Simon vs the Homo Sapiens AgendaTitle: Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Author: Becky Albertalli

Pages: 303 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Children’s

The Blurb

Straight people should have to come out too. And the more awkward it is, the better. Simon Spier is sixteen and trying to work out who he is – and what he’s looking for. But when one of his emails to the very distracting Blue falls into the wrong hands, things get all kinds of complicated. Because, for Simon, falling for Blue is a big deal . . . It’s a holy freaking huge awesome deal.

The Review

Ok, ok. I know I am a bit late to the party but OH.MY. DAYS. How awesome is Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda?

It was so lovely. I got completely invested in the characters lives. I searched through every character trying to figure out who the mysterious Blue was. I felt every single teen anguish that Simon went through. It was just so very very good.

What was so lovely about Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is that it dealt with the everyday lives of teenagers but added a whole element of being gay. It raised the question of why should it be so difficult in society to be gay. Having to “come out” and deal with the fall out. Heterosexuals don’t have to deal with that. It was just such a beautiful story of young love. It made me want to be a teenager again….and I wasn’t the most comfortable of teenagers so for me that is the biggest compliment that I can give Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.

I cannot wait to see the movie.

Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is available now.

For more information regarding Becky Albertalli (@beckyalbertalli) please visit www.beckyalbertalli.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House UK Children’s (@PenguinRHUK) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

5 Stars

Title: The Bletchley Park Enigma: 200+ Facts on the Story of Alan Turing that Inspired the Smash Hit Movie The Imitation Game Starring Benedict Cumberbatch

Author: Alan Johnson and Amanda Strickland

Pages: 60 Pages

Publisher: Amazon Media

The Blurb

Are you a movie fan looking forward to seeing The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch?

Or a World War II buff with a particular interest in code breaking?

Alan Turing, the man who Winston Churchill described as the single biggest contributor to the Allied victory over the Nazis, was a genius of our lifetime and father of the modern day computer.

That we can now sit and read books on a computer screen is largely thanks to his early work developing the world’s first computer.

His code-breaking efforts during the Second World War are thought to have brought forward the end of the war by two years, a remarkable achievement.

Recently, recognition of Turing’s work has exploded.

Bletchley Park where Turing worked during WWII has been restored. It now acts as a major tourist destination and place of historical interest.

Turing’s story has also now been dramatized in a major new movie starring actor-of-the-moment, Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Imitation Game has received rave early reviews and is currently on short lists for Oscar success.

Cumberbatch, best-known to us as the inimitable detective in the British TV series, Sherlock, brings this intriguing and heroic man to life with his own unique acting style. In doing so, he tells his story to a generation who need to know just what he achieved and how much he changed the world.

But what was this strange, socially awkward man, painfully inept at the common niceties of life, really about?

The Bletchley Park Enigma: 200+ Facts on the Story of Alan Turing That Inspired the Smash Hit Movie The Imitation Game Starring Benedict Cumberbatch details the real life story of Alan Turing, his ground-breaking work, his complexities, the ultimate tragedy of his life and his posthumous success.

You will learn about:

  • His earlywork
  • Code breakingat Bletchley Park
  • The post-waryears
  • The tragedyof his personal life
  • Efforts to pardon him and honorhis work
  • News about The Imitation Gameand Benedict Cumberbatch

All this put down in a rapid reading format so that you can absorb it super-quick. This is a great companion book to the movie.

Don’t delay!

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I won’t lie to you, I knew very little about Alan Turing or the whole Bletchley Park thing before reading this book. Nope, I am not one of those amusingly titled ladies who call themselves “Cumberbitches” it was just that this book was on offer a few years ago and I willy-nillily clicked Buy It Now.

Currently, I am going through a WW1 and WW2 fascination so I thought I would give it a read and I am awfully glad I did. There are so many threads to our history of war that it is sometimes difficult to keep up with them all. I am enjoying learning about the home ground help that was provided by the coders and decoders at Bletchley Park.

Alan Turing’s life in particular seemed so multifaceted that this book serves the purpose of giving you enough information whilst also making you want to find out more. It is a quick simple grab bag on information that doesn’t get too lost in political tangents so you can really focus on the efforts of one figure.

For those wanting to dip a tentative toe in the history of Bletchley Park then this is the book for you!

The Bletchley Park Enigma by Alan Johnson and Amanda Strickland is available now.

3 Stars

Title: Spring at the Café at the End of the Pier

Author: Helen Rolfe

Pages: 83 Pages

Publisher: Orion

The Blurb

Spring is coming to The Café at the End of the Pier… A feel good novella and the start of a brilliant new series…

Jo has settled into running her grandparents’ little café at the end of the pier in Salthaven. She’s given it a spring-clean and a spruce-up and she’s getting to know the locals and starting to enjoy life by the sea.

But when her Harry, her ex-boyfriend, turns out to be her new accountant, feelings from the past start to flood back. He’s here to help sort out the café’s finances, which Jo’s grandparents left in a mess, but Harry seems to have a hidden agenda and Jo isn’t entirely sure spending time with him is a good idea.

Jo throws herself into her new plans for the café – turning it into a real café of love by arranging blind dates for some of the regulars. Her own love life might be non-existent, but it doesn’t mean she can’t bring a little bit of magic to the locals who have made her so welcome. This time she chooses single-dad Ben and doctor Jess. Will they find love at The Café at the End of the Pier?

And will Jo manage to put aside her feelings for Harry in order to give the café the future she dreams of for it…?

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Part Two of the Café at the end of the Pier series was just as eventful and intriguing as the first. We welcome back Jo who seems much more settled and confident than she did in the first book. She is still intent on putting her own spin on the café that she has taken over from her grandparents and she is determined to make it a success…even if she may be having financial problems already.

What is especially great about Spring at the Café at the End of the Pier is that we learn a little more of Jo’s back story. We learn more about her mother and her siblings and also more about what drove her to move to Scotland all those years ago. Furthermore, familiar faces are popping up and appear to be trying to rock the comfy boat that the café has been for Jo.

I am really enjoying this series and I have already pre-ordered the third because I have to know what happens. Helen Rolfe, I am realising, is a master of slowly dripping tantalising information into the story to keep you hooked. Very clever.

If you want to make a clever decision today then that should be to download the first two books in the series and binge on them. They are perfect stories for those who love the comfort found in between the pages.

Spring at the Café at the End of the Pier by Helen Rolfe is available now.

For more information regarding Helen Rolfe (@HJRolfe) please visit www.helenjrolfe.com.

For more information regarding Orion (@orionbooks) please visit www.orionbooks.co.uk.

4 Stars

 

So despite the glib title to this post it is actually accurate. Since the 23rd of March I have left my house but a mere four times. Three of those outings were medical related. As some of you may know, I have Ulcerative Colitis and since mid-March I have been flaring up.

Ulcerative Colitis is a form of IBD. It is less well known than its sister disease – Crohns. I like to think of it as the Kim Kardashian of the IBDs circa 2004-5 when Kim K’s friend Paris Hilton was the better known celebrity. One day UC will be as famous as Kim K’s derriere…which I guess would be a bit ironic being that it is a disease that can affect the ass.

I’m pretty sure I had the disease for a long period before diagnosis. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and looking back I can see many periods of my life that could have been considered as having actve disease; excessive bouts of diarrhoea, stomach pains, blood and mucus in my stool (sorry for the over share). Throughout college and university, I never left the house without Imodium. Looking back that probably should have been one of the first clues.

During this period, I worked in a call centre. They had toilets away from the floor I worked on and if I was having what I now refer to as a ‘Colitis moment’ I would use those bathrooms. This was fine until one day a sticker was posted on the toilet door saying if you have frequent bouts of diarrhoea and there is blood or mucus in your stool go to the doctors. This could be a sign of cancer.

Jib that! I was terrified. So I did what and normal, terrified person would do. I ignored the problem and hoped that it would go away.

It didn’t.

They say that flare ups can be triggered by stress and before I was diagnosed I was going through a very stressful time in my personal life. The symptoms were getting worse. I went on a trip with work. It was an outward bound trip working with GCSE PE students taking them gorge walking and camping and I genuinely don’t know how I got through that trip physically because I was in a mess. When I returned home the diarrhoea started again. I went to see my GP who booked me in for blood tests, gave me some medication and requested my first colonoscopy. It turns out I was severely anaemic and had to be put on iron tablets and also B12 shots every three months.

But I was still getting worse. Needing the bathroom up to 20 times a day is exhausting especially when you are passing blood every time you go. Sorry if you are squeamish but it isn’t a little blood. It is a full on Carrie moment down your toilet. I used to live on the third floor of my house and some nights it was easier to bring my quilt and pillow down to the corridor and sleep outside the bathroom rather than having to run up and down the stairs so much. I was once found by my mother doubled over in the bathroom, unable to stand up straight. She threatened to kick me out unless I went back to the doctors.

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in November 2012 to very little fanfare. I didn’t really know what it was and my fiancé (then boyfriend) was the one who explained to me that it was a chronic condition with no cure. I was diagnosed by having a colonoscopy which showed the damage to my large intestine. There are many different forms of colitis and mine happens to be Pancolitis which means that my whole large intestine is diseased.

Since diagnosis, I have been medicated with various drugs. The main one that I have to take every day is Pentasa. I take 4000mg per day. I have also had to be medicated several times with Prednisolone steroids (these bad boys are not fun) and I have suffered the horrible side effects – mood swings, insomnia, headaches, shortness of breath, massive weight gain, thinning of my bones and hair loss. My doctors have also tried me on a variety of different medications that have had some pretty bad effects on my body.

I was treated with Azathiaprine after my first serious flare since diagnosis which caused me to develop Sweets Syndrome and Pyoderma Gangrinosum and my chin fell off (I kid you not. For photos please look at the One Year Later post).

I was then medicated with Infliximab which is classed as a biologic. This is medication that is administered intravenously initially over a six hour period and after a loading dose you have to have an infusion every eight weeks. I loved Infliximab. I felt amazing after taking it. Sadly after 10 lovely months I grew immune to it and had an anaphylactic attack when being infused. Fortunately though, Infliximab put me in remission.

I spent three happy years in remission. Sure there were still small periods of feeling yuck but the majority of the time I was fine, just mainly tired with sore aching joints. But I was, for all intents and purposes, fine.

In May 2017, I started to feel a bit rough. It was just little things: tiredness, dicky tummy, fatigue. It steadily got worse and by the end of August – after trying a new form of steroid I was back for another short stay in hospital. It took several weeks to get the flare up under control and even more than that to get my strength back. Little things, such as standing up to heat up soup, would leave me shaking for hours afterwards. Being sick really does knock it out of you.

Since November 2017, I have been back at work and for the most part I have been fine. This recent flare up has come completely out of the blue. There is no rhyme or reason for it and I can honestly say that I didn’t welcome it. After the last flare up my doctor decided that he wanted to be pro-active. I asked to see if I could just stick to the Pentasa for now and if a flare up happened again then I would go for new medication. He advised me to go onto another biologic but was happy to wait to see if I maintained having no active disease but because I am flaring up now I have to take hospital advice and will soon be starting infusions of Vedolizumab (or its brand name Entyvio). This again will be administered intravenously in hospital once every two months after a booster dose.

To say I am sceptical is a bit of an understatement. I guess when I have had so many medications either eat away at my own body or for my body to grow antibodies towards it I am just not filled with confidence that it is going to work. Is it wrong of me to feel that way? Probably and it is completely unfitting with my otherwise sunny disposition. I just can’t help but feel like the medication or my body is going to let me down.

If Vedolizumab doesn’t work then from what I have researched the next step would be surgery. This would potentially mean having my colon removed and having my intestine coming out of my stomach (think Alien but less angry) and my waste be collected in a bag. Now people tend to think of this as the worst thing but over the last two flare ups I have come to the conclusion that it really wouldn’t be the worst thing.

Ulcerative Colitis has robbed me of more than the last 28 days. I used to do things. I used to go to music festivals and eat out and be able to get public transport without counting the minutes between stops and trying to figure out where the nearest accessible bathroom is. I could learn to drive or ride in a hot air balloon (although to be honest a hot air balloon ride does not appeal to me in the slightest) I could get stuck in traffic and not have a panic attack or I could even just go for a walk. Things that I took for granted before having Ulcerative Colitis symptoms.

So I guess the point of this post is this: I’ve got a sore colon but I’m still rollin’. Ok, no it’s not that. I guess the point of it is just to vent or to discuss what I have been going through and to make people that little bit more aware of invisible illnesses or to take the poo out of tabpoo – that last one didn’t really work did it?

Ah well.

That’s me, folks, diseased bowel, intestines, and a weird sense of humour.

Lisa x

Title: A Walk to Remember

Author: Nicholas Sparks

Pages: 170 Pages

Publisher: Bantam Books

The Blurb

Can you resist the depths of the human heart?

It is 1958 and seventeen-year-old Landon is revelling in his youth: dating girls and even claiming to have been in love. He is a world apart from shy, reclusive Jamie Sullivan, a Baptist’s daughter who carries a bible with her school books, cares for her widowed father and volunteers at the orphanage. But fate will intervene.

Forced to partner up at the school dance, Landon and Jamie embark on a journey of earth-shattering love and agonising loss far beyond their years. In the months that follow, Landon discovers the true depths of the human heart, and takes a decision that is so stunning it will lead him irrevocably down the road to manhood . . .

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

It has been ten years since the movie A Walk to Remember was released. Like most bookish people, I like to read the book before the film comes out. I wanted to go and see the movie with my good friend Alison but I needed to read the book first. As fate would have it I managed to pick up a copy for 50p at a car boot sale. I started to read it a few days before the movie came out. Half an hour before Alison came to pick me up to go to the pictures to see the film I finished reading the book. I calmed myself down and went downstairs to wait. I say calmed myself down because this book made me cry and I don’t just mean a little bit I mean I ugly cried. Ugly cry wasn’t even a thing back then but be assured it is what I did. When I got downstairs my mum asked me a very innocuous question of “Are you ok?” and I lost it yet again. Snot. Tears. The works.

It has been ten years and I have read A Walk to Remember about six times since and it still turns me into a bawling mess of a person. The love story of Jamie and Landon still works. I am of the opinion that it is so powerful because a modern day audience is strangely desensitised to this kind of romance but with the setting and the innocence of this love story people can’t help to be moved.

If you haven’t read A Walk to Remember then you need to add it to your TBR pile. If you have read it, don’t you think it is time for a reread?

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks is available now.

For more information regarding Nicholas Sparks (@NicholasSparks) please visit www.nicholassparks.com.

5 Stars