Title: Lessons I’ve Learned

Author: Davina McCall

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Orion

The Blurb

With her trademark humour, warmth and honesty, Davina McCall shares her life experiences.

“I am a work in progress. There are times when I feel in control and like I know what I’m doing…and there are times (quite a few) (actually lots) when I’ve got no idea what’s going on, where to turn, what to do, how to behave, and those are the times I’ve sought help!

I have been helped by some extraordinary people. I’ve been supported and counselled through my recovery from drugs and alcohol. I’ve been hypnotised to get me through my ultimate fears. I’ve read a squibillion (that’s a lot) of fantastic self-help books and I have shared and shared with the greatest girlfriends, and family of all time. These nuggets of wisdom have, at times, literally kept me going, so I thought I’d pay it forward and she them with you…”

In this long-awaited book, Davina McCall shares the tips and wisdoms learned on her ‘work-in-progress’ journey through life.

Warm, engaging, honest and generous, this book will make you laugh and cry in equal measure. Lessons I’ve Learned is the closest thing to a Davina hug and we all need one of those…

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

Davina McCall has been a staple of British TV for my whole life and I have always liked her. She is enthusiastic, funny and shows herself to be. A caring and compassionate person too.

I read her autobiography Lessons I’ve Learned and got a glimpse of the lady behind the TV personality. She is so positive, honest and expressive. She doesn’t shy away, in fact she reveals all of the colourful aspects of her life. 

To say that McCall speaks with candour is an understatement. She discusses her past drug use, her difficult relationship with her mother and the heartbreaking details of her sisters final days. I will admit that I cried as Davina McAll talks about her sisters illness and the impact hat t had on her. It was utterly tear-jerking. 

If someone were to ask me if my opinion of Davina McCall has changed after reading Lessons I’ve Learned  then Would have to say not really. I already liked Davina. If anything her autobiography has endeared me to her much much more. I am so glad that I to know the person behind the personality. 

Lessons I’ve Learned by Davina McCall is available now.

For more information regarding Davina McCall (@ThisisDavina) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Orion (@orionbooks) please visit www.orionbooks.co.uk.

Title: Dear Reader – The Comfort and Joy of Books

Author: Cathy Rentzenbrink

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan/Picador

The Blurb

Dear Reader is a love letter to stories and reading from one of our very best memoirists . . . a book to cherish’ – Nina Stibbe, author of Love, Nina

For as long as she can remember, Cathy Rentzenbrink has lost and found herself in stories. Growing up she was rarely seen without her nose in a book and read in secret long after lights out. When tragedy struck, books kept her afloat. 

Eventually they lit the way to a new path, first as a bookseller and then as a writer. No matter what the future holds, reading will always help.

Dear Reader is a moving, funny and joyous exploration of how books can change the course of your life, packed with recommendations from one reader to another.

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Last Act of Love.

The Review

I have a strange love for books about books. I love how writers express just how much books and reading have had such a powerful almost religious influence on their lives. I love these books because the authors of them could be talking about my own life and how books have held me under their cosmic power.

Cathy Rentzenbrink has returned to her non-fiction format explaining how books have been a constant in her life. How her life, growing up, her career choices have all been guided in a bookish form in one way or another. 

Even without the bookish element, Cathy Renzenbrink has led a fascinating life. It hasn’t been without its moments of sadness but it (and indeed she) has been inspirational as well. 

Another titillating facet to this type of memoir is ticking off the books that you have in common and adding the ones that the writer recommends to you TBR pile.

I really enjoyed reading Dear Reader. It is a love letter to books but also to book lovers. Our common affection for the novel binds us together. 

The Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink is available from 17th September 2020.

For more information regarding Cathy Rentzenbrink (@CatRentzenbrink) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) and Picador Books (@picadorbooks) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: Cheer Up Love – Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate

Author: Susan Calman

Pages: 262 Pages

Publisher: Two Roads

The Blurb

Susan Calman is a well known comedian and writer who appears on countless radio and television programmes including The News Quiz, Just a Minute and now Strictly Come Dancing 2017. Her solo stand up show, Susan Calman is Convicted, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and dealt with subjects like the death penalty, appearance and depression. 

The reaction to the show she wrote about mental health was so positive that she wanted to expand on the show and write a more detailed account of surviving when you’re the world’s most negative person.

The Crab of Hate is the personification of Calman’s depression and her vision of the notorious Black Dog. A constant companion in her life, the Crab has provided her with the best, and very worst of times. This is a very personal memoir of how, after many years and with a lot of help and talking, she has embraced her dark side and realised that she can be the most joyous sad person you’ll ever meet. 

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

In her autobiography, Cheer Up Love, Susan Calman introduces you to her Crab of Hate. The little creature in her mind that determines her mood and tries to convince her that the whole world is against her. Some of us have something similar, others – if they are lucky – don’t really have to deal with this sort of thing at all. If this is your first time dealing with  negative creature such as Calman’s Crab of Hate then you are in for a treat because if there is anyone in the world who can make you look at mental health in a different way then that person is Susan Calman.

It would be easy for people to say that mental health is en vogue right now. It is trendy to have anxiety and if you don’t have it then you are so behind the times or whatever. However, in Cheer Up Love, the hilariously funny and remarkably brave Calman discusses her very real and very difficult struggle with mental health and she does so with her trademark wit and style. She uses humour to present mental health as more palatable and maybe to encourage us to laugh with (not at) those who are struggling.

When I was reading Cheer Up Love, I giggled out loud so many times. It is so funny, extremely entertaining and at times really kind of sad. But overall, you come away with a sense of hope – for your own mental health because there are others out there going through the same thing and also for Susan Calman, you get the sense that she is going to be alright.

Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate by Susan Calman is available now.

For more information regarding Susan Calman (@SusanCalman) please visit www.susancalman.com.

For more information regarding Two Roads Books (@TwoRoadsBooks) please visit www.tworoadsbooks.com.

Title: Between the Stops – The View of My Life from the Top of the Number 12 Bus

Author: Sandi Toksvig

Pages: 423 Pages

Publisher: Virago

The Blurb

This long-awaited memoir from one of Britain’s best-loved celebrities – a writer, broadcaster, activist, comic on stage, screen and radio for nearly forty years, presenter of QI and Great British Bake Off star – is an autobiography with a difference: as only Sandi Toksvig can tell it.

Between the Stops is a sort of a memoir, my sort. It’s about a bus trip really, because it’s my view from the Number 12 bus (mostly top deck, the seat at the front on the right), a double-decker that plies its way from Dulwich, in South East London, where I was living, to where I sometimes work – at the BBC, in the heart of the capital. It’s not a sensible way to write a memoir at all, probably, but it’s the way things pop into your head as you travel, so it’s my way’.

From London facts including where to find the blue plaque for Una Marson, ‘The first black woman programme maker at the BBC’, to discovering the best Spanish coffee under Southwark’s railway arches; from a brief history of lady gangsters at Elephant and Castle to memories of climbing Mount Sinai and, at the request of a fellow traveller, reading aloud the Ten Commandments; from the story behind Pissarro’s painting of Dulwich Station to performing in Footlights with Emma Thompson; from painful memoires of being sent to Coventry while at a British boarding school to thinking about how Wombells Travelling Circus of 1864 haunts Peckham Rye;from anecdotes about meeting Prince Charles, Monica Lewinsky and Grayson Perry to Bake-Off antics; from stories of a real and lasting friendship with John McCarthy to the importance of family and the daunting navigation of the Zambezi River in her father’s canoe, this Sandi Toksvig-style memoir is, as one would expect and hope, packed full of surprises. 

A funny and moving trip through memories, musings and the many delights on the Number 12 route, Between the Stops is also an inspiration to us all to get off our phones, look up and to talk to each other because as Sandi says: ‘some of the greatest trips lie on our own doorstep’.

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

Sandi Toksvig is one of the few people whose brain I would really like to tickle. Sounds. Bit strange but she is someone who ticks all the boxes for me. She is smart, she is damn funny and she is articulate. Add to that the fascinating life that she has led (seriously) and the events – like actual world events she had a front row seat for and you really do have an interesting memoir.

However, Between the Stops is actually a lot more than that. See Sani Toksvig gives you a history of London interspersed with her life story. You learn so much about our nation’s capital alongside her own history and it is such a wonderful juxtaposition of information.

With Between the Stops you will laugh, you will get emotional and you will genuinely learn something new. I really hope Sandi Toksvig gets on a different number bus and releases a sequel because this was just a joyous read. 

Between the Stops – The View of My Life from the Top of the Number 12 Bus by Sandi Toksvig is available now.

For more information regarding Sandi Toksvig (@sanditoksvig) please visit www.sanditoksvig.com.

For more information regarding Virago (@ViragoBooks) please visit www.virago.co.uk.

Title: Me

Author: Elton John

Pages: 374 Pages

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company

The Blurb

In his only official autobiography, music icon Elton John writes about his extraordinary life, which is also the subject of the film Rocketman.

Christened Reginald Dwight, he was a shy boy with Buddy Holly glasses who grew up in the London suburb of Pinner and dreamed of becoming a pop star. By the age of twenty-three, he was on his first tour of America, facing an astonished audience in his tight silver hotpants, bare legs and a T-shirt with ROCK AND ROLL emblazoned across it in sequins. Elton John had arrived and the music world would never be the same again.

His life has been full of drama, from the early rejection of his work with song-writing partner Bernie Taupin to spinning out of control as a chart-topping superstar; from half-heartedly trying to drown himself in his LA swimming pool to disco-dancing with the Queen; from friendships with John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and George Michael to setting up his AIDS Foundation. All the while, Elton was hiding a drug addiction that would grip him for over a decade.

In Me Elton also writes about getting clean and changing his life, about finding love with David Furnish and becoming a father. 

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

Elton John has always been a constant in my life. His music was ever present – school journeys home with my mum signing Sacrifice (badly) spring to mind but besides his music I didn’t really know to much about the man himself.

I watched the biopic Rocket Man and I loved it so decided that the natural next step would be to read his autobiography and find out more.

With Me you get more into the nitty gritty. Whilst the film can represent scenes of Elton john’s life and to some extent show the emotion of the moment the written word tells you just how the person was feeling. It guides you, allows you to make up your own mind. You aren’t told to feel a certain way, you are allowed to feel things on your own terms.

What is brilliant about Me is that Elton John does not hold back. Even when he himself does not come across too well. He has led a fascinating life – at times  it has been dark and dangerous and at other times it is just full of brilliant experiences and epic memories. It is such a joy that he has decided to share them.

Me is by far one of the better autobiographies that I have ever read.

Me by Elton John is available now.

For more information regarding Elton John (@eltonofficial) please visit www.eltonjohn.com.

For more information regarding Henry Holt & Company (@HenryHolt) please visit www.henryholt.com.