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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 19 June 2010
I was smitten with Louise Wener the first time I saw her, probably on The Chart Show on a Saturday morning, walking around a supermarket with Dale Winton. She was great-looking and bolshy, and the band, Sleeper, sounded good too. I dutifully bought the albums, which were uniformly excellent, and read interviews in which Louise showed a welcome contempt for the music press. The more the press loathed her, the more I admired her, then suddenly Sleeper seemed to vanish. So when I saw Ms Wener on BBC Breakfast promoting this book, I had to buy it.
I'm very pleased I did. The first part, the teenage angst, the misery of not being one of the cool kids at school, will strike a chord with anyone who grew up in the 70's and 80's, and it was fun to hear it from a female perspective. But it's the second part, the rise and fall of Sleeper, a world most of us will never know, that really made the book for me. By turns funny, reflective and bittersweet, it charts the highs and lows of the band with a great turn of phrase. Louise isn't afraid to point at herself and laugh, and her pen sketches of some other Britpop luminaries are funny and revealing. There's no self-pity about Sleepers' eventual implosion, she's well aware that many people would have loved to have experienced that lifestyle. Instead she just lifts a corner so we can see what it was like and draw our own conclusions.
I read the book in one sitting, and it genuinely made me laugh out loud. It's a female counterpart to "Lost in Music" by Giles Smith, and I can't give it a higher recommendation than that. As with most books of this sort you have to admire her powers of recall, but that's part of the charm: many of the things she describes would be pretty hard to forget!
It says on the cover that Fearne Cotton found this book hilarious, please don't let that put you off. Ms Wener is a million miles from the sort of vacuous "celebrity" that Fearne seems to epitomise. I hope this book is a huge success, and that, if it is, Louise buys herself a green Gibson SG!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 December 2012
I was a student when the whole Britpop thing was going on and it seemed like such an exciting time for music. I liked Sleeper a lot and had bought all three of their albums, I loved their catchy tunes and Louise's unique, breathy voice. I was at the REM concert in Milton Keynes that she writes about in the book, where Micheal Stipe sang Happy Birthday to her, and was very interested to read her account of that. I also like to read anything about the Britpop era as I can get quite nostalgic over it! Ahh, memories of crap student parties! Ha! Ahem, back to the book. It was much more than a look at Britpop from a female's point of view, it is also the story of Louise herself, her childhood and her experiences before and after the band were popular. I enjoyed it a lot. If you like Sleeper, Biographies and/or Britpop, you probably will too because Louise Wener tells her story well.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
SO glad I got this book from amazon vine, as I started smiling by page 1 and was soon LOL at the many, many similarities (not all in a good way) between the author and myself, mainly her Sunday night ritual of listening to the charts and trying to tape songs without interference and without any talking over them by the DJ, her frustrations when things didn't go to plan, her fantasies, her blunt, geeky teen-self and her smart-ass know-it-all elder brother. Rings bells, anyone?

I wasn't lucky enough to have had the freedom of living the whole of my teenage years in this country, but the music talked about in this book, the artists, the events, all brought back some really good memories on top of the laughs. And a certain reality that the relative innocence that we had back in the 70's/80's in comparison to the 90's and Noughties in which my son grew up, has totally gone. It was nostalgic, VERY funny, poignant and a great trip down memory lane.

I'd never heard of Sleeper til I read this book, but it was interesting to get a real-life account of someone who's been through the ups and downs of the fickle world of pop, and who came out on top and has gone on to live a very different but equally successful life, unlike many of the Britpop posse who are in such a sad state these days, back trying to plug the comeback gig/trail for a bob or two.

It's a really good read. One, and I mean this nicely, that I'd like to leave lying on a shelf in my bathroom/loo combo, that I could pick up and reminesce over again and again. I'm sure it'd soon get takers!
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VINE VOICEon 28 October 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There are many books like this around- funny and true accounts of a celebrity life, written with a touch of cynicism, a touch of nostalgia, a few well-chosen bits of scandal or revelation. They are often entertaining if trivial. They are, without exception, the story of a predictable journey from non-entity to celeb, with entirely obvious pitfalls and tribulations.
So what makes this different?
The title gives a clue: it's a singularly feminine perspective, told through the eyes of an intelligent, self-critical and imaginative participant, who is not afraid to cast herself in a bad light.It's an engaging and a compelling read. Also: Louise Wener is a gifted writer, able to produce lucid and clear prose which is fluent and honest. No, it won't change the world. And yes, it does suffer from the flaws described above. But it transcends them because it's so well-written and truthful.

Worth a read-even if you don't know who Sleeper were. And most definitely worth looking at if you're a female singer, looking to work in the field of pop music. Could save you a lot of heartache...
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VINE VOICEon 8 July 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
An enjoyable account of Louise Wener's passage from childhood dream of being a pop star to adult fulfilment of the dream as lead singer with Britpop band Sleeper. It is funny, self deprecating ,informative and at times searingly self revealing.A good read for any wannabe pop stars, as it follows her rise from pre-teen Fame fan to leather jacketed rebel and subsequent swift decline.Thankfully she doesn't take it all too seriously and despite drug and alchohol abuse has come out of it all very level headed and forgiving. My only reservations are that towards the end she appears to blame her record company not promoting Sleeper's latest single for the decline of the band, when I think the truth is really that their fifteen minutes of fame were pretty much over. Also, the book is written in a generic pop autobiography style that was first pioneered by Nick Hornby and is a little too over familiar now.If you like this then I'd certainly recommend Lost In Music by Giles Smith, an equally amusing tale of his time with obscure indie band The Cleaners From Venus.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I love Louise Wener's novels, so was interested to read this memoir, despite never having been a particular fan of Sleeper, the band she was lead singer with.

The first half of the book covers growing up in the 70s and 80s and had some nostalgic moments for me. This section also covers Louise's musical influences. The second half looks at her time with Sleeper and their rise to having top 20 singles and appearing on Top of the Pops.

As I would have predicted, the first half was by far my favourite bit. It made me smile and brought back memories, and the writing was excellent. The second half wasn't so interesting for me, but that's because I prefer stories of family life and growing up, to stories of how fame was achieved. However, the whole book is a great read and a lot of fun.
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I always used to confuse Louise Wener of Sleeper with Elastica's Justine Frischmann (I'm not alone in this) but after reading this that's not likely to be repeated.
Louise was born on the day England won the World Cup and from a very early age had her older sibling's musical tastes influencing her. It's a tale of a close family bonds despite age differences (her brother became her manager), early struggles for success and then how she and the band handled that success (being mistaken for the waitress at record company corporate events and of how that success dwindled.
It also has one of the best, feel-good endings of any biography I've ever read. I couldn't put it down and when I did, it was with a smile. It's great.
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on 26 November 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I thoroughly enjoyed this book because not only do I remember the era and specifically the artist, but I am really into music and love reading about the experiences of people in the industry. I found this book very accessible and easy to read because it was written in such an open, down to earth way. It was just like reading the diary or blog of a close female friend. There was plenty of humour, some of it rather self-depricating, and it was impossible not to warm to Louise Weiner. Whether or not you're into the music itself, the book provides a fascinating insight into the world as it was for female recording artists in the 90s.
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VINE VOICEon 23 June 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Whether or not Wener saw herself as the Britpop femme Adrian Mole is a moot point; I doubt it. However, that was the touchstone that sprang to mind during the opening chapters of her Adventures In Pop. For this account of what it's like to get what you want - finding it pop-shaped, but not all you had it cracked up to be - has that same pitch and wry, dry sense of humour. Never taking herself too seriously, Wener reveals just what it was like to go from ugly duckling zero to hero. And while she could be forgiven for bitterness, given the lashing she received at the hands of old school music journos way, way back in the '90s of the last century, along with the shortchanging her band, Sleeper, received at the hands of a scurrilous music industry, she equally has no illusions about how lucky she was to make it when - and how - she did.

Bizarrely, this is a pop memoir that lacks even the merest side-swipe at perceived injustices; instead Wener mines her own life story for what it's worth, perhaps realising that true-life itself is often just as bizarre as the fiction she now writes as her day job. Granted, anyone expecting a warts and all account of fame's (and Britpop's drugs- and disaster-fertile) seedy underbelly will probably need to move along to Luke Haines' deliciously dark Bad Vibes, for Wener keeps things light, striving instead for a bigger picture that's decidedly more feelgood and positive. That said, Different For Girls provides a clear signpost on the troubled, bumpy road to celebrity; and there are a few very subtle references to some of the behind-the-scenes industry constructs attached to certain Britpop era bands, but nothing that hasn't been suggested before, and they are so fleeting that you could be forgiven for overlooking Wener's revelations. In fact, Wener is actually commendably restrained in her industry gossip, given Sleeper's position in the scenes of their times, and humbly avoids illuminating her own ego in the glow of old bridges being burned.

I'll admit that I was initially disappointed by Wener's easy-going style, what with this being the first time I'd actually committed to any of her written work; however, as the book progressed I found it hugely enjoyable and increasingly addictive as fame entered her tale, and was finally rather disappointed when it came to an end. Yes, the chapters are short, and at times she does veer a little too close to the Spangles school of nostalgia, but, hey, this is her story not mine. In fact, so well focused is Different For Girls in its move to entertain, if you removed the cover and neglected to tell a test-reader this was non-fiction, I'd wager they wouldn't necessarily tell, such is Wener's commitment to entertaining the reader. In fact, memoir is a description that doesn't really fit this book, because Different For Girls just doesn't feel like your usual autobiography - all stuffy and self-absorbed. Instead, I reckon it should just be filed as a darn good read, and forget the pigeonholing.

I was never much of a Sleeper fan at the time, but upon reading this I have a new-found respect for Wener, and would not be surprised if this second-stage career (third if you count her early Mothercare diversion) doesn't prove to be bigger and more enduring than her last.

So, in short: Highly recommended for those that need entertaining, cheering up/reminding that life is alright, or simply love their music enough to see what came next for one of the 90s most colourful, if short-careered faces.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is Louise Wener's recollection of fulfilling her teenage dream to become a popstar, during which she forms a band, tours, achieves a silver then gold disc before concluding the music industry of the late-90's is changing and the band break up.

The first half of the book is a little slow to get going as Louise looks back on her childhood and early teenage years and focuses mostly on teenage angst - her geeky appearance, spots, boyfriends and, most of all, her following of the music scene with regular recounts of the bands she's listening to on the radio and records she's bought as her musical tastes develop.

Louise Werner is no Katie Price hiding behind a ghost-writer but has her own flair for creative writing, humour and vivid descriptions which will bring smiles of recollection to anyone in their late 30's-early 40's familiar with the scenes she recounts. It certainly brought back probably too many memories of my own teenage years eg the hand-held microphone recording onto WH Smith C90 tapes in a living room with a family forced into silence long before the days when video recorders became affordable and widespread.

The pace quickens in the second half and now enters the more gritty stuff - including how Louise deviously engineered the band's signing with a record label by creatively writing her own reviews and copying and pasting them into a faked issue of `New Musical Express'!

The book is a very down to earth look at the reality of life in a successful band along with the ups and downs - the exhilaration of playing to a crowd of fans at a mass concert - too many formal lunches to be endured during boring promotional tours in order to get get airplay.

There are frictions within the group to deal with, drugs and booze, endless touring and hotel rooms overlooking roundabouts while life on the road living in a tour bus with no privacy and little space takes its toll.

The Epilogue offers a short peek into Louise's new life now - as a mother of two, still with her partner from the band while her ex has become her children's babysitter, and there are hints of the toddlers developing some musical aspirations themselves....

This well-written musical odyssey will appeal to teenagers sharing her dreams and aspirations of pop stardom and to readers of her own age looking back and reminiscing over the periods she describes, particularly anyone who followed the UK music charts in the 80's and 90's. My only criticism is that I felt the book could have been enhanced and brought to life more by including photographs of Louise as a teenager and with the band, `Sleeper', so the reader could share a greater depth to her life story.
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