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?

The Librarian of Auschwitz [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

October 22, 2020

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

#throwbackthursday

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe (cover) Image: a young girl stands on top of a giant stack of books

Genre/Categories: YA Historical Fiction, Fictionalized Biography, Jewish, WW11, Holocaust

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 Librarian of Auschwitz, brave…inspirational…courageous…feisty…determined….daring…

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary of The Librarian of Auschwitz

“During the darkest hours of the Holocaust in an Auschwitz concentration camp, a young girl, Dita Kraus, risks her life to keep the magic of books alive. Imprisoned along with her mother and father, Dita finds meaning and purpose as the Librarian of a secret library within a secret school in the “family camp” section of Auschwitz, caring for eight precious volumes that have been smuggled in past the guards.

Be sure to read the author’s Afterward as he speaks of his interview with the real Dita Kraus about her incredible life, courage, and survival.”

 Continue here for my review of The Librarian of Auschwitz

QOTD: Have you read The Librarian of Auschwitz or is it on your TBR?

Convenience Store Woman [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

October 15, 2020

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

#throwbackthursday

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (cover) Image: white text on blue background....below it is a small plate with a traditional Japanese snack lying on a pink and white cloth napkin

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Japanese Culture, Conformity, Short Fiction, Book in Translation

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 Convenience Store Woman, the story of self aware and determined Keiko who is torn between self fulfillment and cultural conformity

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary of Convenience Store Woman

“Keiko Furukura grows up labeled a “strange child,” and her parents worry about her ability to function in the real world and about her future success.  While at university, Keiko begins a job at a local convenience store. After eighteen years, her parents and friends worry that she doesn’t have a real career and has never had a boyfriend. Even though Keiko is successful as a convenience store worker and enjoys her job, she feels the pressure to live up to her parents’ cultural expectations. What will she do?”

Quirky character…Japanese culture…finding your niche……conformity…

 Continue here for my review of Convenience Store Woman

QOTD: Have you read Convenience Store Woman or is it on your TBR?

Beartown and Us Against You [Book Reviews] #throwbackthursday

October 8, 2020

Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman #throwbackthursday

Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman (covers)

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Sports, Hockey

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 Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman, atmospheric stories of sports, small towns, and community…

This week’s Throw Back Thursday is a bit different because I’m throwing back to TWO books: Beartown and Us Against You. They are a series and Us Against You cannot be read as a stand-alone.

I read Beartown before I started blogging, so I don’t have a full blog review for linking ….I’ll include a brief review of it below and then link to my Us Against You blog review.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Thoughts on Beartown

As the author develops characters and establishes the setting in his unique style, tension builds like the distant rumbling of an approaching severe thunderstorm The action is a bit slow in he beginning but once it picks up, the tension is sustained as the story plays out. Hockey fans will find this story particularly enjoyable. Filled with fascinating characters and infused with complex and important themes of family, parenting, competition, loyalty, courage, community, belonging, friendship, small town struggles and values, hope, and a girl’s “no.” This multilayed, thoughtful, and challenging read would make a highly discussable book club selection.

TW: a rape storyline and some crude locker room language and humor

A few favorite lines from Beartown include:
“People are standing in silent lines with their eyes half-open and their minds half-closed.”
“We’re not supposed to develop ‘products.’ We don’t manufacture anything at all. We nurture human beings. Those [hockey] guys are flesh and blood, not business plans and investment targets. The youth program isn’t some factory, regardless of what some of our sponsors seem to think.”
“Being a parent makes you feel like a blanket that’s always too small. No matter how hard you try to cover everyone, there’s always someone who’s freezing.”
“Bitterness can be corrosive; it can rewrite your memories as if it were scrubbing a crime scene clean, until in the end you only remember what suits you of its causes.”
“In the summer the rain seeps into the cracks in the bricks, then when the temperature slips below zero the moisture freezes to ice, and the bricks break. She will remember that that’s how it felt to grow up as the little sister of a dead big brother. A childhood that was one long, desperate attempt not to be liquid, not to seek out the cracks in your parents.”
“Maya knows all too well that this silence can be like water. If you let it make its way too far in, it can freeze into ice and break your heart.”
“And when enough people are quiet for long enough, a handful of voices can give the impression that everyone is screaming.”
“Sometimes life doesn’t let you choose your battles. Just the company you keep.”
“She and the girl rest their foreheads together. Say nothing, because they couldn’t have heard anything anyway, the echo of the screams in their hearts is deafening.”

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman (Beartown #2)

My Summary:

“In this sequel to Beartown, Fredrik Backman continues to cause readers to care deeply about the Beartown community and hockey (yes, it’s important to read Beartown first).  After the act of violence in Beartown, the community has to figure out how to trust each other again and restructure its hockey team. Many of the star hockey players have left the Beartown team and now play for the rival team in Hed. In fact, in Us Against You, the entire community is at risk economically and on the brink of losing everything. In addition to many returning characters from Beartown, readers are also introduced to a manipulative and cunning politician and become better acquainted with The Pack.

Us Against You is a multi-layered, compelling story filled with danger, heartbreak, and sadness as it addresses themes of prejudice, bullying, secrets, parenting, sexism, friendship, loyalty, community support, competition, politics, courage, violence, conflict, leadership, and hope. This is not a stand-alone story; reading Beartown first is essential.”

Continue here for my review of Us Against You by Fredrik Backman …

So much more than hockey….

QOTD: Have you read Beartown or Us Against You or are they on your TBR? Are you a Backman fan?

Force of Nature [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

(***This post is republished from earlier because of a publishing glitch in the previous post which I cannot fix #bloggingproblems sorry for the duplicate)

October 1, 2020

Force of Nature by Jane Harper
#throwbackthursday

Force of Nature by Jane Harper (cover) Image: white text on a background of hills and trees

Genre/Categories: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Detective, Suspense, Australian

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 Force of Nature by Jane Harper, an atmospheric whodunit…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“Five women go on a hike in the Australian forested wilderness and only four return. As the women grab their backpacks and reluctantly set out, not one of the five women attending this three-day, mandated, corporate, team-building retreat is thrilled about the prospect. When four of the five women emerge from the woods battered and bruised, an investigation is launched to find the fifth woman. Federal agent Falk returns to help the investigation, and the story alternates between the present day investigation and the women’s experiences as the hike unfolded a few days earlier. Was the fifth woman murdered?”

Continue here for my review of Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Lost in the Australian Bush….what would you do?

QOTD: Have you read Force of Nature by Jane Harper or is it on your TBR?

Force of Nature [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

October 1, 2020

Force of Nature by Jane Harper
#throwbackthursday

Force of Nature by Jane Harper (cover) Image: white text on a background of hills and trees

Genre/Categories: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Detective, Suspense, Australian

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 Force of Nature by Jane Harper, an atmospheric whodunit…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

‘Five women go on a hike in the Australian forested wilderness and only four return. As the women grab their backpacks and reluctantly set out, not one of the five women attending this three-day, mandated, corporate, team-building retreat is thrilled about the prospect. When four of the five women emerge from the woods battered and bruised, an investigation is launched to find the fifth woman. Federal agent Falk returns to help the investigation, and the story alternates between the present day investigation and the women’s experiences as the hike unfolded a few days earlier. Was the fifth woman murdered?”

Continue here for my review of Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Lost in the Australian Bush….what would you do?

QOTD: Have you read Force of Nature by Jane Harper or is it on your TBR?

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?

The Music Shop [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 17, 2020

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
#throwbackthursday

The Music Shop Review

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Music, Friendship

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 Music Shop by favorite author Rachel Joyce, a story of friendship and music…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…quirky character overcomes a difficult and turbulent past and takes risks to create a better life……

My Summary:

“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.

In The Music Shop, Frank’s greatest gift is the ability to listen, his greatest heartache is his devotion to and preservation of vinyl, and his greatest fear is having what he most wants…the love of mysterious Ilse.”

Continue here for my review of The Music Shop

QOTD: Have you read The Music Shop or is it on your TBR?

My Dear Hamilton [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 10, 2020

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
#throwbackthursday

My Dear Hamilton Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, U.S. History, Revolutionary War, Founders, Biographical

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 My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, a story of Eliza Hamilton’s extraordinary contributions…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…strong, independent, faithful, compassionate…

My Summary:

“A general’s daughter, Elizabeth Schuyler meets and marries Alexander Hamilton amid the union’s fight for independence and the uncertainties of war. Eliza and Alexander find themselves establishing their life together at the same time as they are at the center of our nation’s founding. Authors Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to imagine Eliza’s story as a patriot, loving wife, political partner, loyal friend, supportive sister, and devoted mother of eight.”

Continue here for my review of My Dear Hamilton

QOTD: Have you read My Dear Hamilton or is it on your TBR?

From Sand and Ash [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 3, 2020

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
#throwbackthursday

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon (cover) Image: a young woman in profile looking reflectively over a city

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Jewish, Catholic, Love Story

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 From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon, a thoughtful story of love, survival, life, death, faith, and sacrifice…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…faith, sacrifice, and survival…

My Summary:

“In 1943, Italy’s Jewish population is in imminent danger from the forces of hatred and prejudice. Raised like brother and sister, Eva and Angelo enjoy childhood best friend closeness which later blooms into a romance. Although they are devoted to each other, Eva, an accomplished violinist, is Jewish and Angelo chooses to follow a calling to become a Catholic priest. As the Gestapo arrests Jewish residents of Florence, Angelo convinces Eva to follow him to Rome to hide in a convent under his watchful eye while he serves nearby at the Vatican. Eva discovers that the Catholic Church is hiding hundreds of Jews and facilitating their escape when possible. Angelo has made a promise to Eva’s family and feels a duty to keep her safe, which is complicated by romantic feelings. This page turning story follows Eva and Angelo as they face trials, take risks, and make agonizing choices.”

Continue here for my review of From Sand and Ash

QOTD: Have you read From Sand and Ash or is it on your TBR?