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Blog Tour: Stories My Grandmother Told Me – Gabriela Maya Bernadett

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Welcome to the tour for this fascinating memoir by Gabriela Maya Bernadett, called Stories My Grandmother Told Me: A Multicultural Journey from Harlem to Tohono O’dham. Read on for more info!

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Stories My Grandmother Told Me: A Multicultural Journey from Harlem to Tohono O’dham

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: City Point Press/ Simon & Schuster

The illuminating and deeply personal debut from Gabriela Maya Bernadett, Stories My Grandmother Told Me explores culture, race, and chosen family, set against the backdrop of the twentieth-century American Southwest.

In a hilly Southern California suburb in the late twentieth century, Gabriela Maya Bernadett listens as her grandmother tells her a story.

It’s the true story of Esther Small, the great-granddaughter of slaves, who became one of the few Black students to graduate from NYU in the 1940s. Having grown up in Harlem, Esther couldn’t imagine a better place to live; especially not somewhere in the American Southwest.

But when she learns of a job teaching Native American children on a reservation, Esther decides to take a chance. She soon finds herself on a train to Fort Yuma, Arizona; unaware that each year, the Bureau of Indian Affairs kidnaps the native Tohono O’odham children from the reservation and forces them to be educated in the ‘ways of the White man.’ It doesn’t take long for Esther to notice how Fort Yuma parallels her own grandmother’s story as a slave in the South—the native children, constantly belittled by teachers and peers, are forced to perform manual labor for local farmers.

One of two Black people in Fort Yuma, Esther feels isolated, never sure where she belongs in a community deeply divided between the White people and the Tohono O’odhams. John, the school bus driver and Tohono O’odham tribe member, is one of the only people she connects with. Friendship slowly grows into love, and together, Esther and John navigate a changing America.

Seamlessly weaving in the present day with the past, Stories My Grandmother Told Me blends a woman’s memory of her life, and that woman’s granddaughter’s memories of how she heard these stories growing up. Bernadett’s captivating narrative explores themes of identity, tradition, and belonging, showing what it really means to exist in a multicultural America.

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About the Author

Maya Bernadett grew up in California hearing the stories of her grandmother, Esther Pancho. She grew up in a multi-cultural household, as her father is Mexican American and White and her Mother is Tohono O’odham and Black. At the age of 18 she moved to New Haven, Connecticut to attend Yale University, from which she graduated in 2008 with a degree in the History of Science/History of Medicine. She lived in Tucson briefly, then moved to New York City, and finally returned to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona. She graduated in 2015 with a Master’s Degree in American Indian Studies with a focus on Education. She currently teaches GED classes at the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.

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Readalong Round-Up: The Plant Rescuer – Sarah Gerrard-Jones

A simple, stylish and complete guide for any houseplant owner
Whether you have just one or many houseplants, this is the book they need you to read. It is a clear and practical toolkit on all aspects of plant care from how to choose a plant to tips for everyday care. Changes in your plant’s appearance are often a cry for help and this book will help you understand their needs. Learn how to help your plants not only survive but thrive.

Sarah, also known as @theplantrescuer, is a self-taught houseplant obsessive who firmly believes every plant deserves a happy life. Her determination to see beyond the ‘perfect plant’ and to rescue unloved plants makes her the go-to guide.

My thoughts: I don’t have green thumbs, notoriously my plants die, although those that survive are clearly very stubborn. But I love plants so I keep trying. With my fingers crossed.

Like a lot of people I really got into house plants during lockdown, I had some before but I bought quite a few while unable to go out, bringing that lovely green into my flat. However not everyone survived, including me, tearing my hair out as some of the plants just gave up – despite me trying my hardest to keep them alive.

Then comes along this book, and a spark of hope for some of my slightly droopy plants. It’s full of explanations to why plants go brown, or limp, and die. And ways to save them that don’t include “cry, chuck in bin and buy a new one” – aka my go to method.

Instead of spending ages on Google trying to solve the droopy leaf crisis of 2022, I dipped into this book to diagnose my sad little plants and do some clever plant healing. Though the fact that plants suffer from over and under watering will continue to drive me mad – how can I stop this nonsense!

A really useful and informative guide to houseplants, I’m hoping this will encourage and help me be a better indoor gardener and give me at least a tiny bit of a green thumb, just a tiny bit of plant magic.

Below I’ve posted the readalong challenges, if you read this book, please share your thoughts. And tag me @ramblingmads in your plant photos on Instagram.

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Blog Tour: Lessons Learnt From Dating – Karla L. McCullum

Welcome to the book tour for Lessons Learned from Dating by Karla L. McCullum! Read on for more info and a chance to win a $50 Amazon e-Gift Card!

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Lessons Learned from Dating: Moving Past the Hurt Into Your Blessings

Publication Date: July 2021

Genre: Dating Guide/ Self-Help/ Non-Fiction

Lessons Learned from Dating is a nonfiction book written by Karla that tells the stories of her different dating experiences during various stages of life. Each dating experience had a unique lesson, but she didn’t take the time to pause and heed the teachings. After a really painful relationship, Karla finally realized she needed to pause from dating and reflect on herself. This led Karla to start the work to heal completely, practice self-discovery, and find peace and her life’s purpose. In her book, Lessons Learned from Dating, Karla reveals how she went from a place of hurt and pain to a healed place of receiving.

Available on FOJ and Amazon

About the Author

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Karla L. McCullum also known as Coach K, became a Certified Life Coach in 2020 through the Life Purpose Institute in San Diego, CA . Karla is a Veteran of the United States Army. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management.

Karla is the owner and founder of Full of Joy Life Coaching LLC, where she specializes in helping women work on their mindset, discover their purpose, and pursue their life goals to lead joyful and meaningful lives. Her most important job is being a mother to her beautiful teenage daughter. When Karla is not spending time with her daughter or providing Life Coaching Services, she loves traveling and seeing the world.

Karla is currently pursuing the Associated Certified Coach Credentialing through the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

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Blog Tour: Dálvi, Six Years in the Arctic Tundra – Laura Galloway

One woman’s story as an outsider in a reindeer-herding village in the Arctic Tundra, forging a life on her own in one of the most unknowable cultures on earth

An ancestry test suggesting she shared some DNA with the Sámi people, the indigenous inhabitants of the Arctic tundra, tapped into Laura Galloway’s wanderlust; an affair with a Sámi reindeer herder ultimately led her to leave New York for the tiny town of Kautokeino, Norway. When her new boyfriend left her unexpectedly after six months, it would have been easy, and perhaps prudent, to return home. But she stayed for six years.

Dálvi is the story of Laura’s time in a reindeer-herding village in the Arctic, forging a solitary existence as she struggled to learn the language and make her way in a remote community for which there were no guidebooks or manuals for how to fit in. Her time in the North opened her to a new world. And it brought something else as well: reconciliation and peace with the traumatic events that had previously defined her – the sudden death of her mother when she was three, a difficult childhood and her lifelong search for connection and a sense of home.

Both a heart-rending memoir and a love letter to the singular landscape of the region, Dálvi explores with great warmth and humility what it means to truly belong.

Laura Galloway is a writer and communications strategist. She began her career at the Los Angeles Times and holds a Master of Arts in Indigenous Journalism from the Sámi University of Applied Sciences in Kautokeino, Norway, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Southern California. An ardent animal lover, she and her partner live with her two reindeer-herding dogs and two cats.

My thoughts: after her mother dies when she’s very young, Laura’s father marries an emotionally abusive woman who rejects her husband’s children, causing Laura to spend much of her life looking for a sense of belonging, beginning with moving to LA as a teenager. And then eventually to the Arctic tundra in Norway, to live with a Sami reindeer herder in a small town near the border with Finland.

Life in the far north is tough, it’s dark for several months of the year and freezing cold. Laura doesn’t speak Norwegian or Sami and finds it hard to settle into a community so different from anything she’s ever known.

Even after her partner leaves her, she stays and starts to find her way in this strange place. There are lots of other incomers and it is with them she bonds, rather than with the Sami community, who prefer their own kind. Her cat goes missing, she gets several jobs doing things like teaching English, bonds with her neighbours and builds a life. The cat thankfully comes back.

After six years in the Arctic, she begins to wonder what else life could hold for her and looks to start afresh. But life among the Sami has taught her many lessons and helped her heal from the pain of her sad and emotionally sterile childhood.

I found this book moving and at times brutally sad, Laura has been let down badly by those who should have loved her, from her father to her ex-husband, she somehow kept going after terrible heartbreak and loss. A fascinating and rather incredible woman.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: The Love That Dares – Rachel Smith & Barbara Vesey

A good love letter can speak across centuries and reassure us that the agony and the ecstasy one might feel in the 21st century have been shared by lovers long gone. This is all the truer of LGBTQ+ love letters: love affairs and relationships that, until very recently, had to survive within sealed envelopes and behind closed doors.

In The Love That Dares, queer love speaks its name through the words of lovers from years gone by. Alongside the more famous names coexist beautifully written letters by lesser-known lovers, giving us an insight into queer love outside of the spotlight of fame or fortune. Compiled by Bishopsgate archivists Rachel Smith and Barbara Vesey, these letters give us a glimpse into the passion and courage it took to continue a gay relationship in times when it was at best improper, and at worst illegal.

Enlightening introductions to each set of letters give readers an idea of the historical context in which they were written.

My thoughts: this is a really lovely collection of letters from queer writers, artists, musicians and others from across history. From famously gay people to ones you might not have known about, from early philosopher Marcus Aurelius, via Oscar Wilde and Vita Sackville-West to modern voices. There’s also a selection from Dear Sappho, published originally in 1996.

Explanatory notes give context to the writers and their letters, a brief glimpse into the lives and loves of people often living under threat of censure and criminality.

I found this incredibly moving, the ways people expressed their love and desire, their hopes and fears in words to friends and lovers, sometimes simple banal everyday news to passionate expressions.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: After Agatha – Sally Cline

After Agatha: Women Write Crime is the first book to examine how British, American, and Canadian female crime writers pursue their craft and what they think about crime writing. Hundreds of women who identified as lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, able-bodied, disabled, feminist, left or right wing, who were black or white, who had experienced violence, sexism, homophobia or racism, and who came from big cities or small country villages had one thing in common: they read crime novels.

The book explores why so many women who face fear and violence in their daily lives, should be so addicted to crime fiction, many of which feature extreme violence. The book analyzes why criminal justice professionals including police officers, forensic scientists, probation officers, and lawyers have joined traditional detective writers in writing crime. It examines the explosions of crime writing by women between 1930 and today. It highlights the UK Golden Age women writers, the 1950s American women novelists, the 80s experimental trio, Marcia Muller, Sara Paretsky, and Sue Grafton, who created the first female American private Investigators, and the important emergence of female police protagonists, as well as those central characters who for the first time were lesbian, disabled, black, or ethnic minority. After Agatha also examines the significant explosions of domestic noir thrillers and forensic science writers.

Most have taken to crime in order to reflect and comment on the social and political landscape around them. Many are creatively exploring the significant issues facing women today.

Agatha Christie – photo via BBC

Sally Cline, author of 13 books, is an award-winning biographer and fiction writer. She is Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Research Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, and former Advisory Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund. Her biography on Radclyffe Hall, now a classic, was shortlisted for the LAMBDA prize; Lifting the Taboo: Women, Death and Dying won the Arts Council Prize for nonfiction; and she wrote landmark biographies on Zelda Fitzgerald and Dashiell Hammett. She is co-Series Editor for Bloomsbury’s 9 volume Writers and Artists Companions. Formerly lecturing at Cambridge University, she has degrees and masters from Durham and Lancaster Universities and was awarded a D.Litt in International Writing.

My thoughts: I am a huge crime fiction fan and adore Agatha Christie. I also studied English Literature at uni, including a module where we looked at crime fiction – all of the books on the reading list were written by men. Women writers were shunted off into their own module and focused on the Brontës, Austen and other 18th and 19th century writers. No crime fiction, no Golden Age.

Considering the immense popularity of crime novels, many written by women, and the history – which this book explores, that’s rather frustrating and I really hope that things have changed since the early to mid 00s, when I was studying.

This fascinating book has left me with an immense reading list (I’ve read many of the authors mentioned but not all and not enough as far as I’m concerned) and lots to think about. Digging deep into the legacy of Christie and her compatriots (Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allington – aka The Golden Age writers) and following the growth, expansion and creation of the women who wrote and starred in hundreds of crime novels since then.

It looks at the sub-genres, like PIs, the psychological, forensic and others, as well as the fact that readers of crime fiction are overwhelmingly women and why.

Absolutely fascinating and crammed full of interesting information, this is a must read for anyone interested in the genre, in women’s writing and literary history.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Betsy Roberts – N.G. Neville

This incredible story is based on true events concerning young Betsy Roberts – how she was kidnapped, abused but survived America’s first serial killers – the evil Harpe brothers – how she outlived and ultimately profited using her wits and sheer determination.

Betsy Roberts, a young woman from Kentucky is brutally kidnapped by notorious outlaws Micajah and Wiley Harpe who abuse then exploit her. The novel describes how Betsy uses her wits and courage to survive, and then ultimately prosper despite the most appalling conditions and treatment she suffers, in the wilderness of late eighteenth century America. She gradually becomes tainted by the evil, murderous activities of the Harpe brothers who, amongst other things, use her as bait to lure travelers to their deaths. She does this under duress initially but later becomes indifferent, even to the extent of being a willing accomplice.

Part 2 of the novel describes her long, gruelling journey of escape to New York in the early eighteen hundreds. It covers how she became a key figure there, developing businesses, illicit and legal, and the family dynasty she establishes.

The story is an extraordinary and gripping tale of horrific violence, a kaleidoscope of extraordinary characters, settings and and yet also incredible willpower, survival instincts. Betsy ultimately becomes a strong, determined woman but also uses almost any means to achieve her ends.

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N.G. Neville is the pseudonym or pen name of Geoff Burke and Nick Fisher, co-authors of ‘BETSY ROBERTS’ their first major novel. It was preceded by a shorter novel entitled ‘DEGENERATION The Story of Betsy Roberts’ which forms the first part of the full novel ‘BETSY ROBERTS’.

A sequel or more accurately prequel, a collection of short or not so short in some cases, stories will be published in 2021. It has a working title ‘DEATH and SALVATION’. Many of the amazing characters in ‘BETSY ROBERTS’ are present before they appear in the full novel. How they got to where they were in the novel forms a fascinating collection of truly extraordinary stories.

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My thoughts: inspired by the real life Betsy Roberts, this novelised biography is packed full of details of her nefarious dealings and the trail of corpses left in her wake. From rural Kentucky to the high society of New York City, Betsy proves to be a ruthless and determined woman, whether surviving being kidnapped by two outlaws, to escaping justice, travelling cross country with her young son, and engineering her way to wealth and success, she doesn’t let anyone or anything get in her way. Including husbands.

I felt sorry for Betsy at first, with her murdered parents and having been kidnapped and treated brutally by the Harpe brothers. But instead of escaping them, she breaks them out of jail and goes on the run with them again. She’s so cold hearted and utterly without remorse, even murdering her own husbands to get her own way. While I can’t quite say I admire her, she is after all a murderer and criminal, she sounds like a force to be reckoned with, and her rags to riches tale should be encouraging – as long as you don’t go with the body count too.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: A Ghost in the Throat – Doireann Ní Ghríofa

‘When we first met, I was a child, and she had been dead for centuries’
In the 1700s an Irish noblewoman, on discovering that her husband has been murdered, drinks handfuls of his blood and composes an extraordinary poem. Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill’s Caoineadh
Airt Uí Laoghaire was famously referred to by Peter Levi, then Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, as the ‘greatest poem written in these islands in the whole eighteenth century.’
In the present day, a young mother narrowly avoids tragedy. On encountering the poem, she becomes obsessed with its echoes in her own life and sets out to track down the rest of the poet’s
story.
Culminating in Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s own translation of the poem, A Ghost in the Throat is a devastating and timeless tale about one woman freeing her voice by reaching into the past to hear
another’s.

DOIREANN NÍ GHRÍOFA is a bilingual writer whose books explore birth, death, desire, and domesticity. Doireann’s awards include a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Seamus Heaney Fellowship, the Ostana Prize and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. She is a member of Aosdána. A Ghost in the Throat is her prose debut.

My thoughts: this was a really interesting book, part essay, part memoir, part poetry. The author explores the poem and the life of Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, an 18th century woman whose husband is murdered. As well as exploring the extraordinary text, she puts it into context with the life and times of its creator, all while raising her own children and moving house over and over.

It’s a thoughtful and fascinating work, I enjoyed learning all these things – Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire is not a work I was familiar with, probably because being a Gaelic poem, it never made it onto any syllabus here in the UK. Which is a shame, it’s an incredible and powerful piece, full of grief and rage and intense love. The translation at the end of the book, with the English alongside the original Irish is gripping and haunting, despite its age, the words still move the reader. A really impressive book.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: The Reacher Guy – Heather Martin

The Reacher Guy is a life of bestselling superstar Lee Child, a portrait of the artist as a young man, refracted through the life of his fictional avatar, Jack Reacher. It tells the story of how the boy from Birmingham reinvented himself to become the strongest brand in publishing, selling over one hundred million books in more than forty different languages across the globe.
Heather Martin interviews friends, teachers, colleagues and neighbours, including agents and editors. Based
primarily on her conversations with the author over a period of years, together with readings of his books and research in his literary archive, this authorised biography reveals the man behind the myth, tracing his origins back through the generations to Northern Ireland and County Durham, and following the trajectory of his extraordinary career via New York and Hollywood until the climactic moment when, in 2020, having written a continuous series of twenty-four books, he finally floats free of his fictional creation.
Lee Child comments: “I met Heather Martin some years ago, and we started talking about why people love telling and hearing stories. To get more depth and detail we started talking about why I do. Eventually I said, ‘If you want to really get to the bottom of it, you’re going to have to write my biography.’ So she did. It was a fun and illuminating process. I had forgotten a lot, and it was fascinating to be reminded. Now it all makes sense.”

Heather Martin was born in West Australia. She grew up in Aix-en-Provence, Paris, and Perth, where she would fall asleep to the sound of the Indian Ocean. She left Australia for England to become a classical guitarist but found herself singing with a Venezuelan folk group and learning to speak Spanish instead. She read Languages at Cambridge, where she also did a PhD in comparative literature, and has held teaching and research positions at Cambridge, Hull, King’s College London, and most recently, the Graduate Center, City University New York.
Heather is a long-time Reacher fan. While waiting to get her hands on the next in the series, she once read a Lee Child book in Spanish and wound up writing to the author about the fate of his character in translation. The Reacher Guy is her first biography.

My thoughts: I haven’t read many Reacher books, I think maybe 2 of them, but my dad and Grandad are fans and I’m always interested in how and why a writer started writing. A very slow start, honestly I would skip the first few chapters, that then got really interesting as Jim Grant became Lee Child and started writing his incredibly successful books. He seems very matter of fact about why he started writing and how he goes about creating each of them. I’m very interested to see how his younger brother handles taking over the mantle of Jack Reacher writer in chief.

There were some very funny moments, especially when talking about publishing and funny things that happen when a famous but not necessarily recognisable writer starts travelling around the world and meeting fans. I liked the story about when Lee was at an airport and said to someone reading a Reacher book “I’ve heard the rest are really good too”, if that person recognises themselves, they’re going to be very puzzled, I know I would be.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: The Queendom Within – Heidi Hauer

It would be wonderful – revolutionary! – to live in a world where all women naturally and easily felt empowered to be who they truly are, without fear of rejection, embarrassment or failure; where women felt free to express themselves openly and embrace their diverse talents in a joyful, peaceful way.

Heidi Hauer guides women to realise that they have choices available to them to fulfil their own dreams. In her book, Heidi shows us that true happiness is not the result of a picture-perfect life but instead an experience that starts from within – from nurturing our very own Queendom.

Heidi writes: ‘At some point I realised that, prince aside, my life was massively off track from my dreams. The Kingdom had fallen apart while I was waiting to be kissed awake. I needed a Plan B. I had to take matters into my own hands. It was time to become my own prince, wake myself up and create the solo edition of the Kingdom I had dreamed of building together with him. In short, I had to build my own Queendom.’

We all have moments in life that feel like a crossroads. You may have that sinking feeling that you’re in the wrong life – whether you feel trapped in a bad relationship, friendship or in a dead-end job – and secretly you hope for Mr Right to come along and sort everything out for you. This book will help you find your way back to yourself, and it will give you the confidence you need to make your own happiness, whether Mr Right is there or not.

Through a set of 28 exercises complemented by beautiful illustrations, Heidi guides the reader into building a strong foundation for their own inner peace and happiness. The stories and activities are designed to help readers become crystal clear on their hopes and dreams.

Practical, reassuring and truly inspiring, Heidi’s book encourages readers to invest their time and energy back into themselves, and relax into the journey of life.


Heidi Hauer is a holistic health & life coach for women who want to bring wellbeing and happiness on the journey to professional and personal success. Qualifications in nutrition and coaching complement her background in corporate leadership positions. Heidi guides her clients to step into their power, find that highly sought-after work/life balance and reach deeper levels of fulfilment -in and outside of work. The Queendom Within is her first book.

Visit her website or Instagram

The Heidi Hauer Podcast

In The Heidi Hauer Podcast Heidi shows listeners how to use intuitive tools and access life-changing mindset shifts that support in leading an abundant, meaningful and successful life. Listeners learn from female entrepreneurs, spiritual leaders, and creative powerhouses how to live on purpose, nurture personal wellbeing and have a positive impact on the world.

My thoughts: I’m always a bit dubious about self-help books that pledge to help you fix your life, but a lot of what Heidi has to say is common sense – and based on her own experience. She realised at the end of a relationship that she needed to make some changes to make herself happier and more confident. To write her own story instead of waiting for someone else to do it.

A lot of the exercises in the book are straightforward and don’t require lots of money or time, things like putting together a playlist of songs that boost your mood or getting out into nature to refresh your mind. Simple things that make a difference to how you think and feel, she’s not suggesting expensive nonsense, which is refreshing and means you can actually do these exercises. She’s also very honest that this takes time – it’s not a change your whole life in 30 days situation, it’s a work in progress that helps you refocus on what you really want from life. I found some of it really interesting, and while I’m happily married, and not looking for love, a lot of it could be applied to my life – we all need a boost every now and then.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.