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Music

Wonderland: Steven Johnson on How Play Shaped the Modern World

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What you are reading now is made possible by either a computer or mobile device that connects to WiFi or a hotspot. With little thought, you may check your text messages, email and social media for updates.  None of this was possible 25 years ago as these things did not exist or were in their infancy and only afforded to the super-rich. Still, we are so dependent on these modern marvels that to be away from them, even for just a moment, is difficult. We all take the world around us— the advances and accomplishments— for granted some of the time. Of course Google is a thing, everyone knows what Google is (honestly, it’s just almost all the information in the…

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Disney Pixar’s ‘Coco,’ Not Just for Kids

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For the past few years, Disney has been turning our favorite classic stories into live-action films.  These revivals remind us that sometimes, kids movies aren’t just for kids. In theaters this holiday season is Disney Pixar’s Coco, a beautifully animated film that takes place in Mexico. Lucky for us, the companion book Coco: A Story about Music, Shoes, and Family, has been released for us, as well! Twelve-year old Miguel Rivera just wants to be a famous musician, like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz, the most famous musician and film star in Mexico’s history. But Miguel’s family has a generation-old ban on music, and tell him to focus on the shoe-making shop that family runs, instead. A desperate attempt to prove his musical…

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History and Music Play in Perfect Harmony in ‘Do Not Say We Have Nothing’

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Rarely does a book come along that is as masterfully written as Do Not Say We Have Nothing. From critically-acclaimed author Madeleine Thien, the novel was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize, and was awarded the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award, among many others. Living in Vancouver, Marie and her mother invite into their home Ai-Ming, a Chinese refugee fleeing the crackdown in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square Protests in 1989. The novel beautifully splinters apart, delving into different subplots, but all centered around Marie finding and tracing her family history, and the connection between her father Kai, a talented pianist, and Ai-Ming’s father Sparrow, a brilliant composer, as well as a violin prodigy. Do Not Say…

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‘A Private View’: Afshin Shahidi’s New Book Gives a Rare Glimpse into Prince’s Private Life

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One of my favorite pictures of Prince is the cover photo of Afshin Shahidi’s book, Prince: A Private View, which was released today. One of the reasons I am so enamored of this picture is due to the striking contrast of black and white in Prince’s clothing against the simplistic set— what appears to be a plain hallway. What is even more endearing to me as a 30+ year fan is that Prince, who was of a smaller stature, even in the most ordinary of spaces was ginormous. He was a larger than life figure in life and in his passing his absence has left a chasm that no artist now or in the future will be able to fill.…

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Joni Mitchell, Tom Hanks, and Gabrielle Union: This Week’s New Releases

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“By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong…” Joni Mitchell inspired more than just other female recording artists – she is still to this day one of the best and most influential songwriters in the world. She contracted polio at the age of nine, which ended her athletic lifestyle, and forced her to turn to academics and literature. Though she didn’t take to formal education, she was inspired to write poetry, which was perhaps the first form her lyrics took. Now a nine-time Grammy winner, she has allowed her musical tastes and genres to evolve, but in our opinion, her 1971 album Blue is still the best. This week, Joni Mitchell’s biography Reckless Daughter has been…

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13 Books You Absolutely Must Read Before Seeing Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Detroit’

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The Summer of ’67 was a unique time in America’s history that some fondly remember as a season full of love, music and flower power. Still, for others in major American cities, that summer was awash in civil unrest, where waves of injustice led to rebellion and social change. A new film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and starring John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Will Poulter and Algee Smith re-enacts the 1967 incident at Algiers Motel in Detroit that left three young men dead. This event marked a turning point in the civil rights movement when lost innocence gave way to a revolution now undeterred by fear. The youth of the day had seen the worst and they were ready to fight so in…

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‘Windy City Blues’ Explores Racial Tension and Music in 1950s Chicago

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windy city blues review

Read on for a review of Renée Rosen’s Windy City Blues by Modern Girls author Jennifer S. Brown. The world Renée Rosen creates in Windy City Blues sounds not just with the rhythms of the music of Chicago in mid-20th century, but with the beats of racial tension, of women’s struggles for independence, and of the difficulties of immigrants trying to succeed in a new country. The novel spans the years from 1947 to 1969 and is rooted in the real doings of the legendary blues recording studio, Chess Records. The story alternates between the perspectives of historical figure Leonard Chess and fictional characters Leeba Groski and Red Dupree. Leeba is a young Jewish Polish immigrant who takes a job in…

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Leon Wildes Answers One Question About ‘John Lennon vs. The U.S.A.’

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John Lennon was and continues to be an icon in music, counterculture, popular culture, fashion, and self-expression. But would you guess that he was also the face of the most high-profile deportation case in U.S. history? Yep, me neither. The Nixon administration hated the countercultural movement, or as WASPs called them: “hippies.” In Tricky Dick’s cloud of paranoia, he sought out anyone who could bring about an upheaval. John Lennon was foreign, anti-war, had a large platform with his music and wasn’t afraid to speak out. A dangerous combination. Nixon saw him as Public Enemy No. 1 and tried to kick him out of the country. Leon Wildes intimately knows the case because he was Lennon’s lawyer! Finally giving his…

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Take a Time Out: Happy National Dance Day!

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July 30 is National Dance Day! Instead of sitting on your bum and chillin’ on the couch, put that book to the side for just a few minutes and get in some good exercise — the fun way. Get down and boogie to celebrate this happiest of American holidays (which you probably didn’t hear about until right now). Whether your’re a jitterer, a gyrator, a ballerina, or a stand-with-your-hands-in-your-pockets-and-nod kind of dancer, everyone can crack a smile and do a little jig. Enjoy this fantastic high-energy playlist put together by the BookTrib writers for your dancing pleasure! Dance Move Examples:             Main Image: Courtesy ABC, via Bigstock.

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A July Playlist: Just Chill on Your Summer Days!

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It’s the middle of July, and it’s far too hot outside. The best way to distract people from how much you’re sweating is to appear super cool. There are many ways to appear super cool: conspicuously read a very intelligent-looking book in a coffee shop, wear a Hawaiian shirt to a pool party, win a hot-dog eating contest, et cetera, et cetera. However, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that the coolest person in the room is generally the one who’s listening to the coolest music. So, in the spirit of keeping you cool in more ways than one, enjoy this “Chill-ly” (pronounced “chill”-“lie” like July) playlist, which you should feel free to show off as much as possible. For example, you…

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12 Black Friday Deals for Every Book Lover

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Black Friday has arrived, and you’re geared up for battle. You’re wearing your most comfortable shoes, your bag-stuffable jacket, and your pants with the best back-pocket wallet access. Your shopping senses may already be tingling, but we went ahead and scoured the depths of the internet for the very best Black Friday deals for every book lover in your life. Check ‘em out below: For the technologically challenged book lover: Barnes & Noble’s NOOK GlowLight Plus & NOOK by Samsung 7.0 Tablet $99 each! Find out more at Barnes & Noble.  For the gym bunny who owns every Jillian Michaels book: Walmart Fitbit Flex for $59! Find out more here. For the music lover: Walmart VIZIO 38” Bluetooth Soundbar for…

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Playlists for 2 Romance Novels We Adore

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As a huge lover of books and music, it only makes sense that the two would go together. When I’m sitting down to read, I’m not just picking a random playlist, I’m searching for those specific songs that I know will go perfectly with the tone and the atmosphere of what I’m reading. For sweet romances, I want quiet love songs. For epic fantasy, I want soaring classical numbers. But no matter what, the music is just as important as the words I’m reading. Lately, I’ve been devouring indie/self-published romances, where the men are hot and the women are sassy. Here are two I can’t put down —and the playlists to go along with them. Read: Hold On (The ‘Burg…

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Celebrating the 100th Birthday of Original Bad-Boy Superstar Frank Sinatra

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One hundred years after his birth, the man is gone, but his miraculous voice remains. His legend looms just as large, and his eyes, twinkling at us from below the rim of a snappy fedora on the cover of any number of albums, are just as blue. “Few American vocalists have had the impact of Frank Sinatra on our pop culture,” said J. Randy Taraborrelli, author of Sinatra: Behind the Legend (Grand Central Publishing, 2015). “He’s of a time when great singers were America’s special pride. No one has ever come close to his ability to deliver a song and impart to the listener the full emotion of that tune.” Making his “debut” in 1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey, the…

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At long last, Joan Jett is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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Why has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame taken so long to recognize Joan Jett? Founder of the all-female riot that was the Runaways and the emotionally explosive Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, she has set the tempo not just for female rockers but for the entire genre. Happily, her wait will be over April 18 when Joan Jett & the Blackhearts are inducted in the Hall. As David C. Barnett pointed out on NPR Music, Jett will raise the number of female inductees to 66—out of 726 artists. There’s a tribute to the group on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame site, but to really learn more about this rock icon, check out these books: Queens of…

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I’m Glad I Did: Songwriter Cynthia Weil recreates her early years in the business

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Rules are meant to be broken. Or at least that’s what Grammy-winning songwriter Cynthia Weil proposes in her latest young adult novel, I’m Glad I Did, a book that rides on the back of the Peace Train, giving voice to issues of racism, sexism and war. It was 1961 when Weil first walked down the street toward the Brill Building in the heart of New York City. She could not have known at the time that this was the beginning of one wild career at Aldon Music. Flanked with black marble pillars and a blazing brass edifice, Weil crossed the music building’s threshold and took those first steps into songwriting that would one day lead her to become only the…

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4 Books about Music City until Nashville returns

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I have always been fascinated by musical TV shows. I’ve watched Glee with, well, glee. I was probably the only person on earth who was sad when Smash got canceled. But no melodious show has hooked me quite the way Nashville has. Can you blame me? The music, the romance, the drama…did I mention the music? On Nashville it is unapologetically good. As in, downloading and playing on repeat for hours good. Just listen to this song and try not to love it:   Aside from the songwriting, there’s a never-ending roller coaster of drama to keep you hooked. The show follows a large cast, all at different stages of the country music industry. Legendary singer Rayna Jaymes (played by…

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