book reviews · Bookish

Leaves of Love by Lucy Aykroyd (Review)

Hey guys. Today I am on a Random Things tour for Leaves of Love by Lucy Aykroyd which came out in Kindle and Paperback formats a week ago. I received a copy of the book for free as part of the tour. Please be sure to check out the other tour stops!

Leaves of Love is a warm and insightful book from Lucy Aykroyd who is experienced as an end of life doula. She shares stories from those in her care and how she helped them as she was by their side in their final days. It’s beautiful and heartwarming and made me quite emotional. It’s not a long read, but it’s a precious and valuable one.

Lucy not only shares stories from those she cared for in their final days, but also offers helpful advice for both caring for those nearing the end of their journey, and what one can expect. She talks about little gestures that can mean the world to the person, how to help get through the tough days and more.

You can really feel Lucy’s compassion radiate from the pages of Leaves of Love. It makes the prospect of death seem a little less scary, for me, at least. It’s hard to know what to do or how to act when people are dying and this book feels like a blanket around the shoulders and the warm pat of reassurance. I wish I had this book a couple of years ago when the death of my grandfather was looming overhead. I think it’s one everyone should read, especially anyone who is preparing for the end of life for someone. Be it as a carer, loved one, family member etc. This is a valuable book for both the practical aspect and for the soul.

About the Book

Are you a carer or companion to someone who is ageing? Are you looking to enhance every moment of their lives to the end yet feel full of trepidation at the prospect? Leaves of Love is a simple yet essential guide for both layman and expert to keep by your side as you learn the beautiful and ancient art of accompanying another over these final transitions. Leaves of Love is laced with inspiring real-life stories that depict the rich gleanings to be found within ageing and the unexpected opportunities that can reveal themselves when we embrace the reality of our dying. These stories bring with them a tool bag of ideas and practical tips to empower the carer within all of us to value our own unique gifts and love as we have never loved before. With nature as our guide we learn how to be present when we visit a care home, what matters most as we sit with someone and how and what to expect when we are accompanying a dying person.

book reviews · Bookish

You Are What You Read by Jodie Jackson (Review)

Happy Humpday! Today I am on the Random Things tour for You Are What You Read by Jodie Jackson and bringing you a review. I received a copy of this book for free as part of the tour. Please check out the other tour stops too!

You Are What You Read isn’t the usual type of book I’d reach for, but when I was presented with what it was about, I decided I had to try it – and I am really glad that I did.

We are regularly bombarded by news on a day to day basis; glaring, negative headlines in our faces and this has led to a skewed perception of the world and current affairs. Before that news reaches us, the initial person who witnessed it has their perception of it, then it’s passed on to the gatekeepers, moulded in to something to “grab” the reader/viewer before it reaches us. The news that eventually reaches us can be incredibly biased or misleading. Jodie Jackson really dives in to the process of how the news reaches us and our perception of it.

The author covers a lot with thought-provoking detail and always cites her sources to back them up (they’re numbered and can be located in detail in the back of the book). While I have always understood that the media has bias, that many people don’t read beyond a headline (and find out the topic isn’t as bad as it seems/that the headline is actually misleading) and that things are framed to generate clicks, I never realised quite how much goes in to how the news is presented to us and how beyond those initial things, how much of an impact the news has. Not just some bad news articles, but the way we are bombarded with it and the way we consume our media.

I found this book incredibly interesting and I would highly recommend it to literally anyone and everyone. We are all affected by the news. Even if we avoid watching or reading the news, someone will relay news events to us and their perception of the already biased and crafted stories can then influence us. Our perception of reality is affected by the news, no matter what. The media need to be held accountable for what they present to the people. Incredibly thought provoking and enlightening.

I really enjoyed how Jodie broke it all down and pulled apart just how the news is manufactured for our consumption and the consequences of that, the balance of it all and how we can improve our media diets. Knowing there is a problem, understanding the problem and then solutions to the problem, she covers it all.

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

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.

book reviews · Bookish · mental health · Uncategorized

Start by Graham Morgan (Review)

Today, I am on the Love Groups Tour for Start by Graham Morgan, available now in both Kindle and Paperback editions. This is a non-fiction read about Mental Health, so I’m really pleased to have been given the opportunity to share this with you. Having poor mental health myself, I leapt at the chance to be a part of this tour.

Start by Graham Morgan is compelling read. It’s honest and brave but it doesn’t beg for sympathy or attention. You’ll be taken through a spectrum of feelings as Graham discusses his current life, his past and his journey with his mental health.

Life is messy as it is, life is extra messy when you’ve got mental illness in the mix and Graham does an excellent job at portraying this. Sometimes it’ll make you laugh and sometimes it will absolutely wrench at your heart. At one point, he talks about how some people are also suffering, and how it is horrific and unacceptable and why are we so suspicious of medication that helps?  “..so glazed and consumed that they cannot muster the energy to step foot outside the door, so lacking in confidence that they are unable to take the decision to make a cup of tea, then I think, ‘this is horrific’.” this in particular really hit me, because it resonates so strongly with myself; I felt awful for the people he was talking about, but at the same time, realised I was one of them, I just didn’t recognise it a lot of the time and then I realised Graham does this himself at points through the book too. It made me feel a little vulnerable but also I felt like I got some additional insight to myself, if that makes sense.

What is the “self”? What is “reality” and “truth”? What is “mental illness”? These questions spring to mind when Graham talks about how he is sick, but also, he talks about an “evil” inside of him and how he wants to keep it there and not spread it to others or unleash it on the world. He talks about talking about this to the people who would decide that he needs to remain detained. He talks about life, relationships, how mental illness can effect them, cause havoc and mayhem and how his life was effected all interwoven with being compelled to receive treatment for his struggles.

Graham puts an emphasis on the people around him, other people in his life and how he affects them – or thinks he affects them. It’s very personal and intimate but he is also very candid about his tale which is something I found quite comforting in itself. Mental illness can make you feel so alone; even in a room full of people – even those you love dearly, you can feel more alone than you could ever imagine and I found this book to be an excellent companion during that time.

Alongside all the struggles of life, Graham also talks about some of the absolute glories of life. Some things that many people don’t think about or take for granted. Every day things that are absolutely blissful. “It is lovely to be caught unawares by cliches and to feel that joy with which they can inspire you.” Reading a book and listening to the rain. The less extraordinary things of daily life can in fact be extraordinary if you just notice them and appreciate them.

I feel like I both understand Graham more, myself and other people with mental health struggles. It’s that extra perspective and insight. Mental illness is hard to accept, it’s another thing Graham talks about (alongside basically anything you may be wondering, I found), how basically it means accepting your reality is not quite true and these other people are right, that you are wrong, and how that is a horrible feeling. This really struck me as I found it the hardest struggle for myself when I first sought treatment for my poor mental health and I know it’s a common difficulty. The fear. The accepting that there is something wrong and that you’re not okay.

The book ends on the note that he is lucky for what he has and how so many people don’t have the support system that he has and that he would like that to change. Above everything, his concern for others shines through the darkness of his own struggles and to me that’s commendable but also inspiring.

This book is a must-read. It’s inspiring, it’ll make you giggle, it’ll make you wince and it will make you appreciate things you didn’t previously pay much mind to.

About the Book

Graham 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.

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 about his 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.