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Simply Spiffin!

Simply Spiffin! by [Terry Tumbler]

Spiff Tracey is one in a million. Case by case, he takes on the world. Fortunately for the world, Spiff outlives everyone and everything around him. His ability to continue to thrive well into the future is matched by none. Spiff also remains unmatched in his ability to investigate and bring the guilty to justice. When he is tasked with something quite different from all of his other cases to date, Spiff feels he is just the man for the job. Nothing is too difficult and nothing too challenging for a man of his means and vast experience.

Simply Spiffin!, by Terry Tumbler, is the third installment of the Carousels of Life series. Spiff Tracey, the book’s main character is virtually ageless and manages to bring his brand of investigative genius into every decade and every major world event. This futuristic tale smacks of science fiction while at the same time offering humor and bits of intrigue and drama. There is nothing Tumbler hasn’t thought of in book three of this series, and for a third in the series, I feel it can stand alone well.

It is always a breath of fresh air to come across humor in a book otherwise steeped in drama. Tumbler’s books have all of that and more. The bigger-than-life characters are well-developed and stand out against a backdrop of what can sometimes be overwhelmingly technical elements. Each new character is a treasure in Tumbler’s writing. It is not often that readers find themselves just as enamored with the supporting characters, but Tumbler manages to achieve just that effect.

One of the most unique aspects of Tumbler’s writing is the inclusion of song lyrics. There is nothing quite like Tumbler’s work. Nowhere else will readers be able to find the words to their favorite classic tunes woven throughout a work of engaging science fiction. It’s a special blend of music and mayhem and, as odd as it may sound, a nice fit. It’s a technique that is present in each of the works I have read by Tumbler and always makes me look forward to the next one.

Tumbler has again handed readers a fantastic main character, a stand-out cast of supporting players, and a wonderful science fiction plot. Spiff Tracey, the private eye and world traveler, will invite readers in, but Tumbler’s unique brand of writing will keep them coming back for more.

Pages: 336 | ASIN:  B08Q9YKT6L

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The Paths That Light Us Up

Natasha Deen
Natasha Deen Author Interview

In the Key of Nira Ghani follows a young Guyanese girl who must balance her parents’ expectations and traditions while pursuing her own dreams. What was the inspiration for the setup to this heartwarming story?

The fun thing with being a writer is that we get to bring reality into fiction. The issue of balancing parental expectations with personal dreams is one (I think) a lot of us deal with—How do we choose the paths that light us up and at the same time, honor the elders that came before us?

There was a direct connection to the story idea, too. My parents really wanted me to be a lawyer (ha! I think it was because I was always arguing with them!), but law didn’t really do much for me.

We ended up compromising on psychology, and then I threw them for a curve when I decided to forgo my Master’s and head into writing. However, I was lucky and they were supportive!

Nira is a compelling character. What were some sources that informed her character development?

A lot Nira’s character creation came from the frustrations and joys I had growing up as well as the frustrations and joys my friends/family had growing up. I also pulled her personality from folks I met during school visits and library sessions.

That’s the thing I love about writing. We can find inspiration for characters and plots in our lives and from the world around us.

I felt like this story was authentic as well as compelling. Was there anything in this story from your own life?

Certainly Nira having to explain she’s from “Guyana not Ghana” and her being one of the only Kids of Color in her school was based on things that happened to me. And…it’s entirely possible the BBQ scene actually happened with my family. (Ha!)

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m really excited for the January 2021 release of my novel, Maria and the Plague: A Black Death Survival Story. It’s available for pre-order now and I hope readers will take heart and hope from Maria’s battle to survive the plague and protect her family.

Author Links: Twitter | Website | GoodReads

A Guyanese girl must find the balance between her parents’ “old world” expectations and traditions while pursuing her dream of being a great trumpeter in this contemporary, coming-of-age story, written by an #OwnVoices author.

Nira Ghani has always dreamed of becoming a musician. Her Guyanese parents, however, have big plans for her to become a scientist or doctor. Nira’s grandmother and her best friend, Emily, are the only people who seem to truly understand her desire to establish an identity outside of the one imposed on Nira by her parents. When auditions for jazz band are announced, Nira realizes it’s now or never to convince her parents that she deserves a chance to pursue her passion.

As if fighting with her parents weren’t bad enough, Nira finds herself navigating a new friendship dynamic when her crush, Noah, and notorious mean-girl, McKenzie “Mac,” take a sudden interest in her and Emily, inserting themselves into the fold. So, too, does Nira’s much cooler (and very competitive) cousin Farah. Is she trying to wiggle her way into the new group to get closer to Noah? Is McKenzie trying to steal Emily’s attention away from her? As Farah and Noah grow closer and Emily begins to pull away, Nira’s trusted trumpet “George” remains her constant, offering her an escape from family and school drama.

But it isn’t until Nira takes a step back that she realizes she’s not the only one struggling to find her place in the world. As painful truths about her family are revealed, Nira learns to accept people for who they are and to open herself in ways she never thought possible.

A relatable and timely contemporary, coming-of age story, In the Key of Nira Ghani explores the social and cultural struggles of a teen in an immigrant household.

Fascinating Historic Intertwinements

Matthew Hodge
Matthew Hodge Author Interview

Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse explores the history of Disney and Jazz and how they’re related. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I thought this was an important book to write because I noticed through my personal studies and fascinations with Disney and jazz music that they had an incredible history together. Both worlds were vastly different, yet had decades of historic interactions that were inspiring, surprising, and even controversial at times. I describe it in the book as “two ships continually passing each other while sailing the same sea (or at times even crashing into each other).” I also noticed that although there were multiple books with specific sections highlighting these interactions, there was not one complete book that was entirely dedicated to these fascinating historic intertwinements. So, I decided to write one!

I loved all the bits of history and insider knowledge you provided. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?

As a professor and scholarly writer, I put a lot of emphasis on research. All of my writings for various academic books and journals are heavily researched and well-cited. And although I wanted this book to be more of a casual entertaining read (as opposed to the more formal textbook-style writings I frequently publish) I wanted the book to be just as thoroughly researched — hence the 18 pages of referenced research listed at the end of the book. Additionally, I knew Disney had interesting histories with not just artists from the ‘pure’ jazz world, but also from musical worlds that I refer to in the book as “jazz adjacent”. I knew some music purists might argue my discussions of these artists and genres that aren’t on the surface ‘pure’ jazz, so I make the case in the book to explain and defend why these “jazz-adjacent” stories should be included in the book.

What is one thing that stands out in your mind as the best marriage of Disney and Jazz?

Although there were times in history that these two worlds collided with friction and controversy (which this book does not shy away from discussing), the overwhelming thing that became evident through my research was how much affection was shared between the pioneering artists in the Disney and jazz (and jazz-adjacent) worlds. Some of the most successful and memorable Disney works were because of these musical artists, and many of these musical artists described their Disney partnerships as among their most creatively-fulfilling and personal favorite works. I found it inspiring how these two worlds consistently inspired each other.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

I hope readers take away a fresh way of looking at America’s history. Because these two worlds became quintessential entertainment for 20th-century America, their stories reflected the successes (and failures) of a nation. I describe them in the book as “two forever connected entertainment empires that helped define a country, to both its own people and to the rest of the world.” As readers learn entertaining and fascinating stories about the rise of Disney’s empire and significant music pioneers, I hope they take away a fresh perspective of American culture.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

What does a ‘King,’ a ‘Queen,’ a ‘Duke,’ and a talking mouse have in common? They are all part of the intricate tapestry that helped define American entertainment, built by two different, yet connected pioneering industries: jazz music and Disney.
Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse: A History of Jazz and Disney is a first of its kind. Award-winning composer, professor, and author Matthew Hodge offers this unique book as the first to entirely dedicate its pages to exploring the vast histories of these two worlds. While rising in popularity and importance during the same decades, jazz and Disney spent more than a century consistently intertwining in ways that are remarkable, inspiring, surprising, complicated, controversial, and everything in between.
Whether a jazz listener, a Disney lover, a fan of both, or unknowledgeable of either, this book will navigate readers through many fascinating stories. With nearly 300 significant jazz artists and Disney properties referenced in these pages, Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse guarantees to entertain and educate readers of all ages as they journey through America’s jazzy landscapes—sprinkled along the way with plenty of Disney magic.

One is one, or green grow the rushes oh

One is one, or green grow the rushes oh by [Ruth Finnegan. Oliver cain, Oliver Cain]

One is One or Green Grow the Rushes Oh, by Ruth Finnegan and illustrated by Oliver Cain, is a lovely written version of the age-old song. Each of the beautifully designed pages contains a verse in the style of a cumulative story. As I read the song lyrics, I was immediately reminded of the days when I read The House That Jack Built to my own children. The beauty and simplicity of the song in a story-like format are touching and quite effective as a text.

Finnegan, responsible for the concept of this wonderful book, includes a helpful explanation of the song’s history for any readers not familiar with the meaning of the lyrics. From its earliest origins to the various versions and interpretations of the text, Finnegan covers all aspects of the song thoroughly in a quick read.

I am giving One is One or Green Grow the Rushes Oh, by Ruth Finnegan and illustrated by Oliver Cain, 5 out of 5 stars. Never having heard the song and intrigued by the book’s title, I was more than pleasantly surprised by this thoughtfully crafted rendering of the song and its many versions. I highly recommend Finnegan and Cain’s work to anyone interested in poetry or music history.

Pages: 35 | ASIN: B07GV29ZJY

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Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse: A History of Jazz and Disney

If you are a fan of Disney and want to learn about Jazz music history then Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse is the book for you. Matthew Hodge sprinkles his story with all manner of delectable tidbits that people don’t know about Disney and Jazz. You can also learn about Tokyo Disney and the resorts worldwide, giving you a peek at some of the secrets and facts about the Disney organization that goes beyond just your home. In addition to that, you will learn the history behind your favorite movies as well! Are you in love with The Princess and the Frog Disney movie? In Matthew Hodge’s book you’ll learn about the creative directions that brought a new era to Disney movies and music!

I loved Disney when I was younger, so I was excited to read this book because I wanted to know the secrets behind the movies. It was also a way for me to realize that there were projects I had never heard of, which was impressive. I had never heard of the Happiest Millionaire, but I enjoyed learning about it and what it was inspired by. Earlier in my life, my favorite movie was the Emperor’s New Groove because it’s a redemption story, and honestly, Eartha Kitt was hilarious. I wanted to cry reading about her past and am glad that she could move past it.

People often reference ‘Disney magic’, well I think there is also such as thing as the magic of Jazz. Matthew Hodges is able to capture the magic in both of these things and bring them together in one sensational book that delivers intriguing facts with surprising bits of insider knowledge. I never realized these two, seemingly different, forms of entertainment shared so much history. With so many references to both Disney and Jazz there is literally something in here for everyone. Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse was one of the most surprising books I’ve read this year. I did not expect to be so fully entertained.

Pages: 190 | ISBN: 1683902688

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The Music Therapy Profession: Inspiring Health, Wellness, and Joy

The Music Therapy Profession: Inspiring Health, Wellness & Joy is an informative book that describes the many professional aspects the musical therapy profession has. This book is great for current musicians who want to enter the music therapy profession, but it’s also broken down simply enough that even students or novice musicians can easily grasp the ideas within this book. This is a great starting point for anyone interested in a career in musical therapy as it deftly answers some fundamental questions about this valuable field.

Christine Korb’s enlightening book consists mostly of essays from students and graduates in the field of musical therapy. This gives readers an informed view of the profession and how it can impact the lives of practitioners as well as patients. While the novel does delve into the motivational and emotional aspects of the profession it focuses on relaying the technical details one needs in order to participate in the practice effectively. I’m not a musician so I certainly appreciated how easy this book was to pickup and dive into. The language is simple which makes it easy to digest and makes things seem more manageable. Anyone looking to break into the musical therapy field, or professionals looking to take their knowledge to the next level, will find Christine Korb’s book both illuminating and fascinating.

For me The Music Therapy Profession: Inspiring Health, Wellness & Joy was a rewarding experience. Christine Korb gives readers the tools they will need to participate in the musical therapy field, but does not show you (to quote direct) “how to use music to heal”. This is not a book about how to use music to heal, this is a book about the profession that uses music to heal, how one can step into it, and how one can educate themselves further. With this mission, I think, Christine Korb succeeds.

Pages: 134 | ASIN: B0793SKBYM

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WHERE HAVE ALL THE ROCK STARS GONE?

Ray Shasho Author Interview

Ray Shasho Author Interview

The Rock Star Chronicles uses your interviews with rock legends to humanize them and preserve their contribution to the genre. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I was fortunate to have lived through two of the greatest decades for music. It was a time when radio played incredible music and rock concerts were a bargain and a happening thing to do. Rock groups featured incredibly talented musicians with guitarists and lead singers in the spotlight. There has never been a generation to match that period of music expertise and staying power. I wanted the reader to understand and realize how great a talent they really were and still are. Especially to wannabe musicians and the young. Many of the artists I have interviewed have passed on and others nearing retirement. It was important to me to tell their stories at a vulnerable period in their lives and be recognized as the greatest music legends the world will ever know.

What is one interview in this book that stands out as the most exciting one you had?

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull has always been a rock hero to me. He has written and performed complex music and always had an incredible stage presence. Going to a Tull concert back in the day was a huge event. I will admit the first time I interviewed Ian Anderson I was quite nervous. I remember when the phone rang for the interview, I thought, that’s Jethro Tull calling me! During the second interview I got him to chat about politics, religion, ancestry, and world events. I tried not to ask the same mundane music questions that have been asked of him many hundreds of times. He was intellectual and I was on my best game that day.

What do you think is one thing modern musicians have to learn from the icons of the rock and roll genre?

Bands must perform live. All the legends started performing at school dances, bars, clubs, and anywhere they could be seen by an audience big or small. If they are talented eventually someone will give them a break, but it will not be easy. Having a You Tube video with a lot of page views is a start, but it will never have the impact of playing in front of live audiences.

What do you find is a common misconception people have about music?

People that pay big money to watch an artist lip sync on stage and still call it a great show. Music lovers who go see a legendary rock band and there are no original members in the band. Ringo Starr would never bill himself as The Beatles, instead he created an All-Starr band. All generations need to do a little homework before purchasing expensive tickets to concerts nowadays. My book will certainly help identify who the real legends are.

Music is a universal language that we all share and cherish.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads | BBSRadio

The Rock Star Chronicles: Truths, Confessions and Wisdom from the music legends that set us free. by [Ray Shasho]WHERE HAVE ALL THE ROCK STARS GONE?

Rock and Roll, the Blues, and Jazz are America’s contribution to the arts, so why are we not fighting to preserve our own musical legacy and culture?

Rooted from the early blues pioneers, the longevity of rock and roll is second to none. But strangely enough those legendary rock heroes that we were so accustomed to hearing every time we turned on our radios had mysteriously vanished from the mainstream. The music of the 1960’s, 70’s and even the 80’s was an important juncture in all of our lives. So many of us timeline life’s precious moments with the music we remember, when the music was so great, when the music mattered. The baby-boomer generation is financially imperative yet many of its entertainment standards have been renounced.

One day, the plug was pulled on those legendary music artists. Hackers began stealing music across the internet. Online music stores popularized cheap digital singles and neglected to promote full-length albums. Radio stations changed formats to accommodate talk show radio jocks while rappers and electronic dance music menaced the airwaves. Notorious record companies began folding in droves. Record companies and radio stations that were once owned and operated by visionaries were now run by accountants and lawyers and the music world began promoting untalented wannabes. The economy plummeted, and radio stations became more concerned about how many consecutive commercials they could run instead of providing quality radio programming and entertainment value. Radio stations became corporate machines leaving no room for innovation. Throughout the 2000s, recording studios and live performances began using an audio processor called “Auto-Tune” to disguise off-key inaccuracies in vocal tracks. The device allowed virtually anyone without music skills to become a singer and new waves of mainstream radio stars were instantly fabricated. The business of music became stronger and more important than the art of music.

For more than a decade, I’ve been on a rock and roll pilgrimage to help promote and save the greatest music the world has ever known. Before the internet and Napster, virtuoso musicians traditionally introduced their music by way of mainstream radio stations while anxious music enthusiasts hurried to their favorite record stores and purchased a copy of the artist’s latest release. Talk radio wasn’t popular because there was way too much great music to play over the airwaves. Advertisers didn’t rule the airwaves, the music did. Rock legends toured the world to promote their latest albums and prices of concert tickets were extremely affordable. Proficient musicians, singers, and songwriters are what made the music so great.

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The Rock Star Chronicles

The Rock Star Chronicles: Truths, Confessions and Wisdom from the music legends that set us free. by [Ray Shasho]

The Rock Star Chronicles, by Ray Shasho, is a splendid book written by a music enthusiast who has poured their heart and soul into it. It’s a story of a boy who loved rock music, and his obsessive passion of it earned himself the name Rock Raymond. He went to school but instead was schooled in all matters of music while his peers were buried chin-deep in coursework. He then became a radio DJ and has now compiled a book on all interviews he held with Rock gods who raided the airwaves back in the 70s and 80s. It’s a compilation of interviews with outstanding vocalists, legendary guitarists and crazy drummers in the rock music scene. Each interview gives a reader an in-depth view into their personal lives and the philosophies that guide their lives which all serve to humanize these great icons. For readers who are old enough to call themselves baby boomers this book will bring old memories back to life. Millennials, on the other hand, may think of this book as a literal work of the Carpool Karaoke show.

The Rock Star Chronicles is a book I didn’t know I was waiting for. To come across a book that will talk me into trying something new. One brave enough to incite me to venture into new frontiers. This book made me a believer- I am now a bona fide Rock and Roll music fan.

Ray Shasho masterfully gets the interviewees talking. He smartly coaxes answers from them with crafty questions designed to get a story rolling out of them. The artists talk about diverse issues ranging from music, politics, and their social engagements. Having been on the music seen all his life, Ray Shasho knows the buttons to press, how to get them comfortable about talking about their lives.

The book’s cover is befitting of its subject matter with the leather look offering a royal background to the golden letter print. It speaks to how high a level rock music holds in the pecking order- arguably, modern music as we know it has originated from blues and rock music.  The second noteworthy thing is the use of high definition pictures to reference the musician being interviewed in every sub-chapter. This ensures that the book is for both original rock and roll lovers and aspiring new ones. Together is makes for a refreshing and consistently enjoyable read.

I recommend this book to rock music enthusiasts, aspiring musicians wondering what it takes and all readers curious to learn new things by going back in time.

Pages: 573 | ASIN: B082YCD7G6

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