Retro Book Review: Book Entertaining for Back to School Teens.

 

#Sponsored by Jimmy Patterson Books

 

 

“Expelled,” by James Patterson and Emily Raymond (Jimmy Patterson , 2017), combines mystery with a little bit of The Breakfast Club, where a group of high school students try and uncover who hacked a student’s Twitter account, which caused them to get expelled from their school.

The main character, Theo, is an average high school student, who anonymously posts comments and pictures on his Twitter account, until someone hacks his account, posting a photo of a wild situation that causes several students to get expelled from the school, thanks to the school’s “zero policy” rule. The star athlete Parker, Theo, his friend Jude, and a girl named Sasha all get expelled at the same time. Theo decides to unravel the mystery of who posted the photo on his account, along with why someone wanted to do this to him, which has ruined his future.

Several times during the book, the reference of the 1985 movie “The Breakfast Club” is mentioned where, like Theo’s situation, involves a bunch of stereotypes meeting together after a school punishment. Since most of the target audience for this book probably do not know the 1985 film, the similarities may not hit the targeted audience.

While trying to figure out who posted the photo on Theo’s page, he deals with his feelings for Sasha, a girl who was the unattainable girl in his opinion, but now becomes friends with her after she gets expelled for an alleged incident, separate from Theo’s situation (NO SPOILERS HERE). Theo decides to film his interviews while trying to play the sleuth, with the help of a boy in the school who is known as a computer hacker. Although Theo is not sure what he will do with the filmed footage in trying to prove his innocence, he goes through meeting several students, and even going back to the school via trespassing to get his answers, including confronting the assistant principal. Not only does Theo try to find out the secret hacker, along with his feelings for Sasha, but he also has to deal with the death of his father, while his mother works two jobs to keep the house bills paid.

“Expelled” is a nice read, with very short chapters (which is something this reviewer loves in books), where most are only 3-4 pages long. The 296 page book (My copy is an ARC copy, where several poems are omitted in the book) keeps the reader engaged enough to keep the page turning to find out who the secret hacker is, and why did the person do it to Theo. The ending has a small twist concerning Sasha and some of the other characters, which the targeted audience for the book might find shocking, but older readers may figure it out, along with revealing the person who hacked into Theo’s Twitter page.

Although some of the Jimmy Patterson books can be read for all age groups, “Expelled” would be suggested to older teens, due to some of the language and some adult themes. The suggested age would probably be around the 15 and up range. The book is overall a decent read, but older readers may like the other selections the publisher has released. The book is great for the targeted age group, and shows the Patterson Young Adult genre has something for everyone. The book is part Breakfast Club and part Hardy Boys , all while using language and situations that is modern in today’s society.

 

This review book was given courtesy of Jimmy Patterson Books/Little Brown & Company, and Hatchette Book Group.

“Expelled” by James Patterson and Emily Raymond ( Jimmy Patterson Books/Little Brown and Company, 2017 ISBN: 978-0-316-44039-4 hardcover, 978-0-316-44040-0 Ebook, 978-1-4789-8802-1 audiobook) can be found at http://www.jimmypatterson.org .

 

 

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Book Reviews: Two Books, One Author, and Tons of Horror

Cover photo courtesy of Ingrid Pitt

“Ingrid Pitt, Queen of Horror; The Complete Career” (McFarland, 2017) by Robert Michael “Bobb” Cotter, is a nice reference book for the fans of one of horror film’s famous actresses.

Pitt was one of the famous actresses in the Hammer Studios films in the 1960s and 1970s, appearing in films such as 1971’s “Countess Dracula,” and “The House That Dripped Blood,” and 1973’s “The Wicker Man.” She was also known for her role as Carmilla in the famous 1970 Hammer film “The Vampire Lovers,” which was part of the Karnstein Trilogy. She was also in episodes of “Doctor Who” and her voice was heard in one of the James Bond films.

The book is nice because it features not just the author’s writings on the films, but he also takes quotes from other sources by Pitt herself in commenting on some of her films. Pitt also wrote the introduction to the book as well.

Cotter takes the reader through Pitt’s early acting career from her stage roles, her first films, and her appearance in “Doctor Zhivago.” More of her earlier roles including films with Clint Eastwood, until she got major attention for her role as Countess Elizabeth in “Countess Dracula,” based on the legend of Elizabeth Bathory (which I discovered the story in Gary A. Smith’s “Vampire Films of the 1970s,” which is a must have book, also through McFarland). Cotter gives a full cast and crew listings, along with a short summary of the movie, before giving his take on the films. At the end of some of the sections (when needed) is Pitt’s quotes from her time on the set from interviews and other sources. There is a chapter on her television appearances, and her appearances in horror magazines, and her authoring several books. The collection also has some nice black and white photographs throughout from Playbill covers from her stage shows, to ads from her television shows, to on set movie pictures.

I didn’t know much about Pitt’s work before this book, but since reading the book, I have gotten to watch several of her films, including “The House That Dripped Blood” and “Countess Dracula.” I will hopefully seek out her Doctor Who appearances, being a fan of the show. My horror film knowledge of the actresses are limited, namely being a fan of Universal Studios horror films, and not much knowledge of other actresses except Barbara Steele (who I think is great) and Joanna Lumley.

The book is an easy read at 230 pages long. Cotter’s book, much like many of McFarland’s books I have gotten to review, gives a nice collection to an actress who I was not very familiar with, and this book should be added to the collection of movie horror films.

Front cover: Maila Nurmi as the host of The Vampira Show on KABC-TV in Los Angeles, 1954-1955.

Cotter’s second book  looks at some of the many female horror hosts in “Vampira and Her Daughters: Women Horror Hosts from the 1950s into the Internet Era (McFarland, 2017).

This encyclopedia format lists the many female hosts, including co hosts, that have been featured in the horror television history, where horror fans would stay up late on weekends to watch on their local access television, which was popular before Cable TV took over. The book covers the hosts who dressed up as vampires, mummys, and even Zombie looking cheerleaders. “Vampira” has a forward by host Penny Dreadful, who also gets her section later in the book, and has many question and answer interviews throughout, not just a listing of the hosts and where they were shown.

The Introduction section has a nice commentary where Cotter links the horror hosts back to the radio days, up to the current list of hosts on Youtube and other online sites. The book covers many hosts from 1970s hosts Doctor Shock and his young daughter Bubbles, to Marilyn The Witch (who appeared on many other television shows like Green Acres, Hart to Hart, and played one of the mothers in the original Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory), to the more famous characters like Elvira and, of course, Vampira.

Cotter’s research is intense, which includes hosts where he could not find any footage or information on, but they are still listed here. He covers hosts that had different actresses play the same person (like Misty Brew), and details a few interesting information about the actresses and how the created their gimmicks.

The Elvira and Vampira sections were a nice read, since everyone my age was a fan (and still is) of Elvira’s Cassandra Peterson, but was uninformed of the way she got her name (rumored to be because of the Oak Ridge Boys’ hit), and the lawsuit on her by Vampira over copyright issues. Cotter mentions that Vampira was the inspiration for Disney’s villain Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, which I never heard before.

This book is cover newer horror hosts, such as Roxsy Tyler, who has a rock and roll look, as opposed to just a vampire character, which became the norm for the female hosts, to Cleveland’s The Mummy and The Monkey host Janet Decay.

Fans of horror and television history would like the easy to read collection Cotter has put together, including the photographs and interviews that is added. It is nice to see that Cotter included former WWE and current Impact Wrestling’s Katarina Waters in the book, who is not only an actress and wrestler, but also has written some short stories in the horror genre. He even includes former Saturday Night Live actress Laraine Newman and her contribution to horror and USA’s Rhonda Shear. Although I hardly consider Shear a horror host, nor had a gimmick of anything horror related. The Newman part (where Cotter throws in a unnecessary jab calling Dan Aykroyd “ovearrated”) and Shear is oddly placed in the book, it does show that Cotter intensely researched his subject.

 

Both review copies were sent courtesy of McFarland Publishing.

Vampira and Her Daughters: Women Horror Movie Hosts from the 1950s into the Internet Era by Robert Michael “Bobb” Cotter (McFarland, 2017 ISBN:978-1-4766-6434-7 print and ebook:978-1-4766-2656-7)   can be found at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com or ordered at 800-253-2187

 

“Ingrid Pitt, Queen of Horror” by Robert Michael “Bobb” Cotter ( McFarland, 2017 ISBN: 978-1-4766-7230-4 eISBN: 978-0-7864-6189-9) is available at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com and can also be ordered at 800-253-2187, along with their other titles.

Book Review: Experience The Album History of Alice Cooper

Cover photo by Rex Features via AP Images.

“Experiencing Alice Cooper: A Listener’s Companion” by Ian Chapman (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018) is a track by track description of every album by the Hall of Fame Godfather of Shock Rock.

The compilation is one in a series of “Experiencing” titles, where the writer walks the reader through each album , song by song, and puts their opinions on the songs. Even though the opinions in this book is kept to a minimum, Chapman details the songs, its run time, and a small bit of information about the tracks.

The writing, as told in the beginning, is not a biography of Alice Cooper, or the band members; the author leaves that to the respected autobiographies by the band members, but it is a nice go to book for those that want a quick reference of the albums or songs. Each album covered has the year released, the track listings, and the U.S. and U.K. chart position of the album. There is also a nice timeline at the beginning of the book detailing the history of Alice Cooper.

The albums covers Cooper’s whole career, from the band’s first album, “Pretties For You” in 1969, all the way to 2017’s “Paranormal.” The chapters are set into two or three years of the albums, for instance Chapter 2 covers the years 1971-1973, and Chapter 6 details 1986-1989 (Chapter 3 is the only one covering one whole album, which is 1975’s “Welcome to My Nightmare.”)

Even though the writing is not a historical biography, Chapman’s take on some of the songs and albums are interesting, especially since he is from New Zealand, which shows the worldwide appeal of Alice Cooper. It is interesting to read a person from another country’s take on Cooper’s work, where an album may have sold better in that country as opposed to North America.

Chapman adds in the book the two times he saw Alice Cooper in concert; during the “Nightmare” tour in 1977, and when Cooper opened for Motley Crue in 2015, including the set list for both concerts. He writes that the 2015 show was filled with all of Cooper’s hits (including compliments for the great Nita Strauss playing guitar for Cooper) , while Motley had some filler songs in it. Seeing Cooper twice in concert myself, in 1996 (opening for The Scorpions, which Cooper blew the headliners off the stage) and in 2003 on his “Bare Bones” tour, I can attest to how awesome a show Cooper and his crew puts on.

Another nice aspect to the book is how Chapman gives props to some of my favorite Alice Cooper albums, 2000’s “Brutal Planet,” (which he calls Cooper’s heaviest album ever), 2003’s “The Eyes of Alice Cooper” (which he states the “songwriting is tight and concise,” along with the music is “refreshingly raw and direct”), and 2005’s “Dirty Diamond’s” album, which Chapman says that “for anyone looking to discover a relatively unknown gem by the artist, one need look no further than ‘Dirty Diamonds'” (Chapman, 158). These are some of my favorite later Cooper albums, and mostly underrated that many fans here in the U.S. seemed to forgot about.

“Experiencing Alice Cooper” is a book that will not educate the reader on the history or insight of Alice Cooper. This book focuses just on the music. However, throughout the writing, the reader can see that Chapman is a true fan of Alice Cooper, and for those that want to add to their Cooper collection a handy reference for track listings on the albums, this is a book to add. It is an easy read, and has a nice glossy hardback cover to it, which will not easily wear and tear. The die hard Cooper fans may not seek this book out for inside information that they may not have already known, but Chapman’s collection is a nice piece of writing.

 

 

The review copy of this title was given courtesy of Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group

 

“Experiencing Alice Cooper: A Listener’s Companion” by Ian Chapman (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018 ISBN: 978-1-4422-5770-2 eISBN: 978-1-4422-5771-9) can be found at http://www.rowman.com, or calling 800-462-6420.

 

For information on Ian Chapman, go to : http://www.ianchapman.co.nz/

Book Review: Nature and Unity Combined in Book

#sponsored by faithwords.com

Jacket design by Edward A. Crawford. Jacket photography by Getty Images.

The dictionary describes the word murmuration as a flock of starlings. Other science sites define the word by a bunch of starlings that flock together, darting through the sky in unison. However the definition is used, it is a unique site in nature, with the birds all together in the same direction.

“Designed For More” (FaithWords, 2018) by Lucas Ramirez with Mike Devito, takes the theory of murmuration and applies it as a symbol for the Christian church as a call for unity and direction.

This Christian Living book takes one of the fascinating parts of nature, and encourages Christians to be more like the starlings, mentioning that if everyone is united , like the starlings, the focus and goals can be achieved for a better church. The book also looks into how the starlings approach murmuration, in regards to all being on the same goal and being unified, which helps prevent predators from invading the group.

Other concepts that Ramirez uses in his writings is the theory that even though members of the church have different opinions, they can still be a united front in the overall goal of the church, without fighting amongst each other. He encourages others to use these tools in the local communities , using some business techniques like “creative tension,” along with discussing egos and competition that creeps into the church, which divides the overall goal. “Designed For More” then goes in depth on 7 Principals that will unleash the movement of the church to become more united.

Ramirez’s and Devito’s book is an interesting and educational read. The word unity is used so much in today’s culture, especially in politics, that I almost was going to skip over this book when I was approached to review it. However, the creative symbolism of using the murmuration by the writers made the book appealing to me. Although it is a Christian Living book, that included Biblical verse in it (both writers are in the ministry), there are ideas in here that could be used for organizations and businesses as well. There are many good ideas in this writing, including the writers explaining the differences between discussion and dialogue, and other concepts that a person can use in any aspect in life, without having to be a church going Christian.

The publication includes bold type sentences to enforce the main parts of the section, along with Devito’s contribution to the work in a separate box on the page (both are nicely packaged for the book to make it easy to read and understand). There is not a bunch of deep Bible jargon as well, which the reader easily can apply the suggestions (and remember them), without being boggled down with in depth religious text that by the time the chapter is done, the reader can’t remember what the points were.

The only suggestion that I questioned from the authors dealt with what they called “Creating Seven Influential Neighbors.” The total idea is not a bad concept, but the writers make it out that the reader has so much free time in their world throughout the week or month that this is achievable. I understand changing priorities to help make the church and communities a better place to create unity, but this section, the suggestions are not possible to achieve between a person’s work, family, and church life to have that much time to spend monthly-something has to give. This is not a knock on the idea or the writers, but when reading the suggestion, this reader was questioning “How can all of this possibly be done in a month?” However this small part does not deter from the point of view the authors try to convey.

“Designed For More” is a book that should be read by church leaders, and even community organizers. Although it is a Christian book, there is great sections in here discussing the science (along with interviews with people who study starlings) that make it educational. The reader can take many things from this book, especially if they are struggling with where the goal of their church is heading.

 

This review copy was sent courtesy of FaithWords and Hatchette Books.

 

“Designed For More” by Lucas Ramirez with Mike Devito (FaithWords, 2018 ISBN: 978-1-5460-3298-4 ebook: 978-1-5460-3296-0) can be found at : http://www.faithwords.com, @Faithwords (Twitter), @FaithWordsBooks (Instagram), and Facebook.com/FaithWords.

 

For information about these authors, check out: http://www.Lucasramirez.org, http://www.DesignForMoreBook.com, and social media: @thelucasramirez @mike_d_devito, and @DesignedForMoreBook.