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The year is 1969, and the Bayleen Island Folk Fest is abuzz with one name: Jesse Reid. Tall and soft-spoken, with eyes blue as stone-washed denim, Jesse Reid's intricate guitar riffs and supple baritone are poised to tip from fame to legend with this one headlining performance. That is, until his motorcycle crashes on the way to the show. Jane Quinn is a Bayleen Island loca The year is 1969, and the Bayleen Island Folk Fest is abuzz with one name: Jesse Reid. Tall and soft-spoken, with eyes blue as stone-washed denim, Jesse Reid's intricate guitar riffs and supple baritone are poised to tip from fame to legend with this one headlining performance. That is, until his motorcycle crashes on the way to the show. Jane Quinn is a Bayleen Island local whose music flows as naturally as her long blond hair. When she and her bandmates are asked to play in Jesse Reid's place at the festival, it almost doesn't seem real. But Jane plants her bare feet on the Main Stage and delivers the performance of a lifetime, stopping Jesse's disappointed fans in their tracks: A star is born. Jesse stays on the island to recover from his near-fatal accident and he strikes up a friendship with Jane, coaching her through the production of her first record. As Jane contends with the music industry's sexism, Jesse becomes her advocate, and what starts as a shared calling soon becomes a passionate love affair. On tour with Jesse, Jane is so captivated by the giant stadiums, the late nights, the wild parties, and the media attention, that she is blind-sided when she stumbles on the dark secret beneath Jesse's music. With nowhere to turn, Jane must reckon with the shadows of her own past; what follows is the birth of one of most iconic albums of all time. Shot through with the lyrics, the icons, the lore, the adrenaline of the early 70s music scene, Songs in Ursa Major pulses with romantic longing and asks the question so many female artists must face: What are we willing to sacrifice for our dreams?


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The year is 1969, and the Bayleen Island Folk Fest is abuzz with one name: Jesse Reid. Tall and soft-spoken, with eyes blue as stone-washed denim, Jesse Reid's intricate guitar riffs and supple baritone are poised to tip from fame to legend with this one headlining performance. That is, until his motorcycle crashes on the way to the show. Jane Quinn is a Bayleen Island loca The year is 1969, and the Bayleen Island Folk Fest is abuzz with one name: Jesse Reid. Tall and soft-spoken, with eyes blue as stone-washed denim, Jesse Reid's intricate guitar riffs and supple baritone are poised to tip from fame to legend with this one headlining performance. That is, until his motorcycle crashes on the way to the show. Jane Quinn is a Bayleen Island local whose music flows as naturally as her long blond hair. When she and her bandmates are asked to play in Jesse Reid's place at the festival, it almost doesn't seem real. But Jane plants her bare feet on the Main Stage and delivers the performance of a lifetime, stopping Jesse's disappointed fans in their tracks: A star is born. Jesse stays on the island to recover from his near-fatal accident and he strikes up a friendship with Jane, coaching her through the production of her first record. As Jane contends with the music industry's sexism, Jesse becomes her advocate, and what starts as a shared calling soon becomes a passionate love affair. On tour with Jesse, Jane is so captivated by the giant stadiums, the late nights, the wild parties, and the media attention, that she is blind-sided when she stumbles on the dark secret beneath Jesse's music. With nowhere to turn, Jane must reckon with the shadows of her own past; what follows is the birth of one of most iconic albums of all time. Shot through with the lyrics, the icons, the lore, the adrenaline of the early 70s music scene, Songs in Ursa Major pulses with romantic longing and asks the question so many female artists must face: What are we willing to sacrifice for our dreams?

30 review for Songs in Ursa Major

  1. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    There’s a Song for That. Songs in Ursa Major is infused with warmth. Equal parts romantic, family affinity, and a passion for one’s dreams created an efficacious read. Set in the early 1970’s, I adored the main character Jane and felt a connection to her as she navigated her path to self discovery. Mining her feral talent and staying true to her beliefs, this will sing to anyone who’s felt an insatiable calling. Of marked interest to me, were the studio recording sessions. The author’s research w There’s a Song for That. Songs in Ursa Major is infused with warmth. Equal parts romantic, family affinity, and a passion for one’s dreams created an efficacious read. Set in the early 1970’s, I adored the main character Jane and felt a connection to her as she navigated her path to self discovery. Mining her feral talent and staying true to her beliefs, this will sing to anyone who’s felt an insatiable calling. Of marked interest to me, were the studio recording sessions. The author’s research was evident as I was immersed into Jane’s vision and overwhelming desire for perfection. Knowing little about the music business, I was fascinated. Comparisons to that ‘other book’ by TJR have moderately circulated reviews, but each has a unique berth on my favorites list having read both. I’ll miss Jane and several other characters now that I’ve finished. Purchased at The Book Depository, I’m happy to own a hardback copy. It’s a keeper!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sophia Judice

    drop what you’re doing right now and reads songs in ursa major. when you read as many books as i do, it’s easy for the stories to blend together, for the impact to be lost. i can tell that this is a book that will stay with me for a very long time. jane quinn is a flawed, headstrong, and admirable protagonist with integrity and grit. she’s so painfully human. what i initially believed to be a romance between two stars turned into the love affair of an artist and her art. as someone who has felt drop what you’re doing right now and reads songs in ursa major. when you read as many books as i do, it’s easy for the stories to blend together, for the impact to be lost. i can tell that this is a book that will stay with me for a very long time. jane quinn is a flawed, headstrong, and admirable protagonist with integrity and grit. she’s so painfully human. what i initially believed to be a romance between two stars turned into the love affair of an artist and her art. as someone who has felt deeply passionate about art, music, and creativity for her whole life, this book was uniquely inspiring. additionally, getting a glimpse into the music industry’s treatment of women in this era made my blood boil. the writing feels like poetry, and the volatile and enrapturing story is one i physically could not put down. there are powerful themes of mental health, addiction, fate, relationships, reality, and what we’re willing to sacrifice in order to get what we want. songs in ursa major left me feeling every emotion imaginable: melancholy, pride, sadness, frustration, joy, hope, wonder, etc. also, the end left me very satisfied and oh so curious. i’m almost overwhelmed in the best possibly way. i detect some influence from daisy jones and the six as well as the bell jar. an excellent debut chalk full of layers, depth, intelligent metaphors, and twists. i’m eager to see what emma brodie has in store for the future.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    This very promising debut novel is loosely based on the affair between James Taylor and Joni Mitchell and depicts the music scene of the late 1960’s/1970’s. It’s July 1969 and folk singing sensation Jesse Reid is the headline act of the Island Folk Festival, Bayleen Island. However, fans are to be disappointed and the spot is filled by local band The Breakers with lead singer Jane Quinn. They take to the stage, seize their moment and win over the audience with a captivating performance. A star i This very promising debut novel is loosely based on the affair between James Taylor and Joni Mitchell and depicts the music scene of the late 1960’s/1970’s. It’s July 1969 and folk singing sensation Jesse Reid is the headline act of the Island Folk Festival, Bayleen Island. However, fans are to be disappointed and the spot is filled by local band The Breakers with lead singer Jane Quinn. They take to the stage, seize their moment and win over the audience with a captivating performance. A star is born in Jane Quinn whose amazing voice and musical aptitude bewitches and winning over many fans. This is a well written novel and parts of it feel very authentic especially on the music scene of this era. There are three strands to the storytelling, the personal of Jane and her family, the relationship between Jane and Jesse and a snapshot of the music industry through Jane’s eyes, this works and flows well. The character of Jane is admirable, she has her demons but I love how she ploughs her own independent furrow even though this brings her into conflict with her record label, she rightly goes with her gut. There are some good insights into how women are treated in the music industry scene with sexism and misogyny especially the superior disdain of producer Vincent Ray. Is he ever vile, treating her condescendingly as ‘the little lady’ and as a commodity with no free will. Jesse and his many issues is portrayed well, it feels realistic and the emotional charge between him and Jane is palpable. One of the highlights for me is the fascinating dynamic of the all female Quinn household who are all fiercely independent and it’s clear where Jane gets her values from, as its passed down through the generations. Other characters are recognisable as cameos are Mick Jagger and Carly Simon. The book shines a light on mental health issues and the stigma attached to it at that time. My only negatives are that it follows a fairly predictable path of sex, drugs and folk rock n’roll and some of the song lyrics... sorry, they’re awful!! Overall, if you like Daisy Jones and the Six then I daresay you’ll like this one too, if you have an interest in the music and artists such as Joni Mitchell then I think you’ll enjoy this one as I did. With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Harper Fiction UK for the much appreciated widget in return for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    This debut novel takes place in 1969-71, starting at a fictitious folk festival in Massachusetts. This was the year a lot of the soft rock singers were just getting recognized- James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell and CS&N. In fact, this book is a takeoff on the Joni Mitchell/James Taylor relationship. And I don’t mean takeoff in the sense of caricature or parody, but more in the sense of a stepping off point. This book will appeal to those that loved Daisy Jones and the Six. It covers some This debut novel takes place in 1969-71, starting at a fictitious folk festival in Massachusetts. This was the year a lot of the soft rock singers were just getting recognized- James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell and CS&N. In fact, this book is a takeoff on the Joni Mitchell/James Taylor relationship. And I don’t mean takeoff in the sense of caricature or parody, but more in the sense of a stepping off point. This book will appeal to those that loved Daisy Jones and the Six. It covers some of the same material - the sexism, the hardships for a female singer to stand her ground and maintain her creative integrity. It also covers how hard it is to keep the tour lifestyle going - the sheer exhaustion, the constant pressure to be “on”, both leading to a reliance on drugs to power through. While I adored Jane and Jesse and found them well formed, I was even more pleased to see the detail allocated to secondary characters, especially Willy. His comparison to his stars as horses, just really rang true. Brodie really made me feel the work involved in putting together a record, especially one as intricate as Songs in Ursa Major (of course, the entire time, I’m overlaying Blue in my mind). I devoured this story. I wanted to fly through the pages, but also to savor it. I will admit to being a sucker for books about the music industry, especially from this period, but this is one of the better ones. As the ending of the book states, “a time of myth, a time of beauty, a time of rock and roll.” My thanks to NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday for an advance copy of this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Janelle

    This was really good! I got drawn into the story from the first chapter and found it hard to put down from then on. The story begins in 1969 at a music festival and the headline act, Jesse Reid can no longer perform after a motorbike accident. Local group, The Breakers with lead singer Jane Quinn take the stage instead and manage to win over the unhappy crowd with a brilliant performance. From there the book follows the music career of Jane and her romance with Jesse. Showing the sexism and miso This was really good! I got drawn into the story from the first chapter and found it hard to put down from then on. The story begins in 1969 at a music festival and the headline act, Jesse Reid can no longer perform after a motorbike accident. Local group, The Breakers with lead singer Jane Quinn take the stage instead and manage to win over the unhappy crowd with a brilliant performance. From there the book follows the music career of Jane and her romance with Jesse. Showing the sexism and misogyny within the music industry, not to mention the drugs and sex and partying, there’s also a focus on mental illness. I only found out after finishing this book and since reading about it, that it’s loosely based on James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. Im not a fan of either so I don’t think it’s essential to enjoy this book! Great characters and writing, an excellent read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    While this novel seems to accurately depict the music industry machine of the sixties and early seventies, the big reveal wasn’t much of a surprise nor did it seem to be much of a showstopper. Loosely based on the affair between James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, this novel tries to hit the high notes but ultimately the notes it hits are flat.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mandy White (mandylovestoread)

    Saturday afternoon and I I sat down to start Songs in Ursa Major..... after a break to eat and watch a movie with the family I dived straight back into it and finished it just before midnight. I was completely caught up in the sex, drugs and rock and roll of the 70's and the life of Janie Q. Janie Q and her band the Breakers are given the opportunity of a lifetime when the headline act at the Folk Festival is injured in an accident and fails to turn up. Thrown into the spotlight and thousands of Saturday afternoon and I I sat down to start Songs in Ursa Major..... after a break to eat and watch a movie with the family I dived straight back into it and finished it just before midnight. I was completely caught up in the sex, drugs and rock and roll of the 70's and the life of Janie Q. Janie Q and her band the Breakers are given the opportunity of a lifetime when the headline act at the Folk Festival is injured in an accident and fails to turn up. Thrown into the spotlight and thousands of upset Jessie Reid fans, they take their chance and a star is born. Come on the journey of The Breakers, lead singer Janie Q, as they find their way through the world of professional music. Janie is a woman who knows what he wants, won't take second best and is not afraid to stand up for herself. In the early 70's the music business was still very male dominated and sexist. But whatever a man can do Janie can do better. It is a story of music and fame, of love and family and so much more. I don't want to say too much as you need to read it for yourself. It is not your typical music business story and is not at all predictable. You will fall is love with Janie and Jessie Thanks so much to Harper Collins Australia for my advanced copy of this book to read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brooke — brooklynnnnereads

    This novel from the storytelling to the writing was absolutely incredible. To say it's a beautiful story is simply an understatement. This book may in fact be one of my favourites for this year. When I started reading this book, I was getting hints that reminded me of the movies "Almost Famous" and "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood". Although all are very different stories from each other, I stick to these small comparisons because there were similar aspects in them all that I loved. With This novel from the storytelling to the writing was absolutely incredible. To say it's a beautiful story is simply an understatement. This book may in fact be one of my favourites for this year. When I started reading this book, I was getting hints that reminded me of the movies "Almost Famous" and "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood". Although all are very different stories from each other, I stick to these small comparisons because there were similar aspects in them all that I loved. With that being said, this novel is very much its own with a story that's incomparable. No matter the genre or style, if you are a music lover/connoisseur, there's a good chance that you'll enjoy this novel. If you have a strong appreciation for music, there's a good chance you'll have a strong appreciation for this novel and the story that unfolds. I really loved each of the characters that made up this novel from Julia and Jesse to Willy and the Quinn females. I could easily see how Jesse could be made out to be a villain but I think many, like me, will find it difficult to place him in that category based on the complexity of this story. For those that like a hard hitting and emotional read, check this one out. I cannot help but applaud Emma Brodie on such a fabulous debut and I know I will be keeping my eyes peeled for more of her published works in the future. ***Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me an ARC and final copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review***

  9. 5 out of 5

    ☮Karen

    1969 into the early 70s was just a phenomenal time for music, IMO, so even if I hadn't heard that this book was very loosely based on Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, I still would have enjoyed it. They're Jane and Jesse, just getting started in the music biz. Jane comes from a matriarchal family so doesn't take a lot of guff about being a woman, yet that's what the business is about at that time. The lyrics she writes and her constant fight against conforming to what's expected of her keep pissi 1969 into the early 70s was just a phenomenal time for music, IMO, so even if I hadn't heard that this book was very loosely based on Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, I still would have enjoyed it. They're Jane and Jesse, just getting started in the music biz. Jane comes from a matriarchal family so doesn't take a lot of guff about being a woman, yet that's what the business is about at that time. The lyrics she writes and her constant fight against conforming to what's expected of her keep pissing off the men around her. Too bad for them, as Jane instinctively knows exactly what's best for her and her career. Jesse... not so much. If you liked the music of this time or if you enjoyed the book Daisy Jones & The Six, give this one a try. I'm so glad the publisher offered me this through NetGalley

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    THE BOOK OF THE SUMMER. This is a slow burn novel, so be warned! But it’s a debut that’s oh-so-worth it. Songs in Ursa Major had me entranced from beginning to end. It’s like i was alive in the late 60s/early 70s, witnessing first hand greatness being born. It was captivating, hypnotic, and engrossing. Covering a lot of issues (sexism, drug abuse [heroin], and mental health), I loved the wide scope of what was explored in here. I think it was done in a way that was true to perceptions and what w THE BOOK OF THE SUMMER. This is a slow burn novel, so be warned! But it’s a debut that’s oh-so-worth it. Songs in Ursa Major had me entranced from beginning to end. It’s like i was alive in the late 60s/early 70s, witnessing first hand greatness being born. It was captivating, hypnotic, and engrossing. Covering a lot of issues (sexism, drug abuse [heroin], and mental health), I loved the wide scope of what was explored in here. I think it was done in a way that was true to perceptions and what was “normal” in the time period. If you’re looking for the great follow-up book to Daisy Jones, this ones for you. I’d even argue that this one is just as great, it not better. (Thank you PenguinRandom House Canada for my gifted copy in exchange for an honest review)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    The Bayleen Island Folk Fest of 1969 is set to welcome headlining folk artist Jesse Reid until he crashes his motorcycle on the way to the show. Now, it’s up to local band The Breakers, fronted by the equally beautiful and talented Jane Quinn, to step on the main stage and deliver a performance grand enough to make fans forget their disappointment over the missing headliner. The fateful performance lands The Breakers a record deal and an unexpected friendship between Jane and Jesse that grows into The Bayleen Island Folk Fest of 1969 is set to welcome headlining folk artist Jesse Reid until he crashes his motorcycle on the way to the show. Now, it’s up to local band The Breakers, fronted by the equally beautiful and talented Jane Quinn, to step on the main stage and deliver a performance grand enough to make fans forget their disappointment over the missing headliner. The fateful performance lands The Breakers a record deal and an unexpected friendship between Jane and Jesse that grows into a passionate affair on the road. Jane is enamored by her lover, captivated by the media circus, and caught up in the magic of touring. Unfortunately, Jane and Jesse both have secrets that threaten their careers and their relationship. Eventually Jane finds herself at rock bottom and records her heartache on what will become an iconic album. Loosely based on the love affair of James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, Songs in Ursa Major holds so much promise but didn’t deliver for me. We are introduced to characters but never get to the heart of their relationships or forge any true development, the writing is lovely but becomes too flowery at times (especially the dialogue - seriously, no one talks like that), and there is a whole lot of telling rather than showing. I love a good Behind the Music story but this one was frustrating because I saw the author’s intent but also the struggle to pack the punch in delivery. The doomed romance of Jane and Jesse was bland and the “secrets” that tore them apart felt paper thin, Jane was all over the place running away from everything that didn’t go her way but I never understood her reasoning/intentions or cared enough to try, and I wasn’t swept up in the atmosphere that I expected of the 1970s touring rock stars. It’s all a bit too contrived for me but it will be a perfectly acceptable beach read this summer. Thanks to Knopf and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. Songs in Ursa Major is scheduled for release on June 22, 2021. For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Please note that when it comes to books set in the 1960s/70s music scene, it’s impossible for me to be objective, I’m just going to automatically, unapologetically love them, and this was no exception! That said, this was wonderful in its own right, most notably for the spotlight it shines on mental health and the battle women in music face daily in order to be taken seriously - back then and still now! The characters and the music (the music!! Can Jesse and Jane and their albums exist in real l Please note that when it comes to books set in the 1960s/70s music scene, it’s impossible for me to be objective, I’m just going to automatically, unapologetically love them, and this was no exception! That said, this was wonderful in its own right, most notably for the spotlight it shines on mental health and the battle women in music face daily in order to be taken seriously - back then and still now! The characters and the music (the music!! Can Jesse and Jane and their albums exist in real life, please??) just explode off the page and I was totally captivated. The ending was that precise combination of desperately sad but also so beautiful, and I finished it while listening to Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” on repeat, which yup, made it pretty much perfect.

  13. 4 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    Travel back to the time of the emergence of the folk rock singer/songwriter. Hometown hero and new megastar Jesse Reid is set to headline at the annual Folk music festival on Bayleen Island, off the coast of Massachusetts (think Martha’s Vineyard). After Jesse is in a motorcycle accident, a local band, The Breakers, is called on to fill his spot. The crowd is disappointed until they hear the voice of its 19 year old lead singer Jane Quinn. After wowing the crowd, Jane and The Breakers are signed Travel back to the time of the emergence of the folk rock singer/songwriter. Hometown hero and new megastar Jesse Reid is set to headline at the annual Folk music festival on Bayleen Island, off the coast of Massachusetts (think Martha’s Vineyard). After Jesse is in a motorcycle accident, a local band, The Breakers, is called on to fill his spot. The crowd is disappointed until they hear the voice of its 19 year old lead singer Jane Quinn. After wowing the crowd, Jane and The Breakers are signed by Jesse’s manager and a whirlwind begins. An album is made, the band tours with Jesse and a romance begins. Jane falls hard for Jesse but realizes he is battling demons. Jane, too, has her own. We get to follow Jane’s journey including the creation of her masterpiece album, Songs in Ursa Major, complete with song titles and some very appealing lyrics. If you are a fan of the music of the late 1960s/early 70s, you will thoroughly enjoy Songs in Ursa Major. It is an outstanding story of an incredibly creative time in music. While inspired by the love affair between James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, this is not a biography of these talented performers. I even hesitate to mention it as the tale of Jane and Jesse should be viewed as its own love story which takes us from the East Coast to Laurel Canyon, California and the legendary Troubadour in West Hollywood. Author Emma Brodie, in an impressive debut, does a fine job in presenting the music business during this era, revealing how women were treated quite differently than their male counterparts. Jane is such a wonderful character – she is a true talent and doesn’t conform to what is expected of her. Well, I guess that is pretty similar to Joni Mitchell. Many thanks to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, NetGalley and the author for the opportunity to read Songs in Ursa Major in advance of its June 22, 2021 publication. I was excited to read that the rights to the book have been acquired to be adapted into a feature film. Rated 4.5 stars. Review posted on MicheleReader.com.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    If you love the music of the late 60s and 70s, the folky rock stars of Laurel Canyon, and the Newport Folk Festival, this is for you. A well-told story, clearly inspired by Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, that shows that often the most damaged people make the most beautiful art and how those people find their voices.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    This book comes out next week but I've been struggling to talk about it. It's not really a romance although there are relationships in it. It's about some singer-songwriter types in the late 60s-early 70s, the rise and fall of fame, the sexism and disparity of this subculture, the dangers of commercialism when you have actual talent. I liked how the author wrote about music, but there is this major plot point kept from the reader when we are in the MC's head otherwise, and I was frustrated and c This book comes out next week but I've been struggling to talk about it. It's not really a romance although there are relationships in it. It's about some singer-songwriter types in the late 60s-early 70s, the rise and fall of fame, the sexism and disparity of this subculture, the dangers of commercialism when you have actual talent. I liked how the author wrote about music, but there is this major plot point kept from the reader when we are in the MC's head otherwise, and I was frustrated and confused by that whole thing. So I feel torn. Kudos to the author for writing some of the song lyrics instead of making us imagine everything.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

    I need to let this one rattle around like a marble in my empty head for awhile and see where it settles before I decide on a rating. I did enjoy it. It's one of those novels that can be taken two ways. You can let it be just a breezy summer read if you so choose. Or you can look a little deeper and examine what it has to say about addiction, mental illness, and the way the music industry has historically mistreated female artists. I shall weigh up the things I loved and the things that irked me I need to let this one rattle around like a marble in my empty head for awhile and see where it settles before I decide on a rating. I did enjoy it. It's one of those novels that can be taken two ways. You can let it be just a breezy summer read if you so choose. Or you can look a little deeper and examine what it has to say about addiction, mental illness, and the way the music industry has historically mistreated female artists. I shall weigh up the things I loved and the things that irked me and get back to you.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kailey (kmc_reads)

    Easily making my top 10 of the year

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emilie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I really wanted to love this book. I was expecting Daisy Jones and the Six, or maybe The Happy Ever After Playlist, or even A Star is Born. This book has high aspirations, but it's none of those things. It's barely coherent. Jesse Reid and Jane Quinn are supposedly based on James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. I hope Sweet Baby James and Joni don't read this -- they'll be shocked to find that they're so boring. This book has no plot -- it's just a long string of "this happened, then this happened, then I really wanted to love this book. I was expecting Daisy Jones and the Six, or maybe The Happy Ever After Playlist, or even A Star is Born. This book has high aspirations, but it's none of those things. It's barely coherent. Jesse Reid and Jane Quinn are supposedly based on James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. I hope Sweet Baby James and Joni don't read this -- they'll be shocked to find that they're so boring. This book has no plot -- it's just a long string of "this happened, then this happened, then this happened." There's also very little character development. In the end, I still hadn't learned the difference in Grace and Elsie and Maggie, because there was nothing about any of them that made them different from each other. Jane and Jesse don't have much personality either -- I kept wondering why anyone would be interested in either of them. I figured out toward the end that Charlie and her condition were supposedly some big secret, and that Jane's refusal to talk to Jesse about it was what split them up (that, and a heroin addiction). But that's extremely unclear. We keep hearing about how Jane shouldn't tell Jesse too much -- um, okay. About what? I had no idea what was happening. It's so poorly written and poorly plotted. I have so many questions about how this book made it past an editor. Rock stars aren't created overnight from one lucky performance. Where do we see Jesse and Jane falling in love? Suddenly they just ARE. Has the author ever experienced drug addiction or mental illness in her family? They don't work at all the way she describes them. We're supposed to believe there were no signs of Jesse's addiction until one day Jane just catches him with a needle in his arm? That's not how that works. Naloxone was not a thing in the early 70s -- no way some random nurse on an island was carrying it around in her kit and saving the lives of rock stars with it. Charlie's condition is a secret? Why? Are you ashamed of her? Jane takes off to Greece and has a breakdown of some sort, but it's never clear what brought that on. As near as I could tell, nothing was so awful as to cause that. And the things that WERE awful were of Jane's own making, and within her power to fix. The dialogue is atrocious. We keep switching points of view from Jesse to Jane to Morgan to Willy and sometimes to obscure characters that don't even matter. What little climax there is to the story is completely manufactured and comes out of nowhere, and it's all wrapped up in a sappy epilogue that will satisfy exactly no one. It's all just so stupid. I really wanted to love this book the way I've loved other books based on musicians and the history of rock and roll. But it's just so bad. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the advance copy of the book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Candy

    I can’t even being to describe how amazing this story was. Some books have amazing plots with subpar characters or vice versa, but this book had such an intriguing story with such captivating characters. I loved them all. The addiction aspect was written so well and don’t even get me started on the whole “meant to be but not meant to last” type of relationships because this book captured that theme so well. Amazing book, loved it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jody Wahl

    What a debut novel by Emma Brodie. This book is about fame, sex, drugs and rock and roll…well folk rock but you get the idea. But, it’s so much more than that, it’s both heartbreaking and beautiful. The music and the passion between Jesse and Jane is where this book starts, it’s palpable, but Jane is such a strong character I wasn’t sure she’d be tamed by love (you’ll have to read to find out). These characters are so well written, their strengths and flaws are laid bare. But then this book takes What a debut novel by Emma Brodie. This book is about fame, sex, drugs and rock and roll…well folk rock but you get the idea. But, it’s so much more than that, it’s both heartbreaking and beautiful. The music and the passion between Jesse and Jane is where this book starts, it’s palpable, but Jane is such a strong character I wasn’t sure she’d be tamed by love (you’ll have to read to find out). These characters are so well written, their strengths and flaws are laid bare. But then this book takes a bit of a twist that unravels what you thought was the initial theme and Brodie weaves it all into, for me, the heart of the book… the part of the book that took my solid 4 star to a breathless 5. I know I’m being kinda obtuse here with my praise, but I don’t want to give anything away, but the final chapter is in 2022 and well it was nothing short of beautiful, but maybe not in all the ways you’d want as a reader. I don’t know, for me it all was how it needed to be. I loved this book. As a side note, I love Brodie’s descriptive writing. She can paint a scene with words and you can clearly see it, they are a whole vibe in and of themself. As they followed the realtor’s burgundy Chevy up Polk Street, Jane took in bronzed bodies draped on porches, potted cacti hanging from windows, and bare feet walking from door to door. Perhaps the Folk Fest had been reincarnated as a neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills. This book is loosely based on the love affair between James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, I don’t know their story but I’ll be looking into it. What I do know is the 70’s vibe of this book reminded me of my recently departed mom who loved both Mitchell and Taylor and their music would waft through our house during the hot Southern California summers, this book took me back there and that was nice.

  21. 5 out of 5

    RemiOladapo

    4.5 stars❤️ and only because i was a little confused some of the book. this book is set in the 70s and it follows Jane Quinn through stardom. it shows how the glamorous life of these rockstars is often just a facade. i hate to be the person to say this but the song lyrics sucked and sometimes ruined parts of the books. i literally had to put the book down after reading some of those songs. i love how Jane Quinn was raised by independent women and you can tell that’s where she gets some of her ch 4.5 stars❤️ and only because i was a little confused some of the book. this book is set in the 70s and it follows Jane Quinn through stardom. it shows how the glamorous life of these rockstars is often just a facade. i hate to be the person to say this but the song lyrics sucked and sometimes ruined parts of the books. i literally had to put the book down after reading some of those songs. i love how Jane Quinn was raised by independent women and you can tell that’s where she gets some of her character from. i feel like this is a me problem but i had so much trouble remembering the character names of the band members, her family, the label execs. however it was a great book!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lian Dolan

    Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie is the perfect title to add to your TBR list if your summer needs a little romantic rock n' roll. A fictionalized version of the Joni Mitchell/James Taylor love affair, this novel was right up my alley, complete with gauzy shirts, head scarves, bell bottoms and lingering glances. Set on a Martha's Vineyard- type island and rich with music, lyrics and insights into the creative process of songwriting, Songs in Ursa Major took me away. Perfect to pair with a re-l Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie is the perfect title to add to your TBR list if your summer needs a little romantic rock n' roll. A fictionalized version of the Joni Mitchell/James Taylor love affair, this novel was right up my alley, complete with gauzy shirts, head scarves, bell bottoms and lingering glances. Set on a Martha's Vineyard- type island and rich with music, lyrics and insights into the creative process of songwriting, Songs in Ursa Major took me away. Perfect to pair with a re-listen to Joni Mitchell's Blue celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year. This book will break your heart a little, which is the point of music, isn't it? Recommended on my Satellite Sisters Best Beach Bag Books list for 2021.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    A Creative and Captivating Debut Novel with A Spotlight on the 1970’s Music Scene SUMMARY The sun is setting at the Island Folk Festival on Bayleen Island, Massachusetts. It's the summer of 1969, and the festival crowd is vibrating with anticipation awaiting the appearance of superstar Jesse Reid on the main stage. When organizers announce that Jesse will be unable to play, the crowd becomes angry and turns to leave. Another band, The Breakers, with lead vocalist Jane Quinn, is thrust on stage an A Creative and Captivating Debut Novel with A Spotlight on the 1970’s Music Scene SUMMARY The sun is setting at the Island Folk Festival on Bayleen Island, Massachusetts. It's the summer of 1969, and the festival crowd is vibrating with anticipation awaiting the appearance of superstar Jesse Reid on the main stage. When organizers announce that Jesse will be unable to play, the crowd becomes angry and turns to leave. Another band, The Breakers, with lead vocalist Jane Quinn, is thrust on stage and into the spotlight in place of Jesse Reid. They are a young, relatively unknown local band, and this is by far the largest crowd they have ever played for. Nineteen-year-old Jane starts the set with her rendition of Jesse Reid’s best-selling hit, and the crowd is instantly captivated by her amazing voice. Jane’s life changed forever with that performance that night. She and Jesse coincidentally strike up a relationship fueled by their love of music and their shared sense of loss. Before long, Jane’s band has recorded an album and is hitting the road as the opening act for Jesse’s 1970 tour. When the tour reveals some shocking secrets, Jane is devastated and returns to the island, where she throws herself into her music, creating an album unlike anything else—Songs of Ursa Major. REVIEW SONGS IN URSA MAJOR is a delightful read following the rise and fall of Jane Quinn’s frustrating musical career, her emotional family issues, and her volatile relationship with Jesse. The themes of music, mental health, and grief are at center stage. Author Emma Brodie’s debut novel is captivating. From her detailed descriptions to her intriguing dialog, Brodie has it covered. She skillfully transports us into the 1970’s music industry with a story that is meticulously built and creatively woven. Brodie’s writing is clear, concise and full of emotion. Jane manages to steal not only Jesse's heart but ours as well throughout the book. Her character is full of moxie, dedication, and strength, particularly when facing a vindictive record producer. Fans of Daisey Jones and the Six will appreciate SONGS IN URSA MAJOR. Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Publisher Knopf Published June 22, 2021 Review www.bluestockingreviews.com

  24. 5 out of 5

    Linda Sardone

    Compelling from page 1, this story pulled me along in Jane's wake as her story took its radical turn by turn. Late at night, eyes burning, I kept telling myself just one more chapter, then another, I have to see what happens next..... There is an intimacy permeating this story, with Jane's point of view as dominant, despite being in third person throughout. The author clearly loves the time period in which she's placed the story and the type of headliner artists from which she's crafted her chara Compelling from page 1, this story pulled me along in Jane's wake as her story took its radical turn by turn. Late at night, eyes burning, I kept telling myself just one more chapter, then another, I have to see what happens next..... There is an intimacy permeating this story, with Jane's point of view as dominant, despite being in third person throughout. The author clearly loves the time period in which she's placed the story and the type of headliner artists from which she's crafted her characters. Many of the secondary characters are given chances to shine, while solidly filling in the story chapter by chapter. Note: The story is dark in many places, so please don't expect a sunny, funny summer read as some advance review blurbs state. Respect is a theme. Some of my favorite scenes were of the uniquely individual creative forces that produce that match between lyrics and scores. The island townies dependent on tourism as well as multiple part time jobs to earn a decent living may have their lives contrasted to those of the wealthy visitors they serve, but we are never made to feel the townies are lesser people - although Jane at times reveals personal jealousy or inadequacy. Idealism vs reality and truth vs lies are also themes, in the various quagmires that comprise the business of music and in Jane's relationships, personal and to her music. My thanks to Knopf for making an advance ebook copy available to me in exchange for an honest review. An audio copy has also been produced, and I am quite curious to listen once its available. I have a longing to hear the music so central to this story. #SongsinUrsaMajor #NetGalley #Goodreads

  25. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Romero

    Songs in Ursa Major is a love story set in 1969 through today. It is about so much more than the music industry in the ’70s. Although that is a story that never gets old. Jane Quinn lives on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. She sings with her band along with her friends. She lives with her Grandma Elsie and her Aunt Grace. Where her mother is will be quite a mystery. When Jane meets folk singer Jesse Reid who is recovering from an accident at the facility her aunt works at she begins a re Songs in Ursa Major is a love story set in 1969 through today. It is about so much more than the music industry in the ’70s. Although that is a story that never gets old. Jane Quinn lives on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. She sings with her band along with her friends. She lives with her Grandma Elsie and her Aunt Grace. Where her mother is will be quite a mystery. When Jane meets folk singer Jesse Reid who is recovering from an accident at the facility her aunt works at she begins a relationship that will push and pull them for years. Jesse’s star is on the rise and the nasty record company has decided Jane will be his girlfriend and her band will open for him. Fine, looks good. Until it isn’t. Jane wants to sing her own songs in her own way and she will sacrifice love for that. When she discovers Jesse’s dark secret she is out of there. Blackballed by a nasty producer, she returns home and tries to make peace with all of the secrets in her own life. Starting with her mother. Obviously, the music industry is cutthroat. The record company owns you and your music. What Jane does is brave and I love her character. This was a book for music lovers. The lyrics, the emotions, the love, the sacrifice! Oh my, I loved this book so much! NetGalley Review/22 June 2021 Knopf Doubleday

  26. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Both the title and the description of this book called to me that I had to read this one, and once I started I couldn't put it down. The music industry in the 60's and 70's was volatile and make good subject matter. The damaged characters in the book are intriguing and it was engrossing reading about their triumphs and their failures. I cheered for Jane every time she stood up for herself and her music, and despaired as Jesse struggled with his problems despite his fame. The writing style is add Both the title and the description of this book called to me that I had to read this one, and once I started I couldn't put it down. The music industry in the 60's and 70's was volatile and make good subject matter. The damaged characters in the book are intriguing and it was engrossing reading about their triumphs and their failures. I cheered for Jane every time she stood up for herself and her music, and despaired as Jesse struggled with his problems despite his fame. The writing style is addictive and enjoyable and the characters are well fleshed out. I found the song lyrics inserted throughout the novel intriguing. Thanks to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group through Netgalley for an advance copy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    4 1/2 "bright shiny" stars!! Songs in Ursa Major called to me like a siren song....all I had to do was see that it was a book about the music industry during the 1960's and 1970's and I was all in. It did have a bit of a Daisy Jones feel to it, but was still its own story. The main character, Jane Quinn has a complicated personal history. She's incredibly talented and gets her big break when Jessie Reid is injured on his way to perform at the local music festival. When Jane and her group, The 4 1/2 "bright shiny" stars!! Songs in Ursa Major called to me like a siren song....all I had to do was see that it was a book about the music industry during the 1960's and 1970's and I was all in. It did have a bit of a Daisy Jones feel to it, but was still its own story. The main character, Jane Quinn has a complicated personal history. She's incredibly talented and gets her big break when Jessie Reid is injured on his way to perform at the local music festival. When Jane and her group, The Breakers get to fill in, opportunities suddenly present themselves. However, amidst it all, the discrimination against women during that time period in the industry is evident and Jane feels it immensely as she tries to find her place. To further complicate things, she and Jessie fall in love and their whirlwind, passionate affair burns hot. Unfortunately, not all is as it seems and Jane finds herself lost and alone. She falls back on her music and creates a beautiful, albeit heartbreaking album in Songs in Ursa Major. Throughout it all, Jane is on her own course of self discovery to better understand herself and what she is truly looking for out of life. This debut novel took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions. One minute I was up and the next, I was plunging down to the lowest of depths. My heart broke for many of the characters as they navigated life and its challenges. You find yourself invested not in just Jane and Jessie, but also many of the side characters as well. Over the course of this novel, it is heartbreakingly clear that love isn't always enough. Yet, you can't just turn it off. Love is always there. I look forward to reading more by Emma Brodie. I found this novel to be an impressive debut. She created characters with a great deal of depth and wove them into a storyline that took a popular theme and gave it a different feel. Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC. I voluntarily chose to review it and the opinions contained within are my own.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    I've read six books released this year that focus on singers and songwriting but this is one of my favorites. Set in the 1960s and 1970s, it gave me lots "A Star Is Born" meets "Almost Famous" vibes - what's not to love? 𝗦𝗢𝗡𝗚𝗦 𝗜𝗡 𝗨𝗥𝗦𝗔 𝗠𝗔𝗝𝗢𝗥 is the story of Jane Quinn, the lead singer of a small local band called The Breakers who get their big break when they replace Jesse Reid, the headliner at the Bayleen Island Folk Festival after he has an accident. When Jane gives the performance of a lifetim I've read six books released this year that focus on singers and songwriting but this is one of my favorites. Set in the 1960s and 1970s, it gave me lots "A Star Is Born" meets "Almost Famous" vibes - what's not to love? 𝗦𝗢𝗡𝗚𝗦 𝗜𝗡 𝗨𝗥𝗦𝗔 𝗠𝗔𝗝𝗢𝗥 is the story of Jane Quinn, the lead singer of a small local band called The Breakers who get their big break when they replace Jesse Reid, the headliner at the Bayleen Island Folk Festival after he has an accident. When Jane gives the performance of a lifetime, her life becomes becomes intertwined with Jesse's. This slow burn novel is beautifully evocative of unique time for music. Folk singers were just becoming stars and changing the sounds of the times. Jane and Jesse's relationship is heartbreaking in a lot of ways - Jane is naive in thinking she'll be able to control her career and make the music she wants, and while Jesse does what he can to help her, he knows the realities of the business. At the same time, Jane is so caught up in the music that she's blind to Jesse's flaws. Brodie captures all of the glitz and glam of being a rock star along with the ugly downsides - the sexism, the lack of control and the unrealistic expectations. While Jane and Jesse are the stars of the book, Jane's bandmates, their manager Willy, and her family of Quinn women back home on Bayleen Island are wonderful characters as well. And while the ending wasn't at all what I expected, it fit the story perfectly. I listened to the audiobook and the narration by @kristensieh was terrific. I loved hearing the lyrics to the songs and wish there had been a soundtrack to go with it. This emotional look at fame, family and first love (which rumor has it was based on James Taylor's affair with Joni Mitchell) is the perfect summer read. Thanks to Knopf Doubleday, PRHAudio and NetGalley for the ebook and audiobook copies to review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    I really enjoyed this story. I was a teenager in the 60s and 70s so I loved the whole hippie and rock and roll vibe in this book. Loosely based on James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, a lot of the story took place on an “imaginary “ island off the coast of Massachusetts. This was very jarring to me. I live in Massachusetts and have spent a lot of vacation time on Martha’s Vineyard, the obvious setting of the story. I understand why the author didn’t want to use the actual name since this is fiction, I really enjoyed this story. I was a teenager in the 60s and 70s so I loved the whole hippie and rock and roll vibe in this book. Loosely based on James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, a lot of the story took place on an “imaginary “ island off the coast of Massachusetts. This was very jarring to me. I live in Massachusetts and have spent a lot of vacation time on Martha’s Vineyard, the obvious setting of the story. I understand why the author didn’t want to use the actual name since this is fiction, not a biography of James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, but if you know the Vineyard, it threw me off the story a bit. This won’t be a problem for a lot of readers who aren’t familiar with the island. That said, I thought Jane was a wonderful character and would recommend this as a great read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Eryn Eaton

    All the feels for this book. I was a big fan of Daisy Jones and the Six, and I'm pretty sure I loved Songs in Ursa Major more. Perhaps it's because I grew up with the sounds of James Taylor in my house, or I can relate to a young girl with big dreams, but this was one that I couldn't put down and will certainly never forget. It's beautifully written, and despite not growing up in the 70s, I felt as if I was transported back in time and could imagine every scene as it played out. Read this lyrical All the feels for this book. I was a big fan of Daisy Jones and the Six, and I'm pretty sure I loved Songs in Ursa Major more. Perhaps it's because I grew up with the sounds of James Taylor in my house, or I can relate to a young girl with big dreams, but this was one that I couldn't put down and will certainly never forget. It's beautifully written, and despite not growing up in the 70s, I felt as if I was transported back in time and could imagine every scene as it played out. Read this lyrical story.- you won't be disappointed. 4.5stars Thank you to Netgalley, Knopf, and Emma Brodie for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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