Feasible Planet by Ken Kroes @ken_kroes #Lovebookstour @Lovebooksgoup #Environment #EnvironmentalBook #Climate #BookBlitz #NonFiction #BlogTour

Feasible Planet
By Ken Kroes

Today I am on a quick blog tour for a book blitz. The quickest blog yet, to inform you of a new book – Feasible Planet. Check out about the author and then head on further down to the page to the blurb to find out what it’s all about. If you like Non-Fiction and are also concerned about the planet, this just could be the book for you. So, go ahead and check it out!

About The Author

Pic of ken_kroes (1)Ken Kroes is the author of the Percipience Eco-Fiction Series and the non-fiction books, Feasible Planet and Feasible Living. He is passionate about our relationship with our planet and applies his diverse background which includes agriculture, mechanical engineering and information systems into his writing. Born in Calgary, Canada he has bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and has had the pleasure of living in many locations in North America and has travelled extensively.

He can be reached on Ken@feasibleplanet.com 

Pic of Feasible Planet (1)

Blurb

Are we doing enough?

Are you concerned about the state of our planet and hope that governments and corporations will find a sustainable way for us to live? If you do not think about it too hard, that may work, but will it? Left on their own, with drivers of popularity and profits, I am not too convinced that it will.

The missing part of this equation is you and me. Individuals who believe that corporations and governments can do better. Individuals who believe that through action, we can buy a bit more time to develop and implement solutions to our critical issues.

Did I hear a groan out there when you read the word ‘actions’? Do not worry! Most of the actions that I am referring to will not only help save the planet, but will benefit you right away through saving money, time, better health, and having a happier life in general.

Sustainability goes beyond controlling our consumption and pollution. There are key social, political, and economic areas that need to be addressed as well, and there are several steps that individuals can take to help in these areas.

For those of you who feel we could do more, this book is for you and is loaded with actionable activities, the reasons for doing them, and explores why we are not doing them already.

Every journey starts with a first step. Hopefully, this book will lead to those first sustainable steps and that will change the world.

*Thanks to Kelly for inviting me to show you what this book has to offer and I hope that all my readers are well. Take care.

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#Review – Eileen – The Making of George Orwell by Sylvia Topp – An Insightful book of their lives and her influence. @SylviaTopps @unbounders #Eileen #GeorgeOrwell #RandomThingsTours @AnneCater #Biography #BlogTour #non-fiction

Eileen – The Making of George Orwell
By Sylvia Topp
Rated: 4 stars ****

I am very pleased to present my review about Eileen, who, I knew so little about, until now, and it turns out she is a remarkably talented woman who does deserve credit and who really was the making of George Orwell, so he became the author we all know today.

About the Author

Sylvia Topp has worked in publishing since college, starting as a copy writer on medical Eileen Sylvia Topp Author Picjournals, then moving to freelancing editing at a major literary publishing houses. She was the long-time wife and partner of Tuli Kupferberg, a Beat poet who later was a co-founder, in 1964, of the Fugs, a legendary rock and roll band. Together Sylvia and Tuli wrote, edited, and designed over thirty books and magazines, including As They Were, 1001 Ways to Live Without Working, and Yeah! magazine. Sylvia joined the staff at The Soho Weekly Newsand later The Village Voice, before finishing her publishing career at Vanity Fair. Eileen is her first book. She lives in Kingston, Ontario.

Social Media Links –

Twitter – @sylviatopp

Publisher – Unbound

Eileen Cover

Blurb

In 1934, Eileen Shaughnessy’s futuristic poem, ‘End of the Century’, 1984, was published. The next year, she would meet George Orwell, then known as Eric Blair, at a party. “Now that is the kind of girl I would like to marry!” he remarked that night. Years later, Orwell would name his greatest work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, in homage to the memory of Eileen, the woman who shaped his life and his art in way that have never been acknowledged by history, until now.

From the time they spent in a tiny village tending goats and chickens, through the Spanish Civil War, to the couple’s narrow escape from the destruction of their London flat during a German bombing raid, and their adoption of their baby boy, Eileen is the first account of the Blair’s nine year marriage. It is also a vivid picture of bohemianism, political engagement, and sexual freedom in the 1930s and ’40s.

Through impressive depth of research, illustrated throughout with photos and images from the time, this captivating and inspiring biography offers a completely new perspective on Orwell himself, and most importantly tells the life story of an exceptional woman who has been unjustly overlooked.

Review

Eileen! Who on earth was Eileen in relation to George Orwell’s work? It is true to say, not much seems to be known about her, until now. This book will tell you who she was. This is a book that offers a completely new perspective on George Orwell and is insightful about his wife – Eileen.
Eileen was much more to George Orwell than just his wife. The book shows a rounded character build-up, so a real sense of her life and personality really does come through. It really is absolutely fascinating, especially since so little was known and yet she had such a positive influence on George Orwell’s life. I get the sense that a lot of research has been put into this book and not all of it, easily found. Eileen, at times seems a woman of complete mystery and other routes have to be taken to discover more about her, and other times, there are letters right there, about her life. There are great photos of the key people mentioned, placed in the middle of the book. There are letters and archive materials scanned into the book too. I love that this book is, built on research that is actually supported by the Orwell Estate and Orwell Society. Recent biographers of George Orwell seem to laud this book. 

So, why write a book about Eileen, the woman who would become George Orwell’s wife? Readers will partially find out in the very interesting foreword, expertly written by Peter Davison who is the editor of The Complete Works of George Orwell and will certainly know much more about her by the end. The book also debunks some myths about George Orwell being a self-made man. Eileen has to be able to have credit to what she did and this book sets out to give her recognition. She was much more than a wife to George Orwell, it would seem. She was a woman who did a lot and achieved a lot in her life and helped shape George Orwell to be the successful man he became.

The book takes readers right back to archived material and research conducted on her ancestry and then moves onto her school days in South Shields and how nowadays there is memorabilia from the school is now scattered around the world. It is interesting having a look at her school reports and also a poem she wrote.

The book, interestingly gives an insight into what people thought of George Orwell and whether he was suitable marriage material or not and the marriage itself and the problems and expectations.

It is known that Orwell went to Catalonia and as well as addressing what he was doing there, readers will also see some of the extent of her work in their cottage, in helping Orwell on the road to becoming the author he became. What comes across is that she was a hard worker and also seemed quite devoted  to Orwell and did a lot, including making expensive and stressful trips to visit him in a sanatorium when he was terribly unwell.

Apart from having a positive effect on Orwell’s writing; Eileen typed and she also got review copies of books organised from his publisher. She comes across as being very supportive of him and his work. She also wanted him to be healthy after so much illness and tried to find a better home than the cottage to live in. I felt the writing gave her justice and her personality comes through.

The book moves on to a time in Morocco. There’s a real sense of what Morocco was like then and the experience they had. With secret letters to another for a time, I felt sorry for her and with all the sacrifices she was making. There does, however seem to be happier and better periods in their marriage, before and after this. It’s like they were bound together some way, no matter all their troubles and strife. It’s certainly interesting reading about what sort of marriage they had. 

It is interesting reading about what Eileen may have done to support the war effort and she seems to be a woman with substantial connections to important people and how she seemed to be becoming successful in her own-right, but even then, there is still a bit of bleakness and hardship to live through. I figure that there must be quite some strength of character in Eileen.

It is then, so interesting to see what influenced George Orwell to write both 1984 and Animal Farm and reading about his other works. It is equally interesting to read about how Animal Farm could have been such a different piece and perhaps, not quite so cleverly written or indeed in story form, if it was not for the influence of the extraordinary Eileen, who was also, it would seem, talented in her own right. Her influence on Orwell’s work, especially Animal Farm is hugely significant and I certainly had not realised until reading this book, for that to be the case.

The book has an epilogue about what happened at the end of Eileen’s life and what happened next. There are also eloquent letters she wrote. It is worth pointing out that after the index, there are lists upon lists of people’s names who have supported this book.

By the time you’ve finished this book, you will have learnt a lot and you will see why this book had to be written and why Eileen deserves recognition, I certainly think she does. This book is definitely worthwhile reading.

Eileen BT Poster

Happy World Book Day #WorldBookDay 2020 #Books #Bookish #CrimeFiction #Fiction #NonFiction #Kidslit #PictureBook #HistoricalFiction #History #Romance #Biography #ContemporaryFiction

Happy World Book Day 2020

Happy World Book Day and I hope that everyone is having a fabulous day, however you are celebrating. There are many author events going on around the UK in public and community libraries as well as schools. There are also lots of other bookish events too that can be participated in as you read for pleasure. There are also other ways you can participate in World Book Day, if you cannot attend an event, such as, curling up with a good book and leaving an author a review on Waterstones and Amazon.

Today I am attending a World Book Day Event to hear a talk by rising star Alison Belsham, author of The Tattoo Thief and then it will be my turn to host an event up here in Scotland too on Monday with Liz Treacher – author of The Wrong Envelope and The Wrong Direction.

I also have some great books in my review pile for both adult and children that are being published between this month and summer.

In the pile I am currently reading are fiction and non-fiction books. In no particular order of publication or review dates, look out for book one of a new series by Ben Kane – Made in Battle, Forged in War; Us Three by Ruth Jones (yes, the actor/writer from Gavin and Stacey and author of Never Greener); Eileen – The Making of George Orwell, Eileen was his wife, but not much is known about her, until now…; Paper Sparrows; A Conspiracy of Bones – the latest book by Kathy Reichs; I return to reviewing again for Lesley Kelly for her book Murder at the Music Factory – the latest in the health of Strangers series (read as a series or stand alone); I return to The Bobby Girls series to review the latest book – The Bobby Girl’s Secrets to see what the police volunteers are up to in their second and newest book.

I return to Janey Louise Jones children’s books to see what else Princess Poppy has in store now she has worked out how to save the bees. This time she is tackling plastic. I also will be reviewing for a charity Helping Hands who have had the Duchess of York on board to craete books  about how to tackle bullying, first days at school and strangers. There is a fantasy book to continue the series about Akra The Healing Stone, by Vacyn Taylor and a new book – Snow Child by a new author – Larraine Harrison.

This is just a few of the books sitting on my pile to date that you will start to see full reviews for soon. So, lots of books for you to look forward to exploring and to see what I think of. Coming up very soon are some children’s books and then an adult thriller that Lee Child and many other authors have a lot of praise for.

I of course thank all the authors, publishers and blog tour organisers for all these amazing opportunities to review and of course I thank just as equally, the readers of my blog as without everyone, my blog couldn’t exist.

Review of A Year Without Summer – One Event, Six Lives, a World Changed by Guinevere Glasfurd @GuinGlasfurd @TwoRoadsBooks #AYearWithoutSummer #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour #Review #Historical

The Year Without Summer
By Guinevere Glasfurd
Rated: ****

I am delighted to be closing this wonderful blog tour of A Year Without Summer. One Year, an exploding volcano that has far reaching implications than just its vicinity. It is worth reading and also find out which characters from history, you recognise. The intertwining of people’s lives and a volcanic eruption makes for intriguing reading.

Year Without Summer BT Poster (1)

 

About the Author

A Year Without Summer Guinever Glasfurd Author Pic (1)

 

Guinevere Glasfurd was born in Lancaster and lives near Cambridge with her husband and daughter. Her debut novel, The Words in My Hand, was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa First Novel Award and Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and was longlisted in France for the Prix du Roman FNAC. her writing has also appeared in the Scotsman, Mslexia and The National Galleries of Scotland.

Blurb

1815, Sumbawa Island, Indonesia:
Mount Tambora explodes in a cataclysmic eruption, killing thousands and causing famine, poverty and riots. Lives, both ordinary and privileged, are changed forever. Sent to investigate, ship surgeon Henry Hogg can barely believe his eyes. Once a paradise,
the island is now solid ash, the surrounding sea turned to stone. But worse is yet to come: as the ash cloud rises and covers the sun, the seasons will fail.

1816:
In Switzerland, Mary Shelley finds dark inspiration. Confined inside by the unseasonable weather, thousands of famine refugees stream past her door. In Vermont, preacher Charles Whitlock begs his followers to keep faith as drought dries their wells and
their livestock starve. In Britain, the ambitious and lovesick painter John Constable struggles to reconcile the idyllic England he paints with the misery that surrounds him. In the Fens, farm labourer Sarah Hobbs has had enough of going hungry while the
farmers flaunt their wealth. And Hope Peter, returned from Napoleonic war, finds his family home demolished and a fence gone up in its place. He flees to London, where he falls in with a group of revolutionaries who speak of a better life, whatever the cost.
As desperation sets in, Britain becomes racked with riots – rebellion is in the air.

For fans of David Mitchell and Andrew Miller, The Year Without Summer tells the story of a fateful year when temperatures fell and the summer failed to arrive. It is a story of the books written, the art made; of the journeys taken, of the love longed for and
the lives lost. Six separate lives, connected only by an event many thousands of miles away. Few had heard of Tambora – but none could escape its effects.

The Year Without Summer Cover (1)

Review

Firstly, I do enjoy a bit of creativity, so the layout of the title and sub-title captured my attention on such an otherwise, quite stark cover. It intrigues me, as does the hard-hitting blurb.

The book starts with a series of beautifully written letters between Emmalina and Henry in 1815, when Henry is a surgeon upon the Beneres – a ship out on the high seas. They practically set the scene of the times, a bit like looking at letters from ancestors.

The book then changes to 1816, where the chapters really begin, cleverly named after the main characters – John, Hope Peter, Charles, Henry, Mary, Roisin and Sarah. The book then transports readers to and fro from 1815 and 1816 in a succinct way.

This is a sumptuous period piece. I don’t mean big dresses and corsets. I mean that it is as richly character driven as it is setting driven as the story tells one of on land and at sea. There are all walks of life within these pages. There’s a romance, the returning from war, there’s a preacher trying to preach sermons wherever he could, there’s an author and artists too.

Then… an eruption! There is a volcano exploding that will change the course of life.

This was a period of time that I had heard of, but was still a bit unfamiliar with, not so much the people within the story, who did exist, but the actual Tambora volcanic explosion, so that was interesting.

There are writers, such as Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein and artists too that come into this story, one of the main reasons I was drawn to it. I was intrigued as to how they would fit into this story, plus I really like John Constable’s art. John, being John Constable, trying to show off his work of art at an exhibition at Somerset House. Those unfamiliar with Constable’s work, he was born in Suffolk and painted (in my opinion) beautiful landscapes, such as The Haywain, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, Cornfield and many more… It is interesting reading his part of the story, you get a feeling of his mood as people study his paintings, but then also go onto Turner’s (whom I equally like) and when the subject of a volcano erupting would be right up Turner’s street, when it is reported in the newspaper. It is also all put into context with what was happening elsewhere, such as Byron leaving Britain for Switzerland and one would think, giving up Newstead Abbey (visit if you haven’t already). As for Mary Shelley, it is interesting reading how she is trying to write and finally comes up with a tale to tell.

There are also tales to tell around the mill and other interesting characters, each life different to the next.

The story goes at a reasonable pace as the words etch onto the page like the paper is a large canvas, now filled with well-known names and historical times all weaved together to create, what is a pretty good yarn. There’s all manner of life to be found in this book.

Do take time to acquaint yourself with the Afterword. It tells of the far-reaching consequences and the real-life devastation caused by the Tambora volcanic explosion. It also tells a little more about the people who are characterised within this book.

Review of The Longest Farewell – James, Dementia and Me by Nula Suchet – Rated 5 stars @nulasuchet @johnsuchet1 @SerenBooks @LoveBooksTours @David_Suchet #TheLongestFarewell #BlogTour #Review #dementia #nonfiction #review #health

The Longest Farewell
By Nula Suchet
Rated: 5 stars *****

Nula Suchet Blog Tour poster.jpg

It gives me great pleasure to be closing Nula Suchet’s blog tour with my review, that was arranged by Kelley at Love Books Group. I first came across Nula Suchet’s book in the summer of 2019 and I am so pleased a blog tour has now occurred. This is one of the most heart-breaking non-fiction books, but it is also one of the most important. It also has the most wonderful happy moments within it. This book is worth investing the time in reading it. I highly recommend this absorbing, all-encompassing book that you may feel every emotion from.

 

About the Author

Nula Suchet picNula Suchet was born in Ireland, part of a large family. After a difficult early life she became an interior designer who worked internationally in the UK, Europe and the US. Now retired, she lives in London with her husband, the broadcaster John Suchet, who she met in the care home where their spouses were being cared for with dementia. Her book, The Longest Farewell, on dealing with her husband’s dementia and the heartbreak that came with it is available now.

Blurb

When Nula’s husband James, a British documentary filmmaker, becomes forgetful they put it down to the stress of his work. But his behavior becomes more erratic and inexplicable, and he is eventually diagnosed as suffering from Picks Disease, an early onset and aggressive form of dementia. Suddenly their lives change from comfortable middle-class creatives through inexplicable behaviour, the shock of diagnosis, coping with the ongoing illness, not coping with the illness, to the indignities of care home life. The Longest Farewell is a moving description of James utter mental and physical deterioration, and the effect that it had both on him and on the people from whom he was involuntarily retreating, particularly Nula. Her life is completely taken over by James illness: her frustration at trying to cope, her guilt at having to hand over his care to professionals in England, are just part of her at times harrowing story.

With James in care and left with seemingly little to do but wait for his death, Nula meets Bonnie, another resident at the care home suffering from the same condition. In turn she meets Bonnie’s husband, the broadcaster John Suchet and the similarity of their positions becomes a bond between them. After the deaths of James and Bonnie, and some guilt-induced false starts, Nula’s story takes a bitter-sweet turn: they become partners, and eventually marry. The Longest Farewell is a heartfelt yet inspiring account of dealing with dementia, and of unexpectedly finding a happy ending.

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Review

Brave, devastatingly emotional, moving, heartbreaking, thought-provoking and yet there’s so much love in the Longest Farewell and ultimately, such a special kind of happiness.

I am pleased and privileged to review The Longest Farewell by Nula Suchet. It is with great thanks to her for agreeing to allow me to review her book. I also thank her for arranging with her publisher to send me a hardback copy.

Nula Suchet chronicled her life in the hope that anyone whose life is blighted with dementia can know that the tunnel they feel enclosed by need never be totally closed. The book is 182 pages and every word is evidently written from the heart. There is so much in this book to capture, so please bear with me.

At only fifty-seven years old, Nula’s husband was diagnosed with Picks disease – a rare form of dementia. This is an important book. It really shows that dementia really does not choose age or class or creed. It is a cruel disease at any age, but particularly to someone who was in his prime to then suddenly not be. There’s so much heartbreak when reading this book. Any reader, I am sure would feel it. This book is brave and must have taken a lot of courage to write as memories of a life since past, come to the fore once more in such a way, in order to write this brilliant book. The book begins with there just not being something quite right about James. The worry is there in the writing as is the fact that it perhaps makes more sense to put the new behaviours James is expressing, down to stress.

There is a strong glimpse into what life for James used to be like pre-dementia. I like that we are treated to the type of man he was and what he did. He had a strong place in the world, he created scripts for documentaries and wrote screenplays and worked very hard and over many hours. There seems to be a real sense of vibrancy and intelligence about James, even when there’s a bit about him meeting with a producer and normally he talks a lot about various ideas, when instead, there is a silence, that would by now, seem, to any reader as being unusual for James. There was an energy and enthusiasm in his work that was all of a sudden whisked away, leaving the love of his life wondering what to do. Nula writes unambiguously, throughout, including the emotions, the striking behaviours in James and Nula’s understandable initial denial that it could be anything other than stress or lots of time writing alone. There is a deep sense that every single sentence written is incredibly heart-felt and I believe other readers will feel this in their hearts too as I do in mine. There’s the feeling of anger too about what the Picks disease is doing to James. Everyone reacts differently and until dementia happens, you cannot fully really know how you will react, let’s just say, it is a familiar reaction. In amongst all of the different emotions and the having to deal with it, I like that Nula Suchet shows an air of determination to still to try to live life to the fullest with James, doing the things they used to enjoy together. There is however, such a bitter-sweetness. Nula Suchet writes about some wonderful memories, that seem so happy and full of love. There is such a determination to care for James. How hard this is isn’t sugar-coated as bit by bit it is there for all readers to see, but ultimately dementia is sadly taking over and behaviours, caused by Picks. Even before the chapter called Isolation, there’s a sense of it creeping stealthily and unwelcomingly in and life as they once knew it coming to a halt. Nula also has to give up working on her interior design business too. The writing is so amazingly strong, every aspect of the book is absorbing and all consuming in a good way because every emotion can practically be felt and empathised and sympathised with. I know this is a book that I will read more than once. I realised that before I even reached the end.

When Nula Suchet says about their being a comfort that she finally found a “good home” that did activities with their residents, even I feel gladness of that, because very unfortunately that isn’t always the case, as is pointed out in the book. Not that this makes anything any easier, not really, as travelling to the care home also is another emotional challenge of sadness as that feeling of guilt takes hold and lingers. The phrases used could not be put any better to describe that situation of struggle, anguish and the sheer depths of despair she goes to. Not one bit of it could be easy to have re-lived at all.

It is so interesting and thoughtful that other residents are remembered from Nula’s visits to see James and what I think readers, who perhaps don’t need to make visits to a care home will find is how different the residents all behave that she describes, as well as the feelings and vocal demands of James too.

The book then naturally merges into John Suchet’s life too as he and Nula meet and it is touching as she also gets to know Bonnie in the care home.
John Suchet is a broadcaster, currently on  the radio channel Classic FM.
It reads a little bit differently from what went prior. There are correspondences between Nula and John, which contain warmth, care and attention.

There are similarities in emotions felt and the emotionally charged writing, for he too is losing Bonnie – the love of his life all too early with the cruelty of dementia.  There are some parallels between their lives as a strong connection starts to build between them, such as John and Bonnie also travelled together whilst he worked – researching for his books. The connection builds into friendship and more and this is beautiful to read about as there is a clear hope and glimmer of happiness and being able to re-discover all the things they both enjoy and together. There are however a few times of understandable tentativeness at first and a challenging holiday in Greece together, which is written so well and with also recalling her own upbringing, which was so different from John’s. Hers, one of more turmoil and heartbreak, compared to John’s seemingly more perfect life. There is some comfort to be found in her insecurities as she asks calls “girly questions” due to insecurities. It is something many females will relate to, I am sure, but also the self-protection both males and females I am sure will relate to some degree. There are other trips where there are memories of James and the sadness that comes with it. There’s also more feelings of guilt and the pain of not being able to have a  coherent discussion with James about what she had been doing.

The further deterioration in both Bonnie and James and the medical issues and palliative care is not shied away from. It is told how it was for them. Poignantly there is a shared “list of nevers”, which is things they will never be able to do again.  It is by this time at its starkest yet as is the fact that dementia never leaves those who actually have it, but also others, like John and Nula, no matter what else is done in life.

Nula goes into some detail about the further deterioration of James and how it affects her relationship with John, who is also seeing this in Bonnie and is trying to cope with his own emotions, has to be given credit for being so incredibly patient and for showing such care and realising they need each other, even when emotion is trying to get the better of Nula and is trying to pull the relationship apart and almost forever, even after the funerals of James and Bonnie, which is chronicled with such respect. I found myself thinking thank goodness that Nula’s computer needed fixed and they were going to an expert together and she still agreed. Through all the devastation Nula and John lived through together, there is so much love and the ending is one that nearly was not, but my goodness I am glad it is just the best ending or perhaps best ever continuation of their lives may be more appropriate, for two people who have lived through so much and now bravely shared so much to the world.

There’s so much pain and guilt that is so understandable and deserves compassion. What is perhaps not actually said, is still there in-between the lines because this is actually an incredibly well-written book and written from the heart.

There are two sections of wonderful, meaningful photos that are excellently placed within the book. The first section, depicting happier times of James and Nula and they are so full of joy and life and yet there is a sadness because these are memories now of his work and of other life’s adventures they did together.  There’s also some other family photos too that are interesting to see. The second set shows James and Bonnie years into dementia and what it was doing to them, and yet they are so poignantly remembered through these photos. They are so tastefully done and with sensitivity. There are also photos of happier times again of Nula and John together, which are so heartwarming and they really do look so happy together. Each photo has its place. They seem so carefully chosen and go with the text before and after them. Every single expression looks so genuine.

I do also recommend reading the very important postscript. It highlights further the need for greater awareness and compassion for those with dementia. It isn’t just those who actually have this devastating disease that has still no cure to, it is everyone around that person. It highlights that care needs to be better and more research and more expertise needs to be put into it and that care, although can be good in some places of the UK, it isn’t always good around the UK. There’s acknowledgement of the greatest campaign’s so far, such as Line of Duty actress Vicky McClure’s Dementia Choir, hosted in Nottingham and Formula One champion Jackie Stewart launching a fund for research.

I have never read a book quite like The Longest Farewell before. The Longest Farewell is an important and timeless book in raising awareness of what Dementia can do and how it affects everyone’s lives and not just the person who is suffering from it. It also raises awareness of the inequalities in the care for dementia patients. There also is a need for more compassion towards people with dementia and their affected families around them.
For some, perhaps the book may also provide comfort and hope for those who are carers or are visiting their loved ones in a care-home that they aren’t alone.

It is also kind that Nula mentions that John also has a book called My Bonnie, documenting his dispair and loneliness about losing Bonnie to dementia. He also writes books about different classical composers in his fascinating Man Revealed series.

 

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Review of Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper – An essential, brave, captivating autobiography. @meganphelps @riverrunbooks #autobiography #non-fiction #newbook #bookish #Review

Unfollow
By Megan Phelps-Roper
Rated: *****

About the Author

Megan Phelps-Roper is a writer and activist. Formerly a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, she left the church in November 2012 and is now an educator on topics related to extremism and communication across ideological divides. She lives in South Dakota with her husband, Chad, and daughter, Solvi Lynn.

Blurb

It was an upbringing in many ways normal. A loving home, shared with squabbling siblings, overseen by devoted parents. Yet in otherways it was the precise opposite: a revolving door of TV camera crews and documentary makers, a world of extreme discipline, of siblings vanishing in the night.

Megan Phelp’s Roper was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church – the fire-and-brimstone religious sect at once aggressively homophobic and anti-Semitic, rejoiceful for AIDS and natural disasters, and notorious for its picketing the funerals of American soldiers.
From her first public protest, aged five, to her instrumental role in spreading the church’s invective via social media, her formative years brought their difficulties. But being reviled was not one of them. She was preaching God’s truth. She was, in her words, ‘all in’.

In November 2012, at the age of twenty-six, she left the church, her family, and her life behind.

Unfollow cover pic

Review

I had watched the documentary by Louis Theroux. There are two of them. The second one was when he returned to the US to catch up with Megan as she informed him that she had left the Westboro Baptist Church. It is fascinating. I later won her newly published book (2019) – Unfollow in a competition I saw on Twitter. It is with thanks to the publisher Quercus and Prima magazine reviewer – Nina Pottell that I have this book, so I decided I would write a review of it as I believe it is a book worthy of doing this for.

This book is brave. Brave can be a completely over-used word and one I often avoid using, but here, I think it is warranted. It is gripping in the fact it is a fascinating truth of an insight into her family and the church she was raised in and how she changed her views and walked away. Sounds simple, but reading this book will show that it was anything but as easy as that.

Megan doesn’t hold back in writing about the extremities of her grandfather’s (Gramps) beliefs and the same ones that were inflicted on her at such a young age, so they would become so ingrained that she would just follow-on. Imagine at the age of 5 being on a picket line, just because that’s where your parents tell you that’s where you have to be. Worrying isn’t it? And yet we see children everywhere, babies even on picket-lines, whether it is for something extreme or not…. makes you think doesn’t it? Or perhaps it will, reading this book.

It is enlightening to see both of what went on within the church, but also the family relations and the contrast between what would be considered average and the actual activities that were imposed.

Megan goes into detail about the protests the Westboro Baptist Church led. Seriously, even if you find parts upsetting, stick with it. This book is a book people need to read. This book exposes the Westboro Baptist Church and it tells of how she bravely left.

Megan was clearly born into a church which was powerful, extreme and cult-like in what went on within their belief system, the manner in which they learnt the bible and how it wasn’t the done thing to leave. This is her journey of living this and thinking it was a place she would stay forever to actually leaving it all behind.

The attitudes of the Westboro Baptists to major world events is interesting and shocking to read and aren’t particularly ones that most churches would follow.

It is interesting to read the actual attitudes and thoughts on Louis Theroux and his camera crew. It was also interesting to read how much time they spent in the US filming and gathering material for the documentary, which I also recommend watching.

Reading further about the turning points and when Megan decided to leave the church, it is evident it wasn’t a decision taken lightly and she had much to consider, such as her own beliefs, where life may take her next, other people. She also goes into transitioning from a life of hard-fast rules to a life with more freedoms and time to discover more.

This book is different from so many others of its genres. It speaks of a truth that for some, may be hard to bear and for others, may be a comfort that attitudes of individuals can change with some care and attention as well as kindness. It is a well-written account of a life that was one way and changed to another way of life, with new beliefs. It is about a life many may have heard of, but not experienced. This book is one that captures and holds attention. It is one that leaves me saying that I hope all works out for Megan as she works through discovering a new way of living life with her family that she is bringing up away from the West-boro Baptist Church.