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.


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.


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.


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.






Don’t forget to visit the other blogs on the tour!

Book Review

BElieve in YOUrself (BE YOU) – Lexi Rees & Sasha Mullen

I am welcoming a familiar face back to my blog today as I join the blog tour for BElieve in YOUrself (BE YOU) by Lexi Rees. Many thanks Lexi 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.


Want your child to be more focused, feel calmer, and increase their self-belief?

This unique activity book is packed with fun, creative tasks, plus a wide variety of mindfulness strategies including

✓ visualisation exercises

✓ breathing techniques

✓ mindful arts and crafts 

✓ games to improve focus and concentration 

✓ mind and body detective skills

Written by primary school teacher and founder of Mindful Mentors, Sasha Mullen, and best-selling author and tutor, Lexi Rees, this fully illustrated activity book provides children with the essential tools to be their best selves, every single day.


Amazon UK

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Win 3 signed copies of BElieve in YOUrself (BE YOU), UK only



BElieve in YOUrself (BE YOU) is another great activity book from Lexi Rees, and a very timely release coming off the back of an incredibly anxious time for everyone, but perhaps particularly so for children who couldn’t fully process what was happening and why life had changed beyond all recognition. It is also perfectly timed for the summer holidays, and I am looking forward to sharing this book with my friend’s little boys.

Written in accessible language without being patronising, the bold print and illustrations make this a really appealing book, and I loved the colouring pages – I have lots of adult colouring books and find them to be a great mindfulness tool, and I am sure kids will have a lot of fun filling in these pages.

The step-by-step toolkit is fantastic and will be a great aid to making children more able to deal with whatever life throws at them – in fact, I will be adding some of the tips to my own mindfulness toolkit. I particularly liked the breathing exercises, and the fortune teller is a clever take on a game I remember from my own childhood. I am very tempted to make my own lava lamp and kaleidoscope after reading the great, straightforward instructions for these projects.

BElieve in YOUrself (BE YOU) is a really powerful book, and one that I highly recommend. It is quite simply bursting with information and activities to empower children and help them to be comfortable in their own skin.


Lorraine-16Lexi Rees was born in Scotland but now lives down south. She writes action-packed adventures brim full of witch-doctors, fortune-tellers, warriors and smugglers, combining elemental magic with hints of dystopia. She also writes fun activity books for children. 

Her fantasy adventure, Eternal Seas, was awarded a “loved by” badge from LoveReading4Kids. The sequel, Wild Sky, is available now. 

She’s passionate about developing a love of reading and writing in children and, as well as her Creative Writing Skills workbook, she has an active programme of school visits and other events, is a Book PenPal for three primary schools, and runs a free online #kidsclub and newsletter which includes book recommendations and creative writing activities.

In her spare time, she’s a keen crafter and spends a considerable amount of time trying not to fall off horses or boats.








Sasha Mullen-20Sasha has always had a passion for adventure. Be it experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of far flung continents to exploring her hometown of West London. Letting her senses guide her head or heart, she has utilised her personal experiences to gather a kaleidoscope of skills. How to embrace a teaching role in New York- a city so vast and vibrant, how to cope with grief, transition into motherhood. A teacher in primary schools since 2010 has enabled her to see the need for incorporating Mindfulness practice into everyday education. When Sasha is not teaching or enjoying her family or socialising with friends, she is taking an exercise class, and is particularly fond of the child’s pose in yoga, when she can happily have a power snooze!






Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part in the tour!

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Words of Alchemy – Camilla Downs (Part Two)

Following my post earlier this month about Camilla Downs’ collection of poetry, Words of Alchemy, today I have the honour of sharing another poem from the book with you. The following is a Renga poem written by Team TLC (Camilla and her two children). Thomas Darnell wrote the first stanza, Lillian Darnell the second, and Camilla wrote the third. They rotated in that order until the completion of the poem.

You can find out all about Camilla and her work on my previous post, here.

Photo #9 Words of Alchemy Thanksgiving 2018 Team TLC 11.22.18
Love is Magical
Cows are loud and can moo
sometimes they say,
I love you!
Cows have milk,
and cows eat grass.
You are surrounded by love
every breath you take is love
You are love
Guinea pigs wheek and guinea pigs meek,
lovey dovey guinea piggy moo!
Love is the butterfly
gracefully it flies
magical is its color
Love is magical
the alchemy of peace.
Airplanes flying
through the air
fun galore!
How beautiful the bird flies,
as the wind.
Love is the tree
Love is the flower
Love is the silence.
Flowers blossom
pollen falls.
Rainbow is the sky
Rainbow is the water
Rainbow is the colors of the earth.
Nature is love
Nature knows how to be.
Team TLC
always kind
always thinking.
Kindness is always there
Kindness is like friendship
A wise man
is kind to the kind
and kind to the unkind
A wise man
under a tree
Blue bird flies to Alaska
Red bird flies to Hawaii
White bird flies to Australia
The magical hummingbird
arrives on a warm summer day
best food ever
try some
Most delicious food ever
Mindful eating
Mindful living
The way of peace and happiness
Eating is fun
and yummy
Apple trees grow with sunshine
Butterflies grow with food
Cake gets eaten fast or slow.
Beings, trees, and insects
We are all one love.
Words of Alchemy - Pre-Order November 2019 copy
Guest Posts

Words of Alchemy – Camilla Downs

I am delighted to welcome Camilla Downs to my blog today to tell us all about her book of poetry, Words of Alchemy, and to share one of her poems with us. Thank you so much Camilla for taking the time to talk to us, and for sharing your work.

Words of Alchemy - Pre-Order November 2019 copy

Thank you Mai, for having me as a guest on your lovely blog. I deeply appreciate your time and effort.

My latest book, Words of Alchemy, is a culmination of a six year journey. A journey of turning into my writing, of a solid walking practice, a journey of going within, a journey of travelling to the past, a journey of living, and of healing.

Six years ago I wrote my first free-verse poem. This continued through to the publication of Words of Alchemy. I’m currently taking a break from writing, a break from the intensity of the past thirteen years. I reached the tipping point of my healing journey in the beginning of 2020. On the other side of it now, I can look back and see that it was one hell of a ride. Thirteen years of going within, excavating, confronting, feeling, feeling, feeling, and getting to know myself.

I share this to convey how much writing was a vital component of my healing. All that was written, all that I write, is from my experiences. I openly share with others as I know I am not the only one with these experiences, these feelings, similar journeys. It is my hope that everyone who is inclined, make time to write. I’m not speaking of becoming a published author, simply writing for the benefit of it, getting things out of one’s mind, giving oneself a bit of peace.

I’d like to share a poem from the book.


And out of the darkness

We shall emerge

A darkness that

Has been necessary.


A vital and pivotal point

Of confronting the

Shadows within.


For to have more

Than brief glimpses

Of the light,

This acceptance, forgiveness,

And dissolution of shadows

Must be met.


As what awaits is

The eternity of light and love,

Ever there, ever lovingly

And patiently waiting

To welcome us home

In Words of Alchemy, Camilla Downs invites you to walk with her to share her love of Nature and Life through a heartfelt free-verse poetry memoir.

During her daily strolls she is mindfully present as she delves into life in the raw and experiences her heart’s observations.

Camilla embraces what happens when she opens her heart and invites the written words to flow. The Alchemy of Love and Healing is what happens.


Photo #1 Words of Alchemy Wilbur May Arboretum Rancho San Rafael Lillian and Camilla 5.2.19 #3 camilla selfieCamilla Downs is a bestselling author, indie publisher, mentor, and mom. Nature and life experiences are a constant source of inspiration for her writing. She enjoys living a minimalist lifestyle, practicing meditation and mindfulness, reading, going for walks, and capturing nature’s essence with photographs. Camilla is the founder of and lives in Northern Nevada, USA with her two kids.




Camilla has kindly agreed to let me share a couple more poems from Words of Alchemy with you and I will also be sharing my thoughts on this book in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for those posts.