Monday, 6 March 2017

What I Read... February 2017

Love at Second Sight - Cathy Hopkins
A cute romantic read about teenager Jo's search for the boy she fell in love with in a past life. I loved the London setting, especially the rich imagery of Highgate Cemetery.
If you enjoy light-hearted YA, this could be one for you.
Unknown Pleasures - Inside Joy Division - Peter Hook
This is a difficult one to review, because although I read the whole thing within 24 hours, I didn't find it easy.

The opening sections were probably my favourite, where he's going to punk gigs and first taking a serious interest in music. These sections also capture a sense of Manchester and the north in the late 1970s and make fascinating reading.

There was a lot of the dry humour I'd expected, and Hooky doesn't hold back with his opinions which makes it feel as though he's sharing his secrets directly with the reader. The stories of Joy Division on the road and in the studio were interesting, and the recollections of individual performances were entertaining and evocative, but the way he writes about the dynamic within the band creates the tension that made this a compulsive (and at times draining) read.

This volume of Peter Hook's memoir was always going to be very much about Ian Curtis and I found myself waiting uncomfortably for the section I knew was coming - Ian's death. I liked how Hooky went to great pains to paint the Ian Curtis he knew - someone who was one of the lads, and at times downright crude. Everyone knows about the epilepsy, the affair, the suicide, the artsy Ian... the way he's been frozen in time by the fans and the media. Hearing what he was actually like from bandmate makes him more 3D somehow, less of a caricature.

I'm definitely going to read the New Order book very soon and imagine that'll be equally as gripping (if not moreso to me personally as that's the music I prefer).

The Unmumsy Mum - Sarah Turner

I'm not sure if part of the reason this didn't speak to me as much as it has some of my friends is because I'm well past the baby stage.

There were definitely scenes from their family life I could relate to, and I did find myself giggling along at the comments about the challenges of parenthood, but personally I feel the short, sharp blog posts have more of an impact than a full-length book.
This Beats Perfect - Rebecca Denton

Amelie doesn't like boybands. She'd rather be listening to her diverse collection of original vinyl. However, because of her dad's job in the music industry, she finds herself surrounded by the biggest pop band of the moment 'The Keep'.

This is a book I'd been really looking forward to, and it was a quick YA read. The plot wasn't complex, but didn't need to be as it was still very readable.

My main issue was that I didn't always like Amelie and her ways. Yes, she is a teenager, but she came across as a bit brattish at times. However, I really liked the character Maxx and his motivations and story were very believable.

I'd have loved this book in my teens and I'm sure many fangirls will be hooked by this story of romance, the music industry and being true to yourself.

Why Pamper Life's Complexities? - Essays on The Smiths - Ed. Sean Campbell and Colin Coulter

Interesting collection of essays relating to The Smiths and their place in society, politics and musical history.

Some essays were more interesting to me than others, with particular praise going to Joseph Brooker's ' Has the World Changed or Have I Changed?- The Smiths and the Challenge of Thatcherism', Cecelia Mello's 'I Don't Owe You Anything - The Smiths and kitchen-sink cinema' and particularly Karl Maton's 'Last Night We Dreamt that Somebody Loved Us - Smiths fans (and me) in the late 1980s'. This is partly due to the content relating to areas that appeal to my own personal interest, but also because I felt they were most accessible and original.

One area which could have been stronger for me was a wider use of sources - many essays referred to the same key interviews and lyrics which made this book repetitive at times when read as a collection.

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