Refugee Week & The Displaced Review

June 18, 2018 in Biography, Memoir, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Other Books

This week is the 20th anniversary of Refugee Week. With World Refugee Day occurring on Wednesday 20th June 2018, it feels that this week is the perfect time to share with you one of my most recent reads, The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives.

The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Refugee Week & The Displaced Review The Displaced: Refugee Writers On Refugee Lives by Various
Published by Abrams on 10th April 2018
Genres: Essays, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Anthology
Format: Hardback
Source: Publisher

In January 2017, Donald Trump signed an executive order stopping entry to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries and dramatically cutting the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States each year. The American people spoke up, with protests, marches, donations, and lawsuits that quickly overturned the order. But the refugee caps remained.

In The Displaced, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Viet Thanh Nguyen, himself a refugee, brings together a host of prominent refugee writers to explore and illuminate the refugee experience. Featuring original essays by a collection of writers from around the world, The Displaced is an indictment of closing our doors, and a powerful look at what it means to be forced to leave home and find a place of refuge.

Abrams published this anthology of essays back in April and were kind enough to send me a copy. With contributions from 19 prominent refugee writers from around the world, each with their own stories to tell, this is a timely, thought-provoking book that everyone should be reading.

These stories are insightful and emotional. The writers share their lives and experiences – from leaving family behind, to being reunited with parents that they don’t recognise. From finding their identity to carving out a new life in an unknown country.

As one would expect, these essays are all beautifully written. Edited by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Viet Thanh Nguyen, himself a refugee, all of these pieces pack a punch, in many different ways.

This book is a sadly all-too-needed reminder of the humans who are at the heart of the hideous, fear-inciting stories we see in the mass media.

These stories need to be read. As the world faces an enormous refugee crisis, I have no doubt that these essays will raise awareness of the real-life experiences of refugees and their families. If only we could get copies of this book into the hands of those who need educating most!

For every purchase of this book, Abrams will donate 10% of the cover price (a minimum of $25000 annually) to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) who are a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing humanitarian aid, relief and resettlement to refugees and other victims of oppression and violent conduct.

This is a collection that will stay with you long after you close the back page – and well it should!

Refugee Week 2018



As part of the 20th anniversary of Refugee Week, we are being invited to partake in at least one of 20 simple acts.


You can find the full list of Simple Acts here. Might I encourage you to participate in number 9, read a book about exile.


Obviously, The Displaced fits this description perfectly and I urge you all to read it.

If you are interested in further books on this subject, check out the links provided on the Refugee Week website. Of course, please also feel free to share any title suggestions below.

Remember to share your read online using the hashtag #SimpleActs.



Review: Eat. Sweat. Play.

June 16, 2016 in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Other Books, Sport

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Eat. Sweat. Play. EAT. SWEAT. PLAY. by Anna Kessel
Published by Pan Macmillan on 16th June 2016
Genres: Non-Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

What does it mean to be a sporty woman in the 21st century? From the launch of Net-A-Sporter, serving up sports clothing for fashionistas, to the introduction of #plankie as the new Instagram selfie for yoga bunnies; exercise for women has finally gone mainstream.

But if sweating has never been so hot for female celebrities, then why are there still so many obstacles for girls and women when it comes to sport? Why do girls still hate school sports lessons? Why is sport consistently defined as male territory, with TV cameras replicating the male gaze as they search out the most beautiful women in the crowd? Will women ever flock to watch football, rugby and boxing in their millions? Or turn up to the park with friends for a Sunday morning kickabout? How long do we have to wait to see the first multi-millionaire female footballer or basketball player?


Many of you know how much I love watching sport – football, F1, athletics – basically I’ll watch any sport with the exception of cricket.

These days I’m stuck in a situation where I can’t exercise; my illness confines me massively. I do those wee exercises that I can, the ones that the physio has given me. Putting my health to one side though, I’ve never been a very sporty person. I once convinced my maths teacher to give me a test I missed rather than run the cross-country! In fairness, she was pretty happy about it, as it meant she didn’t have to marshall in the rain! I was also an expert in getting out of P.E.

Outside of school though, while I might not classify myself as sporty, I was active. I cycled, I attempted to play football (I was never very good but I loved it) and I spent a significant amount of time as a sheepdog, rounding up sheep on the croft! Looking back, I was definitely active even although I hated P.E.

I’ve always been self-conscious though. I’ve never been to a gym – just the thought of it makes me feel ill!


Anyway, why am I sharing this with you? Well, I recently received an email about a book “written for anyone who has given up on sport, or perhaps were made to feel that they would never be ‘sporty’ in the first place”, and I was immediately interested. It sounded fascinating and I can tell you that it really is!

Eat. Sweat. Play. is written by sport’s journalist Anna Kessel. I’ve actually sat here for a while now wondering how best to summarise this book because it encompasses so much that it’s hard to narrow it down! Ok, so, basically, it’s a look at women in sport. Not just the professionals, but you and me too.

Anna looks at the reasons many girls dislike P.E., the reason why as teenagers we may have lost interest in sport and why that is still affecting us as adults today.

She encourages us not to worry about how we look or what others might think, and to MOVE. To enjoy that movement, to embrace it.


Something I’ve always wondered but never voiced is how professional female athletes cope with periods. Kessel discusses this, openly and honestly. She talks to athletes and even doctors with regards to how periods could affect performance. She answers all those questions I’ve often wondered about but never been brave enough to ask.


Kessel continues a look at the female body while discussing exercise throughout pregnancy. She shares her own experiences and draws upon the expertise of others.

But what happens after you’ve had your baby? How do you exercise then? She explores this in detail with suggestions as well as input from other Mums.


One of the areas I found most interesting was her discussion of being a role model as a parent. If your kids see you being ‘active’, they’ll see it as normal and do the same. This made me think of a friend of ours who keeps fit, plays sports and is a Mum. Her three-year-old daughter plays in the house, pretending that she’s going to Metafit class like her Mummy. It truly does have an impact, but until now it’s not something I’d ever really thought about.


Kessel is encouraging and honest. She includes not only her own experiences, including her own heartache, but those of others to motivate us to move.


A further area of great interest to me was her discussions on women’s sport as well as women working within sport. Sport itself is still largely very male dominated, and Kessel shares her own experiences of working in the industry – something I personally found fascinating, given my engineering background.

She also looks at the way top sportswomen are perceived, why they are judged differently from men and how the world of women’s sport is different from men’s in a multitude of ways – finance, medical knowledge, the media, support.


I found this to be a thoroughly eye-opening read. I can’t tell you how much I learned. This is a book you will want to talk about. I genuinely ended up discussing many of the issues in this book with my husband.  It’s also a book that will encourage you to have a better relationship with sport and fitness as a whole.


My Planet by Mary Roach

March 25, 2013 in Book Reviews, Other Books

I have to admit that when I was asked if I wanted to read Mary Roach‘s new book, My Planet: Finding Humor In The Oddest Places, I had never heard of her. It turns out that she is really popular in the US…. It turns out that I love her writing style!

Mary Roach has been a columnist for Readers Digest for quite some time and My Planet is the compilation of her articles (referred to as essays but essays sound like hard work, this book isn’t) into one volume. If you think Caitlin Moran’s Moranthology, then remove the colourful language and ranting, then you are starting to hit upon what this book is like.

Roach draws upon her own experience, her own life, to create articles that will make you nod your head furiously, sympathise and laugh out loud.

I must admit I wasn’t really expecting to laugh out loud. It’s quite rare that a book can do that to me but this had me with tears in my eyes at points. Roach really hit upon my sense of humour.

Her husband Ed features a lot in this book, and as you delve further in you begin to really appreciate their relationship. From discussing how to deal with ants in the house, to negotiating over a new pasta pot, this book takes everyday occurrences and highlights the humour.

I will however say that it took me a couple of chapters to get into the book. I think this is possibly because I was getting used to the American style. Once I was in though I was hooked.

A great read that is perfect for bedtime readers, each chapter is an article so you have closure after a few pages. It’s also great if, like me, your concentration is poor. It’s great for dipping in to, or indeed sitting with a cuppa and reading in one go!

Now that I’ve been introduced to Mary Roach I suspect I will have to go and track down more of her books. I’ve had a taste of her writing style and I love it!

My Planet: Finding Humor In The Oddest Places will be published on 4th April 2013.

I received a digital copy of this book for consideration. All opinions expressed are, as always, completely honest and entirely my own.

Build A Business From Your Kitchen Table

July 19, 2012 in Book Reviews, Other Books

As most of you know I have a penchant for Twitter. Over the years I have found some great businesses on there, businesses created by normal, everyday people working from their homes and making a living. I love supporting small businesses on there and do so as much as I can. You see it’s something I’d love to do.Once I get better I would really like, at some point in the future, to set up my own business. Doing what? Well I can’t say, but it is a dream that helps to keep me going through the tough days.

So when I saw that the creators of had written their own book entitled “build a business from your kitchen table” I knew that was a book I had to read.
Not heard of Where have you been? Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker joined forces in 2006 to create their new business. Both ladies shared a love of unique, quality, charming products – the kind of thing you might find in a village fair or boutique. They noticed that there was gap in the market for an online platform to sell these products, a way to showcase small businesses and their quality products. That platform is a website called
Six years on is an award-winning, multimillion-pound online marketplace selling 50 000 innovative, stylish products. In those six years Sophie and Holly have learned a lot and they have chosen to share that knowledge in their new book.
I have read a few home business type books in my time and I must admit that normally I struggle to reach the end. So I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. Well I can tell you now that I loved it. It is very easy to read, fun, honest and informative.
Sophie and Holly have not only detailed their own story in this book, but they have also shared with the reader their thoughts, their mistakes, their triumphs, what they would change and how you can do it all too.
I was immediately struck by how open and honest the book was. It’s not some self-righteous read telling you how things should be done.  It’s a personal account suggesting the path to be taken if you want to make your home business successful. They share their experiences and tips so that we, the readers, can learn.
The book is split into eight chapters:
  1. The Story Of Us
  2. Getting Down and Dirty
  3. Starting a Business
  4. Launching with a Bang
  5. From Concept to Conquest
  6. Money, Money, Money
  7. (The Non-Existence Of)
  8. Living Happily Ever After.
These chapters don’t just tackle issues that you might encounter when first starting up your business, but they form a guide for when your business is up and running. When you need to think about growth or VAT you can return to this book for the information that you need.
This book isn’t packed with business jargon that will make your head feel like it is going to explode. It’s easy to read, and aimed at people like me, totally new to the notion of running a business. What’s more there is Jargon Buster section at the back if you do get a bit stuck.
I really cannot rate this book highly enough. For me it has given me inspiration, but also a reality check. Sophie and Holly are completely honest about the tough times they have been through, both with the business and with their home lives. They are both mothers and they know how much work it takes to build a successful business as well as to raise a family. They want the reader to go into their new business with their eyes wide open. This is a particularly likeable feature of the book, there’s no papering over the cracks.
I highly recommend this book if you are a Mum (or Dad) that wants to start their own business but isn’t quite sure what it’s going to entail. The ladies also share tips from their partners, all those businesses that sell through notonthehighstreet, so there is no shortage of insider information in this book.
Finally the book features a Directory with links to websites and companies that will help you as you embark upon your new venture. It really is a great place to start and although I don’t have any plans for the near future I feel I now have a better understanding of what is involved. I shall definitely be referring to this book in the future – from branding to finance, PR to social networking it’s all within these 305 pages.
You can purchase your copy of “build a business from your kitchen table” through their website. It has an RRP of £14.99 but remember to check out bookdepository and amazon for any deals.
If you’ve read this book I’d love to know what you thought of it.
PS I am now obsessed with – I have had to hide my purse! Seriously though check out their current competition where you could win £2000 of vouchers when you purchase before 31st July 2012.
A copy of this book was received for consideration. This has in no way influenced our review, which is, as always, completely honest.