Saturday, August 27, 2016

Making Michael by Mike Smallcombe

Making Michael takes readers into the studio with the King of Pop, charting the creation of record-breaking albums including Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad, Dangerous and HIStory, and the twists and turns that occurred along the way. Untold stories, revelations and secrets finally see the light of day as Jackson's career outside the studio is also examined, including his Hollywood dreams, life at Neverland and those mysterious, ill-fated preparations for the final tour, This Is It. Supported by the people who shared the journey with him, Making Michael takes readers behind the scenes, revealing Jackson at his best; and at his worst, relentlessly pursuing perfection and displaying a cutthroat shrewdness and competitiveness few knew existed.

Author Mike Smallcombe spent five years researching and interviewing to bring readers a look inside the music and videos that Michael Jackson created. Making Michael paints a story of each artistic endeavor from start to finish. It's a great read for those interested in the creative process of music, but doesn't go into much technical detail.

If you're hoping for a biography of the King of Pop, this isn't it. Smallcombe briefly mentions Michael's legal troubles and personal life, but for the most part he focuses on his career. I appreciated that about this book. There's no sensationalism here or tabloid-style writing.

That being said, Making Michael can be very tedious if you're expecting a story to be told. I enjoyed the anecdotes about Michael's playful behavior in the studio and especially every account of what a terrible driver he was. But those were sprinkled conservatively throughout the book. However, being that I have a performance background, I did appreciate the meticulous detail with which the author described the creative process.

Making Michael is definitely a book that any true Michael fan should have in their library.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Next Happiest Place on Earth by Greg Triggs

Frances is a divorced New Yorker looking for a new start. Without telling her ex-husband she takes a job in Orlando in the creative department of a fictitious theme park that rivals Walt Disney World.

I was happy to again find a story with character I could relate to. Frances is in her late thirties, childless, and divorced. And although I'm not under forty, not childless, and not divorced, I could still relate to her view of the world. Her cynical attitude made me laugh out loud, especially against the backdrop of the colorfully saturated tourist trap into which she's landed.

"I suppose on some level I knew that magicians marry, but I never expected to encounter the spouse of one."

The story was vivid from the beginning. Triggs' description of Planet Binger and its residents pulled me in immediately. The contrast of Frances to her surroundings was obvious but not forced. 

I did, however, feel that the story slowed down in the middle. The romance between Frances and her coworker lacked tension and there seemed to be a few more characters than there needed to be. I lost track of a few. 

But overall I felt that The Next Happiest Place on Earth was a good way to finish up my summer reading. It's a light and fun book which I recommend to anyone who's had to put on a brave face in a strange land. 

Thanks again to Greg Triggs for the lovely paperback as well as the postcards (one for me, one for a friend).

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Adventures of Gracie and Monkeybear by C.S. O'Kelly

We all know I love to get mail. I especially love getting a brand new advanced hardcover book wrapped in pretty paper. My kids were really excited to read The Adventures of Gracie and Monkeybear from the minute it came out of the box. The high-quality, textured cover caught their eyes immediately.

When it was time for bed, even my ten-year-old was riveted by this fun story. Gracie and her dog Monkeybear went straight from one adventure to another without skipping a beat or losing the reader. All of this imaginary fun took place in a single day in Gracie's backyard.

I love that the book encourages kids to get outside and play. It illustrates how a child can get so engrossed in pretend play that the sun is going down before they know it.

The Adventures of Gracie and Monkeybear is a wonderful book and apparently the first in a series which I'm looking forward to reading. The pictures are detailed and inspiring. The writing was great and I won't mind reading it to them again and again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

FREE on Kindle: Promise me by Jack O. Daniel

Promise Me has it all. It's a romantic thriller with plenty of dramatic moments. Fast-paced and addictive. It is a must-read for those enjoy full-flavored story-telling.

It poses a question: What would you do if the life of the one you love hangs in the balance, and only you could save her?

Thomas 'Easy' Steel is an EOD with the New York State Police's Bomb Disposal Unit. An anonymous caller had demanded that he disarms a bomb strapped to a woman's chest. When he arrives at the scene, he discovers that the woman is his wife, Bianca.

It shouldn’t be a big deal. After all, his nickname, Easy, had been bestowed upon him at bomb school because he's so easy-going, even when disabling live bombs. This time, however, it's different. He might not survive it.

And, what of the woman he loves with all his heart, to whom he promised eternity?

The author:

Jack O. Daniel is an alter-ego. He prefers to be an enigma. Someone who lives in the shadow, observing how people live and interact; sometimes participating but mostly he stays in the background. 

Let's just call him, the Chronicler

Promise Me is free on Kindle today through August 27th. Get it here.