Book Reviews

I have set myself a challenge this year, and I am hoping to complete it – and maybe even exceed it -it’s in my bucket list for 2016…I want to read at least 13 books before the 31st December 2016. Books for me, books without pictures (for the most part). So I thought I would share my current books to read pile.

My books to read pile - I have set myself the challenge of reading at least 13 books in 2016 and here is my current books to read pile

The best way to do this, for me, is to write lists and join up to Good Reads (I have already read 6 books this year so I am going fairly well… maybe I need to change my target!) – that way I know where I am headed next. So here is some of my books to read pile – I am sure other books will get slotted in and I might not read all of these before the end of the year but I would like to make a dent in it! Read More..

I haven’t read many parenting books, in fact I haven’t read any… and I wouldn’t say after reading Beyond the Sling that it is a parenting book in that true sense of the word.  It’s more of a this-is-how-I-did-things-and-why kind of book. A celebration of the choices Mayim Bialik and her husband rather than a guide of what you should do. It is very much a discussion on their interpretation of attachment parenting.

My Review of the fantastic Beyond the Sling

I really love the style of the book, it’s not prescriptive in anyway – it’s not telling you if you do X, Y and Z you will have a child that does A, B and C.  It makes no promises – in fact it mainly reiterates one message – you already know how to parent – you just need to learn to listen to that instinct.

The book is divided in to four sections;

1. Trust Your Instincts – which covers the basics of what attachment parenting is.

2. What Baby Needs – which covers her opinions on birth, breastfeeding, a baby’s need to be held, night-time parenting and elimination communication

3. What Baby Doesn’t Need – covering her opinions that babies/children don’t need stuff, unnecessary medical intervention, pressure or punishment

4. What Mommy Needs – which covers keeping your relationship strong and her thoughts on finding that elusive work/life balance

I found the whole book really interesting, you can feel the passion when you read it, Mayim Bialik believes in everything she writes about.  Not it a way which makes you feel like you need to agree, more in a way of “oh wow this is really great and it worked for us, what do you think?” It really feels like there is a dialogue going on (and I read the whole book in my head as if Amy Farrah Fowler – her character in The Big Bang Theory – was reading it to me, which was a little wierd and a lot funny!)

I have to say that it felt nice to read that what my husband and I have been doing is similar in some respects to attachment parenting – and also similar to what Mayim Bialik herself had done – with a P.h.D in neuroscience specialising in the hormones of attachment, you really feel like she knows what she is talking about and that there is reasons behind why I feel like I do and why I have made the choices I have made.

Beyond the Sling 1

The most affirming sections for me were the ones on breastfeeding (at 18 months Boo is still pretty much breastfed on demand) and night-time parenting (we didn’t stop night feeds until Boo was 11 months old – because it wasn’t until then that we felt she was ready to drop them). That being said there are big differences too – for example we don’t co-sleep with Boo – other than when she is poorly yet at not point did I feel like we were doing it ‘wrong’.

The section which surprised me most was the one on Elimination Communication – I confess I hadn’t even heard of this until I read this book – but essentially it is the school of thought that babies know when they need to go to the toilet and don’t want to sit in their own waste in a nappy – so by learning those signals a parent can remove the need for nappies.  I will hold my hands up – I read this open mouthed and in horror – but upon reading further I did grasp the reasoning behind it, but it is not something I could start with Boo now, and I am not sure I would have done with Boo from birth had I known about it (we are currently in a rented house and I am not sure the landlord and his carpets would approve!) but as with the rest of the book it’s very much each to their own.

All in all I have to say I really do love this book, reading it, for me was like an affirmation of what I had been feeling all along. It wasn’t giving me permission to do parent the way I was, nor was it giving me a list of instructions on how I should be parenting, more suggesting that there were reasons why I was parenting the way that I was and showing me that these types of things had worked for the author and maybe they, or some variation of them would work in my family.

Family Fever

I have decided that I am going to do a weekly post which are – my top ten favourite [insert category here] I think it will be a fun thing to do and it will be good for me to have these lists when I am old and grey(er) and can no longer remember my name let alone my favourite movies, songs, books, etc.

My Top Ten Badge

So as we have just had World Book Day I thought I would go for Books (or series of books) to start off with, also I love books, I love reading, so much so that my degree is in English. So without further ado here are my top ten books…

1. A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night and The Book of Life (The All Souls Trilogy) – Deborah Harkness – Amazing books, mindblowing, I love them so much, I was so sad when the last book in the trilogy was drawing to a close that I read so slowly it probably looked like I was just staring at the page! Fantastic characters, beautiful story, amazing writing.  If I could only ever read one book (trilogy) again it would be these.  All time favourite books, I only wish there were more books!

2. Harry Potter – J. K. Rowling – Not sure this needs any explanation, but I waited each year for the next Harry Potter Book to come out, and it was always worth the wait and I always read it way to quick.  I am so very sad that Harry Potter is not real (and I would totally want to be in Ravenclaw!)  I also cannot wait to read these books to Boo for her bedtime story … excited doesn’t even begin to cover it!

2. Dracula – Bram Stoker – I love this book, the first time I read it I fell in love with it, and the whole vampire tradition.  In fact in my third year at university we had a chance to study a module entitled Gothic Fiction and it was the first module I signed up for.

3. The Belgariad, The Malloreon, The Elenium, The Tamuli & The Redemtion of Althalus – David and Leigh Eddings – As you can probably tell I am a massive Eddings fan – fantasy writing at is best, sorcerers, princesses, monsters, epic battles, humor and nothing too dark, perfect for reading on a rainy sunday when you just want to relax with an oversized bar of chocolate and a book in a comfy chair.

4. Discworld – Terry Prachett – Amazing, so funny, I love love love the, I can’t decide which of these is my favouite, it’s close between Mort and Equal Rites. I do love a book that makes you laugh out loud!

5. Axis Trilogy & Wayfarer Redemption Trilogy – Sara Douglass – Yet more fantasy here (can you see a theme), I love reading these books, I have read both series a couple of times and they get better with each reading and it was oh so easy to become complete immersed in the world and lose track of time.

6. The Vampyre (The Secret History of Lord Byron) – Tom Holland – So there is actually a book which is written as though my favourite poet is a vampire… I literally think someone must have been listening in to my dreams…

7. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte – I received a copy of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall from my primary school when we left year 6 to go up to big school… best present ever! I took this massive book with me to the Dominican Republic when we went on holiday that summer, they were the best books to take with me, I think they helped with the heat, reading them was the equivalent of sitting in an ice bath, marvelous for the heat.

8. On the Night You Were Born – Nancy Tillman – Had to have one in here for Boo, I love this book, makes me tear up every time I read it. I truly love this book. The illustrations and the words are just beautiful.

9.  Half Bad – Sally Green –  a really great book, (which Boo bought me for mother’s day last year… isn’t she a clever girl. I was lucky too that the copy of the book Boo bought me is signed by the author! Can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out which is at the end of this month… exciting!!

10. Twilight – Stephanie Meyer – My guilty pleasure, I do love reading these books, easy reading yes, am I a little bit in love with the idea of a glittering romantic vampire yes, do I wish that these books had been around when I was a teenager yes… (go Team Edward) – on a more serious note I read these books (the first two) towards the end of a really pants relationship and they actually made me realise that I deserved better and that romance and feeling loved is important so I very much credit these books as the catalyst that helped me to make a positive decision that changed my life for the better. And any book that does that for even one person is a bloody good book (excuse the pun)… as a result these books will always have a special place in my heart.

Writing this has made me realise that I really don’t get the chance to do enough reading, I really need to start reading more again, I miss it!

What are your favourite books?

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Having suffered with Hyperemesis Gradivarum (HG) when I was pregnant with Boo I was really pleased when I found out that Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Definitive Guide had been published when I reading the amazing Spewing Mummy blog.

Oh how I wish I had had access to this book and the Pregnancy Sickness Support Website when I was pregnant.

I ordered the book from Amazon, and couldn’t wait to get reading, this is especially interesting for me as we are still considering whether another child is an option for us and of course HG plays a part in that decision.

The book is written by two HG survivors and awesome bloggers, Caitlin Dean who blogs at Spewing Mummy and Amanda Shortman who blogs at The  Family Patch.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum - The Definitive Guide

The book is a perfect reference book, neat easy sections and chapters, make it easy to read in the order you choose and find the information you want to reread again.  The book is divided into four sections;

Part 1 – About Hyperemesis
Part 2 – The Hyperemesis Journey
Part 3 – Life After Hyperemesis
Part 4 – Resources and Appendix

I headed straight for Part 3 as that was the most relevant to me at the stage I am currently at in my HG journey, it discusses everything from dealing with the aftermath, ‘getting back to normal’ and ‘dealing with the Mental Health Legacy of HG’.  I have read the rest of the book now, and I can honestly say that this book is truly fantastic, an amazing support mechanism for anyone who is suffering, or has suffered from HG.  I was surprised that changes I have felt after pregnancy are actually fairly common among HG survivors, it is nice to know that just as others are there to share your HG journey, they are also there for afterwards, and for while you consider going through it all again, or for while you mourn the baby that will never be.

When I first started reading HG: The Definitive Guide I did start to get panicky, as it did bring back a lot of memories from when I was pregnant.  It brought back feelings that I had buried (or had been obscured by the sleepless fog that is having a new born!)  But this is a good thing, as you need to remember what you went through in order to properly decide if you can do it again, whilst looking after your current child/children.

The depth of the book and the amount of research that has gone into the book is truly awe-inspiring, I could not think of a single thing that had been missed out of the book. All my questions were answered, I felt supported and comforted and the experiences that the authors and others had shared in the book.

But above all, after reading the book I felt three things;

1.  I felt like someone truly understood what I had gone through.  It felt like a wave hitting me, it was a feeling of relief, to know that Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Definitive Guide is now out there to help other women suffering from HG and dealing with it’s lasting effects.

2. I also felt sad, reading this book made me realise how lacking my care was during my pregnancy.  I was let down by healthcare professionals.  There are lots of options available to women suffering from HG and the worse thing is for them to be told they just have to put up and shut up.  HG is incredibly isolating and women need to know that healthcare professionals will advise them as best they can and not just dismiss them, and their suffering.

3. I felt supported, there is a specific, in depth section on ‘trying again’, it makes you feel less crazy for even considering the possibility of going through HG again (HG survivors have about at 86% chance of suffering again – so the odds are not in our favour!).  There is a detailed questionnaire to fill in, and guidance about treatment options including pre-emptive treatment.  When you are suffering from HG you can barely function, so trying to persuade a dismissive G.P you need more support is impossible, the book advocated getting a plan in place before hand, this is invaluable advice.

I cannot rate this book highly enough, it really is the definitive guide (there is even an section for partners to read about how best to help and support their pregnant partner).

Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Definitive Guide is the must read book for anyone who is suffering from HG, or has suffered from HG.  It contains pretty much everything you need to know from medication options, mental health recovered after, trying again or having a one child family,  and how to deal with healthcare professionals to ensure you get the best care possible.

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