Monday 26 February 2024

πŸ“– Launch Day Book Review ~ Ten Poems about Libraries from Candlestick Press

 


Candlestick Press
26 February 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this pamphlet



Libraries are treasured places. We may remember visiting a local library in childhood to explore an early delight in reading. Or perhaps we have come to value them in later life, as a calm sanctuary where we can daydream among beloved books.

A library is also a portal into countless worlds of knowledge, experience and adventure:

“Oh, I could walk any aisle
and smell wisdom, put a hand out to touch
the rough curve of bound leather,
the harsh parchment of dreams.”


from ‘Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967’ by Rita Dove

With irresistible affection, these poems celebrate the many things that libraries mean to us as we move through the phases of our lives.

The poems are selected and introduced by poet Lorraine Mariner who has worked at the National Poetry Library in London for many years.

Poems by Adrian Buckner, Louise Chandler Moulton, Claire Crowther, Rita Dove, Martina Evans, Edward Hirsch, Lorraine Mariner, Ian McMillan, Charles Simic and Indigo Williams.

Cover illustration by Laura Brett.

Visit the National Poetry Library.


πŸ“– My Review...

I remember my first ever visit to the library. I thought it was a magical place, filled with a cornucopia of delights which have entertained, educated and beguiled me ever since. Strict silence was the rule, no food or drink allowed near the pages and children had to be seen rather than heard however, when my mother left me to explore the children's section I knew I had found my home.

I was delighted to find the opening poem The Mobile Library by Martina Evans. For years, when my children were small, I relied heavily on the mobile library service which visited my local area every Tuesday:

'And that was the best thing,
when I was sure it was still there,
my feet pressing into the deep steps...'

Capturing the thrill and excitement of libraries there is much to enjoy in this anthology of ten poems which reminds us of the beauty and wisdom of books, the thrill of chasing down a special book title and the sheer enjoyment of a place dedicated to the wonder of books.

From The Librarian at Her Post by Lorraine Mariner

'...My armour 
melts away and I say 'Yes, this place really exists'
I've been keeping it safe for you...'

And finding lost treasures, dusty tomes which haven't been opened in forever but which reveal magic on the inside:

From In the Library for Octavio by Charles Simic

'There's a book called
 'A Dictionary of Angels'
No-one has opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did, the covers creaked, the pages 
Crumbled...'

Beautifully produced, and with its colourful cover and end papers Ten poems about Libraries is every bit as magical as the libraries it champions.



About the Publisher


Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Mountains, Clouds, Walking, Birds, Wine and Happiness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.



Twitter/X @poetrycandle








Thursday 22 February 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Freeborn Girls by Sally Keeble

 


Eleanor Press
15 February 2024

My thanks to Random Things Tours for my copy of the book
and the invitation to the blog tour.


“Did life ever deal you a real wild card?”

It’s June 2019 and London’s in turmoil. But steely MP Frances Quilter is distracted from affairs of state by affairs of the heart: a new love affair and the demands of her ailing mother.

So, when trouble erupts on the Cooper, a sink estate in her south London constituency, Frances misjudges the public mood—with fatal consequences. Disaster looms.

Once the Cooper estate was idyllic farmland, beloved home of the Gardiner family. But when the English Civil War erupts, the farm is attacked and the family members scattered. One, a feisty girl called Elizabeth, is sold as an indentured labourer and in 1643 boards a sailing ship for the perilous voyage to America.

In “Freeborn Girls,” former MP Sally Keeble weaves a captivating story of intrigue, love and adventure following the fortunes of Frances and Elizabeth: two women separated by almost 400 years of history—but linked by a twist of fate.

Can Frances salvage her career, or her love affair? Does Elizabeth survive? And who’s the enigmatic American who arrives in London to intern for Frances that eventful summer?

A page-turner of a time-slip novel for readers of historical fiction books about women finding freedom in tough times.


πŸ“– My Review..


Local MP Frances Quilter represents an area of London which is ripe for redevelopment although the residents of the Cooper estate are determined to fight for their survival. Frances has a history with this area and is doing what she can, amidst the jumble of 2019 politics, to fight for the resident's rights. Four hundred years ago at the start of the English Civil War this area of London was home to Elizabeth Gardiner, a 'freeborn girl' who finds that she too is about to become a displaced person when her life, and livelihood, take a very different direction.

This is a very much a story of two distinct sections and I enjoyed slipping forwards and backwards in time and followed both time frames with interest. The author captures the post-Brexit political world well and shows the insider dealings and the general shenanigans that go on behind the scenes but never forgets that at the heart of story are people who have been dealt a rough hand in life. The historical aspect of the story is atmospheric and shows in stark reality the lack of choice that women had and how they maintained the strength of will to deal with the hardships of their lives and search for their own form of freedom.

Freeborn Girls is a well written story about how women struggle to get by and, despite the four hundred year gap, the freeborn girls, in Frances Quilter's part of London, are just about surviving despite the challenges which come their way.



About the Author





Sally's debut novel, She, You, I, has been hailed as "a book of our time," and "a gem of a novel."

It's an emotional roller-coaster of a story of lost love, buried hurt and strong women over three generations.

Sally writes about the things she’s passionate about—the triumphs and tragedies of people’s lives. It’s what originally took her into journalism and then politics, in the UK and beyond. She spent her early years in the USA, Switzerland and Australia, returning to the UK after working as a journalist in South Africa. After serving as an MP in the UK, she worked in international development and travelled widely, especially in Asia and Africa.

Now she splits her time between Northampton and Bawdsey, a village in coastal Suffolk.

You can find out more about Sally on her website at www.sallykeeblebooks.com or follow her on Facebook: at Sally Keeble Author or on Instagram @sallykeeblebooks or Tik Tok @sallykbooks



Twitter / X @Sally_Keeble #FreebornGirls

Instagram @sallykeeblebooks

@RandomTTours






 

  

 




Tuesday 20 February 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Memory of Us by Dani Atkins



Head of Zeus
15 February 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book




A twist of fate. An unexpected love story...

If she had been found moments later, Amelia's heart would have stopped and never recovered. Instead she was taken from the desolate beach to the nearest hospital just in time to save her life. When her sister Lexi arrives from New York, Amelia's heart is beating, but the accident has implanted a series of false memories. These memories revolve around a man named Sam, and a perfect love story that never existed.

Determined to help her sister, Lexi enlists the help of Nick, a local vet who bears a striking resemblance to Sam. Together, Lexi and Nick recreate and photograph Amelia's dream dates in the hopes of triggering her true memories.

But as love starts to stir between Lexi and Nick, they must navigate a complex web of emotions. How can Lexi fall for Amelia's dream man without hurting her sister?


πŸ“– My Review..

Amelia is found unconscious on a deserted beach, only moments from death. She is taken to the nearest hospital deeply unaware of the seriousness of her condition. however, when her younger sister Lexi arrives from New York, Amelia confuses her family with her apparent connection to a man called Sam who her family have never heard of before.

What then follows is a beautiful family drama about the connection between these special siblings and the abiding love between Amelia and Lexi gives the book its heart and soul. It is both heart warming and heart wrenching in equal measure and there were times when the author took every ounce of emotion and wrapped the story around my heart so that it will stay there long after other stories are finished and forgotten. Beautifully written, and sensitively explored, there is a steadfast family connection, some laugh out loud funny moments and a beautifully written love story which had me wiping away tears on more than one occasion.

Some books are so special that its difficult to describe them without giving far too much away and The Memory of Us  is one those stories which needs no spoilers from me, just read it.




About the Author



Dani Atkins has won the RNA Award three times and her books are sold in twenty countries. Born in London, she now lives in Hertfordshire with her family. Her emotionally charged novels explore the intricacies of human relationships and the power of love. Her writing journey comes from a lifelong passion for storytelling where she blends drama and romance. 

Her debut novel ‘Fractured’ led her to literary acclaim and followed with a bestselling repertoire of novels such as ‘The Story of Us’, ‘Our Song’ and ‘This Love’. Her latest novel ‘The Memory of Us’ reveals profound truths of the human experience and encourages readers to look at the key themes of family, love and sacrifice. The compelling narrative draws from her own personal experiences where a heart attack during lockdown led her to consider her own mortality and the pain and anguish that comes with that. 

In The Memory of Us the protagonists Amelia and Lexi hail from Dani’s own relationship with her best friend and the inseparable bonds of sisterhood, especially at times of trauma.



Twitter / X @AtkinsDani #TheMemoryofUs

Instagram @daniatkinsauthor

@AriaFiction






 

Thursday 15 February 2024

πŸ“– Publication Day ~ The Happiest Ever After by Milly Johnson




Simon & Schuster
15 February 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book



Polly Potter is surviving, not thriving. She used to love her job – until her mentor died and her new boss decided to make her life hell. She used to love her partner Chris – until he cheated on her, and now she can’t forget. The only place where her life is working is on the pages of the novel she is writing – there she can create a feistier, bolder, more successful version of herself – as the ­fictional Sabrina Anderson.

But what if it was possible to start over again? To leave everything behind, forget all that went before, and live the life you’d always dreamed of?

After a set of unforeseen circumstances, Polly ends up believing she really IS Sabrina, living at the heart of a noisy Italian family restaurant by the sea. Run by Teddy, the son of her new landlady Marielle, it’s a much-loved place, facing threat of closure as a rival restaurant moves in next door. Sabrina can’t remember her life as Polly, but she knows she is living a different life from the one she used to have.

But what if this new life could belong to her after all?


 
πŸ“– My Review..

Polly Potter should be living her best life but is pulled down by a mediocre relationship with her partner Chris and working for a boss who neither appreciates nor values her contribution to the business. Her escape from the mundanity of her life comes in writing about a fictional character called Sabrina who is everything that Polly is not. However, when an unexpected event occurs Polly wakes up believing that she really is Sabrina and her life takes off in a whole new direction ,

The Happiest Ever After is quite simply joy wrapped up in 400 pages of  delightful writing in a story which which has you laughing out loud one minute and then reaching for the tissue box as your heart strings get well and truly pulled.  I loved reading about Polly/ Sabrina, I cheered at her small triumphs and desperately wanted her to find the happiness she so richly deserved and hoped against hope that certain people in the story would get their comeuppance.  I especially loved the snippets from the Daily Trumpet which had me chortling into my cuppa at their apparent daftness. 

I really believe that special books come along just when you need them and as I gleefully escaped into the story the grey skies and rain clouds around me disappeared. Brilliantly observed, and as expertly written as all Milly Johnson's books are The Happiest Ever After is an absolute joy to read from start to finish.


About the Author


Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. A Sunday Times bestseller, she is one of the Top 10 Female Fiction authors in the UK, and has sold millions of copies of her books sold across the world. The Happiest Ever After is her twenty-first novel.



Follow on Social media

Twitter/X @millyjohnson

@simonschusterUK






Wednesday 14 February 2024

πŸ’˜ Valentine's Day ~ Fourteen Poems about Kissing from Candlestick Press




Candlestick Press
2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this pamphlet



Most of us can remember our first kiss, whether it was glorious and transporting or merely awkward. Kissing, it transpires, can happen anywhere – on a train, in a city park or against a kitchen fridge.

The poems dramatise the fact that a kiss can make time stand still or send us into a dizzy spin:


“And the world all whirling
Round in joy
Like the dance of a dervish…”


from ‘Kisses in the Train’ by DH Lawrence


The selection wouldn’t be complete without a sly antidote to all this romance, which is why we’ve included Mary Ruefle’s ‘Why I Am Not A Good Kisser’ with its inventory of things not to do or think about when a kiss is in the offing.

Poems by Kim Addonizio, Marjorie Allen Seiffert, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Burns, William Drummond of Hawthornden, Hattie GrΓΌnewald, DH Lawrence, Roddy Lumsden, David Mills, Shazea Quraishi, Mary Ruefle, Roberta Spear, Sara Teasdale and Jean Toomer.

Cover illustration by Sara Boccaccini Meadows


πŸ’˜My Review..

Fourteen Poems about Kissing is the perfect poetry pamphlet for Valentine's Day as each of the poems share thoughts and feelings which are quite special. I've enjoyed reading the verses from poets who are well known and yet nestled like little gems are those lesser known poets who express, so eloquently, the emotion of kissing in its purest form.

' Your lips two pillows where my dreams rest.
where do conversations end and kisses begin
when syllables and lipstick wear the same breath?..'

From Syllables and Lipstick by David Mills


'Before you kissed me only the winds of Heaven
had kissed me and the tenderness of rain-
Now you have come, how can I care for kisses
Like theirs again?

From The Kiss by Sara Teasdale


The anthology is intimate, perfectly expressed and is a real treasure which captures the romance of Valentine's Day, a special anniversary or even a wedding day, and wraps everything so beautifully in the words of fourteen wonderful poems which stay in the mind, and heart, long after the pamphlet is closed πŸ’˜



About the Publisher


Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Mountains, Clouds, Walking, Birds, Wine and Happiness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.



Twitter/X @poetrycandle




















 

Tuesday 13 February 2024

πŸ“– Publication Day ~ The Jerusalem Files by Corjan Mol and Christopher Morford

 

Watkins Publishing
13 February 2024

Thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book



A non-fiction Da Vinci Code for the 21st century, this thrilling treasure hunt traces the voyage of the legendary Jewish Menorah from the Jerusalem of the Knights Templar through France, Portugal and North America, providing mind-blowing history and mystery for fans of The Curse of Oak Island.

The Jewish Menorah is one of the world’s most sacred artefacts, a man-size lampstand with seven arms, made from a single block of gold, that is an iconic symbol for the Jewish people. King Solomon placed it in the inner sanctum of the Temple of Jerusalem, but by the 5th century AD, all trace of it had disappeared from the official record, and it was assumed lost.

Two historical researchers, Corjan Mol and Christopher Morford, now reveal the astounding secret of what happened to the Menorah. Through their meticulous research as well as a jaw-dropping stroke of luck, Mol and Morford discovered that the Menorah was dug up from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in the time of the Crusades by the Knights Templar and smuggled to France with the help of the French King Louis IX. From there it was taken to Portugal, to end up in North America after interventions by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. The secret was hidden in plain sight in both France and North America, on a scale so big that it took 800 years for it to be discovered.






I am delighted to share an extract from The Jerusalem Files 
on its publication day 




CHAPTER ONE

An end and a beginning


In a dimly lit chapel at the western edge of Paris, the answer to a great mystery unraveled.

We stood on French soil in a sacred space, in a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Our feet straddled an invisible line—an imaginary arch stretching out before and behind us, connecting distant points, both east and west, spanning half the globe.

We were at the end of a long road, yet had arrived at a new beginning. In this holy place we found ourselves surrounded by architecture adorned with fragments of now all too familiar symbolism, the significance of which we now fully understood.

After many months of searching, the meaning of these symbols fell into place, and we were finally able to decipher and reveal the story they told.

The building we were standing in was almost Romanesque in style and possessed an austere atmosphere. A spire ascended over our heads, unique and unusual in form. From the top of it rose a curious miniature tower that appeared to have been secretly whisked away from a medieval castle and erected right here. In turn, this tiny tower was topped by a five-pointed star: a pentagram, which is the ancient symbol of Jerusalem and of Mary, as she is the Star of the Sea. These two—the tower and the pentagram—were clues that we had been following for some time. They were tell- tale signs laid out before us that crossed a span of centuries, cropping up time and time again during the course of our investigation.

Whenever we caught sight of one of these clues, it would spur us on, indicating to us that the footprints we were following were not imaginary. We knew of no such spire that existed anywhere else in the world, and had not come across anything even remotely similar on any other church or chapel.

We strode purposefully to the center of the chapel, crossing a flat, oval paving stone that we knew was the capstone of a solitary pillar in the crypt below, standing guard in the middle of a circular chamber, sealed long ago. As above, so below. It seemed as though every statue whispered that phrase.

On our way, we passed a large rectangular slab that sealed the entrance to the subterranean vault. It was situated directly in front of the altar, and we had smiled at the inscription on it: “Mementote Praepositorum Vestorum.” This was a quote from the Bible, Hebrews 13.7 (niv): “Remember your leaders.” It was a curious phrase, yet here, in this sanctified space, one of those very leaders was present.

The last rays of light from the setting sun illuminated the altar, shimmering down through the translucent body of a silent figure in the exquisite stained glass overhead. This was someone instantly recognizable to us: St Louis, King Louis IX of France, the legendary medieval sovereign who had impelled us to begin a journey that had us criss-crossing half the world, following the breadcrumbs which led, ultimately, to this precise location.



My thanks to Laura at Watkins Publishing for her kind permission to share this book extract




About the Authors


Corjan Mol is a Dutch entrepreneur and historical researcher, who has featured in several TV documentaries, including BBCs Forbidden series. He is a researcher, theorist and recurring cast member of the #1 American rated cable reality TV show The Curse of Oak Island.

Christopher Morford is a 32nd degree Freemason, Gnostic bishop and occult historian and restaurateur from South Carolina who is a featured theorist and consulting researcher on The Curse of Oak Island TV reality show.



Twitter / X @watkinswisdom 

#TheJerusalemFiles

Discover more about The Jerusalem Files










Monday 12 February 2024

πŸ“– Book Review ~ What We Thought We Knew by Claire Dyer

 


Pegasus
25 January 2024

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book



The families at numbers two, four and six Penwood Heights are connected by work, friendship, the loss of a child and a secret truth which has sat in the bedrock of their lives for years. In the centre of this tight-knit group is Faith, who believes her job is to act as a paperweight, keeping them all safe. And she does this until someone from her past reappears and threatens to sabotage everything. And, as the pieces fall, these families, these friends, realise that what they thought they knew about one another was nothing more than make-believe. They also discover that trust is illusory and for Faith, at least, that keeping other people’s secrets can be more dangerous than keeping her own.



πŸ“– My Review...

Penwood Heights is home to three families whose lives intertwine, their children play together, and the husbands drink in the local pub whilst their wives host movie nights and dinner parties. They pick blackberries in the woods and picnic in summer meadows. They laugh together, celebrate successes together and then ultimately they grieve together when tragedy rocks the foundations of their close knit group. Moving forward and backwards in time we get a sharp view of these three families, we witness the after effects of the tragedy and we move with them as they pick up the pieces, some coping better than others but always seeming to remain a cohesive whole. Faith is the one person who seems to holds them all together but when something happens to disturb the equilibrium, it is Faith who bears the brunt of the fallout.

Beautifully written and sensitively explored this story unpicks the myriad threads of interconnected friendship and family life, revealing tangled secrets which would be better if they had been left hidden. However, the  inevitability of secrets being exposed and dissolved reveals much and these revelations are what gives the book its absolute strength and makes the story compelling reading. I raced through the story in a couple of sittings as I really couldn’t put the book down and wanted to know how this tangled web of secrets would evolve and eventually play out in the wider scheme of events.

I’ve now read several books by this talented author and each one leaves me wanting more. What We Thought We Knew will remain with me for quite some time and has already secured its place on my Book of the Year list. 


About the Author




Claire Dyer’s poetry collections are published by Two Rivers Press, her novels by Quercus, The Dome Press, Matador and Pegasus. Her latest novel is ‘What We Thought We Knew’, and a further collection, ‘The Adjustments’, is forthcoming with Two Rivers Press in April 2024. She teaches creative writing and runs Fresh Eyes, an editorial and critiquing service. She is Poetry Consultant to the Council of the SWWJ, has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and is represented by Broo Doherty at DHH Literary Agency.



X/Twitter @clairedyer1

Website Facebook Instagram

Amazon UK



Thursday 8 February 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Summer of Lies by Louise Douglas


Boldwood Books
7 February 2024

My thanks to the publisher and to Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to the tour


The summer is the hottest yet in the Brittany coastal town of Morranez, but when a new case lands on the desk of the Toussaints detective agency, there can be no time to relax. As wild fires bear down on the town, the alert goes out for a missing girl.

Nineteen-year-old Briony Moorcroft has seemingly been taken from her sleepy Welsh village and brought to France. Her parents are baffled and scared – Briony needs her life-saving medicine or this case will become even more sinister, and with the police dragging their heels, the Moorcrofts are relying on Mila Shephard and Carter Jackson’s sleuthing skills.

Meanwhile there are mysteries troubling Mila’s life too. Two years after the accident that swept her sister Sophie and brother-in-law Charlie away and left their daughter Ani in Mila’s care, new evidence resurfaces that makes Mila doubt everything.

Can Carter and Mila find Briony before it’s too late? And is the truth about Sophie and Charlie finally about to be revealed…


πŸ“– My Review..

Working for the Touissaints Detective Agency in Brittany, Mila Shepard and Carter Jackson are charged with searching for Briony Moorcroft who is missing from her home in England and is presumed to be in France with a woman who may do her harm. With nothing much to go on, and with time ticking away, Mila and Carter must do all they can to find the missing girl as soon as possible.

The story moves along at a cracking pace and I enjoyed following not just Mila and Carter’s quest to find Briony but also the snippets of information about a recent tragedy in Mila’s life which has resulted in her being based in France and caring for her niece Ani. I liked very much the emotional aspect of the story especially the details of Mila’s life and her struggle to come to terms with the sadness which surrounds her. I also followed the missing person investigation with trepidation, enjoying how the author controlled the tension whilst allowing all the complicated strands of the story to come together.

What I love about this author’s skilful writing is her ability to capture the reader’s imagination right from the start and her strength in bringing a multilayered and complex story to life is done with huge insight into what makes people tick.  I was really sorry when the story came to end but was delighted to discover that the ending lends itself to a further continuation, which will definitely be something to look forward to in the future. 

The Summer of Lies is a follow up to The Lost Notebook which I read and enjoyed in 2022.



About the Author





Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author and an RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country.


Follow on social media

Twitter @LouiseDouglas3 # TheSummerOfLies



@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers

@rararesources









 


 

Tuesday 6 February 2024

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Sugar Less by Nicole M. Avena

 


Union Square & Co
8 February 2024

My thanks to Midas PR for my copy of this book



Too many of us blame our lack of willpower for our sugar cravings rather than acknowledge that sugar is everywhere around us—and is highly addictive. It’s unsurprising that even the best-intentioned people struggle with kicking the habit, since approximately 80% of products in a supermarket contain sugar, and much of it is hidden.

In Sugarless, Dr. Avena—a leading expert on food addiction—spells out the substance's detrimental effects on the brain and body by providing cutting-edge research on its addictive qualities, which are comparable to that of cocaine, nicotine, and alcohol. Then she provides a simple-to-follow 7-step program (along with 30 sugar-free recipes) that will help readers gradually wean themselves off sugar and other sweeteners and break the vicious diet cycle. Ultimately, readers will be able to break free of the sugar shackles, without self-blame.

Dr. Avena was the first to study sugar addiction in the laboratory, and she has authored more than 100 scholarly journal articles on the topic. Today, she’s the world’s leading expert on sugar addiction, and her findings have informed our overall understanding of nutrition and health.

Sugarless has a foreword by the 12th-time New York Times bestselling author and integrative psychiatrist Daniel Amen, MD who has a huge following in the health and wellness space.

πŸ“– My Review..

Like everyone, I know that I have far too much refined sugar in my diet and even though I start off with good intentions of giving up I can never truly eradicate sugar from my diet completely but I really would like to cut down on my intake  however that's easier said than done. That's why this book has been  a timely reminder of just what damage sugar does to our metabolism and gives us an idea of how much better we would feel if we made the effort , not just to cut down, but to go completely sugar free.

Sugar Less is an easy book to read, although I would have liked larger print, and it is nicely informative without being preachy. I enjoyed reading the different chapters and found much to think about in the seven steps of the plan which covers diverse topics such as how sugar is harming your health at step one, through to being  sugar less for life in the book's conclusion.

It's not an easy task to break a dependence on food and this book doesn't aim to fix things overnight nor does it pretend to be the definitive guide but I found it a good stepping stone and fully intend to give becoming sugar less a try. The 30 sugar free recipes at the end of the book are  a nice little bonus and an incentive to give them a try.



About the Author

Nicole Avena, PhD, is a pioneering research neuroscientist and expert in the fields of nutrition, diet, and addiction. She’s the author of several books on nutrition and early development, including What to Eat When You’re Pregnant (2015), which has sold over 40,000 copies. Dr. Avena is assistant professor of neuroscience at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and a visiting professor in health psychology at Princeton University. She received a PhD in psychology and neuroscience from Princeton University in 2006, and then completed her postdoctoral fellowship in 2010 at the prestigious Rockefeller University in New York City.

Dr. Avena has published over 100 scholarly journal articles on topics related to diet, nutrition, and overeating, and she frequently presents her research findings at major scientific conferences and university symposia. She has also served as a consultant to Nestle, the parent company for Enfamil, and others. Dr. Avena is a go-to expert on diet and nutrition in national media and often appears on The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, and CNN. She writes regularly for PyschologyToday.com, MindBodyGreen, and ShareCare.


Instagram: drnicoleavena

Twitter: DrNicoleAvena

Facebook: DrNicoleAvena



ABOUT UNION SQUARE & CO.

Union Square & Co. is a talent-driven publisher whose mission is to promote excellence in contemporary publishing and to honour the vision of our creators by providing best-in-class production, editorial and design choices. Headquartered in New York City, Union Square & Co., LLC, is a subsidiary of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., and includes the adult imprints Union Square & Co., Puzzlewright Press and Sterling Ethos; the children’s imprints Union Square Kids and Boxer Books; and the gift and stationery publisher Knock Knock. For more information, visit unionsquareandco.com.







Monday 5 February 2024

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The King's Witch by Tracy Borman

 


Hodder & Stoughton
2018

Frances Gorges Trilogy #1

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book


As she helps to nurse the dying Queen Elizabeth, Frances Gorges longs for the fields and ancient woods of her parents' Hampshire estate, where she has learned to use the flowers and herbs to become a much-loved healer.Frances is happy to stay in her beloved countryside when the new King arrives from Scotland, bringing change, fear and suspicion. His court may be shockingly decadent, but James's religion is Puritan, intolerant of all the old ways; he has already put to death many men for treason and women for witchcraft.So when her ambitious uncle forcibly brings Frances to court, she is trapped in a claustrophobic world of intrigue and betrayal - and a ready target for the twisted scheming of Lord Cecil, the King's first minister.Surrounded by mortal dangers, Frances finds happiness only with the precocious young Princess Elizabeth, and Tom Wintour, the one courtier she can trust. Or can she?'


πŸ“–My Review..

An Elizabethan at heart, Frances Gorges is forced to spend time at the Jacobean court of King James I. Much preferring to spend time in her herb garden at her home in  Hampshire, Frances feels claustrophobic at the court at Whitehall and her role as lady-in-waiting to the young Princess Elizabeth places her very firmly at the heart of intrigue. Her growing friendship with the enigmatic courtier Tom Wintour will place Frances in a very precarious position and her skill with healing brings her into dangerous contact with the King as he continues his quest to rid England of its multitude of witches.

I’m a bit late to the party with this one as, I’m sorry to say, it has languished on my Kindle since its publication but I’m really pleased to have discovered the story now. Beautifully written and meticulously researched, this is the first in a trilogy of novels which feature this bold and feisty heroine. I enjoyed getting to know Frances Gorges in this first book which sets the scene and brings to life the dangerous, and decadent, Jacobean court. Placing the book very firmly at the start of the reign of James I will allow the series to progress and I especially enjoyed learning more about the Gunpowder Plot which features very strongly in The King's Witch.


Looking forward to completing the trilogy:



 





Tracy Borman is a historian and author from Scothern, Lincolnshire, England. She is most widely known as the author of Elizabeth's Women, a portrait-gallery of the powerful women who influenced Queen Elizabeth I. In July 2022 Borman was made Chancellor of Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln.



Twitter / X @tracyborman

@HodderFiction






Friday 2 February 2024

πŸ“– Book Award ~ The Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize Longlist 2024

 

THE SWANSEA UNIVERSITY DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE REVEALS INTERNATIONAL LONGLIST FOR 2024






Worth £20,000, this global accolade recognises exceptional literary talent aged 39 or under, celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama. The prize invokes the memory of Dylan Thomas to support the writers of today, nurture the talents of tomorrow, and celebrate international literary excellence.


The full longlist for 2024 is :



- A Spell of Good Things by AyΓ²bΓ‘mi AdΓ©bΓ‘yΓ² (Canongate Books) – novel (Nigeria)

- Small Worlds by Caleb Azumah Nelson (Viking, Penguin Random House UK) – novel (UK/Ghana)

- The Glutton by A. K. Blakemore (Granta) – novel (England, UK)

- Bright Fear by Mary Jean Chan (Faber & Faber) – poetry collection (Hong Kong)

- Penance by Eliza Clark (Faber & Faber) – novel (England, UK)

- The Coiled Serpent by Camilla Grudova (Atlantic Books) – short story collection (Canada)

- Hungry Ghosts by Kevin Jared Hosein (Bloomsbury Publishing UK/Ecco, HarperCollins US) – novel (Trinidad and Tobago)

- Local Fires by Joshua Jones (Parthian Books) – short story collection (Wales, UK)

- Biography of X by Catherine Lacey (Granta) – novel (US)

- Close to Home by Michael Magee (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House UK) – novel (Northern Ireland, UK)

- Open Up by Thomas Morris (Faber & Faber) – short story collection (Wales, UK)

- Divisible by Itself and One by Kae Tempest (Picador, Pan Macmillan) – poetry collection (England, UK)



Follow on social media

 #SUDTP24 & @dylanthomprize



Key Dates for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize 2024

Shortlist Announcement: 21 March 2024

Winner Announcement and award ceremony, Swansea: 16 May 2024



Launched in 2006, the annual Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize is one of the most prestigious awards for young writers, aimed at encouraging raw creative talent worldwide. It celebrates and nurtures international literary excellence. Worth £20,000, it is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes as well as one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers. Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the Prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama. The prize is named after the Swansea-born writer, Dylan Thomas, and celebrates his 39 years of creativity and productivity. One of the most influential, internationally renowned writers of the mid-twentieth century, the prize invokes his memory to support the writers of today and nurture the talents of tomorrow.

Last year's prize was awarded to Arinze Ifeakandu for his debut short story collection God's Children Are Little Broken Things (Orion, Weidenfeld & Nicolson). Chair of the 2023 Judges, Di Speirs, said: ‘We were unanimous in our praise and admiration for this exhilarating collection of nine stories. Arinze Ifeakandu’s debut shines with maturity, the writing bold, refreshing and exacting but never afraid to linger and to allow characters and situations to develop and change, so that the longer stories are almost novels in themselves. A kaleidoscopic reflection of queer life and love in Nigeria, the constraints, the dangers and the humanity, this is a collection that we wanted to press into many readers’ hands around the world and which left us excited to know what Arinze Ifeakandu will write next.’

Previous winners also include Patricia Lockwood, Max Porter, Raven Leilani, Bryan Washington, Guy Gunaratne, and Kayo Chingonyi.

The Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist will be announced on Thursday 21 March followed by the Winner’s Ceremony held in Swansea on Thursday 16 May, following International Dylan Thomas Day on Tuesday 14 May.





Thursday 1 February 2024

πŸ“– Featured Book of the Month ~ What We Did in the Storm by Tina Baker

 



Viper/ Serpents Tail
15 February 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book


On the beautiful and windswept island of Tresco, two worlds live side by side. The wealthy visitors come by helicopter to stay at their lavish time-share properties. The estate staff travel by boat, and work all hours to keep them happy, to keep the money flowing in. But while the blue skies and savage waves make the island seem a wild paradise, under the surface the inhabitants are concealing more than they dare reveal. The truths about their marriages, their love affairs, and what they do in the darkness while their neighbours are sleeping. As black clouds come rolling in and a storm hits the island, truths and rumours begin to tumble out, wreaking terrible damage. In the midst of the tempest, two women are attacked and one goes missing. The secrets of this fragile community can no longer be hidden if it hopes to survive. The islanders must finally reveal what they did in the storm, no matter the cost.


πŸ“– My Review…
 
The beautiful island of Tresco is the setting for this compelling mystery which looks at the dark underside of this idyllic island getaway. For those with money Tresco offers a sumptuous retreat from the humdrum of life and yet for those who eke out a living in the hospitality trade there is little rest from the demands of their jobs, pandering to the whims and fancies of those who have money to spend. However, all is not as it seems on the island and with simmering tensions bubbling it only takes one unusual event to alter the dynamic of the place and its people. When a vicious storm threatens the equilibrium of the island it would seem that unbearable tensions, already heightened, will soon start to spiral out of control.

Intricately plotted, with a strong set of characters, and oodles of tension this atmospheric thriller is a real page turner which keeps you guessing from start to finish. Filled with all the trademarks of this author’s fine story telling skills there is never a moment when the plot doesn’t draw you in and so many times I thought I had it all figured out only to find, in the end, that I was nowhere near. There are a few authors who get my pulse racing and Tina Baker is definitely up there with the best of them as each book she shares with us just gets better and better and What We Did in the Storm is no exception which is why I have no hesitation in making it my Featured Book of the Month for February.



What We Did in the Storm will be published on the 15th February 2024



Twitter @TinaBakerBooks #WhatWeDidInTheStorm


@ViperBooks





Tuesday 30 January 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Extracting Humanity and Other Stories by Stephen Oram

 


Orchid's Lantern Press
2023

My thanks to Isabelle Kenyon for the invitation to the blog tour


In this remarkably perceptive collection, Stephen Oram blends cutting-edge science and tech with everyday emotions and values to create 20 thought experiments with heart.

Extracting Humanity is a skilful exploration of smart currencies, memorials, medical care, treatment of refugees, social networks, data monitoring, and justice systems. Always without prescription or reprimand, these stories are simply the beginning of the conversation.

From an eerie haptic suit that Tommy must call Father, to a protective, nutritious bubble that allows Feng Mian to survive on a colonised Moon; from tattoos that will earn their wearers a mini-break in a sensory chamber, to Harrie anxiously awaiting AI feedback on her unborn child… These startling, diverse narratives map all-too-real possibilities for our future and the things that might ultimately divide or unite us.


I'm delighted to be able to share this short story today from Extracting Humanity 





FAILING FATHERS


“I don’t want to beg, but we are best mates ‘n all that.”

“You have to be kidding. They’ll trace it so easily, and then where will we be?”

I shrugged and carried on tinkering with the code of the car that had been brought in to have its latest patches installed. I wasn’t paying proper attention to what I was doing, but then if they couldn’t pay me a decent wage, why should I?

I tried again, speaking loudly but not directly to him. “I have to buy food and heat the house and it’s the wife’s birthday. All I want is for you to do some shopping for me. I’ll pay you back straight away. I don’t see how they’ll know it’s for me and not you.”

“You’ve heard the rumours. Anything that smacks of reparation avoidance is swiftly dealt with. Shame laundering, isn’t that what they call it?”

I kept my eyes firmly fixed on the screen in front of me, trying not to make a big deal out of it.

“It’s only one weekly food shop.”

“Apart from the illegal bit, your lineage owes my lineage and until that’s done…”

He had a point, but he was wrong. It wasn’t my forefathers who stole stuff from other countries and locked it away in the British Museum.

I stared at him. “That genetic profiling is crap. Completely ignores the fact those elite fuckers were stealing from my sort at the same time as robbing the heritage of yours.”

He mumbled something I couldn’t make out.

“It’s too generic. It should be a class thing, not a country thing. No way does it trace those who were really responsible.”

Another mumble.

I looked away. “Still, we are where we are as my mother used to say. For better or worse we have programmable money, and it has rules.”

He came and stood next to me. “You’re my friend. I get that. And that’s why I know we’ll rise above this whole reparation thing. It only lasts until it’s all paid back.”

I nodded, unable to reply. He just didn’t get it.

“Not the sins of my fathers,” I muttered under my breath. I was innocent. My whole family line was innocent, and yet my Heritage Pound was worth less than his because the cost of re-balancing the abuses of other people’s ancestors fell to me and mine.

I continued talking while working. “I wasn’t asked about the British Museum being privatised. I wasn’t consulted about the contents becoming the asset behind the most widely used private currency. It wasn’t my decision to give it favourable interest rates and lower tax rates than the other currencies. It’s those bastards in charge of the Bank of England’s digital currency.”

I rubbed my temples and sighed. “I agree with the government offsetting the reparation obligations of its colonial past, but there’s a world of difference between agreeing with the what and agreeing with the how.”

He tutted and went back to his bench.

We ignored each other for the rest of the day, but as he left he called across. “I’ll see if the kids have any ideas.”

My teenage daughter met me outside, determined that I should buy her mother a birthday present.

“Just a small one,” she said.

I told her we couldn’t afford it and that her mother understood, but she insisted.

“Why don’t we use a different currency? One that works for us, not against us. Then we could afford it,” she said.

I explained as best I could how difficult it was to be accepted by any other currency. Their rules of interaction with the CBDC were predicated on how risky their customer base was, and we were in one of the highest risk brackets.

She pushed hard. “Why not do what Sasha’s dad does? He owns shares in art that’s worth more every day. Non. Fungible. Tokens. Get it?”

“Fine for him”, I explained, “but we don’t have any capital to begin with.” She huffed and puffed, throwing one superficially thought-through solution after another at me. It was as if she considered me to be stupid. As if she thought I’d not explored all these options.

She made that disgusting sound with her tongue.

“It’s crap.”

“I know,” I said. “You’re right. It’s the very people whose ancestors were responsible for the appalling past of our country who use the other currencies. They escape any consequences of the national reparation.”

She was fuming, and with the familiar cry of every teenager, she pointed out that it wasn’t fair. All I could do was agree with her. Replying with the age-old parental response that life just isn’t fair.

I told my mate about it the next day, and despite the seriousness of the situation, I found myself laughing along with him about the idealism of youth. We reminisced about our own teenage years and how we’d been certain that we knew how the world worked and how it could be a lot better. It was good to be back on jovial terms, and he was trying to tell me something his daughter had said, but talking about our kids behind their backs made me feel uncomfortable.

I ignored him until he stood by me, looking pleased with himself. “Here, give me your phone,” he said, grabbing it from my bench.

I frowned, but with curiosity. He swiped the screen and then held his own close to it.

“There,” he said. “You’ll never guess what. My daughter’s been using her Heritage Pound advantage to invest in that new youth currency. Know the one? She’s made a mint out of limited-edition skins in those games she’s fixated with. And… wait for it… she wants to gift your family some shares.” With a thumbs up he added, “It’s allowed.”

I was speechless. What a brilliant mate, and what a great father.





X/Twitter @OramStephen

@kenyon_isabelle