Different TracksTitle: Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970 by Steve Millward

Author: Steve Millward

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Troubador Publishing/Matador

The Blurb

Steve Millward continues to explore the dynamic between musical and political change in his new book, Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970.

1970 signalled the end of an era. The Swinging Sixties came to a crashing halt as the world seemed to be changing for the worse. Ideological and generational rifts became deeper and violent protest more commonplace. Politicians dealt with realities, not dreams. The Vietnam War dragged on. As ever, popular culture mirrored it all with the death of Jimi Hendrix and the break-up of The Beatles. Yet these apparent crises produced a climate in which new ideas could develop, pointing the way to a decade when creativity and tumult went hand-in-hand.

‘This was the year when James Brown defined funk, prog bands reached a peak of extravagance and the search was on to fuse rock with jazz, folk and classical music… From the increased militancy of the Black Panthers, the Baader-Meinhof Gang and the Angry Brigade to the new ways of living advocated by foodists, feminists and futurists – 1970 shaped the future in so many ways!’ observes Steve.

Manchester-based Steve co-wrote From Blues To Rock while teaching music courses at Manchester University. Since then, he has contributed to Women In Music Now, Juke Blues and, as jazz correspondent, the Manchester Evening News. His broadcasting experience includes a two-year spell as BBC Radio 5’s pop pundit.

Different Tracks is the second book in a trilogy that started with Changing Times: Music and Politics in 1964 and gives a comprehensive analysis of a thriving music scene where singer-songwriters such as Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake rubbed shoulders with innovators like Curtis Mayfield and Frank Zappa.

The Review

In 2008 I received a 2.1 degree (with honours) in English and Cultural History combined with Media and Cultural Studies. It wasn’t until I started studying media that I thought about how culture is present in everything we consume media wise. This opened up a brand new world for me. I couldn’t just look at books or songs or films as isolated things.

We see the impact of society on life in the 1970s in Steve Millwards book Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970. Millward looks specifically at a period that is rife with social change, racial tension, wars, and political strife. In fact, the 1970s were a time of such transient nature that it seems a little hard to keep up. Millward, however, does it justice.

I felt like with every turn of the page of Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970 I learned something new and looked at the music being released at the time (1970, in particular) in a whole new way. With encyclopaedic knowledge, Millward takes you on a journey and it is one heck of a bumpy ride.

Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970 is perfect for students of cultural studies but if you are reading it just for a sense of nostalgia of that period then you may find it a bit heavy.

Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970 by Steve Millward is available now.

For more information regarding Steve Millward (@SteveMPopPundit) please visit www.stevemillward.co.uk.

For more information regarding Troubador Publishing (@matadorbooks) please visit www.troubador.co.uk.

3 Stars

I'll Be Home for ChristmasTitle: I’ll Be Home for Christmas

Author: Various

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Little Tiger Group/Stripes Publishing

The Blurb

The UK’s top Young Adult authors join together in this collection of new stories and poems on the theme of home.

Contributors include: Tom Becker, Holly Bourne, Sita Brahmachari, Kevin Brooks, Melvin Burgess, Katy Cannon, Cat Clarke, Juno Dawson, Julie Mayhew, Non Pratt, Marcus Sedgwick, Lisa Williamson and Benjamin Zephaniah.

£1 from the sale of every book will be donated to Crisis, the national homelessness charity. To find out more about Crisis, see www.crisis.org.uk

The Review

I love Christmas. It is my favourite time of the year. I love the food, the trimmings, finding the perfect gift for the perfect person. I love wrapping presents. I love being warm inside with the Christmas tree twinkling in the background.

I sometimes forget that for some people Christmas is the worst thing in the world.

In a sense, the purpose of I’ll Be Home for Christmas is to make you remember those that don’t like Christmas or those that don’t have reasons to love Christmas the way others do. I’ll Be Home for Christmas is a collection of anti-Christmas stories. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t negative about Christmas; they highlight the pain, worry and anguish that can come with this time of year for others.

And is that essentially what Christmas is about? Thinking about others?

I implore you to buy and read this book. Not just because it will give you a fresh perspective to think about but because for every copy of this book that is purchased £1 will be donated to Crisis.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Various is available now.

For more information regarding Little Tiger Group (@LittleTigerUK) and Stripes Publishing (@stripesbooks) please visit www.littletiger.co.uk.

For more information regarding Crisis (@crisis_uk) please visit www.crisis.org.uk.

For more information regarding the various authors featured in this book please visit the websites listed below.

Benjamin Zephaniah (@BZephaniah) – www.benjaminzephaniah.com, Non Pratt (@NonPratt) www.nonpratt.com, Marcus Sedgwick (@marcussedgwick) www.marcussedgwick.com, Cat Clarke (@cat_clarke) www.catclarke.com, Holly Bourne (@holly_bourneYA) www.hollybourne.co.uk, Juno Dawson (@junodawson) www.junodawson.com, Sita Brahmachari (@SitaBrahmachari) www.sitabrahmachari.com, Tracy Darnton (@TracyDarnton), Tom Becker (@Tbeckerlegge), Katy Cannon (@KatyJCannon) www.KatyCannon.com, Melvin Burgess (@MelvinBurgess) www.melvinburgess.net, Julie Mayhew (@JulieMayhew) www.juliemayhew.co.uk, Lisa Williamson (@lisa_letters) www.lisawilliamsonauthor.com.

4 Stars

Paris JulietteTitle: Confessions of a City Girl: Paris (A Confessions Novella)

Author: Juliette Sobanet

Pages: 49 Pages

Publisher: Saint Germain Press

The Blurb

From bestselling author Juliette Sobanet, a charming and poignant short story that will take you on a heartwarming journey through the City of Light…

Overworked talk show assistant Olivia Banks sets off on a one-day adventure in Paris to fulfill the dreams she and her sister once had as little girls, and ends up finding herself…and love…along the way.

The Review

In the fourth novella in the Confessions series, author Juliette Sobanet introduces her readers to Olivia. Olivia works hard and plays very little. We first see her emptying out her childhood home. She is desperate to tick selling the property off her list so she can get back to her busy life back in New York. However, it is with the discovery of an old diary that sparks a life changing adventure that finds Olivia travelling to Paris for just one day.

One day in Paris? Surely that isn’t enough time to fall in love but that is exactly what happens. Olivia falls in love with the most beautiful city in the world.

I’ve loved the Confessions series and I will forever sing the praises of Juliette Sobanet. She has the ability to transport me to a different place and yet feel totally at home there and it is no different with Confessions of a City Girl: Paris.

Confessions of a City Girl: Paris is short but sweet. It is what I like to think of as a commute story; one to read on your way to work. However, if you don’t work too far away you could get so engrossed that you miss your stop. You have been warned.

Confessions of a City Girl: Paris (A Confessions Novella) by Juliette Sobanet is available now.

For more information regarding Juliette Sobanet (@JulietteSobanet) please visit www.juliettesobanet.com.

4 Stars

The DeviantsTitle: The Deviants

Author: CJ Skuse

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Mira Ink/Harlequin

The Blurb

When you set out for revenge, dig two graves

Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.

Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.

When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?

The Review

I’ve read a lot of books this summer; some have been bad, most have been good and some have been bloody excellent. My latest read, The Deviants by CJ Skuse – an author I had never come across before but came highly recommended by Clare over at A Book and Tea – was bloody excellent.

With Clare’s recommendation in mind I started reading The Deviants.

Holy moly.

I can honestly say that I have never read such an intense YA thriller before. The story centres upon five people who were really close as children but with the passing of time have mostly drifted apart; due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control their lives begin to interweave again and once that happens the steady foundations that they have built begin to crumble apart.

CJ Skuse has written a very clever story of secrecy and lies, friends and enemies, and how life always throws you in at the deep-end. It is, by far, one of favourite books of the year. The Deviants is full of shock twists and turns and it really did blow my mind. I am sure it will blow yours too. If you like your YA fiction to pack a punch and to leave you a bit breathless then The Deviants needs to be your next read.

The Deviants by CJ Skuse is available now.

For more information regarding CJ Skuse (@CeejaytheAuthor) please visit www.andrewnurnberg.com/authors/c-j-skuse/

For more information regarding Mira Ink (@mira_booksUK) please visit www.miraink.co.uk.

5 Stars

Only With YouTitle: Only With You

Author: Cecilia Gray

Pages: 188 Pages

Publisher: Gray Life

The Blurb

Emma has it all – looks, money, and luck. It’s not like she keeps it all to herself – she’s totally committed to helping those less fortunate. AKA, everyone. She invites her heartbroken friend to help with a weekend charity event with an eye to matchmake, but when that friend turns her eye toward the guy Emma wants for herself, how will she choose between friendship and her own feelings?

The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is hot guys to flirt with. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And it’s about to turn the Academy—and the lives of its students—totally upside down…

The Review

I am not a fan of Jane Austen’s Emma. It is probably my least favourite of Austen’s novels and Emma – the character – was the only one of Austen’s heroines that I failed to find any redeeming features. Somewhat ironically I love Clueless – the hit 90s movie based on Emma. Only With You by Cecilia Gray is a rip off of a rip off. That sounds particularly harsh. It probably would be nicer to say that she is paying homage to both pieces of entertainment. I just personally didn’t love Only With You.

Instead of rural England, Only With You takes place in America, the characters are all teenagers who attend Jane Austen Academy – now maybe I have come into the series too late but I didn’t understand the naming of the academy so that initially threw me off. Like in the Austen novel, Emma tries to set up her friends but she keeps getting it wrong. She means well but her actions are sometimes a bit selfish.

To be fair to Cecilia Gray, Only With You isn’t a bad story. I think it is that I am personally biased against it because of my dislike of the original text. I think it would be best suited for a teenage audience and my age probably played a part in whether or not I liked this book. What I am trying to say is that Only With You was a good book it just wasn’t for me.

Only With You by Cecilia Gray is available now.

For more information regarding Cecilia Gray (@CeciliaBooks) please visit www.ceciliagray.com.

3 Stars