Thursday, 25 February 2021

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book in order to take part in a readalong with Adventures With Words. This post contains affiliate links.]

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley - 5/5
"Six strangers with one thing in common: their lives aren't always what they make them out to be.

What would happen if they told the truth instead?

Julian Jessop is tired of hiding the deep loneliness he feels. So he begins The Authenticity Project - a small green notebook containing the truth about his life.

Leaving the notebook on a table in his friendly neighbourhood café, Julian never expects Monica, the owner, to track him down after finding it. Or that she'll be inspired to write down her own story.

Little do they realize that such small acts of honesty hold the power to impact all those who discover the notebook and change their lives completely."

I love this novel so much! It's like a hug in a book.

A green exercise book is left at Monica's Café with The Authenticity Project written on the front of it. Upon opening, Monica sees a letter written by 79-year-old Julian Jessop who states that he has been lonely since his wife Mary died 15 years ago. The finder of the book is then encouraged to write their own message and pass the book on.

Monica can't get Julian out of her head and after learning that he is an artist, tries to get him to teach an art class in the evening at Monica's Café.

The Authenticity Project book is passed along and we meet other characters such as Hazard; a 38-year-old addict, Riley; a 30-year-old Australian gardener, Alice; a 26-year-old new mum and influencer and Lizzie; a 65-year-old nanny.

All of their stories come together in different ways and it is just a joy to read. We see each character come to terms with where they are going wrong in life while making new friendships and connections. The book changes all of their lives.

I love every single character in this book. They are developed exceptionally well and I especially love Julian and his eccentricity! I can relate to Alice a lot too.

I 100% recommend this book but maybe have tissues for the end! 

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

The Tao Of Bowie by Mark Edwards | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

The Tao Of Bowie by Mark Edwards - 4/5
"Buddhism was central to David Bowie's life, but he was a wide-ranging thinker who also drew meaning from other sources including Jungian psychology, Nietzschean philosophy and Gnosticism. The Tao Of Bowie condenses these concepts - the ideas that inspired and supported Bowie throughout his life and career - into ten powerful lessons, each with a series of exercises, mediations and techniques to encourage readers to apply these learnings to their own lives.

The Tao Of Bowie will help readers understand who they really are, clarify their purpose in life, manage their emotions and cope with setbacks and change. This fresh approach to the search for spirituality and happiness unites the perennial human quest for answers with the extraordinary mind and unique career of one of the most important cultural figures of the past half-century."

This book came into my life at just the right time. I, like many others, am finding this lockdown particularly hard and I am finding that I'm having more down days than up days.

The Tao Of Bowie is essentially therapy in a book. It is partly about Bowie and partly about you. It shows us how to go on a journey of self discovery using Bowie as a gateway.

Before finding fame, Bowie was about to become a monk, following the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Bowie picked a collection of ideas from the world's greatest spiritual leaders, philosophers, scientists, psychologists and artists and lived his life by them. The author uses these to compile ten powerful life lessons. 

The book is split into ten chapters, each with a sub-chapter; how it fits with Bowie's life, the lesson we can learn and then 'Your Path' which basically puts us in the situation and gives us activities and exercises to do. It teaches us how to meditate and builds on this as the chapters go on.

My personal favourite is "Change your relationship with your thoughts". This is a chapter I will definitely refer back to. I love the advice to see your sadness as a sad child or friend. Don't push that feeling away. It (you) needs love and attention.

Whether you are a Bowie fan or not, this is a great self-help book.

Friday, 19 February 2021

The Twenty Seven Club by Lucy Nichol | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

The Twenty Seven Club by Lucy Nichol - 4/5

"It’s 1994. The music industry is mourning Kurt Cobain, Right Said Fred have re-emerged as an ‘ironic’ pop act and John Major is the country’s prime minister. Nothing is as it should be.

Emma is hurtling towards her 27th birthday, riddled with anxiety that her idols Joplin, Hendrix and Morrison all died aged 27, and now Kurt Cobain has gone too. Will Emma be next to join The Twenty Seven Club?

Emma, a working-class rock music fan from Hull, with a penchant for a flaming Drambuie and a line of coke with her best mate Dave down The Angel, is troubled. Trev, her whippet, has IBS, and her job ordering bathroom supplies at the local caravan company is far from challenging. So when her dad, Tel, informs her that her music idol, Kurt Cobain has killed himself aged 27, Emma is consumed with anxiety.

Why have so many legendary musicians gone aged 27? Is there a link between the members of the so-called Twenty Seven Club? Is this why her mum had an affair and left them? And could Emma be about to join The Twenty Seven Club too?

The 27 Club is a nostalgic, often humorous, drug and booze-infused tale of friendship, discovery and anxiety as Emma tries, for once, to focus on life, rather than death."

A funny, laugh out loud read with a deep undertone.

It's 1994 and one of Emma's idols, Kurt Cobain, is dead. A member of the 27 Club. Emma becomes a little obsessive over this. Is it to do with rock music? Pop stars don't die at 27, do they?

Emma herself is 26 and is stuck in a bit of a rut. Her life consists of going to her local pub The Angel with lifelong best mate Dave, having some beers (maybe taking some cocaine on the side) and working a 9-5 job that doesn't challenge her. Her 27th birthday is coming up fast and she is convinced that she will end up in the 27 Club.

We learn a lot about Emma's family, her mum who cheated on her dad when she was a young child and that fact that her dad has been single ever since.

I love the political tone throughout this book and honestly, it seems like nothing has changed in 2021! Quote of the book about Boris Johnson: "Thank Christ he's a journalist and not a politician." Eek!

The reason I liked this book so much is because I can relate quite a bit. I listened (and still do!) to a lot of the bands mentioned throughout the book and it is just so my scene - even if I was only 2 years old in 1994! 

Although it is hilarious and I laughed out loud a lot, it is mainly about Emma finding her place in life, overcoming anxiety and coming to terms with a trauma that she experienced in childhood.

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

The Push by Ashley Audrain | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

The Push by Ashley Audrain - 5/5

"'I think she pushed him,' I said to you quietly. 'I think she pushed him . . .'

The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life. But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn't right.

I had always known that the women in my family aren't meant to be mothers.

My husband Fox says I'm imagining it. He tells me I'm nothing like my own mother, and that Violet is the sweetest child.

But she's different with me. Something feels very wrong.

Is it her? Or is it me? Is she the monster? Or am I?"

Wow. I'm writing this review seconds after finishing this book and I genuinely have tears in my eyes. What a book. This is one that will stay with me.

The opening sucks you right in it is hard to put this book down for even a second. The short chapters mean that it is easy to fly through too.

Narrated by Blythe and told as though she is recalling the story to her husband Fox, we learn about her and her family. The women in her family are "different" and probably not meant to be mothers. She struggles after the birth of their daughter Violet. It isn't how everyone says it should be. Blythe and Violet have a volatile relationship but can we trust everything that Blythe is saying? Is it the truth or is it HER truth?

Reading this as a parent, it hits hard. I can't imagine how I'd feel reading it if I didn't have children. As a mother, it can be very relatable. The hard times of parenting are written very well, even though Blythe's story is a bit extreme. 

Following the birth of Blythe and Fox's second child, a boy called Sam, Blythe has a completely different experience and embraces that happy motherhood until tragedy strikes.

Interspersed between Blythe's current story, we have chapters recalling Blythe's childhood with her mother Cecelia and Cecelia's childhood with her mother Etta. These stories are absolutely heartbreaking to read.

When I got to that end sentence and flicked to the next page to see 'Acknowledgements', I almost shouted "No!" I did not want this to end.

What a book. It is compelling, raw and visceral.

Trigger warnings for child abuse, self harm, the death of an infant and miscarriage.