Wednesday 25 April 2018

Really Mini-Reviews! - Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina and Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming

I don't read many memoirs.

When I do, they've got be that little bit unusual. That little bit extraordinary.

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They've gotta be something which shines a light into the dark - either through revelations or through hope.

Which brings us to the books I'll be writing mini-reviews for in this post!

The first will be Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina:

- a blast of rebellious revelations and an unquenchable punk-rock spirit. It's something else.

And then there's Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming:

- extraordinary in a completely different way

- emotionally raw, and yet hopeful.

Check out my mini-reviews below for more detail on these awesome-sauce books!

Here are my 'really mini-reviews' 😁 :

Riot Days title image. Black background with neon detail of title and person playing guitar. 'Book Review @ Dora Reads' written in bottom-left corner.

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Title: Riot Days

Author: Maria Alyokhina

Riot Days cover

Amazon: UK - USA


Once, not long ago, some girls got together to protest in a church, in Moscow.

Their band was called Pussy Riot.

For Maria Alyokhina, that one day changed her life.

Riot Days is the story of that decision - from first planning until Alyokhina's eventual release from prison.

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The story of the nasty punk rockers causing offense in a sacred place is the simplified version that Putin would have us believe - the truth is a lot more complex.

The truth is feminism at it's finest. The truth is speaking out against a tyrant, despite knowing what repercussions it could bring.

The truth is that a group of young women in neon balaclavas would not let themselves be silenced.

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The one minus here was that Alyokhina uses the word 'gypsy' to describe several fellow-prisoners.

Many Travellers find this offensive, and consider it a racial slur.

Others though, in Europe especially, identify as such, and we really don't have enough information about these women to know whether this is the case.

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Potentially distressing content here includes: dictatorship, oppression, biased legal system, harsh prison conditions, parent/child separation, invasive searches of intimate areas/sexual assault.

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This book is both vitally important and wrenchingly eye-opening.

I think this is one that EVERYONE should read.

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Not My Father's Son title image with silhouette of father holding son on beach. 'Book Review @ Dora Reads' is written in the bottom-left corner.

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Title: Not My Father's Son

Author: Alan Cumming

Amazon: UK - USA


Not My Father's Son is actor, and LGBTQ+ icon*, Alan Cumming's, tale of his childhood, and the parts of his adulthood that have been spent trying to come to terms with it.

*Identifies as bisexual/sexually fluid, with bi being his primary ID.

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Unlike most celebrity books, this isn't a simple 'look how far I've come' autobiography.

This is a brutally honest memoir, focussed around the physical and emotional child abuse he suffered at the hands of his father.

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As you can imagine, there's some heavy-hitting stuff going on here, so please, please, PLEASE, be careful when reading.

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What's really and truly refreshing about this book is how emotionally healthy it is: Alan Cumming is a man who is willing to talk about feelings.

If anything, this is something we could do with more of - a man willing to speak tenderly about those he loves and cares about, and openly about the things which hurt and have hurt him.

That is simply beautiful, and a type of strength that is harder-won than anything you go to the gym for.

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I actually audiobooked* this; it was narrated by Alan Cumming, and I think that really gave an oomph to the emotion.

Unfortunately, from time to time Cumming slipped into faux-accents when speaking the dialogue of African or Asian people... 

*Winces.* It didn't happen often, but... it's really Not Good.

*It's totally a word now. #DealWithIt.

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Major warnings here for: child abuse (physical, emotional,) mental health problems including eating disorders, manipulation, family problems, extreme emotional distress.

Also, references to pre-revelations Harvey Weinstein are awkward af.

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Do you read memoirs my nerdlets?
What's the last non-fiction book you read?
Talk to me! 😊💬

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  1. I remember when that incident happened with Pussy Riot but I didn't know about this book- I'd like to read it. Thanks for sharing it!

    1. It's well worth the read! It's a quick read too, and uber-fascinating! XD

  2. I don’t read many memoirs either but when I do I end up being so impressed by them! These sound really interesting. I would recommend you read the memoir The Glass Castle. I feel like my synopsis of it would not do it justice but please go check it out!!

  3. I haven't read many memoirs, but these both sound like powerful ones! I like your point about men being emotionally open and how we need more of that.

    1. They're amazing! And yes!!! Emotionally healthy and open dudes!!!! XD XD

  4. I've actually heard of the band and the situation around what happened with Pussy Riot before in school and I was very intrigued by the story. I didn't know one of them had written about it and want to read it now!

    1. OMG yes! Read the thing!!!! (This is one of *those* books - I'ma tell *everyone* to read the thing!)


Comments? I love comments! Talk to me nerdlets!