#BlogTour The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes.About the Author

Kerry Daynes is a Consultant and Forensic Psychologist, speaker and media commentator. For over twenty years her average week has involved working with everything from stressed-out parents to serial killers and she is a sought-after court-appointed expert witness. Kerry regularly appears on international television networks and in the media; she was ‘The Profiler’ over three series of Discovery’s top-rated ‘Faking It’ documentaries.

Kerry is Patron of the National Centre for Domestic Violence and Talking2Minds. She is an advocate for better conversations about mental distress and alternatives to the culture of psychological ‘disorder’. Kerry lives in Cheshire with two huge dogs and yes, she is a proud natural ginger.

About the book

Welcome to the world of the forensic psychologist, where the people you meet are wildly unpredictable and often frightening. The job: to delve into the psyche of convicted men and women to try to understand what lies behind their often brutal actions.

Follow in the footsteps of Kerry Daynes, one of the most sought-after forensic psychologists in the business and consultant on major police investigations. Kerry’s job has taken her to the cells of maximum-security prisons, police interview rooms, the wards of secure hospitals and the witness box of the court room. Her work has helped solve a cold case, convict the guilty and prevent a vicious attack.

Spending every moment of your life staring into the darker side of life comes with a price. Kerry’s frank memoir gives an unforgettable insight into the personal and professional dangers in store for a female psychologist working with some of the most disturbing men and women.

Review

In the first chapter Daynes talks about a questionnaire she had to put to convicted sex offenders at the beginning of her career. A long questionnaire about the victims reactions to each type of action or practice ( assault). A shockingly misogynistic attempt at placing blame on the victims – all in the name of science and the attempt to understand the predator better.

Nowadays one can take a step back and recognise that the questions, especially whilst being asked them by a woman – potential prey, as the opportunity to delve into and enjoy their deviancy with an audience to watch them do so. Very much the result of being part of a patriarchal society, where man dictates that certain responses lead to specific outcomes for the victims, as opposed to the deviant being held accountable. Much like the common stereotypical tropes such as: you wore a tight dress, you walked home alone, you smiled at him, ergo you deserved it and are to blame for the assault.

It’s one thing to know that society is ruled in favour of a certain gender, and that women get the short end of the stick when it comes to justice, pay, treatment by others in general, it’s quite another when you read examples of this lack of equality. I’ve been there and done that. My ex was guilty of so many things, but a male dominant court favoured him, regardless of what he said or did. I think my rudest awakening was when he manipulated a female member of the team to believe his schtick and I was deemed to be arrogant and to blame for everything for having the sheer gall to educate myself.

Luckily for me I got back up every time I was knocked down, but it taught me some important lessons. One of which is that anyone in the mental health profession is fallible, capable of human error and only as capable as the theory they have learnt. Theory doesn’t prepare you for reality or give you the advantage of actual experience. The feeling of being disenfranchised and disillusioned is worse when the misogyny is perpetrated by members of your own gender.

That element of honesty is what makes this book a great read – not the fascinating experiences and the way Daynes has made her mark in her field of expertise, but the way she lets readers partake in her most vulnerable moments.

There is also an attempt to address the way society views both sides. There is no them and us – there is just us. Much like we now view the majority of experimental horrors to ‘cure’ mental health and deviancy in the last few centuries, as harmful and the work of quacks. In future the evolved (hopefully) communities of science and medicine may think the same of 20/21st century diagnostic approaches, and find a more inclusive way forward with less labels and better comprehension.

I digress – mainly because it is a fascinating book I could talk or write about for hours (I know, poor you). I highly recommend you take a gander at the dark side.

Buy The Dark Side of the Mind at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Endeavour; pub date 20 Feb. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Last Landlady by Laura Thompson

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Last Landlady by Laura Thompson. It’s a memoir, a collection of memories, thoughts and impressions of a strong woman in a male dominated world.About the Author

Laura Thompson won the Somerset Maugham award with her first book, The Dogs, and wrote two books about horse racing while living in Newmarket. Her biographical study of Nancy Mitford, Life in a Cold Climate, appeared in 2003 (re-issued 2015) and was followed by a major biography of Agatha Christie. A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan was published in 2014, and 2015’s Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters was recently sold to television. She lives in Richmond.

Visit Laura’s websiteBuy The Last Landlady

About the book

Laura Thompson’s grandmother Violet was one of the great landladies. Born in a London pub, she became the first woman to be given a publican’s licence in her own name and, just as pubs defined her life, she seemed in many ways to embody their essence.

Laura spent part of her childhood in Violet’s Home Counties establishment, mesmerised by her gift for cultivating the mix of cosiness and glamour that defined the pub’s atmosphere, making it a unique reflection of the national character. Her memories of this time are just as intoxicating: beer and ash on the carpets in the morning, the deepening rhythms of mirth at night, the magical brightness of glass behind the bar…

Through them Laura traces the story of the English pub, asking why it has occupied such a treasured position in our culture. But even Violet, as she grew older, recognised that places like hers were a dying breed, and Laura also considers the precarious future they face.

Part memoir, part social history, part elegy, The Last Landlady pays tribute to an extraordinary woman and the world she epitomised.

Review

This is a very personal story for the author, because it’s the memoir of her grandmother. A grande dame of the English pub. It describes the way Violet fights for her independence in the industry. Not exactly an easy task when you’re a woman trying to succeed and make your mark in a male dominated business.

The book is full of anecdotes and charming stories about Violet and her punters. It’s a little bit like everyone knows Peggy Mitchell (Eastenders) as the epitome of pub landlady. Brash, loud and absolutely in control of everyone in the pub – no matter how drunk or belligerent. It’s as British as it gets.

Thompson veers off quite often into opinions on today’s society and in the era of her grandmother and long before her time. The culture of drink and drunkenness, especially as it pertains to women. How the pub and pub culture as we know it came to be.

It’s not told in a narrative per se or in chronological order, but rather in a series memories, reflections and collection of impressions. Tales of eccentric patrons and amusing situations sometimes make light of how difficult it must have been at times for a woman in Violet’s position.

At times it felt as if the world of Violet was being infused by the thoughts and opinions of Laura, which then made it less of Violet’s memoir and more Laura’s memoir. To be fair the blurb describes it as part memoir, part social history and part elegy.

It’s a memoir, a collection of memories, thoughts and impressions of a strong woman in a male dominated world.

Buy The Last Landlady at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound pub date 5 September 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogBlitz How NOT to Write Female Characters by Lucy V. Hay

Today it’s the BlogBlitz How NOT to Write Female Characters by Lucy V. Hay. It’s educational non-fiction, an add-on guide for writers.

About the Author

Lucy V. Hay is an author, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. Lucy is the producer of two Brit Thrillers, Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), as well as the script editor and advisor on numerous other features and shorts.  Lucy’s also the author of  writing and selling thriller screenplays  for Kamera Books’ “Creative Essentials” range, as well as its follow ups on Drama Screenplays and Diverse Characters.

Follow @LucyVHayAuthor  on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagram, on Goodreads, Visit lucyvhayauthor.com

Buy How NOT to Write Female Characters

About the book

Female characters. When fifty per cent of your potential target audience is female, if you’re not writing them in your screenplay or novel? You’re making a BIG mistake!

But how should you approach your female characters? That’s the million-dollar question … After all, women in real life are complex, varied and flawed. Knowing where to start in creating three dimensional female characters for your story is extremely difficult.

So … perhaps it’s easier to figure out how NOT to write female characters?

Script editor, novelist and owner of the UK’s top screenwriting blog http://www.bang2write.com, Lucy V Hay has spent the last fifteen years reading the slush pile. She has learned to spot the patterns, pitfalls and general mistakes writers make when writing female characters – and why.

In How Not To Write Female Characters, Lucy outlines:

•WHO your character is & how to avoid “classic” traps and pitfalls

•WHAT mistakes writers typically make with female characters

•WHERE you can find great female characters in produced and published content

•WHEN to let go of gender politics and agendas

•WHY female characters are more important than ever

Lucy is on a mission to improve your writing, as well as enable diverse voices and characters to rise to the top of the spec pile.

Review

There is nothing quite so hilarious as a Twitter thread on how men write female characters. Some of the examples are ludicrous, embarrassing and often downright misogynistic. When you take a closer look the hilarity then changes to disappointment and outrage. Then the cherry on top of the sundae is the fact women are writing their female characters in the same way.

How is this still happening in the 21st century? Ignorance, lack of experience, complacency or just unawareness? I think it depends on the writer, and their willingness to look more closely at the tropes the use ad infinitum.

It’s quite an interesting read, mainly because Hay manages to give both readers and writers a completely different perspective on certain elements of writing female characters. At times I felt myself disagreeing, but then as she went deeper into her point I found myself understanding and agreeing.

It’s an eye-opener of a read, albeit a short one. It’s educational non-fiction, an add-on guide for writers. In a way it’s also valuable for readers, because it isn’t wrong to expect more from our literature and excursions into the world of reading pleasure.

It’s written in a no nonsense and straight to the point way. Hay calls it as she sees it, which isn’t often complimentary. It’s a handy guide for the scribes and scribes to be, The question for me is whether readers will see female characters in a different way after this read.

Buy How NOT to write female characters at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Other Twin, The Lynmouth Stories and Do No Harm by Lucy V. Hay.

#BlogTour The Lost Properties of Love by Sophie Ratcliffe

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Lost Properties of Love by Sophie Ratcliffe. It’s a mixture of memoir, literary fiction and storytelling using time,space and movement as a premise.About the Author

Sophie Ratcliffe is an academic, writer, and literary critic.

She teaches English at the University of Oxford, where she is an Associate Professor and Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall.

She is the author of On Sympathy (Oxford University Press), and edited the authorised edition of P. G. Wodehouse’s letters. In her academic work, she is interested in ideas of emotion and the history of how we feel.

She reviews regularly for the national press, and has served as a judge of a number of literary prizes, including the Baillie Gifford and Wellcome Book Prize.

Follow @soratcli on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon,

Buy The Lost Properties of Love

About the book

What if you could tell the truth about who you are, without risking losing the one you love? This is a book about love affairs and why we choose to have them; a book for anyone who has ever loved and wondered what it is all about.

This is a book about the things we hide from other people. Love affairs, grief, domestic strife and the mess at the bottom of your handbag. Part memoir, part imagined history, in The Lost Properties of Love, Sophie Ratcliffe combines her own experience of childhood bereavement, a past lover, the reality about motherhood and marriage, with undiscovered stories about Tolstoy and trains, handbags and honeymoons to muse on the messiness of everyday life.

An extended train journey frames the action – and the author turns not to self-help manuals but to the fictions that have shaped our emotional and romantic landscape. Readers will find themselves propelled into Anna Karenina’s world of steam, commuting down the Northern Line, and checking out a New York El-train with Anthony Trollope’s forgotten muse, Kate Field.

As scenes in her own life collide with the stories of real and imaginary heroines, The Lost Properties of Love asks how we might find new ways of thinking about love and intimacy in the twenty-first century. Frank and painfully funny, this contemporary take on Brief Encounter – told to a backing track of classic 80s songs- is a compelling look at the workings of the human heart.

Review

There is an interesting correlation between the piece of literature by Tolstoy, Ratcliffe chooses to focus on, and her own life. There are even parallels to be drawn between the train journeys, which lean towards memoir, and the role they play in work by Tolstoy.

Back to the correlations between Anna Karenina and Ratcliffe. What they have in common is the experience of a love and lust relationship that takes precedence over everything and everyone. A relationship which becomes more romanticised and nostalgic as time passes. The author even draws a similarity of finality in the death of Anna and the regret she feels deep inside.

One of my favourite parts of the book is the red handbag, more specifically the contents of Anna’s red handbag. The imagery painted by her bag being separated from her and simultaneously her life being severed at the same time is a strong one.

The bag becomes synonymous with both the secrets we keep hidden from others and the chaos or order in our lives. What does the content of your bag say about you? Is it chaotic or orderly, are you a Mary Poppins or a Marie Kondo? What would a complete stranger be able to read from it about you?

I think this may be a bit of a marmite read. It will appeal to some and a little less to others. I can imagine it may be perceived as pretentiously academic or too evolved in a literary sense. On the other side of the coin are the readers who appreciate new attempts to meld words, worlds, genres and styles.

It’s a mixture of memoir, literary fiction and storytelling using time,space and movement as a premise.

Buy The Lost Properties of Love at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: William Collins; pub date 7 Feb. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour You Are What You Read by Jodie Jackson

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour You Are What You Read by Jodie Jackson. This is an engaging and thought-provoking piece of non-fiction.

About the Author

Jodie Jackson is an author, researcher and campaigner.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of East London (UK) where she investigated the psychological impact of the news.

As she discovered evidence of the beneficial effects of solutions focused news on our wellbeing, she grew convinced of the need to spread consumer awareness. She is a regular speaker at media conferences and universities.

Jodie is also a qualified yoga teacher and life coach.

Follow @JacksonJodie21 on Twitter, Visit jodiejackson.com

Buy You are What You Read

About the book

Do you ever feel overwhelmed and powerless after watching the news? Does it make you feel sad about the world, without much hope for its future? Take a breath – the world is not as bad as the headlines would have you believe.

In You Are What You Read, campaigner and researcher Jodie Jackson helps us understand how our current twenty-four-hour news cycle is produced, who decides what stories are selected, why the news is mostly negative and what effect this has on us as individuals and as a society.

Combining the latest research from psychology, sociology and the media, she builds a powerful case for including solutions into our news narrative as an antidote to the negativity bias.

You Are What You Read is not just a book, it is a manifesto for a movement: it is not a call for us to ignore the negative but rather a call to not ignore the positive. It asks us to change the way we consume the news and shows us how, through our choices, we have the power to improve our media diet, our mental health and just possibly the world.

Review

I absolutely understand why some people, including the author choose to step away from the negativity that drives the media. It has become almost like a shark feeding frenzy with the audience baying for blood. The more traumatic, brutal and soul-destroying the news is the better.

The news of today isn’t the news of yesterday. We used to have media outlets with journalists who strived to give the world, their audience, the facts and the truth, albeit as they perceived it through their frame of reference. Nowadays you get opinion based journalism, sensationalist tabloid pieces and a slowly declining number of outlets and individuals who report the facts.

On top of that our media outlets are controlled by conglomerates and moguls who have bought up the majority of them, so it has become a kind of monopoly. There is a good reason the peasants rose up to demand Rupert Murdoch not be allowed to buy yet another media outlet that reaches millions of people.

Monopolies change the way we receive information and more importantly they control the information we are being fed. They decide what to feed the masses, which means they can sway opinions and votes. Not exactly unimportant in our day and age when tempers are frayed and the extreme right is on the rise.

I think the saddest aspect of all of the above, aside from journalists not being journalists anymore, is that the majority of people don’t realise they are being manipulated to think, vote and perceive information a certain way. That’s not the same as being ignorant or uninformed. If you have no clue that someone is trying to dictate or influence your opinions, then you will be none the wiser.

It’s a fact that the Russians have influenced political outcomes in multiple countries, and still are. They have buildings filled with people who plant false information and stories to influence the public – troll farms. Fact. It’s also a fact that big media outlets no longer produce non-biased news.

We live in a world where the public is hungry for every detail of someone’s life. Reality shows and Z-celebrities make money the more extreme, aggressive and dramatic they are. The other side of that coin is the fact that the public wants it to be delivered to them.

Jackson advocates for the audience to adapt a more balanced media diet. I concur with the general idea, however I do believe it is quite hard to do so. It’s not easy for everyone to discern between fact and opinion, and whilst I agree that more positivity is needed to balance the negativity, I think it’s becoming harder to find sources to deliver that.

Although the theoretical idea is one I believe will allow many to have a more productive life and be less stressed, I also believe it’s important not to retreat into a false bubble of hope. I do believe it’s important to educate people and to fight this war of negativity head on. You can’t change something if you don’t know it’s already swallowed you whole and influenced you, which means helping others to understand what is happening is even more important.

This is an engaging and thought-provoking piece of non-fiction. In fact perhaps the world would be a better place if we had more voices like Jackson, who are trying to be heard through the cacophony of falsities. It is indeed a movement.

Buy You Are What You Read at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound; pub date 4 April 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Bloom Where You’re Planted; Life the Expat Way by Lasairiona E. McMaster

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Bloom Where You’re Planted; Life the Expat Way by Lasairiona E. McMaster. It’s a travel guide or rules for living abroad meets expat expertise.

About the Author

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years.

Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

Follow Lasairiona @QueenofFireLas on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Goodreads,

Buy Bloom Where You’re Planted

About the book

Are you contemplating a move abroad? Don’t panic!

From culture shock to capable, from language barriers to lifelong friends, and from foreign land to the familiar. Being hurled into life in a strange new place can be daunting and overwhelming, but it can also be exciting and enjoyable.

Rich with tips on how to expat like a boss, Lasairiona McMaster’s “Bloom where you are planted”, takes you on a journey from packing up her life in Northern Ireland to jumping in at the deep-end as an expat in two countries.

An experienced expat from a decade of living abroad, her honest and uncensored tales of what to expect when you’re expatriating, are as funny as they are poignant, and as practical as they are heartfelt. If you’ve lived abroad, or you’re considering the move from local to expat. If you’re looking to rediscover yourself, or simply wondering how on earth to help your children develop into adaptable, resilient, and well-rounded people, this book has something for you.

Review

I am an expat, now a repat. I spent over three decades overseas in foreign countries, so I absolutely get the sentiment of the title and this book. Bloom where you’re planted is the best way to assimilate the culture, language, people and country you choose to live in. Or if you are part of a military family, as I was, you go where you are ordered to go as part of the family unit.

You get two types of expats. The first type tries to create a small version of the home country. There is a steadfast refusal to adapt to the surroundings. That often means no real effort to integrate or comprehend how your adopted country works.

The second type tries to become part of the new community, that includes learning the language not just associating with your own countrymen, and trying to eliminate the boundaries between yourself and the native inhabitants.

The truth is either way you will always remain the expat and foreigner to them, even if they appreciate the effort to fit in and respect their culture and country. In the best case scenario you make friends on both sides of the fence. You do however tend to be drawn to people who are in similar situations to yourself. Expats become magnets to other expats.

A perfect example of that are the statements and stories McMaster has included at the end of the book. Many of her friends, both online and real life, have written about their own experiences as expats and have added words of friendship and support.

Aside from the banter, the witty remarks and the attempt to put a more positive slant on what must have been some quite difficult moments, the author includes helpful tips for others embarking on similar adventures. There are some really good suggestions and advice for expats. The nitty-gritty bureaucracy you might not think of or just small things that might help to make you feel less homesick.

This is more than just the meanderings of an expat with a taste for new experiences, it’s also a helpful handy guide for people who are in similar situations or planning to move overseas. It’s a travel guide or rules for living abroad meets expat expertise.

Buy Bloom Where You’re Planted; Life the Expat Way at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt

Today it really is a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt. Nutt has created a work of beauty in his own right. Full of love and passion for poetry. About the Author 

Joe Nutt is a former teacher with twenty years of English teaching experience. He has written books on Shakespeare, John Donne and most recently a guidebook to Paradise Lost for one of the world’s foremost academic publishers. he is now one of the leading educationalists in the UK and writes a fortnightly column for the Times Educational Supplement.

Follow @joenutt_author @unbounders on Twitter,

Buy The Point of Poetry

About the book

What’s the point of poetry? It’s a question asked in classrooms all over the world, but it rarely receives a satisfactory answer. Which is why so many people, who read all kinds of books, never read poetry after school.

Exploring twenty-two works from poets as varied as William Blake, Seamus Heaney, Rita Dove and Hollie McNish, this book makes the case for what poetry has to offer us, what it can tell us about the things that matter in life. Each poem is discussed with humour and refreshing clarity, using a mixture of anecdote and literary criticism that has been honed love a lifetime of teaching.

Poetry can enrich lives, if we’ll let it. The Point of Poetry is the perfect companion for anyone looking to discover how.

Review

This is the kind of book I would buy to help non-poetry lovers understand the attraction and potency of it. As a poetry lover myself I embrace anything, which could possibly encourage others to delve into it and find a little bit of beauty too.

There are some things in life that have an innate beauty, even when they are born from the pen, paintbrush or voice of a human being. Times when colours, words or sounds create a moment in time that calls to the soul and tugs at the passion inside of us. One can experience the same thing when the elements create a similar kind of beauty in nature or beauty that inspires the same visceral reaction.. Breathtaking scenery for instance.

Let’s focus on the man- or woman-made moments of beauty. Psychologists have studied what makes people cry when they hear music for instance, and have recognised certain personality attributes in them. Those who cried because they feel sadness scored high on the neuroticism scale and those who scored high in the openness to experience scale cried because they felt a profound sense of awe.

Awe at the capacity of a person to create such beauty that it elicits an extreme emotional response. I have those moments with poetry, music (especially classical and operatic music), art and very beautifully written books.

The author is keen to have poetry stand aside from the other contenders and have its own pedestal. This book is all about ‘lighting the touchpaper.’ I could have happily quoted from this book over and over again by the way. Nutt is a passionate educationalist, the kind of teacher who seeks out those who are inspired by and comprehend the beauty of poetry, and simultaneously those who fear and reject it.

Luckily the author also has a way with words. A book about the point of poetry could be dry, boring and terribly academic. Could be, but it isn’t. Nutt has created a work of beauty in his own right. Full of love and passion for poetry.

I love this book.

Buy The Point of Poetry at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound pub date 21 Mar. 2019. Buy Ecopy here. Buy at Amazon com.