Friday, October 2, 2015

BookSpin Review:

Playboy Swings: How Hugh Hefner and Playboy Changed the Face of Music
by Patty Farmer (with contributions by Will Friedwald)
Beaufort Books

If you would like to think of Hugh Hefner as something more than a pajama wearing old man who "dates" several young women at once on a tv show, then you will be happy to know that the Playboy magazine founder is a very central figure in jazz history.

I haven't quite finished the book yet, but Patty Farmer's deeply researched and (vividly)-written account of the founding of the Playboy clubs is fun, intimate, and surprisingly weighty in a readable way.

Playboy Swings contains lots of name dropping.  Celebrities and other famous people show up on seemingly every page, but it isn't obtrusive, instead Farmer's narrative flows smoothly through the history of what many call the "only true American music."

In addition to many of the artists whose careers were helped by Hefner and his clubs, we are introduced to many others who played crucial roles in the promotion of jazz.  These relatively minor characters flesh the history out in ways no amount of research ever could.

It's not Patty Farmer's fault I haven't yet finished the book.  I am in the midst of one of the busiest times of my life, but I am determined to finish this master class on a subject I didn't know I wanted to take.

I have already decided that this book will make a wonderful Christmas gift for one of my jazz crazy friends.  This book is truly a hidden gem.  You would do well to read it yourself and I know you have a friend or two that would enjoy it as well.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

In My TBR Stack:

Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed
by George S Everly Jr., Ph.D., Douglas A. Strouse, Ph.D., Dennis K. McCormack, Ph.D.
Amacom Books

From the publisher's website:

What separates the best from the rest?
Professional athletes, surgeons, first responders—all perform remarkable feats in the face of intense stress. Why do they thrive under pressure, while others succumb?
What separates the two is attitude. Resilient people meet adversity head-on and bounce back from setbacks. They seem to naturally exude an inner strength—but studies show that resilience is something that anyone can build. Analyzing the heroic exploits of U.S. Navy SEALs and others who succeed against all odds, Stronger identifies five factors that combine to unlock deep reserves of personal power:
Active optimism—believe that you can change things for the better • Decisive action—you can't succeed if you don't take the leap • Moral compass—face any challenge with clear guiding principles • Relentless tenacity—try, try again • Interpersonal support—gain strength from those around you.

Drawing on the unique perspective of a standout team of authors (a stress management expert, a skilled entrepreneur, and a Navy SEAL), Stronger explores the science behind resilience and explains how you can develop this vital trait for yourself. Whatever your profession, today's demanding world calls for a special kind of strength. This revealing book holds the key.

Friday, September 25, 2015

In My TBR Stack:

Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness
by Suzy Favor Hamilton with Sarah Tomlinson
Dey Street Books

From the publisher's website:

The former middle distance Olympic runner and high-end escort speaks out for the first time about her battle with mental illness, and how mania controlled and compelled her in competition, but also in life. This is a heartbreakingly honest yet hopeful memoir reminiscent of Manic, Electroboy, and An Unquiet Mind.

During the 1990s, three-time Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton was the darling of American track and field. An outstanding runner, a major sports apparel spokesperson, and a happily married wife, she was the model for an active, healthy, and wholesome life. But her perfect facade masked a dark truth: manic depression and bipolar disorder that drove her obsession to perform and win. For years after leaving the track, Suzy wrestled with her condition, as well as the loss of a close friend, conflicted feelings about motherhood and her marriage, and lingering shame about her athletic career. After a misdiagnosis and a recommendation for medication that only exacerbated her mania and made her hypersexual, Suzy embarked on a new path, and assumed a new identity. Fueled by a newfound confidence, a feeling of strength and independence and a desire she couldn’t tamp down, she became a high-priced escort in Las Vegas, working as “Kelly.”

But Suzy could not keep her double life a secret forever. When it was eventually exposed, it sent her into a reckless suicidal period where the only option seemed out. Finally, with the help of her devoted husband, Suzy finally got the proper medical help she needed. In this startling frank memoir, she recounts the journey to outrun her demons, revealing how a woman used to physically controlling her body learned to come to terms with her unstable mind. It is the story of a how a supreme competitor scored her most important victory of all—reclaiming her life from the ravages of an untreated mental illness. Today, thanks to diagnosis, therapy, Kelly has stepped into the shadows, but Suzy is building a better life, one day at a time. Sharing her story, Suzy is determined to raise awareness, provide understanding, and offer inspiration to others coping with their own challenges.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

In My TBR Stack:

Are We Having Fun Yet? The Cooking & Partying Handbook
by Sammy Hagar with Josh Sens
Dey Street Books

From the publisher's website:

Indulge yourself in the superstar rocker and #1 New York Times bestselling author’s raucous and delicious lifestyle with this bold cookbook and entertaining guide, complete with stories from a lifetime of food, signature recipes and drinks, and featuring lavish full-color photos.

For over twenty years, Sammy Hagar has redefined the relationship between good food and good music through his iconic Cabo Wabo tequila brand, his popular chain of Cabo Wabo Cantina restaurants, and his newly launched rum—Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum. Now with Are We Having Any Fun Yet? any Sammy fan can eat, drink, and party like the Red Rocker himself, as Sammy shares his love of food, drinks, and rock-and-roll.

Bringing you into the kitchen, behind the bar, and into the center of the party like never before, Sammy shares his deep passion for food and his secrets for rock-and-roll entertaining, including his favorite recipes from home, on the road, and his go-to vacation spots, Cabo and Maui. Coming along for the ride are a wealth of crazy tales, celebrity chefs from around the globe, and stories that reveal the inspiration behind his favorite recipes.

Tracing Sammy’s culinary path through the decades, Are We Having Any Fun Yet? offers a fascinating glimpse into Sammy’s evolution as a cook and as a musician, showing how these twin passions have fueled each other, and how he brings a rock star attitude of simplicity and fun to everything he does in the kitchen. Of course, nothing goes better with a great meal than a good drink. Here are Sammy’s greatest drink recipes accompanied by true stories of the wild nights that brought them to life.

With even more rock stories from the road and his table, over fifty food and drink recipes, and Sammy’s tips for entertaining like a rock star, Are We Having Any Fun Yet? gives fans everything they need to party the Cabo Wabo way.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fiction Spotlight:

Dark Wild Night
by Christina Lauren
Gallery Books
Trade Paperback

From the publisher's website:

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS STAYS IN VEGAS. BUT WHAT DIDN’T HAPPEN IN VEGAS SEEMS TO FOLLOW THEM EVERYWHERE—Book Three in the sexy, fun New York Times bestselling Wild Seasons series that began with Sweet Filthy Boy (the Romantic Times Book of the Year) and Dirty Rowdy Thing.

Lola and Oliver like to congratulate themselves on having the good sense not to consummate their drunken Las Vegas marriage. If they’d doubled-down on that mistake, their Just Friends situation might not be half as great as it is now.

…Or so goes the official line.

In reality, Lola’s wanted Oliver since day one—and over time has only fallen harder for his sexy Aussie accent and easygoing ability to take her as she comes. More at home in her studio than in baring herself to people, Lola’s instinctive comfort around Oliver nearly seems too good to be true. So why ruin a good thing?

Even as geek girls fawn over him, Oliver can’t get his mind off what he didn’t do with Lola when he had the chance. He knows what he wants with her now…and it’s far outside the friend zone. When Lola’s graphic novel starts getting national acclaim—and is then fast-tracked for a major motion picture—Oliver steps up to be there for her whenever she needs him. After all, she’s not the kind of girl who likes all that attention, but maybe she’s the kind who’ll eventually like him.

Sometimes seeing what’s right in front of us takes a great leap of faith. And sometimes a dark wild night in Vegas isn’t just the end of a day, but the beginning of a bright new life

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fiction Spotlight:

The Drafter
by Kim Harrison
Gallery Books

From the publisher's website:

In the first explosive book in the Peri Reed Chronicles, Kim Harrison, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Hollows series, blazes a new frontier with an edge-of-your-seat thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end. 

Detroit 2030. Double-crossed by the person she loved and betrayed by the covert government organization that trained her to use her body as a weapon, Peri Reed is a renegade on the run. Don’t forgive and never forget has always been Peri’s creed. But her day job makes it difficult: she is a drafter, possessed of a rare, invaluable skill for altering time, yet destined to forget both the history she changed and the history she rewrote. When Peri discovers her name is on a list of corrupt operatives, she realizes that her own life has been manipulated by the agency. Her memory of the previous three years erased, she joins forces with a mysterious rogue soldier in a deadly race to piece together the truth about her fateful final task. Her motto has always been only to kill those who kill her first. But with nothing but intuition to guide her, will she have to break her own rule to survive?

Monday, September 21, 2015

In My TBR Stack:

1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History
by Jay Winik
Simon & Schuster

From the publisher's website:

New York Times bestselling author Jay Winik brings to life in gripping detail the year 1944, which determined the outcome of World War II and put more pressure than any other on an ailing yet determined President Roosevelt.

It was not inevitable that World War II would end as it did, or that it would even end well. 1944 was a year that could have stymied the Allies and cemented Hitler’s waning power. Instead, it saved those democracies—but with a fateful cost. Now, in a superbly told story, Jay Winik, the acclaimed author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval, captures the epic images and extraordinary history as never before.

1944 witnessed a series of titanic events: FDR at the pinnacle of his wartime leadership as well as his reelection, the planning of Operation Overlord with Churchill and Stalin, the unprecedented D-Day invasion, the liberation of Paris and the horrific Battle of the Bulge, and the tumultuous conferences that finally shaped the coming peace. But on the way, millions of more lives were still at stake as President Roosevelt was exposed to mounting evidence of the most grotesque crime in history, the Final Solution. Just as the Allies were landing in Normandy, the Nazis were accelerating the killing of millions of European Jews. Winik shows how escalating pressures fell on an all but dying Roosevelt, whose rapidly deteriorating health was a closely guarded secret. Here then, as with D-Day, was a momentous decision for the president. Was winning the war the best way to rescue the Jews? Was a rescue even possible? Or would it get in the way of defeating Hitler? In a year when even the most audacious undertakings were within the world’s reach, including the liberation of Europe, one challenge—saving Europe’s Jews—seemed to remain beyond Roosevelt’s grasp.

As he did so brilliantly in April 1865, Winik provides a stunningly fresh look at the twentieth century’s most pivotal year. Magisterial, bold, and exquisitely rendered, 1944: FDR and the Year that Changed History is the first book to tell these events with such moral clarity and unprecedented sweep, and a moving appreciation of the extraordinary struggles of the era’s outsized figures. 1944 is destined to take its place as one of the great works of World War II.