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For Readers: Blog

Music in the air

by Book Geniuses on 2022-01-11T14:04:00-06:00 in Fiction, Books & Reading | Comments

Musics seems to be in the air these days!  With the popularity of the Beatles documentary, and memoirs of multiple musicians flying off the shelves, perhaps you’ve started wondered what life as a musician would feel like. These titles will bring you into the worlds of various musicians in different time periods for a look at life in the spotlight.

Covers of Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau; Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton; The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau
In early 70s Baltimore, fourteen-year-old Mary Jane takes a summer position as a nanny to 5 year old Izzy, in a neighboring home, people her mother deems "respectable" because he is a doctor and they live in the "right" section of town. Soon, Dr. Cone is treating a rock star, Jimmy, who has moved in with his starlet wife, Sheeba, to battle his addictions. This is truly a coming-of-age story, as Mary Jane learns about a completely different family life than the structured, organized, prototypical home in which she grew up. Her summer centers around Izzy, all while cooking, cleaning, and lovingly being part of a different, expanded family who treat each other so differently than her own, thus opening her eyes to the realities of racism, antisemitism, and the changing world of 1976. [e-book | print | audiobook]

Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton 
This non-linear, epistolary novel set in two timelines is narrated by Gala, a trans woman who works in a youth hostel in New Mexico. Gala is a dedicated fan of recording stars the Get Happies, who rose to stardom in the sixties and dominated pop charts for years. The band does not release their final album, Summer Fun , and rumors have long been a fascination with fans, including Gala. When she meets a woman connected to a songwriter for the band, they become obsessed with locating the Get Happies and finding out what happened to the members and their unreleased music. The writing is just beautiful: descriptive and evocative, while the plot is engaging and involving. [e-book | audiobook]

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb 
When Ray McMillian, an up-and-coming violinist, has his prize Stradivarius stolen, his plans for the present and the future quickly devolve. His preparations for the Olympics of classical music, a competition only weeks away, are derailed as he works with all manner of authorities to retrieve the priceless violin. The reader is introduced to his family, both unsupportive and supportive, and how he came to possess such a valuable instrument, and the struggles he overcame to reach the pinnacle of classical musicianship. A gripping family drama, as well as a thriller, this engaging tale is a quick and satisfying read. [print]

Covers of Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie; Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel; Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie
An engaging tale of two musicians, one on her way up in the world of entertainment and one struggling to keep himself sober. A motorcycle accident leaves Jesse Reid unable to perform at the 1969 Bayleen Island Folk Fest, and provides local artist, Jane Quinn, the opportunity of a lifetime to step in. When she does so, she dazzles the crowd.  As Jesse stays on Bayleen Island to recover, the two become friends and he coaches Jane through producing her first album. As Jane’s star quickly rises, they tour together until Jesse’s dark secrets take Jane by surprise, and leave her reckoning with her own past. Nicely tied up with a view from years later as the two reminisce about the earlier times. [e-book | print | large type]

Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel 
The Forsyth Trio, a chamber ensemble which Bridget, Will, and Gavin created while students at Juilliard, experiences moderate success, even after Gavin leaves the group to become one of the stars of the classical music world. Presently, Bridget has been planning a quiet summer at her country home, but her plans are destroyed when her boyfriend Sterling breaks up with her and her 20-something twins arrive unexpectedly in the middle of their own crises. When her father announces he is remarrying, Bridget plans to host the wedding at her home, hoping to reunite the Forsyth Trio to put them back in the spotlight. A highly humorous novel, Musical Chairs delves into reinvention, role reversals, and intense relationships of family and the harmony and discord found in them all. [e-book | print | audiobook]

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell 
“Utopia Avenue is the strangest British band you’ve never heard of.” The band only released two albums in the late 1960’ before rising to chart topping success in 1968. This retrospective novel looks back on their heady rise and days of drugs, art, and civil unrest in which they rose. Author David Mitchell’s deep dive into the British music scene at the time includes cameos by real artists of those times, as well as providing an examination of whether we change the world in those turbulent times that happen, or do the times change us?  [e-book | print | audiobook]


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