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You Before Me?

A book from my To Be Read pile but also a Contemporary /Book of Literary Merit for the January Genre Challenge.

A twofer!
I am awarding this book not just 5 stars but also 5 tears as I dripped through the final chapters.tearsmust-readPAGETURNERwellwritten
This book was very sensitively written when came to the issues that surround many quadriplegics and terms of health both physical and mental and how difficult life can be for them.
We hear about the minor ailments that turn into major issues – even life threatening – within hours and how in reality they cannot go many places without a health professional accompanying them and thus how frustrating it can be to try and even go out for a day.
The chapters were written in different voices – although not describing the same incidents – and thus the arguments and story of his life was shown from different perspectives.
However, I was disappointed that the ending was so sad. I am not going to explain why as this would be too much of a spoiler, but ...
I understood a great many of the frustrations of such a life, as though not I am not permanently confined to a wheelchair, I do have to use one most years after yet another operation – I am probably well into the 20s what with procedures as a day patient and fully anaesthetised operations, and do use an electric scooter to go longer distances. My problems are skeleton related mostly but I do also have systemic issues and suffer from chronic fatigue and live off a large diet of multi-coloured pills!
I thought I might use this review to also mention some of my personal heroes – people who have taken on physical problems and not just survived but have triumphed – and no – not Stephen Hawking. He had an unfair advantage of a brilliant mind to begin with.
So here goes.
  1. Nicholas James "Nick" Vujicic; born 4 December 1982 is an Australian Christian evangelist and motivational speaker born with Phocomelia, a rare disorder characterised by the absence of all four limbs.
  2. As a child, he struggled mentally and emotionally as well as physically, but eventually came to terms with his disability. He presents motivational speeches worldwide which focus on life with a disability and finding hope and meaning in life.
  3. The disabled riders in the Olympics – we went to several of the Olympic horse trials for the disabled and were so impressed.
  4. The riders were absolutely brilliant even when they had to be strapped onto the horses.at the Olympics!
  5. See Natasha Baker who claimed Britain’s first equestrian gold medal of the Games. Natasha has no use of her legs and thus controls her horse through voice and seat movements.
  6. All disabled athletes!
I also thought I would share some of my more favourite quotes about disability as I have always tried not to permit my issues with my ability to run or climb or... not affect what I do. 
I too have travelled the world and been to many places on my own as well as with a ‘carer’. 
I just adapt my life according to my capabilities that day, even that moment in time, and do what I can. My brain is still functioning well I hope you would agree and that to me would be the most problematical thing – if I lost the ability to think.
In some ways I have been fortunate, in that I trained for a career (in mid life) where I could function well even in a wheelchair and had colleagues who were almost blind or deaf doing the same work as me. 
And I can work from home a lot of the time as the computer has freed me up to do this. So my world is not limited.
So here are the quotes:
The thing about living with any disability is that you adapt; you do what works for you.
Stella Young
 I think that everyone has something about themselves that they feel is their weakness... their 'disability.' And I'm certain we all have one, because I think of a disability as being anything which undermines our belief and confidence in our own abilities.
Aimee Mullins
The world worries about disability more than disabled people do.
Warwick Davis
 We fill our lives with all sorts of things that make it easier for us to get along in the world: wheelchairs, crutches, grabber sticks, hearing aids, canes, guide dogs, modified vehicles, ramps, as well as other kinds of services and supports. 
Disability does not necessarily mean dependence on other people.
Stella Young
 Ah yes, I have many of these….just not the dog yet!

And finally, everyone should read the Saturday Times Magazine articles in the magazine section by Melanie Reid called 'Spinal Column'. Melanie broke her back and neck riding and is now an incurable tetraplegic. She tells it as it is but with humour.

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Books/book review/Fantasy
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Cinderella goes to the Moon

Lunar Chronicles – A Series of 4 + 1

by

Marissa Meyer.

Do you sometimes get urges to read whole series? Even when there are 6 or 7 books in the series? And some are 800 pages long? But you really must just find out what happens to the characters as the story progresses?
In my view a true reader of sagas always wants to get to the finale... but never the end, and thus we are very lucky when we find out that yes, a new book will be published in...(usually 2 year’s time but heh, who’s counting?)
Well even if you don’t read these series all in one sitting – or over a week or so, I do. And thus began my Xmas reading.
I get these emails from book reviewing websites – I get Buzzfeed and BlogLoving and they lead me to sites where people review books etc and at the end of the year, we seemed to be getting a lot of lists – the best of and so on. And one list I was led to was the best of fantasy books come out last year.
Now I  don’t necessarily read the ‘best of books’ as indicated by other reviewers as I don’t often purchase books for myself as a rule as I get the NetGalley feed, and are offered books by authors,  and am on several publishers/blog-tour listings (including being in the Brash Priority Circle) and thus get offered more books than I could ever read and review on a regular basis. But at this time of year I was interested to see what other people were reading, and of course, what they thought of the books. And who reviewed the same books as me, and whether or not they agreed.
So I read the list and many didn’t appeal, but one book stood out because it was based on traditional fairy-stories but updated to a fantasy time in the future, where we had a colony, long established on the moon, and had improved our surgery levels to supply people missing limbs etc with artificial limbs that came with batteries and power and pockets for stashing tools and... now this really appealed to me as I have 2 artificial knees and I have always wanted to have batteries/motor power installed in them so that they could carry me along without my effort.wellwrittenbookpileADDICTIVEmust-readoutofthisworld
But this was actually the fourth in the ‘real’ series – there is another which is a side story which also came out last year. So having scouted around the fourth book, I decided I needed to read the first, the second, and the third! And then the fourth properly. So Amazon got my money again (see the reviews to come on the St Mary’s Chronicles – there were yet more these books but they were cheaper per book).
Anyway. Here we have a set of books based on fairytales, reworked as fantasy – science fiction. So what’s not to love?
We have cyborgs, space ships, computers hackers (white and black hat), lunar colonies, mind control, DNA manipulation, wolves, a deadly disease, wars and more fights, miraculous rescues, androids with a sense of humour and sarcasm – have I missed anything? Ah yes, the equivalent of a Wicked Witch. Possibly more, but it’s all there in these books. Richly imagined in a new world that makes sense and is consistent across the books – but do make sure you start with Cinders – number 1 – or you might find yourself lost as the stories are complex and the villain is often changing coat!
I definitely agree that is one of the best fantasy/science fiction series to come out recently. One of the best in the genre altogether. Not quite a classic like Arthur C. Clark’s stories but great fun to read and you really do get hooked and what to know what happens next.
Davis says that great stories have 5 parts – the introduction where you discover what the story is about and the main characters – the action – the classic crisis where everything falls to bits but – the part where it is resolved and you can take a breath that we are getting there – and finally the lessons we can learn to pass on.
If you look at the original stories such as Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and so on, you can see these 5 sections very clearly. Here parts 2, 3, and 4 happen in not just one book but all of them combining as the characters don’t go away when their story is finished but help tell the next story and the next and the next. So Cinders appears in all books and indeed, her story is the link and hook that brings in Scarlet, Cress and Winter to complete  Cinder’s story.
5 stars for all these 4 books. I still have to read the Wicked Witch’s own story – Fairest – but will get to this later in the year.
cress winter scarlet

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