Review of Ka-E-RO-U – Time to Go Home – A beautifully written book about the repatriation of a flag, history, culture and love by B. Jeanne Shibahara #Time to Go Home #B.JeanneShibahara #Review #WW2 #Japan #UK #USA #History #Culture #ModernTimes #fiction #Mystery #Humour

KA-E-RO-U – Time to Go Home
by B. Jeanne Shibahara
Rated 4 stars ****

About the Author and Book

B. Jeanne Shibahara studied fiction writing from Mark Harris (Bang the Drum Slowly) B Jeanne Shibharaand copywriting from Beth Luey (Editorial Consultant, Chicago Manual of Style, 16thEd.) in the MA program for creative writing at Arizona State University.

In Japan, B. Jeanne has taught English at a private university, written articles for research groups, and created jazz lyrics for composer Hajime Kitamura.

Daughter of a US military officer, she married into a family of calligraphy, ikebana, and tea ceremony teachers, shamisen player, kimono fabric artist, business entrepreneur, and architect. Her home is in Nara City, the ancient capital of Japan.

Time-slip to my Osaka life, 1995, fifty years after the end of WWII—bubble economy ready to burst and the seed to KA-E-RO-U falls into my hands. A WWII Japanese flag. A widow of a US veteran in Akron, Ohio sends the flag to a colleague of mine, asks him to find the family of the fallen soldier who had carried it into the battlefields.
Please click on the website link for more information about the author and the very interesting backstory to the book.           Link:    Website

Meryl is a Vietnam War widow who misses her grown son, feels left out after her father’s recent marriage. A WWII Japanese flag falls into her hands. The gentle push of a love-struck professor starts her adventure to take the flag home. From the neon of Osaka, to the ancient capital Nara, to the forests of Akita, the trail follows British and US expats, a newspaper reporter, factory manager, ikebana teacher, a Matagi hunter and winds through Japanese culture, past and present. A story of shared humanity and love “in the simplest things.”

Kaerou

Review

The book is well organised and split into 6 sections – Desert Flower M, The Backstreets of Namba, Day 2 in Japan, To Meryl To Atika, Returns and Finale.

The opening sentence is  “Everybody who knew the secretary knew she couldn’t resist any chance at serving up beefy gossip—seasoned, well done, sizzling and sputtering the latest, the most titillating, the just-gotta-tell.” I must say, it is instantly intriguing and I wanted to know a bit more and it is written so excellently.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the book as a whole really, but I was intrigued enough to really want to read it. I started to enjoy it from the outset in the office and getting to know the characters. The letter interested me as do the Shakespearean quotes. I like that there is some humour mingled in with history and people’s lives.

Kaerou takes readers along with Meryl, who is a war widow from the Vietnam war, on a  journey to Japan. She discovered a Japanese flag of a fallen soldier from the second world war and wants to deliver it back to the family. She meets many interesting characters who I enjoyed reading about, including a professor and a writer. The book is very character driven. The premise of the actual plot is fine and interesting enough. Sometimes the grammar isn’t at its best, but somehow that doesn’t detract from the actual story and the richness in culture. It really is fascinating to read about the cultures and how they sit in people’s minds as the book isn’t just about Japan, it covers the UK, Vietnam and the US.

The scenery is beautifully written and picturesque.

The book is nicely written and it is interesting as there are some quick, short chapters, yet the pace is smooth and gentle. The way it goes between past and present is beautifully presented and flows well and in an unconfused way. With all the complexities of the book, everything marries up well on the whole, leaving a pleasant satisfaction.

The book is a love story and one of discovery. It is also one of history and how it can join up with the present as there is a journey to join up the flag of the fallen soldier with his family. It’s about moving on, but not without making peace first with what was lost in the war. It’s also about life ever-moving onwards and it’s there to be really lived and embraced and trying to overcome and bridge that which divides us. So, as much as this is Remembrance Sunday and we think of our war dead and the veterans who are still alive, this book is about love too and there is something to learn here as well, even though Japan wasn’t an ally nation. In this book readers can learn about the past and more present times of Japan through the characters that are written about.

I think B.Jeanne Shibahara has achieved what she set out to achieve. She has a book that has a story, great characters and I get the sense of most importantly, one that tells the world about Japan.

Overall, I recommend this book. Take a leap, take that chance and read about the familiar and the perhaps, lesser well-known and learn something from this story that, although is fictional, is based on fact. So, I recommend to try this book for something new. Sometimes we get into reading very similar books time and time again, this book brings something new, or if you like reading about people’s lives or family sagas even, or learning about different cultures and thoughts and feeling emotions and history in terms of where it also sits with the present,  then I would recommend Ke a rou. Bascially, I say give it a go for a pleasant, satisfying read.

I have to say I enjoyed reading the book. Thanks to B. Jeanne Shibahara for contacting me on my contact page on my blog and for giving me this amazing opportunity to review her book. I thank her also for buying me a copy of her book and sending it to me.

Bobby Girls by Johanna Bell @JoBellAuthor @HodderBooks @HodderPublicity @TeamBookends #TheBobbyGirls #strictlysagagirls #WW1 #HistoricalFiction #bookreview #readingforpleasure

Bobby Girls
By Johanna Bell
Rated:

About the Author

Johanna Bell cut her teeth on local newspapers in Essex, eventually branching ut into magazine journalism, with stints as a features editor and then commissioning editor at Full House magazine. She now has sixteen years’ experience in print media. Her freelance life has seen her working on juicy real-life stories for women’s weekly magazine market, as well as hard-hitting news stories for national newspapers and prepping her case studies for TV interviews. When she’s not writing, Johanna can be found walking her dog with her husband or playing peek-a-boo with her daughter.

Blurb

1914, while their men are fighting in France, at home in Britain, women are finally seizing the opportunity to make a difference.

Maggie and her new friends, Annie, Irene and Sarah come from very different backgrounds, but they’ve got one thing in common: They’ve all signed up for the Women Police Volunteers. They can’t wait to show the men just what they’re made of.

But soon Maggie realises she is in over her head. Hiding her involvement with the WPV from her tyrannous father is becoming ever more difficult, and when she bumps into an old acquaintance with a big chip on his shoulder, the dangers of her new life become all too clear…

As Maggie and the girls work together to find their feet on the beat, will their friendship get her through the darkest of times?

Bobby Girls cover

Review

A step back in time, when times were different, attitudes were different and there was the first world  war going on as well as a fight for the vote. Time to discover the Bobby Girls – the WPV – Women Police Volunteers.

First of all, make sure you read the letter to readers that Johanna has written. It provides a great insight as to why she wrote Bobby Girls and where her inspiration came from.

The prologue is ingeniously written to introduce the characters Maggie, Annie Sarah and Irene to readers and not only that, the characters to the advertisement from the police looking for female volunteers.

The author – Johanna Bell has certainly put in a lot of work and researched this period of time. Even with it being a fictional book, it is fascinating to read what the first female police volunteers (in the time before there were police officers), would have done.

I felt when Christmas came and there was hope that the war would be over, the emotions were wonderfully captured and the sympathy between friends was quite beautiful as loved ones were thought of.

I really like the characters and the way they interact throughout the story. Readers also will not only get an insight into the characters personal lives as they all come from different backgrounds and there are secrets and worries, but also as being bobby girls and their status within the force and their powers, or lack of to arrest. It is all very well written and flows well.

Make sure you keep reading past the acknowledgements as there is a fascinating insight given, complete with photos of the real Bobby Girls. I thought this added to the just read story and was lovely to acknowledge them in this way.

The second book in the series – The Bobby Girls’ Secrets is available for pre-order in both paperback and e-book. I recommend you treat yourselves to these. The first book in the series – The Bobby Girls gets the series off to a great start and it is pleasing it doesn’t end there.

With thanks to Johanna Bell and Hodder & Stoughton for agreeing I could review the book – Bobby Girls

Bloody Scotland – Mark Billingham and Richard Osman – 2 Entertaining, Warm Authors – 5 Star Review @MarkBillingham @Richardosman #TheirLittleSecret #BloodyScotland #Pointless

Bloody Scotland
Mark Billingham in Conversation with Richard Osman
Rated: 5 Stars *****

The weather was warm and sunny on Saturday 21st September 2019 when I attended Bloody Scotland in Stirling. One of the greatest crime festivals, which also showcases new authors as well as the well-known ones. I was in for an amazing night and as my blog turned 1 year old, it was lovely to be able to be back at Bloody Scotland, where I wrote my first blog post.

I went to see Richard Osman and Mark Billingham in conversation. First up was Daniel James for the spotlight section, which gives new authors a chance to talk about their books and read an excerpt. First impressions were that his book – The unauthorised biography of Ezra Mass sounds intriguing and dark.

The main event was Richard Osman and Mark Billingham in conversation with each other. If you ever get a chance to see these two, go for it. You’ll be in for a highly entertaining time and they are both warm and very kind. What I liked too was the way they both seemed to have genuine respect for each other, even when they were ribbing each other about things, but it all seemed to be in good humour,the way that could only be done if someone knew each other well. It was a lovely atmosphere.

Richard Osman, who has produced many popular tv shows, such as 8 out of 10 Cats etc, presents quizzes and been a panelist on shows such as Have I Got News For You etc and can currently be seen presenting Pointless alongside Alexander Armstrong. He has a new fictional book called The Thursday Murder Club. Be aware that it amazingly isn’t published until September 2020. I felt very privileged to be part of an audience to hear so much about it, so far in advance. It is set in an enclosed retirement type of place with the main characters being in a gang of 4 in their 70s and because they are of an age they can get away with practically anything.  It was described  as having a cosy setting but very funny, moving and razor-sharp. Mark Billingham praised Richard Osman about how readers will get to know the characters quickly and of them being likeable. They talked about how there isn’t much police procedural but lots of cakes feature. I quickly decided that this is a book that I would like very much to read and would be happy to review. It seems to have an interesting premise and good “ingredients” to it.

It was so interesting hearing about how Richard Osman has always been a fan of crime fiction and how he always wanted to write and how he and Mark Billingham got together and about a lunch. It sounded like a great lunch, full of amazing opportunity.

It was fascinating to hear about the huge gap between writing and having a book published and on shelves and the public reading it and how with tv, the reaction is more instant. It wasn’t anything I’d ever heard authors talk about at events. There seemed to be great honesty spoken of. Other authors of course talk honestly too, but sometimes of different things. They spoke well and so openly about how authors, whether they are new or been writing for a while have some self-doubt and how so many wonder if their work is actually un-publishable. This wasn’t spoken of in a negative light as people may have expected, rather in a more positive one in some ways.

As for books, Richard Osman admitted that he didn’t read a book until 21. Just shows that no one is too old to pick up a book and start reading. He also talked about how contemporary fiction led to crime fiction and about writing something that is commercial.

Mark Billingham’s latest book is Their Little Secret. Already, it’s an intriguing title.

Tom Thorne is the award-winning Mark Billingham’s main  character and this is the 17th in the series. He has also written short stories, stand alone stories and a non-fiction book. He, alongside crime authors such as Val McDermid, is a member of the singing group – Fun Lovin Writers.

Richard Osman said of it that it was extraordinary how he moves the characters on and also praised about how it was detailed and modern. The interesting thing here was that Mark Billingham talked about the twists and all the other tricks and armour up crime writer’s sleeves, but reckoned the quieter moments were exciting too.

How they plan was discussed. The fact is they don’t really plan, compared to other authors. Everyone is different, which is exciting. It was interesting to hear of the challenges posed when that debut novel is out there and the second novel is being created and the differences between that and furthering a series, as well as reflecting what is going on in the world, especially if something major happens.

Mark Billingham spoke of where he got his inspiration from and so did Richard Osman and I won’t say what it is as the material that could be used in many talks, but there was a moment when Mark was telling of something extraordinary happening that really made me shudder and I am sure I wasn’t the only one to in the audience.

They both spoke of their love of creating books and it became clear that this was genuine by the way they spoke. Richard Osman talked about how he loves being a sidekick on the likes of Pointless but also loves the solitude of writing and of being part of the crime writing community and how lovely people are. I have to say that I too have found that authors are lovely and it was at Bloody Scotland a year ago when I started my blog and then went to another crime festival from there and even though they write about murder etc, the authors, I have found to be generous and very nice indeed.

It was interesting seeing their personalities being totally shown and hearing how hard they work and how pressures often come from themselves. Something I too can relate to. I often think that if you’re going to do something, you might as well try to do it to the best of your ability. Richard Osman also spoke candidly of being an introvert. I think he does amazingly well and it is inspiring how he still puts himself out there to do something, like being on the stage to do this talk or on tv. Sometimes it is just something that has to be done to acheive something, again something else relatable. 

Richard Osman is now working on his second novel, which he spoke a little of and I am already interested in what may happen to his characters and the first book isn’t even available yet. A whole year to wait! I’ll just need to try and be patient. Mark Billingham is working on a prequel to his series. At least there’s already one of his to be getting on with.

There was much fun to be had with a game of guessing author’s ages and it was Mark Billingham v the audience. All the way through the event there was much fun to be had as these men are sharp and are great at the humour as well as the serious and mix it up so well.

All in all I am looking forward to reading Mark Billingham’s book, who I thank for signing and writing such an encouraging message. I look forward to Richard Osman’s book being released and I hope he returns to Bloody Scotland when it is. I also thank Richard Osman for allowing me to talk to him briefly. I thank the two of them for such an excellent evening.

So, I will conclude in saying thanks and that I highly recommend to anyone to see these kind, talented and warm gentlemen and I hope that I get the opportunity to see them again. I also hope Bloody Scotland invites Richard Osman back when his book is actually published.

Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew with Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi – Re-visit your childhood with this enlightening book about Rainbow #ZippyAndMe @Punchand @unbounders #DuncanBarrett #NualaCalvi #Rainbow #retrotv #newreview #nonfiction #puppeteers

Zippy and Me
By Ronnie Le Drew with Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi
Rated: *****

I am pleased to be on the Blog Tour of the book Zippy and me. This book is the first behind-the-scenes look at the now legendary children’s TV programme Rainbow, which ran for more than two decades.

Zippy and Me BT Poster

About the Author

Ronnie Le Drew is one of the UK’s most respected puppeteers, and recipient of the prestigious Harlequin Award.
He has operated many of the most iconic children’s puppets of the twentieth century – Zippy, Sweep, Muffin the Mule, Bill and Ben, Brains from Thunderbirds – as well as working on classic puppet films such as Labyrinth, Little Shop of Horrors and
The Muppet Christmas Carol. He continues to work regularly as a puppeteer in TV,
theatre and advertising and also teaches at the London School of Puppetry, which he founded in 1987.

Ronnie Le Drew

Blurb

Over the course of almost half a century, puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew has worked with the greats – from David Bowie in Labyrinth to Michael Caine in A Muppet Christmas Carol. But the role that defined his career was Rainbow’s Zippy, who he operated for more than twenty years.
Zippy and Me is the first time a Rainbow insider has told the true story of what went on under the counter and inside the suits: the petty squabbles between performers, wrangling with TV executives, and scandals such as the ‘love triangle’ between musicians Rod, Jane and Freddy. Not to mention the now infamous X-rated episode shot for an ITV Christmas party, which subsequently found its way to the Sun.
Interweaved with the dirt on what really went on behind the scenes is the story of Rainbow’s heyday in the 1970s and 80s, when its stars found themselves catapulted into an exciting showbiz world – scooping a BAFTA award and even performing for the queen – and the story of a young lad from a south London council estate who defied his parents’ protests to became one of the most respected puppeteers of all time.

zippy cover

 

Review

The book has an entertaining foreword by comedian Richard Herring about the time when he met Zippy and was so in awe. It’s an excellent way to begin this book and thus being thrust back into the rather simpler life of early childhood of watching Rainbow. Rainbow, for anyone who does not know, was a long-running children’s tv series with Geoffrey at the helm and then there were Rod, Jane and Freddy and some puppets called Zippy, Bungle and George. How I was glued to the television when this was on. I even still remember the theme tune, later I learnt that the theme tune was worked on by none other than Hugh Fraser who played Captain Hastings in Poirot and other tv programmes and has also written books. What we would not have been aware of as children, was that Ronnie Le Drew was the puppeteer for Zippy for over 20 years. It defined his career as a puppeteer, but that wasn’t his only role. Yes, Rainbow was a very fun and cool programme. but he has also worked with some other very cool people such as David Bowie on the film Labyrinth and Michael Caine in the film – A Muppet’s Christmas Carol.

Ronnie Le Drew’s enthusiasm for puppeteering comes across from the very first chapter. It oozes with this positivity and energy as he writes letters for advice and attends a puppet theatre. It isn’t all plain sailing though. The writing means readers will really get the sense of the shock of his dad dying. This has real emotional impact and will do, with any reader. It really is heart breaking to read as home life becomes more of a struggle. This could not have been easy for Ronnie Le Drew to have written and re-lived, even all these years on. There’s a real sense to be had in the devastating loss of his job at Little Angel too. The one place he could go that seems like it felt a safe place and one, he describes as a place of solace. The writing of this time feels like it is heartfelt. Ronnie Le Drew has captured me as a reader. I am interested in his life. I feel like I care and care enough to really smile when I see his life start to change for the better, the more into the book. This is the power of his writing. The book has become, for me, at this point, more than just the fact it is really cool to read about Rainbow. I’ve been captured by every aspect before that job too, headed up by Pamela Lonsdale. It is fascinating to read how it all began and how Ronnie Le Drew landed the job. There’s an air of down-to-earthness about it all. I rather like that. Still, the puppeteer, when Rainbow wasn’t being filmed, due to the end of series one, he went back to where he began, at Little Angel, where there were spats, but rectified. I really got the sense that Rainbow excited him when the calls came for even the second series, but he wanted to play it coolly and professionally. There’s plenty to discover in this book, such as Matthew Corbett from the Sooty Show, as worked on Rainbow for a while and Le Drew began working as Sweep and there’s some great stories from this time too.
There’s a real sense of the physical demands on a puppeteer, which really might be overlooked when being a child especially, just watching on at favourite characters. So, there’s a real behind the scenes feel to what is written within the book. What appeared to be seamless, wasn’t the case at all. It is however, more interesting that the puppeteers were overlooked by the producers. The real frustration of this really comes out in the book. It gives readers a real insight. There’s also an insight into all the innuendo that went on within Rainbow, including in script form. There’s also an insight about the relationships and there’s a sense of real worry again from Ronnie Le Drew when so-called scandals came out about Rod and Jane. All the while, there is still a down-to-earthness about Ronnie Le Drew and how he saw his working life being a bit surreal.

It is interesting to read how doors opened into the more surreal world of American puppetry and films like Labyrinth and Little Shop of Horrors and yet he duly returned to Rainbow and also to the Little Angel Theatre. I get the sense it can’t have been easy re-living the splintering of Rainbow and also the failing health of John at the theatre. This however is far from a “poor me, sob story”. This, I get the feeling, is telling it how it really was, including the politics of the time, such as Margaret Thatcher (which now explains a lot about tv my brother and I watched growing up, suddenly disappearing, along with a lot of other things, that at that time just felt odd, but didn’t understand), was ensuring much was axed, something that even with the fact that the next job was on A Muppet’s Christmas Carol, still perhaps played on Ronnie Le Drew’s mind. There’s certainly a sense of this. Even though he worked with David Bowie and Jim Henson, there’s still a reality that always seems to kick in as Ronnie Le Drew seems surprised at getting roles. I have to say, it seems all quite endearing and I get the sense that this is all written from memories and the heart. There’s no bravado here. He doesn’t name-drop for the sake of it, it was a huge part of his life, working with, who we now would say were cool people.

It’s interesting to read about the move to Yorkshire and the feelings that came with that and failed revivals of Rainbow and how still other jobs came in, such as with Phillip Scholfield and then Rainbow again in a whole different format.

The book is full of ups and downs and many emotions, all captured beautifully in words on the pages. It isn’t just readable because of nostalgia and a natural curiosity about what happened to people who worked on Rainbow, but because of the sense that this is an ordinary man who did some extraordinary things within puppeteering and yet seems humble about it. This book is well set out and reads like a time-line of events and that works well for me. This is more than just Zippy and Ronnie Le Drew, this is a book that may inspire others who are in jobs that are precarious and indeed, into becoming puppeteers. It’s also a book about life, working relationships, family and all that comes with all of that. There’s warmth, there’s sadness and there’s fun within these pages. There’s revelations and reunions, none which seem sensationalised in any way, but are written with a dignity and in a matter of fact way. All in all, it is a brave and impressive book from an author who, we may not have all known his name, but who we were all so aware of as children and now also as adults because he has been working on modern puppets in advertising and other things that we all see. He has also never forgotten his roots. This is a fascinating read from someone who the public don’t really see, but all know the characters he has played in puppeteering and would give hope to anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps. Even for people not wanting to follow in his footsteps, it is absorbing and a book that shouldn’t be skimmed over. It has different levels of depth and emotion to it and it is interesting to read about all the comings and goings on Rainbow, but also what happened before and after the show ended.

I highly recommend this book. This book would interest anyone who has an interest in puppeteering or liked Rainbow or liked Seeing Things: A Memoir by Oliver Postgate, Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones.

 

The Hangry Hamster by Grace McCluskey A short, action-packed book to engage and excite. #GraceMcCluskey #seansteele #damagedproductions #hamsters #education #kidslit #libraries #bookshops

The Hangry Hamster
By Grace McCluskey
Rated: ****

About the Author

The author Grace McCluskey is not your average author by any means. She wrote The Hangry Hamster, aged 8 years old. She is now a little older than this, but still somewhere between that childhood and young-adult stage in life. The story was originally written for the 500 word competition ran by Radio 2. She did not win and naturally became disappointed. She, however did not give-up entirely and with going through all the usual editing processes etc, illustrator Sean Steele got on board and the book was published this summer and is already doing well.

Image may contain: text

Review

Today on my blog, I am delighted to present a review of The Hangry Hamster. I had the privilege of reading the Hangry Hamster pre-publication and knew as soon as I saw it, there was something really good and exciting  about it. I am happy to say I have been proven right and it has now been published with success.

The story introduces readers to Billy who wants a hamster and the fun the two of them have to of them have as they go everywhere together. That is until the hamster can’t go on a plane when Billy is going on a holiday abroad with his family. The hamster then goes on the run through London like no hamster has ever before and it turns out to be quite an adventure and readers will really see what happens when a hamster becomes hangry.

The front cover is brilliantly executed of a huge hamster towering over some famous London landmarks. It’s bright, fun and eye-catching. As an adult who works with every age, this is a book that excites me for children. The story is packed full of action, humour and the relationship between human and pet. The illustrations are brilliantly conceived and go along with the story incredibly well and the story really becomes alive.

I also really like this concept of bonding with a pet and becoming inseparable. The shift in pace works really well when the hamster becomes “hangry”. 
The illustrations are brilliantly conceived and go along with the story incredibly well and the story really becomes alive.

It’s great for a range of children, such as those who like to be read to, readers who are competent readers and enjoy reading alone, readers who are perhaps a bit reluctant. It’s short at 24 pages and there are illustrations on each page as well as a well constructed story.

This is a new story to really become excited about for children and would be an excellent addition to any library, and on your own shelves and is already in bookshops and selling fast. So, give new authors a chance and give this book a try. I reckon your child(ren) won’t be left disappointed. Even if you find it to be sold-out, I would still recommend you put in your request so you have a copy when it is back in stock.

Blog Tour Review For Start – A Seeringly Honest Account About Life With A Mental Health #Review #GrahamMorgan @FledglingPress #LoveBooksGroupTours

Review of Start
Graham Morgan MBE
Rated 4 Stars ****

About the Author

Graham was born in 1963 in York. He went to university as an angst-ridden student and was quickly admitted to one of the old mental asylums, prompting the work he has done for most of his life: helping people with mental illness speak up about their lives and their rights. He has mainly worked in Scotland, where he has lived for the last thirty years, twenty of them in the Highlands. In the course of this work he has been awarded an MBE, made Joint Service User Contributor of the Year by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and, lately, has spoken at the UN abouthis and other peoples’ experiences of detention. He has a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and has been compulsorily treated under a CTO for the last ten years. He currently lives in Argyll with his partner and her young twins. Start is his first book.

Blurb

StartGraham Morgan has an MBE for services to mental health, and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is the Act under which he is now detained.
Graham’s story addresses key issues around mental illness, a topic which is very much in the public sphere at the moment. However, it addresses mental illness from a perspective that is not heard frequently: that of those whose illness is so severe that they are subject to the Mental Health Act.
Graham’s is a positive story rooted in the natural world that Graham values greatly, which shows that, even with considerable barriers, people can work and lead responsible and independent lives; albeit with support from friends and mental health professionals. Graham does not gloss over or glamorise mental illness, instead he tries to show, despite the devastating impact mental illness can have both on those with the illness and those that are close to them, that people can live full and positive lives. A final chapter, bringing the reader up to date some years after Graham has been detained again, shows him living a fulfilling and productive life with his new family, coping with the symptoms that he still struggles to accept are an illness, and preparing to address the United Nations later in the year in his new role working with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.  

Review

At a time when Mental Wellbeing is increasingly on everyone’s radar, the book ‘Start’ by Graham Morgan (MBE) has an important place, more than ever before. Graham Morgan (MBE) has experience and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is literally a book that can be read by any adult. It is highly accessible. You don’t even have have a mental health condition or be in the professional field to be able to read it, understand it and find relatable nuggets that will fill you with empathy and give a deeper undestanding. Don’t be mistaken, this is no sob story, nor is it attention seeking. It’s deeper and more meaningful than that and it gives the impression that it couldn’t have been easy to write, but all the same, that Graham Morgan (MBE) is sharing his life with readers to deepen their understanding and increase their knowledge on his condition as presents is a full account of what it is like to live with mental illness. It is his own life experiences.

Graham Morgan comes across very quickly as a grounded guy when it comes to his MBE. This book is not a text book, so isn’t too full of jargon. Where that cannot be helped, there is a well-presented glossary at the back of the book.

The book begins with thoughts other people have had about the book. They are worth reading. They add interest. Start, begins properly with Life at the Links Cafe. This is different from so many books about Mental Health. It’s not a How to Book.
Right from the outset there is an air of positivity about it, almost a lightness, that I must admit was unexpected, but I like that attitude within it. It shows that life is not all anguish and woe, even when living with mental illness. Okay, it’s not all wit, but life isn’t, as I am sure readers the world over already know.

Throughout the book, the reader is given a real and genuine candid glimpse of what it is like to be walking in his shoes. It’s got so much life about it. He puts across his condition very well. It’s so easy to read and feel genuine empathy. There’s a seering truth that runs deeply through the pages as we see Graham picking up the pieces. The book goes between the light and the deepest depths of darkness throughout as he talks of some of the good things about life, but also about being sectioned under the very mental health act he helped to write.

It’s thought-provoking as we see the contraditions of thought processes that run through his life on a regular basis. It is raw with stark emotional threads. Graham Morgan does not shy away from anything about his mental illness. This also includes hospitalisations, support workers, psychiatric professionals, medication too. It also includes a bit of an insight in how he is treated because he has a mental illness.

I love the style of writing. Graham has adopted the more personal approach of  speaking directly to his reader. This matters to him and he wants the reader to know that, and through the book, wants that dialogue.

We see insights to the relationship with his wife and how he might be with someone again.

We see how he has had suicidal tendencies through self-harm methods.

This book is ever so moving. This is a book which has hope contained within it that there is still, even through all the mental illness that Graham Morgan lives in, that there is hope in the future and there is life that he is living.

 The book goes through the consecutive months of the year with their own appropriately named “chapters”.

It is worth reading. It is Graham Morgan (MBE) life story and it is an important one. One perhaps many people do not know with so much honesty and openness. It leaves its mark. It left me feeling enlightened, interested and perhaps a bit more understanding. We are all human-beings with so many complexities within our make-up and life is not all black and white. It’s not all going to be sad or hard like it’s not all going to be completely happy and joyous every moment of everyday of it. This book shows all of that and more through first hand experience, which makes it such an important read, even if it is not your usual genre or topic.

Start Blog Tour Poster

With thanks to Love Book Groups Tours for inviting me to review this book for a Book Blog Tour and for supplying the E-Book. Please note readers, you can buy this book in both physical and E-book forms.

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Title: Start
Author: Graham Morgan, MBE
Publisher: Fledgling Press
Print ISBN 9781912280070
eBook ISBN 9781912280087
Main Purchase Points: WH Smith, Amazon, Foyles Bookstore