Sweet Maple by Michelle Visser @soulyRested #Bookreview

I am delighted to share my thoughts on Sweet Maple by Michelle Visser. I had the pleasure of reading this book last year and I can finally say a huge “Congratulations Michelle on the Publication of Sweet Maple” I am so happy you have finally got this fabulous book published. I am resharing my review for this book to coincide with the publication.

Let me show you what Sweet Maple is all about…

Sweet Maple is an instructional book on backyard sugarmaking that’s also the story of one family’s connection to the past on a small New England sugar farm. Throughout its pages, Michelle (the “sugarmaker’s wife”) gives advice on:

the 22 different kinds of trees that can be tapped.

the process of making syrup, to help you decide what level is right for you.

how to make alternative treats, such lilac syrup.

the health benefits of maple products, which contain more than 40 antioxidants.

substituting processed sugar with all-natural maple syrup in any recipe.

  • the 3 steps to making maple sugar.
  • how to make irresistible maple cream and how to enjoy it.

While learning the art of sugarmaking alongside her husband, Michelle guides readers through every step of all-natural syrup production, with directions for tapping one tree or dozens, while detailing the life-changing benefits of using maple syrup in the kitchen. Interspersed with sugaring techniques, tips, sidebars, and storytelling, Michelle shares more than 30 of her family’s tried-and-true maple recipes—from scones to salads.

Now my curiosity got the better of me when I saw Michelle’s book “Sweet Maple”.  I have a bit of a background in the catering industry and had not put much thought into the process of extracting maple syrup.  As I read this book I was amazed at how intricate, time-consuming this process is and all the factors that come into play, that can help or hinder the process.

As I started reading this book, I was struck by the humble nature of the author.  Here is a lady who quite freely admits to making, and still making mistakes, but how she learns from each one and moves on.  Her failures in making maple syrup has given her a basis for this book, or,  she refers to it as “being the heart of it”.

With her family in a 14 acres wooded homestead in New England, Michelle tells how as a family they live with and within a beautiful area.  She shares the area with her husband and children, as well as a  dog, cows, chickens and other animals.  Having access to suitable trees for tapping and extracting is only part of the process.  When I read this book it became quickly apparent that I know absolutely nothing about the process.  But with Michelle’s wit and humour she has explained all the ins and outs, and also included a list of supplies, suppliers.  It is quite an intensive book, but does not feel like it.  That is only the beginning, she also explains what trees can be tapped, and it’s not just maple trees!

At this point I am loving this book, it is informative, well laid out and has warmth and humour to it.  Then comes the yummy section, the recipes.  Two words here “MAPLE CREAM”, I think I may need this in my life.  It sounds amazing. The are some really good basic recipes, as yet I have not tries them, but I feel they would be a good starting point for using the syrup.  I am definitely going to be having a go at maple scones, as well as a “snickerdoodle” (I love this word, never heard of it before), it looks very similar to a light, airy gingerbread biscuit.  A nice array of recipes for home baking, nothing flash or fancy, that fits in well with what I have learnt from this book.

This to me was a wonderful, delightful read.  There are some beautiful pictures in this book that are interspersed around the writing.  It is informative, but light-hearted, a joy to read. I have also been having a good look around Michelle’s website, and found that also a mine of information, links and also extra recipes, and the opportunity to sign up to her newsletter.

I would like to take this time to express my thanks to Michelle, for allowing me a copy of her book.  My thoughts are honest and my own.  I wish you all the very best Michelle xx

Michelle Visser is a homesteader in rural New England. She’s a fourth-generation gardener, an author and photographer, mom to four daughters, and the sugarmaker’s wife. In their 200-year-old farmhouse and on their 14 rocky tree-filled acres, her family makes an effort to live life a little more simply by growing some of their own food, raising a few farm animals, and making their own all-natural maple sugar.

Check out her wonderful website Souly Rested it is full of fab photo’s, recipes, advice and tips. Also PintrestFacebookTwitter

Purchase links – Amazon UKBarnes & Noble USAmazon.ComBooks-A-MillionIndie Bound.Org

**All photo’s in this post are from Michelle’s own website.**

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share is always appreciated 🙂 xx

The Secret Life of Books – why they mean more than words by Tom Mole @ProfTomMole @alisonmenziespr @eandtbooks #bookreview

I am delighted to share my thoughts today on The Secret Life of Books – why they mean more than words by Tom Mole. My huge thanks to Alison Menzies for the invite to join the Blog Tour and also for arranging for my gorgeous copy of the book from Elliott & Thompson.

This is a book that is not about books but about the role books play in our lives and it is a fascinating read. Let me show you what the Synopsis says about it…

‘Probably the most compulsive text ever penned about what it means to handle and possess a book’ – Christopher de Hamel, author of Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts

‘A real treasure trove for book lovers’ – Alexander McCall Smith

We love books. We take them to bed with us. They weigh down our suitcases when we go on holiday. We display them on our bookshelves or store them in our attics. We give them as gifts. We write our names in them. We take them for granted. And all the time, our books are leading a double life.

The Secret Life of Books is about everything that isn’t just the words. It’s about how books transform us as individuals. It’s about how books – and readers – have evolved over time. And it’s about why, even with the arrival of other media, books still have the power to change our lives. 

In this illuminating account, Tom Mole looks at everything from binding innovations to binding errors, to books defaced by lovers, to those imprisoning professors in their offices, to books in art, to burned books, to the books that create nations, to those we’ll leave behind. 

It will change how you think about books.

This is a book about books, not about the stories in the books but the books themselves. Books can be read, looked at, studued, referenced and of course be sat on a shelf unread. They can be bought, passed on, donated, found, lost, discarded and recycled. They can be free and given away as part of a promotion or giveaway or they can go to auction for the collectors to bid on.

I like the way this Author has looked at the role books play in our lives, what impact they can have, how they are part of history and of the future. Throughout the book the author makes observations and I have to say he made me realise how right he is about many of the things he has looked at.

A favourite book can fall open at a favourite page, the reader may have made a doodle or folded the corner or left a note or has a bookmark in it. The book has become personal to that reader and becomes different to other prints of that book.

The author provides a fascinating and yet brief history about how books came about and their transition from scrolls. Historical facts are littered throughout this book and include mentions of authors, painters and, collectors. As books have become easier to access than many years ago. It’s not just books though, its all the accessories that may also be bought, so think about bookmarks, notebooks and pens, reading lights, bookscases, reader lights. As books have become more accessible then the market for accessories has developed.

The author uses a few analogies to show similarities between books and other everyday objects and this really helps to see books from a different perspective. It helps to see them as an object and not something that readers use to learn or escape from or into.

This is such a fascinating read and it makes observations that many readers will be aware of or maybe only subconsciously aware of. The author has explored books and the role in society, how they are seen and used. They have been burned, banned, championed and used as propaganda because of political or religious viewpoint.

My review for this book is just the very tip and there is so much more to discover. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read that I only planned on reading in short bursts, well that didn’t happen. Once I started it and recognised some of my own habits in it and discovered how their presence has evolved and developed. I think the author has pretty much covered every aspect of books and I cannot think of anything he has missed, but then I also discovered things that I had not realised!

This is a small book but my goodness there is a lot packed into its 256 pages, I am still surprised that it is only 256 pages as there is so much in it! Prof Tom Mole definitely knows his book history.

This is a book that I would definitely recommend to readers, yep All readers! It is fascinating and I found it completely addictive. Loved it!


Tom Mole is Professor of English Literature and Book History at the University of Edinburgh, where he runs the Centre for the History of the Book. He has taught at universities in the UK and Canada, and has lectured widely in Europe, Australia and North America. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He has written or edited several volumes about books and literature, including What the Victorians Made of Romanticism, which won the 2018 Saltire Prize for Research Book of the Year. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and young daughter.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share is always appreciated 🙂 xx

A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj @mamohanraj @rararesources #cookbook #BookReview

I am delighted to share my view for a cook book that will definitley tickle your tastebuds. A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj. Mary brings a delicious feast fantastic with her Sri Lankan background and other cultural influences to create an amazing cook book.

My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for accepting my request to join the tour and also to Mary for my e-copy of her book.

Dark roasted curry powder, a fine attention to the balance of salty-sour-sweet, wholesome red rice and toasted curry leaves, plenty of coconut milk and chili heat. These are the flavors of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was a cross roads in the sea routes of the East. Three waves of colonization—Portuguese, Dutch and British—and the Chinese laborers who came with them, left their culinary imprint on Sri Lankan food. Sri Lankan cooking with its many vegetarian dishes gives testimony to the presence of a multi-ethnic and multi -religious population.

Everyday classics like beef smoore and Jaffna crab curry are joined by luxurious feast dishes, such as nargisi kofta and green mango curry, once served to King Kasyapa in his 5th century sky palace of Sigiriya.

Vegetable dishes include cashew curry, jackfruit curry, asparagus poriyal, tempered lentils, broccoli varai and lime-masala mushrooms. There are appetizers of chili-mango cashews, prawn lentil patties, fried mutton rolls, and ribbon tea sandwiches. Deviled chili eggs bring the heat, yet ginger-garlic chicken is mild enough for a small child. Desserts include Sir Lankan favorites:  love cake, mango fluff, milk toffee and vattalappam, a richly-spiced coconut custard.

In A Feast of Serendib, Mary Anne Mohanraj introduces her mother’s cooking and her own Americanizations, providing a wonderful introduction to Sri Lankan American cooking, straightforward enough for a beginner, and nuanced enough to capture the flavor of Sri Lankan cooking.

Purchase Links: Serendib KitchenPre Order Link

Several words spring to mind as I read this book – mouthwatering, delicious, tasty, do-able, yummy… I think you can see where I am going with this!

Before I start on the recipes I am going to mention all the other things that are included in this book. Mary has included little snippets from her life, her family and friends. Sri Lankan cookery has taken recipes from other cultures and they have been adapted over the years to fit with the food available. These little asides are included in the introduction to some recipes, as poems or in the fabulous Introduction at the beginning of the book.

Some of the recipes have little alternatives or tweaks that she has thoughtfully included, little adaptions that are handy to know and come from experience. Each recipe has a wonderful photograph, I like to see what an end product is so these are a very welcome addition.

Now then, the recipes…Wow! every course is catered for, starters, mains, vegetarian, fish, dessert and, drinks. I have tried a couple of dishes, only simple things as I am between shopping trips at the moment, and to be fair my little village shop does not carry a lot of the ingredients. Though in the list of main ingredients there are often alternatives, this came in very handy indeed.

The first thing I tried was the Chai Tea, this sounds a little bit random, but I buy Chai Tea so I reasoned that as I have everything I needed why not make my own! Much better than the shop bought one I get, I can see this is a recipe that I will be using quite often.

Next up was the Braised Pepper Chicken, a milder recipe that had ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, onions and tomato. A simple recipe to follow that makes use of my basic store cupboard ingredients. Very tasty and I served it with just simple boiled rice, though I do add a veg stock cube to the water while cooking.

I am looking forward to trying more recipes in this book. On my list for the future is Black Pork Curry, Beef Smoore, Beet Curry, Raita that is different from the one I usually make and, I definitely want to try the mango pickle. There are so many recipes that I would love to make and try though.

If you are looking for a cookbook that has a very good mix of recipes then this would be one that would be a good asset for your shelf. A mix of ingredients that are easy to source though I would have to travel a little further afield for some of them.

The recipes I tried were easy to follow and extremely tasty, it is a book I would definitely look to buy in its physical format. It is not just a cookbook, it has so many interesting extras and this makes it enjoyable to read and peruse through

It gets a Highly Recommended from Me!

Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and thirteen other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages. The Stars Change was a finalist for the Lambda, Rainbow, and Bisexual Book Awards.

Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated and World Fantasy Award-winning speculative literature magazine, Strange Horizons, and alsofounded Jaggery, a S. Asian & S. Asian diaspora literary journal (jaggerylit.com). She received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and was Guest of Honor at WisCon. She serves as Director of two literary organizations, DesiLit (www.desilit.org) and The Speculative Literature Foundation (www.speclit.org). She serves on the futurist boards of the XPrize and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Mohanraj is Clinical Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, withher husband, their two small children, and a sweet dog. Recent publications include stories for George R.R. Martin’s WildCards series, stories at Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and Lightspeed, and an essay in Roxane Gay’s Unruly Bodies.  2017-2018 titles include Survivor (a SF/F anthology), Perennial, Invisible 3 (co-edited with Jim C. Hines), and Vegan Serendib. http://www.maryannemohanraj.com

Social Media Links – FacebookTwitterInstagramWebsiteSerendib Kitchen Website

See what other Book Bloggers think by following the Blog Tour. Some of them will have recipes and extracts to share as well as what they think of this book.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Monopoli Blues by Tim Clark & Nick Cook #RandomThingsTours @unbounders @annecater #NonFiction #WW2 #BookReview

I am delighted to be sharing Monopoli Blues by Tim Clark & Nick Cook with you all today. My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for accepting my request to join the Blog Tour and for arranging my copy of this book.

Let’s have a look and see what it is all about…

In November 1944, Sub Lt Bob Clark, a twenty-year old agent with Britain’s top-secret Special Operations Executive, parachuted into northern Italy.

He left behind the girl he had fallen in love with, Marjorie, his radio operator. Captured by the enemy, Bob’s fate hangs in the balance and Marjorie won’t know for six months whether he is alive or dead…

Monopoli Blues recounts the story of Tim Clark’s journey to uncover the story of his parents’ war – and the truth behind the betrayal of his father’s Clarion mission to the Nazis.

When Tim Clark wanted to know more about his parents’ involvement in Special Operation during WWII, he thought it would be a case of simply asking them. His father was not forthcoming with details and his mother very similar. Neither spoke much of their involvement, only odd comments mentioned. The curiosity was sparked however, but a full conversation would never happen.

After the death of his father, Tim decided to embark on a research journey. It involved travelling, meeting with people and meticulously putting together the story of Monopoli Blues. All the pieces found and placed together like a jigsaw. Now when I say meticulous I really do mean it, dates, places, timelines, photo’s and information is amazing. Given all the information that is included I never once felt overwhelmed. The story that is told is so easy to follow and became very addictive reading.

While the story is one of his parents meeting and their life during the war, it is also one of the unknown, survival and courage. From a solid friendship and realtionship followed. The story gives a glimpse into the lives of two people who met during the war.

There are so many things I enjoyed about the story as well as the one about his parents. The photgraphs, snippets from letters, details of missions and other things that I was unaware of. This is where the background of both Authors helped. Bringing history and journalism together to create a fascinating read.

I found myself on the internet looking at various items that caught my curiosity in the book. I love it when this happens!

This is a fascinating book and it is one that I think lovers of WWII History will enjoy. It was a book I flew through and one I would Definitely Recommend.

Tim Clark spent a large part of his career working as a lawyer at one of the world’s leading firms specialising in M+A and corporate work in the UK and internationally, ultimately becoming Senior Partner. Since retiring as a lawyer, Tim has taken on board positions on a number of corporate, arts and charitable organisations, and senior advisory roles at a number of international think tanks.

Nick Cook is an author, journalist, broadcaster and entrepreneur. In 1986, he joined the world-renowned Jane’s Defence Weekly , initially as a reporter, rising quickly to become Aviation Editor, a position he held until 2005. His first novel, Angel, Archangel , was published in 1989 to critical acclaim. In 2001, Cook’s first non-fiction title, The Hunt For Zero Point , was published, reaching Number 1 in Amazon’s Non-Fiction charts. He has also written, hosted and produced two documentaries about the world of aerospace and defence – Billion Dollar Secret and an Alien History of Planet Earth . He lives and works with his wife and two children in London.

See what other Book Bloggers think by following the Tour…

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be great 🙂 xx

Becoming by Michelle Obama #Audiobook #Review

I am delighted to share my review for the Audiobook version of Becoming by Michelle Obama.

I have had my eye on this for a while and as I had a credit left on Audible I decided that this was a book I would like to listen to, rather than read.

So let’s have a look and see what it’s all about…

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Listening Length: 19 hrs 3 min

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. 

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Well as you can see from the synopsis this book has a running time of 19hours and I will tell you something, it didn’t feel like that long. Her voice is one of those really pleasant ones, it makes it easy to listen to her and it’s full of emotion.

I had Michelle accompany me on a 7hour drive to my parents house and back again, she was with me as I was weeding the garden and when she had finished telling me her story I genuinly missed her voice.

Becoming is the story of Michelle Obama, she relates her childhood growing up in Chicago, through college and university and to becoming one of the most famous women in our time.

As I listened to Michelle I was surprised to hear that she is not the confident person I thought she was. She shared her worries, fears, nerves, doubts and concerns. She comes across as so strong and yet she is like the rest of us exactly like the rest of us.

I adored listening to the anecdotes and stories from her childhood and these carry on into adulthood. She is super proud of her roots and shares some wonderful memories. I smiled and laughed at many and also had a lump in my throat at others. In fact at one point I had to pause the book because I was driving and I could feel tears welling up, not a good thing when you are on the motorway.

Michelle comes across as such a warm and genuine person. This is evident from the stories and the causes she supports and also from the the sound of her voice. I could here anger and frustration as well as humour, sorrow, and amusement. It felt that she was talking directly to me rather than at me.

I adored the fact that she was very open and honest as she told me about her life. It was refreshing to see the more vulnerable side as well. To be able to see her not as a First Lady, but as a daughter, wife, mum or work collegue.

An absolutely fabulous book to listen to and the most brilliant choice of audiobook to spend my spare credit on!

I absolutely recommend Becoming by Michelle Obama.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be fab 🙂 xx

The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver @sweavermph @rararesources #review

Today I have something a little different to share with you. The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver is a book that I definitely wanted to read as part of the Birthday Blog Tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. My huge thanks to Rachel for accepting my request to be on the tour and also to Stephanie for the book.

Let’s have a look and see what the book is about…

The Migraine Relief Plan: An 8-Week Transition to Better Eating, Fewer Headaches, and Optimal Health

In The Migraine Relief Plan, certified health and wellness coach Stephanie Weaver outlines a new, step-by-step lifestyle approach to reducing migraine frequency and severity.

Using the latest research, her own migraine diagnosis, and extensive testing, Weaver has designed an accessible plan to help those living with migraine, headaches, or Meniere’s disease. Over the course of eight weeks, the plan gradually transitions readers into a healthier lifestyle, including key behaviors such as regular sleep, trigger-free eating, gentle exercise, and relaxation techniques. The book also collects resources—shopping lists, meal plans, symptom tracking charts, and kitchen-tested recipes for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner—to provide readers with the tools they need to be successful.

The Migraine Relief Plan encourages readers to eat within the guidelines while still helping them follow personal dietary choices, like vegan or Paleo, and navigate challenges, such as parties, work, and travel. A must-have resource for anyone who lives with head pain, this book will inspire you to rethink your attitude toward health and wellness.

Purchase LinkClick Here

As a hereditary sufferer of migraines, I was eager to read this book. My father found that acupuncture worked for him as well as having an allergy test to see what foods were his triggers. I found some of the same foods triggered my migraines, but I also discovered that hormones had a part to play as well. In some respects I am very lucky as I don’t suffer from them often, but when I do…

This book is a lifestyle guide, it has a great introduction about the authors’ experiences. I think that knowing the author had first-hand experiences made me more willing to pay attention. I am a believer that you don’t truly know what someone experiences until you experience it yourself, you can empathise and offer support but it’s never quite the same.

The book is quite intensive and packed full of so many useful advice, tips and ideas. Taking small steps rather than jumping in at the deep end and ditching the stuff in cupboards and fridge seems to me to be a very sensible approach. The focus is on building up a regime that is manageable and more importantly maintainable. Often diets and lifestyle changes fail as there is too much too soon and the novelty wears off.

There are lots of tips throughout this book, and while I did find some that were useful there were some that did not really apply to me. This is not a criticism in any way, as each sufferer is different, therefore there will be things that are more relevant to some.

Now to the recipes, they have an American feel to them as I would expect given the author is herself an American. There is a range of snacks, lunches, desserts, dressings, and sauces, some of these have a budget rating.

The book is a guide, it is about a change to not only your diet but also the lifestyle. It starts as an 8-week plan but encourages a longer period for better results. This is a well laid out book. It is not a cure-all, and it does not report to do that, it is a guide of things that can help people to manage and maintain a lifestyle. It looks at a whole-body approach rather than just pinpointing one specific area, so health, fitness, sleep as well as diet are dealt with.

I think if you are looking for this sort of approach that could help with reducing symptoms and works alongside your already prescribed medications then I think this book will be beneficial. I found it interesting and I did take quite a lot of things from it that I can easily work into my own lifestyle. It is a book I would recommend.

Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC, is an author, blogger, and certified wellness and health coach. Her recipes have been featured in Cosmopolitan, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Parade, and more. She lives in San Diego, CA. 

Social Media Links Facebook TwitterInstagram

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be great 🙂 xx

Start by Graham Morgan #GrahamMorgan @FledglingPress #LoveBooksGroupTours #review

Today I am delighted to be sharing my review for Start by Graham Morgan as part of the Blog Tour with Kelly at Love Books Group Tours and Fledgling Press.

Synopsis:

Graham Morgan has an MBE for services to mental health and helped to write the Scottish MentalHealth (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is the Act under which he is now detained. 
Graham’s story addresses key issues around mental illness, a topic which is very much in the public sphere at the moment. However, it addresses mental illness from a perspective that is not heard frequently: that of those whose illness is so severe that they are subject to the Mental Health Act.
Graham’s is a positive story rooted in the natural world that Graham values greatly, which shows that, even with considerable barriers, people can work and lead responsible and independent lives; albeit with support from friends and mental health professionals. Graham does not gloss over or glamorise mental illness, instead he tries to show, despite the devastating impact mental illness can have both on those with the illness and those that are close to them, that people can live full and positive lives. A final chapter, bringing the reader up to date some years after Graham has been detained again, shows him living a fulfilling and productive life with his new family, coping with the symptoms that he still struggles to accept are an illness, and preparing to address the United Nations later in the year in his new role working with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.  

Buy Link Amazon UK

My Thoughts:

This for me was a real eye-opener of a book. A book about mental illness. A book about the author and his own experiences.

The book is full of so many high and low points as you would expect, as he tries to find a balance in his own life. It is full of details that give an insight into his thoughts and also actions as well as those actions of those around him.

The author describes how mental illness affects not only the sufferer but also how those around him deal or do not deal with it. As I read I got a real sense of loneliness and sadness as Graham described his life. There are points in his life where he has no memories, this actually hit me as quite a shocking revelation. I know we all laugh and joke about not remembering things, but to not actually remember whole conversations, family get-togethers and various other things made me pause and think for a while. As an adult, he speaks to his family about their memories of him as a child. Again not the usual conversations as they fill in various gaps that he cannot remember.

The book does not follow any sort of obvious timeline and to be honest it really didn’t matter. I don’t think anyone can recount their own lives in order without flitting back to a distant memory that has been triggered. This flitting style actually added something to the telling and worked well for me.

Even though there are the obvious sad and low parts there is also something else. Even within these parts there is an optimism that comes across. This optimism comes in the way of hope. I think this comes from the very open and frank honesty that the author tells his story.

The book takes in different aspects of treatments, procedures, and protocols that are in place and with an interest in mental health whatever their reason. It is insightful, honest, candid and also positive, educational and insightful. A book I would recommend.

About the Author:

Graham was born in 1963 in York. He went to university as an angst-ridden student and was quickly admitted to one of the old mental asylums, prompting the work he has done for most of his life: helping people with mental illness speak up about their lives and their rights. He has mainly worked in Scotland, where he has lived for the last thirty years, twenty of them in the Highlands. In the course of this work, he has been awarded an MBE, made Joint Service User Contributor of the Year by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and, lately, has spoken at the UN about his and other peoples’ experiences of detention. He has a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and has been compulsorily treated under a CTO for the last ten years. He currently lives in Argyll with his partner and her young twins. Start is his first book.
Reviews Graham Morgan’s START is a remarkable and engrossing read. It buttonholed me and held my attention with its fervour, modesty, wit, self-questioning, its generosity amid corrosive fear, loss, and pain. Andrew Greig, author of Electric Brae, That Summer, Fair Helen A compelling read, from the beautiful prose, the wonder of the natural world to the depths of despond of living with schizophrenia. The roller coaster of a life laid out on the page for all of us to learn from will enhance any family members, friend or professionals understanding of the journey people take through mental illness. Ruth Stark MSc, CQSW, MBE – Immediate Past President, International Federation of Social Work

See what other readers think by following the tour

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Choice by Edith Eger #BookReview @PenguinRHUK

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Today I am delighted to be sharing The Choice by Edith Eger, a holocaust survivor and now an acclaimed psychologist. I would like to thank Bishneen Gurwara at Penguin Random House for inviting me to read a copy of this book.

You can purchase a copy of this book at good bookshops or at AMAZON UK where it is available in various formats.

Synopsis:

‘Little dancer’, Mengele says, ‘dance for me’

In 1944, sixteen-year-old ballerina Edith Eger was sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. When the camp is finally liberated, she is pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive.

The horrors of the Holocaust didn’t break Edith. In fact, they helped her learn to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience.

The Choice is her unforgettable story. It shows that hope can flower in the most unlikely places.

My Thoughts:

Edith Eger was 16 when she made the journey with her mother and one of her sisters, to join a queue to enter her first concentration camp. This would be the last time she saw her mother. This is Edith’s story. The story of her life. The story of her survival. The story of how she was liberated and then learnt to live.

This is a book of two halves as Edith recounts her experiences of her life. A girl who wanted to dance, her parents, her sisters and first love. Then the how she survived the war in the concentration camps, sharing many thoughts and feelings not from herself but of her sister. Then how to live her life after leaving Europe to live in America.

Sometimes you can move away, but at some point you really do have to deal with the horror of your past.

The Holocaust and Auschwitz are words that evoke so many emotions. Edith Eger tells her story in four parts. The first being about her life, including the camps, up to her liberation, then her liberation, dealing with her freedom and finally how she started to heal herself.

As you would expect I found her time as a prisoner very hard to read. It is something that still brings shock, horror and disgust that any person could be treated in such a horrific and abhorrant way. I did however find that it was the story of her freedom and her healing that caught me by surprise. She then started to piece her life together and learn how to live. This is where the inspiration of this lady really Shines through, even more so than it had previously. To me this sounds slightly wrong but, she trained as a psychologist to help people from various backgrounds. They had many different problems that they struggled to deal with. In meeting and trying to help these people she found that she could also use their experiences to help herself, using her own advice if you like. This took her many years to reach a place where she felt some sort of freedom from her past, but to do that took a huge amount of courage to escape from her own fears and trauma.

This is a stunningly beautiful and candid account from a truly inspirational lady. It is moving and emotional, inspiring and hopeful. The more psychological aspect in the latter half of the book was something that I found very insightful and gave me a different way of looking at things.

This is a moving and important story that I would highly recommend.

About the Author:

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A native of Hungary, Edith Eger was a teenager in 1944 when she and her family were sent to Auschwitz during the Second World War. Despite overwhelming odds, Edith survived the Holocaust and moved with her husband to the United States. Having worked in a factory whilst raising her young family, she went on to graduate with a PhD from the University of Texas and became an eminent psychologist. Today, she maintains a busy clinical practice and lectures around the world.

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Chasing Black Gold by Robert Stone @rstonecbg @rararesources #BookReview #Giveaway (Open Int’lly)

Chasing Black Gold: The Incredible True Story of a Fuel Smuggler in Africa by [Stone, Robert]

Today I am delighted to be sharing Chasing Black Gold By Robert Stone as part of the blog blitz by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. My thanks to Robert for my copy of the book and Rachel for the invite to join the tour xx

Where to buy a copy: The History PressAmazon UKWaterstonesBarnes and Noble

Amazon.ComeBooks.Com

Synopsis:

ROBERT STONE was a serial entrepreneur – an enterprising individual, mostly on the wrong side of the law, who spent twenty-five years operating all over the world, before being arrested in Switzerland as a result of an international manhunt led by an Organised Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Over the course of his career, Stone earned and lost several lifetimes’ worth of fortunes, went to prison on three continents, used dozens of aliases, saw men die, and masterminded one of the biggest marijuana smuggling operations in criminal history. Fuel smuggling in Africa, trading fuel with generals, rebels and businessman, was both his career high and, ultimately, what brought him down.

My Thoughts:

Well this was a really interesting read and the author is very candid in his account of his life as a smuggler. I’m also having to remind myself that it is the book I am reviewing and not the lifestyle the author chose to live. I am someone who works hard for my weekly wage and I live within my means, so this book was a real eye opener for me. To see how the shadier side of smuggling and making the next million can consume someone to the point of risking their life.

CBG -Coastal Shipping Base Warri, Nigeria

This photo shows the coastal shipping base in Warri, Nigeria.

The author definitely ‘aint no saint, but I did get the impression that he was well thought of as an employer. He has had a dangerous life and most definitely lived it on the edge more often than not. While I can admire the inventiveness required to solve logistical problems I do not admire the fact that his life was a lie and gotten by illegal means, but I am not judging, each to their own.

CBG -Rob, Linda and Crew- Off Africa 1988.jpg

This shows Robert and his wife Linda with some of the employees off Africa.

I found that this book was really easy to get into and did capture my attention as I was taken into the authors real life world. It has danger, chases, being on the run, being in prison, being a millionaire with ships around the world to being broke and living in hiding. I must also mention he has a wife and family and on several occasions my heart went out to them as the author was essentially a husband and father who worked away a lot of the time, well most of the time.

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The Family re-united in 1996

If you want a book that is a real eye-opener then this is one for you. It could just as easily be a script for a Hollywood Blockbuster film rather than a biography, it really is that action packed, dangerous, jaw dropping and thrilling, that will take you around the world. From beautiful beaches to regime ruled countries it has it all. This is a book I would definitely recommend to readers of biographies and true crime.

About the Author:

CBG -Getting ready to bury Kruggerands and money.jpg

This picture shows Robert getting ready to bury Kruggerands and money.

Author Robert Stone first came to Aberdeen Scotland in 1973 as a pioneer saturation diver in the early dangerous days of the North Sea. Retiring from diving in the mid 80’s he became a serial entrepreneur –mostly on the wrong side of the law. He spent the next decade operating businesses all over the world from his Aberdeenshire home.

Stone earned and lost several fortunes, went to prison on three continents, used dozens of aliases, and masterminded one of the biggest marijuana smuggling operations in criminal history. Fuel smuggling in Africa, was only one of his many exploits.

His Scottish wife and young children knew nothing of the dark side of his life until the day they were all arrested in Switzerland as a result of an international manhunt led by an Organised Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/rstonecbg

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Giveaway – Win 10 x signed copies of Chasing Black Gold (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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The World Is Never Enough by Sarah Donohue @sarah_donohue : @fayerogersuk @Authoright : #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts today on “The World Is Never Enough” by Sarah Donohue as part of the blog tour for Authoright. This book is available in paperback or eBook format from Amazon UK My thanks to Authoright, Sarah and Deringer Publishing for my copy of this fabulous book and my spot on the tour.

Synopsis:

This is the action packed story of a female racing driver and stuntwoman who lives life on the edge and enjoys every extreme moment of it… A thrill-seeker by day and glamorous showgirl by night, Sarah Donohue believes in living out her dreams and living life to the full bringing colour and laughter to the lives of everyone around her.

Even after a high-speed powerboat crash putting her on a life-support machine, Sarah didn’t let dying for four minutes or a face held together by titanium plates dampen her spirits. The crash was documented as one of the worst crashes seen in powerboat racings history yet Sarah returned back to racing with BBC’s ‘999’ and ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ hiring her as the stuntwoman to re-enact her own near fatal experience. Soon after she became the European powerboat champion. Her journey of triumph over adversity is both inspiring and extreme.

This story of life will take the reader through a roller coaster of emotions as Sarah experiences the highest of highs on podium tops to the lowest of lows as she suffers jealous cyber abusers. The funny stories recalled as a forces pinup and staunch supporter of the military through to the not so funny story of Sarah enduring Donald Trump, the now president of the United States of America and his legal team for almost four years.

This feisty girl from Yorkshire loves life and puts as much into it as she can whilst taking anything it throws back at her remaining positive and up beat. This shows that even the impossible can be made possible with the right attitude no matter who you are or where you come from. A motivational, funny and inspirational book showing one woman’s journey on taking on any challenge head to head and her world-renowned success in the male dominated sport of offshore powerboat racing. Even death becomes her.

My Thoughts:

Sarah story is a pretty amazing one and I was soon to discover that she is also a very down to earth person from what I read in her book. She tells you her life from her roots in Yorkshire and her very supportive family to a career that has taken her around the world.

I am quite amazed after reading this book, and in a good way I might add, as I followed her journey. Hard work, determination and a stubborn bloody mindedness to succeed in a sport that is very male dominated field. She is not the little lady by any means and you soon realise she is one of the boys and not just a token female representative to make good viewing on television. Her resume is quite impressive and has covered various aspects of TV, film, Powerboat racing and modelling. She has pushed her body to the limit and at one point almost paid the ultimate price.

She is very open about her story and discusses it warts and all. The highs, the lows, the winning and the bullying. She comes across as a very likeable and her story is very easy to read and very hard to put down, I didn’t put it down until I had finished reading it in one sitting. It is written in a very casual style that made me feel that she was having a conversation with me, and an extremely interesting one at that.

This is a book I would recommend to readers who like not only sport but also life stories, and would, in my opinion, appeal to a great many readers. It is engaging with shocking and painful moments as well as quite humorous and funny ones. this is a book I would definitely recommend to fellow readers.

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