Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Songs About a Girl

Chris Russell
songs girlCharlie Bloom never wanted to be ‘with the band’. She’s happiest out of the spotlight, behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. But when she’s asked to take backstage photos for hot new boy band Fire&Lights, she can’t pass up the chance.
Catapulted into a world of paparazzi and backstage bickering, Charlie soon becomes caught between gorgeous but damaged frontman, Gabriel West, and his boy-next-door bandmate Olly Samson. Then, as the boys’ rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles upon a mind-blowing secret, hidden in the lyrics of their songs…

This book follows Charlie Bloom, a budding photographer who is asked to take behind the scene pictures of the biggest teen boy band in the world – Fire and Lights. Charlie finds herself in the unfamiliar world of paparazzi, celebrities and tabloid gossip and soon becomes caught up with the gorgeous lead singer and teen heartthrob, Gabriel West and his incredibly sweet band mate, Olly Samson. Her newfound celebrity status sends shock waves through her everyday life as Charlie discovers a shocking message hidden within the bands new album – Songs About a Girl.

Above all this is a book about growing up and dealing with friends and family. It not only explores relationship dynamics but also looks at bullying and a variety of issues present in everyday life. Not to mention the very exciting and swoon worthy romance that captivates the reader from page one and had me squealing intermittently throughout the book.

Chris Russell successfully creates a very likeable protagonist- Charlie – who is an ordinary yet real character and whose qualities made the narrative that bit more relatable whilst contributing to the light nature of the novel. The characters of Olly and Gabriel had considerable depth for a novel of this nature, although at times their angst came across as quite forced and somewhat clichéd.

I did, however, think the plot was interesting and constantly evolved throughout the novel. The twists and turns in the storyline kept me constantly engaged whilst the cliffhanger at the end definitely ensured I will purchase the second instalment of this series. Additionally, I thought the book was surprisingly hilarious whilst delightfully heart-warming and Chris Russell’s love for music oozed from every page – making the narrative have a somewhat authentic vibe.

Although this was by no means the most well written book I have ever read, I did find it wonderfully uplifting and immensely satisfying. I found the plot to be of a great rhythm that had me glued to every page whilst the writing style was incredibly easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable.

Verdict: To put it simply this was an addictive story that I would recommend to everyone who is looking for a light and extremely fun read. Chris Russell has created a truly loveable world with a captivating plot and relatable characters. I would recommend this if you enjoyed Open Road Summer by Emery Lord and I think it is suitable for 10+ readers as there is little to no mature content

Reviewed by Evie (14)

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Publication Date: July 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 496
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Music
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie (14)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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Bookish Brits: Drummer Girl Buddy Review

Bridget Tyler
16691515It was supposed to be the summer of her life. Instead, 17-year-old Lucy finds her best friend Harper shot dead in an LA swimming pool. How did it come to this? Lucy Gosling is the drummer in Crush, a rock band formed by five London schoolgirls that has just won the UK semi-final of an international talent contest. But when the band lands in Hollywood for the big final, things are not quite as they seem. The band’s lead singer, Harper, has just one thing on her mind – using sex, drugs and rock and roll, not to mention Crush itself, to win back her bad-news ex-boyfriend. Lucy must decide whether she’s playing to Harper’s tune, or setting the rhythm for the rest of the band

Posted by Faye and Caroline

Publisher: Templar
Publication Date: May 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 361
Genre: Contemporary fiction, friendship
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline and Faye
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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The Mozart Question

Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman

A boy’s passion for music unlocks a painful secret — and draws his family together — in a multilayered tale by an outstanding author-illustrator pair.
Like any young boy, Paolo becomes obsessed with what he can’t have — in his case, a violin. Hidden away in his parents’ room, it beckons the boy to release the music inside it. The music leads Paolo to a family secret, a story of World War II that changed the course of his parents’ lives. But once the truth is told, the family is reunited in a way no one had thought possible. From Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman comes a story about sharing the joy of music from one generation to the next and about music’s power to transform and heal.

Just three weeks in to her fledgling career, cub reporter Lesley is handed the opportunity of a lifetime. Stepping in at the last minute for her hospitalised boss, Lesley is whisked away to Venice to interview world famous Violinist Paolo Levi. She has strict instructions to focus on the music and avoid asking the private musician any personal questions and under no circumstances should she ask the Mozart question. The only problem is that Lesley has no idea what the Mozart question is.

Twenty four hours later, sat drinking mint tea in the virtuoso’s sparse living quarters, Lesley discovers that Paolo has other ideas. For over forty years he has kept a promise and protected his family’s story, but now the time has come to tell the truth.

Filled with the compulsion to make music, one boy discovers his great gift when holding his fathers abandoned Violin for the first time. Exploring his new found passion leads to the discovery of his parent’s history, exposing the raw wounds of their holocaust experiences and the exploitation of the musical talent that was the key to their survival.

While undoubtedly emotive, Morpurgo handled the subject matter beautifully. Providing enough detail to educate and evoke emotion, but not too much as to overwhelm young readers. I sat reading this account with watery eyes, and at one point I felt a shiver of cold revulsion spread down my spine. Despite the horror of this bleak period in our history and mans ability to harm his fellow man, The Mozart Question, ultimately left me feeling uplifted. I was able to turn the final page with a small smile on my face, as in counterbalance to mans cruelty, Morpurgo shows us the beauty of mans love.

Michael Foreman’s illustrations fit the story perfectly. The use of muted colours conveys the seriousness of the subject matter, while the softness of the water colours allow the illustrations to sit within the text without distracting from the story, that is until afforded a full or half page. The artist’s talents are revealed in these larger images, capturing the mood and essence of the iconic images of the holocaust, that as adults have already had some exposure to.

This is the first and only Michael Morpurgo book I’ve read. I know, I know, where have I been?!(Hangs head in shame). I plan to amend this oversight by checking out other Morpurgo titles and sharing them with my children when they are old enough to appreciate them.

Verdict: At just eighty pages this small book packs a large emotional punch.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: 2007
Format: Paperback
Pages: 80
Genre: Holocaust
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British Book
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Author Interview: Barry Hutchison

Here at Big Book Little Book we are delighted to welcome Barry Hutchison, author of The 13th Horseman (read Jack’s review here). Barry took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some of Jack’s questions.


In a darkly funny, action-packed adventure, fourteen year old Drake is surprised to discover the Horsemen of the Apocalypse hanging out in his garden shed. He’s even more surprised when they ask him to join them. The team is missing a Horseman, having gone through several Deaths, and they think Drake is the boy for the job.

What inspired you to write The 13th Horseman?

I grew up reading funny books, and although I loved writing my Invisible Fiends horror series, I had a real urge to write funny stuff. I’ve had the idea for The 13th Horseman since I was about 18 years old (I’m 34 now!). I thought if the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse had been created at the beginning of time, with the sole purpose of kicking off Judgement Day at the end of time, then what would they be doing in between times? I was sharing a flat with three REALLY annoying people at the time, and I thought that being one of the Four Horsemen would be a bit like that – the others would be getting on your nerves all the time, and you’d always be looking for things to do in order to make time pass more quickly. That’s why they’re always playing board games, just to try to stave off the boredom and stop themselves going mad like most of their Deaths have.

What is your favourite book (not the ones that you’ve written)?

That’s tricky. I read a lot of books, and my favourite changes almost every day. I love most of Neil Gaiman’s books – American Gods is a good one for adults, or The Graveyard Book is great for both adults and children. Growing up I read a lot of American comics – Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, The Incredible Hulk – all that stuff. I still love reading comics, and some of my favourite stories are in graphic novel format.
A favourite book when I was young was The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea. It’s a fantasy story set in Ireland, and although I’ve never been a big fan of fantasy books, I absolutely loved it and read it probably half a dozen times in the space of a few years. It’s quite a long book, but well worth reading. Every time I finished it I remember feeling sad because the story was over.

What is your favourite food?

Easy – seafood. Prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, scallops – pretty much anything that comes out of the sea, really. If a giant sea monster rose up out of the ocean tomorrow I’d be after it with a fork and a slice of lemon. Seriously, if Godzilla ever emerges from the deeps, he’d better watch his back.

What is your favourite book that you’ve written?

My favourite is The 13th Horseman, although I’ll always have a soft spot for the Invisible Fiends series, with them being my first published books. I had a lot more freedom in Horseman to do anything I liked, and I loved setting my imagination loose. The Fiends books are very story driven, so you’re always racing from one thing to the next. It was nice to be able to slow down a bit and sometimes include scenes or conversations that don’t really matter much to the plot. For example, some of my favourite bits in Horseman come when they’re in Limbo. I like the Alfred Randall X-perience, and even made myself laugh writing the conversation between Drake and the wardrobe he thought contained the Deathblade.
That said, writing is like anything else you do – the more you practice, the better you get – so hopefully my next books will be even better!

What type of music do you like to listen to?

I listen to a huge range of music, from classical stuff like Chopin, to Lady Gaga. My iPod has got a real mix of stuff on it – Bruno Mars, Led Zepplin, Elvis, Mumford & Sons, Oasis, The Smiths, and lots more. I’m not sure I have a favourite band or favourite type of music, because it depends on what mood I’m in. Sometimes I listen to music while I’m writing. When I was writing the Invisible Fiends book, “Doc Mortis” for example, I listened to a lot of creepy horror music and some really old recordings of nursery rhymes. They helped set the scene and get me in the mood for writing really scary scenes.

If you could be any other author, who would it be and why?

What an interesting question. Sadly, the answer’s going to be quite boring. I don’t think I’d want to be any author other than me. I feel really lucky to be able to write the books I want to write, and we’re all really lucky that there are so many brilliant authors out there who are also writing the books they want to write. It means we have more books to choose from than we’ll ever be able to read, and I love reading almost as much as I love writing. If I was writing Terry Pratchett’s books, let’s say, then I would be robbed of the pleasure of reading them.

I wouldn’t say no to all his money, mind you…

The 13th Horseman is published by Harper Collins Children’s Books and is available to buy now.

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