Saturday, 31 December 2016

Making Friends with Depression by Sarah Rayner

Hi All

I couldn't go into the new year without letting you know about this absolutely fantastic book. Making Friends with Depression has been written by Sarah Rayner, along with Kate Harrison and Dr Patrick Fitzgerald.

Those of you with Kindles might be interested to know that it is absolutely free to download for the next 48 hours, simply click here

If you have ever been in the grip of the black dog you will know how frightening, lonely and overwhelming it can be. This book is a perfect companion, sharing lots of easy to understand information, as well as practical tips on how to cope. It is written not in medical jargon, but by those who have been there, know what it is really like to live with depression, and have been brave enough to share this with us.

I feel incredibly lucky to have come to know Sarah over the last couple of years, and she is warm hearted, compassionate, and an all round great person, and I can highly recommend this book to you. Her book Making Friends with Anxiety has come to be one of my best companions, and has really helped me to overcome my anxiety.

Sarah has also created a Facebook group: Making Friends with Anxiety and Depression which you are always welcome to join. It is a wonderfully supportive place where people come together to support each other.

Sarah has also written two other Making Friends with books: Making Friends with Anxiety and Making Friends with the Menopause. Again, well worth a read, and I have just looked on Amazon and they are both under £2 at the moment. Believe me they are a complete bargain!!

If you want to know more about Making Friends with Depression this is the blurb and what others have to say about Sarah's books:

'Simple, lucid advice' Matt Haig, bestselling author of Reasons to be Alive, on Making Friends with Anxiety

If you're suffering from depression or low mood, you can end up feeling very alone, desperately struggling to find a way through - but recovery is possible and, in Making Friends with Depression, bestselling authors Sarah Rayner and Kate Harrison, together with GP Dr Patrick Fitzgerald help speed your journey to recovery. They explain that hating or fighting the 'black dog' of depression can actually prolong your suffering, whereas 'making friends' with your darker emotions by compassionately accepting these feelings can restore health and happiness.  

Sarah (Making Friends with Anxiety) and Kate (The 5:2 Diet Book) write with candour, compassion and humour about lifting low mood and easing symptoms because they’ve both experienced – and recovered from – depression themselves, while GP Dr Patrick Fitzgerald draws on his clinical understanding to offer practical advice on treatment options and finding support. The book explores:

* The different types of depressive illness
* Where to seek help and how to get a diagnosis 
* The pros and cons of the most commonly-prescribed medications 
* The different kinds of therapy available 
* Why depression can cause so many physical symptoms 
* What to do if you suffer suicidal thoughts
* How to stop the spiral of negative thinking and boost self-esteem
* Evidence-based steps to improve mental health and avoid relapse

Fully illustrated and reflecting the latest National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines, Making Friends with Depression is succinct and surprisingly uplifting.The result is book that doesn't shy away from the distress that depression can cause, but is packed with simple tips that are easy to implement thereby offering hope and guidance through the darkest of times. 

Friday, 30 December 2016

My Top Ten Reads of 2016

I can't quite believe that 2017 is almost upon us. It seems like a week ago since this year started.

I hope everyone has a good year, and to those who haven't, I wish you the best of everything in the year ahead.

So as the year draws to a close I pondered on the book highlights of 2016, and here they are:

The Things I Should Have Told You by Carmel Harrington

I cannot tell you my love for this lady. An incredibly talented writer, who is also the most wonderful lady. The Things I Should Have Told You was more than a book to me, it was a gift reminding me of how special life is, how important family is, and how to live life to the full. Never leave things unsaid, and do the things in life that make you happy. Thank you Carmel for the gift of your wise words.

Miss Wrong and Mr Right by Robert Bryndza

Sometimes in life you just need a book that is filled with humour, shenanigans, great characters, and fun. Miss Wrong and Mr Right provided that in bucket loads. This was the book that gave me my reading mojo back, and I loved it!

The Girl in the Ice / The Night Stalker / Dark Water (The Erika Foster Series) by Robert Bryndza

I love a good thriller, and I started the year with The Girl in the Ice which set the standard against which all thrillers I have read since have been measured. New to Robert's work I was blown away by the first instalment, and the next two have only re-enforced what a talented writer Robert is. I love Erika Foster and would rank this series up there with Karin Slaughter. Being set in South London was another bonus for me as it is my local area, and bought it even more to life for me.  Cannot wait for book 4!!

The Second Love of My Life by Victoria Walters

I fell in love with the cover of this book which compelled me to pick it up and read it. Inside I discovered the most beautiful story which made me laugh and cry. The main character is Rose who has been widowed at a young age. Watching her experience loss and slowly re-emerge into life left me inspired and uplifted. I love this book.

A Home in Sunset Bay by Rebecca Pugh

As soon as I started this book I was hooked, and struggled to put it down. This is the first of Rebecca's books I have read, and it certainly won't be my last. She has a style of writing that drew me in and made me feel connected to fab characters, in a setting that I could imagine being part of. I loved the uplifting and homely plot and felt warm and happy when reading and after.

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

The synopsis of this book caught by eye and put it top of my to read list. Why do people become fixated with prisoners and write to them? I am a long time fan of the crime and thriller genres and this was irresistible - and it certainly didn't let me down! Fascinating, tense, and with twists I loved this book and had to have it prised from my hands as it was almost connected to me!!

See How They Run by Tom Bale

For me, See How They Run was my adrenaline fuelled book of 2016. The opening scene captured my worst nightmare, waking up in the middle of the night with strangers looking at you. I was literally on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what where this was going to go next. The book is just great. Short chapters move the book along at break neck pace, with an unease running throughout, building to a climax that had me up late into the night.

Last Kiss Goodnight by Teresa Driscoll

Having read, and loved Recipes for Melissa last year, I was waiting with baited breath for Teresa's new work, and it was worth the wait. A wonderfully written book which is very emotional, touching and uplifting, Last Kiss Goodnight will tap straight into your heart and pull at those heart strings. A beautiful story.

We Were on a Break by Lindsey Kelk

What year would be complete without a Lindsey Kelk book? We Were on a Break hit my kindle in October and as it downloaded I knew it would be like meeting up with an old friend. Whilst this is a standalone book, it is written in Lindsey's unmistakable style, so like her, is full of humour, wit, friendship and all round warmth. I was also incredibly lucky to be well enough to attend an event with Lindsey, Mhairi McFarlane, and Giovanna Fletcher this year. It was one of my highlights of the year. Hearing her speak bought this book to life and made it even more special.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Joanna Bolouri

This book is a must read in my opinion. I just love it and could rave about it for hours!!! Filled with humour, sassiness, friendship, strange families, and hot men, this is everything I have come to expect from Joanna's work, and then some. I sat up until the early hours reading this and in a way didn't want it to end. My face never stopped smiling and it hit the spot as one of the last reads of this year. I loved it!!

And one more book for luck...........

Making Friends with Anxiety by Sarah Rayner

I won't lie, parts of this year have been pretty rough for me this year. But along with amazing family and friends, I have had this trusty companion by my side to dip into for comfort and inspiration. Sarah is not only a talented author (check out her works of fiction too), but a great person. She is kind, giving, caring and very knowledgeable in all things anxiety. Her book provides hope and inspiration, as well as practical tips on how to cope with that beast that is anxiety. She also has a Facebook group under the same name that is incredibly supportive.

Have a fabulous 2017 and I would love to hear what your favourite books have been.

Lots of love

Jill xx

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Miss Wrong and Mr Right by Robert Bryndza

Out now

Published by Bookouture

Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

‘This is men,’ said Gran. ‘When they vant you, but you don’t vant them, they stay. But let them know you vant them, they no longer need you, and they go! It’s like that movie, Nanny McPhee.’

Natalie Love has worked hard to have it all. She runs a successful London theatre that's about to host one of Hollywood's leading stars, Ryan Harrison. She’s pretty sure she’s found her man in yoga boyfriend Benjamin, despite his annoying habit of saying Namaste! every time he speaks. And her eccentric, glamorous Hungarian Gran is always on hand to offer sage advice and steaming bowls of goulash.

Life in the bright lights of London has always been Natalie's escape from her chaotic country family in rural Devon and Jamie, the childhood sweetheart she left at the altar fifteen years ago. Until he turns up at her theatre door...

Jamie is in town producing a West End show and with rivalry suddenly clouding old feelings, this isn’t quite the reunion Natalie was expecting.

Will Benjamin prove to be Natalie’s perfect match? With Ryan turning her head, Natalie is more confused than ever. And what about Jamie – could he be her second chance at first love?

Charming, hilarious and totally unputdownable, Miss Wrong and Mr Right will put a huge smile on your face and keep you guessing who Natalie’s ‘Mr Right’ is until the very last page.

My Review:

Fan bloody tastic! What a funny, warming and enjoyable book Miss Wrong and Mr Right is. I tore through this book with a big smile on my face, and regular chuckles. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Natalie escaped to London after leaving her fiancé at the altar, and we meet her a number of years later where she has established a career and a life for herself. Things have definitely moved on. Until everyone starts crashing back in to her.

Her Gran is just fabulous. She is seriously funny. Turning up unexpectedly and announcing she is going to stay with Natalie she provides many funny, as well as sweet moments.

And of course, as with any good book in this genre we need some men!! Enter Ryan who Natalie and her theatre have managed to sign as a crowd pulling attraction for their forthcoming show. American, brash, and mollycoddled by those around him. Not forgetting her ex-fiance Jamie who, uh oh, by chance appears on the scene with a rival show just over the way from Natalie’s theatre. Could a star like Ryan ever notice Natalie, and how will she and Jamie cope with coming face to face together again after all these years?

I promise you that this book will raise your mood, make you smile, and leave you almost skipping along on a cloud of happiness by the time you finish it.

I came across Robert Bryndza at the start of the year as a thriller writer. I adore his Erika Foster series, and couldn’t see how an author could write such good books across more than one genre. But Robert is incredibly talented and has has smashed it! I wonder if there is anything Robert cant write?!

Packed with laughs, sentimentality, shenanigans, and flirtation this book is perfect. I have been in a reading slump this year and have avoided books like this, sticking with dark themes, but boy oh boy has this book given me my reading mojo back. I loved it and devoured it within a day!

I will leave you with one word – Namaste! A word that from now on will leave me laughing everytime I hear it. Why? Go on, read Miss Wrong and Mr Right and find out for yourself – I guarantee you will find it hilarious!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris

Out Now

Published By Random House Vintage

Purchase from Amazon here

The Synopsis:

What matters most in life? How do you build a happy life when terrible things happen? What is left behind when you lose the person you love the most?

One night last winter, Antoine Leiris was at home looking after his son while his wife, Hélène, was at a concert with friends. Suddenly he started receiving text messages from friends asking if he was ok. Turning on the TV, Antoine watched the terrorist attacks in Paris unfolding around him and tried to call Hélène. She didn’t answer. That night Hélène was killed, along with 88 other people, at the Bataclan Theatre.

Three days later, Antoine wrote an open letter to his wife’s killers on Facebook. He refused to be cowed or to let his 17-month-old son’s life be defined by their acts. ‘For as long as he lives, this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom,’ he wrote. Instantly, that short post caught fire and was shared thousands of times around the world.

You Will Not Have My Hate is an extraordinary and heartbreaking memoir about how Antoine, and his baby son Melvil, endured after Hélène’s murder. With courage, moral acuity, and absolute emotional honesty, he finds a way to answer the question, how can I go on? This is the rare and unforgettable testimony of a survivor, and a universal message of hope and resilience. This book is a guiding star for us all in perilous times.

My Review:

What a powerful and emotional book You Will Not Have My Hate is. I completed it in one sitting because once I started I couldn’t put it down. This is sadly not a work of fiction, but a very frank and insightful look into what is was like to be the spouse of one of the victims murdered as part of the Bataclan horror we saw unfold last year.

It is the story of a young and happy family ripped apart unexpectedly one night in the most awful way. It is one of those books you wish had never needed to be written, but are in awe of the author and his strength in being able to not only carry on, but to decide that he will not waste his life on hatred, or bitterness, but will show his young son how to love.

Whilst many of us will have seen the awful footage on tv, and read about it in the media, all we really saw was the scene of the crime, and while we of course were in shock and our thoughts went to their families, I for one couldn’t begin to imagine what it must be like to not know if your loved one is dead or alive, and then to come to terms with the reality. Antoine is very candid and writes with such power that I felt a strong empathy with him within the opening pages. Each page steps through his awful journey from initial reports of a shooting, to the realization that his wife has been involved, and then on to life after where he has to explain to his young son what has happened and adjust to life as a single parent.

Some of you may recollect seeing his Facebook post just days after the event where he wrote an open letter declaring that his life will not be defined by hatred, but by love. I didn’t see this at the time, but reading his words in this book has certainly had a lasting impact on me and I hope will make me a better person.

Antoine’s words and attitude remind me of a recent session with my therapist who put it to me that we cannot always control what happens to us, or around us, but we can choose how we react. This is so very true, and this book epitomises this. It also acts as a reminder to value life and love, and to make the most of every single day.

I am so thankful to Antoine for allowing us to glimpse into the worst moments of his life, and to show us how to keep strong, carry love in our hearts, and be mindful of how we act towards others, because we never know how things are behind the scenes for them.

They Will Not Have My Hate is a book that explores loss, grief, and sadness, but also inspires and goes to show that love is more powerful and healing than hatred.