Book Review: Diary Of A Confused Feminist - Kate Weston

Book Review: Diary Of A Confused Feminist – Kate Weston

Kat wants to do GOOD FEMINISM, although she’s not always sure what that means. She also wants to be a writer, get together with Hot Josh (is this a feminist ambition?), win at her coursework and not make a TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT of herself at all times.

Join Kat AKA the Confused Feminist as she navigates EVERYTHING from menstrual cups and mental health to Instagram likes and #TimesUp in her HILARIOUS, OUTRAGEOUS and VERY EMBARRASSING diary.

While I was working in a book shop over the Christmas period this was left in a pile of ARCS that we could take home and I was instantly drawn to it. A teenage feminist trying to navigate her life and feelings? Hell to the yes please, and I wasn’t disappointed.

There were times while reading where I wondered if I was too old for the book. Did I speak like this as a teenager? Were teenagers this petty over things? The answer is yes, I remember arguing with one of my friends over something ridiculous and then refusing to sit next to each other in our art class. In fact Weston has completely got the characters right.

While reading I felt like this had Caitlin Moran vibes to it (whos book How To Be A Woman changed my whole perception on feminism) there were important points but at the same time it was incredibly funny. It also took me back to when I was the same age trying to work out my on again off again relationship with feminism, because it is bloody confusing!

What skyrocketed my rating for this was the mental health element. There are some hints early on that Kat was struggling but seeing these explored was really excellent and I feel that it could help young people reading. As well as the anxiety that Kat struggles with the pressure to keep up and be interesting on social media.

This was a 4.5 star read for me. I think Kate Weston is definitely one to watch. When I got to the end I KNEW I needed a sequel which will hopefully happen.

Book Review: The Good Immigrant - Edited By Nikesh Shukla

Book Review: The Good Immigrant – Edited By Nikesh Shukla

Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you – however many generations you’ve been here – but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms.

If you have read any of my other posts or follow me on any of my social media channels you will know that I am a white woman. I haven’t had to grow up having experiences based on the colour of my skin. Nor have I had to struggle because of racism in my life and the bias that people have.

So, why did I pick this up? Because I want to know more, I want to better understand what others go through and to be more educated on the subject. I don’t think there’s any excuse to be ignorant when we have such easy access to education in this country.

I listened to the audiobook of this collection of personal experiences and I highly recommend it because it made the stories come to life. Hear these from real people reminded me just how many people experience racism in their everyday life.

Of course, there were some parts which were upsetting and anger inducing at the unfairness people face for no reason at all. But, I actually found myself laughing along with some of the more silly stories.

One thing that made me burst out laughing was a slight rant on chai tea – which apparently translates as tea, tea. I laughed while shaking my head because, well, it was hilarious and I wonder how many other things like this there are.

I found myself learning a lot about other cultures, how people within those cultures grow up and some of their experiences. Can I say this really encompasses what it’s like to grow up as an ethnic minority in the UK? No but I do feel as if I’ve learnt from it.

I gave this 4 stars. An interesting read and something I think we need more of. Of course, there were some essays I liked more than others but that’s inevitable Again I’d really recommend the audiobook it was a brilliant listen and I learnt a lot.

Book Review: What Kind of Girl - Alyssa Sheinmel

Book Review: What Kind of Girl – Alyssa Sheinmel

The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker’s girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal’s office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions: Why did she go to the principal and not the police? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it’s true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true? Some girls want to rally for his expulsion – and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.

As soon as I saw that there was a new Alyssa Sheinmel novel I jumped on requesting it from NetGalley where I was super excited to receive an ARC. I’ve previously read Faceless and thought it was incredibly well written so I wanted to give this a go.

For a chunk of the novel the female characters aren’t given names, instead they’re described by their traits which, although I found it hard to follow initially, I found to be an excellent way of writing. For me, it added to the idea that this could happen to anyone no matter how popular, smart etc – part of me wishes that this could have gone on for longer.

Of course it goes without saying that this is a tough book to read with mentions of violence within a relationship, self harm, Bulimia and mental ill health. If these are difficult for you I’d maybe recommend waiting until you’re in the right headspace.

This is, without a doubt, an important read and one that I hope gets a lot of attention. I think it shows that these things do happen to young people. It also makes you question your own reactions to these kinds of stories, who do you believe and why? Can you separate a person and an accusation? All of these questions will make you think for days after finishing it.

There were point where I struggled to read what was happening, I felt such a range of emotions while reading. For a book to make me feel like that was pretty incredible and I applaud Sheinmel for the writing.

I do wish there was more of a resolution at the end because I feel like it was left quite open and there are also some point where I’m not sure I completely followed who was who and what was happening. That said, the book itself was a good read.

This was a 4 star read from me and I’m definitely going to be reading more of Sheinmel’s books because she can transport me into a story and a person’s hardship.

Book Review: Break The Fall - Jennifer Iacopelli

Book Review: Break The Fall – Jennifer Iacopelli

Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics. A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States’ gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world.

The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most–but not all the gymnasts are as supportive.

The stories of abuse that came from the USA gymnastics team were horrible, young women had put their trust into people to help them achieve their dreams only to be mistreated. Of course, if you do struggle with abuse narratives think about that before reading, however, this is not graphic.

I actually got a copy of this over Christmas while I was working in a bookshop as it was sent from the publisher. Since reading it I haven’t shut up because it is an excellent novel. I couldn’t put this book down and when I had to I was still thinking about it.

I have to admit that this had a personal connection for me. I haven’t read a YA book that tackled spinal injuries before and I was sure that the author had experienced spinal trauma. The description of the pain, the complicated feelings about your body etc. I actually reached out to Jennifer and she was lovely and had written those parts based on research which just impressed me even more.

The character of Audrey is easy to connect with and you really do feel for her and the rest of her teammates as your reading. Additionally, there is a real sense of the pressure these young women face, the fact that they have trained their whole lives for something only for it to be derailed at the last minute.

I think it also helps that the author has first-hand experience of gymnastics after reporting on the Olympics previously and you can tell that she understands the competition and what can happen in competition. I was completely gripped during the competition chapters, racing towards the end because I needed to know what happened.

This is going to be an important novel for 2020, we’re seeing non-fiction about the Me Too and Times Up era, this is the start of a new wave of fiction based on the aftermath. I’m pleased to see novels like this opening up the conversation and giving another dimension to it as well.

Is it any wonder that I gave this 5 stars? It absolutely incredible and so well written. In fact I’ve been recommending it to so many people. Also, just for me, it was nice to see representation post injury because it’s just something that I don’t see ever. Also, I’m definitely going to be watching the Gymnastics at Tokyo!

Book Review: Dear Girls - Ali Wong

Book Review: Dear Girls – Ali Wong

‘Ali Wong’s heartfelt and hilarious letters to her daughters (the two she put to work while they were still in utero), covering everything they need to know in life, like the unpleasant details of dating, how to be a working mom in a male-dominated profession, and how she trapped their dad.’

After watching Ali Wong’s two Netflix specials and her recent interviews I can say that I am a fan (so much so I am gutted I can’t afford tickets to her London show in June!). So when I heard she’d released a book for her daughters – and the rest of us I knew I needed to read about life and the world according to Ali.

This is absolutely hilarious, and would you expect any less? When picking it up I knew I had to listen to the audiobook that Ali herself narrates because it felt like a 3rd Netflix special and I am so here for that! I had to stifle quite a few laughs while listening because her signature humor is there!

There is a mix of truly hilarious stories that she makes clear her daughters aren’t to read until they’re MUCH older and really heartfelt pieces. I was particularly touched by her vulnerability about her miscarriage and how she felt. I really hope after reading more women can feel able to open up.

It’s clear from this book that Ali Wong is much more than a stand up comedian, she’s an absolute boss. You can see that’s she’s worked hard, stood up to misogyny and is balancing being one of the funniest comedians and a good Mum at the same time. Also, the chapter by her Husband is adorable, absolutely bloody adorable.

This was a solid 4.5 starts for me. Incredibly funny, well written and I think Ali’s daughters will really love reading this as they get older. Also, as I said before, if you get a chance listen to the audiobook because it really is a treat.

Book Tour: Always Here For You – Miriam Halahmy

14-year-old Holly is lonely. Her parents are never around after Gran’s Crisis and best friend Amy to Canada, loved-up with her new boyfriend, Gabe. Holly has no-one to hang out with at school apart from moody Ellen and misfit Tim.

Home alone in Brighton with no-one to talk to, Holly is at rock bottom. That is, until she finds Jay. Caring, funny and with so much in common, Jay is the perfect guy. They chat online, but Holly knows to be careful, she’s heard the horror stories. As they grow closer and closer, chatting with Jay is all that makes Holly happy. Mum and Dad’s rows get more intense and Amy’s radio silence continues; the only one who understands is Jay. As Holly lets her guard down, is Jay all he seems? Is Holly in too deep? And is it too late?

Today I’m taking part in a book tour for Miriam Halahmy’s latest young adult novel tackling the online world and how people may not be all they seem.

This novel reminded me of the kind I read growing up, one of my childhood heroes was Jacqueline Wilson who also took on tough topics and broke them down for younger audiences. I can see this being a great read for younger teens and can be a good opener to talking about who is really behind the screen.

I was one of the internet babies and by the time I started my first year of school we already had a computer in the classroom. As I got older and spent hours on MSN Messenger (rest in peace old friend) these kinds of issues were more prevalent. I will say that I was terrified of strangers on the internet and my Mum was pretty hot on checking what I was doing online but, that said, it was a lot easier then when the only computer was in the living room… wow I sound old! Anyway I digress…

This is a great read to get the conversation going but also, I think, for parents giving them insight into how a young person may fall victim to this kind of situation.

I really enjoyed seeing the other characters grow and develop through the story as well as Holly, I think it would be really interesting to learn more about each of their lives (personally, I think it would be a great series!). They all seemed very real and it helped that the descriptions of Brighton were very easy to visualise.

The only thing I would mention is that some of the language seemed a little outdated at times. There were a few occasions where I stopped and thought I don’t think that a teenager today would say this! Also the word hussy is mentioned – I’m not sure that the young teens I know would know what that meant! These didn’t take away from the book for the most part, just something I noticed while reading.

I gave this book 4 stars. A solid read and one I think young people should be encouraged to read. Thank you to Miriam and ZunTold for sending me a copy in exchange for this review and for inviting me to be a part of this book tour.

Book Review: It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue And Other Lies – Edited By Scarlett Curtis

It’s OK if everything might feel a bit overwhelming.
It’s OK to talk about it.
It’s OK to not want to talk about it.
It’s OK to find it funny.
It’s OK to be human.”

Back with another book of tackling taboos Scarlett Curtis is talking about mental health and she has even more people coming to write this time.

I pre-ordered this as soon as I found out about it because I absolutely adored the first book Scarlett put together Feminists Don’t Wear Pink And Other Lies , it was a real eye opener and one of my favourites about Feminism. And while this collection is bigger, I can understand why – the topic is something that impacts everyone whether it’s you or someone close to you.

With names such as Emilia Clarke, Adam Kay, Matt Haig, Bryony Gordon, Emma Thompson and Naomi Campbell lending their personal stories and essays to the collection it was going to be interesting. We see these people on the TV, online, out in the world doing great things but knowing that even those who are great have struggled or continue to make people feel less alone.

This is definitely one to pick up and read as much as you can because there are some really heavy subjects in here, obviously, and I definitely think that you need to consider how you’re feeling before you read it. That said, there really is something for everyone in here, no matter what you’ve been through or felt.

About half way through the book I found myself struggling to differentiate between the stories so I switched to the audiobook and found it so much better. A mix of voice actors and those who could read their own stories were recorded. Personally, that made it for me and, stangely, made it more real.

I gave this 4.5 stars. This is the kind of book that we need more of in the world so we know that people are not alone and keep the conversation around mental health going. I think this will be impactful, partly because Scarlett has managed to get well known names that people look up to.