Tag Archives: books: non-fiction

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening by Manal al-Sharif

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s AwakeningARC received from: Netgalley

Rating: 5*

One-Sentence Summary: Growing up as a woman in Saudi Arabia

Review: This book gave a fascinating insight into what of the most paradoxical countries in the world – on the one hand there are Saudis competing who can drive the most expensive car and buying into all kinds of Western ideals, on the other hand they won’t even recognise women as being their own person and not in need of a male “guardian” to speak for them.

I have no shame in admitting that I didn’t know too much about Saudi Arabia. What I knew was a balance of the stereotyping I hear in the media and a friend trying to tell me it’s not as oppressive there as the media makes out any more. I think the media got it right for once!

One of the most fascinating things for me was learning that Saudi Arabia went the opposite way to nearly every other country out there: instead of becoming more open and less oppressive in the mid-end 90’s, it actually became more dictatorial and it was the younger generation that forced religious extremism on their parents.

Manal al-Sharif gives a very honest description of what she went through as a child from regular beatings from her father to female circumcision. Her change from religious extremism to fighting for women’s rights was really fascinating to read. Hardly any of us can fathom how anyone could get imprisoned for the crime of being a woman driver. A real eye-opener and reinforced the belief that even if could travel there (which I can’t), I wouldn’t want to.

2016 Love Is … Book Awards

What better way to celebrate my birthday and kick off the flood of end-of-year posts then picking out my favourite books of 2016:

2016 Crime – Procedural
Winner & Runner-Up

2016 Crime – Thriller
Winner & Runner-Up

2016 Non-Fiction
Winner & Runner-Up

2016 Non-Fiction – Biography
Winner & Runner-Up

2016 Romance – Cop
Winner & Runner-Up

2016 Romance – Enemies To Lovers
Winner & Runner-Up

2016 Romance – Fake Relationship
Winner & Runner-Up

2016 Romance – Festive
Winner & Runner-Up

2016 Romance – Firefighter
Winner & Runner-Up

2016 Romance – Friends To Lovers
Winner & Runner-Up

2016 Romance – Friend Of Sibling
Winner & Runner-Up

2016 Romance – Novella
Winner & Runner-Up

2016 Romance – Reconciliation
Winner & Runner-Up

2016 Romance – Sport
Winner & Runner-Up

2016 Romance – Suspense
Winner & Runner-Up

In order to qualify all books have to have been published in 2016

EU Referendum 2016 by @davidtorrance

EU Referendum 2016ARC received from: Netgalley

Rating: 5*

One-Sentence Summary: Leave or Remain?

Review: If I had my way everyone in the UK with a vote would be forced to a) vote on 23rd June and b) read this book so they can make an informed decision either way.

It is no doubt in my mind that the referendum in June is a key milestone in Britain’s history and whilst hearing politicians bash each other over it can grow tiresome, it does not diminish its importance.

I requested this book because, whilst I know I will definitely vote, I simply do not know where I stand on the issues at the moment but I know enough to believe that you can’t believe the soundbites e.g. Cameron’s lowblow assertion that leaving Europe would trigger World War III.

This book is impartial and educational and presents the views of both sides in a digestible, easy to read way. Personally my knowledge of European history anytime post-Romans is minimal at best and this book gave me the basics when it comes to UK’s history with the rest of Europe. Most importantly, perhaps, it also dispelled a lot of the myths that no doubt much of the general public is basing their vote on.

What it doesn’t do, and no book, newspaper or politician will ever be able to, is give a clear outline of what will happen if the UK decides to leave Europe and this is the biggest barrier that the Brexit campaign are having to fight against. It’s a big risk jumping into the unknown and that’s why I believe the change-adverse general public will choose remain (but then, what do I know?!).

So having read the book, do I now know how I am going to vote? No, not yet but I do have a much better understanding of all the pros and cons. Nothing is ever perfect so it is just for me to decide on what issues I feel most strongly about and what is more risky in the long-term: remaining or leaving.

Watch this space.

2015 Love Is … 5* Books

Congrats to all my 2015 5 Star authors …..:

5Star Reads

 

2015 Love Is … Book Awards

2015 Crime
Winner & Runner-Up

Crime

2015 Non-Fiction
Winner & Runner-Up

Non-Fiction

2015 Romance – Animals
Winner & Runner-Up

Animals

2015 Romance – Cop
Winner & Runner-Up

Cop

2015 Romance – Cowboy
Winner & Runner-Up

Cowboy

2015 Romance – Enemies To Lovers
Winner & Runner-Up

Enemies

2015 Romance – Fake Relationship
Winner & Runner-Up

Fake Relationship

2015 Romance – Festive
Winner & Runner-Up

Festive

2015 Romance – Firefighter
Winner & Runner-Up

Firefighter

2015 Romance – Friends To Lovers
Winner & Runner-Up

Friends

2015 Romance – Novella
Winner & Runner-Up

Novella

2015 Romance – Reconciliation
Winner & Runner-Up

Past Love

2015 Romance – Sport
Winner & Runner-Up

Sport

2015 Romance – Suspense
Winner & Runner-Up

Suspense

2015 Romance – Entangled Publisher
Winner & Runner-Up

Entangled

2015 Romance – Harlequin Publisher
Winner & Runner-Up

Harlequin

2015 Favourite Romance Series
Winner & Runner-Up

Lauren LayneSarah Morgan

In order to qualify all books have to have been published in 2015

2014 Love Is … Book Awards

2014 Crime
Winner & Runner-Up

Crime

2014 Non-Fiction
Winner & Runner-Up

Non-Fiction

2014 Romance – Animals
Winner & Runner-Up

Animals

2014 Romance – Enemies To Lovers
Winner & Runner-Up

Enemies

2014 Romance – Fake Relationship
Winner & Runner-Up

Fake Relationship

2014 Romance – Festive
Winner & Runner-Up

Festive2

2014 Romance – Friends To Lovers
Winner & Runner-Up

Friends to Lovers

2014 Romance – Novella
Winner & Runner-Up

Novella

2014 Romance – Reconciliation
Winner & Runner-Up

Past Love

2014 Romance – Sport
Winner & Runner-Up

Sport

2014 Romance – Suspense
Winner & Runner-Up

Suspense

2014 Romance – Unknown Child
Winner & Runner-Up

Unknown Child

2014 Romance – Virgin
Winner & Runner-Up

Virgin

2014 Romance – Entangled Publisher
Winner & Runner-Up

Entangled

2014 Romance – Harlequin Publisher
Winner & Runner-Up

Harlequin

2014 Favourite Romance Series
Winner & Runner-Up

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Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical ExaminerReceived an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Staying alive, as it turns out, is mostly common sense.

This is undoubtedly my ‘Must Read’ Non-Fiction book of 2014 so far.  If you’re like me and have a penchant for American crime shows and books about 9/11 then this book is for you!

To give you fair warning though if you look away during the autopsy scenes in NCIS or the operations in Grey’s Anatomy (guilty) then this book is going to be rather gruesome but well worth persevering through your ‘Eeek’ barrier.

One of the things I loved the most about the book (aside from its fascinating subject matter) was the way that the author didn’t let her personal life take over the book.  In other non-fiction books I’ve read, they start out being about the job (what you picked the book up for) and end with some introspective rambling.  However, with this you get tale upon tale of some of the numerous bodies she had to deal with whilst working in New York (The 9/11 chapter was especially harrowing).

Judy Melinek gives great insight into a job which is unerringly fascinating but which most of us wouldn’t have the nerves of steel to actually do.  Combined with some great writing, and black humour in parts, this book is a real page-turner and I finished reading cover-to-cover within 24 hours of receiving the ARC through the post.

PS. I also personally learnt a new word: defenestrated.

Book: 5*

Cover: 4*

Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong by Susan Blumberg-Kason

Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone WrongReceived an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

As someone who has straddled two cultures for her whole life and for whom Hong Kong is a second home, I jumped on the chance to read this book.  After all, what better way to gain an insight into the difficulties arising from the marriage of two cultures than to read what happened when it doesn’t work.

Well, I think it’s fair to say that after reading this, I know to be extremely wary of any man from the mainland China provinces who offers me his hand in marriage!

This story was painful in a lot of respects – the author doesn’t hold back from revealing the extent of her naivety but for someone who is not blinded by love, you can’t help but ask yourself how on earth did Susan end up marrying someone she barely knew who already had one failed marriage and an estranged daughter under his belt?  And the paid-per-view movie on their wedding night?  That would have had me running for an annulment for sure! And why anyone would think that a guy who gave you an STD and then denies knowing anything about how you could have got it, would make a good father to a child is beyond me!

Whilst I started this book for the Hong Kong aspect, where the book really got interesting is when Susan and Cai moved to San Francisco.  Seeing Susan make excuses for Cai’s failure to get a job and settle into life in America was disquieting at times but it was interesting to see the different dynamic that both sets of parents brought to the family when they came to stay.

I won’t go into detail about how the book ends but needless to say thankfully Susan does get her happy ending but no, it isn’t with Cai. I do have to admire her for not letting her bad experience put her off and having the faith and trust to try marriage a second time.

Finally, three life lessons this book can teach you:

1. You know you’re not going to get your happy ever after when your new husband watches porn on your wedding night
2. Don’t even consider starting a family with a man who gave you an STD
3. It’s time to get out of there when you’re expected not to wash for a month after childbirth / your parents-in-law move in to nag / your husband complains that your job pays too little despite not working himself / your husband dangles your crying baby over a staircase

Book: 4*

Cover: 4*

The Second-Chance Dog: A Love Story by Jon Katz

The Second-Chance Dog: A Love StoryReceived an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Fact: I could not stop looking at the cute cover.
Fiction: This book is all about the dog on the cover.  It’s not (but she does play a big part!).  It’s about humans and human relationships with each other just as much it is about human relationships with dogs.

This was undoubtedly a satisfying read that makes you think twice about life as well as our relationship with our pets.

Book: 3*

Cover: 5*

Confessions of a Hostie: True Stories of an International Flight Attendant by Danielle Hugh

Confessions of a Hostie: True Stories of an International Flight AttendantReceived an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

2.5*

As a big fan of airports and air travel, I was looking forward to reading this and getting an insight into the life of a flight attendant.  Did it live up to expectations?

Sort of.  The eye-opening tales are included such as the incident with the Polynesian man, what hosties do to get revenge on high maintenance passengers, not to mention the drinking, partying and infidelity in the downtime.

Highlights include the aforementioned Polynesian man and also the last incident described with the man who had a heart attack.

However, ‘Danielle’ came across just a bit too snarky, materialistic and superficial for me to really warm to her and with such a non-fiction book, you kind of have to like the author to truly like the book.

Book: 2.5*

Cover: 2*