Three 3 Star Reviews: Imagine This; Not Without My Daughter; Fairyland

Title: Imagine This: Growing Up With My Brother John Lennon

Author: Julia Baird

Year: 2011

Rating: 3/5

Anyone who knows me knows that I love the Beatles. I have all their albums, their films, and all of John & George’s solo work. I’ve been to see Paul McCartney live. I have more Beatles t-shirts than I can count. I’m a fan. I’m a Beatlemaniac.

So it was inevitable that this book would come into my possession at some point. Many Beatles/Lennon fans are somewhat aware of his background: Father out of the picture; Being brought up by his strict aunt Mimi; Reconnecting with his mother half way through his teens and then losing her again to a fatal traffic accident. But not too many know about the two younger half-sisters he had through his mother. Imagine This is the oldest sister, Julia’s, story.

I thought this book was okay. Learning more about the family dynamics from the inside was really interesting and, at times, quite heartbreaking. All four of Julia Lennon’s children (John, Ingrid, Julia, and Jacqueline) had quite a rough childhood that didn’t prepare them for the most stable adulthood. Even their immediate family members (the aunts/Julia Lennon’s sisters) were hardly assuring figures. So, as a coming-of-age family story, this book works really well.

However, there’s the John Lennon factor. I got the impression at times that Baird’s relationship with her brother was kind of forced. It’s well-documented that once The Beatles hit it off and John moved his first wife Cynthia and their son, Julian, to London, he had very little communication with the rest of his family, let alone went back up to Liverpool. And while I have no doubt that Baird and her brother crossed paths during their childhood and even bonded for the brief few years John reconnected with his mother, Baird’s insistence that they were always close, even into adulthood, felt more like a ploy to cash in on his name. That’s an awful thing to say but certain inaccuracies with dates didn’t add up at times and the wording did seem as though Baird was trying desperately to make something out of nothing.

I have no doubt though that, after the trauma of losing her mother at an early age and being rejected by her extended family, Baird tried to grab on to any memories of her childhood that she could, including what she’d once had with her older brother, and tried to make the most out of them. And I guess this book is the result of that.

Overall, it’s a good exploration of the ups and downs of one very large family in Liverpool and how trauma can affect the lives of young children. So if you’re looking for something more coming-of-agey or a family drama, this one’s for you. For anyone wanting to know more about John Lennon, the man, though? Best to just read his own books.

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Sunday Post: Indigenous Reads, Prison Shows, & Iron Maiden


What’s new?

After a 2 week break away from blogging, I’m back!

As much as I love reading, sometimes I need to take a step away from the book blogosphere and booktube. Readathon season is in full swing and the pressure to read fifty thousand books a week can start to get a bit excessive.

I started the month of August reading a novel that came in at just under 500 pages and all I wanted to do was take my time and enjoy it. I didn’t want to hear about reading sprints or TBRs or anything like that. I just wanted to lose myself in my one book so I did. And it was great.

Now I get to spend this horribly cold & rainy Sunday catching up on two weeks of what I missed.

You know what I should be catching up on though?

My book reviews.

That’s right. While I have currently read 19 books from my #20BooksofSummer challenge, I’ve only written a total of 4 reviews. That is a hell of a fail so here’s hoping I get to them before the challenge is over.

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July Reading Wrap-Up

pile of hardbound books with white and pink floral ceramic teacup and saucer

It’s the last day of July!

It feels like this month has lasted a lifetime. Long hot summer days morphed into crappy rainy thundery ones. Ah, it feels good to be home.

This month has been the best reading month I’ve had so far this year. Even though I took part in two readathons that were kind of a bust, I still managed to read a lot of the books on my summer TBR.

Books Read in July: 11

5 Star: 6
4 Star: 4
3 Star: 1
2 Star: 0
1 Star: 0

Fiction: 6
Non-Fiction: 5
Total Pages: 3284

Male Authors: 3
Female Authors: 9

UK – 2
USA – 7
Canada – 1
France – 1

I’m actually really happy with my reading this month. I read quite a few books that I instantly loved.

My Life on the RoadThe BreakTheir Eyes Were Watching God, Mrs Dalloway, and Claudine at School were especially memorable and introduced me to authors I’ll definitely want to be reading more from. Mrs Dalloway didn’t really introduce me to Woolf but this book did help me give her writing a second chance after the mess that was Orlando last month.

I also have to give a special mention to Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. This was a re-read so it didn’t exactly introduce me to Kushner but this play is one of my all-time favourites and I love it and will probably re-read it every year because it’s just that good.


As far as my #20BooksofSummer challenge goes, I’m killing it.

I currently have 17/20 books read. That means I only need to read 3 more to hit my goal!

This month I replaced quite a few titles on my original reading list with others that I wanted to pick up. That comes from being a ‘mood reader’ though and I was kind of expecting that to happen.

One thing I am behind on is reviewing. I won’t be able to complete this challenge properly unless I review these books. So far, I’ve only reviewed 4 out of the 17 I’ve read. August is going to have to be the month I kick myself up the bum and get writing.

And that’s it. That was my reading in July. Reading was good. The readathons were meh. And my reviewing was bad. How did you do?

Sunday Post: Readathon Fails & O.J.


What’s new?

Well, it’s been a fortnight of readathons.

Not only did I take part in the #24in48 Readathon last weekend but, yesterday, I attempted my first ever Dewey’s 24 Hour (Reverse) Readathon. And, while I’m proud of hitting my personal targets for the #24in48, yesterday’s #reversereadathon was a bit of a fail.

I woke up at 7.30am, six and a half hours into the readathon, ready to dedicate the next 18 hours to reading. I read for seven hours straight and finished my first book. Then, it all went downhill. Youtube and Netflix and wine got in the way and, before I knew it, I didn’t pick up a single book for the rest of the day. Fail.

To be fair, I don’t know if these intense 24/48 hour readathons are for me. Sometimes you read a book and it sticks with you so much afterwards that you can’t even think about reaching for another. You need time to process your thoughts and feelings, and that doesn’t really work if you’re supposed to be reading as much as you can during a short space of time.

The good news is that I’m killing my #20BooksofSummer challenge this month though. My new job doesn’t start until September (the new school year) so I think I’ve been taking advantage of the summer to do as much reading as I can. As a result, I’ve read a total of ten books so far this month and only have four more books to read on my #20BooksofSummer list. Yay!

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WWW Wednesday – 25/07/18


The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading:

Let’s start with Lucky Boy. I’m about 3 chapters into this one and, so far, not feeling it. I don’t know why because the characters and writing are fine. There’s just no pull inside me to pick this up. I will try though. I’m going to give it until I’m about 30% of the way through and if I still feel the same, it’ll be a DNF.

What I am reading and not able to put down though is Rest in Power by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. Fulton and Martin are the parents of Trayvon Martin, the young boy who was murdered back in 2012 for walking home from a 7-11 while wearing a hoodie. This book is heartbreaking. Truly heartbreaking. To hear Trayvon’s parents talk about him and his life and the events surrounding his murder is so moving, I honestly don’t have the words.

I’m also reading my first Colette book, Claudine at School. The moment I saw the trailer for the new Colette biopic I was immediately fascinated by this woman and knew I had to read her books before the film was released. I figured Claudine at School, her first published book, would be a good place to start.

Recently Finished:


As I mentioned in my 24in48 Readathon wrap-up, I managed to finish Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father over the weekend and, for the most part, liked it. I didn’t love it but I also didn’t hate it.

Reading next:


Honestly, I’m reading 3 books at the same time right now and one of them isn’t from my #20BooksofSummer list (which is what I should be reading) so I have absolutely no idea what’s next. Guess we’ll have to find out later in the week.

#24in48 Readathon Wrap-Up


And it’s over.

Actually, it’s been over for the last 4 hours but you get the point.

The goal of the #24in48 Readathon was to try to read for at least 24 hours within a 48 hour time frame. I knew that this was never going to happen for me so I set myself two more modest goals:

+ Read for 12 hours
+ Finish 2 books

And, what do you know?

I did it!


Not only did I read for just over 13 hours but I managed to finish two books:


On Saturday, I finished my second Virginia Woolf novel of the summer, Mrs Dalloway, and what a pleasant surprise this was! While Orlando left me scratching my head, not knowing how to feel, last month, I loved Mrs Dalloway. It broke my heart and I couldn’t put it down. What a read. This definitely redeemed Woolf for me and now I know I want to keep trying more of her books.

Yesterday I also finished Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott. This memoir focuses on Abbott’s early life, being raised by her single father, an out and proud gay poet, while living in San Francisco during the 70s and 80s. I liked this. I wouldn’t say I loved it. The storytelling was ok and Abbott’s reactions to her father describing his AIDS-related symptoms were quite shocking and frustrating at times but I still liked the book and am glad I read it.

This was my first time doing the #24in48 Readathon and, while I know the point of it is to read for 24 hours, not 12, I’m still proud of myself.

It was a really busy weekend – My baby brother had kind of a celebratory birthday weekend and, as I’ve been overseas for the last 4 years, spending time with him was priority number 1. I fit in as much reading as I could when I had time but I just wanted to be with my family for most of it.

Having said that, I’m not entirely sure I’ll take part in this one again. Waking up super early and going to bed super late in order to make the most out of my possible reading hours has done a bit of a number on me because it’s now Monday morning and I’m knackered. I’m still definitely going to do Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon this weekend coming but I’ll probably think twice when the next #24in48 comes around.

Glad I tried it though. 🙂