Review: Letters to my Fanny by Cherry Healey

Letters to my FannyThe Blurb

In this hilarious and candid memoir about twenty-first-century womanhood, Cherry Healey shares outrageous, poignant and eye-wateringly funny confessions.

“This book is a love letter, to my body. In fact it’s several letters – to every part from my brain to my belly. I spent most of my life hating by body. I forced it to survive on a diet of ham; I squeezed it into asphyxiating support pants; I accidentally cut my delicate area whilst trimming my lady garden. But now I’ve realized that it deserves some well overdue TLC.

This book is the story of how I’ve come to understand some vital life lessons, and started to love being a woman. I hope you enjoy it. Except you, Mum and Dad. You should stop reading now. It’s for the best. I promise.”

Warm, honest and heartfelt, Letters to my Fanny will have you gasping in recognition. (Amazon)

The Review

Firstly, I have to get this off my chest. I absolutely detest the word ‘fanny’. Much in the way some people find the words ‘succulent’, ‘moist’ and ‘juicy’ to be repulsive I find fanny much the same way. Unless it is used as a verb. I am strangely ok if someone is ‘fannying’ about but the noun ‘fanny’ turns my stomach and I can’t explain why.

With that in mind, every time the word ‘fanny’ came up in Cherry Healey’s Letters to my Fanny I visibly recoiled but I am nothing if not determined so I persevered; I am awfully glad I did. Letters to my Fanny (shudder) is a really funny, warm and entertaining memoir which exudes the message of positive body image.

There are some graphic descriptions of childbirth that, as someone who is physically terrified of the thought of going through labour, I should probably have veered away from (to be fair Healey did give a warning at the beginning of the chapter).

I did feel that some of the chapters lost its way a little bit. Sections of the book discuss feminism and the inequality of wages between men and women but then slips in to a discussion about diet made me a little sceptical. However, by the end of Letters to my Fanny I realised that the overriding message was just to feel comfortable in your own skin and that, for me, is a very powerful message.

I really enjoyed this memoir and – title aside – it made me feel good.

Letters to my Fanny by Cherry Healey is available now.

Follow Cherry Healey (@cherryhealey) on Twitter.

4 Stars

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Review: Remember My Name by Abbey Clancy

Remember My NameTitle: Remember My Name

Author: Abbey Clancy

Publisher: Harlequin (UK) Limited/Mira UK

Pages: 352 Pages

The Blurb

From the moment Liverpool teenager Jess stars in the school musical, she knows that she’s GOT to be a star. Fast forward a few years and the closest the now 22 year old Jessica has got to stardom is as a children’s entertainer – which is where she meets Jack, uncle to the spoiled 5 year old birthday princess, who spots Jessica’s talent and offers her a job with a record label. But that means that she’ll have to leave her family and her home and move to London – where she quickly finds that the streets aren’t quite paved with gold. And as she spends her days making tea for bitchy PR girls and her nights in a mouldy studio flat, Jessica wonders if leaving Liverpool for London has been a terrible mistake.

Attending an industry party – unfortunately only to serve canapes – Jessica’s fortunes suddenly change when Vogue, the singer due to perform at the event drops out. Before she knows it, Jessica volunteers to stand in and takes centre stage. After a dazzling performance, she is surrounded by people wondering who this amazing new talent is. What’s more, her star turn has been captured by the press and she has become an overnight sensation.

Plunged into the crazy world of glitz and glamour, Jessica’s life is transformed but as her star rises, she loses touch with her roots. Jessica’s teenage dreams of stardom may have come true, but at what cost?

The Review

Now, I may be biased because I come from the greatest city in the world but I do love a good book set in Liverpool. And that is exactly what you get from Abbey Clancy’s debut novel Remember My Name.

The story centres on Jessy Malone, a young girl with a big dream and who unfortunately has never had a chance to have her talents seen…except by children as she performs at birthday parties dressed as Disney princesses. Hardly rock and roll. However, a chance encounter changes all that and Jessy’s life is changed beyond comprehension.

Suddenly Jessy has to figure out who she is: Jessica, the down to earth family girl from Liverpool or Jessika the newest musical sensation?

The great thing about Remember My Name (besides the celebration of Liverpool) is that the whole “fish out of water” storyline reads so truthfully. You totally buy into the fact the Jessy’s head is turned by all the madness and that it would be easy to forget the person that you once were. I think it also helps that we live in a world of instant (and social) media. It is no longer a hard slog for a lot of singers who are plucked from obscurity and thrown inn at the deep end. Furthermore, we are allowed to see Jessy at her most vulnerable and (arguably) her most real.

Remember My Name is a really enjoyable read and it is a rags to riches story that really packs a punch. It is a must for summer. It is as essential for your trip to the beach as your sun lotion!

Remember My Name is a rags to riches story that really packs a punch.

Remember My Name by Abbey Clancy is available now.

Follow Abbey Clancy (@OfficialClancy) on Twitter.

Follow Mira UK (@mira_booksUK) and Harlequin (@HarlequinBooks) on Twitter and for more titles visit www.mirabooks.co.uk and www.harlequin.com

4 Stars

Review: Always with Love by Giovanna Fletcher

Always With LoveThe Blurb

Sophie’s got used to being the girlfriend of Billy Buskin, the biggest movie star in the world. Sort of.

But when she and Billy take a trip to visit his family in Los Angeles, she quickly discovers she’s totally unprepared for the chaos of Hollywood, the paparazzi and Billy’s controlling mother.

And when Billy extends his stay in LA, leaving Sophie to fly home to Rosefont Hill alone, it seems there’s more than just miles between them.

Now Sophie must decide if they can overcome their differences for good. Because not every love story lasts the distance . . .

The Review

Ahhhh Always with Love.

Always with Love is the latest release from Giovanna Fletcher and revisits previous characters that she created. We are reunited with Sophie May and Billy Buskin. I’m a fan of reading about the same characters. I think it stemmed from my childhood when I loved reading about Mildred Hubble and the girls at Miss Cackles Academy, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield in the Sweet Valley series and I loved saying hello to my friends at The Babysitters Club so for me I was overjoyed to find that I got to read about Sophie and Billy again. I had every reason to be. Always with Love is a sweet story that I finished in two sittings.

It is lovely to see how a relationship develops. So often in romantic literature the couple get together at the end to the chorus of trombones and a win machine so it is always refreshing to see the ‘happily ever after’ rather than just ending a story at that point.

Always with Love shows the progression of Sophie May and Billy Buskin’s relationship as they begin to battle the turmoil of a working relationship when things like family, distance and newcomers try to keep you apart.

If I am honest, during the first part of the story a particular story thread had me unsettled (involving someone trying to keep Billy and Sophie apart – that is all I will say so I don’t spoil anything for readers) and I thought to myself that it was just a déjà vu storyline from Billy and Me but Fletcher throws a curveball and quickly you realise that it will take more than this incident to keep Billy and Sophie apart.

What came next were the trials and tribulations that you get in relationships; Fletcher has her characters try and keep their love alive when they keep coming across obstacles. I have to say, she does it really well. We feel the anguish of both characters who are dealing with forces bigger than they are.

I must admit that I found Sophie to be a little bit difficult to love at times. I probably shouldn’t say that about the protagonist but at times she did come across as a little selfish. I only say this because I find myself in a similar situation as she does (although mine does not happen to be with a Hollywood hunk like Billy Buskin) and I found that at times she was a little uncompromising. However, the flip side is that I could see what she was dealing with ad empathised with her situation.

This all sounds rather cryptic so you will have to read Always with Love to understand…and while you are at it read the rest of Giovanna Fletchers novels. They will make you warm and fuzzy inside.

Always with Love by Giovanna Fletcher is available from 4th June 2016.

4 Stars

Review: Anne Williams – With Hope in Her Heart by Sara Williams

Anne WilliamsThe Blurb

‘Mum…’ This was the last word that 15-year-old Liverpool fan Kevin Williams spoke as he lay dying, one of the 96 tragic victims of the Hillsborough disaster.

Kevin’s mum, Anne, was not there to answer his call but she never let her son down. From that fateful day, April 15, 1989, she embarked on a remarkable 24-year battle to see justice done.

Convinced of a cover-up by the powers that be, she left no stone unturned in her quest to uncover the truth. It was a campaign that she fought to her dying day, succumbing to cancer at the age of 62 in April, 2013. Anne’s efforts had not been in vain. Just months earlier, a historic breakthrough saw the original inquest verdicts quashed, following a public apology to the Hillsborough families by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Her daughter Sara, Kevin’s sister, was with Anne every step of the way. Now, with the help of personal recollections penned by her mum in her final months, she tells the real story of Anne’s remarkable journey – her spirit in the face of the many setbacks and her defiant refusal to accept defeat. Anne’s final message before losing her fight for life was ‘I never walked alone’. This book is dedicated to everyone who has ever fought for justice in the name of the 96.

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

In 1989, I, along with my sister, was taken by our parents to lay flowers in memoriam for 96 people who had died at a football match. I don’t remember this, I was only five and in fact my first really knowledge of the Hillsborough disaster didn’t happen until much later. As I said, I was baby. In 1996, I watched the Jimmy McGovern docudrama on ITV and afterwards I openly sobbed for what had happened. From that moment on I noticed things about my city (Liverpool) that I had never been aware of before.

With the recent news of the Hillsborough Inquiry coming in favour of the families of the 96 people killed at Hillsborough I picked up a copy of Anne Williams – With Hope in Her Heart by Sara Williams. Anne Williams was the mother of Kevin Williams, a young fifteen year old boy who was one of the 96 victims. Anne Williams fought for over 25 years to have the truth revealed about what happened to her son on that fateful day. The massive cover up operation meant that the South Yorkshire Police publically accused the fans of Liverpool Football Club of causing the disaster taking none of the blame themselves.

In 2012, the truth was revealed (through Anne Williams and the other families tireless campaigning) and a new inquest into the deaths was to be opened.

Anne Williams – With Hope in Her Heart by Sara Williams is Anne Williams Story. It is told in such concise detail and with such heartbreaking emotion – in both Anne Williams’ words and her daughters. Sara Williams does her mother proud with the release of this truly amazing book about the resilience of one woman whose life was torn apart by the death of her son.

Everybody should read Anne Williams – With Hope in Her Heart by Sara Williams. It is important. The most heartbreaking thing about this book is the knowledge that Anne Williams passed away before she could see the blame apportioned to the right people and the hard work and the courage of her conviction paid off.

The world needs more people like Anne Williams. Justice for the 96.

Anne Williams – With Hope in Her Heart by Sara Williams is available now.

5 Stars

Review: Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

Every Exquisite ThingThe Blurb

From Matthew Quick, bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook, comes a heartfelt, unconventional and moving novel for readers who love John Green and Annabel Pitcher.

Nanette O’Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hard-working student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bubblegum Reaper – the mysterious, out-of-print cult-classic – the rebel within Nanette awakens.

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young but troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that sometimes rebellion comes at a high price.

A celebration of the self and the formidable power of story, Every Exquisite Thing is Matthew Quick at his finest.

The Review

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick has kind of left me speechless – and using the passive voice, apparently.

I guess I should give writing about it a try.

It is a wonderfully quirky story of a young girl, Nanette O’Hare whose life is changed when she reads a cult classic. She goes from socially accepted school girl on the football team to social pariah within days. She starts to make decisions about her life that are beyond the cookie-cutter print of expectation.

In breaking the mould Nanette has to pick up the pieces but will it be at a cost to who she is meant to be?

I thought Every Exquisite Thing was brilliant. It perfectly summed up the confusion of teenage life. It reminds us, as adult readers, how scary and how much pressure being a teenager can be. We too often look back at it through rose tinted glasses – the lack of bills and responsibilities – but remember that this is a time when we are expected to know what we want for the future, be planning for it and be so sure of ourselves whilst being a walking, talking hormone. I’m thirty-two and I still don’t know the answer to all of these things but like hell could you pay me to go back to being a teenager.

I think that is what this book does. It allows the older reader be reminded that teenage life isn’t that easy and the young adult reader to feel comforted in knowing that self same thing: life isn’t easy.

Every Exquisite Thing is a must read for fans of Matthew Quick. I would go so far as to say that this is his best work to date.

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick is available from 31st May 2016.

Follow Matthew Quick (@MatthewQuick21) on Twitter.

4 Stars

Review: I Loved You in Paris – A Memoir in Poetry by Juliette Sobanet

I Loved You in Paris PoetryTitle: I Loved You in Paris: A Memoir in Poetry

Author: Juliette Sobanet

Pages: 97 Pages

Publisher: Saint Germain Press

The Blurb

In this companion poetry book to her sizzling memoir, MEET ME IN PARIS, Juliette Sobanet gives readers a heartbreaking look into the raw emotions of a romance novelist as she loses her own happily ever after. From the impossible pull of forbidden love to the devastating loss of her marriage, and finally, to rebuilding life anew, Sobanet’s courageous poems expose the truth behind infidelity and divorce and take readers on a passionate journey of love, loss, and ultimately, hope.

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

I feel rather under-qualified to review I Loved You in Paris: A Memoir in Poetry. What I will say is that it is a lovely little collection.

It is not a form of self expression that I have read enough of to be able to feel that I have a valid point of view. However, having read the memoir that the poetry accompanies and having read nearly all of Juliette Sobanet’s fiction releases I can honestly say that she is a writer that doesn’t hold back.

I believe that I described I Loved You in Paris as a memoir that Sobanet had bled her thoughts and emotions on to the page. It is a stark and brutally honest account of a dark period in her life. So it is with this in mind that I can honestly say that I trust Sobanet has done the same with I Loved You in Paris: A Memoir in Poetry. I just wish that I was much more au fait with poetry to be able to appreciate this collection more.

I Loved You in Paris: A Memoir in Poetry by Juliette Sobanet is available now.

Follow Juliette Sobanet (@JulietteSobanet) on Twitter and visit her official website http://juliettesobanet.com

35 Stars

Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

The GirlsThe Blurb

California. The summer of 1969. In the dying days of a floundering counter-culture a young girl is unwittingly caught up in unthinkable violence, and a decision made at this moment, on the cusp of adulthood, will shape her life….

Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat.

Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.

And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.

Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?

The Review

The Girls by Emma Cline is an interesting story about a young girl growing up in California in the 1960s. The story follows Evie Boyd. She is your typical teenager: dutiful and charming but hides behind the desire to do the things that she likes – she is typical in that she thinks she knows what is best. However, it is her poor decisions that lead to a life of romanticised notions of decadence that lead her in to a seedy world of drama. Essentially, The Girls is about how being young and easily influenced can lead you down the wrong path in life.

Whilst none can argue that Cline paints a stunning picture of California in the 1960s, personally I found myself drifting during the descriptions of the vistas. This happened far too frequently. The Girls had too much talk and not enough action. It was really slow paced and I found myself having to work to finish the book.

The characterisation was good. You could sense Evie’s desperation to be a part of something bigger, to be noticed and to be appreciated. Equally, the lack of information about Suzanne helped create an air of mystery and intrigued you to read more.

However, if I’m being completely honest I was expecting more from The Girls.

The Girls by Emma Cline is available from 2nd June 2016

3 Stars

Review: Go Your Crohn Way by Kathleen Nicholls

Go Your Crohn WayThe Blurb

For Kathleen Nicholls, life with Crohn’s disease has been a constant battle against her bowels. But life has also been about David Bowie, dancing, and laughter. Go Your Crohn Way follows the highs and lows of Kathleen’s experiences, and is full of useful advice for maintaining self-confidence and positivity while navigating the world of work, relationships, and those conversations.

Warm and inspiring, this book demonstrates how Crohn’s can be life-changing, but not just for the worse. Kathleen gives advice and tips on adapting and thriving through Crohn’s, including a specially created phrasebook, which proves that so long as you know how to ask for the nearest bathroom, globe-trotting is still firmly on the agenda.

Full of fun and humour, Kathleen’s journey through life with Crohn’s disease will leave you – like her – in stitches.

The Review

Tomorrow (19th May 2016) is Crohn’s and Colitis awareness day.

I know this because in 2012 I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Before that day, I had never even heard of Ulcerative Colitis. Once I was diagnosed I was still a bit confused and it took my boyfriend (then friend) to say to me “Ulcerative Colitis…isn’t that a chronic illness? You’re going to have this for life” and it wasn’t until that point that the enormity of the diagnosis hit me.

Everyone with IBD has their own story. You can read mine here – One Year Later: A Look Back at My IBD Story

Go Your Crohn Way is Kathleen Nicholls story. As I was reading this hilarious book (and believe me snorted with laughter many a time…attractive) I found myself shocked with the similarities of someone else living with this illness to my own experiences such as my go to phrase “I’m fine” which drives the people who love me crazy because they know I am not, how I have invented a new normal e.g. what is normal for me is not normal for everyone else and, of course, competitive suffering.

However, Go Your Crohn Way is so much more than a memoir. It is a non-technical, non-scary guide.  It is perfect for the newly diagnosed and a fresh look from those who are ‘frequent flyers’ at the hospital. Having read other books to try and come to terms or get to grips with my own personal diagnosis, I have often been terrified and confused by the medical jargon that I don’t understand. I finish the books with more questions than answers. Go Your Crohn Way is different. Kathleen Nicholls has created the go-to book for the IBD sufferer and rather refreshingly for the family and friends of those who suffer.

Go Your Crohn Way needs to be on the TBR pile of everyone who has an association with IBD – the patient and the families. Go and buy a copy right now!

Go Your Crohn Way by Kathleen Nicholls is available now.

4 Stars

Review: Double Cup Love by Eddie Huang

Double Cup LoveThe Blurb

In the follow-up to his bestselling coming-of-age memoir Fresh Off the Boat, now a hit show on ABC, celebrity chef Eddie Huang tells a powerful story about love and family and what really makes us who we are.

After growing up in a wild first-generation immigrant family in the comically hostile world of suburban America, Huang begins to wonder just how authentic his Chinese identity really is. So he enlists his brothers Emery and Evan and returns to the country his ancestors abandoned. His immediate goal is to sample China’s best food and see if his cooking measures up to local tastes—but his deeper goals are to reconnect with his homeland, repair his frayed family relationships, decide whether to marry his all-American (well, all-Italian-American) girlfriend, and figure out just where to find meaning in his life.

The Review

OK, I did it again. I read a book based on the cover. I am shallow and love pretty covers. I hang my head in shame.

I chose Double Cup Love because, by the title alone, I got the impression that it would be a quirky love story. I wasn’t wrong. Double Cup Love is a quirky love story in the sense that it is a love story about a country and that it is in fact not a love story but a memoir.

For the first chapter I was confused. This quirky romance I was reading read like an autobiography but being that I never give up on a book I stuck with it. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I ‘googled’ Eddie Huang. Yep, I’m not going to lie to you folks, I had never heard of him. I did not know he was a famous chef. I didn’t have a jar of glue.

Double Cup Love, when read in the correct context, is actually pretty interesting. It gives a real insight into Chinese culture and the desire to find your place within any culture. Overall, it was an interesting read and a perfect companion to those who enjoy Eddie Huang’s cookery shows.

Double Cup Love by Eddie Huang is available from 31st May 2016.

3 Stars

Review: The Book Blogger Platform by Barb Drozdowich

The Book Blogger Platform

Title: The Book Blogger Platform

Author: Barb Drozdowich

Pages: 120 Pages

The Blurb

Book Blogging – One of the Best Hobbies in the World! Join thousands of book bloggers in expressing your joy of reading! Are you a book blogger or do you want to be one? Are you having trouble handling the technical details of blogging? The Book Blogger Platform can be a “user manual” for your blog! A book written by a book blogger for book bloggers and that answers all your questions!

The Book Blogger Platform covers topics such as: 1. What a book blogger blog needs to contain 2. A description of all the common features hosted by book bloggers 3. A description of the social media aspect to a book blogger platform 4. Over 25 videos that walk you through various technical tasks 5. Being Social – the social aspect of book blogging

If you are tired of always asking other bloggers questions Let The Book Blogger Platform guide you painlessly. Over 25 videos lead you step by step through some of the more difficult technical issues that bloggers face. Pick up a copy today and approach blogging with confidence!

The Review

I was really hoping that The Book Blogger Platform would be a really easy read that would make using WordPress a little bit more easy for me. I won’t lie, I am not the most technologically advanced of people out there. I wanted a jargon free (or at least a book that explained what the jargon meant) book that give me step by step guides on how to spruce up my minimalistic little blog.

I didn’t get that.

Instead, I had another book that bogged me down with words that I don’t understand and to be honest reading about something as technical as how to use a blogging platform is a little dry.

Somewhat ironically, the book comes into its own with the video explanations. Now those I found extremely helpful.

The Book Blogger Platform is not a book for the novice blogger. The technical side of things will inevitably scare you away and lead you into a panic. However, if you are a novice then skip to the YouTube links at the back. They are way more helpful.

The Book Blogger Platform by Barb Drozdowich is available now.

35 Stars