Little fires everywhere by Celeste Ng.

The second novel by Celeste Ng has become an international bestseller for a reason, Celeste depicts lives in the small town of Shaker Heights, where everybody stays in their perfectly well-behaved bubble. Elena Richardsons’ family are the ideal candidates for this town.

Everything is running just as it should be until outsiders, Mia a drifting artist and her daughter Pearl rent a house from the Richardsons. While Pearl grows closer with the Richardson’s children, unlike Elena and Mia who remain wary of each other and indeed they have a right to be.

Even more so, when the Richardson’s friends the Mcloughs’ decide to adopt a Chinese baby girl, forcing Mia and Elena onto opposing sides. Determined not to let Mia get in the way of her friends’ happiness, Elena digs into Mia’s past, which reveals secrets that will change both of their lives.

This beautifully written novel is gripping and explores how people from all different walks of life can intertwine and secrets can’t stay hidden forever.75317312_431858267529834_505252269004947456_n

 

Interview with teaching assistant Julie Collins, find out about her experiences working in a special needs school.

Have you ever thought of working with children/people with special needs, read teaching assistant Julie’s own experiences working in the special needs sector.

Julie,53 worked in the civil service for thirty years before becoming a teaching assistant at Hope School in Wigan.

Only when Julie was offered voluntary redundancy from the civil service, did she take the leap and complete a level 2 teaching assistant course. Julie had thought about going into care for a long time,’ I didn’t know which way I wanted to go into it. It would have been harder to quit my job and do the course without anything to fall back on; however, with the redundancy, I could do the course and not have to worry about money.’

Julie’s first job after the teaching assistant course was at a public primary school, but as soon as a job opportunity at Hope School came up, she jumped at the chance.

Now Julie works with eighteen to thirty-year-olds, who have a severe range of disabilities. ‘ The school is a very happy and caring environment to work in, it is extremely rewarding. A little thing like a smile of a student makes it worthwhile.’

Julie says although it is rewarding, it can be hard at times. ‘You have to be positive, especially when some of the students experience seizures. You have to do your best to make the lives of the students as comfortable and as happy as you can.’

The school takes part in a range of activities to create a fun and positive environment, such as wheelchair dancing, sensory art, music therapy, and dance massage.

If you are thinking about working in a special needs school Julie recommends to ‘ go and volunteer in a classroom, but you can’t let it upset you. Be practical and put the students needs first.’

 

 

 

Autumn Leaves

My soul is scattered across the concrete,

My spine detached from my tree,

no longer, do I belong to anything.

 

My skin is stepped on, kicked around,

the rain hits me harder,

as I have nowhere to hang.

 

My friends have flown away,

as time drags each day,

the lonelier I become.

 

My cover stuck to the ground,

there’s no one around,

to help me lift into the air.

 

So, I lay here,

until I eventually fade into the earth.

I pray that the leaves that fall after me,

don’t lose themselves completely.72418828_693175284507910_977889153364525056_n

 

 

 

 

The Archway

During my first semester at university, we went on a trip to Gregynog Hall in Wales for the weekend. We were asked to find an object on the grounds and write a piece based around it. I chose the beautiful archway that was located in the front gardens. It inspired me to write a short love story about a Lord and a Maid called The Archway.

 

‘Oh my Lord, is that the time already?’ I rip off my apron and quickly wash the flour off my hands in the sink.

‘Why? Where are you venturing off to at this hour Mary?’ I spin round to be greeted by the head Butler Mr. Gillespe hovering in the doorway, his eyebrows raised.

‘Nowhere Sir, I didn’t realize how late it was, that’s all.’

He frowns at me. ‘Very well, Goodnight Mary.’

‘Goodnight Sir.’ I wait until I can hear his footsteps fade down the corridor, then hurry to gather my coat from the cloakroom. I catch myself in the reflection of a window, I look pale and exhausted. I wonder if people can tell, he might be able to guess before I tell him. He can always read my face, I feel sick with anxiety at the thought of it.

I take a deep breath in and tighten my bun. I make my way out to the courtyard, the cool air pinching my skin. My breath looms in a cloud of fog around me. He’s already there, stood beneath the archway. Inhaling the frostbitten air, I let it fill my lungs and tiptoe over the crinkled leaves on the ground, careful not to make too much noise.

‘Jonathan,’ I whisper. He gaps putting his hand to his chest.

‘Mary, you startled me; where have you been it’s late?’

‘Sorry my love, I didn’t realize the time.’ He folds his arms around me, stroking my cheek softly.

‘I missed you, my dear,’ he says giving me a warm smile, before lightly pressing his lips against mine. I look into his penny brown eyes and fall in love with him all over again. He’s so handsome, I am still unsure how someone like Jonathan could fall for me “Mary the kitchen maid”. He could have any girl he pleased and yet here he is with me.

Hiding from all his family, keeping secrets. But what if it all changes once I confess my own. He won’t want to marry me, all his family would treat him as an outcast, especially his Father. I don’t understand how Jonathan and his Father share the same blood, his father is a cruel man, nothing but money on his mind, he doesn’t care for those; only those who will add to his fortunes.

Jonathan, on the other hand, is kind and caring. From our first meeting, I knew he was different from his family. He was polite and sincere, he always thanked me every time I served him. I didn’t see it coming, I was walking in the courtyard, I was strolling along in the courtyard when he pulled me to one side; underneath this very archway. He confessed that he couldn’t stop thinking about me, that my blue eyes haunted him every day. He knew it was wrong, his father would never allow it, but he needed to kiss me once, as he had done in his dreams.

I thought he was fooling me at first, but the look in his eyes right before he kissed me, was of a young boy’s excitement on Christmas Day. I know he loves me, yet I still dread to tell him what I know. I’m so scared of losing him, losing what we have.

‘What’s the matter, my dear, are you quite alright? You don’t seem yourself tonight.’

‘Yes I’m fine, just a little under the weather is all,’ I attempt to lie.

‘They have you working too hard in that kitchen, you need to take a few days off my dear. That’s an idea! Why don’t you say you’re visiting your family for a few days. I could say I have a business meeting in the city and we could go somewhere together.’ His face glows at the thought.

I attempt to look happy and force a smile upon my face, I must be a terrible actress because his face turns to concern.

‘ We don’t have to, I just thought it would be nice to spend more than one night together for once.’  He looks disheartened.

‘It isn’t that Jonathan, I want to, it’s just…’

‘What is it, Mary?’

I can feel tears wetting my eyes.

‘Oh my love, what is it?’ He pulls me in closer towards him and kisses my forehead.

‘Do you love me, Jonathan?’ I ask for reassurance.

‘Of Course, I do, you know I love you, Mary.’

‘I’m pregnant.’ He doesn’t say anything, he loosens his grip around me, then lifts my face with his hand so were looking into each other’s eyes.

‘You’re pregnant?’ Why did I tell him, I can see how scared he looks. What have I done?

‘ How long have you known?’

‘A week.’

‘Oh Mary, you’ve kept this to yourself for a whole week.’ I nod as my tears escalate into a muffled cry.

‘Mary don’t cry, I’m here now; everything’s going to be alright.’

‘You’re not going to leave me?’

‘No Mary, why would I ever leave you?’

‘What about your Father, I’m going to lose my job, all your family would never approve.’

‘Don’t worry my love, I’ll think of something, not just for us; but for our child.’ He places a hand on my stomach as his face illuminates with a smile.

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

I’d heard that this book was a must-read for a while before I treated myself to it, and I’m very glad I did.

However, I didn’t have much of a sense of what the book would be like and it was definitely not what I was expecting.

Gail Honeyman portrays a very different outlook on everyday life through the unique mind of the main character Eleanor Oliphant. She lives a simple life with the same routine of work and home, with very little human connection.

Eleanor thinks her lonely life is completely normal until she forms an unlikely friendship with a work colleague, Raymond. Her new friend shows her just what she’s been missing out on, whilst Eleanor is discovering this new world she also discovers secrets from her repressed childhood, which she has kept hidden for years.

A very touching read, with unsuspected moments of humour and sadness, this book can definitely make its way onto your favourites list.

Jason Fox ‘Battle Scars’

Who else loves reading biographies? I find it so interesting to dive into the depths of someone else’s life and take inspiration from what they have gone through.

Everyone has a story to tell, and I particularly love reading about people whose lives are distinctively different from my own. One specific example of this is Battle Scars by Jason Fox, ex-special forces serviceman and one of the leading men on the hit Channel 4 series ‘SAS: Who Dares Wins.’

In the book, Jason explains the hardships of the life-changing battles he has faced whilst serving time in the marines and special forces, which lead to him being diagnosed with PTSD.

He discloses how PTSD affected him in life after the army. The honest and raw account of how Jason worked through his mental health will help anyone, not only ex-military but anyone dealing with mental health problems and show them that things can get better.

So, please if you are looking for an inspiring story to read this Autumn, this is the one to read.

The Bali Diaries:Don’t eat sushi before climbing up a volcano!

Last year, I got the chance to go traveling for a month around Bali and Indonesia with one of my best and oldest friends Kate. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had,cliche′ I know. Kate had already been traveling around Asia when I got a message from her asking if I wanted to go to Bali for my 21st! The next thing I know I was flying by myself for the first time and staying in my first ever hostel. I kept a Diary for the whole month I was there and scribbled down what we got up to every couple of days. So, I thought I would re-visit my Diary and polish up a few of the most memorable experiences I had whilst I was there.

Starting with our Two O’clock in the morning trek up the volcano Mount Batur…

We looked out to see a fiery orange dot growing in the middle of the dirty sky. Kate and I had climbed 1,717 meters up to the top of Mount Batur (located  just an hour outside of Ubud.) Despite my holding us up at the side of the volcano to occasionally throw up whilst hundreds of travelers climbed past me trying not to look. (This is why you don’t eat sushi before climbing up a volcano and a pizza the night before, oops. It could have also been due to my level of fitness at the time, but I’m blaming it on the overload of food, haha! )

The sky was clearing to unveil a giant red football floating through the horizon, the clouds parted below us, lighting up the still vast lake and the miniature houses beneath it. Dawn brought the top of the volcano to life, monkeys inhabited the grounds making tourists aware that their food was for sharing.

We explored the top to find our shadows waving back at us in the middle of a rainbow surrounded by other rocky grey volcanoes. One of the leaders guided us to where hot steam poured out from between the cracks of the rocks. We held our cold hands in front of them heating them up as though it was a crackling fire.

Kate and I found a small shack on top of a little hill, we had a hot cup of tea overlooking the ever-approaching day and the mounting greenery. I still don’t really like the way they drink tea in Asia they leave the tea bag in with no milk, but who could turn down the chance to say they’ve had a brew as I call it, on top of a volcano in Bali, not me.

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