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  • gilwilson 1:18 PM on January 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , jenny mccarthy, life   

    “Stirring the Pot: My Recipe for Getting What You Want Out of Life” 

    “Stirring the Pot: My Recipe for Getting What You Want Out of Life”
    By: Jenny McCarthyjmcarthy
    Narrated by: Jenny McCarthy
    Length: 3 hrs and 1 min
    Release date: 05-06-14
    Publisher: Random House Audio

    I’m not sure why I wanted to listen to this audiobook, but I did. Maybe it’s that Jenny were at SIU-Carbondale at the same time in the Early 90s. (I actually think I had a General Ed. Class with her.) Whatever the reason I actually enjoyed it more than I would normally think. I do try to read biographies on occasion, but usually they are musicians. This book won’t change your way of life or way of thinking, but it will provide you with a bit of humor. There were several times during the book I would laugh out loud and a couple of times where I had to “rewind” the audiobook to hear what I missed because I laughed.

    Ms. McCarthy reads the book which is great. I think all autobiographies should be read by the author because they can read it with the emotion/sarcasm/humor needed. Another aspect of her doing the reading is that she brings it down to Earth, and even with the crazy celebrity life she is just like us normal people.

    To sum up, entertaining anecdotes, from a down to earth yet stuck in celebritydom celebrity.

  • gilwilson 3:34 PM on March 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , book lovers, , gabrielle zevin, , life,   

    Audiobook Review: “The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin 


    Audiobook Review: “The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry”
    by Gabrielle Zevin
    Read by Scott Brick
    Published by Highbridge Audio
    approx 7 hours

    I have always loved books. I used to look forward to the “Weekly Reader” news back in grade school so I could beg my mom to order more books. I would constantly scout yard sales in search of a book that would strike my fancy. For the most part my tastes ran in the Sci-fi and Horror genres. I hated the books that I was made to read (at least until I was older and could actually appreciate them). I once attended a high school in Oregon that each semester the student chose the classes and one semester there was a reading class. This class was unique in that it wasn’t assigned reading, but rather books the students chose. We’d spend that hour of the day reading, we kept track of the daily pages read to show progress, and as we finished each book we would discuss with the teacher on a one-on-one basis the book and what our next book choice would be. I loved those discussions, the teacher seemed to have read almost everything and each session the teacher would always steer me toward another book in that area, but I would still choose my own. During that semester I read, “Night of the Living Dead” (I was testing the limits with this), “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “On the Road,” “Flowers for Algernon” and a couple of Stephen King novels.

    This freedom allowed me to branch out from my horror and sci-fi novels and find other fun books. The problem was I was only at that school for one semester and soon moved on to being assigned, “Moby Dick,” “Catcher in the Rye” and the rest that everyone “must” read. While in the Navy I was constantly reading every chance I could, which there were many chances when out to sea. What this all boils down to is that reading is a major part of my life and has become even more so in my later adult years, now I can again read whatever I want, and with the addition of audiobooks into my selections, I absorb books at an even higher pace. This book by Gabrielle Zevin is written just for me. Okay, maybe not specifically for me but people like me. In “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry,” Zevin has shown how books are not only a major part of peoples lives but how each person’s life is like a collection of books and makes it fun to connect people with books. Even better is that this book not only shows why we read but why people come and go in our lives and why we love them and love in general. The book is full of literary references that are just as fun to discover as the listening to the audiobook itself.

    I chose the audiobook version of this book for several reasons, but the main reason was that it was read by Scott Brick. Scott Brick is one of my favorite audiobook narrators. I’ve always enjoyed his readings because he is able to capture all the emotions and characters of every book he reads. This book, however, had even more of a pull, in that the press release had a quote from Brick stating that this book is one that made him cry. Knowing that Scott Brick has read thousands of books for the audiobook market, one would think he would be immune to those sad moments while reading. Without giving any spoilers, I would say that I could hear the moment that hit him hardest. Brick was perfect in the reading of this book and along with him, I found myself tearing up through out.

    A.J. Fickry is a grumpy old bookstore owner. He has recently lost his wife to an auto accident, which he blames himself for. Her loss has made A.J. even grumpier. A.J. has a rare copy of “Tamerlane” by Edgar Allen Poe, and plans on selling that at auction and moving off of Alice Island. One morning after waking up hungover, A.J. discovers the book missing. After months of investigation the book is never recovered and A.J. must continue running the bookstore.

    What happens next turns A.J.’s life around and he discovers the answers to several of life’s mysterys. A young woman leaves her baby in the children’s books section of the bookstore and tells A.J. through a note attached that she wants her daughter to grow up well read. The woman’s body later washes up onshore leaving more of a mystery. At first A.J. is confused and annoyed, after all what is he going to do with a baby? A.J. soon grows fond of the two year-old with a surprising vocabulary, and works to get her adopted.

    The rest of the book is about learning about life and love through A.J. and his living through his daughter, Mia Tamerlane Fickry. The many lessons learned involve the differences of race and how people perceive that, how love comes to you when you least expect it, and the meaning of life. If you are ready for a book that runs the entire emotional gamut that is life. At the end of the book you can’t help but feel satisfied with just having read / listened to a great story and peek into someone’s life. All told through the shared experiences of books, book discussions, book clubs and A.J. Fickry pick out the books for his shelf.

    If you have ever made friends with a book this one will easily become your new best friend.



  • gilwilson 8:48 PM on January 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , gay rights, life, , , , , one gay american, shorn,   

    “One Gay American” by Dennis Milam Bensie 


    “One Gay American”
    by Dennis Milam Bensie
    Published by Coffeetown Press
    242 Pages

    In Dennis Milam Bensie’s first book “Shorn…” the reader was introduced to the author by way of his finding his way through life struggling with being a gay man in a cruel society and on top of that having to struggle with his obsession with hair. This was a very brave move for Dennis to expose himself to the world. Dennis has taken that newfound bravery and further explains his life and struggle to find who he is and where he belongs in the world in his second book, “One Gay American.”

    From his first memory of his mother’s wedding dress, Dennis desires to one day have that perfect wedding and maybe that perfect wedding dress. What starts out as a desire for a beautiful dress develops into the author wanting to have a meaningful relationship with a lifelong partner and actually being wanted and having a sense of belonging. He starts out with a photo of his mother at her wedding in which to his amazement and horror is not decked out in a traditional white flowing wedding dress. For the rest of his childhood Dennis is trying to make up for that by making bridal dolls for family members and even one for the woman he marries.

    Dennis does marry a woman, all the while struggling with the realization that he is a gay man and that this marriage is a sham. Being the loving person he tries to stay married so as not to crush his bride, her family or worse yet his family. He wants to impress his father, who doesn’t know how to show his feelings for his effiminate son. Eventually Dennis cannot handle living that lie and gets divorced. The rest of his life from his college years to working in the theatre, Dennis struggles with trying to find the right person to share his life with. This is the basic struggle of all human beings, finding love, loving and being loved. The big difference is to find love with the right person when your passion is for someone of the same sex and all the while society looking down on your lifestyle.

    Dennis tells his life story while at the same time comparing with what is going on in gay rights history. Each Chapter begins with an event in gay rights history and the authors response to that event and compares that to what is going on during that moment in his life. One day in the future when same-sex marriage is accepted and gay rights are an accepted norm, this book will serve as the perfect textbook in this history of America’s civil rights movement. From the gay bashing of Anita Bryant to California’s Prop 8 turmoil, Dennis’ life parallels the struggles of any Gay American, this book just makes it more personal.

  • gilwilson 11:36 PM on December 24, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , fun books, , jenny lawson, life, , , sanity, taxidermy, the bloggess   

    “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)” by Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) 


    “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)”
    written and read by Jenny Lawson (the Bloggess)
    Published by Penguin Audio
    Approx. 8.5 hours

    Holy cow, my sides are still aching after listening to this audiobook. I was not prepared for this and spent my first commute to work with this book loaded into my CD player wiping spewed beverage off my windshield from the hilarity that ensued. I may have to go back and re-listen to this book because I found myself laughing out loud so much that I may have missed some parts.

    “Let’s Pretend…” is the “Mostly True Memoir” of the life of the Bloggess, Jenny Lawson, who grew up in rural Texas and did not have the “normal” life. Her father is a taxidermist, who would surprise the family so much with living or dead animals that soon nothing became a surprise. When Jenny’s father came into their room one night with a cracker box, Jenny’s first thought was something to the effect of, “hell yeah you can wake me up with a name brand box of crackers because we never have name brand food.” But soon after learning of the secret of the magic talking squirrel in the box the Jenny and her sister were intrigued, only soon to be turned into a kind of horror when the squirrel turns out to be the bloody skin of a squirrel on her father’s hand in the fashion of a hand puppet.

    There are numerous stories in this book that at times have you questioning the sanity of the author, her collection of taxidermied animals may seem odd at first but soon becomes accepted as normal, considering the source. Even when Jenny and her family move into a home that may or may not be built on an Indian burial ground, the plagues of scorpions, the dog that rises from the dead, the fighting off vultures with a machete (what are vultures doing with machetes anyway?) and the chupacabra that may or may not be living in the walls of the home, all seem to fit right in with her life and only Jenny Lawson can tell these stories with such humor that in the end you may question your own sanity.

    This book is read by the author, who is an award-winning blogger (thebloggess.com) and is the only person that can deliver the stories with such wit, wisdom, poignancy and emotion. Her delivery of the stories are flippant at times, with asides of humor thrown in that will keep you laughing along with her misadventures. Another bonus in the audiobook is that it includes a bonus chapter that was cut out of the published hardcopy version and there are some hilarious outtakes of her conversations with the engineer producing the audiobook that in themselves make for a great chapter. I especially loved the idea of the drinking game brought up in the outtakes where every time she says the word vagina the listener drinks, and yes you’d be getting drunk real fast if you were to play along.

    Great fun and, for me, a great surprise in this audiobook. If you want to look at life from a different and humorous perspective. Even the most educated persons will find themselves feeling good that they aren’t the only ones that ask these questions, like “Why wasn’t Jesus classified as a Zombie?”

  • gilwilson 3:40 PM on December 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , john shea, jonathan tropper, life, , , ,   

    “One Last Thing Before I Go” by Jonathan Tropper 


    “One Last Thing Before I Go”
    by Jonathan Tropper
    read by John Shea
    Published by Penguin Audio
    Approx. 8.5 hours

    I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into when I picked this audiobook to be my next to hear. Sure the synopsis on the cover tells of Drew Silver, a drummer formerly with a one hit wonder band, who is struggling to get by after a failed career and a failed marriage, is confronted with a life or death situation opts out of the life portion. I thought really I was going to hear an audiobook about a former rock star’s romp through his days as if they were his last. I couldn’t have been any more wrong. What this book turned out to be is an emotional romp through life and its many surprises.

    Let me start out by talking about the reader, John Shea, his voicing of Silver, subject of all this life affirming novel, is beautiful. Silver is pretty much a laid back person, who knows he’s screwed up a good chunk of his life and is ready to move on, but Silver has a deeper part of his psyche that John Shea is able to bring out in this performance. Shea not only brings Silver to full three-dimensional life but is also able to deliver the audiobook and all its characters to the listener in such a dynamic that pulls them into the story and won’t let them escape. All the emotions in this book, which pretty much runs the gamut of human emotions, are brought to life through the expert vocalizations of John Shea.

    The surprising part of this book is the use of wit and humor to get through some of the toughest events that are emotionally trying. While the humor is not laugh out loud funny, although, there are some of those moments, it is just the right amount to make these characters come to life and be much more real and, well, human. Jonathan Tropper is able to create the dialogue that never seems fake or contrived. All conversations are very real and when dealing with the situations the characters are put through feel very natural.

    Some examples of the emotional ups and downs are when one of Silver’s friends admits he’s been going through chemo without telling anyone for weeks and then wishing he had a relationship with his son, Silver and friends take him on a road trip to try to take amends. On the road trip they find out the reason the friend is estranged from his son is that he slept with his son’s fiance, now wife. All the twists and turns in the story come out to an ending that leaves you guessing and yet feeling fulfilled.

    The gist of the story is that Silver, former drummer for the Bent Daisies, is struggling through life. The Bent Daisies had one hit, which Silver wrote, and then the lead singer strikes out for a solo career and becomes very successful. In the meantime, Silver gets by, barely, on his royalty checks, playing in wedding bands and for bar/bat mitzvahs, and by donating sperm for scientific experiments.

    Silver also has failed at being a husband and father and after 15 years of living as a divorce in an apartment full of mopey older divorced men, he’s become pretty cynical. His wife is about to marry a man who Silver can’t seem to make himself hate, he tries, but he knows this guy, a Surgeon is good for his ex-wife and daughter. His daughter, Casey, who has never really been a part of his life, due to his own fault, comes to him in a time of need. She’s 18 and pregnant. She tells him before she tells her mother, because she cares less about letting him down. After some heartfelt discussion, he agrees to be there for her no matter what decision she makes.

    Casey decides on an abortion and Silver takes her to the clinic, just as they are filling out papers and waiting, Silver suffers a stroke. Before I talk more about the story, I have to say that Jonathan Tropper’s description and all of Silver’s inner dialogue are pure genius in giving an outsider a view of what is going on in Silver’s mind at the time. In fact all through the book Silver’s inner dialogue (which due to the stroke become accidentally spoken aloud) are beautiful descriptions of the past present and future for Silver.

    Silver wakes in the hospital with Casey worrying over him. As he awakens the doctor, who also happens to be his ex-wife’s fiance, explains that he has a tear in his aorta and that the stroke was caused by the clot from this tear loosening and hitting the brain. Silver needs an operation to repair the tear or he will die soon. Silver says that’s all fine, but he won’t be taking the surgery. This is when everything goes haywire. Silver begins voicing all his thoughts aloud, constantly stating his fears and regrets aloud. Silver decides to make the best of the rest of his short life, but the rest of his family are set to convince him to get the surgery. Silver’s father, a Rabbi, asks why does he choose death, to which Silver replies, “It’s not that I choose death, it’s just that I don’t choose life.”

    Through some strange misadventures and life affirming events Silver finds what in his life he’s been missing, and not until the very end do we find out whether or not he will take the surgery and even then it’s an insightful end. Poignant, witty, heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time is what makes this book a great read.

  • gilwilson 10:19 PM on August 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , james fox, joe hurley, , keith richards, life, , ,   

    “Life” by Keith Richards & James Fox 

    by Keith Richards & James Fox
    Read by Johnny Depp, Joe Hurley & Keith Richards
    Produced by Hachette Audio (2010)
    Approx 24 hours.

    I think I may have read one of the most intriguing and entertaining autobiographies ever.  “Life,” the story of Keith Richards and his life in and out of the Rolling Stones.  The Stones were/are one of the world’s biggest bands and the stuff of rock and roll legend.  I never was a big fan of the Stones before, but after listening to this audio book I am now.  Working in radio I have played a few of their tunes and even had a couple of favorites, but I guess I never really gave them a chance.

    What has made me a fan most of all is something I found extremely surprising in this audiobook, the easy flow of the story beginning with Keith Richards’ early life and just rolling along through his life, warts and all.  Also the idea presented that Richards’ is a pretty laid back guy.  He had his ups and downs with drug addiction, which he discusses through this book, but the amazing thing is that he didn’t really have anything bad to say about anybody.  Most celebrity biographies/autobiographies, the celeb has a beef with someone or several someones.  Or there is an expose feel to a biography which has a purpose of poking at wounds.  Keith did have conflicts with people, such as Brian Jones and later with Mick Jagger and a few in between, but each time Keith presented it by always taking the blame for some of the turmoil.  He never blamed and there was no fingerpointing and there was no beef with anyone that he had to get out.  Keith simply told his story and left it at that.

    Many times throughout the book Keith turns the storytelling over to other people due to them having a different perspective, some of the other people are Marlon (his son), Bobby Keys, and just about anyone else involved in his life.

    In this book all the myths are exposed, such as did Keith get his “blood changed” to break his heroin addiction? did he really snort his father’s ashes? Was it a palm tree he fell from?  All this and more including the loves of his life.  Other than music Keith loved a few women, from Ronnie Spector to Anita Pallenberg, they’re all special and from the words he uses the reader/listener can tell he loved them deeply.

    Throughout the book Richards, of course, discusses his love of music.  From the discovery of American Blues to Island music, he incorporates it all into the music that becomes the most timeless music of all time, Rolling Stones music.  How some of the songs were written and recorded can be surprising and yet once you go back and hear the tunes it makes sense.

    The audiobook is also a bit of a Keith Richards sandwich, with Keith providing the intro and the final chapters’ narration of the book.  Johnny Depp reads for Keith’s early years, and musician Joe Hurley reads for the better part of the 70s section and Johnny Depp taking over again for the 80s and beyond.   Depp, who based his Jack Sparrow pirate character on Richards, does an awesome job reading as Richards, but Joe Hurley makes the middle section fun doing a great “slight” impersonation of Richards and the others whose voices are required.  As far as biographies go this is the best read one I’ve ever heard.

    With the book being around 24 hours of listening time, I was a bit wary of the task, but once the book started I was hooked and just couldn’t let go.  Great bit of rock and roll history with some inside stories that make the trip more fun.

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