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Deep In The Dark With The Art

Matteo Urella’s Deep In The Dark With The Art is a non-fiction, collaborative work filled with the voices of various creatives who have been inspired by 90s hip-hop group, the Wu-Tang Clan. This work is a celebration of urban music and culture, and the impact that this particular Staten Island-based group has had on generations of artists and hip-hop enthusiasts. With explanations behind iconic pieces of album art coupled with anecdotal stories, this text evokes a heady nostalgia for the rap scene as it was when the Wu-Tang Clan first broke into the mainstream.

Packed with dynamic illustrations and interesting trivia, Deep In The Dark With The Art will likely be a hit with hip-hop and art fans alike. From painstakingly hand-drawn images to digital pieces that were cutting edge at the time, this book explores the potent influence that Wu-Tang’s music had on those enlisted to create their album art. Even for those previously ambivalent towards or unaware of the group, the devotion pouring out of this book towards the Wu-Tang Clan is infectious.

I felt that, at times, the glimpses into the artistic process could be slightly more in-depth. I found this book to be most entertaining when read in individual sections, rather than in long sittings because, while unique and insightful, each segment is not necessarily connected to the one proceeding it. While the book is not written with a narrative structure, it is an enjoyable tabletop read because it is visually and linguistically striking.

Deep In The Dark With The Art makes one thing clear; the Wu-Tang mythos still carries an undeniable power and ability to inspire lifelong loyalty in its fans.

Pages: 238 | ISBN: 1735206903

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Who They Really Are Inside

Patrick R. F. Blakley Author Interview

Drummond follows a young boy who struggles with fitting in and joins the marching band where he starts learning who he is inside. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Well, I was very much inspired by the illustrations for my Drummy Drum Joins Marchy Band children’s book. Emily Hogan, my illustrator, did a fantastic job depicting Drummy as a drum among humans. I kept asking myself why is he a drum and everyone else is human? I quickly realized that his outward appearance was actually who he was on the inside! I had to expand on that idea, and the most logical place was for the next oldest readers, young adults. Although this is a work of fiction, Drummond is very much myself. In fact, most of what happens throughout the story are events that occurred when I first joined marching band. Some chapters are completely made-up storylines, but the feelings conveyed are genuine feelings we’ve all experienced in our young lives, musicians or not. Drummond, the title, gives the implication of drums, which is who he is on the inside. He just needs to find that out for himself!

Drummond goes through a lot of normal teenage troubles, but music becomes his safe haven. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Drummond’s character development is the same as what I went through as a young adult, which is what drove this story home. My hope is that most young readers find who they are in similar ways! I want people to understand that nobody knows who they really are inside until they truly seek that information out. Don’t let life happen to you by accident, young readers. Forge a path if at all possible. I know, I know, it’s so much more easily said than done. But sometimes you have to look deep, and often it takes until you’re in your forties before you find it. Drummond doesn’t know who he is, the name gave him a clue, but it was up to him to seek it out and find out who he was inside. Lucky for him, he found himself in the music at age 13, but please don’t stop until you also find something within yourself!

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

There are so many themes and literary devices that I utilize and lean on throughout the book. The primary theme is about trusting who you are inside, and that you don’t need to change who you are to fit in. It also goes deeper than that too since older readers can also relate to this theme when finding themselves in new situations throughout life. I love the idea that readers can see that Drummond is destined to play the drums, it’s in his name! Yet Drummond doesn’t see that for himself for half the book, and it takes the other half to actually believe it. This is exactly the same concept as my children’s book Drummy, except using words to portray Drummond as a drummer rather than images. In fact, it might be the case that his name isn’t even Drummond, that’s just the way the reader portrays who he is on the inside! Drummond has a gift of talent, but he still needed to fail in order to realize that gift. Had Drummond not failed he may not have been as successful. You need to find out who you are, and fail along the way, to truly succeed in life.

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

My book projects tend to pop up sporadically, but I’ve always wanted to write a book about toasters! I could get into a whole song and dance about my obsession with toasters and how it was all bestowed upon me. Instead, I’ll just note that I’m a member of the Toaster Collectors Association and have a huge collection of antique toasters, parts, and accessories. If I were to ever write a book about toasters, it would have to be something like a book of recipes from simple to advanced and would all revolve around the toaster as the only appliance needed. I’m imagining delectable simple dishes like lightly toasted bread, perfect toast with butter, and burnt toast. Then all the way to advanced dishes like London broil using only a toaster, is that even possible? We may just have to find out. Stay tuned!

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Drummond, a thirteen-year-old C student in middle school, is steered into joining the high school’s marching band. He’s far from ready, and his friends help him make several attempts to learn new instruments to try and fit in better. With a little unexpected guidance from the drummers and their instructor, he realizes how well he already fits in. He discovers who he is inside. Home life deteriorates behind him and pushes him forward into the arms of his new family, the marching band.

Euphoric Wonderland

Music is an incredible force, with the power to unite people of all backgrounds over universal themes and make every kind of situation seem valid and surmountable. It also can inspire, as it does here for Ryan Becker in his poetry collection Euphoric Wonderland. Sprinkled with great references to many bands and a plethora of iconic songs, Becker creates a roadmap through his imagination, using the music he loves as the most important landmarks.  

The book’s prologue is an open letter to the music and the artists that sparked the journey for Becker, giving a brief idea of what clicked for him as he listened. It focuses heavily on The Beatles, who have been well-known inspirations to countless writers, artists, and other musicians since their time. These open letters, which contain their own distinct rhythm and read as times like confessions, continue to pop up periodically throughout the book, simultaneously praising and paying homage to the music Becker has discovered. 

The poetry itself is expressive and captivating. I feel that the rhyming pattern was distracting, and I would’ve liked the poems to be more free-flowing. One of the appeals for writers and readers alike is the freedom to construct a thought outside the traditional writing restrictions, especially when it comes to poetry. Becker does a fantastic job conveying emotions in his poems, making them a powerful read. One key thing the author does well is references the music that has presumably inspired his writing. There is a great deal of music history hidden here, called out either in names, song titles, and personal stories of the artists. He is masterful in discreetly incorporating things that may not be obvious in his writing. This is a nice treat because there is something new to find in Becker’s poetry, especially when read more than once.

I immensely enjoyed finding all the musical references throughout though I am sure I may have missed some. Poetry is hugely subjective and personal when it comes to the level of enjoyment, for any music lover these entertaining poems will inspire you.  

Euphoric Wonderland is a humorous and engaging collection of poetry. The musical reference will bring on feelings of nostalgia for older generations, and serve as a rich and diverse introduction to younger generations that may not be as familiar with the music that inspired the works here.

Pages: 96 | ASIN : B09WHG11FP

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Caravan of Pain

“A successful failure, and the honor of a lifetime.” The single line sums up the author Scott Alderman’s thoughts perfectly regarding his tour project for 2000, ‘Tattoo the Earth.’ In Caravan of Pain, Scott Alderman shares the many escapades that followed the catalyzing of his dream, ‘Tattoo the Earth’ tour, the first concert tour to combine tattoo and metal music worlds. As an initiative taken when tattooing was still underground and illegal in many parts of the U.S., this, however, wasn’t the only setback in the 2000 tour. The upfront memoir acquaints the reader with the behind-the-scenes resilience and determination involved in operating the unprecedented multi-day festival and tour.

A ten-chapter narrative, the book follows up Tattoo the Earth tour from its conception to completion, along with the many in-betweens of the challenges encountered along the way. From the unbosoming the seed of the concept to handling its various aspects, including the selection of bands and tattoo artists, and not to mention setting aside their skepticism and emotional weariness about being a part of something that’s practically a virgin idea, these chapters open the lid on stress, depression and the effects on those involved.

Caravan of Pain presents blatantly the stark image of musical bands and tattooing industries, and the genuine reaction from the audience in the late 1900s. It covers many prominent musical bands like Slipknot, Coal Chamber, Seven Dusts, and Slayer, along with the twenty metal brands of the time, and the eminent tattoo artists, all of which help to convey the pop culture of the time in a way that could not have been conveyed any more energetically. The images from the book, including those of the band artists as well as the tattooists, convey the colors and culture of the time while stirring readers’ interest in the various artists even more by letting them connect to them.

While depicting every aspect of his novel tour, the author has worn his heart on his sleeves. He has been open and sincere in his judgments on his associates, his corporate jobs, and even his questioning of the righteousness of his own conduct while putting the dream tour together. While bringing the reader closer to the reality behind the cool and hunky tattooists and band artists, as well as their lively and carefree lifestyle, the reader is also shown their true struggle to navigate life’s internal politics.

Caravan of Pain is a genuine story of perseverance, courage, resilience, and the harsh realities of the entertainment industry’s ruthless dealings. I recommend it for its candid narrative accompanied by witty comedy that covers a good deal of the history of music and tattooing. It’s a must-read for fans of 1990s pop culture and metal music.

Pages: 182 | ASIN: B09P5RJ9L5

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A Sense Of Creativity

Author Interview
Ken Jackson Author Interview

Guitar provides clear instruction and advice so readers can learn how to play the guitar and have fun doing it. Why was this an important book for you to write?

Yes, it was. What inspired me was the harmonics of the half-way points of the string tensions.

What is a common hurdle new guitar players face and how can they overcome it?

Trying to practice songs from books. But if you get the songs down and listen to yourself sound like someone else, it makes you think (big deal). Now, that’s getting ahead of yourself.

What is one piece of advice you would give to any aspiring guitarist?

Keep your guitar tuned. It really makes a difference.

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

A sense of creativity.

Author Links: Workbookpress | |

This monograph is for all you guitar players and for people who would like to play guitar. If you would just like to play guitar, it would be best for you to pay a professional teacher. This manual is intended to help you study guitar and learn about scales, chords, and the structure of songs. Diagrams are included to help you along. This work is just a basic pedagogy. It provides variety so you can really enjoy swinging guitar with enthusiasm.

The Role of Music in Storytelling

Matthew Hodge
Matthew Hodge Author Interview

Gotham City Sounds: The Music of Batman Villains is a case study on the psychological and emotional impact of the music used in the Batman franchise. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I’ve always been fascinated with the role of music in storytelling. Whether it’s on a stage or a screen, music can absolutely affect an audience on a primal level. A great score can inform how you connect with a specific character or story. I also think pop culture entertainment is a great window into deeper conversations about important things. It’s why I’m a professor who consistently use pop culture references and examples in my college courses I teach. And if I want to navigate readers through the psychology of music for tormented characters, I figured analyzing Batman villain scores would be a fascinating way to go about it!

What villain’s theme music is your favorite and why?

I personally have a deep love for Danny Elfman’s Batman Returns score. The way he aurally connects the three main characters (Batman, Catwoman, Penguin) with complementary yet individualized music themes is masterful and emotionally powerful. In my opinion, that score is perfection.

What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer in this book?

I wanted to make sure my second full-length book met the bar I had set for myself with my first full-length book Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse: A History of Jazz and Disney. I was so honored and humbled by the reception Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse received (including it earning half a dozen national award recognitions). Just like my Disney Jazz book, I wanted my Batman villain book to educate readers about our history of entertainment in a captivating way.

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

I have several upcoming chapters in scholarly books being published in the next year. I’m also excited to be launching a new pop culture hub called POP PROFESSOR, which will be a website where I’ll offer blogs and videos covering bite-size presentations of fascinating pop culture things (similarly to my books). That can be found at, and my professional website is I’m also still a full-time university professor, and enjoy spending my days in classrooms with students.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads | Website

Why So Musical?
Move aside, Batman. It’s time for Gotham City’s infamous villains to take center stage! Whether through film, television, or video games, members of the Dark Knight’s notorious rogues gallery consistently come to life on screen with the help of creative scores constructed by masterful composers — the true unsung superheroes of Hollywood.
Award-winning composer, professor, and author Matthew Hodge shines a fascinating spotlight on the psychological and emotional musical representations constructed by composers for numerous portrayals of Batman’s iconic villains. These pages discuss dozens of Gotham City characters, including well-known villains and lesser-known troublemakers. From flamboyant tricksters and monstrous brutes to seductive femme fatales and complicated antiheroes, the musical possibilities are endless.
Gotham citizens, beware! Evil doesn’t just have a name and a face — it has a sound.


Guitar is the perfect book for you if you are looking to learn about the guitar. By reading this book you not only learn how to play the guitar but you also get to know the different parts of the musical instrument. Ken Jackson also shows readers how to hold the guitar, clean it, along with safekeeping instructions. Learning about the guitar is an interesting and fascinating experience. Like the author puts it, ‘there is more to just playing the guitar’. Clicking on the strings, knowing which fingers to use and which notes to hit best.

The best way to learn any instruments is by looking at the illustrations that accompany the text. There are plenty of images and illustrations that guide you as a reader when you are reading Guitar, and I liked how clear the images were. The reading experience is pleasant because one can easily understand which part of the guitar the author is talking about.

A few pages in one can already feel the love the author has for the guitar. Ken Jackson is passionate when he writes, and this translates to the amazing work he shares with everyone. The author reminds every guitar player, whether a rookie or expert, that there is nothing as soothing as having your instrument and playing any song you want. Owning a guitar is a wonderful thing. By knowing how to play the guitar, you can make a hobby out of it, play it for entertainment or even make some extra cash out of your skill. Ken Jackson’s book will help you realize that learning to play the guitar is not as complicated as some people may assume. All it takes is patience, concentration and passion.

I learned plenty of musical terminologies from the book. Learning the musical jargon and learning new phrases felt powerful. Ken Jackson did an incredible job introducing those that are not familiar with the terminologies. What I also enjoyed was how the author explained and defined the music terms in simple but comprehensive ways. This book is easy to comprehend as the author does not use complex expressions or images. I loved the surprise songs in the book. The author included tens of songs, and showed the reader how to play each of them. Singing the songs and practicing with the notes shared looks like a fun activity both for expert players and newbies.

Guitar by Ken Jackson has great vibes and cheers one up. This book is an exceptional starting point for anyone wanting to learn guitar as it is filled with practical advice and easy to understand instructions that will help level up your guitar skills.

Pages: 414 : ASIN : B08KWPFR5H

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Gotham City Sounds

Award-winning composer author Matthew Hodge has created an alluring musical representation of Batman’s Villains. Dozens of familiar villains take center stage in each chapter, along with detailed character facts. The facts and content of Gotham City Sounds: The Music of Batman Villains are fun and intriguing. In addition, readers will find the history of the music and character development mentally stimulating.

Movies, video games, and TV shows use music to build drama and anticipation. These sounds stick with people long after the piece has ended. It allows foreshadowing without saying a word. Hodge dives into the psychological and emotional impact of the music given to villains in the Batman franchise. Readers will appreciate that he goes into detail, not just about the blockbuster movie, but the video games and television shows as well. This fascinating book looks into how music impacts the experience one has watching or playing the games.

Given the depth of the content, Hodge seems to know how to keep it lighthearted and easy to understand through his writing style. He sets the pace to allow the reader to focus and take in the content, giving each character its own chance to shine. Even minor villains are given a stage to shine as their music is just as relevant as the supervillains at creating an atmosphere of foreboding and anticipation. In addition, readers will appreciate how the chapters are divided up, allowing them to focus on one character at a time. This allows this stimulating book to be picked up when readers want just a quick read.

Gotham City Sounds: The Music of Batman Villains is a fantastic read for DC fanatics or film buffs. This would also appeal to music fans who want to look into pop culture music and its use in media. Finally, it would be a great and valuable source for university/college-level film study.

Pages: 258 | ISBN : 1683903218

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