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review 2017-09-17 21:01
Good As You
Good As You: From Prejudice to Pride – 30 Years of Gay Britain - Paul Flynn

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

This was a really interesting insight into gay culture in the UK, from the seventies to nowadays: how it shaped itself, the hurdles gay people had to go through, how other people’s views gradually changed...

The book’s chapters follow specific themes, such as TV, AIDS, politics, football or pop music, rather than going in a purely chronological order. This makes for a rather comprehensive view of various areas of British culture, in the light of what being gay more specifically entails. The chapters are also well-segmented, and it’s fairly easy to pick up the book again if for some reason you had to leave it (to go do those pesky things called ‘work’ or ‘sleep’, for instance).

I learnt plenty here: how the introduction of explicitly gay characters in shows like East Enders or Coronation Street was perceived, how their actors were perceived at the time, how it changed with more recent series. Or how specific bands and singers were seen, who became a ‘gay idol’, who remained in the closet, who openly announced it. Or the many people who lost their lives to AIDS—and may not have, if they hadn’t had to remain closeted and more information had been available. Or Clause 28, which I had never heard about until now (not being from the UK probably didn’t help in that regard), and the journey from there to legalising same-sex marriages.

Paul Flynn interviewed quite a few interesting figures within the scope of this book, including Alison (who worked at the Lighthouse, offering end of life comfort to patients dying of AIDS), David Furnish (Elton John’s partner), or football player Robbie Rogers—not being particularly interested in football in general, I admit I somewhat knew that the latter is still a difficult area when it comes to being gay, but I wasn’t sure to which extent.

If anything, I would’ve liked to see more about the AIDS period, and somewhat less about the Kylie Minogue parts, so I guess I’ll have to pick other books for this.

Conclusion: Probably better as an introduction that will give you pointers to what to research in depth, so if you’re already very familiar with the country and period, the book might seem a little simplistic. Otherwise, go ahead.

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review 2017-09-16 06:47
Night Watch
Night Watch - Terry Pratchett,Stephen Briggs

I'm probably not doing this book justice with my rating, but as much as I think the writing is brilliant, it dragged for me badly.


I started it thinking it would work for my werewolf square in bingo, and by the time I realised it definitely wasn't (Agula the werewolf is only mentioned and never appears), it was too far in to stop.


This is a much deeper, more serious storyline that any of the other Discworld books I've read so far and there's a lot of political philosophy (and a fair amount of quantum physics).  It's brilliant political philosophy, but I was expecting werewolves, so Poli-Phi and string theory was more work than I was prepared for.  (Also, I'm not a fan of time travel plots.)


Still, this is Pratchett and as MT said, for a book I was complaining was hard work to get through, I was laughing out loud an awful lot.  Pratchett is a genius at using his words, and the scene involving the ox and the raw ginger had tears coming to my eyes (and likely theirs).  So many laugh out loud moments in this one that even though I'm glad it's over, I'm definitely also glad I've read it. 


(Luckily, there are enough other elements in this book that I can use it for the Free Space.)


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review 2017-09-16 03:50
Book 58/100: How to Raise a Family on Less Than Two Incomes by Denise Topolnicki
How to Raise a Family on Less Than Two Incomes: The Complete Guide to Managing Your Money Better So You Can Spend More Time with Your Kids - Denise Topolnicki

This book probably had some good advice, but it was so dang boring that I couldn't really absorb much of it. I am frugal and I care about saving money, but Topolnicki's book goes a bit too much into the weeds of stuff that is a little too "economic" for me, like various types of retirement plans, college savings funds, etc. I just want to know how to pay my bills every month!

This book is fairly old, and because Topolnicki's advice is SO specific, it dated itself far more quickly than more general advice would. She gives SPECIFIC amounts that you can expect to pay for things like insurance, mortgages, etc., which doesn't do much good to a reader 20 years later, not to mention that price tags can vary widely from one part of the country to another. Also, it's super annoying that she assumes the stay-at-home parent is going to be the mom, even though she's upfront from the beginning about this assumption. And the fact that she just expects the husband to shoulder so much of the economic burden also rubbed me the wrong way -- there are several places where she suggests hubby get a second job so Mom can stay home, essentially depriving him of any sort of family life whatsoever. Following all the advice in this book might help your family financially, but it could be hell on your relationship.

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review 2017-09-15 03:17
BLACKOUT: My 40 Years in the Music Business - Paul Porter

Several nights ago, I was channel surfing when I stopped at CSPAN and watched a portion of the book reading and Q&A session with Paul Porter. The more I listened to what Porter was saying about the business of radio and the state of the entertainment (music) industry (based on his 40 year experience in both worlds), the more I wanted to read his story. So, I bought this book. 

Porter spares no punches. He names names and takes the reader through the ups and downs he experienced as one of the top DJs in the business, first in Washington DC with WKYS-FM and WMMJ-FM during the 1980s and later in New York (the No. 1 media market in the country) with WBLS-FM, HOT 97, and KISS-FM in the 1990s and the early 2000s. Along the way, Porter also worked in TV with BET and performed a variety of other roles (e.g. Program Manager) in radio. 

As someone who grew up during the late 1960s and into the 1980s with a deep, abiding love and reverence for R&B music and radio, Porter really opened my eyes to the "dark side" of radio and the music industry and how, over the past 30 years, money and ratings increasingly became the sole metrics by which success and longevity in FM radio were measured. Porter for a time, played into some of this aspect of the business, achieving considerable success in terms of wealth and recognition among his peers until he received one day a note from a little girl in which she complained about a popular song that was receiving a lot of airplay in which the rapper proclaimed "I beat that b--- with a bat (Say what?!)" In the words of the little girl: "They keep playing that song on the radio." "... You just don't understand, Mr. Paul. My mom is in the hospital. My father beat her with a bat, and all the kids are teasing me." Porter later met with the girl at her school in Queens, NY and began to put his career in a completely different direction: to promote positive music in radio while at the same time, fighting against the stream of rap music and music videos promoting violence, misogyny, and negativity. 

In every business, there is good and bad. And Porter lays it all out across 133 pages. "BLACKOUT" I couldn't put down. Besides rock and pop music from the likes of Zeppelin, Cream, The Doors, Peter Frampton, Jethro Tull, the Moody Blues, the Steve Miller Band ("Jet Airliner" is one of my fav songs), the Eagles, Heart, Hall & Oates, Pablo Cruz, Todd Rundgren, Fleetwood Mac, The Doobie Brothers, et. al, I was also especially attuned - via FM radio - to the romantic and positive, uplifting, and inspirational R&B music from the likes of The Ohio Players, The Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Main Ingredient, The Stylistics, The Dramatics, The Delfonics, The Mighty O'Jays, The Spinners (with Philippe Wynne), Deniece Williams, Minnie Riperton, Chaka Khan & Rufus, Heatwave, The Brothers Johnson, STEVIE WONDER, Chic, LTD (with Jeffrey Osborne), Newbirth, The Whispers, PHYLLIS HYMAN, Blue Magic, Shalamar (their music was part of the soundtrack of my high school years, which ended with my graduation in June 1982), Sister Sledge, and The Jacksons (and Michael, whose "Off The Wall" album from 1979 is one of my top 5 favorites). As well as the funky and highly innovative music from Parliament Funkadelic, Rick James, the Bar Kays, Patrice Rushen, Cameo, the GAP Band, Steely Dan, and PRINCE. All of that wonderful music helped to shape me on so many levels from childhood to young adulthood. But these days, I don't listen to FM radio anymore. Ever since the early 1990s, I have become largely disenchanted with R&B and rap music on the airwaves. So much so, that I stopped listening to R&B (and rap) music on FM radio about 15 years ago. 

Thank you, Paul Porter, for this book. Anyone who has a love for music and radio should read it and share it widely. 

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review 2017-09-12 15:06
The Imam's Daughter by Hannah Shah
The Imam's Daughter - Hannah Shah

This one was heart-breaking, but I couldn't stop reading it! Kudos to the author for speaking out, especially on the subject matter and of a culture that most of us don't understand.


Synopsis: She lived the life of a devout Muslim in a family of Pakistani Muslims in England, but behind the front door, she was a caged butterfly. For many years, her father abused her in the cellar of their home. At sixteen, she discovered a plan to send her to Pakistan for an arranged marriage, and she gathered the courage to run away. Relentlessly hunted by her angry father and brothers, who were intent on executing an honor killing, she moved from house to house in perpetual fear to escape them. Over time, she converted to Christianity and was able to live and marry as she wished. Hannah found the courage to live her live free from shame, free from religious intolerance, and free from the abuse that haunted her childhood. This is a remarkable true story of how a young girl escaped a life of torture...a story you won't forget!



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