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Help Me: One Women’s Quest To See If Self-Help Really Can Change Her Life by Marianne Power

 

Help Me!: One Woman's Quest to Find Out if Self-Help Really Can Change Her Life

I liked the idea of Help Me! I think I read it out of curiosity, I’ve read afew books that would be considered self-help, and I wanted to know about The Secret in particular and wondered if self help books really to work. It was only 99p on Kindle so I thought why not give it a try, I like reading books about people who do something to change their lives.

Description from GoodReads:

“Marianne Power was stuck in a rut. Then one day she wondered: could self-help books help her find the elusive perfect life?

She decided to test one book a month for a year, following their advice to the letter. What would happen if she followed the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? Really felt The Power of Now? Could she unearth The Secret to making her dreams come true?

What begins as a clever experiment becomes an achingly poignant story. Because self-help can change your life – but not necessarily for the better . . .

Help Me! is an irresistibly funny and incredibly moving book about a wild and ultimately redemptive journey that will resonate with anyone who’s ever dreamed of finding happiness.”

My thoughts about self-help books (I promise there’s a review next)

I’ve read self-help books and you know I hate them. There are some don’t get me wrong that are good, if it helps you overcome anxiety or ease deblitating panic attacks them I’m all for it. But you can get stuck reading them and hoping that they will provide the answer to your problems. They might do but we are all different and what helps one person might not necessarily help another.

I don’t have anything against books about mindfulness and CBT but I hate it when they offer a miracle, a secret that can change your life.

The Secret? You write yourself a cheque that the universe will cash for you, and believe that you will get what you want, for example you believe you will find a £10 note and you will find it. And The Secret says not to worry about how, but I do. Someone had to lose that money, how do you know that by wishing for all this stuff that someone else will lose? Of course this isn’t about that but I hate it when they make outlandish claims. And will all this stuff you wish for really make you happy?

It annoys me that so many books are out there and so many people are making money selling something that says it helps, they are preying on venerable people. People like you and me that just feel lost and need somewhere to turn, something to help us.

“..self-help is a business – a big one. And it’s selling the same thing that clothes companies, food companies and booze companies are: happiness.”

“I worried about how much money vulnerable people were spending on these cards and books and how much they handed over responsibility for their lives to something that might not exist. Was this any different to the Church selling pardons and telling people they could buy their way into heaven?”

My thoughts about the book

Despite having friends and a good job Marianne isn’t happy with her life, she is searching for something, she needs to do something to change it. She starts reading a self-help book a month to see if they actually could change her life. And what a journey it is. Each chapter breaks down the contents of the book and Marianne tells us what she does to follow each one.

This book feels like a rom-com sometimes, escecially with some of the things Marianne does following the guidelines in the self-help books that she reads, life modelling for example.

There was one point I thought: you have a great job and family and friends, why do you feel like you need to change your life? And as soon as I thought this Marianne said the same thing. And how dare I think that! I believe that it’s not what we have or don’t have that makes us happy but how we think and feel. And Marianne didn’t feel happy.

 

Marianne felt like a friend and by the end of the book I could’ve cried out for joy when she has a realisation.

“But I see now that perfection does not exist and happiness comes not from getting what you think you want but from opening your eyes and recognizing that you have everything you could possibly need right now.”

This book reiterated what I think about self help. I think that they can help but you can read too much of it and if it still isn’t helping it’s time to stop. Do we need a book to help us?

“dawned on me that maybe this is why self-help books often don’t help in the long term. We think we want to change but we don’t really. We keep going back to our old ways, our old selves, our old stories because it’s too scary not to.”

 

‘Why on earth do you need someone to tell you how to live your life?’ she barked, slugging back warm white wine. ‘Can’t you figure out how to do it yourself?’

I enjoyed this book as a story and also in a way as a self-help book. I related to most of Marianne’s thoughts and problems. Marianne is right we are all running through life chasing things forgetting that we are all after the same thing. Sometimes just knowing that we are all thinking and feeling the same or similar can help.

I think in the end we need to figure out what’s right for us, read something that resonants or make a change that helps. I didn’t think I needed to read a self-help book, I’m doing ok, but there’s some great lessons to be learnt in this book. 

If you’re thinking of reading a self help book don’t. Read this instead. Or at least first 🙂 

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Writing Progress

Thursday’s Progress

I try to not overdo it and take a break when I start to get disheartened, but at the same time then feel like I’m not doing enough.

I read over a few more pages today and then looked over my notes. I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere, the notes I made seem fruitless. There’s so many loose threads and plot points I need to write into this novel that it seems a huge undertaking.

photo of mountain climber
Photo by Suliman Sallehi on Pexels.com

I have to read over a few scenes that’s on Scrivener and as long as that’s it, I don’t have any hiding anywhere, I can start making sense of it all by making a plan. As always I think I should’ve started putting the scenes in order and making a rough list of scenes when I started, my notes do say what’s going on though but it doesn’t seem enough.

Plan done, I need to research too and make important decisions regarding which way the story is going and characters. It’s easy to have this huge story and world in your head but trying to commit it to paper is hard.

I’m still keeping on with it. I won’t give up. But I am not going to lie and say it’s not a struggle.


After writing this I thought to myself I haven’t done enough and read over the scenes in Scrivener. That lead to me do a mind map of one of my plot points/themes. I still wish I’d kept a list of scenes and the daunting task is that I need to do this.

TIP: WRITE A LIST OF SCENES OR PUT EACH SCENE ON A STICKING NOTE AS YOU’VE WRITTEN IT.

Tempted to keep on going today but I am torn between overdoing it and continuing.

I am going to mind map my plot ideas too. I need more scenes, more character work and a plot.

Work continues

Friday

I tried hunting for videos and podcasts to help me with the outlining stage. The creative part of my brain is not working today. I ended up writing out all my scenes, well I am concerned I missed some. I’m learning, I should’ve done this when I was reading over my work.

TIP: WRITE DOWN SCENES THEN YOU HAVE AN OUTLINE 🙂

I tried putting them on sticky notes, then I put them on the corkboard on Scrivener, then I just wrote them down on cards.

And that small job took hours as you find your notes don’t stick or you try to remember if you have indeed forgotten to add scenes. But I have an idea of what’s going on.

There’s so much to get your head around and sometimes you’re not in the right mindset to sort it. Now I don’t really know what my next step is.

I’m stopping to hunt for my lost notebook, hoping music will make that job more bearable. I moved in September but things are still a mess and in boxes.

Thanks for reading. I doing this to be accountable and just in case someone wants to know the crazy journey of finishing a novel. Finishing? Finishing?

Netgalley, review

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

I requested this book on impulse from Netgalley, I actually forgot I’d requested it at the end of last year- it was a crazy time! And I was getting emails reminding me about it, that’s never happened before. The idea and the cover caught my attention, it’s evocative and made me wonder what it was all about. I shouldn’t have waited so long to read it…

This book is due to be released on January 24th

Description from Netgalley:

Five toasts. Five people. One lifetime.

I’m here to remember – all that I have been and all that I will never be again.

At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual – though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.

Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories – of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice – the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.

Heart-breaking and heart-warming all at once, the voice of Maurice Hannigan will stay with you long after all is said.

My thoughts

All Is Said is a story about an Irish man called Maurice. It’s told in his own words in the form of a long letter to his son. It doesn’t read like a letter though. His tale weaves in and out of the past as he makes his toasts to the five important people. My thoughts in reading these stories where there’s a transition in viewpoint or time frame is sometimes: when will this get to the point? But I was drawn into Maurice’s story and quickly came to like this honest man who doesn’t hold back. I was riveted, eager to find out where this would all lead and why he was telling his story right now? The reasons are slowly unravelled in the end.

I really loved this novel, I loved the characters and the way that the story was told. It’s as though you’re sitting down listening to a real person tell you their life story, something that I’ve always enjoyed. (I don’t know if many people sit around and tell each other their life stories anymore.) This novel is never slow and there are no boring bits. 

This is a sweet, sad and very human story. I would recommend it to anyone. It feels so real. It’s so perfect. 

writing

Writing Progress

person typing on typewriter
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

My goal for this year is to finish the first daft of my novel. I finally started working on this last week you can see my blog post about it here.

To reach my goal I’ve been reading over the pages and pages of handwritten and typed up scenes I wrote last year (and maybe the year before I forget) I’ve made notes on the narrative and wrote down thoughts or problems that need fixing. It’s all so disorganized that I was reading scenes from later on in the story when the beginning was not done. I knew it was messy but I didn’t really realise how much story is actually missing!

It wasn’t easy as I’ve been having a week where I really can’t sleep. And the first day I started working on it this week I was struggling. I took a break after half an hour but really could not get motivated when I continued after that break.

It didn’t help that I thought that I had a lot of missing scenes and that they might be in a blue notebook which I searched for but couldn’t find. It could still be in a moving box but I don’t know.

I was feeling daunted about continuing yesterday, I couldn’t do anything due to work but the idea of it…

But then today I was fine. I read over the loose pages in my novel file. Making a note of good scenes, ok scenes and scenes I liked but need tweaking. I am happy with my progress but there is more to read over. More loose pages and on Scrivener. I did find one or two scenes I’d thought were lost but I’m still wondering if there’s more in that notebook!

Thinking of how much there is to do and trying to remember what I’ve read over is daunting. It’s best not to look at it as a whole but think what the next job is, do that and then focus on the next one. 

My next task is to continue reading the rest. Once I’ve finished reading I’m going to write a plan. And find that notebook, which involves an epic (it seems) organising task. (Did I mention my lack of sleep this week?)

I wrote a new scene today 😀 and I’ve had ideas and thoughts that will help my plan. So I’m happy with my progress this week.

I’ve been putting stickers on my calendar to mark the days I’ve worked on my writing. I thought I’d use cookies but today I put a cake on there. I felt I deserved it, it’s a little childish but looking at stickers on my calendar makes me feel good about what I’ve done so far. Which really helps when I’m feeling otherwise.

Let me know about your writing progress, goals and successes in the comments. Catch- up soon. 🙂

review

The Labyrinth of Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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(Not sure how to do accent over letters in the post title, apologies 😦 )

I love Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s books. I love the world of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I was so excited when I found out about this one. I requested it on Netgalley straight away. But then I seen that Waterstones were selling signed copies 🙂 So I had to get one!

I’ve had this copy since November and I finished it the beginning of this month. Partly because it’s such a massive tome (I love big books) but also because I wanted to savour it. Netgalley must get tired of waiting for reviews from me (I’m not sure they are waiting really). It’s signed! It’s a gorgeous book with red pages and where the book is divided into parts there are pictures:

 

My thoughts

I always enjoy books by this author. This was no exception. The Labyrinth of Spirits starts in the first person viewpoint of our old friend Daniel who featured in the other books. His story continues but we also learn Alicia’s story and there are many stories woven into this book, so many threads of pasts and people come together, like many links on the spider’s web that make up one amazing story. We are back with our old friends from the previous books and the stories told in them are elaborated and concluded in this huge novel.

So how can I put into words how wonderful this book is?

It’s violent, beautiful, dark, intense, scary. There was a character who chilled me! As only real people and not fantastical monsters can! I  wonder how much of this is based on fact, the truth is always a lot more scarier than the fiction.

Reading this book you feel as though you are actually there, it’s a immense sense of place. The style is mesmerising, riveting and the writing is poetic:

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The best way to describe how beautiful the writing is would be to use a quote from this book:

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This is true of this book and is how I felt reading it.

 

I love it! It’s made me want to reread all the other books in the series. You don’t really need to read these books in any particular order,  (had a perfect quote from the author about that I since can’t find!) But this might suffice:

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I hope that this I’ve managed to explain my feelings about this book. I urge you to read it. Or maybe start with something smaller and try one of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s other books, you can find more about them here.

This is one of those books that I wanted to write down so many quotes,(I really need to start doing that.) in my laziness I took pictures instead:

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A quote for writers
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About destiny/life

What more can I say? Have you read any books by this author? If you’ve written a review please leave your link in the comments below, share your favourite quotes.

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

 

writing

Update: 2019 Goals. My Writing Goals

I’ve found a new goal for 2019! I keep saying I want to listen to music more, I finally got around to buying a new album I meant to buy last year (Seether: Poison The Parish) and a new mp3 speaker so that’s a new goal. Listen to music more, maybe buy more music too (a ‘new’ Bowie album 🙂 )

I’m reading Catcher In The Rye this year, I mentioned it on readitswapit book forum where I often join in with a classic a month and the person organising that has added it as a book choice for March! Great!

So I’ve been thinking about how I can meet my writing goal to finish my novel. First I need to read over the thousands of words I’ve already written, most is already typed up into Scrivener but I write by hand and sometimes on my typewriter and then use my laptop (I like writing by hand but then typing it up takes ages and I didn’t finish! But I love writing in Scrivener as it’s great for random ideas and scenes and more organised than on paper).

If you make a goal you start by breaking it down into smaller goals. So I think my first goal will be to read over the first few pages, nothing strict just  easing into it. Then I’ll try to read more of it in the next sitting. (In theory).

The problems that will arise are:

  • I might hate what I’ve written and get discouraged
  • I’ll end up making copious amounts of notes which will be helpful but slow my reading down
  • How long will it take to read through it anyway?

But I have to read through it so I can end it. So I can figure out what’s going on as I didn’t have a plan and it’s a mess. A mess!!!! 

Small steps, small goals: READ THE FIRST FEW PAGES. GO BACK AND KEEP READING. 

Solutions:

  • Small steps. Read it over. Bit by bit.
  • The notes will help the story and maybe reading it will help me think of more ideas
  • I will finish it even if it’s terrible!
  • Find quotes to help me keep going, a survival kit would be an idea but that will just result in procrastinating.

I have no idea how long this will take so there’s no deadline. I’m hoping that I’ll just be happy with the progress I’ll be making rather than beating myself up with no finished product which is what I usually do.

I could take little breaks from it and even work on short stories at some point but only when I’m happy with my progress.

I want to get to the end of this year and finally feel like I’ve done something, that I’ve finished the first draft. I say every year I’m going to be a more productive writer and read books and make goals.

But this year: one writing goal. No books, no miracle cures (I did start that podcast not sure what to do about that at this point continue or quit, I hate quitting) or long to-do lists or goals.

I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

*************************************************************************************

Ok so since writing this I’ve started reading my WIP. It is a mess because I’m a pantser it’s just flitting from one scene to the next. Some scenes are ok but there doesn’t seem to be a direction.

Any advice on how to fix this appreciated :/

My writing itself I’m liking (needs lots of tweaks but it’s ok) but the story needs work. I have conflict and setting the scene in the beginning but I’m not really sure how to improve it. Also at the moment my brain is tired from reading and staring at a screen 🙂

I really wish I’d planned this as I went, it’s a lot like a NaNoWriMo novel bits of scenes and ideas because I was free writing.

I’m wondering if after I’ve read over it I should make a plan and start fixing these problems maybe that would be better? Or should I just finish it and then work on that on the rewriting stage but if I do that I’m concerned I’ll compromise on quality.

I knew this was going to be a lot of work and my plan is still to read over it and make sense of the story and make notes as I go. Maybe then I’ll have a better idea of what to do.

How can you make a story that hasn’t got a plan, a pantser’s story, into one with more of a direction/structure?

I started off thinking the writing isn’t as bad as I thought. Then I realised how directionless is it 😦 And the negative trumps the positive. I’ll keep going.

I’ll keep you updated…. I have a review on it’s way very soon.. 🙂

review

Amy Cole is Zen as F*ck by Elizabeth McGivern

Amy Cole is Zen as F*ck (Amy Cole, #2)

This is the second Amy Cole book and I’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since I finished the first one, you can find my review for Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind here. 

I had a copy of this ebook for review from the author, because I was part of the blog tour for the first.

Synopsis from GoodReads:

“It’s been almost two years since Amy Cole walked through the door of her therapist’s office and now she’s ready to emerge as the sane, zen-like woman she has always wanted to be. Unfortunately for Amy, life has the nasty habit of not playing along.

There’s no time for a quiet life with a business to run, family life to balance and a newly-single best friend to keep an eye on.From getting embroiled in a feud with a maniacal diet guru, making sure Elle isn’t murdered by strangers from the internet and dealing with the mother-in-law from hell, mayhem always seems to find a way into Amy’s life.

Elle De Bruyn is on the cusp of finalising her divorce and is ready to jump, head-first, into dating once again. She soon learns that finding love in the 21st century is a tricky business. She lives in hope that somewhere in between the liars, cheats and unsolicited dick pics there’s still a chance for one more great love affair.

With life in a constant state of chaos, it doesn’t take long for Amy to realise that therapy was the easy part and now it’s time for the real work to begin.

Is sanity really all it’s cracked up to be?”

My thoughts

I loved reading about Amy and her escapades in the first book and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. She still manages to get herself into some scrapes and every time she tries to get things on the right track things tend to go wrong… but hey that’s life!

The messes she gets herself into! Only Amy Cole could manage it! She’s so funny. 

This book made me burst out laughing a few times. But it’s also a book about love, friendship and has some serious issues like Amy’s mental health.  I like how even though there are serious issues in the book it’s still lighthearted.

It’s a riveting read. Reading this book is like catching up with old friends, I love the characters and can’t wait to read the next book to find out what Amy and her friends will get up to next. The next book is called Amy Cole Has It All Figured Out and is due to be released this year.

If you want something lighthearted with realistic characters this book is for you 🙂

 

About the author

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Elizabeth McGivern is a former journalist turned hostage-in-her-own-home surrounded by three men and a horrible dog named Dougal.

In an effort to keep her sanity she decided to write a parenting blog after the birth of her first son so she can pinpoint the exact moment she failed as a mother.

In an unexpected turn of events, the blog helped her to find a voice and connect with parents in similar situations; namely those who were struggling with mental health issues and parenting. It was because of this encouragement – and wanting to avoid her children as much as possible – her debut novel, Amy Cole has lost her mind, was born.

Elizabeth lives in Northern Ireland although wishes she could relocate to Iceland on a daily basis. To witness her regular failings as a parent you can find her on:

www.mayhemandbeyond.com 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mayhemandbeyond

Twitter – https://twitter.com/MayhemBeyond

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mayhemandbeyond/

Picture credited to Jess Lowe