TBR Pile Review: Gender – A Graphic Guide, by Meg-John Barker & Jules Scheele PLUS BONUS GIVEAWAY

Paperback, 176 pages
Published November 7th 2019 by Icon Books
ISBN13: 9781785784521


Join the creators of Queer: A Graphic History (‘Could totally change the way you think about sex and gender’ VICE) on an illustrated journey of gender exploration.

We’ll look at how gender has been ‘done’ differently – from patriarchal societies to trans communities – and how it has been viewed differently – from biological arguments for sex difference to cultural arguments about received gender norms. We’ll dive into complex and shifting ideas about masculinity and femininity, look at non-binary, trans and fluid genders, and examine the intersection of experiences of gender with people’s race, sexuality, class, disability and more.

Tackling current debates and tensions, which can divide communities and even cost lives, we’ll look to the past and the future to ask how might we approach gender differently, in more socially constructive, caring ways.

Continue reading “TBR Pile Review: Gender – A Graphic Guide, by Meg-John Barker & Jules Scheele PLUS BONUS GIVEAWAY”

Review: Gender Euphoria, Edited by Laura Kate Dale

10th June 2021 | PB £9.99

● This ground-breaking anthology brings together an eclectic cohort of trans, nonbinary, agender, gender-fluid and intersex contributors to share their experiences of “gender euphoria” – bringing stories of joy, belonging and positivity to the conversation around transition
● Moments of gender euphoria include an agender dominatrix being called
‘Daddy’, an Arab trans man getting his first tattoos, and a trans woman
embracing her inner fighter
● Gender Euphoria reached its funding target in less than a week, and has over 1,000 backers

So often, the stories shared by trans people about their transition centre on gender dysphoria:
a feeling of deep discomfort with their birth-assigned gender, and a powerful catalyst for coming out or transitioning. But for many non-cisgender people, it’s gender euphoria which pushes forward their transition: the joy the first time a parent calls them by their new chosen
name, the first time they have the confidence to cut their hair short, the first time they truly embrace themself.

Gender Euphoria seeks to show the world the sheer variety of ways that being non cisgender can be a beautiful, joyful experience. What each of the book’s essayists have in common are their feelings of elation, pride, confidence, freedom and ecstasy as a direct result of coming out as non-cisgender, and how coming to terms with their gender brought unimaginable joy into their lives.

Continue reading “Review: Gender Euphoria, Edited by Laura Kate Dale”

TBR Pile Review: 30 Days of Worldbuilding Workbook, by A Trevena

52702020. sx318
Published December 23rd 2019
ISBN:1677313129 (ISBN13: 9781677313129)


Overwhelmed by creating fantasy worlds?

Lost in your world? Unsure where to go next?

30 Days of Worldbuilding breaks the task into manageable chunks. By following 30 creative prompts, this book will guide you from idea, to full world.

This workbook will help you to:

* Break the epic task of worldbuilding into easy steps
* Build a full and complete world with prompts you may not have thought of
* Tie your worldbuilding into your story to increase tension and conflict
* Bring your worldbuilding back to your characters to get your readers hooked

This book also includes a bonus lesson on building magic systems that work. By completing just one prompt each day, you can have a fully created fantasy world in a month. You will also have an invaluable book of worldbuilding notes to keep beside you as you write.

Get 30 Days of Worldbuilding today, and stop getting lost in your world.

Available as both an ebook Guidebook and a paperback Workbook with space for answering each prompt. 

My Review

I bought this book on a whim yesterday and it arrived this afternoon while I was out swimming. As some of my long-time readers might know, I occasionally write fantasy.

I know the world I built, Erce, from the core upwards, but I don’t know know how I know. I have written some of it down on here. There have been some changes to the world since then, and I’m working on a massive rewriting project. The main character of Lizzy remains but the world is changing a touch, with more obvious magic and fantasy elements.

In July I’m running a four part fantasy writing workshop through The Faraway CIC, and I needed some ideas for writing exercises. I wanted to check I had enough content as well. There are bound to be things I’ve missed if I don’t check it against other people’s work.

As it happens, this book has been quite though-provoking both for my own worldbuilding and for the workshops. I’ve ordered a couple of other books by the author because I think this workbook will be very useful to me as a writer. The author is a massive fantasy fan and a writer of speculative fiction herself, so she knows what she’s talking about (I have doubts about her taste – Narnia, really? Everyone knows Tolkien was the best Inkling!). I think I will return to this book every time I build a world (there are a couple sitting in my notebooks and several stories waiting to be written in those worlds), and I will be using it to work on the re-writes of the Erce stories.

I’m not going to write in the book itself, although there is space in the book for that. It’s the sort of book you can dip into and work on an aspect of your worldbuilding or work your way through it over a month, perhaps in preparation for NaNoWriMo, or a writing retreat. The author always brings it back to the question of ‘how do these aspects of your world affect your character?’ How does a particular law or cultural event affect them and their lives? What conflict does it bring? The author reminds the reader that you have to keep these things in mind even if you don’t use it in the story. It gives the story depth, by implying that there is a history and culture that is totally normal to the characters even if it is alien to us as readers.

Very happy to recommend this book and I’ll be happy to read the other books I’ve ordered.

Review: Stephen From The Inside Out, by Susie Stead

Publication date: 2 Apr 2021
Category: Biography / Memoir
Paperback price: £9.99
Page count: tbc
ISBN: 978-1-911293-68-2
E-book price: £3.99
ISBN: 978-1-911293-67-5

Stephen struggled for most of his life with severe mental health issues, endured 25 years inside British psychiatric wards and never felt acceptable outside, in the ‘normal’ world. People found him difficult and demanding yet on the inside was a man with wide interests, deep longings and an integrity that would not be compromised, whatever the cost.
This is his story, inside and out; a story of grave injustices, saints and bigots, a faithful dog, a wild woman, a fairy godmother and angels hidden in plain sight.
It is also the story of the author, Susie, who started off by wanting to ‘help’
Stephen ‘get better,’ and instead found herself profoundly challenged by a
friendship she did not expect.
Idiosyncratic, unorthodox, tragic, yet at times hilarious – this book not only tells a compelling and important story but will be vital reading for anyone who cares about mental health in our contemporary world or who might just be open to a different way of seeing: from the inside out

Continue reading “Review: Stephen From The Inside Out, by Susie Stead”

TBR Pile Review: The Gendered Brain, by Gina Rippon

40554114. sy475
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published February 28th 2019 by Bodley Head
ISBN:1847924751 (ISBN13: 9781847924759)


Do you have a female brain or a male brain?
Or is that the wrong question?

Reading maps or reading emotions? Barbie or Lego? We live in a gendered world where we are bombarded with messages about sex and gender. On a daily basis we face deeply ingrained beliefs that your sex determines your skills and preferences, from toys and colours to career choice and salaries. But what does this constant gendering mean for our thoughts, decisions and behaviour? And what does it mean for our brains?

Drawing on her work as a professor of cognitive neuroimaging, Gina Rippon unpacks the stereotypes that bombard us from our earliest moments and shows how these messages mould our ideas of ourselves and even shape our brains. Taking us back through centuries of sexism, The Gendered Brain reveals how science has been misinterpreted or misused to ask the wrong questions. Instead of challenging the status quo, we are still bound by outdated stereotypes and assumptions. However, by exploring new, cutting-edge neuroscience, Rippon urges us to move beyond a binary view of our brains and instead to see these complex organs as highly individualised, profoundly adaptable, and full of unbounded potential.

Rigorous, timely and liberating, The Gendered Brain has huge repercussions for women and men, for parents and children, and for how we identify ourselves. 

Continue reading “TBR Pile Review: The Gendered Brain, by Gina Rippon”

Pen & Sword Review: The History of Video Games, by Charlie Fish

By Charlie Fish
Imprint: White Owl
Pages: 120
Illustrations: 150 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781526778970
Published: 28th May 2021

This book is a potted history of video games, telling all the rollercoaster stories of this fascinating young industry that’s now twice as big globally than the film and music industries combined. Each chapter explores the history of video games through a different lens, giving a uniquely well-rounded overview.

Packed with pictures and stats, this book is for video gamers nostalgic for the good old days of gaming, and young gamers curious about how it all began. If you’ve ever enjoyed a video game, or you just want to see what all the fuss is about, this book is for you.

There are stories about the experimental games of the 1950s and 1960s; the advent of home gaming in the 1970s; the explosion – and implosion – of arcade gaming in the 1980s; the console wars of the 1990s; the growth of online and mobile games in the 2000s; and we get right up to date with the 2010s, including such cultural phenomena as twitch.tv, the Gamergate scandal, and Fortnite.

But rather than telling the whole story from beginning to end, each chapter covers the history of video games from a different angle: platforms and technology, people and personalities, companies and capitalism, gender and representation, culture, community, and finally the games themselves. 

My Review

This book was sent to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

I hang around with gamers. It would be nice to have some idea of what they’re babbling on about. This book provides a history of computer games from several different angles. I found this a useful way of understanding the developments, especially the chapters about console development and about culture.

There are lots of pictures, some quite nostalgic – my sister had an original game boy with Tetris and Super Mario for instance. The biographies of important people involved in games and console development were interesting. A couple of them are definitely autistic.

There was quite a bit of detail and the references are fairly extensive so as a place to start, this potted history is a good one.

Unfortunately, the two chapters I was really interested in were truncated. Between pages 65 and 81 – most of the chapters on the important personalities of games development and gender and representation in games – had been replaced by a repeat of the previous chapter, on console development. I understand that I got an an ARC so errors happen, but it is disappointing.

Review: Self Contained, by Emma John

6 May 2021 | £12.99 | Hardback

Raw and hilarious memoir of a life-long single from award-winning author
and journalist, Emma John.

Emma is in her 40s; she is neither married, nor partnered, with child or planning to be. Self-Contained captures what it is to be single in your forties, from sharing a twin room with someone you’ve never met on a group holiday (because the couples have all the doubles with ensuite) to coming to the realisation that maybe your singleness isn’t a temporary arrangement, that maybe you aren’t pre-married at all, and in fact you are self-contained.

It explores the unpartnered life as never before, joyfully celebrating individuality in a world built for two. This is the book to confront the commonly held assumption that life is less full and less-fulfilled if lived singly.

‘I wrote this book because I don’t want to be haunted by the word “spinster” any more!’

Continue reading “Review: Self Contained, by Emma John”

TBR Pile Review: Intuitive Eating for Every Day, by Evelyn Tribole MS, RDN, CEDRD-S

Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 16th 2021 by Chronicle Prism
ISBN: 1797203983 (ISBN13: 9781797203980)

Award-winning dietitian, bestselling author, and co-founder of the intuitive eating movement, Evelyn Tribole, offers an inviting and practical introduction to intuitive eating—which Parade calls “the anti-diet to end all diets.”

Intuitive Eating is a life-changing path to cultivating a healthy relationship with food, mind, and body. Intuitive Eating for Every Day breaks it down for you with daily guidance. This book will be your ally and solace against a world steeped in diet culture. It will illuminate and encourage your Intuitive Eating journey, with 365 practices and inspirations to help you:

• Nurture the ten Principles of Intuitive Eating with 52 Weekly Intentions
• Connect with your body in the here and now with Grounding practices
• Cultivate gratitude for different aspects of nourishment with Meal Meditations
• Identify self-trust disruptors and awaken inner knowingness
• Strengthen your mental, emotional, and physical health by setting boundaries
• Reflect on emotions and cravings
• Practice self-compassion, body appreciation, and self-care

These daily readings—read on their own or as a companion to the author’s bestselling Intuitive Eating—make it easy to integrate this revolutionary program into your life. Intuitive Eating for Every Day offers constant support to help you make peace with food and reclaim and reconnect with the pleasure of eating.

The perfect book for:

• Anti-dieters
• Fans of Intuitive Eating and The Intuitive Eating Workbook
• Anyone looking for daily guidance on a happier and healthier way to eat
• Wellness enthusiasts looking for healthy habits
• Nutritionists and other health professionals
• Mindfulness and meditation practitioners
• Certified eating disorder specialists and anyone in eating disorder (ED) recovery

Continue reading “TBR Pile Review: Intuitive Eating for Every Day, by Evelyn Tribole MS, RDN, CEDRD-S”

Audiobook TBR Review: Move! by Caroline Williams

Move! cover art
By: Caroline Williams
Narrated by: Catrin Walker-Booth
Length: 5 hrs and 38 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 15-04-21
Language: English
Publisher: Profile Audio


Did you know that walking can improve your cognitive skills? That strengthening your muscular core reduces anxiety? That light stretching can combat a whole host of mental and bodily ailments, from stress to inflammation? We all know that exercise changes the way you think and feel. But scientists are just starting to discover exactly how it works.

In Move!, Caroline Williams explores the emerging science of how movement opens up a hotline to our minds. Interviewing researchers and practitioners around the world, she reveals how you can work your body to improve your mind. As lockdown throws us back on our own mental and physical resources, there is no better time to take control of how you think and feel.

©2021 Caroline Williams (P)2021 Hachette Audio UK

My Review

This was a short listen that accompanied me on my walk to and from the pool yesterday and while crocheting today. I heard about it through New Scientist, reading the first paragraph of Williams’ article in this weeks magazine online. I bought the book on the strength of those paragraphs, and I also got this week’s magazine yesterday on the way back from swimming. The magazine article is a much condensed version of the book.

I found that there was very little in this book I didn’t already know or understand on an intellectual basis, although I didn’t know of the researchers and others she interviewed. I probably picked the information up from general reading. What this book does is bring all the information together in one place and provide simple, easy to follow advice to get the best from the research findings. The interviews are fascinating, and I especially like the idea of ‘natmov’, or natural movement training – training where people re-learn how to use their bodies like a human should by playing in nature. I think it’s something children do naturally, but school and time knock it out of us.

My only issue comes when Neurodivergent people are mentioned – dyslexics, ADHDers, Autistics specifically in this book – and people with mental distress. We have long known that researchers tend not to believe us until they ‘discover’ things for themselves. Like the link between neurodivergence and connective tissue disorders. Williams mentions the high incidence of EDS and IBS etc. is ND populations but somehow makes it sound like it’s our fault for not moving enough. She interviews a researcher who has hypermobility and then goes on to say ‘while some people with these conditions don’t like to be called disordered…’ the intonation suggests she thinks we are.

Same with mental illness – we just need to get out and about more. Maybe I’m interpreting it harshly, the author does have a history of mental distress herself, so maybe she’s just passing on the tone of research articles she’s read and the researchers she’s interviewed? She doesn’t consider any of the sociological factors that affect mental health, like increasingly unstable employment, housing difficulties, social fragmentation and loneliness.

I have shared this book with my equally autistic colleague, because the trauma section might come in handy for her mentoring, and our groups, but I warned her the author was ‘a bit neurotypical’. So, it comes with a warning to ND readers for that.

Over all, if you want some encouragement to get up and move a bit more but aren’t sure where to start or why bother, this is a useful book.

TBR Pile review: Make it Happen: How to be an Activist, by Amika George

Paperback, 256 pages
Expected publication: January 20th 2022 by HQ
ISBN:0008434360 (ISBN13: 9780008434366)

‘Make It Happen reminds us that people of any age can create change in their communities. From finding allies to setting goals, everyone who wants to contribute to a better future can learn from Amika’s book.’ Malala Yousafzai


The world is waking up to the fact that society is arranged to
benefit some more than others. There is much that needs changing. And you can be the one to do it. Anyone can make history, including a teenager launching a global campaign from their bedroom. And Amika will show you how, in this essential and inspirational step-by-step guide to being an activist.

Are your favourite brands making little effort to be diverse?

Are the people who’ve been hardest hit by COVID-19 not getting the support they need?

Is the environment being overlooked in favour of driving profits?

Amika George succeeded in campaigning to get the government to fund free period products in every school across England. Make It Happen is her guide to being an effective activist. With chapters on finding your crowd and creating allies, how to get those in positions of power and influence to listen, how to use social media effectively and how to look after your mental health while protesting. Amika will you show you how you can make real and lasting changes in your world.

Featuring candid interviews with award-winning campaigner
Caroline Criado-Perez, host of The Guilty Feminist podcast, Deborah Frances-White, founder of the Gurls Talk network and podcast Adwoa Aboah, and founder of The Pink Protest Scarlett CurtisMake It Happen is the go-to handbook for the changemaker in you. 

Continue reading “TBR Pile review: Make it Happen: How to be an Activist, by Amika George”