on-bowieTitle: On Bowie

Author: Rob Sheffield

Pages: 208 Pages

Publisher: Headline

The Blurb

On Bowie is a thoughtful and loving meditation on the life of the late David Bowie that explores his creative legacy and the enduring and mutual connection he enjoyed with his fans

Innovative. Pioneering. Brave. Until his death in January 2016, David Bowie created art that not only pushed boundaries, but helped fans understand themselves and view the world from fantastic new perspectives.

When the shocking news of his death on January 10, 2016 broke, the outpouring of grief and adulation was immediate and ongoing. Fans around the world and across generations paid homage to this brilliant, innovate, ever-evolving artist who both shaped and embodied our times

In this concise and penetrating book, highly-regarded Rolling Stone critic, bestselling author, and lifelong Bowie fan Rob Sheffield shares his own feelings about the passing of this icon and explains why Bowie’s death has elicited such an unprecedented emotional outpouring from so many.

The Review

Let’s face it folks, 2016 has not been kind to out celebrities. Out of all of the celebrity deaths that have happened so far David Bowie was one of the harshest for me. I loved Bowie. I couldn’t tell you exactly when I discovered my love for David Bowie but being a child of the 80s my introduction to him must have come from the movie Labyrinth. From then on my love grew.

My love and indeed obsession with music came (like most) in my teen years and it was then that I discovered Bowie the musician not Jareth the Goblin King. Bowie wasn’t and still isn’t someone that you can listen to passively. His music dictates that you give him your full attention. Likewise this is what I gave to Rob Sheffield when I read his book On Bowie. The book was written in light of Bowie’s death in January and released a few months after and what I loved about it is that the biography (I feel weird calling it this) mixes moments from David Bowie’s life and shows the resonance that Bowie had on his audience. How what he did and how he did it impacted people. That is what, in my humble opinion, makes Rob Sheffield’s writing really exciting. You see it in his previous books and you definitely see it in On Bowie. It is the book that makes you shout “Yes! You get it. That is exactly how I feel.”

If you love Bowie then read On Bowie. If you love music then read On Bowie. And if you love it when an author just gets it then read On Bowie.

On Bowie by Rob Sheffield is available now.

For more information regarding Rob Sheffield (@robsheff) please visit www.robsheffield.com.

For more information regarding Headline (@headlinepg) please visit www.headline.co.uk.

4-stars

ViewTitle: The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non-Fiction

Author: Neil Gaiman

Pages: 532 Pages

Publisher: Headline

The Blurb

The View from the Cheap Seats draws together myriad non-fiction writing by international phenomenon and Sunday Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman. From Make Good Art, the speech that went viral, to pieces on artists and legends including Terry Pratchett and Lou Reed, the collection offers a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed writers of our time.

‘Literature does not occur in a vacuum. It cannot be a monologue. It has to be a conversation’

Welcome to the conversation. Neil Gaiman fled the land of journalism to find truths through storytelling and sanctuary in not needing to get all the facts right. Of course, the real world continued to make up its own stories around him, and he has responded over the years with a wealth of ideas and introductions, dreams and speeches. Here ‘we can meet the writer full on’ (Stephen Fry) as he opens our minds to the people he admires and the things he believes might just mean something – and makes room for us to join the conversation too.

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

I love Neil Gaiman. I have said that I would love to tickle his brain and hopefully some of that magic and talent could be captured by my fingers. Sadly, I don’t think that I am going to get the opportunity to tickle his brain so instead I will settle for reading his books.

I wanted to read The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non Fiction because I wanted to find out more about the man behind the writer. What was it that made Neil Gaiman so talented as a writer. It was the wrong thing for me to do. Neil Gaiman the man and Neil Gaiman the writer are one and the same. There is no line of distinction. What I did take from The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non Fiction is a deeper love for Neil Gaiman.

Truthfully, some of the essays in this selection did not have a massive impact on me. However, there were plenty that left me stunned. Personal highlights were:

On Stephen King, for the Sunday Times

2004 Harvey Awards Speech

Some Strangeness in the Proportion: The Exquisite Beauties of Edgar Allen Poe

Waiting for the Man: Lou Reed

The Dresden Dolls: Hallowe’en 2010

Eight Views of Mount Fuji: Beloved Demons and Anthony Martignetti

A Slip of the Keyboard: Terry Pratchett

All of these were fantastic reads. However, there were two essays that stood out for me. The first was Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming: The Reading Agency Lecture, 2013. I am a big advocate of libraries and the need for them in a community and so I sat reading this essay agreeing with every paragraph. Anyone who questions the need for libraries needs to read this essay.

The second essay that really had an impact on me was So Many Ways to Die in Syria Now: May 2014. It is heartbreaking. Truly.

Needless to say, my love for Neil Gaiman hasn’t wavered. The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non Fiction is a beautiful collection of essays and I fully recommend it.

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non Fiction by Neil Gaiman is available now.

For more information regarding Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) please visit www.neilgaiman.com.

For more information regarding Headline (@headlinepg) please visit www.headline.co.uk.

4 Stars

Every Exquisite ThingThe Blurb

From Matthew Quick, bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook, comes a heartfelt, unconventional and moving novel for readers who love John Green and Annabel Pitcher.

Nanette O’Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hard-working student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bubblegum Reaper – the mysterious, out-of-print cult-classic – the rebel within Nanette awakens.

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young but troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that sometimes rebellion comes at a high price.

A celebration of the self and the formidable power of story, Every Exquisite Thing is Matthew Quick at his finest.

The Review

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick has kind of left me speechless – and using the passive voice, apparently.

I guess I should give writing about it a try.

It is a wonderfully quirky story of a young girl, Nanette O’Hare whose life is changed when she reads a cult classic. She goes from socially accepted school girl on the football team to social pariah within days. She starts to make decisions about her life that are beyond the cookie-cutter print of expectation.

In breaking the mould Nanette has to pick up the pieces but will it be at a cost to who she is meant to be?

I thought Every Exquisite Thing was brilliant. It perfectly summed up the confusion of teenage life. It reminds us, as adult readers, how scary and how much pressure being a teenager can be. We too often look back at it through rose tinted glasses – the lack of bills and responsibilities – but remember that this is a time when we are expected to know what we want for the future, be planning for it and be so sure of ourselves whilst being a walking, talking hormone. I’m thirty-two and I still don’t know the answer to all of these things but like hell could you pay me to go back to being a teenager.

I think that is what this book does. It allows the older reader be reminded that teenage life isn’t that easy and the young adult reader to feel comforted in knowing that self same thing: life isn’t easy.

Every Exquisite Thing is a must read for fans of Matthew Quick. I would go so far as to say that this is his best work to date.

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick is available from 31st May 2016.

Follow Matthew Quick (@MatthewQuick21) on Twitter.

4 Stars

The Last Honeytrap by Louise Lee

The Blurb

Scot ‘Scat’ Delaney is a world famous jazz singer. He has ample opportunity to stray and his girlfriend, Alice, needs to know she can trust him.

Introducing Florence Love, Private Investigator.

Florence has just ten days to entrap an A-Lister. Whilst sticking to her cardinal rule:

One kiss, with tongues, five seconds – case closed.

A master of body language, evolutionary science and nifty disguises, her approach is unconventional, her success rate excellent. But targets are rarely as beautiful as Scat. Never fall for the target.

That is very bad form indeed.

The Last Honeytrap marks the energetic launch of a brilliant new series. Once you’ve met Florence Love, you’ll see the world in glorious technicolour at last.

The Review

Florence Love is a private detective who specialises in entrapment cases. When she is hired to entrap hunky superstar Scott ‘Scat’ Delany she plans to make sure she gets the scoop. She is a professional gumshoe after all what she doesn’t bank on is her falling in love with her latest target.

Amidst all this someone from Florence’s past is trying to get in touch and tell her something. Can she keep her professional head on as she tries to solve a deeply personal case? Only time will tell.

I had heard that The Last Honeytrap was a feel good, funny novel; a bit like chicklit but with more sass. To be fair it was good. It was entertaining and in a very basic way, it is a damn good detective story that kept me guessing from the beginning right to the very end. I personally did not see any of the twists and turns coming. I would make a woeful detective.

However, I found it hard to like our protagonist Florence Love. Sure, she had been scorned and had decided to become a private detective because of being scorned by a man (ok, her mum influenced her as well). She just wasn’t very likeable. Louise Lee tried to give her back story some extra elements to make us empathise with her but her actions made her come across as selfish, demanding and a little unhinged.

To be fair to Louise Lee, The Last Honeytrap is extremely well written and it will make a fantastic series. And to a large extent I did enjoy the story but when I am reading a book I have to like my leading lady. Heck, I have to want to be her but with Florence Love I just didn’t.

The Last Honeytrap by Louise Lee is available now.

The Last Honeytrap

The Blurb

Four girls. One year.

Five fabulous destinations.

Poppy is bound for Paris, the City of Love. Could this be her chance to end her epic dry spell?

Lily is en route to her cousin’s wedding in LA, where she’s willing to break a few rules to land her dream role.

Maggie can’t wait for her romantic ski holiday in Meribel – until it goes seriously off-piste.

Rachel packs for a glamorous Roman holiday, but a blast from the past is about to sabotage la dolce vita.

The girls get together and fly to Manhattan. But someone’s been hiding a big secret in the Big Apple…

Hilarious, romantic and unputdownable, Girls on Tour is an irresistible series of interlinked stories about four ordinary girls who have extraordinary fun in faraway places. Follow them in an unforgettable year that includes breaking up, making up, new jobs and some big surprises …

Perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk’s I Heart … novels. Previously published as five e-novellas, now in one volume with fabulous brand new material.

The Review

The final part in what has been an absolutely cracking series Girls on Tour reunites Poppy, Lily, Maggie and Rachel as the girls get together in New York to attend an exclusive event hosted by Lily. However, all is not what it seems.

I have loved this series. Each protagonist has made me laugh, yell at my kindle in frustration and also fall in love with them, their lifestyle and their total moxie. I must admit that I am sad to see it all end.

What is great about this collection of shorts is that Doherty has added linking chapters between each chapter and a whole new short story too. That is a lot of bang for your buck.

I think for me personally, the reason why I enjoyed this series so much is that I saw a little of myself in each of the characters; I also saw elements of their collective personalities that I wish I had. Besides all of this Nicola Doherty has made me realise the importance of adventure and also made me cherish and value the small events that shape our everyday.

If you have not read the Girls on Tour series then I implore you to buy this book. It is a wonderful sassy romp worthy of you spending your hard earned moolah on.

Girls on Tour by Nicola Doherty is available now.

Read on to see my reviews of the previous four books in this series.

Girls on Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poppy Does Paris

poppy does parisPoppy Does Paris, the first instalment in the Girls on Tour series was pretty much the ideal short story for me. I combined two of my favourite things; the world of publishing and the beautiful city of Paris.

What I loved about this short story is that the characters seemed fully developed. They didn’t appear as just brief snapshots. The story didn’t feel like scenes placed together, producing a domino effect. I was able to be charmed, amused and feel for the Poppy and romantic lead, Charlie.

Poppy’s mistakes felt like they could have been made by anyone. You genuinely wanted her not to screw up and felt the embarrassment – nay mortification – when she did. She was such a likable protagonist. Nicola Doherty has managed to create a character who I wanted to be – flaws and foibles included.

Lily Does LA

Lily Does LAI loved the first part of the Girls on Tour series – Poppy Does Paris. I did find Lily Does LAa little bit harder to get into.

Initially, I found Lily a little bit petulant. She was selfish and attracted the wrong kind of drama. I have to admit, she was really hard to like. Unlike Poppy – who seemed to make genuine mistakes, Lily caused her own drama and then didn’t really take responsibility for her actions.

However, once Lily had her life epiphany and had a complete character arc reveal she became quite likable, to the point that I am looking forward to reading more about her in the rest of the series.

So whilst I would say that Poppy Does Paris is more enjoyable do not give up Lily Does LA. Lily does become more likable and her story was actually very enjoyable.

Maggie Does Meribel

Maggie Does MeribelMaggie Does Meribel has been my favourite of the Girls on Tour series of books. What Nicola Doherty has managed to do (and do very well) is create a realistic story about the pitfalls of any relationship. The way she describes Maggie’s insecurity about rocking the boat when it is damn obvious that Leo is being horrible to her is such an honest account. Haven’t we all felt like that sometimes?

This was especially clever by being juxtaposed with the two other relationships within the story. They showed us, the reader, and Maggie exactly what she was missing.

I think Nicola Doherty has created such a wonderful series of books and each one has its own merits. With Maggie Does Meribel it is the anti-love story that makes it so special. Another massive well done to Nicola Doherty.

 

Rachel Does Rome

Rachel does RomeI have loved the Girls on Tour series and in my opinion they just keep getting better and better. Rachel Does Rome does not disappoint!

In this fourth instalment we see some of our favourite characters reunite for a girly holiday in Rome to save themselves from the Valentine blues. However, it seems like our protagonist Rachel has to deal with her past before she can move on.

In what I like to describe as the Sex and the City of short stories, Rachel Does Romefocuses more on friendship and independence than the other stories in this series. It is good to read a story about strong social groups – friendships over male/female relationships – it helps to remind you to keep your girls close because they are always there for you to fall back on.

Another triumph from Nicola Doherty!