Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story [Book Review]

December 18, 2020

Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story by Jewel

Never Broken by Jewel (cover) Image: Barefoot Jewel is dressed in a full skirted orange summery dress and sitting bareback on a black horse

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Biographical, Music

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Are You Old Enough to be a Jewel Fan?

Summary:

Never Broken meets Educated meets The Glass Castle meets Hillbilly Elegy….

In Never Broken, poet and singer-songwriter Jewel shares her unconventional childhood, her rise to fame, her marriage, and her musical journey. In her younger years, she lived on a homestead in Alaska, learned to yodel at three, and sang with her father in hotels, honky-tonks, and biker bars. Even though the family valued creativity and music, there was also trauma and instability. Jewel left home to live on her own at age 15. The following years took her to a private performing arts school in Michigan (applying for a scholarship and financing her own transportation). By eighteen, she had hitchhiked across the country, was homeless (living in her car), writing poetry, and playing in coffee shops in San Diego to support herself. A local D.J. played one of her songs, and at twenty-one, she had a following and a debut album which went multiplatinum. From there, we hear her story of complicated family, financial difficulties, insecurities, fear, survival, the breakup of her marriage, and deep heartache over the estrangement from her mother. She also shares poetry and the audio version features some singing. There’s more in the story (including Jewel’s own heartfelt advice) that can’t be covered in a brief summary.

My Thoughts:

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Book Titles and Songs #toptentuesday

November 10, 2020

Book Titles and Songs

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Book and Song Titles.

TTT: Book Titles and Songs (Image: a tall stack of books on a blue painted wooden table)

Do you like music?

I’m spinning this week’s TTT prompt a bit to highlight six books that have music as a theme, one title that reminds me of a song, and three book titles that would make great song titles.

*Titles are Amazon affiliate links.



6 Books With Music Themes



The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

Frank is dedicated to preserving vinyl and owns a music shop in a run-down London neighborhood. His special gift is recommending just the right record or song for each customer. There’s a playlist, too!  My full review of The Music Shop here.

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

As we follow Frankie through his life, we also hear about many music legends. Yes, there’s a playlist! My full review of Frankie Presto here.

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

As the men are called to action in WW11, the ladies of Chilbury resurrect the choir. My full review of Chilbury Ladies’ Choir here.

Musical Chairs byAmy Poeppel

Women’s fiction, complicated family drama, and a string trio. My Goodreads review of Musical Chairs here.

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

A string quartet and four friendships. My review of The Ensemble in this post.

She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs by Sarah Smarsh

How Dolly’s songs tie to Feminism and how they resonated with women of a certain generation and socioeconomic status. My review of She Come By It Natural here.

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5 Books With Music Themes: Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, Music Shop, Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, Musical Chairs, Ensemble [Book Reviews] #throwbackthursday

October 22, 2020

5 Books With Music Themes #throwbackthursday

5 Books With Music Themes (Image: collage of covers)

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my reviews of five books with music themes. Two of the five are my favorites: Magic Strings and Music Shop.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.



Music and Reading!



The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

“Music is the unusual narrator telling the story of Frankie Presto, a gifted guitar player and singer, who changes six lives with his six magical blue strings. Born under tragic circumstances, abandoned as an infant, and raised by a music teacher in a small Spanish town, Frankie is sent to America alone at nine years old with his prized guitar (and six magic strings). His life touches many famous musicians on his journey to become a pop star himself. Because Frankie is troubled by his childhood experiences and tortured by his biggest mistake, he drops out of sight to reconcile with his past. He reappears just before his death to change one last life.

Magic Strings is a favorite of the five and you can find my full review here.


The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

“Set in the 1980s on a run-down street in a forgotten suburb of London, there is a small indie music shop that is jam-packed with vinyl records of every kind. Frank, the shop’s owner, has a way of connecting his customers with the exact piece of music they never knew they needed, he welcomes the lonely, and he goes out of his way to help others. One ordinary day, a beautiful young woman in a green coat, Ilse Brauchmann, comes into his music shop and changes his life. Frank feels an attraction to her and yet he fears developing any closeness; in spite of his reservations, he begins to teach her about music and they develop a close friendship based on their common musical interests. Frank is terrified of his feelings for Ilse, yet he’s drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with eyes as black as vinyl. It’s complicated because Ilse has secrets and Frank has a past that haunts him. Readers find out about Frank’s life with his eccentric mother through flashbacks; however, Ilse remains mysterious. While Frank and Ilse contemplate the risks of a relationship, there are events in the community that threaten the livelihood of all the small, independent shops including Frank’s music shop. A further complication for Frank is the growing popularity of cassette tapes and CDs while Frank cherishes the world of vinyl.”

Music Shop is my other favorite of the five and you can find my full review here.


The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

A notice pinned to the Chilbury Village Hall notice board, Sunday, 24th March, 1940 reads: “As all our male voices have gone to war, the village choir is to close.” (Signed The Vicar)

“Facing an impending Nazi invasion, the ladies of Chilbury, England pull together under the strong leadership and persistent encouragement of new choirmaster, Prim, to resurrect the choir as a ladies choir. This heartfelt historical fiction story is told from multiple perspectives and voices in diary and journal form. As author Jennifer Ryan states: “At the beginning of the war, an organization known as Mass Observation began, encouraging ordinary individuals to keep diaries and journals and send them into headquarters, where some would be published in a newsletter.” The ladies were serious in supporting the war effort in every way and their earnest writings combine to tell an inspirational story of what it was like to be a woman in the wartime 1940s, working outside the home to support the war effort, finding their voice, and their exploration of independence without their men. Some readers might be concerned that this is simply a collection of these writings: however, I can assure readers that this reads as one complete work and the individual perspectives flow seamlessly from viewpoint to viewpoint and add to the complexity and richness of this heartfelt, charming, and inspirational story. Throughout the narrative, a cast of charismatic and memorable characters emerges as the women face the uncertainties and hardships of war, resolve village problems as they arise, and a few enjoy a bit of romance.”

Chilbury is a fun and engaging read and you can find my full review here.


Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel

“Bridget and Will are best friends, professional musicians, and are two thirds of a struggling chamber trio. It’s summer and Bridget is reeling from an unexpected breakup and Will is her “break-up buddy.” Bridget heads for her family’s vacation home in upstate Conneticut, but complications include the search for a third chamber member, a summer house that needs significant repairs, two young adult children descending on Bridget’s lovely summer plans with problems of their own, a strained friendship with Will,secrets and misunderstandings, a famous father who unexpectedly announces his intent to marry again, and Bridget offering to host the wedding. Obviously, this is not the summer that Bridget envisioned. But maybe it will be salvaged in unexpected ways.”

My Goodreads review of Musical Chairs here.


The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

 The Ensemble follows the lives of four young members of a chamber quartet as they navigate the world of competitive classical music, ambition, relationships, success, failure, and love. Readers will meet Jana, first violin, aloof, resilient, and fearless leader; Brit, second violin, beautiful, idealistic, and quiet orphan; Daniel, cello, angry, oldest, and most adrift; and Henry, viola, an easy-going prodigy who has always lived an easy and blessed life. This is a character driven story (some unlikable) and includes a multitude of musical references. Although it’s beautifully written and a unique concept, there’s minimal plot. With a focus on relationships, the four musicians, drawn together by art, are bonded for life (reminding me a bit of Mitch Albom’s metaphor in The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto that “we’re all in a band” and throughout our lives we join different bands. The author expertly and carefully explores relationships and friendships, backgrounds of the four musicians, and the profound impact that their families of origin have on their decisions and outlooks. The beauty in the story is in the exploration of the family you choose as they choose each other over and over again.

You can find my review of The Ensemble in this post here.



QOTD:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this focus on Music and Reading for #ThrowBackThursday!

Have you read any of these titles?

Do you have a title you can add to this list?

She Come By It Natural [Book Review]

October 13, 2020

She Come By It Natural by Sarah Smarsh

She Come By It Natural by Sarah Smarsh (cover) Image: a black and white picture of Dolly Parton strumming her banjo

Genre/Categories: Non Fiction, Biographical, Music, Feminism

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks #NetGalley @ScribnerBooks for a complimentary e ARC of #SheComeByItNatural at my request. All opinions are my own.

Sarah Smarsh uses examples from her grandmother and facts from a previously published Dolly Parton title to reflect on the message of Parton’s songs, how Parton’s music resonated with women of Smarsh’s grandmother’s generation, and Parton’s contribution to Feminism.

My Thoughts:

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The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 24, 2020

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
#throwbackthursday

A silhouette of two kids sitting in the branches of a large tree, one of them strums a guitar

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Music, Magical Realism, Fable

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by popular author Mitch Albom, a story about the power of music to change our lives…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…in this life, everyone joins a band……

My Summary:

“Music is the narrator telling the story of Frankie Presto, a gifted guitar player and singer, who changes six lives with his six magical blue strings. Born under tragic circumstances, abandoned as an infant, and raised by a music teacher in a small Spanish town, Frankie is sent to America alone at nine years old with his prized guitar (and six magic strings). His life touches many famous musicians on his journey to become a pop star himself. Because Frankie is troubled by his childhood experiences and tortured by his biggest mistake, he drops out of sight to reconcile with his past. He reappears just before his death to change one last life.”

Continue here for my review of The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

“I am Music. And Music is in the connection of human souls, speaking a language that needs no words.”

QOTD: Have you read The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto or is it on your TBR?

Music and Reading!

July 6, 2018

Music and Reading!

Are you a reader who also loves music?

Today’s post is especially for music lovers as I review The Ensemble (new review) and draw your attention to three other books (previously reviewed) that also contain music themes.

If you’re a musician or love music and also love reading, these four reading recommendations might interest you! (I’m not a musician and still enjoyed these stories….but they will be a richer reading experience for you if you love music or have music experience.)

the magic strings of frankie prestoThe Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Inspirational, Music, Fable

For Mitch Albom fans, a magical, heartwarming, and compelling story about the life of a gifted musician and the people he meets.  (previously reviewed here)

My Rating: 5 Stars

 

 


the music shopThe Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Friendship, Music

This is a tender story about Frank, a quirky character who is devoted to the preservation of vinyl records in his eccentric London music shop. (previously reviewed here)

My Rating: 5 Stars

 

 


ChilburyThe Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Music

This is a heartwarming and light historical fiction read about ladies who have been left behind when the men go to war (WW11) and the ladies unite their community through continuation of the choir. (previously reviewed here)

My Rating: 4 Stars

 

 

 


The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

The EnsembleGenre/Categories: Fiction, Classical Music, Musicians

A recent release and Book of the Month selection, The Ensemble follows the lives of four young members of a chamber quartet as they navigate the world of competitive classical music, ambition, relationships, success, failure, and love. Readers will meet Jana, first violin, aloof, resilient, and fearless leader; Brit, second violin, beautiful, idealistic, and quiet orphan; Daniel, cello, angry, oldest, and most adrift; and Henry, viola, an easy-going prodigy who has always lived an easy and blessed life. This is a character driven story (some unlikable) and includes a multitude of musical references. Although it’s beautifully written and a unique concept, there’s minimal plot. With a focus on relationships, the four musicians, drawn together by art, are bonded for life (reminding me a bit of Mitch Albom’s metaphor in The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto that “we’re all in a band” and throughout our lives we join different bands. The author expertly and carefully explores relationships and friendships, backgrounds of the four musicians, and the profound impact that their families of origin have on their decisions and outlooks. The beauty in the story is in the exploration of the family you choose as they choose each other over and over again.

Here’s what worked for me:

  • beautiful writing
  • unique concept for a story
  • insightful observations on relationships and personal and professional growth
  • their commitment and bond to each other
  • the idea of chosen family (community)
  • well drawn characters

What I thought could have been better:

  • The story could have been 100 pages shorter or written as a novella…at about 56% I started to eagerly anticipate reaching the end (even though I enjoyed the writing).
  • It’s a slow read (for me who loves more action) without much of a plot (focus is on character development and observations and reflections).
  • a touch melodramatic at times

My Rating: This is difficult as I wavered between a 3 and 4 (see above bullet points), so I decided on 3.5 Stars (a solid enough read but probably not recommendable to everyone without some explanation).

Recommendation: readers who love music and character driven stories that focus on relationships and friendships, this is the book for you!

the ensemble 2

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Aja Gabel

aja gabelNew author Aja Gabel played the cello for about 25 years, many of those years very seriously. “I’m one of five children, and my mom tried to make us all play instruments. It only really stuck with me. I started on violin when I was five years old and switched to cello at ten,” says Gabel. “I had a brief affair with the upright string bass, but I’m way too short to handle that instrument. I spent most of my childhood and teenage years seriously playing chamber music and continued to study it through college and after, though I went down the writing path.”

Gabel lives in Los Angeles, where she says she’s trying to reintroduce herself to the Bach cello suites. “I forgot how impossible they are. It’s good and humbling to start playing again, though. Something about the focused physicality of playing ignites all kinds of other creativity,” she says.



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



My Summer TBR

I’ll be updating my Summer TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
(So far I’ve read a handful, and I’ve only abandoned one)



A Link I Love:

If you love to entertain or love cheese or love to present food beautifully on boards and trays, check out this new food blog! A Study In Cheese: The Art of Entertaining With Cheese



Looking Ahead:

 Next week (Friday) I’m excited to bring you a review of the best book I’ve read so far this year: A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza……and also (for Top Ten Tuesday) a recap of my best reads so far this year.

a place for us 2.

Amazon Information Here



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

Have you read any of these titles? Does the theme of music in literature pique your interest?

What are you reading this week?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto [Book Review]

June 6, 2018

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Music, Fable, Magical Realism

My Summary:

How many Mitch Albom books have you read? Do you have a favorite? Popular author Mitch Albom’s (Tuesdays With Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven) release, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, is a modern fable about the power of music to change our lives.

Music is the unusual narrator telling the story of Frankie Presto, a gifted guitar player and singer, who changes six lives with his six magical blue strings. Born under tragic circumstances, abandoned as an infant, and raised by a music teacher in a small Spanish town, Frankie is sent to America alone at nine years old with his prized guitar (and six magic strings). His life touches many famous musicians on his journey to become a pop star himself. Because Frankie is troubled by his childhood experiences and tortured by his biggest mistake, he drops out of sight to reconcile with his past. He reappears just before his death to change one last life.

Amazon Rating: 4.7 Stars

My Thoughts:

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto published in 2015 and I’m discovering it for the first time.

Music and Life: “All humans are musical,” and in a metaphorical sense, “everyone joins a band in this life.” This unforgettable story is one that explores our deepest connections (in the larger sense) and Frankie’s life (specifically).

“I am Music. And Music is in the connection of human souls, speaking a language that needs no words.”

Like the narrator (Death) in The Book Thief, Music as narrator tenderly tells the heartfelt life story of Frankie, a gifted musician. Using a touch of fantasy and magical realism, Mitch Albom’s story (fable) draws upon his own real life experience as a musician to add depth and credibility to Frankie’s story.

Musical Theme: Imaginatively told, cleverly constructed, and creatively written, there’s a lot to love about The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto and its theme that music has the power to affect us all. The most interesting, creative, and daring part of the writing is the technique of weaving real life musical icons into the story as characters. As a result, readers are treated to a survey of pop culture music history. There’s also a soundtrack to accompany the book!

Engaging and Inspiring: I love creative and innovative writing and the author definitely takes risks. Readers like myself will have to suspend belief at times to fully appreciate the fable that the author creates. This engaging story captivated me and gave me a “book hangover.”

Recommended: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is highly recommended for music lovers, for fans of Mitch Albom, and for readers who appreciate creative writing and a memorable story with unsuspected plot twists and a touch of romance. Book clubs might love this one!

***Update to include this review of Mitch Albom’s newest release, a heartfelt memoir: Finding Chika.

My Rating: 5 Creative Musical Stars

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto Information Here

Meet the Author, Mitch Albom

Mitch AlbomMitch Albom is an internationally renowned author, screenwriter, playwright, nationally syndicated columnist, broadcaster and musician. He is the author of six consecutive number one New York Times bestsellers–including Tuesdays with Morrie, the bestselling memoir of all time–and his books have collectively sold more than thirty-five million copies in forty-five languages. Four of his books have been made into Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed television movies. He has founded eight charities in Detroit and Haiti, where he operates an orphanage. He lives with his wife, Janine, in Michigan. Learn more at http://www.mitchalbom.com and http://www.mitchalbomcharities.org



QOTD:

Have you read The Magic Strings of Frankie Pesto? Have you read other titles by Mitch Albom?

***Edited to include my recent review of Finding Chika by Mitch Albom.



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Friday, I’ll be highlighting book recs for Dads …… I’ll be in the process of reading Backman’s new release Us Against You……sequel to Beartown….. releasing 6/5)…my most anticipated new release of the year! My husband and I plan to “buddy read” it and a review will be coming some time in June. I’ve read some early positive early reviews.



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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.

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