Book Review. Camera Girl by Doreen Spooner.

This book runs the gamut of one woman’s life. It begins in the present day of Doreen’s domestic life in the 1960’s, where she discovers the debts, and alcoholism, of her French husband. Previously a photographer in Fleet Street, Doreen gave up her career to raise their 2 children. When she makes this discovery, Doreen must return to work.

The narrative then takes us back to Doreen’s childhood. Her mother suffers a miscarriage and that triggers a depression that lasted throughout her life. Her mother’s story is a familiar one for women of that time. She became carer (i.e. skivvy) to a deaf mother, live in grandparents and siblings. This was what was expected of the eldest child.

‘domesticity became her reason for living. Somehow, like millions of other women in those days, she persuaded herself it was the highest calling a woman could have,’

Doreen’s father was where her love of photography came from. He had an editorial role at a largely distributed newspaper at the time The Daily Herald. It is he who encouraged Doreen to achieve her dream of being a photographer.

While in a school of photography, as a young woman, Doreen observed this,

‘all these people wanted to create were pretty paintings, smooth glossy images of bland perfection shot beside an urn with roses or a pair of fake French windows,’

Remind you of anything?

In those days in London, Fleet Street was the place newspapers were put together. It was also no place a woman was expected to want to work. Doreen didn’t care for that. From school we join Doreen in her early journey of capturing on film Lapland, America, Einstein and young royalty. She accompanied famous photographers at the time and learnt her craft.

Back home, Doreen found herself at a crossroads. She was invited by a friend to France, where work was available. This is where Doreen finds romance and her future husband. The narrative tos and fros between France and England, as they marry and have children.

This is when we return to where the book started, where Doreen’s husband is a struggling photographer and is also finding it hard to fit in with English culture. Doreen’s return to work as a newspaper photographer is a success, but this also causes friction within the marriage.

Doreen’s husband slowly retreats into his alcoholism and he loses virtually everything, as eventually Doreen is unable to help him and ends their marriage.

This book has many human stories and it’s a great read. One of my favourites.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Book Review. Santorini set A Terrible Beauty by Tasha Alexander.

I read one book by Tasha Alexander, which I loved and so I borrowed A Terrible Beauty before lockdown from my library.

It is an odd read. It isn’t a high-octane thriller. It has intrigue, crime and mystery – a dead man comes back to life!

I feel like the emotional depth of the story and its characters took centre stage. There were a couple of surprise moments and excitement towards the end. The build-up of the story is slow. I don’t mind slow. The setting of Santorini and Greek myths was a distraction. My best description of A Terrible Beauty can be found in the text, in this quote, ’High stakes but seemingly endless time in a prolonged state of expectancy’

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Finding Henry Applebee by Celia Reynolds

Finding Henry Applebee is only 99p on Kindle at the moment! Set in past Blackpool, historical romance – an emotional read.

Poetic Insights

Waterstones

Foyles for books

The story of Henry Applebee is primarily narrated by the man himself, although characters Ariel and Travis do take parts in being protagonists. The timeline of the story switches between past and present. I was unsure of this book at first, until I got the gist of which path the story was going to take. Not that it is predictable. There is a huge build up, you have to wait for it though. I liked the setting of the train station in the present and loved being in Blackpool for the past. This is a story of lost love and once you discover how Henry met this woman and lost her because of his insecurities (and mobile phones hadn’t been invented) it did make my eyes mist over.

Unfortunately, the story lost its way in its conclusion. I felt like the author was trying to repeat…

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Book Review. Re-Reading Bad Girls by Jacqueline Wilson.

What else do you do at 3 o’ clock in the morning, when you can’t sleep?

Read childhood favourites, oc.

It is no exaggeration to say I read Jacqueline Wilson over and over again when I was a child.

I don’t think Bad Girls was one of my favourites, but close.

I remembered everything in this book. In typical Wilson style, the subjects that are in the story are so relatable to a young girl. Bullying, wanting to be friends with someone who is older and cooler, being embarrassed by your parents, being your own person and wanting to make your own choices. For a book that is only a hundred and seventy something pages long, Bad Girls is hefty. Tanya is a character I probably understand a lot more now as an adult and the concerns Mandy’s parents have in Mandy being friends with the ‘bad girl’ neighbour Tanya. I think Tanya’s character is not just a cliché of a stereotype of a child in the care system. I like the felt tip pen theme in the chapters too and that it is a bonding factor in Mandy and Tanya’s friendship. I think Jacqueline Wilson’s writing is very smart, as well as appealing. I am so keen to re-read more of her books now.

Shy, mild Mandy has been bullied at school for as long as she can remember. That’s why she is delighted when cheeky, daring, full-of-fun Tanya picks her as a friend.

Mum isn’t happy – she thinks Tanya’s a BAD GIRL and a bad influence on her daughter. But Mandy loves spending time with her brilliant new friend, and is sure Tanya can only get her out of trouble, not into it . . . or could she?

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Book Review. Queer Intentions by Amelia Abraham.

I did not know what to expect from this book. I borrowed it from the e-library and the blurb didn’t load because the WI-FI was being silly, but I chose to borrow it anyway because a journey from LGBTQ+ culture sounded good to me. The personal experience comes from the author’s relationship breakup and exploring marriage, and what that can signify for LGBTQ+ people. Then we went from that to Pride parades, voguing, and trans rep in mainstream media. The book spoke about LGBTQ+ rights, appropriation and tokenism. The author travelled to New York, Serbia and Turkey to hear the stories of LGBTQ+ people.

I learnt a lot from this book. There were a few things I was not aware of, or only knew vaguely about, and this book made me look them up after reading about them. There were points made in Queer Intentions which opened my eyes.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Queer Intentions.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Combining intrepid journalism with her own personal experience, in Queer Intentions, Amelia Abraham searches for the answers to these urgent challenges, as well as the broader question of what it means to be queer right now. With curiosity, good humour and disarming openness, Amelia takes the reader on a thought-provoking and entertaining journey. Join her as she cries at the first same-sex marriage in Britain, loses herself in the world’s biggest drag convention in L.A., marches at Pride parades across Europe, visits both a transgender model agency and the Anti-Violence Project in New York to understand the extremes of trans life today, parties in the clubs of Turkey’s underground LGBTQ+ scene, and meets a genderless family in progressive Stockholm.

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