Friday, March 9, 2018

Book Review -- Real in Memphis by Stevie Pearson

As most people know as it is not a secret -- I am a diehard professional wrestling fan. I can recall times my brother and I would be camped out in the living room waiting for Saturday Nights Main Event; only for me to fall asleep as soon as the theme song is over. I remember my first live show (August 24,1990 NWA World Championship Wrestling in East Rutherford, NJ before the WWF placed a no competition order on the venue). I remember my first autograph being Jim Ross and I was the only one he stopped for. Even back then I had the Queen of Small Talk powers. One of my first crushes was Sting. The sass of Sherri Martel was an inspiration and influence in my personality today. And who could forget to chew bubblegum and kick ass?

As you can see -- I can go on and on with wrestling stories. How professional wrestling shaped who I am today. So when I was contacted on Twitter to review a book; another one of my passions; dealing with professional wrestling -- how could I say no?

The book is Real in Memphis by Stevie Pearson
and is set in 1979 in Memphis Tennessee and has ten different parts interwoven throughout. I will not go through all ten parts; only the ones I feel were the main plots which leads me to the main plot of the book- Sam South, is the son of second generation star Bull South, and he wants to make it big on the professional wrestling circuit; all to win his estranged father's respect. Sadly, like most independent wrestling federations, the promoter Harvey Wallbanger doesn't see him as a top star. But through an audio recording of Harvey's shadier business practices, Sam might just get the chance to prove himself after all.

Then you have the saga of Harvey Wallbanger who has his own problems micro-managing his talent. Another saga -- Former wrestler turned Church Pastor Bull South, who Co-owns the territory, has turned to religion. The main problem in this story is that now he and Harvey are at odds with one another. As you go through this saga you develop this hope that he and his aide-de-camp, also former love interest, Vixen Vegas can amend any and all problems that the lord might cause for the territory.

Now lets add in the underdog, or the babyface saga to this mix as you will with 'The Golden Wonder' Rod Golden. He unfornuately is on the verge of losing his world title, and in turn a whole load of money. That’s something that his tearaway daughter and avaricious wife aren't going to be too happy about.

Got to have the wrestler that everyone wants to see kind of saga right? Enter 'The Chattanooga Nightmare' Hex Clearfield. He is one of the few remaining free agents in wrestling. His services are well sought after. Sadly, his bodacious attitude and lust for women might be more than the Memphis faithful, and the Fearsome Monroeville Mauler are willing to handle.

All of this unfolds and brings together Hex and his promoter, Milton Morton, who may have their work cut out for them in the cut throat territory of Memphis Tennessee.

One way or another, everyone in this book is finding out that wrestling might be 'Fake', but business is about to get Real in Memphis.

As a avid bookworm who can read 5 books at the same time in a month -- for me to push what I was reading off to the side to make time for this book says tons. After spending close to two days hooked into the story I felt unable to put it down.

The various viewpoints were interwoven beautifully and seamlessly. Definitely unpredictable, which is something I look for in a book, and kept me thinking even after I finished the book. I do not say this often as I feel authors are stuck into making everything a series when a stand alone book is just as good but with the style of writing that Pearson has as well as details and the cliffhanger type ending -- I would not be opposed to seeing a series grow from this.

What also drew me into this book was how I could relate to the characters; even though I never stepped through the ropes and only had my elbows on a ring apron for photography. There was so much human nature in this book, especially with how everyone is manipulating one another for the few paying jobs in wrestling in Memphis (hello backstage politics!) and although they seem like extreme and violent people, at heart they are all just regular people with regular interests.

There isn't an abundance of wrestling fiction books published (but if you want a modern fairy tale retelling....) and this book is as such something of an anomaly it seems, as while it is clearly written with a love and appreciation of professional wrestling -- it isn’t just some wrestling book. It has many layers of deep complex thoughts throughout and the stories, while set in the world of wrestling, the stories feel like they could happen anywhere in any industry and at any place.

I found Real in Memphis to be a strong story with so many twists and turns that are not obvious like you see in other books. I would definitely recommend this book for a truly remarkable experience. It is available digitally through and for purchase through Amazon UK.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Countdown to Christmas/Advent Calendar 2017

Besides Halloween, I will admit I still get excited for Christmas time. Things just seem to be more magical in the month of December. Now for the second year in a row life has been hard -- from the stage 2 lung cancer diagnosis for my mother, the numerous celebrity deaths that prove that I am getting older and all of my influences and inspirations are dying, to heartbreak yet again but not as bad as last years and I was able to bounce back from it quite easily and continue on my path of growth as well as find a worthy champion. So for this years calendar -- I am going to keep it fairly small but still bring some fun to the end of the year. For the seventh year in a row, I am doing an activities Advent Calendar to count down to Christmas after reading some great articles online about it. I am big on traditions and routines so here is an outline. Most of the things will be done either by myself, with friends, or with my family. Also, just because there is a date attached does not mean it will happen on that date unless it is specific events with tickets attached -- it is more of a checklist.

November 24th: Go to Brazil first and then walk around the Union Square Holiday Market (Done!)
November 25th Visit Diagon Alley in Newton, NJ followed by attending East Coast Professional Wrestling in Colts Neck, NJ (Done!)
November 26th: Gather clothes and bring to The Bowery Mission. (Done!)
November 27th: Make Christmas mix CD for friends (With the power of Spotify....can share it!)
November 28th: Get holiday cards.(Done!)
November 29th: Wear mistletoe headband. (Done!)
November 30th: Watch the movie Die Hard (Done!)
December 1st: Watch the movie Scrooged. (Done!)
December 2nd: Go bake some french macarons at Mille-Feuille Bakery NYC (Done! It was a lot of fun!)
December 3rd: Start reading one story a day in the collection My True Love Gave To Me (3/12)
December 4th: Watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation(Done!)/Start writing out holiday cards (Done!)
December 5th: Mail out holiday cards. (Done!)
December 6th: Get a holiday inspired manicure. Make sure one nail is sparkly! (Done!)
December 7th: Watch A Nightmare Before Christmas.
December 8th: Visit the Life Size Gingerbread House in Madison Square Park (Done!)
December 9th: Attend ASCW Christmas Chaos in New Eqypt, NJ (Done! Had a lot of fun!)
December 10th: Watch He-Man & She-Ra A Christmas Special (Done!)
December 11th: Get a holiday inspired candle from Bath and Body Works.(Done!)
December 12th: Make Star Wars themed Christmas ornaments.
December 13th: Go watch some ice skaters in Bryant Park. (Done!)
December 14th: Cozy up in some pajamas and watch the Pee Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special. (Done!)
December 15th: Attend Ring of Honor Final Battle in NYC. (Done! Has an incredible day even though it was cold and snowy.)
December 16th: Attend Pro Wrestling Magic Kingdom Come: Copacabana (hopefully!) (Decided to not go as I needed rest. Catching up on some Christmas movies instead.)
December 17th: Go see the movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi and attend the Dark Side Bar.
December 18th: Make sure all of my gifts are wrapped.
December 19th: Wear ugly Christmas sweater to work. (Done!)
December 20th: Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas (Done!)
December 21st: Go to Dyker Heights and take a look at some Christmas lights(Done! It was a lot of fun!)/Start my Yule candle ritual. (Done!)
December 22nd: Watch The Original Christmas Classics (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Little Drummer Boy) on DVD (Done!)
December 23rd: Catch up on any Christmas movies or specials. (Done!)
December 24th: Watch Gremlins.
December 25th: CHRISTMAS!!! Watch The Muppets Christmas Carol and open presents as well as spend time with my family.(Done!)

Have a very merry holiday season!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Book Review -- Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Should you ever go back?

That is the question that is posed by the debut novel of Krysten Ritter. Yes, that Krysten Ritter -- our very own Jessica Jones has written a book! When I saw that this book was available as a advanced readers copy well before its publication date (released on November 8, 2017) at Book Con on June 3, 2017 as well as Krysten Ritter just rocks (yes I am still bitter about the cancellation of Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23 but thank you Netflix!) -- I knew I had to pick this up. There was a little scandal about me picking up this book though but let me just say these four words -- QUEEN OF SMALL TALK.

Now before I get into what the book is about let me preface any possible hesitation you may have about reading this.. You know how when a singer is so famous they get so full of themselves and think they can act too? (AHEM, Mariah Carey) Or just because you can act means you can also sing? Well what if just because she is a talented actress/producer that means she can write a book without it sucking? I have faith in her, but that question is was a Cranberries song. But I will say this -- all of that trepidation and uncertainty was silenced. the further into the book I got.

Here is the book description: It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands. But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town's most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good. Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her. With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?

Krysten Ritter has written a gripping and beautifully written crime debut; while not perfect as she falls into the trap that so many action and crimes do where the villain gives a long winded dramatic speech justifying why they were so hell bent on why they destroyed everything. It is tense and suspenseful, drawing in the reader with ease. The greatest strengths of the book lie in the complex character creation and development of Abby, a woman who wants to come to terms with the past so that she can be alive in the present. Ritter presents a picture of a woman paying a heavy price as she gets closer to the truth, no-one believes her, yet despite her life disintegrating around her, she clings on with a tenuous grip with determination.Everything doesn't start coming all together until the last like, 25% of the book but even with that being said I found Bonfire a really compelling read, one I devoured pretty quickly and enjoyed quite a bit. I'll definitely be looking out for Ritter's next book at some point.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Countdown to Halloween -- 2017 Edition

First of all -- let me apologize for not writing a blog since July. This seems to be a trend I have noticed. I had a lot of things go down in my life lately so I have been in a reading and writing slump. I am making my way out of my hole though. With that being said...lets get this annual feature of my blog started!

My favorite holiday, besides my birthday, is Halloween. I am drawn to all things Halloween/Autumn -- vampires, zombies, werewolves, cheesy 80s horror movies, dressing up, anything pumpkin flavored or scented, sweater weather... Just love it! With that said I thought it would be cool to do a COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN activities list. Most of this stuff will be done by myself. Yes I know there are dates attached but I am using it more as a check off list.

October 1st: Watch the movie The Lost Boys
October 2nd: Watch the movie Nightmare on Elm Street (original with Robert Englund)
October 3rd? Watch the movie Hotel Transylvania.
October 4th: Attend In This Moment concert with Robert Payes and friends. (Done! Had a blast!)
October 5th: Attend New York Comic Con. (Done! Not a big haul like in years past but overall a good time.)
October 6th: Relax and catch up on the movies I missed above.
October 7th: Attend UWA Elite in South River, NJ or SWF in Jackson, NJ (yes....not a Halloween themed event but I do like my wrasslin'!) (Done! Went to SWF Wrestling in Jackson, NJ.)
October 8th: Go see Blade Runner 2049
October 9th: Watch the movie Hellraiser
October 10th: Watch the movie House of 1000 Corpses.
October 11th: Watch the movie Psycho (original Alfred Hitchcock version).
October 12th: Watch the Universal classic horror movies Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. (Done!)
October 13th: Attend Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour with a half Jason/Half Dani painted face. (Done!)
October 14th: Get candles with a cinnamon or pumpkin smell from Bath and Body Works for my room. (Done!)
October 15th: Attend the 11th Annual NYC Zombie Crawl (Done! Was on Channel 7 ABC Eyewitness News!)
October 16th: Watch the movie Paranorman
October 17th: Watch the cartoon Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (Done!)
October 18th: Watch the movie Hocus Pocus.
October 19th: Watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
October 20th: Go visit the Nerd Herders for early birthday shenanigans! (Done! So much fun as always!)
October 21st: Attend Jersey All Pro Wrestling in Rahway, NJ or Pro Wrestling Magic in Ridgefield Park, NJ (more wrasslin'....)(Done! Went to Jersey All Pro Wrestling and had a lot of fun.)
October 22nd: Watch the movie The Craft and the season premiere of The Walking Dead
October 23rd: Howl at the not but instead maybe get a beauty treatment that is pumpkin scented or fall inspired. (Done!) Got the Too Cool for School Pumpkin Sleeping Pack)
October 24th: Watch the movie Carrie (the original version with Sissy Spasek)
October 26th: Wear cat ears to work.
October 27th: Visit a farm and pick a pumpkin. (Didn't visit a farm. Instead went to the Union Square Farmers Market and got a pumpkin there.)
October 28th: Watch the movie Teen Witch
October 29th: Get a fall inspired color manicure.
October 30th: Wear skull hand hair clip. (Done!)
October 31st: HALLOWEEN!! Give an acorn to loved ones for good luck and fortune in the new year and get a tarot card reading for guidance for the year to come.

What are you doing for October/Halloween?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Book Review -- Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

The modern retelling of classic fairy tales craze and genre is still going steam ahead. Now sometimes, I wish it would stop. But then a book like this comes along and your brain just goes YES.

This book is basically take the movie Frozen and have it meet The Bloody Chamber and you have Girls Made of Snow and Glass. This is a feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale as you've never seen it before, tracing the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start: the beautiful princess and stepmother queen.
Here is the book description: At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother. Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all. Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story. It is set to be published on September 5, 2017.

In terms of retellings, this is one of the more imaginative ones I’ve read. I can’t really spoil. You have to read it for yourself. But really, the new elements added were so delightful and creative, yet stick to the spirit of the tale. With one exception, obviously, for Mina and Lynet’s relationship.

This book’s chief strength is the character work. Mina’s character arc is extremely well-written and developed. Her character isn’t so much morally ambiguous as troubled and self-hating but I found her combination of self-hatred and confidence so realistic and definitely relatable.

The things I did not like was the miscommunication and assumptions as a plot device. It’s always frustrating and usually makes me like the character a little bit less. I can understand where Lynet was coming from and why she acted rashly, and didn’t want to hear any explanations. But as the reader, we know more than her, we know she should stop and listen, so it was mildly frustrating that she didn’t. Also there was very little world building. We get to see a bit of both the North and the South, but we don’t really get much history, their culture, or customs. I would have liked to know more about the fantastical world that Mina and Lynet reside in.

You definitely want to pick up this book in September. This books definitely highlights feminism such that it stresses the importance of females helping females and they can coexist peacefully, unlike real life and maybe real life should take a lesson from this. The reader will understand why as they read. This is a wonderful female empowerment fantasy novel. Definitely a recommend.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Book Review -- Poe: Stories and Poems -- A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Gareth Hinds

We all remember our first Edgar Allen Poe story. For myself, The Telltale Heart. I can still hear that heartbeat. The Raven -- I still make sure to quote the Raven nevermore. When I saw an opportunity to review a copy of this graphic novel adaptation published by Candlewick Press -- I had to jump all over it.

This book is a thrilling adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s best-known works by acclaimed artist-adapter Gareth Hinds. He translates Poe's dark genius into graphic-novel format. In "The Cask of Amontillado," a man exacts revenge on a disloyal friend at carnival, luring him into catacombs below the city. In "The Masque of the Red Death," a prince shielding himself from plague hosts a doomed party inside his abbey stronghold. A prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, faced with a swinging blade and swarming rats, can’t see his tormentors in "The Pit and the Pendulum," and in "The Tell-Tale Heart," a milky eye and a deafening heartbeat reveal the effects of conscience and creeping madness. Alongside these tales are visual interpretations of three poems — "The Raven," "The Bells," and Poe’s poignant elegy to lost love, "Annabel Lee." The seven concise graphic narratives, keyed to thematic icons, amplify and honor the timeless legacy of a master of gothic horror. This graphic novel is slated for release on August 1, 2017

We all know that Poe had recurring motifs in his stories. That is why a key was included at the start of each story which was brilliant. The key include motifs such as angels and demons, death, guilty conscience, murder, insanity. You knew what you were getting into with each story; even if you have previously read Poe before but you truly did not understand the plot. The pictures were visually profound and blended well with each of the stories. Unfortunately I would not recommended reading this on a Kindle or iPad as the word panels and the artwork do not seam up perfectly. I would definitely recommended this book to anyone who is a lover of horror fiction as well as anyone who is a beginner Poe reader.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Book Review -- 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Let me preface this review with this: If you need to talk -- reach out to a friend, a loved one, anyone willing to listen. If you are afraid to do that please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime if you are in the United States. It’s free and confidential.


“When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.”

When Netflix announced that they were bringing 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher to the small screen -- the Internet exploded namely because of the content. Suicide is a very touchy subject to talk about to begin with and to take a book that is 10 years old and when published did not have the advice or ways to cope like we do now, I can understand the skepticism. A lot of people feel that this book and show glorifies suicide, does not touch on the subject of mental illness, as well as does not think about the audience at all as well as many triggers.

That is why I have decided to read the book first before delving in the television show. Plus, the book is always better right?

Firat let us get into what the book is about: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

This book is extremely compelling - unputdownable at best- but a problem I had and that many readers have had is that the book relies on your sympathy for Hannah to effectively relay its message, and yet Hannah comes off as bratty, selfish and ofttimes over-sensitive. Many of her "reasons" are things that everyone has experienced at some point and people generally file those under "bad days" and definitely don't kill themselves because of it. I know I sure did as I was an outcast in high school. Hannah wasn't realistically suicidal or stereotypical suicidal. People like to look for clear-cut reasons that make sense. They wanted Hannah to give a good reason why she killed herself. But, in reality, it so rarely is one big reason you can point to. Most of the time, the little things all build up, day after day, one small thing after another, until the little reasons all blend into a single feeling of hopelessness. That is what this book is about. Plus it's also about taking responsibility for your actions and understanding how your small selfish acts can affect someone else. I felt so bad for Clay while reading this book. But I had an issue -- especially with the revelation about him, and the way he viewed the truth about Hannah. Clay changes his mind about Hannah based on what he hears and decides she did not deserve the treatment she did due to rumors. But - would she have deserved the treatment any more if she had done what the rumors said? I wish the book had taken the opportunity to address that. I do want to say I don't think this is 100% the best book in the world for depression/suicide, but I do believe it is an interesting narrative on how suicide impacts those affected, considering suicide is never a singular action.

If you are on the fence about reading/watching the television show due to what you have heard -- do not let that affect you. Give it a try. I did and I am glad that I did.