Book Review // Educated by Tara Westover

Book Review by Nicola Bourne

Educated is the incredible memoir of Tara Westover who, after being raised on the edge (in so many ways) seeks to educate herself (also, in so many ways).  Westover seeks education in the literal sense – she has no formal education growing up.  In a worldly sense – her parents are extreme fundamentalists who cut their children off from interaction with ‘outsiders’.  And in a personal sense – how does a young woman fit into a world she has no sense of?

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At the beginning of the memoir, I found it very hard to place this book, or put it into any sort of time period, but I think that was the point.  I want to bring order to the book because my childhood and life is relatively ordered.  Westover’s was not.  She cannot put a timeframe on her life because she didn’t even know her own birthdate and only had a rough idea of her age.  Westover very cleverly brings this feeling of displacement of time into the text.  Geographically, I found this novel memoir very hard to place, but again, that’s the point.  It’s based somewhere out on the fringes of society that you don’t normally see, that is easily ignored.

One of my favourite things about this book is that it steers away from having a breakthrough moment, where everything after that point is fine.  Even once she is ‘educated’ the emotional struggle and need to find her place is in a continual flux.  At points, you think she has left her physically violent and mentally toxic family behind, only for her to go back to them.  Like life, her journey ebbs and flows ad the trauma of her childhood echo’s through into adulthood.

I found this book completely engaging and I highly recommend it.

Click here for more information on Educated by Tara Westover

Thank you NetGalley and Random House for allowing me to review Educated by Tara Westover.

 

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Creative Writing, Poetry

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Stars don’t die quietly

they scream light into the blazing sky

with Ares’ sword pointed towards themselves

 

spitting and burning the

truth

they splatter blinding supernovas

into the black padding of the night

 

dying stars don’t wink at the moon but take

pride in their indifference to

Death

and their

Love of the withering

light that burns them up from the inside

constellations of dust and

dents that hold the everlasting dark

 

until they do no more and

_

This Isn’t School!

Creative Writing

A few people have said they want to take part in the Let’s Start Writing workshop but are worried as they are busy Monday.  Please do not worry!

I will email you the details on Monday 7th May but you have plenty of time to do them and work at your own pace. You don’t send anything back to me for a couple of weeks so again, plenty of time.

Rest assured you can do the tasks on a day that suits you & there’s space for catching up – this isn’t school! 😊

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There is only one place left so sign up now and I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

Let’s Start Writing

Sign up now to join the Let’s Start Writing Workshop!

£20.00

 

April Catch-Up

Any Human Heart

April catch-up image

It has been a strange few months as March and April have been full of health issues.  First, I had a middle-of-the-night dash to A&E, where I was quickly diagnosed with Sepsis, brought on by kidney and bladder infections.  I was immediately put on treatment to bring me back from the brink.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is when you have an infection and your immune system goes into a crazy overdrive, starts attacking your organs and causes inflammation throughout the body.  It is a life-threatening but easily treatable when caught early.

Visit The Sepsis Trust for more information.

Recovering from Sepsis is much harder than I would have ever believed and I was medication for quite a long time after getting home from the hospital.  However, I was on the mend and just when I was finally starting to feel much better, I felt the same symptoms coming on again!  The A&E doctors had told me that if I suspected I had another infection I should come straight back, so that was what I did.  I was showing early signs of sepsis but I was put straight on antibiotics which seemed to stop it in its tracks.  Then it was back to trying to get better again.

Basically, not dying has taken up an incredible amount of time recently!

Getting ill is strange after having had cancer.  In a strange way, it takes me back to those old moments.  Laying in bed recovering = feeling like I have just had chemotherapy.  Going back and forth for hospital appointments = feeling like I am waiting to get some horrible life-changing results.  It is amazing how the brain can immediately trick you into thinking something else is going on and bring old emotions back up.  In some ways, the biggest challenge getting better was the mental battle rather than the physical one.

Needless to say, all of this put me rather behind with work, University and writing but I am finally getting back into the swing of things and I’m still in that dizzyingly excited period you get after you’ve been ill for a long time, where you just want to throw yourself into everything because it is just such a relief not to feel ill.

Writing

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 11.53.04However, in March I did have a short story, ‘Connected’, published in Fifty George Street literary journal.  It’s future fiction, imagining what it might be like trying to stay connected in a technological world.

You can read it on the Fifty George Street website.

Reading

I have read some wonderful books in the first quarter of this year, so I wanted to recommend my top 3 but I am finding it so hard to choose!  So I have ended up going for 4.  All 4 books are emotional but amazing and take you on a complete journey of the heart.  I highly recommend them all to you…

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Maillot ~ The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss ~ Soho by Richard Scott ~ Blue Nights by Joan Didion

Writing Workshop

After listening to the wonderful feedback I have received from people who have taken part in the ‘Let’s Start Writing’ workshop they have a had a bit of a revamp to include the chance to get more feedback on your writing.  I am thrilled with it and can’t wait to get started on Monday 7th May.  If you think you may be interested, please sign up here!

Let’s Start Writing

Sign up now to join the Let’s Start Writing Workshop!

£20.00

For the rest of the month, I plan on getting on with writing and working and giving my body time to get stronger and stronger.  What have you been up to?  What have you been reading, writing and doing?  Leave a comment down below so we can have a chat.

Happy April x

Let’s Start Writing!

Creative Writing

I have very exciting news…

REGISTRATION FOR MY NEXT LET’S START WRITING WORKSHOP IS OPEN!

Taking feedback on board I have re-designed the LET’S START WRITING workshop to include a chance to share your work with the group and get encouraging and useful feedback to help you develop and go on to write more!

This online workshop spans over 3 weeks beginning on Monday 7th May 2018.

To ensure everyone has good feedback PLACES ARE LIMITED so book now!

First Week: Monday 7th to Friday 11th May, I send you a daily email with a discussion, tips & hints, examples and a small task.

What could you spark in 10 minutes copySecond Week: You have time to write a short story and send it to me, I will then format (remove emails etc.) and make a document of all the groups writing and send it out.

Third Week: You have a chance to read everyone’s work before we have a text only chat where I will give feedback, and we can all give words of encouragement, talk about what we loved, what we would like to have read more about and why, and so on.

I have specially designed the daily tasks to be done in 10 minutes.  Trust me… you will be amazed what can be achieved in 10 minutes of writing!

You don’t need any previous experience and all writing prompts will ask you to draw from your own life and experiences, so again, no need to be nervous about coming up with epic novel ideas!

Let’s Start Writing

Sign up now to join the Let’s Start Writing Workshop!

£20.00

What previous participants have said…

This workshop was exactly what I needed. The beautifully presented, upbeat and thought provoking emails sent every morning were a welcome bit of ‘me time’ after the school run. As a mum of four little ones, finding time to sit down, think and write is challenging but your short 10 minute exercises made it feel achievable and although they only took ten minutes, the ideas, inspiration and techniques will last far longer. I enjoyed it so much that this mum of four with no time on her hands has just signed up to the next stage!

– Emily Taylor

I had been thinking about writing but it can be overwhelming knowing where to start.  By day one I suddenly had an organised list rather than randomly going from one thing to another.  By day two I was able to face that blank page and the words just kept coming.  The freedom of just writing was exciting.  I loved every day of the workshop and was really looking forward to receiving the
emails and discovering my next task. The workshop was clear with guidelines and examples which made it all very easy and the fact that we only needed to give 10 minutes a day made each task very do-able.  I now have a clear plan on what I would like the outcome for my writing to be, and an abundance of lists to work from.

– Lesley Barlow

I loved the course. I am a total novice when it comes to writing and you have given me some really useful tools to get me started. I love a list and a mood board and would have never had thought to use these as a starting point and for inspiration for my writing. Thank you Nicola, through doing this course you have opened up my mind to viewing and approaching writing in a different way.  

– Sarah Bienvenu

The two short courses have been very enjoyable and very therapeutic for me. I was taken on an unexpected journey. You can’t get better than that!  I really enjoyed crafting the final story in the Let’s Start Writing course.  I would like to say a very warm thank you. I will keep a look out for your next set of emails on writing courses.

– Christine Grieves

Let’s Start Writing

Sign up now to join the Let’s Start Writing Workshop!

£20.00

A Sunday Six Word Story

Creative Writing, Writing & Blogging

Apologies if you received this earlier in the week – the WordPress app and I were not getting on! 😉

Anyway, as I was saying…

I thought I’d publish a cheeky little six word story! I usually put these on my instagram so of you’d like to see more, follow me over there but for her, here’s today’s Six Word Story and I personally think this truly is a story we should all remember, all the time…

Happy Sunday x

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Connected by Nicola Bourne

Creative Writing

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They say when someone dies that they leave a hole in your heart but I don’t think that’s true.

Instead, they add something to your heart.  It has the shape and weight of a large boulder and its forever in the way.  It makes it hard for your heart to keep working.  Hard to breathe.  I tried explaining that to a woman at work and she told me about someone her friend knew who had a tumour inside their heart the size of a pea.  I think she thought that would help.  Empathizing by sharing a parallel story.  They did both involve hearts.  Maybe the emphasis was lost over text message.

That is why I bought him online.

Read the rest…

Published on www.50GS.com, 14th March 2018

That Dreaded Day

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I originally posted this blog two years ago but it still rings true…

Nicola Bourne

There is a time in every cancer survivors year when a dreaded day (or two…) comes around.  They are of course the dreaded check-ups!

I remember the first time I had to go back for a check up, pushing back the tears as I arrived the hospital.  The familiar sights and smells… immediately I felt like I was driving back for yet another chemotherapy appointment or to get some more “it’s worse than we initially thought” type horrible news.

I have gone so far as to actively try and avoid these dreaded days but they always catch up with you, usually encouraged by husband saying “Nic, what’s happening with your appointment?”  “seriously Nic, what’s happening?”

Well I couldn’t make the last appointment so I will rebook… you know…. next month… or maybe the month after… no rush hey?!

“Actually Nic – yes, there is.  Your delaying the inevitable and if there is something…

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January Catch-Up

Any Human Heart, Blogs, Creative Writing, Goals, Journey Back to Health, Writing & Blogging

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The Joy of January

I have to confess to usually hating January. It’s cold, its dark, the Christmas lights that were making everywhere look so pretty are gone, money is tight and it’s so cold that I’m left clinging to the radiator like we are shipwreck survivors.

The Change
This year I have changed my whole attitude to January and have been embracing it. After the craziness of Christmas, I’ve been taking this quieter month as a real opportunity to have some downtime and spend more time quietly at home. To take care of my house a bit more, to read with my children. My evenings have been spent snugged-up indoors having a hot bath and reading one of the awesome books or box-sets that I got for Christmas. I have been enjoying the gentle quietness January brings.

Reflection
This time also allows for some quieter reflection of what I would like to achieve in 2018, rather than the big – I wanna be skinny – resolution, I can take time to really think. I mean, obviously, I do want to be skinny but I am able to take the time to really think about how I am going to achieve that. But also consider life goals, work goals, what writing I want to work on, family goals. To really think about the year ahead and what will be best for us all.

Soul Detox
I also decided to have an online detox in January and have been attempting to Marie Kondo the hell out of my life. It’s still a work in progress but if it doesn’t bring me joy… I’ve unsubscribed and unfollowed. I’ve changed my notification settings so that my phone isn’t pinging every two minutes with notifications that I don’t need to see urgently. It’s been really nice to receive emails and notifications that do bring me joy, and it definitely feels less overwhelming.

January’s Close
Now that we are nearing the end of January, I am loving seeing little shoots appearing in the ground and I hope that I too will be able to step into February feeling entered, refreshed and renewed.

January Writing Workshops

The Let’s Start Writing Workshop that I ran at the beginning of January was fantastic and we had such a wonderful time. I love running this course as it’s so much fun seeing people trying something new for the first time and loving it.
And great news – starting on Monday I am running another two courses that you can sign up to…

There are plenty of testimonials on the Writing Workshop page so take a look.  Enjoy the rest of your January and I hope to see you on one of the courses soon.

Nicola x 

 

On This Day – I was Diagnosed with Cancer

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From the archives… I posted this last year but the message remains as true as ever…

Nicola Bourne

It was the 4th January 2012 that I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  My dad coming over to watch my 3-month-old daughter and 2-year-old son whilst my husband took me to the hospital for my long-awaited colonoscopy.

I knew instantly that there was a problem, as soon as the consultant began the procedure – the weird looks and awkward silences when I asked what was wrong.  The nurse wouldn’t tell me what was happening, saying only that I should wait for the consultant to come and see me.  When the consultant finally did come, he said that he wanted my husband present.  All of this combined with the feeling in my heart and stomach meant I knew, before the consultant told me.  I knew that I had bowel cancer.  You can read all about my diagnosis here if you want to know more…

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