April 25, 2023 · 5:04 pm
Sometime last year, I decided it was time to break away from Beatles Freak Reviews and start moving in another direction with my life. Writing reviews just wasn’t making me as happy as it used to do. It seemed as if I needed to get back to listening to the Fab Four instead of reading about them day in and day out. I was still getting emails from various publicists and authors asking me to read their books, but nothing really caught my eye until an email about Might As Well Be Dead by Mark Goldblatt hit my inbox last week.
Thirteen-year-old David Salmon is getting over his mom’s sudden decision to pick up and leave. He seems to be adjusting fairly well, but then a strange thing happens. He meets a middle-aged Englishman named Winston outside his house. David suspects that Winston may not be real, but he seems harmless enough, as hallucinations go, and the two of them become friends. If nothing else, Winston is a welcome distraction from the mess at home; David’s dad cannot seem to cope with his wife’s decision move out.
Winston also proves a valuable advisor in navigating the trials of middle school-best friend problems and a budding romance. Eventually, however, Winston confesses the real reason he showed up: he needs David to deliver a message. It’s a journey David desperately doesn’t want to make…because it takes him somewhere he desperately doesn’t want to go.
Might As Well Be Dead is a story about a boy in crisis. Be ready to laugh. Be ready to cry. Be advised: all you need is love.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…it’s fan fiction…and yeah, yeah, yeah…I’ve said I don’t like fan fiction, but there was just something about the synopsis that intrigued me. And I’m not sorry I read it. There is always something enjoyable about reading a young adult novel. Maybe it’s the innocence in it that takes me away from the adult worries of the day that makes me relax into it.
Goldblatt keeps Lennon’s wit and dark humor throughout the story, along with describing his walk and dress as if John’s really still with us. And you got to love that the author named a teacher Mrs. Pang and a guidance counselor Mr. Ivan after two real people who were part of John Lennon’s life.
Might As Well Be Dead was a joyful 210 page read, that will be released on May 5, 2023…but you can pre-order it now at Amazon.com. Buy it for your kids, but read it yourself!
I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!
January 7, 2018 · 7:00 am
Where to start with Once There Was a Way: What If The Beatles Stayed Together? by Bryce Zabel? I think maybe first I need to write the definitions of “historical fiction” and “alternative history” since it is the later category that Mr. Zabel uses for this novel.
An essential element of historical fiction is that it is set in the past and pays attention to the manners, social conditions and other details of the period depicted. Authors also frequently choose to explore notable historical figures in these settings, allowing readers to better understand how these individuals might have responded to their environments. Some subgenres such as alternate history and historical fantasy insert speculative or ahistorical elements into a novel.
Alternate history or alternative history sometimes abbreviated as AH, is a genre of fiction consisting of stories in which one or more historical events occur differently. These stories usually contain “what if” scenarios at crucial points in history and present outcomes other than those in the historical record. The stories are conjectural, but are sometimes based on fact.
There is also fan fiction which I define as complete works of fiction using real life people as characters.
I know these categories are very similar, but the best way for me to describe the difference is on a personal level. I love historical fiction novels about Edgar Allan Poe. The authors of these books (click to see the Poe books I’m talking about) use real life events in Poe’s life and build a story around it with minimal, if any, changes to Poe’s history. Fan fiction would take Poe and put him into situations that he would have never been in, altering the outcome of his life completely. Another example of historical fiction would be Can’t Buy Me Love by Dan McNeil in which he wrote a great mystery novel around the night that the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show without changing their story.
So, given the definitions above, I would put this book in the Fan Fiction category because the author doesn’t start the story at the end of the Beatles story when the band officially broke up. Mr. Zabel went back to the year 1968 and changed the history of the Fab Four including the title and song list of several of their albums. Imagine, if you will, if songs that were released on each of the their solo albums were part a group album. Imagine #9 Dream without May Pang saying “John….John…” Imagine Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney as friends, and Allen Klein and Lee Eastman all working together to keep the Beatles together. The Beatles win Oscars for their work in Stanley Kubrick’s The Lord of the Rings. They star in a remake of Murder on the Orient Express. John is kidnapped by the politically far-left group the Weather Underground and eventually pardoned by Gerald Ford. A nineteen year old Steve Jobs befriends George Harrison and becomes the head of Apple Computers…a division of Apple Corp. Could this things have happened if the Beatles broke up in 1975? Can you dig it?
The fans of fan fiction are going to love this book. The writing is exceptional and despite my dislike for fan fiction, there was a point where I found myself caught up in the kidnapping of Lennon. But I believe that the true Beatles fans who are purists are going to roll their eyes and toss this book aside before finishing the first chapter. This makes my job as a reviewer very tough since I need to figure out if I’m reviewing this book for Beatles fan fiction lovers or Beatles purists (and I hope the three winners of this book will comment after reading it)…so for that reason, I went middle of the road…
I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!
June 5, 2016 · 7:00 am
Guest reviewer David Thomas takes on the new novel Get Back: Imagine…Saving John Lennon by Donovan Day.
This is the author’s first novel, and it shows in many ways. For starters, consider the title. This is a time-travel fantasy about the possibility of “saving John Lennon”, so the 2nd half of the title is clear and purposeful. I could understand “Get Back: Saving John Lennon” or “Imagine: Saving John Lennon”. Juxtaposing 2 song titles as an opening seems like he’s trying too hard or just couldn’t make up his mind. Not an auspicious start.
The author also says that he “wrote it for young adults”, but thinks “everyone — baby boomers, their kids and grandkids — will enjoy this trip back in time.” That’s true to a point.
It is certainly written on a level for young adults, but playing fast and loose with facts does not make for a good introduction to history. One of the main characters is a girl named Yoko (no, not that one) who is the granddaughter of someone named Lily Chang who supposedly was a close friend of The Beatles and even sang back-up on some of their records. The problem is, Lily Chang never existed, nor was she apparently modeled after any actual historical person. Furthermore, the main character time travels several times over the course of the story, with no more than a passing nod toward the consequences that his trips have on other events. It would not give too much away to tell you that for instance, Jim Morrison (The Doors) is now still alive and is living as a Shaman in the desert of Arizona.
The actual portion of the book that deals with what happens if John had lived, (which, given the title, one would think is the focus of the book) is not only quite short, but quite ludicrous. That was a major disappointment. The rest of the story was mainly about the main character, Lenny Funk, and his relationship with the aforementioned Yoko. All of that is pleasant enough, and somewhat entertaining, even for the adult reader.
My main problem with the book is this: If you’re going to write a time-travel fantasy about John Lennon, and would like to speculate on what happens to him beyond December 8, 1980, let your imagination run wild; this author failed pretty miserably at that, in my opinion. However, if you are trying to write a book as an introduction to The Beatles for a new generation, or to educate younger Beatles fans, I think it’s important to stick to the facts regarding events prior to that date, unless you explain (via time travel interference) how they were changed.
I rate it 2 out of 4 Beetles.
May 1, 2016 · 12:34 pm
Four and a half years ago, I reviewed Sally Carpenter‘s first book in her Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol Mystery series. The book was called, The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper and you can read my review of it here. A couple weeks ago, Sally announced that her fourth book in the series, The Quirky Quiz Show Caper, had been released and she told me that there were a couple Beatles references in it! Yay!
This book is another brilliant mystery written by Sally Carpenter. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t been able to figure out who the culprit is in her stories until her hero, former child star and teen idol Sandy Fairfax, solves the mystery and announces the bad guy! And though this is the fourth book in the series, Sally does a great job of making sure that she reintroduces her returning characters from the previous stories so the reader doesn’t feel lost or left out.
These books are a nice easy, quick (under 250 pages), adult read or they would be great for older kids or young adults. Much like a modern day Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys mysteries, these books could easily become a hit among the younger sect…and still in style for we Beatles fans! And for that reason…
I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!
For more information about the books or author, go to the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol Fan Page.
This book is also available on Kindle for just $2.99. Or, you can buy the entire series in paperback here.
April 24, 2016 · 6:55 am
I’d like to thank author Tony Broadbent for sending me a copy of his latest book, The One After 9:09: A Mystery With A Backbeat. Tony is a Brit, born and raised, who now lives in North Carolina, USA.
This book is incredibly well written. Even with over 400 pages, a reader can easily read through it without feeling like it’s never going to end. The book contains, what I believe, to be three stories revolving around the early days of the Beatles career in the Liverpool and Hamburg days.
The first story is that of Raymond “Spike” Jones, the young man who apparently was the first Beatles fan to walk into NEMS record store and request a copy of “My Bonnie” with the Beatles singing back-up. This particular storyline is fictitious, even though Raymond is said to have been a real person. The second story is that of the mysterious private life of Brian Epstein and his (illegal) gay lifestyle. The third story is that of the Beatles in their early days of getting to the toppermost of the poppermost. Included in the all of the stories are Sam Leach, Mal Evans, Bob Wooler and many other well known Liverpool personalities.
All these tales and characters’ lives intertwine and overlap throughout the book, but at the same time, each holds it own. The problem comes, though, when the reader isn’t sure which story is the main focus of the book. And in the end, the storyline I had thought would figure prominently and close out the book wasn’t the one. It was as if there was one train of thought that never came to the dramatic conclusion that I was looking for in the end.
Still, this book was a nice light read and the author says that except for the Raymond Jones story, the book is factual and he even provides sources at the end. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!
April 3, 2016 · 7:00 am
The book that I had originally planned to review this week was late showing up in my mail. In the meantime, I had finished reading a book that a friend of mine wrote. I make it a point not to review friend’s works because it’s not fair to them or to my readers if I feel I can’t be honest. So, in this case, I’m going to tell you about the story behind this book and a quick synopsis, but I’m not going to rate it.
From Me To You by Garry Berman and Kelly Marie Thompson is the second published work by these writers. This book is listed as a coming-of-age story, but I believe it would be of more interest to the Young Adult sector.
The story is about two penpals, one in New Jersey and one in Liverpool, UK, who begin writing to each other as part of a high school project. Maggie, living in Liverpool, introduces Ricky, in New Jersey, to the music of the Beatles by sending him 45 rpms before anyone in the U.S. has even heard of the band. As Beatlemania grows, so does their friendship. The book takes you through their ever growing friendship up until the day it’s announced that the Beatles are splitting up in 1970. But will their friendship last? That’s the big question!
What makes this story even more interesting is that the two authors, Garry Berman and Kelly Thompson, met on the internet in a writer’s group. They both like each other’s style of writing so much that they soon started co-writing projects via email, including their original hilarious six episode sitcom Barkers Upon Tyne (currently available as an ebook).
As I said, I think this would be a great book for a young teen girl, but for adults I would recommend getting the $2.99 Kindle version.
Filed under Beatles books, Fan Fiction
Tagged as beatles, fan fiction, Garry Berman, George Harrison, John Lennon, kelly marie thompson, Liverpool, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, young adult
December 4, 2015 · 1:23 pm
I started seeing mentions of Beatlebone by Kevin Barry on social media about 2 weeks ago. Couldn’t help but notice that major newspapers such at the New York Times were reviewing this book, so I decided to take a quick look see to find out what it was about. I don’t read other reviews of books before I review them…I don’t want to go into it tainted. But once I found out that it was a novel with John Lennon as it’s central character, I decided I needed to read it.
Within three days I was ranting to my husband about how wonderful this book is. The writing is in a style that I’ve never read before now. Conversations are without quotation marks, yet you feel as if you’re there with John and Cornelius as they try to get John to his island in Ireland. There’s darkness, then light. Darkness, then light.
Then…Part Six happens! What the f*ck, Kevin Barry and Doubleday?! Just when I was loving the story, Barry’s writing style, the cave, the hotel, the birds, the rabbits, the elf and the wolf…they dump Part Six in there. Seriously, folks? Why? I wanted so bad to give this book my best rating.
Go out and get this book, but when you get to Part Six, skip over it and then go back and read it at the end. Either that, or read it before you start the book. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!
October 21, 2015 · 10:35 am
Just Published: ‘From Me To You’ – a novel set to the hysteria of Beatlemania!. Garry Berman and Kelly Marie Thompson are excited to announce the release of their first novel written via email about 1960’s pen pals during the British invasion. – PR12504099
Source: Just Published: ‘From Me To You’ – a novel set to the hysteria of Beatlemania! | PRLog
January 1, 2012 · 1:05 pm
This holiday, I got myself a Kindle Touch…thanks to the generosity of a friend who gave me an Amazon gift card. Wanting to put this new device to use immediately, I did a search for ‘Free books beatles’ under Kindle books. The ebook, ‘Paul McCartney’s Coat and Other Stories’ came up first on a very short list of only 3 books.
Let me first inform my readers that only the Forward is free. You can get a Sampler for 99 cents, but the entire book is $4.50. So…I ended up spending $5.49, but I have now learned a valuable lesson on what not to download to my Kindle.
Now for my review of just the first short story in this ebook:
If you’re a fan of short stories and/or fan fiction, you’ll enjoy reading this tall tale about a Beatles fan having a close encounter with the Fab Four at a pub in 1967 and his short ownership of Paul McCartney’s coat that was left behind in the pub and the discovery of Julian Lennon’s drawing of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds!
The author, Michael White, gives a footnote at the end of the his story saying that on the original drawing by Julian, the words “Lucy with diamond eyes” were crossed out and the words, “Lucy in the sky with diamonds” were written underneath. After doing a search on the interent, I couldn’t come up with any confirmation of this…even though it plays a huge part in telling of this story and I found it quite amusing how the author may have taken this fact and turned it into his own story! (Note: I’d appreciate it if anyone can confirm the story about the original picture.)
The story does contain quite a lot of typos, but I’ve been told this can happen when books are converted to Kindle editions. The reader may become impatient with several missing quote marks, run-on sentences and other small publishing errors.
Also, I guess one way to get attention for your new book is to put one of the Beatles names in the title or ‘Beatles’ itself. It got my attention and no, I didn’t read any of the other Mr. White’s other short stories, but I now have them handy in case I find myself waiting at a dentist office or such.
This book is available in it’s full Kindle editon at Amazon.com, but is only available in it’s free edition of the Forward from Barnes and Noble.
Because this story is fan fiction (and I’m not a fan of that genre) and because I felt that the author gets sidetracked on other topics to the point of feeling like he was just adding ‘filler’ to his story:
I rate this story in this book: 2 out of 4 Beetles
Filed under Beatles books, Fan Fiction, George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, reviews, Uncategorized
Tagged as beatles, beatles books., Beatles Fan, beatles reviews, books, fan fiction, George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, reviews, Ringo Starr