Weekly Update

In case you missed it, here are this week’s blog posts:

  • Review: Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
  • Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d give different titles ratings to
  • Review: One More Thing by BJ Novak
  • Tag: Fall Bucket List Book Tag
  • Review: The Song Machine by John Seabrook

I’ve been reading:

Recently acquired:

  • nothing, thankfully

Blog hopping:

  • Mandy & Sha are doing a giveaway in honor of their THREE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!
  • Rebecca’s Top Five Tuesday post about favorite audiobooks included two that I’ve really loved, so obviously I have to listen to the others. (I actually checked out Sadie because of this post.)

1 thing this week:

  • It’s been a pretty uneventful week (again!) but I finally got my Tennessee drivers license, which means that I was finally able to get a local library card!!

Song of the week:

How was your week? What’s the best thing you read or listened to? Anything interesting happening in your life? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: The Song Machine by John Seabrook

The Song Machine by John Seabrook
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 5, 2015
Source: Borrowed

There’s a reason today’s ubiquitous pop hits are so hard to ignore—they’re designed that way. The Song Machine goes behind the scenes to offer an insider’s look at the global hit factories manufacturing the songs that have everyone hooked. Full of vivid, unexpected characters—alongside industry heavy-hitters like Katy Perry, Rihanna, Max Martin, and Ester Dean—this fascinating journey into the strange world of pop music reveals how a new approach to crafting smash hits is transforming marketing, technology, and even listeners’ brains. You’ll never think about music the same way again.

The Song Machine is one of those books that I’d seen at my library countless times but never got around to reading. But ever since I started listening to audiobooks while I work, I’ve had an extra, you know, 40ish hours each week for reading, so I added this one to the lineup. While I was listening to it, I thought it was moderately interesting. I didn’t hate it or anything. But after finishing it and thinking about it, I have some things to say.

The thing is, if you’re looking for information about the actual process of creating a hit song, this isn’t your book. This book is about producers and songwriters and that’s about it. The actual artists are glossed over, except when Seabrook has found an anecdote of someone being difficult that he’d like to share.

And, quite honestly, those “difficult” artists are actually pretty relatable for me. At least, I related to them a lot more than I related to the old men telling them what to do. I mean, if Kelly Clarkson really hated a song, why couldn’t they just have someone else sing it? After all, Seabrook devoted countless pages to talking about how songs that are meant for one artist frequently end up actually being recorded for another.

And don’t even get me started on Kesha. Seabrook has such disdain for Kesha while placing Dr. Luke on some kind of untouchable pedestal. He’s clearly chosen Dr. Luke’s side, painting Kesha as a terrible person who (although he doesn’t come directly out and say it, he strongly alludes to it) has falsely accused Dr. Luke of sexual assault for no real reason.

The chapter on Katy Perry was just gross. I’m not Katy Perry’s biggest fan (I haven’t really listened to her music since the “Teenage Dream” days) but I can recognize that there’s more to her than her body. It was insulting to read and made me feel so bad for her that she can’t escape men ogling her body even in this non-fiction book about how the music industry works.

The last thing I want to mention is the lack of structure in the book. Seabrook will talk about early pop music, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, etc, and then he’ll throw in some random anecdote about a modern pop star before jumping back to early pop again. He’ll mention Ester Dean in the middle of talking about someone else even though she gets her own chapter later in the book. It didn’t make a lot of sense and even just listening to it threw me off.

All in all, there is some interesting information here, but I can’t really recommend it.

Have you read The Song Machine? Can you recommend any good books about the music industry?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Tag: The Fall Bucket List Book Tag

Thank you to Shyla for tagging me to do the Fall Bucket List Book Tag! ❤

The Rules

  • Link back to the original creator in your post.
  • Feel free to use any of my graphics in your post, or create your own!
  • Tag 7 other people at the end of your post, and let them know you’ve tagged them.

I just finished My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper and I would say that qualifies as a lighthearted book!

I haven’t read it (and I don’t know if I will), but Ninth House has had an insane amount of hype!

Lumberjanes! The friendship between the girls is a really big focus of the story.

Mooncakes was super cute and really heartwarming.

I would definitely eat anything from Max and Jordan’s food truck in The Music of What Happens.

Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too was so cute and it made me so happy. 🙂

I’m not going to tag anybody in particular, but if you decide to do the tag, please link back to me so I can see your answers! Which books have warmed your heart recently? What are some good lighthearted books? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: One More Thing by BJ Novak

One More Thing by BJ Novak
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Source: Borrowed

From an actor, writer, and director of the hit TV comedy The Office (US version): a story collection that was “workshopped” at comedy clubs and bookstores on both coasts.

B.J. Novak’s One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is an endlessly entertaining, surprisingly sensitive, and startlingly original debut collection that signals the arrival of a welcome new voice in American fiction.

Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, Novak’s assured prose and expansive imagination introduce readers to people, places, and premises that are hilarious, insightful, provocative, and moving-often at the same time.

In One More Thing, a boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes – only to discover that claiming the winnings may unravel his family. A woman sets out to seduce motivational speaker Tony Robbins – turning for help to the famed motivator himself. A school principal unveils a bold plan to permanently abolish arithmetic. An acclaimed ambulance driver seeks the courage to follow his heart and throw it all away to be a singer-songwriter. Author John Grisham contemplates a monumental typo. A new arrival in heaven, overwhelmed by infinite options, procrastinates over his long-ago promise to visit his grandmother. We meet a vengeance-minded hare, obsessed with scoring a rematch against the tortoise who ruined his life; and post-college friends who debate how to stage an intervention in the era of Facebook. We learn why wearing a red t-shirt every day is the key to finding love; how February got its name; and why the stock market is sometimes just… down.

Finding inspiration in questions from the nature of perfection to the icing on carrot cake, from the deeply familiar to the intoxicatingly imaginative, One More Thing finds its heart in the most human of phenomena: love, fear, family, ambition, and the inner stirring for the one elusive element that might make a person complete. The stories in this collection are like nothing else, but they have one thing in common: they share the playful humor, deep heart, inquisitive mind, and altogether electrifying spirit of a writer with a fierce devotion to the entertainment of the reader.

If there’s one thing I’m skeptical of, it’s actors getting published. Sometimes it works out pretty well, but most of the time I’m just left disappointed. In the case of One More Thing, I don’t even know how to feel. Like I wasted my time? Kind of offended? Entirely unamused?

The thing is, I think BJ Novak is a good actor. I love The Office. I know he can write because he’s one of the writers on that show. And what he writes on that show is funny. What’s he’s written here is just trying too hard. It’s written like he thinks he’s smart and everyone else is dumb.

There are so many short stories in this collection that I feel like I can’t really go into any depth on any of them. They’ve all blended together in my mind to the point that only two stand out. One good, one bad.

The good? The one about the boy who wins the Frosted Flakes sweepstakes. I did not see that ending coming and thought that it was a really well-written story. The bad? The one about the teacher insisting that the N-word should be used more.

Once I figured out that each story sets a scene and ends in the way you’d least expect, it was much less interesting. The stories became very formulaic and it seemed like Novak was trying so hard to be edgy that he just came off as pretentious.

I think I’ll just stick with watching The Office and ignore whatever else he writes.

#ps19: a book recommended written by a celebrity you admire

Have you read One More Thing? What’s your opinion on actors getting published?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d give different ratings to

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is “books I’d give different titles to,” which honestly I think is a little bit mean? Personally, I’d never be able to give a book a catchy title (and I’m way too indecisive), so I give authors a lot of credit for coming up with book titles.

Instead, I’m going with books I’d give different ratings to. My tastes have changed a lot over the years, and there are plenty of books that I used to hate that I think I’d probably like more now, and plenty of books that I liked (or even loved) when I read them that I definitely would not enjoy anymore.

I did a post like this a few months ago, but here are ten more!

Subtle Bodies

original (2013) rating: ★★☆☆☆

For some reason, I used to be really hesitant to give books the one-star ratings they deserved. This book is definitely one of those. I hated this book. It was so bad. It was just a bunch of rich white men complaining about their lives.

The Biology of Luck

original (2014) rating: ★★☆☆☆

Another such book: The Biology of Luck. This book was awful, okay. Awful. In my review, I said, “I absolutely hated it, with a fiery burning passion, while I was reading it.” I also said that the ending was some nonsense. Definite one-star territory if I ever saw it.

Ruthless People

original (2014) rating: ★★★☆☆

To quote myself, “The writing is, in a word, awful.” Why did I give it three stars??

Red Rising

original (2014) rating: ★★★★★

Okay, so I don’t think I’d necessarily hate this book if I read it now, but I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t be five stars. First of all, I just don’t love dystopian novels anymore, and second of all, I’m much pickier about writing style than I used to be.

Addicted to You

original (2015) rating: ★★★☆☆

Looking back, I think I gave this book three stars because I didn’t really know what to make of it. It’s difficult to read because it deals with two really self-destructive characters who constantly make terrible decisions. I’ve come to really like these characters, understand their motivations, and root for them to better themselves. I’d definitely rate it higher now.

More Happy Than Not

original (2016) rating: ★★★☆☆

With More Happy Than Not, I think my rating had more to do with how much I wanted to like it than how much I actually liked it. I do not have fond memories of reading this book. I didn’t enjoy it much at all and my rating would definitely be lower now.

Listen To Your Heart

original (2018) rating: ★★☆☆☆

As someone who really loves cute, fluffy romances, this rating is definitely an anomaly for me. Kasie West writes super cute, super fluffy romances and I honestly think that one of the biggest reasons that I didn’t love this book is everything that was going on in my personal life when I was reading it.


original (2018) rating: ★★☆☆☆

Another book that I was possibly not fair to is Warcross. This is another one I read during that same very stressful time in my life, and looking back, I don’t think I liked much of anything that I read then.

Bring Me Their Hearts

original (2018) rating: ★★★☆☆

I was actually just talking about this one this morning! I have no idea why I gave it three stars because tHe iNTernAL vOicE annoyed the heck out of me when I read it.

The Mental Load

original (2019) rating: ★★★☆☆

I think that this rating was mostly because I thought I’d be getting something different than I actually got. If I went into this with a clearer head, I probably would have rated it higher.

Did you do your own Top Ten Tuesday post today? Feel free to leave your link in the comments and I’ll check it out! Are there any books you’d give different ratings to? Let’s talk in the comments!

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