Book Review: Voices Of Powerful Women by Zoe Sallis

Voices of Powerful Women is a very unique book. A range of questions are asked to powerful women, some of them you will know, others you might not. For me, there were quite a few I didn’t know but I still got a lot out of their responses. Featuring politicians, environmentalists, humanitarians, entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, actors, world leaders and Nobel Peace Prize winners there is a real variety.

When I requested this on Netgalley, I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t really want to know too much. Reading the opinions of successful women? Of course, I would want to read it. While it took me a little to get into the format when I did I flew through it, although I did take some breaks to look up the women in more detail.

I will say there are some voices in the book that didn’t seem to add much, Yoko Ono being one of them. I felt her answers didn’t really add anything to a wider conversation, it was usually only a sentence or two. Whereas other women seemed to give really thoughtful and insightful.

This would make a great resource for anyone who is doing a little bit of soul searching. I know it made me really question the world around me as well as the answers I would have given to these questions if they were asked to me.

To give you an idea of the kinds of opinions and the women you will read from when reading this book, the following women contributed; Isabel Allende, Christiane Amanpour, Maya Angelou, Hanan Ashrawi, Joan Baez, Benazir Bhutto, Mary Kayitesi Blewitt, Emma Bonino, Shami Chakrabarti, Jung Chang, Kate Clinton, Marie Colvin, Marion Cotillard, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Carla Del Ponte, Judi Dench, Shirin Ebadi, Tracey Emin, Jane Fonda, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Dagmar Havlová, Swanee Hunt, Bianca Jagger, Nataša Kandić, Kathy Kelly, Martha Lane Fox, Dame Ann Leslie, Professor Wangari Maathai, Mairead Maguire, Mary McAleese, Soledad O’Brien, Sinéad O’Connor, Yoko Ono, Mariane Pearl, Kim Phuc, Paloma Picasso, Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, Paula Rego, Louise Ridley, Mary Robinson, Jody Williams.

Overall, I gave this 4 stars. This was a really intriguing read and when I finished I felt empowered by the words I had read as well as the women whose voices I was reading. A really excellent collection would recommend.

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for my copy in exchange for a fair an honest review.

Book Review: Pilu of the Woods – Mai K. Nguyen

Willow loves the woods near her house. They’re calm and quiet, so different from her own turbulent emotions, which she keeps locked away. When her emotions get the better of her one day, she decides to run away into the woods.

There, she meets Pilu, a lost tree spirit who can’t find her way back home—which turns out to be the magnolia grove Willow’s mom used to take her to. Willow offers to help Pilu, and the two quickly become friends.

This is one of the sweetest and most beautiful graphic novels I have ever read. Initially drawn to the art this gave so much more, including lyrical prose. Ultimately this is a story of family, friendship and dealing with grief. While Willow and Pilu come from different worlds, they are such a sweet pair and I can’t say no to a doggie sidekick!

The art style itself is unique and while it will appeal to a younger reader as a woman in her mid-twenties I was enchanted by the illustration. Additionally, the use of colour to show the woods felt real to me. I read this at a point where I needed something to fall into and escape – something I was easily able to do.

I will warn you going in that you might get a little emotional reading. I wanted to reach in and give Willow the biggest hug. The way that Nguyen has shown emotion and the complicated feelings that are being experienced from the perspective of a child is nothing short of incredible.

It’s no surprise that I gave this 5 stars. This really touched my heart, it’s not a complicated story, however, it can speak volumes. I really hope that there is a follow-up because I can see the relationship and story really growing and evolving. This is a wonderful book, I can’t stress enough how much I adore it.

A huge thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for giving me a chance to read this in exchange for a fair and honest review.

International Women's Day 2019 Blog

Quotes To Celebrate Women – International Women’s Day 2019

Happy International Women’s Day!

I’m so proud to be a woman, of the wonderful women I surround myself with and those I admire from a distance. So, why not celebrate it with words of wisdom from badass women. Here’s 8 quotes that I loved!

“Know what? Bitches get stuff done” – Tina Fey
Sylvia Plath
“Girls are not machines that you put kindness
coins into and sex falls out” – Sylvia Plath
“Don’t let anyone speak for you,
and don’t rely on others to fight for you”- Michelle Obama

” I’m a woman phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman, That’s me.” – Maya Angelou
“No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor.”
– Betty Friedan
” I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I will now exert to leave you.”
– Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
” I feel like young girls are told they need to be a princess and fragile. It’s bullsh*t. I identify much more with being a warrior – a fighter. If I was going to be a princes, I’d be a warrior princess. Definitely.”
– Emma Watson
“I’m tough. I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes a bitch, okay.”
– Madonna

These are just some that I absolutely love, what are yours? Let me know in the comment below!

Book Review: Life Honestly – The Pool

A long list of women, a load of topics that aren’t spoken about enough. Collated by The Pool, this book talks about feminism and being a woman in many different ways. These are some of the most read and enjoyed pieces to have graced the The Pool website – so it’s safe to say this is going to be a good read.

The book is divided into categories such as:

Gender Politics & Power

Work

Friendship

Body

Love, Sex & Relationships

Wombs

Mind

Money

Life Lessons

Parenting

Style

All of these are incredibly important and each taught me a lesson. In particular, I found the pieces on being a working woman to be really interesting to me at this time. I was also intrigued by the parts about motherhood and the perspective that the women had – it truly was food for thought.

I’m really keen on learning about life from a variety of women. Do I agree with everything everyone says in this? No, not everything but that’s the beauty of it. I might not get to meet women like these in my everyday life but through this book, I can try to understand what life is like for women who are different to me. That is never a bad thing.  In fact, I think in today’s world we could all do with learning from each other more.

Overall I gave this 4 stars. The collection has a range of women’s voices, all of which deserve to be heard. I truly think there is something in here for everyone no matter what stage you are in your life. Mostly, when reading I just felt like there were people in the world that got me and how I was feeling, and who doesn’t need that?

Thank you to The Pool, Netgalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Feminists Don’t Wear Pink And Other Lies – Edited by Scarlett Curtis

What. A. Book. In this new collection of pieces by activists, celebrities, artists and more importantly, feminists we can celebrate the F word. Challenging stereotypes, as suggested in the title, giving insight into the lives of women and so much more, this is a book that will knock your socks off.

The great thing is that this is also in collaboration with Girl Up. They are a charity that supports girls and young women to improve their lives in various ways such as education, leadership programmes and more.

I was getting this book as soon as I heard about it, but something else made me want to read it even more. You may have seen the controversy with Topshop. In their Oxford Street store an amazing pop up was created, within 20 minutes it was taken down due to its sexist owner (full story here). Not only did I go and buy my copy – I also stopped shopping at Topshop.

This is a book full of personal accounts, thoughts and feelings. You see, we all have our own feminism, hopefully with the same goal – equality between the sexes. While some in the book are meant to be humorous such as Evanna Lynch’s Cat Women, others, such pieces on Female Genital Mutilation.

My favourite piece in this is by Kiera Knightly. You may have seen recently she spoke out about the fact she didn’t want her daughter watching certain Disney films because of what they promote (full story here). Her piece talks about how women have been deemed the ‘weaker sex’. It’s a love letter to her daughter talking about the strength of a woman, not shying away from the toll that childbirth takes on the body, challenging sexism. I absolutely fell in love with it. It really was a standout piece for me.

Is it any surprise that I gave this incredible book 5 stars? This is one of my best books of the year (full list to come soon). Not only does this look at every aspect of feminism, but it is also full of diversity and looks at varied experiences of being a woman. This is what we need. If you have a feminist in your life (and hopefully you have many) this will be perfect for Christmas!

Book Review: The Surface Breaks – Louise O’Neill

The Surface Breaks - Louise O'Neill

There was a LOT of hype for this book. A feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid, umm all of the yes! I know that Louise O’Neill is a fantastic author who isn’t afraid to challenge taboos, but this was different. If you’re looking for the Disney version of the Little Mermaid (which I love to no end) this is not for you. This is much more gritty.

We meet Gaia, the youngest princess of the Sea King. She and her older sisters are the pride of the kingdom must be perfect at all times. As her fathers favourite, Gaia faces her own pressures, including her fate as the most beautiful princess with a voice of gold. But Gaia wants more. She wants to know what life is like above the water, to know why her mother would risk it all just to see the human world.

This was heavily promoted as a feminist retelling. This wasn’t wrong but I wouldn’t have promoted it that way. The feminist aspects, I feel, don’t come into the novel until much later. There is a lot of misogyny and I felt quite uncomfortable reading parts, which was completely the point. That said, if you’re uncomfortable with misogyny, body perceptions or homophobia this may be a challenging need.

I also found it fascinating that this brings the fairytale into a more modern world. I wasn’t completely sure when this was set but it’s definitely not in an older time period, which I feel might have worked better? But maybe that’s just me.

This novel does teach a lot and makes you look at the world but at times I felt that it was trying a little hard to be feminist. At times the lessons felt a little forced or predictable. That said, I feel its true merit lies in the last quarter of the novel and that saves it.
I’m so torn when reviewing this book. I loved the idea, I loved the premise but for the majority, I sat at 3 stars, until we got to the last few chapters which really impressed me. The Sea Witch was an excellent character and the novel itself did look at some really important notions of being a woman. There were parts that were quite graphic, but it didn’t feel out of place, it just drove the point home further. As a feminist retelling, I did really enjoy it but I also felt that the best part was pretty rushed. But the ending was so, so good, currently sitting between 3.5 and 4 stars.

Book Review: Moxie – Jennifer Mathieu

Book Review: Moxie - Jennifer Mathieu

 

Meet Viv, she’s a quiet 16-year-old who doesn’t break the rules. She works hard, hangs out with her friends and is the perfect daughter, the opposite of her mother as a teenager. Viv’s Mum was a Riot Grrl in the 1990s, all about Feminism and ‘zines, rebellion and riots. Nobody expects Viv to follow in her footsteps until she gets pushed a little too far.

Sick of the sexism in her high school, dress checks, disgusting football players and the expectation of women, Viv decides to start a quiet revolution. Taking a leaf from her Mum’s book Viv starts Moxie, a zine for the girls at her high school. As she anonymously writes and distributes the zine, things heat up. Can one ‘zine make any difference?

Well, this book. This book, what can I say? This is a rebellion in a couple of hundred pages. I finished this, created a playlist of kick-ass women and started planning the reboot of my Feminist Friday series. That’s the impact this book had.

I loved the fact that the author didn’t make the challenge easy either. She looks at the reputation feminism has, the feelings of being overwhelmed, having to try and convince people that Feminism is a good thing. She does it incredibly well and I loved all the Riot Grrl references and the fact that Bikini Kill was mentioned (listen to them here).

I will say, the only thing I didn’t enjoy about this novel and one of the reasons it didn’t get the full 5 stars was the romance. I just felt like it wasn’t needed and it made things a little too cutesy? Obviously, I know people did love it and it was good to see a male feminist but it just seemed a little too perfect timing to me.

Overall I gave this an amazing 4.5 stars! This was a breath of fresh air and while it took a little while to grow on me, once it did it was amazing. This is the kind of book that can inspire, that can make people realise that they have power in their voices. That feminism is still here, it’s still relevant and important. More than that it shows young women as saving themselves and that’s important.