Mostly fun campfire ghost stories marred by pseudo-scientific babble and a self-conscious rock-star attitude.

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A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO HEAVEN

(OR, HOW I MADE PEACE WITH THE PARANORMAL AND STIGMATIZED ZEALOTS AND CYNICS IN THE PROCESS)

Slipknot singer sees dead people.

Apparently, Taylor (Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good, 2011) has backstage passes to the spirit world that not many of us are privileged enough to get: He not only sees ghosts on a regular basis, but he’s also convinced that the same spooks are haunting him everywhere he goes. His first recollection of seeing ghosts was around the age of 9, when he and some friends went on a Goonies-like adventure to a scary-looking old house in his suburb. In that house, he saw his first sinister apparition, which seemed to be an old man who wanted the young whippersnappers out of his house. From then on, according to Taylor, his life has been one big spook-tacular extravaganza filled with supernatural occurrences. (Later in the book, the author does his tedious best to scientifically prove that these spirits can, in fact, walk the terrestrial plane among us.) Taylor recalls stories about seeing a shadow man in a cornfield trying to attack him; he was once pushed down the stairs by a malevolent, otherworldly force; every time he buys a new Munsters-style mansion, it turns out to be haunted by the spirits of dead children. To Taylor’s credit, all these anecdotes about his close encounters with the spirit world are told in exacting detail, and you certainly want to believe him. Unfortunately, insecurity about how his theories and stories will be received comes to the fore in a big way: Taylor alternates between annoying self-deprecation and smug self-congratulation, spending too much time on humorless, expletive-laden rants against those who would dare question his place among the elite few who have regular interface with supernatural beings.

Mostly fun campfire ghost stories marred by pseudo-scientific babble and a self-conscious rock-star attitude.

Pub Date: July 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-306-82164-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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