Title: The World According to Gogglebox

Author: Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Canongate

The Blurb

Channel 4’s show Gogglebox has become a true TV phenomenon. In its third series, it has struck a chord across the nation. Millions of people are now addicted to watching the much-loved cast’s surprising and hilarious commentary on the week in television – and the entertaining and heart-warming insight into their lives and relationships. Gogglebox is not just about TV. It’s about what it means to be British – particularities, eccentricities, and all.

Whether it’s Leon and June you love, or Stephen and Chris you root for, or the Woerdenwebers or Sandy and Sandra who make you laugh the most, we all have a favourite ‘unit’ – and you can now read about their views on everything from Jeremy Clarkson’s size to the death of Baroness Thatcher, and from the best TV snacks to the most potent cocktails. The World According to Gogglebox tells you everything you’ve wondered about the characters and more.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic there has been one program that has kept me grounded, kept me sane and kept me laughing and that is Gogglebox. I came to Gogglebox late (series 15 – I know, I’m an  idiot) but whilst being on lockdown I watched every episode I could get access to (series 7 – 15) and I honestly could watch them all over again.

The book The World According to Gogglebox is brilliant because you find out at bit more about the beloved families on the show, their likes and their dislikes and you see the dynamics between the family and realise that they are just the same as they are when you watch them in your telebox.

The only negative that I can find about the book is that some of the more recent families and characters are not in this book. Therefore I think an updated version would be brilliant (hint hint!).

For a real tonic watch Gogglebox and then read the book The World According to Gogglebox because it is brilliant.

The World According to Gogglebox by Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris is available now.

For more information regarding Jason Hazeley (@JasonHazeley) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Joel Morris (@gralefrit) please visit www.ruleofthreepod.com.

For more information regarding Canongate (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.co.uk.

Title: The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

Author: Ruth Hogan

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: John Murray Press

The Blurb

Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, Masha’s life has been forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago. Unable to let go of her grief, she finds comfort in her faithful canine companion Haizum, and peace in the quiet lanes of her town’s lido.

Then a chance encounter with two extraordinary women – the fabulous and wise Kitty Muriel, a convent girl turned magician’s wife turned seventy-something roller disco fanatic, and the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice – opens up a new world of possibilities, and the chance to start living again. But just as Masha dares to imagine the future, her past comes roaring back …

The Review

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan is the kind of book that I would describe as a warm hug. You get yourself completely involved with the intricacies of the lives of the characters and after you have turned the final page there is a nice feeling of satisfaction.

It is a multi-perspective story yet all the characters have lives that interconnect. The main character is Masha is suffering with a loss however it is through her relationships with other people that she can finally start to let go of the past. These fabulous characters show her that there is a future but also a present.

I really enjoyed reading The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes. It was a heart-warming story which makes you reflect on any sadness that you are holding on to. It is the kind of book that makes you feel better – even when you didn’t feel like you were holding on to anything in particular. That is the power of Ruth Hogan’s The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes.

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan is available now.

For more information regarding Ruth Hogan (@ruthmariehogan) please visit www.ruthhogan.co.uk.

For more information regarding John Murray Press (@johnmurrays) please visit www.johnmurraypress.co.uk.

Title: On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back

Author: Stacey Dooley

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: BBC Books

The Blurb

Put yourself in their shoes.

In 2007, Stacey Dooley was a twenty-something working in fashion retail. She was selected to take part in the BBC series Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts which saw her live and work alongside Indian factory workers making clothes for the UK High Street. This sparked her series of hugely popular investigations, establishing her as one of BBC3’s most celebrated presenters.

Through the course of her documentary making, Stacey has covered a variety of topics, from sex trafficking in Cambodia, to Yazidi women fighting back in Syria. At the core of her reporting are incredible women in extraordinary and scarily ordinary circumstances – from sex workers in Russia, to victims of domestic violence in Honduras. In her first book, On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back, Stacey draws on her encounters with these brave and wonderful women, using their experiences as a vehicle to explore issues at the centre of female experience. From gender equality and domestic violence, to sex trafficking and sexual identity, Stacey weaves these global strands together in an exploration of what it is to be women in the world today.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I won’t lie and say I have been a massive fan of Stacey Dooley or that I have watched all her documentaries. In fact, I didn’t really know who she was until she did Strictly Come Dancing. What I saw there was a young articulate girl who didn’t seem to have any airs or graces and just seemed to be very real. I bought her book On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back on the strength of how she presented herself.

Having read the book and become aware of the things that Stacey Dooley has seen in her relatively short career I must say I am a little in awe of her. She has been put in precarious situations and met with the most dangerous people and she has shown great tenacity; she has met people who society have maybe shunned or disregard and she has got to the heart of them and shown extreme sympathy. I find her courage to not ask the easy questions amazing.

After I finished reading On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back I was emotionally wrung out. I felt drained. It made me wonder how Stacey Dooley must have felt living through the situations that I was only reading about. It blew my mind.

On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back is an eye opening book. I recommend it to anyone who has ever questioned the status quo.

On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back by Stacey Dooley is available now.

For more information regarding Stacey Dooley (@StaceyDooley) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding BBC Books (@BBCBooks) please visit the Twitter page.

Title: I Carried a Watermelon – Dirty Dancing and Me

Author: Katy Brand

Pages: 249 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

I Carried a Watermelon is a love story to Dirty Dancing. A warm, witty and accessible look at how Katy Brand’s life-long obsession with the film has influenced her own attitudes to sex, love, romance, rights and responsibilities.

It explores the legacy of the film, from pushing women’s stories to the forefront of commercial cinema, to its ‘Gold Standard’ depiction of abortion according to leading pro-choice campaigners, and its fresh and powerful take on the classic ‘coming of age’ story told from a naïve but idealistic 17-year-old girl’s point of view.

Part memoir based on a personal obsession, part homage to a monster hit and a work of genius, Katy will explore her own memories and experiences, and talk to other fans of the film, to examine its legacy as a piece of filmmaking with a social agenda that many miss on first viewing. One of the most celebrated and viewed films ever made is about to have the time of its life.

The Review

It was the coronavirus isolation of 2020 and everyone was stuck inside and it didn’t occur to me to mind….okay that’s a lie. I was bored (but safe and lucky). So I decided to read I Carried a Watermelon. The reason was two-fold: 1) I like Katy Brand, I think she is funny and 2) I love Dirty Dancing. I don’t just love Dirty Dancing, I LOVE Dirty Dancing. It is a love that a few people have. An obsessive love, a love in which no one can speak badly about Dirty Dancing because I will fall out with them. I got the sense (cleverly through the title of the book and the picture on the cover of Katy Brand brandishing a watermelon) that Katy Brand liked it too.

I Carried a Watermelon is a fantastic memoir – it is funny, light hearted, silly in places but overall it connects with the reader through this shared love of the classic 80s film Dirty Dancing. Brand walks you through her childhood when we relied of video cassettes with the threat of them being worn out or in Brand’s case hidden by her father, the depression – when the remake was made (I wasn’t as brave as Brand – I saw it in snippets, I couldn’t watch the whole thing). But through it all she has this really positive attitude and pro-women-gung-ho-ness about her.

I loved it. I genuinely couldn’t put it down and I am so very jealous that she got to go to the real life Kellerman’s resort.

One thing is for sure, I will not be putting Katy Brand’s I Carried a Watermelon in the corner – that was a bit tenuous but you know what I mean.

I Carried a Watermelon by Katy Brand is available now.

For more information regarding Katy Brand (@KatyFBrand) please visit www.katybrandofficial.com.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: The Panic Years

Author: Nell Frizzell

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Random House/Transworld Publishers/Bantam Press

The Blurb

The Panic Years: something between adolescence and menopause, a personal crisis, a transformation.

The panic years can hit at any time but they are most commonly triggered somewhere between the ages of twenty-five and forty. During this time, every decision a woman makes – from postcode to partner, friends to family, work to weekends – will be impacted by the urgency of the one decision with a deadline, the one decision that is impossible to take back: whether or not to have a baby.

But how to stay sane in such a maddening time?
How to understand who you are and what you might want from life?
How to know if you’re making the right decisions?

Raw, hilarious and beguilingly honest, Nell Frizzell’s account of her panic years is both an arm around the shoulder and a campaign to start a conversation. This affects us all – women, men, mothers, children, partners, friends, colleagues – so it’s time we started talking about it with a little more candour.

The Review

I am 36 years old. Well, I will be 37 this year and so this book, The Panic Years by Nell Frizzell should, in theory, speak to me.

Nell Frizzell is looking at things that society deems important to a 30+ year old. Things like marriage, children, and early menopause. And whilst I have thought about those things they aren’t necessarily a massive concern. I can see the reasons why Frizzell wrote about them and I admire her candid approach – at times she comes across as a little cuckoo and obsessed with time running away from her – but I think for me personally I didn’t mirror her concerns. I think The Panic Years would be a perfect book for someone looking for reassurance – in particular about becoming a mum – but it didn’t resonate with me because I don’t necessarily want the same things as her.

The Panic Years is well written and I think more books like this are needed. Women need to have their voices heard on subjects that are generally kept quiet and hidden and it needs bold voices like Nell Frizzell and so I admire her greatly for her writing and her honesty.

The Panic Years by Nell Frizzell is available now.

For more information regarding Nell Frizzell (@NellFrizzell) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Random House UK (@penguinrandom) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.com.

For more information regarding Bantam Press (@BantamPress) please visit www.bantam.press.