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**BLOG TOUR** What Nobody Knew by Amelia Hendrey

Abandoned by her mother at the age of three and left with her violent father and stepmother, Amelia had what can only be described as a horrific start in life. What Nobody Knew is the author’s own heartbreaking story, from her incredibly traumatic beginnings to her brave survival and, hopefully, happier life.

First of all, I need to start by saying that due to its content, this book may not be for everyone. Dealing with subjects such as child and domestic abuse, rape and abandonment, What Nobody Knew is a harrowing and, at times, difficult read. It’s not, however, sensationalised in any way, and is an honest account of the author’s upbringing.

Throughout the book, I had overwhelming feelings of anger directed towards the adults in Amelia’s life. She truly had no one to turn to and was let down constantly by those who had the power to do something about what she was enduring. Her numerous injuries, some of them requiring hospital visits, should, surely, have had the alarm bells ringing and yet this poor child continued to stay in the family home with those who were responsible.

What I found most fascinating about this book was the inclusion of actual documents from when concerns had been raised. This helped to highlight how little had been done for this child, the authorities seemingly intent on placing the blame firmly with the child rather than investigating the true cause of her behaviour and injuries. The more I read, the more frustrated and angry I became – how could they let this happen?

Being taken away from the family home can be traumatic for any child, but in her case, this provided one of the few high points for Amelia. Boarding school gave her the opportunity to live life as a ‘normal’ child and it was heartwarming to see her developing a close friendship with one of the other girls, doing things that girls her age would do. Of course, this couldn’t last, and it was devastating to think that she was send back to her home, and her abusers, each school holiday.

You would be forgiven for thinking that these events happened a number of years ago, but it is shocking to see how recently this all occurred. Neglect like this should never be allowed to happen again and I applaud the author for having the courage to tell her story.

With thanks to Amelia Hendrey and to Sarah Hardy from Book On The Bright Side Publicity & Promo for organising the blog tour.

A Better Me by Gary Barlow

During the 1990s, Take That were the boy band. Sell-out tours, number one singles, adoring fans – they had it all. After they decided to call it a day, everyone expected the career of lead singer and songwriter, Gary Barlow, to go from strength to strength, but this was not to be the case. Finding solace in food, Gary became a virtual recluse, tired of the endless jibes at his expense. A Better Me chronicles the battles with his demons, from his lowest times to the present day where he is happier than ever.

As someone who remembers Take That from the days when they used to tour shops and who still enjoys going to their tours today, I was really looking forward to reading A Better Me. If you are looking for a ‘warts and all’ tale of life in a boy band, then you are going to be sorely disappointed. This is very much Gary’s story – not the story of Take That – and it is one of humour, sadness but, above all, honesty.

As the title suggests, this is about how Gary changed his life for the better, be it through his battles with his weight or his mental health. What comes across throughout the book is how, despite his wealth and his happy family life, he could not find peace within himself, turning to food to fill the void when his solo career did not go how he had hoped. I daresay a lot of people will be nodding as he discusses the numerous diets, some more bizarre than others, that he tried in order to lose weight.

It was fascinating to read his take on the breakdown in his relationship with bandmate Robbie Williams, and he deals with this particular part of his life with brutal honesty. Similarly, he addresses his well-publicised tax avoidance – something I thought may have been omitted.

Gary deals with the well-documented loss of his stillborn child in a sensitive, honest way. I can understand why he had reservations in including this traumatic part of his life, but I feel that he made the correct decision in writing about it. If just one person going through the same thing finds it comforting, then it has been worthwhile.

A Better Me is a brutally honest take on the life  of one of the country’s foremost songwriters and is one that I’m sure all Take That fans will love.

Only Fools and Stories by David Jason

downloadIn his first book, David Jason told us about his life so far, from his time growing up at Lodge Lane, Finchley to the TV actor we all know and love today. In this, the follow-up, he tells us more about the characters he has portrayed from Granville in Open All Hours, Frost and not forgetting Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter from Only Fools and Horses.

I am a huge fan of David Jason and over the years I have loved his portrayal of some of the most iconic characters on British TV, my favourites being the aforementioned Del Boy and Detective Inspector Jack Frost. I’ve also always had a soft spot for Blanco from Porridge and was pleased to see him referenced in this book. Only Fools and Stories is a delightful behind-the-scenes look at all of these programmes featuring numerous tales that I had never heard before. It was satisfying to read about the genuine friendships that developed on Only Fools and Horses and I enjoyed the stories of practical jokes played on other members of the cast.

It was interesting to see how the different characters came about and his role in developing them. I was disappointed to read that there was potentially a Frost spin-off in the pipeline, featuring the retired detective as a private investigator, but that it never materialized. I would have loved to have watched Frost’s continuing development.

One of the things I enjoy about David Jason’s style of writing it that it is easy to imagine his voice as you read the words. This made it a very entertaining read and a perfect follow-on to this previous autobiography. I just hope that he continues to entertain us for years to come, providing him with enough material for a third autobiography.

The World According to Danny Dyer: Life Lessons from the East End

41nk2ofpkdlNow a household name playing Mick Carter on Eastenders, life hasn’t always been a bed of roses for Danny Dyer. Born in Custom House, in London, Life Lessons from the East End gives us an insightful look into what it was like growing up in an area where becoming an actor was not exactly top of everyone’s career choice list.

More a collection of stories and anecdotes than an autobiography, it is hard to read this book without hearing the voice of the man himself due to phraseology being used. For those not able to translate the Cockney rhyming slang throughout the book, a glossary of terms is provided at the back! Danny is very forthright with his opinions and while some of them may not be to everyone’s liking, he certainly makes a lot of sense on a great many issues.

I found this a very funny read with quite a few genuine ‘laugh out loud’ moments. Danny comes across as a very normal, down-to-earth man and while the liberal use of profanities may offend some, if you are reading this book you must surely know what language to expect!

An enjoyable read.

 

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