Archive | February, 2012

Is Alex Turner a modern day poet or a wannabe? New track R U Mine puts the Arctic Monkey’s songwriting skills under the spotlight…

27 Feb

Twitter was ablaze today with love-laden tweets for the Arctic Monkeys‘ brand new track which was released mysteriously on their website. R U Mine? (spelling sticklers take a deep breath), a proper old school rock n roll track that reeks deliciously of leathers, cigarettes and promiscuous groupies, is being haled as a real return to form for the Sheffield boys who are currently touring with The Black Keys in the US. I am already obsessed with it.

All this dizzying excitement has made me remember just what a great songwriter Alex Turner is (despite the questionable new hairdo), from the unique story-telling of A Certain Romance back in the early days to the slightly barmy and ridiculously passionate She’s Thunderstorms on the latest album Suck It And See. There’s something quirky, poetic and surprising in every track. Plus anyone that can get a Mecca dauber reference into a track is flipping amazing, let’s be honest.

So, in honour of the Arctic Monkeys buzz this evening let’s have a nice bedtime story as told by the man of the moment himself. This short story below was written back in 2008 to form part of bandmate Matt Helder’s Late Night Tales compilation and I think is very reminiscent of Joe Dunthorne.

Sorry about the slightly naff Youtube link I’ve found, but consider it like subtitles for Southerners / non-Brits…


Whose songs make you go all ridiculous and drive you to write tenuous blog posts?! Let me know…


Sunday inspiration: Alexandra Singer’s amazing story

26 Feb

Tea at the Grand Tazi, Alexandra Singer, novel, review, fiction, books, author, debut

Next week sees the release of Tea at the Grand Tazi, a debut novel by British author Alexandra Singer. Getting your novel published is a commendable achievement by any standard, but Singer’s story is made all the more amazing given that four years ago she couldn’t even remember starting the book that would go on to bring her such success.

Alexandra Singer, Tea at the Grand Tazi, novel, debut, author, Lupus, review

The trainee lawyer found herself on the brink of death after being struck down by cerebral lupus, a rare autoimmune disease that left her in a coma for three months. Two months after she came out of the coma, she asked her family if she had written a novel, unsure whether it was true or she had dreamt it.

She was conscious but completely bed bound with limited use of her hands when her brother found the unfinished manuscript in her flat and brought it to her in hospital. Amazingly, she spent the next four years re-teaching herself to write and setting strict writing targets to complete Tea at the Grand Tazi.

I have yet to read it (it’s said to be an intense, colourful portrayal of a young expat’s journey into the seedy underbelly of Marakech) but with a real life story like that, Singer’s debut definitely deserves to pack a punch.

Kind of puts all your lame writing excuses to shame, doesn’t it?

Your next book club read: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

22 Feb

I’ve been wanting to share this book with you ever since I read it a few weeks back. I cried, I swooned, I got unfathomably jealous of the author’s beautiful way with words… Here’s my review that appeared in today’s Stylist magazine. If I don’t manage to convince you, click here to read Savidge Reads’ excellent review. This is my favourite book of 2012 thus far…

The Snow Child Eowyn Ivey

One to watch: The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

19 Feb

The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

If you liked Room or When God Was a Rabbit (this is possibly a bit like saying ‘if you drink water or eat food’) this debut release coming out in May is definitely one to add to your reading list. I haven’t read it yet so this is just a heads up <disclaimer alert> but the hype is building up nicely…

Comparison to a big-name author: check

‘The next Audrey Niffenegger,’ says Company magazine.

Possibility to link author’s novels to money-spinning bestsellers: check

We’ve already clocked Room and When God Was Rabbit. See also: ‘The Lovely Bones meets It’s a Wonderful Life.”- The Sun

A quirky storyline with a touch of the supernatural: check

Hot on the heels of The Night Circus, The Land of Decoration, The Snow Child (all of which are IMMENSE, I should add) this one similarly tap dances between magic and reality and has the promise of becoming a big seller.

Enough already! What’s it all about?

Carolyn Jess-Cooke released The Guardian Angel’s Journal last year, which actually has an alright premise – woman dies and is sent back to earth and back in time to become her own guardian angel – but the jacket and title didn’t do it any favours…

The Guardian Angel's Journal by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

This time, the plot sounds stronger – and the artwork’s much better.. (I know we’re not meant to judge books by covers but it is your first introduction to the story, after all). It follows the story of magnificently named Alex Broccoli and his unusual childhood friend:

“Alex is ten years old, likes onions on toast, and can balance on the back legs of his chair for fourteen minutes. His best friend is a 9000-year-old demon called Ruen.”

I’ve known a fair few demons in my time, so I reckon Broccoli and I will have a few things in common. As the story unfurls and Alex starts attending sessions with a child psychiatrist,  the reader’s forced to question whether Alex is suffering from schizophrenia – or if the demons might be a little more real than we’d like to think…

SOUNDS GOOD, RIGHT! It’s out in May published by Piatkus. Keep an eye out…

Sunday inspiration: 16 hours

19 Feb

Sunday inspiration, via Follow the blog, it’s ace.

#Fridayread recommendation: The Good Psychologist by Noam Schpancer

10 Feb

I’ve picked this one as today’s weekend reading recommendation for the following reasons:

1. My Stylist quote made into the back of the paperback, which comes out 1ST MARCH (yes, I’m a shameless self-promoter. On the plus side, I’m not yet referring to myself as a brand..)


2. It was the first ever book I reviewed for a magazine, over a year ago. Here’s what I had to say….

You might argue that this post has uncovered a strong narcissistic tendency…

WANTED: Cool book podcasts…

6 Feb

Doing the washing up the other day (yawnnnn) I decided I fancied a bit of intellectual stimulation to accompany my cleaning, so I got on Google and tried to find a decent book podcast. I’m not really fussy in terms of content, an author interview, reviews, random lists.. I’m easily pleased. But what I don’t like is the fact that most book podcasts seem to be laced with tranquillisers. I love Mariella Frostrup, ain’t no one know a book like that lady, but can’t help but be put off by her BBC-tuned pronunciations and her voice, as soft and velvety as a Werthers Original munching grandma’s. Sorry Mariella.

I know there are cool book people out there (you subscribe to my blog, right?!), so I’m asking – what podcasts do you rate? Any recommendations?

My personal fave, one that stands out head and shoulders above the rest, is the Bookslam podcast. Bookslam is London’s coolest literary night, a big soiree of books, poets, actors and live music, put together with plenty of gin and not a whiff of pretentiousness about it. I am also kind of obsessed with it ever since I went to a session last year and met David Nicholls… aherm…

Ahhh yes.

Coming back to the real world, Bookslam is ace, and the podcast equally so. Go and listen to it now.

NO wait – first, tell me your fave book podcast.. please.. I have so much washing up to do it’s UNREAL.