hEDS and Me

Gather around it’s time for a story. Nah, I’m kidding, I just thought that would be a different and fun way tp start a blog…lockdown is clearly getting to me. I’ve used this blog a lot to write about my life with chronic and mental illness over time. It’s been an important place for me to not only get my own feelings out there but also raise awareness of my conditions.

For those of you who have been here for a while you’ll know that when I was 20 I was in a horse riding accident, fracturing 4 parts of my spine, after a long recovery I didn’t get that much better and was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. For the past few years I’ve dealt with that and learned to accept it, but something still didn’t make sense to me.

I’ve had issues with my joints since childhood, my first set of physio was at 10, then from 15 onwards I was on and off crutches for knees that seemed to keep trying to dislocate themselves (I didn’t know that at the time), I was constantly at A&E for a simple trip or fall which would leave me not able to walk from joints feeling far more painful than a bruise, unexplained stomach issues for a long as I could remember. Fibro, in theory, is triggered by some kind of trauma so why had I had joint trouble my whole life?

Nothing was a red flag to any of us, surely I was just a clumsy kid with a sensitive stomach? Last year though I realised, while in lockdown, when I wasn’t pushing myself I’d still get these issues. I’m a part of the Spoonie community and something came up that was like a lightbulb in my head – Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Sydrome (try saying that quickly). It made so much sense, but I also knew I’d have to get back in front of my Rheumatologist to get any help or advice. Luckily I have a good GP who knows my history and she was more than happy to refer me, I also had put some money away so I could pay to see him, instead of waiting for a year/a year and a half to see him.

I know I was in a position of privilege to do that, we’ve been living with family for a few months so I’ve been able to put a bit of money away. I went back to see my incredible Rheumatologist, because I knew he would listen to me. Once I find a doctor that actually listens and tries to understand I try to go back to them. I felt I could go to him and say ok, here’s what’s been going on, I’ve worked out this much can you help me please?

Since getting the diagnosis I feel so much better. I know that sounds strange, let me explain. Firstly, I always, in a way, blamed myself for the way my spine broke. I’d seen people fall and get up fine, it must have been something I did when I fell for this to happen right? I told a friend this and he laughed at how ridiculous this sounds and he was right! The fact that I now know that my body is more prone to sprains, fractures and breaks, that it’s probably part of the reason it happened. In fact, the ‘self-help’ sheet that I got says to ‘Try to prevent falls and burns; fractures, wounds, cuts and bruises may take longer to heal and may scar poorly’…well there goes my plans for the weekend.

In other ways too this makes so much sense. I didn’t have the greatest school experience, in fact it was pretty terrible. I was constantly ill with an upset stomach and we could never find a reason for it – it just happened. I was in and out of A&E a lot because I’d fallen over playing and sprained a ankle or wrist. Like I said before I was on and off of crutches for years and people definitely thought I was being dramatic or putting it on. It’s a lot of weight to carry.

It all makes sense now and having that knowledge has given me a sense of calm now I know that’s going on and that this is real. I still have Fibromyalgia too, one hasn’t disappeared because of the other even though symptoms do overlap this is my life now. I’ve also come to the conclusion that I refuse to apologise for my disability or change myself to make people feel more comfortable. This is who I am.

To document my life with my illnesses I’ve also started a new Instagram account, woo! It’s to share the ups, the downs, all of it and if you’re interested you can have a look here.

If you have any questions drop them below! I’d be more than happy to answer them!

One Year Later

One year ago today, the 23rd March 2020 we entered lockdown in England. Sitting down and watch the Prime Minister was surreal, you knew you were watching a moment in history. I can only imagine it was similar to hearing the word that we were at war with Germany back in the 1930s. Something shifted in that moment, this was a big deal. I got emotional but it wasn’t going to be for long, I only had to get to June, right? It was going to be ok (oh the poor optimistic soul I was). 

I am not the same woman I was a year ago. Things have been harder than I could imagine them being one punch after the other but I am still standing with a strength I didn’t know I possessed. We’ve all been through trauma that will take time to heal from. 

At the start of the pandemic I was a mess. Anxiety took over my brain and body, regular panic attacks, sobbing constantly, being afraid of going outside my front door, comfort eating. I watched as industries completely shut down and the weeks turned into months, including my partners industry. We still had rent to pay and it wasn’t an easy time. 

Across the year alongside the external pain we lost three of our hamsters. While two were expected (old age), one came completely out of the blue. We both contracted Covid, spent Christmas in isolation and had to move in with family when our flat was up for renewal. We moved our wedding date an entire year. My partners whole industry disappeared practically overnight.

The past year I’ve felt like I am just keeping my head above water. There were countless times where I didn’t think I could carry on, when I didn’t want to carry on. I know the majority of us have felt that way. Between being at home constantly or going to jobs when there is a deadly virus, people being furloughed, the fear of catching the virus and, of course, those who have lost those they love we’ve all been just trying to get through the days.

There were a few positives to come out of the time spent at home, I got to spend more time with Ali than I have since we were at university, I made decisions about my life and my health, I started to let go of relationships that were toxic, I realised that I was going to keep fighting to be freelance.

We didn’t expect this to last this long, I remember the thought of still wearing masks at Christmas seeming laughable last summer. It couldn’t carry on that long, could it? Instead we spent Boxing Day back in tight restrictions and went into lockdown for the 3rd time a week later.

All of us are exhausted, mentally and physically drained, of course that doesn’t compare to those on the front line who have been risking their lives, but we’ve got this far – as battered and broken as we may feel.

I can’t help but feel that when we do emerge from this, when restrictions are lifted and we’re back in the sunshine, for a while at least, we will appreciate the little things a bit more. We’ll hug those we love a little longer, try not to sweat the small stuff, well that’s what I plan to do.

Of course I wish this had never happened, that thousands hadn’t had to die and questions will need to be answered later. We’ll all need time to heal and recover from this year, because I don’t think anyone really came out unscathed.

Does this post make the most sense? Nope. Is it mostly me just getting my thoughts down on to a page and trying to make sense of the madness that this has been our lives for the past year? Pretty much. I do have hope though, better days are coming and I’m holding on to that.

Book Review: Dear NHS - Edited By Adam Kay

Book Review: Dear NHS – Edited By Adam Kay

Created and edited by Adam Kay (author of multi-million best seller ‘This is Going to Hurt’), ‘DEAR NHS’ features household names telling their personal stories of the health service.

What would we do without the NHS? In the UK it means that no matter what we earn, no matter who we are we can receive healthcare for free. The immense pressure that it has been under in the past year is quite possibly the biggest challenge they’ve ever faced since it started. Even after cuts after cuts it still stands on shaking legs and continues to provide us with one of the best healthcare services in the world.

I pre-ordered this as soon as I heard it was happening. I’m a big fan of Adam Kay and the fact that each copy purchased gave money to NHS charities. In the UK at least, we all have a story of how the NHS has helped us or someone we love. Of course I was picking up a copy.

The stories within this collection may be by celebrities, those who we see as ‘having it all’ that they too rely on our incredible health service, that some of them may not be here without it. Like many of us the NHS has been there for them at the start of their lives, at times where we are scared and in pain and will be there for us when it’s our time to go, to make us as comfortable as we can be.

Emilia Clarke’s essay is the one that stuck with me the most. While filming the first season of Game of Thrones, Emilia became incredibly ill due to a brain aneurysm. Every step of the way she thanks the NHS for their expertise, care and for saving her life. In particular she thanks “The nurse who suggested — after everyone else in A&E struggled to find an answer when I was first admitted — that maybe, just maybe I should have a brain scan. She saved my life.”

There are so many popular names, I’m sure that everyone who picks up this book will find a story that they relate with. Celebrities include; Peter Kay, Sir Paul McCartney, Stephen Fry, Dawn French, Sir Trevor McDonald, Graham Norton, Sir Michael Palin, Naomie Harris, Ricky Gervais, Sir David Jason, Dame Emma Thompson and Joanna Lumley.  

Some of the pieces are short and funny, others will make you want to hug your family a little closer, all of them will make you proud of the incredible institution that the NHS is. It will remind you that weekly clapping isn’t what got us this far, it’s the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears of all that work within the NHS, not just the surgeons, doctors and nurses but the health assistants, the porters, the receptionists, the secretaries. Every single person working within the NHS is a part of one of the greatest things to come out of this country – something that must be protected.

I couldn’t give this book any less than 5 stars. The fact that in the midst of everything this idea was born and such a beautiful collection was created so quickly is truly wonderful. Adam Kay is excellent, there is no one else I think that could have put these stories together so well. I finished the book and immediately ordered a copy for my Nanna so she could read this too. I highly recommend picking up a copy and money from each goes to NHS charities.

5 More Things You Should Know About Living With Chronic Pain

Back in 2018 I wrote a blog titled 5 Things You Should Know About Living With Chronic Pain, 3 years later I’ve learnt a lot more so I thought I would do an updated post with 5 more things you should know.

Yoga doesn’t fix chronic pain

Please don’t suggest yoga, I can’t take any more suggestions of yoga. It might work for some but it won’t ‘fix’ us.

Medication isn’t taken to be pain free, it’s to be able to function

There seems to be an idea that medication makes us pain free or we like the feeling it gives us. This is so not true. Honestly, medication normally has some pretty awful side effects if it even works. I tried a lot of medication over the years and didn’t have much luck.

Someone may start with one condition and be diagnosed with others

There’s a lot of overlap with chronic conditions, we don’t always know why but it happens. Symptom crossover is a bitch. So while it may seem like people with chronic pain also have a list of other issues, it’s not for the fun of it I promise you.

Naps aren’t a luxury, sometimes they literally stop you from passing out

I have to nap. Before I worked for myself I’d get so sick that I’d go into the staff car park and try and get half an hour on my lunch break. Even last week I was really, really struggling to the point I felt faint. I gave myself an hour between calls and it turns out I really needed it.

A lot of people joke they wish they were that ‘lucky’ enough to take naps or joke about laziness. I honestly wish I didn’t have to nap, that I didn’t just crash out or have fatigue so bad at times I can’t focus on anything.

We don’t have many silver linings, but there are some!

This will vary from person to person. I find standing still for long periods of time incredibly painful which means going to theme parks/gigs etc can be really tough BUT with a letter from my doctor I can get support. It’s because of this, I can usually get a pass (some places are better than others) to go into shorter lines or be able to take seated breaks when possible. Also, having a radar key for a disabled toilet is a life saver when you’re bursting to pee. Small things that make life with a long term illness a bit less shitty.

Are there any other things you’d add? Let me know below.

Book Review: A Court of Silver Flames – Sarah J. Maas

It’s no surprise to anyone who follows me on social media or has been subscribed to this blog for a few years that I absolutely love the A Court of Thorns and Roses series and raced through them when I came across them a few years ago. As soon as I saw A Court of Silver Flames (ACOSF) was ready I preordered it and was in countdown. Then there was a delay and guys it was driving me mad to try and avoid spoilers for a few days. I was also *kinda* nervous about how long it was after I didn’t really enjoy Crescent City.

I shouldn’t have worried. This book may have been a chonker but it was worth it and I could not put it down. Any spare moment I had I was reading, if I wasn’t reading I was thinking about it, if I wasn’t thinking about it I was talking to friends about it. Enough of my rambling, let’s get on with the review (no spoilers for the book, but there will be spoilers if you haven’t finished the original trilogy).

ACOSF takes a different approach. Instead of following Feyre, we are following her sister Nesta. Taken from the human world, turned into High Fae and watching her father murdered in front of her is a lot for anyone. Nesta’s answer isn’t to weep, it’s to react in fury – shutting out those around her with drinking and dancing and nobody’s going to stop her. Until they do. Feyre and Rhysand have had enough. Nesta is plucked from her life and moved away to give her space and time to heal – you can image she is absolutely furious. One of the other perspectives is from Cassian as he works to try and help Nesta, even when it’s constantly thrown back into his face.

You will probably have seen online there is a lot of sex in this book. A lot. Jokes have been going around this is pretty much the whole plot and it’s definitely not. While Maas certainly knows how to write a scene that will make you need a cold shower after, it’s done in a way that works for the characters and the novel.

In fact, this is a book that is about trauma, PTSD, self hate and what it can take to heal – including the ugly parts of healing, those that many of us don’t want to talk about. You can tell when reading that there is an understanding that Maas has about the level of darkness Nesta faces. This is something that Maas has alluded to since, reflecting on some of her own experiences.

What I enjoyed most about this book is that we get to understand both Nesta and Cassian, who they really are themselves rather than just in relation to the inner circle. We learn about how and why they came to be who they are on a much deeper level.

There was only one point that I didn’t like, I can’t say what it was because but it involved Feyre and Rhysand, it’s not their story but I found their part of the plot to be a bit weak until right at the end – but it’s minor compared to the rest of the book.

I don’t think it will surprise anyone that I gave this 5 stars. It also got me out of a hell of a reading slump too – a 750 page book, who’d have thought it. If you enjoyed the original trilogy you need to pick this up – you won’t regret it.

What I Read In February 2021

What I Read In February 2021

We’re already into the third month of the year and as I write this my Goodreads goal is a book behind schedule apparently I really wish they would remove this feature and the one that emails you right after you’ve logged a book saying what next? ANYWAY

I did not finish a book until the 14th of February…the middle of the month. I know, I was shocked too. I just couldn’t pick up a book long enough to get interested, you can find out why in my recent life update. That said, when I did get my reading mojo back I found some crackers in new releases, including my new favourite book in a series.

Someone I know was getting rid of a stack of books so of course I couldn’t help myself. One of them, Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu, was one that I had been waiting to pick up for a while because everyone said it’s absolutely adorable. I picked it up on Valentines Day and it didn’t disappoint. Cute, witches, werewolves and very inclusive. I really hope there will be another volume at some point.

Another of my New Years Waterstones sale buys was Dearly by Margaret Atwood. I’d heard a lot about it and thought it was about time to ease myself into Atwood. The book was ok, perhaps not my favourite kind of poetry. While there were some pieces I enjoyed, I’m not really into nature poems and there’s a fair few in here.

One of my favourites Nikita Gill released this sneaky collection she wrote during 2020. Where Hope Comes From really is a small book of hope, of courage and reflection. I highly recommend this collection, a short but powerful read.

In any interview I’ve seen of the new First Lady of the United States she has seemed lovely. When Where Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself came up as an audiobook recommendation I thought I’d give it a shot. Dr Biden is an incredible woman, an educator and stands in her own right, not just as someone’s wife. Chronicling her life I was seriously impressed by her and I look forward to seeing what she does as First Lady.

Reading A Shot at Normal while in the middle of the UK’s vaccine rollout and the pandemic. This is a great look at what happens when a child who has not been vaccinated grows up and decides that they don’t agree with their parents. For Juniper it comes after tragedy but it really made me think about whether it was fair that children had to wait until 18 to ask for their vaccinations. I thought it was really well done!

The big one, probably my most anticipated read of the year and over 700 pages, the next in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. This time from Nesta and Cassian’s perspectives and oh wow was I impressed. There were some parts I wasn’t crazy about but as I whole I thought this was brilliant. You’ve probably seen a great deal about the sexy scenes (oh my were they) but it is more than that. This is a complex novel about trauma, healing and friendship. My favourite book of the month, hands down.

I really enjoyed Phil’s first novel, The Gravity of Us, so I pre-ordered As Far As You’ll Take Me as soon as I could, I also received an arc. This is about finding your place in the world, even if that means moving to the other side of it. A quick and lovely read about working out who you are.

Life Update – February 2021

Hello, hello, hello lovely people!

I was thinking about what to write today and I thought it’s been a while since I’ve given you guys a general life update and a more chatty, free flowing blog – so why not fill you all in? I have to say I’ve seen you all popping up and having a read, even if I haven’t been posting as much as I’d want to recently.

So what’s been going on? If you have been a reader for a long time you’ll know that the end of 2020 was pretty brutal, leaving our flat and moving in with Ali’s Mum, losing another pet, getting Covid and missing Christmas because of it and we were meant to get married in January – it was not a good time.

February came around and everything just kind of slowed down and stopped. While work was starting to really pick up and I enjoyed the projects I was working on, making new relationships it was all good there…but not so much outside. In January I struggled with fatigue, I thought it was just getting over having covid but this was another level and reminded me of another time.

I couldn’t focus on anything, I had enough energy to work and then I was crashing completely. Even if I wasn’t sleeping I was simply laying on my bed and the most I could do was scroll through my phone. I’d been there before when my B12 levels were low so I requested a blood test. While I was waiting I felt guilty, I couldn’t read anything, I didn’t have the energy for my blog and although I was doing a weekly longer walk with the dog something was just…off.

So, 10 points to Gryffindor for me knowing my body wasn’t ok. It turns out I was on the money and my B12 was the lowest it had ever been – score. It also flagged up some other issues health wise which equated to damn, no wonder I’ve been struggling so much. I was proud of the fact at least I was working because, I really love my job and what I’ve built for myself in the past 2 and a half years.

Now I’m getting treatment, the biggest part is 6 ‘loading doses’ of B12 to get me back to a good level, I’ll then need an injection every 3 months. I’m also finally going back to see a joint specialist to try and get myself sorted. In the past week in particular, I’ve really started to feel more in control and like the normal me is slowing coming back, let’s hope so. I’m also actively trying to lose weight due to advice from my doctor regarding one of my conditions – a week in and I’m 2Ibs down!

I’m looking forward to seeing what March brings, and not only because we should be able to meet up with people outside again without exercise (it’s been a bloody nightmare when you have no energy).

See you all again soon!

My 2021 Pre-Orders Part One

Back in January I sat down and went through anything I’d preordered and moved a lot of them over to my Waterstones account, partly to support the high street and partly to add to my points (which I am saving to spend in store once they’re back open). There’s a few sequels, a few debuts and some favourite authors with new releases I am EXCITED.

These pre-orders only go up to the summer (one in July and one in August) so I’m sure there are more that I haven’t even found out about yet – nobody tell my future husband. I’m really excited, particularly as three of these I actually received this week and I’ve finished two of them and I’m just under half way through the third.

A Court of Silver Flames – Sarah J Maas 

16th Feb 2021

ACOTAR was one of the series that made me really get into fantasy so I had this preordered. While I ended up getting this 2 days late (it was painful), I can confirm it was worth it. At the time of writing I’m almost half way through and I adore this book. I love that we’ve moved on to Nesta and Cassian’s perspective. That’s all I will say.

A Shot at Normal – Marisa Reichardt 

16th February 2021

This got me out of a reading slump and I read it in less that 24 hours, any break I had my head was in this book. Raised to hippie parents Juniper’s life is different from the home made deodorant she’s not sure works, her home school life and the fact her parents are anti-vaxxers. I think this takes on new meaning right now with the vaccine roll out, it shows the consequences of what can happen without vaccines. I loved it.

Where Hope Comes From: Healing poetry for the heart, mind and soul – Nikita Gill 

18th February 2021

I only knew this would be released because it popped up on the Waterstones website because I picked up books from her before (The Girl and The Goddess was one of my favourite reads of 2020). This is a short collection reflecting on lockdown, isolation and ultimately hope. It’s a beautiful read and I was right to be excited about it.

Honey Girl – Morgan Rogers 

23rd February 2021

In Honey Girl we have an overachiever who’s always done things by the book, until she gets drunk in Vegas and marries a women she barely knows. She also starts questioning why she’s so unhappy after finishing her PhD and what more she wants from life. Sign me up.

The World Between Us – Sarah Ann Juckes 

4th March 2021

Books about chronic illness are getting more attention recently which I’m really grateful for because when I first got sick there weren’t many books about people who were chronically ill, there was nothing for me to relate to. The World Between Us is about connection online and I can’t wait.

Bridge of Souls – Victoria Schwab 

4th March 2021

Everyone who reads my blog knows I’m a big Schwab fan and I love this series. I can’t wait to see what Cassidy gets up to this time. Also don’t knock them for being marketed as middle grade, the last book creeped the crap out of me!

As Far As You’ll Take Me – Phil Stamper 

4th March 2021

I really loved Phil’s debut The Gravity of Us so of course I pre-ordered his next novel which he’s said is about travel and found family. I know it’s already out in the US (jealous) and I’m really looking forward to reading about Marty finding his place where he can be accepted for who he is.

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses – Kristen O’Neal 

27th April 2021

Another book with chronic illness rep, this time with a college (university) age protagonist who has to change her life due to developing a health condition. Is it any wonder why this speaks to me? I’m really looking forward to reading it and the author seems lovely too!

Bookishly Ever After – Lucy Powrie 

13th May 2021

I adore this series and Lucy is a wonderful person, I’m excited to read from Ed’s perspective but I’m also so sad to say goodbye to this group of people. This one has Ed working in a bookshop which I am SO excited about!

Slug – Hollie McNish 

13th May 2021

Another gem found on the Waterstones website (it’s both a wonderful and dangerous thing for me to check regularly). I really enjoyed two of Hollie’s collection, her first called Plum and Nobody Told Me which centres around being a Mum. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Heartstopper Volume 4 – Alice Oseman

13th May 2021

The Heartstopper books are like a warm cup of tea or a nice hug, I absolutely adore them. There are only 2 more volumes to go, I’m tempted to do a reread of the whole series before picking up Volume 4.

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating – Adiba Jaigirdar 

25th May 2021

I picked up The Henna Wars last year and found it really refreshing and an excellent debut. This time Adiba Jaigirdar is taking on the fake dating trope and I’m really intrigued to see her take on it, I’ve requested it on NetGalley and I’ve ordered a physical copy keep your fingers crossed for me.

Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid

27th May 2021

Both The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones and The Six were two of my favourites and they just transported me to another world. I did apply for an advance copy but was turned down (boo), so I’m patiently waiting like the rest of you!

One Last Stop – Casey McQuiston 

1st June 2021

We all remember how much I loved Red,White and Royal Blue right? How much everyone loved RWRB. I can’t wait for Casey’s next novel that has time travelling romance in it. I’m excited to see what this

Not My Problem – Ciara Smyth 

3rd June 2021

I absolutely loved Ciara’s first novel The Falling In Love Montage (review to come on Thursday) so I wanted to read more of her work, which is why I have added it to my pre-order cart. Also, Ciara seems to create complex characters that are also believable. I can’t wait.

Afterlove – Tanya Byrne 

27th July 2021

Lesbian romance mixed with the afterlife? I’m down.

Gods and Monsters – Shelby Mahurin

3rd August 2021

If you follow me on any kind of social media platform you’ll know that last year I fell in love with the Serpent and Dove series and the ending to book 2 was a huge cliff hanger. While it’s sad the series is ending, I really need to know what happens in the end. I have so many questions.

As Good As Dead – Holly Jackson

5th August 2021

I absolutely love Holly Jackson’s series, A Good Girls Guide to Murder was good, Good Girl, Bad Blood was even better so I have high hopes for As Good As Dead and I think this one is the last in the series? So, I’m looking forward to seeing what Pippa is up to after that ending!

What are you looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments below!

The Falling In Love Monage - Ciara Smyth

Book Review: The Falling In Love Montage – Ciara Smyth

What’s the point in love if, one day you might not even remember it? Saoirse’s not looking for love and doesn’t believe in happy endings – not after her Mum’s early onset dementia lead her to be put on a home. She’s put rules in place, but meeting Ruby who proposes one summer, no strings attached might just break them all.

After a rough Christmas and New Year I really wanted to read something that had at least some romance, since I picked up The Falling In Love Montage I’ve seen nothing but good reviews so it seemed like the perfect choice. I wasn’t wrong and nor were all of the people who recommended it online. This is a spectacular debut, one that tackles romance, dementia, family and working out who you are and where you want to go.

I felt that Saoirse and Ruby were incredibly easy to fall in love with. I was rooting for them as they began to fall for each other. More importantly though they are believable, they both have flaws, they both have their own problems and seem like normal 17 year olds. I think it’s easy to forget (particularly as someone who has almost 10 years on them) just how hard being a teenager is without the extra issues that Saoirse and Ruby face.

I’ll admit, during my teens I was obsessed with romcoms. I had DVDs upon DVDS of romcoms I’d pick up at car boot sales at weekend and watch over and over again – Bridget Jones was my favourite if you’re wondering. The fact that Ruby loves them and wants to share them with Saoirse was absolutely adorable. I also can’t help but think this would make one of the best films if it was done right.

The reason this book is more than simply a fun romance is because it deals with a very real issue and that is Saoirse’s mother’s early onset dementia and her fears that she will also inherit it. I’ll admit I don’t know much about dementia, particularly early onset and found the book really interesting in its approach. I really felt for Saoirse in her anger, frustration and confusion. That she wants to hide it, especially from Ruby so that she can try and have some normality.

Family is also crucial to this novel and I found the relationship between Saoirse and her Dad incredibly well handled and the question of when or if you should move on if a loved one needs care. The decision has a thousand shades of grey in between and it’s explored in a very sensitive way throughout the novel.

I thought the ending to this novel was perfect, of course, I’m not going to let you in on it and ruin the book but it felt like it was the ending that both of the characters deserved, that we as the reader deserved. It was incredibly well done and I was impressed because this is a debut novel!

It’s no surprise that I gave this 5 stars, it was a unique and truly lovely novel. The fact that this is a debut novel is really exciting, I’m looking forward to seeing what Ciara does next and I don’t have long to wait as she has a new book out this year!

What I Read In January 2021

The start of a new year and a new reading challenge! This year I’ve set my challenge at 100 books again and so far, so good! January has been an excellent reading month, mostly I’ve read shorter books because I just haven’t been able to concentrate on anything too long. I’ve also started to fall back in love with audiobooks! A positive start!

I was sent a copy of The Sad Ghost Club so that I could take part in the blog tour last week (take a read here) and it was a great book to read after the stress of 2020 and the gloom of another lockdown. I highly recommend and gave it 4 stars. Next up was a collection of poetry I picked up in the Waterstones sale Poems To Save The World With was a tricky one to review. I absolutely adored the illustrations and it’s a beautiful book, but I wasn’t that enamoured with the quite a few of the poems included, but that’s just down to personal preference!

I was also sent Here The Whole Time by Vitor Martins by the team at Bkmrk , a translated novel about two teenage guys who get to know each other more over the summer after one of them has had a crush for years. This was really sweet and I flew through it, I don’t know how anyone could read it and not fall in love with Filipe. A 4.5 star read for me.

There was definitely a gentle romance vibe with these two. Next up I read The Falling In Love Montage by Ciara Smith. It had been on my radar for ages and on my bookcase for a while and I really loved this book. I loved the characters, I loved the plot being focused around coming to terms with illness and family as well as romance and the ending was perfect. It was also my first 5 star read of the year!

I was sent a copy of Gut Feelings by C.G Moore and invited to the virtual book launch in January. Not only is Chris a lovely human but he’s written a spectacular book about invisible illness, going through medical trauma in your teens and early twenties, love, sex and working out who you are when your body isn’t the norm. It’s also written in verse with a fantastic layout. Another 5 star read!

Next up was another Waterstones sale purchase and I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful the cover is. This is an exploration of a life through books in a relatable way, Dear Reader was the comfort I needed. It’s also a book full of different kinds or reads rather than just a load of classics, which collections of this kind normally are. Also, I reached out to Cathy to thank her for such a wonderful book that gave me hope and she was so kind to reply back. I finished this one and immediately ordered her previous book.

My first audiobook of the year was Seven Kinds Of People You Find In Bookshops by Shaun Bythell. It was only 2 hours long but felt longer. This one really wasn’t for me, the use of latin, the judgments of people just didn’t sit right with me and seemed a little snobby. This was a 2 star read.

Last, but certainly not least, is The Last Act of Love also by Cathy Rentzenbrink. This is the story of Cathy and her brother, Matty who was hit by a car at 16 and sustained a brain injury which lead to him being in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). We go from meeting Cathy and Matty before the accident and seeing their relationship to the hope the family has after the accident, through Matty’s care and ultimately when he passes. This book will touch your heart and make you want to cuddle your loved ones close. Cathy did a fantastic job putting everything into words. 5 stars, without a doubt.

What did you read in January?

Let me know in the comments below!