#Blogtour Life and Death Decisions by Dr Lachlan McIver

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour – Life and Death Decisions: Fighting to save lives from disaster, disease and destruction by Dr Lachlan McIver. ‘An action-packed tale of medicine in the most remote, poverty-torn areas of the globe from a Médecins Sans Frontières doctor.’

About the Author

Dr Lachlan McIver is a rural medicine and public health specialist with a PhD in the health impacts of climate change. He currently works as the Tropical Diseases and Planetary Health Advisor at the headquarters of Médecins Sans Frontières in Geneva. Lachlan is an Associate Professor at James Cook University and is the founder and past Chair of Rocketship Pacific Ltd – an international non-profit organisation dedicated to improving health in Pacific Island countries. 

Lachlan’s work has taken him to thirty different countries, and he has published over fifty scientific articles and textbook chapters. He regularly speaks at international conferences on health. For more information, visit drlachlanmciver.com or follow @lachlan_mciver on Twitter

About the book

Lachlan was sixteen when he found his father dead on the side of a dirt road in North Queensland, Australia. He had suffered a sudden heart attack and died alone. It was this tragedy that motivated Lachlan to train as a doctor specialising in providing medical care for people living in remote, resource-deprived locations.

Lachlan’s work with the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières has taken him to some of the world’s most extreme environments from the sinking islands of the Pacific to epidemics and war zones in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.

In this no-holds-barred memoir, Lachlan recounts his experiences treating patients ravaged by tropical diseases, managing war wounds with drug-resistant infections, delivering babies by the light of a head torch, dealing with the devastating effects of climate change and narrowly avoiding being kidnapped by militia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Tackling such impossible problems day in and day out inevitably takes a personal toll. Lachlan is ultimately forced to face his own battles with depression, alcohol abuse and bankruptcy.

Life and Death Decisions is a deeply human look at the personal cost of our broken global health system and a vital call to action.

Review

Lachlan presents the good, the bad and the uncomfortable in this frank memoir. It’s not just a facts, experiences and accomplishments. It’s a stripping bare of emotions, of choices, and an examination of consequence of actions.

I found the most interesting aspect of this read was the way the author relates to his achievements. It’s as if it is a never-ending race to save and help as many people as possible, and yet never feeling a true sense of accomplishment, perhaps because the underlying trauma of a death he had no way of changing always sits on his shoulders as a constant companion.

There appears to be a lack of acknowledgement of his impact on the world and the people he endeavours to help and has helped throughout the years. The drive, the selflessness and often reckless regard for his own life and his close relationships. Even the last pages are a testament to how he wants to live life by example to change the path we have created, which is at odds with saving lives at this moment in time. 

It’s a remarkable read, perhaps more so because he makes the hard work and dangerous situations look like second nature. It is food for thought – small steps for some of us, which will lead to bigger ones.

Buy Life and Death Decisions at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Endeavour pub date 1 Sept. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

Blogtour #Audiobook Women Like Us: A Memoir by Amanda Prowse

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour for the Audiobook – Women Like Us: A Memoir by Amanda Prowse.

About the Author

Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author whose twenty-six novels, non-fiction title and seven novellas have been published in dozens of languages around the world. Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres. Her books, including the chart topping No.1 titles What Have I Done?, Perfect Daughter, My Husband’s Wife, The Girl in the Corner and The Things I Know have sold millions of copies across the globe.

A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda is a regular panellist on Channel 5’s ‘The Jeremy Vine Show’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She also makes countless guest appearances on BBC national independent Radio stations including LBC and Talk FM, where she is well known for her insightful observations and her infectious humour. Described by the Daily Mail as ‘The queen of family drama’ Amanda’s novel, A Mother’s Story won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the year Award while Perfect Daughter was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016. Follow @MrsAmandaProwse on Twitter

About the book

Amanda Prowse has built a bestselling career on the lives of fictional women. Now she turns the pen on her own life. From her childhood, where there was no blueprint for success, to building a career as a bestselling novelist against all odds, Amanda Prowse explores what it means to be a woman in a world where popularity, slimness, beauty and youth are currency – and how she overcame all of that to forge her own path to happiness.

Sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious and always entirely relatable, Prowse details her early struggles with self-esteem and how she coped with the frustrating expectations others had of how she should live. Most poignantly, she delves into her toxic relationship with food, the hardest addiction she has ever known, and how she journeyed out the other side.

One of the most candid memoirs you’re ever likely to read, Women Like Us provides welcome insight into how it is possible – against the odds – to overcome insecurity, body consciousness and the ubiquitous imposter syndrome to find happiness and success, from a woman who’s done it all, and then some

Review

I thought it was interesting how Amanda simultaneously gives the reader, the audience, this trifecta of reasoning and emotion that pings off itself. Acknowledging the truth of her family, upbringing and all the nuances of the working class background and feeling the societal guilt the world (very much a British thing, sorry) forces into our very psyche at the same time. You’re supposed to feel inferior and as if those around you are too. Somehow feel ashamed for who you are.

When you take that invisible burden and it is weighed down by layers of remarks and what people like to refer to as banter, however the way the target receives it can be completely different. In this case it has created a foundation of almost self-loathing and doubt, which leads to seeking comfort in external sources.

It’s a frank and open dialogue about herself and her life, one that is a rollercoaster of emotions. As a reader you go on that ride and often find correlation in situations, thoughts and experiences. It’s brave to open yourself up in such a way, even if it is a self-examination of sorts. It’s definitely an audiobook I would recommend to others.

On a side note – the author narrates the story herself and does so extremely well, but what I wanted to mentioned is what a perfect voice for audio she has – deliciously soothing with a hint of sultry. Combined with her story, which I think most women will be able to relate to in one way or another, it makes it such an easy listening experience.

Buy Women Like Us at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher – Audible UK: pub date: 6th September 2022 | Paperback: £8.99. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Audible Uk.

Listening Length – 12 hours and 16 minutes, Author – Amanda Prowse, Narrator – Amanda Prowse, Audible.co.uk Release Date – 06 September 2022, Publisher – Brilliance Audio, Program Type – Audiobook, Version – Unabridged, Language –  English.

#BlogTour Through a Vet’s Eyes by Dr Sean Wensley

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Through a Vet’s Eyes: How We Can Choose a Better Life for Animals by Dr Sean Wensley. With foreword by Miranda Krestovnikoff, RSPB President.

About the Author

Dr Sean Wensley is an award-winning UK veterinarian and recent President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA). He chairs the Animal Welfare Working Group of the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), which represents veterinary organisations from 40 European countries.

Sean has contributed to animal welfare and conservation projects around the world and in 2017 received the inaugural World Veterinary Association (WVA) Global Animal Welfare Award for Europe. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and is Senior Veterinary Surgeon for Communication and Education at the national UK veterinary charity, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA). 

His media appearances include BBC Radio 4 Today, BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine and The Big Questions. Follow @SeanWensley on Twitter

About the book

Dr Sean Wensley is an award-winning vet and lifelong naturalist who has contributed to animal welfare and conservation projects all over the world. His debut book is about how we can choose a better life for animals, from the chickens we eat to the pets we keep.

As our societies become more urbanised, we are further removed from the reality of where and how our food is produced. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the humanisation of our pets is a risk to their welfare; with 60% of UK dogs being overweight or obese, we are effectively killing them with kindness. Through a Vet’s Eyes seeks to redress this imbalance so that we see all animals as thinking, feeling beings not dissimilar to ourselves. 

There is high public and political interest in animal welfare, with current attention focused on high-profile topics such as animal sentience, humane and sustainable global agriculture and breeding pets, such as flat-faced dogs, for looks over health. To fully consider and improve the lives of animals, evidence-based information is needed to help us all understand these issues, what they mean from the animals’ perspectives and what we can all do to help.

A polemic with elements of memoir and nature writing, the book takes us through the years in which Sean trained to become a vet and shares his first-hand experience of how animals are treated and used for our benefit. It interrogates the different levels of welfare afforded to them and reveals how we, as consumers and informed citizens, can reduce our animal welfare footprint through the choices we make every single day.

Review

– Reported surveys have suggested that 1 in 4 UK adults don’t know that bacon comes from pigs. – Pretty mindboggling. Have we become so distanced from the concept of animals as a food source that we no longer wish to acknowledge the meat we consume are in fact carcasses of animals. Is that why it is so easy to push the mass production, the inhumane transportation and slaughtering to the back of our minds.

It is possible to put pressure on governments and they in turn on the corporate world to demand accountability in regard to animal welfare, production systems that minimise suffering instead of putting maximisation and profit at the forefront to compete with national and international markets.

This book is so much more than our moral conscience in regard to the world of wildlife and animals, indeed the world we inhabit. It is also a love song to the beauty we are surrounded by, especially the variety of species and life we tend to only acknowledge on the periphery or during a short moment of admiration. 

I think that’s what I loved about it the most, the passion and the way the author embraces every single aspect of movement, sights and interactions. Taking more than just a Kodak moment of the space we are in, more than just a second to remember the joy is often in the small gestures and experiences.

In a way it’s a book that reminds us of the importance of remembering living beings deserve to be treated with compassion, but without doing it in a preachy flag waving manner, and simultaneously being a love letter to all creatures great and small.

Buy Through a Vet’s Eyes at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Gaia pub date 28th April 2022 | £20.00. Buy at Amazon comAt Octopus books.

#BlogTour Trouble: A memoir by Marise Gaughan

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Trouble by Marise Gaughan – a stunning literary memoir from an exceptional Irish writer and comedian.

About the Author

Marise Gaughan was born in Dublin in 1991, and began doing stand-up in the open mic nights of Los Angeles in 2016. Now living in London, she continues to perform in all the major UK and Irish clubs and festivals. 

Her award-winning debut show ‘Drowning’ premiered at the Dublin Fringe festival in 2018 and was awarded the Women’s Irish Network Arts Bursary. Se presented a weekly radio segment on Ireland’s lyric.fm during lockdown that the Irish Times called ‘edgy, honest and funny’. This is her first book. Visit marisegaughan.com

About the book

Marise was nine when she first realised there was trouble, 14 when her Dad tried to end it all, and 23 when he finally succeeded.

In a turmoil of conflicting emotions Marise, the child who is left behind, runs – from Dublin to Amsterdam to Los Angeles, leaving a trail of sex and self-destruction in her wake. Until finally, she finds herself facing what she’s become in a California psych ward, a girl imploding through trying to make sense of her father’s suicide.

In this brave and powerful memoir Marise retells her unravelling, from child to adult, she strips back her identity and her relationship with her father, layer by layer, until she starts to understand how to live with him, years after he has gone.

Written beautifully, with wit and unflinching honesty, Marise has produced one of the most profound coming-of-age memoirs of recent years, a stunning new voice in Irish writing.

Review

If you read a lot of memoirs and biographies, then you will know the difference between a memoir written with boundaries and one without. Boundaries can mean holding back for friends, family or even yourself, and there can even be a certain level of dissociation. Then there are memoirs like this one that are so open, brusque and frank, that the reader can feel all ranges of the emotions acutely.

The author reveals her journey from childhood to young adult, and the impact her relationship with her father and his subsequent suicide has on her. Coming to terms with her anger, disappointment and lack of control over the his actions, takes its toll on her and the relationships she cultivates. It’s sometimes a hard journey to comprehend that your parent may have trauma, mental health issues that lead to destructive coping mechanisms.

I had to remind myself that there is such a thing as cultural divide when it comes to the interactions between parent and child in this book – Irish banter is very much a thing unto itself. It makes snark look like high-profile sniping. In the context of this family it is also what the family feels comfortable with, where perhaps others wouldn’t.

The author has no filter, which means it can often be crude, explicit and viscerally challenging. In the same breathe it is also extremely honest, which could mean the difference between someone taking something away from this or nothing at all. I thought it was exceptional – a deep dive that will hopefully lead to some peace and healing.

Buy Trouble at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Monoray, pub date 7th April 2022 | Hardback | £12.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour My Own Worst Enemy by Robert Edric

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour My Own Worst Enemy by Robert Edric.

About the Author

Robert Edric was born in 1956. His novels include Winter Garden (James Tait Black Prize winner, 1986), A New Ice Age (Guardian Prize Runner-up, 1986), The Book of the Heathen (W H Smith Literary Award, 2000), Peacetime and Gathering the Water (both Booker Prize-longlisted) and In Zodiac Light, shortlisted for the 2010 International IMPAC award. He lives in Yorkshire.

About the book

Robert Edric is a widely celebrated novelist, winner of the James Tait Black Prize and W H Smith Literary Award, and with nominations from the Booker Prize and Guardian Prize. He now applies his trademark candour to his first wry, honest and moving memoir of a now-vanished era of working-class 1960s Sheffield.

My Own Worst Enemy explores the relationship between a touchy, overbearing and tragicomic bully of a father and a son whose acceptance to grammar school puts him on another track entirely.

In clear-eyed but compassionate prose, Robert Edric vividly depicts this lost era of working-men’s clubs; of tight-knit communities in factory towns; and of a time when a woman’s place was only in the home. He brings to colourful life his family, both immediate and extended – over which hovers the barely-repressed frustration and anger of his own father.

My Own Worst Enemy is a brilliantly specific portrait of both a particular time and place and a universal story of childhood and family, and the ways they can go right or wrong.

Review

I think it’s important to view the minutiae of Edric’s relationship with his father and his roots from a broader perspective. When you grow up in working class surroundings in a working class family and endeavour to ‘better’ yourself, and I say that with the greatest irony, because the class structures determine that view of course, stepping outside of your circle and into a different one comes with certain advantages and disadvantages. 

A working class boy who rises from one class to another through an academic path, thereby possibly entering the middle class, upper middle or even upper – he enters a complex structure which closes and opens doors. The structure is also an unforgiving master. The working class no longer accepts the person who has entered the upper level, and the next circle will never fully accept the working class boy as one of their own.

It helps make sense of the fractious relationships and perhaps give a different slant on things. I’ve read the Guardian’s elitist incomprehensible fawning, but then perhaps you have to have lived or seen it to make the right connections. Of course, in the end the only person who can talk with any authority on his memoir is Edric – I do wonder what his father’s view on everything would be. 

The father who saw his son as the emerging elitist, the person looking down on him, instead of being proud of the accomplishments. Instead of acknowledging the drive and intellect, the aforementioned becomes the grain of sand in the eye that irritates on a constant basis. Of course that doesn’t negate any pre-existing predilection to abuse those you allegedly love and care for, it just adds fuel to the inner anger. 

I found the emotional disassociation in the memoir quite interesting, but then perhaps that is a coping mechanism learnt very early on to deal with the contentious and dysfunctional relationship between father and son – one that still looms over him at times.

It’s a dry, factual account of someone dipping into their beginnings. An attempt at closure, to comprehend, and of course give readers the key to the man behind many excellent reads.

Buy My Own Worst Enemy at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Swift Press pub date 24 Feb. 2022. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Swift Press.

#BlogTour Clothes… and Other Things that Matter by Alexandra Shulman

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour Clothes…and Other Things that Matter by Alexandra Shulman

About the Author

Alexandra Shulman is a journalist, consultant and commentator. She was Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue from 1992–2017, the magazine’s longest serving editor. She has been Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and is an honorary fellow of the University of the Arts. She won 2017 Periodical Publisher’s Association Editor’s Editor Award and The Drapers Award 2017 for Outstanding Contribution to Fashion. 

She is Vice President of The London Library and was awarded the CBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List. She has a weekly column in the Mail on Sunday, is a contributor to other national newspapers and has written two novels: Can We Still Be Friends? (2012) and The Parrots (2015). Inside Vogue: The Diary of My 100th Year was published by Fig Tree in October 2016 and sold more than 30,000 copies in hardback and paperback (Nielsen TCM). Alexandra was featured in a three-part primetime BBC series on Vogue’s centenary year in 2016. Follow @AShulman2 on Twitter, 

About the book 

In Clothes… and other things that matter, Alexandra Shulman delves into her own life to look at the emotions, ambitions, expectations and meanings behind the way we dress. From the bra to the bikini, the trench coat to trainers, the slip dress to the suit, she explores their meaning in women’s lives and how our wardrobes intersect with the larger world – the career ladder, motherhood, romance, sexual identity, ambition, failure, body image and celebrity.

By turns funny, refreshingly self-deprecating and often very moving, this startlingly honest memoir from the ex-Editor of British Vogue will encourage women of all ages to consider what their own clothes mean to them, the life they live in them and the stories they tell. Shulman explores the person our clothes allow us to be – and sometimes the person they turn us into.

Review

Not sure how many other bookworms do this, but I often think about who I am going to recommend a book to, both during and after the read. For the majority of books it’s not hard, and I love it when I can introduce someone to a genre or author they might not have ever considered reading. I think this book is more than just a lifetime of experiences or a history of fashion viewed through a leader and influencer in the world of clothes and fashion.

You can feel the awe, emotions and pride Shulman feels when she speaks about certain combinations, outfits, pieces and also accessories, such as bags and jewellery. Then she connects the aforementioned with our sense of self, being, our presence and statement to the world.

It made me think about my own relationship with clothes, which if I am quite honest has been two things – a way to define my individuality and my reluctance to conform to the norm and fashion trends has been a way to cement that over the decades.

At times I thought Shulman never really loosens the reins or lets the public facade slip to reveal the true person behind the incredible lifetime of experiences, which is why it’s a little dry in places and less of a memoir and more of an homage to the beauty of fashion items and accessories. Definitely a memorable read.

Buy Clothes… and Other Things that Matter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Octopus Books – Cassell, pub date 10 June 2021 | £9.99 | Paperback. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Hamilton and Me: An Actor’s Journal by Giles Terera

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Hamilton and Me An Actor’s Journal by Olivier Award-Winning Actor Giles Terera.

“This is one of the most joyous and clear-eyed approaches to playing a character that I have ever read” Lin-Manuel Miranda

About the Author 

Giles Terera MBE is an award-winning actor, musician and writer. He trained at Mountview Theatre School and has worked consistently at venues such as the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare’s Globe. He is best known for originating the role of Aaron Burr in the London production of the award-winning musical Hamilton, for which he won the 2018 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical.

His other theatre credits include Rosmersholm, The Tempest, Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon, 125th Street, Rent (West End); Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Hamlet, Death and the King’s Horseman, The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, Troilus and Cressida, Candide, Honk! (National Theatre); The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare’s Globe/international tour); The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Donmar Warehouse);Pure Imagination – The Songs of Lesley Bricusse (St. James’s); King John (Shakespeare’s Globe/UK tour); Don’t You Leave Me Here (West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Playboy of the Western World (Abbey, Dublin); The Ratpack (West End/international tour); Jailhouse Rock (Theatre Royal Plymouth/West End); You Don’t Kiss (Stratford Circus); Up on the Roof (Chichester); The Tempest (RSC); Six Degrees of Separation (Sheffield); Generations of the Dead (Young Vic); Bill Shakespeare’s Italian Job (Playbox, Warwick/Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh); The Demon Headmaster/The Animals of Farthing Wood (Pleasance, Edinburgh).

As a writer, his theatre work includes The Meaning of Zong (Bristol Old Vic), The Ballad of Soho Jones (St. James’) and the upcoming Black Matter (Crazy Coqs). As a filmmaker, Giles’s first documentary, Muse of Fire – created with Dan Poole – centres on modern perspectives of Shakespeare and premiered on BBC Four in Autumn 2013. Giles was an associate producer on Poole’s feature documentary The Space: Theatre of Survival and he wrote and directed the concert film Hello Harry! A Celebration. Giles was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to theatre. Follow @GilesTerera on Twitter, or gilesterera on Instagram

About the book

Hamilton and Me: An Actor’s Journal is an honest and thrilling inside account written by one of the UK’s leading actors, Giles Terera, who played Aaron Burr in the London production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit, award-winning musical Hamilton which opened in London’s West End in December 2017 and won a record-equaling seven Olivier Awards. 

One of the most important actors of his generation, Giles Terera was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2020 for his services to theatre. Before securing a lead role in Hamilton, Giles Terera worked as a writer, producer and filmmaker and performed in West End shows such as Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon and Rent, and at the UK’s most prestigious venues including the National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe alongside the likes of Jonathan Pryce, Lenny Henry, Hayley Atwell and Ralph Fiennes.

At a time when performing arts is desperately missed, this is a wonderful opportunity to not only step back into the auditorium but explore behind the scenes to gain a rare insight into one of the most important cultural spectacles of our time, and enjoy an experience that would typically remain a mystery.

This new and deeply personal book reveals Giles Terera’s unique experiences from his own life that helped shape his acclaimed portrayal as Aaron Burr – a journey which began more than a year earlier with his first audition in New York. Hamilton and Me: An Actor’s Journal explores everything involved in opening a once-in-a-generation production, from the extensive research and preparation to intense rehearsals, preview performances and finally opening night itself.

Throughout this exhilarating time, Terera kept a journal, recording his experiences of the production and his process of creating his award-winning performance. This book, Hamilton and Me, is that journal. It also features unseen colour photographs and an exclusive foreword by Hamilton creator and original star Lin-Manuel Miranda.

In Hamilton and Me: An Actor’s Journal we learn of the triumphs, breakthroughs and doubts, the camaraderie of the rehearsal room and the moments of quiet backstage contemplation – as well as a fascinating, in-depth exploration of now-iconic songs and moments from the world-famous musical, as seen from the inside.

Review

If I had had any doubts about reading this then the foreword by Lin-Manuel Miranda would have swayed me with his beautiful words and description of this book.

It’s an open, frank and revealing piece of work. It’s an in-depth, soul searching and intimate experience, also an eye opener. At the same time it’s entertaining – if I am allowed to say that about something that is so much hard work and yet such fun to watch, enjoy and interact with.

I would recommend this book for anyone in the acting profession, especially anyone doing theatre or musical theatre. It gives a real insight into the process, but also the thought process as the actor immerses themselves into the role. Written in a journal, in brief moments to, from and in between. Bits and pieces, fragmented thoughts cushioned out to become an excellent experience of interaction.

Simultaneously I would also recommend it to anyone who loves the theatre – it’s a glimpse of how it all comes together, and also of how much passion and dedication goes into portraying a character and into a performance.

It’s offset with beautiful pictures of the performance, the rehearsals, and cast. Truly a delightful reading experience.

Buy Hamilton and Me: An Actor’s Journal at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Nick Hern Books | pub date 1 July 2021 | Hardback, Ebook, Audiobook | RRP £16.99. Buy at nickhernbooks.co.uk

#BlogTour Finding Freedom in the Lost Kitchen by Erin French

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour Finding Freedom in the Lost Kitchen by Erin French.

About the Author

Erin French is the owner and chef of The Lost Kitchen, a 40-seat restaurant in Freedom, Maine, that was recently named one of the World’s Greatest Places by TIME Magazine. Booking is by postcard ballot on the first day of spring with over 20,000 postcards received last season. Erin French has written for The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living and The Wall Street Journal. 

Her first book, The Lost Kitchen Cookbook, was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award and named one of the best 2017 cookbooks by The Washington Post and Vogue. Erin French will host The Lost Kitchen TV show on Joanna and Chip Gaines’ new television network, the Magnolia Network, launching in March 2021. Follow @thelostkitchen on Twitter, Visit findthelostkitchen.com

About the book

Erin French grew up barefoot on a 25-acre farm in Maine, fell in love with food working the line at her dad’s diner and found her calling as a professional chef at her tiny restaurant tucked into a 19th century mill. In her story of multiple rock-bottoms, from medical student to pregnant teen, of survival as a jobless single mother, heartbreak and addiction, she slowly rebuilt her personal and culinary life around the solace she found in food―as a source of comfort, a sense of place, as a way of creating community and making something of herself, despite seemingly impossible odds. 

Set against the backdrop of rural Maine and its lushly intense, bountiful seasons, Erin French ’s rollercoaster memoir reveals the passion and courage behind the fairytale success of The Lost Kitchen.

Review

The thing about memoirs is sometimes the one way tunnel vision you often get. I absolutely applaud anyone who is able to dust themselves off after sinking to certain depths. When everything crumbles around you it’s hard to be able to see beyond the failure and disruption. Hearing how others felt and experienced said downfall and failures would give it an interesting edge – if only to support the author or to highlight how the people directly affected by the aforementioned felt during the extreme moments and the fact French was determined to overcome all obstacles.

It’s also interesting to note that the obstacles existed and yet at the core she was looking for peace, structure and longevity in her self-inflicted chaos. Connecting all of those things to a love of cooking, indeed to a sense of nostalgia formed through memories of childhood. It’s what draws a direct line between the author and the reader, even if they don’t share the heart or similar memories what they do share is cooking and eating.

The combination of memories, nostalgia and a willingness to open the door into her inner sanctum is what makes the read endearing, but what really captivates the reader and makes them hungry for more is the element of food.

It’s a story of perseverance, determination and proof that life can be a rollercoaster for many of us. It’s a story about failure and success, and one of never giving up.

Buy Finding Freedom in the Lost Kitchen at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Aurum pub date 6 April 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Inge’s War by Svenja O’Donnell

 

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Inge’s War by Svenja O’Donnell.

A Story of Family, Secrets and Survival under Hitler 

Svenja, on a journey of her own, investigates the complex relationships Germans have with their past, even two generations later, posing the question: who do we allow to tell their story? Inge’s War listens to the voices that are often missing from our historical narrative – those of women caught up on the wrong side of history. It is a book about memory and heritage that interrogates the legacy passed down by those who survive, and the bonds between generations of women who have loved, endured and overcome. At the heart of this beautifully written memoir is a story of love and family, of a girl from a vanished land who lived through a time when Europe, and its humanity, collapsed.

About the Author

Svenja O’Donnell is an award-winning political correspondent and commentator whose work regularly features on TV and radio. Before covering Brexit for Bloomberg, she worked as a correspondent in Russia. Half-Irish and half-German, she was born and brought up in Paris, and lives in London. Inge’s War is her first book.

Follow @SvenjaODonnell on Twitteron Goodreadson AmazonBuy Inge’s War

About the book

Svenja’s beautiful, aloof German grandmother Inge never spoke about the past. All her family knew was that she had grown up in a city that no longer exists on any map: Königsberg in East Prussia, a footnote in history, a place that almost no one has heard of today. But when Svenja impulsively visits this windswept Baltic city, something unlocks in Inge and, finally, she begins to tell her story. A fascinating story of passionate first love, betrayal, terror, flight, starvation and violence.

It begins in the secret jazz bars of Hitler’s Berlin, as Inge falls in love for the first time, amidst a background of growing terror and uncertainty, and takes the reader through her family’s terrifying escape out of Germany, into Denmark as the Red Army approaches. Over hours of conversation Svenja teases out the threads of her grandmother’s life, retracing her steps all over Europe, and realising that there is suffering here on a scale that she had never dreamt of. Finally, she uncovers desperately tragic secret that her grandmother has been keeping for sixty years.

Review

A German grandmother being cold and disapproving isn’t unusual. In fact the same can be said for the majority of people who have lived through the trauma of war. They become disconnected to their own emotions because it’s easier to cope that way, both in the moment and afterwards with the memories. The German people, especially of a certain age and era, tend to be considered abrupt, direct and arrogant. A lot of that is the harsh sound of the language and the burden of and presumption of guilt that comes with the national identity.

Svenja embarks on a journey of conversations with a woman she only knows as a distant grandmother and in doing so begins to understand the woman her grandmother once was and the woman she became due to her experiences.

It’s also not unusual for survivors of war environments and eras to not speak about their experiences to their loved ones and friends. Locking it all away in a box and throwing away the key tends to be a standard approach to horrendous trauma. There are plenty of younger generations that accidentally stumble upon secrets, especially given the amount of information we have access to now.

O’Donnell doesn’t focus on the guilty or the victims of the Holocaust and World War 2, but rather on the people who had to choose between silence or becoming part of the open opposition. One meant life and the other being shunned and possibly worse. Given what’s happening at the moment – silence is consent, which of course is the burden many carried. When you weigh the level of atrocities during this time it’s easy to minimise the hardships and trauma of the German people – those who looked the other way and saved themselves. They also have the right to make sure their families stay alive and safe – it’s a difficult topic.

One of my German friends, post-war mid 60s generation, was completely unaware that her family and the majority of those in the East, ex-Prussia and Poland became refugees and were sent West ect. Her parents had never spoken about being forcibly removed, sent packing or having to escape.

It’s incredibly difficult to find a past you weren’t expecting when you start researching your family. I think the author approached it in a factual, non-emotive and respectful manner. It does have more of journalistic tone rather than an emotionally charged one, but I think it does the subject matter justice.

Buy Inge’s War at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Ebury Press on 6th August 2020 in Hardback, £16.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour High Heels and Beetle Crushers by Jackie Skingley

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour High Heels & Beetle Crushers: The Life, Losses and Loves of an Officer and Lady by Jackie Skingley.

Enter the Giveaway below to Win 2 x Paperback copies of High Heels & Beetle Crushers (Open UK / US Only)

About the Author

For Jackie Skingley, adventure has been her quest since childhood. Life with the British army allowed Jackie to live all over the world and gain huge appreciation for different cultures and customs. Since 1999, Jackie and her husband have lived in the Charente region of South West France where Reiki, jewellery making, painting and mosaics, as well as writing keep her fully occupied. Member of the Charente Creative Writing Group, mother and grandmother.

Follow @skingleyj on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreads, on Facebook, Buy High Heels & Beetle Crushers

About the book

A compelling memoir of post-war Britain. Jackie Skingley grew up with limited career choices but joining the Women’s Royal Army Corps offered her a different life, living and working in a military world, against the backdrop of the Cold War. Packed full of stories reflecting the changing sexual attitudes prior to the arrival of the pill and the sexual revolution of the mid 60s, Skingley’s memoir denotes a shift in the political and social fabric of the era. Follow her relationships with the men in her life from finding her first true love, which through a cruel act of fate was denied her, to embarking on a path of recovery.

Review

As the daughter of military parents who served during the Cold War, a lot of the places and scenes coincide with what my parents told me and where we lived during our time abroad and in the UK.

One thing that is always evident is the lack of equality when it comes to the treatment of women and men in the military. Where certain behaviour would mean the end of a career for a woman and yet just a reprimand for a man.

What I found interesting is how Skingley links her sexuality and sexual experience with nearly ever moment in her past. Of course that unfortunately also means having to go through harassment, sexual assault and in general a maligning of reputation. And perhaps the assumption by society that women aren’t complete until they become part of a couple. An almost compulsory next step, because to do otherwise would suggest something more nefarious.

That’s also something the author includes in her memoir – the treatment of homosexuals in the military, during a time in history when it was still a criminal offence to have a same-sex sexual relationship.

It’s a post-war memoir that depicts the rather limited options of women in this era. I am sure there are plenty of moments that speak to the hardship of what she had to endure as a woman in the military in post-war Britain. The Cold War service often gets forgotten in the general mention of history, unless it is a spy driven story.

Forgotten are the men and women, who were expecting another conflict after the violent events of WW2, which then melded into other just as serious threats to the country and the world. It’s important not to forget those nameless people.

Buy High Heels & Beetle Crushers at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Chronos Books; pub date 14 Dec. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Enter the Giveaway to Win 2 x Paperback copies of High Heels & Beetle Crushers (Open UK / US Only)

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