Category Archives: 50 Book Challenge 2013

50 Books – Fail.

So I set out to read 50 books last year, it was going fairly well and I was getting a decent amount read on my commute, but then H started school and I hit loads of days working from home or taking holiday. Add to that shorter commutes and everything went really slooooowwww.

THEN the 4AD – Facing the Other Way book came out and quite frankly, reading a book about people you work or have worked with, as well as band members you know can be quite exhausting. Brilliant, but exhausting. I couldn’t read another book after that (and it took about a month to read as it was) and had to have two weeks reading my phone every morning instead. That was a very confusing read – a bit like reading your boyfriend/husband has had a life and not everyone likes him after all. Except work isn’t my husband or boyfriend. It’s not even like what was written was unknown, but it was still weird. Some people at work don’t want to read it just yet as it’s a bit too close to home.

So I turned back to chick lit for a book or two to bring a little fluff back into my life.

Then Morrissey released his book, although our borrowed copy was pilfered by Shaun before I’d had a chance to start it (he ALWAYS does this – I have many books I have not yet read due to him starting them first) so I really do need to read that and soon. Tracy Thorn has put a book out recently too, and Bob Stanley’s History of Pop sounds pretty fantastic too. Good job I have Amazon vouchers which need using…

So I’ve set myself an achievable target this year, I have to write about one book a month. I’m not joining in any linkys and this is all for me, nobody else.

I’ve already finished one book so already things are looking up – although I’m back on the phone on the train for now.

Anyway, onwards.

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50 Books – Amy My Daughter by Mitch Winehouse

Phew. Okay, hand on heart I am not an Amy Winehouse fan – though I found her intriguing. This book goes into her life from her dad’s perspective – based on his memories and diaries.

The bitterness (understandable bitterness) towards the Fielder-Civil family I could do without – we know he doesn’t like the family, and occasionally it made uncomfortable reading.

Ultimately, a dad lost his daughter, a family a daughter, girlfriend, sister. This book is all about family – and having to let go and accept the only person who could help Amy was herself. We all know the ending, and with the Amy Winehouse Foundation now set up I’m going to send a donation. If it goes towards helping someone, that’s a good thing.

I’ve been glued to this book all week and I didn’t expect it – you get answers to a lot of things and I think it was probably cathartic for her dad to write it and put the record straight. Is Amy one of the first who has gone in the digital age? As in, that shambolic performance not long before she died which was everywhere – we all watched her lose her battle.

It also scares the crap out of me that one day my daughter could make bad decisions. There are things as a parent you can’t control or change, and I felt for her family.

A recommended read.



I received a copy of this book for free via NetGalley.


50 Book Challenge #12 Unknown Pleasures by Peter Hook

There are only about five or six people who could tell the story of Joy Division – and only three are still alive. My first knowledge of Joy Division is seeing them in Record Mirror and NME in their charts, when ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ never left the indie chart. Ever. A bit like the ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ for indie. It would take a few years before I heard the song, my indie cred in shreds as I do in fact own a Paul Young 7″ single of it (I bought it as a kind of ironic joke, as by then I had the Joy Division one – an ex-Jukebox version for 50p from our local shops).

I loved New Order pretty much from ‘Temptation’ onwards. I remember borrowing a friend’s brother’s copy (a 7″ that plays at 33 – brilliant) – that and ‘Ceremony’ and ‘Everything’s Gone Green’ and taping them to make sure they’d stay in mint condition and I could play them to death – which I did. My first knowledge of the band was seeing the stinky letters page in Smash Hits with people complaining about Gillian being interviewed rather than the band and how it wasn’t properly New Order, and throughout my teens they became my favourite band.

So the pre-New Order time was something I’d missed. I knew it existed, I knew the singer was dead, and I knew he’d killed himself, the rest you learn through interviews and the rest. Then the films happened, touching on parts – so you feel like you know bits, but you don’t necessarily, as a film is based around one part of it, not always all of it.

Which is where the book comes in. Peter Hook. Hooky. I have a soft spot for him – I enjoyed his ‘How Not To Run A Club’ book about the Hacienda, but this was the first time things felt a little more ‘honest’. How him and Barney (Bernard Sumner) never really got on in JD and NO, how he says RIP to New Order in the book… like he’ll never go back there… recounting stories from the things Joy Division did, from gigs they played and so on. How they all did nothing to help Ian Curtis as he soldiered on because he said he was fine, they were all young and nobody recognised the stress he was under as he held it back and told them to keep going.

It’s a good read, an interesting read, a perspective on four young men making music, getting there, then it all going horribly wrong. We all know how it ends, but how accurate was ‘Control’ the film? Or ’24 Hour Party People’? Who knows… Hooky knows some bits, that’s for sure – both get mentions too.

I’m a fan of the music and having sections which go into each album and have a little writeup (and I will sit and listen to them while reading it one day) was a nice touch. You hear the music and don’t have the background – this opens it up a bit more. While he doesn’t shed any light on what happened with him leaving New Order (maybe that’ll be the next book?) you see how they kept going because that’s what they did – they knew nothing else and that’s what held them together.

There’s timelines, and a little bit on all the characters involved – though if you’re familiar with the story you’ll know them anyway. I feel like this book fits nicely alongside ‘Touching From A Distance’ by Deborah Curtis – Ian’s widow – and may well be a book I’ll go back to, I’ve not read it for several years now.

In a nutshell, if you’re a fan, get this. If you’re not, borrow it. It’s a good read, and you see how spoilt bands are these days – back then it was really really tough. Like, really tough. The Kindle edition is lots cheaper at £5.99. Get it – if you like the band or Hooky’s sense of humour. You won’t regret it – then get his Hacienda book.


50 Book Challenge #11 – Do It For Your Mum by Roy Wilkinson

(note – I’ve not finished writing about number 10 yet)

‘Do It For Your Mum’ is a book which tells the story of the Wilkinson family – a family some people may be aware of if you know your music. Eldest brother Roy is a music journalist, started a record label (Costermonger – Gene were one of their bands), and managed his younger brothers, Scott and Neil in their band British Sea Power for a good few years. This book covers them growing up together in the Lake District, their love of nature and all things around them, and the key thing which holds it all together; their 87-year-old dad, Ronald.

Their dad retires and reads up on his indie. He becomes an expert on the Butthole Surfers and all music around him, and as the band grows heads to the library to read NME to find out what others think, constantly left bewildered by their lack of understanding at how British Sea Power truly are the best band out there but nobody else seems to realise this. He sends letters to U2 (“I found an address for them at the library”) and is less than complimentary about other bands.

Holding it all together (just!) is Roy, fine writing and tons of tangents (it appealed to the way I think and talk), stories, history, anecdotes. There’s an incident in Russia where Roy has the takings from a gig stolen, and eventually steps down as their manager to spend more time with his teenage daughter.

Sum it up in a sentence? A warm story of music and family; a good read; a great writer and I’d be out-indie’d by his dad easily, such is his knowledge. Buy this book – or borrow it if you know someone who owns it!

A great review at Louder Than War

Do It For Your Mum

And on to the next one, I’m finally reading the Peter Hook book…


50 Book Challenge – #7 – Sealed With A Kiss by Rachael Lucas

This was a quick and easy read which is a good thing as I’m hitting that tired out mind time, where I can’t concentrate too well and I live for the weekends (to then go out and make myself even more tired it would seem). I started reading this and I’d say I’ve finished in around four days – three of those were my commute to and from work, and the end was yesterday morning when I was too tired to function and needed to lie down and read.

So – my thoughts. I found it enjoyable. It’s another book which borders on what is known as chick-lit, a genre I’ve never really bothered with in the past. Much like ‘You Had Me At Hello’ I was hooked and wanted to get to the end, possibly rushing my reading. There were many names of people and I didn’t get too confused (as I’m prone to), and followed the story fine.

In a nutshell, Kate who is in her twenties goes off to a remote Scottish island to help out on an estate there, and likes it so much she stays (unlike the previous person who held the job who lasted a couple of months). This may also have something to do with the Laird (I hope I used the right word there) of the land, who she falls for. There’s lots of her discovering life, getting away from the things that we all do lots of (city life vs rescuing seals) and I found it really well written.

The rest? Well you’ll have to buy it and give it a read.

I enjoyed it, and am finding that actually maybe I do like a bit of this chick-lit thing – or rather, girly fluff as Rachael herself calls it. I’ll go with girly fluff. BUY IT!


50 Book Challenge #6 – Life of Pi by Yann Martel

This one took me a while. I probably got about a third through and said to Sonya “ha, and there’s me thinking this book was about a boy stranded at sea with a tiger!” which then the rest of the book ended up being – that’ll teach me. Sonya probably thought I was being sarcastic, or thinks I’m a loon anyway.

I enjoyed it! This must be said. I like Pi’s outlook on life, he’s one of those glass half full types – finding an explanation for almost everything. Even the sad stuff didn’t seem that sad when it happened – and as you find out fairly early on in the book that he’s older and is recounting his past, you know he makes it – it’s just how.

I picked this up as it was a 20p Kindle book and figured I should give it a go, and now I’m looking forward to the film – we’ve got Virgin Media Films on Demand so when it’s released next month I suspect we’ll be watching – especially now Shaun has started reading it on his Kindle.

I liked how the book is written – I found Pi funny. I wasn’t so keen on the gorey side of it which felt quite graphic, mind. I’m also very intrigued how the film will work.

I’m already on Book #7 – it’s Sealed with a Kiss by Rachael Lucas which I picked up cheaply as it has only just been released and I’m quite enjoying it. A review to come when it’s done….


50 Book Challenge #5 – Shadowmagic by John Lenahan

I’m not sure why I chose this book, possibly as it had decent reviews and was free. I’m a sucker for a free book.

As it was, it was quite enjoyable actually, absolutely not the kind of book I’d choose, but readable without being annoying. It reminded me of the kinds of books my dad liked, though he was much more a Lord of the Rings fan than anything else.

Anyway, the story is about Conor who makes his way to Tír na nÓg with his father, and finds out a huge amount about his past that he never thought was possible. While Conor isn’t particularly someone I cared about either way, the book was a good read and one I was able to keep up with the characters (of which there’s many).

Would I recommend you buy it? If you like this kind of fantasy book, definitely. There’s other books in the series which I may investigate further if they come down in price – though already Shadowmagic is up to 99p!

I’m probably not selling this very well. I liked it, I’d buy it at 99p and take a risk. The writer has a good way of describing the scenery and landscapes which I liked. Give it a go!


50 Book Challenge 2013 – #4

And just like that, the fourth book is done. This one was ‘The Half Life Of Hannah’ by Nick Alexander. It was a 20p Kindle book, and I took the risk, figuring why not? It was only last night while checking my iPad I realised I’ve picked it up there too! Ha.

Fortunately, it’s a good book. It reminds me a bit of ‘You Had Me At Hello’ by Mhairi McFarlane which I read at the end of last year and enjoyed so much I even took the Kindle to bed with me to finish it. I never thought I was a fan of books which dwell on relationships but it would appear I am – though maybe if they’re written well. I guessed how this would end (and was right), but again, enjoyed getting there.

This time you’ve got Hannah who is almost 40, has an almost-teenage son, and a husband. They’re on holiday in a cottage in France with her sister Jill (and her daughter) and her gay friend Tristan. You go from current to past, and find out a bit of history about the family, and I’m not going to say any more for fear of spoiling the plot. The description at Amazon reads : When a phone call at the villa announces the imminent arrival of a ghost from her past, the ambiance is transformed into a raging sea of jealousy as Hannah is forced to question everything she thought she knew and believed.

I think that’ll do. No big thriller, but still enjoyable.

As far as commuting and reading goes, tonight I got to the chapter which had words like “erection” and “sex” in it, and I felt a bit embarrassed, being sat between two people who I’m SURE were reading over my shoulder (yeah right). Anyway, those bits are short, there aren’t many if you too are easily embarrassed by people reading your books (or just chatting to you about what you’re reading).

It’s still cheap at Amazon too – only 49p. I’d say a 49p worth spending – go on, give it a try (and pick up the other book too while you’re at it!)