blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Shape of a Boy – Kate Wickers

The perfect beach read, Shape of a Boy is a laugh-out-loud travel memoir featured in National Geographic Traveller’s best travel books of 2022

‘Have kids, will travel’ is veteran travel journalist Kate’s mantra. Her intrepid spirit is infectious in this warm, engaging account of her family’s adventures and misadventures. She shares the life lessons learnt on their travels, from overcoming disappointment in Thailand to saying sorry in Japan, discovering perseverance in Borneo and learning about conservation in Malaysia. Kate’s vivid evocation of the highs and lows of family time make you belly-laugh and bring a lump to your throat.

From the plains of the Serengeti to the cowboy towns of Cuba to the rainforests of Borneo, Shape of a Boy captures the essence of being a parent in the thick of it and learning on the hoof. Inspirational for anyone who has dreaded travelling with a baby, toddler or teen, it is life-affirming read for every wannabe-traveller.

My thoughts: as someone who went on their first long haul flight at 8 months old, I think my parents had similar ideas to Kate’s, at least to begin with, I really enjoyed this lovely, joyful book about wonderful holidays all over the world, with her husband and three boys at all stages of their lives.

Even when all her sons want to do is play in the pool and eat pizza, Kate plans excursions to some incredible places, exposing the boys to things some people will never experience. What a truly wonderful childhood.

Their adventures are often very funny, moving and heartwarming. Kate’s sons are kind, engaged boys and each reacts to new things differently, leading to some interesting conversations. And being boys, a lot of rude comments mostly about poo and animals extraordinary genitals!

Kate started taking the boys with them as a way to fit her travel writing assignments around her family, but in the end, all five family members are embracing the opportunity to see the world and explore. Having been starved of travel in the last few years, this was like a lovely burst of sunshine as I vicariously explored sights from Thailand to Cuba with the Wickers family through the years. Delightful.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Stories My Grandmother Told Me – Gabriela Maya Bernadett

StoriesMyGrandmotherToldMe copy

Welcome to the tour for this fascinating memoir by Gabriela Maya Bernadett, called Stories My Grandmother Told Me: A Multicultural Journey from Harlem to Tohono O’dham. Read on for more info!

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Stories My Grandmother Told Me: A Multicultural Journey from Harlem to Tohono O’dham

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: City Point Press/ Simon & Schuster

The illuminating and deeply personal debut from Gabriela Maya Bernadett, Stories My Grandmother Told Me explores culture, race, and chosen family, set against the backdrop of the twentieth-century American Southwest.

In a hilly Southern California suburb in the late twentieth century, Gabriela Maya Bernadett listens as her grandmother tells her a story.

It’s the true story of Esther Small, the great-granddaughter of slaves, who became one of the few Black students to graduate from NYU in the 1940s. Having grown up in Harlem, Esther couldn’t imagine a better place to live; especially not somewhere in the American Southwest.

But when she learns of a job teaching Native American children on a reservation, Esther decides to take a chance. She soon finds herself on a train to Fort Yuma, Arizona; unaware that each year, the Bureau of Indian Affairs kidnaps the native Tohono O’odham children from the reservation and forces them to be educated in the ‘ways of the White man.’ It doesn’t take long for Esther to notice how Fort Yuma parallels her own grandmother’s story as a slave in the South—the native children, constantly belittled by teachers and peers, are forced to perform manual labor for local farmers.

One of two Black people in Fort Yuma, Esther feels isolated, never sure where she belongs in a community deeply divided between the White people and the Tohono O’odhams. John, the school bus driver and Tohono O’odham tribe member, is one of the only people she connects with. Friendship slowly grows into love, and together, Esther and John navigate a changing America.

Seamlessly weaving in the present day with the past, Stories My Grandmother Told Me blends a woman’s memory of her life, and that woman’s granddaughter’s memories of how she heard these stories growing up. Bernadett’s captivating narrative explores themes of identity, tradition, and belonging, showing what it really means to exist in a multicultural America.

Bookshop.org | Simon & Schuster | Amazon

About the Author

Maya Bernadett grew up in California hearing the stories of her grandmother, Esther Pancho. She grew up in a multi-cultural household, as her father is Mexican American and White and her Mother is Tohono O’odham and Black. At the age of 18 she moved to New Haven, Connecticut to attend Yale University, from which she graduated in 2008 with a degree in the History of Science/History of Medicine. She lived in Tucson briefly, then moved to New York City, and finally returned to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona. She graduated in 2015 with a Master’s Degree in American Indian Studies with a focus on Education. She currently teaches GED classes at the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.

Simon & Schuster

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Blog Tour: Dálvi, Six Years in the Arctic Tundra – Laura Galloway

One woman’s story as an outsider in a reindeer-herding village in the Arctic Tundra, forging a life on her own in one of the most unknowable cultures on earth

An ancestry test suggesting she shared some DNA with the Sámi people, the indigenous inhabitants of the Arctic tundra, tapped into Laura Galloway’s wanderlust; an affair with a Sámi reindeer herder ultimately led her to leave New York for the tiny town of Kautokeino, Norway. When her new boyfriend left her unexpectedly after six months, it would have been easy, and perhaps prudent, to return home. But she stayed for six years.

Dálvi is the story of Laura’s time in a reindeer-herding village in the Arctic, forging a solitary existence as she struggled to learn the language and make her way in a remote community for which there were no guidebooks or manuals for how to fit in. Her time in the North opened her to a new world. And it brought something else as well: reconciliation and peace with the traumatic events that had previously defined her – the sudden death of her mother when she was three, a difficult childhood and her lifelong search for connection and a sense of home.

Both a heart-rending memoir and a love letter to the singular landscape of the region, Dálvi explores with great warmth and humility what it means to truly belong.

Laura Galloway is a writer and communications strategist. She began her career at the Los Angeles Times and holds a Master of Arts in Indigenous Journalism from the Sámi University of Applied Sciences in Kautokeino, Norway, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Southern California. An ardent animal lover, she and her partner live with her two reindeer-herding dogs and two cats.

My thoughts: after her mother dies when she’s very young, Laura’s father marries an emotionally abusive woman who rejects her husband’s children, causing Laura to spend much of her life looking for a sense of belonging, beginning with moving to LA as a teenager. And then eventually to the Arctic tundra in Norway, to live with a Sami reindeer herder in a small town near the border with Finland.

Life in the far north is tough, it’s dark for several months of the year and freezing cold. Laura doesn’t speak Norwegian or Sami and finds it hard to settle into a community so different from anything she’s ever known.

Even after her partner leaves her, she stays and starts to find her way in this strange place. There are lots of other incomers and it is with them she bonds, rather than with the Sami community, who prefer their own kind. Her cat goes missing, she gets several jobs doing things like teaching English, bonds with her neighbours and builds a life. The cat thankfully comes back.

After six years in the Arctic, she begins to wonder what else life could hold for her and looks to start afresh. But life among the Sami has taught her many lessons and helped her heal from the pain of her sad and emotionally sterile childhood.

I found this book moving and at times brutally sad, Laura has been let down badly by those who should have loved her, from her father to her ex-husband, she somehow kept going after terrible heartbreak and loss. A fascinating and rather incredible woman.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: A Ghost in the Throat – Doireann Ní Ghríofa

‘When we first met, I was a child, and she had been dead for centuries’
In the 1700s an Irish noblewoman, on discovering that her husband has been murdered, drinks handfuls of his blood and composes an extraordinary poem. Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill’s Caoineadh
Airt Uí Laoghaire was famously referred to by Peter Levi, then Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, as the ‘greatest poem written in these islands in the whole eighteenth century.’
In the present day, a young mother narrowly avoids tragedy. On encountering the poem, she becomes obsessed with its echoes in her own life and sets out to track down the rest of the poet’s
story.
Culminating in Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s own translation of the poem, A Ghost in the Throat is a devastating and timeless tale about one woman freeing her voice by reaching into the past to hear
another’s.

DOIREANN NÍ GHRÍOFA is a bilingual writer whose books explore birth, death, desire, and domesticity. Doireann’s awards include a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Seamus Heaney Fellowship, the Ostana Prize and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. She is a member of Aosdána. A Ghost in the Throat is her prose debut.

My thoughts: this was a really interesting book, part essay, part memoir, part poetry. The author explores the poem and the life of Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, an 18th century woman whose husband is murdered. As well as exploring the extraordinary text, she puts it into context with the life and times of its creator, all while raising her own children and moving house over and over.

It’s a thoughtful and fascinating work, I enjoyed learning all these things – Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire is not a work I was familiar with, probably because being a Gaelic poem, it never made it onto any syllabus here in the UK. Which is a shame, it’s an incredible and powerful piece, full of grief and rage and intense love. The translation at the end of the book, with the English alongside the original Irish is gripping and haunting, despite its age, the words still move the reader. A really impressive book.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Blind Pony – Samantha Hart

BlindPony copy

Welcome to the blog tour for Blind Pony, a memoir by Samantha Hart! Read on for details and a chance to win a signed copy of the book!

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Blind Pony

Publication Date: March 15th, 2021

Genre: Memoir/ Biography
When your mother names you after your father’s affair, you might wish you were living someone else’s life.

For Samantha Hart, growing up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania had been no childhood idyll but rather a violent, surreal nightmare. A twisted vision of pastoral life part Faulkner part Dante. At fourteen years old, she ran away in search of her father, a character she only knew as Wild Bill. Discovering he wasn’t the hero she dreamt he’d be, she was on her own.

Arriving in Los Angeles at the peak of LA’s decadence where money, drugs, and good times flowed, she floated through a strange new world of champagne-soaked parties, high-stakes backgammon tournaments, and a whirlwind of international escapades flogging nude photographs. When a wealthy playboy mistakes her Pittsburgh accent for being British, it begins a spiral of white lies leading Sam to question everything she thought she knew about herself and who she could be.

Blind Pony is a story of healing and hope, a coming of age narrative intersecting themes of recovery, redemption, forgiveness, and the struggle it takes to define life on your terms.

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Excerpt

”A FAREWELL TO THE FARM”

I opened the door to the barn with a bit of trepidation. The smells that once pervaded my senses—new-mown hay, leather, and living animals—had turned to a dank, musty odor. I held Vignette’s hand as we stepped carefully past the empty stalls, ready for something sinister to jump out at any moment. We ventured toward a stable in the back, and above us was the plaque I carved with a wood burner, the name “Misty.” Misty was born when I was eight years old and was the offspring of my beloved pony, Princess.

“Follow me.” I darted up the narrow wooden stairs. Vignette stayed close on my heels as we headed to my grandfather’s abandoned workshop to rummage around for something to pry off the sign. The remnants of a moonshine distillery sat cloaked in dust in an open cabinet, and as I breathed in the musky air, I could feel my grandfather’s presence and hear the nasty whistling sound he made when he was coming for me.

“Mommy, are you crying?”

“No, honey, got some dust in my eyes. Let’s get out of here.”

I grabbed the crowbar, intent on rescuing Misty’s sign. It was a relic from my childhood, and I was unwilling to leave it to the wrecking ball.

“So, Misty was your pony, Mommy?”

“No, but she was my pony Princess’ baby, just like you are my baby. That’s why I got to name her and made this sign for her. Look, I have a scar on my finger where I burned myself making that sign.”

“That must have hurt. I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you, too.” Equal measures of joy and sorrow overwhelmed me, conjured by a place I thought I would never see again. We traipsed outside so I could stow the plaque inside the car, and Vignette spotted an old tractor.

“Look at this cool tractor, Mommy! Can I climb on it?”

“Yes, but be careful,” I said. My mind drifted. I could almost hear the chatter between my sisters and me as we saddled up at the corral to take our horses out for trail rides.

Princess was blind in one eye, so she kept a slower pace than the other horses as we galloped up past the oil rig with its rhythmic chugging and stench of old black oil. The sound of thundering hoofs would ring in my ears, and by the time we reached the top of Gobbler’s Knob, the view would be invisible through the thick cloud of dust, and I’d be as blind as Princess.

The past was so vivid, I almost forgot I wanted to capture this moment with Vignette. As I went back to the car to retrieve my camera, the familiar sound of the gravel crunching beneath my feet unspooled memories of a story my mother had repeated to me throughout my childhood.

Late one night, Bill Butter pulled into the gravel driveway well past midnight. Dean Martin’s just-released record “Volare” blared over the car radio. Bill continued his drunken crooning after turning off the ignition,

though, in his stupor, he left the headlights on. My mother, Clara, peered out the upstairs window to see her husband silhouetted by the car’s lights, stumbling up the stone path, cigarette dangling from his mouth, and a bottle of whiskey clutched in his hand. Annoyed and embarrassed by his returning from these late-night trysts with other women, which had become too frequent, she climbed back into bed, pretending to be asleep, and got tangled up in her oversized flannel nightgown.

A gust of frosty Pennsylvania wind followed Bill up the stairs to the bedroom. He pulled his pants down just far enough to expose his stiffened penis, then threw himself on top of his wife while endeavoring, with frustration, to unravel the nightgown.

Clara realized her best option for keeping their small children from waking was to make way for the inevitable drunken thrust between her naked thighs. When he found his way to an orgasm, he hollered out the name of his current mistress, Pammy Sue, and unceremoniously deposited the seed that would grow into a girl destined to be nothing but trouble. The first sign of said trouble began the very next morning with a dead car battery.

Nine months later, my mother gave birth to her fourth child on the first day of fall. Dad thought I would be a boy, and he named me Sam. Maybe he hoped I would be a boy so he could stop hearing about Pammy Sue. As luck would have it, he pulled four aces. I was his fourth daughter.

My mother’s frozen heart determined to immortalize her husband’s infidelity and spelled it out on the birth certificate. But for as long as I knew my dad, he never called me by any other name but Sam. I always thought the name suited me. My mother prodded me so often with the reason my name was Pammy that my official name repulsed me.

Vignette tugged on my sleeve and snapped me back to reality. “Mommy, mommy, can we go now? I’m hungry,” she moaned. “Me too,” I said, and we went back into the car. I threw my camera on the back seat along with the “Misty” sign, figuring I had enough memories of the place. Nothing could change what happened here.

As my daughter and I drove down Clever Road, I glanced back at the old farmhouse in the rearview mirror one last time. It would soon disappear forever, along with the lilac and forsythia bushes and delicate lilies of the valley that poked through the spring thaw each year. The springhouse and the old maple tree where I hugged my grandmother for the last time would be gone.

But they would live on in my memories, along with many things I wished I could forget

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Samantha Hart’s career has spanned music, film, and advertising, earning her a reputation as an award-winning Creative Director. Her creative marketing campaigns brought prominence and Academy Awards to films such as Fargo, Dead Man Walking, and Boys Don’t Cry while earning cult status for independent features, Dazed and Confused, Four Weddings and A Funeral, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

With her partner, Sam built a successful company in the advertising industry, Foundation, with over forty employees and offices in Chicago and Los Angeles. Foundation earned distinction as an early disrupter of the traditional production and post-production models combining the two under one roof.

In 2017, Sam launched Wild Bill Creative which is a creative ideation company working with brand clients, non-profits, and start-ups.

Sam currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, director James Lipetzky, and their sons, Davis and Denham.
Samantha Hart

Giveaway: Signed Copy of Blind Pony (Canada and US only)
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Blog Tour Schedule

August 16th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

@greeneyedgirl0704 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/greeneyedgirl0704/

August 17th

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Read & Rated (Spotlight) https://readandrated.com/

August 18th

@cindyroesel_readsandwrites (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/cindyroesel_readsandwrites/

Jessica Belmont (Spotlight) https://jessicabelmont.com/

@happily_undignified (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/happily_undignified/

August 19th

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

@esmeralda_lagiggles18 (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/esmeralda_lagiggles18/

August 20th

Kristin’s Novel Café (Review) https://knovelcafe.wordpress.com/

Freelance Writer Janny (Spotlight) https://freelancewriterjannyc.com/

@booknerdkat (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/booknerdkat/

Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

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Blog Tour: Inventing the Future – Albert Cory

InventingtheFuture copy

Welcome to the blog tour for the fascinating new release by Albert Cory, Inventing the Future! Read on for more info and a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

“Inventing the Future is Based on the True Story of the Xerox Star, the Computer that Changed Everything”

57138737Inventing the Future

Publication Date: August 10th, 2021

Genre: Based on a True Story/ Historical Fiction/ Technologies

Imagine a time before everyone stared at a screen, before fonts, icons, mice, and laser printers, before Apple and Microsoft… But behind the scenes, Xerox engineers were dreaming and inventing the modern personal computer.

Who were these people who changed the world, and why did corporate management just want to sell copiers and printers?

Albert Cory* was one of the engineers, charged with making that dream a reality and unknowingly starting a revolution. Inventing the Future is based on the true story of the Xerox Star, the computer that changed everything.

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Excerpt

It was finally happening. After almost five years of labor by 250-plus people, the Office of the Future was here. Despite the prayers for them, 64K memory chips had not appeared. Michael had gotten corporate approval to increase the manufacturing cost with an extra 64K words of memory. Star now had 256K words, or 512K bytes of main memory. The performance was still poor, but at least it was tolerable now.

Star had been announced and demoed in New York already, and this week was the National Computer Conference in Chicago, starting Monday, May 4, 1981 and lasting until Thursday. Dan had volunteered to man the Xerox booth for all four days. He flew out to Chicago on the Sunday morning before it started, but with the time change, it was past dinner when he finally arrived at McCormick Place.

Dan read the Sunday Chicago Tribune. 

In Business, Compushop was offering an Apple II starter system for $1,595. But then buried deep inside the section, Dan found what he was looking for, a story about the Star. It began:

Xerox terminal has symbols, not codes

Managers and professional workers haven’t been the best customers for automated office equipment like computer terminals.

Maybe it’s because they are more accustomed to pointing and selecting material rather than typing out explicit commands.

Maybe it’s because they can’t type.

The article quoted a Xerox marketing executive, who explained that the Star was aimed at “managers or professionals who produce documents, reports, or charts.” It explained how the mouse worked. The executive went on to explain that the Star system cost $15,595, but “technological advances will allow price reductions in the future.” Star would be demonstrated at the National Computer Conference at McCormick Place this week.

Dan, Janet, Martin, Henry, and the rest of the Xeroids were continuously busy, explaining the Star to curious attendees. Visitors could try a mouse, and lots of them did—almost no one had ever used a mouse before. A technical staffer had brought a box full of spare mice and swapped in a new one every hour since the accumulated dirt and finger oil from all the guests made the rubber balls in the mice sticky.

As each hour approached, people began gathering around the monitors to see the demos. By noon, they were waiting 10 minutes before the hour. Michael stationed himself near the left side monitor, where he kept busy talking to reporters, executives, and random attendees. Michael watched the crowd closely, and he noticed that Steve Jobs, one of the Apple founders, came every hour, surrounded by other guys Michael didn’t know. He knew that Jobs had visited PARC the year before last for a demo of the Alto and Smalltalk, but he hadn’t seen Star before. He had supposedly asked, “Why isn’t Xerox doing anything with this?” Now, he found out they were.

Available on Amazon 

About the Author

*Albert Cory is a pen name for Bob Purvy, a retired software engineer who worked on the Xerox Star. In his career he also worked at Burroughs, 3Com, Oracle, Packeteer, and Google. All characters are fictional and are composites of the scientists, engineers, and executives who lived the story, with the exception of the auto-biographical character, Dan Markunas. The other two main characters, Janet Saunders and Grant Avery, are completely fictional, and are not in any way representative of the real people who had their jobs (note: the author makes clear which events are real and which are composites in the Endnotes).

Albert Cory

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Blog Tour: Clothes… and Other Things That Matter – Alexandra Shulman*

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 exEditor 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.

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.

My thoughts: I find Alexandra Shulman quite interesting, years ago I used to read her newspaper column and I watched the Vogue documentary series on TV. She doesn’t fit the mould we imagine Vogue editors to fit – think more Anna Wintour (US Vogue’s legendary editor) or Meryl Streep’s version of her in The Devil Wears Prada. Shulman is not as slick and glamorous as them, although still hugely privileged and wearing designer clothes.

I don’t buy Vogue, I never have, I could get half a dozen secondhand paperbacks from the charity shop for one glossy catalogue of adverts, which is after all what a fashion magazine is. I don’t buy into the mythology around it but I remain intrigued by the allure of these things. I contemplated writing about magazines as part of Masters in literature and material culture – they might not seem like the former but they’re definitely the latter.

This collection of short essays on the different types of clothes Shulman catalogues in her wardrobe allow her to explore her personal history, from her grandmother’s millinery as a refugee in Canada, her parents’ careers in the British media (her father was at one point the Evening Standard’s theatre critic and her mother an editor), her relationships, her career in the press and her many famous friends and acquaintances.

It’s an interesting angle for a memoir – something many of us can relate to – we all have those items of clothing that hold meaning and memory within them. The shoes I wore to my wedding or the jumper that signifies comfort, knowing that putting it on is like a hug. While my wardrobe contains no high price labels, it does contain a multitude of moods to slip on, personas to project through my outfits. And it is this that Shulman shares within her book.

The suit she wore when starting out as a young journalist, the perfect dress that works whenever and wherever it’s worn. The reason we wear certain things and what it says about us. She’s very disinterested in worrying about the way she looks, mocking the media fuss over a photo she posted a few years ago on Instagram of herself in a bikini on holiday. She’s aware that the slim models she championed through her time at Vogue and the people behind the scenes, like herself, are very different. Fashion magazines promote a sort of fantasy world of beauty and glamour that the average person probably won’t ever attain.

There is a note of bitterness about the way women are objectified, pointing out that her successor at Vogue, Edward Enninful, won’t have his appearance, dress size and figure commented upon the way she did. That we always circle around a woman’s body looking for flaws, while men mostly sail blithely on.

I enjoyed the way writes about the history of clothing, not just the personal side, but how for example denim jeans, originally workwear, have become so much a part of fashion that pairs sell for upwards of a thousand pounds. Or how hats, once a staple of ladies wear are now worn by only the fortunate few who suit them.

This was a very interesting book, that I think appeals quite broadly to people interested in fashion, history, memoir and Shulman herself (I’m interested in all of those things btw). I just wish the photos had been printed in colour – in a book about clothes being able to actually see what’s described makes a difference.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Secrets of the Mummy Concierge – Tiffany Norris*

Create a unique baby name that no one has ever used before… tick
Organise a delivery room photoshoot with hair and make-up for mum-to-be… tick
Arrange a surprise ‘I’m pregnant’ gift for a client’s partner – a cast of her vagina before she gives birth… tick

All in a day’s work for the Mummy Concierge…

Tiffany Norris is the one and only concierge for parenthood in the UK today. Acting as a baby’s personal assistant, on-call therapist and social director, Tiffany strives to be the ultimate parent protector, peacekeeper and negotiator when it comes to bringing a new tiny human into the world. Where demands go way beyond late-night food cravings and into the luxurious world of the super-rich, Tiffany is on hand to help with all kinds of seemingly impossible requests.
From opulent nurseries and stylists for new-borns to 3am calls worrying about just not being enough, Tiffany also shares her own rollercoaster journey to motherhood, as well as speaking honestly about her post-natal depression. Secrets of the Mummy Concierge reminds us all that being a new parent is one of the hardest jobs on earth.
And luckily, The Mummy Concierge is here to help.


Tiffany Norris is a no-nonsense mummy concierge, journalist and pregnancy guru who has worked with hundreds of pregnant mothers, and supports every woman who needs her help with tips and guidance – and sometimes just a listening ear. She is a journalist and presenter for Mumsnet, has written for Cosmo and Grazia and is an expert for The Baby Show. Tiffany owns and runs The Mummy Masterclasses parenting workshops for soon-to-be and new parents. She was the winner of the prestigious Jacqueline Gold women in Business award and has won the Theo Pathetis small business award. Tiffany would love to hear from you – do say hi to her or find out more on: INSTAGRAM, TWITTER and on her WEBSITE

My thoughts:

I don’t have kids but a lot of my friends are either already parents or planning to be soon so this was interesting to read. I don’t think any of them would be able to hire Tiffany or need to, unlike her high maintenance clients, who often need help with the strangest things.

Bits of the book were really funny, the bonkers requests, the strange names some people give their children, the incredibly busy lifestyles of toddlers. But other moments are very sad, the client who’s just had a miscarriage, the nursery that won’t get used. I think what a lot of the clients need is a best friend or their own mum but instead turn to Tiffany for the things they need, and sometimes don’t really.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: The Shadowy Third – Julia Parry*

A sudden death in the family delivers Julia a box of love letters. Dusty with age, they reveal an illicit affair between the celebrated twentieth-century Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen and Humphry House – Julia’s grandfather.

So begins an intriguing quest to discover and understand this affair, one with profound repercussions for Julia’s family, not least for her grandmother, Madeline.

This is a book about how stories are told in real life, in fiction and in families. Inspired by Bowen’s own obsession with place and memory, Julia travels to all the locations in the letters – from Kolkata to Cambridge and from Ireland to Texas.

The reader is taken from the rarefied air of Oxford in the 1930s, to the Anglo-Irish Big House, to the last days of Empire in India and on into the Second World War.

The fascinating unpublished correspondence, a wealth of family photographs, and a celebrated supporting cast that includes Isaiah Berlin and Virginia Woolf add further richness to this unique work.

The Shadowy Third opens up a lost world, one with complex and often surprising attitudes to love and sex, work and home, duty and ambition, and to writing itself.

Weaving present-day story telling with historical narrative, this is a beautifully written debut of literary and familial investigation from an original and captivating new voice.

Julia Parry was brought up in West Africa and educated at St Andrews and Oxford. She teaches English literature and has worked as a writer and photographer for a variety of publications and charities. She lives in London and Madrid. This is her first book.

My thoughts:

This was utterly fascinating and totally absorbing a read. As someone whose own family has a few mysteries, I could completely relate to the author’s desire to follow in her grandparents footsteps and unravel the complex relationships at the heart of this book.

I read Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day at uni, but we focused more on the text than the writer, so it was also interesting to learn more about her life, and its web of affairs, especially the way Parry connects Bowen’s written works, short stories and novels, to the parallels in her own life.

Part biography, part mystery, part memoir, this was a truly brilliant debut, well written and expertly paced, as you travel with Parry to Kolkata, Ireland, and across the UK.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: The Trials & Tribulations of a Pet Sitter – Laura Marchant*

Hilarious and heart warming true stories of a Pet Sitter.

Laura takes us on her journey describing the immense joy that the animals have brought into her
life. But it’s not all fun and games.

With sometimes as many as ten dogs around her home, things
can get a tad hectic. Not to forget the every day challenges faced in keeping the pets happy and safe when out walking. Luckily she is not alone in her quest; her unusually dominant Golden Retriever ‘Brece’ is always by her side. Brece earns her keep
by convincingly playing the part of the alpha female, ensuring harmony amongst the pack.

At times, the responsibility that Laura faces becomes overwhelming. She may think she has everything covered but that hand of fate could quite easily swoop down, creating havoc for her and the dogs. Laura has endured many close calls and teetered on the precipice of disaster may a time.

The longer she continues with her pet sitting enterprise, the more likely hood that total disaster will actually strike. Is she tempting fate?

Laura Marchant is the Bridget Jones of the pet sitting world!

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About the author

Laura Marchant was born in 1959 in the seaside resort of Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, England. Both her parents were born in the same town, so not exactly a family of intrepid travellers!
As a child Laura and her siblings were fortunate enough to own shares in the families pets.

Unbeknown to Laura at the time, her love for the animals formed the blueprint for a large part of her life. In 2011 she finally found her vocation, and in the comfort of her own home, set up a pet boarding business.

For the next 7 years she shared her abode with a pack of dogs. A lot of this time was spent watching over the animals and observing their behaviour, which in turn inspired her to write her first novel ‘Trials and Tribulations of a Pet Sitter’.

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My thoughts:

As someone who has done some pet sitting and dog walking I related so much to the chaos and characters Laura deals with in her book. From crazy dogs to OTT owners, her own dominant Brece (pronounced Bressay) who bosses the guest dogs about, runaways and furniture destroyers. Laura has dealt with a whole host of canines, felines and humans.

This was a fun and funny read, Laura brings her animal clients to life with their adventures and I could really see each creature as she tells the story of how she came to know them and love them.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.