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review 2018-02-11 06:19
Backstage (Boy Band) (Volume 2) - Jacqueline Smith

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

So first off, I just have to say that Jacqueline Smith wins for writing the best dedications. On her dedication page she writes, “I’ve dedicated enough books to my family and friends. This book is for my cat. And Harry Styles.” But honestly, let’s be real, enough books are dedicated to people’s family and friends. Random side note: I freaking love Harry Styles.

Okay, so back to the book. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked this, but I didn’t like it as much as the first one which is why I gave it 4.5 stars instead of 5. The reason why I didn’t like it as much was because nothing super duper exciting happened until the last 50 pages. The last 50 pages were the core of the story and they were a crazy 50 pages. Pretty much all hell broke loose and their world kind of imploded. It was insane and will definitely make you want to read the third book. That’s actually something I really like about this series; it always leaves you wanting more.

Another thing I really like about this series, especially in this book, is that it explores the intricacies of being in a boy band. Being a celebrity is one thing, but being a part of a famous group is another. There’s just so much that goes on backstage that we never see, it’s no wonder that so many of them end up going their separate ways. This book in particular really highlighted that well.

Overall, this was a great installment to the Boy Band series. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

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review 2018-02-10 03:11
A really pleasant read!
The Music Shop: A Novel - Rachel Joyce

The Music Shop, Rachel Joyce, author; Steven Hartley, narrator
Like easy listening, when referring to music, this novel could be considered easy reading. It leaves you happy and contented, not anxious and concerned. What could be better than that? The beautiful descriptions of several famous pieces of classical and modern music, appearing throughout, were so enlightening. There was so much information provided in an easy offhanded way that it was simply very comfortable to take it all in.
All of the characters presented were a bit quirky and they were a delightful mix of humankind. This author has a special knack for reaching readers by getting inside the heads of her characters. Her analysis of their problems and lifestyles was right on target. The depth of her understanding of human nature and feelings is broad and touching at times.
In 1988, in a run-down looking shop, on an obscure back street, somewhere in England, we meet Frank, the proprietor of a music shop that only sells what he refers to as vinyl. He has no real knowledge of music theory, but he has a natural gift which enables him to pair customers with just the right music for their particular needs.
Frank was raised by Peg, a woman who had loose morals, which led to his lack of knowledge about the identity of his father. She refused to be called mother. As a result, Frank was a bit odd and socially, he was not very adept. He kept his distance from people, not wanting to get too involved or hurt since he had been deeply hurt in the past. His experiences with love had been painful, and his own mother, with her death and subsequent will, had made him feel rejected and unwanted. Her one gift to him was a deep knowledge and appreciation of music that went far beyond that of most people.
Although the book might be described, by some, as a bit hokey or perhaps overly melodramatic, or even hackneyed, I found it to be so tender and sweet, that I loved it in spite of its fairy tale narrative. Decades pass before the romantic desires of the two main characters are fulfilled, before two broken adults, struggling to find themselves, struggling to overcome their personal afflictions, find each other again. The beauty of the story, for me, existed in the unfailing devotion and desire that lasted and would not die with the passage of time.
The characters in the novel are so engaging. The author endears them to the reader with their odd quirks and personalities. Maude is a crude and outspoken, rude and rough around the edges female who runs a tanning salon. Father Anthony is retired. He is lonely and Frank rescues him and befriends him. Frank is a man whose growth and maturity had been stifled by a mother with emotional difficulties of her own. She short circuited his development and his life, perhaps without meaning to, but nevertheless, the effect of Peg on Frank, is devastating. Frank only wanted to be normal and to help others. He refused to move into modernity and would only carry vinyl records in his shop, even when cd’s were all the rage. He was a man of principle. Ilse is this lovely, gentle, secretive and mysterious young, German woman who arrives suddenly, almost from out of nowhere. She faints in front of the shop and is taken in and soon becomes a regular visitor. She has a knack for charming people and helps Frank solve many problems. She never wanted to be normal. Frank does not know how to deal with the feelings developing within him for this strange young woman. Kit works in the store. He seems a bit short of a full deck, and he is very clumsy. All of the interesting characters have a unique place within the pages of the book.
I loved the way the story ended so happily, just over two decades after all the characters first met each other. Their friendship was still alive and well. There seemed to be a moral to the story. Genuine concern and compassion were keys to love and happiness. Love was necessary in everyone’s life. Everyone seemed to seek it.

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video 2018-02-09 18:51

Bonn Opera's promo clip for Puccini's La Bohème (2016-17 season), starring Sumi Hwang as Mimi.

 

Ahem.  We now (finally) return you to your schelduled reading ...

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video 2018-02-09 18:35

Sumi Hwang: "Si, mi chiamano Mimi" from Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème -- this is a televised concert performance, but she's been on stage in Bonn as Mimi as recently as last season, too.

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video 2018-02-09 18:25

"Lascia ch'io pianga" from Georg Friedrich Händel's Rinaldo, as performed by Renee Fleming.

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