Brown Girl Dreaming, a review

Somehow Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is my first book by her, I have no idea how it’s taken me this long!

Before I started this, I hadn’t realised that it was a memoir novel in verse. Which meant that while listening via audiobook I was able to get through this super quickly.

Woodson grew up with some very tough events in her life, and that’s separate from growing up Black in the US, in the 60s. The book is gorgeously written, and the imagery that Woodson conjures brings you into her world.

She also delves into her love of story-writing, which came to her at a young age, and how this inspired her through her childhood.

It was a gorgeous story, and it’s hard to review someone’s life, so instead of running this one through CAWPILE, I’ve given it a 4 star rating.

I think I may have gotten some more from this book if I’d read it traditionally rather than via audiobook, but I did still enjoy it and I think this is well worth picking up.

Long Walk to Freedom – a review

This is a big book, as in 700+ pages in paperback big. So I wasn’t expecting to finish it any time soon and was actually taking it pretty slowly, reading it in small chunks…

I read 500+ pages of it in one evening cause I couldn’t put the damn thing down!


This was gifted to me by the wonderful Kari from Kari-ng for books, and we both thought that I wouldn’t be starting or finishing it any time soon. But I was making good progress with War and Peace and I thought why not keep plodding my way through another big book reading sections at a time? So I did, I started doing that around November 2020. But in the beginning of March 2021 I read a few chapters during work. And then a few more just after work. And then when I looked up it was 11pm and I had finished the entire book!

If you couldn’t tell from the accidental 500 pages of reading, Mandela has a really accessible writing style that I personally really enjoyed. There were also, of course, so many interesting life events throughout this book that kept me interested. Seeing his young life and how as a young man he struggled to make a place for himself within an Apartheid world, and how this then developed into activism and fighting back against the oppression.

This was such an interesting read. I learnt so much about South Africa, about Mandela himself, and about how the rest of the world reacted to the oppression that was so blatant within South Africa. This is an incredible book and I’m so glad that I picked it up!

I did use CAWPILE on this book and got a rating, but the system isn’t designed for non-fiction books so take it with a grain of salt:

  • characters: 10
  • atmosphere: 8
  • writing: 9
  • plot: 9
  • logic: 9
  • enjoyment: 9

Totalling 9.00 meaning I rated this book 5*s! I know it’s a big one, and that bigger books can be intimidating, but I really do recommend giving this book a go. I promise it’s more readable than you think!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: violence against women and children, racial triggers

Born a Crime – a review

The wonderful Olivia-Savanah from Olivia’s Catastrophe gifted me Born a Crime, she read it and really enjoyed it and thought that I would too. And she was right!! I loved this book and my copy has got so many tabs!

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I’ve not specifically sat and watched any of Noah’s comedy, but what I have seen has always made me laugh, and I was really looking forward to getting an insight into life as a “Coloured” person in South Africa so I had high hopes for this memoir which spans all of his childhood after being born to a white Swiss father and a Black Xhosa mother, at a time where relationships between Black and white people was illegal.

As always I’ll start with my negative, which in this case is that the timeline of the book jumps around quite a lot. The events which it jumps to are related, but we do go back and forth with at least one event being repeated. This does mean the book feels a little disjointed and it takes away from the natural flow. That was what brought this book down to a 4 star rather than a 5, but other than that? This was an amazing book.

My tabs can be broken down into basics:

  • Funny
  • Sad
  • Learning
  • interesting

The funny is self explanatory, Trevor Noah is a comedian and this of course bleeds through into this book. He’s lived through some very funny moments and gotten up to a lot of antics as a kid which were fun and cringy to read about! Even just the reactions of himself or those around him in mundane points of life was a lot of fun to read about. And going to three different churches every Sunday rain or shine? Well of course I loved reading about mama Noah!

There were some sad points in this book, as there are in almost everyone’s lives. There weren’t too many here, but the ones that were there were poignant and heartfelt. Given that I was tabbing up the book anyways it felt wrong to leave these sections unmarked as they made me stop and reflect.

Whilst I had learnt about apartheid in school, as many of us do, the technicalities of the overarching laws and regulations doesn’t exactly tell you what it was like living within the country at the time. For example, Trevor’s mother and father having a relationship was fully illegal, and yet here he is. Whenever there are laws there will be people who break them, and sometimes that’s a good thing! It was really interesting to learn those intricate facts about daily life growing up during this time.

The “interesting” tabs came about because there were points that I already knew, but that I really enjoyed the way he worded them and which made me think about things in a new light. I almost put them into the “learning” section but it didn’t feel quite right, so instead this category was born.

I also, accidentally, was reading Long Walk to Freedom at the same time as I was reading this (I’d been reading it for a few months already, it’s a big boi). Somehow I had a section where the two lined up, I read a chapter from Born a Crime about the destruction of Sophiatown and how this directly impacted Trevor. I decided I wanted to read a chapter from Long Walk to Freedom and what would you know? Sophiatown was being destroyed! I wasn’t very far into Mandela’s biography so I hadn’t been expecting the two to line up at that moment in time and it was a little surreal. It also, for me, added an extra layer to how I was think about these events because I had the perception of both a political activist and a child. And those two together? They’re powerful.

Honestly this book is fantastic, and I think even those who don’t usually read non-fiction or memoirs will enjoy this book as well as getting a lot out of it! Not only is there important commentary on race, both in South Africa and around the globe, but it’s humorous, insightful and just a fun time to read!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: domestic abuse, racial slurs, racism, violence

Thank you so so much to Olivia for gifting me this! I adored it and I’m sure I’ll be re-reading it in the future!

First Lines Friday #16

It’s time for another First Lines Friday! Hosted by Wandering Words!! Why do these keep scheduling on big dates?! Again! This one was scheduled in November just like the last one so leave me be hahaha!

What if, instead of judging a book by its cover or its author, we judged the book by its opening lines?

Here is how it works:

– Pick a book and open to the first page.

– Copy the first few lines without revealing which book it is.

– Reveal the book!

So… do these first lines entice you?

The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate, is what it was. You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can run them all.

Scroll down to reveal the book!

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Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

A short one this week, but an impactful one all the same! This was gifted to me by the wonderful Olivia from Olivia’s Catastrophe and I can’t wait to read it. I just know I’m going to zip through it and struggle to put it down! I want to get more into Trevor Noah’s comedy works as the little I’ve seen of him I’ve really enjoyed. I’m anticipating that humour coming through in this book too.

First Lines Friday #11

It’s time for another First Lines Friday! Hosted by Wandering Words!!

What if, instead of judging a book by its cover or its author, we judged the book by its opening lines?

Here is how it works:

– Pick a book and open to the first page.

– Copy the first few lines without revealing which book it is.

– Reveal the book!

So… do these first lines entice you?

Apart from life, a strong constitution and an abiding connection to the Thembu royal house, the only thing my father bestowed upon me at birth was a name, Rolihlahla. In Xhosa, Rolihlahla literally means ‘pulling the branch of a tee’, but its colloquial meaning more accurately would be ‘troublemaker’.

Scroll down to reveal the book!

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A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

At around 750 this is a big book, and that is the main reason I’ve not read this one yet! It was gifted to me by the amazing Kari at Kar-ing for Books and I can’t wait to read this and learn so so much. Mandela’s autobiography is one which many have read, and is one of only two books I’ve ever lied about reading (for English at A Level, leave me alone alright it was a tough year) so that is definitely something I want to rectify!

I had a flick through it to get these first lines, which sound so interesting already, and the book is broken down into much more manageable chunks so this already feels much more readable than I first thought. I might have to pick this up soon!

In the Midst of Life – a review

Jennifer Worth is well known by UK readers as the writer of Call the Midwife, a very well received memoir about her time as a midwife in the South East of England in the 50s. In the Midst of Life is the fourth book in her memoir series, and in a departure of the theme of the prior books based around her time as midwife this book instead focuses on her time as a nurse working in various end-of-life situations.


Now it’s my own stupid fault, but I hadn’t realised this wasn’t about her time in midwifery, so that was something I had to “get over” but as Worth’s writing is always beautiful this didn’t take long. I found the topics discussed in here incredibly interesting. They definitely made me think a lot more about my own death, the death of my parents and grandparents, and the end of life care that they will receive.

We often assume that doctors know best. And in many occasions, of course, they do. But there are aspects of their patients lives that they don’t know about. And nurses have much more of a window into this side of their patients lives. Two of my aunts are nurses, as well as some of my friends, and the work they do is demanding, in some cases demeaning and is never compensated to the level I think it should be. But in all cases I’ve seen, they spend a lot more time with the patient and know them a lot more intimately. This book will give you food for thought on whether the doctors approach or the nurses approach is best.

I’m definitely glad that I’ve read this book, as I know for a fact the pointers in it will stick with me for many years and I will use what I thought on here in moments of difficulty in my future (hopefully far into my future). Have you read this? Have you even heard of it? Let me know!

Undertaking Southern America in the 70s

Having watch the Ask A Mortician YouTube channel for a number of years now, coming across The Undertaker’s Daughter by Kate Mayfield had me intrigued. A memoir about growing up in a funeral home in the south of the US, that’s an area I’m not familiar with and so I decided to pick the book up.

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We follow Kate all throughout her childhood, starting from around the age of 6 and progressing up into her later teenage years and her desire to escape from this small town and the gossip that was prevalent within it. I don’t know if it was intentional but this town was written exactly to the stereotype that I’ve always been shown about the southern US. It was filled with gossip-mongers, the status-quo was never to be breached and there were so SO many blatant racists. And as always those who were raised by the Black nannies/maids etc are confused about why everyone is being racist. I’m never quite sure how to read these, as it feels a little self-congratulatory but at the same time if that’s how they experienced their life who am I to judge? It’s a little complicated. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

We do get some really interesting insights into how the funeral business did run and how the common burial practices of the US came to be, adding to the knowledge I had already gained.

If you’re interested in the southern US in the 70s and in funeral homes/undertaking etc then this is the book for you. It’ll show you a lot about the cultural mindset of the time as well as informing you how funeral homes were run. If this isn’t your interest, however, I wouldn’t recommend picking this up. It’s not the most universal of reads.

A Unique Memoir


Without You, There Is No Us is the title of a song the citizens of North Korea sing about their beloved leader. It is also the title of Suki Kim’s book, which is a memoir about her time volunteering at a school for the male children of North Korea’s elite. She was undercover as a missionary, but really there as a journalist, and her time there was filled with many surprises and also many harsh realities.


I won’t go into any depth about what happens throughout her time in North Korea, because as this is a non-fiction work it is too easy to spoil. However, Kim’s writing style is engaging and this book is very informative. I rushed through it in one day, not wanting to put it down, and enjoyed it. As much as you can enjoy a book with this subject matter.

If you are at all interested in reading about North Korea I really recommend this book, not only is it well written but it is a unique perspective on the life of people in the country. Many other published works are from citizens who have escaped or non-fiction books from professors etc, this viewpoint has a lot to offer and really gives great insight into this school and how North Korea treats not only its students but also those who teach them

December Wrap Up


I read three books in December, and although that was quit a while away now, here is my blog post form wrap up! If you head to my YouTube channel, or click here, you’ll be able to watch it in video form…wiiiith a bit of a difference from normal!!

Moving on!

The first book I finished in December was Gun Button to Fire by Tom Neil.

This is a memoir from a RAF pilot who downed 19 planes during the battle of Britain and his writing really helped me to get into his mind during the time he was participating in the war. If you’re interested then check out my full review of the book here.

Book two was How to Manage Your Slaves by Jerry Toner


This book was incredibly well researched and so very interesting. I knew from the moment I picked this book up in the shop that I would adore it and I’m mad at myself for taking over 3 years to read the damn thing! Again if you would like to see my full review you can find it here.

Finally, my third book was The Beggar of Volubilis by Caroline Lawrence (The Roman Mysteries #13)


This was sadly probably my least favourite book in this series so far, I skimmed a lot of it just to get it over and done with. Thankfully as it’s a kids book I was able to do this and get to the parts of the story I actually enjoyed. Full review here.

It was an interesting reading month, an interesting month! I was working retail in December which is the main reason why my reading suffered, but I’m still happy with what I read.

What did you read in December? What was your last read of 2019? Of the decade!

Real US History that hits close to home


I had went to go see the film adaptation of this with my boyfriend and we both found it amazing. Hard hitting, intense, but also funny, it was a great movie and one which taught me more about the struggles African Americans have gone through (which as a white Brit, I don’t have much knowledge about from education, and I’m slowly teaching myself). When we saw this book in a discount bookshop in the UK (The Works), my bf decided to grab it for me as a little gift and I read it not too long afterwards.

This is a memoir about the first black police officer in the CSPD and his infiltration of a local chapter of the KKK, his eventual “friendship” with David Duke, and the impact of his investigation throughout the state and also across the US.

Sadly, I preferred the film. I know, I know. I ended up giving the book 3 stars, and I did speed through it and find it really interesting, but there were too many flaws which could have been fixed with a proof-reader. There was one instance of precise repetition, almost word for word, and there were many other instances where Stallworth repeats information unnecessarily as he only mentioned it ~20 pages prior.

Personally, I was fine with the writing style, but I know that it won’t suit everyone’s taste. I thought it was personal, and given the style of the book, the best choice of portrayal. However, I did feel the detachment of years as Stallworth wrote this many years after the incidents took place.

Despite all this, however, I still urge you to pick up the book and see the film. The memoir gives so much depth and information about this major event in US history. Not just a black man infiltrating the KKK, but also the first black man in the CSPD. It is incredibly interesting. The film adds another layer to the knowledge, with Spielberg taking initiative in some aspects and adding in additional sectors which weren’t in the book but could easily have happened and were happening around the country in this time period. As well as some harrowing scenes at the end of the film.

Overall, this is an important book in my opinion. It keeps fresh in the public’s eye the atrocities which were committed in the name of the US, the racism prevalent throughout societies highest powers, and what can be done to show clowns the true extent of their ridiculous makeup.