of the content that would have otherwise taken you longer to grasp from reading a book. The visual appeal in watching movies effectively translates the characters feelings and emotions to the watcher. It is way easier to multitask while watching a movie. However, wholly reading requires undivided attention in order to effectively grasp the content. Generally, books are time-consuming as opposed to movies.

Content Depth

Unlike books, movies tend to be shallow. Most directors cut out bits during movie production to ensure it fits the predetermined time duration. The actors simply portray the emotions of the character via their body postures and facial expressions. Books, on the other hand, are more comprehensive and thorough. They allow readers to better understand the characters by eliciting an internal dialogue in a reader’s mind. Readers better understand the actions and motivations of the characters.

Social Aspect

Watching movies is highly social as opposed to reading books. Movie theatres are a great hang out place where you get to spend quality time with friends. You get to laugh, cry, and even freak out depending on the emotions of the movie. This experience greatly helps strengthen the bonds between you and friends. On the other hand, reading books is not social at all! It is an entirely private and personal act that is best done away from others. If you read a lot, then you definitely spend most of your time alone, away from family and friends.

These two different forms of media share some similar interesting aspects to enhance content delivery. For instance, they both seamlessly incorporate symbolisms, themes, flashbacks and foreshadow in storytelling. Both reading books and watching movies have obvious benefits of their own that cannot be overlooked by either divide. Identifying these benefits in each medium is very important. It is a key towards having a better movie watching or book reading experience. If you are looking to buy a new book or a movie, consider applying discount code at your purchase point checkout to get yourself a great bargain!

Win Advance Screening Passes in Florida for “Book Club”

Media Mikes is proud to be hosting advance screenings of the new film “Book Club” starring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburger in all Florida markets! Click below to get tickets, first come first serve! Good luck and like always leave a comment here after you’ve seen the film!

Tampa –  5/15 AMC WESTSHORE 7:30PM- http://www.gofobo.com/BCMMTAM

West Palm Beach- 5/15 CINEMARK BOYNTON BEACH 7:30PM – http://www.gofobo.com/BCMMWPB

Ft. Myers – 5/15 REGAL GULF COAST 7:30PM- http://www.gofobo.com/BCMMFTM

Orlando- 5/16 AMC ALTAMONTE 7:30PM- http://www.gofobo.com/BCMMORL

Diane (Diane Keaton) is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage. Vivian (Jane Fonda) enjoys her men with no strings attached. Sharon (Candice Bergen) is still working through a decades-old divorce. Carol’s (Mary Steenburgen) marriage is in a slump after 35 years. Four lifelong friends have their lives turned upside down to hilarious ends when their book club tackles the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey. From discovering new romance to rekindling old flames, they inspire each other to make their next chapter the best chapter.

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Book Review “The Art and Making of Pacific Rim Uprising”

Author: Daniel Wallace
Foreword: Steven S. DeKnight
Hardcover: 156 pages
Publisher: Insight Editions
April 3, 2018

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When I see a specific movie is getting the “Art and Making of” treatment, I always get excited to get to see the film from another view but I get more excited when it is being released by Insight Editions. Insight always gives their releases a little extra. They have fold out posters or little index cards glued to pages to lift and reveal more info, I really enjoy this “gimmick”, if you want to call it that. This adds a whole new interactive level to the book. Personally I wasn’t a huge fan of this film but the book does do the film justice and it is a must have for fans for sure!

“Pacific Rim: Uprising” is a big movie and has a lot of great detail that is showcased in this book and allows you to go deeper into the mythology and world of that the movie continues from the 2013 Guillermo del Toro directed predecessor. If you are looking to be transported behind the scenes and right into the middle of the epic battle between Kaiju and Jaegers then pick up “The Art and Making of Pacific Rim Uprising” because it delivers that…and then on the next page gives blueprints on the robots and CGI breakdown and showcases the beautiful concept art from the film. This book was a page turner for sure or rather hard to turn to the next page because their was so much to look at in detail in each page!

Got excited (and a bit concerned) for a minute that this book was authored by Daniel Wallace, the author of “Big Fish”, which was made into a movie by Tim Burton…but same name different guy. This Daniel Wallace is definitely still the right man for this book. I am well aware of his work in books “Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual History” and “Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History”, which is another amazing book from Insight Editions. Even though, I didn’t love the movie I still really enjoyed the book. The sequel’s director, Steven S. DeKnight, gives a good foreword as well and give wrap-up and I did how he came as a fan of the series to end up directing the next film. This book is jam packed with great images and content. check it fans of “Pacific Rim”.

Book Review: “Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life” by Scott Ian

“Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life”
Author: Scott Ian
Da Capo
Hardcover: 243 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Anthrax guitarist and co-founder Scott Ian has seen his share of dive hotels, dirty tour buses and decrepit green rooms. “Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life” is a collection of his craziest stories recounting Ian’s life on the road as a touring musician. Along the way the guitarist shares his experiences and encounters with celebrities like Kirk Hammett, Dimebag Darrell, David Lee Roth and Steven Spielberg to name just a few.

As the follow up to his autobiography “I’m The Man” guitarist Scott Ian takes readers even further into the depths of the heavy metal underworld. Unlike Ian’s first book which was a more biography than tell all where “Access All Areas” is the total opposite recounting in detail some of the writers more interesting encounters. Very rarely do you get to hear let alone read in published form stories like those shared by the veteran guitarist. From his experiences as a Pro Poker player playing alongside Kiss’s Ace Frehley and ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill to a confrontational meeting with REM front man Michael Stipe. Easily my favorite excert from the book was that where Ian sets the record straight about his guest appearance on “Married with Children” which was to include a story line featuring Christina Applegate.

Over the course of “Access All Areas” 243 pages readers are treated to a bevy of laughable stories that have not been shared before. As I made my way through the book I just kept thinking that even having one or two of these experiences in a life time would be enough for most people but to be able to compile enough for a book was mind blowing. Scott Ian has certainly to this point lived quiet an interesting life full of off the wall experiences which he has candidly detailed in this book. You don’t have to be a fan of heavy metal to enjoy this book as there are plenty of other colorful characters outside of the music world that you will surely recognize making “Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life” a great pickup for any and all.

“Under the Wizard Moon” – A Great Book for Children of All Ages!

Under the Wizard Moon
Author:  Aunt Raini – some illustrations by Nikki D. Caravella
Publisher:  Art Bookbindery
Hardcover – 36 pages
A weaver of dreams.  A talking toad.  And kittens that roam at night.
These are just a few of the magical characters you’ll meet in the new book for children of all ages, “Under the Wizard Moon.”
Full of smartly written poems, and brilliantly illustrated by both the author and PhoenixIllustrations’ Nikki D. Caravella, the stories are fun to read while the brightly colored accompanying illustrations will help describe the story even more.  And while some things may naturally frighten small children, the wordplay used will soon make them friendly and acceptable, an important lesson for children.  Of all ages.
To order a copy of “Under the Wizard Moon,” you can contact her on her Facebook page HERE
Beware the Kitties at Night!

 

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Book Review: “Hit So Hard: A Memoir” By Patty Schemel

“Hit So Hard: A Memoir”
Author: Patty Schemel
Da Capo
Hardcover: 280 pages

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Patty Schemel is a drummer who was at the epicenter of the Seattle grunge scene in the early 1990’s. Schemel is probably best known for her work with the alternative rock band Hole and as a close friend of late Nirvana front-man Kurt Cobain. “Hit So Hard: A Memoir” chronicles the coming of age of a musician and drug addict during her times both on and off the road with a band plagued by tragedy during rock n’ rolls last great era of excess. While never losing her sense of humor Schemel recounts her descent into homelessness and crime and the difficult but rewarding path to sobriety after more than twenty attempts to get clean.

Dominating air waves and headlines around the world in the early 90’s was the Courtney Love fronted band Hole. A band with a volatile mixture of energy, chemicals and attitude who in one moment could provide you with some of the most in your face rock n roll to the next minute being on the verge of imploding like a powder keg. Providing the bands driving back beat and contributing heavily to the four pieces volatile makeup was drummer Patty Schemel. Over the course of “Hit So Hard: A Memoir” 280 pages readers for the first time get the behind the scenes, first-hand account of what made Hole such a great/disfunctional band. Beginning with Schemel’s first introduction to drinking at age 11 and, continuing on through her struggles with sexuality and figuring out just where she fit in the book is a roller-coaster ride of angst and self reflection. From her first meeting with a pre-Nirvana Kurt Cobain to sharing a house with him and Courtney Love at the height of Nirvana’s success Schemel is candid with her accounts and does not shy away from the intimate details.

No “Hit So Hard” is not just another tell all memoir about sex, drugs and rock n roll. Yes there is plenty of that in this book yet, now matter how tempting or prevalent those subjects might be they surprisingly take a back seat to Schemel’s unique life story. The authors laid back delivery and word choice draws in the reader’s attention and tows a fine line as to not over sensationalize certain things that may cause readers to lose the point of each passage. This book was a breath of fresh air in the ever growing sea of memoir release and with the holidays right around the corner “Hit So Hard: A Memoir” could be the perfect gift for that music lover and or reader in your life.

Book Review: “Last of the Giants: The True Story of Guns N’ Roses” by Mick Wall

“Last of the Giants: The True Story of Guns N’ Roses”
Author: Mick Wall
Lesser Gods
Hardcover: 432 pages

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Guns N’ Roses exploded during the 80’s glam metal scene and boldly redefined rock ’n’ roll for a new era. Mick Wall met Guns N’ Roses when the band members lived together in Los Angeles and became a part of their inner circle. Thanks to Wall’s longtime friendship and connections with Guns N’ Roses, he conducted exclusive interviews with all the original members and, for the first time, their original managers, who were in the trenches with Guns N’ Roses (from 1986 to 2004). They share all-new revelations about the band’s rock-star debauchery in the studio, on tour and behind the scenes. “Last of the Giants” is a celebration of Guns N’ Roses: the last of the extraordinary, excessive, not-giving-a-shit rock stars.

Imagine you are a fly on the wall during some of the most pivotal and monumental moments during Guns N’ Roses career. Arguably one of the most legendary rock and roll band in the last 3 decades “Last of the Giants: The True Story of Guns N’ Roses” is the account of that such fly (Mick Wall). Told through third person accounts and candid interviews with members and associates pass and present “Last of the Giants” is brimming over with behind the scenes stories and fresh interviews which shine new light on the bands fame and persona. Probably my favorite part of the book was amidst the chapters were 28 pages of full color photos highlighting the band at various points. These photos are not the same old reprints we have seen time and time again but new fresh photos that helped accentuate the text before and after each section.

“Last of the Giants” gives readers the inside track via behind the scenes firsthand accounts and through newly conducted interviews with those directly involved in some of the most important moments of the bands career. You get all the details and more in the latest offering from Mick Wall. I think I would have been more in to the book if this was an official release from the band however after reading this book you may understand why something of that nature hasn’t come to fruition. That aside no matter how intense of a G N’R fan you might be “Last of the Giants” is worth checking out.

Book Review: America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World” by Corey Taylor

America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World”
Author: Corey Taylor
Da Capo Press
Hardcover 256 pages

Our Score: 1.5 out of 5 stars

In America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World”, Slipknot/Stone Sour lead singer Corey Taylor directs his signature combination of humor and outrage at today’s America, sparing no one along the way. Taylor doesn’t shy away from thorny issues as he draws a brutally honest portrait of his country, outlining the good, the bad, the unflattering and the patriotic. Whether it’s politics or social media, race or pop culture, religion or reality TV, “America 51” digs deep into the roots of contemporary America.

The 4th book from singer turned best-selling author Corey Taylor titled America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside “The Greatest Country in the World” is easily the brashest in your face collection of rants from the out spoken front-man. Having struggled my way through Taylor’s last two literary offerings l was a touch apprehensive about subjecting myself to another 256 pages of rambling. However being a long time fan of both Slipknot and Stone Sour I was willing to still give this book a shot. Within the first several chapters I could see that this book was going to be just like the others as Taylor becomes so wrapped up in his thoughts that he quickly loses site of the actual. I found this to very distracting and despite Taylor’s off the wall comedic jabs at society and his take on the current political climate there were just too many thoughts going on at one time causing the book to come off as very unorganized and poorly edited.

If you liked Corey’s previous three books then there is no doubt in my mind that “America 51” will fit right in with your collection as by now you have become a custom to the author’s chaotic style. However, if you are looking for this to be your first exposure to Corey Taylor outside of his music then you may want to hold up and check out some of his earlier works first.

Book Review: “From Cradle to Stage: Stories From the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars” by Virginia Hanlon Grohl

“From Cradle to Stage: Stories From the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars”
Author: Virginia Hanlon Grohl
Da Capo Press
Hardcover 204 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When Virginia Hanlon Grohl first saw her son perform in front of thousands of screaming fans she knew that rock stardom was meant to be for her son. And as Virginia watched her son’s star rise, she often wondered about the other mothers who raised sons and daughters who became rock stars. Were they as surprised as she was about their children’s fame? Did they worry about their children’s livelihood and wellbeing in an industry fraught with drugs and other dangers? Did they encourage their children’s passions despite the odds against success, or attempt to dissuade them from their grandiose dreams? Do they remind their kids to pack a warm coat when they go on tour?

All those answers and more are contained in “From Cradle to Stage: Stories From the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars”. Over the course of the books 204 pages you get a unique behind the scenes look like never before. However not from the stars themselves but from their mothers! Yes that’s right their mothers. Along with author Hanlon Grohl own story of motherhood we hear from other moms including Verna Griffin (Dr. Dre), Janis Winehouse (Amy Winehouse), Hester Diamond (Mike D of the Beastie Boys) and Bettye Moses and Harriette Brown (mother & step mother of Zac Brown) as they recount the years before, during and after their sons and daughters became house hold names. I don’t recall a book like this ever being released which adds to the appeal because who is better to ask about those earlier childhood years than one’s own mom.

The candid firsthand accounts are what really kept me turning page after page. “From Cradle to Stage” is a fun, fast read unlike any biography I have come across before. While the book does a great job showcasing several mothers’ journeys its underlying story about the bond between parents and children is its greatest attribute. Not only is this a great read for parents but also for anyone looking for a different look at some of music’s biggest artists and the moms who impacted their lives.

 

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Book Review “Nella the Princess Knight” by Christine Ricci

Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 2
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 7, 2017

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Nella the Princess Knight” is the latest new animated preschool series to come out of Nick Jr. This show quickly became one of my 5 year old’s favorite series. The show is cheesy and drives me nuts personally but my girl loves it and that is all that matters to me. This is the first book in the “Nella the Princess Knight” series and tells the story of “Nella’s Unicorn Rescue”. Since receiving this book, it has become a staple for my daughter at bedtime. If your kids has discovered this show I would recommend the book for sure…and if you haven’t discovered the show my daughter would highly recommend it.

Keeping it with the family, the story is written by Christine Ricci, which is a curriculum consultant on Nick Jr. shows like “Blaze and the Monster Machines” and “Team Umizoomi”. The show is cute and works well for kids because it focuses on relationship development and positive messaging for preschoolers and promotes them to be courageous. That is a message that I want my daughter to have as she is soaking up everything around her and growing up. I look forward to future books from Random House Books for Young Readers and I hope they continue this series for “Nella the Princess Knight” for a while!

 

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Book Review: “Lonely Boy: Tales of a Sex Pistol”

“Lonely Boy: Tales of a Sex Pistol”
Author: Steve Jones
Da Capo Press
Hardcover 308 pages

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“Lonely Boy: Tales of a Sex Pistol” recounts the life and times of Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. Through the nihilistic songs, amphetamine-fueled music, and influential fashion that turned a one-time street urchin into a founding member of a genre-defining band “Lonely Boy” offers a truly in-depth portrait of one of punk’s founding fathers.

For anyone with even the smallest bit of knowledge related to Steve Jones and his band The Sex Pistols I don’t have to tell you what to expect from “Lonely Boy”. Sex, drugs and rock and roll it’s all here told directly from the man who lived and breathed it. Throughout the books 308 pages Jones takes the reader on a cringe worthy ride that starts off with detailed accounts of Jones traumatic childhood which was rout with abuse and neglect. As the book progresses the reader is treated to firsthand accounts of the early incarnation of The Sex Pistols and how it morphed into what the world would see as the band were made into the poster boys of punk rock for generations to come.

Not just your everyday run of the mill biography. “Lonely Boy” delves much deeper than other books in the genre. Jones forges straight on into rough waters as he recounts the events that would shape who he has become today. From the ups and downs his band The Sex Pistols created to his struggles with severe drug addiction this book is not for the queasy as it probably as real as one can get. At times I found the stories to wander and be a bit lengthy however pushing through there was always light at the end of the tunnel as each chapter blended nicely into the next. Also worth noting are the photos which are included in the book. Many of them were ones I had not seen before only adding to the books unique story and making “Lonely Boy: Tales of a Sex Pistol” is a must read for any and all music fans.

 

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