Brief blogs for busy bees

Tag: four star review

Review: My Box-Shaped Heart by Rachael Lucas

Review: My Box-Shaped Heart by Rachael Lucas

“I don’t really know what sort of person I am,” I say. “But I think it’s time to find out.”  Holly and Ed both use their local swimming pool as a way to escape from the things that are troubling them. Holly’s mum started hoarding […]

Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve been resisting picking up The Language of Thorns since it was released, as I haven’t yet read the Six of Crows duology and was worried about getting spoilers. For anyone who has been avoiding it for the same reason, fear no more! The Language of Thorns might be part of […]

Review: The Unmumsy Mum by Sarah Turner

Review: The Unmumsy Mum by Sarah Turner

‘When people declare “You can’t say that!”, what they really mean is “You can think it, but you mustn’t say it.” I don’t think keeping thoughts to yourself makes them any less real.’

I started reading The Unmumsy Mum while I was pregnant and was planning on finishing it before my due date, but with baby arriving ten days early I had to put it off. I’m so grateful that I did, because reading this as a new mum is a reassuring experience.

My first couple of weeks as a new parent were unbelievably easy, which is why it was a massive shock to the system between weeks two and three when my daughter went through a growth spurt. She was already a hungry baby, but suddenly she was feeding nonstop and it was mentally and physically draining. My days were filled with crying, and I’m not talking about baby’s!

During one of these manic feeding sessions I used my free hand to continue reading The Unmumsy Mum and suddenly I was crying tears of laughter rather than pain. Not only is Sarah Turner easy to relate to, she’s also hilarious: she can get a laugh out of the most horrendous experiences, and she had me giggling uncontrollably during one of the hardest days of my life (the hardest day of my life as a parent – so far!)

One of the most comforting sections of The Unmumsy Mum comes when Turner discusses the heat of the moment comments that she’s made, and the fact that it’s completely fine to say those things when it’s obvious that you don’t mean them. This dispelled a lot of the guilt I’d been feeling. During the toughest moments I’d asked my partner if we’d really made the right decision keeping our baby (duh, of course we have!) while sobbing my heart out because I felt like the scum of the earth for even entertaining such a notion.

Turner helps you feel like you’re not alone, and that’s one of the things that makes this book so important. She’s so unflinchingly honest about the pros and cons of parenthood, so every single mother, father or parent-to-be is bound to relate to at least one of her stories. In fact, it’s even worth reading if you don’t have kids: you’ll be able to laugh at all of the crazy people who decide to embark on this ridiculously impractical journey!

 

If you’re interested in learning more about The Unmumsy Mum, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

Alyce

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Review: The Leavers by Lisa Ko

Review: The Leavers by Lisa Ko

Hello there, and welcome to my stop on The Leavers blog tour. First off I’d like to say a huge thank you to Little, Brown for inviting me to read and review a copy of Lisa Ko’s debut novel. It’s a little out of my comfort zone […]

Review: Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron

Review: Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron

‘It was our 9/11, our Princess Diana, our JFK. You’d always remember where you were when you heard about Being No. 1.’ Ten days after Jaya’s mother died, Beings started falling from the sky. Over the course of eight months 85 Beings fall, and no […]

Review: Things I Wish I’d Known edited by Victoria Young

Review: Things I Wish I’d Known edited by Victoria Young

Things I Wish I’d Known was recommended to me by a friend who used to work in Waterstones, because she said that so many pregnant customers said it was a necessary read before giving birth. I thought I might as well give it a go: it’s a collection of non-fiction essays – always a fast read – and I was sure that something one of the mothers said would resonate with my experience of pregnancy.

I actually ended up relating the most to the first essay in the collection, written by Adele Parks. In it, she discusses her fears that her individuality would be dismissed after the arrival of her child and that she would just be referred to as “—-‘s mother”, a worry which I’d discussed with a few of my friends towards the middle of my third trimester.

“I’d had a vision that it would be just me, my husband and our baby. Naive, I know. I felt extremely connected with my baby and I adored him, but I was not always comfortable with the new people who entered my life. I sometimes found them to be a distraction from the real business of mothering.”

– Adele Parks

This was another fear which I shared with Parks.

When we learnt that the midwife and the health visitor would be appearing at the house regularly throughout the first couple of weeks of the baby’s life, I was filled with trepidation. I knew that it happened to all mothers and we weren’t being picked on, but I’m a very anxious person and I hate the tension that comes with knowing someone will be coming to your home but not having a definite time for their arrival.

We were told it could be any time between 9am and 4pm, and I was filled with worry: what if we’d just managed to get her to sleep, and the midwife turned up and started poking and prodding at her? The one piece of advice that we kept hearing was to never wake a sleeping baby!

However, reading that I wasn’t the only mother who shared these worries helped put me at ease. I still wasn’t looking forward to their visits, but at least I no longer felt terrified of them… And when they did arrive, they were all so lovely. It was actually nice to have some contact with the outside world, because we were living in our own little bubble for the first few days.

Another valuable piece of advice came from Emma Freud:

“Don’t forgot to read a couple of chapters on what to do with the baby once it’s born. It’s very easy to use all your energy learning about the birth (which lasts about one day) and forget to learn about looking after the thing that gets born (which lasts about 81 years).”

After the antenatal classes I felt pretty prepared for the birth, so I was beginning to think ahead to what we would do when she arrived… But I hadn’t done any research regarding it, which was a little short-sighted. Luckily, a couple of days before reading this essay I’d picked up a copy of Baby Milestones (and will be reviewing it at some point!) so I made that a priority read and learnt a lot of indispensable advice that I used during the first few days of her life. Unfortunately, because she came early, I hadn’t completely finished it… But I’m reading a week at a time, so that the information is fresh in my mind.

Those two essays were my personal favourites, but the entire collection is a joy to read. Some are scarier than others, but if you’re fed up with people skirting around serious topics and you just want to hear straight-up honesty, you’ll adore them.

The most important thing is that all of these stories are true and none of them are sugar-coated. If you want a real idea of what it’s going to be like to have a newborn baby, Things I Wish I’d Known will give you that.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Things I Wish I’d Known, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you! 

 

If you’re a parent, is there anything you wish you’d known before your little bundle of joy arrived?

Alyce

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Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Flora Banks has anterograde amnesia and she’s unable to remember anything past the age of 11. That is, until she kisses Drake – her best friend Paige’s recent ex-boyfriend – on the beach during a party. Flora can remember kissing Drake, and she wonders if he […]

Review: Crush by Eve Ainsworth

Review: Crush by Eve Ainsworth

‘She’ll do anything for me, anything. She’s perfect.’ Anna is on top of the world when Will, the hottest guy in Year 11, takes an interest in her. She can’t believe her luck and starts spending every minute of every day with him, neglecting best […]

Review: Autumn: Aftermath by David Moody

Review: Autumn: Aftermath by David Moody

I didn’t realise I’d skipped the fourth book in the Autumn series – Autumn: Disintegration – until I was over halfway through Autumn: Aftermath. It doesn’t seem as though I missed anything, though. A new group was introduced in the fourth installment, but they don’t appear until a few chapters into this book and their origin story is thoroughly recapped.

However, you must read the first three books in the Autumn series before you give Autumn: Aftermath a try. Survivors from the earlier novels appear and their backgrounds are hardly explored. This would have been a majorly disorienting read if I wasn’t already familiar with the events of the previous books (especially Autumn: Purification, which is the catalyst for most of the events contained within).

Aftermath. I didn’t know it had two meanings. The first was obvious, the one that everybody knows: something that follows after a disastrous or unfortunate event, like the aftermath of a war. But it was the second definition that struck me: a new growth of grass following mowing or ploughing.’

Autumn: Aftermath is the fifth and final book in David Moody’s Autumn series. Beginning 26 days after the infection and concluding with an epilogue set two years later, it spans a remarkable length of time. Moody finishes the story in an efficient way, stopping anyone from wondering whether there could be a sixth book in the series (even with the completely unnecessary epilogue tacked at to the end).

Primarily set in Cheetham Castle, Autumn: Aftermath focuses on the psychological effects of being trapped with a small number of people in an enclosed space. The group are living in something resembling harmony until they rescue survivors from a nearby hotel. The arrival of new people causes a power struggle to erupt between the two leaders, Jas and Jackson, raising tensions and causing infighting.

This is further exacerbated by the appearance of faces familiar to the reader, who offer the survivors the chance of a fresh start. All hell breaks loose: Jackson wants to try to build a better future, while Jas believes that sticking together and remaining in the castle is the only sensible option.

The first few books in the Autumn series are formulaic. A group is introduced. They struggle to survive, fight some zombies, and the scene fades to black. Each consecutive novel shows the new survivors joining forces with the people introduced in the preceding volume, so it wasn’t surprising when old characters appeared on the scene.

However, Autumn: Aftermath is different. The focus isn’t on the daily business of surviving, with most characters firmly fixated on the future. Instead, there’s much more of an exploration on the effect that the environment has on the zombies. Nature takes its toll on the shambling corpses, the winter months causing their movements to slow as the cold freezes the putrid decay which overruns their bodies.

It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a zombie apocalypse with an end in sight. These corpses were never going to continue ceaselessly on, and that makes them far more realistic than the majority of zombies portrayed in popular media.

If you’re interested in reading the Autumn series, don’t binge-read it. Because the first few books are rather repetitive it becomes tedious, but this last installment reminded me of why I liked Moody’s writing so much in the first place. I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much if I’d read it straight after the first three volumes, but it was nice to revisit the series a couple of years later and finally see how it all ended.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Autumn: Aftermath, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

Have you started reading the Autumn series yet?

Alyce

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Review: Warm Bodies and The Burning World by Isaac Marion

Review: Warm Bodies and The Burning World by Isaac Marion

I first read Warm Bodies many, many years ago, but it wasn’t until I reread it in January that I realised I’d never reviewed it. I’d been planning to read and review The Burning World, so I thought I’d start off that review by briefly explaining why […]