I know that this book has a lot of strong recommendations and reviews. But I honestly wasn’t expecting too much from it. Probably because I don’t often love the books that get such rave reviews. Sometimes I think that people give said reviews because they feel that they SHOULD, not because it was actually enjoyable.
Having said that. I will most definitely rave about this book. It was nothing that I expected and it drew me in from the very first moment. After all, there is a mystery to solve from the very beginning. Combine that with the ways in which Bee is able to structure and tell the story, the larger than life characters… I was completely enmeshed.
I love that this is a story about the love between a mother and daughter. It’s a reminder that real love doesn’t come with conditions, but is about accepting and loving someone for exactly who they are. Or at least, that’s how I took this story. That Bee is able to find out more and more about her mother’s flaws. But still love her.
Underlying all of this is the question of mental health. What makes someone sane? What makes them “normal”? And where is the damn line between the two? I still have no answers, and it seems that Semple doesn’t either. A perfect approach as far as I’m concerned.
We may have made leaps and bounds in our understanding, but mental health is still a pretty hard topic to broach. There is so much stigma remaining and it can be hard to convey what its like to live with a mental health issue to someone who has never had one. Which is why whenever I see a book that talks about it openly and honestly, I’m pretty quick to jump on it. The fact that I’ve JUST read another book by Kristy Chambers that I thoroughly enjoyed made me dive into this with much more excitement and impatience than I normally would.
Combining travel narratives with mental health just helped to draw me in further and further. I’ll be the first to admit that I am a pretty major home body. So I do love to live vicariously through other people’s travel adventures. I loved doing this with Chambers. She is so damn honest and sassy that you got the ugly alongside the good. Which is what travel is all about.
Throughout every chapter and adventure, Chambers draws back to her mental health and numerous breakdowns. Yet, where this could feel quite serious and negative, she talks about it in such an open and honest manner that you end up laughing. It takes a special someone to talk about their mental health. It takes someone even more special to joke about it with such abandon. Definitely my kind of woman.
I loved, loved, loved this book. It was that perfect blend of travel adventure and realistic recountings of the trials that this entails. Mental health and depression are unabashedly talked about and often joked about. And there’s even a beautiful happy ending that makes you want to read MORE about Chambers’ life, but content if you can’t do so.
Nursing is a career path and life choice that holds a lot of fascination for me. It’s such a powerful thing to do, but I honestly can’t imagine dealing with people’s shit (both literally and figuratively) like that. I also have a couple of girlfriends who are nurses I’m different fields, so understanding their day to say lives is also enthralling.
Chambers manages to write about a pretty hectic and serious career with an amazing amount of sass and humour. I particularly like when she points out that ultimately her decision between teaching and nursing came down to who do I hate less, teenagers or sick people… and teenagers are assholes. It’s a sentiment that had me laughing out loud.
Alongside all of the wit and humour throughout this, there are some pretty powerful emotional moments. It’s a start reminder of the intensity of this kind of career. But, also a brilliant way to highlight how some people are able to deal with the horrors of a fairly intense career path.
This is one if those memoirs that I will read again and again. It has my preferred level of dry, witty humour; plenty of sass; and a subject matter that ceaselessly fascinates me. I may have read this through my kobo plus account, but its going on my wish list for a physical copy too…
Title: Babies & Toddlers Author: Kaz Cooke Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again) My Bookshelves:Children, Humour, Non-fiction Pace: Slow Format: Novel Year: 2018
Since I absolutely adored Up the Duff and found it incredibly calming and useful while I was pregnant, I figured that it was probably a good idea to get the follow up book. After all, I’m a first time mum and there is SOOOO much advice. Which is really quite overwhelming and scary. Plus, I’m now responsible for this tiny squishy thing and, like all first timers, I really have no freaking idea what I’m doing.
Like Up the Duff, Kaz Cooke is able to deliver information and advice in a fun and engaging way. As someone who had to have a c section and is struggling to breastfeed, the lack of judgement for the different alternatives was amazing. It made me feel safe and that there was information that was actually accessible.
I like that this book is logically laid out and follows a pretty good pattern of topics. It makes it incredibly easy to have a quick read through (as I did) in preparation for a baby coming. But then also makes it very easy to go back and troubleshoot your new human. The index at the back just helps that all the more.
Furthering the awesomeness of the information imparted in this… Kaz Cooke is an Aussie so the information is ACTUALLY RELEVANT. The information is updated every year with a new edition so you don’t sit there wondering what the heck to some of the advice. And, lastly, after each small subtopic, there are a bunch of links and contacts to further deep dive if needed. Definitely a fantastic book for all parents… existing and first timers.
Title: Up the Duff Author: Kaz Cooke Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again) My Bookshelves:Humour, Non-fiction, Pregnancy Dates read: 5th June – 17th October 2021 Pace: Slow Format: Non-fictional text Publisher: Viking Year: 1999 5th sentence, 74th page: According to one American pregnancy book cover, this is when you will wear an Alice band and a hideous lemon doona cover with a Peter Pan collar, and stare out the window holding a cup and saucer like a demented fool.
Kaz Cooke tells you everything you need to know about your pregnancy and birth. No bossy-boots rules, just the best, funniest and most reassuring practical advice, plus lots of cartoons. Up the Duff is backed by heaps of medical and other experts.
The moment I found out I was pregnant I told one of my close girlfriends. She immediately recommended this book. And wow. Am I glad that she did.
This book is realistic and fun. It gives you a whole heap of information without sounding preachy. And it just makes you feel less overwhelmed about the whole first time mother thing. Or at least, that’s what it did for me.
The sass and humour with which this book gives you important information makes some pretty scary topics feel much… less scary. I mean, whole chapters on labour that didn’t make me want to run to the bathroom and throw up. I can’t begin to explain how much better that made me feel.
Any expectant (or wanting to be expectant) mothers really need to invest in this book. Its amazing. It’s informative. And it most definitely made me feel less stressed and scared.
Title: The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy: Or Everything Your Doctor Won’t Tell You Author: Vicki Iovine Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Humour, Non-fiction, Pregnancy Dates read: 17th June – 3rd July 2021 Pace: Slow Format: Novel Publisher: Pocket Books Year: 1995 5th sentence, 74th page: Second, save the home births, midwives, and underwater deliveries for second, third, and fourth babies.
YOUR DOCTOR GIVES YOU MEDICAL ADVICE. YOUR MOTHER BUYS YOU BABY CLOTHES. BUT WHO CAN GIVE YOU THE REAL SKINNY WHEN YOU’RE PREGNANT?
Your Girlfriends, of course – at least, the ones who’ve been through the exhilaration and exhaustion, the agony and ecstasy of pregnancy. Four-time delivery room veteran Vicki Iovine, “the Carrie Bradshaw of pregnancy” (Wall Street Journal), talks to you the way only a best friend can – in the book that will go the whole nine months for every mother-to-be. Now, in this newly revised and updated edition, get the lowdown on all those little things that are too strange or embarrassing to ask, practical tips, and hilarious takes on everything pregnant.
What Really Happens to Your Body – from morning sickness and gas to eating everything in sight – and what it’s like to go from being a babe to having one.
The Many Moods of Pregnancy – why you’re so irritable / distracted / tired / light-headed (or at least more than usual).
Plus, the latest scoop on…
Staying Stylish – You may be pregnant, but you can still be the fashionista you’ve always been (or at least you don’t have to look like a walking beach ball) – wearing the hippest designers and proudly showing off your bump.
Pregnancy Is Down to a Science – from in vitro fertilization to a scheduled C-section, the latest technology provides so many options, alternatives, and tests, it can all be downright confusing.
… and much more! For a reassuring voice or just a few good belly laughs, turn to this straight-talking guide on what to really expect when you’re expecting.
So obviously I read this because I’m pregnant and, me being me, I need to know everything I possibly can about what what expect. But, I also didn’t want to read something that was preachy. This book was the perfect fit. It was funny and light in places, serious in others. And, it highlights the fact that we all experience pregnancy differently, there is no right or wrong way and it’s about getting through it sane!!
Unlike some of my other books, this isn’t split into the different times in pregnancy (week, trimester, etc). Instead, it’s split by topics. I particularly liked the section on exercise since I’ve been feeling guilty for not exercising as much as I used to. Iovine helped me to feel so much less guilty about it all.
I love that whilst you get Iovine’s own experiences. You also got those of her friends. She CONSTANTLY points out that everyone has a different experience. I think its something seriously important, and she also points out that you get to be a little selfish and insane at times…
All in all, I loved this book. And will probably refer to it multiple times throughout my pregnancy. It’s that comfort of having a friend say nope, you’re not nuts… but at any time of day or night whenever you need it… and it would be inappropriate to ACTUALLY call your girlfriends.
Cam is trying to figure out a way to come out to his family and friends. But then the damn penguins beat him to it…
Oh hot damn. This story is just way too cute! And funny. And just all around adorable. I spent the entirety of this story grinning and smiling. There were just so many wonderful moments throughout that I enjoyed way too much. Even sitting down to write this review, all I can think about it Cam yelling penguins at the end of the tale.
I love that throughout this story, Cam is trying really, really hard to come out to his friends and family. And ultimately finding out that it probably isn’t all that necessary – they already know. And accept him as he is. With no strings attached. It just creates an all-round feel-good tale that will make your heart grow larger and larger.
All in all, I absolutely love the ending of this tale. It was just the cute cherry on top of the cute sundae that left me grinning and clutching my heart in happiness. It was all just beautiful and fun. The most adorable of short stories.
Title: Necromancing the Stone Author: Lish McBride Series: Necromancer #2 Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Ghosts, Humour, Necromancers Dates read: 21st – 27th February 2021 Pace: Medium Format: Novel Publisher: Square Fish Year: 2012 5th sentence, 74th page: “That god help is hard to find.”
“SOMEONE LEFT A KNIFE IN THE DOOR.”
Her voice was nonchalant, trying to mask her fear, trying to make it sounds as if someone had simply left flowers.
With the defeat of the evil necromancer Douglas behind him, Sam LaCroix is getting used to his new life. Okay, so he hadn’t exactly planned to be a powerful necromancer with a seat on the local magical council and a capricious werewolf sort-of-girlfriend, but things are going fine, right?
Well… not really. He’s pretty tired of getting beat up by everyone and their mother, for one thing, and he can’t help but feel that his new house hates him. His best friend is a were-bear, someone is threatening his sister, and while Sam realizes that he himself has a lot of power at his fingertips, he’s not exactly sure how to use it. Which turns out to be kind of a problem when someone close to him turns up dead.
As with all of the other McBride stories that I’ve read so far, this is funny, humorous and brilliantly written. It’s a fantastic ending to this duology. One that I seriously enjoyed and couldn’t put down. After all, Sam is not even remotely what you would expect as a necromancer. And, as you slowly begin to realise, he has a whole heap of other powers at his disposal… ones that I wanted to know more about.
Douglas was one scary SOB in Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. He gets worse in this. Total Voldemort vibes. Although, to be fair, he is much, much less freaky than Voldemort. And so much less devilish. Yet, there is a bit of a redemption arc – one that didn’t necessarily redeem the villain, but did make him a little less despicable. And horrifying.
As much as I loved this story, I didn’t really love the fact that this story ended with Brid and Sam being… unresolved. It was seriously frustrating. To the point that I kept turning the final page back and forth. I just thought I was missing something! Although, it does leave the end open to the interpretation that there was a happily ever after for the two of them… just one that took a little bit more work than there was time for within this story.
I love that Sam seems to jump from the frying pan into the story. Repeatedly. And consistently. Not necessarily a great thing for him and his friends, but a wonderful journey for me. You just kind of feel him blundering from moment to moment, trying to figure out what on earth he is doing. Kind of like how I feel most days of my life if I’m being truly honest here…
I can’t wait to read more McBride books. They’re all sitting on my wishlist, ready and rearing to go. I just have to find a little more funding… and I just hope that I get to have a few appearances from Sam and Brid again. They’re just too damn wonderful and cute. Even if they could both kill me with their hands tied behind their backs…
Title: Rolling with the Punchlines: A Memoir Author: Urzila Carlson Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!) My Bookshelves:Humour, Memoirs Dates read: 1st – 2nd January 2021 Pace: Medium Format: Novel Publisher: Allen & Unwin Year: 2019 5th sentence, 74th page: Now I’m conscious that anyone who was grateful for my explanation of the concept of the fax will be hanging out for me to explain this little word ‘apartheid’.
Chuckle, laugh and snigger along with Urzila in this fascinating memoir of a life in comedy.
Updated with new chapters and written with her trademark deadpan humour, Urzila’s memoir is full of ripping yarns about both the big and the little things in life.
Urzila’s accidental beginning in stand-up has led to an incredibly successful career in comedy, with regular gigs on Channel 10’s Have You Been Paying Attention? in Australia and 7 Days in New Zealand, as well as sell-out shows across both countries, appearances at international festivals and a Netflix special.
But life hasn’t always been a bundle of laughs. Urzila talks candidly about her childhood within a happy family – apart from her abusive dad – and about growing up in South Africa. She shares crazy but true tales about her travels, her move down under, coming out, getting married and having children, and cracking Australia.
This was a memoir that had me laughing out loud again and again. Carlson was able to deal with issues that are incredibly intense and serious in moments with a great look of humour and lightness. There is something about her style of writing that made you feel like she was right there, recounting all of her incredible adventures into your ear. And, since I love the accent… I loved that whole idea.
I found Carlson’sjourney into stand-up to be incredibly fascinating. She somehow managed to fall into a career that is completely suited to her and her personality. And found herself a life and reality that she absolutely adores. The fact that throughout this memoir she also shamelessly plugs her Netflix special and tells tales of the different shows that she’s done. Not only did it make for an intriguing and fascinating career-journey, but again, I was laughing and giggling throughout all of her many tales.
Carlson’sjourney and tales are wonderful and unforgettable. There is nothing like a good memoir to start of the year’s reading. When that history and memoir has as much humour to it as this story, well, it just keeps getting better and better. That, and the fact that I found out a lot more about a woman I’ve been watching on tv for a while. And very much enjoying.
As the second book that I read of 2020, I feel like this gave me a great running start to the year. It was positive and light-hearted. Yet, there were moments of genuineness and concern that not all comedians are able to achieve. It certainly makes me want to watch Carlson’s Netflix special.
Title: The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl: Adventures in Life and Love in the Heart of Dixie Author: Jaime Primak Sullivan Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again) My Bookshelves:Family, Humour, Memoirs Dates read: 19th – 20th December 2020 Pace: Slow Format: Novel Publisher: Touchstone Year: 2016 5th sentence, 74th page: I didn’t have the life energy to waste on games.
Jersey-bred, tough-as-nails Hollywood publicist Jaime Primak Sullivan has been crossing the line all her life. She isn’t afraid to say what everyone is thinking when it comes to love, sex, friendship, and many other topics that are all too often sugarcoated in well-mannered company. But when a meet-cute scene right out of a Nora Ephron movie upends her life, Jaime soon finds herself an unlikely transplant in an upscale suburb of Birmingham, Alabama – a reluctant “knish out of water” smack-dab in the Deep South, starting a life with her new husband, the perfect southern gentleman.
Jaime enters the heart of Dixie with her fists up, but eventually learns she must let her guard down. As she struggles to adapt to her new world, she befriends a group of southern belles, and the very women she thought her Jersey personality was most likely to shock and repel become her most surprising allies. Jaime soon discovers that while southern belles may have a secret code of behaviour northern girls don’t always understand, when it comes down to helping a fellow woman, no one is more thoughtful, more generous, and kinder than a belle.
In The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl, Jaime shares her hard-won lessons on southern etiquette, deep-fried foods, college football, the peculiar methods of southern dating – and all the unexpected homework a girl receives when she crosses the line… and decides to stay.
This was one of those memoirs that is completely, totally and utterly considered to be “laugh out loud”. I giggled and chortled my way through this book in total and utter joy. This is one of those stories that I will pick up again and again. There is something light and joyous about the whole storyline that really got to me and made me imagine every single moment Sullivandescribes with perfect vividity.
The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl is a fairly typical fish-out-of-water story. The fact that it’s all true just makes it all that much more intriguing. I mean, many fish-out-of-water stories are based in fact, but this story has that extra ring of truth to it. Plus, you can just picture this big-haired, lough-mouthed jersey girl just blundering her way through the south. There is just a great sense of reality to this story.
I felt like this story was really written in two parts. And was pretty much two love stories. The first was Sullivan’s love story to her husband. I found the story of his courting and their relationship to be fascinating. I loved the slow-going, beautiful relationship that they shared. And the way that they are both able to negotiate their past hurts to finally come up with a new reality that leaves them both happy and feeling… well, complete, to as much of a degree as that ever happens.
The second love story though, is my favourite. It is about Sullivan’s belles. Her gorgeous girlfriends who have helped her negotiate the morals, intricacies and social norms of the belles. Although Michael was a great story, I loved the girlfriends even more. It’s an acknowledgement of the power of women and the ways in which we need them in our lives. It’s a bit of a love ballad to the south as well, but mostly it’s to the importance and power of having good women on your side.