Recent five star reads

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I always review the books I am gifted with but sometimes run out of time to review the books I have bought.

So here is a quick round-up of the books I’ve read so far in 2023 that I’ve rated five stars:

A Duck Out Of Water: Mum, dementia and care home life by Helen Johns.

This is such an important book. It’s Helen’s account of her mother’s dementia and their experience of the care system. It will help anyone working in the care sector to improve their patient care. It will help anyone with relatives in a care home to know if their loved one is receiving the best care possible. I hope Helen realises the impact she will have by sharing her writing and, through her wider consulting work, a continuation of the positive impact she clearly had on care during her Mum Rita’s time in her care home.

Helen was absolutely dedicated to her mum, and her love for her shines through. Then there is Helen’s amazing ability to organise, influence others and seek solutions. This has resulted in an engaging book with heart-warming and honest writing, giving practical advice. Part 4 – A Better Way for All of Us is extremely clear and influential, and the tips are all the more likely to be taken up because Helen’s personal experiences precede them.

Thank You For The Kiss: Will They Ever Let Me Go by Beth Jordan

I was lucky enough to read an early draft of Thank You For The Kiss and was blown away by this story, which reads like a novel but is inspired by real events. The book starts out with heady, hopeful days in the seductive streets of Cuba. I danced with Gina as I read the book and felt her excitement.

We then move towards something much darker and more shocking, especially at the end. I was completely hooked. The book sat with me for days afterwards, and I found it very thought-provoking.

Grasping The Nettle: Tales from a Modern Country Gardener by Tamsin Westhorpe

I giggled and smiled through this charming memoir. There were many stories I could personally relate to, and they were all told in such a lovely way. Tamsin has had many interesting experiences in horticulture, and each chapter is a standalone story in its own right, making it very easy to read. Putting it down when it was time for bed was much harder!

A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe

I adore books which teach me something about worlds I know nothing about. This novel is so descriptive. It taught me much about funeral directors’ work and a little about the Aberfan disaster. William is a flawed character due to his experience at Aberfan. He carries his trauma with him and makes mistakes because of it. It’s a coming-of-age novel exploring loss, redemption and healing. Keep the tissues handy.

The Red of my Blood: A Death and Life Story by Clover Stroud

Clover’s writing always pulls me in until I am entirely immersed. As I’m reading, I feel like I know her. I want to hug her and take her pain away. She is unflinchingly honest, and her unravelling thoughts are almost (but not quite) too much to bear. Death will come to us all, but it is still taboo. I welcome the opportunity to learn more about how it can make you feel, and it helped me to understand how others may be feeling after the loss of someone they love and adore. I was fascinated by Clover’s heightened sense of colour.

My Hygge Home: How to Make Home Your Happy Place by Meik Wiking

Meik’s books are a beacon of positivity. This one combines Danish hygge and design principles to encourage us to review our homes and bring in more joy. Are they places which encourage positive behaviour? Do they remind us of happy times in our lives? Do they allow conversation? It’s peppered with statistics; each chapter is backed up with science. It’s a book you can read all in one go or dip in and out. It’s beautifully designed, combining photos and graphics to illustrate each point.

Meik says to think function first and allow your space to remind you of what you love doing. So, I’ve decided to replace a messy playroom/office with a space my daughter and I can share to encourage our writing, art and sewing.

A great read for Ingrid Fettell-Lee fans and anyone who buys into hygge and wants to make their home a happy place.

This blog is written by Hannah Powell, book blogger, author and director of two garden centres. Her award-winning memoir, The Cactus Surgeon, compares her days in the concrete of London, leading to burnout, with her nature-rich upbringing in rural Essex. It’s a nature and health memoir full of mindful moments.

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