Library Membership

It’s been years since I had membership of a physical library. Some of my earliest formative memories are of living in Romford, Essex and walking to the library for books with my mother and brother. 

Libraries have always played an important part in my life, up until the time I was no longer inclined to go out. However, in 2015, in a run of positive actions I renewed my passport and driving license allowing me to apply for a library membership.

Birmingham has a number of libraries other than the rather extensive and ornate central library that has come to be identified as a symbol of the city. My husband has a library card and up until recently he took out books for me to read. However, I found my local library in Kings Heath quite overwhelming and also unsatisfactory when it came to finding books I wanted to read.

With my own membership this year, which I completed weeks ago online, I also discovered the online facilities that as me to reserve books from across the city and pick them up from my local library. 

Rather excitedly I got straight onto making sure my online login worked and started reserving books straightaway. My first haul of four library books were a mixture of new books I really wanted to read by favourite authors and books I would have purchased and never read again.

I’m halfway through reading the four books I borrowed and will be returning the two I have read and reviewed. I will be waiting in great anticipation for any of the ten I have currently reserved to become available for collection locally, thus making good use of a valuable local resource. 

Book Review: The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

​Set in the 1920s and 1930s, The Tea Planter’s Wife is about the life of Gwen a young bride who has married a man who owns a tea plantation in Ceylon. After her marriage her relocation to Ceylon has its ups and downs but Gwen is thrown into turmoil after the birth of her son. Neither Gwen nor her husband are willing to be upfront about the secrets they keep, which has tragic consequences in the long run. 
A beautifully written book which is very visual as you are placed in the idyllic surroundings in Ceylon. I enjoyed reading the issues Gwen faces as a young woman in a new country and the intriguing unfolding of family secrets.
Although the story was somewhat predictable, it was still ahoy to read for the way the scene was set and how invested I became in the characters particularly Gwen and her cousin Fran. 
Not a fast paced, high octane read but a leisurely beautiful walk through a different country at a very different time. 

Links To Book: 

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Goodreads

Book Review: When I Was Invisible by Dorothy Koomson

​When Veronica Harper, Roni, starts at a new school and meets Veronika Harper, Nika they become bestfriends at the age of eight and soon discover a love for ballet at eleven. However, this deep friendship is put under stress by the difficult situation both girls find themselves in, which propells them both into a life neither one envisioned for themselves.
I finished this book and drew breath as all I could think was, wow. This was a magnificent read on so many levels that showed great insight into the themes the book dealt with. From teenage rebellion to abuse and bullying along with acceptance, forgiveness and repentance this book was very difficult not to engage with as both Roni and Nika’s lives entwined through the story on an emotional level. 
There are difficult to read themes in this book but it is sensitively and as tastefully handled as is appropriate for the subject matter. For me this is probably one of the best books I have read from Dorothy Koomson, as well as one of my best reads for 2016.

Links To Book: 

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Goodreads

Becoming My Mother

As time goes by, I notice myself becoming more like my late mother, both in appearance and attitude. My Mum hated walking long distances. I avoid walking long distances because I get short of breath easily and this causes concern more to those around me than myself.

Mum preferred to eat out than to cook but then had very specific tastes when it came to food. Although I don’t share her love for fish, I do enjoy sticking to a number of favourite dishes. In fact there are things I no longer eat because my Mum isn’t here to make them and I do not know anyone or have anyone who could recreate those dishes in any way that could do them justice.

Although I have had my driving license since I was seventeen and have clocked up thousands of miles over the years I find myself anxious behind the wheel and am happy to let my husband drive. However, I am probably one of the worst passengers in the world as I flinch, comment and basically am a pain of a backseat driver.
 

This too is very reminiscent of my Mother who was a nervous passenger and driver. In fact, my husband rejoices if I take the wheel when we go anywhere, because he feels I benefit from the experience and my driving skills are wasted. I debate having any skills, such is my loss of confidence in middle age.

Mum was a type two diabetic from a young age and so am I, having been diagnosed with diabetes at the age of thirty-two. I’m not sure whether it’s all completely psychological, I strongly suspect not, but since my diagnosis I crave the things I’m supposed to avoid or eat in moderation. Thankfully neither one of us took to smoking, as that would have only added to our predisposition of ischemic vascular risk factors.

Unlike my mother, I choose to handle my diabetic management with a firmer line and make sure I take my metformin at the prescribed dose daily and I hope to avoid having to go onto insulin in the near future and hopefully avoid diabetic complications for as long as possible. 

Most of all I check myself before sounding like my Mum. I think we all subconsciously if not consciously try to recreate the environment we felt safest in childhood and with that comes adopting prejudices, beliefs and attitudes that mirror parents. Parents are not flawless and nor should they ever be, but it is our responsibility once we steer ourselves to examine what we think and say for their true meaning and practice what we think we believe. 

As much as I loved my mother I question my reactions to certain situations and think hard about their implications in terms of my shortfalls. I don’t think my Mum ever thought she had any shortfalls, but I cannot say the same about her or myself. Being human means being flawed, but not everyone can bear to see their flaws and learn to love themselves anyway. I think a lot of people can see flaws in others but love them regardless, but it is much harder to accept your own shortfalls and be happy. 

Shortfalls and imperfections in people are not reasons to think less of them. I totally agree with the concept that staying angry just results in punishing yourself repeatedly. So I let the anger go. I don’t dwell in the past, despite having many clear memories going back decades. Instead I choose to remember the good times, the times I felt loved and part of my family. However, I am under no illusions that the key problems in the family I have known centre around blame and focus on what everyone else needs to do, rather than finding positive change in ourselves. 
It’s difficult to hear rhetoric and advice that could and should be applied in equal measure by the advisor. There can be no dispute about the love I know I felt for all those I spent time with in the past. I’m just shielding my dysfunctional heart from further pain by keeping my distance, in which respect I’m nothing like my Mum.


Book Review: The History Major by Michael Phillip Cash

​This unusual read will divide readers, as Amanda Greene, a freshman in her first week at college wakes up to find everything she has known changed. She encounters a stranger as her roommate and finds she has been enrolled in a history class she is forced to attend. The resulting nightmare leaves her as confused as the reader as to what is happening to her, but fortunately there is some explanation to the surreal images she experiences.

This short read is not a thriller in the traditional sense but more of an exploration of where we go in the afterlife and the inbetween. I am not a regular reader of this author’s work but I found this short read different and thought provoking. 

If you’re looking for something out of the norm and enjoy the mystery horror genre then this one might have been written for you. This book is available to read for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Links To Book:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Goodreads

Book Review: Redemption by NF Steiner

​Christina, an ex-ballerina is encouraged to start her own dance company by her husband but when the venture runs into an issue with funding she is bailed out by a businessman who has quite an extreme idea of quid pro quo. 
I found this book easy to read but obviously dated as it is set during the sixties, which made the attitudes towards women and rape culture somewhat hard to wrap my head around. 
The saving graced the book was the curiosity it enlightened in me to see how the story would finish, but I found the overall attitudes of the characters in the book difficult to understand. This book is available to read for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
Links To Book: 

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Goodreads

The Symptoms Conundrum

Anyone with chronic illness knows they have their ups and downs, but how much of the reality of how we feel do we really share with friends, family and healthcare professionals? 

When asked every quarter about my mental health, I usually just say, “I’m fine, thank you.” I don’t elaborate about the numerous sleepless nights or the feelings of worthlessness that lurks daily, inbetween and during, things I do. I highlight the positive and sweep away the negative, because in all honesty I am playing a game to enable myself to remain in the status quo. 

For me personally, change is hard, I dont adapt as well as I think I should or it appears I need to in order to meet the demands of everyday life and I have no hope of better circumstances. Hope is a currency of youth I simply depleted long before I should have felt aged. That is the tragedy and effect of long hours of worry and mental anguish. From time to time I do see a glimmer of hope, but it’s usually a faraway flash and translates to acceptance of my ever growing limitations.

Under the medically compliant and effusively practical surface there lurks a deep and dark well of dread, doom and despondency. I’m doing well if I ignore it most of the day, but after days it becomes impossible to carry on regardless. Superimpose on that the chest pain, shortness of breath, current soft tissue injury threatening to become infected and the anaemia making me tired and anxious, and it just seems too much to cope with at any given moment.

So, I hit the books and thank heavens I don’t face all this alone and am living with the ying to my yang. I try to recapture that feeling of once being free of any burdens of expectations and simply living in the moment and enjoying my life, which is the point of being here as much as we are here to help each other, but somehow I overlooked the simplest of pleasures, whilst trying to cope with the multiple doubts of my existence.

Some say I over think things, some say I cannot see the wood for the trees but I can’t stop and I just want to sleep for a thousand years. 

Book Review: The Devil’s Serenade by Catherine Cavendish

​Maddie inherits a gothic manor when her aunt dies and decides to move in to begin her life afresh after her divorce. But her memories of spending her summer’s with her aunt at the house stop abruptly when she reached sixteen and after a few strange occurrences after she has moved in, Maddie wonders what secrets the spooky house holds.

A haunted house story of epic proportions, which had me on the edge of my seat from the start. The atmospheric horror and suspense throughout the first part of the book is well written and the second half does not disappoint as we are introduced to the more malevolent characters of the story. 

As Maddie pieces her memories together through truth of her childhood begins to emerge but can she break the spell the house has cast for generations.

Links To Book:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Goodreads

I Messed Up #Book Tag #Bookbloggers

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Thank you to Jackie at Fall in Love with the Sounds of Words blog. This tag is challenging and thought provoking.
 

The rules:

No rules per se but the idea of this tag is to note times you did something wrong or messed up when it comes to books and then tag a few people.

 

A Character’s Appearance You Misread or Imagined Differently

I was totally floored by the way Isles of Rizzoli and Isles series by Tess Gerritsen was portrayed by Sasha Alexander and admit it was a total departure from how I pictured Maura Isles and still do when I read the series.

A Character Name You’ve Been Pronouncing Incorrectly

Most Irish names prior to this year, but I have googled and learned how to pronounce Aoife.

An Overused Trope That Is Your Guilty Pleasure 

Strong women who turn out to be the villain. I don’t get to read as many of these as I would like but it’s liberating to see women in the villain role with character flaws.

A Cliched Character Type You Enjoy Viewing On Screen Than Reading About

The FBI men in black suits, circa The X-Files: dull on page but you know they’ll drive the story forward on screen.

A Word/Phrase You Learned Because of Its Use In A Book

I’m coming up totally blank on this one. I should probably highlight and save any of these for future reference.

Have You Ever Not Read or Completed a Required Reading Book For School

No. I have always finished reading books I was given in English lit.

Have You Ever (Or Wanted To) Skipped A Chapter From the POV of a Character You Weren’t Interested In

Yes, I’ve wanted to, but no I didn’t as I was mindful of missing important points.

Have You Ever Cancelled Social Plans To Read A Book

Yes. Unapologetically. And I would do it again when the book I’m reading is too good to put down.

I’d Like To Tag:

meditating mummy

Tpolen

Inked Brownies

Author Lissa Pelzer

Living In A World Of Book Quotes

#Book Review: Angel (Beautiful Book 2) by Anita Waller #Tuesdaybookblog

Angel, the second book in the Beautiful series, is an absolute page turner. When Pilot and Lauren were expecting their first child little did they know that She would be taken away from them within twenty-four hours.

Eight years later when a little girl is found injured and on the run, no one expected to find their daughter, Grace. However, the years of revenge her abductor is hell-bent on taking hasn’t ended as the family are presented with a fatal threat. Can the police and local security firm keep them all safe?

I could not stop reading this thriller, but have to say the child abuse aspect of it may be too upsetting for some readers. Although the book does put emphasis on healing and rehabilitation the fear of this determined paedophile to get his prey is edge of the seat reading.

I didn’t realise this was the second book in the series but felt at no disadvantage having not read the first one, although I really do want to go back and read more about the previous generations.

Definitely the sort of read that can end a reading drought and can help you get your reading mojo back if you’ve lost it, but it it does deal with difficult issues. This book is available to read for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Links To Book:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Goodreads

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