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

 

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My Christmas Go To Books – A small collection that will inspire you to get into the mood for Christmas.

Quick Reviews of:
A Christmas Carol 

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World
An Almost Perfect Christmas
Fill My Stocking

Xmas Reads

There are always Christmas books around, old and new. New ones can be fun and exciting to see what is inside their warm or jazzy covers. Older ones can be comforting and have that lovely well-read feel.

I have what I will call my “Go to Books for Christmas”. I know some of them better than others, due to age, but nevertheless, they are well-read. One in fact, I only received last year and it was a delight and one I just know I shall be returning to slip in-between the pages again this year.
Today on the blog, I present you quick reviews of 4 excellent books for Christmas.

A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
Rating 5 stars *****

 

Christmas Carol

It’s a well-known film, remade many times with many different actors in many different styles straight versions, a musical version and even a version with muppets. Some tv versions and films that are very modernised with really just the themes being left in. There’s much to choose from, but how many of you have actually read the book, I wonder? Now, it’s not actually anywhere near as thick as the book I have shown here. That book is actually 4 books in one. At only between 50 and a little over 100 (depending on the size of the pages of the copy of your book, it is a fairly quick read, but it will set you up nicely for Christmas. There’s the comfort within it that the story is well-known and yet it is one of those stories that can be read over again. After all Christmas only comes once a year. It is also very interesting to see what they miss out and what they include in the various films.
A man who lives by his name of Ebenezer Scrooge, ghosts that come to visit him in the night to try to change him and an epic ending. What’s not to like? So, if you’ve never given this a try, then it is worth every minute of time on it.

I will add here that you can buy the book The Christmas Carol on its own. For those of you who are interested. The particular book in the picture happens to contain: Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Hard Times. All, also worth reading.

 

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World
by Simon Callow
Rating 4 Stars ****

 

Charles Dickens


It is highly interesting and entertaining read of who is possibly the first ‘celebrity author’, who is/was Charles Dickens. The book takes readers on a fascinating, immersive journey from his early years to being not only the author he became, but also his obsession with the stage and having that need to connect with his audience. Simon Callow has brought a great and unique insight into Charles Dickens and the era of the world he once inhabited. Like his performances, the book oozes charisma and a passion for the subject. You will discover so much more about Dickens. The style of writing immerses you easily into Charles Dickens’ world as it is written in almost story narrative form. Even if you’re not so into Non-fiction books, I would still recommend you give this a go.

This was also actually a one-man play. Yes, one-man with Simon Callow, playing several parts of the works of Charles Dickens. You do not have to have seen this play to read the book by the way. It’s a book that has a great narrative about who Charles Dickens was and his work. Now you might be thinking it’s a bit high-brow, especially at Christmas. It’s not at all. It’s not fact after fact or a long list of things. It’s written in a more thoughtful manner than that with enough lightness to see any reader through until Christmas and beyond. In a way, it is almost like you were watching the play, but not in play format. All in non-fiction, book format. It’s easy-going and an incredibly interesting book, which is very well-written. Simon Callow (this is when I often get who? And a sort of blank look. For those who cannot picture him, I will bet most, if not all of you have seen the film Four Wedding’s and a Funeral. He plays the Scotsman in the film. The one who dies. Sorry if that’s now a spoiler!).
I will also add that I highly recommend Simon Callow’s one-man plays. He does them at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in London and possibly other places too. Each time they are something different. He knows his subjects and he plays everyone in such a way that audiences are in awe of.

This isn’t the only book written by Simon Callow, there are several others, including one about Wagner, which was published just last year.

 

An Almost Perfect Christmas
by Nina Stibbe
Rating 5 Stars *****

An Almost Perfect Christmas

Nina Stibbe has written a few books now, but is quite possibly best known for writing Love, Nina, which was also televised as a BBC drama.
This is an entertaining book, for which I am sure there are many readers out there who can relate to. It’s about having to face Christmas, or rather her mother having to. It takes readers on an entertaining journey through from the turkey to shopping to decorating to a present for the teacher to the Christmas pudding and much more. It’s about drying out the turkey, which has been left out to defrost in the downstairs toilet for 48 hours. Put it this way, as it says on the blurb, it soon becomes clear that her mother is no foodie. Gifting and re-gifting, the insane rush to get ready for what is the most wonderful time of the year.
I received this book from a good friend of mine one Christmas and it makes for a great read near Christmas Day. It is packed full of humour, joy and a bit of poignancy. If you read this, you absolutely have to read the glossary at the back too. It’s not as it first appears to be. It too is just so joyously fun!

I also recommend reading Love,Nina and Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe. They are a delight to read.

 

Fill My Stocking
by Alan Titchmarsh
Rating 4 stars ****

Fill my Stocking

One year I found this book in my Christmas parcel pile and it’s brilliant! It is packed full of wit and sheer Christmassy joy on every page. It is an anthology really of well-known short plays (sometimes with a twist), poems and excerpts of books all on the theme of Christmas. This has been wonderfully thought out and put together by Alan Titchmarsh. There’s a world to be discovered. There are poems by the likes of John Betjeman, Noel Coward, GK Chesterton to name but a few. There are twists of plays: written for pantomimes (for those who don’t know what a pantomime is. It is a British custom to see a well-known fairytale like Aladdin, Cinderella etc at Christmas time to be acted out, except with a lot of comedy added to them). So, there is Peterpain and Windy, Aladdin and the Wonderful Limp amongst others. There are excerpts from Wind in the Willows, Cider with Rosie, The Nativity, The Pickwick Papers, to name but a few. There is also a play in one-act of Pride and Prejudice.
There are beautiful illustrations throughout the book as well as some written works by Alan Titchmarsh himself.


So why not, this Christmas time, take a look at these book, either yourself or buy them as a festive gift for someone special in your lives. They are found on Amazon and other bookshops will also be able to assist. I hope that you all enjoy this little selection of books.

Xmas Reads

Rebel – A Free Book as part of Book Week Scotland @BookWeekScot @LoveBooksGroup #review #newbook Pick up Rebel at your local library!

Rebel – A Book Week Scotland Book
Review – 4 Stars ****

It’s now half-way through Book Week Scotland. Anyone can be part of it, even if you cannot make it to one of the many events happening around the country. Within libraries, there is a FREE BOOK called Rebel by the Scottish Book Trust and is funded by the National Lottery. It is free and you can keep it. Rebel can be collected at your local library this week.

Bookweek Scotland Book

Blurb and Extra Info From the Book

Everybody rebels. It’s part of what makes us human: to occasionally do the things we know we shouldn’t, say the things we know will provoke a fight against things we believe are unjust. Rebellion incites opposition and change, allows us to find our own individual voices and inspires future generations to challenge convention and expectation.

These true stories give insight to the rebellious side of the people of Scotland and some of its most talented writers.

This book is a present to you from Scotland Book Trust in celebration of Book Week Scotland 19-25 November 2018. This book is unsuitable for those aged 14 and younger due to some of the mature content and strong language used in some of the pieces of

                                                Review


There are enough different ways of writing under this year’s theme Rebel to satisfy most people. The book is split into sub-groups or sections with between 5 and 9 pieces of small works in each. The book itself is 128 pages, so it’s nice and small for any reader over the advised age of 14. It’s a nice enough book that is well put together. There is a mix of fun, poignancy and issues that are all relatable to on some level or another in the writing, that is also interesting. It is good that the few Gaelic pieces have been translated into English too, making them more accessible.

     Split into 6 sections:

  • Yer No Tellin’ Me Whit Tae Dae (You’re not telling me what to do)
  • Solidarity
  • I’ll Show You a Rebel!
  • Patter (Banter)
  • Whit Did You Ca Me (What did you call me)
  • Am I a Rebel

Each section has between 5 and nine pieces of work within it. Each piece is only a page to a few pages long. There are a number of true stories, some pieces make a real statement about what is going on now with the closing of libraries and how they need to be supported. Other pieces are pure fun. There’s a real mix of story and poetry, all which are true all telling what Rebel means to the writers who have contributed to this book.

10 of the best pieces in my opinion, in no particular order, are:

The Cold War by Michelle Frost.

The book actually kicks off with this. It isn’t Cold War as you may initially think. It actually takes place in a classroom. I love the thought, descriptions and analysis given within this, especially of a teacher mentioned within it. You really get a sense of the atmosphere.

Rebel Boots by Amy Moreno.

A poem about her big clunky boots and how to fashion can be rebellious but changes as we age, and yet there’s still a little bit of that rebellious, stubborn side to stay young within all of us

Fairy Cakes by Zoe Sutherland.

A paragraph of relatable fun of making fairy cakes. It’s cute and sweet, just like fairy cakes.

Rebel by Sara Sheriden

It’s about being a reader and a writer and well…. she tells of doing something rather different from using words to make a point. It’s a very well written quick read. It sets the scene well, the imagery well and gets to the point fast. There’s also an interesting sentence that let’s readers get a short glimpse at the type of books she writes and doesn’t write.

Rover by Todd Sharkey

Sometimes stuff happens in life, even if you’re a guy and it is okay to show emotions and it’s okay to be supported is the message that comes across. This is very well-written from the usual male response of being fine to the issue to the willingness to want to support a friend. It’s an important read for any male (and even females). The descriptions of the setting and scenery are vivid and brilliantly well-conceived. There’s a real poignancy about this piece of writing.

Hell Bent by Jayne Baldwin

A quick story about clothing and trying to go out. Read the story to see if Lizzie, who has heard all the disapproving comments before about her attire and find out if she goes out dressed in a particular way or not and if it is really outrageous! It’s written with action from the beginning and runs with it until the end in a way, most will find familiar.

The Revolt of the Socks by Jo Clifford

I love this title. It’s quirky and fun. It has the most fabulous, most important message contained within it and that is: To Be Yourself. This made me smile. (This isn’t in the story, nor the book, but just came to mind. There’s a fabulous, well-known quote I take with me through life by Oscar Wilde that is “Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken”. That’s what popped into my mind as soon as I finished reading this.

The Book by Kathleen MacDonald

It’s a short poem that has as a sense of humour.

The Right to Read by Angie Walker

It reflects on what is going on with library closures. It gets the point about why libraries are so important very well. It’s a quick read that leaps off the page. It is after all something that not just Scotland, but the whole of the UK faces daily and has been for a few years now.

Let’s Build a Morgue by Professor Dame Sue Black

It is about exactly that. This is an interesting piece about a morgue and how the mortuary became fully funded with the assistance of crime writers like Val McDermid. The first Theil cadaveric facility in the UK came into being in Dundee University and has many accolades now attached to it and is used as a training facility for surgeons. It’s a fascinating quick read!

There are of course many more stories and poems within the 128 paged book, all tackling the main theme of Rebel for readers to explore.

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Title: Rebel by various authors
Publisher: Scottish Book Trust
Pages: 128
Purchase Point: Free to pick up at your library and keep.