How to be Broken by Dr Emma Kavanagh

About the Book

The past year has been ROUGH. It has pushed so many of us right to our absolute limits.

If, you have found yourself:

– Not being able to sleep 
– Wanting to cry all time 
– Being terrified of everything changing
– Trying to understand what has happened to the world

Then this is the book for you.

In 2020, while it seemed that the world was falling apart, psychologist Dr Emma Kavanagh began bringing together the psychological research on the impact of trauma, what it means, and what it does for us – the good and the bad. Within the psychological literature, she found important clues about why trauma and stress are not the life sentences they sometimes seem to be, and, most importantly, how they can often lead to growth beyond the despair.

This is a book about why it’s ok to struggle, why it’s ok to fall apart, and why it’s ok to be broken. Because, once we give ourselves permission to be broken, we can put the pieces back together. And we can come back, stronger than we were before.

My Thoughts

I saw this book on twitter on publication day and the title alone made me immediately one-click on my Kindle! I’m so glad that I spotted this book and that I read it as it has been exactly what I needed.

The book is short at 124 pages so it doesn’t feel overwhelming when you start it and the author writes in such a way that you can take in all the information even when your brain is feeling frazzled, which I really appreciated.

The book starts from the personal as Emma writes about how she felt as the pandemic approached our shores but then she widens out to look at examples from other things that have happened in the world and how our brains cause us to act in times of high stress and trauma.

I really connected to this book as, like Emma, I also have complex PTSD. I was very lucky that after suffering for more than twenty years I got treatment three years ago that finally gave me my life back. Unfortunately the pandemic has caused me to go backwards a bit as my coping strategies tend to be the ones I used to survive and this is so frustrating to me. This book has helped me better than anything else I’ve read to understand why this has happened and why it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

There is a section in the book where Emma talks about how people, when caught up in an horrendous situation, such as a fire in a nightclub, often panic and try to get out the door they came in through rather than looking for other exit but so does everyone else, which makes it harder for anyone to get out. However, people with ‘broken brains’ who perhaps have PTSD or anxiety often make sure they know where all of the doors are when they go anywhere. The first thing I do when I go anywhere is look for where the doors are, it’s instinctive in me and I never connected my need to do this with the behaviours that have come back during the pandemic. I already feel so much calmer now I understand that my ‘broken brain’ is actually just trying to keep me safe. I understand now what is happening in my head and I know I have got past it before so I know I can do it again. I’d never heard the term post-traumatic growth until I read this book but it makes total sense to me that we can go on to find positives after the darkness.

I also found it fascinating and useful to read about how we can get tunnel vision and fixate on an aspect of something but then our brains look for more information that confirm what we believe, and this causes us to not see the bigger picture anymore. I really recognised this in myself as I was reading it – my consumption of news relating to covid-19 definitely falls into this pattern. I’ve been making a point since reading How to be Broken of reading less news and making sure that when I do click on articles that I look for the positive ones or the ones that give a different perspective to what I usually focus on and I think this is really going to help me.

I think this is an invaluable book for everyone to read as the country is beginning to come out of lockdown, especially for people who feel uncertain and anxious about it. The book helps contextualise why we behave as we do and why we feel as we do – it makes you feel less alone with it all. I finished this book on Sunday and immediately felt able to put a plan in place for when my husband returns to work later this month – something that I’ve been very scared about for many reasons but now we have a plan that makes sense to both of us and I’m feeling much calmer and more in control.

I know this is a rambling review where I can’t put into words exactly how I feel about this book, I just want to urge everyone to read it. It’s a brilliant read and one that will soothe your anxious brain. I highly recommend this one!

Stacking the Shelves with a New Book Haul (13 Apr 2019)!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!


I didn’t manage to post about my book haul last week so this post is a bumper two week book haul! I’ve acquired way too many books over the last fortnight but I’ve not been well and I can’t resist temptation when I’m not feeling great (that’s my excuse anyway!!).


Books I Bought

To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine

I still haven’t read Clothes Music Boys but I couldn’t resist grabbing a copy of this as it sounds like a book I will love. I hope to get to it soon.

The Dark Circle by Linda Grant

I’ve wanted to read this book ever since it was first published but I never seem to remember about it when I’m book shopping but this week I finally bought a copy and I can’t wait to read it!

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

This was an impulse by on Kindle as the blurb grabbed me and I couldn’t resist!

To Catch a Killer by Emma Kavanagh

I also bought this on Kindle as I love this author and I believe this book might be the start of a series so I’m really keen to read it soon.

Freefall by Jessica Barry

Another impulse buy on Kindle!

The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaitre

I love Pierre Lemaitre’s writing but somehow missed buying a copy of this book when it came out but I’ve rectified that now and I’m looking forward to reading this.

I Thought I Knew You by Penny Hancock

I read another book by this author quite a long time ago and remember really enjoying it so I couldn’t resist picking this book up when I spotted it.

Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin

I’ve not read anything by this author before but the blurb sounded really good so I bought this on Kindle.

Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen McManus

I enjoyed the author’s first book so when I saw this on the Kindle daily deal this week I snapped it up!

Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid

This was an Audible purchase as I’m enjoying listening to books at the moment so grabbed this one on a whim when it was deal of the day.


ARCS I Received

Call Me A Liar by Collette McBeth

I received a surprise copy of this in the post last week and I was thrilled! I love Collette McBeth’s writing and have been eagerly anticipating this book being released.

Constellations by Sinead Gleeson

I read an extract from this book in one of the papers last week and I knew then that I had to read the book. I was delighted to be approved to read it on NetGalley and will be reading it very soon.

The Carer by Deborah Moggach

This is another of my highly anticipated 2019 releases so I was so happy to be approved to read it on NG this week.

Dead Inside by Noelle Holton

I’ve been so looking forward to reading blogger-turned-author Noelle’s debut novel so am thrilled to have a copy on my kindle and will definitely be reading this one very soon!

How to Treat People by Molly Case

I requested this book on NG as the premise sounded really interesting.

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

I loved Alice Feeney’s first book so have been keen to read this second novel.

The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

I’d forgotten I’d requested this book on NG so it was a fab surprise when I got an approval email for it.

The Water Cure by Sophie Macintosh

It was lovely to be sent a pre-approved link for this NG book as I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages. I hope to get to this very soon.

Furious Hours by Casey Cep

I downloaded this book from NG on a read now as it sounds fascinating. It’s about a murder that Harper Lee was researching but she ended up not writing a book about it. I couldn’t resist that premise.

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

I’m delighted to have been sent this book as Orenda Books are always brilliant and this one sounds so good. I’ll be reading this one soon as I’m going to be on the blog tour for it next month.

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

This is another Orenda book and I’m so keen to read this one. I’ve enjoyed the author’s previous books but this one sounds even better!

Song of the Robin by R. V. Biggs

I’m going to be on the blog tour for this book and I’m really intrigued to read the book. I wasn’t sure if it was for me at first but now I can’t wait to start reading it!

10 Things To Do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’ Keeffe

This sounds like an emotional but also uplifting book and I’m really enjoying books like this at the moment so it won’t be long before I pick this one up.

We Never Said Goodbye by Helene Fermont

I’ve read a previous book by Helene Fermont and very much enjoyed it so I’m delighted to have another of her books to read.

The Tapestry Bag by Isabella Muir

This is another blog tour book, it’s an audio book so I expect I’ll be listening to this in the coming week as I find audio is the easiest way for me to read books at the moment.




Have you bought any new books over the last week? Please tell me below. 🙂 If you join in with Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link and I’ll make sure to read and comment on your post.

See my new #bookhaul in this week’s Stacking the Shelves post (13 May)


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!


Here are the books I bought this week:


The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while so I decided to treat myself this week. I’ve got a lot of review books to read at the moment so this may have to wait a little while before I can read it but I am really looking forward to it.


The first body comes as a shock

The second brings horror

The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.

Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.

Then another body appears against the Wall.

And another.

As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.

Who is the Killer on the Wall?


The Second Sister by Claire Kendal

I hadn’t heard much about this book but I’ve seen the cover on social media and it’s so striking that I had to know more. Once I read the synopsis I was very keen to read it so I treated myself to a copy.


It is ten years since Ella’s sister Miranda disappeared without trace, leaving her young baby behind. Chilling new evidence links Miranda to the horrifying Jason Thorne, now in prison for murdering several women. Is it possible that Miranda knew him?

At thirty, Miranda’s age when she vanished, Ella looks uncannily like the sister she idolized. What holds Ella together is her love for her sister’s child and her work as a self-defence expert helping victims.

Haunted by the possibility that Thorne took Miranda, and driven by her nephew’s longing to know about his mother, Ella will do whatever it takes to uncover the truth – no matter how dangerous…


The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

The lovely Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings mentioned in a comment on my blog that she was reading this at the moment and very much enjoying it. I was sure I had a copy on my TBR and was just in the mood to read it but alas it seemed I was wrong. So when I was ordering my other books this week I thought I would treat myself to this one too. It’s a short book so I’m hoping I can squeeze it in between some of my review books soon.


In May 1937 a man in his early thirties waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block. He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now. And few who are taken to the Big House ever return.


the good widow liz fenton

The Good Widow by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

I read a fab review of this on the lovely NovelGossip’s blog this week so immediately went to add it to my wish list. I then spotted that it was part of the Kindle First selection for May and could download it for free so I did just that. I really hope to read this soon as it sounds gripping!


Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.

For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.

Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…


The Trespasser by Tana French

The Trespasser by Tana French

I’ve read and enjoyed the first three books in the Murder Squad series so when I spotted the latest one on offer for £1.99 on Kindle this week I decided to buy it. It means I now have the rest of the series on my Kindle ready for me to read.


There’s the murder squad you set your sights on at the beginning: the one where you’re playing knife-edge mind-games with psychopathic geniuses. And there’s the one you actually work on. The night shifts. The vicious pranks that go too far. Sifting the dregs for the case that might just be special.

Tonight’s case isn’t it. Uniforms call it in as a slam-dunk domestic.
Except when Conway takes a good look at the victim’s face, she realises she’s seen her somewhere before. And she knows there’s a different answer. And it takes her breath away.

This is the case she imagined. Precision-cut and savage, lithe and momentous.


I received two review books:

last seen by lucy clarke

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I spotted this in a NetGalley email this week and immediately went to request it. I loved Lucy Clarke’s previous novels so am really keen to read this one. I don’t think this will be on my TBR for long at all!


Two boys missing. A seaside community with a dark secret at its heart…

Two little boys go missing out at sea – and only one is brought to shore.

For the boys’ mothers, best friends Sarah and Isla, the tragedy splinters a friendship. And The Sandbank – once an idyllic seaside haven – becomes a place of ghosts.

On the anniversary of the drowning, the other boy is missing. Parents Nick and Sarah try to quell their panic, but the Sandbank hums with tension as decade-old memories rise to the surface.

The truth lies in the past, like broken glass buried in the sand. Someone is hiding something – the question is, what did they see?


the impossible fortress

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

I’ve heard so many great things about this book and have been wanting read it for a while so I was really pleased when I got approved on NetGalley this week. I want to read this one very soon!


It’s 1987. Billy Marvin, the tallest boy in ninth grade, has just witnessed history. 

Wheel of Fortune presenter Vanna White is on the cover of Playboy. Billy and his friends, Alf and Clark, know that if they can get hold of the magazine, their world will change. For ever. But as Billy says, ‘No shopkeeper in America was going to sell Playboy to a fourteen-year-old boy.’

As they set out on their mission to find the most wanted images in America, they’re blissfully unaware of the dangers, dramas and garbage dumpsters that lie ahead. And of how a girl called Mary might just change one of their lives. For ever.



So, that’s all of my new books from the past week. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.:)

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.

Stacking the Shelves (19 March 2016)


(Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks or physical books, and books you’ve bought or borrowed or received an ARC of.)

This week I’ve tried to be more restrained in my book buying and I have been to a degree but I still couldn’t resist buying a few books!

Here are the new books that I purchased this week:

Love Like Salt: A Memoir by Helen Stevenson I’ve heard so much about this book on social media and have been really wanting to read it. I hope to get to it soon.

Mrs Houdini by Victoria Kelly I bought this book on a bit of a whim! I saw the cover and thought it looked fab and then when I read the synopsis it sounded like a really good read.

When We Were Alive by C. J. Fisher This is book I’ve seen reviewed on quite a few blogs recently so when I spotted it at a good price on Kindle I thought I’d download it.

Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie I saw this reviewed on MyChesnutReadingTree‘s blog this week and went straight to my Kindle and downloaded it. I can’t wait to read it, it sounds like my type of book.

Case 48 by Emma Kavanagh (a free short story on Amazon Kindle) I’ve loved all of Emma Kavanagh’s novels so when I spotted this free short story it was a no brainer to download it.

I also received these books for review:

The Missing by C. L. Taylor I was thrilled that my request for this book was approved, I adore C. L. Taylor’s writing and wanted to read this book asap! I do have it on pre-order so will still have a print copy on release day but I couldn’t resist the chance to read and review it sooner! I’ve started reading it already so should be able to review it next week.

The Good Mother by A. L. Bird I’m really looking forward to reading this review book too, so much so that it’s next on my list when I’ve finished The Missing.

Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom I was offered the chance to read and review Wonder Cruise this week and I’m looking forward to starting it. 

The Treachery of Trains by Sylvia Ashby I was also offered the chance to review this book too, it may be a little while before I get to it but I am looking forward to reading it.


So, that’s all of my new books from the last two weeks. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too. 🙂 

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.

Weekly Wrap up and Stacking the Shelves (9th January)

I can’t believe it’s Saturday again already!

This week I’ve posted about the books published in 2015 or before that I most want to read this year. You can read that post here if you’d like to. I’d previously posted my most anticipated new releases of 2016 (which can be read here), and I realised that there were so many books that were on my list to read last year that I’d not time to get to so I wanted to even things up.

Also this week I posted an interview that I did with the author of Search for the Truth, Kathryn Freeman.

I did my usual book memes – WWW Wednesday and Book Beginnings.

I’m struggling with reading at the moment. I’m still not 100% health-wise and my physio schedule is really taking it out of me. I’m trying to find to find balance in my life so that I can keep on blogging regularly but at the moment I’m coming unstuck because I don’t have the energy and concentration to read as much as I’d like to. Anyway,  I’ll figure it out eventually!


I only managed to read one book this week but I did get a review of it posted (please click on the link below the image to read my review).

The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood



I’m also joining in with Stacking the Shelves (hosted by Tynga’s Reviews), which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks or physical books, and books you’ve bought or borrowed or received an ARC of.

This week I’ve treated myself to a few new Kindle books with my Christmas money.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight 

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew

The Looking Glass House by Vanessa Tait

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst

The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien

The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson

An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender


I received some fab ARCS this week too:

The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore

The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells by Virginia MacGregor

If I forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene

I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Roisin Meaney

The Birthday that Changed Everything by Debbie Johnson

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

The Second Love of My Life by Victoria Walters

The Missing Hours by Emma Kavanagh


What have you been reading this week? Have you bought any new books? Please feel free to link to your wrap-up post, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below! 🙂