A Gift To Remember by Melissa Hill

I received a free copy of A Gift To Remember by Melissa Hill from the lovely people at Simon and Schuster. It came in a lovely gift bag

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Unopened gift bag. The gift bag has the same the dark blue design on it as the cover

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Opened gift bag with the book next to it.

Darcy Archer works in a small bookstore in Manhattan. A daydream believer, she refuses to settle for anything less than being swept off her feet by the perfect man… literally. One day, when cycling to work, Darcy accidentally crashes into a sharply dressed gentleman walking his dog. He is knocked out cold, rushed to hospital and the poor pup gets left behind. Wracked with guilt, Darcy takes the dog and makes plans to reunite him with owner, Aiden. As she discovers the mysterious stranger’s world of books, travel, adventure and all the wonderful things she’s ever dreamt about, Darcy builds a picture of this man and wonders if he could be THE ONE… But does fantasy match reality? What happens when Prince Charming wakes up? Will Aiden be the happy ever after she’s always imagined?

I love books. Darcy Archer loves books even more than I do. And that’s saying something. Her love of books was one of the things I really liked about this story, it was ever present in both large and small ways making it seem very realistic.

This is a Christmas book which isn’t too Christmassy. I would have liked a little bit more Christmas feels in there to be honest. But that’s my only real criticism of the book (that and the fact that it would have been more of A Gift to Remember if the gift bag it came in had also included chocolate. But hey a girl can’t have everything,). If you are one of those weird people that doesn’t like Christmas books don’t let that stop you.

For ages I was convinced I knew how the book was going to end. I’m not going to say if I was right or not but I will say that it had several very unexpected twists along the way which really added to my interest and stopped it being as predictable as I’d expected it to be. It was a good easy read for the week before Christmas when I just felt like I needed a rest and something enjoyably low effort to read.

Quick and Dirty #Disability Theory

I posted on Facebook earlier this afternoon that I’d given someone a spur of the moment elevator pitch length explanation of the social and medical models of disability and they’d understood it without my needing to clarify any further. This was, and is, a win. Especially because I really believe they actually understood it and didn’t just say so to shut me up. Then one of my friends posted that she doesn’t speak disability.

And apparently I have blog entries on here dating back to 2006 but have never defined the models. Despite having both a social and a medical model category on here.

So here goes. This will be quick and dirty but hopefully makes sense.

The medical model of disability states that impairment and disability are solely caused by medical conditions and are not influenced by anything elses. This, I believe, is much more commonly used in America. According to the medical model I am a person with a disability and am disabled by my cerebral palsy as a result of which I use a wheelchair.

The social model of disability states that it is the barriers that society puts into place and the attitudes of those around me which disable me. It acknowledges the fact that yes, I have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair but that if I’m in a fully accessible and supportive environment I can and do access things the same as everyone else. This model would say that I am a disabled person and my disability is caused by the failings of society to provide equal and fair access that meets my needs.

There are other models of disability such as the charity model (sometimes known as the tragedy model) which depicts disabled people as a victim of circumstances beyond their control for which they need to be pitied.

Further confusion can be and is caused by the language of disability. It’s also sometimes the cause of debate or even argument between disabled people. Persons with disabilities (often shortened to PWD) is a medical model term as I said above but it’s also used by some people who prefer it as it’s person first language and shows they are more than their condition. Others (myself included) prefer to use disabled people regardless of which model they subscribe to because it’s identity first language and shows what they identify as.

And then there’s the argument about whether or not the a in disabled and disability etc should be capitalised (i.e. disAbled, disAbility) to bring the focus onto our abilities and what we can so rather than what we can’t. Personally I hate that.

Finally there’s the people who say you shouldn’t use the term able bodied because we’re all able but in different ways. The term nondisabled is the most commonly used and it’s the one I like but it’s difficult for people to understand. And to be honest no other minority describes the people outside of it by what they’re not so I don’t know if it will ever fully replace able bodied. Another term that is sometimes used is temporarily able-bodied or TAB (some people use currently able bodied, I don’t mostly because I heard of TAB first and the acronym for currently able bodied would be the same as where I volunteer and so confusing). This refers to the fact that statistically speaking most people will become disabled as some point in their lives whether due to illness, accident or simply aging.

My own journey with disability theory and the language of disability is ongoing and ever evolving. If you go right back to the beginning of this blog you’ll see the term PWD used a lot but it’s a term I no longer use. I’ve used TAB a lot in the past too but I’m not sure I’ve done so for years. Neither term feels relevant to who I am and where I am now.

Gracie’s War by Elaine Everest

I received a copy of Gracie’s War by Elaine Everest to review.

Do our actions and decisions mark us and stay with us for the rest of our lives? Gracie has her life before her as the dark clouds of the Second World War gather.

Though she and her family cope well with the stresses on the home front, Gracie’s transformation to adulthood is swifter and more brutal than she could have ever imagined.

Gracie meets Tony, who arouses such feelings in her that she has never experienced before – not with Joe her regular beau who considers her his girl. Then, one night, one mistake, and she realises she is carrying Joe’s child.

And now Tony has gone to war.

I really like fiction set in and around this time period (I’m sure I’ve mentioned that many times before) so not only did I think the story sounded intriguing but I was extra keen due to its setting.

Gracie’s War is a very short book. In fact I’d say it’s too short. It covers all the highlights of the story and hits them well but there are multiple time jumps of months or years in the book and that makes it seem rushed in places. There would be a twist in the story and I’d wonder how they would get out of it but then it would skip a year forward and you would miss what could have been a great part. So as much as I liked this story it didn’t hit the mark for me.

One aspect I really enjoyed was the scenes around D-Day. Without posting spoilers I can’t say too much but it really showed Gracie’s spirit and also the strength of her relationship with her dad (who was one of my favourite characters). I think this was one of the strongest parts of the book.

Her enduring friendship with Peggy was also brilliant and added to my enjoyment. I’m not sure I have a friendship like that but then I doubt many people do nowadays. Gracie and Peggy make and adapt clothes. Their skill and enthusiasm made me want to inject new passion into my own (currently languishing) crafting. Which is a good thing although I must admit not something I expected to come from reading Gracie’s War

Gracie’s War is only available as an ebook and at the prices I’m seeing at the moment well worth the money if you want an easy, quick, and for the most part enjoyable read to take your mind off of Christmas.