A Post of Rambling Thoughts

I just felt like writing this post, though I have no clue where it is going to go. I’m unwell; after about two years of no major flares, my autoimmune condition has decided to rear its head again and I’m feeling all round a bit meh.

I’ve been in a weird mood all day: floating through motions but refreshing every social media site in the hope of someone saying something or something happening. I don’t know what. I don’t think I even care.

Days like this are tough. On the outside I look absolutely fine, but I’m, well, not. It could be nothing; I could be worrying about something that will be completely gone tomorrow morning and I’ll get up, go to the gym and feel great. Or I could need prescription strength painkillers to simply walk out of my room. At this point, I don’t know, and that’s the worst bit.

I guess one way of describing it is like the feeling you get when you’re coming down with a cold. You mentally note to add more tissues to your bag and stock up on flu medicine. Except it’s worse. Because a cold is normal – I can say to someone ‘oh I have a cold’ and they get it. When I say ‘I have a crap immune system’ they go ‘same’. But what I mean is every so often it literally attacks itself, but hey. It’s easier just to nod.

‘You don’t look ill’ is always a classic. I remember someone saying that to me when they came around to my house with my boyfriend at the time to drop off some work, as I was off school for two weeks after an entire summer of being stuck inside, ill. I feel embarrassed explaining, so I don’t. But then I feel embarrassed when I don’t.

With something like this, and I guess it’s similar for many chronic illnesses though I’m only talking about myself here as everyone is different, a mental note to add a packet of tissues or paracetamol to my bag isn’t enough. During one flare I made it around my uni applicant day, I even made it into school (though it was sixth form and I was doing half days and mum bless her came and picked me up / dropped me off). After that applicant day though, I couldn’t move for three days straight. That’s what I need to prepare for.

A week tomorrow, I’m supposed to be heading back to university. I’ll be driving myself, which leads me with my first issue: do I want to drive for three hours pumped full of various medicines? Medicines that make me so sleepy one consultant even asked how I managed to stay awake in the day (energy drinks and caffeine – lots of caffeine. And naps). Then there’s the question of how I will actually cope alone at uni – I’ve never been on my own for a flare before, all the little jobs that I am simply unable to do are done by my mum.

I guess I’m writing this post as it’s a way of getting thoughts out without burdening or ranting at anyone in particular. I don’t seek sympathy, just a place to exercise my thoughts. If this does end up as a full flare, I’ve been through worse ones.

If you’ve made it this far, I can only thank you, and maybe hope you’ve taken something from it.

So I’m going to plan a reading list or something, maybe reread a favourite book to lift my mood. If you have any recommendations of books that talk about chronic illness – maybe have the main character with something, for example – please let me know! I’d prefer YA, but anything is okay really. ☺️

fullsizeoutput_14d5

 

 

Advertisements

My Top 17 Books of 2017

I read a lot of great books in 2017, and this list could have been a lot longer than it is! These are some of my absolute favourites that I would highly recommend! They’re not in any order of preference (I went down my Goodreads and selected them in the order I read them).

  • A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness
  • Seconds –  Bryan Lee O’Malley
  • Père Goriot – Honoré de Balzac
  • Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
  • A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • Ella Minnow Pea – Mark Dunn
  • Countless – Karen Gregory
  • Stranger, Baby – Emily Berry
  • The Winner’s Trilogy (Don’t make me choose which one!) – Marie Rutkoski
  • The Girls – Emma Cline
  • Wing Jones – Katherine Webber
  • Moonrise – Sarah Crossan
  • Loved – P.C. and Kristin Cast
  • Hope – Rhian Ivory
  • Fathers and Sons – Ivan Turgenev
  • Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky

fullsizeoutput_1498

Back to School Book Recommendations

It’s that time of year again… the one that everybody dreads. This year is my final school year (it’s so weird to write that) and it’s going to be hectic! I always read less whilst I’m at school as I usually have a load of homework which simply takes forever and so I have no time to read. However, this year it’s going to be different. I’m going to aim to read a book a week by making time before bed to read as there are so many books on my shelf that look amazing! I do think however, that there are certain books that are better than others when getting back into school. Usually they’re shorter, stand-alones (not always, but often) and lighter reads. So I’m going to recommend a few that I’d say are perfect for this season, and most, if not all, have a school aspect in them as well.

IMG_6458

Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins

Whilst I would agree with pretty much everyone when they say this is a perfect summer read, I would also say that this is a good one for going back to school as it’s super quick to read, lighthearted and it’s set in a boarding school. It’s funny and would be a good book to pick up and read a bit of before bed to relax after a long day of school.

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

This follows Cath, who starts college with her sister Wren. This is perfect if you feel that you’re struggling to fit in, or you need a reminder to be yourself. It’s a stand alone with fantastic characters, humour and fan fiction. I read this last year in October time I believe (it was in the Autumn term) so I would definitely recommend this for this time!

Fans of the Impossible Life – Kate Scelsa

Mira is starting at the same school that misfit Jeremy goes to. Sebby, Mira’s friend, sometimes goes to another school, but mostly skips it, meeting Mira when her day is over. This is the story of the friendship Jeremy makes with the two of them as they all struggle to ‘fit in’ at school.

Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne

Evie has had a long time off school due to mental illness and this is her experience of trying to be ‘normal’, which involves starting at college. This book is so, so realistic and had me laughing a lot and I would recommend this at any time of year, but especially now!

Wonder – R. J. Palacio

I recommend this for two reasons. One, it’s amazing. It is such a beautiful story. Two, it is August’s experience of school for the first time. He’s bullied because of the way he looks and he struggles with fitting in but it’s such a lovely story and a really quick read (I read this in one sitting, so even reading a bit a night, it wouldn’t take long to read).

The Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling

Now what would a school themed post be without a mention of Harry Potter?! As everyone knows, the majority of these books takes place at Hogwarts, a school for Witchcraft and Wizardry. These books are amazing. The first ones I would definitely recommend because they’re lighthearted and funny. The later ones get darker, but they’ll be perfect for those winter months.

There are so many more books that I could have mentioned in this post. I’m tempted to do a part two? I don’t know. I hope this helps if you’re looking for a book to read in this autumnal, back to school season.

My Favourite Books I’ve Read This Summer

This summer has been pretty good in terms of reading. Normally I read loads on holiday and then the 4/5 weeks after I get back I read barely anything but this hasn’t happened this year! As a result, I have a lot (well, a few) of books to choose from and I’m going to pick my five favourites from this summer. (But they’re not in a particular order). I have / will have reviewed these books, so there will be very little information with them (reviews should be linked if they are already published).

IMG_6414

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sáenz

This is such a beautiful book! I absolutely adored it and read it in less than a day. Everything about this book is perfect and if you haven’t already read it, then go and read it.

The Wrath and the Dawn – Renée Ahdieh

Completely different to things I’d normally read but it was fantastic – the plot was fast paced and interesting and I could picture the setting perfectly.

The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen

This was amazing. I loved it so so much. The attitude of Kelsea kept making me laugh and I particularly liked the relationship she had with her guard.

Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne

This book. Mental health and being a teenager are perfectly summarised. So normal, yet it explains complex and difficult issues clearly.

Extraordinary Means – Robyn Schneider

Every character was completely different in every way, with their own quirks and habits. It also accurately sums up how society reacts to outbreaks of a disease.

Top 3 August Reads 2015

I’m going to begin, at the end of every month, telling you my favourite three books that I have read during that month. If it’s clear I may order them, but that’s really difficult so I probably won’t every month! Also, if I have already written and posted a review, I will link it. Most of them should eventually be reviewed.

IMG_6313This month I have read eight books (a wrap up will be on my YouTube channel next Sunday).

3. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

IMG_6316

This book was such a gorgeous little novel. It was extremely short and a quick read, with a charming set of characters and plot. I don’t think I disliked one of the characters (which is unusual – normally there’s one that irritates me slightly) and could completely picture the locations, even if some of them were a little abstract!

2. Am I Normal Yet? – Holly BourneIMG_6325

This book was amazing. I loved every page of it. It takes a realistic stance when looking at the issue of mental health and there are no typical ‘perfect’ relationships. What Bourne has done with this novel has created something relatable. And I love it.

  1. The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen

IMG_6335This was the first YA ‘fantasy’ book that I have red (it could just as easily be argued a dystopian – or both) and it was incredible. The plot was intriguing and I felt compelled to keep reading and discover new areas of the Tearling and more about each character. I own the sequel – as soon as I have finished reading for school, it’s being read.

Extraordinary Means – Robyn Schneider

IMG_6292

Genre: Contemporary, YA, Romance

First published:  May 26th 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books

When he’s sent to Latham House, a boarding school for sick tennis, Lane thinks his life may as well be over.

But when he meets Sadie and her friends – a group of eccentric troublemakers – he realises that maybe getting sick is just the beginning. That illness doesn’t have to define you, and that falling in love is its own cure. 

Extraordinary means is a darkly funny story about true friendships, ill-fated love and the rare miracle of second chances. 


This book sums up society’s reaction to illness perfectly. Like with the ebola crisis, the TB outbreak in this novel is treated with fear and isolation. This novel is set in the modern day and is the story of Lane, a regular teenager who studies a lot and suddenly becomes ill with a drug resistant strain of tuberculosis, or TB. He is then sent to an isolation unit in the middle of the countryside so that he, along with the other teenagers there, cannot infect the general public.

I realise that this sounds apocalyptic, like it could take the route that the whole world becomes infected and turn into flesh eating zombies or something. But it doesn’t. It takes a realistic look at TB, at the effect it can have on those ill with it and the public view. I liked the way that this novel focused more on the relationships Lane builds at Latham House, rather than him being ill with TB. This is why I like YA contemporary novels; they take serious issues and deal with them in a way that retains humour and fun. Some novels could take the issue and dwell on it and drag it out.

However this book doesn’t and you get to see Lane’s comic side. All of the characters were likeable in this novel, even the ones you weren’t supposed to really like, you liked. I particularly liked the way that every character was different – in the way that they looked, their hobbies and their personalities. Robyn Schneider did not fall into the trap of making characters really similar, which made it so much more enjoyable and interesting. That characters were normal and well, human. So many authors create ‘perfect’ characters with ideal looks but this isn’t the case. I do think part of the reason that the characters are so normal is that they are all so different.

I also loved the writing style of this novel. I’ve read Robyn Schneider’s other novel too and loved it. She brings the characters and the locations to life and this was something I particularly liked. Personally, it’s difficult to imagine being in the situation that the characters are in – under constant scrutiny etc – yet Schneider makes it understandable and clear.

This book has a quick pace, with a lot of things happening. Many of these things are completely unexpected (I won’t say what they are because of spoilers!) and they kept the story interesting and flowing. A lot of the things that did occur were things that in any ‘normal’ situation would be seen as boring, I guess. But given the characters’ situation they added to the feel of them just wanting something they cannot have because of being ill.

Throughout the novel, the narrator alternates every chapter. You get Lane and Sadie’s perspectives, which are both completely different as they are completely different people and have had different experiences of TB. I found this drew me further into the novel as you got two differing views which both varied as the novel progressed.

Again, something I feel that I shouldn’t mention (but of course I will) is how much I love the cover design. I particularly like covers with tree imagery – I don’t know why, I’m just weird like that. This cover (the UK paperback edition) uses trees in the shape of lungs (as shown in the picture!) and I think this is such a lovely image and perfectly relevant to the book as the woods and lungs both feature strongly throughout.

Overall I would totally recommend this book. I love the work of Robyn Schneider and look forward to more books that she produces as they are fantastic.

Rating: 5/5.

What I Read on Holiday

Whenever I go on holiday to somewhere sunny (that makes it sound like a regular occurrence – I wish!) I like to take books that are lighthearted and not too heavy. Having returned from Cyprus in the early hours of this morning, I thought that I would share the books that I read whilst I was there.

IMG_6131

The Spectacular Now – Tim Tharp

This is the story of Sutter, who lives in the ‘now’, drinks a lot and has had numerous girlfriends and Aimee, who is the complete opposite. Sutter decides to ‘help’ Aimee and they end up in a relationship, to keep it brief. I was probably the most excited to read this book out of all of them, however it turns out that this is my least favourite due to the narration style reminding me of that in ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, which I greatly disliked. The narrator appears to me as quite self-obsessed and it irritated me, as well as making me feel desperately sorry for some of the other characters. I think that this is partially why it reminds me of Catcher, because the narrator is very impersonal and spontaneous, moving from one thing to another with a careless attitude. I didn’t feel that the ending really completed the novel at all and as a result left me feeling slightly disappointed more than anything. I felt as though there were a lot of ends left open which the author could have tied up and told the reader what happened because I didn’t feel as though the novel had actually finished! Overall, this book left me feeling more confused than I would have liked and asking questions that I felt should have been answered in the novel. However, despite my personal distaste for the narrator and his attitudes, the fact that this book isn’t too sad or heavy does make it a good summer read if you don’t want to have to focus too much.

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour – Morgan Matson

The title implies what this book is about; Amy’s mother moves from California to Conneticut leaving Amy alone to move once the school year has finished. The original plan is for Amy to fly however in order to get the car across she ends up having to drive across  the USA. Amy doesn’t drive (for reasons that are disclosed in the book and to say would be a spoiler) and so her mum enlists the help of family friend Roger (who is a year or two older than Amy) to drive. They decide that they don’t like her mum’s planned route and so make their own route, taking them through several states. This book is such a great summer read as it talks about travelling which makes it a perfect to read on holiday. There are images scattered through the novel that are part of the diary Amy writes in which helped to keep track of their journey and made the book extremely easy to follow. The characters were both likeable. Yes, Amy could be a little frustrating at times but other than that it was a good story, especially on holiday. There are parts that are slightly heavier but to be honest, they added to the storyline and so made the book more interesting. The one thing that did irritate me slightly was the fact that some of the main information (trying not to give spoilers here) about why Amy doesn’t drive is not given until near the end of the novel. This is a good feature as the reader really wants to find out, however I did find it rather annoying at times because I just wanted to know! But then again, it did has its desired purpose and made me want to read on, so I guess it worked!

Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins

Anna finds herself being forced to move to a boarding school in Paris for her final year of school. Here she finds herself feeling isolated due to the language barrier and not knowing anyone. However she quickly forms friendships, in particular with Étienne St. Clair. I would have to say that this is most definitely chick-lit and very much a romance. It is very ‘sweet’ and although I’m not always into books which are solely romantic (usually there has to be some underly ‘deep’ theme). Obviously there are a few twists and turns throughout the novel, it’s not completely upbeat and positive throughout, though these are not frequent and therefore I found this book to be really enjoyable when sitting, relaxing and doing nothing! Being set in Paris, this novel has a slightly exotic feel and made me desperately want to visit again (I fell in love with the city when I visited it last year). Some of the places mentioned I had been to so I was able to relate more and it seemed even more real. This is one of those books that I would reserve for holidays and times when you want to escape stress because it is a really easy and relaxing read. Of the four books that I read, I’d say that this book is the most lighthearted and the easiest read and therefore the most summery. I found it easy to like all of the characters (except the ones that you are supposed to dislike) which made the novel far more enjoyable as it is always good to have a novel where you aren’t frustrated about not liking a character you’re supposed to!

Ask the Passengers – A. S. King

This is the story of Astrid, who is discovering and questioning her sexuality. She finds solace in talking to the passengers on the planes that fly overhead as she feels that they do not judge her. Some of the characters in this book were too easy to dislike, although I got the feeling that I should actually like them. Dee, for example. At times she comes across as a really sweet person (nearer the end mainly) whereas as other points she shows Astrid little respect and I found that irritating. Astrid’s mother is also one of those characters who instantly got on my nerves, although I think this is supposed to be the case. However, I actually liked Astrid herself and though she could come across as whiny and a bit selfish at times, she also was portrayed as honest and down to earth, making her a relatable character. This book has a central focus on philosophy, as that is Astrid’s favourite class. As I actually study it myself I understood some of the references made in the novel, but I did find that they were sufficiently explained in the simplest way. I kind of wish that I’d read it before my exams as its summaries would have been so useful! I’m not sure that I would read this again if I’m honest, mainly because of my dislike for some of the other characters, however for a summer read I did find this a really good choice because it wasn’t too serious, despite the events that in reality would be deemed so. Having said all of that, I did enjoy this book and read it pretty quickly because I didn’t want to put it down. There are a large number of plot twists throughout the novel to keep you interested which is something that I would consider extremely important, especially if the characters are slightly lacking.