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: Let Her Fly: A Father’s Journey – Ziauddin Yousafzai

After Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban as a teenager, the world has watched as she has continued to stand up for the right to girls education. By her side has been her father, Ziauddin and now, it is time to tell his story and the fight for equality he has been working on for more than 20 years.

Malala has made no secret of the love and admiration she holds for her father and in this book it is clear to see that the love goes both ways. There were points where I felt that it was so focused on Malala, I wondered about her younger brothers. This is rectified in the book as Ziauddin talks about his sons and, equally, the struggles he has had parenting two boys in a world so different to his own.

One of the things I loved most, was the dedication to his wife. This felt so pure and wonderful that he truly believes that she is his equal and his love. It was important to see that this was so deep routed in wanting equality for his family from within his home, before extending it to the wider world.

I gave this 4 stars, I really enjoyed reading more about Ziauddin, his life and beliefs. The fact that this looked at him as a whole person, rather than just as Malala’s father. This is an intriguing look at what is an extraordinary man.

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

Book Review: I Am, I Am, I Am – Maggie O’Farrell

Maggie O’Farrell has had quite a life, forget a cat having nine lives, this tell the story of Maggie’s 17 brushes with death, some are remarkable, some are sad and some will send a chill down your spine. This is about everyday life, survival and appreciating the life you have.

This is a stunning memoir that I wish I could shout about from the rooftops. I listened to this as an audiobook rather than reading and I actually thought it was a great way to engage with the book, it almost made it seem more real.

Spanning decades, every chapter another tale of luck and resilience. In fact, the book itself is for Maggie’s daughter who lives with a condition that is incredibly dangerous to the point she must always be one step ahead.

I’ll admit what initially drew me to this book was the title. ‘I am, I am, I am’ is a quote from one of my favourite novels, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – linking to the idea of your heartbeat reminding you that you are alive and centring you. I liked the link, while the book doesn’t mention this, I’m hoping I’m not going out on a limb here!

Death is something that most of us don’t talk about, it’s a taboo topic in society. Of course, death is sad for those left behind, however, it is a natural part of life. While this can, at times, be an incredibly tough read some of the situations that Maggie has been in are truly horrible but it gives comfort she has survived.

This will remind you of the fragility of life, but also the beauty of it. These are not stories of bitterness or anger, instead, they are about living despite hardships. In fact, it made me reevaluate part of my life too and my own hardships.

I gave this 4.5 stars, this is an absolutely brilliant read. It really does draw you in and I genuinely cared about Maggie and wanted to know more about her and her family. If you’d like a memoir that holds your attention but also makes you think hard then this is for you.

Have you read this book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Ask Me His Name – Elle Wright

The loss of a child is something no parent should have to go through but when they do – so many people are too scared to talk. How do you speak to someone who’s baby didn’t come home? Are you going to make it worse? Should you talk about the baby, use its name? After the loss of her own son, Teddy, Elle Wright wanted to do something.

Wow, this book. It’s hard to talk about because while it was a hard book, there were also times where I smiled. This is, ultimately, a message of hope, change and getting through something unimaginable. I actually first heard about the book in a news article and I felt I had to read it – partially because I know people who have lost babies. I wanted to try and see the world through their eyes.

Elle does not hold back throughout. She takes us deep into how she felt at the time. From her joy to be pregnant, her wishes for her baby all the way to Teddy’s struggles once born, holding her son as he passed and trying to make sense of her life after. She isn’t afraid of hiding her pain but also her frustration at being put in a box for grieving mothers.

Of course, this is a tough read. I needed to take quite a few breaks when reading it. While the book was beautifully written, of course, you do get very emotional. I felt my heart break for Teddy’s parents, his family. I wanted to cry because this is sad, but every time I was picked up by the fundraising they undertook, the hope they had and ultimately, love.

One of the best things about this book is that, at the end, we hear from the people who were around Elle – and also loved Teddy. We hear from Teddy’s Dad, Grandma, Aunt. We often think of how heartbreaking this is for the parents, but you can guarantee that there are more people than we know who are touched by baby loss.

To rate a book like this feels wrong, how can you rate someone’s pain? You can’t. That said, this was an incredible book, more than anything I want to thank Elle for sharing with us, for talking about Teddy. I can’t say that I understand just from reading this book, but now I have insight. This is written in such a beautiful way, while it is raw it also shows a real warmth. I can’t stop thinking about this book. Of course, it’s a 5-star read, I think everyone should read this.

Thank you to Elle, the publishers and Netgalley for my copy.

Book Review: Unbroken – Martine Wright

Unbroken - Martin Wright

One moment can change your life

On the morning of the 7th July 2005 Martine Wright decided to let herself sleep a little later and slightly changed her route to work after celebrating London securing the 2012 Olympics. By making these changes she found herself on a tube with a suicide bomber. After he detonated his device, Martine’s life changed forever.

In the UK the 7/7 bombings went down in history. I remember being 11 years old and hearing it over the radio while in the car with my Mum, while my Dad tried to get hold of his best friend. It was so surreal that this had happened in London and the first time I realised these things could happen to anyone.

The book starts with varying perspectives of those closest to Martine as well as herself as they all heard about the 7/7 attacks. We hear from her now-husband, her parents, siblings, friend, surgeon and herself. Her story is one that not only inspired but was also difficult to believe.

After being found horrifically injured a courageous and kind policewoman and fellow passenger stayed with Martine. Both of her legs had been blown off and she was fading fast. So much so that when she arrived at the hospital she was referred to as Hotel Unknown until her family found her.

We follow Martine from the moment she was clinging to life, throughout her recovery. She doesn’t make light of the situation she talks about the dismissal that she wouldn’t walk again, the tears she cried and times she wanted to give up. Despite everything, the months she spent in the hospital she continued to fight for the rights of those injured and the families of those killed in the struggle for financial justice.

I spent the whole book cheering Martine on, wanting her to live her life as best she could after the bombing. So, did she go back to her day job and settle down? Not quite. Martine went on to become a Paralympic hero in Volleyball, she represented her country in the city she loved with all her heart.

This is a story of survival, spirit and determination but also being human. Martine doesn’t claim she’s perfect. She shares her doubts, her struggle to carry on at times and more. However, this made me laugh so much. She’s genuinely funny and learns to live and laugh at herself.

Martine is a hero and this was an incredible read. Was it tough at times, yes but I came out with a sense of determination because if Martine can get through that, I can get through my struggles. Of course, I gave this 5 stars. A truly brilliant story and one you should pick up.

Blogmas Day 10: Books to Give This Christmas

Giving books is one of the best things about Christmas for me. If I can find a book for someone, I will. So how about some ideas that I can personally recommend to you all? These are all books that I’ve read this year and should be available in all good bookshops.

 

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Poetry

This is Rupi Kaur’s second collection and was even better than the first, which I didn’t think was possible. The collection can also work as a stand-alone collection if the person your buying for hasn’t read the first. You can read my review here.

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Young Adult 

One of the biggest superstars came back after 6 years away with a cracker. Turtles deals with the complexities of living with OCD as well as a missing mystery billionaire. You can read my review here.

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Autobiography 

This isn’t something that I would have just picked up off of the shelf, it was only after hearing an interview I decided to give it a go. This goes far beyond an autobiography it talks about gender, sexuality, loss and depression. It was really eye-opening. Review here.

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Historical Fiction

It has been a long time since I’ve read a good Historical Fiction novel. Set in the 1930s and featuring an LGBTQ protagonist this is a must-read. Review here.

Memoir 

I couldn’t just pick one these were both amazing. My Lovely Wife is about a families struggle with Bipolar Disorder through the eyes of a partner. My Shitty Twenties is the memoir of Emily who unexpectedly fell pregnant in her early 20s and what it was like to have her life change so unexpectedly, review here.

 

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Contemporary Fiction

This is super weird but really enjoyable. Told from the perspective of an unborn foetus this looks at the world in a truly unique way. I absolutely loved it and would read it again and again.

 

IMG_5143 (1)Fantasy 

If you have someone in your life who loves Game of Thrones and is having withdrawal symptoms this is perfect. This is set before A Song of Ice and Fire but it’s just as engaging and a lot shorter than the songs in the series.

 

Have I missed any great reads? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

This post is not sponsored in any way.

Book Review: My Shitty Twenties – Emily Morris

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Emily Morris was just an average 22 year old, she loved travelling, her degree and was balancing that with a part time job. That was until she took a pregnancy test and it was positive. After the father telling her to ‘enjoy her shitty twenties,’ she knew she was going it alone.

I came across this marvel of a memoir because of a recommendation in a magazine, there was something about the title that grabbed me as well as the brilliant cover design. I’m the same age that Emily was when she found out she was pregnant so it felt very real to me.

I feel like I need to point out this book could have gone a very different direction. This is not a whiny, my life is so hard and it’s not my fault type book, not at all. This is a very different type of coming of age story. It’s Emily having to grow up and completely change the course of her life, with her son.

While reading, I honestly felt for Emily. There was no support from the father and a sense of losing her independence after she needed to leave her student accommodation to live with her Mum, away from the city she loved to care for her newborn son. I can say, hand on heart, that she is a fantastic Mum.

This book breaks down terrible stereotypes about young mothers. I think I loved it so much because she has the same spirit and determination that my Mum had when she had me at 21. That said, she shares the hard times as well, the fact that she struggled with postnatal depression and the struggles of being judged as a young mum trying to do her best.

I honestly think that this is an incredible memoir. It’s thought provoking and shows the best of a change in your life. I’ve given this book 4 stars I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to see what Emily does next.