#Review By Lou Coming To England – 25th Anniversary Edition by Floella Benjamin @FloellaBenjamin @MacmillanKidsUK #ChildrensBook #Memoir #NonFiction

Coming To England
By Floella Benjamin
Illustrated by Joelle Avelino

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Review written by Louise (Lou) @Lou_Bookmarks

Floella Benjamin, I am sure a lot of people will have heard of her. I certainly remember her in Playschool, probably nearer the end of that series. Hers is perhaps the main name I remember as she captivated my childlike imagination. Now she is made a Dame and has been in parliament and done more good, so to have the opportunity to review her book is just astounding and a big honour! This isn’t just an exciting book, because I’m picky about contents of books, no matter who is writing it), and this is one excellent book that is informative and has a lot of colour and life to it that makes it absolutely fascinating to read about travelling between Trinidad and England.
Coming to England is great for Middle-Grade readers and is being re-released. She first wrote it over 20 years ago and then it was published again in 2016 and now on 15th April, it is ready for this new generation of children to enjoy and is a very special 25th Anniversary Edition you can buy now.
It’s perfect for bookcases everywhere and in classrooms. Teachers and children’s group leaders could easily find creative ways of using this book, there’s so much scope to be inspired from it to teach children of Trinidad through the memoir, the carnival, the food. There’s also a lot of discussion about different topics that come through in the book too. It is as relevant then as it is for today’s generation. Coming To England is Timeless!

As I write this and my full review, I find my fingers flying across the keyboard in excitement in what I found within the book, which is a memoir that is incredibly well-written for children and is as relevant today as it was in yesteryear.

Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Books/Pan Macmillan for gifting me Coming To England.

Find out more about this special 25th Anniversary Edition of Coming To England in the blurb and my full review and buy links.

Coming To England

Blurb

This 25th anniversary edition of Floella Benjamin’s classic memoir, Coming to England, includes a foreword by the author and some additional historical information. It is beautifully illustrated by Michael Frith.

Floella Benjamin was just a young girl when she, her sister and two brothers arrived in England in 1960 to join their parents, whom they had not seen for fifteen months. They had left the island paradise of Trinidad to make a new home in London – part of a whole generation of West Indians who were encouraged to move to Britain and help rebuild the country after the Second World War.

Reunited with her mother, Floella was too overwhelmed at first to care about the cold weather and the noise and dirt from the traffic. But, as her new life began, she was shocked and distressed by the rejection she experienced. She soon realized that the only way to survive was to work twice as hard and be twice as good as anyone else.

This inspirational story is a powerful reminder that courage and determination can overcome adversity.

Review

Coming To EnglandWith a brilliantly coherent foreward, that is a Must Read, (I say because I know that some people skip over these parts and miss a great deal), it gives an insight for what’s to come, with some of the history and circumstances laid out. The entire book is hugely interesting and many children will be able to relate to so many aspects themselves or learn so much from it and will (hopefully) see that moving can be challenging, especially to a different country and what can be faced and also how challenges can be overcome. They will also (hopefully) learn that humans, whatever their race etc don’t need to be mean to each other (putting it politely) and learn tolerance and also learn something about the Windrush Generation. It is a book that may inspire and is written in such a way that children will be able to get into easily and understand immediately and may prompt curiosity and questions and thoughts. Floella Benjamin, with her new foreward proves she’s still got it when it comes to children and young people, to reach out to them and their level. 

Readers get to know a little of Dame Floella Benjamin’s brothers and sister – Ellington, Sandra and Lester whose mother they call Marmie, in affectionate terms, who met Dardie aged 19, all of which I think is just lovely. The memoir starts with Life in Trinidad and it feels quite uplifiting in some ways and warm. There is much enjoyment for children to get their teeth into and so much knowledge to be gained about food and other parts of the culture. No matter where you’re from, whatever your culture, it shows that some things are the same the world over, such as baking. This is one of the beauties of this book, it starts off showing that there are similarities in life, after all, who doesn’t at the very least, like cake or ice cream? It has such a positive feel to it for children to read about that is heartwarming as it will make it easy then for children to warm to it. Then there’s school life, so some of this will be familiar to children too, although there are some changes, but this is where it’s interesting for children, and it was for me growing up too, as I grew up without the fear of the belt, whipping down on me, but in the 60’s, 70’s this seemed more like the norm.

There is the fun and spectacle at the carnival and there are some great illustrations of this, as there are throughout the book. Between that and church life, children will be able to see the British (and other countries) influences.

The reasons of creativity as to why people were moving out of Trinidad to England are fascinating and England seemed perfect for creating styles of music, such as Jazz etc that weren’t so popular in Trinidad. The memoir takes readers on a real journey of life and even to the crossing of the sea, which is great, I was glad this wasn’t missed out as it seems so pivitol and adds more to the story, instead of just landing in England without this part and I think children will be able to also feel the excitement (as I do, thinking of this book as a child might), for the family to make it across the sea safely. The atmosphere really comes through and carries the story across those waves and onto the train when the ship meets the land. The book is truthful and shows those natural anxieties during the trip.

There’s a stark turning point of the book when the family reaches England, with the changes in colour and increased traffic and the way people behaved towards them, which is far from pleasant and children will either be able to relate to or sympathise with and recognise this, it also shows resilience and how people lived in certain areas and what was endured. The book however, has another turning point that will give hope and brightness and also enters the family’s grown-up lives so readers can read about what happened next. There is also a bit about The Windrush Generation in general which children can learn much from in just a few pages. So, yes, unfortunately due to the world views at the time etc, she, like lots of others within the Windrush generation had to work twice as hard, but it is not all as harshly written as that sit-up and take notice blurb, it does have some lightness, It is detailed but refrains from overly complicating things. It’s a book for today’s generation and generations to come with its timeless themes and it is properly interesting and is a surprising page-turner, not least because who doesn’t care about Dame Floella Benjamin? But you care about her, her family and the whole windrush generation and hopefully everyone will see everyone as just being human and bring some humanity, no matter how small it is and just some peace and live and work together and see differences, but also similarities and find ways to not segregate or anything like that. This book could provide some hope for the future as adults may well read this with their children too, no matter where they come from, what their race is. It is relevant for everyone. It is about one family but is further-reaching than that…

                  Buy Links

Coming To England

 

Waterstones

 

WHSmith

Scholastic

 

#BookReview by Lou of One Thousand Days and A Cup of Tea by Vanessa Moore @Scribblingpsych @Kyle_Books @Octopus_Books @RandomTTours #Memoir #NonFiction

One Thousand Days and A Cup of Tea
By Vanessa Moore
Rated: 4 stars ****

Heart-rendering and emotional to the max; truthful with a surge of hope, no matter how hard things get, is depicted with searing honesty that is all affecting to the core.

Grief, it strikes all of us at some point or another, including the people you would least suspect, in this case, a clinical psychologist. This is her Vanessa Moore’s memoir. At the end of my review are a few interesting facts about grief. 

I thank Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to review. I thank the publishers Octopus Books and Kyle Books for providing me with a copy.

Meander down to find out more about the author, the blurb, my review, some facts and I’ve included a couple of links you may find useful.

About the Author

Vanessa Moore Author pIcVanessa Moore is a clinical psychologist. She studied Psychology at the University of Bristol, gained her PhD in Experimental Psychology from University College London and trained as a clinical psychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry. She has had a long career in the NHS working in clinical, teaching, research and senior management roles. She specialised in working with children and families early in her career and she has published extensively in academic journals, mainly in the field of child psychology. She is a specialist magistrate in the family courts and she lives in Hampshire.

One Thousand Days Cover

Blurb

Vanessa’s husband Paul dies suddenly and tragically on their regular Sunday morning swim.
How will she cope with her dilapidated house, her teenage children, the patients who depend on her? Will therapy help? Why do mysterious white feathers start appearing in unexpected places?

As a clinical psychologist, Vanessa Moore is used to providing therapy and guidance for her patients. But as she tries to work out how to survive the trauma that has derailed her life, she begins to understand her profession from the other side. Like her, many of her patients were faced with life events they hadn’t been expecting – a child born with a disability or life-limiting illness, a sudden bereavement, divorce, failure – and it is their struggles and stories of resilience and bravery that begin to help her process her own
personal loss.

Taking us through her journey towards recovery as she navigates the world of dating and tries to seek the right therapy, Vanessa uses her professional skills to explore the many questions posed by unanticipated death and find a way forwards. Beautifully written and honestly relayed, One Thousand Days and One Cup of
Tea is a heartbreaking grief memoir of the process of healing experienced as both a bereaved wife and clinical psychologist.

“This book is about a period of great loss in my life, a time when the tables were completely turned on me. I was a qualified therapist who suddenly found myself needing psychological therapy. I was a trained researcher who became my own research subject, as I tried to make sense of what was happening to me. I was an experienced manager who now struggled to manage the events taking place in my own life. Yet, throughout all this turmoil, my patients were always there, in the background, reminding me that there
are many different ways to deal with loss and trauma and search for a way forwards.”
Vanessa Moore

One Thousand Days Cover

Review

Grief, it’s always around people. We live, we die and most people know someone who has died and most have experienced grief. The book is an honest account from Vannessa Moore who is a clinical psychologist, who needed assistance from psychological therapy herself to move past her own grief and turning her research onto herself as she became her own research subject. It’s a brave move to have made and even more so to write about in such a judgemental world. I will say, grief is experienced differently by everyone and that’s okay. This is very much Vanessa Moore’s account of it, but she has been through a huge gambit of emotions that somewhere, people will be able to relate to some part or all of it. It’s a searing look at each stage of grief as it is lived through.

The book starts off sedately with just how normal life can be trundling along, until the next moment, it isn’t like that anymore and it changes because of a sudden and most unexpected death. It has emotion and the racing thoughts of who you need to instantly call and what to tell the children and the lead-up to the funeral. She talks of desires of unburdening onto complete strangers. People may find this relatable, if they’ve unburdened onto someone else or someone has onto them. She talks candidly about how she feels when she sees Jennifer – a Psychotherapist, who listens and sometimes shows some concern. This is certainly her accuracy and account. I cannot say if this is true for everyone, but it is for Vanessa Moore and her experiences are very interesting.

It’s a surprisingly pacy book. I half expected to be trudging through it and was glad that this isn’t the case at all. It is however a book that can be dipped in and out of and is perhaps wise in some ways to do this, depending on how you’re feeling yourself, but it is a worthwhile read as it isn’t a “poor me” story, it goes beyond that. Something terribly sad happened, but it has a truth of warts and all about it, but is just about matter-of-fact too, with some of the pragmatic.
It also seems not to hide anything that she experienced in her grief, from being so low that she found solace and comfort in talking about it, to being enraged to finding a psychosymatic calmness in white feathers and imagining they are a symbol. She seems to have experienced it all. The book does move on from her counselling sessions and onto some of her work and clients and more into her own personal life, such as the quandry as to whether to date or not and into some pretty dark corners, but also, for her, and maybe for others reading this, brings some hope for a brighter future.

There is also an interesting snapshot into how things are changing in the NHS and her views on this. It also gives interesting illumination into psychotherapists. The attitudes and more…It comes to a great and very truthful conclusion, that many readers, I’m sure will find agreeable, she also manages to give a bit of hope for everyone now as she ends on a hopeful note about the pandemic, which everyone can relate to, no matter how you’ve lived through it.

What I do think would be perhaps wonderfully helpful in books that tackle such emotive and universal subjects such as these, is a list of just a few websites and contact numbers to charities who specialise in the book’s topic, in case there is anyone who would like to reach out. That aside, this is such a worthwhile book to read. I of course, also wish 

Facts:

  • Some 800,000 women lose their spouses each year in the UK. Statistically, women are far more likely to be widowed and far less likely to remarry than men.
  • A study done by Amerispeak found that 57% of Americans are grieving the loss of
    someone close to them over the last three years.
  • According to Child Bereavement UK, a parent of children under 18 dies every 22
    minutes in the UK; around 23,600 a year. This equates to around 111 children being
    bereaved of a parent every day.
  • 1 in 29 5-16 year olds has been bereaved of a parent or sibling – that’s a child in every
    average class.

Useful, Confidential Links

ChildBereavementUK                    Samaritans

One Thousand Days BT Poster

#Review of Journeys in the Wild – The Secret Life of A Cameraman by Gavin Thurston – Take a look at the amazing adventures in the natural world of this award winning cameraman. Rated 5 stars @GavinThurston @SeveDialsBooks @OrionBooks @gigicroft #JourneysInTheWild #NonFiction #Nature

Journeys in the Wild
The Secret Life of a Cameraman
By Gavin Thurston
Rated: 5 stars *****

 

What a wonderfully observed, written book, full of first hand experience I have reviewed by the award-winning and dare I say, now, multi-talented Gavin Thurston. I am so pleased to have picked it up and read it. There’s adventure, trepidation, humour and such warmth within this non-fiction, diarised book. I must say I was impressed by the calibre of writing and the ability to hold my attention beginning to end. It could have been dry, but this book certainly isn’t that. It was fairly unputdownable, as I suspected it would be, so had to wait until I had a sizeable amount of time to devote to the book I have enjoyed so much. I have the blurb and my review as well as links to Gavin Thurston’s website to share with you all today. The book is available to buy now in hardback, E-book and Audiobook and available in paperback 28th May and can be pre-ordered. See links for options below the blurb and review.

Journey in wild cover

Blurb

From award-winning Blue Planet 11 and Planet Earth 11 cameraman Gavin Thurston comes extraordinary true stories of what it takes to film our planet’s most captivating creatures.

Against the backdrop of civil wars, coups, plane crashes and kidnap attempts, Gavin has lurked in the shadows of some of the world’s remotest places in order to capture footage of the animal kingdom’s finest: prides of lions; silverback gorillas; capuchin monkeys; penguins; mosquitoes – you name it, he’s filmed it.

From journeys to the deepest depths of the Antarctic Ocean to the peaks of the Himalayas and the wild forests of the Congo, Gavin invites you to come inside the cameraman’s secret world. Discover the hours spent patiently waiting for the protagonists to appear, the inevitable dangers hiding in the wings and the heart-warming, life affirming moments the cameras miss as well as capture.

There is also high praise from Michael Palin, Joanna Lumley and David Attenborough.

Review

Gavin Thurston – talented with a camera to get footage onto screens and talented with a pen and computer at putting brilliant observations down on the page and with a bit of humour within the adventures and the encountered dangers.

I bought this book with a book token I was gifted by a friend. I had been eyeing it up for long enough. Gavin Thurston is an incredibly talented cameraman and it turns out, writer too. There’s also an incredible forward by David Attenborough, who explains why we are now seeing cameramen on our tv screens, and it isn’t due to any obvious reasoning. He also has a lot of good things to say about Gavin Thurston and upon reading his book, I can see why. This is an absolute Must Read book in my opinion. From the minute I picked up the book I was hooked in. The writing for the way each part of his life is told is absolutely brilliant. This man can write and does so in a way that grabs attention. Time when reading this book flies by and is barely noticed. It is even better than what I thought it would be.

The book begins way back in 1972. Gavin Thurston then takes us to the 1980’s, 1990’s and all the way to 2017, in what is ultimately, a fascinating account/diary into his working life to date. The hardback version was published in 2019 and the paperback is due in 2020.

I could tell from the first few pages I was going to really like this book, well, in fact I love it very much. Gavin Thurston’s life as a cameraman is amazing with all the brilliant people and animals he has met, but this is such a down to earth book. It has imagery and humour in the writing. He has really encapsulated a world, that I guess, if you didn’t work within that field or didn’t watch the now documented bits at the end of wildlife programmes that are becoming more prevalent, this is part of a world you wouldn’t normally see and certainly at the times that are written about, on the whole, you wouldn’t know what went on behind the scenes.

In Corfu, Gavin was part of the team filming the animals for the 1980’s adaptation of Gerald Durrell’s book – My Family and Other Animals.

He travelled to the Soviet – the USSR as was in the 1990. There are great anecdotes about the flight and even what he had to go through beforehand with the BBC. There’s trepidation to be found in capturing a camera shot of chicks and even more danger when driving onwards to Afghanistan and there’s some stomach-churning alcohol distilling.

1997 finds him filming sequences for David Attenborough’s Life of Birds in the Galapagos Islands. There are more than beautiful birds to watch out for, there’s also an issue of Gavin’s good friend Nigel’s tooth to fix by themselves on the remote islands. There are brilliant snapshots of things that went on behind the scenes that, if it weren’t for them being documented in this book, most people certainly wouldn’t know about because this is also a book that takes readers beyond the filming too.

In Kenya in 1988 there are beautifully written observations on elephants and then the high drama of killer bees and then off to Panama at the time of the Lockerbie bombing. This book certainly shows that being a wildlife cameraman, may be an amazing job, but not one for the faint-hearted as it seems it can be fraught with all sorts of dangers. There are however very cool insights into David Attenborough here and there too, during and after the cameras stop rolling. There is a lovely warmth that seems to exist within camera crews, which is very nicely depicted.

The 1990’s explores China, Italy and the USA, filming cute pandas and more…

2001 in the Congo, there’s deadly fungus that may well make your skin crawl and chimps that need saving. The writing is vivid and adept.

There are glimpses of back home in Bristol to tell how last-minute jobs came in, like going to Antarctica to film penguins.

In Hawaii in 1997 Violent Planet was being filmed and this time it is bubbling molten lava being filmed. The writing is vivid and captures the atmosphere.

The book, apart from showing nature and the ups and the challenges of being in the wild, takes you to places where you don’t necessarily always think about too much, if at all, such as the balancing homelife and being away for weeks, months even, on end. It also bravely gives insight to some of the precarious nature of being a cameraman too.

There’s insights into elephants for a BBC programme that seem so beautiful and amazing, and yet, filmed in a place of danger, not from the elephants, but a human kidnapper… Life gets dangerous again when filming for The Private Life of Plants and even more so again when filming wildlife during a civil war. It is all captured so well in the writing, in such a way that makes you want to read on to see what both is lived through and captured on camera.

Gavin Thurston also writes great observations about tribes and large logging companies and some of the consequences.

The book concludes almost how it began, which is really lovely and beautifully written, as is, indeed throughout the whole of this book. I am glad I picked it up and read it and I hope many other people will too. By the end, whatever respect you have for wildlife cameramen/people will surely be heightened further.

Below are links to Gavin Thurston’s website and how you can purchase this fine book. I will add I loved the book and I hope others do too, I don’t get any money from sales or indeed at all.

www.gavinthurston.com

Click Here for Purchasing Options

 

 

#Review of The Consequences of Love by Gavanndra Hodge Rated 5 stars @gavanndra @MichaelJBooks #BookReview #NonFiction

The Consequences of Love
By Gavanndra Hodge
Rated: 5 stars *****

This is a moving story of Gavanndra Hodges compelling, emotional, honest account of the strength and bonds that creates sisterly love and how love can devastate a person. The book goes between the 1980s, 1990’s and 2000’s. There is a lot that readers will be familiar with from music to locations to childhood toys. From the start you can almost feel the tender love between Gavanndra and her sister Candy. It is sweet and yet so devastatingly heart-breaking as Candy becomes so unwell from an airborne virus and slips away, the girl who is described as being loving, wilful, funny, curious and so much more.
The numbness of grief and the consequences of not giving time to grieve is layed bare within this brave story, that holds more than, certainly what I ever imagined in this must read book. It is definitely a book that will take readers through many emotions and yet does shed some light and hope and how powerful the psychological make up of our minds can be in this terrifically written book that is a great read.
Within my post here, you will find out more about the author, the blurb and my review.

I give thanks to the publishing company – Michael Joseph – an imprint of Penguin for allowing me to review such a heart-rendering, touching and tender book; and for supplying me with a physical print copy in-exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

About the Author

Gavanndra Hodge has worked in newspapers and magazines for over twenty years, at the Daily Mail, Independent, ES Magazine and Tatler, where she was deputy editor and acting editor. In 2018 she left Tatler and became a freelance writer, contributing to publications including the Sunday Times, The Times, Telegraph and ES Magazine. She writes a column for The Times LUXX Magazine about how to talk to children about difficult subjects, such as privilege, grief and fairness, and has interviewed many high profile people, most recently Michael Caine, Margot Robbie and Carey Mulligan.

The Conseequence of Love

Blurb

Seven-year-old Gavanndra Hodge’s life is a precarious place. Her father is a hairdresser and drug dealer to Chelsea’s most decadent inhabitants; her mother an alcoholic ex-model. So, it is up to Gavanndra to keep her little sister Candy safe.

But when Candy dies suddenly on holiday aged nine, Gavanndra’s family, already so fragile and damaged, implodes.

Now a mother herself, and with only memories of Candy’s awful final moments, Gavanndra embarks on a journey to write her way back to the little girl whose death tore her family apart.

The Consequences of Love is a story of loss and recovery, trauma and memory. It is a joyous and compelling account of the strength of the love between sisters and how nothing is ever truly lost if we are brave enough to return to where we began.

Review

Candy (Candida Meander Hodge) died 4th April 1989. This book is about love, loss, grief on a huge scale, dealing with the consequences of the magnitude of grief, identity, drugs and alcohol of dealing with memories and handling life when people fill in the gaps, that have been long since suppressed. This is an emotional read and also one that is perhaps important. As much as there are other people mentioned in the book, like a boyfriend and friends etc, it is ultimately one that focuses your mind on both Gavanndra and Candy Hodge.

It finally becomes about both preserving both sisters. One dead, the other alive and the beginnings a gradual recovery, decades later for the one who is alive. It shows the messiness of life and the need to give time to actually process emotions and to grieve. It’s a brave book that in no way could have been easy to write and to bare so much about life in the past and closer to present times as memories are retrieved about the people she associated with and the way her family was and the emotional pain, that she may have thought she dealt with at the time of the death, but had not as it states her own vices. It becomes apparent that, although there is hope and love as she now has a family of her own, with a husband who is different from her father, that it would have been a lot to deal with, enough to hope that some way, Gavanndra Hodge’s personal life gets that bit better as more time goes on.

It’s also about, perhaps not full recovery, but a merging of the past and present and finding a way to live with them both. There seems to be strings of pain that, like threads that intertwine to create it to run through something, the pain intertwines and feeds through this family and the profound effect Candy’s death had on her, into adulthood and the entire surviving family. There is some optimism and hope provided by Gavanndra Hodge as she tells this life story.

There are however, in 1982,  childhood memories of fun like Enid Blyton books, wobbly teeth and fun with her dad. The type of fun that would make any reader smile and may bring back their own childhood memories. There’s a cutting darkness of her dad being involved in drugs.

Time moves on to 2014 and Gavanndra naturally grows up and has her own children – Hebe and Minna, with an age gap not far from herself and Candy. It is evident that the memories hits hard when her children are playing gleefully around. At this time Gavanndra works for Tatler magazine as a successful Deputy Editor as she tries to work through the past and yet separate it from her present at times. The writing is powerful, it grabs you from the beginning to the end.
The book covers quite a lot and her mother also becomes terribly unwell with cellulitis and sepsis, both that are challenging to deal with and are thankfully becoming more prominent in certain narratives in the news in recent years. Time moves also to 2015 and there is a sentence, that, for me anyway, hits home even more and that is about how every time a phone rings, you wonder if someone else has died. It will feel so uniquely different for everyone, but at the same time, I know how that feels for me, as Gavanndra will for her.

The book highlights some of the great work of Julia Samuel – a psychotherapist who consoled Princes William and Harry after their mother died and is a founder of Child Bereavement UK. This, apart from being nice, fits in with Gavanndra’s personal as well as her ambitious professional life. It is also very interesting to read about the social circles she moves/moved in. 

In 1991 there is a mix of drugs and GCSEs, quite a comparison to later in 2015 when she finally goes for therapy and to try to remember Candy more, the sister who she lost and to release the profoundness and pain of the grief a bit so it becomes more manageable. Reading onwards I hold hope for Gavanndra Hodge that she gets what she is seeking and that her personal life improves as more of what happened to Candy almost tumbles out in some interesting therapies and therapists, except I doubt in reality it did tumble out completely and took time.

There’s a really interesting interview in the last quarter of the book that shines a light on Jan Hodge about the family and tragedies.

The book does ultimately take readers up to 2018 and 2019, where we really get a glimpse into Candy, who seemed vibrant, knew her own mind – bordering on stubborn with and arty flair and friendly and the school reports are fascinating.

This is ultimately a book that is emotional and moving and is very interesting indeed. As much as the years move around a bit from chapter to chapter, it reads very well and does make sense to do this in this instance. It reads like there is a lot of honesty and in the end you cannot but help that there’s some more light in the author’s life to come. There is in a sense, perhaps more to be told, but the focus is excellent. It deals well with what “The Consequences of Love” can be, and yet we all need love and to be loved.