What I read in May.

This was a busy month for assignments, and of course there were two birthdays. I did manage to get some reading done though.

Firstly I read Fearne Cotton’s book Happy. A nice and relaxing read, full of inspiring ideas and ways to unlock what is going on inside your head.

The other book I read was Whispers From The Earth by Taz Thornton. A lovely little book of stories from our own culture, here in the UK.

Review of Comfortably Uncomfortable: The Road To Happiness Isn’t Always Paved by Jacquelyn Phillips.

Raw, real and honest.

A book that guides you to face off with your fears and issues and gets into the dark places inside of you, shining a light for you on your journey of self-discovery.

Jacquelyn Phillips has ripped open her soul for all to see in this wonderfully written book. She delves into ALL OF HER ISSUES, showing us how they had crept upon her, how she had avoided owning them, and then how she faced them and finally started working through them.

Jacquelyn discusses the various treatments she has undergone over the years, detailing her opinion on whether they are effective or not. This, for me, was very refreshing. Many books of this genre will suggest a certain treatment, but rarely do you hear if the treatment is a waste of time. Obviously this is the author’s viewpoint and will not reflect everyone, but for me, I think her honesty is much needed in this field.

Throughout the book Jacquelyn references her relationship with her Mom. This pulled-back the curtain view into their personal lives is heartbreaking at times, but also offers hope to people who struggle with toxic family relationships.

The book is in three parts. The first part is all about Jacquelyn opening up Pandora’s Box getting all of her troubles and issues out into the open. This section may be uncomfortable reading, but it is absolutely necessary for us to understand how the next two parts work.

Part Two is all about the clean up phase. Here she shares the letters she wrote to her parents as part of her healing process. Those letters are raw and emotive, and they certainly don’t make for easy reading. But there is something beautiful in her words that leave you feeling the release and relief.

Part Three is all about turning pain into power. As someone who has a chronic illness, Jacquelyn has not only used her emotional pain to push her on, but her physical pain too. This is not the sort of book that preaches, it’s aimed at guiding the reader to find their self worth.

Given the difficult topics discussed in this book, I wasn’t sure if I would actually enjoy reading it. But I was surprised to find that this was a book I actually did enjoy reading.

I found this book inspirational and would recommend it.

https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/comfortably-uncomfortable-jacquelyn-phillips

Review of Better Than Capitalism by Samy Barnat.

This book is full of sobering facts about what we as humans are doing to our planet. The information contained in this book offers plenty of advice, compelling arguments, but also hope. Hope stemming from the actions we can take to heal our economic, ecological, political and health crises.

The author uses clear and concise language so that he book is easy to read – everyone should be able to access this information. There are plenty of hyperlinks to help you understand why this action must be taken. The topics being discussed are controversial, but we need to address these issues regardless of how uncomfortable we feel.

If you want to look into what we can do now to save ourselves and the earth, then this book is a must.

Review of 365 Blessings To Heal Myself And The World.

As the title implies, 365 blessings. One for every day of the year. From my point of view this is a great book to help with a positive mindset. The idea being you read one of the blessings each day and it sets you up to embrace the positive vibe it’s created.

There are blessings for everything and everyone. From blessing your neighbour, to the nurses and the journalists. A blessing for a new home, to a blessing for food. From a blessing to have the courage to follow your own path, to a blessing on giving up the desire to control.

At first I felt it may become a little too God centred, but as I read on I realised the blessings encompass any faith, even those termed new age. This book is definitely one you can dip in and out of time and time again. In an age where positive thinking is at the forefront of the minds of many people this book is a must have.

Definitely recommended.

Review of Roar.

This book appealed to me as soon as I saw the title. Thirty short stories by thirty women who were sharing their stories, their voice with the world. I have seen some fairly negative reviews on this book and did wonder if I had maybe picked a book that was not as good as I had initially thought.

The stories in this book are all inspiring, not really in a “grab em by the balls” sort of way, but in a way that shows there is always someone out there who is having issues in their life too.

Having read through the book I found I was disagreeing with the critics, but that doesn’t make their opinion any less valid, on the contrary, it allows us to see that this book is dividing opinions, and therefore it makes it worthy of a read.

I didn’t have a clear favourite story, each time I read one I would think about how much I felt what that particular woman was going through. Then I would move onto the next story and the same feelings were evoked again.

Each story is thought-provoking. Each story touches you somewhere deep inside and stirs up a whole host of emotions. From the story about the woman who feels invisible to the story about the refugee mother who feels fear each time she takes her children to school.

This book gives a voice to all women who feel alienated in one way or another. This book champions women the world over, giving the female population a voice to be heard, allowing our struggles to come forth and challenge them.

It may not be to everyone’s taste, and that’s perfectly fine. My opinion is that I found it very thought-provoking and humbling. I felt a deep sense of respect for these women who shared their stories, albeit through the author.

I would definitely recommend this book.

Review of Not That Bad by Roxanne Gay.

This is a very difficult read. No matter whether you’re a survivor of a sexual crime or not, this book will haunt you in ways you cannot conceive.

The anthology hits you right at the core of your emotions. Each story leaving you feeling the emotions that the survivors all went through.

This is a book that is very relevant right now. This is a book that allows people who haven’t been attacked to feel some of what goes through the head of someone who has had this sort of crime committed against them.

Be warned, there are plenty of triggers in this book. The book isn’t graphic, it’s just highly emotional.

Review of Bloody Brilliant Women.

When I saw this book was up for a review I jumped at the chance to read it.

History books are littered with heroic men who have shaped the world we live in today.

But what about the women?

The history books seem to have forgotten about the women. Of course we know about Emmeline Pankhurst, Marie Stopes and a few others, but what do we know of engineer and motorbike racer Beatrice Shilling, whose ingenious device for the Spitfires’ Rolls-Royce Merlin fixed an often-fatal flaw, allowing the RAF’s planes to beat the Germans in the Battle of Britain?

Or Dorothy Lawrence, the journalist who achieved her ambition to become a WW1 correspondent by pretending to be a man?

Or development biologist Anne McClaren, whose work in genetics paved the way for in vitro fertilisation?

And then we have the women who paved the way for council housing in Britain, municipal swimming pools and humane laws relating to property ownership, child custody and divorce wouldn’t exist in quite the same way without these heroic women included in this book.

These trailblazing women, and many more, deserve the same recognition that their male counterparts were afforded. From the 1918 Representation of the People Act – which allowed some women the right to vote – through to the ousting of Margaret Thatcher from Downing Street, and beyond.

The book is a brilliant read, a humbling read, a read that will enrage you on behalf of these women for the way in which they were very often belittled. Bloody Brilliant Women was written using meticulous research with information gleaned from memoirs, diaries, letters, novels and other secondary sources. The author uses the stories of some extraordinary lives to tell the tale of 20th and 21st century Britain. It’s a history for both women and men. A history for our times.

I hadn’t heard of half of these women and that made me both sad and mad at the same time. Why were these women overlooked? Very often what they achieved, created, defended, fought for and much, much more was more incredible than some of the men who have been included in the history books.

The book is very thought provoking. It’s very humbling. It’s a bloody brilliant read and I highly recommend it.

Review of Thinking Out Loud: Love, Grief and Being Mum and Dad.

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When we think of footballers we think of arrogant men who believe the world revolves around them. As a Manchester United fan I knew that Rio Ferdinand was a very private person, so I knew that he was not your typical, big-headed, self-obsessed  sports celebrity.  When I heard that his wife had died I felt a wave of sympathy wash over me for him and their three children, and for their families, but then I didn’t really give it much thought after that.  Reviewing his book brought me back to that time in his life and I tried to recall what I’d read about Rebecca’s death at the time. All I could recall was that she was in her early thirties, and that she’d lost her fight with breast cancer.

This account of how Rio struggled to come to terms with the death of his wife and how he felt like he was failing his children gives an insight into a very private time in his life.  Some people may not appreciate that he talks so candidly about his grief, his inability to cope, but his message is a powerful one; what support is out there for grieving widowers?

Rio Ferdinand is a self-confessed unemotional person. As a professional footballer he  lived a very sheltered life in terms of how a household runs, and how to bring children up – in other words, he had no clue. Both of those tasks had been the domain of his wife Rebecca, but in the wake of her death he felt useless and unable to cope.

The book gives a little background information on Rio and Rebecca’s private lives, which I think is crucial in gaining the perspective that was intended when this book was written.  The picture that is painted by Rio is one of a dedicated wife and mother  who proudly keeps her home and children’s lives running like clockwork so that Rio can concentrate on his footballing career. He talks about how they had bought a property out in Portugal, a property that they had planned to spend many years enjoying once Rio had retired from professional football.  Rebecca never got to enjoy that holiday home, her life was cut short before Rio had retired, leaving him crippled by his grief and having no clue where to turn to.

Asking for help was not in Rio’s nature, but this was something he had to learn to do for the sake of his children.  All that Rio knew was how to be a professional footballer, The tools he had learnt to be at the top of his game were useless when it came to caring for his children, and this added to the struggle he was facing.

Talking about his grief, how he was almost consumed by it, how he eventually sought the help he needed, and how he began to move forward without Rebecca makes this a raw and often emotional read. This is not a feel good book, nor is it a self help book, it is one man’s account of how he struggled through the sea of grief that losing his wife caused. The important message within this book is that noting will ever prepare you for losing a loved one, grief is very personal, no two people grieve the same and this is important to remember. The book also offers information on where you can find help if you need to.

I don’t think this is the type of book you can say you have enjoyed, reading how one man almost drowned under the sea of grief that had engulfed him does not make for pleasant reading. The emotions are raw, the struggles are real, Rio’s experience is heartbreaking, but the aim of the book is to highlight all of the above and try to point other grief stricken people, particularly me,  in the right direction. The book was written after a television documentary had been broadcast about the exact same subject. It is a very honest account of how Rio sunk into the abyss after Rebecca died.