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Giving Birth: True

Hard Pushed Book Cover Hard Pushed
Leah Hazard
memoir, medical, science, nursing
Hutchinson
May 2, 2019
304

No sleep for twenty hours. No food for ten. And a ward full of soon-to-be mothers… Welcome to the life of a midwife.  Life on the NHS front line, working within a system at breaking point, is more extreme than you could ever imagine. From the bloody to the beautiful, from moments of utter vulnerability to remarkable displays of strength, from camaraderie to raw desperation, from heart-wrenching grief to the pure, perfect joy of a new-born baby, midwife Leah Hazard has seen it all. Through her eyes, we meet Eleanor, whose wife is a walking miracle of modern medicine, their baby a feat of reproductive science; Crystal, pregnant at just fifteen, the precarious, flickering life within her threatening to come far too soon; Star, birthing in a room heady with essential oils and love until an enemy intrudes and Pei Hsuan, who has carried her tale of exploitation and endurance thousands of miles to somehow find herself at the open door of Leah’s ward. Moving, compassionate and intensely candid, Hard Pushed is a love letter to new mothers and to Leah’s fellow midwives – there for us at some of the most challenging, empowering and defining moments of our lives.

A true memoir by a Canadian/English midwife about her work in the NHS. Her book shows us just how underfunded, understaffed, under waged and under resourced midwives are. They are perhaps the least recognised area of nursing for its strains and difficulties that come from being there at the time of birth – literally your babies’ lives are in their hands – and they are overworked. There aren’t enough beds now that just about every birth is in a hospital.

Home births are now a rarity (except perhaps in very rural areas of Scotland where getting to a hospital is tricky). And yet, given the right circumstances, and assuming that the birth is not expected to be difficult, a home birth can be much less traumatic for all, including the baby. The next best thing is what was offered when I was pregnant. The GP ward. Where you are quiet and attended by your GP and a midwife rather than the high tech version. And you can easily move into the high tech version if needed. Giving birth can be hazardous for some and unexpected occurrences happen quickly. Which bis where the poor midwife is on hand – hopefully, to sort the issue out.

Though I did appreciate the high tech version when I had to have epidurals and caesareans.

I found this a genuine and moving book. I know a young midwife and met her several times as she was training, and know how hard it was for her and what long hours she worked.

Leah told her story in a very accessible style. Her words were clear and not flowery – but compassionate and truthful.

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Must You Go?

by

Antonia Fraser

A diary and reflections on a privileged life with an exceptional man for a husband and luvvies for friends – not to mention six children!

So this is Antonia Fraser writing about her own life for a change rather someone else’s and using her diaries as the mainstay of the book. And this to me is where the book fell down. When Antonia Fraser writes her historical memoirs she researches them in great depth – too much depth for me in some of them – but here she relies on her notes and scribbles to tell the story. For me, it doesn’t. Perhaps because the initial sets of content seemed mainly to consist of who they went to dinner with – which doesn’t interest me as I am not one of those celebrity followers. And for me, seems to be a form of bragging even if it was her life at the time. antonia

However, I did find out some good things, which I hadn’t known before:

  • Harold Pinter (her husband), acted, directed, and wrote screen plays as well as poetry and theatre plays;
  • Harold was extremely left-wing and championed those who were fighting dictators;
  • The couple were fiercely anti the Iraq war (and thus not friends with Tony Blair);
  • Antonia Fraser has written a crime series as well as historical biographies; (just where does she find the time!!?;
  • There was an incestuous crow of luvvies who found work for each other – there was an in-crowd.

I also investigated the illness pemphigus as Harold suffered from  it. It seems it is an auto-immune disease that affects the skin and mucous membranes. There are 3 variants. It was first described I the 1960s and there are 0.68 people affected for every 100,000, so rare. It mostly affects women and the older population and Ashkenazi Jews are especially prone. It is triggered by environmental factors that include stress, tumours and nutrition. There is a mortality rate with treatment of 12& but age and frailty and the drug side effects can cause a higher risk of death.

Overall I gave the book 2.5/3 stars. The original rating was the beginning  of the book. It got better and more interesting in later sections but you did need perseverance to get to it. I only persevered because it was chosen for my book club.

 

 

 

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Penny goes on her Travels with Dave

Travels with Penny Large Banner

 

Travels CoverTitle: Travels with Penny
Author:
David Alan Morrison
Publication Date:
April 2015
Publisher: Booktrope

Two things flashed through my mind when I opened the door to the sex shop to find my mother standing in front of the display case talking to a tall salesman wearing a leather harness, jock strap and a dog collar. The first was, “Oh, crap.” The second was, “I hate when Dad’s right.”

Following the sudden death of his father, a single, middle-aged gay guy struggles with his own mortality be reminiscing about the travels with his gregarious mother. It is a look at the transformation of the baffling, complex relationship between children and their parents.

 

 

DAMheadshot.jpeg

 

Author Bio:
Dave Morrison (CI & CT, NIC-A, SC:L, NAD-5). Dave received his A.A. in ASL/ENG Interpreting from L.A. Pierce College in 1989. In 2000, he obtained his M.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Kentucky. He has interpreted in a variety of venues, from the courtroom to funerals to underwater conservation forums. As an actor, he has been seen on stage, TV and film. He is currently an adjunct instructor of Drama at Skagit Valley College and works with local theatres as a director, actor and instructor.
Author Links:

 

GIVEAWAY
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This tour was organized by Good Tales Book Tours.

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Springing through childhood

Springfield Road by Salena Godden

This unlike most of the books I read was not only non-fiction but also a memoir/autobiography written not by someone famous, or at least not very famous even though they do perform. In most ways this was a memoir about the childhood of what appears at first instance to be an ordinary girl. It is based largely around her memories of a house she lived in – in Springfield Road – hence the title.

She is the daughter of a quite famous white jazz musician who played with most of the bands and stars of his era and a black dancer – a go-go dancer at the time of their marriage.

salena1 salenagodden_8

She therefore has a mixed heritage, although it was her mother’s family who had most impact on her.

Her father deserted her mother when she was quite small – he was fairly typical I suppose of musicians of that time who were promiscuous and in many ways it is more surprising that he actually married her mother than that he left and had many affairs.

Salena now has a career as a poet and musician herself and her poetry often came through in this book as much of the text was quite lyrical. However, as this book was published by Unbound publishers – a sort of cloud-funding site for publication there was insufficient editing and this book needed a stronger line of story. It jumped around rather too much and was confusing. The first chapters were also off-putting and you needed to read well into the book to want to continue. Once you did, you got fascinated by, what for me, was not reminiscent of my childhood and foreign to me as I lived in a very different area of the country – a ‘safe’ London suburb where we ran riot in our cul-de-sac and each other’s houses. Another difference is that she was always looking for her father, and believed as a child, he would come home to her soon. As a child I lost my mother to an illness and so knew she never come home to me.

Memory of childhood is often patchy and yet Salena’s seemed very strong indeed and you just wonder how much was filled in by guess or desire when memory missed. Certainly her family helped her a lot, but again our memories are skewed by what we want to believe. Can we really remember everything? Especially what it was like to be a child? The racial issues that she would have encountered then must have been ones that remained strong in her memory though as such a mixed marriage was rather uncommon in the 1970s though it was becoming more common it’s true.

I was given the opportunity to read this book through the website for women called forbookssake which specialises in encouraging female authors.

Salena says about her book:

Springfield Road is a journey into childhood. My childhood, maybe your childhood too. I set out to capture a snapshot of the seventies, a world without health and safety, a time of halfpenny sweets, fish and chips in newspaper, cassette tapes of the Sunday night top ten, scrumping apples and foraging for conkers, through the eyes of my child self.

It is the memoir of our family home on Springfield Road in Hastings, but it is also a memoir of the journey I took writing this book. These are my memories of my attempts to understand the beauty, the brutality and the contradictions of the adult world; why my Irish jazz musician father mysteriously disappeared from our lives; how my mother’s transitions from her Jamaican girlhood to her teenage dreams to represent Britain in the Olympics, to her life as a go-go dancer and then single-parenthood affected us all. It’s about discovering that life is unfair and that parents die. Its also about seeking the good in the world, the humour and the tenderness, this book is not a misery memoir.

Springfield Road is peppered with daydreams, a poetic and universal child’s eye view from the cracks in the pavement to the faces in the clouds. This book is a salute to every curly-top, scabby knee’d, mixed-up, half-crazy kid out there. We had afros, we had free school dinners and hand-me-downs.

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Books I stopped reading: An on-going list

This will be a set of reviews of books I have stopped reading because I stopped enjoying them.

My principle is to read either 40-50 pages or 25% minimum to give each author a chance to hook me into the story. The problem they have is – that as I read so many books each year – I am a picky reader. I will not waste much of my time reading books I am not enjoying when there is a veritable cornucopia of books out there to choose from which I may enjoy more.

Thus this blog will be updated as I stop reading any book and will become a list.

It starts with:

Hit and Run by Maxine O’Callaghan

I initially enjoyed this book but I then found that the story dragged once I was ¾ of the way through. So I stopped reading.

There was insufficient happening and too much re-iteration of the dire circumstances of the PI – we got it – it had been described in detail several times already..

I started by feeling sorry for the PI but ended up being irritated by her.

There was an interesting possibility of a story with the old man killed before he was ru over, but it was laboured. I rather liked the feisty shop-lifter though…

A NetGalley Review.


Dream Student by JJ DiBenrdetto

Bored by this book. I read 25% and gave up- as going nowhere fast – and thus obvious how they could make a series out of it – they really stretch the story-line out!

a book about two university students who meet up physically after they ;share’ a dream. The dream gives them an emotional connection – but after 25% of the book this is as far as they have got.

Just what the series could contain I cannot guess and definitely do not want to explore.


Carry Me Down by MJ Hyland

This was a book chosen for my f2f book club and is an Irish coming of age story.

I seem to be having a struggle at the moment with Irish writers. I have not really enjoyed any that have been chosen by the Book group. There is a dark atmosphere to most Irish stories that I come across recently with very slow action and under-currents that I find very disturbing. This book gets very disturbing as the discussion with the book club members showed. Just why did the boy sleep with his mother? And what did she do with him there? The grandmother was an interesting character too with her table manners and hiding important items – just why didn’t she trust the family to know when she won money. And then there was the father. Why wasn’t he working? why did he think he was clever enough to go to university now? And just what effort was he putting into preparing himself?

Irish family dynamics baffle me and thus I find these books very hard to understand and so stop. Yet I can read complicated law and crime and thrillers with no problems, so it isn’t the complications…

Suicide is for mortals

By Alyson Miers

I am afraid that this another book that will go on my ‘incompleted’ list.

I got to 22% but gave up. I just couldn’t get interested in the differences between predatory and non-predatory vampires and the mortals they are trying to protect. The story just didn’t seem to go anywhere after the author was ‘turned’. Just a lot of chat and wanting to go back to being mortal and so on…

What more can I realistically say except that it was very simple in style and storyline and I prefer things to be more complex and complicated – where I need to think and be challenged by the story.


 

 

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