February 2015 Reads.

Apologies for the tardiness of this, but yesterday I finally filmed my February 2015 Reads vlog. I explain in it that the beginning of March was incredibly busy for me (by the 10th March I’d slept at least one night in 4 different towns and cities) and then my household was hit by an attack of germs that would have meant me trying to vlog with barely any voice.

Better late than never, here’s my run down of the books I read in February:

The books, in order of reading, are:

  • No True Echo by Gareth P. Jones. Hot Key Books.
  • Captive by A.J. Grainger. Simon & Schuster UK.
  • Marly’s Ghost by David Levithan. Electric Monkey.
  • All Balls and Glitter: My Life by Craig Revel Horwood. Michael O’Mara Books.
  • Worry Magic by Dawn McNiff. Hot Key Books.
  • Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell. Headline.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. Titan Books.

There are still lots of things I want to improve on in these videos, I am pleased however that I managed to discuss 7 books in less time than it took me to introduce myself and talk about 3 books in my last effort! Just.

My copies of No True Echo, Captive, Marly’s Ghost, Worry Magic, Three Amazing Things About You and A Darker Shade of Magic were provided by the publisher for review consideration. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Middle Grade Strikes Back review.

Quick post to say that my next review for Middle Grade Strikes Back is live today, you can find it here.

WorryMagic

It’s a charming contemporary story about Courtney, a girl who worries all of the time. Why not head over to find out what I thought about it?

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A Reprint and a Blog Award.

After my review of No True Echo went live on Middle Grade Strikes Back I received an email from the editor-in-chief of Middle Shelf Magazine, a bimonthly digital magazine that celebrates Middle Grade books. She asked permission to reprint my review in the March / April magazine which I’ve granted. They reprint 2 blog reviews in each issue, these blogs along with a handful of others are awarded their Middle Grade Best of the Blogs award, so both Juniper’s Jungle and Middle Grade Strikes Back are recipients.

Best Blogs Badge 2015 (1)

My badge is now displayed across in the sidebar – it’s the first time I’ve had anything like this to display!

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Richard Armitage Narrates Love Poems.

I had an email this morning from Felicity at Audible to tell me about their free download for Valentine’s Day. As soon as I started to read the email I knew I had to blog about it – I could instantly think of people who were going to be very interested in it.

The download in question is a collection of love poems narrated by Richard Armitage.

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The collection includes poems written by William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Edgar Allen Poe amongst others. I personally love Richard Armitage’s voice so the idea of him reading aloud these beautiful poems is a welcome one!

This video features the man himself talking about the collection and sharing some of his own feelings about poetry – it’s well worth the 3 minutes of your time it’ll take to watch!


 
If this has persuaded you to give this collection a listen you can download it here.

 

 

 

This post is not sponsored, I simply love the sound of this and want to spread the love!

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First Middle Grade Strikes Back Post.

MGSB
Today I have written my first post for Middle Grade Strikes Back – a review of No True Echo by Gareth P. Jones. I’d love it if you popped over there and had a read, while you’re there why not have a look at some of the other excellent posts that have already been written?

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My January 2015 Reads.

I’ve mentioned before that I wanted to do something different with how I approached reviewing and the cat’s finally out of the bag, I’ve decided to switch primarily to vlog reviews. It’s an idea I’ve been toying with for ages but I know YouTube can be a pretty toxic place (I’ve had friends receive some really unpleasant comments on their videos) so I wanted to take the time to be sure I definitely wanted to do it.

The plan at the moment is that I’ll do a monthly vlog where I review all of the books I’ve read. In the future I may well increase the frequency of my vlogs but I want to keep things manageable whilst I get to grips with recording and editing etc.

I recorded January’s wrap up on Monday, after a couple of false starts it was pretty smooth sailing though I must warn you I do talk quite a lot. When I rewatched it with a view to making it shorter I found that I didn’t feel like cutting anything out so I’ve decided to own my wordiness.

The books I review are (with the approximate times I start talking about them):

  • Heat Wave by Richard Castle. Titan Books. (2:35)
  • Love Hurts edited by Malorie Blackman. Random House Children’s Books. (4:20)
  • A Hero at the End of the World by Erin Claiborne. Big Bang Press. (12:00)

I had a lot of fun recording this video, I’m already looking forward to February’s!

My copies of Love Hurts and A Hero at the End of the World were provided by the publisher for review consideration. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Moving on from fear.

A bit of advance warning, this one’s going to be a bit on the long side. It’s important to me though so I’m not apologising for this fact.

I made a decision a while ago to stop talking about my Hypermobility Syndrome (HMS from here on in) on this blog, and hid all the posts I’d made about it behind a password. This was a decision made entirely through fear, and one I’ve come to realise was entirely wrong.

Why did I make it? I’ve been applying for full time jobs for quite a while now, and as anyone doing the same knows, you’re bombarded by a constant message that anything you put online may be seen by a prospective employer and influence their decision about you. I thought that having anything on my blog talking about the difficulties I face as a result of my HMS would make any prospective employer reject me before I even got through the door for an interview.

I’ve changed my mind about this now, hence this post. The thing is, whether or not I blog or tweet about being a bendy (one of the adopted terms for anyone with one of the hypermobility syndromes) I still am one. Whether or not I talk about it I will still have days where everything hurts (there are no days where nothing hurts) and will still have days when I have obvious strapping or need to use my stick.

My stick. He’s a thing all of its own. I have a walking stick, his name is Eames*. Here he is:

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I bought him after a trip to Portmeirion showed that sometimes I need a bit of assistance getting round places, and that without that assistance I’m putting myself at risk of injury and forcing the people around me to share the stress of this risk. Since buying him I’ve found he’s really helpful – the instability of my joints means each step I take is a little more effortful than each step a non bendy person takes. Over a day out this is quite a bit of extra effort, if I use the stick then this extra effort is reduced and I can, within reason, keep up (and significantly reduce my risk of falls).

After buying Eames I used him most of the times I should. But not always, and in recent times not at all. This too has been driven by fear – fear of judgement, and in some cases fear that a prospective employer might see and again decide against employing me. See how much this fear has taken a hold? That I would actively not use something that makes my life better for fear it might stop someone employing me?

The penny dropping moment came during my recent fixed term employment in a HR department. As I’ve already mentioned, nothing I do will change the fact I have HMS – it’s a chronic, lifelong condition. I need to work somewhere that will accept I have HMS and will give me the necessary support (though this pretty much amounts to a comfy chair and workstation with things at the right heights – same as everyone would need), the types of employers I’m imagining who wouldn’t employ me because of the condition (and yes I know they can’t outwardly say it’s because of this) wouldn’t support me long term anyway and wouldn’t be the right fit for me.

Fundamentally I know how to manage myself. Regardless of what is hurting on any given day I know my personal work arounds so I can still achieve what I need to achieve. I’m not going to be applying for jobs that would be beyond my physical capabilities (there was a great sounding job I found that specified it involved carrying boxes up and down a spiral staircase so I sensibly didn’t apply) so the truth of the matter is that there’s no reason my HMS should be a barrier to anyone employing me.

I actually think that my HMS has given me skills that I’ll use in the workplace. I’ve become increasingly creative with my problem solving (I’ve had a post about how I bake despite having bendy hands written in draft form form for ages). I’ve also developed my information finding and evaluating skills – there’s a whole heap of help and support out there online but finding it amongst the less helpful stuff is a challenge.

I saw this picture on Hannah Ensor’s blog and it really spoke to me (the fact it suggests I’m a penguin is a happy coincidence)

Penguin

No matter how much I try to avoid mentioning I’m a bendy, I am and always will be. I’m stopping wasting time and energy worrying about this – I’ve got far better ways to use both!

* Eames is of course named after the character in Inception. One of my favourite films, and the part played by one of my favourite actors. When choosing a name (I always name things after characters or real life people) I wanted someone stable and supportive, and entirely illogical the patterning made me think of Tom Hardy’s tattoos – something we have no idea whether Eames shared or not!

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