Tag Archives: Hope

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Miracle in Slow Motion by Sally Wagter #Brainfluffbookblog #MiracleinSlowMotionbookrecommendation

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Today is the day when Miracle in Slow Motion by my dear friend Sally Wagter is being released. And that sentence tells you why this isn’t and cannot be a normal book review. Not only did I edit this book – I know this story from the beginning.

Sally and I went to teaching college together way back in the early 1990s, though our friendship was cemented when we found ourselves teaching in the same school – and then in the same yeargroup. She’s a talented teacher with an instinctive feel for the children in her care and not only is she a firm friend, she is also a respected colleague. Himself and I went to her wedding to Erik, and I was thrilled when she told me she was pregnant.

Tim was a beautiful baby – he’s inherited his parents’ good looks. But he cried a lot, suffering badly with colic. And my life changed one night when he was about eight weeks old, Sally turned up on the doorstep, grey-faced with exhaustion. Tim wouldn’t stop crying. So I invited her in and once she handed Tim to me, I was swept with such a deep wave of love for him, it knocked the breath from my lungs. It’s happened a handful of times in my life – when I held my own children, my grandchildren, my nephews and niece. And Tim… I paced up and down our kitchen, crooning nonsense and singing to him, gently jigging him my arms and it wasn’t long before he fell asleep.

I looked after him two days a week from the time he was four months old when Sally had to return to work, until he was three and a half when I had to stop – a decision that broke my heart. So I was right alongside during the terrible time of his autism diagnosis. And what flummoxed me was how little hope was offered for Tim’s future or any possibility that he would be able to lead an independent life. I recall sitting at our kitchen table reading a book I’d got out from the library about what we could expect. I got halfway through, put my head on my arms on the table and howled. How could this be happening? The bonny baby with the sunshine smile and infectious giggle, who loved going out and being sung to – was at two years old increasingly in the throes of screaming panic. Unreachable, he’d run around, howling and afraid – while more and more everyday incidents were triggering this response. And the book I’d turned to, written by experts, offered NOTHING in the way of hope. Worse, the professionals who came in to offer advice and work with Tim, while clearly committed and well-meaning, didn’t treat him with the gentleness a neuro-typical child of his age could expect. He needed firm ground rules, apparently – because ‘these children’ are highly controlling and manipulative…

Sally and Erik didn’t accept the situation and this book charts how they managed to help Tim, so that he is now a charming, empathetic, articulate, and musically talented young man. The fact they are remarkable people, whose love and faith in their son’s potential prevailed against the odds, is a given. Depressingly, though Tim is now eighteen, the situation for parents with children on the autistic spectrum hasn’t improved or progressed all that much since Tim’s initial diagnosis.

Books are often touted as being life-changing, however this one really has the potential to help other despairing parents desperate to help their children, but don’t know where to start. Sally decided to write this book years ago, but it’s taken a long time – because, understandably – she’s been a tad busy running Tim’s education, as well as raising his younger brother. I was honoured to be part of this project as editor and I’m delighted that it is now available here.

BLURB: Miracle in Slow Motion is an inspirational story from despair to miracles, charting a mother’s deeply emotional journey on being confronted with her son’s autism. Refusing to believe the bleak outlook forecast for him, she determined to go all-out in helping him to connect and discover his real self and potential.

Part I charts the journey up to the age of eleven, where his mother started to see hope for his future. By the age of two, he was having daily meltdowns, screaming, running away, and unable to communicate his needs; by four he was diagnosed with a severe speech, language and communication disorder; at eight his school said they could not teach him and his parents should prepare for a future of assisted working. However, at the age of eleven he was talking easily, thinking of others and becoming flexible. He was also building friendships and some of his talents were starting to emerge.

Part II charts the years from eleven to seventeen, where Tim’s social skills, academic achievements and dreams were all brought to fruition. You can find out how we did this by reading the book…

Chapter One – The Beginning

‘I feel a bit bored and in need of an adventure,’ Tim said as he sauntered into the kitchen yesterday morning.

‘Why don’t you get the bus to Worthing and wander around. Are you OK with the bus to get there?’

‘Yeah, sure.’

‘Oh, and can you try to be back by five so you can eat before the party tonight?’

‘Of course!’

As he left the house I called out, ‘Love you.’

He called back, ‘Love you forever Mum, see you later!’ and he was gone.

But it wasn’t always this way. Tim’s freedom and independence had been a long time coming…

I will begin at the beginning. Erik, my gorgeous Dutch husband, and I met in Holland and after a year and a half of dating, back and forth between countries, he came to live in England and on the day he arrived, I agreed to marry him. We would sit and talk for hours. Going to cafes and putting the world to rights felt like such a special treat with him. He was so easy to talk to and very switched on emotionally, and he seemed to get me just by looking at me. He was an amazing songwriter and a real people person. He fitted straight into my lovely circle of friends and we ended up spending many evenings discussing ‘life, the universe and everything’ around dinner party tables.

He was also funny. His spoken English was amazing but also became a source of amusement between us. On one of his first visits to England, before we were going out, a friend asked where he was staying and Erik called out to them across the pub, ‘I’m sleeping with Steve tonight!’ We all fell about laughing.

At the time, I was teaching full-time in a local school and spent many hours sitting on the floor after a long day, marking work and preparing lessons. My life was full of school concerts, shows, fairs, projects and report-writing. Erik was a social worker and had found a job in a residential school nearby. He worked with children with varying challenges and spent his time playing sport with the children and putting on talent shows in order to raise their self-esteem. We both shared a love of music. I had a music degree and he had spent years in a band and as a worship leader in his church. I was a pianist, while he was a guitar player and singer. Music, for both of us, was our emotional outlet and a huge part of our identity. Little did we know how precious this was and how soon these opportunities would be taken from us.


Sunday Post – 29th March, 2020 #Brainfluffbookblog #SundayPost

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This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

Like most people, I’m staying at home, though Himself is still out driving trains. We’ve worked out a system whereby he puts his uniform into the washing machine before coming into the house and so far… so good.

Last Monday, on her second day in the new house, my daughter woke up with a temperature, joint and stomach pains and a cough. So she ended up being quarantined in the house without the children. She is now feeling a lot better, but it’s been a long week for her. Thank goodness she is recovering and the children don’t seem to have had any symptoms. Other than that, we keep in touch with family via Skype and Zoom. It was a huge relief to hear my brother-in-law caught one of the last flights from Melbourne and is now back home safely. And we go on praying none of the vulnerable members of the family go down with the illness…

Still enjoying Outlander – but mightily disappointed with that DREADFUL last episode of Picard, when it had been going so well. Thank goodness for marvellous books – I’m listening to Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light – so very, very good! And I’m working on my book on Characterisation, which is growing slowly but surely. It’s interesting how different my writing patterns are for non-fiction, as opposed to fiction.

Last week I read:
The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
For centuries, the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by the god known as the Raven. He watches over his territory from atop a tower in the powerful port of Vastai. His will is enacted through the Raven’s Lease, a human ruler chosen by the god himself. His magic is sustained via the blood sacrifice that every Lease must offer. And under the Raven’s watch, the city flourishes. But the power of the Raven is weakening. A usurper has claimed the throne. The kingdom borders are tested by invaders who long for the prosperity that Vastai boasts. And they have made their own alliances with other gods. It is into this unrest that the warrior Eolo–aide to Mawat, the true Lease–arrives. And in seeking to help Mawat reclaim his city, Eolo discovers that the Raven’s Tower holds a secret.
This fascinating story, told from an unusual viewpoint – using the second person (you) pov – caught me from the start. I loved the tension and Leckie’s handling of the perspective from a god who has lived a very long time.


The Clutter Corpse – Book 1 of the Decluttering Mysteries series by Simon Brett
Introducing an engaging new amateur sleuth, declutterer Ellen Curtis, in the first of a brilliant new mystery series.
That’s all the blurb there is – and this intriguing cosy mystery does just that – sets up Ellen as an engaging, competent protagonist with a doozy of a backstory. While I enjoyed the whodunit aspect, I was even more engrossed in Ellen as a fascinating protagonist and very much look forward to reading more about her. Review to follow.

 



Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
1976: Peggy Hillcoat is eight. She spends her summer camping with her father, playing her beloved record of The Railway Children and listening to her mother’s grand piano, but her pretty life is about to change. Her survivalist father, who has been stockpiling provisions for the end which is surely coming soon, takes her from London to a cabin in a remote European forest. There he tells Peggy the rest of the world has disappeared.
I burned through this one, finding it impossible to put down. It’s an amazing read in many ways. For starters, the prose is absolutely beautiful and I enjoyed so much about this one… But for me, the pacing and narrative stuttered in the final stages, leaving me unhappy with the ending, both with its execution and the outcome.


The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Macksey
A book of hope for uncertain times.
Enter the world of Charlie’s four unlikely friends, discover their story and their most important life lessons. The conversations of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have been shared thousands of times online, recreated in school art classes, hung on hospital walls and turned into tattoos. In Charlie’s first book, you will find his most-loved illustrations and some new ones too.
My lovely sister-in-law sent this to me and I absolutely love it – the beautiful drawings and the messages of truth and hope that shone off the pages. It had me weeping and laughing at the same time. It isn’t long, but I shall be returning to it regularly. Especially in the coming days and weeks…


My posts last week:

Friday Face-off featuring Circe by Madeline Miller

Review of A Season of Spells – Book 3 of the Noctis Magicae series by Sylvia Hunter

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of War of the Maps by Paul McAuley

Review of AUDIOBOOK A Hat Full of Sky – Book 32 of the Discworld series, Book 2 of the Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett

Sunday Post – 22nd March 2020

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Books That Made Me Smile, Laugh, Inspired Me & Gave Me Hope https://hookedonbookz.com/2020/03/26/books-that-made-me-smile-laugh-inspired-me-gave-me-hope/ A very useful list – that includes The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse…

Coping Tools https://randomactsofwriting.wordpress.com/2020/03/25/coping-tools/
Another useful and uplifting article that I really appreciated and thought others, too, might enjoy reading…

Book Tag – The Secret World of a Book Blogger https://comfortreadsbookblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/26/book-tag-secret-life-of-a-book-blogger/ I’m a nosy person – my excuse is that I’m a writer, but I couldn’t pass up this insight into a fellow book blogger’s process behind the articles…

House Arrest https://jaceybedford.wordpress.com/2020/03/24/house-arrest/ Another great insight into how successful sci fi/fantasy author is coping with self isolating…

Giving Up Oxford https://infjphd.org/2020/03/24/giving-up-oxford/ A beautiful homage to one of our loveliest cities and a thoughtful article about lost opportunities and curtailed plans due to the virus…

Thank you for visiting, reading, liking and/or commenting on my blog – I hope you and yours have a peaceful, healthy week. Take care.

Review of Personal Demon – Book 8 of Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

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Recently, Himself and I discovered that since we’d read the last Women of the Otherworld series, there were a few books that had either slipped through the net, or Armstrong had added and given that we’re both fans of her writing, we decided to track down these books.

personaldemonHope Adams, tabloid journalist and half-demon, inherited her Bollywood-princess looks from her mother. From her demon father, she inherited a hunger for chaos, and a talent for finding it. Like full demons, she gets an almost sexual rush from danger – in fact, she thrives on it. But she is determined to use her gifts for good.

When the head of the powerful Cortez Cabal asks her to infiltrate a gang of bored, rich, troublemaking supernaturals in Miami. Hope can’t resist the excitement. But trouble for Hope is intoxicating, and soon she’s in way too deep…

Hope is a really interesting character. We first meet up with her in No Humans Involved – see my review here – when she tries to help Jaime in her investigation. Armstrong has a nifty device in her Women of the Otherworld series – each book features a different female protagonist within her world. So she is able to give us different slices of her paranormal community from a variety of perspectives, giving her world a complex, layered quality.

Armstrong’s characters are always appealing and each one is different, with their own particular strengths, weaknesses and obstacles to endure or overcome. Hope – the name is ironic – finds herself drawn to chaos and people who attract or create strong emotions, such as fear, anger or excitement. So working undercover with the gang provides her with plenty of opportunity to get hits of the rush. Until a particular person from her past turns up, convinced that she is in over her head and determined to extricate her from her current situation.

Hope’s story isn’t the only one in this book. Lucas Cortez, husband of Paige, and declared heir to the Cortez Cabal and fortune, also becomes entangled in this affair when the Cortez cabal finds itself grappling with a major situation. As he flies in to deal with this particular emergency, we also get reacquainted with characters who have featured in previous books, allowing us to follow their continued character arc throughout the series. It is a nifty trick – given the number of different characters within Armstrong’s Otherworld, I have found it relatively easy to keep track of exactly who has done what to whom.

I enjoyed Hope’s adventure and her impulsive attraction to danger. As for the antagonists – there is a theory that in a thriller such as this, it is the baddies that are the engine of the story. Their motivations and actions are the triggers that create the drama along with the resulting fallout and Personal Demon is a classic example of how this can be effectively achieved. Without lurching into spoiler territory, I found the antagonists in this tale riveting and terrifying, while their motivation comes from a deep-seated longing to feel secure. The wrenching truth is that their reasoning for doing what they do is spot on. Which is an uncomfortable truth and raises a dilemma – if you feel yourself threatened with good reason, are you entitled to strike back with sufficient force so as to eliminate that threat even if it involves killing innocent people? Judging by the rising body count in parts of the world such as Syria and Israel, far too many folks think the answer is yes…

But don’t go away thinking this book is remotely dry or preachy. Armstrong is far too an accomplished storyteller to get bogged down in anything that will hold up the driving force of her narrative. This is an entertaining, paranormal romp with a dose of sexy excitement among the other mayhem that abounds. As winter trudges onward, curl up in front of the fire and get whisked away. You don’t even need to have read the other books, although I recommend you do.
9/10