March Wrap-Up post!

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

March has been a tough month in my personal life due to my medication changes. It’s hard to get across just how difficult it is to have a condition that requires medication to manage symptoms, and how the medication then causes problems in itself. I’ve been on very strong pain medication since before I was diagnosed and now I know my condition will never improve, and may even worsen over time, I want to make the best of what I’m left with. So I took the decision to try and reduce my pain medication, in spite of the severe pain I live with. This has been a long term reduction programme and it’s been going ok. It was in March that I got to a low enough dose that I’m struggling. I do have other things that I do to help me manage my pain but it’s taken all my reserves of mental strength to cope. It’s only going to get worse over the coming weeks and I just have to prepare myself as best I can. Once I’m off this medication my pain levels will be assessed again and it may be that I end up on a different medication but I just want to see what I can cope with.

Here are the 22 books I read this month:

Scarlett Says by Scarlett Moffatt

Forever Yours by Daniel Glauttauer

The Escape by C. L. Taylor

Willow Walk by SJI Holliday

The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After by Jenny Colgan

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

And the Sun Shine Now by Adrian Tempany

Little Deaths by Emma Flint

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

Year of No Clutter by Eve O. Schaub

Not Dead Yet by Phil Collins

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Now We Are 40 by Tiffanie Darke

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

A Portrait of Bowie by Brian Hiatt

Hillsborough Untold by Norman Bettison


March Blog Posts & Reviews

I wrote my regular Weekly Wrap-Ups, Stacking the Shelves, and WWW Wednesday posts. Then I also managed to review twelve books, which I’m pleased about. It was my aim from the start of March to post three reviews a week on average and I’ve managed that. Ideally, I’d post more reviews than this but three feels manageable along side the regular posts I do each week (health permitting of course)

Here are my reviews that I shared in March:

Everything But the Truth by Gillian McAllister

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel 

It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris 

The Escape by C. L. Taylor

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney

The Best We Could Do by Thi But

Year of No Clutter by Eve O. Schaub

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

I also shared a great guest post in March:

Mark Stewart, author of The Absence of Wings, wrote a post for my blog all about speaking up for the voiceless in his short story collection


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The state of my TBR:

I’ve had a few people ask my about my TBR recently so I just want to clarify that my TBR consists purely of books that I already own. I don’t count wish list books as TBR. This goes for anywhere that you see my TBR so if you look at my Goodreads the books listed as ‘to read’ are all books that I own. Hence the need to reduce it – if these books were just wish list books I wouldn’t be bothered how big the list was.

The State of my TBR is not great at the moment. I’ve demonstrated a lack of willpower throughout March and my TBR is creeping up, and is now higher than it was at the start of January!

I started this year with 1885 books on my TBR, and was doing well for the first couple of months as in February my TBR was down to 1861. However, in March a combination of a couple of giveaway wins, review copies arriving, a kindle book sale and spending my birthday book vouchers my TBR has now increased to 1913! I was a bit shocked when I realised how much my TBR has grown in the course of a month.

I don’t want to stop buying books but I do think I need to get better at not buying so many books each week. I’d at least like to try and not acquire more than I can read in a month so that my TBR would then remain steady, so that’s what I’m going to try and do in March. Wish me luck (or maybe that should read wish my willpower!!)

I also want to get in the habit of regularly going through my TBR and making sure that I’m only keeping the books that I still want to read. I’m thinking this should be something I do every month, or at least every quarter.


Quarterly Stats!

I’ve been tracking my reading using a spreadsheet since the start of 2017, which is the first time I’ve ever done this and I’m really enjoying seeing how various aspects of my reading are going. So I’ve decided that at the end of every quarter (March, June, September and December) I’m going to add an extra section to those monthly wrap-ups to share some of the things I’ve noticed in my reading patterns.

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I’ve read 71 books from January to March, and that amounts to 23,326 pages. I’m finding it really interesting to track pages read alongside books read as it shows that I’m not just reading short books to get my numbers up. The longest book I’ve read so far this year is The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, which has 849 pages. My average page count is 326, which is around the length of an average book so I’m pleased with that. 

I’m pleased to discover that in the first three months of this year that 65% of the books I’ve read have been by women. The diversity of my reading in other areas could be improved – I would like to read more work in translation, and also more books written in own voices but I’m otherwise pleased with the breadth of what I’ve been reading.

 

 

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I’ve read from a variety of genres and am happy that of 71 books read, 21 have been non-fiction/memoir so far. I wanted to try and make sure that around a third of what I read this year was non-fiction so I’m not far off being on track for that.

 

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I’ve also kept track of how I acquire my books so thought it would be interesting to show that here as well. Over half of the books I’ve got this year were ones I bought myself, and quite a few have been given to me as gifts. The percentage of review books are the smaller number.

 

 

 

 

All in all I’m pleased with how my reading, reviewing and blogging has been in March. I’m aware that I’m not sure how I’m going to be feeling during April so I’m not planning too much in the way of reading or blogging goals. I’ll read when I can and review when I can and see how it goes. I am going to be taking part in a couple of blog tours so am already reading those books so I can get the posts written and scheduled in advance. I’ll be using any good spells of health to read and review and write blog posts so I’m hoping to have regular content on here even if I’m not around quite as much in reality.

 

How was your March? I hope you all had a good month and that you read good books. Did you read many books? What was your favourite book of the month? Please tell me in the comments, I’d love to know. Also, if you have a blog please feel free to leave a link to your month’s wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to read and comment back. 🙂

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Weekly Wrap-Up (19 March)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

This week has been a bit of rough week. I’ve reduced my pain meds again and it’s left me feeling really unwell at times. This is going to be par for the course on and off for the next couple of months so I just need to get on with it as best as I can.

I did cheer myself up with an online book buying splurge as I still had my birthday book vouchers so that was lovely. I shared what I got in my Stacking the Shelves post yesterday if you’d like to see that.

This week I’ve finished reading five books:

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

This is such a good read. It’s a crime thriller but the focus is on the newsroom, and how they report a crime, the way they get information, and also how easily a reporter can become obsessed with a case. It’s not a fast-paced, twisty novel so far but it does grip you from the the opening chapter. I highly recommend this one. I’ll be writing my review of this one soon.

Not Dead Yet by Phil Collins

This is the audio book I’ve been listening to with my husband over the last month. I’m not really a Phil Collins fan but I found myself really enjoying this book. The first half was better than the second half for me. I enjoyed hearing about how his career got started, and about the people he worked with etc, and hearing what was going on behind the scenes at Live Aid was very amusing, but I didn’t like the way he was so dismissive of how his treatment of each of his wives affected them. I know we all paint ourselves in our best light but it’s hard to listen to someone have seemingly no awareness of how he made other people feel. Aside from that aspect of the book, Phil Collins shared some great stories that did make us laugh, or caused a few raised eyebrows so I would recommend this to fans of his, but be ready to grit your teeth when he talks about his various relationships with women.

Year of No Clutter by Eve Schaub

I struggled to get into this book but I’m glad I persevered. I found that as the book went on I could identify with a lot of how Eve felt about her clutter, and the reasons why she had let it build up. I’ll be reviewing this on my blog soon.

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

I’m a big fan of Paula Daly’s novels so was very excited to read this one. It kept me engrossed all the way through but I’m still unsure how to rate it. I read an ARC so I will be reviewing it as soon as I’ve got my thoughts in order.

Little Deaths by Emma Flint

This is also a review book and I’ve had it on my TBR for a little while now but I’m annoyed with myself for being so slow to pick it up as I loved it. It grabbed me from the opening and I’m still thinking about it now, days after I finished reading. I hope to get my review finished and posted on my blog soon.

 

This week I’ve blogged six times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up

Monday: Review of It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Review of The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

Friday: Review of Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

I’ve only read the first few pages of this novel so far but I can tell it’s going to be one that I won’t be able to put down once I pick it up again!

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

This is my current audio book and I’m really enjoying it. It’s such a clever book that really gives you a lot to think about, whilst remaining easy to read and enjoyable.

Now We Are 40 by Tiffanie Darke

This is such a good read. The first few chapters bring back memories of the 90s, with talk of pre-internet/mobile phone, the fashion, the music, the obsession we all had with The Body Shop (I loved Dewberry body spray from there!). Then the book discusses the internet boom and the impact it had on the creative industries, and on women. I’d definitely recommend this to Generation X-ers!

 

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

I’m enjoying this book but it’s suffering from me being in the middle of it but not really in the mood to read it. I hope to get back to it in the next few days.

A Portrait of Bowie by Brian Hiatt

This is a lovely book to dip in and out of as it’s a collaborative book featuring people who knew David Bowie, and it has some great photos in it too.

One of Us by Asne Seierstad

I’m still struggling to read serious non-fiction so I haven’t read much of this over the last week. Hopefully, if I feel a bit better this week I’ll be able to read more of it. It’s a great read, it’s just bad timing for me to be reading it right now.

 

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Update on my TBR… 

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1871

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 16 

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 5

Books I’m currently reading: 6

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1882


 

I’m linking this post up to Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s Sunday Blog Share.  It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.


 

How has your week been? What have you been reading? Please share in the comments below. If you write a wrap-up on your blog please feel free to share the link. 🙂

#BookReview: It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot

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About the Book:

IT’S ALL ABSOLUTELY FINE is a darkly comic, honest and unapologetic illustrated account of the daily struggles with mental health. Ruby Elliot, aka Rubyetc, is the talent behind the hit tumblr account, ‘Rubyetc’, which has over 210k followers and growing. Taking readers on a journey through the ups and downs of life, the book will encompass everything from anxiety, bipolar disorder and body image to depression and identity, shining a light on very real problems – all framed with Ruby’s trademark humour and originality.

Ruby balances mental health with humour, making serious issues accessible – and very funny. With the superb talent to capture the essence of human emotion (and to make you laugh out loud), this book is as important and necessary as it is entertaining. IT’S ALL ABSOLUTELY FINE will include mostly never-before-seen material, both written and illustrated, and will be an empowering book that will make you laugh, make you think, and make things ok.

My Thoughts:

This book is so good. It’s an incredibly candid book about mental health – it looks at depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD and eating disorders – and not only is it amusing and easy to read, it gives a genuine and honest insight into what it’s like to live with a mental illness.

I suffered with clinical depression as a teenager, and have had a battle with PTSD in more recent years. I’m now recovered from both, although I do have to be mindful of my triggers, but books about anxiety and mental health still appeal to me. I like to see what’s out there and to read it from a point of view of remembering how I felt at the time and whether a book would have been of use to me, and also from my current perspective. It’s good to consider whether a book is one I would recommend to someone going through this illness now, or if it would help someone who had no idea about mental health understand what it’s like. Some books hit one mark and not another because a target market has to be aimed at, and I do get that. This book, however, ticks all of the boxes for me. It’s absolutely brilliant.

This is a book predominantly told through illustrations and it packs such a punch with simple drawings. Some images made me hold my breath because I remember those moments of not being able to function, some images made me wryly smile because I remember being aware of how silly I felt at not being able to do something and yet still being unable to make myself do it. Ruby Elliot has written her own story in this book and as a result it is so easy to identify with; it’s told with great compassion and empathy for others whilst being so honest about her own emotions. You feel like you’re reading your own story.

I took a screen grab of a couple of pages from It’s All Absolutely Fine because they really resonated with me – partly, through remembering feeling like that in the depths of my anxiety, and partly because I have occasional days like this whilst dealing with my physical health. I’m including these two images in my review because they really do give such a great example of the humour and the complete empathy and understanding in this book.

 

This is such a candid book, Ruby Elliot doesn’t shy away from tackling what it’s really like to live with mental illness. This book is absolutely essential reading for anyone going through depression and/or anxiety, and for anyone who wants to understand what it’s like to live with these conditions. It’s a book that will help sufferers feel less alone but without feeling the pressure to sit and read a whole book during the times when everything feels too hard.

I read this in ebook format but I’m definitely going to be buying a print copy, and I will absolutely be recommending this book to so many people.

It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot is out now and available here.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.