Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson, by Ian Halperin

I've put off writing this for as long as I could. But on this blog, I normally pride myself on posting about ALL the books I read, whether I thought they were good or not. Honestly though, I wish that I could have un-read this particular book...

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm pretty obsessed with the late Michael Jackson, which is why I try to reserve all the books about him I can from our library. His music is great, but what I really love is the person behind the music. He's my all time favorite hero. Or was. I'm not so sure anymore... this book has introduced some new thoughts and ideas into my head, thoughts I would gladly have gone without my entire life.

Before reading Unmasked, I'd had a vague knowledge that Michael had gotten into some court trouble, about molesting young boys or something, but I never believed that for a second. After his death I had seen so many of his music videos, interviews, and other footage of him on YouTube, so I thought I knew the real him. It just couldn't be in his nature to do something as wrong and disturbing as... doing that to kids. But this book gave me a big wake-up call, bringing to my attention all the details of these (to me) strange and mysterious stories.

I read about the 1993 scandal with Jordan Chandler (I absolutely hated his dad, the fake dentist. That guy was so evil and greedy!) and the 2003 one with Gavin Arvizo. It's simply unbelievable. Throughout learning about all the facts, I kept the idea that MJ was innocent, but if that's the case, then it's terrible how many people went to the tabloids and sold their lies for ginormous amounts of money. Even people who worked for Michael! And children! Michael always believed that children always told the truth, but these guys must have been forced by their parents to tell outrageous lies about their idol, just so they could be richer. It's almost enough to make you lose faith in humanity in general. ~,~ What was disgusting to me, especially, were the lies that were told using sodium amytal, a drug that is supposed to be a truth serum, but is actually proven to plant false memories that make people think they were abused by people.

I felt so sorry for Michael. But even if he was innocent on the sexual allegation counts, it was plain to see that he wasn't so innocent on other counts, such as getting addicted to drugs, and running into debt. It's just so sad, how he started to lose his touch, especially in the months leading up to This Is It. He got so sick, I don't know why he went ahead with it. Near the end, it actually seemed like he was suicidal, which is just so sad. He couldn't have possibly done 50 concerts, so he would rather have died than disappoint his fans.

In the beginning, the author, Ian Halperin, had been under the impression that Michael was guilty of the molesting charges, but by the end, with all the information he'd picked up, at least he saw that it wasn't all black and white. I've learned kind of the same thing. I will never believe that my hero, Michael Jackson, would do anything to hurt the children he loved, but he's not perfect. He made mistakes in his life too, being human, just like the rest of us. When I closed this book, I remember feeling a little... out of it. I thought I would never like Michael Jackson again! So much information in my head, I wish I had never learned any of it. Like they say, ignorance is bliss. I wish I was able to go back in time, to when my picture of Michael Jackson was untainted. But this cannot be so.

Happily, in the end, I am still one of Michael's biggest fans. His music is amazing; of that, there is plainly no doubt. And the inspiring values that he tried to instill in humanity... making peace in the world, working for a healthier planet, giving all that you've got, being more like a child, having real love... will never lose their strength or importance.

I hope those who read this will be able to give their thoughts on my latest read.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Recent books I've finished

I've been reading a lot of books in the last few days and I don't want to go through the trouble of giving each their own separate review, so here's all of them in one go.
Home, by Julie Andrews ~ I find it pretty interesting how I'm starting to get as attracted to reading biographies as I am to fiction. It's extremely educational, because you get to find out who the person behind all the fame is, what their family life was like and their whole outlook on life. Although this book doesn't cover her entire life, just from when she was born to when Walt Disney asked her to play Mary Poppins, it was written very well (apparently her daughter helped her write it ^_^) and I liked it very much.

The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday Book, by Bill Watterson ~ An adorable collection of Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. I've seen these characters in the funny pages from time to time, but reading a whole book of them, I've got a much better idea of them. It's about a 6-year-old boy with the craziest imagination (Calvin), whose beloved stuffed tiger (Hobbes) is his imaginary best friend, like a big brother to him. They tease each other, cheat in their little games, and Hobbes likes to pounce on Calvin when he comes home from school, but it's plain to see that they are the best of friends. I like the strips when Calvin is the central character, though. The line drawn between his imagination and reality is very thin indeed. He can be the heroic Spaceman Spiff, and he sees his parents, teachers and his neighbor Susie (a girl across the street who probably likes him) as terrifying aliens holding him captive that he must escape from. What a world this kid lives in.

Your Erroneous Zones, by Wayne Dyer ~ I recently finished reading this with my sister, Annette. It took us a long time to read, since we read a chapter out loud to each other a day, and we didn't exactly read it every day. But I'm proud to have finished it, so I'm listing it here. While this is a very educational book, I wouldn't recommend it for light reading. It talks about identifying the negative behaviors you may have put on yourself over the course of your life and getting rid of them.

I also wanted to say that I'm close to finishing these 2 books: Here Comes Everybody, a book about how the World Wide Web and its myriad tools have changed the way people interact with each other, and the Visual Quickstart Guide Annette and I are studying to learn about Illustrator CS4. The latter book has been extremely helpful to my sister and I.

I have no idea what books I'm going to follow up with after these. I wonder if anyone actually reads these reviews. It appears that for the entire year of 2010 I've only gotten 1 comment a month. Am I just crying out to an empty area of cyberspace? Hmm, maybe what I've been reading lately isn't that interesting to other people... Well, this blog is meant for me to keep track of the books I read over the years, so I don't care whether I get commented on or not. It may give my ego a little boost if someone decides to let me know that I pointed out a good read to them, but I don't need it.

I never thought I'd say this, but perhaps there's more to life than just reading book after book...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cirque Du Freak #2 & #3, by Takahiro Arai

When I visited Borders today, I remembered how much I'd enjoyed reading the first Cirque Du Freak manga novel (see link here), so I looked for the next in the series, found it, and settled myself down against the book shelf for another wild adventure with Darren Shan, half-vampire.

No sooner was I done reading book #2 when I got up, found #3 and sat down again, plunging right through the next story and finished that in a wink as well. If my speed in reading these books is any indication of how much I liked them, then I loved them! And I really do. ^_^

By now I believe I've gotten used to the way manga books read from right to left. No matter which direction the reading goes, the stories are super-awesome! After Darren becomes a vampire, he joins the Cirque Du Freak and makes a couple loyal and true friends, like Evra the snake boy, and Sam, a young out-spoken boy who reminds me somewhat of the character Chuck from James Dashner's Maze Runner. Unfortunately, just like Chuck, Sam dies a very noble and sad death. ~,~ (Sorry for that spoiler!)

In the third book, a year passes by before Darren and Evra have their next adventure. The reader learns the difference between vampires and vampaneeze and Darren gets his first romantic interest. A little interesting how that springs about, actually. I don't know how much I liked his girlfriend. But anyway, the book ends very well, and I liked it.

I got to read just a little bit of book #4, like 30 pages, before it was time to leave the book store. From what I read so far, this looks like a great adventure as well. 6 years pass between novels this time (half-vampires age 5 times slower than humans, so he still looks like a teen. Convenient, huh?). For some reason he has to go to this vampire meeting, and I left off of the part where he and his mentor, Crepsley, are up in the mountains and meet up with a vampire General, Gavner Purl. He seems like a good character. He's a friend of Crepsley, anyway.

I can't wait to get back to Borders and read the rest! The sad thing is that I think either this book or the 5th one is the last in the manga series, and in the actual series there's, like, a dozen books. I wonder if, when I finish the manga series, it'll be easy to pick up with the regular books. Well, in any case, I recommend this graphic novel series a lot!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Moonwalk, by Michael Jackson

Do I really have to say anything about this book? It was written by Michael Jackson. I loved it. 'Nuff said. But this blog isn't just a record for me of what books I've read. When I write reviews, I want to think that I'm convincing someone who has similar reading tastes as mine that they should read the books that I have. So...

Trust me, even if you have only the faintest inkling of who Michael Jackson is, you should read this book. You don't have to like him or his music to enjoy his writing style (though I'm positive it will help a lot if you're a fan ^_^). He covers almost everything. All stages of his life, chronological stories leading right up to when he was almost 30 years old. Hey, it was published in 1988.

The stories, the memories that this superstar has of when he was younger are just so cool. It reminds me that even though he had a lot of talent, he was still only a kid, and nothing he did was ever easy. He had to work very hard with his brothers and family to get so famous. I'm so glad he used lots of details to describe his life. It's just what I was looking forward to when I reserved Michael Jackson's own biography. I gobbled the whole thing up in just a couple days, even though I tried my best to savor his every word.

It's probably plain to see that, personally, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so I won't say any more. But please, if my review has managed to spark your interest in this awesome star's life story, write me a comment and let me know.