Cover Image: Songs in Ursa Major

Songs in Ursa Major

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Member Reviews

Set at the end of the 60's and beginning of the 70's, Songs in Ursa Major loosely follows the romantic love affair between Joni Mitchell and James Taylor. Not my usual read, but I was pleasantly surprised by the realistic portrayal of young local girl, Jane Quinn and her band's headlong first foray into the music scene. It covers some important topics such as sexism, mental health issues and drug abuse in a way that represents how they would've been perceived in the time period that it was set, and I feel like this made the story feel ever more realistic. I can't wait to read more from this author.
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This book started so well. There are a lot of similarities to Daisy Jones, but I didn’t mind that because it has a more 70s than 60s feel about it, and really makes you feel like you could have been there. Jane is trying to go places with her band Breakers, and has to overcome knock backs from a variety of different places.

The second half of the book feels very different, a bit rushed in places and less about the music than Jane’s family experiences. It’s almost like 2 different books have been attached together, when I really wanted more of the first book. 

With thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins UK for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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Well, this one was very much a copy of Daisy Jones for me. It’s interesting and funny at times as well as sad for some scenes. I did enjoyed it though and could totally see it as a movie. 

Very grateful to the publisher for my review copy
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I really enjoyed this novel, I think it's an excellent debut by Brodie and I am so interested to see what she rights next. This was an easy read, or listen for me, and I was engaged and invested from the beginning. This story covers the nuances of some hot button issues such as addiction, inequality in the entertainment industry, and the toll that infamy can take on a person. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked it so much more than Daisey Jones and the Six. I loved the way that this novel transported me back to the 70's when music was a way to rebel from an unequal system and express the love and contentment that so many people desired in this era.

Jane Quinn (Janie Q to those who are close to her) is a young woman with stars in her eyes. The Island Folk Festival is a tradition on Bayleen Island (an Island of the coast of Canada known for its history in whaling) and Janie Q is so excited to be performing on the amateur's stage with her band "The Breakers". Jesse Jones is the headliner and Janie is excited to be in his orbit. When Jesse crashes his motorcycle and is unable to perform, Janie is asked to perform on the main stage in front of thousands of angry fans. Janie is awestruck by the crowd, but they are not as impressed by her, until she starts singing one of Jesse's most popular songs and she transcends the stage.

After making their debut, Janie and her best friends Greg, Rich, and Kyle are offered a record deal with Pegasus. They are just out of high school, living simple, slow island lives with a love for making beautiful music. None of The Breakers knew or expected that their music would result in fame or fortune but for Janie Q there were personal reasons her music and her integrity as an artist were so important to her. After their first show at the Island Folk Fest, Janie meets Jesse and she's intrigued and impressed. Jesse was born into wealth but made a name for himself when an A&R rep, Willie, offered him a record deal. Janie is also approached by Willie after her bands performance and this is how the story of Janie and Jesse begins. After Jesse recovers from his injuries he, Janie, and The Breakers go on tour and Janie and Jesse connect both musically and romantically. Janie and Jesse built their bond on their shared love of music and the shared experience of losing their mothers at a young age.

This is a beautifully written novel about music, fame, fortune, and misfortune. Janie and Jesse are kindred spirits and together they make beautiful music. I really loved listening to this novel as an audiobook and Kristen Sieh did an amazing job as the narrator. I loved listening to the lyrics, learning about their creative process, and the in-depth look at how women artists were treated in this era. This novel is an uplifting coming of age story set in the 70's. I would definitely recommend the audiobook for my fellow audiophiles as it's lovely to here the lyrics being spoken. It is a wonderful debut by this artist that has all the makings of a great novel.
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Jane Quinn and Jessie Reid are the rock star couple that should be together but can’t seem to make it work. Jane is new on the music scene - musically gifted but unwilling to play the game in a male dominated music industry. Jessie is the world weary rock star who has become jaded by his whirlwind success. But what they both have in common is their love for music. 

I really enjoyed Songs in Ursa Major. It was a mix between Almost Famous and Daisy Jones and the Six. Songs with a music base hook me straight away and this book felt far too short. In fact, Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie is the kind of novel that makes you feel nostalgia for a time and place that you never visited.

One of my favourite books of the year so far.

Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie is available now.

For more information regarding Emma Brodie (@emma_c_brodie) please visit

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.
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When I picked this up, I was expecting something with 'Daisy Jones and the Six' vibes and this does have a similar quality to it, with its storyline focussing on a female fronted band, albeit in the 1970s rather than the 60s. 

Jane Quinn's band is plucked from the sidelines to stand in at the last minute for Jesse Reid's much better known band, who cant play the Folk Festival due to a serious accident. Jane's band wows the audience and Jesse takes Jane under his wing to teach her the way through the music business with all its pitfalls and dangerous distractions. As Jesse and Jane's relationship develops and her fame grows, she begins to find out more about what's hidden beneath the surface of Jesse's songs and then her own

A summer read which will captivate you and take you away from everyday life
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I did expect a bit more from this book, but the glittery and dreamy world really reels you in. This story requires an interest in music and musicians, especially of the 70s.
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The story in this was so compelling it had me hooked from the first chapter. I laughed and cried and genuinely enjoyed this.
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I absolutely LOVED this book!!
Although the blurb's selling it more as a love story, for me it was the story of Jane. As a women working in the music industry I can say Emma did a wonderful job of very realistically depicting the double standards that afflict us to this day. Throughout most of it, actually, all I could think of was to buy a copy for one of the female artists I look after - she and I had numerous battles throughout TWO YEARS before she finally got the recognition she deserved among my colleagues who were the ones who actually signed her.
But I digress...
There were two or three twists that took the story to a different path but it never felt convoluted or too much, everything fit and I'm really glad the ending wasn't exactly predictable and Jane didn't turn out to be the type of woman to be with a man to fix him. She never was and it would've been really frustrating had they end up together.
Frankly, I can comment on various aspects of the book but nothing I say can do it justice.

I won't post this one on Goodreads because of spoilers but will share an edited review on IG and my blog once I take some good photos.
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I have mixed feelings about this book. Firstly, it's a great storyline, and the book really invokes the feeling of 60s/70s rock and roll. The reader is properly thrust into the limelight along with the Breakers, and you are rooting for them. I particularly enjoyed the feminine force of Jane Quinn's matriarchal family, and it was refreshing to read as Jane stands up for herself in a music industry dominated by men. Alongside this musical fantasy is a whirlwind romance that you can't help but root for, despite everything in their way. I did find myself wrapped up in it, reading the entire book in about three sittings.
Just after the halfway point is when things start to fall apart for me. Although the constant song lyrics started out as endearing, they are overly used by this point, often striking little meaning in the wider context, and seemingly just to fill space. Jane becomes selfish and bratty, and it becomes increasingly difficult to root for her. I was sad about this, as she had been such a force of feminine energy to begin with, yet by the end her main characteristics are temper tantrums and episodes of disappearing, which doesn't seem fair on her adoring, supportive family. This half of the book also reveals the truth behind Jane's mother's disappearance. While the storyline is an interesting one, its 'revelation' is uneventful and rushed, and to be honest I almost missed it. 
The final quarter of the book feels like a race to the finish, and after such a fascinating and titillating build-up, we never really see a satisfactory resolution of some of the main conflicts. The final chapter skips from the early 70s to a news article from 2022, and while I appreciate this creative tactic as a way to give the reader closer about the lives of our characters, it actually doesn't answer some of the most important questions. And the answers it does give are not the ones I was hoping for.
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A fun romp through the 1960s/70s with echoes of Daisy Jones & The Six and smatterings of Valley of the Dolls (if it had been set later and in the music industry...).

It follows the rise and fall (and rise and fall) of extraordinary talented rock-'n'-roll/blues singer-songwriter Jane Quinn in the late 60s/70s, and her relationship to troubled megastar Jesse Reid. Coming from a family of strong  and independent women, Jane is outspoken and determined and fierce - and a delight to spend time with.

I loved the first 3/4 or so of this book - the way it showed Jesse Vs Jane's career trajectories, life in Jane's hometown of Bayleen Island, the descriptions of making records, the characters, Jane herself. 

However, the last section of the book tried to fit a lot in and felt a bit more whirlwind/fantastical. Though I see why everything that happened happened, I'd have preferred to spend time with some of the main characters we'd known throughout instead and find out what happened to them (some endings are hinted at in the book but we don't go into them. And while this is a fun, not heavy book I would have loved a little more focus on of the Black and LGBTQ+ characters, given period it's set in. As a result, I'd say if I was to chose one music-history type book to read that's come out recently, I'd probably pick The Final Revival of Opal & Nev personally. That said, Songs... is more escapist than Opal & Nev so it depends what you want from a book. 

Overall, Jane's story may not be the most realistic but it is good fun and utterly addictive and it's hard not to come under her spell. A perfect lazy beach/Christmas read.
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I’d like to thank NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for approving me for an ARC of this book.

Next to reading music is my second passion. As a pianist and music teacher I’m always keen to read books about music, throw in some historical fiction and you’ve got me, hook, line and sinker.

Songs in Ursa Major is a quiet, steady paced read. It’s not all singing and dancing but there is a lot of heart and passion to the story. The story starts in 1969 where Jane Quinn and her band, The Breakers, fill in for a well known singer. From there The Breakers hit their break and Jane’s love affair with Jesse Reid begins.

Jane and Jesse’s story was complicated from the start. There was passion and fire to their love affair but trying to reach stardom on the arm of a famous singer was hard for Jane. It was clear very early on that Jane had balls and she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. Her confidence and determination is what helped her through the hard choices she made in the music industry and I admired her integrity.

Standing behind Jane was a formidable force of women. From Elsie to Grace and Maggie, the Quinn women certainly knew how to handle themselves. They worked hard and supported each other through anything and every thing. When Charlie’s story came to light the novel took a completely different turn, her final scenes with Jane brought a lump to my throat. Her story showed how deep these loyalties lied and what they would do to protect each other.

There was a moment when I started to doubt Jane and I was worried that the music industry had finally moulded her. Of course I was quickly proven wrong and I found myself grinning from ear to ear with her last performance.

Emma Brodie’s writing is not only beautiful it is lyrical. I was mesmerised by Jane’s story and could not stop till I had indulged every last word on the page. This book deserves all the stars and so much more.
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A wonderful read a book set in the music scene of the sixties.I really enjoyed the love story a book that drew me right in.Looking forward to more by this author.#netgalley #harpercollinsuk
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This was a good story that could have been edited to form a much better one. The scene, the music all great. Writing was very good but overly long and not edited at all
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An incredible debut novel based around the music scene of the 60's, a perfect summer read that will immerse you in the world of music. An enjoyable read!
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Hmm, I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed it, but it really was overlong. Too many song lyrics that I’m afraid I didn’t get any meaning from. Great feel of place and time, the 60s, sex, drugs and rock n roll.  The main character, Jane, didn’t strike any resonance with me, yet I was rooting for her until about half way through the book. Beautifully written though and so impressive for a first novel. I did enjoy the parts about composition, mixing and the musicality, very interesting to have a view into the creative process. Loved the English rock singer, but his role was very slight and seemed to serve no purpose, which was a shame. Lots of people will rave about this book, but it just didn’t totally do it for me. I do however, think that the author is a star in the making and was a little let down by her editor. Oh yes; I hated the ending.
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Delving into this book I was transported back to the sixties.  Back to a time of happy music, flowers in hair and free love.  I loved the connection between our two main characters with their music and the attraction for each other they obviously felt.  
There’s a tension running through their relationship though, aggravated by those around them and also the secret Jane is keeping. 
The sadness is palpable when it all falls apart and we see the other side of the swinging sixties. 
Altogether though, it’s a lovely book, full of nostalgia for those old enough to remember those days. I would have liked a different ending but maybe this one was more realistic. Highly recommended.
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So the blurb got me with "...if you liked Daisy Jones and the Six..." because YES, yes I do love Daisy Jones and will recommend it for as long as I live. And now probably this one alongside it. 
Fame, money, sold-out shows? Great! Drugs, pressure, image changes, judgement, broken relationships? Not so great! 
Live the ups and downs and up agains, along with the band the Breakers and their enigmatic lead singer. 
And remember that sometimes it is not such a good thing when we get exactly what we dreamed about.
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Emma Brodie’s debut novel and I have to admit I loved it. 

Set in the late 60s/early 70s it tells the story of Jane Quinn a young up and coming singer and her complicated relationships with rising star Jesse Reid, her family and also ultimately herself. 

The mood is captured perfectly here as we are catapulted back to the time of folk music, record companies owning artists, causal drug taking, blatant sexism, the works. 

I really devoured this book. I’m a lover of music in general so this piqued my interest anyway but you don’t have to be a music fan to love this story. 

Well rounded complicated flawed characters, great story telling, the book feels as real as it gets. Jane is a fascinating character as she struggles with herself as much as the system and indeed the flawed Jesse. 

A fantastic debut. If you get a chance go read this. It’s a real gem. 

Thanks to the publisher for an ARC through Netgalley.
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When nascent star Jesse Reid has a motorbike accident minutes before his set at a folk festival, local band The Breakers are rushed onstage to perform.  They catch the eye of a talent scout from a major label and the band, including singer Jane Quinn, are set for stardom.  Riding on the coat-tails of Jesse's success and his romance with Jane is great until suddenly it isn't and Jesse and Jane both have secrets that destroy their relationship.  Maybe Jane's response to their break-up, an album called Songs in Ursa Major, can heal.
There have been a slew of books about fictional female rock stars of the late sixties over the past few years and this is up with the best of them.  Jane is a feminist figurehead but the story is not stridently political, it is a coherent and sensitively written narrative in which drug addiction and mental health are drivers.  I enjoyed the story and listened to the message.
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