Cover Image: This Bird Has Flown

This Bird Has Flown

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I always get nervous when someone I’m a fan of based on a talent for something else writes a book. What if they’re—gasp—terrible at it? Will it affect how I feel about their work in general? But in this case I needn’t have worried. Susanna Hoffs, former lead singer of The Bangles and a favorite of mine, turns out to be a lovely writer as well.

I wish we saw more women’s fiction like this. No horrifically tragic backstory and emotional manipulation of the reader, no super schlocky, overwrought romance. Just a sweet, likable story about a woman with a stalled career and a recent heartbreak who is looking to move forward.

Obviously most of us have no musical talent, let alone a former chart topper to our credit, but mega-skill aside, Jane is just so refreshingly normal. Not too tragic or wacky or angsty or any of the things common to protagonists in this genre that make it, on the whole, an off-putting type of book for me. Hoffs gave us sweet without the maudlin and dramatic tension without the manufactured angst, and it worked beautifully.

The writing itself is good too, and includes loads of great literary and musical references. The story could have used a touch more humor and Jane is definitely too nice at times, but mostly, this is a fun, light read that will make you happy.

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This was a brilliant romp with some great insight from a true rock n' roller who infused her heroine with warmth and fun.

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There once was a time when the world knew Jane Start’s name, rising to fame after her cover of a famous singer’s song made her a star. But sometimes stars fizzle out. With her 15 minutes up, Jane became a has been, synonymous with being a one trick pony, a very common tale in the music world.

A decade later, Jane is a struggling thirty-something, still hoping to prove everyone wrong. So when her manager/friend Pippa sends Jane off to London to recharge, she can’t believe her luck when she’s seated next to a handsome stranger. Said stranger, aka Tom Hardy, is a professor who is easy on the eyes. The chance meeting fleeting, Jane is surprised when it kicks off a whirlwind romance that just might be the definition of too good to be true.

Simultaneously, Jane, still suffering from writer’s block, is approached to reconnect with the uber famous singer, Jonesy, the man whose song once made her a star. Grateful for the second chance, Jane can’t help doubting its terms. Should Jane put her pride aside for a chance to set the record, (pun intended), straight?

This Bird Has Flown is the first novel by the lead singer of The Bangles, Susanna Hoffs. I would be lying if I said that alone didn’t draw me to this book, curiosity getting the best of this 80s child. But the other part of me was drawn to this book because I love fictional stories about the music industry. I figured who better to deliver such a story than a former girl group goddess.

Instead, I felt like there was a bit of bait and switch going on here. While the novelty of the author and its musical premise draws readers in, the heart of the story is a one noted romance. In short, I wanted more music and less mix tape melodrama.

Although it was well written, it just missed something to make the story memorable. Not to be a broken record, but This Bird Has Flown felt a bit out of tune amongst its contemporaries in the genre.

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Ah yes, I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Maybe it was the sentimental fact that the author was from one of my favorite groups, The Bangles - but I don't think so. Either you can write or you can't and she definitely proved that she can. I was entertained from start to finish by This Bird Has Flown. I thought it was well-written and thought-provoking. Were there plot mechanisms that sometimes make me crazy? Of course, but that happens in many books. I still enjoyed this one regardless of how she handled insta-love or the miscommunication between the characters.

Our main character, Jane is in a rut. It's such a big rut that she doesn't know if she can find her way out. She's nursing a broken heart from a bad breakup and her career is also in the tank. She had one big hit years ago and then when she put a sophomore album out with her own writing, no one bought it. When the opportunity comes along for her to play a gig in Vegas and make some much needed money, it's hard for her to pass it up. Unfortunately, it's a bit humiliating and not at all what she thought she was signing up for, but it's money. All of it leaves Jane a bit more depressed about how to move forward with her career and life in general. When her manager and friend, Pippa offers to have her come to London for a while to take a break and get some writing done, she jumps at the chance.

On the flight to England, Jane meets a professor named Tom. They are instantly attracted to one another and so begins their connection. Once in London, she doesn't hear from him right away but once she does, it's full steam ahead with their relationship. It's as if Jane and Tom are both trying to escape other things by escaping into one another. As the reader, you will pick up on the warning signs and realize that at some point this will all come to a breaking point but you just hang on for the ride.

I really enjoyed this book and the characters. They were all very well-written - - even the side characters. This may be part of the reason I was able to immerse myself so well into the storyline. I truly hope this is only the beginning for Ms. Hoffs as an author. I'd happily read more by her in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC. I voluntarily chose to read and review it and the opinions contained within are my own.

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Thoughts as I’m reading: feeling frustrated how everyone is shrouded in mystery? Tom, Freddy, Thornbury, Jonesey… it’s like no one is trustworthy but nothing is being revealed. Also, I found a lot of the major plot parts not fleshed out, like the break in and disposed of cat, why isn’t anyone calling the police? Maybe this will come to light at end but in meantime just finding it frustrating when no one’s “sketchy” behavior is being explained.

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I was very fortunate to receive an advanced copy of This Bird Has Flown before its April 4th publication date. As a longtime fan of Susanna Hoffs’ work as a songwriter, I was very excited to learn what her fiction writing was like.

Within just a few pages of the first chapter, I was very impressed. Not only can the author tell a good story, but she’s got a wonderful way with words.

This book is very entertaining. It’s got romance, drama, appealing characters, touching moments, and a lot of VERY fun lines and scenes in it.

Also, as a huge fan of music, I LOVE that it revolves around the music world. Susanna Hoffs knows that world very well and it definitely shows here.

It’s not uncommon to see debut novels from some writers have flaws in them — especially when it comes to weak storylines or other kinds of problems, such as a lack of good descriptions of settings, emotions, etc.

Also, unfortunately, those kinds of problems are sometimes seen in first novels by celebrities who are better known for things other than writing fiction. In a lot of those cases, those first novels also turn out to be the final novels by those celebs.

Thankfully, NONE of that applies here to Susanna Hoffs and her debut novel!

If I didn’t already know that This Bird Has Flown is her first novel, I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone had told me that it was her tenth. Her writing is really that good.

I was especially impressed with some of the twists in the story as it went along — especially towards the end of it. In the final chapters, I wasn’t entirely sure that the book was going to end the way that I originally thought it was going to end.

And I liked that I felt that way!

So, how did it end?

Well, I’m sure not saying! You’ll have to read it for yourself to find that out. And I highly recommend that you do.

I had a strong feeling going into This Bird Has Flown that I was going to enjoy it, but I ended up liking it even more than I expected. I hope that it’s the first of many novels written by Susanna Hoffs.

Note: Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the advanced reading copy I received of this novel.

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The most I can say is that the music business jargon was there. Otherwise, this book depressed me. The characters seemed flat and the plot not tightly bound together. I got no real feeling for the characters or what happened to them. It was a quick and easy read. Not much to fill it out.

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It was really fun reading the debut novel from Susanna Hoffs. I was a big Bangles fan back in the day. This is an insta-love story/meet- cute. The main character had lots of issues with trust and lots of self doubt and a lack of self motivation. It started to get frustrating. The main love interest seems adorable and some of the supporting characters are a lot of fun. Overall, this book is just fine.

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For some reason I was expecting something serious. Hoffs would certainly deliver a compelling, behind the scenes takedown on the music industry, right? Well, we *do* get that, along with a dishy, gossipy, romance-filled romp. Make that Romance with a capital R.

Going along for the ride, I rooted for Jane, performing her 10 year old hit at a sleazy Vegas bachelor party (she's broke, it's her rock bottom). We're in her corner when she escapes to London to take a break, write, get her mojo back and meets a handsome stranger on the plane. Full of drama, laughs, slapstick. And it's sexy.

The music scene references were a crack up. Woven into the story we get everything from Jagger/Richards to Shaft to The Velvet Underground. It was fun guessing at the inspiration for some of the rock stars (one in particular looked like Bowie (in my head) but acted like Prince, who Hoffs did collaborate with back in the day, hmmmmm). And you just have to like a book with a character who's only referred to as "Leopard Pants".

This book was pure fun.

My thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for the ARC.

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DNF at 27% despite really REALLY trying.
I know this is a debut novel and maybe quasi-autobiographical? But the instalove + lack of communication + general lack of awareness about general adulthood made it cringe. In this modern era, to be obsessively still in love with a guy who ghosted you for 2+ weeks and then pops back up with nothing of substance? Unfortunately it was a no for me. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the free advance copy.

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10 years ago Jane Start had a hit single singing a cover of an obscure song by mega superstar Jonesy. She tried replicated that success on her next album, with no luck, and was dropped by her label. Jane began to put her past success behind her and focus on her relationship with her boyfriend.

Now, Jane's relationship has ended in betrayal and, to earn money, she takes the random gig here and there that forces her to resurrect her former persona of scantily clad, breathy sexiness.

It's after one such gig playing - or more truthfully karaoking to - her song at a bachelor party that Jane decides that she's had enough. Jane's agent steps in with a helping hand and wisks her off to London for time to recoup and hopefully focus on writing again.

On the plane, Jane meets Tom Hardy - not the actor - an Oxford professor and the two spark a connection. It's the first time since getting out of her previous long-term relationship that Jane has felt a true spark with someone. Then Jonesy comes calling and asks Jane to be the guest performer on the opening night of his new tour. Jane has never yearned for the spotlight, but she doesn't want to give up the music. And now that she's met Tom she believes that this could be the love she's always been looking for.

I will admit I was initially intrigued by this book because it's written by Susanna Hoffs - whom many should know from The Bangles and if not, go and look up your 80's female bands immediately! And you can definitely see the musical connection and how it runs so deep within Jane's character that it's almost crazy to think that she could not have music within her life in some capacity.

I think my problems arise out of the fact that I'm unsure for most of the book as to what exactly it is that Jane is looking for or working towards. We don't see a lot of scenes of her actively working on her music. They are there, but not in a capacity of someone who is truly working toward her dream of making music.

There is a lot of focus placed upon her new burgeoning relationship with Tom. I like the early stages of relationship that we get between them. It felt really honest. Two people hitting it off and finding an attraction for one another, yet, they are also two people who have lived. They have past experiences and and loves. I thought it was very interesting to see all the kind of questions and vulnerabilities that come up when you're trying to merge two lives together and all the inescapable baggage that comes with it.

But like before, it took a long time in the book to see where Jane wanted to go. And I think that made it difficult, for me, to kind of settle on her character. She's a little all over the place emotionally for much of the book. I know that's the point as Jane kind of rediscovers herself but I wish there was a little more solid ground to work with.

Overall, though, the book kept my attention. Jane is extremely likeable as a character and therefore I wanted to see her succeed on her own terms in whatever way she deemed success would look like.

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🦇 This Bird Has Flown Book Review 🦇

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

❝ I surprised even myself when the notes rang out, clear and bright and free; they seemed to have a life of their own, as if my voice belonged to someone else. I felt a surge of exhilaration, and in my chest, a sensation akin to the flurried beating wings, as of a captive bird that'd been sprung from its cage. ❞

❓ #QOTD What song have you recently been playing on repeat? ❓

🦇 A decade ago, Jane Start had a hit, revamping a song written by world-famous superstar Jonesy into a ballad of her own design. Without Jonesy's spotlight, however, it feels like her musical career has flopped, her sophomore album never getting the praise it rightfully deserved. Now, that song haunts her, reducing her to singing private shows in Las Vegas and toilet paper jingles. When her longtime manager Pippa sends Jane to London to recharge and find inspiration, Jane encounters Tom on the flight; an Oxford professor who immediately steals her focus and heart. Can Jane find inspiration in a new love story, or will she forever remain in Jonesy's shadow?

💜 Susanna Hoffs manages to plop us right into Jane's brain from the start, allowing us to experience both her wit and anxiety firsthand. Between the musical references and Hoffs' poetic prose, each page flows like a love song, taking on its own melody. Be prepared: Jane's voice will stuck in your head like a witty pop anthem. She's all pazzazz and sass (zazz), eager to make a comeback while stepping out from behind a man's dark, long-casting shadow. You can't help but root for Jane to succeed; a character who is realistic in her self-doubts and hesitations. Hoffs brings her music industry insights into many of the messes Jane finds herself in, making each musical moment all the more enthralling.

🦇 It's difficult not to fall in love with Hoffs' prose from the start. Jane's narration is both musical and dizzying, captivating readers with messy emotions (the way the best songs do). However, it's difficult to love a character-driven story when the character is a little maddening. Jane hasn't entirely learned from her past mistakes (though she thinks about them often enough). She rushes to fall in love with a man she barely knows, ignoring so many BLATANT red flags in the process. While her heart follows a quick beat, the story itself drags. The beginning promises prospective growth for both Jane and her career, only to take an unexpected left turn (much like the song she FINALLY finishes), focusing on a messy love story that seems to lack any emotion outside of fear and anxiety. Jane loses herself in a new relationship, turning her into a frustrating character in a story that seems to be going nowhere until the final act. Given that the story focuses on a songwriter AND a novelist, I hoped to see better use of musical and literary references, too (which happens more so at the story's short beginning and end, but not as much in the middle).

🦇 Despite my three star-rating, this debut IS a must-read. Hoffs does a dazzling job of sweeping readers into Jane's mindset (a dizzying one at that). However, I hoped for more of a focus on Jane's music and career (what we get at the very end), especially given the behind-the-scenes insights we could have received from a Bangles co-founder. Recommended especially to all music lovers; to anyone who has found themselves stitched back together by a powerful song.

🎵 Song References
🎧 Literary Debut
🇬🇧 Set in England
🎶 Making a Comeback

🦇 Major thanks to the author and publisher for providing an ARC of this book via Netgalley. 🥰 This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.

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You know that feeling when you finish a book and your heart is just...full? That's exactly how I felt when I finished Susanna Hoffs' This Bird Has Flown. It starts with Jane in Vegas preparing for a show when she realizes just how far she has fallen. Her boyfriend, Alex, has dumped her for Jessica, an actress in one of his movies. Her music career is pretty much nonexistent, and she's living out of hastily packed garbage bags at her parents'. A chance meeting in Vegas, a surprise opportunity, and a stranger on a plane all set Jane on an unexpected path.

There are so many wonderful elements to this story. Jane is funny and endearing. I was swept up in her life right from the beginning. And Pippa! Their friendship feels real and relatable. I love how supportive they are of each other and the community of women in general in this book. Tom...the sparks were flying from the very beginning. Their romance is heady and passionate. And then you have engaging secondary characters like Freddy, Will, Alfie, and Thorny. I loved them all!

Will Jane finally find love, rekindle her passion for music, and figure out her place in the world? Her journey is an ode to love, music, and lovers of music. This Bird Has Flown is filled with joy and sadness and a cast of unforgettable, heartwarming characters.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thanks, @netgalley and @littlebrown

Review posted on Amazon, Goodreads, and Instagram.

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Recommended for both romantics and music lovers! I really enjoyed reading this book. I was really intrigued to read Susanna Hoffs debut novel, as I am a huge Bangles fan, and impressed that she wrote her first book in her 60s! Well done, most creative of people! The characters in this story were so likeable and the romance was believable and cute. Best of all? It was really funny, from start to finish (leopard pants, if you know, you know!). If you like song references and a good HEA, this book is for you.

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This is a very well-written book that, unfortunately, just wasn’t for me. I had a hard time staying focused and the characters were hit or miss. The authenticity of the music scene was excellent, but the insta-love angle just isn’t something I enjoy.

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What an honor it was to receive an early copy of Susanna Hoffs debut novel, “This Bird Has Flown.” Ms. Hoffs words are a harmonious melody, swathing the reader in warmth, passion and hopefulness; a lyrical expose on love, life and everything in between. I was certain she would use her creative musical background to weave together the perfect characters who would fall in love, share their dreams, and be there for each other when all seemed lost.

Along with immediately falling in love with Jane and Tom, I began watching The Bangles videos on Youtube, trying to imagine the life of a rockstar. Their stage presence was electric and Ms. Hoffs voice was mesmerizing, as she sang from her heart to their adoring fans. Her character, Jane, had one big hit many years ago and now she was at a crossroads in her life. Jane loves the freedom she feels when she performs but along the way she somehow lost her focus and the lyrics were stuck somewhere, waiting to
come out.

Jane’s sensual personality came alive when she met Tom, her “stranger on the plane.” His mere presence beside her resurrected feelings she thought were gone forever. Everything about him called to her from his sexy accent, to his beautiful eyes and his warm smile. As the plane took off Jane, not a happy traveler, grasped Tom’s hand like a lifeline and held on tight as they ascended into the clouds. Their close quarters in first class allowed them to ignore the outside world for a while and they existed only in the present, as their small talk led to heated glances and innocent touches. Jane and Tom were destined to meet on this trip and only time would tell if their love was truly meant to be.

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The best parts of this book feel autobiographical, but unfortunately this is a novel. It's a strangely anachronistic book, like no one had the heart to tell a Bangle she hadn't kept up with the times. The main character is 33 and presumably in the present day (cell phones and TSA and all). Still, the number of times Jane says or does something that feels so old...and it's not because she has an old soul. Her friends do it too. But at the same time, Jane also acts 20 at times, so that's painful in a whole different way.

The book spends over 60% of its time doing a lot yet feeling like it's doing nothing, When we do get to the show (and the disappointing reveals), the book finally picks up the pace and feels like it's doing something, but it's already too late. I'm already annoyed with Jane, hate Tom, think Pippa's incompetent, and everyone else is fine, underwritten, or clichéd.

Now, it sounds like I'm trashing the book, and I suppose I am, but it's a debut and I do think she's not getting the guidance she should be because of who she is. I'd read a second book of hers if I thought she was going to write a period piece, or characters her own age–or an autobiography or memoir. Her voice is strong and consistent for a debut! I just think this one needed a little bit more work.

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Happy Publication Day 04/04/23
By: Susanna Hoffs
📖Book 46/100
💫Genre: Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction
✨2nd Chances
First of all, Holly smokes Susanna Hoffs one of my idols, co founder of The Bangles wrote this book. It’s clearly evident she has the background knowledge to write about a musician and take us behind the scenes on a journey. The book is about Jane, a 33 year old washed up singer, recently dumped, and broke. But when Jane hits her rock bottom, Pippa her manager and friend comes to the rescue. She sends her off to a Bachelor Party gig in Vegas. Then she flies her off to Oxford, and it’s in that flight she meets him, the professor, Tom Hardy (not the actor). Insta love but a roller coaster ride for sure since our girl Jane is a hot mess 😆 I loved the characters so much (all except Amelia). Only thing I wanted was to read more about the process and redemption of her getting her career back since it was more focused on the love plot. It was such a unique rom-com and enjoyed every chapter!
My favorite Quote:

Elevators are like life, when you think about it: You’re either going up or down.
💫Thank you @netgalley and @littlebrown for this delightful ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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The synopsis promised sexy, funny and joyful.
I didn’t enjoy this. Overall I was very bored and didn’t like the characters at all. Hard to root for when it felt like a lot of lying and toxic behavior
I like the cover and the cat.

Thanks to NetGalley and Little Brown for and eARC.

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This blew me away in that I couldn't put it down and I wasn't sure what was going to happen next. There is definitely romance in this book but I loved the music, too -- the feeling of getting ready to be on stage, the ups and downs, highs and lows.... I really can't recommend this book enough. I've also just found out it's been optioned for film and I know it will be incredible!!!

This Bird Has Flown comes out next week on April 4, 2023, you can purchase HERE! I love this book!!

Well, it's usually a melody that refuses to go away, like it's haunting me, but in a good way. But then, if I'm lucky, words arrive to match the feeling. And best of all, and this is rare, is when I braid them together and I'm singing? And it feels almost out-of-body. As if the sound, and the song, has a life of its own, and I'm just the vessel through which it's released into the air. Like freeing a bird from her cage.

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