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.

September Book Haul!

September Book Haul

A birthday and no self-control means a September Book Haul! Yay! So these are the few physcial books I’ve picked up in September, I’m now on a ban…who am I kidding there’s too many amazing

Let’s get started with some of the amazing deals I got on Amazon. First up Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I keep hearing about this author and when they were £2 each I thought it was worth a go. I will report back.

Next up My Purple Scented Novel by Ian McEwan. This is absolutely tiny but I really loved Nutshell and wanted to read something else by McEwan without a huge time commitment. I also picked up Survivors: True Stories of the Children of the Holocaust by Allan Zullo, this was on offer and I want to hear the stories that these people have so it is never forgotten.

Kick-Ass poetry by amazing women? I’m sold which is why I bought She Is Fierce by Ana Sampson. It had Sylvia Plath in so it has to be good. Next up another poetry collection, I Hope My Voice Doesn’t Skip by Alicia Cook who is known to use music within her poetry – I’m really looking forward to this one.

I’d heard a lot about this. What Would Boudicca Do? by E.Foley & B.Coates takes women from history and modern problems, how would they deal with it? This looks really fun. Next up I pre-ordered The Guilty Feminist by Deborah Frances-White, I’ve heard a lot about the podcast and ones I’ve listened to have been great.

I’m trying to savor the Saga series so I went ahead and ordered Volume 6 and Volume 7. For my birthday I got Three-Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell in a mystery book package, New York, 1960s let’s give it a go. I also picked up Fierce Fairytales & Other Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill on the recommendation of my friend Sarah. Who am I to say no to feminist fairytales?

Another birthday gift was My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi. This is manga that I keep seeing again and again. I ordered Vengeful by V.E Schwab ages ago thinking I’d read Vicious before…that didn’t quite go to plan but HOW BEAUTIFUL! I was also sent a copy of The Witches of St. Petersberg by Imogen Edward-Jones as part of an upcoming book tour. I didn’t want to know too much about it before going in but keep your eyes peeled!

My final two books I also got at birthday gifts, I’ve really wanted to try some Leigh Bardugo and so I didn’t just get one, I got two for my birthday! Lucky, lucky gal!

Well, that’s all the books I got in September! Now I just need to get through them all…wish me luck! Are there any you’ve read and would recommend or any on your to-read list? Let me know in the comments below!

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.

Book Review: Everywoman – Jess Phillips

Everywoman Jess Phillips

 

A lot of people scoff at the thought of going into politics. Even more so if you’re from a less wealthy background because it’s not what someone ‘like us’ does is it? Be prepared to completely change your mind and want to start a revolution of diversity and equality and it’s all thanks to Jess Phillips.

I picked this up after watching an interview with Jess online, I finally saw someone who I could identify with who works in our government. This book is much more than politics, this is about women, empowerment and just giving things a go! Previously, Jess worked for Women’s Aid, an incredibly important charity supporting women who need help most. Some of the stories were harrowing but show the fire behind Jess’s speeches in parliament, such as those about domestic violence.

From Mum guilt to just about getting through university Jess talks about anything and everything. That said, she also touches on some heartbreaking topics. There were many moments in this book that touched me but it was the parts talking about Jo Cox that really got me. Jo Cox was an MP in the UK, a rising star in the Labour Party, Jo was murdered for doing her job and being a compassionate human. Jess was a friend of Jo’s and I can’t imagine how hard it was going through such a horrific loss.

Not only is Jess a kick-ass MP for Labour, she’s a friend, a proud Feminist, a Mum, a Wife and, by the sounds of this book, the kind of person I’d want to have as a friend. This book fell into my hands when I needed it most. I was feeling like I was struggling as a woman, I was feeling a little beaten down by the world. Then I realised I can do this because there is so much to do! It really gave me the pick me up I needed.

I’ve recommended this to almost every one of my friends because it’s the kind of book that can and will start a revolution. Of course, I gave this 5 stars, I could not stop listening to the audiobook at every opportunity I had. I’m pretty sure I’ll not only be buying this as a gift for a few people but I’ll also be listening again very soon!

What I Read in April!

Another month, another stack of books I’ve devoured. This month I wanted things I could get through because I was struggling to concentrate but I still managed 8 books and almost all of them were incredible.

First up was Red Clocks which I have been waiting to read forever and it was so worth it. This is set in a future USA, abortion is banned, IVF is banned and so is single parenthood. We follow four women as their lives are impacted by these laws. It was a 4.5 star read and review to come soon. #MeToo is a collection of poetry that just felt so real to me, these were incredible poems and got 4 stars from me. And another collection of poetry the second from Amanda Lovelace, the witch doesn’t burn in this one. This is the second in a serious about the magic of women, a 4 star read, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first but it’s still a brilliant read.

 

Next up I am, I am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell this was a strange but brilliant non-fiction book look at the 17 brushes with death, it’s absolutely fascinating and got a well earned 4 stars. The next one I’d seen spoken about on Youtube and it had such a huge impact on me, Everywoman is about feminism, UK politics and is a rallying cry which means it got 5 stars from me. I also read my advance copy of Holly Bourne’s new adult novel How Do You Like Me Now which, in total honesty disappointed me and only got 3 stars.

 

 

And finally, Saga. I could have picked this up years ago and I’m kicking myself. This series is amazing we have some brilliant characters and interesting plot and beautiful art. So far, so amazing and 5 stars for volume 1 and volume 2.

What were you reading in April? Let me know in the comments below!

Top 10 Books I Read in Winter

Top 10 Books I Read in Winter

It’s not a secret that Winter isn’t my fave, once Christmas is done I’m pretty much over it. BUT I did get through some cracking books in the dark winter months and I thought I’d share with you my personal top 10 from the previous season and hopefully give you some inspiration!

 

35817737 (1).jpg

The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

A sneak peek of an upcoming review but I LOVED this novel so much. The main character made me laugh so much, I thought she was incredible and what we need more of in YA. This surrounds a young woman and a sex scandal. It’s not been out long but you’re going to want to pick this up.

35235302

This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

I feel like this should be required reading for anyone who wants to make cuts to the NHS. Adams account had me both laughing and crying because it was a whirlwind. This is incredibly honest and so well written. Amazing.

36634052

Misogynation – Laura Bates 

It’s no secret that I think Laura is an excellent writer and fierce female. This is her latest collection and I absolutely LOVED it. Every time I read one of these I just feel better?

36445985

Only Child – Rhiannon Navin 

This novel will break your heart. I was lucky enough to get an early copy and be a part of the blog tour after talking about how much I loved it! My review is here, this was a stunning debut.

16096824

A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas

This series has been all over the book blogs and Booktube for ages and I finally picked it up…and then it sat on my TBR pile for 2 months. Why didn’t I start this magnificent series earlier! I am in love with Maas’s writing and my review of the first novel here.

31207017

Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed 

This is one of the first books I read in 2018 and I’m so glad I did! This is a novel about growing up, facing racism and following your passion. I absolutely loved it and if it doesn’t win prizes in YA something is wrong with the world. You can read my full review here.

36601888

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls 2

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I loved the first Goodnight Stories book (review here) and then there was a second and it was as equally badass as the first. You’re not going to want to miss it.

34042436.jpg

Nobody Told Me – Hollie McNish 

I’m not a parent but that didn’t stop me falling in love with Hollie’s collection of diary entries and poetry as a first time Mum. We’re taken from Hollie finding out she’s pregnant (on the way to Glastonbury no less) to her daughter at 3 years old. A wonderful and unique book.

35068683.jpg

Brave – Rose McGowan 

 Rose was the first to blow the Weinstein scandal wide open with her accusation of rape. I hate writing that because I 100% believe her. This chronicles Rose’s turbulent life and the movement that she started. She’s one to watch.

34427921.jpg

Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton

Dolly tells it how it is, your twenties are confusing and this is a great insight. It certainly made me feel less anxious. You can read my review here.

 

What have your top reads been this Winter and what are you looking forward to in the Spring? Let me know in the comments below!