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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.

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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?

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New Year Thoughts

Every year at this time I think about my goals for the next. They’re usually the same. I’ll say I’m going to write more and finish my novel and then later on I’ll be wanting to lose weight.

(I lost a lot of weight a few years ago but it’s too easy to fall back into bad habits and put it back on.)

I sign up to do 30 days of yoga and book challenges. But find it difficult for one reason or another to keep it going.

I never know whether these goals are attainable, unrealistic or just wishful thinking. I don’t want to make life a chore of to-do lists and must-do wishlists anymore. I don’t want to sign up to things and then fail at completing them. Maybe I need to stop planning and doing all these things, don’t commit just do when I can.

I never know how people do things everyday without running around crazy and feeling exhausted at the end of it.

These are things I want to do all the time: yoga, reading, blogging and writing.

I started following a writing podcast called couch to 80k bootcamp but struggled to find the time in the third week to carry on. But because I’ve started I’ll feel like a failure if I don’t continue. I also was thinking of signing up for an indie book challenge.

This is what I know I want to do in 2019:

  • Read books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while, specifically Catcher in the rye.
  • Cook more: or rather cook new recipes like Corned beef pie I’ve been meaning to make for ages.
  • Finish the first draft of my novel.

I’m avoiding Netgalley and finishing the reviews I’ve already committed to doing and then I’m going to read whatever I fancy. I’ve got so many books I want to read and I don’t want reading to be a chore.

So I’ve decided, with the exception of books I’ve already committed to review, I am not planning to review new books for the beginning of 2019.

I will make a fresh start and start reading over my novel. It will also give me a chance to read books on my shelf and I will be reviewing these. I have a few reviews to write for January.

I want to review books for people and I’d love to grow this blog but I think I’m trying to do too much.

I don’t want a crazy list of goals and resolutions I just want to focus on what’s important and let everything else hopefully fall into place.

What I’ve been doing in the past hasn’t worked so it’s time for a change. I’m not sure if it’s me trying to do it all or my lack of routine.

So there’s just the one serious goal really and the others are for fun. I’ll keep blogging.

Thanks for reading this. It may be a bit haphazard :/

Let me know your resolutions. Your goals or maybe you don’t have any and your happy tell us in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy new year! All the best

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My Christmas Reads

 

Well, I’m hopeless at taking photos. But these are the two books I picked to read for Christmas.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a reread, I love reading this book at this time of year. I also love The Muppets Christmas Carol movie and watch it every Christmas Eve. This book is a quick read perfect for this busy time of year. I’m almost finished. I love the story of Scrooge learning the true meaning of Christmas. I love Dicken’s style for this story.

There’s something about this time of year that I just love to read classic books and cosy ghost stories which has been the influence for the books I’ve picked this year.

Ghosts of Christmas Past is a mix of classic and modern tales of ghosts and horrors. Perfect if you don’t have much time to read. I’m enjoying this, I have eight stories left to read, I skipped two I wasn’t enjoying but I might go back to them. I can’t wait to read the one by Neil Gaiman.

I’ve been struggling to finish my Goodreads challenge so I haven’t picked full length novels to read since I’m already still reading two other books! I have been having trouble sleeping lately and wanted to read another book to complete my challenge, so I found a video reading of How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss it was a read along video, I wouldn’t have got hold of the book quick enough and the ebook was only suitable for tablets. So that has been an extra Christmas read and a bonus for my reading challenge.

Tell me what you’re reading. I’d love some ideas for next year. I recommend Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan as a fun Christmas read.

Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year!

I look forward to reading more amazing books in future, carving more time for my blog and other writing projects.

Also I plan to read more indie books and might be joining a new challenge from the people at Ninja Book Box…. More about that and all of this very soon.

All the best 🙂

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Dracula by Bram Stoker

Finally I finished Dracula! I started rereading this back in October for Halloween, but this year has been crazy and I’ve been way behind on my reading. Which usually means I’ve found more books to read that I’ve enjoyed more 🙂 Or had little time for whatever reason. I read the ebook because at the time I started reading my paperback was still in moving boxes.

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Dracula (AmazonClassics Edition)

 

 

 

My thoughts

I couldn’t really remember everything that happens in the book because it’d been a while since I’d read it. I’d forgotten how this is a perfect example of a gothic horror novel, in the beginning when Jonathan Harker is on his way to Castle Dracula, the atmosphere is great and so is the foreshadowing. I enjoyed the story and released how much has actually been changed in the movie, the movie romanticises Dracula I feel but in this book he is a monster! A proper vampire! (sorry, Lestat).

The movie gets the vampire protections wrong too, (and so does Buffy!) They use garlic flowers not the bulbs! 

Due to the age of the book it can be overly dramatic sometimes. And Bram Stoker wrote dialogue as they speak which can be a bit awkward to understand. Van Helsing’s part of the narrative was also written as he spoke, this was annoying. I didn’t like the talk of a “man’s brain” and a woman’s brain but you have to allow for the difference in times. There was one glaring mistake that me and my friend noticed, wonder if you can find it too?

I enjoyed this book but sometimes it was a bit of a trudge to get through, there’s a lot of dialogue and it can get slow and dull. I think it might have been down to the pacing, a lot of scenes could have been reduced down.

The ending was disappointing, most of the scenes had been overlong up until then and when they finally reach that all important moment it is over too quickly. I had no memory of how the book ended. It’s a let down.

That said, I think this is a book people should read. There is some great writing and great moments in this book. But be warned there are parts that can be a bit dull, it’s for the avid classic reader, or the person who has to finish the book! 

I finished it! I’m glad I reread it but also glad my next classic is shorter: A Christmas Carol. My motivation for finishing this book was that I could read that next, it also helped that I was reading it with a few other people and knowing they had finished it made me push on. I sat there for over an hr until late-ish to finish it.

Have you read Dracula? What did you think?

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Ninja book box unboxing

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Loving this month’s box, The Christmas card is lovely and the message so sweet! Thanks😀

There’s the usual charm and recipe card.

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And then there’s the gifts:

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An origami throwing star like real ninjas use.

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I love this cushion cover it’s blue so it will fit perfectly in my living room.

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Bottle opener with a constellation design.

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Handmade notebook

So the theme seems to be stars, which makes sense when I read the blurb of the book:

 

This is perfect exactly my type of book about someone who is knocked down and is trying to get back up and change their life. And it’s a true story.

I have read similar books like this Wild and The Salt Path. I love reading them, they always inspire me. I was thinking recently that I should read more memoirs and then I recieve this book in my Ninja Book Box, I swear they just know and I don’t know how! 🙂

This is the last box for a bit as they take a break. But you can still buy from their bookshop, check out their website here for more information.

Thanks Ninjas 🙂

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For 2019 the Ninjas have thought of an indie book challenge. I always feel bad that I never get around to reading my Ninja books, even though like the one in this box I really want to. I find too many books on Netgalley or others to review. So I’m doing the indie challenge this year. More on that soon, next post will be my review on Dracula which I have been trying to finish since October. Starting my Christmas reads now, gone from hardly anything to write about here to so much but struggling to get the balance right. Work/fun/blog etc you know how it is.

 

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Blog Tour: Mostyn Thomas and the Big Rave by Richard Williams

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I have the wonderful opportunity to be part of the blog tour for Mostyn Thomas and the Big Rave by Richard Williams. Here is a synopsis:

“When Mostyn, an ageing Pembrokeshire farmer on the brink of bankruptcy, runs into young Jethro, his fortunes appear to take a positive turn. The pair secretly mobilise the locals of the village pub to help put on the greatest money-spinning event in the history of Little Emlyn: Lewistock. But things do not go to plan.

Moneylenders, drug dealers, the county council and the bank all set a collision course with Mostyn and Jethro. As the clock ticks down to the August Bank Holiday event and the young revellers begin to pour in from all corners of the county, the tension heats up. It’s not clear who exactly will get out alive.

Mostyn Thomas and the Big Rave pits a struggling Welsh farming community steeped in centuries of religion and tradition against the unstoppable youth movement of early 1990s rave culture with often poignant and riotous consequences.”

For my stop on the blog tour here is an extract from the book:

 From Chapter 1 of 

Mostyn Thomas and the Big Rave by Richard Williams 

 

‘Good afternoon, Mr Thomas. How are you today?’ 

‘Aye, not so bad thanks, Jane. Just bloody overdressed again. Dew, 

dew, look at me sweating here.’ Mostyn pinched the collar of his shirt and wafted the damp heat out of his chest. 

‘Yes, it’s close, isn’t it?’ 

‘Aye, almost touching, girl. So what’s the Kaiser’s mood like today?’ 

Jane laughed. ‘Oh, the usual.’ 

‘Shit.’ 

‘Come on.’ Jane winked and waved him forward affectionately. 

‘He’s just going through your file now.’ 

Mostyn took off his cap as he followed Jane down the silent corridor and into Mr Price’s office. 

The room had faint scents of cold cigarette and lavender, and the metal blinds had a sickly off-yellow tint. Mostyn noticed the undernourished cheese plant in the far corner of the room and wondered how Mr Price could fail to maintain it. 

‘Hello there, Mostyn,’ said Mr Price as he breezed into the office, arm extended for his customary strong and uncomfortably long handshake. Mostyn always considered this to solidify rather than break the ice between them. ‘Take a seat, please. Can Jane fix you a glass of water now?’ 

‘Aye, please, that would be lovely,’ said Mostyn. 

Mr Price settled in his chair and fumbled for a pen. He grabbed each side of the desk, rolled himself up close, then jolted his arms up and forward in mid-air, like he’d just received a shock of electric current, only to settle his sleeves. He aligned his notepad, slid his glasses back up his nose with his right index finger, placed both elbows on the desk, resting his chin on his clenched fists, and finally grinned as he locked eyes with Mostyn, who was mesmerised by the entire performance.  

Jane put the glass of water on the desk, smiled at Mostyn and left the room, closing the door behind her. Mostyn picked up the glass and took a long swallow. 

‘So, how’s it going, Mostyn?’ 

‘Aye, not so bad, Mr Price.’ 

‘Good. Good. I hope you’re giving yourself a bit of time off now the 

cattle are out. Have you started the second cut of silage yet? The grass seems lovely out Clarbeston way with all these long periods of sun and rain.’ 

‘Well, I’ve been trying, Mr Price, but there’s always a gate to mend or feet to do. The lanes were full of stones this spring after all that ice we had, so a lot of the animals are hobbling around in need of a trim. But the weather has been good, considering, so the silage and barley are looking healthy, that’s a big relief. Let’s just hope this weather holds up now till after the County Show.’ 

Mr Price smiled and studied Mostyn’s face for a short moment. His cleft lip had become less noticeable with age and his thick grey hair remained perfectly side-parted, with boyish curls that rose up just under his earlobes. His eyes shone with a proud light and a resilient kindness. They could have belonged to an innocent adolescent trapped inside the ageing, wrinkled face of a troubled man who’d toiled alone in the elements for a lifetime. The wilt of his collar gave away his steady contraction into old age. Mr Price wondered how this solitary farmer would survive through his final years. 

‘Good, good,’ said Mr Price. 

Dust drifted through the hot afternoon sunrays as Mostyn took 

off his cardigan. 

‘So, what can I do for you today, Mostyn?’ 

Mostyn shuffled up in his chair and took another sip of water. The 

sweat that dampened his armpits was now blotting the front of his shirt. ‘Well, things are still a bit tight. I’m not really getting anywhere, as you can probably see,’ he said, pointing at the open file in front of Mr Price. 

Mr Price nodded respectfully. 

Mostyn drew a deep breath. ‘So I think I need to expand.’ 

Mr Price’s eyes widened. He eased back in his chair, folding his 

arms, thoughts brewing. 

‘I’d just like to widen and deepen the slurry pit so I can look for more head of cattle by the end of the year. I’m full to the brim now, even overflowing after a few days of solid rai—’ 

‘Mostyn,’ Mr Price interjected, ‘are you seriously planning on asking the bank for another loan?’ 

‘Yes, Mr Price.’ 

‘For heaven’s sake. Don’t you realise you’ve missed your last nine overdraft repayments? And the loan for the cubicles, don’t forget that. Look.’ Mr Price’s limp finger tapped on the spreadsheet as he rotated it for Mostyn to see, but Mostyn could see nothing. Such requests had just been formalities since his first loan back in 1971. He swallowed the last fingers of water, searching for a response. 

Mr Price swivelled back and fore, slowly rolling his fingertips on 

the blotter of his desk. 

‘Look, Mostyn, let me spell it out.’ Mr Price wiggled upright in his chair. He placed both elbows abreast on the table, brought his hands together in a prayer-like motion and began tapping his lower lip, his nose twitching. ‘I’ve spent years fighting with Cardiff to keep small family farms afloat, all over the county. But due to all the current issues, the bank has a new policy that blocks further financing for farms that are not able to pay their overdrafts and loan repayments. And as I’ve just explained, Mostyn, you fall into that category.’ 

Mostyn took in a new and distant coldness in Mr Price’s face. His mind raced for a solution. He could always sell land, but that would scupper his expansion plans. And the takings for the next lot of cattle going in a couple of weeks were already earmarked to cover overdue feed and vet bills. It would be another four months until the next lot of bullocks were ready. 

‘I’ll find a solution, Mr Price. I’ve got a few score of cattle ready now 

in the next few weeks. If prices don’t drop, I should be alright.’ 

Mr Price nodded again, calmly, knowingly… 

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Mostyn Thomas and the Big Rave by Richard Williams is available now in paperback (£8.99) https://www.graffeg.com/product/mostyn-thomas-and-the-big-rave/ and find on Twitter: @graffeg_books 

 Garreg is an independent Welsh publisher, I am all about supporting indie books and authors. The author has also copiled a spotify playlist for the book you can listen here

Thanks for the opportunity to be part of this tour 🙂