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

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What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean @CarrieKablean @RedDoorBooks #LoveBooksGroupTours #BookReview

 

9781910453612I am sharing my thoughts on “What Kitty Did Next” by Carrie Kablean, this is available to purchase from Amazon UK in paperback or ebook format. My thanks to Red Door Books and Kelly at Love Books Group Tours for my ebook and also my spot on the tour.

Synopsis:

England, 1813 – Nineteen-year-old Catherine Bennet lives in the shadow of her two eldest sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, who have both made excellent marriages. No one expects Kitty to amount to anything. Left at home in rural Hertfordshire with her neurotic and nagging mother, and a father who derides her as ‘silly and ignorant’, Kitty is lonely, diffident and at a loss as to how to improve her situation. When her world unexpectedly expands to London and the Darcy’s magnificent country estate in Derbyshire, she is overjoyed. Keen to impress this new society, and to change her family’s prejudice, Kitty does everything she can to improve her mind and manners – and for the first time feels liked and respected. However, one fateful night at Pemberley, a series of events and misunderstandings conspire to ruin Kitty’s reputation. Accused of theft – a crime worse almost worse than murder among the Georgian aristocracy – she is sent back home in disgrace. But Kitty has learnt from her new experiences and what she does next does next will not only surprise herself, but everyone else too.
Based on Jane Austen’s much-loved characters, this is the story of one young woman’s struggle to overcome the obstacles of her time and place and truly find herself.

My Thoughts:

As is the norm for me, I tucked into this book without reading the synopsis and I couldn’t help thinking I had heard of these characters somewhere before, I also had a voice of some of them in my head, it was strange so I read the synopsis and realised that this was a book about Kitty Bennett, one of the Bennett sisters from Pride and Prejudice. I love Jane Austen’s classic book and love the film.

So a new to me author writes a book about characters I am already familiar with, this is quite bazaar. I remember Kitty and Lydia being the really silly annoying girls, who were fixated with “Officers”, getting noticed and married. The author has taken over the story of Kitty and I really loved the way she has done this. The often left out one, ignored one or in the way and stupid one, my heart really did go out to her. It was great to see a change in this character grow and develop. Once out of the shadow of Lydia, Kitty comes to the realisation that she is indeed very childish and in order to be more readily listened to she must learn to grow up.

As the story progresses the author has not made it easy for Kitty, there are some obstacles that have been added and it is interesting to see how Kitty approaches these and acts to them. I really found myself warming to her as the story continued and it wasn’t long before I was willing her onward to find what she wanted in her life.

The whole feeling of the story from start to finish oozed the sense of fashion, social gatherings, etiquette as along with the setting I felt as if I had been transported back into the early 1800’s and a great continuation to a story I adore.

I would absolutely recommend this to readers of historical fiction, romance and general fiction. It is a story that continues on from a classic and reads well as a stand alone. If you are not a reader of classics then do not be put off, this is a fabulous and well paced book that will appeal to many readers.

About the Author:

Carrie Kablean began her career in London, where she was born, and now lives in Australia. Arriving in Sydney in 1990 (via eight years in Papua New Guinea, during which time she edited the local newspaper on Bougainville), she was with The Australian newspaper for more than 20 years, and was, concurrently, a theatre critic for the Sunday Telegraph.

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What Kitty Did next

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The Heat Is On by Helen Bridgett @Helen_Bridgett @RedDoorBooks #LoveBooksGroupTours #TheHeatIsOn #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts today on “The Heat Is On” by Helen Bridgett for Kelly at Love Books Group Tours. It is due for release on 5th July and you can pre-order your copy HERE. My thanks to Kelly and Helen for my spot and my ecopy of the book. This is the second in “The Mercury Travel Club” and if you have not read the first book then grab yourself a copy HERE xx

Synopsis:

‘And have you booked in your vejazzler?’
‘My what?’
‘You can’t roll up with your grey wire wool when he’s expecting rhinestone!’

Angie Shepherd is back and this time she means business!

Life is perfect for Angie Shepherd. Her dreams of becoming an entrepreneur have come true, business is booming, and her best friend Patty is back in town. So when the opportunity of investing in a luxury hotel comes up, it seems like a no-brainer. It’s all going swimmingly until a rival travel agency opens up across the street. Before long, The Mercury Travel Club is undercut, double-crossed and in deep trouble. It’s time for Angie to up the stakes. But with costs mounting up, sales going down, and her personal life suddenly in freefall, can Angie and her friends weather the storm?

Witty and charming in equal measure, this feel-good novel shows that when the going gets tough, the tough definitely get going.

My Thoughts:

As I mentioned this is the second book in this series, it see’s the return of Angie and her band of co-workers Charles and Josie, her larger than life friend Patty with their various partners. The arrival and opening of a rival shop causes some moments of panic as the new owner uses less than friendly tactics to lure in customers.

I was so glad to see the return of this totally mad cap bunch, they are a fun and caring group that put their customers first. Although this could be read as a stand alone  you will get a much better idea of what makes the characters tick if you read in order.

The cast come back in a full of beans style, especially Patty, she is an absolute howl a minute with her inappropriate comments, well they are not so much inappropriate more just the way she says what is on her mind and definitely without a filter.

The story focuses on the new ideas the travel agency has to come up with as they try to compete with an ultra modern rival shop. But also in with that are a couple of stories that deal Patty and Charlie’s personal lives and complement the main plot very nicely.

This is a book I spent the afternoon reading outside in the sunshine. There are some more serious plots in the story but most of the time I was reading this with a big grin on my face with the occasional shocking moment, and the odd lump in my throat, and yeah I admit the odd tear.

A fabulous book for whiling away the afternoon with and one that I would definitely recommend to readers of women’s or general fiction with humorous undertones.

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#BlogTour : Her Secret by Kelly Florentia @kellyflorentia @UrbaneBooks #LoveBooksGroupTours #HerSecret #GuestPost #CharacterSpotlight

Her Secret - Book Cover.jpg

I am delighted to be sharing the book love for “Her Secret” by Kelly Florentia with a Guest Post by the author  as part of the blog tour with Urbane Books and Kelly at Love Book Group Tours. Her Secret is a Women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, adult romance, chick-lit and available in paperback and eBook format from Amazon UK

Synopsis:

“A brilliantly-woven tale of love, friendship, heartbreak and hope – I couldn’t put it down.” Jill Finlay Fiction Editor of The Weekly News

“a must-read for anyone who loves intelligent, grown-up romance” – Louise Douglas, bestselling author of The Secrets Between Us

Following the events of No Way Back, Her Secret sees our heroine, Audrey Fox, now married to Daniel. But Daniel’s grown daughter Connie is still causing trouble in paradise and it is not long before Audrey is neck deep in secrets and lies, and once more searching for true love and happiness. Her Secret is the brilliant third novel of up-and-coming chick-lit author Kelly Florentia. Perfect for fans of Fiona Gibson, Marian Keyes, Sheila O’Flanagan and Lisa Jewell it is a wonderful contemporary adult romance.

• The idea behind Her Secret, the sequel to the bestselling No Way Back, is to highlight a positive, independent woman’s lifestyle choice, showcasing that single women in their 40s and 50s are eligible, sexy, and fun – connects directly to large ‘chick-lit’ readership • ‘A truly-talented storyteller who had me hooked from the very first page. – Jill Finlay, Weekly News

Guest Post:

Her Secret by Kelly Florentia : Character Spotlight

Who is your protagonist?

Audrey Fox

The inspiration for your protagonist

Someone recently asked me why I chose such an old-fashioned name for my central character, but when I explained that I named her after Audrey Hepburn I got the thumbs up – everyone loves Audrey Hepburn, right? Before building a character profile, I usually get an image of my protagonist in my head and then give her a name. For me, the name is important and it has to fit. Perhaps the name Audrey is unfashionable but it’s also a classic name, so I hope it’ll be quite memorable.

The creation of your protagonist

Audrey’s character is based on 40-something women who aren’t wives or mothers. Although Audrey is married in Her Secret, she begins her journey as a single woman in the first book in the series, No Way Back. We all have different needs, roles, and aspirations in life. What is right for one person may not be right for another. I wanted to showcase the 40-something woman in a modern light, in a 40 is the new 30 kind of way, in a nonconformist way, and I hope I’ve achieved this in creating Audrey Fox.

 About your protagonist’s character

I wanted my heroine to be relatable and ordinary. Audrey is a 42-year-old woman; she makes mistakes, puts on weight easily, says the wrong thing frequently, and puts her foot in it often. Audrey is loveable and witty, caring and loyal, but she isn’t a pushover. She’s very understanding and generous as a rule, but can be a bit feisty at times. She has a passion for designer shoes and is a bit of a tidy-freak – can’t stand seeing things out of place, and has a bit of a thing for germs, too!

 Do they have any similarities to someone ‘real’? If so, tell us more!

Sadly, no. Audrey Fox is a figment of my imagination. However, she does have some of the characteristics and attributes of some of my friends. She’s the kind of person I think most people would like to have as a best friend – loyal, funny, smart, caring and fun.

 What do you like most of your protagonist?

Her sense of humour and her loyalty. There’s never a dull moment when Audrey Fox is around.

 What do you dislike about your protagonist?

Audrey does have a tendency to put her foot in it – she’s a bit impulsive and ends up in awkward situations and then, sadly, has to suffer the consequences.

 Would you and your protagonist be friends in ‘real’ life?

Absolutely. We would be the best of friends.  In fact, when I typed The End I was heartbroken because I knew that I’d miss her.

 What’s next?

I’m in the early stages of book 4 – so watch this space!

About the Author:

  Kelly Florentia was born and bred in north London, where she continues to live with her husband Joe. Her debut novel THE MAGIC TOUCH was published in March 2016. TO TELL A TALE OR TWO… is a collection of her short tales. Kelly has a keen interest in health and fitness and has written many articles on the subject. SMOOTH OPERATOR (published in January 2017) is a collection of twenty of her favourite smoothie recipes. No Way Back was published by Urbane in Sept 2017.

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