Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Me" by Pattie Boyd

There was no way I could not read "Wonderful Tonight" after working my way through "Miss O'Dell" and "Clapton."  It seems like Patti Boyd was the center of quite a few obsessions in her day and I wanted to see if I could pinpoint just what the allure was.

In good news, I think I'm finally over my own little Beatles phase.  You're welcome.

Summary:  Any time I read an autobiography I have a hard time summarizing it.  To be short and sweet (and accurate) it is the story of a person's life filtered through their own recollections and often rose-tinted glasses.  Moments are exaggerated or down played in a way that makes the subject look best...or at least not as bad as they were.

"Wonderful Tonight" tells the story of Patti's life, from her early childhood in Kenya to her tumultuous marriages to George Harrison and Eric Clapton and beyond.

My Thoughts:  I thought "Wonderful Tonight" was really interesting.  Patti Boyd had a life that seemed at moments quite charmed, at others horribly sad, and occasionally both at the same time.

Patti spent her early childhood with her three siblings, parents and rich grandparents in Kenya.  Then her father walked out on the family and her mother immediately remarried and moved the family back to England.  Patti's stepfather was weird (like...really weird) and the strained feeling at home pushed her out the door and into modeling at a young age.  It was as a model that she first started drugs via "skinny pills" and eventually met her first husband, Beatles guitarist George Harrison.  Patti traveled the world with George, was introduced to the elite of rock and roll and learned about Indian mysticism.  What started out as a happy marriage ended sadly as Patti left one bad relationship for another, this time with Guitar legend Eric Clapton.

There were parts of Patti's story that I liked.  I found her life to be really interesting.  She is fearless and isn't afraid to try new things, concepts that absolutely mystify me.  She traveled to exotic locales in her youth (and still does) and let those experiences change her outlook on life.  She mingled with rock stars and actors and didn't bat an eyelash.

However as glamorous as Patti's life was, it was also a lot more lonely and sad that I would have thought.  I felt especially sad reading about Patti's marriages.  While both relationships with her husbands seemed to start out with love, it was clear that neither George nor Eric saw her as anything other than a possession.  She lived her life for her men and didn't take care of herself.

But what was most sad, was that Patti's story seemed to end when her rock and roll lifestyle ended.  The book just glossed over her life after Eric as if it wasn't as important.  I'm not sure if that's for the reader or if it is how Patti really sees life.  I hope the former.

Rating:  An easy, quick read and a nice way to roll up my Beatles phase.

Also Read By:  N/A

Reviewed By:  Tami

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"Magic Bites" by Ilona Andrews

This book is the first in a series. A friend lent me the first two books.

Summary: The world alternates irregularly between periods of high and low magic. For many centuries, magic was low and tech was high. In the last decade or two, magic has come back and now it alternates between the two frequently. When magic is high, modern technology does not work which means everyone has two sets of light bulbs, incandescent for tech and fey lanterns for magic. Major institutions have adapted with dual systems blended construction of buildings. New agencies were formed, both government and private, to handle magical problems.

This story follows Kate, a mercenary with the Guild. She is hired to fight monsters and resolve magical trouble. Her mentor, a Knight from the Order, is found dead and the murderer is on the loose. As Kate investigates she picks up some allies and enemies. As there is a sequel, I will let you speculate on how this book ends.

What I Liked: The setting is very interesting, especially the idea of a magical tide that rolls in and out. The scenes describing it come in and everyone switching their lights is fascinating to think about. Also, the thoughts on how a major city like Atlanta would change are fun.

What I Didn't Like: I could not follow the characters' emotional states. One would be mad or sad and it was not clear to me why. Friendships were strengthened or weakened for inexplicable reasons. In one scene, a man comes up with an idea that the group then acts on. It turns out he was wrong and blames Kate for coming up with the idea, I have no idea why. Similarly, I found that I did not trust the narrator. In other books I've read, the narrator spends a lot of time proving to the reader that they are telling the story as accurately as possible. Kate did not seem to care what the reader thought and would just say something is true and move on.

Rating: I'm not eager to read any more of the series.

Also Read By This Author: None. 
Note, Ilona Andrews is the pen name for Ilona and Andrew Gordon.

Reviewed By: Nick

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"Mortality" by Christopher Hitchens

I was picking up books at the library for Tami and noticed this sitting in the audiobook section. As I am generally a fan of Hitchens I decided to check it out.

Summary: This is Hitchens' last book before his death. In truth, it is not even a full book as it explains that Hitchens believed he had more time to write more content and polish it before publishing. His sudden death means there are fragments left unedited, still in their first draft.

Much of the book originally appeared in articles he wrote while in treatment. It starts with Hitchens waking up very sick and unsure what was wrong. The doctor suspected cancer, but any conclusive test was still in the future. Hitchens writes candidly about his struggle to live a normal life, unwilling to fail his friends and fans. He also reflects on the nature of his treatment, the effects of chemotherapy and what it's like to show up at the clinic. As he died of throat cancer, he also writes about his loss of speech, something that his especially hard on a man who loved talking. This book also includes a forward and an afterward in which two people close to him talk about his last days.

What I Liked: This is Hitchens making the best of a bad situation. He retained his ability to write fiercely and strategically right up to the end. 

What I Didn't Like: Obviously, these are the dying words of a man I respected. I would rather they weren't his last.

Rating: Worth reading, but left with a guilty feeling.

Also Read by this Author: Hitch-22.

Reviewed by: Nick