Title: Ringo – With a Little Help

Author: Michael Seth Starr

Pages: 456 Pages

Publisher: Backbeat Books

The Blurb

Ringo: With a Little Help is the first in-depth biography of Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, who kept the beat for an entire generation and who remains a rock icon over fifty years since the Beatles took the world by storm.

Born in 1940 as Richard Starkey in the Dingle, one of Liverpool’s most gritty, rough-and-tumble neighbourhoods, he rose from a hardscrabble childhood – marked by serious illnesses, long hospital stays, and little schooling – to emerge, against all odds, as a locally renowned drummer. Taking the stage name Ringo Starr, his big break with the Beatles rocketed him to the pinnacle of worldwide acclaim in a remarkably short time. He was the last member of the Beatles to join the group but also the most vulnerable, and his post-Beatles career was marked by chart-topping successes, a jet-setting life of excess and alcohol abuse, and, ultimately, his rebirth as one of rock’s revered elder statesman.

Ringo: With a Little Help traces the entire arc of Ringo’s remarkable life and career, from his sickly childhood to his life as the world’s most famous drummer to his triumphs, addictions, and emotional battles following the breakup of the Beatles as he comes to terms with his legacy.

The Review

Okay. So, I read Ringo by Michael Seth Starr because I wanted to like Ringo. He is probably my least favourite Beatle and this is because of some o the negative things he has said and done over the years. For example, he has made seriously negative comments about Liverpool, then tried to backtrack saying that this is just ‘Scouse humour’ and anyone really from Liverpool would not have taken offence. As someone who was born, raised and still lives in this great city I beg to differ with his comments. They were – nay are – offensive and more importantly they are just plain wrong. Liverpool is amazing.

However, I am always willing to admit I was wrong or have my mind changed. Therefore I picked up the book Ringo – With a Little Help fully expecting to have my mind changed. Unfortunately, my mind remains the same. Michael Seth Starr has written a great book,. It is well researched and whilst you get the impression that his agenda for writing about Ringo is because he is a fan of Ringo, Starr’s appreciation didn’t manage to budge my over riding belief that Ringo isn’t very nice.

You also get the feeling that Starr (the author not the drummer) has a bit of a dislike for John Lennon. I think this general bias also had a bit of an impact on my reading of the book.

Whilst Ringo – A Little Help is well researched and well written, Starr did not manage to make me change my mind. Those who are a fan of The Beatles and of Ringo will enjoy Michael Seth Starr’s attention to detail.

Ringo – With a Little Help by Michael Seth Starr is available now.

For more information regarding Michael Seth Starr (@biowriter61) please visit www.michaelsethstarr.com.

For more information regarding Backbeat Books (@backbeatbooks) please visit www.backbeatbooks.com.

Title: Hang the DJ – An Alternative Book of Music Lists

Author: Angus Cargill

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber

The Blurb

In the hearts of all music lovers there are lists – from the best break-up songs, to the best drinking songs; the perfect mix-tape to the dream set-list; Dylan’s dirtiest songs, to Tom Waits’ saddest.

Hang the DJ compiles the sort of thing you might once have scribbled in the back of your school book: musical loves and hates, dreams and nightmares. With contributions from novelists (Ali Smith, David Peace, Jonathan Lethem, Michel Faber), musicians (Kathryn Williams, Willy Vlautin, Jeb Loy Nichols, Tom McRae) and music writers (Nick Kent, Laura Barton, Simon Reynolds, Jon Savage) this is a collection that will inspire and provoke and send you back to your music collection, to old favourites and guilty pleasures alike.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Hang the DJ is a great little compendium made up by music aficionados who give their top ten lists of music. This may not be their top ten favourite songs but songs that they deserve to be put in a list (a personal favourite was Top Ten songs that Feature Stuttering).

I will admit that Hang the DJ does hit a bit of a lull in the middle and it really is a book for hardcore music fans – it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to everyday pop. However, it did get me thinking about my top ten lists o music and it helped me create a few new playlists on my iPod.

Hang the DJ also served to remind me just how much I love music.

Hang the DJ – An Alternative Book of Music Lists by Angus Cargill is available now.

For more information regarding Faber & Faber (@FaberBooks) please visit www.faber.co.uk.

 

Title: Sweet Sorrow

Author: David Nicholls

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

The Blurb

One life-changing summer
Charlie meets Fran…

In 1997, Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember in the school photograph. His exams have not gone well. At home he is looking after his father, when surely it should be the other way round, and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread.

Then Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope.

But if Charlie wants to be with Fran, he must take on a challenge that could lose him the respect of his friends and require him to become a different person. He must join the Company. And if the Company sounds like a cult, the truth is even more appalling.

The price of hope, it seems, is Shakespeare.

Poignant, funny, enchanting, devastating, Sweet Sorrow is a tragicomedy about the rocky path to adulthood and the confusion of family life, a celebration of the reviving power of friendship and that brief, searing explosion of first love that can only be looked at directly after it has burned out.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Since the release of One Day I have hoovered the books by David Nicholls. One Day was one of those rare books that comes along and intoxicates you so much that you become even more antisocial that normal (seriously, I went to the pub with friends and ignored them so I could read my book).

Sweet Sorrow is certainly of a similar ilk to One Day. It is a book filled with nostalgia, of missed chances, and of coming of age. Nicholls manages to parallel what should be the most exciting time of a teenagers life with the pain of reality of growing up and life not going your way or going the way you expected it to go.

Sweet Sorrow is the butter sweet tale of first love and it is filled to the rim of those evocative feelings we have all had.

Whilst Nicholls hasn’t recreated the magic of One Day for me personally, he has created a sentimental story that was so damn endearing and enjoyable to read.

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls is available now.

For more information regarding David Nicholls (@DavidNWriter) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Hodder & Stoughton (@HodderBooks) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Freya

Author: Anthony Quinn

Pages: 464 Pages

Publisher: Random House UK

The Blurb

London, May 1945. Freya Wyley, twenty, meets Nancy Holdaway, eighteen, amid the wild celebrations of VE Day, the prelude to a devoted and competitive friendship that will endure on and off for the next two decades. Freya, wilful, ambitious, outspoken, pursues a career in newspapers which the chauvinism of Fleet Street and her own impatience conspire to thwart, while Nancy, gentler, less self-confident, struggles to get her first novel published. Both friends become entangled at university with Robert Cosway, a charismatic young man whose own ambition will have a momentous bearing on their lives.

Flitting from war-haunted Oxford to the bright new shallows of the 1960s, Freya plots the unpredictable course of a woman’s life and loves against a backdrop of Soho pornographers, theatrical peacocks, willowy models, priapic painters, homophobic blackmailers, political careerists.

Beneath the relentless thrum of changing times and a city being reshaped, we glimpse the eternal: the battles fought by women in pursuit of independence, the intimate mysteries of the human heart, and the search for love. Stretching from the Nuremberg war trials to the advent of the TV celebrity, from innocence abroad to bitter experience at home, Freya presents the portrait of an extraordinary woman taking arms against a sea of political and personal tumult.

The Review

I loved this book.

Freya is the brilliant story of the eponymous character in post-war Britain and her turbulent friendship with Nancy.

Freya is not the most likeable of characters and Quinn has made sure that the reader sees that her flaws are obvious but also that the things that she dislikes most about people, society, and social morals are the faux pas that she keeps producing.

Even though Freya can be very unlikable so can Nancy. You find yourself yelling at both of them as they both make mistakes time and time again. Quinn really shows the truth about friendship. The upsides and the downsides and just how difficult sustaining a friendship can be.

I really loved reading Freya. It is by no means a small book but I wanted more. The story did not need more and I was satisfied with the story as a whole but I just loved it so much. I was bereft when it was over.

Freya by Anthony Quinn is available now.

For more information regarding Random House UK (@penguinrandom) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.com.

Title: Beatlebone

Author: Kevin Barry

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Canongate

The Blurb

He will spend three days alone on his island. That is all that he asks . . . John is so many miles from love now and home. This is the story of his strangest trip.

John owns a tiny island off the west coast of Ireland. Maybe it is there that he can at last outrun the shadows of his past.

The tale of a wild journey into the world and a wild journey within, Beatlebone is a mystery box of a novel. It’s a portrait of an artist at a time of creative strife. It is most of all a sad and beautiful comedy from one of the most gifted stylists now at work.

The Review

I genuinely have no idea what this book was about or what I was supposed to take from it. I felt this way midway through and after 320 pages I still feel this way.

John Lennon wandering around with no purpose. Ok. I still don’t get it.

Beatlebone by Kevin Barry is available now.

For more information regarding Canongate (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.co.uk.