#Review – The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer by Nicola Bourne (@njbrn) #reallife

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The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer is for every woman touched by cancer but still determined to feel in control of their life.

Giving real advice from a number of fabulous women effected by cancer, it includes tips, examples, stories, memoirs, information and ideas covering everything from post-operative styling, ideas to stay social when you can’t go out, dealing with doctors, ways to stay lifted and mots more. All with plenty of kind words and inspiration to keep women on-track during this time.

What does TWG think?

How on Earth can a reviewer or a blogger, ‘review’ a book that has been written about the authors own personal journey? I mean, it’s not like we can sit in front of our computers, dressed to perfection in black tie (ahem), and rate the book 2 stars because it ‘wasn’t sad enough’ or ‘the storyline didn’t hold my attention and wasn’t believable’, or even writing that the ‘storyline was far too sad and completely unrealistic’. The author may even come back with ‘oh oh, okay, I do APOLOGISE about my life not giving you enough entertainment’. Who the hell are we to judge or comment on how someone else lives their life or deals with an extremely uncertain and devastating hurdle? EXACTLY. We can’t, and I won’t. With the blog post I am about to write, I have removed my reviewer hat as this is NOT a review. Instead, it is purely my thoughts in no particular order, and most definitely not commenting on the ‘storyline’ or ‘book structure’.

Why?

Because my dear readers, the author of this book; Nicola Bourne, has had to battle something you only see other people getting and never believing it’ll ever reach you. Cancer. The thing is, prior to the diagnosis, Nicola had had a few ‘iffy’ moments which had resulted in a fair few trips to her GP, taking home information which she could have easily sourced herself from our good friend Google. However, that information was incorrect and their failure to delve further into Nicola’s symptoms mean that her cancer ended up being an aggressive little devil. There was only one option (aside from chemo etc), and that option still didn’t guarantee Nicola’s life at the end of it. She had to endure an extensive 12 hour operation to remove multiple, multiple things including the back wall of her vagina. Yes ladies, you’re probably wincing right now, and I’ll admit that I did too when I read that. However, I cannot even begin to imagine the emotional pain Nicola felt when she got told that news. It’s not really the sort of thing you can go ‘oh okay, no problem’ to, is it?

You’re also probably wondering why I am telling you that (above) when it’s in the book, yes? I have left the finer details out yet given you an overview of her diagnosis because something in particular shouted out to me, and I need to highlight it. When you go to see your GP, you really do expect the doctor/nurse to take you seriously and not fob you off for being ‘too young’ for particular illnesses (if you’re showing the symptoms), or anything similar. You expect them to listen, take note and investigate. Hell, we constantly get told to ‘go to see our gp’s’ if we have symptoms of such and such or if we require further medical advice. Instead, Nicola had to PUSH for a diagnosis. We KNOW our own bodies.

In this guide book, Nicola covers things from telling your family and friends that you have cancer to advice on how to pamper yourself after surgery, and even offering advice on going on holiday with a different you. She has literally given you a friend (in book form) from the start of your medical journey, to life after it; ensuring that even if you do have the support around you, she is giving you additional support from someone IN THE KNOW.

Now, I’m not taking anything away from the cancer topic at all, but, when Nicola discusses how she felt in regards to her treatment from her gp, and how she felt with other people refusing to believe that she was ill because she ‘looked fine’, it caught me very deeply. Those emotions, actions and feelings Nicola wrote in black and white, a lot of people battling chronic illnesses will be able to take away with them after reading this book. Selfishly perhaps, I felt as though she understood me even though I was looking at her words from a completely different angle. It was as though Nicola became the voice of many.

The intense emotion is highly evident throughout the whole book, and rightly so. After all, Nicola had her whole world turned upside down and yet she has still written a book to offer guidance for other people! The guidance in her book isn’t all directed at cleansing your aura and becoming Buddha’s bosom buddy, she has kept it real, humorous and extremely laid back. Honestly, it was as though I had had Nicola ring my doorbell, grab and coffee and sit me down to talk to me about her rollercoaster journey; so matter of fact and so powerful. I am tearing up writing this as I think that Nicola Bourne is an incredibly brave, humble and selfless woman for what she has had to fight, and probably still continues to fight on a daily basis in various other ways.

This is, without a doubt, a truly remarkable book about a truly remarkable woman’s journey; who has selflessly offered her hand to anyone facing the dreaded C. I am in awe at Nicola’s courage to write about her journey so black and white, as well as her strength to be able to fight the horrific disease. Yes, okay, maybe she didn’t ‘have any other option’, but she did have the option as to whether she shared her story to help others, strangers even, which is what she chose to do.

Nicola Bourne, you have my utmost respect. Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for understanding me even though you had no idea that you did.

If you know of anyone fighting cancer, or if you are fighting the journey yourself, you are able to buy Nicola Bourne’s ‘The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer’ right now:
Buy from Amazon now.

#Review! My Sweet Revenge by @JaneFallon @penguinUKbooks @penguinrandom

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Blurb.

I want to make my husband fall back in love with me.

Let me explain. This isn’t an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven’t been reading articles in old women’s magazines. ‘Twenty ways to keep your man’. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tell him to get the hell out of my life he’ll care. He won’t just think, ‘Oh good’.

I want it to hurt.

Paula has had Robert’s back since they got together as drama students.
She gave up her dreams so he could make it.
Now he’s one of the nation’s most popular actors.
And Paula’s just discovered he’s having an affair.

She’s going to remind Robert just what he’s sacrificing.
And then she’s going to break his heart like he broke hers.
It will be her greatest acting role ever.

Revenge is sweet.
Isn’t it?

What does TWG think?

Your wife/husband has been cheating on you; how do you feel? Of course, you’re going to be fuming, devastated and so on. Would you confront them about it? Or would you be badass and seek revenge?! Well, Paula has found out that her world is about the crumble (pretty much rivalling the amount of crumble on a good ol’ apple crumble to be honest); but instead of getting in his face and turning the air around them rather colourful, she is taking matters into her own hands.

The thing is, millions of people have been cheated on and continue to do so for reasons that are only known to themselves. Jane Fallon knows that, that is probably why she took one of the most relatable, soul-destroying and realistic situations and severely owned it.
Have you been cheated on? I have, multiple times. It was the most confidence shattering experience ever; an unforgettable experience if you will. Never mind self-help books, I needed a book like this!!! Writing novels, you have the ability to make people do things that you probably wouldn’t do yourself, yet some other books that contain situations similar to this one, have the characters doing what us readers would do ourselves.
OF COURSE WE ARE GOING TO SNIVVEL IN SUPER OLD PJS AND HUMONGOUS SLIPPERS, HOLDING THE TUB OF BEN AND JERRYS.

Instead, Jane Fallon has created a badass, sassy and phenomenal main character who does the complete opposite. She seeks revenge! Paula is officially my heroine, she totally needs to be made into a super hero character! Sorry, going off subject. Anyway. The steps that Paula takes to turn her heartbreaking situation around are very bold, very daring, very ‘oh my god you’re doing what?!’, yet unbelievably brilliant. A couple of times throughout the book, I did wonder whether Paula was acting slightly childish with the tit for tat and wanting to ‘get him back’ so to speak. However, that swiftly became a thing of the past the more that Robert annoyed me.

There is A LOT to take in with ‘My Sweet Revenge’ and you do need to keep extra focused in case you do miss out on any vital information, but oh my goodness it is SO worth it! The storyline to’s and fro’s, changes direction multiple times but it really is one that will keep you on the edge of your seat in anticipation.

Jane Fallon has exceeded my expectations with her latest novel, especially as her sharp humour is on point from start to finish. I thought Paula was a clever heroine but Jane Fallon has taken that role over!

My Sweet Revenge is a book that will have you crying, laughing, forming a group of solidarity with a woman who is only alive on paper, and realising that it IS okay to put your foot down and own a situation.
Absolute brilliant read; I definitely recommend this as your not-so-guilty secret. Girlpower!

Thank you Penguin, Netgalley & Jane Fallon.

‘My Sweet Revenge’ is available to buy now from Amazon.

How @Lesley_Allen_ & Biddy Weir gave me courage to tell my own story – #BullyingAwarenessWeek

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It isn’t often that you can come across a book which you feel was written about you, for you. A book that is written with such poignancy and devotion to the storyline and its true meaning; one that you can relate to in more ways than one. Unfortunately, when the book in question contains a storyline which in an ideal world, nobody SHOULD EVER relate to, you start to feel ashamed for feeling relieved that you DO relate to it.

Not long ago, author Lesley Allen released a novel titled; ‘The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir’, which has just been released in paperback to coincide with National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month.
(#Review! The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir – (@Lesley_Allen_) @BonnierZaffre #antibullyingmonth)
Thank you to Lesley Allen and Biddy Weir, I was able to muster up enough courage to finally tell my own personal story about being a victim of bullying.

This is my story….

Imagine this; you’re five years old, in Year 1 of Primary School and incredibly shy. You keep yourself to yourself and never get in anyone’s way, pretty much getting on with daily life at age five. Still imagining? Good. Keep going…
Now imagine being the five-year old that got picked on for sitting on the playground floor reading Noddy magazine on their own. Imagine being the five year old that got shoved, pushed and laughed at for being a quiet child (or in their world, a loner). Now, imagine being a five year old that has just been pushed into a brick wall and was called ‘fat’. I’m sure a few of you are probably shaking your heads in disbelief thinking it’s not possible at age five. It is. It was. Want to know why? Because I was that five year old that you have just been imagining for the last paragraph.

Back in 1995 if you were getting picked on, people used to come out and say ‘it’s only a bit of name calling, you’ll get over it’. No. Just NO. We wouldn’t stand for people calling us names now, as adults, why should we stick up with it as children?
From the very first moment of being called fat, my life turned upside down. ‘Fat’ didn’t just appear once, or twice, it used to be a daily occurrence. A FIVE years old. In school I was never considered popular and to be honest, given the nature of the ‘popular gang’, I didn’t even want to be. I was very happy sitting reading my Noddy magazine, waiting for the school bell to ring for home time so that I could see my mum. My protector.

As I got older, I felt like I was constantly looking over my shoulder, trying not to act in a way that people would bully me for. But no matter how hard I tried NOT to get bullied by trying to be someone else, I was still their target. Their meat if you will. Those fat comments did a little more to me than just upset me as no matter what I did, I couldn’t shift the comments from my mind and believed them. I believed them so much, I started attacking myself; I began to play up with my food. I hid it, I dropped it, I threw it away. You name it, I did it, as long as I didn’t have to eat it. At such a young age, I saw food as a poison instead of a necessity. Due to that, my weight plummeted and anorexia & bulimia took over. It was an extremely unhappy time for my family, especially my mum as she couldn’t understand it the way that I understood it as she wasn’t in my head. I mean, if you’re not going through it, how CAN you understand it? Outsiders assume that anorexia is a choice. It really isn’t, it’s an illness, a mental illness.

When I went to Middle School at age 10, I naively thought that the bullying may stop due to everyone being split into different classes with a lot of new students. Don’t get me wrong, it did stop…for a couple of months whilst everyone adjusted. I should have felt elated that I wasn’t getting bullied for a little while, but I wasn’t. Why? Because up until that point, I had already been badly affected by bullies and I wasn’t going to magically feel better and happier overnight. It doesn’t work like that. It cannot work like that. My eating habits were steady, I ate the bare minimum, but at least I ate.

As soon as the bullying started up again I felt more frightened as the bullies were now older and much scarier. I was only a small child, short and very slim build so if anyone towered above me it scared the living scherzy out of me. Getting pinched seemed to be the daily occurrence, as did getting chairs pulled from under me when I’m sitting down. Teachers didn’t believe me, instead, they blamed it on me by saying that I must have done something to antagonise them. I started to dread having to stay in a lunch times due to the bad weather as too many of the nasties were stuck in one room with me. I had nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. I remember one day I tried to stick up for myself and ended up getting a huge sellotape holder bashed onto my hand. Ouch.

I absolutely dreaded going to school and it made me ill. The worry about what would be facing you when you walked through the school gates. Feeling unsure as to whether you’ll go home at the end of the day with all of your possessions. Oh sorry, I didn’t mention that did I? My possessions got stolen at school. Sometimes I was lucky enough to find them still there at the end of the day, even if they were outside in a puddle or covered in mud. Looking back on my school years, it is absolutely ridiculous thinking about what I was bullied for! Horrible names for having hair on my arms, my surname, my weight, my hair colour, my freckles, my dimples; you name it, I was bullied for it.

When I left school, the bullying stopped. I felt free! I could be ME, or could I? Sounds simple doesn’t it? The thing is by that age, I had no idea who I was. I had spent so many years trying to make people like me, blaming myself for what the bullies did, or wondering what was wrong with me that I lost sight of who I truly was. All I was certain of by the age of 17 was that I was a very timid, unconfident teenager with a big heart. Regardless of how broken I was, I gave my heart and soul to other people. Why love myself when for over 8 years, I was attacked for who I was. Does that make sense?

I got my very first job when I was 17; made my wish come true by becoming a checkout girl so I could sit down all day. Ahem. I seemed to follow the family by working in Tesco, and I worked really hard. I wasn’t work shy at all, I did what I had to do and more, without complaining. For a while I was loving it but then overnight, that got robbed of me and I had no idea what I had done. Walking into the canteen or past a group of people you had grown to really like, only to overhear nasty comments about yourself felt like a kick in the stomach. I was the new girl in town and soon enough, those nasty comments seemed to go everywhere and the friends I thought I had, bar one, became no more. Thankfully, that friend has been stuck with me for ten years!

This is harder than I thought, wow. I am tearing up writing this because it is extremely hard to see just a small part of what you went through in black and white in front of you. I feel ashamed. I feel as though there is something wrong with me for people to constantly find fault with me in such nasty ways. I don’t understand it, and to be honest, I don’t think that I ever will.

Bullying is a subject that gets spoken about a lot, but barely anything gets down about it. Not only do people get bullied face to face, people can get bullied online too. Cyber bullying. It’s horrendous and unfortunately I have been on the receiving end of that too. It is quite known that there is a huge stigma attached to bullying because assumptions are often made about the severity. ANY form of bullying is severe and should not be tolerated. Constant name calling etc can leave scars on your emotional well-being and even affect you for many, many years after the event. Physical bullying is often seen as worse because people can physically see it rather than take the victims word for it. Physical bullying can leave scars in the same way as name calling etc can, unfortunately, both types of bullying can result in such devastating endings. Suicide.

It can take an awful lot of courage to be able to speak to a person that you trust, about any forms of bullying that you are going through. It’s far too easy for an outsider to go ‘you need to tell someone’, whereas the victim is probably sitting in fear wondering what would happen if they told anyone. I know I did, I was petrified that the bullying would escalate even more. I couldn’t handle it at the level that it was at, how would I be able to handle it any worse? Luckily for me, my mum believed me. She also was one of the two people to believe me when I was getting bullied at work when I was pregnant.

It’s probably sad to say that my story isn’t much different to millions of others out there. The scars are still evident deep within, I’m not a confident girl and I struggle to trust people due to what the bullies did, and everything else that has happened in my life. I don’t feel worthy of people’s love or attention, and every time I’m being treated rubbishly by people these days, it brings me back to moments I wish to forget. But I can’t. I’m trying to, don’t get me wrong. I will never be like anyone else, never. I am truly thankful to the people who have stood by me and have had my back over the years. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.

Over the years I have told my stop in dribs and drabs, never have I ever told it like this. What you have read is only a summary of what I went through, there is far more to it than that as I am sure you understand. Reading Lesley Allen’s book shook me to the core, but, without Lesley writing such a safe haven of a storyline, I don’t think that I would have found the courage to speak out properly. Thank you Lesley and Biddy Weir.

Bullying needs to stop. We need to stop feeling ashamed for being bullied, but we need to have the safety net to do so.

This was my story, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading it.
If you have been affected by anything in my post, or are getting bullied yourself and have no idea where to go from here, you can find contact numbers and support details right here:
Bullying UK

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Blog Tour! Review of ‘Something Inbetween’ – @MelissadelaCruz #SomethingInbetween@HQYoungAdult

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Blurb.

When your country doesn’t want you there, how do you know where you belong?

Jasmine de los Santos has been pushed by her Filipino immigrant parents to over-achieve, be the best she can be, work as hard as she can at school and reach for the American Dream. She’s thrilled to be named a finalist for the National Scholarship Award and prepares to go to Washington, D. C. to receive it. But when she brings home the paperwork, she learns that she and all her family are in the country illegally.

As Jasmine’s world shatters around her, she rebels, trying to make sense of herself—who is she? Is she American? Illegal? Something in between? Jasmine decides to accept the award anyway and goes to D.C., where she meets Royce Blakely, the handsome son of a Republican congressman. As she fights for her very identity, will Jasmine find help in unexpected places, and will she ever figure out where she belongs?

What does TWG think?

There are a lot of topics frequenting the media at the moment, some more than others and ‘Something Inbetween’ highlights one of those. Immigration. Jasmine de los Santos is a grade A student and has the chance to go to Washington for her all important scholarship. In no time at all, Jasmine’s life, dreams and everything she has worked for becomes null and void. Where does that leave her? Jasmine has no idea where she belongs or which country she can call her own, legally, but she is definitely determined to find that out.

YA books have come a long way since I was younger and I find that nowadays the content of the books highlight a wider range of important topics. Whilst I found the overall message of this particular storyline very real and of high importance, I did find myself sitting on the fence a lot of the time. Sometimes I felt as though the focus was lost and the true meaning of the book became a little foggy.

That said, it was truly refreshing to read Jasmine’s story and learn about what she had to go through. It opened my eyes to the topic from a different angle which was far better than the angle the media portrays. Jasmine’s story was an emotional one and I feel as though Melissa de la Cruz conveyed that with such intensity, all the way through.

Thank you to HQYoungAdult for the ARC!

Today is the final stop of the tour and if you have missed any of the other previous stops, you can find them all here:
Buy the book from Amazon
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The Blog Tour bus has stopped right here with ‘Something Old, Something New’ with Darcie! (and Annie!)

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“Annie are you okay? Are you okay? Are you okay Annie?” -moonwalks-. I wonder if anyone has moonwalked down the aisle on their wedding day…hmmm. Darcie, did Annie? I’m curious now. Oh, sorry, you’re not here for my thoughts on dancing are you? Pfffffttttttt! Well, that’s alright then because I have something WAYYYY more interesting than me moonwalking to MJ.

Welcome to today’s Blog Tour Stop for Darcie Boleyn ‘Something Old, Something New’! (Courtesy of @NeverlandBT)
Buy Something Old, Something New from Amazon UK


‘A heartwarming, giggle­inducing romance from Darcie Boleyn, just in time for the wedding season! Will you marry me…again?
When Annie Thomas agrees to give her ex away at his wedding to his boyfriend, she thinks she’ll be fine. With her three children at her side, she can handle anything. Then she finds out her gorgeous first ex-­husband Evan Llewellyn is flying in from his glamorous life in New York to attend as well! An unexpected pregnancy ended their relationship and as she stumbles throug
h the ups and downs of life as a working single mum – helping everyone else find a happy ending along the way – Annie refuses to believe their old and incredibly hot spark can still exist. It’s only when she and Evan are forced to face up to the past together that they’ll discover if they can have their own happily­everafter too!’

I must admit, I was extremely excited about reading this book and being involved in the tour that I read the book a couple of weeks ago, ready. Eager much?
‘Something Old, Something New’ gives you an insight to Annie’s past, present and personality. On the topic of personality, if you could choose the most bizarre name for a dog, what would it be? I wonder what Annie called her dogs….
Annie Thomas hasn’t had the most straight forward life so far; one child with her first husband, two children with her second gay now ex-husband, and a neighbour who believes in finding her own Prince Charming…in lycra.
Annie was asked to give her ex husband away at his wedding, naturally she agrees, but that was before she realised she would have not ONE ex husband in the same room as her, but TWO ex husbands. Will the flutters in her tummy for a certain ex husband fly away? Or will Annie’s past come back to life right in front of her?

To be honest, I was hooked by the first word in the book! My sort of woman is Annie! If you’re not hooked by the third or fourth page then I want to know why. The cringe factor and hilarity is on point right from the beginning of the book. I had to read the rest of the first chapter through my fingers because I was laughing so hard and had no idea what Annie was going to get up to next. I certainly won’t be looking at lolly sticks without laughing from now on let me tell you!
The way Darcie has written Annie’s character, I could tell she had a bond with her. Annie is such a warm, funny and engaging character, it was hard not to love her. She constantly thinks about her past and wants to not make the same mistakes as before, so it’s like she is always on tenterhooks. I mean, who doesn’t think about their past and their mistakes? Everyone does or at least has done. Annie wants the best life for her children and her close friends, whilst in the process putting herself last. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because of all the giggles, the realness of the storyline, especially with the ‘unconventional family’. For me, it flowed excellently, every single word in the novel had a right to be there if that makes sense!
As the story progressed, I began to learn more about Annie’s children and her exes. With the newfound information I was urging Annie to make a decision. I predicted the story would unfold in a certain way, and it did. Now, that did not disappoint me at all because I’m all for cheerleading, especially when you’re hopeful about the characters and their lives when you read such a wonderful book.
Darcie has written about real life struggles and circumstances in such a refreshing way. Instead of making a bad situation all fluffy and false outcomes, she has made them….real, made them fit in with now because someone somewhere is going through those things. Darcie has written about fear, sadness, hope, but most of all, love. There’s one thing writing about love and not having anyone believe it, but to write about love in multiple forms and write it in a memorable and outstanding way is incredible. I think that shows how wonderful of a writer Darcie is if she can portray all of that within the storyline and characters.
Seeing as this is a romantic comedy, do you think I cried whilst I read it? Of course I did! Reading ‘Something Old, Something New’ was like watching your best friends wedding video. Emotional but utterly brilliant. If I could pack up and move into Annie’s house, I would. Thank you Darcie for a truly exceptional and thought provoking read. You have made me believe that it’s okay not to be perfect, as long as you are true.

About the author:

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Darcie’s Twitter
Darcie’s Facebook
Darcie’s Blog (1)
Darcie’s Blog (2)

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

Before you go, fancy a chance at winning a copy of Something Old, Something new? Well here is your chance to!
Click here to enter the giveaway!

 

An insight into Maya Berger’s ‘Luna Tree – The Baby Project’.

I had seen the cover of ‘Luna Tree’ before whilst browsing Amazon, and it’s one that definitely caught my eye. How could it not? Then one day, I stumbled across the lady herself, Maya Berger on Twitter, where I won myself a copy of the beautiful book. The cover intrigued me, the author intrigued me, I just knew I had to get her onto my blog and find out more, which leads us to now. Maya has kindly written a guest post about why she wrote her book ‘Luna Tree – The Baby Project’. I read the post, and I cried. I cried because it hit home in more ways than one, and I am sure a lot of you will be able to relate to parts of it as well.
Now, I will hand you over to Maya and her heartfelt words…

‘THE STORY BEHIND LUNA TREE

‘Firstly Kaisha, thank you for the chance to tell your readers about my book!

Luna tree is the first book I’ve written. It is about my desire to become a better version of myself, and my dream to have a baby. I was motivated to write a book because I had very big obstacles to overcome to get to where I am today. I start the book with a peek into my childhood and adolescence. Then I describe my early relationships and finally the period of my life when I met my husband. It was important to me that a reader gets to know my background, where I am coming from. Then I got sick with autoimmune illness that almost made me handicapped. It lasted for almost three years and in that period I visited numerous Western and Eastern medicine practitioners and travelled the world to find a cure. The worst part was not knowing what was wrong with me because you don’t know if there is a medicine for it. Not knowing how will I live for the rest of my life without the ability to sit, or walk, or even lie down without the special mattress was something that I was living with every day and it was hard to accept it.

Finally, I got better and conceived a baby. It was an incredible experience, and I felt a need to share it with everyone, especially with people who feel they are in a dead-end street. Today I am healthy and the proud mother of my baby girl Luna.

I don’t think I am the strongest person living. I cried so many times I can’t even count them. The solution is not to give up. I would cry and then find another doctor, then I would cry again and seek another one until I realized that the doctors might not ever diagnose me properly – that’s when I turned to alternative practitioners. There is a solution for every problem, we just have to find it. The worst is to just accept the situation and feel sorry for yourself. It doesn’t really mean you accepted the situation, it just means you gave up.

Through my whole life I had to care for someone: My Mom, my sister, my boyfriend… and finally there was a person who took care of me and I could relax. But then things went downward. You know, like when you work hard and have no time to be ill, and then you finally get some time, and what happens? You get sick, because you spent the last atom of your strength and now you have no energy for anything. My “time off” started on our skiing trip when I suddenly expected my husband to solve all my little problems that never even existed before (because I was to busy solving other people’s problems ).

I started to write Luna Tree when I got my baby girl. I would write when she was asleep. I always had time for writing, because I felt the need to share my story and maybe help someone in a similar situation feel better. Nowadays, I write an hour or two daily in the morning or evening when I don’t have other responsibilities like my work as a presenter, housework or playing with my girl. If you love doing something, you will always make the time to do it.

Today, I am finishing my second book, also a chick-lit memoir, so to say. It is a funny story about two girls invited to a Belgian wedding. There is a twist, too, and I think readers will love it!

As far as the books I like go – I love psychological dramas, chick-lit, sometimes thrillers. I read all books by Lianne Moriarty, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and Rainbow Rowell. Those are my favorite writers, but I’ll read anything if I have the time.

Very honest post, don’t you agree? Many of us battle with life long illnesses, or come up against brick walls when it comes to things in our lives. Everyone us different, everyone’s battle is different. But to see an author put it into one of their books for the world to see, and to make the reality of chronic illnesses/autoimmune diseases widely known, it is empowering. Why? Because we need awareness, we need support, and we need people to understand in their own special way. Just like Maya.

How many of you have read the book? If you haven’t read it yet (I haven’t but it’s bumped up my list so expect a review this week), then I will pop the links below of where you can buy it. It’s currently available in both paperback and e-book format. I don’t think this book is one that you should miss:

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Where to buy:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the author – Maya Berger:
Maya Berger is a 41-year-old woman from Croatia. Born in Zagreb where she lives, Maya studied in Dubrovnik and life was rosy until something stopped her – Ankylosing Spondylitis. Maya battled chronic pain for years, and was misdiagnosed for quite some time, so when AS was finally defined, she felt relief. She also found a way to get rid of chronic pain for some 85%, following some alternative medicine options.  As Maya personally dislikes depressing books, she did everything to avoid writing one… regardless of a somewhat heavier topic. Most of the people who read it say it’s an uplifting read. She calls it a humorous guide to recovery and healing.

Maya’s Twitter
Maya’s Facebook
Luna Tree Website.

Big thank you to Maya Berger for taking the time to be with us here today, I really do appreciate it!

Dream a little dream….

Dream a little dream of meeeee do do be do do de do…
You singing yet? Thought so. Did you have a childhood dream? By dream I mean something plausible and not the obvious one about wanting to be batman, or superman, or wonder woman! I mean seriously, we have all wanted to be one of those….or Iron man! No, I mean a dream that you would have done anything to achieve. You thinking about it? Good. I had an amazing ‘what I want to be when I grow up’. Well, two. I actually achieved one of my dreams when I was in my teens. I wanted to be a checkout girl! Stop laughing, I’m being serious! I wanted to work on the checkout so that I could sit down all day, I made my dream come true at 17. True story. As a child I wanted to be a singer, got plenty of practise singing into the light hanging from the ceiling…..’you know we belong togetherrrrrr, you and I forever and everrrrrrr’. Home and Away eat your heart out! Choreography was also on point, I mean, if Sclub 7 or Steps needed new members me and my brother could have filled in at a moments notice! We were that good. Well, we thought we were. In this day and age we would probably be seen as the joke act on the X Factor! Now there’s a thought!
I did have one other dream though, I wanted to be a published writer. I wanted to publish a children’s book for my own children. Is that still an aspiration of mine? Yes, it is. I never thought I could do it, I still don’t, but I don’t know unless I try. This is why I’m here, writing for you. Now while it is funny that I wanted to sit down all day back then, it’s not as funny now if you think about me and my situation. My situation is me being chronically ill, with not one, not two, but six conditions. Six that won’t go away. I could sit down all day, but unless I want to look like I’ve just been sitting in a freezer all stiff, moments after getting up, I can’t. Take my fibromyalgia for example (all over body pain – issues with the nerves, but can affect every part of your body), for an outsider looking in, it’s obviously far too easy to go ‘just get an early night and you’ll feel better’ or ‘take time to rest, you’ll feel better for it’ or ‘think positively’. Why didn’t I think of that!  Imagine this a second, imagine not being able to make any plans because you don’t know how you’re going to be when you wake up every morning, being exhausted just from taking a shower, parts of your body hurting and you haven’t done anything to make them hurt, feeling like you’re letting your loved ones down for not being ‘you’. How does that make you feel? Scared? Like you have lost a part of you?
You grieve for the life that you have lost, a life that had no limitations, a life you had more control over. Will I accept that I’m never going to get better, and that I’m reliant on tablets to keep me alive? To an extent, yes. Because that is the case. Will I accept that my life now has limitations…my body has limitations? Yes! I have to! It is either push myself and flare up for goodness knows how long after, or prioritise and be able to do things with my daughter and flaring up because of fun and not because I cleaned the kitchen floor. Not saying my kitchen is dirty by the way, totally an example!!
When you get told that you’re chronically ill on multiple occasions, you don’t really get told much, you have to go to your good friend Google. Me and google are BFFS!!! The illnesses are all completely unpredictable in their own very special (ahem) ways. The cognitive problems are sometimes more hurtful than the pain because I feel I can come across stupid if I get my words muddled up. I don’t want sympathy, I just want to be remembered. Not that hard really is it?
So the dream of me wanting to be a writer, a published writer, and feeling that now is the right time..you want to know why? Because me taking the control and working hard to try to make it a reality, is probably one of the few things I can be certain about. It is down to me to make this work. Words won’t write themselves. I have the control. I love to read, I love to write. If you truly want something and you know full well that if you don’t do it right now you may not even be able to do it in a few years time, it’s a kick up the youknowwhat. Grab the bull by the horns! Actually, don’t, I don’t think that is allowed. Is it?! Plus I can hide behind what I write to an extent. That isn’t me being false, it’s a way of escaping what I have to face. I may write something emotional but you won’t be seeing me cry so the embarrassment factor is no longer there.

Despite all of that, since 2013 I have had one main aspiration. One that will always be with me. I want to make my daughter (and my mum) proud of me. Every day is a battle for me, in various ways. Some days have more battles than others and I know I’ll not win every single battle I come up against. Does that bother me? No, not anymore. Whilst inside I think I’m Iron Man and can do everything, I can’t. I shouldn’t be expected to either. You all have your limits, be aware of them. Be true to yourself and the ones that love you, otherwise you will feel guilty. Believe me.

If you have somebody close to you right now that is needing a pick me up, don’t be all ‘awwww i’m sorry’ be all ‘here, have a cookie’ or just remember them. Goes for anyone really, even a stranger. I’m learning every single day that I fight my battles, but one thing I know is clear, the little things are what make it. The little things are important because they make up the bigger picture. You have to start somewhere…..