Book review, books

Problem with being a Spoonie Bookworm #1 – Brain fog

Before my brain went wobbly I could easily read several novels a week and that was whilst  working. They ranged from page-turning bestsellers  to long complicated epics. As long as it had words in it, I would read it. Fast forward a few years of chronic illness and the accompanying medication, those days are gone. I may have more time on my hands but my consumption  of reading material has reduced significantly.The main reason is brain fog and fatigue.

When either or both descend reading any book which is  complicated, long with many characters or twists and turns is put to one side. I lose the thread of the stories as I fall asleep or wading through the treacle of my brain to  is too much of a battle.

Usually at this point, I fall back to well read favourites where I already know the convoluted plots   or easy to read, quick page-turning Chick lit. After reading several  of these in the bounce I was bored with the girl meets boy scenarios but wasn’t sure what else to read.

I was relieved when a fellow member of  Duvet Dwellers Book Club recommended Samantha Moon: Vampire for Hire series by J.R Rain. Once downloaded using the timely offer 30 days free Kindle Unlimited offer Amazon had sent me, I began to read.

Moon

The book follows Samantha  Moon – private investigator, mum and vampire. I wasn’t sure how it would all fit together but it works well and I was hooked. it is easy reading with a twist to keep you interested with crime chasing, family saga, paranormal and hint of romance. What more do you need? The characters have enough of a backstory to add depth to what could have come across as one-dimensional. Sam is likeable, quirky and no pushover even without her vampiric tendencies. You long to find out how the relationships  around her will develop as the consequences  of being a vampire hit home.

I read the first book Moon Dance in one duvet day. I not only enjoyed it but I felt a sense of achievement and a hint of the old me. I am now reading Vampire Moon  and enjoying even more. I am  wondering where the next  7 will take me.

It vaguely reminds me of the TV series Blood Ties I binge-watched while I was having chemo. The difference being in this, the PI was human fighting crime with the help of a vampire, the opposite to this book. It ahs the same feel and desire to read/watch just a little bit more.

Highly recommended  if you need something to satisfy the bookworm in you without bamboozling your mind on low energy days.

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Book review

Reading for Dystonia

dystonia week banner 2016

For those that follow my other blog, you know I am wobbly by nature with a condition called dystonia. This week is Dystonia Awareness week in the UK so it seems fitting to review 3 books about the condition. When I was first diagnosed , as a bookworm, my  instinct was to find a book so I could find out more about this neurological condition. Google is great for many things but I needed words from people with the condition, to understand more and learn how to live with it. To my dismay, there were textbooks with prices beyond my bank balance but no sign of the books I craved, despite the condition being the third most common movement disorder and it affects at least  70, 000 people in the UK.  Roll on a few years I have found these.

A Twisted Fate My Life with Dystonia by Brenda Currey Lewis

A Twisted Fate

I stumbled across A Twisted Fate on Twitter and I am so glad I did. It has become one of my firm favourites in my Kindle library.

Written to spread much needed awareness of dystonia, Brenda Currey Lewis gives an honest, down to earth account of her life with generalised dystonia which began in childhood as well as a clear overview on what dystonia is.  Her story gives an insight into life with the condition and  shows how dystonia affects all parts of life including the lives of those around you. There were so many times I could relate to her experiences and I am glad my dystonia waited until I was older to surface in the 2000s. The writing style allows her strong character to come through and I imagine she would be amazing to talk to over a cup of tea.

I would recommend this easy to read, enlightening book to everyone who wants to find out more about the condition.

Diagnosis Dystonia by Tom Seaman

diagnosis dystonia pic

This was the book I wished I had found as I wobbled out of my neurologist’s room with a diagnosis. Diagnosis Dystonia covers a range of topics a newly diagnosed person needs to know, as well as information for those who have had the condition for a while. It is a book which is obviously written  with care and consideration of what the reader will need. Part memoir, describing his own journey with cervical dystonia and part guide to this condition, it delves into the physical and emotional side as well as different types, treatments, daily living and gaining support from others. Tom Seaman has written a book that gives an insight into the condition and shows ways to live with dystonia. It tells you there will be bad days but there are ways forward, to adapt and live your life. I have a rare form of dystonia (DRD) and there are parts that are not relevant but it doesn’t matter. There is something for everyone in this book. It can be read from cover to cover or dipped into when required. If I had this book when my own wobbly journey began it will look well-read with it opening naturally at certain chapters by now.

For those with the condition, it is a book of hope, determination and gives an insight into the world of dystonia so you can help yourself be your own advocate. For others, it gives you an awareness of the condition with all its ups and downs so you gain an understanding of the condition and support people may need.

Tom Seaman works hard to spread awareness via his blog

Misdiagnosed by Jean Sharon Abbott

misdiagnosed book

I have a rare form of dystonia – dopa responsive dystonia (DRD) which affects approx 1 in 2 million people. I have followed Jean Sharon Abbott on her blog Rainy Day Friend as she documents her life with this condition. I was excited to discover she was writing her memoir.

Misdiagnosed follows her life from childhood with the diagnosis of cerebral palsy  to when she was given the correct diagnosis of DRD. Unlike some dystonias, DRD can be treated with a drug commonly given to those with Parkinson’s disease. This small, yellow pill has the ability to transform lives. It can be the difference between  being in a wheelchair to climbing mountains. This positive book shows her strength and determination, the ups and downs of living with dystonia and appreciating the small things in life many people overlook.  It also highlights the need for awareness of dystonia so correct diagnosis can be given.

Jean Sharon Abbott’s has appeared on TV shows, written about in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Since her story has been told, others have been given the correct diagnosis so they are also living a life they never thought they would.

 

Useful links:

The Dystonia Society UK

Dystonia Medical Research Foundation

Michael J Fox Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book review

The perfect combination – tea and books

It is so many years since I have read a rag-to-riches saga, I can not remember the last one’s title or detailed storyline. I tend to walk past their  illustrated covers of a defiant female protagonist, in favour of the often more eye-catching, bold sci-fi books or dark, brooding psychological thrillers but a deal from Amazon arrived in my email tempting me to explore the genre again. The blurb promised a tale surrounding my favourite drink – tea. How could I resist?

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I am so happy I indulged. My plan to tackle my evergrowing to-do list was put on hold because all I wanted to do this weekend was curl up with a cup of tea and read this book. If I had to partake in real life, moments were snatched here and there to read  another page.

A chunky book of 772 pages made it well worth downloading the e-book  to save sore wrists. Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly follows the story of Fiona Finnegan a feisty, plucky  tea girl from East End from a close working class family in 1888. The first chapter immediately transports you to a time of swirling fog and the infamous Jack the Ripper murders.

fog street free

In love with her childhood sweetheart, Fiona has ambitions of having her own shop and leaving the tea production factory life behind. With a strong work ethic and full of hope she appears to have her dreams within her grasp but life, as always, has different ideas. The transatlantic epic story introduces you to a collection of characters you grow to love and care about as well as those you hate. The descriptions of life and places make it an easy book to lose yourself in. With many twists and turns about love, family, friendship, revenge and following your dreams, it is a story which you long to know what happens next but do not want to end. Fortunately, it is the first part of a trilogy.

The East End family life makes you reach for some builder’s tea (in my case, a mug of Yorkshire tea) but as the story progresses your taste buds tingle inspiring you to explore different blends as Donnelly describes the aroma of open tea chests full of fresh tea from your Assam, Darjeeling to flavoured blends. I am so glad I have tin full of a variety of teas I could dip into when inspiration hit.

fireside reading free

A great book to snuggle up to read on a dark winter’s afternoon.

 

Book review

The Witches are flying …

pumpkin lantern

It is Halloween and tonight the witches will grab their brooms and zoom across the dark, chilled sky. So what better than to put on your snuggly socks, grab a warming drink of tea in your favourite mug, and read a spooky book. Though, try not to jump when there is a knock on the door…

        Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

book tea witch

Witches play an important part of Halloween and there is a wide range of books based on them. One of my favourites is Deborah Harkness’ Discovery of Witches. I loved the protagonist, Diana Bishop. As an academic studying alchemy she gets sucked into a world of vampires, witches and demons when Matthew enters her life along with a mystical, bewitched book. The existence of these creatures comes to no surprise to this strong character because she comes from a long line of witches, though she turned her back on magic years before and refuses to have it in her life. Deborah Harkness description of Oxford’s All Souls College and the Bodleian Library attracts the inner bibliophile as you want to experience the atmosphere yourself. The developing, forbidden relationship between Diana and vampire, Matthew makes you unable to just read one chapter at a time. The collection of characters you meet remain with you long after you close the book for the final time. Some you love, admire and respect while others make your blood boil as they enter a scene. The trilogy grabs you into a journey of discovery of self, love, prejudice and a world through time. It will leave you wanting more.

Book review

Leaving Home

wpid-img_20150904_082620.jpgLeaving time by Jodi Picoult was last month’s book club title though it has been around for a while. I was first inspired to read it after listening to an interview on Radio 2’s book club. Even  my hubby tuned in to hear her talk about the elephants’ reaction and behaviour to death and grief. We were in awe of elephants’ intellect and emotional intelligence.The conversation encouraged you to want to discover more about these obviously underestimated mammals. I was intrigued about how the story would unfold with the relationship between the 3 main protagonists as they join forces to reveal the truth of the events on the night a carer died in an Elephant sanctuary. Jenna is a 13 year old on a mission to find the truth behind her Mum’s disappearance as a way to deal with her loss, Virgil is an alcoholic ex-cop dealing with his loss of career and Serenity is a quirky, once famous psychic finding her way in the world without her psychic abilities. Their stories are cleverly entwined in the experiences of  wild and captive elephants and story of Jenna’s mum, Alice.
It is well researched with twists and turns characteristic of her books. The characters are complicated and deep with back stories that influence their actions. These lead to consequences for others. The topics she chooses often have ethical or moral dilemmas as their base which causes the reader to consider their beliefs and feelings. This tale focused on grief and loss so a box of tissue is  definitely needed. It challenges your beliefs on psychics and you can not help but be touched by the experiences of the elephants. You walk away from the book with great respect for these majestic creatures, wanting to raise awareness of their plight.

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It was a perfect book for book club as it can trigger discussions on loss, grief, elephant protection, poaching, mental health and it’s wider effects as well as the world of psychics.

If love this book you should try her Lone Wolf and one of her older books Second Glance, one of the first of her books I read.

Book review

The O’Briens tale of HD

Inside the O’Briens was on my wish list but as I held it in my hands after having it stamped by the lovely library man, I had second thoughts. Was I in the right frame of mind for a tale about a man with Huntingdon’s disease? From what I had read and seen on the TV it is a cruel, relentless illness destroying every part of you. Would I be better reading a light fluffy book to raise my mood rather than plummet it into despair. I took the plunge and I am so glad I did 🙂

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Lisa Genova has done it again. She has entwined her medical knowledge with her art of storytelling.The result is a honest account of a snip in time of the O’Brien family’s life showing the heartache and fallout of diagnosis as well as the beginning of adaptation to the situation, acceptance and hope. Rather than feeling despair as I closed the book for the last time, I felt uplifted and full of respect for Katie and Joe O’Brien the main protagonists.

Joe is a dedicated cop when he develops strange symptoms such as involuntary movements, slurring of words and unexplainable rages. Once diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, he is not only faced with the realisation of the devastating deterioration ahead but the knowledge each of his children has a 50% chance of developing the disease too. As well as Joe, the story focuses on Katie, who on the edge of a new relationship and life opportunities, has the dilemma of having genetic testing to discover if she will have the disease  and how this will impact on her future whatever the outcome.

It is a book well worth reading and do not be put off by the topic. It not only raises the awareness of HD but reminds you that human beings can find strength and hope in the darkest moments.