Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren – a #BookReview

Warning: This book contains offensive language, sexual references and phrases, drug references and aberrant behavior.

Book Blurb:

Janis: Her Life and Music by Jolly George-WarrenLonglisted for the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

This blazingly intimate biography of Janis Joplin establishes the Queen of Rock & Roll as the rule-breaking musical trailblazer and complicated, gender-bending rebel she was.

Janis Joplin’s first transgressive act was to be a white girl who gained an early sense of the power of the blues, music you could only find on obscure records and in roadhouses along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. But even before that, she stood out in her conservative oil town. She was a tomboy who was also intellectually curious and artistic. By the time she reached high school, she had drawn the scorn of her peers for her embrace of the Beats and her racially progressive views. Her parents doted on her in many ways, but were ultimately put off by her repeated acts of defiance.

Janis Joplin has passed into legend as a brash, impassioned soul doomed by the pain that produced one of the most extraordinary voices in rock history. But in these pages, Holly George-Warren provides a revelatory and deeply satisfying portrait of a woman who wasn’t all about suffering. Janis was a perfectionist: a passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was socially acceptable. She was a sensitive seeker who wanted to marry and settle down—but couldn’t, or wouldn’t. She was a Texan who yearned to flee Texas but could never quite get away—even after becoming a countercultural icon in San Francisco.

Written by one of the most highly regarded chroniclers of American music history, and based on unprecedented access to Janis Joplin’s family, friends, band mates, archives, and long-lost interviews, Janis is a complex, rewarding portrait of a remarkable artist finally getting her due.

My Review:

Janis by Holly George-Warren

I wonder how many decades back you’d have to go to find someone who doesn’t recognize the music or the name of Janis Joplin.

The “beatnik from Port Arthur, Texas” set a new high bar for uninhibited powerful, emotional singing by a woman in the mid-to-late sixties. Unleashing raw talent on a still poodle-skirted US exploring rock and roll, Joplin went “Full Tilt Boogie” with a full repertoire of blues, folk, and R&B following her rocky start in San Francisco in the hippie neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. For all that wildly barely contained talent, Joplin was a fiercely conflicted young woman, dying at the age of twenty-seven of a heroin overdose; China white.

The author begins the biography with a quick history of Seth and Dorothy Joplin, the singer’s parents and the “triangle” in Texas she haunted as a rebellious girl, always seeking her mother’s approval and her father’s love. School was not kind to Janis, deeply wounding her and sealing that mutinous daughter apart seeking her own persona. She was always different, more one of the boys than friends with her peers. Easy for her to discover an escape into music…and booze…and drugs…and sex.

It was a long, hard climb from the hard-scrabble life in San Francisco to fame around the world, with countless musicians and bands, unsustainable love, the search for success and fame. The author did an amazing job with researching, interviewing and tracing letters home that provide the rocky road on which Janis traveled. The extreme highs and lows. George-Warren relates the anguish with which she desperately clung to threads of approval and drowned disappointment.

It was after the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, that she could become a national star. During the short period of her major celebrity, Janis managed to turn out myriad hits and set iconic records. Among her best known, “Cry Baby,” “Summertime (a personal favorite),” “Ball and Chain,” “Piece of My Heart,” and “Me and Bobby McGee.”

She was indeed rude, crude, and (for the most part) socially unacceptable, but man could she set an audience on fire with that voice, jumping to their feet and stomping to the music with as much wild abandon as the person on stage. No silver linings here–we all know the story and it doesn’t end well. Janis herself philosophized her life in bits noted at chapter beginnings, many of which I found profound:

“Don’t compromise yourself. It’s all You’ve got.”
“I would never be young again. I’d have to cry all over.”
“You shouldn’t have to be young until you’re old enough to cope with it.”
“What if they find out I’m only Janis?”
“Onstage I make love to twenty-five thousand people, then I go home alone.”

Janis’s last album, “Pearl” was released three months after her passing in January 1971.

If you’ve ever heard that plaintive wail and wondered about the woman behind the voice, you must read this biography. No gloss-over here, just a well laid out chronology of the tragic path another of our singing icons took and the legacy left for aging hippies and the younger generations hooked by those bluesy ballads.

I received this digital download from the publisher (thank you!) and NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to anyone who enjoys well-researched celebrity biographies and well-written histories–get to know Janis–the person and the singer. That was, at times, two different people.

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Book Details:

Genre: Biographies of Composers & Musicians, Biographies of Actors & Entertainers, R&B Artist Biographies
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

  • ISBN-10:1476793107
  • ISBN-13:978-1476793108
  • ASIN: B07P5GD3SZ

Print Length: 337 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 22, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Janis

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Holly George-Warren - authorThe Author: Holly George-Warren is an award-winning writer, editor, producer, and music consultant. She has contributed to more than two dozen books about rock and roll, including The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock, and The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. She’s also written for the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Journal of Country Music, and Rolling Stone. Ms. George-Warren lives in upstate New York with her family.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh Queen of Egypt – a #BookReview

Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh-Queen of Egypt by in60LearningTitle: Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh Queen of Egypt

Genre: Currently #22 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Biographies & Memoirs, Historical, Middle East (One hour, 58 pages)

Publisher: in60Learning

Publication Date: February 3, 2018

Source: Amazon Digital Services and Direct Request by Tyler of in60Learning

Title and Cover: Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh Queen of Egypt – Cover conveys non-fiction material

We were contacted by Tyler of in60Learning with an inquiry regarding reading and reviewing their new concept non-fiction short stories in a quick and easy read 60-minute format. On their “title listing” page, they appear to have twenty-four titles, three of which are audio, the balance in a mix of Kindle and paperbook format. The titles run from biographies to histories with titles releasing from the middle of January 2018 through March. Many more are expected.

Titles include Marilyn Monroe: The Defiant Broad Disguised as a Dumb Blond (BiographyIn60, six reviews at 4.5 average stars) to Alexander the Great: Student of Aristotle, Descendent of Heroes (BiographyIn60 nineteen reviews at 4.5 average stars). The C.E. chose this one as well as Illinois Native Americans: A 9,000 Year Civilization. See that review here.

In60Learning introduces themselves thusly:

“Get Smarter in just 60  minutes with in60Learning. Concise and elegantly written non-fiction books and audiobooks help you learn the core subject matter in 20% of the time that it takes to read a typical book. Life is short, so explore a multitude of fascinating historical, biographical, scientific, political, and financial topics in only an hour each.”

Book Blurb:

When Pharaoh Thutmose II died, he left an heir far too young to rule Egypt. His widow Hatshepsut stepped up to take his place. For at least the next 20 years, Hatshepsut ruled as Pharaoh King of Egypt in an era of prosperous growth and peace. When she died, her nephew Thutmose III attempted to smear her good name and wipe her memory from history. However, despite his efforts, his aunt Hatshepsut holds the title of most famous native Egyptian woman to ever rule as pharaoh; she also retains a legacy as one of the most successful female leaders in early history. Continue reading “Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh Queen of Egypt – a #BookReview”

Davida – a Book Review

Davida-Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens by Karen IngallsTitle: Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens by Karen Ingalls

Genre: Currently #1258 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Biographies & Memoirs, Leaders & Notable People, Rich & Famous

Publication Date: March 21, 2016

Source: Review requested by author Karen Ingalls

Title and Cover: Davida – Beautiful cover depicting sculpted model

Traveling to the U.S. in 1876 with her mother, Albertina (Davida), a young Swedish girl will become a beautiful woman and later model for talented and well-known American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The eventual union between artist and model, the author’s great-grandmother and Augustus Saint-Gaudens produced a son, Louis. Saint-Gaudens, however, is married. Indie Excellence Winner - Karen Ingalls Continue reading “Davida – a Book Review”

What Do You Love – Or Hate – To Read?

Day 5 of the Author Blog Challenge: What do you love – or hate – to read?

     Hate is a pretty strong word. While it may be bandied about fairly lightly at times such as the utterances of a strong-willed teenager to a parent, when you get down to it what do you really hate? Human circumstances such as cancer, world war, and terrorism come to mind. But books? Books just don’t fall under that category for me.

A quick viewing of “My Books” on Goodreads would seem to bear that out with a smattering across genres such as Jinx Swartz’s irreverent but fun romps out to sea with her 42′ yacht while she’s solving the latest mystery as the most hip, hardest drinking, sharpest tack in the engineering drawer. Or the Alex Lukeman or Bob Mayer books of black op or military prowess. There are auto-biographies, biographies, memoirs, fiction books about the civil war and non-fiction books about WWII. Historical fiction (obviously a fav) and books about autism. Books about combining plants to achieve color splashes and books about animals (especially love dog books). Caught in the middle of a good page turner, I’ve certainly been known to burn the midnight oil! Blue Moon

There’s YA Fantasy, Sci-Fi, thrillers, and books on social problems and remedies, travelogues, life transitions, American heritage and religious controversy (“30 Pieces of Silver” by Carolyn McCray presented an interesting theory).

So thinking it pretty much comes down to one negative for me and that is the length of the narrative. I have a rather limited time that can be devoted to reading–and one really LONG book will rob time from reading two or three. Not a matter of trading quality for quantity–some have belabored the same premise over and over. That makes for a very long book, not necessarily a good one.

No, maybe hate is too strong a word for that, too. I don’t hate an overly long book–but looking at the length of a 700 page book may have me estimating two others I could read in the meantime. Then maybe avoidance would be the more appropriate description. But looking at that list of books, what have I missed?

Virginia Williams