Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek & Dave Philpott – Blog Tour Book Review

“If you don’t like this book, then you’re no friend of mine.” Ivan Doroschuk, Men Without Hats

Synopsis

A collection of hilarious letters to iconic pop and rock stars with fantastic in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves: Eurythmics, Heaven 17, Deep Purple, Devo, Dr. Hook and many, many more…

For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing deliberately deranged letters to pop stars from the 1960s to the 90s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs. They miss the point as often as they hit it.

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.

Authors

Derek and Dave Philpott are the noms de plume of two ordinary members of the public, working with help from a worldwide social networking community.

What I Thought

This is a sizeable tome at just under 400 pages and lays out letters from the Philpotts to various pop stars, some responses in kind and a few shorter ‘postcard’ style quips that have yet to be responded too. This last style was generally more puntastic and therefore appealed to my sense of humour. I think the B52s Love Shack ‘floozy hovel’ letter was my favourite.

A number of the bands or songs I was not familiar with and I did find I responded better to those that I knew. I think perhaps googling the lyrics of some songs might have helped me better appreciate some of the references more.

It was sometimes hard to determine how jokey some of the replies were and there were a few questionable responses so this is not a book for particularly young eyes, and to be fair is really best aimed at music lovers. I’m looking forward to volume two with more recent artists?!

This would make a good coffee table book to dip in and out of and an excellent way to start amusing explorations of what song lyrics might mean.

I decided to have a go at my own letter to the artist in the Philpott style.

Although one response in the book by Wang Chung mentions the song below I wanted to explore it further.

Dear Beyoncé

Re Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)

I am a little bemused about your premise that ‘putting a ring on it’ is seen as the ultimate goal of a committed relationship and your presumption that doing that will mean that your partner will not stray. As you might be aware marriage is not now the social construct it once was, the ‘til death do us part’ vow should now more accurately be recited as ‘until I get bored and someone “better” comes along’.


If a man is that fickle perhaps making the next one enter into a joint mortgage might make for a more secure relationship. They are notoriously difficult to get out of and may result in the loss of your music awards room as you try to live in the same house but never cross paths.


The tune to Single Ladies and dance moves in the video are however very catchy and I can’t picture what action would accompany ‘got a mortgage with’. Any ideas?


Kirsty Stanley

Although, my query has seemed to turn out less punerific, more feminist argument so I’d suggest picking up a copy of Dear Mr Pop Star for far funnier versions (btw there are letters to female pop stars in there despite the book’s title).

Ooh and my profession got a mention. A pandemic of OTs is what the world needs I think.

Do check out the rest of the blog tour for other reviews, extracts and more.

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The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton – Book Review

Synopsis

All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. But as a descendant of the Witch Rona Blackburn, who famously cursed her family over a century ago, Nor is no stranger to suffering. She has a reason to hope, however, that she may have escaped the thornier side effects of Rona’s curse.

Then a mysterious book come out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. The author – Nor’s own mother- is performing magic that should be far beyond her capabilities. And such magic always requires a sacrifice.

A storm is coming. It’s coming for Nor.

Author

Leslye Walton was born in the Pacific Northwest, a setting that figures predominantly in both her novels for young adults. Her debut, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, was published in 2014.

Twitter @LeslyeWalton

What I Thought

Like a cross between Practical Magic, Charmed and The Craft with Dark Willow thrown in for good measure. This book seems to have garnered mixed reviews but I really enjoyed it. I have not read the author’s previous novel which I believe is in the genre of magical realism. This is a very different book to that. More an urban fantasy horror.

The story takes place on Anathema Island and the environment and nature plays a huge part. Our protagonist can hear plants and animals so they become characters in the story and shift and change based on the mood. Personally I’d have liked to hear from some the animals a little more. Some of their conversations provided little spots of humour in an otherwise dark novel.

Nor was a conflicted heroine with the dual burdens of being a witch and having an awful mother taking a heavy toll. Luckily her grandmother Judd and her partner Apothia fulfil the loving family element although they take more of a back seat later in the story, with the next generation leading the charge.

There is some romance and friendship and small town shenanigans but this is at its core a horror and therefore a perfect read with Halloween on the way. The Prologue was all about the matriarch of the Blackburn Witches, Rona. I’d have loved to have had her story in even more detail too.

We start with a girl who isn’t comfortable in her own skin and end with an epic showdown. Nor’s mother Fern the author of The Price Guide to the Occult is most definitely bad to the bone and she has no redeeming features. Nor’s father felt very inconsequential – and this fact is played out. Fern has everyone – even the President of the USA under her spell and and the comedown from the magic high is briefly explored at the end of the book. Nor’s comfort may be fleeting, and it made me wonder if we will be hearing more from Nor (sorry couldn’t resist).

Trigger Warnings for Self Harm, Suicide and Parental Violence.

Thanks to Walker for the copy for the purposes of this honest review.

The Glass of Lead & Gold by Cornelia Funke – Book Review

Synopsis

In a land of elves, mermaids and trolls, true magic is where you least expect it…

In the snow-covered city of Londra, young Tabetha survives by finding treasures in the mudbanks of the river Themse. On Christmas Eve, a sinister stranger asks her to keep her eyes open for a priceless, long-lost magical object: the Glass of Lead and Gold.

As word of the Glass spreads across the city, Tabetha finds herself with some unlikely companions, not least a one-armed girl and a rather impressive soup chef. But will Tabetha discover that there are even greater fortunes to be found than the magical Glass?

Author

Cornelia Funke is the highly acclaimed, award-winning and bestselling author of the Inkheart trilogy, Dragon Rider, The Thief Lord and the Reckless series which is also published by Pushkin Press. Born in 1958 in the German town of Dorsten, she worked as a social worker for a few years before turning first to illustration and then to writing. Her books have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, and have been translated into 37 languages.

What I Thought

I’m not familiar with the Mirrorworld where this story is set (shakes head at neverending TBR) but that wasn’t an issue, anything that needed explaining was, and in a way that worked within the story. In fact this short tale has definitely made me want to pick up more of Funke’s work, now I just have to decide between Reckless and Inkheart.

Firstly let me just share my admiration for the presentation of this book. It is a small hardback with gold foiling that glistens and adds a magic to the glass on the front. The RRP is £9.99 for a 91 page story which includes intricate black and white illustrations by the author. This is a book that deserves to be shelved face out and one that will be bought out for bedtime reads, especially around Christmas when the tale is set.

Tabetha is an orphan who takes care of herself by mudlarking – collecting items in the banks of the river and selling them for money to live on. This is already a risky way of life so when she is tasked with finding a magical object she is thrown into more danger – both physically and ethically.

This story definitely had a fairy tale feel and reminded me of The Little Match Girl although, depending on which version of that you read, not as sad.

I enjoyed the disability representation and the variety of creatures encountered including the creepy looking Thumblings – think evil borrowers.

As all fairy tales are, this is a book exploring morals and human dilemmas – Tabetha has to decide between riches. Will she be lured by the promise of magic? The story is beautifully written and is one you will want to read over.

Thanks to Vicki and Pushkin for the copy to read for the purposes of this

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