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26 April 2017

Review: 'Poet of the Wrong Generation' by Lonnie Ostrow (2016)

“It’s not that I don’t love you, and my tears are yet to dry. But you can’t go back and forth forever and we’ve already said goodbye.”

Through these words, a young poet unearths his musical soul while severing ties with the woman he loves after her stunning betrayal. Unknowingly, in writing this ballad of liberation, he will soon evolve as one of the fastest rising stars on the pop music landscape.

The year is 1991; the place, New York City. Here we meet Johnny Elias, a college student from Brooklyn with boundless adoration for two things in life: timeless popular music, and the heart of a sweet, complicated young woman who is clearly out of his league.

Megan Price not only is the object of Johnny’s affection, but also the only daughter of New York’s most powerful PR woman: the indomitable Katherine Price.

Projecting that her daughter’s boyfriend will never live up to the family standard, Katherine cleverly perpetrates a series of duplicitous schemes to rid Johnny from her high-class world. But in her callous disregard, she inadvertently sets him on a determined course to his improbable musical destiny - while sending her own daughter spiraling down a path of devastation.

In November 2016 author Lonnie Ostrow’s debut novel, ‘Poet of the Wrong Generation’, was released. Shortly afterwards I was contacted by Lonnie himself to see whether I’d be interested in reviewing his novel. I liked the promising sound of the book and how the story almost sounded like a kind of ‘saga’ I couldn’t possibly miss out on. It took me a bit of time to finally pick up the novel, but before I did I was almost blown away by the numerous five-star reviews I found on Goodreads while doing some initial research. These reviews and positive words only made me more curious and eager to check out this read, so I was glad when I finally took the time to sit down with it several weeks ago….!

Set in New York in the early 1990s, ‘Poet of the Wrong Generation’ tells the story of college student Johnny Elias who lives in Brooklyn and has a big dream of performing his own songs to a large audience someday. With the heart and support of his girlfriend Megan Price, Johnny feels he doesn’t need much more, until Megan’s powerhouse mother Katherine decides Johnny is definitely not right for her daughter. With her efforts she manages to separate Megan and Johnny, but this also happens to be the start of Johnny’s promising music career… The question is, will music and fame really bring Johnny what he wants from life, or does it all mean nothing without the love of his life by his side?

Wow; you really don’t find a lot of books like this one anymore. At least I don’t! I don’t know exactly what Lonnie Ostrow did in his previous life, but he was obviously born to be a storyteller and his debut novel ‘Poet of the Wrong Generation’ is a wonderful example of this. The book tells the story of college student and musician Johnny Elias who dreams of becoming a famous star someday, especially with his girlfriend Megan by his side. However, different obstacles block their path to happiness, and as a reader we get to join Johnny on his way to stardom. I loved how this book seemed to combine it all; there’s a clear storyline focusing on the music industry and building up a music career, but at the same time there is also a great romance at the core of this book, and a focus on themes such as family, friendship and following your dreams.

The book has some great and fascinating characters at its centre. Main man Johnny is definitely the kind of guy you find yourself rooting for, and there’s also a good group of secondary characters that complement the story, especially Johnny’s best friend Andy and his girlfriend Jacqui. If I’m completely honest I did feel the book was really quite long (it has over 450 pages), and slightly too slow-paced at times. However, the fantastic writing definitely made up for this. All in all, ‘Poet of the Wrong Generation’ is an engaging and memorable novel about the ups and downs of the music business, family, love, friendship, finding yourself… Life in general, really. There’s something in this book for everyone, and it’s an incredibly promising debut novel. Lonnie Ostrow is a name to look out for, without a doubt.
Rating:9/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

25 April 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want To Read A Book

'Top Ten Tuesday' is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. I love making lists, so this feature fits me perfectly! If you also take part in this feature or have any additions to my lists, please get in touch; I'd love to hear from you!
 
 
Top 10 Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want to Read a Book

I love it when Top Ten Tuesday lists match each other, and last week's list is the complete opposite of this one. Last week we looked at things that make me want to straight away pick up a particular book, while this week we're going the other way by looking at things that make me want to NOT read a book. Slightly more difficult than last week's list, I have to admit, but still not too tricky to get to a list of 10 things...!

Be sure to share your own Top Ten Tuesday lists by leaving a comment in the comments section below! :)



1. Unhappy endings


I didn't just randomly pick the name of my blog; I really love a happy ending, so much that I actually can't really enjoy an unhappy ending. There is already more than enough misery in the world, why would I want to read a book or see a film that only makes me feel even more of that misery...?



2. Poetry

Yeah. Poetry just really isn't for me. I didn't enjoy it at university, and still just can't see the fun of it. If anyone is willing to convince me otherwise, please go ahead!



3. Aliens/Space

No. Just no.



4. Serial killers

Another big no. I really do not understand why people want to read something that focuses on someone killing lots of other people... Why? Seriously: why?



5. Glorifying partying/drinking/drugs

I really can't deal with novels that somehow want to show how incredibly 'cool' it is to party hard/drink too much/use drugs.



6. Zombies

Why are people so fascinated with zombies? Vampires I can still kind of understand somewhere, but zombies...?!



7. Cheating


Also can't deal with cheating being turned into something acceptable. There are a few rare novels out there who managed to tackle the topic in an interesting way, but for the majority it's a no from me.



8. Anything having to do with spiders

Oh my, just thinking of spiders makes me shiver. I definitely couldn't deal with reading a novel about spiders or spiders on the cover... *brrr*



9. Overkill of religion

I'm an atheist and don't feel comfortable reading novels with an overkill of religion in them. 



10. Epic battles 

I've never understood the attraction of epic battles. Especially in novels. What's fun about reading about a lot of people getting into fights and killing each other...?

24 April 2017

Review: 'The Other Half of Happiness' by Ayisha Malik (2017)

Sofia Khan is just married. But no-one told her life was going to be this way . . .

Her living situation is in dire straits, her husband Conall is distant, and his annoyingly attractive colleague is ringing all sorts of alarm bells.

When her mother forces them into a belated wedding ceremony (elopement: you can run, but you can't hide), Sofia wonders if it might be a chance to bring them together. But when it forces Conall to confess his darkest secret, it might just tear them apart.

When I found a paperback review copy of Ayisha Malik’s on my doorstep several weeks ago, I immediately recognised the name of the author. In 2015 I was asked to read and review her debut novel ‘Sofia Khan Is not Obliged’, which I really quite enjoyed (click here to read my review). At the start of April, the sequel was released by publisher Twenty7 and I was really happy to see the publisher had kept me in mind with the review copy I received. The book has a lovely cover which fits Spring really well, if you ask me, and I couldn’t help but smile every time I took the book out of my bag. However, it’s also important to see what was inside of that lovely outside, though, so be sure to scroll further down to check out my opinion on the book!

**Please be advised this review will contain spoilers for readers who are still planning to read Ayisha’s Malik novel ‘Sofia Khan Is not Obliged’, to which this new title is the sequel**

When Sofia Khan married Conall, her Irish next-door neighbour she couldn’t help but fall in love with, she had no idea what to expect of marriage. However, reality definitely does not fit the hopes she had for life as a married woman. Conall is more focused on finishing his documentary, which requires a lot of travelling and spending time with his attractive female colleague, and Sofia’s family is constantly minding her business. When she is asked to write her second book, this one about her experiences of marriage, she is keen to take on this next challenge, especially since her new editor thinks it will be a success. But what happens when Sofia discovers Conall has been hiding something from her, something quite big, something that could change their entire lives, and especially their marriage…?

I really liked how author Ayisha Malik seemed to pick things up where her debut novel ‘Sofia Khan Is not Obliged’ ended; after just the first chapter I had once again become a part of protagonist Sofia’s life, and I loved stepping back into her world, populated by the familiar faces of her friends and family. There’s also the same comfortable and well-paced writing style and form of the book, which is written in relatively short chapters/diary entries, spread over the four seasons. Because of this I also highly recommend reading the other book first, before picking this one up. While this novel can be read as a stand-alone, it really will influence your reading experience if you’re not yet familiar with these characters and what they’ve been through together, and Ayisha Malik’s debut novel is worth picking up.

I was quite surprised by the direction of the story; I was surprised by Connall’s secret and how this influenced the rest of the characters and the plotline of the book, and I was especially surprised by the ending of the novel, which I have to admit I wasn’t a big fan of. However, I don’t want to give too much away in this review, because I can imagine other readers might actually really enjoy how this was written and worked out. I understand the comparison that is being made to Bridget Jones, but at the same time I also feel Ayisha Malik deserves to not be labelled like that; this book is something fresh and new, and deserves to be read like that as well. All in all, I found ‘The Other Half of Happiness’ to be a compelling modern-day read with some fascinating characters and mixing of cultures at its core; a promising new voice within women’s fiction and a read certainly worth checking out.
Rating:8,5/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.