Book Review: How Not To Be A Boy – Robert Webb

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I’d heard Robert speaking on the radio about his new book, mentioning gender, depression and coping with loss, something I didn’t expect. I’d watched him in various TV shows and not really thought about Robert the man, rather than the actor.

The autobiography covers a large span of Webb’s life in detail and has the wit and humor that he brings to the television that he creates so well. I would thoroughly recommend getting the audiobook as possible as it makes the whole book come alive, particularly with the impressions of Webb’s family and friend.

This is a man who readily opens up about his faults. He candidly talks about failing his exams at 18, about how he felt he mistreated women in his youth and the fear of turning into his father. This brutal honesty is what makes Webb’s book. There’s no hiding, no excuses from him. That said, we know that there is a lot going on for him as a late teen, such as losing his mother.

Most interestingly, the book focuses heavily on gender expectations, something that Webb didn’t feel he could fit into. While his brothers were loud and boisterous, he preferred to be quiet and play. He found himself lost in what he ‘should’ be, rather than what he was, a sensitive young man who felt a little lost. He speaks candidly about how he didn’t feel he could show emotion openly he was on the cusp of being a man and men didn’t share feelings and talk. Something that lead Webb to a deep depression and almost cost him his place at Cambridge.

In this Webb lays out the ways in which these gender expectations affect both men and women and how toxic they can be to all of us. It was absolutely fascinating to read. Webb talks about his own experiences of having feelings for another boy at a young age and struggling with this and wondering what it meant. Again speaking about what it meant to be a boy, and later a man, and in his background that did not mean falling in love with another boy.

To put it simply this is a story that will promote change. Of course, it’s a very entertaining read, I laughed so much while getting through it but at the same time Webb has managed to bring in big questions about society, while making you feel like you’re having a conversation with a friend. From sexuality, gender norms and mental illness to falling in love, Webb has put his signature twist on the world and made it into, hopefully, an easier conversation to have.

I adored this book and gave it 4.5 stars! If I could change anything I’d want to know a little bit more about his relationship with David Mitchell as we all usually think of Mitchell and Webb together! That said it’s an inspiring and thought provoking read, I’d recommend it to anyone!

Book Review: You Can’t Touch My Hair And Other Things I Still Have To Explain – Phoebe Robinson

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I’ll be honest, prior to picking this as an audiobook I had no idea who Phoebe was. It just sounded like a funny book with an important message. What I ended up with was a great new comedian and writer to follow and a new appreciation of what it’s like to be a Woman of Colour.

It’s not a surprise to any of you who visit my blog or any of my social media that I’m a White British woman. I fully admit that I have no idea what it’s like to live as a Woman of Colour and I never will. Phoebe’s book isn’t just about race but she really gave me insight in a firm but approachable way and made me consider things I hadn’t before. I didn’t expect that from a book that marketed as being funny.

Don’t get me wrong, Phoebe is hilarious. It’s like listening to that awesome friend with all these crazy stories that you can’t believe are true. While doing this though, she talks about Feminism, about being put down creatively, about casual racism. The bottom line is that Phoebe is fiercely relatable, I think to the majority of women. I absolutely ADORE her.

One of my favourite parts of the book (which I can guarantee works best as an audiobook) is Phoebe’s letters to her niece. Of course, they’re funny a little inappropriate and meant for when she’s older but there’s just a wonderful sense of care. That Phoebe is talking about all of these issues, not for her, not for us, but for girls of the future so the world is a little bit easier for them to navigate.

I gave this four stars. This is a brilliant, well written and hilarious book. There’s just the right mix of humour and serious thought throughout. The only tiny reason I haven’t made it five stars, is because there are points I felt dragged on a bit too long for me. It definitely is a great read or listen though! Make sure you check it out!

Book Review: What Would Beyoncé Do?!

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‘When life gives Beyoncé lemons, what would she do? Make Lemonade’ 

Luisa wasn’t exactly where she wanted to be, nearly 30, working in a temp job to pay the bills and trying her damned hardest to be the comedian that she knew she could be. This is a story of hard work, determination and pulling down your trousers, yes I’m serious. She might seem like an overnight sensation but Lusia has worked her way up, fallen flat on her arse at times and come back fighting, because that’s what Beyoncé would do.

I picked this up because I kept seeing it around, I’d heard it was funny and had a good feminist kick to it. Sign me up. Before reading I hadn’t seen the show (I since have and LOVED it), this was devoured within 24 hours because not only is Luisa funny, she’s the kind of girl I want to be friends with. Luisa doesn’t leave anything out and packs a punch, sharing the lessons she’s learnt.

Now, you might expect a side-splitting read, you’ll get that (it’s even better as an Audiobook) I laughed a lot, but you’ll get a lot more than that. You’ll get moments of HELL YES GIRL when Lusia talks about the expectations on women, the politics of being a ‘female comedian’ and talking about body positivity. On the other side, however, Luisa talks about her family life, which wasn’t easy, about what it was like to be the ‘weird polish kid’, her own struggles with depression and her brother’s suicide attempt.  There’s no filter on her life and she tells it as it is.

On a personal note, I needed this book right now. I needed to see someone who felt a little lost, who had dreams that people didn’t think would happen, someone who was honest about it. I needed someone to talk openly about what it’s like to live with depression as a young person when everything seems to be going so well to the outside world.

I loved this book and I now class myself as a firm Lusia fan. It will take you through every emotion but you will finish with a sense of freedom to talk about anything and everything. I won’t put the pressure on Luisa to call her a role model, but she’s funny, smart and kick ass, that’s the kind of lady I want to listen to and you will too.

Note: Luisa and her family after facing a difficult time her mother,a woman who is prominent in this book, has Cancer. Luisa has stopped all current work to be with her Mum if you can please donate to support Luisa and her family as money is the last thing they should be worrying about, I will be donating tomorrow. To help Mumma O, click here.

7 Reasons Sarah Millican is one of the greatest comedians around

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On Friday night I went to see the opening night of Sarah Millican’s Outsider tour. I’d never seen her live before but had laughed a lot after watching on TV so when I could get tickets I snapped them up. I’m so glad I went, Sarah was absolutely incredible and hilarious. For tonight’s Sunday Seven I thought I’d tell you why I think Sarah is so great and if I could I’d go see her again on her tour Outsider (there are still tickets available, just nowhere close to me!).

She’s funny without being mean   

I love comedy and have been to quite a few shows now of different comedians but Sarah isn’t an arsehole about other people, which is a nice change. She’s hilarious but doesn’t need to go after other people in her routine. Total respect.

She’s honest about body image

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People have been awful to Sarah in the past but she’s honest about how much she doesn’t care. When I was watching her show I just felt so much better about myself and my own body image. When you put on weight people can be cruel but Sarah wasn’t having any of it, if you want cake, eat cake.

She’ll stand up to the media and be still be classy af

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When the media and Twitter trolls mocked Sara for her choice in dress for the BAFTA awards she didn’t get angry and take everyone down, she wrote honestly about her feelings then decided she didn’t care and wore the dress again. Classy af.

Her accent. 

The Geordie accent is one of the best in the world. End of.

She talks about IBS 

When she started talking about IBS I was so happy. It’s something that is embarrassing and ‘not cool’, does Sarah care? No. I just wanted to stand up and shout YES SARAH ALL THE IBS LOVE but, you know, you’re not supposed to do that.

Her pets are her world 

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I loved hearing about her pets and how hilarious they are. From one pet lover to another, I salute you.

She’s the best with her audiences 

Again, she’s never mean and calls her audience members Pet and Flower, as well as giving out free badges on tour. What more could you ask for

Book Review: Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling

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“I am notorious for making impassioned speeches about things nobody cares about.”
Mindy Kaling, Why Not Me?
Back again after first hilarious book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy Kaling has more advice to share with us mere mortals about how to get through life and how hers has changed between the two books. In her funny and honest awkward big sister style of writing Kaling has once again packed in a whole range of topics to keep you reading until the early hours.
After loving Mindy’s last book I asked for this and thankfully my boyfriend’s sister gave it to me on Christmas Eve nicely wrapped and I couldn’t wait to tear off the paper and fall into a funny book. There’s not doubt that Kaling has gone through some hardship in her life, she frequently reminds us of the chubby little indian girl she was growing up, but uses it to propel the humor and remind us readers that she’s not so different from us after all, despite her success.
There’s a load of different topics once again, although this time I found them to be put together a lot better and the book to just have a bit more of a flow than her first, which just shows that she’s growing as an author. With thoughts of Weddings, her feelings when her show was pulled (before it was later saved by Hulu), more hilarious boy stories, a day in the life of Mindy Kaling and thoughts about her own body it really is like talking to a, very excitable, friend. Hell, she even tells you what to bring to her dinner party, if only we were invited.
I found that this book was a lot more focused on her role as a writer and actress and it was interesting to hear her perspective on what it is like to work in television. It was also comforting to hear about the times when things didn’t go well or when she screwed things up, because as a 21 year old who’s about to graduate I needed to hear that it’s ok to not know what you’re going to do next. This was something that was touched upon in the first book but really comes alive and she shows you just how much hard work goes into making, writing and filming The Mindy Project.
I gave Why Not Me five stars *****. I honestly think it was an improvement on the much loved Is Everyone Hanging Out Without me, just because Mindy seems to have found her voice and rhythm as an author now, making it even easier and funnier to read. I’m going to be lending the two books out to a friend of mine in the next few weeks because I just feel like this a book that all young women should read, because Mindy show’s just how much hard work plays a part of success rather than luck. It might sound cheesy but it really does leave you thinking, Why Not Me?

Book Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling

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“There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it.”

There is no doubt that Mindy Kaling is hilarious. I have to admit though, before reading this book I didn’t really know who she was, I’d seen her face when my boyfriend was watching The Office but other than that I had no idea. I picked up this book in a charity shop for something like £2 because the title appealed to me and I’d heard that it was funny, in those respects I wasn’t disappointed.

This is Mindy’s first book it isn’t an autobiography as such but features prominent parts of her life and, well, to me it was like you were chatting with an old friend. Mindy is funny, brutally honest and best of all seems just like the rest of us. She was an awkward teenager, can be an awkwards adult and has also had those, oh my god what am I doing with my life moments that we all have. She doesn’t pretend that she’s totally happy and over the fact that she has her own show and was part of one of the most popular shows on American TV, in fact she seems excited and frankly a bit geeky about it all, in a good way of course.

The book covers everything from growing up as a chubby indian kid, boyfriends (or lack thereof), sex, careers, embarrassing yourself. It has a feminine charm, but is not sickly sweet. It’s ballsy, without being too in your face. There seems to be a good balance in the book and, of course, it’s laugh out loud funny too. I wouldn’t say it’s the funniest book I’ve ever read, some of the jokes made me uncomfortable but I think that was more because of how I feel about certain topics rather than being outright rude. It’s obvious while reading that Mindy is a fantastic writer, it isn’t easy to pull off written comedy but she definitely manages.

I also found it great that Mindy stands up for being feminine. She declares her undying love for romantic comedies, which I am partial to I spend the majority of my teenage years endlessly watching them. She talks about clothes and diets and a lot of girly things that people have judged her for in the past, basically I love her for being herself and not caring what others think. She says “I think of myself as a smart and funny person, but I am very girly, and in the past I’ve been hurt by people who criticise me for liking things they think are beneath me, like shopping or whatever, and the people who give me the hardest time about it are women. I think it may be because there are so few women in comedy and so there’s a feeling that we shouldn’t sell women out, but I don’t see talking about fashion as selling women out.”

I gave this book 4 stars in total ****. It was a funny and engaging book to read, perfect for something to pick up, chill out and feel like there are a lot of other people who think, feel and act the same as you, hell some of them even get famous! The reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is because while it was good, like I said there were some jokes I wasn’t entirely comfortable with and there were small parts that dragged. With that in mind as soon as I finished the next book was on my wishlist because without a doubt Mindy and write and she is funny. I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend it, I can’t wait to see what she does next!

 

I have a crush on Amy Schumer

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A few weeks ago I went to see the incredible Trainwreck and it was my first time watching Amy Schumer doing her thing. I’ve spent the evening watching her stand up and I think I definitely have a crush on Amy, she’s funny, she’s real and she’s frank about sex and being a woman. Is she offensive? Yes. But she likes to make people feel uncomfortable with comedy, it gets them talking and thinking and if they’re outraged then that’s fine, because I dare you to find a comedian who’s never offended anybody ever. That’s right, you can’t.

Now I can’t claim that I relate to Amy on the whole single girl, slutty, partying thing but on most other things I can laugh along and understand. It also pisses me off when people say she’s ‘funny for a woman’ I mean really? I didn’t know that having a penis was a requirement to be funny. I love funny women Amy, Sarah Millican, Miranda Hart (although I don’t like her routine she’s made me laugh occasionally), Emma Blackerry. I also love that they swear (uh oh, you’re all thinking here goes Chloe’s rant).

Now, here’s the thing. Imagine me, on stage, playing a show which has mostly guys performing and there’s me all short and cute and shit. I go on stage after guys and I can hold my own, I can say fuck too! But because I’m a girl I still get told to ‘be more ladylike on stage’, in fact a few people I used to hang around with came to a show recently and got all high and mighty because I occasionally swear on stage. It’s not like every other word is swearing but they were all ‘ woaaaaah act like a girl’, to which I replied fuck off.

It’s one of the best things about Amy, she does swear and talk about sex in her routines. She’s not all prim, proper and ladylike. The thing with women like her is people think they’re incapable of being polite and not swearing, people assume the same about me, but guess what? This whole persona is one part of a person and generally when it’s appropriate. I don’t go and drop an f-bomb when I’m with my grandparents or when I’m giving a mental health speech? I don’t make sex jokes or call people dicks at work. There’s a difference between funny and stupid…most of the time anyway.