Title: Last Christmas

Author: Emma Thompson and Greg Wise

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Quercus Books

The Blurb

The perfect gift book, featuring the writing of Meryl Streep, Bill Bailey, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman, Caitlin Moran, Richard Ayoade, Emily Watson and others, to coincide with the upcoming movie Last Christmas, starring Emma Thompson, Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding.

When you think back to Christmases past, what (if anything) made it magical? Looking towards the future, what would your perfect Christmas be? What would you change? What should we all change?

This is a beautiful, funny and soulful collection of personal essays about the meaning of Christmas, written by a unique plethora of voices from the boulevards of Hollywood to the soup kitchens of Covent Garden.

Away from the John Lewis advert, the high street decorations and the candied orange in Heston Blumenthal’s Christmas pudding, this gem of a book introduced and curated by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise celebrates the importance of kindness and generosity, acceptance and tolerance – and shows us that these values are not just for Christmas.

The Review

I am sitting here on Christmas Eve writing the review for Last Christmas (I know that it is January the 10th as this goes live but I am trying to keep the festive period going). Admittedly, I don’t feel particularly Christmassy. Don’t worry, it will come. It will come later when I am in my new Christmas pyjamas and I have watched The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. This for me is what Christmas is about: being wrapped up warm and feeling safe and snug. Sadly, that isn’t the case for everyone.

Last Christmas which has been created by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise is a selection of tales from many different people, some celebrities others who are not famous but who are dealing with the very real issue of displacement and its creation has been to raise some much needed funds for Crisis.

The stories range from endearingly funny to absolutely heartbreaking and serve to remind us of how lucky we are and the true meaning of Christmas. If you are going to buy one book then please make it Last Christmas. The money raised from the book is going to help those in need.

Last Christmas by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise is available now.

For more information regarding Quercus Books (@QuercusBooks) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Everyday Sexism

Author: Laura Bates

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Blurb

In 2012 after having been sexually harassed on London public transport, Laura Bates started a project called Everyday Sexism. Astounded by the response from all over the world, she quickly realized that the situation was far worse than she’d initially thought.

In a culture that’s driven by social media, for the first time women are using this online space, now in 19 countries, to come together and to encourage a new generation to recognize the problems that women face.

In April of 2015, to commemorate the 100,000th entry, the author led a successful Thunderclap campaign that enabled the project to become the #1 internationally trending topic that day, gaining several million retweets to become the leading tweet in the English speaking world.

The Review

I work in a school and I often have conversations with students over the relativity of feminism and how sexist attitudes and practices still exist. When I try to show them real life examples I always tell them about a time that I was walking home from work, minding my own business, listening to my iPod when a man that I didn’t know stopped me in the street. Firstly, he invaded my personal space, poked me in the stomach and told me I would be much prettier if I smiled more. Thanks, random stranger.

It may not seem like much but it is this low level everyday sexism that girls and women are faced with on a daily basis. Everyday Sexism is chock full of stories like this. It is a compendium of women being subjugated to the toxic male gaze.

Laura Bates is feisty and will not stand for it. This book is for everyone who has had to deal with this kind of BS. Or for those girls who walk down the road with their keys pressed between their fingers just in case. It is just for women. You just need to read it.

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates is available now.

For more information regarding Laura Bates (@EverydaySexism) please visit www.everydaysexism.com.

For more information regarding Simon & Schuster (@simonschusterUK) please visit www.simonandschuster.co.uk.

Title: Breaking and Mending – A Junior Doctor’s Stories of Compassion and Burnout

Author: Joanna Cannon

Pages: 160 Pages

Publisher: Wellcome Collection

The Blurb

“A few years ago, I found myself in A&E.

I had never felt so ill. I was mentally and physically broken. So fractured, I hadn’t eaten properly or slept well, or even changed my expression for months. I sat in a cubicle, behind paper-thin curtains and I shook with the effort of not crying. I was an inch away from defeat… but I knew I had to carry on.

Because I wasn’t the patient. I was the doctor.”

In this powerful memoir, Joanna Cannon tells her story as a junior doctor in visceral, heart-rending snapshots.

We walk with her through the wards, facing extraordinary and daunting moments: from attending her first post-mortem, sitting with a patient through their final moments, to learning the power of a well- or badly chosen word. These moments, and the small sustaining acts of kindness and connection that punctuate hospital life, teach her that emotional care and mental health can be just as critical as restoring a heartbeat.

In a profession where weakness remains a taboo, this moving, beautifully written book brings to life the vivid, human stories of doctors and patients – and shows us why we need to take better care of those who care for us.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I am not a monogamous reader. I cheat on my books all the time. It is very rare for me to sit down with one book and pore through it from beginning to end but that is exactly what happened when I picked up Joanna Cannon’s Breaking and Mending.

I spend a lot of time at hospitals due to my Colitis but Joanna Cannon made me feel like I was a junior doctor experiencing the highs and lows of hospital life along with her. I broke down along with the author and I fell for patients and their families. I had a lot of respect for those who work in hospitals before (from porters to surgeons) but after reading this book my levels of respect has grown exponentially.

With the NHS in such a precarious state and with the lifeblood of it being sucked out by money hungry politicians then books like Breaking and Mending, books that offer real life experiences inside the hospital walls are more than entertainment. They are necessary. They are important.

If you buy just one book this year then please make it Breaking and Mending.

Breaking and Mending – A Junior Doctor’s Stories of Compassion and Burnout by Joanna Cannon is available now.

For more information regarding Joanna Cannon (@JoannaCannon) please visit www.joannacannon.com.

For more information regarding Wellcome Collection (@ExploreWellcome) please visit www.wellcomecollection.org.

Title: If I Don’t Make It, I Love You – Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings

Author: Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman

Pages: 512 Pages

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

The Blurb

A harrowing collection of sixty narratives—covering over fifty years of shootings in America—written by those most directly affected by school shootings: the survivors.

“If I Don’t Make It, I Love You,” a text sent from inside a war zone. A text meant for Stacy Crescitelli, whose 15-year-old daughter, Sarah, was hiding in a closet fearing for her life in Parkland, Florida, in February of 2018, while a gunman sprayed her school with bullets, killing her friends, teachers, and coaches. This scene has become too familiar. We see the images, the children with trauma on their faces leaving their school in ropes, connected to one another with hands on shoulders, shaking, crying, and screaming. We mourn the dead. We bury children. We demand change. But we are met with inaction. So, we move forward, sadder and more jaded. But what about those who cannot move on?

These are their stories.

If I Don’t Make It, I Love You collects more than sixty narratives from school shooting survivors, family members, and community leaders covering fifty years of shootings in America, from the 1966 UT-Austin Tower shooting through May 2018’s Santa Fe shooting.

Through this collection, editors Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman offer a vital contribution to the surging national dialogue on gun reform by elevating the voices of those most directly affected by school shootings: the survivors.

The Review

So the world is in a bit of a mess. In the year of 2019, Britain are still trying to figure out Brexit. We have a very dodgy prime minister who is known for having poor morals and scruples and basically being a blithering buffoon.

However, I am eternally grateful that I live in the UK. There are many reasons for this – one of them being the lack of gun crime. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen but in the UK you cannot got to a supermarket and pick up a gun.

In America, due to the second amendment – the right to bear arms – a rule that is outdated and in my opinion should be changed – the availability of guns and ammunition must have had a direct impact on the increase of mass shootings.

I read If I Don’t Make It, I Love You and was so saddened and disgusted that even after all the death of innocent school children that this rule hasn’t been changed. It is appalling.

If I Don’t Make It, I Love You gives real life accounts from the more memorable school shootings. These accounts come from survivors, paramedics, parents and siblings of those who lost their lives. It shows how the after effects of events like this are still so pertinent and that whilst in some cases pain eases with time it is never truly gone.

If I Don’t Make It, I Love You is a must read.

If I Don’t Make It, I Love You – Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings by Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman is available now.

For more information regarding Amye Archer (@AmyeArcher) please visit www.amyearcher.com.

For more information regarding Loren Kleinman (@LorenKleinman) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Skyhorse Publishing(@skyhorsepub) please visit www.skyhorsepublishing.com.

Title: Bookworm – A Memoir of Childhood Reading

Author: Lucy Mangan

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Square Peg

The Blurb

When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.

She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.

In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Bookworm is the delightful memoir of Lucy Mangan. It is a narrative of how important books can be in the growth of a person – emotionally along with physically. We see the books change and grow with Lucy.

What is wonderful is that this book makes you look back and value your own bookish growth.

For me, personally, it went Biff, Chip and Kipper -> Enid Blyton -> Miss Wiz -> The Worst Witch -> Sweet Valley Series -> The Babysitters Club -> Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging Series -> Harry Potter -> Twilight and now adulthood with a toe firmly dipped in the young adult fiction genre.

I love books about books they make me remember the reasons why I love reading.

Bookwork – A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan is available now.

For more information regarding Lucy Mangan (@LucyMangan) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Square Peg (@SquarePegBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk/vintage.