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Kathy (UK)

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Pyramids: Discworld: The Gods Collection
Pyramids: Discworld: The Gods Collection
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Meh, 6 Oct. 2014
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I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed by this book. The premise looked good: assassins, a civilisation based on Ancient Egypt called Djelibeybi (hehe), a camel who’s the world’s greatest mathematician… I enjoyed the last Terry Pratchett novel I read. And yet, it never really lived up to my intruiged expectations.

The thing is, I can’t quite decide why. The plot was good, although some bits dragged for longer than I thought necessary. The characters were engaging and thought-provoking. The little side notes were there and dry humour was slathered onto the pages but I couldn’t get into it.

Truth is, I’ve been trying to finish this book since I finished Gabriel’s Angel. Every time I thought about reading it I could think of ten other things I’d rather be doing, including watching paint dry. Where this reluctance to pick up this book came from is a mystery but all I know is I was bored of reading it, bored of seeing it lie on my bedside table and taunting me with its presence and bored of thinking ‘I really should finish it’.

Upon finishing the story I felt free. I could read something enjoyable again! Then I felt guilty because really this was a book I should have loved. Should have, but didn’t. I feel bad that the author put effort into this only for me to stress over how awful I felt every time I looked at the blasted thing.

I don’t know what to say about this book. I don’t know whether I should recommend it, even to Terry Pratchett fans. All I can say is I have never disliked a book and wanted it as far away from me since being forced to read Pride and Prejudice at school. And I really hated Pride and Prejudice!


The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely for teenagers, 6 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: The Fault in Our Stars (Paperback)
I think I should start by saying that I did enjoy this book. For everything else this book caused, I at least wanted to read it and found it generally fulfilling. However, a book about two teenagers with cancer was never going to be a happy, pick-me-up book.

Hazel is the main protagonist, with terminal cancer. Her life is being prolonged by experimental medicines but, as she constantly reminds the reader, she will die eventually. She meets Augustus “Gus” at a support group for teenage sufferers. The book from there on details their growing relationship and love for each other.

Before reading this book, I had received mixed views on it. Most official reviews were positive with many authors proclaiming it to be a brilliant piece of young adult literature. However, opinions were divided when I asked for thoughts on it. Some criticised the level of writing, claiming it to be poorly written and on par with the Twilight Saga for literary prowess; others found the storyline uninteresting and boring. I have to say, I partially agree about the way it is written. It’s not a complex book and sometimes you wonder whether something was written appropriately. Then there are sections that, to me, seemed perfectly wonderful examples of how books should be scripted. I particularly enjoyed the trip to Amsterdam and the conversations Hazel and Gus have about metaphorical resonances. The ending did seem rushed to me though. It was like there was this massive build-up which ended in this sweet but wholly disappointing finish. I was left with this feeling that book hadn’t ended, but maybe that was the author’s intention.

My main issue with The Fault in Our Stars was the emotions it brought out in me. Now I like a book that makes me think, feel joy, cry a little maybe. I’m not so found of ones that give me recurring nightmares. I had a close friend Charlie pass away after spending a good few years battling a brain tumour. I miss him very much and find I think about him most days. However, this book turned my quiet and fairly manageable sadness into an assault of nightmares, mood swings and listening to the playlist of music, which I made specifically because the songs remind me of him, pretty much on loop. This book brought back the pain from the few days after Charlie died. In a way, this is good because it is now motivating me to do something for Charlie so I can honour his memory. It still hurts though.

I think this book is definitely something every young person should read. The insights into cancer are spot on and it does have a wonderful and heart-breaking plot. On an academic level, it is a good book to critically analyse the writing style. But most of all, it’s a very human book and one which would appeal to lots of young people on the cusp of adulthood.


The Baby's Coming: A Story of Dedication by an Independent Midwife
The Baby's Coming: A Story of Dedication by an Independent Midwife
by Virginia Howes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars A snapshot of independent midwifery, 6 Oct. 2014
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The Baby's Coming by Virginia Howes was a book I had apprehensions about. I read this during the last stages of my midwifery training and was a little anxious that it might become one of those books (and tv programmes, films, articles...) that just annoys and infuriates me. It's not necessarily the subject of this sort of book that annoys me but usually the editing, where things aren't quite right. Just ask Jim what I'm like watching Casualty and you'll get the picture*.

This book is one of the few midwifery autobiographies that hasn't driven me to distraction and is now gladly welcomed into my exclusive "Midwifery Books I Enjoy" club alongside Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent and the Call the Midwife trilogy by Jennifer Worth. This is because although some bits did frustrate me, they were the bits that were meant to! Also the way the births and care were described were something I could entirely relate to as a student midwife transitioning into a qualified one.

As an autobiography, the book describes Virginia's life from her teenage years, through her experiences as a parent, her nurse and midwifery training and finally her practice as an independent midwife. It was interesting to read about some of the experiences she had during her training and think about how much has, and unfortunately also hasn't, changed.

The main reason I bought the book originally was because I wanted insight into independent midwifery. At this point in time, I have no plans to become an independent midwife but you never know! Virginia describes well the differences between practice in the NHS and independent practice and the benefits and challenges independent midwives face.

Of course, most of the readers of the book won't be midwives or students and this book caters for the ordinary reader as well. If you like books about birth and babies, this will not disappoint and the descriptions of the births are some of my favourite bits. Some will make you laugh, others will make you cry. All will keep you entertained.

Definitely would recommend this to midwives and students as well as mums, dads, anyone interested in what independent midwifery is and the perspective of an independent midwife.


Entwined
Entwined
by Heather Dixon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.46

5.0 out of 5 stars Entwining read!, 6 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Entwined (Paperback)
This book I discovered through my love of names and their meanings. I am an unashamed name-lover and adore unusual and interesting names, even if I would never use them. The names of the princesses in this book peaked my interest so I bought a copy and sat down to read the first page… and didn’t stop until three hours later by which point I was 150 pages in!

Based on the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Heather Dixon tells the story of Azalea and her eleven sisters. After their mother dies shortly after the birth of twelfth daughter Lily, the palace goes into mourning. The princesses love nothing better than to dance, but dancing is forbidden during mourning! Upon discovering a secret pavilion through a tunnel in the fireplace, the girls go there every night to dance at the Keeper’s pleasure. However, Keeper is a mysterious man and it is not too long until his sinister side shows itself.

Full of everything a good fairy-tale should have (magic, royalty, magic and romance) Entwined certainly exceeded my expectations of it. Although the premise is familiar there are bits that will surprise the reader and the plot is actually quite dark at times. You become absorbed by the many aspects of the girls’ story and their lives.

I loved this book and all it had to offer. However, I can see how this wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It is certainly quite a feminine book and I would think it would be more appealing to those with an interest in fantasy, fairy-tales and romance. That said, I would think it’s worth reading and very rewarding once you reach the end.


I Am Not a Syndrome - My Name is Simon
I Am Not a Syndrome - My Name is Simon
by Sheryl Crosier
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.54

5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking, 6 Oct. 2014
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Trisomy 18, also known as Edward’s Syndrome, is a genetic condition caused by having three copies of chromosome 18 in each cell in the body. This triplication can causes major structural defects such as heart problems, joint problems, cleft lip, feeding problems and respiratory issues. Children with this condition often have developmental delays too. It is a sad fact that the majority of these babies die before birth and of those born alive, only around 10 percent live beyond their first birthday.

I first came across Trisomy 18 in university. As a student midwife, I have to explain to women about various screening processes we have. One of the screening tests, a 12-week ultrasound and biochemistry test, screens for trisomies 21 (Down’s Syndrome), 18 and 13 (Patau’s Syndrome). I later learned a close friend’s brother had had trisomy 18 as well. Through her and several clinical experiences I became more interested in these trisomy conditions and the experiences of families with these babies. I even wrote my dissertation on the subject. I found that there is a huge lack of up-to-date information on these conditions within the medical community and often parents whose children have these conditions have to put up with outdated or offensive opinions from healthcare professionals and often have to fight to get their children the care they deserve.

I Am Not a Syndrome: My Name is Simon is the story of the life and love of Simon Dominic Crosier, the dear son of Sheryl and Scott and brother of Sean and Samuel. As it details a true story I can’t really review it in the same way as my other books as what is contained within the pages is personal and the view of Sheryl, the author. It is well balanced between narrative and providing details of Simon’s condition and gives a valuable insight into the life of a family with a trisomy child. This family’s religious beliefs are obviously incredibly important to them and helped them through Simon’s journey and as such there are many religious references in the book.

Simon’s life and personality come to life within these pages. It is clear he had a huge impact not only on his family but a much wider community. I am now part of that wider community as I will never forget this book or Simon’s story. The way Sheryl describes Simon and how he changed the lives of many is incredibly touching and as a reader I feel that I knew Simon through his mother’s word. I certainly have a better perspective on the lives of these families.

I would recommend this book as mandatory reading for any midwife, obstetrician, neonatologist or anyone who is likely to come into contact with families like Simon’s. Perhaps reading about the experiences of a real baby and family with Trisomy 18 rather than a medical textbook with doom and gloom plastered over its pages will change the attitude some professionals have to this condition and the choices made by families advocating for their children.

I would also recommend it to anyone who has been told their child has Trisomy 18 or is at risk of having Trisomy 18. As previously stated, medical professionals often (sometimes unintentionally or with the best intentions) predict the worst and give an incredibly bleak outlook for these children. This book doesn’t suggest that everything will be easy, but that it can be okay and your child can have a very meaningful life regardless of a diagnosis.

If anyone would like to learn more about Trisomy 18 here are some places you can find information:

SOFT UK - http://www.soft.org.uk/ - A support site for Trisomy 18 and other rare trisomies. Provides good, up-to-date information for families and healthcare professionals and has a forum and resources.

TRIS (Tracking Rare Incidence Syndromes) Project - https://www.facebook.com/TRIS.Trisomy.project - A group that aims to improve education and resources on Trisomy 18 and many other syndromes.

Emily’s Star - http://www.emilysstar.co.uk/ – A charity set up by parents who lost a daughter to Trisomy 18. I follow them myself and they do wonderful work for neonatal units and families within their area.

99 Balloons – This video is about Eliot who was born with Trisomy 18 and lived for 99 days. It is narrated by his father.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th6Njr-qkq0


Casino Royale
Casino Royale
by Ian Fleming
Edition: Audio CD

5.0 out of 5 stars Casino Royale, 6 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Casino Royale (Audio CD)
Set at the beginning of Bond’s double 0 career, this book excited me and provided entertainment and excitement on every page.

As anyone who’s seen the film would know, the plot of the story involves Bond trying to disgrace rich SMERSH supporter Le Chiffre by winning against him at cards. However, in the book the game is baccarat which I found vastly more interesting to Texas Hold’em. Accompanied by French and American agents René Mathis and Felix Leiter and Secret Service agent Vesper Lynd, Bond travels to a French casino to complete this goal.

Vesper Lynd is a particularly intriguing character, not least because of her almost bipolar personality changes. She leads you, and Bond, on through the entire novel right up until the last words of the last chapter. She is the ultimate Bond girl.

This book has all the quintessential points a decent Bond story should: a car chase, a beautiful woman for Bond to seduce, a show down between Bond and the main villain. It grips you with the plot and the twist at the end is both shocking and heart-breaking. The novel also gives ground to Bond’s character development in later novels including why he hates SMERSH and his outlook on the world.

Anyone who even vaguely considers themself a Bond fan needs to read this book. It is the point at which it all began and has been my favourite Bond novel so far!


The Golem and the Djinni
The Golem and the Djinni
by Helene Wecker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book, 6 Oct. 2014
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The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker is a book I've extremely enjoyed. It took me a long time to read but that's a good thing: I got to enjoy it for longer! Set mostly in early 20th century New York, the plot focuses around Chava, a golem without a master, and Ahmad, a djinni who is released from a metal oil pot after several thousand years. It describes their struggles to live and fit in not only as non-humans in a human world but also within the cultural groups populating New York in that time period.

The book is vibrant and colourful. I loved that the chapters alternate between the back stories of some of the main characters and the present day. Going from Little Syria, to Jewish towns in Europe to the Arabian desert might sound a bit haphazard but the book flows beautifully and the variety of people, places and events keeps the reader's interest spectacularly.

This book also weaves themes of human poverty and struggles with magic and mythology into one single and beautiful literary blanket. There is a piece of plot or character in this book that everyone can enjoy and relate to in some way. The fantasy elements seem incredibly at home with discussions about running a business or someone becoming ill or dying. Nothing seems out of place.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fiction at all. There are more historical and fantasy elements than others but I really do think this is a book anyone could enjoy if they have the time to read it.


The Essential Handbook of Crochet Stitches
The Essential Handbook of Crochet Stitches
by Betty Barnden
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for learning the basics and beyond, 26 Aug. 2014
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Amazing book, great for a beginner like me. Thanks to this book I've been able to master most of the basic stitches and finish some basic patterns. I've also been able to try out more complicated stitches and make some creations of my own design. Would definitely recommend.


Medical Ethics and Law: The Core Curriculum, 2e
Medical Ethics and Law: The Core Curriculum, 2e
by Tony Hope MA PhD MBBch FRCPsych MFPH
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A great help, 12 Mar. 2014
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I bought this to help me with my Law & Ethics module of my midwifery degree. It's a great help, with enough information to understand the principles and ideas for further study. I would recommend it for anyone doing nursing or midwifery who has a law or ethics module.


Lego Minifigures Series 11 - 71002
Lego Minifigures Series 11 - 71002
Offered by TWS merchandise
Price: £4.89

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great little series, 12 Mar. 2014
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I love these minifigures! This series has some great designs, my favourites being the Yeti, the Policeman and the Lady Robot.


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