Sylvia Plath And The Haunted Reader By Gail Crowther; Review. *

 

Disclaimer: this book was sent to me from Fronthill Media, the publishers, in exchange for an honest review. I wanted to read this book, and asked to review it. What follows constitutes my truest thoughts.

As readers will know, I am an avid fan of Sylvia Plath ; I have been that way since about the age of thirteen, having been introduced to her via (the now defunct) Company Magazine. (Because wonders will never cease!)
There is a rather stereotyped image of Plath, which I think is now partially down to her committing suicide. But she was not just this image of a Depressed wife, seemingly stuck in  shadow of her husband, Ted Hughes. Rather, she was vibrant, seemingly dancing to the beat of her own drum; she wrote almost as with this electric energy. And if anyone sees me reading one of her books, they always raise their eyebrows, making ‘oh’ noises as the perceived content.

At the time of writing this post, I have yet to finish the book; I’m sort of muddling through, due to other commitments such as revision. I’m not sure I necessarily understand it as much as I should, in spite of the fact that it has been coached from an easy writing style. I’ll let you know how I get on with it.

I also think this book is quite radical in its thinking-in the sense of being a new way of thinking about Plath. Rather than being a mere academic subject, she is personal to every reader, meaning different, vibrant, and almost as if alive in our own heads. And I’m grateful to Crowther for doing this, as it’s a brilliant concept.

Score: 11/15

Click here to buy the book.

***

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Things A Woman Should Know About Style Book Review. *

 

Disclaimer: this is a proof copy that I was sent to review, at my own request. What follows is my own opinion. Thank you to Chloe at Carlton Books.

Remember Fashion? That very controversial subject-it raged over the fur debate, is still a major industry, and bloggers are now sat on the front row, complete with its own hashtag. One thing that strikes me about this book is that it seemingly does not like fashion-and prefers style as the alternative. (Jacqueline Kennedy had style, yet it is her ‘look’ that endears today. Fashion comes, fashion goes, which is the most notable difference.) So far, so good.

The further I progress through this book, however, the more I think it has a little bit of a snarky tone; there are claims such as ‘cheap clothes don’t look good on people over thirty’. What exactly are cheap clothes, anyway? Mine are largely pieces worn over and over, from places like H&M; I see nothing wrong with these. They fit well into my style of wannabe preppy student, anyway.

However, my favorite thing about this book is that it uses history to back up its arguments; the twenties and thirties had style-courtesy of Coco Chanel, who is then partially quote on one of the pages. And it gives examples of fashion by era-seventies, eighties, nineties, etc.

This book is ideal for a style-conscious friend, a fashion blogger, even as a Mother’s Day gift. Yet, I’m not sure it’s entirely for me.

Rate: 8/15

Click here to buy the book.

Revolution Review. *

Disclaimer: this book was sent to me, at my own request, for me to review. What follows constitutes my own opinion. Thank you to Chloe Moss at Carlton Books for sending me this! (I think it also worthwhile to note that I am not a Communist, and do not plan on any revolutionary activities.)

Revolutions are a controversial subject, aren’t they?

There was Mcarthyism, as well as the red scare, meaning that the subject almost could not be publicly addressed. As a form of semi-scaremongering, it was used as an accuse, seemingly. But this book is great for exactly that reason. It ignores the issue of the impact, and analyses whatever Revolution it’s talking about, thus relating it objectively. (For a point of reference, I have yet to finish this book, but I do plan to-eventually.) As somebody who is currently studying history, I find the disdain given to these ideas a little bit illogical, and the fact that they are often taught-as in, passing it down generation to generation-odd, because there is still some contempt. (Rant over, I promise.) But this is why I really admire this book!

Plus, it is beautiful when you pull it out of the casing-almost akin to a newspaper. Just have a look at this:


All the clippings seemingly relate to the contents of the book.

For anyone studying politics, even history, this is such a useful reference guide; virtually any revolution of the last century is covered-some I didn’t even know that existed. (Famous ones are also referred to-Castro and Cuba, for instance.) There’s even photos to illustrate, plus pull out documents-always useful for hands on learning.

My only real feedback is that this book is quite cumbersome; not only for its shape-larger than most books-the depth of details inside means that it is also heavy. (Imagine this at the end of the day: you have all of your textbooks, exercise books, pens, etc. But you have to additionally carry something else; it will get heavy, won’t it?)

Rate: 10/15

Click here to buy a copy of the book.

Mad Girl By Bryony Gordon: Review.

Now I must admit, there’s not a lot that I know about OCD. Having never experienced it, and having not met anyone who openly says they have the condition, all I really knew was derived from various blog posts. Hence one of the main reasons I wanted to read this memoir. (And I’d also seen some promotional images on Instagram.) Gordon was not somebody whose work I was familiar with-I had not even read her first book, The Wrong Knickers.

What really struck me is how much of a call to arms this book is. (Not in the literal sense!) Mad Girl really makes the case that mental health is just as important as physical health. It additionally notes how it is not necessarily taken as seriously as it should and could be-and that could potentially have quite diabolical consequences.

Following on from this notion, I felt really sorry for Bryony at the time that Gordon recounts in this memoir-trapped in a time that OCD was not as understood as it is today. Yet, what shines through is the real character strength-meaning  that to feel sorry s emus almost wrong; in spite of the self-destructive urges, used as a tool to seemingly blot out the OCD, Gordon has managed to write two books, marry, have a child, become a Columnist. This has clearly been no easy feat. And it shows.

My only real criticism is that I sometimes did not understand the language-what is ‘WLDN’, anyway? (I’m a terrible teenager.)

This book is a teastement as to why we need better mental health care. And I love it for that exact reason.

Rating: 10/15

Click here to buy Mad Girl. 

The Big Life: Release and Review. 

I’m a millennial. I. Am. A millennial. And I will always be a millennial.

When Ann Shoket, then the Editor in Chief of Seventeen (USA version), needless to say I was surprised, as well as a little bit shocked. (That was back when this blog was in a different incarnation-Noted In Style. ) Since she stepped down from her role, Shoket has been writing a weekly newsletter-something of a Badass Babes movement. Realitive to the weekly news, it has great appeal for people like me.

You want to go where the adventure is, go where the heat is. I can’t wait to see where my next adventure will take me!

-Ann Shoket, Mademoiselle Interview. 

Since then, Shoket has written a book. Entitled The Big Life, it is finally out today!

At just over two hundred pages, it’s a little bit short, but still quite an ambitious manifesto.  What is ‘The Big Life’? I guess a new concept meaning that you can make your mark on the world in whatever manner you wish-for example, be a stockbroker, and work the long hours for a future position, or even just to be happy. Whew!

Be curious and never stop looking for adventure.

-Ann Shoket, Mademoiselle Interview. 

What makes this idea seem far more tangible than most is that, apart from being based on Shoket’s own research, is that she quotes real women. There are imbedded quotes throughout, even interviews-such as with founder of Rent The Runway. 

I also love the unique selling point that for millennials, this is essentially a new world-owing to the 2008 Recession, and other factors, we can make this our own. And some are already doing it! (Rent The Runway being a significant case study here!) We are not necessarily the stereotyped version of ourselves-lazy, entitled, etc. (I’m sure we’ve all probably heard these all before.) It also makes me very excited to be entering into the workforce.

My only piece of real feedback is that there should be a transatlantic version; I don’t identify with my American counterparts is this respect, yet the idea could be something needed in the UK. (With Brexit, surely there’s a chance for business, etc?) But our economies are vastly different.

For the last line of today’s post: I am a badass babe. And we will be the ones to watch. 

Rating: 13/15

Click here to buy The Big Life. 

Radical Self-Love By Gala Darling. (Book review!) 

Disclaimer: This is a book that I bought for my own personal consumption, and has not been endorsed by any publisher. I am reviewing this for myself, and not in exchange for a proof copy. 

Ever since I read a post over at Oberjean by Jean about Filofaxes, having clicked an external link to Gala Darling’s website, I’ve been fascinated. Here was somebody with a very relatable writing style, a back story to listen to, and so much colour! For a long time, I’ve wanted to read her book-Radical Self Love-so I thought I could review this for today’s post. (At The time of writing, I haven’t finished it yet.)

First of all-and this will probably sound a little bit odd-but I really liked the feel of the book. It’s a paperback, yet it has a different feel to the average version-and is possibly more glossy. It’s also pink-as in, Gala Darling Pink. (Yes, that version of pink has to be capitalised!) Every time I look at this book, I can’t help but smile. It’s bold, ballsy, and just a little bit enviable-and differs to the average paperback in that respect.

To be honest, I haven’t finished this book yet-simply having not had the time-but at times it seems just a little bit too simple. 

One of my favourite sections has to be Tapping; I’ve heard of this practice before, but have always been a skeptic-“how can tapping a part of the body be at all helpful when you’re talking to yourself?” was my general line of questioning. But now it makes sense-to admit to yourself what you can change, etc. Additionally, the section on How To Infuse Your Day With Magic is just pure brilliance.

Gala Darling, thank you for writing this. This is part of a facet that I’ve found that speaks to me as an individual, and that I have come to admire. This book is brilliant. And we could all read it. 

What do you think-would you read this?

Lydia

XO

Click here to buy Radical Self-Love by Gaka Darling. 

Currently I’m reading: Small Great Things By Jodi Picoult.

 

Disclaimer; Kerry Hood, a publicist at Hodder and Stroughton, sent me this. I had requested the book myself. What follows is my honest opinion. Thank you very much for sending this to me!

I do love a thought provoking book; a moral dilema at the core, needing reflection, some sort of resolution. Jodi Picoult may have a formula-event, court, resolution. But, damn,  she’s good. Small Great Things, what I’m reading, is an epic read. It’s released today.

What I liked:

Two things, really; alternating view point and language. This is a book about race relations-a baby of a white supremacist dies,  with a black nurse ostensibly implicated for murder. Yet, we hear from her, as well as Turk, the man who lost his first son.

The narrative voice, through language, is also quite distinct. There’s clearly distinct dialect – Mamma for the nurse, the N-word for Turk. It’s refreshing to almost see it vividly before your eyes. I’m tired of ‘correct ‘ authors; those who censor words like that, thus skirting round the issue.

What I didn’t like:

Obviously, to make a book, you need retrospective forward and back flashes. It informs characteristics. But it wasn’t entirely laid out clearly-at times I had to really concentrate. 

Conclusion:

Can you #readwithoutpredjudice? I think everyone should read this. What a great book.

Click here to buy.

Review: The Whistler By John Grisham.

(Disclaimer: This book was sent to me, at my own request, by Kerry Hood, over at Hodder and Stroughton. What follows is my honest opinion. I am very grateful to her. )

 

I do love a thriller, really I do. I’m not familiar, apart from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. A book about corrupt judges? All hands on deck!

Two investigators are contacted by a whistle-blower, (hence the title), about corruption on a huge level by one judge. He’s on the run, in fear for his life; what happens next? Everything spirals out of control; there’s ambushes, murders, firings, cover-ups, and more. That’s how I came to read it in two days-eyes stuck to the page, wanting to read as quickly as possible.

It reminds me very much of The Girl On The Train ; an edgy read that grabs the attention of the reader at the very first word. In fact, I think this may be my new favorite book this year. It’s out today; if you know a crime thriller fan, or just want to escape the world for a while, I highly advise you reading this.

My only real problem with the book is that there’s a sub-plot between two authoritative figures in the book. It had the potential to wreck the investigation-and as a reader, I really dislike unfinished business in a plot. I would have really disliked that!

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Phil Collins: Not Dead Yet. The Review! *

(Disclaimer: this book I had requested to review almost nine months in advance of publication. It has been something I have wanted to read for a long time. What follows is an honest review.)

Who recalls dancing to a Genesis record, or the Magnum Opus of In The Air Tonight?

As soon as I read that the auto-biography of Phil Collins was going to be released, I knew I had to read it. (As Rock Fan, Genesis Fan, and Nosey Journalist/Blogger. Yes, they all deserved to be capitalized.) There was a wishlist I compiled for the release day, as to what I wanted read.

It is not what it seems.

An autobiography from somebody who has worked in music for over four decades; wouldn’t you expect to hear about this part of their life? In Boys In The Trees for instance, we have the origins of You’re So Vain, as well as Mockingbird, etc. You don’t really get this in Not Dead Yet.

So, let’s set the record straight; In The Air Tonight was improvised, largely. And isn’t about some dark accident witnessed as a child. It’s written in a sort of swinging mood about a subsequent Divorce. That is maybe a page and a half out of over three hundred.

It seems to fit a pattern, or rather, follow: meet a pretty girl, marry, see another girl, affair, and divorce. It just seems to repeat almost over and over. I know that this is somebody’s life, but to make a book this big, it could have been more inclusive of other events. So: specific Genesis albums, thoughts whilst recording, notable shows. This is in Boys In The Trees; why couldn’t the same be done?

But it strikes me how Rock infused this book is, almost as if it has its own soundtrack; there’s reference to Queen, Cream, The Who, Jimmy Hendrix, Led Zepplin. What a life. And what great music.

But I like the book more when it’s like this, such as with one self-deprecating chapter title: Live Aid: My Part In Its Downfall. I wasn’t  alive to see that show, and from this, I so wish I had. Collins is the only performed to have performed at both concerts that day-but almost messed it up, in part to the band he had helped get onto “the Bill” that day.

Candid in tone, I think this book suffers from lack of personal detail, as well as too much. There’s a lot about Collins’ divorces, and family life, his alcoholism, various health issues. But there’s hardly anything about his Genesis days-merely “I was on this tour, it overlapped with this album..” still a good read though.

I give this a twelve out of fifteen score.
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Not Dead Yet By Phil Collins ; Release.*

Doesn’t it seem, that more and more recently, there has been almost an avalanche of rock auto-biographies? The self-penned memoirs, I’m thinking of people such as Chrissie Hynde, and Carly Simon. The latter I really loved, just because of the language-it feels unusual on the tongue, and is immensely gratifying when reading about Simon’s life.

I also love a Rock biography written by Music journalists, as you can probably tell from the photo..


Today, Phil Collins, to coincide with a new box set complemation, is releasing Not Dead Yet, his very own auto-biography. Even if you aren’t a fan of Genesis, or of his solo material, in terms of history,I think that this will be a fascinating read. (Are there any rock fans reading this!?) Any way, this is what I hope it will be covering. 

1. In The Air Tonight.

Did anyone see the latest Genesis documentary, complete with a look at the solo careers of the four members? There was some contoversy about who played on it, and what it is truly about. Still, there are various theories circulating on the internet. I would like this book to really be clear, even clarify, who played in the original recording, what it’s about, etc. 

(But then again, many people wanted to see who You’re So Vain was about in Carly Simon’s Boys In The Trees. We got a glimpse, but not at all properly. Maybe enigma should stay enigma…)

2. Live Aid.

Phil Collins was the only performer to perform at both concerts-Wembley and the JFK Stadium. I want this book to almost replicate this, the very feel, of what it was like to perform, switch, race to the states, and do it all again. Because that must have been taxing, but surely so worth it?

3. Tarzan.

How did it come about that Collins wrote the soundtrack for the Disney film?

What do you think? Will you be reading this? Let me know in the comments.
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Currently Reading: David Bowie: Hero By Lesley Ann Jones. (Review.) *

(Disclaimer: this book was sent to me, at my request, by Hodder and Stroughton, in association with Mulcahy Associates. I have been wanting to read this for months, ever since it was announced. What follows is my honest opinion, unhindered. )

David Bowie. If you say his name to some, there’ll be fond reminiscences, having lived alongside his music at the time of production. Even if you didn’t like his songs, you cannot deny he was a huge influence on the music world. He, like so many others, played their part. (Freddie Mercury, anyone?)

In the run up to publication, I was disgusted by how much online abuse this got. For a gem of a book, that was shocking.

Lesley Ann Jones has been a Journalist, Biographer, Novelist and more; she is somebody who knows how to write, report accurately, and paint a very distinct picture in your head. I’ll admit, I didn’t grow up with Bowie’s music, and I was still eight years late to see Queen in their heyday. (Go on, work out my age!!) To read about his life by a great writer is something I am very much enjoying.

The introduction is immensely evocative; it conjures up the day, way back in January, when Bowie passed away. There’s a sense that this is the end of an era; music like he produced was on the decline. You haven’t got as big as rock scene these days. We have more R ‘n’ B, indie acoustic solo artists, and auto tune. It’s the same, I imagine, when Freddie Mercury passed away. Black star is revealed to be Bowie’s legacy, just part of a musical treasure trove.

This biography is also unrivalled, in the sense that Jones herself knew Bowie; she lived locally to him when he was still David Jones. There was also meetings at concerts, etc. There is almost an extra spark in this book; after all, what’s a better way to get behind the enigma? It’s a great tribute to somebody classed as a “Friend.”

My only issue was with sheer size, but considering the time it took to write, hats off to Lesley Ann! (I haven’t been able to take it round with me, as it has begun to occasionally hurt my shoulders.) That’s probably why I haven’t come to finish it, to be honest. But I will do soon.

To buy this book, please click here.

What I’m Reading: Happy By Derren Brown. *

(Disclaimer: I have been sent this book to review, at my own request. What follows is my honest opinion. Thank you Thomas Hill–)

If ever you think of Derren Brown, there’s probably a semantic field,relying on the theme of ‘magic’: illusion, hypnosis, magician, conjuring, etc. What I would not have expected was Philosopher. Which is what really makes Happy so utterly intriguing. 

Opening with a passage about a women who isn’t at all nice about her daughter and her looks, the implication is soon made clear: change, tell yourself a different story. And it seems to work; in my own personal life, that has worked rather well. I think I’ve quite suprised myself since.

The book deals with various things, almost as if to track different moments of life. My favourite passage is the chapter to do with death-and I atcually found it quite comforting. I only wish it could have been a little bit more balanced, in terms of aithesim vs relegion. It could have been less detrimental to the overall concept of the book.

Additionally, I also think Brown is far more inttelegence than I’ll be able to keep up with. There’s various tangents, references, etc. I don’t always understand, but on that basis, would love to interview him. 

Finally, I had also wished that some parts could have also dealt with anxiety, and other conditions. To try and be Happy doesn’t always work-if there is some underlying cause, I think this can be damaging. But then again, I have yet to finish…

What do you think? Leave your comments.

Lydia

X

Click here to buy Happy.

Review: Clover Moon By Jacqueline Wilson. *

 

We all remember Jacqueline Wilson, don’t we? The great dame of publishing has released a new book today; titled ‘Clover Moon’, it’s Victorian historical fiction.

Clover is the eldest of her siblings; at eleven, she’s charged with looking after them. She hasn’t been to school. And Mildred, the epitomy of ‘evil stepmother’, keeps punishing her-complete with a horrible gash. She decides to run away. The plot then goes from there.

What I liked:

It’s very much alive with vivid imagery; the ‘pa’ of the alleyway, a ‘rag’ instead of a China Doll. I’m probably older than Wilson’s target auidence – but , retrospectively, that’s what made the story real for me. I’m probably older than the target auidence, but that’s what nearly always makes a great book. It drew me in from page one. To the end. And I was sad when it finished.

What I didn’t like:

The historical inaccuracy! Yes, it’s fiction, but it added an element of untruth to the plot. Shampoo was not around to the fifties-yet a Victorian girl is taking a chance to revel in it.As a reader, that’s my only real pet hate about books-aside from bad spelling and fabrication.

Conclusion:

It’s atcually quite a nice little book-suitble for any eleven year old. Maybe it’s worth keeping note,  as a potential Christmas present.

Click here to buy from Amazon.
Disclaimer; this was sent to me by Jacqueline’s publicist, Naomi Cooper, for an honest review. What you have read is my honest opinion.

What I’m Reading: Black Square.

(Disclaimer: Jess Guillver sent me this to review, whilst working at Penguin Random House. She currently works at Little, Brown. What follows is my own, honest opinion.)

Since studying it as a younger student, I have come to love Russian history-exploring the regimes of the Tsar’s, or looking into the revolutionary days of Lenin. This is a memoir of Sophie Pinkham, in the post-soviet union era. With an almost lyrical eye for detail, as well as black humor, it’s quite the read. And any history student-like myself-could be reading this.

It also made me feel that I should be helping out just a little bit more: Pinkham tried to help out, in a Red Cross exchange, to combat the HIV and AID’S epidemic. Which, to be honest, I think was quite noble. But the levels of documented bureaucracy shocked me: HIV positive small children with no long term future plan; denial that there was even an epidemic; profit made between the exchange student places. It’s haunting, a book that’s read with no concept of time passing.

The Pinkham of this book is just so alive on the page. It’s almost as if you can see the Russia that she knew in your minds eye: people, contrasted by place and time. Beautiful.

If you would like an affirmative read, in a way, then this is the book for you.

Click here to buy the book.

Review: The Unseen World By Liz Moore.*

 

(Disclaimer : Jess Guillver sent me this, after a call out on Twitter. What follows is my genuine and honest opinion. Also, this was released yesterday, but was delayed due to Gail Crowther’s interview.)

For all of its twists and turns, I love this book, particularly for its languuage. Ada is a small girl, with her ‘school’ by a research facility, combining language and technology.

Gradually, her Father begins to decline. He wonders off, forgets, becomes occasionally angry. Even disoreentated. As a parent, it’s unorthodox to say the least. It was fairly obvious that he had Alzheimer’s. Yet, he has a terrible secret, one hidden away in a floppy disc. (Remember those?!) It’s a code, a clue to his past life. Ada will spend years trying to crack it.Ada is moved, because he can no longer care for her. And yet his last project remains, itching to be opened..

If you love a good mystery , then this is for you. Or even just good fiction, with an incredible twist at the end. Liz Moore has written a stunning book. And it’s now one I my all time F avorites.

My only criticsm is that it can lag, and could be just a little bit snappier with the plot line.

Click here to buy from Amazon. You won’t regret it.At all.