by Jina Bacarr
published by Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin
release date: October 15, 2013
provided by NetGalley
Naked Sushi is a seriously delicious read! It focuses on Pepper O’Malley. She’s a heroine worth rooting for, a somewhat insecure computer programmer, who sounds adorably quirky. Unfortunately she hasn’t been getting lucky IRL lately. So one night her flirting gets out of hand when a hot guy seems to be coming onto her in the copy room. It turns out that the boring company that she works for isn’t quite so boring. It also turns out that the man in the copy room is a FBI agent trying to collect incriminating evidence on her boss. Pepper gets canned.
After trying to get any job possible but being blacklisted, Pepper teams up with Steve the FBI agent in a bid to get her good name back and maybe score with him, yet again! Pepper really gets into her role since she actually wanted to join the FBI the past but let her insecurities over her background get in the way.
Spy romances aren’t always up my alley. Sometimes they get too bogged down in the details of the case and lose focus on the romance at hand. Not this time. In addition to romance we also get a fun best friend who helps Pepper into and out of trouble.
The title, Naked Sushi, refers to a particular scene involving a naked sushi model. You know those women you can eat sushi off of at very fancy restaurants? Think Samantha in the first Sex and the City flick.
If you like unique characters, a hint of danger and hot sex then Naked Sushi is for you. This is a novella, but at 90 pages, I didn’t feel cheated out of a story. I just felt like it was super fast, super fun read. You can read it twice if you are so inclined, I did!
A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee
by Karen Abbot
published by Random House
released on December 28, 2010 (hardcover) and March 13, 2012 (paperback)
provided by NetGalley
from the publisher “America was flying high in the Roaring Twenties. Then, almost overnight, the Great Depression brought it crashing down. When the dust settled, people were primed for a star who could distract them from reality. Enter Gypsy Rose Lee, a strutting, bawdy, erudite stripper who possessed a gift for delivering exactly what America needed.
With her superb narrative skills and eye for detail, Karen Abbott brings to life an era of ambition, glamour, struggle, and survival. Using exclusive interviews and never-before-published material, she vividly delves into Gypsy’s world, including her intense triangle relationship with her sister, actress June Havoc, and their formidable mother, Rose, a petite but ferocious woman who literally killed to get her daughters on the stage.
Weaving in the compelling saga of the Minskys—four scrappy brothers from New York City who would pave the way for Gypsy Rose Lee’s brand of burlesque and transform the entertainment landscape—Karen Abbott creates a rich account of a legend whose sensational tale of tragedy and triumph embodies the American Dream.”
When I first started reading this book I hopped right on Goodreads and exclaimed how awesome it is. I had never heard of Gypsy Rose Lee prior to reading this book. I chose it based on the cover and a sentence about the plot. I was immediately intrigued by her life.
Gypsy Rose Lee was a famous burlesque dancer. Not only did she live an interesting life but the history of her family is also fascinating. Once I dug into the book though a couple of things bugged me about it.
The book also includes a huge amount of info on the history of burlesque including a ton of info on the Minsky Brothers of NYC. While this was cool to learn about it detracts from Gypsy’s story. During the first 100 or so pages it seems like you’ll never really get into Gypsy’s story because the author is providing the backstory on everyone else. This reminds me of the quote from the movie Wonder Boys, “even though you’re book is really beautiful…it’s very detailed. You know, with the genealogies of everyone’s horses, and the dental records…”. I would guess that the author was having difficulty editing herself but I bet that she was simply so enamored with all of the details that she felt compelled to include them.
My other issue with the book is that it jumps around back and forth between different times periods constantly. This combined with all of the extra info makes it a confusing read, especially when you are first starting the book. I once read a review of a film that used nonlinear storytelling and it said that if your story is interesting enough (and the format isn’t a part of the plot) then it’s unnecessary to format media in this way. I tend to agree.
I wanted to mention these issues in case you also went into the book a blank slate. Plus I wanted you to know why I took away 1.5 stars. Other than those issues I found the book fantastic. I particularly enjoyed how the author included slang from that time period. The author also reconstructs scenes and tried to make you feel like you were there as events were happening. I think that she did this through a combo of investigation and assumption. This doesn’t bother me but some sticklers may take issue with it.
Gypsy herself, is amazing. Like my favorite movie heroine Nomi Malone, Gypsy is described as being untalented. Yet she was able to find a way into the spotlight. To give you a small amount of back story on her, her mother Rose was considered the ultimate stage mother who took Gypsy (then Rose Louise Hovick) and her younger sister June Hovick (then Baby June) on the road doing vaudeville as children. June was considered extremely talented, she was a natural dancer who also put a ton of effort into becoming even better. Meanwhile Rose Louise was considered to just be there, basically, so she just did whatever was needed in an act. Their mother, Rose, often had an unpaid bevy of young men or young women who toured with them.
Eventually June went off on her own. Rose and Rose Louise continued to tour during the ebbing of vaudeville and found themselves smack in the middle of burlesque. Since there was money in it they created a burlesque celebrity out of Rose Louise, aka Gypsy Rose Lee, despite her mother’s initial objections to what she considered a tawdry profession. The book deals with all of this and the complex familial relationships between Gypsy, her mother and sister both before and after Gypsy’s rise to fame.
Some describe this book as racy. It definitely goes there. You learn all about the behind the scenes workings of burlesque. I particularly enjoyed the nuggets on how the stripteasers and vaudeville acts pulled off some of their tricks. There are also a number of suspicious deaths. Plus you find out about the decency crackdown in NYC that affected burlesque and a few nuggets here and there about prohibition.
The story of Gypsy’s mom, Rose is definitely crazy, as is her family history. The changing of her daughters’ names and personal histories is also disconcerting (example-cannibalism).
I was so intrigued by this book that I had to watch both film adaptations of the musical Gypsy that was somewhat based on her life (the next remake will star Barbra Streisand!). I also intend to read Gypsy’s autobiography in the future.
If you are interested in burlesque, vaudeville and Gypsy Rose Lee (and her family) you should definitely read this book.
Mark Lentz is a singer-songwriter from Marietta, Pennsylvania. His early influences include Pink Floyd and The Beatles. Mark’s music has been classified as a sort of easy listening pop or rock. It definitely has a very free flowing 60s vibe to it.
Listen to Missing Pieces
While Mark’s songs make distinctive points they do provide a sort of unified melancholy yet searching experience. You’re My Love has a spacey, eerie feel that sets it apart from other love songs. Missing Pieces may be my favorite song by Mr. Lentz. It’s a really neat tune. Imagine if the Doors had done something akin to Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy. Visions From A Wall is a pop song that begs to be put into a mix including The Beach Boys on a summer day. Gods And Monsters is about being different. It’s definitely the most Pink Floyd-y of the bunch. It may make you want to cry for some instinctive reason so be forewarned.
listen to Visions From A Wall
You should also check out the following songs on Ubetoo. Old Man is a somber tune that seems to be about the anonymity of aging. A Long Time Ago is a pensive take on a former love. If you’re more in the mood for an upbeat poppy song about being in love give Waiting For Your Smile a spin.
listen to Gods And Monsters
You can check out Mark’s profile on Ubetoo here to listen to a variety of songs.
Mark’s songs can also be purchased from Amazon or iTunes. You should listen to him today if you are looking for something off the beaten path.
This post has been brought to you by Danny Martin but that doesn’t affect my opinions or recommendations.
Marty’s Invasion is a fun band that plays a variety of music. Marty (aka Daniel Martin) is the man behind the band. He plays all of the instruments, which include guitar, piano, bass, percussion and the unique electro-theremin. He also sings most of the parts in his tunes. Sometimes he features guest musicians on certain tracks or during live shows.
Marty’s Invasion was founded by Marty in New York City in 2002. Though Marty is currently residing in Lancaster, PA (yes, I knew there had to be some other awesome people in this state!) in the past he has also lived and played in many high profile cities including Washington D.C and San Fransisco.
Aside from embracing various types of music another thing that sets Marty’s Invasion apart from other bands is that he sometimes uses an electro-theremin in both the recording of and live performances of his songs. It looks pretty neat. According to this site an electro-theremin is an electronic instrument that was invented to sound like a theremin but is played a different way from a classic theremin. The following two tracks include the electro-theremin and it definitely gives them an uncommon sound. Plus he made it himself, impressive.
listen to Waiting for a Word
listen to Post Office
Marty’s Invasion released a new EP in January. It can be purchased here on Amazon, here on iTunes or here on Ubetoo.
The EP includes the following tracks:
1. Somebody Else
2. Post Office
3. Pretender’s Waltz
4. Deep Rooted
There are two things that I love about songs from Marty’s Invasion: 1. his songs span different musical styles, 2. one of those genres is alternative rock! Remember the 90s? There definitely aren’t enough alternative songs out these days. Other types of music that Marty excels at include pop, rock, goth and classical instrumentals.
listen to Somebody Else
Some of his songs, including the above Somebody Else, which is arguably my favorite, give off a low key 60s rock feel ala The Beach Boys. His EP also includes the spacey, pop love song Post Office. Post Office puts me in a fun 80s pop mood. Pretender’s Waltz goes a completely different way since it’s a classic instrumental. The last song on the EP is Deep Rooted. While it is also an instrumental it’s completely different from Pretender’s Waltz. It’s a blues influenced guitar instrumental. It sort of makes you feel like you’re sitting in a hip jazz club somewhere listening to it in the dark, surround by very in the know people.
You can also check out some other great songs from Marty’s Invasion that you can’t currently buy by visiting Ubetoo. Some non-album favorites of mine have also been included in this post. The gothy Waiting for a Word may strike a chord with fans of the Cure (like me). Somebody Else totally sounds like an alternative rock song that you just happened to come across. It reminds me of artists such as The Proclaimers and DeadEyeDick. The rock song Face is about being happy to see your lover’s Face at the end of the work day. It’s another song that has a cool, 60s vibe to me.
listen to Hometown
Some more great Marty’s Invasion songs on Ubetoo are the mellow folk rock track Hometown and the alternative feeling Moments in the Sun. Either would be great for a day when you are just being low key and chilling. You should also check out the pop piano ballad Cross Country Runner. It’s a moving song about a friend he’s lost touch with.
Since Marty’s Invasion is so diverse I would basically recommend his EP for fans of music in general.