Bob Howard spent nearly fifteen years performing all over the world as “Hardcore Holly”, a tough-guy wrestler in WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).Bob Howard spent nearly fifteen years performing all over the world as “Hardcore Holly”, a tough-guy wrestler in WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). After retiring in 2010, Holly chose to write a memoir detailing his time in the business. While Holly didn’t achieve true superstardom, he was a loyal, dependable worker who maintained a featured spot during wrestling’s hottest period – the late 1990s and beyond.
What sets The Hardcore Truth apart from other wrestling memoirs is Holly’s flat-out brutal honesty. He’s a man who admits that had he played the political game backstage, he might have achieved greater success but by staying honest to who he was, he has no one to blame but himself. It was refreshing given that the majority of these books tend to fall into the “poor me” category and fault is placed on just about everyone else’s shoulders other than the performer. At times, it does feel like he’s straying a little into humble brag territory but the majority of what he says here can be backed up with facts.
When I say he’s brutally honest, I mean it. Holly does nothing to hide his feelings about Paul Levesque (a.k.a WWE performer Triple H), the executive vice president of talent, live events and creative. It’s been suggested by many others that Levesque has done more harm to the business over the years than good and while Holly sings the praises of his ability as a performer, he vilifies him as a businessman and backstage politician. The same goes for performers Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) and Kevin Nash (Diesel) who terrorized the locker room during their run on top in the mid 1990s. This leads to Holly detailing who he believes received a raw deal and who also deserved better during that time.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the sections devoted to his racing career but given that it is a relatively big part of his life that did in fact lead to Holly getting his foot in the door of WWE, you can’t expect it to be left out. Thankfully, like his life before wrestling, it’s only a small portion of the book.
Overall, there’s some great stories involving Holly standing up to management, schooling rookies and a plethora of other backstage shenanigans littered throughout the book. It’s an enjoyable read that offers up a glimpse into the life of a solid mid-card performer that isn’t often seen in the number of wrestling memoirs that get released.
At the urging of an opinion piece, a vigilante takes to the streets of New York knocking off an accused child molester who up until now, has escaped tAt the urging of an opinion piece, a vigilante takes to the streets of New York knocking off an accused child molester who up until now, has escaped the hand of justice. Succeeding in his mission, he dubs himself “The Will of the People” (or “Will” for short). Shortly after, he writes into a prominent New York newspaper threatening the lives of several other less than savory citizens.
It isn’t until a particularly well known lawyer finds himself in Will’s crosshairs that Matt Scudder is brought into the fold. Hired to track down and uncover Will, Matt enlists the assistance of his sometimes employer, Reliable Security to keep an eye on the frightened barrister.
If that isn’t enough on Scudder’s plate, he’s also recruited to look into the murder of a friend of a friend; a man named Byron Leopold, who had been shot in cold blood while sitting on a park bench. With Matt unsure of where to begin with Will, he concentrates his time tracking down this other killer. With such a heavy workload on his shoulders, can Matt juggle both cases?
While I was disappointed Mick Ballou’s small role, Block shines the spotlight on both TJ and “Hard Way” Ray, hoping they can hold their own as the supporting cast. A relatively new addition to the world of Scudder, “Hard Way” Ray provides a great wall for Matt to bounce theories off of and offers a distinctly different viewpoint that no other character can offer – what with being a criminal defense lawyer and all. TJ makes strides as Scudder’s right hand man as the two grow closer than ever; further developing a father/son relationship.
While I enjoyed the case surrounding “Will” and the payoff was surprising; it’s the case that involves Byron that I found most compelling. It’s hard to really talk about how interesting it was and how it unraveled without getting heavy into spoiler territory but given my chosen profession, I thought it was an intriguing angle (even if it is a common staple of the detective fiction genre) and brought to light a practice I wasn’t even aware of.
Even The Wicked is another strong entry in the Scudder saga that clearly shows that despite being the thirteenth entry in the series, Block still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
A mysterious disease dubbed “the ‘gets” is ravaging the human population. Starting off slowly, it hinders your ability to remember where you parked orA mysterious disease dubbed “the ‘gets” is ravaging the human population. Starting off slowly, it hinders your ability to remember where you parked or where you left your wallet. In time, it advances to the point where you forget to breathe and your heart forgets to beat.
A new substance, believed to be a miraculous cure-all healer, is discovered at the bottom of the Challenger Deep, the lowest known point in the ocean. It isn't long before a state of the art research center, populated with a select few brilliant scientists, is constructed eight miles below sea level.
When a sub resurfaces carrying the mutilated body of one of the researchers and communications from the station cease, two brave individuals are sent deep into the unknown to investigate.
The Deep is Nick Cutter’s follow up to his first novel, The Troop - you know, the one that scared Stephen King. Cutter must’ve known that he had to up the ante this time around and what’s scarier than a story set eight miles below sea level? Answer: not much.
While the story does take its time in building to the truly terrifying stuff, the final one hundred pages are absolutely insane. I’m talking edge of your seat, nightmare worthy material. In the Troop, Cutter relies on the fear of infection and disease and while those two elements are certainly present in The Deep, he’s more so playing on the true psychological madness of claustrophobia and everlasting darkness.
The Deep is set to hit bookstores a little under one year following The Troop (January 2015), I worry that I may get spoiled by a steady stream of Cutter material. Either way, I can’t wait for book three.
Side note: if this ever gets made into a movie, Jim Parsons is the PERFECT actor to fill the shoes of Clayton.
With the summer of 1927 being one of America’s most historic, celebrated non-fiction writer Bill Bryson took a long, hard look at everything that wentWith the summer of 1927 being one of America’s most historic, celebrated non-fiction writer Bill Bryson took a long, hard look at everything that went down that year in his acclaimed 2013 release, One Summer: America, 1927. Events covered include:
- Charles Lindbergh becoming the first man to cross the Atlantic Ocean alone in an airplane – without stopping for refueling or for navigational purposes.
- The sensationalization of crime and the rise of the tabloid.
- Babe Ruth breaking his own record for home runs in a single season.
- The beginning of the downfall of ruthless mobster and bootlegger Al Capone.
- A meeting among financial minds that ultimately planted the seeds for the legendary stock market crash of 1929.
- The debut of the first "talking picture" exploding out of Hollywood.
..and so much more!
I had such a tremendous experience with Blake J. Harris’ Console Wars that I began seeking out other acclaimed non-fiction to digest. On a routine trip to the local bookstore, I spotted Bryson’s One Summer and decided to give it a shot.
I learned so much from this book! Did you know that the only reason the steering wheel was shifted from the right side of the car to the left so that the “lady of the home” could avoid stepping onto the road? Were you aware that Henry Ford was an ignorant anti-semite? I sure didn’t. In fact, it seemed most people were anti-semites as racism and bigotry ran wild during the roaring twenties.
Of all the subjects studied, I found Henry Ford to be the most fascinating. A giant egotist, the man frequently shunned advice from anyone who claimed to be an expert in any given field. One of his biggest blunders involved completely stopping production on his immensely popular car the Model T to concentrate on designing and producing his next creation, the Model A. The only problem? He didn’t know what the Model A was. He completely shut down operations without a clue on what he would manufacture. This led to massive job losses and a huge decline in business (no cars to sell=no revenue).
His other ridiculous idea involved buying a huge chunk of land in South America and creating a model American community that would produce the rubber required for his vehicles. Dubbed “Fordlandia”, the venture failed spectacularly. He seemingly did zero research into the climate and location and appointed dangerously under-qualified men to oversee the operation. How the Ford Motor Company survived is astounding.
One of the biggest obstacles with writing non-fiction has to be getting the flow or style right. Obviously Bryson has a wealth of experience with writing non-fiction, but I’m sure it’s always a delicate balance when trying to stay somewhere between page turning prose and blatantly regurgitating facts. While Bryson does a fine job, there were still moments (albeit few) when I found my mind wandering and skimming over long patches of information without digesting anything. Bryson has clearly done his research so there’s a wealth of knowledge crammed into a tight four hundred plus pages – probably why it took me a few weeks to get through the book. It’s a style that I find is best absorbed in small bursts.
Three jailbirds are being transferred when an escape plan goes horribly wrong. With nowhere left to turn, one of the escapees decides to call in a favThree jailbirds are being transferred when an escape plan goes horribly wrong. With nowhere left to turn, one of the escapees decides to call in a favor and request the assistance of one Charlie Manx. Manx has a talent for making folks disappear so he offers a solution to their problem – only they may not like where he takes them.
I received a free copy from the fine folks at Netgalley for review.
The Wraith is a great companion piece to Hill’s 2013 novel, NOS4A2 and expands on what is already a compelling character in Charlie Manx. With The Wraith, Hill delves into Manx’s history, detailing what drove him to become the man he is, the origin of Christmasland while establishing a face to the holly, jolly land of terror.
The artistic style of Charles Paul Wilson was very reminiscent of Hill’s long time collaborative partner Gabriel Rodriguez (which of course, is a good thing) – with whom Hill worked with on the critically acclaimed series Locke & Key. Wilson thanks Rodriguez within the acknowledgements so it’s possible he played a hand in the style chosen.
If you liked Hill’s NOS4A2, The Wraith is not to be missed. What could’ve easily been a by-the-numbers expansion of the original material feels like a fresh, interesting story from an author who clearly wasn’t done with his creation.
Unlicensed detective Matt Scudder is hired by a member of a secret group of men who meet once a year to discuss progress made in their lives. In 1961,Unlicensed detective Matt Scudder is hired by a member of a secret group of men who meet once a year to discuss progress made in their lives. In 1961, the group started out strong with thirty-one members and now, some thirty years later, they’re down to fourteen. It doesn't seem uncommon - people die all the time - but when you look at the circumstances behind a select few deaths, it sure looks like someone has certain members in their cross-hairs. Murders, suicides, accidents - they all add up. Can Scudder prove that someone is knocking them off like proverbial ducks in a carnival game?
Scudder is trapped between a rock and a hard place. While Scudder thinks one of the best options is to get the police involved, the members wish to stay under the radar and would rather not be subjected to the inevitable media circus that would come with thrusting the club of thirty-one into the public eye. With that option out, Scudder has to rely on his ingenuity and good old detective skills to crack the case - which has never been a problem before. However, unfortunately for Scudder, he doesn't even know where to begin.
In one of the best parts of the novel, Scudder shares an evening with his friend and feared New York gangster Mick Ballou as they chat about growing up with their fathers and a multitude of other topics. If for some reason Block felt compelled to write a novel that was just a conversation between Scudder and Ballou, it would be welcomed by this reader.
The villain reminded me of James Leo Motley, the murderous psychopath from Block’s eighth Scudder novel, A Ticket to the Boneyard. While the ending isn't typical of a Scudder novel, it’s wholly satisfying and sticks out as one of the more memorable conclusions in the entire series. I was grinning from ear to ear. You will not be disappointed.
A man is gunned down and the person deemed responsible is caught red handed at the scene of the crime. While the accused’s brother realizes that the eA man is gunned down and the person deemed responsible is caught red handed at the scene of the crime. While the accused’s brother realizes that the evidence is damning, he cannot imagine his brother committing such a horrible act. He remembered meeting a man who identified himself as a detective during an AA meeting and reaches out for his help. The man in question is Matt Scudder and he agrees to take the case even though he has his doubts he’ll make a difference.
As with all the books in Block’s Scudder series, one of the most important characters is New York City itself. Whether he’s writing about dingy bars like the infamous Grogen’s or the folks that live in the city’s high-end condos, Block finds away to let the Big Apple play a central role in all of Matt’s cases. While talking with a homeless man about the shooting, the man tells Scudder that even though he shares the same neighborhood as the deceased, they couldn't be further apart.
"Man, how would they know him? He didn’t live here."
"Of course he did," I said. "You can see his building from here."
He made a show of following my finger as I pointed at the top floors of Holtzmann’s apartment building. "Right," he said. "That’s where he lived, up on the fortieth floor."
The twenty-eighth, I thought.
"That’s another country up there," he said. "Man commuted from the fortieth floor over there to some other fortieth floor where his office is at. Where you and me are is the street. Man like that, the street’s just a place he’s got to pass through twice a day, getting from one fortieth floor to another."
The Devil Knows You’re Dead is seemingly about Matt wandering through different worlds without ever leaving New York City. However, I suppose that’s life in and of itself. No one carries the exact same experiences that make up a life and because of this, everyone seemingly exists within a different world. With Scudder being a detective, he finds himself drifting in and out of the lives of others, trying to see the world from their eyes while absorbing as much as possible.
Of course while the crime plays an important part in this novel, it’s what Matt experiences in the course of the investigation that gives the story its legs. Whether he’s exposing his sometimes sidekick TJ to questionable situations, comforting an old friend who has received devastating news or figuring out where his relationship with his girlfriend Elaine stands, The Devil Knows You’re Dead is a very important novel for the character of Matt Scudder....more
The Bard is back and he’s about to get all Lando Calrissian on your ass!
Ian Doescher has put forth The Empire Striketh Back, the second volume in hisThe Bard is back and he’s about to get all Lando Calrissian on your ass!
Ian Doescher has put forth The Empire Striketh Back, the second volume in his critically acclaimed William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series. Adapting episode five into a true Shakespearean tragedy shouldn’t be all that difficult seeing as the source material is about as Shakespearean as it gets. You’ve got all the common elements: contrast, fate, supernatural, catharsis – you’ve even got asides and soliloquies for added measure!
I liked this one more than Verily, A New Hope as it seemed to fit the Shakespearean mold a little better given the subject matter and ending. Again, the artwork is excellent as it helps to inject a little humor and lightness to an otherwise dark and dreary story.
Doescher’s experiment has merit and seems to be getting more mileage than I expected. If you’re a fan of the movies, the first two in the series are definite must-reads that help to expand on an already expansive mythology.
“Wonderful what Hollywood will do to a nobody. It will make a radiant glamour queen out of a drab little wench who ought to be ironing a truck driver’“Wonderful what Hollywood will do to a nobody. It will make a radiant glamour queen out of a drab little wench who ought to be ironing a truck driver’s shirts, a he-man hero with shining eyes and brilliant smile reeking of sexual charm out of some overgrown kid who was meant to go to work with a lunchbox. Out of a Texas car hop with the literacy of a character in a comic strip it will make an international courtesan, married six times to six millionaires and so blasé and decadent at the end of it that her idea of a thrill is to seduce a furniture mover in a sweaty undershirt.”
A woman from small town Kansas travels to California and hires Marlowe to track down her missing brother. In his quest to locate the man in question, Chandler will take Marlowe into the world of Hollywood and the shady characters that occupy it.
In The Little Sister, Chandler packs about ten pounds of plot into a two pound sack. As many of his fans have said, trying to follow a Marlowe novel is about as simple as reading a road map upside down and backwards. Ice picks, gunshots and fist on face violence make up the fifth installment of Chandler’s signature series and while the plot twists hit harder than a flurry of punches to the solar plexus, it’s Chandler’s writing that once again blew me away.
Not known for having a positive worldview, Chandler is increasingly bitter this time around. Briefly working as a screenwriter in Tinseltown, certain experiences soured him on the whole industry. Through Marlowe, he muses on the whole damn state of California, hitting it with stinging criticism.
“California, the department store state. The most of everything and the best of nothing.”
“I ate dinner at a place near Thousand Oaks. Bad but quick. Feed ‘em and throw ‘em out Lots of business. We can’t bother with you sitting over your second cup of coffee, mister. You’re using money space. See those people over there behind the rope They want to eat. Anyway they think they have to. God knows why they want to eat here. The could do better home out of a can.”
“They are what human beings turn into when they trade life for existence and ambition for security.”
Despite his general dislike for most of the people he meets, Marlowe spends the entire novel manipulating evidence and tipping the scales in favor of others which makes the ending all that more shocking. If you saw it coming, I’ll bake you a dozen cookies.
I’m sad to see that I’m reaching the end of my Marlowe marathon. Two more Chandler-written novels remain with arguably the best of the best on the horizon. The Little Sister may not be sitting at the top but it’s certainly a worthy piece of Marlowe legacy....more
Ever hear about that time Bill Murray swiped a lady’s french fry and left her with the words "..and no one will ever believe you?" What about the alleEver hear about that time Bill Murray swiped a lady’s french fry and left her with the words "..and no one will ever believe you?" What about the allegedly telekinetic James Hydrick? How about pro-wrestlers Brian Pillman and Hulk Hogan – two men who fooled promoters and fans alike. These are the subjects that Stuart Millard tackles in his collection of essays dubbed; “Smoke & Mirrors and Steven Seagal.”
Smoke & Mirrors was a fun, quick read. Millard clearly did his homework when it came to all the pop culture topics he explored. It certainly doesn't hurt that he’s hilarious as well. There were more than a few occasions I found myself laughing out loud. I’m sure he could have just compiled all the rumors and tall tales surrounding several of the text’s subjects but where’s the fun in that? Had it not been for his endlessly entertaining wit, I’m not sure the book would be as enjoyable a read.
For someone like myself – who is as big a pro wrestling fan as they come – I had a great time during the Hogan and Pillman bits. His dissection of the immeasurable number of lies spewed from the mouth of Hulk Hogan had me in tears from laughter. Such highlights include:
Hogan once kicked John Belushi out of a bar in 1986 – despite the fact Belushi died four years prior to that night.
Hogan saying that Andre The Giant died days after he bodyslammed him in 1987 at WrestleMania III. Andre died six years later.
Darren Aronofsky begged him to star in his 2008 film, The Wrestler (he did not). Oh and his films, Mr. Nanny and Santa with Muscles made thirty to forty million.
It should be worth noting that Millard runs a blog dubbed Frantic Planet. Seeing as a few of these essays are basically expanded blog posts, much of his new material should be in line with what’s on the site.
As a child, Kit “Kick” Lanigan was abducted in broad daylight. Missing for nearly six years, an intensive FBI investigation led to her recovery. Ten yAs a child, Kit “Kick” Lanigan was abducted in broad daylight. Missing for nearly six years, an intensive FBI investigation led to her recovery. Ten years later, at age twenty-one, One Kick follows Lanigan as she struggles with PTSD, dodges reporters who are desperate for updates while distancing herself from her fame-hungry mother. When not firing her Glock or learning a new self-defense discipline, Kick keeps her ear to the ground regarding recent abductions, struggling to find a way to help.
Everything changes when a mysterious man named “Bishop” shows up at her door asking for her help. He’s with a group that works to recover missing children and asks for Kick’s assistance. Can Kick lend a hand and help locate two missing children or will her past get in the way?
I received a review copy from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.
The character of Kit Lanigan is a memorable one and her struggle to maintain somewhat of a normal life following her abduction felt very realistic. In a world where news coverage is literally twenty four-seven, reporters are always desperate for content so when an event like Kit’s rescue captures the hearts and minds of America, it’s only natural that the public are going to want follow-up stories; whether Kit likes it or not. It certainly doesn't help matters that her mother clings to her daughter’s relevance in the same vein as a Dina or Michael Lohan, always trying to parade her daughter into the public eye.
While Bishop and Kit work well together – Kit’s intimate knowledge of the type of person they’re hunting is invaluable – I always felt that Kit played second fiddle to Bishop far too often. I get that she’s less experienced than she thinks she is when it comes to tracking criminals but it seemed like Bishop was picking up the pieces more than he should have to.
This was my first Chelsea Cain experience and while I wasn't blown away, I did enjoy myself. I’d be interested in seeing where the series goes from here and whether or not Kit can evolve into a true kick-ass heroine.
When the folks at Nintendo released the 8-bit NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), the home console industry was on its last legs. Following a spectacWhen the folks at Nintendo released the 8-bit NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), the home console industry was on its last legs. Following a spectacular crash of the gaming market in 1983 (Atari’s E.T. fiasco), Nintendo had its work cut out for it if it believed it could take the medium off of life support. By limiting supply, taking a hard stance on game quality and working with some of the largest retailers in North America, the Japanese company single-handedly resurrected the industry and put gaming back into the popular culture.
While Nintendo was enjoying record profits and unparalleled success, a competitor was sitting on the sidelines, struggling to find a way to get into the game. Sega had released their own 8-bit console dubbed The Master System and while they sold a respectable number of units, they were nothing more than a blip on Nintendo’s radar. With their new 16-bit (double the power of the NES) next generation console, the Sega Genesis, they needed a true visionary to lead the company into battle.
Enter Tom Kalinske. While he’s not a name you may know at first glance, his work with toy giants Mattel and Matchbox could be considered legendary. Armed with a team of marketing mavens, Kalinske would revolutionize the gaming industry and take it to Nintendo like no one had before.
Being born in 1984, I was the target market for both Sega and Nintendo. However, I was lucky enough to own both consoles. Having lived through their fiercely competitive battle, I thought I knew a great deal about each company’s drive to control the gaming market. Turns out, I was wrong. I learned so much from this book and Harris’ choice to present this in a narrative style kept the pages turning and made putting the book down nearly impossible.
Tom Kalinske’s dream team of marketing experts did so much to revolutionize the industry. They beat Nintendo to the 16-bit market, they organized the first ever global video game launch with Sonic 2sday (the first “street date” established for a video game with their sequel to the mega-successful Sonic The Hedgehog) and even went so far as to blatantly attack their competition with their commercials and the "Welcome to the Next Level" campaign.
As with any business, competition forces creativity. Nintendo had a virtual stranglehold on console gaming and without Sega’s constant drive to be better, Nintendo may not have explored the true power of the SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System). Games like Mario Kart, Star Fox and the groundbreaking Donkey Kong Country may never have been made if Sega had not forced Nintendo’s hand.
While Sega was never able to reach the dizzying heights they had with subsequent consoles (the Sega Saturn or the Sega Dreamcast), their hard work and brilliant ideas can still be felt throughout the industry today. Their signature character Sonic the Hedgehog continues to appear in countless games developed for the three leading video game companies - one of which being Nintendo itself!
To those unaware, this is up for best non-fiction book of the year in the Goodreads Best Books of 2014 awards. As I get closer and closer to the end of the year, this is the front runner for my most enjoyable read. I urge those who have yet to read it, give it a shot and those who have read it, vote for it in its category....more
Jules Landau comes from a long line of crooks and thieves but as well all know, your family history doesn't always dictate your future. Attempting toJules Landau comes from a long line of crooks and thieves but as well all know, your family history doesn't always dictate your future. Attempting to make a career as a P.I., Jules takes on a case involving the murder of Snooky (no, not that Snooky), a family friend who just happens to be an expert money launderer. Hired by Jules’ own ex-con father, can Landau track down Snooky’s executioner or will his family name draw deadly attention?
I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Landau must have scored top spot on the dean’s list at the Philip Marlowe school of hard knocks. Landau is a P.I. who takes a beating and throughout his quest to nab Snooky’s killer, he ends up with more bumps and bruises than Johnny Knoxville in a shopping cart.
Author Marc Krulewitch crafts an interesting and compelling mystery filled with drugs, murder and political maneuvering. Landau deals with a wide cast of characters with help from a plucky journalist, an old school detective mentor and a sultry tattoo artist along the way. There’s a lot to like about this book although I felt at times the case became just a tad convoluted. However, like a great Chandler book, Krulewitch’s prose flows smoothly and keeps the reader turning the pages.
Krulewitch originally released Maxwell Street Blues independently a few years back but it has since been picked up by Random House’s crime imprint Alibi and set for release in August 2014. I’m hoping this is the start of a series as I’d love to read more from him in the future.