Hard Pushed – Leah Hazard

Saying that midwives are incredible is an understatement. These women (and sometimes men) are the bringers of life, people that labouring mothers can love more than their partners at some points. But who are they behind the scrubs and the smiles? What do they see every day? Leah Hazard has spent years working as an NHS midwife and this is her story.

I absolutely adored this book, because it was so interesting. Through Leah’s eyes, we see snippets of different women as they make their way through labour. From women who are awaiting their first bundles of joy, to teenagers going through it alone, there are a number of stories that made me want to reach through the pages and hug them. Each experience seems to different but so similar at the same time and while this is, as Leah puts it herself, a ‘love letter’ to the women she has helped and her fellow midwives.

While this does have wonderful moments, what stands out is that Leah is not afraid to share the pressure midwives are under. Understaffed, underfunded and often running on empty.  Many midwives have walked away, not because they don’t love their jobs but because they are burnt out. Missed breaks, hospitals fit to burst and often not enough beds. It is one of many memoirs from medical professionals I have read in the past few years that I feel should be required reading for those making cuts to NHS services.

I gave this book 5 stars and devoured it in 24 hours, and that includes a nights sleep in-between. Leah Hazard clearly not only has a talent for writing but also a kindness that exudes from the pages of this book. Like many other medical memoirs, I am in awe of those who care for us in our hours of need. This is incredibly well written and I urge you to pick it up.

A copy of this book was given to me to review via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Life Update: How’re Things Going?

Hey girls and guys, it’s been a little while since I wrote this kind of post but I think it’s time.

We’re over a quarter of the way through 2019, I’m fine, it’s fine we’re all FINE. In all seriousness though, it’s gone pretty quickly and each month has had something memorable for me some big, others just a personal moment. It seemed like a perfect time to catch you guys up.

Three months down and quite a few changes. I moved house, started an awesome freelance project, got engaged, got a new hamster and I’m sure there are so many other things I’m forgetting as I’m typing this. As you can imagine, with all that change I felt very overwhelmed and had times where my mental health wasn’t at it’s best. I’m doing okay now, I’m on the waiting list for some therapy and I’m going to get through it.

So, what does May look like over here? Hopefully, I’ll be blogging a LOT more. I’m not promising every day, although I did think about doing every day in May – right now that’s not a pressure I want to put on myself. The funk I was in is slowly passing, so let’s hope that continues.

I also have 2 award events I’ve been invited to, hopefully a good amount of work to keep me busy, a Hen Do (Bachelorette party for my US readers), hopefully booking my wedding venue (!!), a family meal and at some point I hope to get some sleep. Oh! And before I forget this month is Fibromyalgia awareness day and Mental Health Week. So keep your eyes peels for those.

In short, this is a post to say I’m back. I haven’t been feeling 100% but I’m working though it and I’m looking forward to blogging again.

May, I am so ready for you.

Book Review_ Heartstopper Vol 1 - Alice Oseman

Book Review: Heartstopper Volume 1 – Alice Oseman

Are you ready for the cutest story you’re going to read this year? I’m pretty sure this will be it. Alice Oseman has knocked it out of the park with this graphic novel. I read it in less than an hour and then immediately ordered the second volume… I think you can guess this will be a good review.

This follows Charlie, openly gay and prone to over thinking and the only out guy at school. While he’s doing better than he was and has a sort-of boyfriend his world is going to be turned upside down when he meets Nick. As the two boys develop a friendship, Charlie begins to fall for Nick – can he find love or is he looking in the wrong place?

While reading I couldn’t help but feel that this was so wholesome. There isn’t scandal or anything of the sort, it is simply the story of a friendship, kindness and love. That in itself is why I loved it so much, there is complexity in how Charlie feels but it has an overwhelming simplicity. It is about love, and not just one kind of love, both friendship and a romantic love are present.

It is incredible that this started as a Kickstarter project before being published. The thought that this story could have not been published (it was previously posted online by Oseman herself). Now we’re going to be getting volumes 2, 3 and 4 and I am LIVING for it.

You might have guessed that I gave this 5 stars. I absolutely loved it and if you need something to give you a lift, this is most certainly it. I can also recommend Oseman’s novel Radio Silence, a brilliant YA novel that has been gaining fame in the US recently. I still need to read her other books too but Alice Oseman is definitely one to watch.

Heading To The Aisle – Where Do I Start?

You might have read that I’m getting married. Yep, this girl is heading down the aisle after nearly 11 years of the boy putting up with me – yippie! So, I thought that I might start blogging about the whole thing, I’ve always written about all aspects of my life and this is one I’ve been getting quite excited about.

I wrote a little while ago about how I really felt after I got engaged I’m pleased to say that I’m now feeling a lot less overwhelmed and starting to enjoy planning the wedding. That doesn’t mean I have any idea what I’m doing when it comes to planning. There is so much to think about that I hadn’t even considered.

Now, we’re not planning on blowing all of our money on the wedding. I’ve said from the beginning I want a marriage not just a wedding. So I’m not inviting everyone, I’m not spending thousands on a dress. This is going to be a wonderful day, but it is one day of our lives.

So, I’ve finally started to look at wedding venues, I think I’ve found my dress and have chosen my bridesmaids (more on that in another blog). Now I’ve gotten over being overwhelmed I’m starting to get excited about things and make plans.

I have to point out, this isn’t going to become a wedding blog – it’s definitely not my thing but I’m looking forward to sharing bits and pieces that I’m really excited about but not so much the different variants of cream bows.

And that’s where we’re at right now, I’m going to be writing more about what it’s really like to be planning a wedding the laughs, the frustrations and the excitement. It’s going to be a fun ride!

The Wellcome Book Prize 2019 – Mind On Fire by Arnold Thomas Fanning

The Wellcome Book Prize is almost here and I’ve been lucky enough to work with the team on another fantastic book in the short list. I received a copy of Mind On Fire in exchange for this blog and my honest opinions.

I’ve really enjoyed working with the Wellcome Book Prize in the past because it has such a diverse long list, it really shows a broad scope of what it means to be human. Here’s a peak at the 2019 short list. Now, on with my thoughts.

Mind on Fire recounts Fanning’s own experience of mental illness, the good, the bad and the ugly. Through the pages of this novel you are transported to his side and at first it can be a little hard to understand – particularly as the book opens with a manic episode. I think that could throw some people off but I would say to work through it because it is a worthwhile read.

Fanning goes through a lot in these pages, from his initial breakdown, hospitalisations, homelessness, his travels and attempts to still be creative despite his mental illness. It is a difficult read, you want to reach through and help. You want to make a change so that people with a mental illness who are struggling.

This also shows what mental illness can do to the relationships of those around them. The breakdown of Fanning’s relationships with his father and sister were incredibly truthful – I can’t imagine this was an easy book to write.

I gave this book I 4 stars. An important an interesting read but I can appreciate that for some it could be quite hard to get into. This is incredibly raw and hits home what life with a mental illness can be like.

Thank you to the Wellcome Book Prize, the author and publisher for this opportunity.

Book Review: What Would The Spice Girls Do – Lauren Bravo

I’ll tell you what I want what I really, really want. This book, although I didn’t know what before I bought it, but that is why this review is here so you know from the off. Ok, maybe not my most eloquent intro but I was SO excited by this book.

If you were a 90’s kid you will know the Spice Girls were everything. Hit after hit, I idolised them and when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. I didn’t know quite how much I would enjoy it until I finished it on a trip to London and listened to all the songs as loud as my headphones would go (sorry fellow travellers but you needed to spice up your life.

A collection of personal memories, those of fellow Spice Girls fans and looking at the cultural history of five women who wouldn’t take no for an answer and how they changed our lives. Additionally, Bravo considers modern problems through their eyes and ask what would they do? Hello new motto for life!

This book is incredibly well written, of course it is fun but it’s also very informative. Bravo considers what the Spice Girls were up against for the time, how they broke boundaries and more. The were, an always should be considered groundbreaking in the music industry.

What I found really interesting though, and this might just be the marketing geek in me, was looking at their choices from a marketing perspective. Bravo pointed something out I hadn’t considered that they made the Spice Girls merch something everyone could enjoy. From Spice crisps to a Spice Cam no matter your budget you could enjoy it.

I was a Spice Girls collector, long after the split I was picking up everyone else’s memorabilia at car boot sales to add to my own…it now live at my Mum and Dads. This book brought back the joy I felt for my entire childhood. I was born in 1994, when I was 2 years old I bopped to Wannabe, at 3 I had my own Spice Girl oufits, I had to start school with bunches like Baby Spice. And then, the holy grail, my Mum got us tickets to see them live at Earls Court in December 1999 – minus Geri, although I made up for that in 2007.

I’ve been recommending this to anyone and everyone who I know is a Spice Girls fan, of course I gave it 5 stars. This is a small but mighty book and while I listened to the audiobook, I now need to get my own copy of the actual hardback and proudly display it on my shelves. If you loved the Spice Girls this is for you. Trust me, you won’t forget it.

And now I leave you with the Spice classic that started it all.

How I’ve Evolved As A Blogger

Ah blogging, something we all love – well I’d assume so, seeing as you’re reading one! As I write this I’m struggling with blogger block, I’ve got over 100 ideas in drafts but can I finish one I’m happy with? If you’re reading this then clearly I can.

I’ve been blogging on this site for almost 6 years, originally starting it just before I went to uni because I wanted to write about what it was really like to be a student, rather than just a generic guide. Comparing my blog then to what it is now is odd. I’ve grown as a person, but so has my blog.

I don’t post every day

When I went to uni I wanted to write on my blog every single day. It had a kind of diary element too I guess. The longer I’ve been writing the more emphasis I put on quality, not quantity. Each week I try to post 1 book review and 1 other post. I don’t put any more pressure on myself than that.

Of course, if there is something in the news or something that’s caught my eye that’s time sensitive I write about it. Personally, I think my blog is better for it.

I learnt about images – and where to get free ones!

When I first started I knew I wanted to write, that was it. I had a shiny camera and I’d try and add pictures when I could or I’d just find some on Google. I didn’t know about sites like Canva where I could create my own. I had no idea about image copyright – now it’s something I do and make sure that I only use images I have permission to use.

Everything about blogging has been a learning curve and I’ve gained so many skills from working on my little corner of the internet.

My writing is better

Every year I write the equivalent of a book on here (let’s hope I can sit down and write an actual book at some point too!) over 6 years that is a lot of writing. I can see such a positive change in my writing and hopefully in another 6 years it will have improved even more.

My opinion is valid (to some people at least!)

It’s crazy that I get asked to read and review books. I’ve been sent some absolutely incredible reads, my NetGalley is fit to burst – I couldn’t have imagined that people would care about my opinion on anything, let alone books.

I definitely feel like I’ve evolved for the better and while I might have a few slumps a year, and I do, it’s a part of me now. So, I’m curious how have your blogs evolved?