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.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
I love reading memoirs, they inevitably contain so much drama and emotion and resonate because they are real-life not fiction. This memoir is a perfect example, detailing the life of a woman growing up in the post-war period in Britain, and finding a way of life that allowed her to experience a multitude of experiences, people and places.
Honest, interesting and original.There are many sad and shocking moments in this story, but also humour, happiness and romance. The writing style is easy to read, it’s like reading a novel. An absorbing and entertaining insight, into a remarkable women’s life.
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 a 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.
*Terms and Conditions –UK & USA entries welcome. Please enter using the link above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Rex Ogle’s story of starting middle school on the free lunch programme is timely, heart-breaking and true.
Free Lunch is the story of Rex Ogle’s first term at High School. Rex and his baby brother often went hungry, wore second-hand clothes and were short of school supplies and Rex was on his school’s free lunch programme. Grounded in the immediacy of physical hunger and the humiliation of having to announce it every day in the school lunch line, Rex’s is a compelling story of a more profound hunger—that of a child for his parents’ love and care. Compulsively readable, beautifully crafted and authentically told with the voice and point of view of an eleven-year-old child, Free Lunch is a remarkable debut by a gifted storyteller.
In FREE LUNCH, debut author Rex Ogle vividly conveys the immediacy of physical hunger and the humiliation of revealing it every day in the school lunch line, along with a more profound hunger: that of a child for love and care from his parent. This story rings so true in its portrayal of poverty and the familial strains that can result from living in the economic margins because it is. This is Rex’s story.
But this is not Rex’s story alone; 43.1 million people are living in a
state of poverty, 14.5 million of them are under the age of 18. But when he was
embarking on his sixth-grade year in Texas, Rex had no idea that there were
also other children, let alone millions of others, in such need.
“The worst part of living like this is thinking as I did—that I was alone, that I was shameful, and that I had less worth because of the situation into which I was born,” explained Rex. “But that couldn’t be further from the truth. No child should feel alone. Or ashamed. Or worthless. They need to know that their circumstances are not their fault.”
This moving memoir covers Rex’s journey through his first semester
of middle-school as he navigates the inherent physical and emotional growth
pains that come with this phase of life, along with the societal pressures he
feels showing up at school in worn clothes that don’t fit properly and with the
occasional black eye he receives from speaking his mind at home —all in
addition to requesting free lunch. Rex is now an adult who traversed middle
school and found his way out of poverty, but the struggles of his youth have
shaped who is as a man today, and how he views the world around him.
“One day, when I was riding on the subway in New York City, I saw a little girl tug on her mom’s sleeve and heard her say, ‘I’m hungry.’ Her mom hugged her, but didn’t say anything,” explained Rex when asked why he decided to write Free Lunch. “I didn’t know their situation, but it struck me that my story needed to be shared. I wanted other kids to know that it’s okay to be hungry. That they are not alone. And there is hope.”
Free Lunch is unsparing and harshly realistic. It is also frequently funny and threaded with hope and moments of grace. Free Lunch is a welcome addition to the growing canon of youth memoirs, and Rex’s powerful, lyrical storytelling shines a light on those living in the shadows.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.
I wanted to read and review this memoir because it highlights what life is like for many children in the world today. Told from the point of view of an eleven-year-old boy, it reads like poignant fiction, but it’s true.Although heartbreaking to read, it is also empowering, The boy faced abuse, hunger, ridicule and shame, but still retained his capacity to love, protected his younger sibling and ultimately his mother, and retained a sometimes misplaced optimism, that life would improve, if he just kept living it.
The book is easy to read and will interest, everyone from older children to adults. The chapters are headed, detailing a significant memory, and are mainly short. It is a book you can read a chapter of and return to later, but I couldn’t put it down. The honesty of the recollections, and the injustices they highlight resonate.
An immersive memoir that everyone should read. Disturbing, emotional, honest and memorable.
Rex is a former children’s book editor who now lives in Los Angeles with his partner. He enjoys hiking with friends and his dog, devouring books, and cooking.
“This is my middle school experience,” he says, “but I think it’s an important story to tell, with nearly one in five children in America living in poverty.”
FACTS ABOUT CHILDHOOD HUNGER:
12 million children in the United States live in food “insecure homes”
1 in 6 children in the United States lives with hunger
Children who come from food-insecure homes often experience learning disabilities and other cognitive impairments
Children who suffer from hunger often face emotional and social roadblocks
June 2019 is the 50th anniversary of Judy Garland’s death
August 2019 is the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz
October 4th the motion picture JUDY starring Renee Zellwegger and Jessie Buckley is released in the UK
An irresistible mixture
of memoir, biography, cultural analysis, experiment and hero-worship about one
person’s enduring fascination. This is for anyone who has ever nursed an
obsession or held a candle to a star.
Judy Garland has been an important figure in Susie Boyt’s world since she was three years old; comforting, inspiring and, at times, disturbing her. In this unique book, Boyt travels deep into the underworld of hero-worship, reviewing through the prism of Judy our understanding of rescue, consolation, love, grief and fame.
Layering key episodes from Garland’s life with defining moments from her own, Boyt demands with insight and humour, what it means, exactly, to adore someone you don’t know. Need hero-worship be a pursuit that’s low in status or can it be performed with pride and style? Are there similarities that lie at the heart of all fans? nd what is the proper husbandry of a twenty-first-century obsession, anyway?
I received a copy of this book from Virago Books in return for an honest review.
I didn’t know quite what to expect when I picked up this book. A biography of Judy Garland, whose films I have always liked, or a memoir of the author, whose life is somehow entangled with the iconic star? In truth, it is both of these, and something more, an insight into celebrity and obsession in the twenty-first-century.
Honestly written, with no filter, this is an intense book, the author truly believes that her love of Judy, someone who she never met, has and does have a profound effect on her life. Many of us have obsessions, some of us with celebrities, I love the Osmonds. I grew out of my blinkered obsession in my mid-teens, but I still like their music, and listen to it today. Few of us are so affected, but this makes riveting reading.
Aside from the biography, illustrated with wonderful images. there is the memoir, which is very readable sometimes amusing and poignant. The author also highlights obsession as an entity and explores through her experience, whether this is a positive or negative force.
Worth reading for the intrinsic interest value alone. It is thought-provoking and resonates.
‘When Judy sang to me as I grew older she seemed to confirm things that I’d all my life held to be true:’
* Things that are hard have more of life at their heart than things that are easy.
* All feelings, however painful, are to be prized.
* Glamour is a moral stance.
* The world is crueller and more wonderful than anyone ever says.
* Loss, its memory and its anticipation, lies at the heart of human experience.
* Any human situation, however deadly, can be changed, turned round and improved beyond recognition on any given day, in one minute, in one hour.
* You must try to prepare for the moment that you’re needed for the call could come at any time.
* There are worse things in life than being taken for a ride.
* If you have a thin skin all aspects of life cost more and have more value.
* Loyalty to one other is preferable to any other kind of human system.
* Grief is no real match for the human heart, which is an infinitely resourceful organ.
Susie Boyt was born in London and educated at Camden
School for Girls and Oxford University.
After a nerve-racking stint in a lingerie boutique and an alarming spell
working in PR for Red Stripe lager and the Brixton Academy, she settled down to
writing and is the author of six acclaimed novels including The Last Hope of Girls, which was short-listed for the John Llewellyn Rhys
Prize, and Only Human, which was short-listed for the Mind Award. Of her last
novel, Love & Fame The Sunday Times said ‘she writes with such precision and wisdom about
the human heart under duress that the novel is hard to resist.’
Susie wrote a much-loved weekly column about life and art for the Financial TimesWeekend for fourteen years and still contributes regularly to their books and fashion pages. Last year she edited The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories for Penguin Classics. Susie is also a director at the Hampstead Theatre in London and works part-time for Cruse Bereavement Care.
She lives in London with her husband and two daughters. She is the daughter of the painter Lucian Freud and the great grand-daughter of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.
My Judy Garland Life was Book of the Week on Radio 4, shortlisted for the Pen Ackerley Prize, extracted in U.S Vogue and staged at The Nottingham Playhouse in 2014.
I received a copy of this book from Crumps Barn Studio in return for an honest review.
This book of verse is in part, autobiographical, and the emotion shines through in every poem. There is a preface to this book of verse, sharing the personal inspiration behind ‘Moments’. Read this first. It gives important insight into the author’s motivations and helps you to understand the book’s ethos.
I am no expert on poetry schematics, but I do enjoy reading it, so the thoughts I share are my emotional responses to the verse.
The first poem ‘Sweet Dreams’, about a mother watching her sleeping child, is charming and will resonate with every parent.
‘Precious Time’, is poignant and thought-provoking. When something bad happens, or you realise how many years have passed, it makes you think, and want to make the most of now, and what is yet to come.
Many of the poems explore contemporary issues, such as bullying and why people bully, emotional abuse, stress, addiction, facing life-changing news. There are elements in the verse that I can relate to, and it’s this personal connection that makes them relevant, something to look back on.
The poems about the inevitability of death, and facing the illness of a loved one, are beautifully written, honest, raw, simple, they leave their mark.The poems about friendship are heartwarming and relatable, as are the verses about self-awareness, learning to love who you are, and letting that person see the sunlight.
There is something for everyone in this book, it’s a realistic observation of life as a woman, mother, wife, and of those around us, some we know, some we only know by sight. Poetry like this can be read many times, and that’s what I shall do with this.
High priestesses are few and far between, white ones in Africa even more
so. When Diane Esguerra hears of a mysterious Austrian woman worshipping the
Ifa river goddess Oshun in Nigeria, her curiosity is aroused.
It is the start of an extraordinary friendship that sustains Diane
through the death of her son and leads to a quest to take part in Oshun
rituals. Prevented by Boko Haram from returning to Nigeria, she finds herself
at Ifa shrines in Florida amid vultures, snakes, goats’ heads, machetes, a
hurricane and a cigar-smoking god. Her quest steps up a gear when Beyoncé
channels Oshun at the Grammys and the goddess goes global.
Mystifying, harrowing and funny, The Oshun Diaries explores the lure of Africa, the life of a remarkable woman and the appeal of the goddess as a symbol of female empowerment.
I received a copy of this book from Eye Books in return for an honest review.
The cover of this book draws you in, it is vibrant and interesting and makes you want to see what’s inside.
The book is in two parts, the first associated with the meeting with the Austrian Oshun priestess in Africa, and the second with other worshipers in Florida. The professional writing style is easy reading, even if some of the content, especially in the second part is complex. The prose reads like a fictional story, full of vivid imagery, authentic characters and amazing content and events. Its historical details provide a believable setting for the diaries and it resonates.
The African experience is insightful and political, it gives meaning to some of the headlines of the time that I recall. The meeting with the charismatic, dedicated priestess, is enthralling, and it is a page-turning read.
The second part of the book is equally as honest and detailed, this is where the author truly understands what she is exploring. It is an interesting read, with the first part with its astute political comment, is the best part of the book.
A recommended read, if you enjoy adventure, culture and spiritual experiences.
Guest Post – Diane Esguerra – Goddess for the #MeToo Era
Looking for a ballsy, bewitching goddess with green credentials to follow? Then look no further: Oshun, the ancient river goddess of the Yoruba people of West Africa, is the one for you.
Sure, there are plenty of cool female deities around to choose from – if goddess worship is what you’re into. Amaterasu No Kami, the Japanese Goddess of the Sun and theAborigine Holy Goddess Mumuna -Who-Made-Us-All, have sizeable followings. Even old favourites like the European Great Mother and Diana and Isis the ancient deities of Rome and Egypt still appeal to a surprising number. So, what is it about Oshun that makes her so special?
Well, for a start she’s not only a goddess of love but also of female empowerment. And she’s prepared to defend to the death women’s right to be respected by men and treated as their equals. If she sees them being given a hard time her anger can be volcanic. Yet with her love of gold, honey, bathing and carrying a mirror around to admire her beauty, Oshun is quintessentially feminine and proud of her abundant sensuality.
She’s a hard worker, too, who played a key role in the Yoruba creation myth. According to the legend, primordial male gods pushed aside the female ones – including Oshun – and decided they would go about creating the earth themselves. They failed miserably. Oshun set herself up as the ringleader of the female deities and protested vigorously on their behalf to the chief deity, Olodumare. He/She gave the order that the female deities should be given the chance to have a go at creation, too. And as it turned out they made a much better job of it, and the earth as we know it came into being.
Indeed, the chief divinity was so impressed with Oshun’s efforts that He/She issued an oracle to the effect that only stupid people think a woman won’t amount to anything in life, and that negative language should never be used against women. The divinity even goes so far as to say that men should kneel and prostrate themselves before women as they have to shoulder the massive responsibility of giving birth to humankind.
Compare this respectful, life-affirming ancient African myth to the creation myth in the bible. Here, not only is Eve held responsible for tempting Adam, and therefore triggering humanity’s fall from grace, God also decides to make her well and truly suffer for it – giving the green light to the patriarchal societies that inevitably followed:
To the woman, he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain, you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:14-16)
While we’re on the subject of children, Oshun is also a fertility goddess who has the power to grant them. During the annual Oshun Festival which is held in the goddess’s birthplace – the Sacred Groves of Oshogbo in Oshun State, Nigeria – women come from as far away as China in search of a cure for infertility.
Nature is deemed precious in Oshun’s Sacred Groves. Hunting is forbidden, fishing too – even the trees can’t be chopped about. Woe betide the person who attempts to do so!
To get a closer idea of how this goddess might appear in human form look no further than Beyoncé. The most famous black female singer on the planet once appeared at the Grammy’s channelling the goddess. This multi-talented, beautiful and sensuous woman isn’t afraid to speak out for women’s rights and against injustice. And in the video which accompanies the track Hold Up on her Lemonade album, she writhes around and levitates in water before emerging in torrents of it and descending a long flight of steps in a golden gown. She then proceeds to roam the neighbourhood smashing open fire hydrants with a baseball bat in Oshun-like anger at her husband Jay Z’s alleged infidelity.
But you don’t have to be a famous singer to tap into the power of this very special goddess. Dress yourself in yellow or gold, light a candle, place a few of Oshun’s favourite items nearby: a bowl of water; a mirror; peacock feathers; honey; a couple of oranges, and then summon the goddess with the following incantation: Yeye, Ye Ye O…Yeye, Ye Ye O…Oshun.
Sit back and enjoy!
Diane Esguerra is an English writer and psychotherapist. For a number of years, she worked as a performance artist in Britain, Europe and the United States, and she has written for theatre and television. She is the recipient of a Geneva-Europe Television Award and a Time Out Theatre Award. She is previously the author of Junkie Buddha, the uplifting story of her journey to Peru to scatter her late son’s ashes.
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
What happens when pregnancy and the first few weeks of a baby’s life don’t go as planned? How have advances in modern medicine and perinatal genetics redefined our perceptions of what is possible?
The First Breath by Olivia Gordon is a powerful medical memoir about the extraordinary fetal and neonatal medicine bringing today’s babies into the world. Unveiling the intense patient-doctor relationship at work with every birth, this book reflects on the cutting-edge medicine that has saved a generation of babies, the combination of love and fear a parent feels for a child they haven’t yet met and what can happen before a baby’s first breath.
Olivia Gordon was twenty-nine weeks pregnant when a scan found that her baby was critically ill. Thanks to a risky operation in utero and five months in neonatal care, her son survived.
The First Breath is the first popular science book to tell the story of the fast developing fields of fetal and neonatal medicine. It explores motherhood and the female experience of medicine through Olivia’s personal story and sensitive, intimate case histories of other mothers’ high-risk births.
The First Breath asks what it means to become the mother of a child who would not have survived birth only a generation ago, showing how doctors and nurses save the most vulnerable lives and how medicine has developed to make it possible for these lives to even begin.
I received a copy of this from Pan Macmillan – Bluebird via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The story, this book tells is amazing, the sheer scope of the medical advancement, over the last twenty years is well documented here. It’s not just about the science, and the pioneering doctors, there is also the unashamedly human side to this story. The personal experiences of the author, and the mothers, fathers, doctors and nurses interviewed by her.
The balance of facts and case studies is good. The science is complex and will not suit everyone, but it is written, in an easy to understand way, and illuminated by personal experience. The ethical side of this medical advancement isn’t ignored, as the reader is presented with both the facts and the human outcomes.
The experiences of the parents, particularly the mothers, is the best part of the book for me. They are courageous, honest and inspiring.
No sleep for twenty hours. No food for ten. And a ward full of soon-to-be mothers… Welcome to the life of a midwife.
Life on the NHS front line, working within a system at breaking point, is more extreme than you could ever imagine. From the bloody to the beautiful, from moments of utter vulnerability to remarkable displays of strength, from camaraderie to raw desperation, from heart-wrenching grief to the pure, perfect joy of a new-born baby, midwife Leah Hazard has seen it all.
Through her eyes, we meet Eleanor, whose wife is a walking miracle of modern medicine, their baby a feat of reproductive science; Crystal, pregnant at just fifteen, the precarious, flickering life within her threatening to come far too soon; Star, birthing in a room heady with essential oils and love until an enemy intrudes and Pei Hsuan, who has carried her tale of exploitation and endurance thousands of miles to somehow find herself at the open door of Leah’s ward.
Moving, compassionate and intensely candid, Hard Pushed is a love letter to new mothers and to Leah’s fellow midwives – there for us at some of the most challenging, empowering and defining moments of our lives.
I received a copy of this book from Random House UK Cornerstone – Hutchinson Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Authentic, awe-inspiring and absorbing, this sharing of a midwife’s working life is a must read for everyone. Humorous and poignant it explores what it’s like to be responsible for assisting new life into the world through the eyes of a dedicated midwife as she shares her experiences with the women she helps.
Midwifery has mystical connations, and if you have ever experienced the brutality and wonder of birth you understand why. I’ve experienced birth twice as a mother and once as a birthing partner, and this memoir brings it all back. The writing is informal but full of vivid imagery and genuine love and respect. It made me cry, laugh and remember.
Out in digital on 30th April 2019 and Hardback and Audio on 2 May 2019