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Dear Mr Pop Star By Derek and Dave Philpott

Dear Mr Pop Star‘Dear Mr Pop Star’ is the latest book by writing duo and father and son, Derek and Dave Philpott.

For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing to pop stars from the 1960s to the 90s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs. But then, to their great surprise, the pop stars started writing back. ‘Dear Mr Pop Star’ contains 100 of Derek and Dave’s greatest hits, including correspondence with Katrina and the Waves, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, The Housemartins, Suzi Quatro, Devo, Deep Purple, Nik Kershaw, T Pau, Human League, Eurythmics, Wang Chung, EMF, Mott the Hoople, Heaven 17, Jesus Jones, Johnny Hates Jazz, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Chesney Hawkes and many, many more.

If you’re looking a book that is something a little bit offbeat or quirky than I would thoroughly recommend ‘Dear Mr Pop Star’, a book that consists of a collection of letters that Dave Philpott has written to popstars over the last 30 years, questioning their choice of lyrics.
In these frank and bemused letters, Derek expresses concern and confusion over the song lyrics and takes them literally in some parts, whilst comparing them to his own real life situations, I particularly loved the letter to The Knack about their song called ‘My Sharona’. Often, the letters are also accompanied with replies from the artists who have taken the time to explain the lyrics and their meaning to the concerned man.
Hilariously funny in parts and wonderfully poignant in others, ‘Dear Mr Pop Stars’ is an entertaining read that provides some insights into some of the world’s most famous lyrics that we all often wondered about. Featuring replies from Spinal Tap, Dr. Hook and The Eurythmics, this book is a must for all music lovers.

You can buy Dear Mr Pop Star from Amazon

Sunshine And Sweet Peas In Nightingale Square By Heidi Swain

Sunshine And Sweetpeas In Nightingale Square’Sunshine And Sweet Peas In Nightingale Square’ is the latest book by Heidi Swain.

Kate is on the run from her almost-divorced husband who is determined to have her back, and she has found the perfect place to hide… a little cottage on Nightingale Square in Norwich, far away from her old life in London. But the residents of Nightingale Square don’t take no for an answer, and Kate soon finds herself pulled into a friendship with Lisa, her bossy but lovely new neighbour. Within a matter of days Kate is landed with the job of campaigning the council to turn the green into a community garden, meanwhile all the residents of Nightingale Square are horrified to discover that the Victorian mansion house on the other side of the square has been bought by developers. But when all hope is lost, the arrival of a handsome stranger is sure to turn things around.

I genuinely loved this book and the characters in it. Kate is a fun and fascinating character who is brave enough to go it alone even though she still loves her ex-husband, who’s quite slimy.

As she settles into her new life, she makes new friends who welcome her warmly into the area. I particularly loved Lisa, a boisterous and warm hearted character who knows everything and wants to know everything.

The story is fun and is also quite mysterious as Kate begins to delve into the history of the small square. There is also the inclusion of a handsome man called Luke, who brings a new energy and charisma to the tale.

Sweetly written with lovely characters, this book is the perfect standalone story to enjoy, but it also makes references to previous novels that I want to look into. A charming story about new beginnings, ‘Sunshine And Sweet Peas In Nightingdale Square’ is a lovely story with a beautiful cover.

You can buy from Amazon [\amazon_link] and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Eight Books That Changed My Life By Joanne Sefton

If They KnewOn the book tour for Joanne Sefton’s new book called ‘If They Knew’, Joanne talks about the eight books that changed her life.

Every writer is a reader first, and, amid all the excitement of finally seeing my debut novel go into print, I thought it would be nice to take a moment to reflect on the books that have been particularly important to me over the years. They are all different, of course, and significant to me in a variety of ways but, to my mind, all are wonderful, wonderful books. I hope you might be inspired to try one.

As a child I read like crazy, mostly from the library, getting six more out once or twice a week. ‘The Mona Lisa Mystery’, by Pat Hutchins, was different. I owned it (I think it came from a school book fair) and I must have read it hundreds of times. It has glamour, adventure, humour and ketchup. And of course ordinary children who save the day. It’s sadly out of print, but I’ve managed to dig out my much-thumbed copy and am delighted to report that my son now loves it almost as much as I did.

Aged 11 or 12 I received ‘Rosemary Sutcliffe’s Eagle of the Ninth’ as a school prize. It sat on the shelf for ages, looking a bit boring and intimidating. But when I started it – what a revelation. Sublime story-telling, which inspired a love of historical fiction that has stayed with me ever since. I do think teenage readers today have it much better than my generation did, with an explosion in high-quality YA fiction over recent years. But I’m pretty sure that one would still make the grade.

In my later teen years I went through a bit of an Arthurian phase and adored Mary Stewart’s ‘The Crystal Cave’ and the series that followed. They were 1970s classics, apparently, and so vivid and earthy compared to the prissy versions of Arthur I’d read and seen elsewhere. Back in the world of 1990s contemporary fiction, I was in love with Helen Fielding’s ‘Bridget Jones’ which fitted neatly into my obsession with that 1995 adaption of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ (brought to you by the BBC in conjunction with Colin Firth’s wet shirt).

With the whole world of adult fiction available, it’s even more difficult to pick the books that have meant most to me in my adult life, despite the fact that my reading rate has plunged. Some of my favourites are thought-provoking prize-winners, some are commercial successes that I’ve lapped up along with everyone else, and others are slightly more under the radar books that seemed to have been written to speak directly to me.

‘Quite Ugly One Morning’, and subsequent books by Christopher Brookmyre quite simply blew my mind, showing me that the grimmest crime stories could be written with belly-laughs, as well searing social observation. ‘Twelve Bar Blues’ by Patrick Neate, spoke to my love of historical fiction, although it’s also so much more. I was lucky enough to attend a writing course with Patrick, who had a sensitive and sophisticated take on cultural appropriation even before the phrase was widely in use. His books, and others, have made me think deeply about which stories I might be best-placed to tell, and which I am not. Finally, Carys Bray’s ‘A Song For Issy Bradley’ is set amongst a Mormon community in Southport and opened my eyes to the fact that compelling stories can be found in the most unexpected places.

Although there are literally hundreds of books that have helped make me who I am, both as a person and as a writer, I decided to limit myself to eight (that may have something to do with a Desert Island Discs obsession). It seems obvious that the last choice has to be If They Knew. The biggest dream of that little girl, queuing up to exchange her library books was to write a book of her own. I know that it’s a dream shared by so many people, and I feel so privileged to have it come true. If, as a writer, I can touch even one reader in the way these books have touched me, I’ll be absolutely delighted.

You can pre-order If They Knew from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 15th November.

You Let Me In By Lucy Clarke

You Let Me In‘You Let Me In’ is the latest book by Lucy Clarke.

Nothing has felt right since Elle rented out her house. There’s a new coldness. A shift in the atmosphere. The prickling feeling that someone is watching her every move from the shadows. Maybe it’s all in Elle’s mind? She’s a writer – her imagination, after all, is her strength. And yet every threat seems personal. As if someone has discovered the secrets that keep her awake at night. As fear and paranoia close in, Elle’s own home becomes a prison. Someone is unlocking her past – and she’s given them the key.

When I should have been settling down for the night, I started this book and was unable to put it down, as I couldn’t see properly, I was that tired.

2018 has presented some great thrillers, but I have to say that ‘I Let You in’ has been my favourite thriller of the year. It’s grippy, riddled with tension and suspense throughout and with a very unreliable protagonist that makes the reader on edge.

The story is mostly seen in the first person, of successful author Elle Fielding, who’s struggling to write her second book. Life is far from what she expected, after the success of her first novel. Having built her dream home in Cornwall and now going through a divorce, she’s lonely and stressed with her looming deadline. To take the stress of her financial worries, she rents her house out for Air BNB, but when she returns to her home after a stranger living in her house, she’s convinced that something is different.

Right from the offset, this book really pulled me in. Elle is a dark and troubled woman, who has quite an imaginative mind, that constantly leaves the reader in doubt. As strange things happen and Elle begins to doubt what’s real and what’s fiction, she lures the reader into her unstable mind.

The story is cleverly written, with smaller stories weaved throughout with suspicious characters that make for interesting reading and the setting is atmospheric and bleak. The story also gives an great insight into the role of an author, the pressure of deadlines, the facade of social media as well as the solitary of the job.

A tense and creepy story that gets right under your skin, ‘I Let You In’ is a fantastic psychological thriller that will have you double checking your doors and windows before bed!

You can buy You Let Me In from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Anniversary By Hilary Boyd

'The Anniversary‘The Anniversary’ is the latest book by Hilary Boyd.

Stella once thought that if she never saw Jack again, it would be too soon. But life has other plans for her and her stubborn, handsome ex-husband. Looking after their daughter in a time of need, Stella finds herself unwillingly reunited with the man she shared the best years of her life with – followed by the worst. Where tragedy once tore them apart, now Stella and Jack are being drawn back together. But each of them has a new partner and a new life. Should they fight temptation? Should the past remain the past? Or are some loves simply meant to be?

‘The Anniversary’ is a sweet and tender about love and growing old. Jack and Stella thought their love was forever, until a death of their child drove them apart. Now, years later their only daughter is expecting their grandchild and they are spending time together for the first time in years.

I have read a few of Hilary’s books and I’ve come to enjoy her warm-hearted stories of love and friendships that come together neatly together in the end and ‘The Anniversary’ is no different.

The story is seen through the narrative of both characters and flows back and forth in past and present sequences, setting the scenes for the reader as they fall in and out of love and the dramatic events unfurl before them.

Both characters are interesting people, Stella is a kind and considerate woman who never got over the loss of her little boy, she’s always felt responsible for his death and found she was unable to move on, being constantly reminded off him. Like Stella, Jack also felt responsible for Johnny’s death but he wanted to carry on and make the most of life, much to Stella’s dismay.

Now, years later they have both moved on and are in new relationships, but they find old feelings returning much to their surprise and they begin to tentatively form a friendship and speak openly about their past and their future, particularly with their grandchild approaching.

This is a very enjoyable story, that is poignant and tender in parts, a story of loss that really tugs at the heartstrings. ‘The Anniversary’ is a lovely story to curl up with, with sweet character and the odd funny moment throughout, this book is perfect for fans of Patricia Scanlan.

You can pre-order The Anniversary from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 20th September 2018.