Title: Alexander’s Relations

Author: Roger Stokes

Pages: 171 Pages

Publisher: Matador

The Blurb

Where would we be without our memories? And what memories would we have without our relationships?

Five friends, five decades.

From the swinging 60s to the early 2000s, five friends explore life and love to the full. Beginning in a nondescript suburb, onto swinging London and hedonistic getaways to the Costa Dorada and Provence, their outlooks on life and relationships with each other change and grow over the years.

An achingly real, nostalgic tale of life, friendship and love that flows from the innocence of flower power to the era of the internet, Alexander’s Relations echoes the voices of a generation.

The author’s first novel, The Good Man’s Daughter, was published in 2011.

The Review

I really wanted to enjoy Alexander’s Relations. I love books with a music base, I love the 60s and I adore coming of age novels. Sadly, I really didn’t enjoy the writing style. So much so that I had to DNF this title.

For me, the side comments by the protagonist were grating. They didn’t seem to happen just once or twice. It felt like it was the end of every section. It made the writing seem conversational which would be fine if that had been set up at the beginning of the story – like if the characters were reminiscing to another character but they were talking to the reader and it just did not sit well at all.

Personally, I think that this novel needed a bit of revision and tidying up. The premise and the story could have been executed better.

Alexander’s Relations by Roger Stokes is available now.

For more information regarding Roger Stokes (@Rstokes_Author) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Matador (@matadorbooks) please visit www.troubador.co.uk/matador

Title: Taxi Tales from Paris

Author: Nicky Gentil

Pages: 112 Pages

Publisher: Matador

The Blurb

Taxi Tales From Paris is not your typical account of what happens when you move to another country. Nicky Gentil’s memoir offers the reader a truly original insight into life in the French capital because, as the title suggests, everything is seen through the prism of her most memorable taxi rides taken during the thirty years she has lived there.

Hugely entertaining, with some delightful comic touches, Gentil’s tales cover a wide variety of subjects such as her love of her adoptive country, the cultural differences she frequently encounters, the joys of parenthood, or indeed her ever-present passion for jazz, to quote but a few examples.

By the end of this book, as with any memoir set in the City of Light, you will immediately want to leap on board the next Eurostar going but, on this occasion, with one very specific aim in mind: to jump – upon arriving in Paris – into the very first taxi you see!

The Review

I don’t know what it is about Paris but it is a city that gets under your skin. You cannot fail to fall completely in love with it. I am a total Francophile and I love books set in Paris, even more so when it is a non-fictional account of this beautiful city. It is with this in mind that I have to tell you about this gorgeous book – Taxi Tales from Paris. It is a book made up of quirky encounters that author Nicky Gentil has had with taxi drivers in Paris.

The tales were delightful. They were funny, cute, endearing and all show how these journeys and encounters have helped shape Gentil’s many years in Paris. It is an adorable book which is over far too quickly. You should probably treasure and take your time with Taxi Tales from Paris but I couldn’t put it down.

Pick up Taxi Tales from Paris. You will be awfully glad you did.

Taxi Tales from Paris by Nicky Gentil is available now.

Love FifteenTitle: Love Fifteen

Author: Peter Nichols

Pages: 200 Pages

Publisher: Troubador Publishing

The Blurb

A bittersweet comedy about an adolescent boy’s affair with a 30-year-old woman that is set in Bristol during World War II.

Theodore Light is a young boy with rich ambition who reaches the tender age of fifteen in 1940. He’s looking forward to being sent to Canada to avoid the blitzes on his home town, Bristol. His childhood dream is to direct Hollywood films, but for now the closest he can get to them is seeing them in a cinema. Being underage, however, makes his dream near impossible – until he meets an older woman that takes a shine to him…

Page-turning drama unfolds when Theodore bunks off from school and stumbles upon a stunning older woman, Mrs Hampton, who offers to accompany him to see a film. During an air raid, Mrs. Hampton offers her flat as shelter, where their relationship intensifies and fondness for each other matures.

This is the story of their taboo affair, played out against a wartime background, as Theodore continues to dream of Hollywood fame and glory.

Love Fifteen is a captivating combination of whirlwind romance and wartime adventure that will be enjoyed by fans of historical fiction and domestic comedy. Author Peter has been inspired by acting and film production which took a prominent role in his life from a young age.

The Review

Oh dear.

I really didn’t like Love Fifteen. I’m sorry. I found this story to be an extremely tedious read. The overall plot had so much potential: Suburban Britain during the war, a young boy on the verge of manhood is shown the ways of love by a lusty older woman. So far, so good. Throw in a dysfunctional family; a mother who is having romantic dalliances whilst her husband is away for weeks on end and a golden child sister whose crown is destined to fall off sooner or later.

See this is a good plot. The writing was not. Reading Love Fifteen felt like swimming through hummus.

This really wasn’t the book for me.

Love Fifteen by Peter Nichols is available now.

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

1 star

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

Facing the MusicTitle: Facing the Music

Author: Tim Thorogood

Pages: 206 Pages

Publisher: Troubador Publishing

The Blurb

As Gary struggles to pull his family together, a visit to Glastonbury festival changes their lives forever.

Gary is a single parent who is desperate to cling onto his children, but he’s hiding a secret that starts to force them apart. He made a pledge and he intends to keep it – but the festival has a way of exposing the truth, and Gary is no longer master of his own fate…

Plunge into the depths of the Glastonbury Festival and explore it with the central character, Gary Cochrane, whose rebellious teenage children take the chance to break free from his control and assert their independence. Soak up the atmosphere, absorb the energy and experience the rain, the mud and the toilets in the world’s largest green field music festival.

“Gary felt elated, and free of all commitment or responsibility. He has no idea if it was one or two or three in the morning. It didn’t matter: he was dynamic, powerful and in control.”

In his novel, Tim Thorogood explores this iconic festival by painting fictional characters and events onto an authentic backdrop, drawn from his own personal experience. “I’ve tried to make the descriptions as real as possible,” says Tim Thorogood, “so that readers can experience the festival for themselves. I want them to feel as though they’ve actually been there! I’ve been going to Glastonbury for years and this novel is my way of sharing the adventure with others.”

Tim Thorogood plans to donate half of all profits to the three charities that Glastonbury currently supports – Greenpeace, Water Aid and Oxfam.

The Review

I initially requested Facing the Music from NetGalley because I love festivals. For the past few years I have not really been able to attend any due to ill health so I thought maybe I would be able to live vicariously through Tim Thorogood. That is what literature is all about, isn’t it?

I was expecting unexpected tales from festival fields. You know the kind: crazy hijinx, meeting randomers and eating a full roast in a giant Yorkshire pudding. I wasn’t expecting the story of a widower, a single parent who is struggling to come to terms with his wife’s death as well as raise two teenagers. The trip to Glastonbury was meant to be a healing exercise but instead quickly turns into another nightmare.

If I told you that I loved Facing the Music I would be lying. At times it felt a little too heavy and for someone who saw festivals as a form of escapism Facing the Music was just a little too heavy. It was an interesting story and I did not see some of the plot twists happening but overall I wasn’t enamoured with the story.

Facing the Music by Tim Thorogood is available now.

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

2 Stars