I'm with the bandTitle: I’m Not With the Band (A Writer’s Life Lost in Music)

Author: Sylvia Patterson

Pages: 448 Pages

Publisher: Little Brown Book Group

The Blurb

This is a three-decade survivor’s tale … a scenic search for elusive human happiness through music, magazines, silly jokes, stupid shoes, useless blokes, hopeless homes, booze, drugs, love, loss, A&E, death, disillusion and hope – while trying to make Prince laugh, startle Beyoncé, cheer Eminem up, annoy Madonna, drink with Shaun Ryder and finish off Westlife forever (with varying degrees of success).

In 1986, Sylvia Patterson boarded a train to London armed with a tea-chest full of vinyl records, a peroxide quiff and a dream: to write about music, forever. She got her wish.

Escaping a troubled home, Sylvia embarks on a lifelong quest to discover The Meaning of It All. The problem is she’s mostly hanging out with flaky pop stars, rock ‘n’ roll heroes and unreliable hip-hop legends. As she encounters music’s biggest names, she is confronted by glamour and tragedy; wisdom and lunacy; drink, drugs and disaster. And Bros.

Here is Madonna in her Earth Mother phase, flinging her hands up in horror at one of Sylv’s Very Stupid Questions. Prince compliments her shoes while Eminem threatens to kill her. She shares fruit with Johnny Cash, make-up with Amy Winehouse and several pints with the Manics’ lost soul-man Richey Edwards. She finds the Beckhams fragrant in LA, a Gallagher madferrit in her living room and Shaun Ryder and Bez as you’d expect, in Jamaica.

From the 80s to the present day, I’m Not with the Band is a funny, barmy, utterly gripping chronicle of the last thirty years in music and beyond. It is also the story of one woman’s wayward search for love, peace and a wonderful life. And whether, or not, she found them.

The Review

As a one-time music reviewer, I was keen to read Sylvia Patterson’s book I’m Not With the Band – A Writer’s Life Lost in Music because if I’m truly honest it was all I’ve ever wanted; travelling around with bands, being there for the important things, the big events, the epic concerts. Sadly that wasn’t the life that I got. It is a shame but I had some good times with music. So I opted to live vicariously through Sylvia Patterson.

What an interesting ride.

Sylvia talks about these truly amazing events that she has seen, moments that she has been privy to with all the humility and humbleness of someone who just accepts this as the norm. For Patterson, it was. For this wide eyed reader I read each page with excitement…and admittedly, a little envy.

I’m Not With the Band – A Writer’s Life Lost in Music is a brilliant memoir of not just a person but a history of music that each and every one of us can relate to in some way or another. There are moments when some of the writing feels a little self indulgent – especially with the insider lingo – but it doesn’t take away from the truly amazing experiences that are fascinating to read about.

I’m Not With the Band – A Writer’s Life Lost in Music by Sylvia Patterson is available now.

For more information regarding Sylvia Patterson (@SylvPatterson) please visit www.sylviapatterson.tumblr.com.

For more information regarding Little Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.

4 Stars

When Everything Feels Like the MoviesTitle: When Everything Feels Like the Movies

Author: Raziel Reid

Pages: 176 Pages

Publisher: Little Brown Book Group

The Blurb

Everyone wanted to break me. But stars aren’t broken, they explode. And I was the ultimate supernova.

My name was Jude. They called me Judy. I was beautiful either way.

School was basically a movie set. We were all just playing our parts. The Crew, the Extras, the Movie Stars. No one was ever real . . . especially me. I didn’t fit any category.

All the girls watched me – I could walk so much better than them in heels, and my make-up was always flawless.

All the boys wanted to, well, you know . . . even if they didn’t admit it.

They loved me, they hated me, but they could never ignore me.

I only had eyes for Luke. A red carpet rolled out from my heart towards him and this year, on Valentine’sDay, I was going to walk that carpet and find my mark next to him. It would be like a dream.

But my dream was going to turn into a nightmare.

This is my story.

#WEFLTM

The Review

Oh boy, oh boy. I am a big fan of LGBTQIA fiction (although I hate that there has to be a specific term to define said fiction). As someone who works in education, I personally feel that books which focus on characters that are part of the LGBTQIA community really goes above and beyond the way to make today’s (and future) generations stop any prejudices. That is my hope, anyway. It may be seen as completely naïve but I stand by that.

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid is a LGBTQIA story with a difference. Personally, I found it a very divisive story. I liked parts of the story but I didn’t really like the main character, Jude. I found him to be obnoxious and aggressive and whilst I could see that Reid had created a character with a vulnerable side I don’t believe it was enough to win me over.

As a reader, I like to champion my protagonist and in this case I honestly couldn’t say that I rooted for him at all. Furthermore, I felt that the writing style was deliberately taboo and provocative at times, not because it was necessary but more for the shock and awe value. Personally, I find this poor storytelling; if you have to revert to taboo statements then it screams that you can’t tell me in a more florid way.

However, When Everything Feels Like the Movies highlighted the dangerous nature of prejudice among youth. This is something that I will forever champion in literature.

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid is available from the 4th August 2016.

For more information regarding Raziel Reid (@razielreid) please visit www.razielreid.com.

For more information regarding Little Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.

2 Stars