After realising I’d finished NO books in November, I made more effort in December (and of course, there was surgery recovery too):

On Smaller Dogs and Larger Life QuestionsOn Smaller Dogs and Larger Life Questions by Kate Figes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite the age difference, a lot of the experience in this book resonated with me – trying to get on with life with the unknown’ hanging over your head – when will the cancer come back, how far/fast will it spread, have I got months or years? I found it very readable … I struggled a bit with the emphasis on positivity (I think we need more space to grieve, but also, yes, we don’t want to get stuck), and the focus on herbal etc remedies (which the author says she knows many people will recognise as woo woo but wants to give herself every chance) – it’s something I wish there was more research into rather than oncologists saying ‘oh well, it won’t do any harm’ (but it does cost (time/£) and plays upon the fears of those who have been made vulnerable by incurable Illness).

Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting GodWearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God by Lauren F. Winner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was given this book when I was first diagnosed with cancer, but my brain didn’t seem to be able to cope with much more than fluffy fiction. This book, however, I think would have been very readable then and I’ve really enjoyed working my way through it (so much that I’ve forgotten much of the start) – thinking through metaphors and the ordinary items of everyday as ways of encountering God – from clothing, to food, to God as a ‘woman in labour’ – a deeply uncomfortable and unexpected images but then so is they crucifixion’ where God connected with me. Also liked the style of the author that we are journeying along with them in their reflections rather than them being the all-knowing – including at the end when she reflects upon the work she does in women’s prisons, mostly with those who have found ‘ways’ to survive abuse. Lots of chew over …

The Secrets Women KeepThe Secrets Women Keep by Fanny Blake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A meaty novel dealing with the life and loves of a family struggling to come to terms with difficult issue. Felt myself swept along in the storyline and found some unusual twists along the way.

The Mystery of Matthew Gold: What do you do when the word's won't come?The Mystery of Matthew Gold: What do you do when the word’s won’t come? by Chick Yuill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve endorsed two of Chick’s previous books – I truly do think he’s found a strong readable style in which you want to find out the motivations for what drives the characters lives, lives that are in many ways very ordinary – so very relatable. As expected a bit about Scotland, football and faith!

After the BombingAfter the Bombing by Clare Morrall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really got drawn into this book, with its jumps between 1942 and 1963 – having spent so much time studying the Second World War/ordinary people that seemed to ring true – the emotions of everyday – and essentially the PTSD. There were a few things at the end of the book I would liked to have known more about but maybe then I would have complained that it was all too neat and tidy. Leaves questions about whether we need to stick to the life plans we think we should …

The Shipyard Girls (Shipyard Girls, #1)The Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up for about 25p in the charity shop, and really enjoyed it – well written saga with well rounded characters. Got to the end, and Kindle downloaded all the others… perfect tired-brain reading.

+ 6 more books in the series
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the HorseThe Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had seen some of these cartoons on social media, but not come across the book. So a lovely surprise gift. Very quick to read, but a joyful book to return to and get the deeper meanings, and focus more on the beautiful drawings.

A Doctor's Story: Life in the Early Years of the NHSA Doctor’s Story: Life in the Early Years of the NHS by Ann Dally
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

30 Years On – An interesting case.

One of my 99p buys, I found this book an interesting insight to a controversial area of government/professional policy regarding drugs. I had not heard of this specific case, but having studied government policy seeking to deal with e.g. VD cases, and now being involved in ‘the cancer world’ (as a patient), this gives insight into the power struggles and who has the right to determine what is appropriate practice. The author is clearly angry and pushing her perspective – why wouldn’t you – but seriously supported by evidence and public opinion. I do wonder what the situation is now – in this, and similar fields (eg prostitution, abortion … and even screen time) where banning seems to be the go to practice without thought for impact on individuals.

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