A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

I am usually one of the last to any party, especially when it comes to interesting books and music. This is one such time. I learnt about the existence of this book by seeing the many fantastic trailers for the film adaptation that has recently been made. From these trailers I was totally hooked and had to find out more! Lo and behold there was a book! Totally made my day as whenever I see a film that looks great if there is a book behind it then it is usually awesome. I wasn’t wrong about this.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

“The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.
But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.” 
(Goodreads)

Now, without giving too much away,A Monster Calls by Patrick Nessthe basic story of this book is of a 13 year old boy who is dealing with
the ongoing serious illness of his mother. In this horrific time he conjures a monster, a being from the ancient world, who goes with him through this journey.

I found the story compelling and the writing undeniably brilliant, in the early pages it reminded me a lot of The Hobbit. The way that Patrick Ness deals with the everyday, the fantastic and the serious in factual, simple and yet humorous language is irresistible. Written for teenagers I think the balance of the language strikes a good mix of being simple and direct enough for the younger ages, whilst still being irresistible for young adults and older.

Being someone who has lost a close family member to cancer, having been through it step by step, a carer and a fighter alongside them, this book inevitably struck a serious and painful chord for me. The book did it in such a powerful way that it made me proud of the way it deals with the topic. It made me want to go out and give a copy to anyone I know who has been through such a situation. It is important because it deals with such serious themes, but doesn’t diminish the situation or patronise the reader. Yes it was painful, yes the last 40-60 pages of my copy are now tear and snot stained but at the end I heaved a great sigh and felt like a kind of poke-the-bruise, cathartic therapy.

You may now be thinking, this is not the book for me – too mushy – too emotional – too serious – too painful – I’m too raw for this. Quite simply put, you are wrong. This book is a must read. I am starting to realise I am saying this a lot recently, but I’ve just been spoilt with fantastic choices! I can honestly say I am so glad I picked this up and have no doubts that my copy will now be doing the rounds of my close family and friends – but I will make sure that I get it back and revisit it again, probably many times over!

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

British Book Challenge 2017

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Fat Activism and Me?

Recently I have started to think more and more about Fat Activism, what it means and how I relate to it. Obviously with a nickname like The Fat Girl and a blog about my life as a plus size woman, it may seem a bit stupid that I hadn’t really thought about this properly a lot sooner. I think that’s because I never really associated my feelings and attempt to build my own self confidence with those who put themselves out there to loudly defend bodies of all shape and size. Maybe that makes me part of the problem, maybe it doesn’t – I honestly don’t know.

Fat Activism and Me?

Becoming more active on twitter and following some fantastic men and women who are amazing people and also Fat Activists. Seeing their daily fights and arguments against those who judge people based on their size or shape. Reading their posts, that were articulately written, make brilliant and important points it became impossible to ignore my role in all of this, where did I stand? What is all of this? What do I have to say?

To be honest when I was prompted on this and I started to think about this I had to google it! I read articles in the media, on Wikipedia, blog posts, parenting sites – you name it! I read from lots of different points of view, being the good student that I am, I had to make sure that I had been properly exposed. All of this did lead to a specific conversation which helped me to really asses and voice my feelings, thoughts and opinions.

So, here it is!

I think fat activism is a big concept, it means a lot of things to a lot of different people and cannot necessarily be explained in a single sentence. But if you were to try it would be something along the lines of –

Everyone should be accepted for who they are, regardless of their size and essentially it is none of your business.

I’m sure people will be along to pick that line apart and tell me how I am wrong – I am more than happy for someone who means well to inform and educate me. But if you want to shame me, tell me off or have a go at me keep moving!

To me, in my little world, this is not necessarily something that I get involved in as much as I should. I realised that my little corner of fat activism is mainly centred around myself and how I cope in my little bubble. That’s not to say I sit back and ignore things, more that I’m quietly building my own confidence and ability to love myself. For example, I’ve started wearing clothes that make me happy but aren’t focussed on slimming me down. I’ve also started to love myself in random ways – like nice pretty bras, learning more about makeup that I enjoy, doing things I enjoy and not things I think should be doing because I’m plus size.

My main difficulty comes in my work environment, working in education there are the inevitable comments from teenagers. These hurt sometimes, no matter how thick-skinned you are. There also comes the inevitable office obsession with dieting, exercise, new years resolutions and self-hatred. Sitting in the office listening to them slagging off certain numbers on a scale or a label without thinking about what they are saying really gets me down. But if I am being honest I do tend to sit on my hands and keep my mouth shut, as the only plus size person in the office I’m scared that they will judge my size and not my words.

That is wrong, so wrong. To be afraid to voice an opinion because it may be ignored and judged on something totally irrelevant – oh wait that happens the world over. Gender. Sexuality. Race. Age. Size. Why are these things more important than what the person of whatever combination is saying?

If I am honest I do need to start being more active, stop being scared and start voicing the rants and arguments in my head. Not to be combative, more that if I don’t how can I expect any change to happen in my little world? The people I spend my daily life with aren’t spontaneously going to change their minds and opinions without any input or information.

I’m not going to go into the individual points of looking at fat acceptance as I think The Militant Baker, Jes Baker, has said it so much better here.

Instead what I am going to do is say that one thing that disappointed me when reading up on all of this, was the level of angry back biting and fighting “within” the fat activism/fat acceptance movement. This made me quite sad, not because I thought their arguments were invalid, or that its wrong to have disagreements. But because this type of childish finger-pointing and judging, belittling each other and hitting each other personally takes the attention away from the overall idea. This allows the bullies and trolls to grab hold of this and belittle the movement.

I’m going to keep working on this personally, what I think and feel and what my opinions are. Encouraging myself and others to stand up for what they believe in, but also to think about those around them and if they really have any right to comment on some things.

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After You – Jojo Moyes

I’ve long been pumping myself up to reading Me Before You’s sequel – After You by Jojo Moyes. After literally shedding pounds in tears whilst reading Me Before You it has taken me half a year to get to reading this, mainly because I feared the emotional scaring and not because I didn’t want to.

After You by Jojo Moyes

“Lou Clark has lots of questions.
Like how it is she’s ended up working in an airport bar, spending every shift watching other people jet off to new places.
Or why the flat she’s owned for a year still doesn’t feel like home.
Whether her close-knit family can forgive her for what she did eighteen months ago.
And will she ever get over the love of her life.
What Lou does know for certain is that something has to change.
Then, one night, it does.
But does the stranger on her doorstep hold the answers Lou is searching for – or just more questions?
Close the door and life continues: simple, ordered, safe.
Open it and she risks everything.
But Lou once made a promise to live. And if she’s going to keep it, she has to invite them in…” Goodreads()

I fell back into the world of Lou and co quite easily, like putting on a pair of comfy joggers – well except for all the heartbreak and pain. Falling in with Lou a year or so after Will died gives you enough time to get past the pure, raw pain of loss and on to the nasty, complicated way of figuring out daily life.

Moyes cleverly introduces new characters with the ease, presenting undeniable personality with the ease of an undeniably fantastic writer. Trying not to give too much away! But I was totally hooked by Sam and found myself zooming through pages to find more of him and never left wanting (sort of).

I read somewhere – sorry I’ve been struggling to find the link – that After You by Jojo Moyes showcases Moyes skill at portraying the day to day minutae of life and making it irresistable and this is completely true of After You. There are of course a few stand out events which you hope don’t happen to you, but its the every day stuff which has you hooked.

After You by Jojo Moyes

Overall, I enjoyed the book but I struggled a bit at first as I was constantly referring and comparing back to Me Before You which is inevitable in a sequel. To be honest with this in the back of my head i was a bit disappointed and longing for Will and their always fascinating exchanges, this is something that After You misses out on. BUT THATS THE POINT!!! Once i’d gotten this through my thick skull, that it should be harder because you are going through all the pain with Lou then i found it so much easier and really enjoyed the book.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who has read the first book as a necessary follow up, I will also definitely be visiting Me Before You and After You by Jojo Moyes again in the future!

British Book Challenge 2017

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Fed Up February

As you may or may not have noticed – being that my only loyal fan is my husband – I haven’t written much recently. I seem to go through this every year at the end of January and February, I get fed up and give up for a few months. I get fed up of my job, of my company, of my colleagues, of my house, my car, my town, my hair, my dogs, my husband (shhh) and this year I can add trying to conceive to that – just everything. I’ve taken to calling it Fedupruary, I know snappy isn’t it!

Fed Up February

The thing is I have no real reason to be fed up of my life, I have a decent-ish job in a nice-ish company, a house that we own and not rent, my hair is just fabulous so shut your mouth, my dogs are gloriously cute little troublemakers and my husband actually isn’t that bad I suppose. However trying to conceive, that I just can’t seem to square off in my head and I think that is what is what is dragging me down so much this year. Because of this dragging me down I can’t seem to make any of the previous statements cheer me up, I just brush them off and come up with some crappy excuse.

Anyone who has tried to conceive will know that there are good times and bad, no matter the length or difficulty of your journey. We are coming up to our ninth cycle, although I’m praying it will be our last it more than likely will – with one early miscarriage, which was just frankly pretty darned shite. The last month or so I have really struggled to want to carry on with it all, of course I still want baby but to actually want to carry on with this shitty journey is something all together.

Fed Up February

So what do I do?

I can’t carry on feeling like this, I will only feel more and more crappy and eventually start to seriously damage my mental health. So I follow the lyrics of a Kelly Clarkson song that I clung to as a teenager –

“I’m forced to fake

A smile, a laugh every day of my life”

Depressing isn’t it? But I learnt a long time ago that the only way to I could get past things was to barrel through them, get up and put a smile on your face and go do the thing you really can’t face. It takes time but eventually forcing the routine helped me to start to feel like me again. So that’s what I’ve done.

MumsnetI’ve gone back to Mumsnet and to my lovely group of ladies that I chat to on a regular basis – all complete strangers that I feel I share this journey with so intimately I kinda missed them whilst I’ve been shut down and avoiding it all.

I’ve planned a trip away with my husband, I am so excited that I’ve spent a fortune on new clothes and shoes obviously. Lion King is going to be awesome! Although I haven’t picked an outfit for that yet… Hmm, more shopping?

Finally I’ve forced myself to write this sort of self-pitying and self-indulgent post and get back to writing!

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