Monday, 15 May 2017

Book Review: Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff!

My non-fiction shelf is dominated by medical memoirs; be it a doctor from the 1800s or a midwife from the 1950s, I can't get enough of the mix of medicine and drama. So when the opportunity to be on the blog tour for Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff* came up, I jumped! Based in the 1970s? Covering student nursing? In London? It sounded right up my alley, and I couldn't wait.



To a young girl the life of a student nurse sounds exciting, but with long hours and short shrift it's never easy. So when Maggie Groff embarks as a student nurse at London's King's College Hospital she must quickly get to grips with the demands of her chosen career. It's sink or swim.

In a delightful romp through time, played out against the march of feminism and the fashion, music and movies of almost half a century ago, we follow Maggie's highs and lows as with trial and much error she becomes a highly skilled nurse and sets sail for a new life in Australia.

From the watchful gaze of stern ward sisters and the ordeals of nursing at a poor housing estate to becoming an industrial nurse at the iconic Sydney Opera House, Maggie shares her stories of mistakes and mayhem, tea and sympathy, and the life-affirming moments that make it all worthwhile.

This book is a wonderfully written memoir covering 1970 to 1985 and has some brilliantly written parts, as one would expect from an award-winning novelist. What I didn't expect was to be whipped away to Switzerland, Australia and Ibiza, and to be shown the differences between hospital nursing, industrial nursing and even elderly nun nursing. All while staying pretty charmingly British and cosy to read.

Maggie Groff has had a truly amazing life. She shows the up and the downs of nursing- and life at the same time. While I don't think I could handle the night duty and the emergencies, I'm totally jealous. I was quite close to looking into a nursing career while reading! But I think what this memoir really shows is what you can do with a strong attitude and determination. Maggie Groff knew what she wanted and she did it, be it quitting an underpaying job or flying out to live across the globe all alone.

The comparison to Call the Midwife has to be made because they're both memoirs about UK based nursing in the past, although set 20 years apart. I get the same comforting feeling I get from the books, and the slightly-less-so-but-still-there judgement of women by their appearance, but Maggie Groff has had a much more varied career. If you liked one, I think you'd like the other.

One thing I did raise my eyebrows a little at the one racist paragraph, where she tells the reader about a rumour implying the Chinese nurses were eating ducks from the park; "I never believed the rumour, especially as I had started it." It was obviously the 1970s and we all say things when we're young, but this was never addressed again which is unfortunate.

Overall though, this is what it says on the cover, an entertaining true story of a student nurse in 1970s London. And so much more. Prepare to see the effects of Feminism in nursing, a family lose a mother to cancer and a great balance of a polished story and the raw real-life events.

If you want to read it, you can pre-order here for it's release on Wednesday. And there will be more blog tour posts from KellyDeeJoLorraineCarly and Adele during the week!

"It wouldn't matter if he was a thief or a prince. Everyone who walks through the hospital doors receives the same respectful treatment. It's what underpins King's, Maggie. It's what's right."

 Where do you put memoirs on your shelf; fiction or non-fiction? Will you pick this one up?

*I was provided a copy of the book for the blog tour, this hasn't changed my opinion.

Monday, 1 May 2017

My #AtoZReadathon TBR!

Everyone joins the odd readathon the day they start, right? Denise has created an amazing readathon and I wanted in! You can hear all about it here but in short, there are three levels: Easy, where you use the titles and authors names to get all the letters A-to-Z. Medium, where you use the titles. And Hard, where you just use the first letter of the title. I so want to try that hard version but I have deadlines galore in May and I occasionally have to chose to be responsible. So- medium! I had a blast picking out my books and using a little excel spreadsheet to make sure I hit all the letters. Here's my TBR...



The Light Fantastic and Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
I haven't had the best time with Terry Pratchett in the past, but I've read enough on the internet to be reassured that his work gets better. And books with Q in the title are super hard to find. So, I'm going to give books two and three again. Especially since book three; Equal Rites is the first of the Witches books. They're what I'm super interested in getting to.

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey
I'm really excited to get to this book! I bought it years ago and it's about a gritty London paranormal detective. I completely forgot about it until I searched for books with a V in. I've seen a lot of comparisons to the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher, which I wanted to read a while ago and have since discovered it's pretty misoginistic, so I'm hoping this will fill the gap!

The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Despite loving the first book and the second book in this series, and being really excited for the third book to come out- I completely forgot about The Bronze Key. I ended up buying it months after it was released and still haven't read it. I'm not good with current series apparently. It's time I finally read it.

Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
There were a couple of different books I could've picked to get the letter X but I've never read a book with an intersex character before. I think it's about time I did. Plus, I've been listening to a couple of modern classics on audiobook lately so I kind of want to see what happens when I try to read-read one.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This was actually the last book I added because J was the hardest letter to find and I still needed P. So why not read my first Jane Austen? This has been mentioned over and over on my blog so I'm glad to get that final push to start it! Plus, maybe after reading this I'll stop trying to spell Prejudice like 'Predjudice'.

Sneaky view of my spreadsheet for the curious!
So that's my TBR! I think I have a pretty neat little selection too, and a couple of books to read that I hadn't thought about in a while. I love that about readathons with interesting challenges.

Are you joining the #AtoZReadathon?

Friday, 21 April 2017

Book Unhaul #1

One of my 2017 Reading Goals was to replace some of the books in my collection that I'm no longer interested in, with books I am. My thought process so far is to have a one in, ten out kind of balance to really refine down my shelves so today I'll be showing you the first 10 books I'm saying goodbye to. I don't know what I'll be replacing them with yet but I'm starting a post-it note with a proud little count of how many books I owe myself.



Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Don't panic! This is one of about four copies I own and I really don't need a pilfered school edition that I never actually read and dates back to 1987.

Private, Invitation Only, Untouchable, Confessions and Inner Circle by Kate Brian
I lived the horrors of all-girls school so I have no idea why I felt the need to read about it in my youth. Enid Blyton just made me idealise boarding schools, I guess. These are being passed on to Lauren who is in the mood to read a trashy teen book.

This Raging Light by Estelle Laurie
I read this almost a year ago and didn't really rate it. I'm also passing this onto Lauren and I'm really interested to hear her thoughts though. She's an elder sister like the character in the book and might empathise more than me, a younger sister.

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas
I rarely re-read mysteries, and I can't see myself re-reading this mystery since I really didn't think it was that good. I hate when things that the first person narrator knows are kept from the reader deliberately to create a twist.

The Glam Guide by Fleur De Force*
I liked this book! But it's one of those instructional books that once you've read it and adopted the parts that you want to into your life, you don't need the book anymore. So I'm also passing this onto Lauren who I'm sure will like it.

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola*
As beautiful as this book is, and seriously- look at that cover, I didn't connect with the characters in any real way. I have to balance out books that are pretty with books that I want to read but don't own yet. My sister-in-law is kindly taking this off my hands as she likes the occasional historical fiction so I'm looking forward to hearing her opinion.
Do you unhaul books? What do you do with them?

*These books were sent for review

Monday, 17 April 2017

Books I Read in March!

So I actually read some books in March! After my first no-book month of the three years of Imogen's Typewriter back in February I was pretty ready to read some dang books. Admittedly, three isn't the best number but heck, the Alison Weir novel is over 500 pages. I'm happy with my little pile.



Southern Spirits by Angie Fox
I hate reading ebooks. I get migraines so I try to avoid looking at tiny words on my phone screen for very long. However, I had a migraine-free day in March and decided to risk it and try to start an ebook. Night Shift on, brightness turned way down, I was ready. And I ended up reading Southern Spirits in one day. One dang day. I flew through it. I've had it for a while as it was free on iBooks but never really dived in. But it was so fun and hit those paranormal cosy crime vibes for me, while still being a super imaginative set-up for the main character and the rest of the series. I'm not sure if I'll pick up the next book- just because I'm trying to cut down my TBR and read books that I already own, but this really made a boring day very fun.


The White Road by Sarah Lotz*
Oh boy. Sarah Lotz is back and knocked this one out of the park! It wasn't quite The Three, which I hold up to impossible standards, but it was miles above Day Four. I'll post a full review nearer to the 4th of May release date. A welcome addition to my shelves.


Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession by Alison Weir*
This is being published on the 18th of May so I'll post my full review around about then. But in short,  Alison Weir blew it out of the park again for me and I'm counting down the days until I can get my hands on the beautiful hardcover to match Katherine of Aragons.


2017 Reading Challenge: 9/80 (I really need to catch up!)

What did you read in March?

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