#BookReview SHAPE OF A BOY by KATE WICKERS #nonfiction #travel

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘Have kids, will travel’ is the mantra of veteran travel journalist and adventurous mother of three, Kate Wickers. Shape of a Boy is an inspirational parenting travel memoir about the life lessons learnt on her family’s travels, from overcoming disappointment in Thailand to saying sorry in Japan, perseverance in Borneo and conservation in Malaysia.
  
This is a must-read for every wannabe-traveller grounded by lockdown and for every parent who has dreaded travelling with a baby. Kate’s intrepid spirit is infectious, and her family’s adventures make you belly-laugh and bring a lump to your throat. Shape of A Boy captures the essence of being a parent in the thick of it and learning on the hoof.

PUBLISHED BY AURUM PRESS

PURCHASE LINK

amazon

MY REVIEW

This was a fantastically fun travel memoir of a family looking back over their travels over the years and really gives the reader a great insight into exploring the globe, and the trials and tribulations of travelling with children from a young age to their teenage years!

Travel journalist Kate has a really engaging way of writing, and each holiday they have been on is recalled with genuine affection, seeing the effect travelling has on her family and the very privileged position they found themselves in to be able to travel far and wide, and allow their children to see so much of the world.

You can’t help but smile and snigger at some of the recollections of things that happened to them and they witnessed and also allows for the different cultures they witness, along with the behaviour of fellow travellers which often left them feeling cold!

A real treat of a travel book, and fair play to Kate and her husband for not taking the easy option of playing it safe with holidays with the children! These experiences just go to show that they made the right choices and have some wonderful family memories to look back over!

★★★★

#BookRevi:ew B: A YEAR IN PLAGUES AND PENCILS by EDWARD CAREY @BelgraviaB


ABOUT THE BOOK


‘I blame the pencil. I hadn’t meant to do it. I wasn’t thinking. It just happened that way.’

In March 2020, as lockdowns were imposed around the world, author and illustrator Edward Carey published a sketch on social media with a plan to keep posting a drawing a day from his family home in Austin, Texas, until life returned to normal. One hundred and fifty pencil stubs later, he was still drawing.

Carey’s hand moved with world events, chronicling pandemic and politics. It reached into the past, taking inspiration from history, and escaped grim reality through flights of vivid imagination and studies of the natural world. The drawings became a way of charting time, of moving forward, and maintaining connection at a time of isolation.

This remarkable collection of words and drawings from the acclaimed author of Little and The Swallowed Man charts a tumultuous year in pencil, finding beauty amid the horror of extraordinary times.


PUBLISHED BY GALLIC PRESS


PURCHASE LINK


BELGRAVIA BOOKS

MY REVIEW

This was a fascinating, absorbing and beautiful way of looking back at a year in lockdown. All through the eyes and stunning pencil drawings of the Author, as he began a project in March 2020 to draw a picture a day and upload it to social media until the madness of Covid left us…. he soon found the project carried on a lot longer than he had planned!

But having that distraction helped him cope, and the fact that many people online would eagerly anticipate the daily drawings kept him going and it is wonderful to see them all together here in this beautiful book! The words too strike a chord with his reflections on a very weird time in our history – his hopes and fears for the future mirroring our own! And how the simple action of committing to this project to begin with helped him cope with the uncertainty that each day brought.


A lesson to us all really in finding something to distract ourselves and giving ourselves a different focus each day. I do something similar with photographs on Blipfoto, and just having that outlet each day is a great way of dealing with life and all it throws our way! And it’s a wonderful way to look back over a period of time, as with these wonderful drawings that Edward Carey has put together. It reflects his mood on each day, those in the news, various historical figures,animals and memories and the attention to detail is so intricate and captivating.

I loved his honesty and frankness in the journalling side of this project. His yearnings to return home to London, and his experiences of lockdown in Texas and it just made for a wonderfully extraordinary piece of work for a year none of us will ever forget!

My thanks to the team at Gallic Press for a copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.

★★★★★

#BookReview LUCKY by ED JACKSON #nonfiction #sports



ABOUT THE BOOK


From tragedy to triumph, one step at a time – an inspirational story of triumph over adversity against the odds

At just 28 years old, Ed Jackson was told he would never walk again. After a miscalculated dive into a pool, he suffered multiple cardiac arrests, a broken neck and a partially severed spinal cord. Lying paralysed in intensive care, the former rugby player knew his life would never be the same. But he wasn’t ready to give up hope.

Driven by relentless determination, Ed embarked on an incredible journey to independence. Millimetre by millimetre, he began to regain movement in his fingers and toes. Defying the expectations of even the most optimistic doctors, step by step, Ed began to walk again.

Fuelled by a renewed appreciation for life and a determination to help others suffering similar injuries to his own, Ed set his sights on a new challenge: mountaineering. Embarking on a gruelling climb to raise funds for a spinal unit in Kathmandu, Ed realises that, once again, the odds are stacked against him. Will he be able to overcome his own life-changing injury and transform others’ lives for the better?

Lucky is the story of how Ed faced the impossible when it seemed all hope was lost, and shows how you, too, can overcome the biggest challenges that life sends your way.


PUBLISHED BY HQ

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

In this book Ed Jackson shares an astonishingly powerful message and I’m in total awe of him and the impact of the positive mental attitude that has helped him come to terms with his accident and not let it stop him! The bravery and determination he shows throughout is inspiring!

As he looks back over the accident that changed his life, he shares important messages about the power of the mind and how being supported by equally positive friends and family, gave him the fight within to look for new opportunities and challenges. It shows how quickly life can change in the blink of an eye and I was left in total admiration as he shared those moments as they unfolded. He would keep setting himself little challenges to inspire himself to keep moving forward mentally and physically and also looked to others who had suffered spinal injuries before him to keep pushing himself.

A brilliant read and an inspirational man!!

★★★★★

#BookReview ON GALLOWS DOWN by NICOLA CHESTER #NonFiction @chelseagreen



ABOUT THE BOOK


Part nature writing, part memoir, On Gallows Down is an essential, unforgettable read for fans of Helen Macdonald, Melissa Harrison and Isabella Tree.

Nicola Chester won the BBC Wildlife Magazine’s Nature Writer of the Year Award – this is her first book.

The story of a life shaped by landscape; of an enduring love of nature and the fierce desire to protect it – living as part of the rural working class in a ‘tied cottage’ on a country estate – and what it takes to feel like you belong.

On Gallows Down is a book about hope – from the rewilding of Greenham Common after the missiles left to how, as a new mother, Nicola walked the chalk hills to give her children roots, teaching them names and waymarks to find their way home. It is about the songs of the nightingale and cuckoo – whose return she waits for – the red kites, fieldfares, skylarks and lapwings that accompany her, the badger cubs she watches at night and the velvety mole she finds in her garden.

And it is also the story of how Nicola came to write and to protest – unearthing the seam of resistance that ran through Newbury’s past, from the Civil Wars to the Swing Riots and the women of the Greenham Common Peace Camps and to the fight against the Newbury bypass. A resistance that continues today against the destruction of hedgerows, trees and wildlife through modern farm estate management.

On Gallows Down is perfect for fans of H is for HawkThe Salt Path and Featherhood.

‘It is impossible to write with integrity about nature without protesting and resisting and waving a desperate red flag.

Isn’t it?’


PUBLISHED BY CHELSEA GREEN PUBLISHING


PUBLICATION DATE – 7TH OCTOBER 2021

PRE-ORDER LINKS


Publisher Website

Amazon


MY REVIEW


This is a book that inspires you to appreciate the nature around us as the author does a wonderful job of combining her personal experiences over the years, amidst the backdrop of the ever changing world we find ourselves living in.


This is a memoir of Nicola Chester, who has found herself protesting over the years to protect the environment in various locations whilst bringing up her family, and doing what she can to pass on the knowledge and love of wildlife and nature to her children and those around her. I have nothing but admiration for this woman after reading about her life experiences, and how she writes so passionately about the natural world. Her enthusiasm is infectious and I share the same anticipation as her awaiting wildlife sightings whilst you’re out for a walk.


I knew very little about some of the areas she talks about, but she brings them to life with her writing style and I also found myself googling pictures of the area to get more of a feel for the areas that meant so much to her over the years, and those areas that she fought so passionately to save and protect.


With her husband, she moved around the country over the years due to various job changes and there’s always that connection to nature and the outside world that allowed her to cope with change – the nature around always seemed to give her hope and it was lovely to see her passing that interest on to her children as she had them exploring local areas with her.


There’s lots of fascinating information about the wildlife she sees and how the changes in areas has impacted on the animals and their habitats, as well as the history of places she lived in, that it made for an absorbing read, and one that has made me more determined to do what I can for local areas and wildlife so that more can be protected and saved for future generations.

★★★★★


Thank you to the publisher, Chelsea Green Publishing, for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#20BooksOfSummer2021 MY MESS IS A BIT OF A LIFE by GEORGIA PRITCHETT #BookReview



This is Book 7 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021.



ABOUT THE BOOK


Multi-award-winning television writer and producer Georgia Pritchett knows a thing or two about anxiety. From worrying about the monsters under her bed as a child (Were they comfy enough?), to embracing womanhood, (One way of knowing you have crossed from girlhood to womanhood is that men stop furtively masturbating at you from bushes and start shouting things at you from cars. It’s a beautiful moment) worry has accompanied her at every turn.

This memoir is a joyful reflection on just how to live – and sometimes even thrive (sometimes not) – with anxiety.


PUBLISHED BY FABER & FABER


PURCHASE LINK


Amazon


MY REVIEW


This is book 7 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021.

This was such a fun, insightful read, chronicling the authors’ struggle with anxiety and being unable to speak her issues, she found it easier to write it all down and what we get to read is a wonderful mix of all those weird and wonderful things that make our lives stressful, joyful, memorable and everything in between!

I could totally relate to the seemingly silly, little irrational things that can plague your brain and the events in your life that stand out as memorable for all the right or wrong reasons!

This isn’t a self help book, it’s not full of tips to help you deal with anxiety, but it is a great little behind the scenes look at someone else dealing with anxiety, whilst having a very successful career – I loved all the behind the scenes showbiz stuff – many of it was hilarious, some of it was horrifying! – and she also looks back at school, growing up and the responsibilities forced on you in adulthood!

I enjoyed a glimpse into her world, and how the anxiety often felt suffocating to her but she seemed to get respite by writing her thoughts down – that might be a lesson for us all to take on!


★★★★

#BookReview WINDSWEPT by ANNABEL ABBS #NonFiction #Windswept



ABOUT THE BOOK


Annabel Abbs’s Windswept: Walking the Paths of Trailblazing Women is a beautifully written meditation and memoir that reflects on that most fundamental way of connecting with the outdoors: the simple act of walking. In absorbing and transporting prose, Abbs follows in the footsteps of groundbreaking women, including Georgia O’Keeffe in the empty plains of Texas and New Mexico, Nan Shepherd in the mountains of Scotland, Gwen John following the French River Garonne, Daphne du Maurier following the River Rhône, and Simone de Beauvoir—who walked as much as twenty-five miles a day in a skirt and espadrilles—in the mountains and forests of France. These trailblazing women were reclaiming what had historically been considered male domains.

The stories of these incredible women and artists are laced together by the wilderness walking in Abbs’s own life, beginning with her poet father who raised her in the Welsh countryside as an “experiment,” according to the principles of Rousseau. Windswept is an inventive retrospective and an arresting look forward to the way walking brings about a kind of clarity of thought not found in any other activity, and how it has allowed women throughout history to reimagine their lives and break free from convention. As Abbs traces the paths of these exceptional women, she realizes that she, too, is walking away from, and towards, a very different future. Windswept crosses continents and centuries in an arresting and stirring reflection on the power of walking in nature.

PUBLISHED BY TWO ROADS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

Blackwell’s

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

Just glorious!! I found this book to be inspiring, thought provoking, educational, fascinating and just wonderful!

The author uses her own life experiences, especially when she found herself in hospital unable to walk, to explore the art of walking and the fact that there was very few books around by women about walking and their adventures, when there are so many by men. With extensive research she uncovers some amazing characters – many of whom I had heard nothing about – and has brought their stories to life by challenging herself to walk the routes they did in the past, and this really just makes this book so immersive and inspiring.

The women she features are Frieda Lawrence, Gwen John, Clara Vyvyan, Nan Shepherd, Simone de Beauvoir, Georgia O’Keefe, but there is also reference to Daphne Du Maurier and Emma Gatewood.
All very different women but all sharing a deep passion for walking, exploring – and shockingly for women – walking by themselves!! The shame!! But in their adventures they enjoyed the freedom it gave them and allowed them to find their own minds, and the author shared these feelings as she uses each chapter to share her walk, alongside that of the woman she was walking in the footsteps of. There’s a look back in time to the lives of these amazing women, their trials and tribulations, the scandals, alongside her own experiences and thoughts on the changes over time as to the attitudes towards a variety of different topics.

It explores the benefits to your health of walking, the stories of the kindness of strangers met along the way, the pitfalls and reality of walking in the middle of nowhere by yourself, and the overwhelming sense of achievement and confidence these women had when they had finished a walk. And how eager they were to go on other adventures. Some weren’t afraid to go against convention, some lost their families over their actions, but most were just inspired by the solace they felt while walking, despite all of them having a real strong attachment to ‘home’ and realising just how little they needed in their lives.

I learnt so much about these women as the author relayed their stories, alongside her own walking experiences and how that time alone gave her time to think over her life choices. Reading about these women, inspired me to research a little more about them and their work and it’s been enlightening to learn more about these amazing women. The way the author connected with each woman also made this more of an experience as she wanted to feel what

It is one of those books that inspires, educates and just makes you want to walk!! To use your time wisely, and when you get the chance to grab that time for yourself and go out exploring, no matter how near or far!

★★★★★

#BookReview EARTHED by REBECCA SCHILLER #PublicationDay #Earthed @EmmaFinnigan @eandtbooks @schillerrrrr



ABOUT THE BOOK


In 2017, Rebecca Schiller turned fantasy to reality and moved her family to a countryside smallholding for a life of sowing and growing. But as the first few years go by, and the ever-expanding list of tasks builds to a cacophony, it becomes clear that this is not going to be simple.

Another January comes in, and with it the threat of a mental health crisis, and so Rebecca turns to the garden where she has made her home, and to the women of this place’s past. Here, she stumbles on a wild space of imaginative leaps, where she begins to uncover the hidden layers of her plot’s history – and of herself.

The ground under Rebecca’s boots offers hard lessons as the seasons shift, delivering unflinching glimpses of damage done to peoples and the planet and regular defeats in her battle with the slugs.

Yet as the New Year returns, carrying a life-changing diagnosis and then a global pandemic, Rebecca begins to move forwards with hope: the small holding has become her anchor, her teacher and her family’s shelter. Because when we find ourselves in an unknown land, we all need something small to hold on to and a way to keep ourselves earthed.


PUBLISHED BY ELLIOT & THOMPSON


PURCHASE LINKS


Amazon

hive.co.uk

blackwell’s


MY REVIEW


I found this to be an utterly absorbing and eye opening memoir that looks at the mental health struggles of the author, Rebecca Schiller, as she shares the highs, and many lows!, of dealing with life and how pinning your hopes on a move to the countryside to solve your problems isn’t always the miracle cure that you may hope it will be!

I think we’ve all seen many mental health insights over the past year or so, where someone has changed their way of life and it was a fix for so much in their lives, whereas Rebecca shows the reality with her brutal honesty of while living in the countryside with your own smallholding has many benefits – check out her instagram page for the cutest goat content!! – the reality of family life and the hard work involved takes its’ toll, especially if you are struggling with your mental health in the first place.

When she and her family moved to Kent in 2017 they were full of high hopes and plans for their new lives, and the author shares her experiences of while she was hoping for a slightly slower pace of life in the country, that didn’t work out as planned and the negatives in life continued to outweigh the positives.

This book goes into detail about the strain her struggles put on her marriage, and while she tried to remain positive for her children, it was they who were the ones to point out the positives in the little things in life that would help her to see the good in each day, even when the world to her seemed very black.

She also throws herself into researching the house they moved in to and the people who have lived there before and that was a great distraction for her, and fascinating to learn about, and also made her look more into herself and try and find out what was causing these dips in her mood and outlook and why she kept struggling. It really does open your eyes to the variety of mental health struggles we all face.

This is a book that deals in reality and the honesty in her writing and experiences really does shine through. It was enlightening to read a book where her life didn’t change overnight because she moved to the country, but it made her realise that she couldn’t paper over the cracks anymore and needed to be more pro-active in her search to be happier and find a way to keep living with a more balanced outlook.

★★★★★

My thanks to Emma Finnigan for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#AudioBookReview MY LIFE IN PLANTS by KATIE VAZ

ABOUT THE BOOK


From stumpy potted houseplants to intricate and delicate flower arrangements, My Life in Plants is a heartfelt, honest memoir that intertwines the complex nature of houseplants with a journey of self-discovery.

From Katie Vaz, author of Don’t Worry, Eat Cake, the beloved Make Yourself Cozy, and The Escape Manual for Introverts, comes My Life in Plants. Her newest book tells the story of her life through the thirty-nine plants that have played both leading and supporting roles, from her childhood to her wedding day. Plants include a homegrown wildflower bouquet wrapped in duct tape that she carried on stage at age three, to a fragrant basil plant that brought her and her kitchen back to life after grief.

The stories are personal, poignant, heartwarming, and relatable, and will prompt readers to recall plants of their own that have been witness to both the amazing moments of life and the ordinary ones. This illustrated memoir covers the simplicity of home, the sharpness of loss, the lesson of learning to be present, and the journey of finding your way.

PUBLISHED BY ANDREWS MCMEEL PUBLISHING

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audioversion of this book via Netgalley.

This was a sweet, easy listen as the author shares moments of her life through various plants! It is a fun way of looking back at her life and how certain plants remind her of some events and family members. She had a happy upbringing so there’s lots of throwbacks to her parents or grandparents introducing her to different aspects of gardening and how, now she is older, she has learnt to appreciate those little moments more and a slower pace of life that a lot of gardening gives you.

Each chapter is very short and snappy and the whole audiobook only lasted for an hour and a half, so it’s a little potted (no pun intended!) history of events in her life that have made her the person she is today. From school days, to living abroad by herself, to married life, I found it really easy to listen to and enjoyed her honesty about her flaws!!

★★★

#BookReview STAUNCH by ELEANOR WOOD

ABOUT THE BOOK

A late 30s The Wrong Knickers meets Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


Eleanor finds herself in her late 30s on a beach in India with three old ladies, trying to ‘find herself’ and ‘discover her family history’ like some sad middle-class crisis cliché. How did she get here?

Truthfully, it could be for any one of the below reasons, if not all combined:

• Stepmum dying/Stepdad leaving – family falling apart, subsequent psychotic break; both parents now on third marriage
• Breaking up with J after 12 years – breaking up a whole life, a whole fucking universe – for reasons that may have been… misguided?
• New boyfriend moving in immediately, me insisting ‘it’s not a rebound!’ even after everyone has stopped listening, being cited in his messy divorce, him being sectioned, then breaking up with me
• Going into therapy after dating a potentially violent, certainly threatening, narcissist (the most pertinent point of which should be noted: I did not break up with him – he ghosted me)

How to address this situation? Take a trip to India with your octogenarian nan and two great aunts of course. The perfect, if somewhat unusual, distraction from Eleanor’s ongoing crisis.

But the trip offers so much more than Eleanor could ever have hoped for.

Through the vivid and worldly older women in her life, she learns what it means to be staunch in the face of true adversity.

published by HQ

publication date – 19th March 2020

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon   £11.99

hive.co.uk £10.49

whsmith  £11.99

MY REVIEW

What better time to pick up a book about being ‘Staunch’ – overcoming things that are put in your way and finding a way to try and turn a negative into a positive – and for that reason alone I’m extremely glad that the shocking pink cover caught my eye and led me to read this inspiring memoir from Eleanor.

It’s about her struggles in the past and the way that she is choosing to deal with them – for many of us that would be tough but on a trip to India with her nan and her 2 sisters, she finds a new meaning to life and a new way to approach the world. She learns so much from her elder relatives and I think they could teach us all a thing or two about confidence! They were an inspiration and I loved to hear the stories they told about their lives – how they moved from India to find a new life in the UK.

Eleanor had really gone through some struggles in her life – depression, bad boyfriends, loneliness, drugs, and the fact you become more invisible the older you get! So this trip to India was her chance to start over – she needed a break from life – and time in a new country gave her the space to focus on herself in a new environment and be inspired by those around her. It takes a look at her family and the dynamics within which were really interesting and her relatives on the trip taught her to laugh again!

It was really easy to read and the pages flew by as I got engrossed in her adventures. She talks about how therapy helped her too and I found it a really good read.

★★★★

#BookReview STUBBORN ARCHIVIST by YARA RODRIGUES FOWLER @dylanthomasprize #SUDTP2020

A huge delight to be part of this wonderful tour, and to share my thoughts on STUBBORN ARCHIVIST by YARA RODRIGUES FOWLER today with you all. My thanks to Martina at  Midas Public Relations for the copy of the book and putting the tour together.

ABOUT THE BOOK

For fans of Chemistry and Normal People: A mesmerizing and witty debut novel about a young woman growing up between two disparate cultures, and the singular identity she finds along the way

But where are you really from? 

When your mother considers another country home, it’s hard to know where you belong. When the people you live among can’t pronounce your name, it’s hard to know exactly who you are. And when your body no longer feels like your own, it’s hard to understand your place in the world.

In Stubborn Archivist, a young British Brazilian woman from South London navigates growing up between two cultures and into a fuller understanding of her body, relying on signposts such as history, family conversation, and the eyes of the women who have shaped her—her mother, grandmother, and aunt. Our stubborn archivist takes us through first love and loss, losing and finding home, trauma and healing, and various awakenings of sexuality and identity. Shot through the novel are the narrator’s trips to Brazil, sometimes alone, often with family, where she accesses a different side of herself—one, she begins to realize, that is as much of who she is as anything else.

A hypnotic and bold debut, Stubborn Archivist is as singular as its narrator; a novel you won’t soon forget. 

PUBLISHED BY FLEET

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

hive.co.uk

Waterstones

MY REVIEW

I found this to be such an intriguing read as it looks into your own identity if you don’t really know yourself!! You’re somewhere in between and often feel like you don’t fit in! Are you Brazilian? Are you English?  And this book follows the journey of a young woman as she tries to discover just how she is – personally, sexually, politically, relationships, history – and all that comes with it.

It’s told in a stunning way with a mix of story and poetry, and this did take a little bit of getting my head around for a while. BUT once I’d got into the flow and the mindset of the narrator it all came together beautifully and was so rewarding when it all clicked into place for me as a reader! There are many issues to do with family and growing up  is a complicated process anyway, but even more so if you’re of mixed backgrounds and trying to make sense of it all!.

Her life is split into different sections and tells of trips to Brazil to see if she can find connection there,  and living in England and how isolated she can often feel here.  She just never really feels settled anywhere and that affects her mood and how she sees herself.  I loved the simple conversations that are mentioned and all those words left unsaid.

What makes the story stand out for me though is the way it’s told – the use of language, how the words are displayed on each page and something you can only really understand by picking the book up yourself. The poetry alongside the memoir side to the book adds a different depth to the story and builds up on that ‘mix’ of the use of language being similar to the mix of nationalities.  

This was a truly fascinating read and I can see why it has been longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize 2020 and highly recommend picking up a copy for a different kind of reading experience.

★★★★

For more information about the Dylan Thomas Prize 2020 please click the link below…

THE SWANSEA UNIVERSITY DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE