Recovery: Book Review

As yesterday was World Mental Health Day I thought I’d share my thoughts on my holiday read… Russel Brand’s Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions.

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Whether you are a Russel Brand fan or not, this book really does create awareness on the issues around addiction and the struggles faced on the road to recovery.

You may think; “this book isn’t for me, I’m not an addict, I don’t drink too much, I don’t do drugs…” But as I found reading this book, addiction isn’t just those classic clichés.

Do you find yourself thinking, if I just buy this, if I just eat this, if I just do this I’ll be happy? Do you find yourself constantly looking at your phone? Do you wake up and instantly check Facebook or Instagram to see how many likes you have? Do you sit and eat a whole pack of biscuits without being hungry? Do you constantly want to be thiner, younger, richer? Do you do these things and then loathe what you did afterwards, but then still continue to do the same thing?

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This is also addiction. Russel Brand, in his flouncy language and witty stories tells this tale well. He also guides you through the 12 steps to recovery. Whether you end up following the book to help you through your personal problems (did you really EVER expect to take advise from Russel Brand?!), or read it so you can empathise better and help those affected by addiction, or whether you just read it as a fun but thoughtful read.

I really do recommend.

May and June Book Review

It has been over two months since my last book review. Following on from #GIRLBOSS I’ve continued with the feminism theme…

Handmaid’s Tale

Written by Margaret Atwood, this book was chosen by Emma Watson’s feminist Good Read‘s book club, Our Shared Shelf, as the May read. The book has also recently been turned into a TV series staring Elizabeth Moss (currently on channel4).

Set in an alternative USA dystopian future, Handmaid’s Tale explores a scenario where the population is declining and the ability to reproduce is super sacred. The elite class in this future society employee Handmaid’s (fertile women) to get pregnant, give birth, and then hand over their child.

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The book is deep. And in today’s society with Trump in power, it really makes you think. The women in this book are forced to give up their identity, their power, their families to procreate for a higher class. Maybe not a book to read by the pool this summer, but definitely worth a read. Both the book and TV series I give a 5/5.

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Mad Love

On the other hand, Mad Love by Nick Spalding is definitely a book to read by the pool. I’d classify this book as ‘chick-lit’. Not the best written, however certain parts were very funny.

The book is about a dating website that match up two people, that have never met before, to get married. You can probably see where it leads… they don’t get on, they do get on, they hate each other, they live happily ever after…

If you want an easy read, this is most certainly that. I give it 2/5.

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We Should All Be Feminists

My amazing friend Antoinette bought me this book as a present. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian writer, puts a very funny spin on the truth about 21st century female discrimination. I give it a 5/5. Here are some of my favourite quotes:

“We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.”

“A woman at a certain age who is unmarried, our society teaches her to see it as a deep personal failure. And a man, after a certain age isn’t married, we just think he hasn’t come around to making his pick.”

“And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.” 

“The sad truth of the matter is that when it comes to appearance, we start off with men as the standard, as the norm. Many of us think that the less feminine a woman appears, the more likely she is to be taken seriously. A man going to a business meeting doesn’t wonder about being taken seriously based on what he is wearing—but a woman does.” 

“There are slightly more women than men in the world—52 percent of the world’s population is female—but most of the positions of power and prestige are occupied by men.” 

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Harry Potter

Monday marked 20 years since Philosopher’s Stone was published and I genuinely cannot believe it!

Harry Potter has been such a huge part of my life. My Gran bought me the first book for Christmas back in 1997 (I was just 7 years old!). Every summer holidays I would read the whole series in wait for the latest book release (that agonising queue at Waterstone’s in Durham). The last time I read all 7 books was 8 years ago.

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Yesterday in honour of the 20th anniversary I once again opened the first book, and will continue to reread all 7 of them this summer. It just never ever gets old. And with J.K Rowling being a super feminist, it seemed fitting that these books were included in this post. I rate all 7 books a 10/5!

“I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin.’ And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons.”

April Book Review

Since getting a Kindle back in February I have managed to worm my way through 9 books. I set myself a challenge on Good Reads to conquer 24 books in 2017. So far I’m not doing too bad.

In April I read 4 books and started a 5th. In this review I would like to talk about 3 of those books.

The Cows

Written by an idol of mine (Dawn O’Porter) and released just last month. It begins with such a poignant opening passage regarding a cow and it’s comparison to a woman’s stereotype, to reproduce and be used solely for milk or beef. A story of three very different women whose lives somehow intertwine around sex, men, struggles, independence, family, the media and babies. This book was emotional, inspiring and entertaining. I give it 5/5.

“COW n. /ka?/

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Don’t follow the herd.”

101 Ways to Live Cleaner and Greener for Free

Written by Anna Pitt I read this on a train journey to London. It is a great book, set out in a simple format of three parts – a short passage covering the various topics such as waste, water, food and energy – the maths, what savings you can make both in money and helping the planet – the tips, a quirky illustration alongside tips from real people.

Many of the tips covered, if I am honest, are common sense and already how I live my life. However some of the facts around how much we waste in the UK were fascinating and I did find some tips really helpful. I give it 4/5.

“The average UK household uses around 500 litres of water every day and about a third of that water is flushed straight down the toilet!

#GIRLBOSS

Having recently watched the new Netflix series Girlboss all in one sitting on a Saturday afternoon (loved every vintage minute), I did some digging into what the show was based on and found that it surprisingly was originally a book. Written by the creator of Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso, this book is full of inspiration on how to become #GIRLBOSS.

Sophia tells the tale of how she grew her business from selling vintage on ebay to become a huge successful corporation. What I gathered from the book is that the key to success is to find what you are passionate about, combine that with what you are good at, and work ridiculously hard. This book isn’t supposed to be a feminist book, but from reading it, I’d say it is. I give it 4/5. I also give the Netflix series 4/5 (fabulous clothes and soundtrack).

“I’m telling you that you don’t have to choose between smart and sexy. You can have both. You are both.”

I hope you’ve found this helpful! Stay posted for my May Book Review…

Easter Weekend – Adventures on the Doorstep

I very rarely get to spend a weekend at home, nevermind a bank holiday weekend. That is why this Easter was very special as I got to spend it at home with my nearest and dearest exploring what is on my doorstep.

Despite having lived in the East Midlands now for about four years I’ve rarely had the time, or not made the time, to explore what the local area has to offer. This weekend I began to scratch the surface.

My Easter weekend started early as I took Thursday off from work for my sister’s birthday (HAPPY 25TH FIONA!!!!).

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We spent the daytime eating and drinking in Nottingham. I finally got to experience Annie’s Burger Shack which definitely lived up to it’s reputation. Annie’s has an amazing burger menu, in which every dish can be done meaty, vegan or veggie.

Then as my birthday present to Fiona we went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night at the Theatre Royal. Having previously read the book myself, it was probably quite a selfish gift. The play was a success. It told the story really well, making you appreciate how an autistic boy lives. I’d definitely recommend reading the book or going to see the play.

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We stayed over in Nottingham and on Friday morning decided to not waste the day away looking round shops at things we didn’t want to buy. Instead we ventured to the well hidden City of Caves. Who knew underneath the shops and pubs were over 600 man made sandstone caves?! I certainly didn’t until we painstakingly managed to find them. Heads up Nottingham… you should shout about this more!

After the Caves we had a nice walk up to Nottingham Castle. Again, we were completely unaware that Nottingham had a castle! It’s a beautiful area of the city, full of Robin Hood history.

Saturday was spent being productive. I did a 5k park run at Conkers beating my previous time by two whole minutes (buzzin!!). I then had a good ole spring clean of the flat. Finished off reading Dawn O’Porter’s The Cows (blog post to follow on this great read) and then went out for a couple of drinks in Ashby with Rob.

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On Sunday I took Barney out for a walk with Rob to Carsington Water. We packed up a little picnic and set out for a nice 8 miler.

Finally today I went with my mam, dad, sister and Barney to Mercia Marina for a walk along Willington canal  with a stop off at The Dragon for lunch.

I have thoroughly enjoyed a long weekend at home. I’ve managed to have a proper catch up with close family, get some much needed fresh air and see what the East Midlands has to offer. The rest of this precious time off work is now going to be spent eating chocolate and watching films. #lazydays

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If you live in the area and know of any other fun days out I can sample, please let me know.

Happy Easter x

Books

 

I love books. Always have. As soon as I could read I was onto Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Dick King-Smith. I then progressed onto Jacqueline Wilson, Meg Cabot and my favourite, J.K Rowling.

I would do my sister’s head in, especially in the summer holidays, “Anna dya wanna play footie?” and I’d always be too busy racing to the end of the latest Harry Potter.

Where possible I buy books from second hand shops or Hive. Hive gives independent bookshops a chance to be seen online and stay on our high streets. You can order online with Hive and choose which bookshop you want to support, or search for your local bookshop and physically pay them a visit. Their prices match or are sometimes better than Amazon, and their deliveries are super quick! My latest Hive purchase was HRH The Prince of Wale’s ‘Climate Change’ Ladybird book. Great pictures and a great message.

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So, as you can imagine, over the years I’ve created some collection. About a month ago I decided my bookshelves were too full and to donate those I knew I’d never read again to charity and get myself a Kindle.

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For years I had toyed with the idea of getting a Kindle. Even just for the ease of going on holiday, some trips I’ve taken I’ve ended up carrying back 4 books all dog eared and crispy from getting wet and then drying in the sun. But to me there was always nothing like a proper paperback book. Reading it, then placing it on the shelf, like some sort of trophy.

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Finally last month I caved. And it has to be said, I do not regret it. Since getting my Kindle I’ve started using Good Reads, joined online book clubs, found out what my friends are reading and set myself a 2017 reading challenge. So far I’ve polished off 4 books, and the battery is still half full.

I am sold. Having finished Shappi Khorsandi’s ‘Nina is Not OK’ yesterday on the train back from Manchester (I kinda shed a tear in public at the ending), I’m now looking for my next read. If you have any recommendations I’d love to hear from you!