symphony for the city of the deadBiographies or any sort of nonfiction relating to the siege of Leningrad that occurred amidst World War II can become depressing to read because of the many, many atrocities committed and the vast number of people who died. Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson is the opposite of the traditional heavy nonfiction. Anderson breaks up his story of Shostakovich and the evolution of Leningrad by dropping in back-and-white historical photographs that allow readers to put a face to a name. This inclusion breaks up the chaos and destruction happening within his descriptions of Stalin’s purges and the eventual siege of Leningrad by bringing in pictures and maps to connect the history presented with an actual physical place and actual people. It may seem easy for people to ignore and write off atrocities committed, but I find that when authors choose to add pictures into their books, the subject matter becomes even more real and life-changing.

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad really brought to life for me the importance of art and culture to a nation and its citizens, both in a negative and a positive light. Anderson tells readers the story of Stalin and his purges: how he rid the country of top military officials, science experts, and a wide variety of other people and effectively set his country up for more widespread disaster when Hitler invaded and he had no experts to ask for advice. This book focuses on art and culture, specifically music and Dmitri Shostakovich. This Russian composer escaped death at the hands of Stalin and instead found himself navigating the tricky tight-rope of composing the music that Stalin finds appropriate while still staying true to himself. Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony is the one that he writes for Leningrad, “The City of the Dead,” and this book effectively sets the stage for discovering Shostakovaich’s mindset around that time and also the necessary cultural and political framework that he was up against. Highly recommended!

Check out the following fiction and nonfiction books for more information about the siege of Leningrad and related topics!

the madonnas of leningradcity of thievesleningrad siege and symphonyinferno the world at warstalin the court of the red tsarabsolute war

Cage the Elephant — Tell Me I’m Pretty

The fourth studio album from Cage the Elephant was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Most of the songs were recorded in one take, capturing the band’s raw and frenetic onstage energy.
Coldplay — A Head Full of Dreams

Where Chris Martin spent Ghost Stories in a mournful mood — his sorrow perhaps derived from his divorce to Gwyneth Paltrow or perhaps not; it’s best not to read too much into the tabloid headlines — the Coldplay leader sees nothing but sunshine and stars on A Head Full of Dreams.
Grimes — Art Angels

Grimes already defied easy classification on Visions, a collection of dreamy electronic collages that resembled pop just enough to make it one of 2012’s most acclaimed albums. When she returned three years later with Art Angels, her music was even more paradoxical; Claire Boucher’s fourth album is wilder, more ambitious, and — at least on the surface — more accessible than her breakthrough.
John Williams — Star Wars: Force Awakens Score

The music that John Williams has created for the Star Wars franchise has become just as iconic as the films themselves. The Academy Award winner returns to a galaxy far, far away with another epic score.
The Wiz: Music from the NBC Television Event

The groundbreaking Broadway show that brought a little funk to Oz comes to television in an all-star production that includes Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, David Alan Grier, Ne-Yo, Uzo Aduba, Amber Riley, and Common.

Sarah Bareilles — What’s Inside: Songs from a Waitress

With her fourth full-length album, Sara Bareilles offers up a taste of the music that she has created for an upcoming Broadway musical, which is based on the 2007 film. Included is the single She Used to Be Mine.

 

 

 

Justin Bieber — Purpose

The highly anticipated album features Justin Bieber’s recent hit singles, What Do You Mean and Where Are U Now, and draws influence from an array of genres and collaborations. The iconic album chronicles Justin’s personal and artistic growth as he solidifies his place among the biggest stars of the time.

 

 

Kurt Cobain — Montage of Heck

Along with serving as an aural complement to the acclaimed documentary about the late Nirvana lead singer, this collection allows a rare and unfiltered glimpse into Kurt Cobain’s creative progression.

 

 

 

Enya — Dark Sky Island

Enya’s latest album is inspired by lyricist Roman Ryan’s work on a series of poetry books themed around islands, specifically the island of Sark’s decision to be designated as a dark sky island.

 

 

 

Kirk Franklin — Losing My Religion

On his eleventh album, Kirk Franklin once again establishes himself as the frontrunner in Gospel music. The thirteen song project explores timely themes and classic sentiments, while offering renewed testimony to Franklin’s status as a Grammy-winning songwriter and producer.

 

 

 

Ellie Goulding — Delirium

Ellie Goulding’s bold and brilliant new album represents an almighty step change, shaping a new narrative for the next stage in this remarkable singer’s journey. It also includes the single On My Mind.

 

 

 

 

Ceelo Green — Heart Blanche

Atlantic recording artist CeeLo Green’s eagerly awaited new studio album which is the superstar’s first full-length release in nearly five years. Singer/songwriter, producer, performer, TV personality, fashion icon, entrepreneur, and so much more, CeeLo Green is among the most creative and unique artists of this or any era.

 

 

 

 

Hunter Hayes — The 21 Project

Four-time Grammy nominee Hunter Hayes releases a unique and special collection. Each disc on the three CD set includes seven songs, each one performed differently-acoustic, studio, and live. It gives fans a special look into his creative mind.

 

 

 

 

Tim McGraw — Damn Country Music
In a year that has seen him performing at the Academy Awards and named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Tim McGraw releases a brand new album. Included is the new hit single Top of the World.

 
One Direction — Made in the A.M.

One of the world’s biggest pop bands returns with their highly anticipated fifth album, their first since the departure of Zayn Malik. The album features Drag Me Down, which has quickly become one of their biggest singles to date.

 

 

 

Trans-Siberian Orchestra — Letters from the Labyrinth

The latest album from Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the first since 2009’s Night Castle, is being released just as the band heads out for their highly anticipated Ghost of Christmas Eve winter tour.

Big Daddy Weave — Beautiful Offerings

Big Daddy Weave follows up the success of Love Come to Life, which featured four number one hits, with their highly anticipated new album. Included on the album is the single My Story.
Building 429 — Unashamed

Building 429 returns with a healthy offering of anthemic songs that their fans have come to love. The first single, Impossible, has already made a strong impression on the radio.
Gary Clark Jr. — The Story of Sonny Boy Slim

Gary Clark Jr., who Rolling Stone dubbed ‘The King of the Summer Festivals,’ brings his captivating mix of R&B and blues to the studio with a new album that also puts his dazzling guitar skills on display.
Colton Dixon — Calm Before the Storm

Colton Dixon releases an album full of remixed and acoustic versions of fan favorites from his career including his biggest songs You Are; Never Gone; and More of You.
Lana Del Rey — Honeymoon

The fourth album from Lana Del Rey takes on a more orchestral approach than her previous albums. Fans have already had a taste with the singles Honeymoon and High By the Beach.
Jewel — Picking Up the Pieces

Singer-songwriter Jewel creates the musical bookend to her multiplatinum-selling debut, Pieces of You. The album’s release coincides with the release of her memoir and it also includes an incredible duet with Dolly Parton.
Shinedown — Threat to Survival

Shinedown is back with their fifth studio album, their first new release in three years. The first single, Cut the Cord, has already reached the top of the rock radio chart.
Silversun Pickups — Better Nature

Three years after their last studio album, Neck of the Woods, Silversun Pickups return with their fifth full-length release. Produced by Jacknife Lee, the album includes the tracks Connection; Cradle (Better Nature); and Nightlight.
Various Artists — WOW Hits 2016

Straight from the radio comes this two-disc collection featuring some of the biggest artists and hits in contemporary Christian music. Included are hits from Chris Tomlin, Mandisa, TobyMac, Casting Crowns, and more.
Yo-Yo Ma & Kathryn Stott — Songs from the Arc of Life

Longtime friends, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott, create a unique classical music experience with their new recording. It includes pieces they have frequently performed but never recorded, as well as a handful of discoveries.

signal to noise

Love. Friendship. Vinyl records. Music. And of course, magic. Moreno-Garcia has taken the everyday perils of teenage life and added in her own twist: magic found in vinyl records.

In Signal to Noise, readers are introduced to Meche, an awkward fifteen-year-old girl, who is friends with two other awkward fifteen-year-olds, Sebastian and Daniela, in 1988 Mexico City. As they slog and struggle through family and school, Meche soon discovers that in the vinyl records that are scattered throughout her house lies the possibility of magic. Soon the three are off searching record stores and Meche’s house for records that are either hot to the touch or give off a shock when touched. Meche is the one who shows a natural aptitude and ability for magic, something her grandmother both fears and acknowledges will happen as she too was blessed with the gift of magic at a young age, though she was not nearly as strong as her sisters. As Meche and her friends begin casting spells, they realize that this new magic will afford them the chance to become more popular and noticed, fix their broken families, find love, and become more confident with themselves. This use of magic comes with a price though.

Flash forward to Mexico City in 2009: Meche has come alone back to Mexico City for her estranged father’s funeral. Moreno-Garcia accomplishes the switch between 1988 and 2009 by alternating back and forth between the different time periods as the reader progresses. The difference between 1988 and 2009 leaves readers wondering what happened between Meche and her family, as well as what happened between Meche and her friends.

For those of you that are trying to wade your way into the realm of fantasy or those of you who are looking for a break from heavy fantasy, Moreno-Garcia helps these by tempering the amount of practiced magic in her book with stories of magic told by Meche’s grandmother about previous practicing witches and warlocks. The amount of fantasy within the book is also lessened by the fact that the friendships between the three teens dominate the majority of the book with magic being a thread that weaves its way throughout everything. This book worked for me as a good introduction into fantasy since the magic present within did not overwhelm me as I was reading.

Bon Jovi — Burning Bridges

With millions of albums sold and thousands of successful concerts, Bon Jovi has earned their place among rock royalty. Now the band is back with their ninth studio album, their first new release since 2013’s What About Now.

 

 

 

Luke Bryan — Kill the Lights

KILL THE LIGHTS is the follow up to Luke s most successful album to date, Crash My Party, which contains six consecutive No. 1 singles, is certified Double Platinum and has currently sold over two million copies with eight million digital downloads.
Carly Rae Jepsen — Emotion

For her latest album, Carly Rae Jepsen collaborates with some of the biggest producers and songwriters, including Sia. The first single, I Really Like You, has already racked up millions of views online and extensive radio play.

 

 

Rend Collective — As Family We Go

Hailing from Ireland, Rend Collective is one of the Christian music’s most exciting new acts. Their latest studio record features engaging, upbeat worship that brings listeners closer to God. It also includes the radio hit You Will Never Run.

 

 

 

Rob Thomas — The Great Unknown

Multiple Grammy Award winner, and Matchbox Twenty frontman, Rob Thomas releases his first new solo album in more than six years. The highly anticipated album includes the new single Trust You.

 

 

 

 

The Weeknd — Beauty Behind the Madness

Two years after releasing Kiss Land, the Weeknd returns with his third full-length studio album, which includes the singles Can’t Feel My Face; The Hills; and Often..

 

 

 

Wilco — Star Wars

Wilco follows up their Grammy-nominated 2012 album, The Whole Love, with their ninth studio effort. Among the tracks is the new single Random Name Generator.

 

 

 

Yo-Yo Ma & Kathryn Stott — Songs from the Arc of Life

 

Longtime friends, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott, create a unique classical music experience with their new recording. It includes pieces they have frequently performed but never recorded, as well as a handful of discoveries.

Florence + The Machine — How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

The third album from Florence + The Machine is live-sounding, tune-rich, unhinged in all the right places and powerful in all the best ways. In voice, lead singer Florence Welch has never sounded better. Includes the singles What Kind of Man; St. Jude; and Ship to Wreck.

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dronesMuse — Drones

The seventh studio album from the Grammy winning alternative band from the UK. The first single is Dead Inside. Co-produced by Muse and Robert John “Mutt” Lange.

 

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dalePitbull — Dale

Pitbull is back and ready to get the party started with his highly anticipated second Spanish language album. It promises to start the summer off right and keep the good times going throughout the year.

Brandon Flowers — The Desired Effect

Almost five years since the release of his critically acclaimed solo debut, Flamingo, Brandon Flowers’s solo return follows a time of continued huge success with his band, the Killers.
Mumford & Sons — Wilder Mind

Features twelve new tracks, written collaboratively by the band in London, Brooklyn, and Texas. This release marks a significant departure for the young British band from their previous two records. There is a minimalist yet panoramic feel to this new album.
NOW #1s

The ever-popular music series brings together a collection of chart-topping hits from the worlds of pop, rock, rap, country, and more.

NOW That’s What I Call Music! 54

From rock and pop to rap, electronic, and country, one of music’s most popular series returns with a new collection featuring some of the hottest hits on the charts today.

 
Skrillex & Diplo — Jack U

Two of the biggest superstars in electronic music team up for a tour de force album that also includes guest appearances from Justin Bieber, 2 Chainz, and AlunaGeorge.
My Morning Jacket — The Waterfall

 

After four years, My Morning Jacket return with their seventh studio album. Their seventh full-length release also includes the new single Big Decisions.

michael jackson the experienceNow that it’s finally spring, it is time for “the wiggles” to come out. This happens every year when the weather gets nice outside and kids are fit to bursting to do anything outside. But what about those rainy spring days when they’re stuck inside? I turn to video games, but ones that people of all ages can enjoy playing (and ones that *hopefully* won’t lead to fighting matches between the players).

My favorite go-to games like this are any of the singing and dancing ones. I just discovered Michael Jackson: The Experience and was pleasantly surprised with the game as a whole. This Wii game allows four players to play with the only requirement being that each has a Wii remote.

If you want to practice your moves before you compete against your friends, the game offers a practice space in Video Training mode. This game also allows you to battle your friends in a Challenge Mode, have the other players be your back-up dancers, or even make your own dance crew. Dance along with Michael to 26 of his iconic hits that range from “Beat It” to “Billie Jean” to “Smooth Criminal”.

So next time it’s rainy outside or you need a new distraction, head to the library and check out our collection of musical video games.

MARCH 2015

Luke Bryan — Spring Break…Checkin’ Out

Luke Bryan’s string of EP releases has become a spring break tradition for many. Now he combines new songs along with six tracks from his 2014 digital EP, Spring Break 6…Like We Ain’t Ever.

 

 
Madonna — Rebel Heart

The Material Girl is back with her highly anticipated thirteenth studio album. Along with production from Diplo and Kanye West, the album includes a collaboration featuring Nicki Minaj. The first single is Living for Love.

 


Modest Mouse — Strangers to Ourselves

Eight years after the release of their last album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, Modest Mouse is back with a brand new CD. It includes the single Lampshades on Fire.

 

 

Kelly Clarkson — Piece by Piece

Kelly Clarkson releases her seventh album, which follows up her holiday album Wrapped in Red and 2011’s Stronger. Features the single Heartbeat Song and John Legend joins her on Run, Run, Run.

 

 

The Prodigy — The Day is My Enemy

The electronic trio releases their sixth studio album that features collaborations with Flux Pavilion on Rhythm Bomb and Sleaford Mods on Ibiza.

 

 

Third Day — Lead Us Back: Songs of Worship

Third Day draws listeners in to worship through big melodies and layers of intricate instrumentals, and pulls them closer to Jesus through beautiful and honest moments of true worship.