The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

Until I picked up The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce, I had been spending a lot of my reading time with suspenseful, gripping psychological thrillers -you know, all the “girl,” “wife,” or “woman” books-The Girl on The Train, The Wife Between Us, The Woman in Cabin Ten.  But this charming novel set in 1980s suburban London was a welcome change of pace-like a cool breeze after an intense thunderstorm.

The character-driven story kept me interested and intrigued, yet at the same time, soothed my soul. In addition to the music shop and its quirky inhabitants, there are the other shops on the street and their quirky owners.  At the center of the story is the music shop’s owner, Frank, a lonely middle-aged man who only wants to sell vinyl,despite the growing pressure to sell CDs. Frank has a gift for “hearing” what ails his customers and knowing what records they need to heal them, often prescribing them specific tracks and artists. There is also Father Anthony, a former priest who sells religious trinkets, Maud the tattooist who is in love with Frank, and the mildly peculiar twin brothers who run the local funeral parlor. And there is a pub of course, where they all gather.

Joyce fleshes out her characters fully enough that I really cared for each of them and their rag-tag community that fights the good fight against 1980s commercialism and gentrification.

Reading this hopeful and human story made me feel as though Joyce invited me in to her parlor for a cup of tea while she told me love stories: stories of new love, of long-lost love; stories of unrequited, unpursued, and unspoken love.

The Music Shop is not only a love story about two lonely musicphiles, it is also a love story about music. Throughout the tales of her likeable and misfit characters, Joyce weaves tidbits about musicians: their loves, their lives; their triumphs and their tragedies.  I learned a lot about music- from Beethoven and Berlioz, to the early days of punk rock and the Sex Pistols. For me, this was the icing on an already yummy cake.

If you are in need of a light but engaging escape filled with hope and humanity, The Music Shop may be just what the doctor ordered.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Though I was familiar enough with the Origami Yoda series (and a big enough Star Wars fan) to recommend it to elementary aged children looking for funny, age appropriate books, I had not read any of the books until recently. I’m only halfway through the series right now, having read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Darth Paper Strikes Back and The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee. And, happily, I not only still recommend the series after reading it, but have a desire to read other Tom Angleberger books.

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From a Certain Point of View

Though most other Star Wars books published this year were written as build up to The Last Jedi, From a Certain Point of View sets itself apart, not only because it is a celebratory anniversary book, but because it focuses on events the reader already knows. This short story collection retells the original Star Wars movie from the perspective of characters with minimal (or no) screen time in the movie. Though many of the short stories were great reads for a Star Wars fan, these are the ones I consider the best: Continue reading “From a Certain Point of View”

Staff Recommendation: Leia, Princess of Alderaan

I’m back with another Star Wars review! As we seem to be ending every year on a new Star Wars movie–a trend I’m very much in favor of, by the way–we are also getting new accompanying novels to lead up to the latest film. This year’s crop of stories is subtitled “Journey to The Last Jedi,” in anticipation of Episode VIII coming out this December.

The first I read is Claudia Gray’s Leia, Princess of Alderaan. Gray is the same author who wrote Lost Stars, which may be my favorite Star Wars book to date. I’m happy to say she has more than fulfilled the high expectations I have for her work.

Book cover for "Star Wars: Leia, Princess of Alderaan" by Claudia Gray

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