Book Review

The Ghost of Ivy Barn – Mark Stay

Hot on the heels of The Crow Folk and Babes in the Wood comes the third book in Mark Stay’s wonderful Witches of Woodville series, The Ghost of Ivy Barn, and I am delighted to be joining the blog tour to celebrate its publication today. Many thanks to Mark and Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

August, 1940.

As the Battle of Britain rages overhead, a warlock leader from the Council of High Witches comes to Woodville with a ritual to repel the imminent Nazi invasion. The only catch is it involves full-frontal nudity on the White Cliffs of Dover. The Witches of Woodville are having none of it, but when more witches arrive they realise they might have a spy in their midst, and it’s up to Faye Bright to uncover the traitor. But she’s got enough on her plate already with the ghost of a Polish Hurricane pilot who may hold the key to the truth.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Waterstones

REVIEW:

Well, this is a series that just keep getting better and better. Whilst not as dark as Babes in the Wood, The Ghost of Ivy Barn is packed full of emotion and magical hijinks, making it an absolute joy to visit Woodville once again. Miss Charlotte and Mrs Teach are in fine fettle as the witchy double act return to continue Faye’s magical education, and it was a delight to witness the continuing romance between Faye and Bertie.

All my favourite characters from the previous books were present and correct, but this time they were joined by a few new faces – some of whom were more keen than others to complete their Nazi repelling ritual skyclad!

Whether it is down to the already delicate state I was in while reading, I can’t say, but there was more than one point towards the end of this book that brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye, so you might want to keep the tissues close by.

If you are new to Mr Stay’s work, please check out his unboxing videos on his Facebook page and sign up for his newsletter – you are in for a treat with both!

The Witches of Woodville is a series that never fails to put a smile on my face, and I look forward to future books!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. He is co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and has worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com

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Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in the tour for this magical book.

Book Review

Fantasy Short Stories – Suzanne Rogerson

I am delighted to be welcoming Suzanne Rogerson back to my blog today with a collection of short stories. If you aren’t familiar with Suzanne’s previous books, you can read all about them here and here.

BLURB:

A collection of short stories featuring favourite characters from Visions of Zarua and the Silent Sea Chronicles, plus a glimpse into the new series, Starlight Prophecy.

The Guardian

With an assassin picking off wizards one-by-one, Kalesh visits Cassima, a former student, hoping to persuade her to re-join the Royal Wizards and use their protection to keep her family safe.

Kalesh’s newest charge, Paddren, has strange visions which link to a past event known only to a select few. The knowledge hidden in Paddren’s visions is invaluable so Kalesh must guard the boy at any cost.

Can Kalesh keep his students off the assassin’s radar long enough for his order to stop the killer?

Garrick the Protector

Fifteen-year-old Garrick is helping at his uncle’s farm when his cousin’s illegal use of magic threatens the family’s safety.

Mara is in immediate danger from the Assembly who deem all magic as a threat. The only safe place for her is the Turrak Mountains where exiled mystics have found sanctuary alongside the island’s Sentinel.

Can Garrick get Mara to safety before the Assembly catch up with them?

War Wounds

Conscripted to fight off raiders, Calder finds the months of bloody battle unleash a sixth sense buried inside him.

Finally released from duty, he travels home and encounters a mysterious woman who insists his life is destined to serve a higher purpose. Calder rejects her claims, wanting only yo return to a simple existence with his wife.

But can Calder pick up his old life when the powers within him have been stirred? And why does he feel such misgivings about his return?

All three stories give readers a tantalising glimpse into the fantasy worlds created by Suzanne Rogerson.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase Link

REVIEW:

It has been a while since I first discovered Suzanne’s books, and honestly, I had forgotten just how great they are. Suzanne is a master world builder, and this collection of short stories featuring fascinating insights into much loved characters made me want to go back and read her entire back catalogue again.

Each story in this collection is just enough to whet your appetite for Suzanne’s full length novels. They are perfectly crafted stories in their own right, but I am sure you won’t be able to resist looking for more.

Consisting of short stories and excerpts from Visions of Zarua and the Lost Sentinel (plus an exciting sneaky peak at her new series), this book is the perfect introduction to Suzanne’s writing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her husband, two children and a crazy cocker spaniel.

Her writing journey began at the age of twelve when she completed her first novel. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave Suzanne the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Now an author of four novels including the Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy and her debut, Visions of Zarua, Suzanne hopes the dreaded ‘W’ word will never rear its ugly head again!

She loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

Suzanne collects books, is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles and old ruins whilst being immersed in the past. She likes to combine her love of nature and photography on family walks, but most of all she loves to escape with a great film, binge watch TV shows, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

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Book Review

The Write Balance – Bonni Goldberg

Happy Blog Blitz Day to Bonni Goldberg and The Write Balance. Many thanks to Bonni for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the blitz.

BLURB:

Bonni Goldberg’s The Write Balance introduces you to alternative perspectives and motivation for lasting creative fulfillment. This companion book to the beloved bestseller, Room toWrite is filled with encouragement, tools, examples and exercises.

Through years of teaching writing in workshops and in classrooms, Bonni has seen that the writers who are most passionate and grounded in their Writing Self embrace three aspects of the writing process: nurturing ideas, revising to best communicate those ideas, and completing the writing cycle by going public.

In this powerful guide, Bonni invites you to explore these creative stages which are essential to satisfying your Writing Self.

Use The Write Balance to:

  • Find Fulfillment as a Writer
  • Explore Creative Writing
  • Add to Your Writer’s Toolbox for Perspective
  • Overcome Writer’s Block
  • Teach Creative Writing
  • Inspire Your Writing Group
  • Give as Gifts to the Writers in Your Life

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase Link

REVIEW:

This book came into my life at a time when I had lost my way with writing. In fact it had been months since I had written a single word. The Write Balance helped me to reframe how I view my writing and reignited my passion for it. It almost felt as though the book gave me permission to enjoy writing and take the pressure off of myself.

While reading, I was struck with an idea for a new novel, in a different genre to my existing drafts, and I found that I was excited to get pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard) for the first time in a long time. As I work through this new project, I know I will be putting Bonni’s ideas and exercises into practice. I am very much at the percolating stage at the moment, but I can already see that the chapters on revisions and going public will be a great help to me.

The Write Balance is jam-packed with exercises and ideas. Not all of them will be for you, I am sure, but I am confident that there is something for every writer within the pages of this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bonni Goldberg is the author of The Write Balance: How to Embrace Percolation, Revision & Going Public, the companion book to the best-seller Room to Write: Daily Invitations to a Writer’s Life. Bonni is an award-winning poet and writer. She is the creator of the 2 Minute Journals™ series. Both traditionally and indie published, her books include non-fiction for adults and fiction and non-fiction for young readers. Her essays and blog posts can be found in numerous print and online publications.

Bonni teaches creative writing at colleges and leads writing workshops internationally for all ages. She knows everyone is creative, and she supports people to discover and share their authentic, meaningful and imaginative experiences through words. Whether through her writings or through teaching, her methods and perspectives continue to empower thousands of adults, families, and children.

Bonni is also a Jewish educator. She speaks, writes, and leads workshops on Jewish topics such as Jewish identity, rituals and antisemitism at Jewish women’s events, JCCs, and conferences. 

Bonni Goldberg lives in Portland, Oregon with her partner in life, and some creative projects, artist Geo Kendall.

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Book Review

Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl – Joya Goffney

Today I am joining the blog tour for Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl by Joya Goffney. Many thanks to Joya for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

Monique lives a perfect life as a preacher’s daughter, and girlfriend of the town’s golden boy. But its not that simple. She’s torn between her parents, who want her to remain their pure, virginal daughter, and her boyfriend, Dom, who wants to explore the more intimate side of their relationship.

Tired of waiting, Dom breaks up with Monique, spurring her to discover she has a medical condition that make her far from perfect. With the help of Sasha, an overly zealous church girl, and Reggie, the town’s bad boy, she concocts a plan to win Dom back. But along the way, she must face some home truths: maybe she shouldn’t be fixing her body to please a boy, maybe Sasha is the friend she needed all along and maybe Reggie isn’t so bad after all…

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase Link

REVIEW:

Everyone says that you should never judge a book by its cover, but when this pink and yellow wonder leapt off the web page at me, I just knew I needed to be a part of the tour. I mean, look at it – it is just too eye-catching to resist. Even better, the story nestled within the pages more than lived up to expectations. I would even go as far as to say that Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl has been one of my favourite reads so far in 2022.

Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl is a fantastic tale of unconditional love, empowerment, and learning to be comfortable in your own skin. It is the book I wish I could have read when I was Monique’s age and discovering who I was. The characters are vibrant, if flawed, and we see more than one of them grow as a person over the course of the book – and I don’t just mean the teenagers. Of all the characters, I defy anyone to resist the utterly charming Reggie. For me, it was love at first sight, and that love only grew as the story progressed.

Aside from all this brilliance, Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl also serves to raise awareness of a medical condition that could certainly do with more light being shone on it. I love that this is being highlighted to teenage girls in a way that gets the information to them at the same time as making it incredibly relatable. The sparkling dynamic between Reggie and Sasha prevents the subject from becoming too heavy or clinical, and adds some much needed humour to the situation.

By pure coincidence, the day that Rachel sent out the invites for this blog tour, I had also purchased Joya’s other book, Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. After reading Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl I can’t wait to read it, and I just know I will love it!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Joya Goffney grew up in New Waverly, a small town in East Texas. In high school, she challenged herself with to-do lists full of risk-taking items like ‘hug a random boy’ and ‘eat a cricket,’ which inspired her debut novel, Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. With a passion for Black social psychology, she moved out of the countryside to attend the University of Texas in Austin, where she still resides.

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Book Review

With This Kiss – Carrie Hope Fletcher

On this lovely Easter Sunday I am joining the blog tour for With This Kiss by Carrie Hope Fletcher. Many thanks to Carrie and HQ for inviting me to join the tour and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

When their lips touch, will she seal his fate?

From the outside, Lorelai is an ordinary young woman with a normal life. She loves reading, she works at the local cinema and she adores living with her best friend. But she carries a painful burden, something she’s kept hidden for years; whenever she kisses someone on the lips, she sees how they are going to die. But she’s never known if she’s seeing what was always meant to be, or if her kiss is the thing that decides their destiny. And so, she hasn’t kissed anyone since she was eighteen.

Then she meets Grayson. Sweet, clever, funny Grayson. And for the first time in years she yearns for a man’s kiss. But she can’t… or can she? And if she does, should she try to intervene and change what she sees?

Spellbinding, magical and utterly original, With This Kiss is one love story you will never forget.

PURCHASE LINK:

Amazon UK

REVIEW:

I have long been aware of the talents of Carrie Hope Fletcher, having watched her as Eponine in Les Miserables some years ago, but this is the first time I have read one of her books. As you will know, I am not a huge romance reader, but throw a bit of magical realism into the mix and I am sold!

Within just a few sentences of With This Kiss starting, I liked Lorelai and had the impression that we would be firm friends if she was real and we were to meet. I loved her friendship with Joanie, and would definitely want to be part of that little gang. And as for Grayson, well, he is just too adorable!

My heart broke for Lorelai as she struggled to understand her “superpower.” Her visions were described in such vivid detail that it wasn’t hard to imagine just how horrific it would actually be experience them.

I would perhaps like to have seen more of the book/movie club members and had the chance to get to know each of them a little more, but actually I was so engrossed in Lorelai’s troubles that I largely forgot about their existence.

With This Kiss is a beautiful story about love of all kinds and there is a wonderful warmth throughout it.

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Book Review

The Fatal Oath – Michael L Lewis

Today I am kicking off the blog tour for the latest instalment in the Oath series by Michael L Lewis, The Fatal Oath. Many thanks to Michael for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

1957. Blackleigh is an elite public school for boys in Yorkshire where prejudice and seething hatreds are never far below the surface. Violence erupts against any Junior who the Seniors deem unfit.

Jonathan Simon is 16, in his third year, and is self-conscious about being Jewish and having a birthmark on his cheek. He knows that: 1) The school code of conduct mandates no snitching, 2) The student Prefects, not the faculty, have absolute power to discipline and 3) Mr. Paul Wood, the temporary Headmaster, is weak and ineffectual.

Jonathan meets Bobby Stuart, an American transfer student, who is also worried about being accepted. Their friendship binds them together as they soon run afoul three ruthless and ambitious Seniors in the House; Gabriel, Murray and Hausman – also known by their fanatic followers as ‘The Black Armbands’.

As the pressure mounts, ambitions grow, friendships become closer and scheming increases. As for Jonathan, the year is only beginning…

PURCHASE LINKS:

Bookshop.org

Amazon UK

Waterstones

REVIEW:

Having read and enjoyed both The Oath and The Wicked Oath, I was keen to find out what Jonathan Simon’s third year at Blackleigh had in store for him. With the departure of many of his tormentors from previous years, surely this year would be a better one – or would it?

The arrival of new students at the school means new friendships for Jonathan, and with a potential new love interest, everything seems to be looking good for a positive year. However, ambitious students with their own agendas soon lead to a vicious power struggle. With the headmaster more than happy to leave discipline to the prefects and turning a blind eye to exactly what punishments are being dished out, Blackleigh quickly becomes a dangerous place to be for any student who doesn’t fit the ideal, with groups of vigilantes hunting down any “undesirable” student unlucky enough to be caught on their own.

Whilst the occurrences in the previous books were shocking enough, The Fatal Oath has an almost Lord of the Flies feel to it, with mob rule taking over, and an adult presence being almost entirely absent. As with the previous books, the actions of certain factions within the school make for uncomfortable but compelling reading.

New students, new prefects and a new headmaster combine with old grudges to make this year at Blackleigh the most dangerous yet.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael L. Lewis was born and raised in England. After preparatory school in London, he was educated at Stowe School, Buckingham. This is the third novel in the Oath series, taking readers on a journey through the lives of three dynamic schoolboys between the ages of 13 and 15, and the extraordinary triumphs and tragedies that they experience. Michael now lives in Los Angeles, California, has a law degree, and writes full-time. He was on the Board of Trustees for several schools and has been a member of the same book club for twenty-five years.

Michael says, “The books in the ‘Oath’ series are all inspired by my incredible experiences at a Boarding School in the North of England and on School Boards in Los Angeles. Each book in the series stands alone with totally separate main themes united by the exploration of prejudice, the unequal playing field in education, and the abuse of human rights. They will appeal to adults as well as young adults and are entirely set in an elite public school in Yorkshire.”

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Book Review

Anton Eine

Way back in 2019, I reviewed sci-fi short story The Cleansing by Ukrainian author Anton Eine (read my review HERE). Following from this, Anton also kindly gifted me copies of his other short stories, My New Superjob and Post-Molecular Comfort Food, which to my shame, I had not reviewed prior to today. In fact, somehow, they had totally slipped off of my radar until I saw Anton’s name mentioned in a newsletter from crime thriller writer Rachel McLean. Rachel’s newsletter directed me to the thought-provoking interview Anton gave on the podcast of writer Mark Dawson (watch HERE). After watching the interview, I knew that the very least I could do was share my reviews and generally shout about Anton’s books from the social media rooftops, so here goes!

MY NEW SUPERJOB

Blurb:

Have you ever wanted to be a superhero? The city’s defender against crime, violence, and all sorts of sicko nastiness?

When one day she stumbled upon a strange help wanted ad claiming that the city was looking for a superhero, Samantha Washington, a former Ranger commander, was sure it was a joke. She sent in a resume anyway.

Will the ad turn out to be somebody’s dumb idea of a prank, a practical stunt, a cunning maniac’s clever trap, or… a real opportunity leading to a difficult and dangerous future occupation?

Now that she has allowed herself be drawn inextricably into a whole chain of strange events, Samantha will have to figure it all out on her own. And she’ll have to do it face to face with her own deepest fears.

Review:

As with The Cleansing, Anton Eine approaches the writing of this short story in a slightly different format to the norm. Written largely as an interview between Samantha and the mysterious representative of her potential employer, My New Superjob is full of strikingly vivid images and raw emotions – in just a few pages, it feels like you really get under the skin of Samantha, getting to know her deepest thoughts and fears. In fact, it was a lot deeper and more emotional than I expected from the blurb and title, with Samantha’s experiences feeling particularly poignant given the current situation in the author’s home country. Samantha could be speaking for any one of the men and women fighting there for their freedom, or indeed any soldier in any country. My New Superjob is cleverly written and deeply insightful. I will definitely be picking up the next book in this series when it is released.

POST-MOLECULAR COMFORT FOOD

Blurb:

Public health warning! This story is likely to cause profuse salivation!
Read only on a full stomach!

Michael Turner, the most popular food blogger in the world, has been unable to get his life back on track ever since being overtaken in the ratings by new upstart food designer Amy Williams. And now he is faced with the daunting challenge of taking her on in the annual televised top chef competition and the ignominy of losing his long-held crown to her in front of an audience of millions.

A humorous science fiction tale of delightful dishes and culinary masterpieces that shatters our familiar notions about cooking and explores our relationship with food and each other. Are you still a bit hungry? Good, then dinner is served..!

Review:

Pay heed to the public health warning that comes with this book! I did not, instead reading it shortly after consuming my lunch of a well-known meal replacement milkshake. While that did not hit the spot, Post-Molecular Comfort Food certainly did. Although actually, perhaps my lunch choice was an apt one given the tale about to unfold. Who knew that food post-2038 was going to be so incredibly changed!

I really liked Michael and his indignance at being replaced at the top of the blogger charts by rustic, homespun recipes, but it was his young daughter Stacey who really captured my heart and made me chuckle. While My New Superjob was emotionally devastating, Post-Molecular Comfort Food was wonderfully heart-warming, and reading the two books back to back really served to show the range of Anton Eine’s talents.

I have just downloaded Anton’s short story collection, Human Kind, so keep your eye out for a review of that coming fairly shortly. In the meantime, you can find out more about Anton and his writing on his website and on Twitter.

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Book Review

Reading Challenge Update – March

After getting all caught up in the culinary delights of yesterday’s review, I am a little late with my end of month round up for March! It was a much slower month for me this time, especially in terms of ticking books off my challenge lists, so I only managed a small number of ticks!

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl

This is a powerful, raw book about the ability of the human mind to cope with whatever horrors come its way. This does mean that it is a book that needs to be read slowly, and also that I will be carrying it over again into April’s books.

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

For some reason I do particularly like books about absurdly rich Americans, and so this was the basis of choosing this as my book with a friendship theme. The Sinclair family appears to have it all but scratch the surface and there are a whole lot of brave faces being put on, all in the name of keeping up appearances. Summers on the family island seem idyllic but a dark undercurrent runs throughout this book, leading to a climax that I would never in a million years have seen coming.

The Custard Tart Cafe By The Sea by Isabella May

This was a late edition to my reading challenge. In fact, I was already reading before I realised it was the perfect fit for my “book by an author who uses a pseudonym. You can read my full review of this foodie delight HERE.

I did also start a book for my “book with a map in the front” but having abandoned that particular book, I now need to choose another one!

OTHER BOOKS READ THIS MONTH:

The Paris Apartment – Lucy Foley (Review coming soon)

The Summer We Forgot – Caroline George (Review coming soon)

Die Again – Tess Gerritsen

Dead Run – P.J. Tracy

The Cactus Surgeon: Using Nature to Fix a Faulty Brain – Hannah Powell (Read my review HERE)

I Know a Secret – Tess Gerritsen

Bard of the Borrows Volume II – Emma Miles (Review coming soon)

Nothing Burns As Bright As You – Ashley Woodfolk (Review coming soon)

The Vacation – John Marrs

In case you would like a reminder, here are the two challenges that I am following this year:

Book Review

The Custard Tart Cafe By The Sea – Isabella May

I am delighted to once again be kicking off the blog tour for a delicious Foodie Romance from Isabella May, as The Custard Tart Cafe By The Sea goes on tour today with Rachel’s Random Resources. Many thanks to Isabella for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

Willow has opened a custard tart cafe at the end of a popular English seaside pier. Her unique and magical spin on the Portuguese pastel de nata has customers queuing outside the door to taste them.

Tiago’s grandparents are purveyors of The Real Deal: authentic custard tarts made in the Algarve region of Portugal, where his family have been lovingly baking them for centuries. When he moves to England for a new job and chances upon Willow’s wondrous wares, he is out for war. At least that’s his intention. But when serendipity brings Willow and Tiago back together at the departures desk in Bristol airport – destination Faro – outrage isn’t the only spark that flies…

Weston-super-Mare and Portugal are about to collide!

PURCHASE LINK:

Order here!

REVIEW:

It’s no secret that Isabella May is one of my favourite authors, and she triumphs once more in the latest instalment of her Foodie Romance books. The conversational style of writing means that you are drawn straight in to Willow’s quirky personality making her as hard to resist as the custard confections she sells. Just the thought of the delicious pastéis de nata took me back to a fantastic girls weekend in Lisbon – the discovery of these little pastries being one of the highlights. Settling down to read this book on the first day of a diet was a seriously bad idea – I should know better by now with Isabella’s books!

Willow is supported by a cast of colourful characters, with Frank and Reggie being particular favourites of mine. I can just picture Frank sat at his regular table with a pile of custard tarts, and I loved his decision to pay it forward in tarts to the most deserving customers. As for Tiago, well, he is just as delicious as Willow’s custardy creations!

As well as tempting the taste-buds, Isabella May also likes to ignite the travel bug, this time whisking us away to sunny Portugal. Whilst my travels in this country have so far been limited to beautiful Lisbon, I found it so easy to picture the remote quinta Willow and her friends holidayed in, and the gorgeous sounding town of Tavira.

Although Isabella May’s Foodie Romances are not a series as such, regular readers of her books will notice that some characters have a tendency of popping up in other people’s stories. I love this little touch, and so was very happy to see a certain Bath-based gelateria getting a mention!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. She grew up in Somerset on Glastonbury’s ley lines and loves to feature her quirky English hometown in her stories.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children’s publishing… selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fuelled her curiosity and love of international food and travel – both feature extensively in her romcoms.

Isabella is also a Pranic Healer and a stillbirth mum.

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Book Review

The Cactus Surgeon: Using Nature to Fix a Faulty Brain – Hannah Powell

I have the honour today of joining the blog tour for The Cactus Surgeon by Hannah Powell. Many thanks to Hannah for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

Living in London, Hannah suffered burnout and was diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder. With no information available to help her, she found her own way to get better.

Growing up in a garden centre, her childhood was full of nature and plants. This was in stark contrast to the concrete of the capital, where she became unwell. In searching for the answers to her illness, she wonders whether being torn from her pot and replanted in a more hostile environment was the reason her body started to malfunction.

After seeking out alternative therapies, and moving to the countryside of North Essex, her ‘green recovery’ continued.

It’s a book of mindful moments, savouring the small wonders of nature.

REVIEW:

Well, I certainly got more than I bargained for with this book! I had expected a gentle book full of tips on mindfulness and the ways in which being outside can help improve mental health, and while it is that in part, it is also so very much more. The Cactus Surgeon is a raw, emotional read in which Hannah bravely lays herself and her struggles wide open. I can imagine that writing this book was incredibly cathartic. A lot of the emotions that Hannah experienced on the path to diagnosis and beyond really resonated with me, and I found reading about her experiences quite inspiring.

The Cactus Surgeon is a love story, both to Hannah’s family and the family business, and to the outside world as a whole. Beautiful photos separate each chapter and her lush descriptions of a huge variety of flora and fauna made me yearn for warmer weather, while her adventures in Australia and New Zealand ignited a long dormant travel bug.

The Cactus Surgeon was exactly the book I needed to read at this moment in my life, so thank you Hannah, so much, for sharing your story. I will be checking out many, if not all, of the books you recommend in bibliography.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hannah Powell (née Bourne) is Communications and HR Director for the Perrywood Garden Centres she runs with her dad and two brothers. When she was six years old, she wanted to be a cactus surgeon.

Before coming back into the family business, she had a successful career in PR and marketing, running high-profile campaigns for clients, including Barclaycard and Domino’s Pizza. She was part of the team that launched Global Entrepreneurship Week, an annual campaign to encourage young people to set up businesses worldwide.

She now lives in North Essex with her husband, daughter and many plants.

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