blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Depression – Ray Griffiths*

The part of the brain most heavily associated with mental health, memory, emotion and mood is called the hippocampus; the biological name for the seahorse. It is the unusual seahorse-like shape of the hippocampus that has led to its evocative name. Just as the seahorse charms the depths of oceans, our own hippocampus, when supported and nurtured, can help to enchant our own lives. Worryingly, there are an increasing number of scientific papers linking problems with the hippocampus to depression, in particular, the shrinking or failure to regrow this part of the brain after prolonged stress. Depression, anxiety and mood disorders are often seen as entirely psychological in cause. However, more and more research is highlighting that chronic health issues, poor diet and lifestyle choices can, and will, negatively impact our vulnerable hippocampus, and consequently, our mental health.

Personalised nutritionist Ray Griffiths examines how we can modify our dietary and lifestyle choices to nourish our brain and hippocampus. These choices can help to cushion us from the harm we may encounter as we navigate the challenges of modern everyday life. This nourishment is absolutely vital, as every day our hippocampus can potentially regrow 700 brand new neurons, but it needs a huge amount of assistance to do so. Nourishment for the hippocampus can come from not just diet but also from balanced gut bacteria, social connection, exercise, an outdoors environment, music and dance. Learning how to support your brain health begins with what you eat.

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Ray Griffiths MSc is a Registered Nutritionist and Lecturer and hails from the South of England, living on the borders of Essex and Suffolk. He has been researching and practicing nutrition for 20 years and lecturing for over 10 years. His lectures and webinars have covered diverse subjects such as: cancer and nutrition, chronic fatigue, depression, cardiovascular health, neurodegeneration, MS and ageing. Ray has a background in Engineering and likes to apply a similar style systems philosophy to nutrition and biochemistry – using this approach to challenge and greatly expand existing ideas and concepts. He is a keen water skier, was once a professional Speedway rider. He enjoys Pre-Rapaelite art and his favourite author is the American poet Robert Bly.

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My thoughts: I’ve had depression since my teens and am interested in different theories around treating and managing it in the long term. I currently take medication to manage it but if there was another way I’d be open to potentially trying it.

I liked that Griffiths was looking at depression as a condition that is affected by and effects the body as a whole, I know for me if my chronic pain condition is worse then so will my mental health be.

As a nutritionist Griffiths focuses on how what we eat impacts our physical and mental wellbeing. The importance of healthy gut bacteria is something the general public is increasingly aware of, and he writes about how each thing links together very well.

This was certainly a very interesting read, something I will definitely be discussing with my doctors in terms of how I can tweak my diet to support a happier, healthier brain.

*I was kindly gifted this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The End of the World Survivors Club – Adrian J. Walker*

IN THE END OF THE WORLD RUNNING CLUB EDGAR HILL RAN 550 MILES AFTER AN APOCALYPSE TO TRY AND FIND HIS FAMILY. HE HAD IT EASY. THIS IS HIS WIFE’S STORY.

Beth Hill has survived the apocalypse with a baby and toddler in tow. And what’s more she’s done it alone – without her husband’s help. He’s never been any help. But when disaster strikes and someone steals her kids, she knows what she has to do. The new world might be very different: no government, no law, no infrastructure and a whole lot more ocean than there used to be. But one thing hasn’t changed – the lengths a mother will go to save her family…

Adrian J Walker was born in the bush suburbs of Sydney, Australia in the mid ‘70s. After his father found a camper van in a ditch, he renovated it and moved his family back to the UK, where Adrian was raised. Ever since he can remember, Adrian has been interested in three things: words, music and technology, and when he graduated from the University of Leeds, he found a career in software. His novel The End of the World Running Club, a post-apocalyptic running fable about hope, love and endurance, was a Simon Mayo Radio 2 book club choice. He lives in Aberdeen with his wife and two children.

My thoughts:

I haven’t read the previous book in this series but I didn’t feel hugely like I needed to have done in order to read this book.

Beth is a slightly irritating character, or at least I found her to be so at the beginning, it’s only when it all goes horribly wrong and she has to find some allies and actually do something that I grew to like her a little.

I really loved certain bits of this book, like the floating garbage dump that had become a home for some of the survivors that Beth encounters.

Bits of the book are quite dark and violent, like pretty much any post-apocalyptic narrative. But there are little moments of humour and levity throughout.

From the way the book ends I imagine there’s going to be another in this series, it’ll be interesting to see which character steers the plot from this point.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Burning Ambition & Takeaway Terror – B.L Faulkner*

Burning Ambition cover.jpg

Cases 7 & 8 from the DCS Palmer and the Serial Murder Squad series. In Burning ambition an organised crime gang leader wants one last big heist as a signature to his career. He chooses the Royal Mint in Wales. But other criminals have learnt of this planned heist and want ‘in’. The answer is ‘no’ but the arguments develope into murders which brings in Palmer and his team. Will they be in time to stop the job and prevent any more murders?

In Takeaway Terror two organised crime families fight over the lucrative London West End drugs trade. Are the fast food delivery lads on their mopeds delivering more than takeaways? Why have three been killed by a hit and run driver? Old school gangsters go to war with an incoming foreign drugs lord family. Palmer needs to get inside, but once inside will he get out? alive?

B Faulkner Author picture .jpg

Barry Faulkner was born into a family of petty criminals in Herne Hill, South London. His father, uncles and older siblings ran with the Richardson Crime family from time to time. At this point we must point out that he did not follow in that family tradition although the characters he met and their escapades he witnessed have added a certain authenticity to his books. He attended the first ever comprehensive school in the UK, William Penn in Peckham and East Dulwich, where he attained no academic qualifications other than GCE ‘O’ level in Art and English and a Prefect’s badge (though some say he stole all three!)
His mother was a fashion model and had great theatrical aspirations for young Faulkner and pushed him into auditioning for the Morley Academy of Dramatic Art at the Elephant and Castle, where he was accepted but only lasted three months before being asked to leave as no visible talent had surfaced. Mind you, during his time at the Academy he was called to audition for the National Youth Theatre by Trevor Nunn – fifty years later, he’s still waiting for the call back!
His early writing career was as a copywriter with the advertising agency Erwin Wasey Ruthrauff & Ryan in Paddington, during which time he got lucky with some light entertainment scripts sent to the BBC and Independent Television and became a script editor and writer on a freelance basis, working on most of the LE shows of the 1980-90s. During that period, while living out of a suitcase in UK hotels for a lot of the time, he filled many notebooks with DCS Palmer case plots; and in 2015 he finally found time to start putting them in order and into book form. Six are finished and published so far, with more to come. He hopes you enjoy reading them as much as he enjoyed writing them. If you do read one please leave a review as your comments are very much appreciated.
You can find out more about Barry Faulkner and the real UK major heists and robberies, including the Brinks Mat robbery and the Hatton Garden Heist; plus the gangs and criminals that carried them out, including the Krays and the Richardsons, on his crime blog at http://www.geezers2016.wordpress.com. Faulkner also regularly gives illustrated talks on that era to WI and other social clubs. barryfaulkner1@btopenworld.com for details.

 

My thoughts:

They don’t make criminals like they used to. The ‘faces’ in these stories hearken back to a time of gangsters and heists that you just don’t really get anymore, which makes sense when you learn about the author’s background. He knew some of the most infamous criminals in London history.

I really enjoyed these two novella length stories – DCS Palmer and his team of two (plus a few others drafted in) know the score and combining Palmer’s old school boots on the street policing with Gheeta Singh’s IT wizardry means taking down the bad guys has never looked so easy.

With a direct no-nonsense tone to match Palmer’s character, these stories crackle along, towing you in their wake. You know they’re going to get the bad guys, but how many bodies can they rack up before the cuffs are on?

Definitely for fans of British crime writing and especially for those of you who never miss a Martina Cole as these fit alongside, but from the copper’s perspective, not the con’s.

Burning Ambition BT Poster .jpg

 

*I was kindly gifted this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour, however all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: A River of Bodies – Kevin Doyle*

In this sequel to his impressive debut novel To Keep A Bird Singing, Kevin Doyle delves further into the murky world of the powerful Donnelly family and their association with the Catholic church and the security forces. The clock is ticking as Noelie and his friends try to uncover the network of corruption and deception that the family have used to protect themselves and their operations. But Albert Donnelly is onto Noelie and there’s nothing he won’t do to stop him.

Edgy, dark and sharp, Kevin Doyle’s A River of Bodies is a cracking political thriller – restless, brilliantly plotted and topical.

Kevin Doyle is from Cork and works as a writer and creative writing teacher. He has been published in many literary journals, including Stinging Fly, The Cork Review, Southwords and The Cúirt Journal. He is the winner of a string of awards, including the Tipperary Short Story Award (1998) – first; Over The Edge New Writer Of The Year – shortlist; Hennessy Literary Awards(2011) – shortlist; Seán ÓFaoláin Prize(2013) – runner-up; Michael McLaverty Short Story Award(2016) – winner. In 2018, he published his first novel, To Keep A Bird Singing. He lives in Cork.


My thoughts:

First read To Keep A Bird Singing.

Talk about conspiracies. Politics in Ireland has always been complicated, mostly due to the complete mess that England made over the centuries.

This novel blends the IRA, the police and security services, the Catholic Church and its various cover ups and horrible history, and the ordinary people that get drawn into this chaos.

Noelie is the everyman hero of these books, who along with a selection of friends pursues justice at almost any cost after the deaths of his nephew and best friend in the first book.

The conspiracy gets knottier and more complicated the more they uncover and horrors of the past come to light. Albert Donnelly is really sinister and evil.

The writing is taut, compelling and powerful. The plot is quite dark, unsurprisingly given the basis of it – the church, industrial schools, child abuse and murder.

The ending is a complete cliffhanger and I cannot wait to find out in the third book what happened to Noelie and friends.

*I was kindly gifted these books in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions are my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley – Ian Thornton*

Deaths and Afterlife Cover .jpg

Aleister Crowley, also known as the Great Beast, is one of the most reviled men in history. Satanist, cult leader, debauched novelist and poet, his legacy has been harshly contested for decades.

Crowley supposedly died in 1947, but in Ian Thornton’s new novel, set in the present day, the Great Beast is alive and well and living in Shangri-la. Now over 130 years old, thanks to the magical air of his mystical location, he looks back on his life and decides it is time to set the record straight.

For Crowley was not the evil man he is often portrayed as. This was just a cover to hide his real mission, to save the twentieth century from destroying itself and to set humanity on the road to freedom and liberty.

The Death and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley is an epic novel that will make you see this notorious figure in a completely new light, as he encounters an impressive cast of real-life characters including Timothy Leary, The Beatles, Princess Margaret, Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock.

Ian Thornton Author Picture.jpg

Ian Thornton’s debut novel, The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms (How One Man Scorched the Twentieth Century, but Didn’t Mean To) was published by Simon & Schuster Canada in September 2013. Harper Collins published worldwide on June 28th 2014 to coincide with the centenary of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the pivot of the novel. It was translated across Europe and taught at the Sorbonne.

Prior to becoming a novelist, Ian worked for Broadcast magazine in London and also for Variety. He is a co-founder of the global television industry publisher, C21 Media and http://www.c21media.net. He covered the Royal wedding in London for CTV, Canada’s premier independent broadcaster, and has recently written for Wisden Cricketer, The Guardian, The Hindu and for the Soho House magazine, House. He also wrote on the football World Cup in South Africa for the Canadian sports channel, The Score, and has worked for Queen’s University in Ontario, where his project was presented at the White House as part of President Obama’s new media initiative.

Ian is the official biographer of the Compton cricket club in California and has been a judge on the largest Latin American film festival, Expresion en Corto. He is currently producing a feature documentary.

Originally from Leeds, Ian currently resides in Toronto with his wife Heather Gordon and their children, Laszlo and Clementine.

 

My thoughts;

I don’t know a huge amount about Aleister Crowley other than what I’ve gleaned over the years from various places so I can’t extract the truth from this fiction precisely.

Crowley founded his own religion and was regarded as a Satanist and The Great Beast, not exactly popular with late Victorian/early Edwardian Britain.

From the facts about his life Thornton has spun a fascinating web of mystery and intrigue; positing Crowley as a spy and servant of the British Empire, a friend of Winston Churchill and a man you should never cross.

This was a fun romp across early 20th Century Earth – taking in America, both World Wars, an expedition to Sri Lanka and eventually a retirement of sorts to Shangri-La in the Himalayas.

All sorts of famous faces pass through Crowley’s life and hijinks, making this at times a who’s who of the first half of last century.

I really enjoyed this and found it great fun, well written and very clever.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour, but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Her Last Promise – Kathryn Hughes*

Her Last Promise - Cover .jpg

Tara Richards was just a girl when she lost her mother. Years later when Tara receives a letter from a London solicitor its contents shake her to the core. Someone has left her a key to a safe deposit box. In the box lies an object that will change everything Tara thought she knew and lead her on a journey to deepest Spain in search of the answers that have haunted her for forty years.

Violet Skye regrets her decision to travel abroad leaving her young daughter behind. As the sun dips below the mountains, she reminds herself she is doing this for their future. Tonight, 4th June 1978, will be the start of a new life for them. This night will indeed change Violet’s destiny, in the most unexpected of ways…

Kathryn Hughes Author Pic .jpg

Kathryn Hughes was born in Altrincham, near Manchester. After completing a secretarial course, Kathryn met her husband and they married in Canada. For twenty-nine years they ran a business together, raised two children and travelled when they could to places such as India, Singapore, South Africa and New Zealand. Kathryn and her family now make their home in a village near Manchester. Her first novel, The Letter, was a Kindle Number One bestseller.

My thoughts:

This is the beach read of the summer – honestly the perfect book to accompany you on holiday. From cold windy Britain to the sweeping vistas of Spain, Tara’s journey to find out the truth of what became of her mother is gripping and takes you off on a journey. Which is what the author specialises in. I read her first book ‘The Letter’ and it does the same thing but doesn’t travel quite so far. ‘Her Last Promise’ is a love story – but not a conventional one, being between a mother and daughter. The characters are warmly written, I love Alf btw, and feel realistic, the story is one of those that when it ends you sigh and go ‘oh that was lovely’. Honestly stick a copy in your beach bag and you won’t even notice when the sun goes in. My mum’s borrowed my copy for her two weeks in Greece!

Her Last Promise BT Poster .jpg

*I was kindly gifted this copy in exchange for joining the blog tour, however all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Bright Steel – Miles Cameron*

Every war come down to the flash of bright steel.

Even when the air is full of magic . . .

Aranthur and his friends have come together across different continents and realms with one purpose: to strike back against the forces which have torn a hole in the heavens and threaten to tear the world beneath them apart as well.

With time running short, and treason at home, there are battles to be fought on the field, in the magical arena, and in the ever-deadly realm of politics, and they cannot fail anywhere or everything will fall. Victory will require enemies to trust one another, old foes to fight together, spies to reveal the truth and steadfast allies to betray long-corrupt rulers.

Is Aranthur, a twenty-year-old student, really the master strategist to bring it all together?And can he and his friends build enough trust to overcome aeons of lies when their plans inevitably fall to pieces?

Do they even know, for sure, who the enemy is . . . ?

Aranthur is a student. He showed a little magical talent, is studying at the local academy, and is nothing particularly special. Others are smarter. Others are more talented. Others are quicker to pick up techniques. But none of them are with him when he breaks his journey home for the holidays in an inn. None of them step in to help when a young woman is thrown off a passing stage coach into the deep snow at the side of the road. And none of them are drawn into a fight to protect her.
One of the others might have realised she was manipulating him all along . . .
A powerful story about beginnings, coming of age, and the way choosing to take one step towards violence can lead to a slippery and dangerous slope, this is an accomplished fantasy series driven by strong characters and fast-paced action.

Some are warriors, some captains; others tend to the fallen or feed the living.

But on the magic-drenched battlefield, information is the lifeblood of victory, and Aranthur is about to discover that carrying messages, scouting the enemy, keeping his nerve, and passing on orders is more dangerous, and more essential, then an inexperienced soldier could imagine . . . especially when everything starts to go wrong.

Battle has been joined – on the field, in the magical sphere, and in the ever-shifting political arena . . .

 

My thoughts:

This is not a series you can skip reading in order, otherwise it makes no sense. Aranthur and his friends work as Cold Iron – a secret ring of powerful people protecting the Empire from within. They’ve come through wars fought on battlefields and in boardrooms, councils and soldiers alike.

Now they must finally defeat the Pure, a quasi-religious organisation intent on taking over the world.

This is a cracking series, racing along as Aranthur is dragged deeper into the web of conspiracies and lies at the heart of both the Empire and the Pure cult; his friends are sometimes revealed to be more than they originally appeared and he learns a lot about trust and honesty as he goes along. Becoming more and more powerful and showing the people who mock him for his ethnicity and innocence, precisely why they shouldn’t.

This series may be fantasy but the truths about friendship and loyalty are universal themes that too often get lost in the clash of swords or the swirl of magic.

I think this series will appeal to fantasy fans of all types; there’s magic, mischief and battles within the pages, as well as firm friendships, love and passion.

 

Bright Steel blog tour graphic

 

*I was kindly gifted this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour, but all opinions remain my own.