Spread The News: Some of My Favorite Songs by Huey Lewis and The News

One of the most successful (and one of my all time favorite) bands from the 1980 and 1990s was Huey Lewis and The News. This act had 18 U.S. Top 40 hits, 12 Top 10 hits, and 3 Number Ones. They also had two #1 albums. The band fused Pop Rock, Blues, Soul, and R&B into their music and are still putting out some great music and touring every year. I have seen them twice live and they were awesome. Their albums “Fore” and “Sports” were a major part of my childhood; in fact, we wore out several copies of “Sports” on cassette one summer alone during high school band camp and other events. Even though most people know the major hits like “The Power Of Love,” “If This Is It,” and “Stuck With You,” there are so many other songs by the band that many people forget or have yet to dive into. Here are some of my favorite Huey Lewis and The News songs (in no particular order).

“Is It Me” (1982). This ballad is one of my favorite songs off of the “Picture This” album. I have mentioned in past blogs how “Picture This” is one album that people need to know because there is not a bad song on the whole album. When people mention this album, they think of the songs “Workin’ For A Livin’,” “Do You Believe In Love,” or “I Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do,” but “Is It Me” is just as good as any of the ballads the band has made period. The song is similar in lyrics to “If This Is It” where the singer is telling the other person if he is the problem, let him know and he’ll leave. This song may have been on the AC or Pop Charts if it was released later when the band was on a streak, and was overlooked in my opinion on the album.

“He Don’t Know” (1991). Another album that is overlooked in the band’s work is “Hard At Play” (which I mentioned in the Underrated Albums blog). I listened to this album almost every day for a whole summer when it came out. I remember videotaping the band’s performance on “The Tonight Show” promoting the song as well and watching it over and over. The album produced two Top 40 singles, but this song did not chart when it was released. I like the Bluesy guitar work throughout the song, along with the opening where Huey is just talking before he starts singing. I also really love the ending guitar work, which shows the musicianship of Chris Hayes. One of the songwriters on the song, Jon Tiven, has had songs recorded by Rick Derringer, B.B. King, and Buddy Guy among others.


“Walking On A Thin Line” (1983). This song was off of the #1 album “Sports” and hit the charts in the U.S. at #18. It was the final single released off of the album, but yet for some reason is not remembered by many critics or causal fans, despite the chart position. The song discusses Vietnam Veterans, but some may not know that just by listening to the song. I like how the song has an edge to it, as opposed to the previous released Pop songs by the band. I remember the song was the start of Side Two on the album, and I used to love the opening even when it was played at band parties during my junior high years. This is one song that needs another listening to if you have forgotten about this song.

“When I Write The Book” (2001). This song was a Nick Lowe cover for the band’s “Plan B” Album. Not that Lowe’s version is bad, I just love the take Huey and The News take on the song made it more soulful with the organ and horns being more in front of the song. The song shows how Huey could have been a great singer in the 1960s right beside acts like Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke. “Plan B” has a few great spots on the album, and to me, some songs I have to skip over. However, this cover is one of the best parts on the album.


“Til The Day After” (1996). There are very few Greatest Hits and Live albums I will actually purchase. I am not sure why I ended up getting Huey’s “Time Flies..The Best Of” album at first, but I love this song off of the compilation. The Greatest Hits CD has four new tracks, and they are good, but this song should have been given a second chance (one song “So Little Kindness” was added to the “Plan B” album because Lewis wanted it to have a second chance). The acappella intro shows the vocal skills of the band, much like “Bad is Bad” from “Sports” but kicks into a mid tempo song with horns blaring. I always could picture this song being an opener (or encore) at their concerts, where the band starts off in the dark and then the house lights turn on when the music kicks in. The chorus of “I‘m gonna stay to the day after/After the sun turns off its light/The stars don’t shine at night/When God comes for my soul/I’ll politely say no/I’m gonna stay til the day after the world stops turning around” is just pure poetry. This song could be played at weddings it’s so great.

“Old Antone’s” (1988). The “Small World” album was a mix of good songs and some odd choices in my opinion. I loved the singles “Perfect World” and owned the 45 of “Give Me The Keys (And I’ll Drive You Crazy).” I was not a fan of the title song from the album, and it is the least listened to album I have of the band. The album did reach the Top 20 Albums Chart, but was not a major seller compared to the band’s other albums previously released. I do love “Old Antones,” which was written by Lewis and member Johnny Colla. The song has a Cajun/Zydeco feel to the song, and the lyrics are so well written that the listener can actually picture themselves sitting in the club watching the characters in the song. This is a great up tempo dance-able song, and shows the band’s growth from just their basic Pop Songs. The band experimented with the sound during this song, and I think it is one of the few bright spots of the album.

“I Know What I Like” (1987). When the “Fore” album came out, I listened to it so much that I got tired of it that I put it away for several years. A few years ago I took it back out and the CD never left my car player for a few months. I was amazed at how great the album held up years later. One of my favorites on this album was “I Know What I Like,” written by Lewis and Hayes. The backing vocals, along with a few others on the album, were done by members of the San Francisco 49ers football team. The song was a Top 10 hit for the band, but is overlooked by the hits “Stuck With You” and “Hip To Be Square” from the album. The song described me when I was younger (and parts are still true), like “I like staying up all night/watching old movies ‘til the morning light.” This song was almost like the band wrote this about me (I know they didn’t though!!) This song was missed by some when the “Fore” Album is looked at.

Huey Lewis and The News were such a major influence on my life, from my drum playing, to just admiring their different blends of music as a fan. There are many other great songs by the band, including their covers album of early Rock N Roll “Four Chords and Several Years Ago” from 1994, where I wore out the VHS copies I had (both bought from the store and taped from the PBS Special). When I started playing drums for local bands in Ohio, I always said that even though my favorite bands were The Beach Boys and Kiss, if I could ever model my dream band to play in, I’d model it like Huey Lewis and The News, where I could play Pop, Blues, Soul, and R&B. It surprises me that the band gets some bad press among the so-called critics, because they are without a doubt one of the greatest American Rock Bands of all time (Is anyone from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame reading this????)

Feel free to subscribe to this blog by clicking on the “Follow Button” or just tell people about this blog and visit my other posts!!


Book Review: A Dog’s Tale: “Mad Dog” Looks at a Legend’s Life

Book cover design by Tania Craan and cover image by Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

Fans of classic professional wrestling will enjoy “Mad Dog: The Maurice Vachon Story (ECW Press, 2017) by Bertrand Hebert, Pat Laprade, and translated by George Tombs. The book journeys through the life of one of the toughest, yet unmentioned wrestlers from Canada.

The book was originally released in 2015 in French, but is now translated and available in English. Vachon was an interesting character, which this book covers. Vachon started wrestling at the local YMCA, and made it to the Olympics in 1948 before starting a career in professional wrestling. Vachon started out as a babyface (good guy), but got his big break when he became a heel (bad guy) years later.

The book follows Vachon’s territory days of wrestling, working for several different promoters for little pay, until moving on to other territories in Canada and the United States. His career later took him to Japan as well, making stops in the NWA, AWA, WWWF and the WWF territories throughout the book. He stopped along the way in Oregon, Calgary, and Quebec.

The book takes the reader through some great events in Vachon’s life, from teaming with his brother, Paul, to being in tag teams with Verne Gagne, Hulk Hogan, Baron Von Raschke , and his solo career, where he won the AWA World and Tag Team Titles.

Even though Vachon was called “The Mad Dog” in the ring, the book describes how Vachon was willing to help out many of the wrestlers get a break in the business (such as a young Roddy Piper), along with helping other wrestlers create gimmicks to help the wrestlers get over to the public. While many wrestling fans recall the viciousness in the ring that the “Mad Dog” portrayed in front of the crowds, the book shows a man that helped many along with way, along with guiding many more people.

The book covers his famous years in the AWA in the 1960s and 1970s, along with his stays in the WWF in the 1980s. There is the story about the famous incident on a plane that AWA owner Verne Gagne would take several wrestlers to events. Vachon , while the plane was in the air, decided to open the side door of the plane, which became one of the most told stories about wrestling on the road in history.

There are some fans that remember Vachon from his time in Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation (WWF) during the early days of the Rock and Wrestling Connection, or his time in the AWA, but the book informs the readers about when Vachon was featured on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” getting mainstream press before Hulk Hogan or Andre The Giant received that kind of attention in the 1980s.

The book also shows the heart-filled downsides that Vachon suffered during his lifetime, from failed marriages to several car accidents, including the shocking story of when he was injured by a car while walking near his home, which resulted in having his leg being amputated. This ordeal is covered with detail, including the aftermath that included lawsuits being brought out.

There are great quotes in the book by wrestlers like Roddy Piper, Rick Martel, Nick Bockwinkel, and family members. The book not only is a biography of a wrestler and wrestling stories, but a behind the scenes glimpse of the man not seen by the general public when the camera was off.

ECW Press is known for putting out some great wrestling books, and “Mad Dog” is one of the enjoyable ones. This book is a biography of a wrestler, yet is also filled with some great history of Canadian professional wrestling as well. The authors have not only shown great research in the book, but present it in a way that flows nicely throughout the book without bogging down the reader with a bunch of dates. The 272 page text has the right amount of information without having slow parts in the reading.

Fans of the classic eras of wrestling (1960s-1980s) will enjoy this work, along with those that want to study more about Canadian Wrestling. The book was entertaining, knowledgeable, and heart-filled all combined in one setting. ECW has another winnner on its hands with “Mad Dog.”


“Mad Dog: The Maurice Vachon Story” by Bertrand Hebert, Pat Laprade, and translated by George Tombs (2017 ISBN: 9781770413320) can be ordered at http://www.ecwpress.com along with their other titles.


A special thanks to ECW Press for the review copy of the book.

Book Review: Fields Tells a Blessed Story

In her book “Blessed Life” (FaithWords, 2017), actress Kim Fields ,with Todd Gold, discusses her career and life in Hollywood, having come to fame through television commercials that led her to the part of Tootie on the show “The Facts of Life.”

Fields takes the reader through a few stories on the set of the “Facts” show, where there were casting changes and mid season breaks during the first season, which eventually led to the show’s breakthrough. She tells about how in during Season Four of the show, a comment by Joan Rivers led to the show’s producers to start monitoring the weight of the cast members. The book walks through Kim’s career after the “Facts,” to getting a role on the show “Living Single,” to her work behind the camera and on reality shows and her love for spoken word poetry.

The book, at times, covers how Fields became a Christian at age 14, and how her faith helped her through some tough parts of her life, including bad relationships, and a time that she refers to as “The Dark Ages,” which a Liza Minnelli interview helped her get through this period of her life.

The book is a easy read and a quick read , which is good and bad. If the reader is looking for a bunch of behind the scenes stories about the “Facts of Life” times, they will not find a lot here. There are stories, but this period seems to be rushed through (either that or there was not much to tell on the set). Fields spends more time on her failed relationships (one interesting story involves having to choose between her church and her then boyfriend), along with her praises for African-American leaders like Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama, and other social causes (which is not bad, it’s her book, but those wanting to hear more about the television career of hers may be let down a little).

There are some great stories in the book about her growing up with a young Janet Jackson and her family, and her career behind the camera with helping out other famous people with their acting, along with her thoughts on the TV Show “Friends,” which was being pushed by the same company that owned “Living Single,” which is very interesting.

This book is a different kind of Christian Living book, where although there are a few Bible verses put in the book, there are not many. The best part of the book is her discussing her “Dark Ages” period, which shows that even the people society builds up, have their doubts, fears, and disappointments.

Die-hard fans of Kim Fields will definitely enjoy this book. This is not a typical Christian book, nor is it a typical Hollywood tell-all biography, which each in their own right, has its unique qualities.



Thank you to FaithWords and Hatchette Books for the Review Copy.



“Blessed Life” by Kim Fields with Todd Gold (FaithWords, 2017 ISBN: 978-1-4789-4754-7 eISBN: 978-1-4789-4755-4) is a division of Hatchette Book Group , Inc.

For more information, go to http://www.Faithwords.com or http://www.hatchettebookgroup.com .       For more on Kim Fields, go to twitter @KimVFields.

Review: Get Behind Stan Lee Book

Bob Batchelor’s ” Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel” (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017) takes the reader through the life and struggles of the most well known comic book creator in Pop Culture in a wonderful read.

The book starts off walking the reader through the early childhood of the comic legend, from his parents struggling with ways to make money to support the family, especially his father, who was many times unemployed. This family background leads to Lee’s incredible work ethic throughout his life. Lee’s love for reading early on, especially the classic works like Shakespeare, helped form his writing skills that inspired many of his comic creations. The book mentions that Lee’s love for “Frankenstein” and “Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde” helped created The Hulk, and his love for Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare, and Alexandre Dumas influenced creating the character Thor, along with Howard Hughes and the Cuban Missile Crisis inspiring the Iron Man/Tony Stark character.

After graduating high school, Lee began his writing career, starting off as an office boy for Timely Comics, which was geared to be a men’s magazine. The book covers the years Lee worked his way up from a gofer to ending up being the head of Marvel Comics, and his relationships throughout the years with the staff, freelancers, and artists in the company, including other comic pioneers Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

Batchelor’s book is not just a date to date biography, but has plenty of interesting storied added to in that keeps the reader engaged. One interesting story from 1977 (when comic sales were down) is when Lee had to be convinced to take a chance on doing a comic tie in with a science fiction movie, called “Star Wars,” which not only became a cultural phenomenon itself, but also saved Marvel from bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy is a common theme throughout this book as well, which was educational for this reader who was not familiar with all of the different bosses, mergers, and bad deals that occurred throughout Lee’s and Marvel’s history. The business undertone in the book makes the text more than just about a man who wrote comic books. Many people may have thought that every creation Lee made was a success, but the book takes the reader through characters like Savage She Hulk, The X-Men, and other titles that did not sell well at first, or was only in limited runs due to an early business deal which Marvel was only allowed to produce a certain number of titles per year. Bad business deals also put the company in trouble several times, including the famous attack on comic books in 1954, which involved Frederick Wertham attacking comic books for its contents. This Senate hearing ended up with the creation of the Comic Code Authority, which put limits on what could and could not be placed in the books, which affected the industry and caused many writers and artists to be fired.

Even throughout the bad business deals and attacks on the industry, Batchelor paints Lee as a person who perseveres throughout his life, including the fact that Lee wanted to be seen as a “credible” writer by his peers, besides comic books, and worked on the men’s magazines and had dreams of being a novelist, but was seen as a comic book writer. The reader gets a nice heart-filled touch to what may be seen as just a fact based book.

“Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel” is not just a basic biography where the author presents a lot of research material (although it is very well researched), but it presents themes of The American Dream of a man who wanted one goal, but embraced another that turned him into a legendary figure in publishing, even through down turns, such as sales plummeting, canceled series, and numerous bad business deals and multiple bosses. The easy to read chapters makes this 204-page book an educational read for many who love comics, or just want to know more about the man behind many of the great comic book creations.


(A Special Thanks to Rowman and Littlefield for the Reading Copy of this book).


“Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel” (Hardback ISBN: 978-1-4422-7781-6 and ebook ISBN: 978-1-4422-7782-3) is available at http://www.rowman.com. Or order at 800-462-6420

For information about the author, go to http://www.bobbatchelor.com


If you are looking for comics, culture, and collectables, and live in the Columbiana, Ohio area, visit WatchTower Heroes, LLC, located at 6 Main Street Columbiana, Ohio 44408. Check them out at http://www.watchtowerheroes.com and on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/WatchtowerHeroesComics/

Book Review: Victoria and Albert: You’ll Love this Book of Royalty

The book “Victoria and Albert A Royal Love Affair” (St. Martin’s Press, 2017) by Daisy Goodman and Sara Sheridan is not just filled with not wonderful photographs detailing Season 2 of the PBS series, but is also an outstanding biography of the royal couple.

This book is the official companion to the television series starring Jenna Coleman (known from her stint on Doctor Who) and Tom Hughes. The book has many pleasant photographs on the set of the show, including behind the scenes photos and stories that describe how the writer, set designers, and other cast members approach the show and their characters. The book also tells the story of the couple based on historical research and the use of Victoria’s journals.

The biography part of the book is well researched , and the authors add many pleasing information, giving a back story and extra information on topics during the reign of the couple, especially during the second series of the show. The book includes several timelines of historical events that were a part of the Victorian society, such as the working conditions of children, the popularity of satire in the newspapers, and the technological advances during this period. The writers also detail the events of the Irish Potato Famine, The “Corn Laws”, and how they affected those around Victoria (the famine and “Corn Laws” especially affected Sir Robert Peel that caused a rift within his own political party). The companion also covers topics like the several assassination attempts on Victoria’s life and the working conditions inside of the palace, along with the advances and historical precedents that Albert helped bring to society.

Since this is also a book about the television series, there are wonderful cast quotes about their characters, how the costume designers and set designers created the settings, and humorous tales about extras and the animals used on the show (for instance one extra was sent home for having blue hair, and the dog that plays Victoria’s Dash was actually deaf).

The book even covers descriptions of the symbolism in the culture at the time, such as what the hidden messages meant for use of different kinds of flowers, to a description of medicine uses during the period (such as leeches), and what the criteria was for a person to inherit the crown.

The great thing about this book is that someone who has not seen the television show would not be lost in the book. The reader can come into this book with no idea of the show and enjoy the book, because it is part biography. The layout of glossy pages, filled with quotes from the series is beautifully done, along with the pages of the extra information, such as the coverage of one would be assassin who was referred to as “The Boy Jones,” how Royal Christenings were done, and covering the etiquette and food of the time.

Goodwin and Sheridan’s companion book is not just for fans of the show, but for history readers. There is so much information, timelines, and drawings that the reader will take several minutes on each page gazing at the glossy layout filled with color and black and white photographs.

The old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” applies here, because if one just sees the cover, they will think it’s just about the television series, which is a shame because there is so much to this book to please history and pop culture readers, along with those that like to see how a series is created (including the work that goes into a show), on top of those that want to read about one of the most famous Royals. This is one book that must be read, and then read again.



A very special thanks to St. Martin’s Press for the advanced reading copy.


“Victoria and Albert A Royal Love Affair” by Daisy Goodwin and Sara Sheridan (St. Martin’s Press, 2017 ISBN: 978-1-250-17530-4) is available where books are sold. For more information on books by St. Martin’s Press, go to : http://www.stmartins.com.

For more about Daisy Goodwin to go: http://www.daisygoodwin.co.uk

For information about Sara Sheridan, go to : http://www.sarasheridan.com

Book Review: Get in the “Popular” Group.

Joddie Zeng’s “The Popularity Project” (Author House, 2015) takes the reader on a journey where a high school junior places herself into a situation with a new look, personality, and school all for the sake of a secret project which finds herself discovering a part of herself that she didn’t knew existed in this wonderful Young Adult book.

The main character, Ariella Winters, is a girl at Easton High who could care less about the typical life that her peers deal with; boys, drama, and being popular. All Ariella has cared about since she was younger was getting the grades she needs to be accepted into her dream college. When her and a few other students end up in the “New You Project” given by her teacher (a project where each student is transferred to another school and put out of their comfort zone) Ariella starts to change her thinking about the other classmate stereotypes that she grew to know.

Ariella gets placed in Lincoln Bay High School, and her topic is to be a part of the popular crowd and study popularity, where she has to try and befriend the “popular” group and learn from her experiences. With help from her best friend, she gets an appearance makeover , from clothes (no more bagging shirts and sweatpants) to getting contacts, and tips on makeup.

During the project, she has to fake her way through liking the girls she normally would not think about even talking to (and vice versa), along with the fact that the star athlete on the soccer team (the guy everyone at the school wants to date), Ashton Walker, becomes attracted to her.

Ashton’s and Ariella have somewhat the same idea on love, but on a different spectrum- he wants to hook up and keep love causal, while Ariella doesn’t believe in high school romances lasting, along with her “who has the time” mindset, because all she needs is college. As the reader may find out, Ariella and Ashton, after several bantering where the she blows him off, end up being more than just classmates.

Zeng’s book is filled with funny conversations between the characters. Ariella and her best friend, Flora, have some of the funniest wit and conversations between each other that makes the book humorous where the reader will laugh out loud. She also has a unique relationship with her aunt, where they spend time watching reality shows at night, which is also enjoyable. However, the book’s focus is geared on her interactions with Ashton, who is not only the stereotypical annoying star athlete, but also, a young man who has reasons for the way he acts, which shows depth to the character (even though the annoying attitude doesn’t die out once Ariella and Ashton become closer for this reader). Even though it’s hard to be compassionate to the Ashton character, Zeng shows , like any high school labeled person, there are layers to his life, while he is trying to figure out his youth and where he belongs (plus, being an older reader, the bias is different than a young adult reading this).

The heart of the book is at the ending, when Ariella has to go back to her school and give her conclusions to her teacher. Her speech during the presentation is inspiring and hopeful in dealing with the topic of cliques in the school systems. Ariella not only starts out hating the project, but finds discoveries about other people, including herself, throughout the story, which is what a great coming of age book should entail. Zeng has the characters and themes nailed in the book, probably because she is still a teen author, but that should not detour older readers not to check this out, because it is well beyond a typical teen writer’s skills- this book is amazingly written, where some adult authors in the genre could learn some writing tips from this author.

Overall, the book is extremely entertaining, while engaging. This is not a “Mean Girls” book, where the character joins the popular group and goes around cutting down the other students. Although there are a few minor misses with a few characters (namely the revengeful bad girl Tara, who gets written out pretty quickly after a climatic engagement), the book is a wonderful read. Even though the last statement with Tara is awkward, there are pleasing interactions with other the characters like Ariella’s parents, Ashton’s best friend Elliot, and Ariella’s Aunt Stella.

The art work on the cover shows a camera being held up towards the sky, which is a reference to Ariella’s hobby of taking pictures of the stars, but there is another symbolism to this illustration. The cover shows that Zeng has a bright future, if she decides to pursue it, in her writing. This book is truly one that fans of Young Adult books should check out from a wonderful author in her debut.



Thank you to Joddie Zeng for the review copy.


“The Popularity Project” by Joddie Zeng (2015 ISBN: 978-1-4969-6940-8) is available at book sites and at http://www.authorhouse.com. For more information about the author, go to http://www.joddiezeng.com


Book Reviews: Cleveland Rocks with Radio History


These two books feature some of the historic times of Cleveland radio, and are rich with tales from a time when radio was not so predictable, in playlist format and personalities.


One of my favorite television shows growing up was “WKRP In Cincinnati”. I loved watching the crazy deejays on the show, especially Dr. Johnny Fever, and the high jinxes that occurred on the program. Many times as a child, I would play my records and tapes, pretending to have my own radio show by channeling my inner Casey Kasem and Wolfman Jack. Even though some of the stories on WKRP was thought to have been made up for the show, there were many crazy deejays and radio station personalities across the country whose stories influenced the show. In their book “Cleveland Radio Tales” ( Gray & Company Publishers, 2017), Mike and Janice Olszewski tell some of the stories that were experienced from radio stations in Cleveland Ohio.

The book details many different unique, and just plain odd, people that worked at the area radio stations, including on-air talent like “Count” John Manolesco, who performed a live exorcism on the air (who also claimed he was a vampire and an astrologer), to the legendary story of how Jack Paar, before he went on to become the host of “The Tonight Show,” stopped the city from panicking during the broadcast of Orson Wells’ reading of “War of the Worlds.” The book tells a story about Murray Saul, who worked for WMMS, and held a big party at his apartment with complete strangers only to wake up the next day to the place being looted, to the times the WMMS staff ran up huge bar tabs on the company’s accounts.

There are some great brief stories about musicians and acts that came into the radio stations, such as Gene Simmons of Kiss, Michael Anthony of Van Halen, an incident at Blossom Music Center involving Greg Allman and a flying bat, to why The Moody Blues were in their dressing room at Cleveland Public Hall holding on to their gear. The book tells a quick story about how great wrestling managers Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Jimmy Hart were to the staff at WMMS.

The book covers pirated radio stations, some country stations on the AM dial, and other tales from Cleveland radio’s past. Some of the stories involve the time Leonard Nimoy wanted Jim Morrison to be on the television show “Star Trek”, when a deejay lost the company car after being at the local bar too long, and a story of an on-air talent who hid drugs in the wall when he was leaving the station to go elsewhere, only to find the drugs in the same spot two years later when he returned to the station.

The book is a short read (188 pages), with short chapters. Some of the stories are quick and not elaborate in detail, due to the many tales in the book, there is only so much that the authors could possibly put in the book. The short read makes the book enjoyable and one that Cleveland historians would enjoy, along with those that grew up listening to their favorite Cleveland radio personalities.


“Cleveland Radio Tales” by Mike & Janice Olszewski (Gray and Company Publishers, 2017 ISBN: 978-1-938441-90-5) is available at http://www.grayco.com or at 800-915-3609.


In his book “Lanigan In The Morning: My Life In Radio” (Grey & Company Publishers, 2017), John Lanigan takes the readers through an interesting journey through his radio and television career.

Lanigan is a well known radio and television personality in the Cleveland, Ohio markets, but the early chapters of the book tells the reader that he is really from Nebraska. Lanigan was born in San Diego, and moved to Nebraska when his father decided to help with the family hardware business. Lanigan’s football dreams ended early, which started his love for radio, spinning records at a local radio station in Nebraska. Lanigan then went on to do radio in Colorado (where he befriended a young John Denver), New Mexico, and Dallas before ending up in Cleveland (at one time his weather man in Cleveland was Al Roker, whom Langian tells a funny story with Roker and him at a TV Awards show).

Lanigan talks about his television career, which he was famous for “The Prize Movie” show on WUAB in Cleveland, where he had several famous guests come in and help him host the show (which included Don Rickles, Drew Carey , and Arnold Schwarzenegger to name a few). Lanigan tells a story where one reporter was so tired of seeing the contest movie clip (where fans could guess the clip to win money) that the answer was revealed in one of the papers, unbeknown to the viewing audience.

An interesting topic in the book describes how some of the other radio stations used devious tactics to prevent the other stations from succeeding in the markets. This was during a period before the big corporations owned several stations at a time. Lanigan examines his problems with rival Cleveland station WMMS radio crew, along with a feud with shock jock Howard Stern.

There are many great stories in the book , from his failed promotional events, which is something that could been seen on TV’s “WKRP In Cincinnati” with its hilarities, including the time Lanigan was asked to be the Grand Marshal for a Cleveland parade that did not go as planned. There are stories about some of the famous people he met throughout the years, including entertaining stories about Bob Saget, Tony Bennett, and an unknown Barack Obama. He also talks about his favorite interview of all time, which is a touching story, and his return to radio with his show with Mike Trivisonno (another Cleveland legend in radio) and his first thoughts on working with Trivisonno.

Even though the book is pretty short (155 pages) and not in a normal chronological order (which has it’s appeal, but parts jump around at times), the book is entertaining, humorous, and at times, touching. There are some great photographs used in the book (Lanigan interviewing Carrie Fisher during Star Wars, in a car with Clint Eastwood, and a shot of George Hamilton on “The Prize Movie” to name a few). One doesn’t have to just be knowledgeable in Cleveland history to enjoy this book (like this reviewer who grew up outside Youngstown, Ohio and was a fan of “The Prize Movie”). Lanigan and his writers, Peter Jedick and Mike Olszewski, have a nice book on the travels of a radio personality in the pre-internet world.


A Special Thanks to Gray & Company for the book copies for review.


“Lanigan In The Morning: My Life in Radio” by John Lanigan with Peter Jedick and Mike Olszewski ( 2017 Grey & Company, ISBN: 978-1-938441-93-6 or ebook ISBN:978-1-938441-94-3) can be found, along with their other titles, at http://www.grayco.com, or at 1-800-915-3609



Book Review: “Girl” Is The Future of The Wild West


One of the many great publishers putting out books right now is Jimmy Patterson Books. Not knowing much of the company, besides the name of James Patterson, the books they have sent for review have been unique and well written for the YA genre. Lyndsay Ely’s “Gunslinger Girl” ( JIMMY Patterson Books/Little, Brown and Company, 2018) is the latest product of the company.

Ely’s book is part western, part science fiction/dystopian , and lots of fun. The story involves a girl named Serendipty “Pity” Jones, who is great with shooting guns. She ends up in a city called Cessation where she becomes a part of the theater. At the end of certain shows, “The Finale” occurs, which involves the killings of criminals, thieves, and others that disobey the woman that runs the place, named Selene. Even though the city seems to have no real rules, Selene has the final say, and the residents obey by her rules.

While she trains her skills in the theater show, and trying to escape her past, Pity befriends several people in the theater, along with catching the eye of Selene, who promises her favors in return for her loyalty. The city deals with outside movements of political upheaval that makes its way into the story.

The book combines the old West ideas, such as using guns, knives, and rifles as weapons, while combining future and modern technology like trucks and video walls, to combine a new West setting. The theater aspect and its Finale, is similar to the idea of creations like the books The Running Man, or The Hunger Games, where the circus type acts perform the sentences of criminals in front of eager audiences, but with a nice twist in keeping the setting of the old western weapons. The novel combines romance, action, and character twists (no spoilers here, but several characters are not who they seem to be), while delivering the coming of age of Pity’s character, who is trying to escape her past while trying to be the best at her skill.

The only negative critique of the book is the names of the characters. Although , like any of the writers covered on this site, the respect of anyone writing a book and getting published (especially a big name publisher like this one) is always here with this page, but there seems to be too many character names starting with “S.” Although throughout the book Serendipity is called “Pity” ( the full name is still a great character name instead, in this opinion), other characters are named Selene, Santino, Siena (a bounty hunter), Sheridan, and a Dr. Starr. There are other characters in the book, including Max (who is involved in the romance aspect of the book), and Olivia, but there are over five characters (counting Pity) with the same letter name. If the reader is not paying close attention to who each character is in the book, they can get confused in the plot of who is doing what, as opposed to other books where the reader could just remember the first letter of the name of the character (which this reader has done before, when books are filled with characters with non regular names). However, that being the only complaint, that’s a remarkable achievement for Ely’s debut novel.

Lyndsay Ely’s debut novel is filled with many things: romance, action, character twists, and great character development, along with combining two different time periods (the West meets the future) to send the reader on a exciting trip that young adults, along with any age readers, will enjoy. The ending of the novel leaves the reader wanting more, which is a great thing in this situation. The publishers have chosen wisely in adding Lyndsay Ely to their roster of author. Good things are yet to come with this writer.


A special thanks to Jimmy Patterson Books, Hatchette Books, and Little, Brown and Company for the advance reading copy.



“Gunslinger Girl” by Lyndsay Ely (JIMMY Patterson/Little, Brown, and Company ISBN-13: 9780316555104) is available at bookstores everywhere and online. For more information about JIMMY Patterson, Little Brown and Company, and Hatchette Books, visit http://www.littlebrown.com or http://www.hatchettebookgroup.com.

For more information about Lyndsay Ely, visit : http://www.Lyndsayely.wordpress.com or on twitter at: @lyndsayely

Book Review: You Will Not Want To Leave “Kent State”

“Leaving Kent State” by Sabrina Fedel (Harvard Square Editions, 2016) is an interesting Young Adult book about a teen and her family living during the 1970 Kent State University protest.

Rachel Morelli is a seventeen-year-old whose father is a professor at Kent State University. Rachel is in love with her neighbor, Evan. Evan just returned injured from Vietnam and has to deal with the aftermath of coping with a normal life, along with his experience being a young man in the war. Evan was a great guitar player before going over to Vietnam, and returns home with a damaged hand with missing fingers. Rachel not only tries to get the old fun loving friend back that she remembers, but also has to hide her feelings for him. Meanwhile, Rachel’s dreams of going to Pratt University for art is in jeopardy as her parents want her to go to Kent State, which is deemed a safer, and cheaper, environment.

The book is filled with some great references to Kent, Ohio, from not only the university buildings, but also the places downtown, such as the bar JB’s, and Brady’s Cafe. There are also references to certain street names that residents of Kent would recognize. The author is knowledgeable with the Kent State sites, buildings, and cultures (including a reference about a local musician named Joe Walsh). Even though the book takes a while to get to the main themes of the stories (will Rachel go to Kent or Pratt and what happens with her and her family when the Kent shooting occur), the character development is well written where the reader is not anxious or bored with the slow build up of the story. Any reader or follower of the historical aspect of Kent State University officials calling in the National Guard, along with the shootings, knows that these events are going to happen, but Fedel’s build up makes the events more powerful with Evan, Rachel, and her family’s reactions of the events.

Anyone that is familiar with Kent State, or history in general, would like this book. The family’s thoughts of the events and the war itself, it is not preachy to those that may feel differently than the characters. The concept of creating a story through the point of view of a senior in high school during the events is unique and enjoyable. Being a Kent State graduate, this book was interesting, powerful, and entertaining all at the same time. Sabrina Fedel may have a slow build up to the events at times, but the developing of the characters makes the pay off well worth it.


Thanks to Sabrina Fedel for the copy of the book to review.


“Leaving Kent State” by Sabrina Fedel (Harvard Square Editions, 2016 ISBN: 978-1-941861-24-0) can be found at : http://www.harvardsquareeditions.org. For more about Sabrina Fedel, go to : http://www.sabrinafedel.com.

Book Review: Take The Alone Trip

“Alone” by Cyn Balog (Sourcebooks, 2017) is not just another Young Adult Horror/Mystery book, but it an adventure that is enjoyable and full of twists and turns.

The book involves the character Seda and her family, whose mother inherits a old house in Pennsylvania that in the past was used for murder mystery parties. The house is filled with secrets, hidden passageways, and creepy rooms with props like dead bodies and broken mirrors. When her mother decides that she doesn’t want to sell the house , unless the buyer will use it as a horror attraction for the parties that used to be thrown there, Seda shows more hatred towards the house, along with being away from her friends and her old school. When a group of stranded teenagers show up during a snowfall, things in the house start to take a mysterious turn, where noises are heard, and people start to disappear.

Seda’s mother is a well respected college teacher who is loved by her students, and also a major fan of horror and slasher films. Even her younger siblings are exposed to her mother’s love for the genre at ages six and four. The four other children enjoy playing with the props found in the house and playing jokes on each other (and Seda) throughout the house.

The house is, of course, not only filled with dark, hidden rooms, but is also hidden away from most of civilization, with the only local general store being twenty miles away at Art’s General Store. The house is on top of a mountain, which is a perfect setting for mysterious things to occur.

The great thing about this book is that it has all the typical stereotypes of a horror/mystery tale, without sounding predictable where the reader can predict what is going on. This story is a perfect example of a classic Gothic novel from the 1800s or 1900s, with twists and turns in the plot, along with the complexity of the main character Seda. Throughout the reading, the reader will wonder if what they are following is real, an imagination, or both (As with my writings of book reviews, no spoilers will be given). The mother is a writer who likes horror films, the siblings are still young enough to be innocent, and the main character has issues she is dealing with being a normal 15 year old besides having to be isolated in a castle filled with a history of fright.

Balog creates wonderful settings and twists in her book, and it is well written that an adult can read this book and not feel insulted that it’s a YA book. The chapters are short and starts out with press media statements that would have been in the brochure for the house when the visitors were there for their weekend escape. Some of the statements provide a small history of the house, and the people that are associated with the place. The writing makes the reader believe that they are actually in the house reading the notices.

Even if you are not a fan of the Young Adult genre, but love a good classic gothic themed book, this is the book to get. The reader will get sucked into the tale that they will be wondering what (and who) is real and what is not. Just when the reader thinks they have the ending figured out, there is another twist to the plot (even to the end). Sourcebooks has a wonderfully (and sometimes confusing, but in a good way) book that will take the reader on a mysterious expedition. There needs to be more books in this genre as great as “Alone.”


A Special Thanks for Sourcebooks Fire for the Advanced Reading Copy.


“Alone” by Cyn Balog is available where you find books or at http://www.sourcebooks.com. You can find more about Cyn Balog at cynbalog.blogspot.com