Title: Notes to Self

Author: Emily Pine

Pages: 183 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

‘I am afraid of being the disruptive woman. And of not being disruptive enough. I am afraid. But I am doing it anyway.’

In this dazzling debut, Emilie Pine speaks to the business of living as a woman in the 21st century – its extraordinary pain and its extraordinary joy. Courageous, humane and uncompromising, she writes with radical honesty on birth and death, on the grief of infertility, on caring for her alcoholic father, on taboos around female bodies and female pain, on sexual violence and violence against the self. Devastatingly poignant and profoundly wise – and joyful against the odds – Notes to Self offers a portrait not just of its author but of a whole generation.

The Review

Emily Pine’s collection of essays Notes to Self is candid, raw and full of emotions. Within this small collection she talks about many subjects but the ones that stick out are her desperation for a baby and the ones about dealing with her father’s battle with alcoholism.

You cannot help but ache along with Pine and hope that everything works out for her. Whilst the topics are very sad and – at times – heartbreaking there is an overall sense of optimism that you have once you have turned the final page.

Notes to Self is a very good but difficult read.

Notes to Self by Emily Pine is available now.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.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: The Reading Cure – How Books Restored My Appetite

Author: Laura Freeman

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: W & N

The Blurb

At the age of fourteen, Laura Freeman was diagnosed with anorexia. But even when recovery seemed impossible, the one appetite she never lost was her love of reading. Slowly, book by book, Laura re-discovered how to enjoy food – and life – through literature.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I am fully aware of the restorative power of good books. I once spent nearly six months bed bound and reading my way through my bookshelf. At the time of reading The Reading Cure I am on a 12 week Coronavirus lockdown and I am consuming books at a rapid pace. So whenever I see books that extol the healing power of reading I will always be drawn to them.

What I found with The Reading Cure is a memoir that his heartbreakingly beautiful and a writer – Laura Freeman – who talks about books with such passion that I count help but feel compelled to read more about her.  If I am honest, I didn’t know who Laura Freeman was before reading her book but what I found was a vulnerable girl who was fighting a daily battle but also a girl that was winning. It may not seem that she has massive scream from the roof top victories but the victories that she had were very uplifting to read about.

After reading The Reading Cure I know I will be paying a lot more attention to the food featured in books.

The Reading Cure – How Books Restored My Appetite by Laura Freeman is available now.

For more information regarding W & N Books (@wnbooks) please visit www.weidenfeldandnicolson.co.uk.

Title: A Woman Lived Here

Author: Allison Vale

Pages: 192 Pages

Publisher: Robinson

The Blurb

At the last count, the Blue Plaque Guide honours 903 Londoners, and a walking tour of these sites brings to life the London of a bygone era. But only 111 of these blue plaques commemorate women.

Over the centuries, London has been home to thousands of truly remarkable women who have made significant and lasting impacts on every aspect of modern life: from politics and social reform, to the Arts, medicine, science, technology and sport. Many of those women went largely unnoticed, even during their own lifetimes, going about their lives quietly but with courage, conviction, skill and compassion. Others were fearless, strident trail-blazers. Many lived in an era when their achievements were given a male name, clouding the capabilities of women in any field outside of the home or field.

A Woman Lived Here shines a spotlight on some of these forgotten women to redress the balance. The stories on these pages commemorate some of the most remarkable of London’s women, who set out to make their world a little richer, and in doing so, left an indelible mark on ours.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

A Woman Lived Here is a non-fiction book focusing on the little blue plaques that adorn places of import in London. They signify that someone important lived at this address. This is a book with intent to highlight the many famous women (whose plaques are dramatically outnumbered by men) and how the contribution of women needs to be celebrated more. Vale highlights the disparity in numbers of these plaques whilst also reminding us to rejoice in the ones that we have.

A Woman Lived Here is only a little book, one I like to think of as a palette cleanser and you really are introduced to some fascinating women. It also highlights how sad it is and what a shame it is that there aren’t more women features in the blue plaque scheme.

Personally, I want to read more of these books. I want to know more about the women who shaped culture from Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham. I think Allison Vale needs to write more books of this ilk.

A Woman Lived Here by Allison Vale is available now.

For more information regarding Allison Vale (@allisonvpvale) please visit her Twitter page.

Title: Diary of Two Nobodies

Author: Giles Wood and Mary Killen

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Virgin Books

The Blurb

Giles is a countryman who relishes solitude. His wife Mary thrives in company and enjoys frequent escapes to London.

After thirty years in a marriage of opposites, Giles and Mary have adapted to a life of domestic misunderstandings within comical misadventures.

In The Diary of Two Nobodies, you will have the unique opportunity to discover, first hand, what occurs when a man who sees himself as a cross between Mr Bean and Basil Fawlty shares his life with a woman who identifies closely with the Queen.

Featuring original illustrations by the artist Giles, himself.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Anyone who watches Gogglebox will be aware of the delightful couple from Wiltshire – Giles and Mary.

I won’t lie to you, they are my favourite couple on the show and I won’t be lying when I say that I kind of want me and my fiancé to have a relationship like they do when we are in our 60s. They are just too damn cute.

Their delightful book Diary of Two Nobodies gives us a glimpse into the domestic life of Giles and Mary through one year. Seeing the same situations from two different perspectives, you become aware how they often fall foul of mixed communication. However, you see how much they truly love each other and how their marriage has lasted.

Diary of Two Nobodies is utterly charming much like Giles and Mary. It is a brilliant gift for fans of Gogglebox.

Diary of Two Nobodies by Giles Wood and Mary Killen is available now.