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Blog Tours book reviews Monthly Wrap Up

September Wrap Up 

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It’s the end of another month. Autumn is well and truly settling in here in England and it feels like the time for hot chocolate, cosy blankets and spooky reads. I admit I’m missing the sun already though. 

September has been a really busy for me. I’ve read 11 books, taken part in 12 blog tours, and have been to two book events.

First I’ll start with what I read this month:

  • The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Woman Upstairs by Ruth Heald ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Ask Again Yes by Mary Beth Keane ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  • The Bad Place by MK Hill ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Postscript by Cecelia Ahern ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  • The Flower Arranger by JJ Ellis ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt ⭐⭐⭐💫
  • The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A. Denzil ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  • I Wanted You To Know by Laura Pearson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen ⭐⭐⭐⭐

My favourite book this month was The Testaments, but I Wanted You To Know and Postscript were the two others I loved most of all. 

I’ve loved taking part in so many blog tours this month but realise that I took on too many for one month. I’m being stricter about how many I do each month now and in October I have blog tours for 6 books and one novella. So keep an eye out for those reviews. 

I went to two fantastic book events this month. The first was to hear Sara Collins speak about her book The Confessions of Frannie Langton at the Festival of Women’s Writing in Hawarth on September 21st. This was my second time hearing Sara speak and again she blew me away with how intelligent, interesting and friendly she was. I took my Mum along and it was her first book event. She loved every minute and went straight home with my copy of the book to read for herself. I’m hoping it’s the start of more events together. 

The second event was one I still can’t believe I’ve been too. On September 26th I went to the VIP Launch Party for The Foundling, the new novel by Stacey Halls, which is out early next year. The Familiars was my favourite book this year so to be able to not only meet the author, but go to the launch of her next book was incredible. The event took place at Brunswik House which is a beautiful Georgean setting that couldn’t have been more perfect for the book. Stacey was so lovely and spent time talking to every single person there. Hearing her talk about her inspiration for the new novel and read from it has me so excited to dive in, but I’m making myself wait until nearer publication. I attended this event with my blogger friend, Beth, and we met some other bloggers we talk to online and an author that we didn’t realise would be there. The staff from Zaffre were all so friendly and I had some great conversations with some of them. This was my first book launch and they gave whatever launch I attend next a lot to live up to. The Foundling is out February 6th 2020.

So as you can see, September has been a great month. I’ve got some great books I’m planning to read next month and am attending an event in Nottingham where I’ll see Jessie Burton and Laura Purcell – two of my favourite authors. 

Have you read any of the books I read this month or did you attend any book events? Let me know in the comments below.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for my gifted books, and Tracey at Compulsive Readers, Anne at Random Things Blog Tours, Peyton at Agora books and Blogger HQ for the invitations to take part in the blog tours. A big thank you to Ellen at Zaffre for my invitation to The Foundling launch party.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour Review: My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt ⭐⭐⭐.5 

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SYNOPSIS:

June 2019 is the 50th anniversary of Judy’s death

August 2019 is the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz

October 4th the motion picture JUDY staring Renee Zellwegger and Jessie Buckley is released

An irresistible mixture of memoir, biography, cultural analysis, experiment and hero-worship about one person’s enduring fascination. This is for anyone who has ever nursed an obsession or held a candle to a star.

Judy Garland has been an important figure in Susie Boyt’s world since she was three years old: comforting, inspiring and, at times, disturbing her. In this unique book Boyt travels into the deep underworld of hero-worship, reviewing through the prism of Judy our understanding of rescue, consolation, love, grief and fame.

Layering key episodes from Garland’s life with defining moments from her own, Boyt demands with insight and humour, what it means, exactly, to adore someone you don’t know. Need hero worship be a pursuit that’s low in status, or can it be performed with pride and style? Are there similarities that lie at the heart of all fans? And what is the proper husbandry of a twenty first century obsession. Anyway?

‘When Judy sang to me as I grew older she seemed to confirm the things that I’d all my life held to be true.’

  • Things that are hard have more life at their heart than things that are easy.
  • All feelings, however painful, are to be prized.
  • Glamour is a moral stance.
  • The world is crueller and more wonderful than anyone ever says.
  • Loss, its memory and its anticipation, lies at the heart of human experience.
  • Any human situation, however deadly, can be changed, turned round and improved beyond recognition on any given day, in one minute, in one hour.
  • You must try to prepare for the moment that you’re needed for the call could come at any time.
  • There are worse things in life than being taken for a ride.
  • If you have a thin skin all aspects of life cost more and have more value.
  • Loyalty to one another is preferable to any other kind of human system.
  • Grief is no real match for the human heart, which is an infinitely resourceful organ.

 

MY REVIEW:

Hands up if you’ve ever obsessed over a celebrity? I imagine pretty much everyone reading this raised their hands just then. I know I did. While I’m no stranger to hero-worship, I did think reading this book that the author takes it to a whole other level. I’m a big fan of Mariah Carey and parts of this book reminded me of some lambs (Mariah’s name for her fans) I know who, while I understand their love and obsession, seem to me to never have left that peak of obsession we reach in our teenage years. 

Susie Boyt opens her book talking about her love for Judy Garland and how it helped her when she was a shy, sensitive child. I can relate to that. I’ve always been someone who feels things deeply and like Susie I fell in love with The Wizard of Oz at just three years old. I was instantly obsessed with the film and knew it back to front and inside out. I would quote lines, watch it repeatedly and put on skits acting out scenes with my friends. Of course, I was always Dorothy. But unlike Susie it was the movie and Dorothy I fell in love with, not the actress herself, though I’ve always been a fan from a distance. I can also relate to music and words from someone you admire helping you through hard times. Bad break up – I’d put on Someday by Mariah Carey. A day I’m feeling low – I’d put on Through The Rain. I could probably name a Mariah song for every emotion and situation so I definitely get using that to help you or just to make your day brighter. I’m not going to pull her apart and critique how she hero-worships in detail, and I think there was a lot of positives she has gleaned from her love of Judy, but there were times I thought she seemed a little crazy and I worried about her.

I loved learning more about Judy, including the difficult parts, and she is more interesting to me than ever before. I’ve always been in awe of her talent and admired everything she achieved despite the many obstacles in her way, some of which she arguably put in front of herself. She was a star through and through. But she was also neurotic and insecure. I always saw a sadness to her, like you could tell this was all a bit much for her. All she  wanted to be loved without condition other people taking from her and isn’t that what everyone wants after all? The tragedy is she never found it and died while estranged from her family and alone in a bathroom from an accidental drug overdose. That is no way for anyone’s life to end. I did like that her happiness and joy in life is emphasised as much as her difficulties aren’t shied away from. No one is one dimensional. They aren’t happy or sad, good or bad, they are a bit of everything and that changes all the time. This book showed me more of the real person behind the persona and it made me fall in love with her a little more.

But this book didn’t only teach me things about Miss Garland. It also gave great insight into how some fans think and can be affected by an obsession. The author is aware of how far she goes for her idol and often argues the virtues and benefits of such obsession, which I found fascinating. She asks why we’d want to give up the intense, teenage-like obsession when we get such a rush from it. The book contains a lot of psycho-analysis, which is understandable given her family history. All the way through the book it is clear that the author sees her life as having been enhanced by her love for Judy, rather than hindered by it. Though I have to wonder if there are times those around her wouldn’t necessarily agree. 

An intriguing book that at times felt a little messy and strange, My Life With Judy Garland is honestly like nothing I’ve ever read before. And it is a book I won’t forget. 

Thank you to Virago books and Ann Cater at Compulsive Reader Blog Tours for my copy of this novel.

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Susie Boyt was born in London and educated at Camden School for Girls and Oxford University. After a nerve-wracking stint at a lingerie boutique and an alarming spell working in PR for Red Stripe lager and the Brixton Academy, she settled down into writing and is the author of six acclaimed novels including The Last Hope of Girls, which was short-listed for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and Only Human, which was short-lsited for the Mind Award. Of her last novel, Love & Fame, The Sunday Times said ‘she writes with such precision and wisdom about the human heart under duress that the novel is hard to resist.’

Susie wrote a much-loved weekly column about life and art for The Financial Times Weekend for fourteen years and still contributes regularly to their books and fashion pages. Last Year she edited The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories for Penguin Classics. She is also a director at the Hempstead theatre in London and works part time for Cruse Bereavement Care.

She lives in London with her husband and two daughters. She is the daughter of the painter Lucian Freud and the great-grand-daughter of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.

FINAL My Judy Garland BT Poster