Book Review: What Would The Spice Girls Do – Lauren Bravo

I’ll tell you what I want what I really, really want. This book, although I didn’t know what before I bought it, but that is why this review is here so you know from the off. Ok, maybe not my most eloquent intro but I was SO excited by this book.

If you were a 90’s kid you will know the Spice Girls were everything. Hit after hit, I idolised them and when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. I didn’t know quite how much I would enjoy it until I finished it on a trip to London and listened to all the songs as loud as my headphones would go (sorry fellow travellers but you needed to spice up your life.

A collection of personal memories, those of fellow Spice Girls fans and looking at the cultural history of five women who wouldn’t take no for an answer and how they changed our lives. Additionally, Bravo considers modern problems through their eyes and ask what would they do? Hello new motto for life!

This book is incredibly well written, of course it is fun but it’s also very informative. Bravo considers what the Spice Girls were up against for the time, how they broke boundaries and more. The were, an always should be considered groundbreaking in the music industry.

What I found really interesting though, and this might just be the marketing geek in me, was looking at their choices from a marketing perspective. Bravo pointed something out I hadn’t considered that they made the Spice Girls merch something everyone could enjoy. From Spice crisps to a Spice Cam no matter your budget you could enjoy it.

I was a Spice Girls collector, long after the split I was picking up everyone else’s memorabilia at car boot sales to add to my own…it now live at my Mum and Dads. This book brought back the joy I felt for my entire childhood. I was born in 1994, when I was 2 years old I bopped to Wannabe, at 3 I had my own Spice Girl oufits, I had to start school with bunches like Baby Spice. And then, the holy grail, my Mum got us tickets to see them live at Earls Court in December 1999 – minus Geri, although I made up for that in 2007.

I’ve been recommending this to anyone and everyone who I know is a Spice Girls fan, of course I gave it 5 stars. This is a small but mighty book and while I listened to the audiobook, I now need to get my own copy of the actual hardback and proudly display it on my shelves. If you loved the Spice Girls this is for you. Trust me, you won’t forget it.

And now I leave you with the Spice classic that started it all.

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.

March 2019 Favourites

It’s time for my favourites agaaaaain! I’ll admit I was unsure about doing one for this month as life has been SUPER quiet. I haven’t been travelling into London much so I’ve mostly been a homebody.

Books

Boooooks, wonderful booooks. I’ll have a full post of what I read in March coming up for you guys but I had an even split of fiction and non-fiction in my favourites this month.

I picked up Internment by Samira Ahmed after loving her debut and this got a 4.5 star rating from me. A story set in a not too distant future where Muslims are sent to Internment camps – something I’m scared could happen in this current climate.

Next up was That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger another new release. This focuses on the lives of school shooting survivors and what really happened on that day, rather than what was reported. This also got 4.5 stars from me, a really interesting read.

I was sent a copy of Mind On Fire by Arnold Thomas Fanning, a memoir about the author’s life with mental illness, a 4 star read from me. This was a tough but incredibly well written book and I’m so excited that it’s on the Wellcome Prize shortlist for 2019! Full review to come.

And finally I was given an early release copy of Voices of Powerful Women by Zoe Sallis. This is a collection of big questions put to incredible women and although I didn’t know all of them it was a refreshing read.

Movies

Ummm, hello new favourite superhero with a kick ass soundtrack. I love Captain Marvel and really wish that I’d had her growing up. This film has proven that there is a place for female superheroes so umm, Marvel can we get that Black Widow and Scarlet Witch movie going? Thanks.

Gigs

I went to 2 amazing gigs in March with some of my favourite people. First up, George Ezra with my sister and I can honestly say he is brilliant live and was well worth the wait. This was my sister’s Christmas present from me, I always try and get her a gig ticket/something to look forward to.

I also went to see Dream State. Ali’s a fan and got me into them, so he got us tickets to a local show, these guys are also going to be playing Reading & Leeds this year. Definitely one to watch.

Wompa

And three became four. Yep we got our fourth hamster baby this month, I spotted her and thought no, we have enough. Then I called Ali…who told me to go get her, within 5 minutes I was back in the shop. She’s called Wompa, she’s very inquisitive and right now likes to bite things, including me.

General Life

Ok guys, not to brag or anything but I went out TWICE this month. I know, who is this party girl? I kid, I kid. A night of drinking for funsies and a birthday celebration but, you know a girl can’t go too wild.

I also got Ali home from tour and he got me this AWESOME Harry Potter jacket (an engagement ring one month and a jacket the next – definitely picked a winner there). And finally, I just wanted to share with you all this dress that my Mum got me because I felt hella cute.

Book Review: Notes To Self – Emilie Pine

`The person who loves the addict exhausts and renews their love on a daily basis’ 

Within this short collection, Emilie bares her soul. Sharing with us, some of her most personal stories from growing up with an alcoholic parent to her miscarriage and more. That said, this isn’t a pity party, instead it radiates strength. While I had never heard of Emile before this, I felt like she was someone I could know.

One of the things I enjoyed the most while reading this is seeing Emilie grow up from a little girl who didn’t understand her parent’s separation, a wild teenager to an intelligent woman. It seems that there is nothing that Pine tries to hide from us, and that takes guts. We all change so much from being a child to a fully-grown adult and this collection definitely shares warts and all.

This is a collection that will make you think about your own life, the choices you have made and the reactions you have had. There is an unflinching honesty within Pine’s essays that isn’t seen often. In particular, when speaking about being unable to conceive, I was in awe of the way in which she shared her feelings. Infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth are all covered within these pages and these are the conversations that we often shy away from in society. The fact that Pine speaks about her experiences in such an honest way will no doubt make people feel less alone when they read this.

I gave this collection 5 stars. It only took a day for me to read through this and while there were times that I was on the verge of tears, it’s something that I feel needs to be read. This is definitely just the start of some wonderful work that we’ve going to see from Emilie Pine, and I for one can’t wait.

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for giving me a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: All About Mia - Lisa Williamson

Book Review: All About Mia – Lisa Williamson

Mia is definitely the middle child and a bit of a trouble maker. She’s nothing like her perfect older sister Grace and that’s just fine with her. When Grace comes home and drops a bombshell, Mia waits to watch her get in trouble for once, but things don’t work out exactly how she thought they would…

I was a huge fan of Lisa Willamson’s first novel The Art of Being Normal and so picked up Mia. After reading I have been kicking myself for not reading it earlier! Once again she’s written a novel that I could not put down with a realistic plot.

Is Mia a wild child at times? Yes? Does she make mistakes? 100% but this makes her more realistic. She messes up a lot but I still found myself rooting for her the whole way through. We all made mistakes as teenagers, anyone who says they didn’t is lying!

While Mia may not always appear to be an entirely likeable character, you understand her. She is trying to figure herself out and feels in her older sister’s shadow. I could relate to her, your teenage years are confusing enough without surprise family twists!

Speaking of family, that was truly one of my favourite parts of this novel. Mia has two families, her biological family who seemed very real to me and her friends. Both of which are equally important to her and she has to learn the hard way how to open herself up to both.

It’s no surprise that I gave this 4.5 stars. I flew through this and while I worked out within a few pages what the twist would be, I still really enjoyed it. At its core this is a novel about family and finding your own space within it, I absolutely loved Mia and was thinking about her for days after!

Book Review: The Year I Didn’t Eat – Samuel Pollen

14-year-old Max has a fight on his hands. Living with Anorexia is tough enough without having to be at school and trying to keep it secret from your closest friends. As Max writes to ‘Ana’ and tries to navigate his illness he has to deal with the new girl at school who won’t stop staring, family drama and seeing his therapist. Can he beat this?

I was asked if I would like to receive a copy of this novel and I was immediately intrigued. There are very few stories of teenage boys going through an eating disorder, so of course, I wanted to read, I’m incredibly glad I did.

Starting and ending on Christmas day, the novel chronicles a year in Max’s life, alongside writing a diary to his disorder – aptly named Ana. This was a particular highlight for me, the writing was emotional but not sad – I actually laughed a fair bit reading this. Pollen isn’t trying to make Max a sympathy figure. The combination of the diary entries and showing some of the obsessive thoughts was incredibly well done –  I could see similarities between Max’s and my own thoughts from our respective mental illnesses.

It is mentioned a few times within the novel the disconnect that Max feels from what is stereotypically viewed as what a with Anorexia looks like – a teenage girl. By confronting this head-on, Pollen shows insight into something incredibly important – anyone can get a mental illness. The fact that Max is a teenage boy, known for being quite geeky with a loving family and great friends and still has these problems reinforces that.

This shows a new level of representation that is rarely seen, in fact, I don’t believe I have ever read a novel featuring a guy with an eating disorder – which is absurd! I’m hopeful that this will start more conversations. The fact that Pollen has drawn on his own experiences makes this even more realistic.

The novel shows not only the impact that eating disorders have on the person with the illness but also the pressure it can put on families. We meet Max’s family and often feel for them as much as him. That said, despite the hardships faced, Max’s relationship with his older brother Robin was probably my favourite part. They truly seem to care for each other and Robin’s encouragement of Geocaching really seems to be a turning point.

Of course, this is a tough read and it does give descriptions of disordered eating and calories – if these are tough for you to read it might be worth picking this up at a later point.

Is it any surprise that I gave this 5 stars?  This is a novel that needed to be written. Showing that eating disorders can affect anyone and that, by talking about it, we have more of a chance of helping those going through it. I absolutely adored this novel – it will truly make its mark. I truly feel that this will make people feel less alone.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Conker communications for the chance to read this in exchange for an open and honest review.

February Book Haul 2019

My February Book Haul

Well, after buying no books in the month of January February was a little different. It’s time for my February book haul and buckle up because there is a LOT. It’s worth noting that I’m only hauling physical books…let’s not even get into the e-ARCS.

The Gifted Books

First up, the books I have sent by lovely people who encourage my bookish ways. I’ve received Eye Level by Jenny Xie as I’ll be working on the International Dylan Thomas Prize and this is a contender. I have also been sent two books that are on the longlist for the 2019 Wellcome Book Prize. Educated by Tara Westover is one I’ve heard about constantly and while I haven’t heard about Mind On Fire by Arnold Thomas Fanning I always want to read more mental health memoirs. And I also was sent Am I Ugly? by Michelle Elman a memoir I’m looking forward to getting into.

The Sale Books

Sooo, Waterstones had a sale. I got all of these books for £1 each! They’re not damaged and I don’t quite know why they went into sale but I’m excited. I picked up three YA novels and one general fiction.

In YA we have Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith, Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga and Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve. I’ve enjoyed books by Eve and Warga before and have no idea about Smith so we’ll see. And we also have Look At Me by Sarah Duguid which involves finding a family member who was never known about! Dun, dun, duuuuun.

The YA Books

I might have gone on a little Amazon spending spree in YA. I keep hearing about Five Feet Apart by Racheael Lippincott with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Laconis so I picked it up and so far, so good. It’s giving me The Fault In Our Stars vibes – one of my favourite books.

I also picked up A Danger To Herself And Others by Alyssa Sheimmel, I loved her previous novel Faceless so as soon as I saw this I needed to pick it up. Also, while I’ve never read or watched DUFF, I’ve bought That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger. The blurb looked really interesting and I’ve heard nothing but good things about Keplinger so why not pick it up?

Other Books

I also picked up two poetry collections Feminine Gospels and Standing Female Nude by Carol Ann Duffy. I do love some poetry and I couldn’t resist when I went to Waterstones Picadilly, I could have stayed there for so long. I was also lucky enough to be given a copy of Fairytale by my friends Nan because she is so adorable.

So, that was a MONTH and I’m super glad I’ve got a new bookcase to put them all onto! Did you buy many books in February? Let me know below!