Life Update and a Weekly Wrap-Up!

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

It has been ages since I was blogging regularly and I can’t even remember the last time I posted a proper update. I have honoured my commitments to blog tours so they are the only things I’ve posted since early in the summer. I do want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has continued to read my blog, and to comment even when I’ve not been around, it really does mean a lot to me.

So some of you will know that a year ago I took the decision to start reducing my pain meds. I’d been on incredibly strong meds since before my diagnosis but my pain levels have remained high despite the meds. So I did a lot of research and the general consensus in the medical profession seemed to be that painkillers don’t really work for people with chronic pain like mine. I discussed things with my doctor and I started a reduction plan. It has been a rough year as every time I reduced I had a period of feeling very unwell with pain throughout my body but it would eventually settle again. A few weeks ago I finally got completely off my long-acting pain medication, which was a big achievement. I was still taking the short-acting morphine though so that was the next thing to tackle. I was meant to wean myself off it but I decided to go cold turkey. It was hell. It was worse than I was expecting, and I’d planned for it to be awful! My husband is a huge support to me and he got me through it. I’m now almost six weeks down the line and while I still don’t feel great, I do feel like my body is very gradually beginning to adjust. I am on a lower level pain medication now but I’m continuing to utilise all the things I’ve learnt in the last two years and hope that in time I can reduce these meds too. I will be in pain for the rest of my life because it’s just the nature of the damage done in my neck and spine but I really want to see if I can find a way to live with the pain rather than taking loads of painkillers.

As you can probably imagine, for a lot of the summer and into autumn my reading has tapered off quite a lot. I haven’t been able to concentrate very well, plus I’ve had a lot of headaches etc. This past week I treated myself to a book I’ve been so keen to read and I devoured it, and that made me happier than I can even put into words. My reading mojo feels like it’s on its way back as I’ve read quite a few books this week so I’m really hoping that this trend continues!

Now I’m reading closer to my normal level again I’ve felt like I want to get back to blogging but it’s been such a long, and unplanned for, break that I haven’t felt like I could just start. So I’m writing this weekly wrap-up and life update as a way of letting you all know what’s been happening with me and a way of just feeling my way back into the blogging world!

 

 

So without further ado, here are the books I’ve finished reading this week:

Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

I got a review copy of this from NetGalley but also discovered the audio version on my subscription service so I part read and part listened to this. This book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting it to be but I flew through it because it had me engrossed from the very first chapter. I will write a full review of this on my blog soon.

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t really get on with this book, which is a shame because I was really keen to read it. I think the cover makes it seem like this is more of a graphic novel than it is, and also it doesn’t make it clear that this is a brief overview of queer theory. I’ve already studied queer theory as part of my degree so there was nothing new for me in here, but I’m not sure I’d even recommend it to someone who wanted to know more as it all felt very dry and it skimmed over lots of things and gave very little detail in my opinion.

Good as You: From Prejudice to Pride – 30 Years of Gay Britain by Paul Flynn

This is a book that I’ve wanted ever since I first heard it of it earlier this year and I finally treated myself to the lovely hardback this week. I’m so happy to say that this book is brilliant, I loved every minute that I spent reading this. This is a great non-fiction book because it’s informative but written in such an easy-to-read style. This is the book that I flew through over a couple of days… I highly recommend this one!

I Heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk

I love the I Heart… books so when I saw a new one was coming out I was super excited to read it. I picked this up at a perfect time when I just needed a light-hearted read and I found I just couldn’t put it down. I read an ARC so I will be reviewing this one on my blog soon.

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages and it caught my eye on my bookshelf this week. I read it two sittings and found it to be such an open and honest exploration of her love for her daughter and grief at her loss. This is one of those books that I will re-read, and it’s certainly one that will stay with me.

 

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

This book is so good! I love the way it’s a take on the sliding doors idea and takes the reader through two alternate realities of happened next in the aftermath of a terrible incident after a night out. I’ve been racing through this book because I just don’t want to put it down, and I’m so keen to find out how it will all turn out in the end.

Trust Me by Zosia Wand

I was thrilled to be sent a copy of this novel to review as it’s one I was aware of and was looking forward to reading. I’m really enjoying it so far and can’t wait to read more.

Where Love Begins by Judith Hermann

This is one of those books that I don’t really know what to say about it. When I’m reading it it has me engaged and wanting to know more but when I put it down the plot drifts away from me. I am enjoying it though and am keen to see where it’s going.

Good Night and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Life by David Cavanagh

I’ve had this on my TBR for a little while now but I was keen to pick it up after listening to some of the highlights of John Peel’s radio shows during Radio 1’s recent 50th birthday weekend. I loved listening to John Peel over the years and still miss discovering new music via his recommendations. This book is a look at some of his shows and his relationship to the music and the artists. It’s easy to dip in and out of, but it’s also easy to lose and hour or two of time as you read and reminisce. I definitely recommend this one!

Aches and Gains: A Comprehensive Guide to Overcoming Your Pain by Paul L. Christo

This is a non-fiction book about the different types of pain, and various conditions that cause pain; plus a look at the range of treatment options available. I’m finding it interesting, in particular where it relates to my own conditions. I’m reading an ARC so I will be reviewing this once I’ve finished reading it.

 


 

As you may remember I decided to track my TBR on my blog this year and have been showing the sums of how my TBR has increased or decreased over the course of this year. I’ve recently got rid of a stack of books and am in the process of sorting through my kindle books so my TBR numbers are a bit all over the place just now and I’ve lost track of it a bit. I do want to continue with following the state of my TBR but I’ve decided to put this to one side for the rest of this year and will start it again in 2018.

 

How has your week (or even the last few months) been for you? Have you read any good books recently? I’d love to catch up so please feel free to leave a link to your latest wrap-up in the comments below.

 

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See this week’s #bookhaul in my Stacking the Shelve post (15 Jul)

stacking-the-shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

I bought these books:

dead letters by caite dolan-leach

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

I bought this ebook on a total whim when the cover caught my eye on Amazon and then the synopsis sounds really intriguing. I think this will be a quick read so I’m hoping to squeeze this in between review books soon.

Synopsis:

Ava doesn’t believe it when the email arrives to say that her twin sister is dead. It’s not grief or denial that causes her scepticism – it just feels too perfect to be anything other than Zelda’s usual manipulative scheming. And Ava knows her twin.

Two years after she left, vowing never to speak to Zelda again after the ultimate betrayal, Ava must return home to retrace her errant sister’s last steps. She soon finds notes that lead her on a twisted scavenger-hunt of her twin’s making.

Letter by letter, Ava unearths clues to her sister’s disappearance: and unveils harrowing truths of her own. A is for Ava, and Z is for Zelda, but deciphering the letters in-between is not so simple…

A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall

A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall

I’ve seen this book on some of my favourite blogs recently and have been keen to read it. I spotted the ebook for a good price this week so snapped it up. This is one of those books that I want to read soon but that I also know I need to be in the right mood for but hopefully it won’t be too long before I read this one.

Synopsis:

After the sudden death of his wife, Audrey, Jonah sits on a bench in Kew Gardens, trying to reassemble the shattered pieces of his life.

Chloe, shaven-headed and abrasive, finds solace in the origami she meticulously folds. But when she meets Jonah, her carefully constructed defences threaten to fall.

Milly, a child quick to laugh, freely roams Kew, finding beauty everywhere she goes. But where is her mother and where does she go when the gardens are closed?

Harry’s purpose is to save plants from extinction. Quiet and enigmatic, he longs for something – or someone – who will root him more firmly to the earth.

Audrey links these strangers together. As the mystery of her death unravels, the characters journey through the seasons to learn that stories, like paper, can be refolded and reformed. Haunted by songs and origami birds, this novel is a love letter to a garden and a hymn to lost things.

Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

This is a book that I owned and part-read many years ago and I’ve been wanting to sit and read it all the way through for some time now. I found a copy for a good price this week so now it’s on my shelves waiting for me when my brain is in gear enough to read it.

Synopsis:

Written during the 1940s and early 1950s, when Baldwin was only in his twenties, the essays collected in Notes of a Native Son capture a view of black life and black thought at the dawn of the civil rights movement and as the movement slowly gained strength through the words of one of the most captivating essayists and foremost intellectuals of that era. Writing as an artist, activist, and social critic, Baldwin probes the complex condition of being black in America. With a keen eye, he examines everything from the significance of the protest novel to the motives and circumstances of the many black expatriates of the time, from his home in “The Harlem Ghetto” to a sobering “Journey to Atlanta.”

Notes of a Native Son inaugurated Baldwin as one of the leading interpreters of the dramatic social changes erupting in the United States in the twentieth century, and many of his observations have proven almost prophetic. His criticism on topics such as the paternalism of white progressives or on his own friend Richard Wright’s work is pointed and unabashed. He was also one of the few writing on race at the time who addressed the issue with a powerful mixture of outrage at the gross physical and political violence against black citizens and measured understanding of their oppressors, which helped awaken a white audience to the injustices under their noses. Naturally, this combination of brazen criticism and unconventional empathy for white readers won Baldwin as much condemnation as praise.

Under the Sun by Lottie Moggach

Under the Sun by Lottie Moggach

This was another book I bought on a total whim when I spotted it for 99p on Kindle this week. I’ve read Lottie Moggach’s previous novel and enjoyed it so I’m hoping this one will live up to it.

Synopsis:

Anna’s friends and family think she is living the dream in her beautiful finca under the Spanish sun. But the reality is far from perfect. The handsome, complicated man she was building a life with has left with little more than a note to say goodbye and the future she imagined has crashed around her ears. Anna has secretly embarked on an ill-advised affair and lives above the dingy bar she runs in the sleepy beach town of Marea, surrounded by British expats as homesick and stuck as she is.

When Simon, a local businessman, offers to rent the finca, Anna hopes it will pave the way for her escape. But there is more to him than meets the eye, and when a body washes up on the beach in mysterious circumstances, Anna realizes she may be the only one with the power to unravel the truth. But how can she prove that Simon is connected, and how can she reclaim her house? Anna is prepared to risk everything to get home even though she’s no longer sure where home really is.

I received these review books:

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

I’ve not read any Karin Slaughter before despite feeling sure that I will love her writing so I decided to grab this one on NetGalley this week and I really want to read it very soon. I’m intrigued by the synopsis so I don’t think this will be on my TBR for very long at all!

Synopsis:

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy smalltown family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – Pikeville’s notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself – the archetypal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again – and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatised – Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case which can’t help triggering the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried for ever…

Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

I saw this on NetGalley when I got the above book and downloaded it as it sounds interesting. 

Synopsis:

What sort of mother would leave her all alone… a gripping and heart-wrenching domestic drama that won’t let you go.

Lily, who is almost three years old, wakes up alone at home with only her cuddly toy for company. She is afraid of the dark, can’t use the phone, and has been told never to open the door to strangers.

But why is Lily alone and why isn’t there anyone who can help her? What about the lonely old woman in the flat upstairs who wonders at the cries from the floor below? Or the grandmother who no longer sees Lily since her parents split up?

All the while a young woman lies in a coma in hospital – no one knows her name or who she is, but in her silent dreams, a little girl is crying for her mummy… and for Lily, time is running out.

Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas

Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas

I loved Claire Douglas’ first novel The Sisters and have been eagerly anticipating this one so I was thrilled when I got approved for it on NetGalley yesterday. I’m really tempted to start reading this right away but I feel like I should read some of my other review books first.

Synopsis:

She can run
Libby Hall needs to hide, to escape from everything for a while. Which is why the house swap is a godsend. The chance for Libby and her husband Jamie to exchange their tiny Bath flat for a beautiful haven on the wild Cornish coast.

But she can’t hide
But before they can begin to heal their fragile marriage, Libby makes some disturbing discoveries about the house. And soon the peace and isolation begin to feel threatening. How alone are they? Why does she feel watched?

Because someone knows her secret
What is Jamie hiding? Is Libby being paranoid? And why does the house bring back such terrible memories? Memories Libby’s worked hard to bury. Memories of the night she last saw her best friend alive . . . and what he did.

IMG_9592

The Way Back to Us by Kay Langdale

I was super excited when I opened this book post yesterday as I love Kay Langdale’s writing. This sounds like a really emotional read but I’m so looking forward to reading it. Also, doesn’t this novel have such a gorgeous cover?!

Synopsis:

Since their youngest son, Teddy, was diagnosed with a life-defining illness, Anna has been fighting: against the friends who don’t know how to help; against the team assigned to Teddy’s care who constantly watch over Anna’s parenting; and against the impulse to put Teddy above all else – including his older brother, the watchful, sensitive Isaac.

And now Anna can’t seem to stop fighting against her husband, the one person who should be able to understand, but who somehow manages to carry on when Anna feels like she is suffocating under the weight of all the things that Teddy will never be able to do.

As Anna helplessly pushes Tom away, he can’t help but feel the absence of the simple familiarity that should come so easily, and must face the question: is it worse to stay in an unhappy marriage, or leave?

Giveaway win!

I also won a giveaway on Instagram for a copy of Sweet Little Lies by Cat Frear, which I was very excited to receive! It was even more brilliant when the book arrived and it was a signed copy.

Synopsis:

WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW

In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.

WHAT I ACTUALLY KNOW

In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub.
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT
Connection?

Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it’s gone?

 


 

So, that’s all of my new books from the past week. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.:)

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.