Friday, 29 January 2016

To blog or not to blog?

Recently I have been seeing a lot of post about how blogging is now a waste of time for writers. I pretty sure everyone had mixed opinions about this, but I am starting to feel personally that perhaps it is. 

I can't honestly say that my blog has ever attracted anyone other than other writers and the word counts I put out on my blog, especially this month, while I have been really putting my all in to it, are extremely high. In fact higher than the word counts I have achieved on my current work in progress.

And there is a very obvious pattern too. I comment on others blogs, I get comments back, but how many of these people are reading your blog because they actually want to and not just because they feel duty bound. 

Join hope and you get lots of comments but again it's all people doing that hop. I know myself that I often read so many posts on others blogs, simply just so I can leave a comment in hopes that they might return the favour and it just seems like a waste of time. Do I rush out and buy their books, honestly, no. Not unless it really speaks to me. Do I remember what they said on their blog a few days later. Rarely! 

So are we just blogging for bloggings sake? I'm starting to feel that way. 

Wouldn't it be better to put all those words into my current work in progress instead? Probably. 

So round and round I have gone over this. To blog or not to blog? 

Even now I'm not sure, but is it really worth continuing something that seem so pointless. Maybe it's time to just let our work speak for itself through the pages of our books. 

I am really struggling to see the point of this right now and so for that reason, I am seriously considering waving goodbye to blogging for good. 

So I have no week in review post for you today, instead I have just this post. Which maybe my very last. Who knows? What I do know is this weekend, I am going to be doing a lot of thinking and I won't lie, this may very well be the end of my blog. 

Love and hugs 
Joss xx

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

My life in books

It's Wednesday and that means it's time for another, My life in books. 

I have some great and not so great books for you today. From a whole range of genres. So hopefully, you find something that you or your child will enjoy! All of the books in this post were given to me for free by NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

The silk merchants daughter by Dinah Jefferies. 

 Back cover blurb:

War, secrets and an unbearable choice; your sister or your lover?

1952, French Indochina. Since her mother’s death, eighteen-year-old half-French, half-Vietnamese Nicole has been living in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Sylvie. When Sylvie is handed control of the family silk business, Nicole is given an abandoned silk shop in the Vietnamese quarter of Hanoi. But the area is teeming with militant rebels who want to end French rule, by any means possible. For the first time, Nicole is awakened to the corruption of colonial rule – and her own family’s involvement shocks her to the core…
Tran, a notorious Vietnamese insurgent, seems to offer the perfect escape from her troubles, while Mark, a charming American trader, is the man she’s always dreamed of. But who can she trust in this world where no one is what they seem?
The Silk Merchant’s Daughter is a captivating tale of dark secrets, sisterly rivalry and love against the odds, enchantingly set in colonial-era Vietnam.

My thoughts

Nicole, the lead character in this story, was an interesting person whose life in 
1952 French Indochina very quickly drew my attention.

I particularly liked how Dinah gently guides you through Nicole's world, with little snippets of everyday life for both the poor of Indonesia and those higher up in society. It was such a gentle process that I often didn't realize it was happening until I suddenly found myself searching google images, for photo's from this period and longing for a little silk purse, just like the one Nicole discovers in the story. 

I became so enthralled by the imagery of this book, that I began doodling little Indonesian girls and pretty flowers in my bullet journal. Desperate to capture a memory of the book that I could look back on in the future and smile about. 

I love books that absorb you in this way, as they really help you to step out of reality and into a whole exciting, new world.

Nicole was a great character to help you with this process also because she was perfectly flawed. Let me explain, though pretty, Nicole believes that she is not, this isn't just a play at modesty, Nicole truly believes it. She's grown up in a world where her sister has always seemed more favoured, a sister who despite also being a Metisse, looks decidedly French in appearance, whereas, Nicole does not. She's inherited her mother's Indonesian features and her lack of confidence in her own beauty is further enhanced by the way she is treated by both the French and Indonesian people, who due to rising tensions and the threat of war between the two races, have both become incredibly distrusting of those who are mixed race. 

These problems combined with some pretty big family secrets and some decidedly shady behavior from those Nicole comes into contact with, throughout the story, helps you to, not only, build a strong affection for Nicole, but also ensure that you are constantly left guessing at just where the story will go. 

Dinah has constructed this story so well, that I often found it as difficult to decide on the best course of actions, as Nicola herself did. 

Which meant when her choices proved to be bad, I would admonish myself just as Nicole did. While also feeling proud when we got it right. An experience that only further succeeded in bonding me with this character and her story. 

My favourite part of this book was its ability to draw me in. Often making it incredibly easy to shut out the real world and its many distractions.

Dinah is brilliant at creating realistic emotions and reactions. Her understanding of the human thought process was amazing.

The only area where this book left me a little disappointed was the speed with which it sometimes dealt with the darker aspects of Nicoles world. In particular, her brief visit to the re-education camp. I really would have liked to know more about what took place in these camps and why? And although Dinah did cover this briefly, I think a little bit more of a tour of the site, would have been good.  

That said, when it comes to the unpleasantries of war, I do prefer it when there is a little less information than I would like, over there being a lot more information than I would like. 

I have read books that deal with a period of time and setting where war was occurring in the past that have left me bored to tears with their long drawn out explanations, that often deviate away from the story itself and can really cause you to lose interest. 

Dinah doesn't do this, everything she writes is relevant and to the point and I did appreciate that as a reader. 

If you're a fan of historical fiction with fabulously believable characters and gripping imagery that has the ability to really make you feel as if you are stepping back in time. Then this is the book for you. 

If you like books that deal with difficult choices, hard realities, and family lies and secrets, then again this is a book for you

In reality, I think there is a vast range of people who would enjoy this book. Even those who like a little bit of romance, because Dinah really is a talented author, who has already made it onto the Sunday times #1 bestseller list with her book "The planter's wife." 

Which I've just purchased along with another book by Dinah called "The superstition."

Yep, I liked this book that much. :) 

The silk Merchants Daughter isn't due for release until 25th of February 2016, but you can  pre-order it from Amazon, as I've just done. (I have to have a hard copy of this one for my shelves, plus I think it's important to show authors your appreciation when you do like their work, especially if they've been kind enough to allow you to read an ARC of their book.)

A big thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this book for free, in exchange for an honest review.

Stanley at school by Linda Bailey

Back cover blurb:

Stanley knows school is for kids, not dogs. But every day he grows more and more curious. What did the kids do in that school all day? Stanley rounds up his pals from the dog park to take a closer look. Will they find the answers they're looking for? One thing is for certain: School + Stanley = TROUBLE!

My thoughts 

I love dogs and so any book that has dogs on the cover is going to attract my attention. Beyond that and the fact that it's obviously to do with a school, I really wasn't sure what to expect with this one. 

The dogs were brilliant, especially Nutsy and Gassy Jack. It wasn't so much that they did more than the other characters, they were just so darn cute! Some of the poses and facial expressions nutsy pulls had me giggling like a little school girl. I particularly liked his yoga-esk pose in the school hallway. (Whispers to the powers that be, "Can I please, have a whole book of Nutsy picture.")

Bill Slavin has illustrated this book beautifully. The pictures often fill the whole page and have so much going on you could just sit there and stare for a few minutes, if it weren't for the story enticing you forwards. (Helpful tip: read through the story then nip back through the book a second time to fully appreciate the illustrations.)

And here's what is really great about this book the illustrations and story work so well together. Both are fun and joyful and just when you think "Awww no." Linda hits you with a brilliant ending. 

This is a book your kids will love and which you'll adore sharing with them. 

I know I'll be doodling pictures of these cute dogs all over my bullet journal for weeks to come. 

So buy it, share it and enjoy it with all the kids you know. You won't regret it. 

Doodle adventures: The search for the Slimy Space Slugs! By Mike lowery. 

Back cover blurb:

Pick up a pencil or pen. Sharpen your imagination! Here's an adventure story where you, the reader, directly participate. DOODLE ADVENTURES: THE SEARCH FOR SLIMY SPACE SLUGS! marries the pleasures of doodling and drawing with the fun of a ripping good story. Like a visual Mad Libs chapter book, or a graphic novel where the reader gets to help with the graphics, it celebrates engaging, gamelike, fill-in fun for middle-grade readers.

Mike Lowery brings the fresh lively look of his Kid's Awesome Activity Calendar, with more than 65,000 copies in print, to the first in a series of DOODLE ADVENTURES—lighthearted fantasy stories where the reader first draws him- or herself into the story, and then continues by following prompts and adding more illustrations and doodles. The full-color book is sturdy paper over board with beautiful cream paper—perfect for defacing! Page after page mixes Lowery's hand-lettered text with illustrations and then lots of room for the reader's contributions.

Set in space, the book invites the reader to join Carl, a duck and member of a super-secret international group of explorers, on a journey in search of a very important grail-like object—a jar with an artifact that's gone missing. By the end of the adventure, you'll have co-written a tale you can read again and again and show off to family and friends.

My thoughts 

This is a brilliant idea for a kids book and a great way for kids, to not only get involved with the story but to unleash their creativity. 

The book has a great plot, that is funny and engaging while also providing plenty of opportunities for kids to make choices which they're then encouraged to sketch into the book. 

My eight-year-old son would absolutely love this book and it is definitely one I will be purchasing for him in the future. 

Your child gets to play the part of a secret agent, coming up with solutions and drawing them into the book in order to complete their mission. 

Not only can kids have fun reading and interacting with this book, but they can show it off to their friends and compare. (Assuming, of course, their friend has the book, which I think if they didn't they soon would.) 

The illustrations already done in the book are great, not overly detailed, so as to give your kid a complex, but nice, simple, yet brilliant illustrations that will amuse and entice your child along with the story. 

I don't think there are many kids that wouldn't enjoy this book unless I guess they absolutely loathe drawing, but I have yet to meet a child like that. 

I really can't recommend this book enough it's such a clever idea and a great way to get reluctant readers, to put down their computer controller and dive into a great book. 

A must buy, for every parent. 

Risuko by David Kudler

Back cover blurb: 

Can One Girl Win A War? My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls meRisuko. Squirrel. I am from Serenity Province though I was not born there. My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack and my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman. All I want to do is climb. My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel. Risuko. ~*~ Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan - or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems. Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is. Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn't possible have the power to change the outcome. Or could she? YOUNG ADULT HISTORICAL ADVENTURE COMING JUNE, 2016!

My thoughts

First of all, I need to talk about the cover. It's such a simple design and yet so beautiful. If you're anything like me, you'll be snapping this one up, based on the cover alone and if you do you won't be disappointed.

Risuko is the tale of a young girl who is suddenly sold by her mother to a somewhat strange old woman and marched off to become part of a school, that you very quickly begin to discover is not all that it seems.

The book starts at a fast pace, giving you very little time to actually bond with Risuko and this is actually a very clever move by David because her plight itself is what really draws the reader to her.

Thrust into a strange band of people and told very little, you travel with Risuko steadily learning along with her just what her future holds. Only to discover that every time you think you've got it sussed you're wrong. 

 The first part of the book centers around Riskuo's journey to her new school, David crafts this story in such a way that even before Risuko makes it to her new home your aware that this school is not as simple as it first appeared to be. 

The story is set in a period when Japan is at war. As they travel you learn not only about Japanese culture, but the war itself. 

The journey also allows for you to be introduced to a part of the large group of characters in this book, at a slow and steady pace, making the process of getting to know them all much easier. 

On reaching the school, the pace begins to slow down, while still managing to keep you engaged, as you watch the children slowly begin to learn in, at times, very baffling ways, that often leave you smiling, or scratching your head in confusion. 

David is a master not only of words but of plotting. His book is so well crafted and laid out, that you'd be hard pressed to find anything that doesn't work. From the second I picked this book up, I was entranced by Risuko's world and its heady mixture of fun and unusual characters. So much so, that I read the book through in one go, then admonished myself for it, because it was done and I couldn't make it go on, not right then and there at any rate. 

But go on it will because Risuko is the first in what is to be a series of books. ( beaming over here.)

Now for the sad part, Risuko isn't due for release until 15th of June. Which means we're really going to have to wait a little while for the next book in the series. That said, you can pre-order Risuko now, and read and re-read to your hearts content once it arrives. 

I know I'll be reading this one again and again, in fact, I'm even tempted to pick it up and start reading again right now, and I'm not joking. 

This is an amazing book, that along with its author, deserves to go far. 

Well, that's it for me again this week, apologies this one is coming so late in the day, powercuts dictated the schedule :) 

Love and hugs
Joss xx

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Too much!

I've been talking to my husband tonight, mainly about the fact that I am constantly exhausted, from working from 7 in the morning to 10:30 at night everyday of the week. The reason I have been doing this, is because I have been reading, reviewing, blogging, writing a novel and of course homeeducstion my son, like crazy. 

This month I have read and reviewed 28 books. Written around 13 blog posts, which combined totals around 24,043 words. Created three blog post banners, written 22,822 words on my current novel and of course spent quite a lot of time blog commenting, lesson planning for my son and of course working with him on his lessons. 

I'm shattered and I think something has to give because my poor hubby is barely getting any attention, and I've badly strained my neck an injury the doctor says I need to rest but which I have been unable to do, due to constantly being on the computer, which seems to be what makes the pain worse.

So, I have been talking about what I can cut back with my husband and we both feel that I need to cut out some of the blog posts. For this reason I will be cutting out the news in review posts and only be reviewing on my blog, the books that I have enjoyed. Shorter reviews will be done for those I haven't enjoyed on goodreads. The this day in history post will also be being axed. 

My blog as a result will only have two planned posts a week, those being, my life in books on a Wednesday, reviewing, of course, only he books I have enjoyed and the my week in review posts on a Friday. 

I will of course still be doing the Insecure writers support group posts on the first Wednesday of every month, as well as random posts whenever I feel I have something of worth to post about. 

Hopefully by doing this I will have shorter more easy to manage days. 

Well that's it from me, for now. 

Love and hugs all 
Joss xx

Friday, 22 January 2016

My week in review

There hasn't been a whole lot going on for me this week, besides work, work and more work.

My life is filled with reading reviewing, writing and of course home educating my son. As a result it's been difficult to get much time to just relax. 

That said I don't mind too much, I find I feel better about myself at the end of the day when I known I've worked hard and I am also privledge to be doing things I love, when it comes to work. 

It's people like my hubby I feel sorry for, who have to go out and do a job that is hard work and in no way fun, especially when it is outdoors in all kinds of horrible weather. 

What free time I have had, I've spend doodling in my bullet journal and planner, or fretting about my sisters upcoming wedding, this weekend. (Congratulations Tasha.)

Some of you may have seen my plea for help regarding whether or not I should try to attend her wedding. Naturally she wants her whole family there on the day. My anxiety disorder makes gatherings, like weddings, impossible for me to attend and so as much as I would like to go, I just don't feel I've got my anxiety under control enough at this point.

I will of course be thinking of her and hope that she has an amazing day, which I'm sure she will. Weddings can be tricky things especially as you are often gathering together a lot of relatives that aren't particularly fond of each other. 

I know Tash will have a few like that their tomorrow, but I am sure they will all behave for her sake. You see Tasha is one of the more sensible, well rounded members of our family. She has certainly always been an inspiration to me, because she has always been incredibly determined, ambitious and sure of what she wants in life and has worked really hard to achieve that. Which is why, if anyone deserves a great day on their wedding day, it's her. 

My husband is also a very well rounded person. Sometimes he is so quite, not the biggest conversationalist, but insanely smart. He made me a cute mini bowl and plate at the weekend as well as a little case, that I am going to paint when I get the chance. He made them out of wood on his lathe and it amazes me the things he can do on that machine, but he is not just clever with his hand, he's one of those people that never seems to put his foot in his mouth and doesn't really react to people's idiocy. Just rises above it. I wish I had his skills lol. 

You may remember me mentioning that Dan accidentally broke my iPad last week. Oh the despair! Thankfully, this highlights another upside to having a handy husband. My iPad is now fixed, (I'm actually using it to type this post,) and like new. Now, Dan fixed it himself, meaning we only had to pay for the parts and not labour. What shocked me, was the discovery, through one of the forums I like to frequent, that others who had broken the LCD screen on their iPads, had either paid a small fortune to get it repaired, or just binned it!


I mean, that's a 400 odd quid piece of kit, New. It's not a cheap item to replace. So, why in the hell would you just bin it when it can be fix. Especially, when there are YouTube videos that talk you through it. Okay, so not everyone is confident to have a go at fixing something like an IPad, but surely if your already thinking just bin it and get new, it's gotta be worth a try, getting it fixed. 

For a new LCD screen and glass screen, my hubby paid about £50. That came with all the tools you need to do the job, bar your heat source, which can come from something as basic as a hairdryer, which most people have anyway and if not you can always grab one from Argos for as little as £7.99.
(I know because believe it or not we don't have a hair dryer, I've heard bad things about them drying out your hair and slowly wrecking it over time and so I much prefer to towel dry.)

It wasn't an easy job by any means getting the glass screen off was really tough and ours actually shattered in the process, but it was only about £10 pound to replace that. Our final bill would have only been around £40 if it wasn't for that. 

At any rate, the point I am trying to make here, is that we seem to have turned into a throw away society. When it used to be a case of if it break fix it, now we don't even try and instead just fork out 400 quid when we could have just paid £50 or maybe a little more if hiring someone to do it for you. 

Companies of course don't want you to fix things and often make it quite tough to do so, but that doesn't mean things can't be fixed and YouTube is a great place to find instructional videos teaching you how. 

Laptops in particular, tend to be something most people end up replacing a lot, and I actually have a handy tip for you here. I used to go through a laptop every 2 to 3 years. They would just suddenly start over heating, keep shutting down without warning and eventually stop working altogether. 

I was lucky to talk to a guy who specialises in fixing laptops, and one who was very honest with me, which to be fair they normally tend not to be, because there job is fixing them and they don't really want to lose their business, but this guy was a friend and also retired, so filled me in. 

Every laptop will suck in dust overtime, I think most of us know that, and the more dust, pet hair and junk they suck in the harder the fans have to work to cool your laptop down until eventually, no matter how hard your fans work they just aren't up to the task, it's all just to clogged and the over heating happens.

Now if you don't deal with this problem and just keep using your laptop eventually it will get all burned up and be scrap. Unless someone's willing to put in a new motherboard or something. (Hey! I'm not an expert.) 

The companies who make laptops, they want this to happen, because of course they want your business so if you throw your laptop out, maybe you'll come buy another from them, but this doesn't need to happen, you see there are two things you can do to save your laptop. 

The first is to clear it of dust regularly. I was recommended to do this every six months, but tend to do it once a year. You can get someone to do this for you for not all that much, as it's simply a case of  getting all the dust and crud out. My hubby does this for me and if you have a handy hubby the. Utilise them and save yourself some pennies, because if you can do this yourself, it will cost nothing. 

The second thing, that most people don't know is that there is something called heat sync gel or thermal paste, that is applied to your CPU by the manufactorers of laptops when they are built. Now here's the sneaky part. This stuff helps to stop your computer overheating. (you're not gonna get all the technical info here, I'm not a computer whizz, but it is easy to find it you search YouTube, this is just the basics that I was told.) now, manufactures will purposely put this stuff on pretty sparingly, as well as not using very good quality stuff, because they want the computer to have a shorter life span, by all accounts. Overtime this stuff starts drying out and causes overheating if the laptop, but, if when you clean your laptop out you check this gel and find it has dried out, you can actually buy more thermal paste/heat sync gel and clean of the old and apply new, thus extending the life of your laptop for another few years. 

Since learning this trick, which my husband has only had to do once so far, where as he's cleaned my laptop out loads, my current laptop has not only outlived all my others by several years, but still runs like it did when new, no problems at all. So yeah, don't fork out a small fortune for a new laptop every few years, get some one to clean it out and re-apply the gel/paste as and when needed. It really is the best laptop tip I've ever had and even if you are hiring someone to do it for you, it's way cheaper than a whole new laptop and a lot less hassle and stress. I hate trying to transfer all my stuff. 

Any who, got a little of topic there, but hey hoe, it's my blog and I'll ramble if I want to. :) might as well as there hasn't been a whole lot going on this week. :) 

So what about you, how have your weeks been? Is there anything you are looking forward to doing this weekend or perhaps dreading? Let me know in the comments.

That's it from me for now, I haven't got time to take any pictures at the mo and post them up but if I get some time later I might pop back and  dot some pictures around of my doodles from my bullet journal. There not great but they brighten it up a bit and make me smile when I look back through my journals at a later date. 

Do you keep a bullet journal, or some other record of life? If so what?

I may even include a snap of my dodo pad, where I doodle in pictures to represent the books I've read each week. It's works as a nice visial reminder, especially when I am drawing some of the really cute kid book characters. 

Well love and hugs all
And have a great weekend 
Joss xx

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Anxiety disorder explained

Yesterday, my anxiety disorder really put me through the ringer. As many of you know, I make no secret of the fact that I have an anxiety disorder.

My anxiety disorder stems from a lot of bad experiences in my childhood, including both physical and sexual abuse.

As a result, I struggle with social situations, as well as a lot of phobia and irrational fear based anxieties.

Now, not everyone who has an anxiety disorder has had a difficult childhood. Anxiety can affect anyone and at any age.

My social anxiety disorder started when I was in my teens, but never really felt unmanageable to me then. It was only when my son was born that my anxiety really took a hard grip on my life and started to really have a detrimental effect.

I'm not sure why this was, therapists have suggested that it was my need to protect my son. A fear that some of the things I had experienced as a child might happen to him and that I would fail to protect him.

Now let me explain as best I can, how anxiety works.

Ordinarily, if someone thinks about going somewhere, to a party, for example. They will generally consider things like. "Do I feel like going? What should I wear? I wonder who will be there?" Just normal healthy thought patterns. They might feel a small amount of anxiety around what to wear or maybe who will be there, but it's not a huge deal.

When you have and anxiety disorder it doesn't work like that. If for example I was asked to a party, this would be my thought process:

"Who will be there? What if they don't like me? What if people stare at me? What if people start talking about me behind my back? What if I say or do something wrong? What if I have a panic attack? What if I can't go in? What if it's hard to leave when I need too? What if I don't know anyone and am left sitting in a corner by myself? What if there are younger people there who will make rude comments or be unpleasant to me? What if I am left on my own while we are there? What if I want to leave and my husband/ friends don't? I don't want to spoil anyone else's night because of my anxiety. What if my back gets too painful? What if I can't hide the pain? What if people think my pain is due to my weight and judge me badly because of it? What if someone has a go at me for being a drain on the NHS because of my weight and the fact that I am in a wheelchair?

I could go on and on. It wouldn't just be the party itself that would make me anxious. I would also get anxious about the weather because the weather affects the journey there and I struggle to cope with traveling in the car in wet, icy or snowy weather.

I'll also worry about the car. Constantly tense as I try to listen for any noises that don't seem quite right and then working myself into a state about what will happen if it breaks down. Let me show you a bit of that though process.

"What's that noise? Is that normal? I don't think that's normal. It sounds like it's coming from the wheel. Omg! is the wheel going to come off? What will happen if the wheel comes off? Will we crash into another car, wall, hedge? Omg! we're going over a bridge, what if it tire goes while we are on this bridge? What if we go through the wall and into the water? What do I do? Will I be able to get Kye out, with my bad back?  What if I can't get my seatbelt off? I'm a better swimmer than Dan, so it will have to be me who gets them out." Of course, we can be long over the bridge, but it won't matter because there are always more bridges. And therein lies the problem, There are always more things my brain can find to focus on and freak out about and when this happens, which is pretty much every day and in anything I do, it can be debilitating.

My anxiety affects me most when it comes to visiting doctors or dentist, being involved in new social situations, having to go places where I might bump into people who I haven't seen in a long time, going out in the car, going anywhere new, where I don't know what disabled access is like, or when dealing with people I see as official.

Now anxiety can be managed with a lot of hard work, but it is a very long process and it is also an illness that can return again and again, even after you have worked hard to fix it.

There is also medication that is meant to help; however, my experience with anxiety medication so far has not been good. In fact, both types that my doctor has tried, have done little to effect the anxiety, but given me a whole lot of unpleasant side effects.

Cognitive behaviour therapy is supposed to be great at battling the anxiety and I use a little bit of that and also have started to force myself to deal with situations that I am not comfortable with, slowly and surely, little by little, because of this, I am now able to do some things that I never thought I would find possible.

So what happens when I find myself in a situation I can't cope with?

Well, very quickly I'll become over emotional, breathing will become difficult, my mouth will become incredibly, dry, I will get stomach cramps and churning that can make me feel that everything inside my tummy has instantly turned to mush. My thoughts will race out of control so it can be hard for me to focus on any one thing and I will get chest pains and heart palpitations.

How do I stop a panic attack?

Well, that depends on if it is an attack that gradually builds or not.

If it is a gradually building attack there are ways my husband can distract me from it, such as asking me questions about my day and pushing for an answer. Yes, he has to push, because if he doesn't I tend to just remain focused on the fears. This works because it is difficult for me to focus and respond to what he is saying while allowing the fear thoughts to roll.

There are also ways I can help myself once in the panic attack, sometimes too. Such as looking around me and thinking about what I am seeing and simply saying what that is. So see a tree, say "Tree." see a sign say "Sign." and it is amazing how well this can work.

If things escalate too far, say when we are in the car in bad weather, pulling over for a while can sometimes help, even if it is just into a layby. The fear will, of course, build again as soon as we start moving, but if you have got past the point when distractions can be used, this can bring you down enough to start the journey again, using the distraction techniques, mentioned above and thus, keeping the anxiety at a manageable level.

What it is important to remember, is that anxiety affects everyone differently, all I can tell you is how it affects me and what helps me.

Some people may try these methods and find that they have no effect for them, whatsoever. It's really just a case of trial an error.

I am working hard to beat my anxiety, but I am also aware that even once I think, I have it beaten, there is still a good chance it could come back at a later date.

Before I end this post I want to look at a few things, I think everyone should know about anxiety.

You shouldn't get mad at  people when they are having an attack. They don't have control of what is happening to them, and it will only make things worse.

Don't stop asking them to come out with you. Okay so they will probably say no, and that's okay and you should let them know that's okay, but not asking them at all can make them feel left out and only further enforce their anxieties about how people perceive them.

Make an effort to go and spend time with them, where they do feel comfortable, the more excluded and alone we feel, the worse the anxiety seems to get.

Try to learn a little bit about their anxiety disorder. Not so that you can quote suggestions and ideas at them, but so that you can understand what they are going through.

If you do find things that people have found to help with anxiety, such as asking the person questions in an attempt to break their thoughts away from the fear. Try it without telling them what you are doing. If it seems to help, then talk to them about it, ask questions like "Do you think that me asking you questions like that, help? Is it something you would like me to try again in the future?" as this will help them to feel they can trust in you and that you won't push them when they don't want to be pushed.

when someone has anxiety remember to take things slowly. Don't judge or try to push them and definitely don't tell them that it's silly and their fears are irrational. We're not stupid, we already know this. We just can't help it.

Well, I hope this helps people to understand this disorder a little better. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to answer them.

love and hugs all

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Giant dilemma / life crisis HELP!!!!!!!!!!

This weekend my sister is getting married and she has asked for the whole family to attend. The problem is, one of those family members is, of course, me!!!

Now I have been working really, really hard to overcome my anxiety disorder, but this just seem like a step way to far for me. 

There will be loads of people there I haven't seen for years, not since I was a teenager, and who have certainly not seen me in the flesh, since way before, I gained all my weight and ended up in a frigging wheelchair. 

The though of going to her wedding, in my wheelchair, is making my anxiety go through the roof. 

Heart palpitations anyone?

I don't want to ruin her day, but I honestly don't know if I can cope with a day that essentially throws all of my biggest fears at me, all at once. 

I have considered every possible way round it from...

Dosing up on pain meds and trying to use only my crutches. (Which I know will work for all of 5 seconds before I am a ca lapsed heap on the floor.)


Suddenly becoming a devout Muslim so I can wear a burka. 

I also tried to convince Sammy, to pretend to be me for the day, (free food and drink right!) but she didn't think that would work. I guess it probably wouldn't help that a fair few of those attending A) know Sam, and B) saw me recently enough to know there's and obvious size difference. 

So what do I do? Do I force myself to go and end up an emotional, wreck, sitting outside, unable to go in, became I'm having the mother of all Anxiety attacks which I can pretty much guarantee you, will be the case, or do I not go and feel like a horrible person, whose really let my sister down. 

I really don't know what to do peeps, so I'm calling on all you lovelies out there in blog land for advice. 

So in the words of the beetles...

Alternatively you, you could all just harass Sammy Bell into submission. Well it was worth a try. 

Love and hugs all
Joss xx

My life in books

I have a whole heap of books for you this week. All of them have been read compliments of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So thank you NetGalley. 

Since my last "My life in books" post my son and I have been reading a lot of great kids books. So I'll start with them. I'm going to try to fit in all my reads since the last "My life in book post" but it is quite a large pile this week, so if anything is missing, bare with me, because it will appear in next Wednesday's post instead. 

Now an author that has popped up in my reading list again and again recently is Vanita Oelschlager. 
Vanita has a great knack for writing books that are not only entertaining but education. Which is brilliant for me as a homeschooling mum. 

Some of Vanita's books that we looked through this week are: 

Ivy in Bloom: The Poetry of Spring from Great Poets and Writers from the Past

Ivy in Bloom


Instead of a story, the book is made up of a beautifully illustrated poem about the coming of spring. 

My thoughts

I'm sorry to say that this was probably my least favorite of all the books by Vanita that we read. Both my son and I were unimpressed by the main poem of the book. There is; however, a very clever idea behind this book, as you discover when you reach the end of the main poem.

What Vanita has done, is to construct her main poem in the book from other poems with the same theme, that have been written by famous poets. 

All of these poems are laid out in the back of the book, with the text that was used in Vanita's poem, written in green. 

I read through all these poems with my son, many of which he did. in fact, enjoy and in doing so discovered the beauty of this book. As always, Vanita is cleverly tempting kids to learn and boy did it work. Suddenly my son, who is not a big fan of writing, wanted to have a go at creating his own poem about the change from Winter to Spring, along with illustrating just like in the book and is currently doing so as I write this. 

Talking of illustrations. the ones in this book are beautiful and it was, in fact, the illustration on the cover that really drew me to this book. 

Kristin Blackwood is an amazing illustrator and her art has a way of speaking right to your heart. Her pictures were so pretty that I wouldn't mind hanging some of them on my walls. 

Overall, I did like this book. I do feel that the main poem in this book could have been better as it did not engage my son at all and left him feeling confused. That said, the book as a whole worked well to build his excited about learning and that is never a bad thing. 




Knees, the story of a young boy with Dyslexia. who is trying to find his calling in life? 

My thoughts

As soon as I saw this book, I knew I wanted to read it with my son. Having been diagnosed with dyslexia myself as a child, I was intrigued to read something which I hoped would help children with this condition to see that they were not alone and that although it might make things harder, it could not stop you achieving your dreams. 

I am pleased to say that I think Vanita achieves this brilliant, in a lighthearted and funny way that I think we'll be really uplifting for all the children out there finding things that little bit tougher, due to Dyslexia.

To make things even better, the book has been illustrated beautifully by Joe Rossi, in a way that really brings the story to life. I highly recommend this book, not only for children with Dyslexia but for all children. So that they may better understand the condition and be less cruel to those that have it. 


Birds of a Feather: A Book of Idioms and Silly PicturesOut of the Blue: A book of color idioms and silly pictures

The final two book, by this author that we looked at this week, are Birds of a feather and Out of the blue. I'm reviewing these two together as they follow the same theme, teaching kids about idioms, and are also laid out in the exact same manner. The only difference between the two is that Birds of a feather is idioms in general while, Out of the blue looks at idioms that are based on the theme of colour. 

My thoughts

I really loved both of these books. There designed in a way that makes them both exciting and entertaining for kids to read through. On each page, there is a bright, colourful and often funny illustration by Robin Hegan along with an idiom, then at the bottom, in one of the corners, you will see. some text that is written upside down. This text comprises a definition of the idiom and then an example sentence. 

This allows you to test your child's knowledge of idioms before allowing them to flip the book and see if they are right. 

My son is eight and he loves anything that tests his knowledge and he loved this. It engaged him very quickly and the pictures had him giggling away. 

My only disappointment with this book, is that only one idiom in his book, gets its origins explained, and this is Vanita's way of encouraging readers to explore idioms further on their own. I can see why she has done this, but a part of me would have preferred for this to have been done within the books. Mainly because I already have a pretty hectic work schedule and I now, of course, have a child who is desperate to scour the internet for the origins of all the idioms within the book. 

Still, I think it is important to encourage parents to do things with their kids, so I will definitely be scheduling this into our homeschooling lessons for the future and am incredibly pleased to have found some books that are fun, educational and engaging, to share with my son. 


Montgomery RabbitLet's step away from Vanita now and look at some of my other reads since my last "My life in books" post. 

Montgomery Rabbit
Sandy Little


Montgomery is a curious little bunny, with big, beautiful floppy ears, who one day sticks his head out too far through the garden fence and tumbles out into the big wide world beyond. 

Befriending a little brown rabbit with sticky up ears, who had lived in the wild all his life. Montgomery soon finds himself on an exciting, interesting and at times very frightening journey, to find the deliciously enticing, Raspberry patch. 

My thoughts

As soon as I saw the cover of this book, I just had to read it. I love bunny rabbits and David Wenzel's illustrations are to die for. Each one is amazingly detailed, and sure to raise a lot of Awww with both young and old readers alike. 

Combine these will Sally's skill's as a writer and you are left with a book that children will love and hold on to for the rest of their lives. I wish this book had been around when I was a child, but the fact that it wasn't isn't going to stop me from adding it to my bookshelf. This is a great read and my only complaint is that it was a little short, meaning that at times, the action seemed a little to rushed for me. 

That said if you're looking for a good book to snuggle up with and share with the little ones you adore, whilst you wait for the warmer weather of spring, then I highly recommend that you give this one a try. 


The Most Magnificent Thing

The most MAGNIFICENT thing
Ashley Spires


A young unnamed girl has a dream to build the most Magnificent thing, she knows exactly how it will look and exactly how it will work. Sadly, like most plans, it's never quite as easy as we'd like to think it will be and this little-unnamed girl, can also become a very angry girl as she struggles to bring her most Magnificent thing to life, with the aid of her marvelous assistant and best friend, her pug. 

My thoughts

Have you seen the cover of this book? The second I did, I fell in love with it. Ashley spires is an incredibly talented illustrator and as it goes, a very talented author too, because this book was brilliant and contained everything you could ever want in a children's book, including cute, lovable characters, beautiful and amusing illustrations and a great life lesson. My son and I loved it. I have to say, I'm shocked that I've never heard of Ashley Spires before, and this definitely isn't her first book because I've checked. 

This is a book that I hope every school catches onto, because it's one of those books that would get both girls and boys alike, excited by reading and come on parents, be honest, how many of you get really excited when your kids bring home a good book, for reading practice. I know I did when my son was as school, in fact many of those books are now sitting out on my bookcase because we just had to rush out and get a copy of our own. 

Well, this is one of those books that will have your running for amazon or the local book store. So you know, if there are any teachers reading this, go hit up the head teacher, cause the kids in your school, need this book and a good few parents too. :) 


Loula and Mister the Monster
Loula and Mister the Monster
By Anne Villeneuve


When Loula hears her mother angrily telling her father that the monster must go, she knows she can be talking about only one thing. Loula's rather large and very naughty dog Mister. 

Determined to keep Mister safe and not lose him forever, Loula sets out on a mission to teach a very naughty Mister, Manners. 

My thoughts

This is a lovely story, that had my son and I laughing throughout. 

The illustrations were very well done and fit the story wonderfully, they were also placed perfectly within the book so that you could often see what was coming and be giggling away before you even made it to the text. Something my son in particular loved. 

There are some good lessons for kids within the pages too, which all in all makes this a brilliant read that I can't recommend enough. 


Kobee Manatee
A wild weather Adventure 
By Robert Scott Thayer


Kobee the Manatees sets out on a journey across the ocean with his two best friends, in a bid to make it to his sisters birthday on time. 

My Thoughts

This is a nice educational book for kids, not only is the story fun and interesting, with lot's of beautiful illustrations by Lauren Gallegos, but also educational. 

Each page of this book contains a special area that contains Kobee fun facts. That teaches kids all about clouds and the weather. Which really helps to bring the context of the story to life. 

It kept my son enthralled from beginning to end, and I wasn't at all surprised to discover that the book already had a couple of awards to its name.


I have two comic style books up next for you, I'm not normally a bit fan of the comic format as I like a bit more detail to my stories, but I decided to give these to a go. Let's get on with the reviews.


Unicorn vs.Goblins
Another Phoebe and her Unicorn adventure
By Dana Simpson


This is the 3rd Pheobe and her Unicorn adventure and this time, school out and it's time for summer fun and mayhem. 

My thoughts

All my life I've longed for a unicorn and reading this I started to realize I may already have one. Only she doesn't look all that Unicorn-esk.

You think I'm joking, but I am not. Pheobe and her unicorn have such a sarcastic relationship, that as I read it, I felt as though I was having a discussion with, the queen of sarcasm. aka my bestie, Sam Bell. It was scary!!!
Queen of Sarcasm, AKA Sam Bell,
now and forever more,
The Unicorn. 

Unicorns to me have always been beautiful, magical creatures radiating kindness and love, but the unicorn and main character Pheobe in this one are really sassy and bounce off each other brilliantly, in a way that really makes you smile. 

In essence, it's modern teen meets incredibly vain unicorn. Sam will be yelling "I'm not vain!" at me now, but you should see some of her poser pictures she puts up. hehe

The story in this book jumps about a fair bit and at times that made it a little hard to follow and I have to admit put me off a little, on top of that I spent most of the book wondering when the goblins were going to show up and they really do take the time. That said there is enough going on in this one to keep you giggling, so you don't mind it's little foibles too much. 

I think, you really have to be someone who likes comics books to really like this one and sadly I just don't. 

I like a bit of back story and to be reading more than dialogue and with most comics books there just isn't enough setup and character building to really make me happy. That's not to say I didn't like these characters because I did, they were funny and kept you entertained, but being someone who has never read any of these books before, it would have been nice to get a bit more of a background story on the characters, than there was.

This isn't a book I would go out and buy, if I brought it at all, it would simply be to show Sam that I found her in a book. 

I probably wouldn't recommend this to anyone either, unless I knew for sure they were a girl who liked comics and could appreciate a unicorn. So if that's you, go buy this, if not, well maybe don't. 

If I could see any changes made to this one, it would be the change from comic book format to a proper book, but you know, that's just me. 


The misadventures of Grumpy Cat 
(And Pokey!) 
Volume 1
by Ben McCool, Royal McGraw, Elliott Serrano, Ben Fisher and Steve Uy.


Follow Grumpy cat and Pokey as they enjoy/.hate their way through the many misadventures of life. 

My thoughts 

I love Grumpy cat, so when I saw this I got really excited and then I realized, it's a comic!

I'm sorry for all you comic lovers out there, but I am just not a fan, that said, if I had to read a comic, then it would probably be this one. I loved Pokey, probably even more than Grumpy cat, and I feel so bad for saying that. Pokey's eternal optimism when combined with Grumpy well known and loved hatred of everything makes for some great and often very amusing stories and that's essentially what this book is, a collection of very amusing stories in comic strip format. 

Would I buy it, no, not on your nelly, not for me anyway, but for my son, yes I would, because I know he would love this. 

So if you love Grumpy cat and you don't find the comic book format annoying, go grab a copy, because I think you'll really like this one. 


It's time for the adult books!


 Sage's Eye's
V.C Andrews


Sixteen-year-old Sage is a lonely child. Her adoptive parents watch her obsessively as if studying her for warning signs of…something. And maybe they're right to-even she can't make sense of the strange things she sees and hears. She possesses knowledge that other teenagers don't, that her parents and teachers-no adult-could possibly have. So when Sage finally makes a friend who understands her alarming gift, he becomes her confidant, a precarious link to the truth about who she really is. For Sage and the alluring, new boy at school shares many things in common. Perhaps, they'll learn, far too many things.

My thoughts

I was so excited at the thought of this book. I love Virgina Andrews and  have always been an avid fan of her books, even those that weren't actually written by her, which I am pretty sure is actually most of them now. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong. 

At any rate, it was torture, slowly watching this book creep up my to-read pile when I so badly wanted to be picking it up and diving in. So when that magical day finally arrived I was over the moon!

Only it didn't last. 

Did they up and change to a new fake V.C. Andrews without telling us?  Because that's how this book felt. Sure there was Andrews trademark, family secrets and lies with a little incest thrown in for good measure, but where was the gripping need to read on that is normally always present. I kept waiting for it to come but it just didn't and the characters, I just didn't care. 

This has to be, hands down, the most awful,  V.C. Andrews book I have ever read and it kills me to say that. It did absolutely, nothing for me and it makes me so sad to say that. 

So, I'm really sorry to say this but, I don't recommend this book. 

The readers of broken wheel recommned
By Katarina Bivald

Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen...
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy's funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don't understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that's almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend's memory. All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.

My thoughts

Hand's down the best book I have read in a long time. If you love books, which if you're here. I'm assuming you do. Then you need to read this one. It is amazing. The first book by Katarina and it is already an international best seller and I know why! It is amazing. The characters, all of them, every last one, is brilliant, the plot, the setting,  all of it BRILLIANT!!! I did not want this book to end! I wanted to step inside it and stay there forever and never ever leave. If only, this book could be real life. 

There is honestly nothing I could say that would do this book justice, so, I am just going to keep it simple. 

BUY IT!!!!!!! 

You won't regret it.

Well, that's it from me for this week. I sadly didn't have time to review all the book's I've read since last Wednesday's post, but I will get to them, so bare with me. 

Until next week...

Love and hugs all
Joss xx

Monday, 18 January 2016

News in review

It's the start of another week and that means it's time for another News in review.

The first story I have for you today is a really sad one. 

An off-duty police officer and his wife in Burton-upon-Trent, here in the UK, got a bit of a shock when he saw a two-year-old girl walking alone one morning. 

Pulling over their car the officer and his wife, approached the young girl and on talking with her discovered that she was attempting to take herself to nursery because she could not wake her mummy. 

The girl then led the couple to her home where her mother was found dead. 

This story really got to me, you have to wonder at just what was going through this poor girls mind. She surely understood something wasn't right with her mum, but at just 2 years old it's hard to be sure what exactly she would have been thinking. 

What I am certain about, is that this would be a parents worst nightmare. Passing away when you have a young child and no one else at home to care for them, is an incredibly scary prospect. 

For that child to then wander out onto the street alone, in an attempt to get to nursery, with all the dangers that are out there in today's modern world. Just unthinkable.

All I can think is thank God that police officer and his wife found her and not someone who might have taken advantage of her. 

But this story really makes you think, especially I am sure if you are a single parent. 

Now, because of my back and the risk that I could someday go down and not get back up, I taught my son, when he was 7, how to use Siri on my phone, to contact my husband, just encase when I go down, I hit my head and am unconscious or something. 

But before that, I always assumed he was too young. 

We see stories fairly regularly of children much younger than that, calling emergency services when a parent has an accident or take suddenly ill. 

Kids obviously process more than we often realise and I think most people accept that fact. 

There is a chance also that this little girls attempt to get to nursery, was also an attempt to get to adults she knew because she was scared at not being able to wake her mum. 

And it just got me thinking, why don't we have something set up, that would allow even a young child to in someway form an adult should something like this happen?

A button perhaps that when pushed automatically calls a loved one of your choosing. 

Something we could teach young kids to push and talk into if something goes wrong. 

Now, of course there's a chance that if you had this in your home where a child could reach it that they might, while young use it, just because, but I'm sure the loved one you select to receive the call isn't gonna mind that too much, in the scheme of things, knowing that one day, God forbid something did happen, that the child would be able to contact them easily in their time of need. 

Surely something like this could save lives and also protect our kids from situations like this girl experienced. 

Thankfully this little girl is now safe and sound with family, but what do you think? Is there more we could be doing to ensure that situations like this don't happen? Have you taught your kids what to do in a situation like this? If so, how and at what age? I'd love to hear your thoughts and feelings, so be sure to leave a message in the comments. 

The next story that caught my attention was one that regarded a petition that calls for a ban on the piercing of babies ears. 

Now, for the most part, I agree with this petition, piercings are a body modification that should be the choice of the child, when older and not a parent. 

The only reason I can see for doing this to a child is as a fashion statement on the part of the parent. 

I know in South America that children's ears are pierced when they are small for cultural reasons, but here in the UK, for the most part, it is a preference on the part of the parent and in no way beneficial for the child. 

In my personal opinion children should not be subjected to the pain of such a procedure, especially babies, when it is completely unnecessary and serves no purpose other than, I assume, trying to beautify the baby, which in and of itself is just a ridiculous reason. 

It feels to me like this is vanity gone too far, do what you want to yourself, but don't inflict pain on your child just because you think it will look cool, cute or whatever.

A baby, after all, is not a fashion statement, your responsibility as a parent is to protect your child from pain and suffering, not inflict it for the sake of fashion. 

What do you think? Is this vanity gone mad and that the piecing of babies does indeed need to be banned? Or do you feel babies piecing is fine and want to share your views? Either way, leave a comment and let me know. 

Another horrifying story for you next and one that makes me really mad. 

A mother discovered that her partner was biting their young child in an attempt, he claimed, to toughen the child up and stop it from becoming gay in the future. 

Now it doesn't say in the report how old this child is, but from the picture, this looks like a baby. 

So if it wasn't already obvious that this guy is clearly insane, the fact that he is doing this to a child who is too young to even know what a sexual preference is, let alone have one should make the state of this guys mental faculties abundantly clear. 

Now obviously what this guy is doing is atrocious there is no doubt there, but what is even worse about this story is that when the mother found out the police did no charge the man, but instead acted as if they were going to do nothing before only to go and contact social services, who are now threatening to take the child away, from the mother, who, upon finding out what her partner had done, had headed straight for the police station. 

Surely, there are enough  parents out there not stepping up and reporting partners who abuse children as it is, without parents who would report such an incident being made afraid to do so in the future because of incidents like this. 

Now, the child has not yet been taken from the mother and so there is a chance that it will not happen, but still the fact that this is even being considered an option is ridiculous.

Surely, this woman's actions should be being praised and set as an example of what you should do if you discover a partner is hurting your child. 

You have to wonder sometimes what the hell is going through the minds of some of those in authority. Charge this man, make sure he cannot go near this child and help this mother to protect her child as she is trying to do, instead of putting her through all this worry and fear. 

I hope that social services have only said that the child may be taken because they are trying to ensure that it was indeed the partner who hurt the child and not just a sick ploy on the mother's part to get the father out of the picture. 

Either way, I think these things need to be made clear so that other parents who may find themselves in a similar situation in the future will not be afraid to report it. 

My final story is a happy one, about time I know.

Ray Smith, a 38-year-old guy from Grimsby UK took 148 selfies featuring his pregnant girlfriends, family and friends. What special about these selfies is that each one contained a secret marriage proposal. 

Claire Bramley, despite featuring in most of the Selfies, as Ray claimed they were to document her pregnancy, never noticed a thing. 

"Claire said, "I had no clue, I was totally oblivious to it all." 

The selfie marathon ended on Christmas Day when Ray officially proposed. Awww, and they say romance is dead, check out the awesome proposal below. 

Well, that's it from me, for this week's news in review. Here's wishing you all a great week. 

Love and hugs 
Joss xx