Still Alice Book Review
(Image Source: Authors Own)

‘I can’t stand the thought of looking at you someday, this face I love, and not knowing who you are.’

Alice is just fifty when she finds herself in a downward spiral, increasingly disorientated and forgetful. A university professor, wife and mother of three, she has books to write, places to see, grandchildren to meet. But now a tragic diagnosis of early- on- set Alzheimer’s disease is set to change her life- and her relationship with her family and the world- forever. 

Losing her yesterdays, living for each day, her short- term memory is hanging by a frayed thread. But she is still Alice.

Picked up this book in my local Tesco looking for something to pass the time when I used to travel on the train. This is my review of the book below.
The backdrop of Alice’s life is set out to tap into your worst fears. A successful Harvard professor in Cognitive Psychology renowned in linguistics, married with three adult children. Suddenly has early onset Alzheimer’s. It starts with simple things that you or me could do. Forgetting a word or where you put the phone charger however as the narrative progress, it starts to become more sinister as names and where she lives are suddenly not as clear and are difficult to retrieve. 
Diagnosis comes at the worst time. Her husband, John,  is distant as ever, Anna, her eldest daughter is trying to conceive and her younger daughter Lydia is trying to make it as an actress- a career Alice disproves. You start to understand how fast Alzheimer’s develops when Alice sits in her lecture theatre waiting to be taught not realising that she is the one meant to be teaching. When she forgets that her daughter is performing in a play, and her husband who has to go running with her as she cannot go out alone. You realise it is serious.  
There are numerous symbolisms in the book that do not go unnoticed. A few worth mentioning (it is only a book review, not a literature essay!) is the bitter irony of the situation. Alice teaches and research’s psychology every day. Therefore, it seems so sad that her brain fails her. 
Alice although has had a successful life it is a life that has been fraught with sadness. Both her mum and sister died in a car accident that was caused by her alcoholic father driving the car back from visiting Alice at university. The sadness of her upbringing is punctuated with the upset that comes in how her life will end. The life theme manifests itself when Alice’s older daughter is struggling to conceive and further to this when all three children have the option to see if they have Alzheimer’s.

A final theme is spontaneity. Alzheimer’s has been sprung upon what has been a linear life for Alice. John had lead a linear life working his way up and so has Alice to an extent. Her two children Tom and Anna are living there lives the way in the order in which life usually goes (to use Anna’s case as an example becoming a lawyer, getting married and now wanting a child). However, Lydia is the anomaly in this, from not going to university to being the only child to choose not to find out if she has Alzheimers.

I like the idea that the book is told by Alice, it’s her story and no one else’s. Although the Alzheimer’s is stripping her away. Allowing us to live the story through her eyes gives her some dignity. 
To conclude, I felt the story was a really good read. This is through the narrative and the plot that was well thought out and not too scientific that you need a degree in psychology to understand it. On a side note, interestingly Genova had self- published this book before it was acquired by Simon & Schuster. In the reader’s group guide after the book Genova felt self- publishing was a great way to get yourself noticed and not wait around for rejection or otherwise. Hence, look at the success she has now! Not a book I would usually pick up or a topic I was particularly interested in, it is certainly worth a read. I want to watch the movie now.   

(Image Source: Authors Own)

Not only do I love reading books but my passion for reading extends out to blogs. My Bloglovin (best app ever) is full of blogs and saved posts that I don’t know quite what I would do if I lost them all. Anyhow here is a second dose of blogs I am enjoying at the moment.

Poppy D
I have followed Poppy Dinsey right from the beginning when WIWT (What I Wore Today) was just a blog showcasing her clothes to seeing it become a full scale business. In her personal blog Poppy talks about what is going on in her life away from WIWT. Special love goes to her wedding posts (that dress FYI!), her experience swimming in open water for charity and her post, which is a few years old now, on her jaw surgery. Poppy can write, she really can write. Her writing style is chatty and a lot of her going out and food posts are based on places in London (disadvantage of me living in the Midlands, but that’s not her fault!) but she knows her stuff (Poppy is lovely on twitter too!). 
This American blog is a great instigator in all things fitness. Sometimes there are full posts, others are just introductions to YouTube videos. However I have been saving a lot of the food and workout videos to try out later ( I haven’t tried them yet but that’s a different story…).
Media Marmalade
Media Marmalade is another blog that I have been following for ages. Although primarily a fashion blog I have found the posts about photography (the photography is top notch) and building a better blog to be the best posts. As Melissa’s day job (being a Business Director creating communications strategies for clients), I feel this gives her advice a certain positive weighting over some others that offer blog advice.   
Autumn Leaves Blog
Finally I found this site amongst the popular posts on Bloglovin. Autumn Leaves Blog focuses on improving your blog (which I definitely need) taking it to that all important next level. Each post is backed up with relevant statistics (Check out the post How To Choose The Best Social Media Network For You as a great example). I am grateful for this quality free advice as I am sure many people would charge to give the same. Indeed Rebecca runs a consultancy service and like Media Marmalade I tend to take her advice more seriously because it is her day job.          
That’s it for today. Are there any blogs you would recommend?

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Frank Chalk is a teacher in a fairly poor inner city school- a school where the kids get drunk, take drugs and beat up the teachers… when they can be bothered to turn up.

He confiscates their porn, booze and trainers, fends off angry parents and worries about the few conscientious pupils.

Terrifying and hilarious, IT’S YOUR TIME YOU’RE WASTING is Chalk’s real- life diary from the front line of the modern edukashun system.

I haven’t written a book review in years. Eeeek….

I have had this book a number of years and it is one of the few books I have read over and over again. I bought it at a time when I really wanted to be a teacher (before I saw sense). It’s Your Time You’re wasting was published by a small book publisher Monday Books, known for publishing real life books. The book narrated by Frank Chalk (not his real name, probably to save his sanity) goes through the tale of his time as a supply teacher at St Jude’s which is based in the Cherry Tree Estate. He tells us tales of sloppy staff and even sloppier school children all of this which is punctuated with descriptions of the Cherry Street estate so you get to understand why the children behave like they do. 

The story is easy to read as it is in a chatty style, there isn’t any chapters as such, there is just one tale after another all following each other (I have noticed this is the style of writing in other books Monday has published). The author doesn’t feel sorry for himself either, you just let the story wash over you as you find yourself laughing and sinking into despair at the naughty children and feeling really sorry for those poor children who are just trying to get on with life.

The book hit a chord with me because you can see through Frank’s eyes how the education system has failed the children. This is through two ways. One the lack of support at home. Frank visits a few children homes to tutor them and he see’s the effect of constant TV, fast food, the lack of books and interest from the parents resulting in the children being disengaged with anything that is longer than two minutes. The result of this being children who vandalise school property, not being able to understand school work and being downright nasty to anyone. You could argue that his book reinforces stereotypes, through the names of the children and the description of the council estate. But this is the reality of modern Britain as it is repeated through books like this one and on programmes on the TV such as Tough Young Teachers. So disillusioned is Frank with the school that he tells parent’s of a child to move to a better school. However, I feel that the author is realistic and what comes across well is Frank wants to teach but with the children not accepting responsibility, there doesn’t seem the point.

To conclude, this book is well worth a read if you want to while away an afternoon or want some escape. If you truly hate your job this book may also be of use, as by the end of reading you may think your job isn’t too bad 😉

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So you have bought a house (well done you!) and now you are thinking about moving. Moving was by far the least stressful part of the whole ‘buying a house’ process ironically. My partner and I were sharing a two bed flat before with no garden. Therefore, we had a lot less stuff to move than a family would. We were adamant to keep it as cheap as possible, therefore, did lots of research and work before hand to make the move as smooth as possible.

Have a Big Clean Out
Although the house sale hadn’t gone through yet. We knew it would be very last minute so decided to have a giant clean out, a month before. It also gave us the chance to sell unwanted items on eBay in plenty of time and a lot of stuff was given to charity so hopefully will go to a new home.

Ask Around for Boxes
Everyone does this, but it is really worth asking. We got lots of plastic boxes off my partner’s parents when we moved which I reckoned saved around £15.00. We bought 15 cardboard boxes off Amazon for around £15.00 as well. We had to make them ourselves, but it didn’t take long. We packed up everything the weekend before (it was a bit risky, the sale didn’t go through until the Thursday after) but we didn’t want to take any time off.  

The Removal Men
You could hire a van however since we lived on the second floor of the flat we didn’t want to drag all our appliances downstairs. As we were moving to a place that was originally half an hour away we didn’t want to pay a lot of money as we knew that with all our things the move wouldn’t take an entire day. With this in mind my partner found a local company that paid per hour rather than the whole day. The whole move was done in three hours meaning we only paid £130 whereas if we had gone with a different company and hired them out for the whole day then we would have lost £400.

With this company as well as they were charging per hour we decided to put as much stuff as we could in two cars. Before they came, we reckoned that save another hour.

Clean and Fix as Much as Possible
If you clean and fix as much possible this will decrease the need for the landlord to have to do it themselves out of your deposit. If after the landlord checks there is still problems. You can always take it up with the Deposit Protection Agency. (DPS). Remember, the Landlord needs to take wear and tear into account and should not be using your deposit as money to completely redecorate.

Keep All Screws and Parts in Place
When taking down furniture my partner and I counted all the parts and put them in small freezer bags and popped them in my handbag. This will save you money as you don’t want to have to buy small parts again to replace the ones that went missing.

Make Sure to Redirect All Post and Change All Addresses
Ok I never bothered to redirect my post because I worked on the assumption that I don’t get much post anyway and as I have changed the majority of addresses already I shouldn’t get post with my name through the other door. BUT definitely change addresses as soon as possible as you don’t want anybody to commit fraud or let bills go unpaid.

Read Your Meters
So you don’t get charged for another person’s usage.

I hope this is useful for you. We saved a lot of money so we are happy with them. Have you got any money saving tips?

Ahh the flat where you can store two bikes, have your office, kitchen and 
the lounge all in one area.

Having lived in a flat for over a year, whilst desperately saving to get on the property ladder, you start to notice all the funny quirks which you wouldn’t necessarily get living in a house. I share a few below:


If you are going to have to wake up at five in the morning. At least turn your alarm off and not annoy everyone else with it. It’s amazing when a block of flats is eerily quiet you can hear someone’s phone alarm. 
One time someone in the flat below me went away for the weekend and left their alarm going off at half five ALL WEEKEND.
The smell of weed in the corridors
Not nice.  When my parents visit I don’t want them thinking I live in a drugs den. 
Not closing the corridor door properly
I don’t want to die because you let a psycho in as you carried your shopping in…
On the other hand, you don’t need to do any weights at the gym after lugging all your food shop up a flight of stairs.
Cheering when the footie is on
You can always tell when a massive match is on.  And who is winning without resorting to Twitter or watching it on the telly just by hearing the cheers or the swearing.
People dumping their fridges or furniture when they move
Don’t be dirty, take it to the tip. It’s free. 
People that do not put their rubbish in the bins properly
It’s not that bloody hard!

The lack of space
You become an expert in cooking with about 30cm worth of space and start googling a million different ways to store items using a shoebox. Oh and your parents get pissed off with you storing your Christmas tree in their loft.

Not having a garden
No hosting boozy outdoor parties. You always have to resort to your friends house or a pub garden. Or if you are skint opening the door that acts as a window to let the warm air in…. Closing it after ten minutes as too many flies have come in.

Hearing people having really loud sex

You only have one parking space therefore if you live with a partner. One of you is always having to parallel park in some dodgy space and you live in the hope no one scratches your car.