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29 July 2020

Audiobook Review: Critical by Dr Matt Morgan *AD Gifted

Simon & Schuster Audio UK sent me a free audio review copy of Critical by Matt Morgan via NetGalley.

I'd had my eye on this book anyway since I'd heard good things since its release, so when it came to testing out the new NetGalley app to see if it would work for me, I jumped at the chance to request it. The app doesn't work so well for me, but the audiobook certainly did.

Critical by Dr Matt Morgan cover, surgeons peering down from above, masks on and tools in hand.

Following in the wake of hugely successful medical memoirs such as Do No Harm and Fragile Lives, Critical is an intelligent, compelling and profoundly insightful journey into the world of intensive care medicine and the lives of people who have forever been changed by it.

Being critically ill means one or more of your vital organs have failed - this could be your lungs, your heart, your kidneys, your gut or even your brain. Starting with the first recognised case in which a little girl was saved by intensive care in 1952 in Copenhagen, Matt writes brilliantly about the fascinating history, practices and technology in this newest of all the major medical specialties. Matt guides us around the ICU by guiding us around the body and the different organs, and in this way, we learn not only the stories of many of the patients he’s treated over the years but also about the various functions different parts of the body.

He draws on his time spent with real patients, on the brink of death, and explains how he and his colleagues fight against the odds to help them live. Happily many of his cases have happy endings, but Matt also writes movingly about those cases which will always remain with him - the cases where the mysteries of the body proved too hard to solve, or diagnoses came too late or made no difference to the outcome.

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Source: NetGalley, Review Copy

5 Word Review: Health, medicine, history, research, dedication.


Doctor Matt Morgan narrates the book himself and does an excellent job - the anecdotes are particularly poignant with the inflection of personal experience. I loved the narration, the emotion and the pace. I like when authors narrate their own books, it add extra life and meaning to the audiobooks.

I think this is a difficult one to review - while it was fascinating it also felt deeply personal, and absolutely heartbreaking at times. It's a pretty harrowing read and the stories about the patients are full of heart. They were actual people, with lives and families and unexpected tragedy waiting just around the corner.

I loved the dives into medical history and innovation, from when ICU first starting becoming a thing in hospital and all of the gruelling work put in my doctors and nurses and students, and yes the patients too. I liked how it was split up into different parts of the body, the different parts that could go wrong and how the care can differ.

This is an excellent audiobook and perfect for fans of This is Going to Hurt and Unnatural Causes.

24 July 2020

Book Beginnings: Wonderland by Juno Dawson

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading Wonderland by Juno Dawson.
Wonderland by Juno Dawson

Wake up, Alice.

This book was bought as a reward for myself for getting to the dentist and making it through an emergency appointment despite my phobia. It is also one of my most anticipated reads. I was previously provided with a free NetGalley copy by the publisher but my chronic illness prevented me from reading.

I utterly adored Clean and Meat Market, and I'm very excited to read the final part of this universe.

I like this first line, it's very mysterious. I can't wait to see how this pans out.

I am a teeny tiny bit disappointed in the cover - there's no foil! There is gorgeous embossing and spot UV and I love the colours. It is a truly gorgeous cover and I think it sets the tone really well for the story ahead.

I haven't thought that far ahead. "I... I'm not sure." I lean closer to her. "Do you know how to get to Wonderland?"
This is from page 56 in my finished paperback copy.

I can't wait to get up to this part of the story and find out more about Wonderland.


What are you reading this week?

17 July 2020

Book Beginnings: The Beholder by Anna Bright

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading The Beholder by Anna Bright.

Once upon a time always began on nights like tonight.
I  got this book in a Fairyloot box in May 2019 and I absolutely adored it. I even shared my five favourite quotes from The Beholder by Anna Bright. But I'm a year on from reading it and falling in love, and my pre-order of the sequel The Boundless has just arrived. So it's time for a reread.

I feel like this first line really sets the tone for the story. You immediately get a slightly wry hint that maybe fairytales aren't straight forward. It sets the scene too, I immediately picture an almost perfect night with twinkling lights and happy thoughts.

I could stare at this cover forever. It gives me Black Sails vibes, and I love the intricacies. The more I stare, the more details come out. It's truly stunning.

When my home was out of sight, I stood by myself, avoiding the gazes of the soldiers hustling around the deck and imagining how ridiculous I must look, filthy and staggering around in a ruined dress, one glittering shoe in hand..
This is from page 57 in my finished hardback copy (page 56 is blank).

This part of the story is where things truly take a turn. I love how this line echoes back to the familiar fairytal Cinderella, and how this captures how Selah feels in the moment. I think it's very cleverly written and perfect for this scene.

I can't put in to words how much I love this book, this story. The Beholder by Anna Bright is truly beautiful and I am so happy to be reading it again. I love the slow build and burn of the story, and t he epic adventure within the pages.


What are you reading this week?

10 July 2020

Book Beginnings: The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis.
The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis
It was easier, she'd been told, if you kept a tune in your head.
I bought this book back in April as a bit of a "cheer up" present to myself. Although it's not actually very cheery, it's just a book I know I'll love.

I love this first line. It captures the author's gorgeous writing style and immediately gets you wondering: what's easier?

The cover for this book is stunning, the foiling is exquisite and I could stare at it all day.

He sat heavily on the bed, muttered a low curse, and fell back. Aster hurried to his side. His eyes were half open but unseeing, his words faint and incomprehensible. If he wasn't already asleep, he would be soon.
This is from page 56 in my finished paperback copy.

I just... The story has me gripped. I am so invested in what's happening to the girls, what's going to happen, how everything will play out.

This is a very dark book and content warnings so far include sex trafficking, sex slavery, attempted rape, and sustance abuse. It is definitely not an easy read.


What are you reading this week?

08 July 2020

Book Review: Dark Blue Rising by Teri Terry *AD Gifted

Hodder Children's Books sent me a free electronic review copy of Dark Blue Rising by Teri Terry via NetGalley.

Dark Blue Rising is the first book in The Circle Trilogy and it is everything I could have hoped for. It's fast paced and a bit of a wild read, and it's very cleverly written. I absolutely loved it and can't wait for more.

Dark Blue Rising by Teri Terry cover
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Tabby lives a transient life with her mum Cate, never sticking in one place long enough to make friends.

Until one day, an accident changes everything. Cate is arrested and Tabby realises her life has been a lie: Cate is not her mother.

As she adjusts to her new life, Tabby finds herself drawn to the ocean - the only place she feels happy - and enrolls at a swimming summer school to help her heal.

But all is not as it seems. She and her new friends are cut off from the outside world and she's plagued by a repeating symbol of interlocking circles that follows her everywhere.

As Tabby begins to learn the truth about what the circles mean, and uncovers the terrible lies she's been told about her past, a final twist awaits her - a secret hidden in her DNA...


Source: NetGalley, Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, belonging, power, secrets, responsibility.


When I saw that there was a new Teri Terry I did a bit of a scream and ran to tell Charlotte so she could request it too. Then I picked it for her TBR and she read it before me, so when I did finally manage to read it she was subjected to all of my thoughts and swears. There were a lot.

Dark Blue Rising is dark and twisting and just when you think you've got things figured out BAM CURVEBALL. It's a truly exhilarating read that had me longing for the seaside. It's fast paced and full of action, but I loved that there were also softer scenes of thoughts and feelings - emotions are definitely not set aside to maintain the pace.

I loved the settings in Dark Blue Rising. The contrast of Tabby's transient life and that of her new/old home was brilliant and I think it helped portray her confusion and alienation more. Then we have the school, which was a whole  new layer of sinister.

This make you really think about the ethics of technological progression. It is one of my absolute favourite themes in Teri Terry's books, the way such issues and the darker side of them are explored. The fact that what happens in these books seems so real, that it could actually happen in a matter of years, makes it all the more sinister.

If you have read any Teri Terry books before, then know that there is a cat in this book. And if you've read her books before, especially the Slated or Contagion series, then you will know that cats mean something.

I loved that despite the dark themes and settings and happenings, Dark Blue Rising still has some hope in the story.

I utterly adored this book, and I can't wait for my pre-order to arrive so I can read it again and see that beautiful cover in person.

06 July 2020

What's in my Grab and Go Bag?

Stripes Books sent me a review copy of The Rules by Tracy Darnton.

I raced through The Rules, reading it in a single day. It's the Prepper Thriller that I never knew I needed in my life. I loved Amber's story and I loved how she has all of her reasoning behind what she has prepared at all times, but also has a little spark of defiance against her upbringing with impractical non-essentials.

What's in my Grab and Go Bag? The Rules Tracy Darnton

Inspired by The Rules, I'm sharing my own grab and go bags, with a little twist. I have a chronic illness so I always have a hospital bag ready to go just in case. I also utterly adore being outside and exploring and often on a Friday after work I would just up and away on an adventure.

So here we go, this is a peek inside my grab and go bags and a little bit about why I've included some of the items.

What's in my Grab and Go Bag?

What's in my Grab and Go Bag? The Rules Tracy Darnton

There are some things that I keep on a table next to my bag or in my handbag at all times - the things I feel are absolutely essential. This includes my lovely dragon skin medicine bag, which also houses a letter about my existing conditions and a toothbrush. I also have a compact first aid kit that lives in the car.

Always On Me

  • Medicine Bag
  • Portable Charger and Cables
  • Ear Phones
  • Scrunchie
  • Roll-On Perfume
  • Lip Balm
  • Misting Fan

I usually use a hair stick for my hair, but that's not really suitable in some situations so I switch it out for a scrunchie. That way I'm not jabbing myself in the back of the head or accidentally piercing an inflatable sleeping mat.


Grab and Go Hospital Bag


What's in my Grab and Go Bag? Hospital Bag

This is probably my most important piece of preparedness, and I was beyond thankful in March and April this year when I was in and out of hospital. Having this bag ready at all times means that if the worst happens and I end up in hospital, if I can't get the bag myself then it's easy for someone to bring it to me.

In The Bag

  • Slippers
  • Nice Pyjamas
  • Metal Free Comfy Bra
  • A Good Book
  • Notebook and Pen
  • Hand Cream
  • Roll On Deodorant
  • Soothing/Moisturising Face Spray
  • Mints
  • Tissues
  • Spare Undies (not pictured)

I very specifically pack my nicest pyjamas in my hospital bag - I always feel very judged by my nightwear on a ward, and it helps that they're 100% cotton so I can stay cool. I tend to end up needing MRIs and CT Scans so my metal free bra has had me about weeping with joy in the past. When you're in hospital it can be pretty terrifying but the extra layer makes me feel so much better. Also, it has dinosaurs on. Rawr. 

The air in hospitals and the constant washing of hands really dries my skin out, so I have hand cream that I apply regularly and some soothing mist that I can spray on my face to refresh myself with.

I pretty much always have a book on my person any way, or my kindle, but I make sure that the one in my hospital bag is something I'll be totally gripped by, because I need that distraction. Then I have a notebook and pen because I have a few cognitive and executive function issues and it helps to write everything down, especially if I've been given painkillers. 

Grab and Go Adventure Bag

What's in my Grab and Go Bag? Adventure Bag

This bag just has the essentials that I really need if I'm running off last minute because I found an excellent deal at lunch time on a Friday.

I like to keep things light for my adventure bag and keep spare space in my bag as I'm a bit of a magpie and if it's a break to a city like Edinburgh I'll come back with all sorts of souvenirs. Also I pick up snacks at the station, because who doesn't love a makeshift train picnic.

I'm quite sad that I haven't been able to use this bag for a while, and I can't wait to be able to grab it again in the future when I head out on an adventure.

In The Bag

  • Outdoor Trousers
  • Walking Socks
  • T-Shirt
  • Notebook and Pen
  • Torch
  • Factor 50 Sun Cream
  • 96 Hour Deodorant
  • Antibacterial Wipes
  • Tissues
  • Spare Undies (not pictured)

The Outdoor Trousers are one of my absolute favourite things to wear any time because they have so any pockets, but they're also showerproof and light-weight enough that I can comfortably wear them even during the summer. The walking socks mean I can rock a bit of a cottagecore vibe while not getting blisters, and the t-shirt is mostly because I always need a spare.

I have very rarely gone without a shower, as even the most basic camp sites tend to have one, but on those rare occasions that I have the super-long-lasting deodorant was a godsend. The anti-bacterial wipes are a just in case thing, I think I've used one in an entire year. I have quite fair skin and burn easily so although I apply factor 50 daily anyway I keep this one tucked away for when I'm away from home.

I have a special little notebook where I list my adventures and my plans and little moments I'm especially grateful for. It's holding up remarkably well considering how often it's rained on.



Do you have a Grab and Go Bag?