In the renewed Music Diggin’ Friday I’m going to write about all kinds of music related stuff. Lists, new releases, concerts, and whatever shit that comes to mind.
Oooookay, people, to kick off the renewed Music Diggin’ Friday feature, I’ll give you something special. These posts not always will be book related, but this occasion called for a post like this. Actually two, as I came up with too many books to squeeze it into only one post.
I’m making reading plans for the rest of the year and the other day I asked the blogger community on twitter to give me some book recommendations with a plot revolving around music. I was hoping for a few interesting books at best, but I absolutely didn’t expect how much great recommendations showed up! I decided to share this awesomeness with you all, but first, I’ll share my own recommendations. In the next post I’ll pick my favorites from that Twitter thread so you’ll be able to dig them as well.
My own recommendations
Clicking on the title you can read my review, clicking on the covers will lead you to the books’ GR pages.
If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman
This is a YA duology about Adam and Mia. They are both musicians – Adam plays in a rock band while Mia is a chellist. These books are about their romance, their lives, their grief and searching for their place in this world. Both are heart wrenching, powerful books, though I personally prefer Where She Went (which is told from Adam’s POV) over If I Stay (from Mia’s POV). Both books deal with serious topics and are really bingeable. They can be read as stand alones, but it’s much better if you read it in order.
Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel. I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen. Stay, he says. Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind? Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters. If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever. Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other. Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.
“Even though I veered away from YA books in recent years, I don’t mind picking up Gayle Forman’s books every once in a while. Especially Where She Went, a heartwrenching, emotional read which will make you curse and smile and cry.”
This is a bit on the horror side and tells the story of Kris, who was in the once famous band, Dürt Würk, but on the night when they signed a major contract, something went wrong. Years later Kris gets a chance to find out what really happened. Her life is a mysery and she has nothing to lose when she sets out to unite the band for one last time.
A new novel of supernatural horror (and pop culture) from the author of Horrorstor, My Best Friend's Exorcism, and Paperbacks from Hell. In the 1990s, heavy metal band Dürt Würk was poised for breakout success -- but then lead singer Terry Hunt embarked on a solo career and rocketed to stardom as Koffin, leaving his fellow bandmates to rot in rural Pennsylvania. Two decades later, former guitarist Kris Pulaski works as the night manager of a Best Western - she's tired, broke, and unhappy. Everything changes when she discovers a shocking secret from her heavy metal past: Turns out that Terry's meteoric rise to success may have come at the price of Kris's very soul. This revelation prompts Kris to hit the road, reunite with the rest of her bandmates, and confront the man who ruined her life. It's a journey that will take her from the Pennsylvania rust belt to a Satanic rehab center and finally to a Las Vegas music festival that's darker than any Mordor Tolkien could imagine. A furious power ballad about never giving up, even in the face of overwhelming odds, We Sold Our Souls is an epic journey into the heart of a conspiracy-crazed, paranoid country that seems to have lost its very soul...where only a girl with a guitar can save us all.
“This book has everything you might wish for: a dark tale, gritty scenes, a crazy road trip, monsters, relatable characters and metal. We Sold Our Souls is the perfect bland of prose, characters, the darker side of the world and so many great quotes that I had to restrain myself to use them all.”
A novella about a DJ who just left rehab, tries to get back his life on track, but his past catches up with you as the ghost of his ex-girlfriend. This was one of my favorite reads of last year. So much emotion and a great writing style. Hauntingly beautiful.
"What have you ever done that felt better than this?" A former DJ who lost everything to heroin addiction is slowly rebuilding his life when his ex-girlfriend seeks him out to offer him a second chance at their relationship. But the fresh start she hopes to make with him has one catch: She died of an overdose four months earlier, and she's come to talk him into joining her... Some Distant Sunrise is a powerful, gritty dark-fantasy novella about junkies and ghosts, music and suicide, obsession and regret, and living through what remains after everything you've loved is gone.
“Some Distant Sunrise is a powerfully emotional, dark tale of addiction, second chances, choices and life. One, the writing makes even more real, where you can almost feel the needle’s cool, metallic touch on your arm, the biting chill of the night and feel the pressure of the world as it closes on you, taste the desperation in the air.”
I had quite mixed feelings about this one, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out, especially since it’s not really long. A famous music blogger gets the chance of his life by following a band on their first tour and making him incredibly famous using the internet.
Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You is a story of music, obsession, violence, and madness by Scotto Moore I was home alone on a Saturday night when I experienced the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard in my life. Beautiful Remorse is the hot new band on the scene, releasing one track a day for ten days straight. Each track has a mysterious name and a strangely powerful effect on the band's fans. A curious music blogger decides to investigate the phenomenon up close by following Beautiful Remorse on tour across Texas and Kansas, realizing along the way that the band's lead singer, is hiding an incredible, impossible secret.
“Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You is a quick paced read, perfect for a road trip or just a quiet afternoon with a book. If you look for something different, it has a strange mix of music, humor, horror, sci-fi, maybe a tinge of Cthulhu mythos. If you liked We Sould Our Souls, you might like Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You as well.”
This one is not a happy story. Several characters’ lives are waving together, and the bond between them is music. Benny is a young Jewish boy, loving to play piano. One day he sneaks into that part of Chicago where jazz are played in bars by black people. He meets Napoleon the trumpeter and their friendship begins. Pearl and her family runs a bar in another part of Chicago where Napoleon and Benny can introduce their music to white people in a time when alcohol is banned and gangsters get hold over the city. Their lives are full of music, tragedy and searching for their place in the world.
Acclaimed author Mary Morris returns to her Chicago roots in this sweeping novel that brilliantly captures the dynamic atmosphere and the dazzling music of the Jazz Age. In the midst of boomtown Chicago, two Jewish families have suffered terrible blows. The Lehrmans, who run a small hat factory, lost their beloved son Harold in a blizzard. The Chimbrovas, who run a saloon, lost three of their boys on the SS Eastland when it sank in 1915. Each family holds out hope that one of their remaining children will rise to carry on the family business. But Benny Lehrman has no interest in making hats. His true passion is piano—especially jazz. At night he sneaks down to the South Side, slipping into predominantly black clubs to hear jazz groups play. Along the way he meets a black trumpeter, a man named Napoleon who becomes Benny’s close friend and musical collaborator. Their adventures together take Benny far from the life he knew as a delivery boy. Pearl Chimbrova recognizes their talent and invites them to start playing at her family’s saloon, which Napoleon dubs The Jazz Palace. Even as the novel charts the story of its characters, it also tells the tale of the city where they live. It is a world of gangsters, musicians, and clubs, in which black musicians are no freer than they were before the Civil War, white youths head down to the South Side to “slum,” and Al Capone and Louis Armstrong become legends. As The Jazz Palacesteams through the 1920s, Benny, Pearl, and Napoleon forge a bond that is as memorable as it is lasting.
“The Jazz Palace while an easy read in terms of style and writing, it is full of tragedy with some light moments here and there. Overall, if not an exactly enjoyable read, but one which will make you wonder about life and music and the choices we make in our lifes. And in the end, that can count as an accomplishment in itself.”
Okay, so this is a bit out of place here, as it doesn’t have any music in it. However, it was inspired by rock and roll and the group of mercanaries are the rock bands of their time. Gabe and Clay decide to get the band together for one last show – to save Gabe’s daughter, Rose. This book is full of emotions, action and funny moments. And also features one of the most awesome characters in Fantasy, Moog.
Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best -- the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld. Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk - or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay's door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for. It's time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld.
“If you are still hesitating whether you should read Kings of the Wyld, let me tell you what to expect: this book will make you laugh out loud, then will force you on your knees, will punch you in the face, will help you up with a smile just to kick you in the gut for an emphasis. And you will enjoy it all. This story is like a great song which makes you feel calm, angry, happy, sad, surprised with its melodies and lyrics. Kings of the Wyld most probably will lift Nicholas Eames up to be the new rockstar of the fantasy world in the coming years.”
Books I recommend but didn’t review (yet):
Where the Waters Turn Black by Benedict Patrick
So far this is my favorite Yarnsworld novel. The main protagonist is an ocarina player, Kaimana, and she has a Knack for playing music. This book also has magic, gods, fantastical creatures and an exciting adventure to find home for her friend and to create her masterpiece.
When gods and monsters battle, her music will not protect her… The Crescent Atoll is a remote string of tropical islands, connected by long canoe journeys and a love of stories. When Kaimana, a young ocarina player, discovers the lair of a taniwha – a legendary monster – she finds herself inspired. The song she is composing about their encounter will be her masterpiece, but her disturbance of the beast attracts the ruining gaze of the god of war. She must convince the taniwha to trust her if they are both to survive. Where the Waters Turn Black is a standalone novel from Benedict Patrick’s Yarnsworld series. Inspired by the myths and legends of South Pacific island cultures, this book is perfect for those seeking fantasy stories with a hint of the unfamiliar.
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
This one got recommended to me by a friend. By that time I already stopped reading romance and had my doubts. Turned out it was what I needed at the time. By the end it had become a typical romance novel, but I really enjoyed most of the book – it had a lot of witty banters and practical jokes played on each other. But most importantly, he male MC was a guy who wrote music for his brother’s band, and was also deaf. It reminded me of a manga I used to love, where the girl’s love interest was a deaf Taiko player. Anyway, there was a lot of lyrics in the book and there is a soundtrack associated with it, which you can listen to while reading the book. My only complaint against the audiobook (which I listened to later) was that the narrators read the lyrics instead of putting the songs in.
Contains exclusive content: songs from Griffin Peterson Sydney is living in an idyllic bubble—she's a dedicated student with a steady job on the side. She lives with her best friend, has a great boyfriend, and the music coming from the balcony opposite hers is fast becoming the soundtrack to her life. But when Sydney finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, the bubble bursts. The mysterious and attractive man behind the music, Ridge, gives Sydney hope that she can move on and they begin to write songs together. But moving on is harder than she expects, Sydney can only hope…. Maybe someday… Colleen Hoover draws you in to this passionate tale of music, love and betrayal…
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
This one is from my YA/romance era, when I devoured Sarah Dessen books. Just Listen was one of my favorites. It’s about the relationship between the good girl who is having some hard times and a guy who on the surface seems like the typical bad guy type, but he is a DJ at a radio station in his free time. They form a unusual friendship through music.
Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store. This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.
Have a rockin’ Friday and weekend ya’ll! 🙂