Cover Lover

Cover Lover

There are songs we love, there are songs we don’t discover until another band performs a cover version of it, and then there are the songs that have cover versions so good, I dare say they are better than the originals. That’s what I’m talking about today.

First up:

“Sound of Silence” – The Simon & Garfunkel original is iconic. BUT metal band Disturbed recently released their version of it, and I absolutely love the orchestration and the way lead singer David Draiman seems to growl some of the lyrics.


One of my favorite hard rock bands, Halestorm, absolutely rocks their cover of hard rock/heavy metal icon Dio’s “Straight Through the Heart”.

And, one of my favorite Dio songs, “Rainbow in the Dark”, also has a great cover version, courtesy of Corey Taylor (of Slipknot and Stone Sour).

For my Philly peeps, I give you “No Easy Way Out.” Robert Tepper’s song is on the soundtrack to Rocky IV, but heavy metal band Bullet for My Valentine’s version is a head-banging good time. 

And, you guys! I’ve saved THE BEST for last! Our very own Xio Axelrod is an amazing singer. And her take on Coldplay’s “Yellow” will leave you feeling all shades of happy. I love her voice! Check her out: 

I could go on and on… but I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts, and if there are any cover versions you love, feel free to add them in the comments!
Heading back into my playlist,
Inspirational Songs

Inspirational Songs

beautiful girl with flying blond hair, listening to music on headphones in the sky

I’m a huge fan of lyrics. When I was a kid, here in the UK we used to have a magazine that would print the words of all the popular tunes, so that when they came on the radio you could sing along. Of course this was pre-internet days, when we used to have to make your own fun. Nowadays, there are a huge number of websites devoted purely to lyrics. It’s almost impossible to get away with not knowing the words (although according to my children I try really hard!!)

The thing about lyrics is that they can be like poetry. They stir up emotions, memories, the feelings of first love and first heartbreak. That’s why I’m often inspired by them as a writer. And why my first book was called Fix You.

A lot of people have a love-hate relationship with Coldplay. I, however, have a love-love one. I don’t think there’s a single song of theirs that I’ve hated, and if Chris Martin wants to sing it, then I’m more than happy to listen.

Of all their songs, though, Fix You is my favorite. I’ve read somewhere that he wrote it for Gwyneth after her father died, promising to help her heal. Even that makes me want to cry (and yeah, so they didn’t make it, but we really wanted them to!) It’s the story of someone going through pain, through heartbreak, and of someone promising to be there for them. Every time I hear it, I feel goosebumps breaking out across my skin.

So here’s the song that inspired my book. Now over to you; what songs inspire you, what songs move you? Let me know in the comments!

Go-to Tunes

Go-to Tunes

Go-to Tunes

We all have playlists — for working out, primping for a night out, relaxation, driving, etc. But do any of your songs cross over? 
Here’s a song that pulls double duty for me: “Eye of the Tiger”.
I’ve seen the Rocky movies countless times over the years. Maybe there’s an extra affinity because he’s from Philly and he’s Italian…I don’t know…but I like them.
This song works not only for working out (it’s on my running and kickboxing playlists), but it’s also background music when I’m writing or editing against a deadline. If Rocky can run through South Philly and up the Art Museum steps (if you come to Philly, you HAVE to run up those steps!), and can train like crazy in all sorts of weather, then I certainly can bust through whatever task is at hand and pound it into submission. 😀
For your viewing pleasure, here’s Jensen Ackles from Supernatural lip-syncing the lyrics. Enjoy 😉

And one full of Rocky highlights:

What are some of your go-to tunes?
Why Music and Books Rock!

Why Music and Books Rock!

girl lying on grass and relaxing with book and music

Credit: Depositphotos

by Carrie Elks

For me music and books go together like… Fred and Ginger, Gin and Tonic, um songs and words? Anyway, whatever the best comparison is, that’s what turning on the stereo and settling back into the sofa with my Kindle in my hand means to me.

When I was a kid this involved the mix tape (remember those?) For those of you under the age of *ahem* 35 or so, this curious thing was the forerunner of the iPod (remember those hehe?), and involved hours of trying to cue your record player up with the tape recorder, pressing pause whilst simultaneously trying to put the needle on the vinyl, then swearing profusely when you only realized halfway through the record that you’d forgotten to hit the record button.

Thankfully, nowadays things are so much easier. In our house we’re fully connected, able to operate the stereo from an app on our phones (it’s a Sonos system, for those of you that are interested) and play either something from our extensive music collection – all digital of course – or use Spotify.

I have to admit I’m a late convert to the Spotify app. At first I thought it was just a way to access music, but I’ve found it offers so much more. Click on the ‘moods’ offering any day and I can find the right playlist to fit how I’m feeling right then, or even better, I can match my music to the emotions of the book I’m reading. They also have playlists that change daily, from Monday Motivation to Feel Good Friday (which I’m listening to right now as I type this blog – go Bryan Adams!), and these usually contain a mixture of oldies but goodies, plus a few more modern tunes to mix things up.

Of course, it also gives me a chance to catch up with the latest releases, in order to impress my teenage children. I have to admit feeling a certain sort of smugness when I can sing along with their favorite hits, making me the coolest mom in the town. Okay, I’m lying completely here. They’re nothing but embarrassed when I start to sing, but hey, this is my blog and my fantasy. Give me a couple more seconds and I promise not to shame them any more.

One of the best playlists I’ve found for when I’m reading a heartbreakingly emotional romance book is the Most Beautiful Songs in the World playlist. I’ve put a link to it below. The next time you pick up a book, switch on the stereo and decide to shut out the world, I recommend this one!


Healing Eden’s Playlist

Healing Eden’s Playlist

When I was writing the first book in The Eden Series, Unexpected Eden, I never really thought about developing any kind of music playlist. Pinterest boards? Sure. I mean, there’s loads of inspiration on Pinterest, but a playlist? Nope. Never even crossed my mind. Which is kind of odd considering fifty percent of my plotting is done in the car driving to and from the day job with the music cranked WAY high. (The other fifty percent is done in The Plotting Chamber–AKA the shower.)

Then one day I was chatting with the lady who coordinates my blog tours and she suggested I do one. I never got around to building one for Unexpected Eden, but you can bet I kept track of all the tunes I used on book two, Healing Eden, plus every other book after it. Since Healing Eden just released, I figured I’d make that my Dinner Music share for today. Obviously, I’m a rock gal to the core, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it.

Oh, and if you haven’t started The Eden Series yet, now’s a good time. Unexpected Eden is on sale for .99 cents! Woot!

I’ve listed blurbs and buy links for you below, but today is all about music, so let’s get to it! Rock on!


Rhenna Morgan

Unexpected Eden

Paradise, love, power…and a prophecy with a price.
Most people believe Eden no longer exists. Lexi Merrill’s about to learn they’re wrong. A hard-working bartender with a self-sufficient backbone and a wary nature, she knows pickup lines like a second language. So, when Eryx Shantos barges into her world with too-smooth words and a body to back it up, she locks up her libido and vows to keep her distance.
Eryx has other ideas. As king of the Myren race, Eryx is duty-bound to enforce the laws preventing exposure of their existence to humans. Yet The Fates have led him through his dreams to Lexi, a temptation he doesn’t want to resist. The question—is she Myren, or human, which makes her forbidden fruit?
When Eryx’s nemesis tags Lexi as his next target, Eryx insists on taking her home where he can keep her safe. Lexi had no idea “home” would mean the one-and-only land of creation…or that she’d trigger a prophecy that could doom her newfound race.
Amazon US     Amazon UK     B&N     iTunes

Healing Eden

In a world divided by war, falling in love is the ultimate betrayal.

Galena Shantos has never questioned her loyalty to Eden. As sister to the Myren king, she serves as a healer, one of the best in the army fighting to suppress the brutal Lomos Rebellion. She’s never doubted the importance of stopping the rebels bent on enslaving humans, until she spots a warrior across enemy lines—and knows instinctively that their destinies are entwined. . .
Rebellion warrior Reese Theron has nothing left to lose. He’s been forced to fight on the wrong side of a war he abhors in order to protect his family secret. His honor lost, as well as the trust of his own people, Reese has thrown himself into a battle he cannot possibly hope to survive. But after being rescued by a beautiful woman whose exquisite eyes seem to see him for more than the traitor he’s become—he may have just found a new reason to live. . .
Amazon US     Amazon CA     Amazon UK     B&N     iTunes
Musical Multiple Personalities

Musical Multiple Personalities

Let me start out by wishing you the very best this holiday season, however you celebrate. We do a traditional Christmas at our home. Festivities generally begin with getting the tree. This normally involves at least 3 family feuds, one on which tree, another on securing/removing it from the vehicle, and a third on installation.

This year, it was an honest to God Christmas miracle. Tree selection was unanimous and took about ten minutes, vehicle loading and unloading happened without a hitch, and the tree was installed in the house with nary a cross word. Then, my husband broke out the Christmas music, and all hell broke loose.



You have to understand, I have teens, and as you read this, bear in mind that they are a subset of humanity. People assure me they will emerge from their hormone fug in a few more years and will once more take their place amongst the rest of us.

Back to Christmas music and tree decorating. Bing Crosby was banned as ‘not this stupid thing again.’ ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’, was disclaimed as that ‘date rape’ song. Frank Sinatra was greeted with growls, and the St. Martins-in-the-Field choir ended in a charge for the sound system.

Husband was gutted. Being husband, he entrenched himself in the “It’s bloody Christmas!” argument, which lit a fuse under teens, and our happy, family gathering evening teetered on the edge of disaster.

Mum to the rescue. COMPROMISE!!!

So, this year, we decorated the tree to “White Christmas” giving way to “Hit the Quan”, followed by Ed Sheeran, who relinquished the mic to Louis Armstrong (who was the only Christmas crooner to escape scorn). Louis was followed by that other Christmas classic by Dillon Francis, and DJ Shake “Get Low”.

Hey! We all mark the occasion differently. And in case you want to Hit the Quan – here we go. Just spreading the love this Christmas.

Creating a soundtrack…for a book?

Creating a soundtrack…for a book?

by Xio Axelrod

Forget Tomorrow features an embedded soundtrackA soundtrack for a book? It’s not really a new thing, but it isn’t done often. It seems like we may be seeing it more and more, though. Pintip Dunn’s debut release Forget Tomorrow was released with embedded audio. (Gorgeous stuff!) And Stephen King has been known to add music to his books from time to time. [Read more…]

Spooky Tunes for Halloween

Spooky Tunes for Halloween

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 16.23.49I love Halloween! Love spooky ghost stories and things that go bump in the night, love watching Jack Nicholson go bonkers in the Shining. I couldn’t wait to go to the supermarket (weren’t many pumpkin patches in West Philly) and pick out a pumpkin so I could make a jack o’ lantern. And I’d make Halloween decorations to hang in the windows and on the front door. I think my parents were amused by my Frankenstein and Dracula ornaments. They’d usually leave them up until it was time to start decorating for Christmas. I would tell my little brother scary stories or try to convince him that Michael Meyers from the Halloween films lived in the boiler room in our basement–I think he actually believed me one year. He certainly avoided going downstairs for a few weeks.

In the days leading up to Halloween were when I’d buy crazy tapes with spooky sounds and Halloween-themed songs. Kitschy, I know…but I was a kid and this sort of thing was allowed. 🙂 I still get a kick out of some of those goofy songs like “Monster Mash”.

Nowadays, my Halloween music taste runs more toward Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” or “Burning from the Inside”.

I also like singing along to the Ramones’ “Pet Semetary”, Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves in London” or the Specials’ “Ghost Town”.


I’m looking forward to Halloween this year. I think I’ll have a binge-watch of the Walking Dead. And there will definitely be a ton of Bauhaus playing as I hand out candy to the neighborhood kids.

What will you be listening to for Halloween?

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What Goes Around, Comes Around

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Ah. The sweet smell of nostalgia is in the air.

I mean on Youtube.

Let me start this love fest from the beginning.

Last Thanksgiving, we adopted a Labrador puppy.  We named him Jack.  And every time I leave him to drop the girls somewhere, or run an errand, or get to a meeting, I tell him, I’ll be right back, Jack.  Which I always, without fail, follow up in my head with, “and don’t ya come back no more no more no more no more”. Even though the song doesn’t really go that way, that’s how my mind works.

One morning recently, like a few others, I sang it, outloud.  My youngest daughter gave me the funniest looking scrunched up face and asked me, what was that?  So I told her, it’s a song my mom used to love.

She’s a bit of a music lover herself, Little Who, so she immediately wanted to hear this song of which I spoke. So I took a few minutes to sit down with her and go to Youtube to show her.  She got the biggest kick out of the song.

In case you’re completely lost and have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about here, the name is Hit the Road, Jack, by Ray Charles.

Hashtag CLASSIC.

I freaking have loved that song since I was a kid and danced around the kitchen of my mother’s old house with her every time it came on our AM/FM radio that sat near the phone. So of course, as the memories started flooding back (again), the next song I had to search for?

Remember this one?

My mom would crack me up, dancing and singing to that one. I still smile so big when I think about it.


elf pic –

So . . . Why am I making you listen to these oldies but goodies today? Because some things are timeless. And they don’t call them “goodies” for nothing. As old as some music gets, there’s always going to be someone to come along to love them like they’re brand spanking new.

This time, it’s my daughter.

Hope you enjoyed them too!

‘Til next time, big love,

Jo xoxo 6

Summer moved on…or how a-ha pretty much summed up Swedish summer

After two weeks of sticky summer heat in New York and Philadelphia, I’m back in Stockholm–where it’s already beginning to look and feel like autumn. Yes, you heard me correctly–it’s beginning to look and feel like autumn…and it’s only the first week of August. The sunlight is already paler than it was a few weeks ago (when we had it, since it was raining nearly every day). The air is noticeably cooler. The foliage on some of the trees dotting the hillside behind my apartment building is already beginning to turn from green to red. Summer just feels like it eluded Sweden. And now it’s already moving on.

And that reminds me of two songs by a-ha. Yes, those cute Norwegian guys who brought us everyone’s favourite 80s song, “Take on Me”. They made a lot of other really great songs too, but the only one most Americans remember is “Take on Me” — probably because of its catchy tune and iconic video.

But right now, there are two songs by A-ha that pretty much sum up what this summer has been like in Sweden: “The Sun Always Shines on TV” and “Summer Moved On”.  Admittedly, we’ve had a few good days of sunshine but they were few and far between. Here’s to hoping that next summer is better.




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