Swing Time Book Cover

Title: Swing Time
Author: Zadie Smith
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: 2016
Summary: Two brown girls dream of being dancers, but only Tracey has talent. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten. Tracey struggles with adult life, but makes it to the chorus line. Her friend experiences how the one percent live as an assistant to superstar, Aimee.

So Many Words, So Little Story

Swing Time felt like the story that would never end while also being the story I was waiting to actually begin. Within the story of the narrator’s life as friend, daughter, girlfriend, and assistant, there are also lessons in the history of dance, insight into the privilege of being white, rich, and famous, and the universality of the black experience. Although that sounds like a lot to put into one book, while I was reading the book, it didn’t feel like enough time was spent flushing out all these aspects of the story within the overall story arc of the main character. The story switches between the past with the main character’s childhood and the present as she navigates adulthood sprinkled throughout is the celebration of dance. I usually enjoy a story that uses unconventional storytelling like Swing Time does, but it didn’t work for me this time. I just wanted more.

The Name Game

One part of the book I found interesting is the fact that we never learn the main character’s name. She never mentions her own name, and no other person calls her by her name throughout the story. While reading, I wondered if not knowing her name was supposed to make me relate more to the character and feel like everyone could be talking to me. I can say with certainty that I never felt like I was inside the narrator’s shows because I rarely felt sympathy toward the narrator. She often came off as whiny, selfish, and lacking purpose in most things. The other meaning I took from her name not being mentioned was because her sole purpose was to be in service to those in her life, and she is never able to find her own purpose outside of that. As a child, she lived for Tracey. In college, it was her hotep boyfriend. For most of her 20s and early 30s, it was all about Aimee. It is really not until her world starts falling apart that the main character actually starts to look more inward.

Overall Opinion

This was probably not the best book to read as an introduction to Zadie Smith. I have heard nothing but great things about Zadie Smith, so I was primed for a really good read with Swing Time because the book world told me how amazing Zadie Smith’s books are, and I believed them. Although I will not deny Zadie Smith’s writing skills and the story was not the worst thing I’ve ever read, I have to admit this book was kind of a let down for me. However, I am eager to experience another Zadie Smith story and hope for a better experience in my next read.

The Final Grade

Laborious Literature: There were times when I couldn’t get enough of the Swing Time story. Other times, I was struggling to get through chapters. The book was mostly highs, but the lows were sometimes hard to navigate.

Your Turn

So…have you read Swing Time? Are you a fan of Zadie Smith? What are you currently reading? Let us know in the comments! |RL

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Theater Seating
Image: Lloyd Dirks

August is proving to be the perfect season to drop plenty of adaptations for any and all bibliophile’s appetite. In August 2017, The Glass Castle brought a best-selling memoir to life. August 2018 had the adaptations our book-loving hearts desired in Crazy Rich Asians and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. These August 2019 adaptations coming to theaters soon are no exceptions. 

Piranhas – August 2

August 2019 Adaptations - Piranhas Movie Poster

Synopsis: Nicola lives with his mother and younger brother in the Sanità neighborhood of Naples that is controlled by the Camorra mafia. With the dream of a lush life full of designer clothes and nightclub bottle service, Nicola and his friends begin selling drugs and enter in to the power-hungry world of crime that threatens their innocence, relationships, and safety. Piranhas is adapted from The Piranhas: The Boy Bosses of Naples by Roberto Saviano.

The Art of Racing in the Rain – August 9

August 2019 Adaptations - The Art of Racing in the Rain Movie Poster

Synopsis: The witty and philosophical dog Enzo narrates how he bonds with aspiring Formula One race car driver, Denny Swift, and learns that the techniques needed to win on the racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate the journey of life. Enzo narrates his insight into the human condition as Denny falls in love with Eve and expands their family with daughter Zoe. The Art of Racing in the Rain is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Garth Stein.

The Kitchen – August 9

August 2019 Adaptations - The Kitchen Movie Poster

Three Hell’s Kitchen housewives are left with little buy an axe to grind after their mobster husbands are sent to prison. The women take the Irish mafia’s matters into their own hands and unexpectedly prove to be adept at everything from running rackets to literally taking out the competition. The Kitchen was adapted from the Vertigo comic book series of the same name by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle. 

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – August 9

August 2019 Adaptations - Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Movie Poster

Synopsis: The shadow of the Bellows family has loomed for generations over the small town of Mill Valley. In the Bellows mansion on the edge of town, Sarah Bellows is a young girl with horrible secrets. She turned her tortured life into a series of scary stories that become way too real for a group of teenagers who discover Sarah’s terrifying home. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is adapted from selected stories Alvin Schwartz’s book series of the same name.

Where’d You Go Bernadette – August 16

August 2019 Adaptations - Where'd You Go Bernadette Movie Poster

Synopsis: Bernadette Fox lives in Seattle with her loving husband and brilliant daughter. When she unexpectedly disappears, her family sets off to solve the mystery of where she might have gone. Where’d You Go Bernadette is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Maria Semple. 

Official Secrets – August 30

Synopsis: Charged with breaking Britain’s Official Secrets Act by leaking a classified email to the press, Katherine Gun faces imprisonment. Katherine reaches out to one of the country’s top lawyers, Ben Emmerson, to defend her actions to help stop an unjust war. Official Secrets is adapted from The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War: Katherine Gun and the Secret Plot to Sanction the Iraq Invasion by Marcia Mitchell and Thomas Mitchell. 

Your Turn

So…which of the August 2019 adaptations are you excited to see? Have you read the books that inspired them? Let us know in the comments! |RL

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Quotation Bubbles
Image: Mary Pahlke

Emily Brontë is one of several amazing writers born in July and is best known for her only published novel Wuthering Heights. When first published in 1847, the novel appeared in three volumes under the pen name Ellis Bell. In fact, Brontë’s name did not appear until 1850. Although most know her as the author of Wuthering Heights and Charlotte Brontë’s younger sister, Emily Brontë began her writing career as a poet and published many poems before her young death at age 30. In honor of her birthday on July 30th, we are sharing a menagerie of Ms. Brontë’s wise and witty words.

Quotes from Wuthering Heights

 Emily Bronte Honest People Wuthering Heights Quote

I am now quite cured of seeking pleasure in society, be it country or town. A sensible man ought to find sufficient company in himself.

Emily Bronte Wuthering Heights Books Quote

Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends; they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.

Emily Bronte Proud People Wuthering Heights Quote
"Take my #books away, and I should be desperate!" – Emily Brontë Click To Tweet

Stanzas from Emily Brontë Poems

But long or short though life may be
‘Tis nothing to eternity
We part below to meet on high
Where blissful ages never dies

– Lines –

Emily Bronte No Coward Soul is Mine

Your Turn

So…what is your favorite Emily Brontë quote? Have you read Wuthering Heights? Let us know in the comments! |RL

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Julie and Julia Book Cover

Title: Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously
Author: Julie Powell
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 2005
Summary: Nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, Julie Powell decides to reclaim her life through cooking all the recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the span of a year.

5 Things I Hate (and Love) About Julie & Julia

It would be quite difficult for me to write a standard review about Julie and Julia because  I have almost nothing to say about either the book or the movie. I will say Julie’s story wasn’t the worst memoir I’ve read. That distinction is still held by the ever annoying Elizabeth Gilbert and her journey to rediscover herself. Don’t get me wrong, Julie Powell is definitely annoying, but I still sometimes found her story to be endearing. Now let’s talk about the aspects of the book and the movie that brought me joy and whatever the opposite of joy is. Spoiler alert: Not many things brought me joy in this story, and some of the story will be spoiled.

1. There is NO WAY I would ever want to eat anything prepared by Julie Powell in her Queens apartment. Every time she shared the squalor of her domicile, I wanted to retch. The smell of stale kitty litter permeated the apartment. YUCK! Explosions of black goo from the pipes. YUCK! The stench of body funk from going days without running water. YUCK! I would have preferred to read more about French cuisine and less about Julie and Eric’s dirty cat litter filled home.

2. I was really disappointed with how unsupportive Julie’s mom was with her blogging adventure. I get that it was probably hard for Julie’s mother to understand what a blog is in 2001, but damn, can’t you support your kid’s creative endeavor?! Can’t you encourage your daughter to finish a project, even though she’s “never finished anything before in her life!” However, I was glad the other people in Julie’s life were very encouraging, especially her husband, which brings me to…

3. Why oh why did we have to have that unnecessary dramatic fight between Julie and Eric in the movie? I hate the movie using the jealous husband trope to cause drama because apparently all movie relationships need drama. It makes me even more upset because there were no such scenarios in the book. Julie’s husband was nothing but supportive and the perfect sous chef for Julie’s culinary adventures. If there were no crazy blowups in the book, then having it happen in the movie seems disingenuous because the Julie in the book was WAAAAAAAAY more annoying than the Julie in the movie.

4. Another disappointment from the book was the lack of Julia Child. Yes, there was mention of Julia, and there were the letters from Paul sprinkled throughout the story, but that wasn’t enough for me. First of all, I could have done without those letters because they really served no purpose. Secondly, if you were going to insert Paul’s letters, then there should have been more letters. If the book is called Julie and Julia, then give me more Julia.

5. Turning this Hater’s Ball around, I will say I’m happy with the movie’s take on Julie and Julia, and I have to admit that I actually preferred the movie to the book. I KNOW! You heard it here first, people! Mark this day on your calendar. It may never happen again! The main reason I prefer the movie over the book in this case is simply the inclusion of Julia Child and how she came to be. I also loved the parallel of Julie and Julia both working to find themselves and their own happiness through the love of food and cooking. Basically, the movie IS Julie and Julia. The book is the Julie/Julia Project. I enjoyed the former more than the latter.

Overall Opinion

The book was a constant up and down for me, but I mostly enjoyed it in the end. If you want to read a foodie version of a Carrie Bradshaw column, then Julie and Julia is a must read for you. If you want to learn more about Julia Child, then this book is definitely not for you. You will learn more about her during the movie. This may be the first time where I actually prefer the movie over the book because the movie told the story of both women as they came into their own.

The Final Grade

Laborious Literature: I wouldn’t say I hated Julie and Julia, but I definitely didn’t love it. I found it enjoyable for the most part, but there were some times when I just found the story infuriating, mostly due to how annoying Julie was acting at the moment.

Kettle Korn: I would put the movie on more of the sweet side because most of the story from the book was adapted well. The salty is due to jealous husband Eric blowing a gasket at Julie. It was out of place and unnecessary. I am not a fan of inserting drama into a story just for the sake of drama.

Your Turn

So…are you a fan of French cuisine? Have you mastered the art of French cooking? Have you read or seen Julie and Julia? Let us know in the comments! |RL

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Today’s bookish guest post comes from Invaluable, the world’s leading online marketplace for fine art, collectibles, and antiques, and brings lovers of books and travel together with the most popular literary settings around the globe. If you think the world of art does not belong amongst the world of books, then you must not be a true bibliophile because books are literal art!

Around the World in Literary Settings

Summer means a new list of books to read, and it is also an opportunity for many to travel. For those who are both avid readers and travel-obsessed, there are a plethora of worldwide destinations that hold significant value for bibliophiles with wanderlust. Invaluable has the perfect starting point to determine your next great bookish adventure with our eye-catching map showcasing some of the most popular global locations in literature. These literary settings are places that set the stage for books to unfold and offer a vivid landscape that defines both the plot and the characters, from the beautiful English countryside in Pride and Prejudice to the bustling streets of New York City where classics like The Great Gatsby and Invisible Man come to life. Use the infographic below that highlights some popular literary settings as inspiration to plan your next book-themed vacation, and let us know which fantastical (or actual) literary settings you want to visit next in the comments.

Invaluable Popular Literary Settings


Image: Michael Gaida

July is full of celebrations! Canada starts the month with Canada Day on July 1 to celebrate their independence from England. The United States joins the party with festivities marking the country’s independence from British rule on July 4th. France also can’t help but join with Bastille Day on July 14th, which commemorates a significant turning point in the French Revolution during the Storming of the Bastille. Here in our wide world of books, July means celebrating the authors born this month, and bringing some 2019 bookish news that bibliophiles everywhere want to know.

10 of the Best-Selling Books in History

Determining the best-selling books of all time is a difficult task without a straightforward answer. With the understanding that it is difficult to define what counts as a book and excluding religious texts like the Bible and the Qur’an, the contenders for history’s best-selling books include The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expuréry, and Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. Continue reading about the best-selling books in history at Mental Floss.

Cressida Cowell is New Children’s Laureate

Cressida Cowell, author of How to Train Your Dragon, was recently named the 2019 Children’s Laureate. The role of Children’s Laureate is to encourage children to become more engaged in books, reading, and writing. Cowell believes “books and reading are magic and this magic must be available to absolutely everyone.” As a laureate, Cowell will “fight for books and children’s interests with passion, conviction, and action” with her bookish news worthy 10-Point Plan that will ‘take on TV’ and includes being read aloud to and being creative for at least 15 minutes each week. Continue reading the full announcement at BBC News.

Ellen DeGeneres to Produce Uprooted Adaptation

Warner Bros. has won the bidding war for the movie rights for Hugo Award-nominated fantasy novel Uprooted by Naomi Novak, who is also the author of the popular Temeraire series. Ellen DeGeneres and Jeff Kleeman of A Very Good Production will produce the adaptation. Continue reading the full report at The Hollywood Reporter.

Ellen DeGeneres to produce adaptation of fantasy novel Uprooted! #bookish #news Click To Tweet

Maverick TV Will Turn The Heritage into Docuseries

The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism by Howard Bryant is currently being adapted into a multi-part docuseries by Maverick TV with Sachs Jenkins and Jenkins’ production company Mass Appeal. Jenkins will also direct an episode and subsequent episodes will be directed by a different black director in order to provide a unique and personal perspective to the story. Continue reading the full announcement at Deadline.

Trump’s Tariffs Could Cause Bible Shortage in US

The Trump Administration’s most recent proposed tariffs on Chinese imports could result in a Bible shortage, according to publishers. The proposed 25% tariff would affect all books, but Bibles and children’s books would be disproportionately affected due to their specialized printing requirements. Critics say the tariff would make the Bible more expensive for consumers and would hurt Christian organizations that give away Bibles as part of their evangelism efforts. Continue reading the full report at USA Today.

#Trump tariffs could cause #Bible shortage in US! #bookish #news Click To Tweet

Debut Novel from P. Djèlí Clark is Coming

Hugo Award finalist and Alex, Nebula, and Locus Award winner P. Djèlí Clark will return to the historical fantasy universe from the novelette A Dead Djinn in Cairo in a full-length novel. Clark’s additional projects include the historical fantasy novella, Ring Shout, set in the violent summer of 1919 and currently untitled fantasy novella. Continue reading about Clark’s upcoming projects at Tor.

Where the Crawdads Sing is Top Book So Far in 2019

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is the top-selling print book in the first half of 2019, according to reports from NPD BookScan. Published in August 2018, the novel has sold more than 1.1 million copies since its release with over 907,000 sold in 2019. Continue reading about all the top selling books so far in 2019 at Publishers Weekly.

Where the Crawdads Sing is top #book so far in 2019! #bookish #news Click To Tweet

Your Turn

So…which July 2019 bookish news rundown piqued your interest? Let us know in the comments! |RL

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Image: Pixabay

Can you believe we are officially halfway through the year? That means it is the perfect opportunity to revisit the books we have read so far with the Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag, a bookish tag created by BookTubers Ely and Chami. Since we are currently behind in the 2019 Goodreads Challenge, it is obviously time for us to seriously freak out about all of the books!!!!!

Best Book You’ve Read So Far

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang Book Cover

I wasn’t expecting to love The Kiss Quotient as much as I did, but it is without a doubt the best book I’ve read so far in 2019. If you love books and romantic comedies, then you have to get your hands on The Kiss Quotient as soon as possible. You will not regret reading this book!

Biggest Disappointment

Swing Time by Zadie Smith Book Cover

Swing Time is my first Zadie Smith read, and it left me unsatisfied and feeling like this was probably not the right book to start my Zadie Smith journey. The writing is absolutely lovely, but the story was definitely lacking for me.

Favorite Book to Film Adaptation

Julie and Julia Movie Cover

If Beale Street Could Talk Movie Cover

There have been quite a number of adaptations released this year, but so far, I have only seen If Beale Street Could Talk. Although the movie was a beauty to behold, and the story was powerful, I haven’t read the book yet, so I can’t say how well the book translated to screen. For an adaptation where I have read the book, I would choose Julie and Julia. I found the adaptation delightful, even though there were some flaws that took away from Julie’s story.

Book That Made You Cry

Becoming by Michelle Obama Book Cover

Although Becoming made me shed a thug tear or two, Becoming is the opposite of sadness. Sometimes the story brings sadness through Mrs. Obama dealing with the deaths of people she loved most, but I still feel this memoir is a story of triumph. Most times, my tears were from the pride of seeing Mrs. Obama build something great while navigating the many obstacles life threw her way.

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Received So Far

The Enlightenment of Bees by Rachel Linden Book Cover

After rounding up a list of books about bees, I received an ARC for The Enlightenment of Bees. Isn’t that cover totally gorgeous?! If you’re a bookworm who judges a book by its cover, then you have to assume the story inside a book with a cover this beautiful is going to be quite good, right?

Books You Need to Read by the End of the Year

The Children of Men by PD James Book Cover

Kindred by Octavia Butler Book Cover

Even though I’m behind on my Goodreads Challenge, I am still knocking my 2019 Reading Resolutions out of the park! I STILL haven’t read a book written by a white man!! In fact, all the books I’ve read so far have been written by women, and I am more than happy to continue the trend. However, I still need to read something in Science-Fiction/Fantasy. My two current choices are The Children of Men for an adapted read and Kindred because I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about Queen of Science Fiction, Octavia Butler.

Favorite Review You’ve Written This Year

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan Book Cover

What makes Crazy Rich Asians my favorite review on the blog so far in 2019 is that I absolutely loved both the entire Crazy Rich Asians trilogy and the Crazy Rich Asians adaptation, despite the movie taking a LOT of literary license. Crazy Rich Asians and the subsequent sequels are more bookish romantic comedies that I highly recommend! AND I can’t wait to see what the movies do with the rest of the books in the series!

Newest Favorite Character

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie Book Cover

When Hercule Poirot refused to help soon-to-be murder victim, Cassetti, in Murder on the Orient Express because of his face, he became an instant fave. I love his mix of humor, intuition, and directness. This is also why I really loved Stella from The Kiss Quotient, who is a close second favorite character because she share similar qualities.

Your Turn

So…what books are you freaking out about right now? What is the best book you’ve read this year? What book disappointed you the most? Have you read Kindred or Children of Men? Let us know in the comments! |RL

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The Kiss Quotient Book Cover

Title: The Kiss Quotient
Author: Helen Hoang
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: 2018
Summary: Stella Lane loves her job where she comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases, but that passion leaves her with almost zero experience in the dating department and having Asperger’s doesn’t help. She needs a lot of practice and only the help of a professional will do, which leads her to hire escort Michael Phan.

A Literary Rom Com

I have totally been fangirling over The Kiss Quotient because this allowed me to read an amazing romantic comedy. There was a little “hooker with a heart of gold” in Michael mixed in with “driven career woman with no time for dating” in Stella. Together they are the perfect stars for this story of finding true love in all the unexpected places. If you love and have watched as many rom coms as I have, then you will definitely get elements of certain movies while you’re reading Kiss Quotient. Pretty Woman and The Wedding Date are kind of obvious story elements, but I was also reminded of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days when our lovebirds have the huge fight that threatens to tear them apart forever.

Of course, I could go on and on about the rom coms starring the career woman who doesn’t need a man, but this is supposed to be a mini review, right?! I don’t read many romance novels, so I don’t know if these rom com tropes are regular character traits or not in romances. Can I also mention I absolutely LOVED that Stella not only worked, but excelled in at a STEM career. I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I am tired of seeing the starring women in romances work “in publishing.” I also appreciated reading a book where a woman has Asperger’s because when I usually see a person with Asperger’s being portrayed in media that person is a man. I am certain men and boys are not the only people who live with Asperger’s.

Overall Opinion

I loved The Kiss Quotient so much that it was difficult for me to even put that enjoyment into coherent words. The story is completely adorkable with quite the sex appeal and is the perfect inspiration for my next new favorite romantic comedy.

The Final Grade

Carpe Librum: The Kiss Quotient is the perfect beach read, and it is so engaging that you may be able to finish it in one sitting. I read this book every chance I got, and when I was finished, I still wanted more.

Your Turn

So…are you a fellow rom com fan? Have you read a good romance lately? Let us know in the comments! |RL

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Man and girl reading
Image: Lonely Planet

Father’s Day is the perfect opportunity to read more father daughter books. We are putting a bookish spin on this underrated holiday by sharing some books about strong father daughter relationships that should already be on your TBR List. Surprisingly, we have read most of the books on the list and absolutely LOVED the relationships between the father and daughter in these books.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief Book Cover

During 1930’s Nazi Germany, Liesel begins her love affair with books and words after finding The Gravedigger’s Handbook while burying her brother. With the help of her foster father, Liesel learns to read and begins stealing books wherever she finds books, including Nazi book burnings and the library of the mayor’s wife.

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai refused to remain silent and fought for her right to an education, even after surviving a nearly fatal attack. I Am Malala makes this list because of a father who encourages his daughter to attend school and loves her fiercely in a culture that values sons.When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai refused to remain silent and fought for her right to an education, even after surviving a nearly fatal attack. I Am Malala makes this list because of a father who encourages his daughter to attend school and loves her fiercely in a culture that values sons.

The Book Thief and #THUG are must-read books about strong #father #daughter relationships! Click To Tweet

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil by a police officer. Soon, his death becomes a national headline and people take to the streets to protest another death of an unarmed citizen. Everyone wants to know what really happened that night, and Starr is the only person with the answers, but what she says (or doesn’t say) could upend her community and endanger her life and the lives of her loved ones.

Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen

Here and Now and Then Book Cover

Kin Stewart will go to any place in the world and any place in time to save his daughter. Torn between his current life as a family man working in I.T. and his previous career as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142, Kin Stewart will do whatever it takes, even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel, to save his daughter Miranda.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
On a wild and stormy night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house to recruit Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and Meg’s classmate Calvin O’Keefe to complete a dangerous and extraordinary quest in order to save the universe.

Your Turn

So…Do you enjoy reading books about fathers and daughters? What are your favorite father daughter books? Let us know in the comments! |RL

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Black Woman Music Notes
Image: Gordon Johnson

Hey Reel Lites! It’s time for another entry in the Wizard Diaries where I give you dear readers a little more insight into me and my quirky ways. Today’s entry is once again inspired by the retired weekly meme Life of a Blogger. The topic of choice is concerts I’ve had the pleasure of attending. Despite this extensive list, I don’t consider myself a concert person, but I do enjoy seeing live performances of my favorite entertainers because If I can’t dance and/or sing along to the songs, then I don’t want to be there.

The Inaugural Concert

The first concert I can remember was seeing Destiny’s Child for the first (and only time) in my life. I really wish I had a camera because that show had the ORIGINAL MEMBERS! Yes, I’m talking Beyonce, Kelly, LeToya and LaTavia. The first time I saw them should have been when they came to the Jacksonville Mall with Jon B, but my mom wouldn’t let me go. BOO! So, I had to “settle” with seeing them at NCCU’s Homecoming in one of their last performances.

Alicia KeysAs I Am Tour (2008) Freedom Tour (2010) I’d been rocking with Ms. Keys for a while, but never got to see her live until her third tour. I jammed harder to As I Am than I did for The Element of Freedom, but I absolutely LOVED both shows because Alicia Keys is a pretty great performer. Although recently, that statement has become questionable. Also, these concerts allowed me to see Robin Thicke and Ne-Yo, which isn’t too bad either.

Backstreet BoysIn a World Like This Tour (2013) It only took me 20 years to finally make it to a BSB concert, but I was too excited to relive my teenage joy of loving the quintessential boy band. What I really enjoyed about this concert was seeing the generations of BSB fans. I had no idea people way younger than me would like Backstreet Boys! Of course, we all had our favorite band member, and Howie D. was my boo. I always dreamed of taking out his ponytail and running my fingers through his beautiful curls.

Image: Giphy

BeyoncéThe Beyoncé Experience (2007) I Am … World Tour (2009), The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour (2013) On the Run Tour (2014) The Formation World Tour (2016) On the Run II Tour (2018) I am obviously a stan fan of the greatest performer of my lifetime. I’ve been a fan of Mrs. Carter since her Destiny Child days, and I’ve enjoyed watching her evolution as both singer and performer. Every concert feels like a once in a lifetime experience, and Beyoncé gives her all in every show. In case you were still wondering … Yes, she is worth the hype, and yes, she lives up to the hype. My funny Beyoncé concert experience story is I saw The Beyoncé Experience THREE times: one time with friends and two times by myself. I bought so many tickets that Ticketmaster actually called to make sure someone hadn’t stolen my credit card. I believe this was my official induction into the Beyhive.

The Black Eyed PeasThe E.N.D. World Tour (2010) I’ve never been to a rave, but I feel like this concert is as close as I’ll get to one. I know a lot of people prefer the pre-Fergie Black Eyed Peas, and I liked a few of those songs too, but you can’t deny all the party jams they gave us once Fergie joined the group. This concert was such a fun time, and I’m so glad I decided to attend the show because they quickly fell off the map for me after this.

Christina AguileraBack to Basics Tour (2006) OMG, I absolutely LOVED this album, and the concert was such a beautiful spectacle. This is the only time I’ve seen Christina Aguilera live, and she did NOT disappoint. I have fallen off of my Christina Aguilera fandom since this concert, but I wouldn’t mind seeing her again. I also loved that I got to see opening act Danity Kane before Diddy put a fork in that.  

Justin TimberlakeThe 20/20 Experience (2013) Keeping the Mouseketeers theme going, this show was so nice I had to see it twice. I planned to only see it once with some college friends, but I had such a great time that I had to go again when he came to my city. This might be the last time I see a great performance from J.T. because I wasn’t really feeling anything from his most recent album, and that Superbowl performance was … *YAWN*

Kanye WestSaint Pablo Tour (2016) This was my first time seeing Kanye since he performed at NC A&T (AGGIE PRIDE) as a “College Dropout” with John Legend (before he was a household name), and it makes me sad that my Saint Pablo Tour experience was so awful because I have no plans to see MAGA Kanye in concert. The night of the concert, the ticket scanner system at the arena went down, and it took HOURS before we were able to get to our seats, which means the concert started SUPER late, and I didn’t get the full concert experience. There also weren’t any Kanye rants, so this was a definite lose-lose situation.

Lady GagaMonster Ball Tour (2011) ArtRave: The Artpop Ball (2014) I instantly became a Lady Gaga fan after her iconic performance at the 2009 VMAs. It was so dark and weird, and I loved every minute of it. After that, I bought The Fame Monster and immediately prepared myself for The Monster Ball. I know ArtPop was not a commercial success, but I REALLY liked that album, and the accompanying ArtRave. I’m really looking forward to the return of fantastical Lady Gaga because Joanne didn’t slap. #SorryNotSorry

Lupe FiascoThe Cool Tour (2008) This was my second Lupe Fiasco concert experience. My first was seeing him perform at UMBC, and that show made me an instant fan! The Cool Tour was just as dope, and I loved that it was in a smaller club. It made the show feel more intimate and exclusive. Man, it’s too bad Lupe has gone full hotep, and the music ain’t hittin’ like it was 10 years ago.

No Doubt 2009 Summer Tour (2009) Just like the Backstreet Boys, No Doubt gives me serious 90’s Nostalgia. I have been a fan since Tragic Kingdom, and I was sooooooooo unbelievably ecstatic to rock out with one of my favorite bands because I may never get to see them live again. This show also had some amazing opening acts in Paramore and The Sounds. I even downloaded some of their music after the show! Overall, I really loved this woman-lead rock band experience.

Image: Giphy

SadeSade Live (2011) I have loved Sade since I was a kid, so being able to see them live was an absolute dream come true, especially since they don’t tour often. Before this concert, the group had not toured in almost 10 years!!!!!! Sade Adu’s voice is so smooth, and got my Auntie Life at this concert. I was probably one of the youngest people there, but I didn’t give a f*ck because Sade is bae!

Honorable Mentions

I have to give a mini shout out to a few one-off concerts I’ve seen through the years:

Trans-Siberia Orchestra (2013) This was definitely not my cup of tea, but I usually can’t say no to a new experience. The show was absolutely weird in not a good way, and the only part I enjoyed was the rock instrumental that didn’t happen until the show was almost over. I can check this off as been there, done that, don’t want to go to there again.

I had so many neo-soul experiences at Rams Head Live: India.aire (2007), Musiq Soulchild (2007), and Floetry (2007). Funny story about Floetry is I learned the group broke up when Amanda Seales walked out with Marsha Ambrosius. Let’s just say I didn’t get the Floetry concert I was expecting. It wasn’t horrible, but Amanda “Diva” Seales is no Natalie Stewart. Going to see Childish Gambino (2012) at House of Blues was the first time I went to a show for an artist whose music I never listened to. Being totally honest, I only went to the show because I loved Donald Glover on Community. #SixSeasonsandaMovie Going to the show didn’t turn me into an instant fan, but I have liked some of the songs he’s released since then.

Your Turn

So…what concerts have you attended? Who did you see at your first concert? Do you even like concerts? Let us know in the comments! |RL

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