Newest Lifestyle Reviews

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Review of

The Book of Moods by Lauren Martin

5star.jpg Lifestyle

I was in a great mood when I first learnt of this book, and because sarcasm doesn't always translate well into writing, imagine the word great being delivered with an eye roll and a sigh, through clenched teeth. I had spent the best part of a rainy, windy weekend afternoon out on the water at our local sailing club in the rescue rib, on standby in case anyone who was racing needed support. It's a volunteer duty we all do during the year, and normally I'm happy to, but that day the weather was miserable and I was miserable, and it all came to a head that evening when I noticed on the website that we had been thanked for our time as "Dave and wife". Wow. I had never needed this book more. Full Review

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Review of

Failosophy: A handbook for when things go wrong by Elizabeth Day

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What do Malcolm Gladwell, Alain de Botton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Lemn Sissay, Nigel Slater, Emeli Sandé, Meera Syal, Dame Kelly Holmes and Andrew Scott have in common? They've all failed and - more importantly - they've been willing to appear on Elizabeth Day's podcast to discuss their failures and how life worked out for them afterwards. You'll find the results of these discussions in Failosophy Full Review

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Review of

Single, Again, and Again, and Again by Louisa Pateman

4.5star.jpg Autobiography

You can't be happy and fulfilled on your own. You are not complete until you find a man.

This was what Louisa Pateman was brought up to believe. It wasn't unkind: it was simply the adults in her life advising her as to what they thought would be best for her. It was reinforced by all those fairy tales where the girl (she's usually fairly young) is rescued by the handsome prince who then marries her so that they can live happily ever after. Few girls are lucky enough to be brought up without the expectation that they will marry and have children. It was a belief and it would be many years before Louisa would conclude that a belief is a choice. Full Review

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Review of

Simple Abundance: 365 Days to a Balanced and Joyful Life by Sarah Ban Breathnach

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Someone once said: it's not self-indulgence, it's therapy! I think they were talking about shopping, but it probably can be applied to most things. In my case, it applies to writing about things because I want to, rather than because I can sell it or because I've got something to sell. Full Review

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Review of

If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie

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I normally say that you can tell how much a book means to me by how many pages have corners turned down. Perhaps an even greater measure of impact is setting out to buy my own copy before I've finished reading the one I've borrowed. I want to avoid clichés like 'powerful' 'inspiring' 'life-changing' – although it is definitely the first two and only time will tell about the third – but clichés exist for a reason and I'm not sure I can succinctly put it any better. Full Review

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Review of

Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life by Dr Thomas Jordan

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Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life is a book about love relationships rather than a book about love. The two greatest emotions are love and grief and love is the opposite of grief: if you love, Dr Thomas Jordan tells us, you will inevitably grieve. Your love relationships begin the moment you're born and end only when you die. Whilst we all come into the world hoping to give and receive love there are many people for whom love is not quite so simple. Some people suffer multiple disappointments - sometimes repeating the same mistakes - and this eventually becomes resignation. For people who are making the same mistakes repeatedly, self-preservation, in the form of resignation is a necessity. Full Review

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Review of

Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World by Michael Harris

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This is not the book I was expecting it to be. For some reason I expected it to be another self-help manual on how to find calm, how to step outside the mainstream, but it is not that at all. Instead of telling us how, it is more about the why. Harries examines how we're eroding solitude, which used to be a natural part of our human life, and why that matters. Of course he talks about how some people have found solitude and what has come of that, and eventually in the final chapter he talks about his own experience of having deliberately sought it out, but mostly he wanders down the alleys and by-ways that his thinking about this lost art led him. Full Review

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Review of

Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by B J Fogg

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Go on, admit it - you're not quite perfect. You still have those odd, quirky even loveable (to you) habits which seem to annoy other people. Other people, of course, are sorely afflicted with some dreadful flaws which they could so easily correct, if only they would make just a little bit of effort. Or put another way, I get cross with myself because I forget to do things or do some actions more than I should and no matter how I try to make what seem to be quite monumental changes I never quite seem to get to grips with the concepts. I constantly fail and then I get cross with myself for failing. Lack of willpower is another burden to add to the list. Full Review

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Review of

Fucking Good Manners by Simon Griffin

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Manners maketh man, they say. It certainly makes life easier if everybody abides by a set of conventions, some of which are ages old and other which have evolved over time. Manners are not about how much to tip or how you should behave if you get an invitation to Buckingham Palace, they have nothing to do with class or financial status: they're about getting the basics right before we try to deal with more difficult matters. Of course we all have more relaxed manners when we're with family and friends, but it's best if we learn to distinguish between our public and private lives and to act appropriately. Fucking Good Manners aims to help us on the way. Full Review

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Review of

Painting Snails by Stephen John Hartley

4.5star.jpg Autobiography

It's very difficult to classify Painting Snails: originally I thought that as it's loosely based around a year on an allotment it would be a lifestyle book, but you're not going to get advice on what to plant when and where for the best results. The answer would be something along the lines of 'try it and see'. Then I considered popular science as Stephen Hartley failed his A levels, did an engineering apprenticeship, became a busker, finally got into medical school and is now an A&E consultant (part-time). I found out that there's an awful lot more to what goes on in a Major Trauma Centre than you'll ever glean from Casualty, but that isn't really what the book's about. There's a lot about rock & roll, which seems to be the real passion of Hartley's life, but it didn't actually fit into the entertainment genre either. Did we have a category for 'doing the impossible the hard way'? Yep - that's the one. It's an autobiography. Full Review

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Review of

Good Mood Food: Unlock the Power of Diet to Think and Feel Well by Charlotte Watts and Natalie Savona

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I thought I was getting a cookbook: I liked the idea of a series of recipes which would make me feel happy. For once this isn't a case of 'if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is' - it's a case of getting something which could change your life for the better - for good - rather than a quick fix. Full Review

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Review of

Stream Punks by Robert Kyncl and Maany Peyvan

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I watch quite a lot of YouTube. I play music videos when I want to listen to a particular song I don't already have in my collection. I use it to find out how to do things, with the instruction videos they seem to have for pretty much anything. At the gym, I'll stick it on on my phone, prop it up on the cross-trainer and watch some behind the scenes interviews with the cast of my favourite shows. And sometimes I'll treat it as if it is Netflix, to watch series with new episodes releasing every few days, exclusively on YouTube. Having a new smart TV adds an extra, easy way to watch without having to plug in my laptop or squint at a small phone screen. So yes, I like YouTube and I use YouTube. But I didn't know a whole lot about the site it until I read this book. Full Review

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Review of

Parenting through the Eyes of a Child: Memoirs of My Childhood by Tabitha Ochekpe Omeiza

4star.jpg Autobiography

Tabitha Ochekpe Omeiza was brought up in Nigeria and came to Britain to study for her A levels when she was 18. Her parents used their savings to give her this opportunity and called it an investment in her future. Now a qualified pharmacist, married and with a child of her own, Tabitha looks back at her childhood and reflects on the way her mother and father raised her. And she gives their parenting top marks. Full Review

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Review of

Trials and Tribulations of a Travelling Prostitute by Andrew Mackay

3.5star.jpg Business and Finance

Just chance you think that you're picking up a book about what can go wrong in life for an itinerant sex worker I'd better explain exactly what it was that author Andrew Mackay did for thirty-three years. A travelling prostitute is a worker who is employed by one company but his services are sold out to other countries, usually at a substantial profit to the employing company and a lot of inconvenience to the employee. Mackay was an engineer who knew all that there was to be know about turbines and generators, or if he didn't could soon be up to speed to the extent of being able to teach other people. Occasionally his skills were used in the UK, but frequently he was abroad. Just every now and again he would be in those parts of the world which has the rest of us green with envy, but then there were those areas which feature heavily in the news and not in a good way. Full Review

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Review of

The Art of Noticing: Rediscover What Really Matters to You by Rob Walker

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The curse put on reviewers is that we get to read through a book which is really better dipped into or read gradually and thoughts allowed to be provoked. And so it was with The Art of Noticing. It's a simple premise: the pace of modern life and rapidity of technological advances means that we are constantly overwhelmed and distracted. Rob Walker wants us to be able to steal our attention back. He gives us his thoughts on various areas of our lives and then provides 131 exercises to help us recover our attention. Full Review

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Review of

Hard Pushed: A Midwife's Story by Leah Hazard

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Over the past few years, we've had a rash (sorry - no pun intended) of books by medical practitioners. Doctors have been at the forefront, but Hard Pushed is the first book I've seen by a midwife. It's an unusual profession in that it's one of the few callings within the medical system where most of the patients are healthy and the only one where one person comes into the system and (for the most part) more than one goes out. It's an amazing thing to be able to do - to escort new life into the world - and an enormous responsibility. Leah Hazard came to it after a career in television and Hard Pushed is the story of her career as a midwife - and the title tells more than one story. Full Review

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Review of

Time and How to Spend It: The 7 Rules for Richer, Happier Days by James Wallman

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Most things you can replace, but one of the things which you simply can't replace is time. Even though we know this, we fail to use what we have wisely. We have more leisure time, but that's not how it feels: a high value is put on how we spend our working hours, but there's a low value on leisure. Unfortunately, we now know how to work and not how to live: we need to learn how to spend our leisure time wisely and James Wallman has taken on the onerous task of teaching us how to do this. Full Review

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Review of

Home Workout for Beginners: 6 Week Fitness Program with Fat Burning Workouts for Long Term Weight Loss by James Atkinson

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James Atkinson has all the qualifications which you need in a workout instructor and he looks the part. He's been actively involved in the health and fitness arena for more than twenty years and he spent nine years as a member of 9 Parachute Regiment, Royal Engineers. He has another qualification which means a lot to me: he's been on the other side. There was a time when he was overweight and not particularly strong. As a child, he was slow to develop. This means that he understands what it's like and he knows how his clients feel: it's much more helpful than the twenty-something who was born super-fit and with an attitude problem. Full Review

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Review of

Live Forever Manual: Science, ethics and companies behind the new anti-aging treatments by Adrian Cull

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For many years now I've (half) joked that I intended to live forever and that so far, it was working out OK. Time has passed though and although I'm a great deal fitter and healthier than most people of my age there were a few nagging health problems which were tipping my life out of balance. It was time to look for a new approach and as so often happens, the reviewing gods brought me the book I needed. Live Forever Manual: Science, ethics and companies behind the new anti-ageing treatments seemed like the answer to my problems - only you get so much more than just 101 tips. Full Review

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Review of

Atomic Habits by James Clear

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I've said this before but there are some books that you seek out, some books that you stumble across and some books that drop into your life because you really MUST read them, like, right now! Atomic Habits is in the last category. Full Review

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Review of

Keep Your Health and Fitness For Life: Don't Let Age Be A Barrier by Stuart Roberts

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My birth certificate might suggest a higher figure, but I know that I'm only 42. I learned a long time ago that I could retain that feeling by keeping my life in balance. This meant eating sensibly, getting quality sleep and having regular exercise which I enjoyed. There was an added bonus too: I was juggling four chronic conditions and living this way meant that I could keep three of them in the background. Then a silly misstep meant that the hip problem flared up. The only way I could get more than an hour or two asleep was to take pain relief and the duodenal ulcer started to complain. Because I was masking symptoms I didn't dare to exercise - and the black dog of depression prowled along behind me. Full Review

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Review of

Beyond Thought by Chris Dhladhla

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Have you ever felt trapped by your own thoughts? That your mind is so busy processing what's going on in the world around you that you just can't catch a moment and simply be? Or that the outside world just won't stop pressing in upon an inner life that you'd like to be more peaceful? Full Review

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