Image of the book The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Year of publish – 2018
Publisher – Tinder Press
Number of pages- 404

The Immortalists follows the journey of the Gold family; siblings Daniel, Simon, Varya and Klara who live in New York in the hot summer of 1969. The siblings visit a fortune teller that tells them each when they are going to die and if they are going to have a good life or not. The information that each sibling receives starts a chain of events where the reader is taken on a journey through each family member’s life.

As a side note, this book was attracted to me as I was having a browse through Amazon one day looking for a book to add to my birthday list. From reading the blurb the book reminded me of The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett. It also reminded me of this question that was posed to us in form time at school (we used to have ‘Thought of the day’ where questions or passages were given to us to make us think). One which has always stood out to me was ‘would you want to know when you were going to die?’ I said yes, as say, if I died in a car accident on a certain day, I would do anything I could to avoid cars on that day! But a fellow class member said no as he thinks life is a surprise and that if you knew what was going to happen in your life, it wouldn’t be a surprise!

From then on the story takes us through 1970’s New York, and each family member is a protagonist, in order of who dies first. It starts with Simon, the youngest and has known from a young age that he is gay. He defies his mother who expects him to continue with the family business and runs away to San Francisco with his sister Klara who left straight after high school to fulfil her ambition to become a magician.

Simon throws himself into San Francisco’s gay scene and becomes a ballet dancer as he knows he doesn’t have long left to live. After Simon, passes Klara picks up the baton and the story is about her struggles to become a female magician. After Klara passes the story picks up at Daniel who has become a military Doctor. Daniel, who is still stricken from Klara’s and Simon’s deaths hunts down the fortune teller to find out why she told them the dates of their deaths when they are so young. The story ends with Varya who is a scientist who focuses on extending life and, from what the reader gathers, is trying to beat the life expectancy of what the fortune teller has given her even though it is a long life but we see that she isn’t really living.

I found the whole book from start to end to be really though provoking. It was interesting to see how each gold member coped with the information they received from the fortune teller, from Simon throwing everything he has at life to Varya keeping herself to herself, and how it impacted their life. Each story felt like the right length and interlinks really well throughout. That said I found Varya’s life to be very boring and the consequence of this was I wanted the story to finish. Although they were some bombshells. I really would recommend the book.

Have you read any of Chloe Benjamin’s books?

Image of the book The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Jo Cox More in Common Book

The latest book I have read is More in Common by Brendon Cox. The book details Jo Cox’s life. Jo Cox was the Batley and Spen MP who was murdered in 2016 by Thomas Mair who shouted Britain First. Thomas was linked to neo-nazi groups.

The chapters alternate from the time leading up to Jo’s death and the aftermath to Jo’s years growing up. You learn very quickly that Jo was very determined, very ambitious however very down to earth. She was a proud Yorkshire woman and loved where she grew up. Cambridge followed and then Jo started her career working as Neil Kinnock’s advisor and then worked at Oxfam and then also worked as an advisor to Sarah Brown, who was spearheading a campaign to prevent deaths in pregnancy and childbirth. It was clear that Jo loved being outdoors and had aimed to climb all of the munros in Scotland with her husband and spending time walking and renovating their cottage and their travels on their canal boat.

Understandably as Cox was an MP this features heavily in the book. It charts the time she decided she wanted to be an MP (before she moved to work in New York) she signed up to a Labour party session for women who were interested in making the jump to being an MP with a friend. When the position of Batley and Spen came up she was originally selected from an all woman shortlist. Jo spent hours knocking on doors and visiting residents and local businesses in the constituency to secure her vote and she won with 43.2%.

Jo criticised the vote against military action in Syria and wrote an open letter along with Neil Coyle about why they regretted nominating Jeremy Corbyn. the national chair of the Labour Women’s Network and a senior adviser to the Freedom Fund, an anti slavery charity. After a member of her consistency wrote to her and told her about how a member of her family died and that although she visited her as often as she could this member really suffered with loneliness. Jo did some digging and found it is a larger issue then she first realised. Jo had started to set up meetings with Age Concern and the Royal Voluntary Service.

Image of the book More in Common by Jo Cox on a feather background

From the book you can see that Jo was very principled and this started out from when she started at Cambridge and she felt out of her depth amongst those that went to private school. She was determined that no one missed out on opportunities due to where they came from.

Balancing motherhood with working was a common theme which I felt was worth mentioning. It is so clear Jo loved her children (the fact that her children were so young when she died really hit home to me) and she would even vote in her cycling gear so she could get home and put her children to bed and really hated the fact that the voting in the House of Commons happens so late.

The book gives a very comprehensive account of Jo’s life and the effect that Jo’s death has had on Brendon and his family. It is a real privilege to understand and have that much access about her life. I really do recommend this book.

Have you read this book? If so what did you think?

Image of the book The Defining Decade

Hello, today I am writing about a book I brought recently in my haul called: The Defining Decade Why your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of them Now by Meg Jay. Meg Jay is a clinical psychologist who specialises in adult development. I don’t have any issues myself but I do love a good self-help book and the advice in them is a good reminder about how to make the most of the opportunities. This book interested me because it is specifically aimed for those in their twenties and for me heading into my late twenties. In this book she is bundles the most common issues that her clients have spoken about to help you make your descions more informed.

The book is split into three sections: Work, Love and The Brain and Body.  The work section I found to be the most interesting. Since I have left University I have started a career in Marketing and am in and have had very good jobs in marketing, but I know this isn’t the case for everybody and some people reading this are lost and not sure what they want from there life, especially after University.

Meg talks about how those that came into her clinic were putting off getting a career because they wanted there own ‘Eat, Prey, Love’ moment but it doesn’t happen like that. Whilst they are waiting for this moment they are underemployed and the result is taking longer and getting harder to climb on the career ladder. She gave one example of a man who spent his twenties doing ‘dumb shit’ and now in his thirties with a child he is finding it is so much harder to get where he wants to be as he lacks the experience, which he wish he spent his twenties collecting.

Planning is another skill that Meg is keen to get across. An example she gives is of a woman who wants to have a career in law and go to University to study law and wants at thirty to have a family. However she needed to started studying as soon as possible otherwise she wouldn’t hit her timeline. By planning a bit more Meg shows that it can be possible to hit your goals.

I think with work, it became evident that you need to have confidence. I have always believed myself that you have to be ‘in it to win it’ and at the end of the day if you send that email or apply for that job and get nothing back or a rejection at least I tried. Meg empathises this in her book that it is worth trying and she cites examples of her clients that have taken the plunge and are reaping the rewards now.

The section on love, for me, I just skipped over as I didn’t find it relevant to me and the last section on The Brain and Body was not that interesting to me. I do think, if you are in your twenties and feeling a bit lost or just want a read then give it a go!

Have you read any twenty something self help books? Do you recommend any books?

Image of the book

Recently I brought a load of books to keep me occupied over the Christmas period. One of them was this beauty of a book by Adelle Stripe. Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile tells the story of Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar. Andrea Dunbar grew up in extreme poverty on the Buttershaw Estate an estate in Bradford, Yorkshire. The book is interesting because it is a fictional story based on Andrea’s life events. I had to admit after reading the book I googled to find out more information as it wasn’t clear to me if Andrea had been a real writer or not. Looking back at the book for writing this review it does say that it is a work of fiction and ‘an alternative version of historic events’.

The story is gritty, Andrea had gone through some real hardship, falling pregnant young and then miscarrying, living with an abusive partner and then moving to a safe house, her unhealthy relationship with alcohol and poverty. her playwriting comes in when her teacher at school picks up the fact that she has a talent for writing. This leads to her writing The Arbor which was performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1980. Rita, Sue and Bob too is the play which is she is well known for, debuted in 1982 tells the story of two women who have an affair with a married man. Her final play Shirley is about Shirley and her family and friends in an working class estate in Bradford in the 1980’s.

The book keeps you gripped throughout, at times the book makes you want to throttle Andrea as it seems that she is passing over opportunities at almost an act of self-sabotage.

I hadn’t heard of Andrea Dunbar before the book and I hadn’t heard of her screenplays before (it was in the 1980’s so before my time!) but I certainly want to read them. An extraordinary story about an extraordinary woman who managed to achieve her dream against every worse scenario possible.

 

I am very much a 90’s and 00’s child (I was born in 91!). I loved reading back then as much as I do now. So today I thought I would dedicate this post to some of my fave books I remember from the good ol’ days!

Animal Ark Series – Lucy Daniels

Image of a Animal Ark Book

The BabySitters Club – Ann M Martin

The Babysitters Club

Danny the Champion of the World – Roald Dahl

DannyChampionOfTheWorld

Letterland – Richard Carlisle and Lyn Wendon

Letterland ABC

Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfield

Ballet Shoes

Biff and Chip – Roderick Hunt

Biff and Chip

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

Charlotte's Web

Gemma – Noel Streatfield

Gemma Noel Streatfield

George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl

George's Marvellous Medicine

Goosebumps – R.L Stein

Goosebumps

Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Smith

Gullivers Travels

Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling

harry-potter-philosophers-stone

J17 (Just 17) book series

Kipper – Mick Inkpen

Kipper

Look – 360 Ginn Reading Series

Look

Malory Towers – Enid Blyton

Mr and Mrs Men Series – Roger Hargreaves

Little Miss Splendid book

Mucky Moose – Jonathan Allen

Mucky Moose

Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter

Peter Rabbit

Point Horror Series

Point Horror

Point Romance Series

Point Romance

Sheltie the Shetland Pony – Peter Clover

Sheltie the Shetland Pony

Spot – Eric Hill

Spot Book

Stig of the Dump – Clive King

Stig of the Dump

Sweet Valley Series – Francine Pascal

Sweet Valley High

The Sleepover Club

The Sleepover Club

The Bed and Breakfast Star – Jacqueline Wilson

The Bed and Breakfast Star

The Garden Gang – Jayne Fisher

The Garden Gang

The Demon Headmaster – Gillian Cross

The Demon Headmaster

The Lottie Project – Jacqueline Wilson

The Lottie Project Book

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Secret Garden – Francis Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden

The Twins at St Claire’s – Enid Blyton

St Claire's

The Tower in Ho Ho Wood – Enid Blyton

The Tower in Ho-Ho Wood Book

The Worst Witch – Jill Murphy

The Worst Witch

Topsy and Tim- Jean and Gareth Adamson

Topsy and Tim

Two Weeks with the Queen – Morris Gleitzman

Two weeks with the Queen

DK Eyewitness Books

DK Eyewitness Book

A Child’s Garden of Verse – Robert Louis Stevenson

A Child's Garden of Verses

I would love to know your favourites! Leave your’s in the comments below!

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