Review: Wham!, George Michael, and Me by Andrew Ridgeley

WHAM!, George Michael, and Me
Andrew Ridgeley
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Music
Released: October 8, 2019
Source: Overdrive
Rating: 3.5 stars

For the first time, Andrew Ridgeley - one half of one of the most famous bands in the world - tells the inside story of Wham!, his life-long friendship with George Michael and the formation of a band that changed the shape of the music scene in the early eighties.

In 1975 Andrew took a shy new boy at school under his wing. They instantly hit it off and their boyhood escapades at Bushey Meads School built a bond that was never broken. The duo found themselves riding an astonishing rollercoaster of success, taking them all over the world. They made and broke iconic records, they were treated like gods, but they stayed true to their friendship and ultimately to themselves. It was a party that seemed as if it would never end. And then it did, in front of tens of thousands of tearful fans at Wembley Stadium in 1986.

Andrew's memoir covers in wonderful detail those years, up until that last iconic concert: the scrapes, the laughs, the relationships, the good and the bad. It's a unique and one-and-only time to remember that era, that band and those boys.

Back in the day I was a big Wham! fan. Within the realm of my rabid teenage devotion, they came second only to Duran Duran. Their infectious pop music was a balm to the angsty teen years and my crush on George Michael was strong. So learning that surviving Wham! member Andrew Ridgeley had written a book about his years with George had me gladly taking a trip down memory lane.

Ridgeley’s memoir focused heavily on the early years of his friendship with George – pre-Wham!, pre-success. From their meeting at age 12, the forming of their first band, and the highs and lows of seeking stardom, the emphasis was always on the close bond and enduring friendship he shared with George. While he was quick to acknowledge George’s incredible talent – his voice, his songwriting – he also seemed to be seeking validation. He was obviously the driving force behind the band in the early years – he pushed to start the band, he was constantly working for greater recognition and a record deal – but once success came he seemed to relinquish almost all creative control to George. He didn’t seem resentful exactly, but it was hard to reconcile his feelings of not having a more dynamic role in the band after he was the one who had chosen that route.  

There was quite a gap of time that was a bit glossed over from George’s solo success just after the break-up of Wham! to his death in 2016. I guess that was to be expected, though, since they were no longer living in each other’s pockets at that point.

I listened to the audiobook and also had the Kindle version and it was the perfect way to read this one. I enjoyed listening to Andrew narrate the book himself, telling his story in his own words. And seeing all the photos in the Kindle version, many of them candid snapshots not seen before, was a lot of fun. Overall, Ridgeley delivered a book that was a wonderful tribute to his friend George, someone with whom he shared a remarkable experience. Filled with warmth and humor and admiration, Wham!, George Michael & Me was a good dose of nostalgia and definitely worth reading.


DO YOU REMEMBER WHAM? WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE WHAM! SONG?

The Sunday Post #226 | October 18, 2020

   

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news: a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books,
 and share what's coming up on your blog in the week ahead. 
It's been a fairly quiet week. I continued to work from home The Husband had some meetings for a couple Board positions he holds. Otherwise it was business as usual.

Yesterday I got to see my sister (the older one that lives at the beach) and that was such a treat. It had been so long since I'd seen her. I took her birthday present to drop off and we ended up having a great visit (standing outside on her driveway, staying apart). Even though we text all the time it was so good to actually see her live and in-person. :)

While there, we discussed the upcoming holidays. Thanksgiving is basically a wash. Typically me and The Husband host but that won't be happening this year. Everyone will just have to do their own thing. As for Christmas, we always get together at my mom's house on Christmas Eve, but again, not comfortable with that. So we talked about having a together-but-distanced gathering on Christmas Eve. Like a tailgate party. Each family/group will bring their own food (no sharing/passing around dishes) and each family will stay at their own table/tailgate, but we'll still all be together and able to talk and visit and spend time together. We'll have to work out logistics, but it's a good feeling to think we might actually be able to see the whole family at Christmas. :)

This week's 80's music fix is Breakout (1986) by Swingout Sister. This is one that always lifts my mood.

 
Tuesday, October 13

Thursday, October 15

WHAT I COMPLETED IN THE LAST WEEK

   

Physical Book:

Audio Book:

WHAT I'M CURRENTLY READING

   

Reading:

Listening to:


How was your week? Any new books? Any news to share?
I'd love to hear about it!

Ranty Review: Blood to Dust by L.J. Shen

I don't often go all ranty in my reviews. In fact, when I really didn't enjoy a book I often don't bother reviewing it on the blog. I'll add a few lines on Goodreads and move on. But I got kind of carried away with this one and I figured why not just go ahead and share it. 

So, L.J. Shen is one of the authors I've seen around for a long time and kept meaning to try. I know her Sinners of Saint series is popular (I see Vicious talked about a lot) so maybe I just started with the wrong book. Or not. Because even though Blood to Dust has a high average rating on Goodreads (3.93) it just was not for me. I spent most of the book in various states of: 


And when I'd finished the whole cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs book and went to Goodreads, to find others to vent with and talk about the level of crazy, all I found was one five star review after another. And all I could think was:


So allow me to get all ranty and share my rather disjointed thoughts on Blood to Dust. And, uh... enjoy.

BLOOD TO DUST
by L.J. Shen
Published: July 17, 2016
Genres: Dark Romance, Contemporary

His name is Beat, and I should hate him.

Bound, blindfolded and bruised, I'm tied in his basement, waiting for the men who stripped me from clothes and humanity to collect his debt to them. Me.

His name is Nate and I should hate him, but I don't.

I'm not supposed to know his real name, even worse, I'm not supposed to care. He is nothing to me but means to an end. The plan is simple: break free, collect the pieces of my broken soul, kill the bastards and run away.

His name is Nathaniel Thomas Vela, and I've never seen his face, though I hear that it's beautiful.

Behind the rugged and handsome exterior, there's a quiet murderer, a killer who thinks guns are for pussies and ends people with his bare hands.

His name doesn't matter, neither does his face, but what does matter is my heart. And right now, sadly, it's his. 

M Y   T H O U G H T S

As soon as I finished this one I logged on to Goodreads to find some reviews that mirrored my thoughts. Some others who spent much of the book rolling their eyes and thinking, "You've got to be kidding me." So color me surprised when instead I found one five-star review after another filled with heaps of praise. Uh, okay, I guess it's just me?

This was my first by Shen so maybe this kind of over-the-top, check the believability at the door is just her style. But it apparently isn't mine because I couldn't get past all the inconsistencies and wtf-ness of it all.

The female main character came from an upper-class, wealthy family and was now a badass, drug dealing, in your face, killer. Uh, how did that happen exactly? How did she learn the drug trade and become versed in weaponry, street smarts, and strategy? Was there an online course she took that wasn't mentioned?

All I really knew about the male main character was that he was from the wrong side of the tracks and wasn't long out of prison. For protecting his mother from the abusive father, of course. Oh, and he was totally not interested in women since he got out of prison... until he meets up with our girl, Prescott, of course. Not that he ever called her Prescott. These two had more nicknames for each other than I could keep track of. I should have turned it into a drinking game: Another nickname? Take a shot!

The bad guys were almost cartoonish and the violence was so over-the-top graphic that it was just too much. There was rough sex, graphic violence, plot holes, character decisions/actions that made zero sense... I just keep coming back to the same phrase: over-the-top. The whole crazy mess was over-the-top.

I'm all for dark romance. I don't mind some violence. I'll even give some leeway on plot because it's fiction. But when it's this messy, this ludicrous, and this OTT, I just can't. I think it's safe to say this was my first - and last - by Shen.

WHAT'S THE LAST BOOK YOU READ THAT WAS JUST TOO OVER-THE-TOP?

Top Ten Tuesday: Short & Sweet? Not So Much | Super Long Book Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time few minutes trying to quantify exactly how long is a "super long" book title before finally deciding that I would go with anything over five words. How's that for scientific? I also find it interesting that three of the titles have "guide" in them. Was that a trend I wasn't aware of? :)




HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?

 

Short Take Reviews: Want You To Want Me & Virgin River



WANT YOU TO WANT ME

Lorelei James
Series: Want You #2
Published: August 4, 2020
Source: Berkley Books and Edelweiss
3.75 stars

Gabi was at a crossroads in her career. When an opportunity for her dream job fell into her lap, she knew she was qualified, but she needed to polish her look. She cringed at the thought of asking Nolan Lund, her boss’s brother, for help, but he was a total fashion plate with style for days. They agreed to trade a favor for a favor and these two pseudo-enemies were off and running.

It was a nice switch to have a female in the athlete role in this sports romance. Gabi was an incredibly talented hockey player but circumstances had her coaching kids and refereeing part-time to support herself. Being dumped by her boyfriend was yet another kick to her confidence. Nolan was also having something of a career crisis. Feeling the need to prove his worth within the family business, Nolan was under-appreciated and left out of the decision-making process at the office. I enjoyed the way Gabi and Nolan were able to be themselves with each other, without pressure or expectations, something they both needed. Their verbal sparring was so funny and I really liked the slow-burn aspect of their relationship. 

I will say that it was tricky at times to keep track of the vast Lund family. During business meetings and family gatherings, when so many members of the family were present, I kind of gave up trying to keep track of all the relationships and their roles in the company. Overall, Want You to Want Me was a fun, opposites attract romance with main characters that were easy to like and pull for. 


Robyn Carr
Series: Virgin River #1
Published: March 27, 2007
Source: Purchased
3.25 stars

Melinda spontaneously decided to relocate to a small town for a fresh start after the death of her husband. A rocky start had her ready to turn right back around but the appearance of an abandoned baby kept her in Virgin River. Mel was a tricky character for me. She was a dedicated nurse and mid-wife and it was obvious she took her role seriously. But I also found her, initially at least, to be judgmental of the people in Virgin River. As if their desire for small town life was a character flaw. She also made some decisions that seemed completely out of place with a professional nurse with years of experience, and those decisions placed her firmly in the too-stupid-to-live category at times.

The saving grace here was Jack. The owner of the town bar/restaurant was a prince among men. He was a good man through and through - sometimes too good to be true, but I didn’t even care. He had made a place for himself in the small town and was always willing to get involved and lend a hand.  I loved how unreservedly he cared for Melinda and wanted her to be happy.

I read Virgin River in conjunction with Maureen’s BooksBook Club and, while it wasn’t something I would have picked up on my own, it was still an enjoyable read and it was fun to discuss it with the group. 


HAVE YOU READ EITHER OF THESE BOOKS?

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Covers with Fall Vibes

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.


This week's prompt is pretty straightforward and doesn't need a lot of preamble. 
So I'm just going to jump on in and share my favorite book covers (pulled only from books I've read)
that have fall colors or have a fall vibe. Enjoy all the autumnal goodness! :).



HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?

The Sunday Post #225

    

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news: a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books,
 and share what's coming up on your blog in the week ahead. 
Fall(ish) weather has arrived in my area and it's absolutely delicious. Temps are the in 70's this weekend instead of the 90's and I'm in heaven. I can go outside without melting into a puddle. It'll be back in the 80's this week but even that's not as brutal as what we've been having. I'll take it. What's it like where you are?

My Tampa Lightning won the Stanley Cup! Wow, that was exciting! I loved watching them advance through the series and battle through some really tough games (one of which had five overtime periods). I was just thrilled for those guys and I spent the next several days OD'ing on game highlights and post-game interviews. :)

Yesterday's excitement was a trip to Trader Joe's. It's been at least 6-7 months since I was there last (pre-COVID) and it was fun to grab some favorites.

I'm so very over mask-wearing being treated as a political issue. Like staying safe and healthy, and protecting those around you, has anything at all to do with your political leanings. I mean, seriously... what??? It's a medical issue, plain and simple. Why is that so hard to understand? Moving on.

This week's 80's music fix is Lorelei (1984) by Cocteau Twins. I'm digging a little deep for this one, and I never even remember the local radio stations playing this back in the day, but it was one of my favorite alternative/indie songs. Liz's voice is so ethereal and it gets me every time.
 

Tuesday, September 29

Thursday, October 1

WHAT I COMPLETED IN THE LAST WEEK

     

E-Book (arc):

Audio Book:

WHAT I'M CURRENTLY READING

     

Reading:

Listening to:
 KINDLE BOOKS
     

I already own both the physical copies and the audio versions, 
but I couldn't resist the lure of bonus material. :)




How was your week? Any new books? Any news to share?
I'd love to hear about it!