#Review By Lou – Drinking Custard – Diary Of A Confused Mum By Lucy Beaumont @LucyABeaumont @Octopus_Books @RandomTTours #DrinkingCustard #Memoir #Parents #Families #NonFiction

Drinking Custard – Diary Of A Confused Mum
By Lucy Beaumont

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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Today I am on a blog tour for an entertaining non-fiction – autobiographical book – Drinking Custard – Diary of a Confused Mum. Discover more in the blurb and review below. Thanks first to Random T. Tours for inviting me to review on the blog tour and for Octopus Books for gifting a hardback copy of the book. 

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Drinking Custard Graphic 1About the Lucy Beaumont
and the Book

Known for her sharp, witty and surreal view on everyday life, Lucy shares the unpredictable craziness of being a mum in this brilliant and laugh-out-loud ‘mumoir’. Mums everywhere will recognise the madness of it all. From when Lucy was hospitalised with indigestion in her third trimester (blame the burrito), to when she was *this close* to slapping her hypnobirthing instructor, to fi nding herself drinking a whole pint of custard in one sitting.
Drinking Custard also captures Lucy’s marriage to comedian Jon, as they navigate Lucy’s raging pregnancy hormones and balk at pram prices together.

 

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Review

Firstly, Lucy Beaumont makes it clear she hasn’t written a parental advice book. As I read through the book, this is a book with humour and with anecdotes that parents may be able to relate to in their own lives.
There is about Lucy herself, who is also a comedian and her lifestyle as well as how she met fellow comedian – Jon Richardson, who she rubs up the wrong way from time to time. It’s really rather funny!

The way the book is set-out is fun, quick and easy to read for those busy parents. It’s easy to dip in and out of. It’s an entertaining enough book for something different to read to lift people’s mood.

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There are some serious moments too, about hormones, the changes within her body whilst being pregnant and the challenges of those night feeds. There’s also joy of reaching certain milestones too, between missing the life pre-baby. There’s the changes in conversations from Homes Under The Hammer exchanged to Paw Patrol and Bing etc. and the groups to join up to and progressing onto nursery runs.

The book is entertaining and seems to be an honest, yet humorous account of life and becoming and being parents.

 

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#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.

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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

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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

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#Bookreview by Lou of To Be A Gay Man By Will Young @willyoung @penguinrandom @EburyPublishing

To Be A Gay Man
By Will Young
Rated: 5 stars *****

Authentic, Brave, Emotional, Honest, Essential Reading.

Will Young broke into mass public consiousness on Pop Idol. Since then I have seen his blossoming career in, not just pop music, but on stage in many shows like Cabaret, Strictly Ballroom and more and in films like Mrs Henderson Presents. where he also shines and in some pretty brave and frank interviews. He’s taken this braveness to a whole new level and gone much further and delved much more into the his inner feelings on life. Whether you are within the LGBTQ community, which is of course the primary reach of this book to raise awareness of mental health, or not, this is inspiring, informative and there is something that anyone can grasp onto and take away with them.
He also has a new album out called – Lexicon.

Thank you to Penguin Random House and E-bury Publishing publicists for accepting my request to review.
Follow down for the synopsis, review and essential links to mental health charities, as noted within this book.

Synopsis

In To Be a Gay Man, Will Young speaks out about gay shame, revealing the impact it had on his own life, how he learned to deal with it, and how he can now truthfully say he is gay and happy.

We know Will as a multi-platinum recording artist, Olivier-nominee, and the first winner of the Idol franchise. But his story began long before his first audition. Looking back on a world where growing up being called gay was the ultimate insult and coming out after a lifetime of hiding his sexuality, Will explores the long-lasting impact repressing his true self has had.

As Will’s own story demonstrates, internalised shame in childhood increases the risk of developing low self-worth, and even self-disgust, leading to destructive behaviours in adult life.

Will revisits the darkest extremes he has been to, sharing his vulnerabilities, his regrets, tracing his own navigation through it all and showing the way for others who might have felt alone in the same experience.

Here you will find a friend, champion and mentor, breaking taboos with frank honesty, and offering invaluable practical advice on overcoming the difficult issues too often faced within the LGBTQ+ community.

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Review

The book opens, practically with a smile. Who can resist reading about a crisp autumnal morning, even if there is a rude awakening by Nellie, Will Young’s daschund who wakes him up and goes on to the podcast he and Chris Sweeney have founded, called the Homo-Sapien’s Podcast.

Will Young talks candidly about the online communities that go about Gay-Shaming. I’m heterosexual myself, but accept everyone and it’s absolutely emotional and shocking to the core. I am impressed that Will Young has got the courage to tell the world about what he found. In this book there’s definitely a certain amount of strength of character.

He then goes onto talk very personally about his family and relationship with his dad and the bullying within the education system and how he reckons LGBTQ is still not addressed properly. What is good, is he backs it up with facts, using The Trevor Project in the USA and Stonewall in the UK for examples and for research into his basis. It makes this a stronger book for it. It’s a real mix of facts, figures, his personal experiences and opinions.

He also addresses the layers of being gay, which may be evident if you have a friend who is in the LGBTQ community or are within it yourself. He also backtracks in time and talks about what it was like in the 1980’s, drawing upon Freddie Mercury and also the detrimental effect parts of religion has had. He also talks of the effects of AIDS in-relation to some of the “public notices” put out and the effects and then even further in time on the government’s “Section 28”, which is more in the present times.
He does touch on theatre and film, but more in-terms of role models, or rather lack of role models who are gay and what that would mean to him and also how the stereotyping when writing a role for a gay character and talks of some actors at a particular time.

You can practically feel the pain leaping off the page as he talks about his prep-school years. He’s also honest about the growing-up and the sexuality side of that time of life and the opening up to a friend.
There are also moments I’m pretty sure some people would bury, never to be repeated again, but this is enlightening and courageous as he talks about regrets and also the shame he has felt and what he has had to deal with.

He touches on Pop Idol and gaining confidence and although he talks a bit about sex, it isn’t in any crude way at all and has a point, but then do does absolutely everything that is written. Everyone can take something away from this book, learn something new or have something clarified or relate to it on all sorts of levels.

He also touches upon the sense of community he does feel and also a bit about volunteer charitable works he is involved in, which, again shows another slice of his life.

Don’t get this wrong. This isn’t a “poor me” type of book. I’ve seen those and this definitely is not one of them. This is very different to those. It’s inspiring and raising awareness and is thought-provoking in a non-pretentious way, which is impressive. He also doesn’t appear to shy away from anything, but tells it how it is for him and it feels honest.

Later, the book moves into his mental health and having a breakdown and PTSD and how it came about and how he seeked help and how he felt. It goes further than that and on closer inspection, there are more parts that are thought-provoking and perhaps some people will also be able to gain, not just knowledge about Will Young, but also certain things that could apply to their lives and that could just assist someone that little bit, but it isn’t a self-help book as such though. He delves into the conditions of drealisation and depersonalisation that he has and going into therapy.

He details what he found in another book, other elements that, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, your sexual orientation, that could be beneficial to people as he describes Perfectionism etc and how that is for him, but really you can transplant your own life, if you are a perfectionist etc. At the end, head to the Appendix. It is very responsibly and thoughtfully got CBT Techniques  and then in the second Appendix there is Help and Support contacts.

Will Young writes about how he wanted to connect with himself. The book, I think has enough within it that there will be people who could potentially find it so helpful not to feel alone. The fact that is an extensive list of charities too that specialise in LGBTQ is fabulous. No one should be alone and please, if you are having any issues with mental health or anything, please know that there is support out there. I have listed just a couple from the list Will Young has in his book. They are there for the LGBTQ community and this includes families too.

Links to Support and Mental Health Teams

LGBTQ Foundation
Provides as wide range of services to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-people.
https://lgbt.foundation/          Tel: 03453 303030

Mermaids
Charity Supporting young trans people as well as their families.
https://www.mermaidsuk.org.uk    Tel: 0808 801 0400

Mind Out
LGBTQ+ mental health service
https://www.mindout.org.uk    Tel: 01273 234839

#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.

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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.