Who do I see in the Mirror? by Vese Aghoghovbia Aladewolu

philly and friends mirror

My enormous thanks to the author Vese Aghoghovbia Aladewolu for a copy of her children’s book Who Do I See in the Mirror? which is one of her Philly & Friends series and is illustrated by Irene Omiunu. Vese’s books are designed to empower children, especially girls, and support underprivileged children around the world. For each Philly & Friends book sold, another book will be sent to a child in Africa.

Who Do I See in the Mirror? is available for purchase through the links here.

Who Do I See in the Mirror?

philly and friends mirror

“There is only one me!”
As Philly looks at her reflection in the mirror, she realises that from her curly hair to her legs that love to dance, she is unique.
But what makes her truly special is her good heart and curious mind.
The important message conveyed is for children to love the skin they are in. It’s what you are on the inside that matters most.

My review of Who Do I See in the Mirror?

Philly looks in the mirror and wonders who she is.

Who Do I See in the Mirror? is a truly lovely children’s book. The language is totally accessible to young independent readers but works equally well for those children needing the text read to them. The use of repetition reinforces both theme and vocabulary so that there’s a super opportunity for children to learn as they enjoy finding out what Philly likes about herself.

There are vibrant illustrations that provide positive subliminal messages not directly featured in the text which I feel is hugely important. For example, Philly’s friends are a mix of ethnicities so that children can see how we are all important, regardless of race. Snacks on the kitchen table suggest healthy fruit and veg as well as the cake treats in the picnic basket, prompting healthy eating. Philly is active and curious – exactly as we’d like all children to be.

I loved the way in which Philly appreciates each of her physical attributes, but that the most important part of who she is comes from having a good heart and curious mind. The ‘Awesome Award’ certificate at the end of the book allows any young reader to be appreciated and made to feel special.

Who Do I See in the Mirror? is utterly charming. It’s beautifully illustrated and with a very important confidence building message about self-image so that I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Philly and I’m sure any child would too! I really recommend Who Do I See in the Mirror? to share with young children, especially as doing so will help underprivileged children world wide too.

About Vese Aghoghovbia Aladewolu

philly

Vese Aghoghovbia Aladewolu was born in Nigeria and later moved to the UK where she gained a Masters Degree in Engineering from Imperial College London.

Vese lives in London with her husband and young daughter who has inspired Philly & Friends.

You an find out more by visiting the Philly & Friends website, following Vese on Twitter @phillynfriends and finding her on Instagram. There’s a Facebook page for Philly too.

Our Life In A Day by Jamie Fewery

Our Life in a day

I have no idea which lovely publicist at Orion sent me a surprise copy of Our Life In A Day by Jamie Fewery, but I would like to extend my grateful thanks to them as its arrival was most welcome.

Our Life In A Day was published by Orion in ebook on 27th December 2018 and is available for purchase and paperback pre-order (April 2019) through these links.

Our Life In A Day

Our Life in a day

The rules are simple. Choose the most significant moments from your relationship – one for each hour in the day.

You’d probably pick when you first met, right?
And the instant you knew for sure it was love?
Maybe even the time you watched the sunrise after your first night together?

But what about the car journey to the holiday where everything started to go wrong? Or your first proper fight?

Or that time you lied about where you’d been?

It’s a once in a lifetime chance to learn the truth.

But if you had to be completely honest with the one you love, would you still play?

For Esme and Tom, the game is about to begin. And once they start, there’s no going back . . .

My Review of Our Life In A Day

When Tom’s best friend Annabel pushes him into chatting to Esme at a fancy dress party the consequences will reverberate throughout the next decade.

This is going to be one of those reviews that is difficult to write without including spoilers so I’ll state unequivocally that I absolutely adored Our Life In A Day and cannot recommend it highly enough.

There are so many aspects that make Our Life In A Day a poignant, touching and emotional read. The themes Jamie Fewery includes are devastatingly effectively portrayed so that the reader has complete understanding of how and why Tom and Esme behave as they do. I don’t think it is revealing too much to say the concept of depression gives an unexpected gravitas to the narrative that is compelling and affecting. I loved the fact that, with honesty as a major theme to the novel, when they meet neither Esma nor Tom is in fancy dress like everyone else. This is a portent of the way in which identity and truth will resonate throughout their relationship.

I thought the plot was a wonderful concept. Esme’s 10th anniversary game is the foundation of all the action in a manner that is authentic and also somewhat terrifying because I wasn’t sure throughout what the outcome of the game might be. The denouement to Our Life In A Day left me tearful and emotionally drained.

The balance of focus between Esme and Tom is delicately wrought giving each an importance and status in the story. The fact that there is only a small cast of supporting characters adds to the intensity and emotion and at times I could hardly bring myself to read on, whilst simultaneously not wanting to stop. It was Tom in particular who touched me. On occasion I wanted to shake him and remonstrate with him and yet I still wanted to hold him close and comfort him too. People close to me have experienced similar demons and the way in which Jamie Fewery depicts Tom’s struggles is incredibly accurate and impactful.

To try to explain Our Life In A Day further might risk spoiling the read for others. I think Jamie Fewery has written an important narrative because he has woven in aspects that are enormous problems and issues for both society and individuals. That said, Our Life In A Day is neither moralising nor didactic. It is instead a wonderful, heart breaking, and emotional depiction of love and life. I absolutely adored it.

About Jamie Fewery

Jamie

Jamie Fewery is an author, journalist and copywriter. He has written for the Daily Telegraph, Five Dials and Wired, and works for a London-based marketing and creative agency. He lives in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire with his wife and son. Our Life in a Day is his first novel. You can follow Jamie on Twitter @jamiefewery and Instagram @jamiefeweryauthor.

Reprobation by Catherine Fearns

Reprobation

My enormous thanks to Ben Cameron at Cameron Publicity for sending me a copy of Reprobation by Catherine Fearns in return for an honest review.

Reprobation is published by Crooked Cat Books and is available for purchase here.

Reprobation

Are you one of the elect?

Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.

When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.

Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.

My Review of Reprobation

Calvinist nun Dr Helen Hope finds herself embroiled in a gruesome murder.

My goodness, Reprobation is a very different murder mystery. It is complex, intelligent and actually quite challenging at times, being none the worse for the effort I found I had to put in to grasp some of the theological elements and to define some of the language. I thought Reprobation was exciting and fascinating.

Firstly, I loved the character of Helen Hope; from her appropriate surname through her struggle with her beliefs to her intellectual ability. She helps the reader comprehend the religious aspects of both the underpinning theme of Calvinism and the crime narrative, she links theology with secularism through her discovery of Mikko’s music and lyrics and she has the perfect balance of obedience to her lifestyle and rebelliousness against it that makes her a perfect heroine for this kind of story.

Secondary characters like Darren Swift are developed just enough to leave the reader wanting more about them all by the end of the story and it is interesting just how important a character Liverpool is. Reading Reprobation made me want to visit the city to try to experience some of the brilliantly wrought atmosphere for myself. I understand there is a second book featuring Helen Hope and Darren Swift and I can’t wait to read it.

Reprobation‘s narrative is fast paced, twisty and entertaining. There’s a solid police procedural as well as more maverick, independent, action from Helen and Mikko that helps the plot race along and that I thoroughly enjoyed. Music is an essential element of the story and despite my middle aged, middle of the road musical taste, reading this book made me want to investigate the heavy metal musical genre!

However, it was the philosophical aspects that really grasped my attention. I’m a complete atheist but the concept of playing God, pre-determination, sin, genetics and the afterlife are such brilliantly woven themes that I found Reprobation utterly fascinating.

Reprobation can be read on so many levels. It is indeed an exciting and entertaining Liverpool set police procedural murder mystery. It’s also a philosophically thought-provoking read that I feel I need to reread immediately in order fully to appreciate how intelligently and carefully it has been crafted by Catherine Fearns. I think I have missed so much as a result of my own ignorance. Reprobation is certainly a novel that will withstand several readings. I thought it was excellent.

About Catherine Fearns

catherine

Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool, UK. Her first novel, Reprobation, was published by Crooked Cat books in October 2018, and the sequel Consuming Fire has just been released. (February 2019).

She writes music journalism for Pure Grain Audio, and her short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Offshoots, Toasted Cheese, Succubus and Metal Music Studies. She has a degree in History from Oxford University and a Masters from the London School of Economics.

You can follow Catherine on Twitter @metalmamawrites and visit her website for more information. You’ll also find her on Facebook.

The Migraine Relief Plan: An 8-Week Transition to Better Eating, Fewer Headaches, and Optimal Health by Stephanie Weaver

The Migraine Relief Plan

Although I’m taking a bit of a blog tour sabbatical at the moment, I’m very pleased I agreed to take part in this book birthday blitz for The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver, thanks to fellow blogger and friend Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources.

I’ll never forget the first migraine I ever had. I genuinely thought I was going to die from a brain tumour. I was walking through campus at university when I was suddenly and completely blinded by a cascading zigzag zebra crossing of lights flashing across both eyes and a nauseating headache that rendered me immobile for several days. I remember being led back to my room by a friend as I literally couldn’t see anything but the zigzags. It was terrifying. As a result, I’m delighted to be staying in with Stephanie today to find out a bit more about The Migraine Relief Plan as, although I rarely have a migraine with aura these days, I think I might need her advice!

Published by Agate, The Migraine Relief Plan is available for purchase here.

The Migraine Relief Plan

The Migraine Relief Plan 9781572842090

The Migraine Relief Plan: An 8-Week Transition to Better Eating, Fewer Headaches, and Optimal Health

In The Migraine Relief Plan, certified health and wellness coach Stephanie Weaver outlines a new, step-by-step lifestyle approach to reducing migraine frequency and severity.

Using the latest research, her own migraine diagnosis, and extensive testing, Weaver has designed an accessible plan to help those living with migraine, headaches, or Meniere’s disease. Over the course of eight weeks, the plan gradually transitions readers into a healthier lifestyle, including key behaviors such as regular sleep, trigger-free eating, gentle exercise, and relaxation techniques. The book also collects resources—shopping lists, meal plans, symptom tracking charts, and kitchen-tested recipes for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner—to provide readers with the tools they need to be successful.

The Migraine Relief Plan encourages readers to eat within the guidelines while still helping them follow personal dietary choices, like vegan or Paleo, and navigate challenges, such as parties, work, and travel. A must-have resource for anyone who lives with head pain, this book will inspire you to rethink your attitude toward health and wellness.

Staying in with Stephanie Weaver

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Stephanie. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Thank you so much for inviting me! I love staying in with a good book, so I love the concept of this series.

Tell me, (although I have a pretty good idea), which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it? 

The Migraine Relief Plan 9781572842090

I’m featuring my last book The Migraine Relief Plan, which celebrates its 2nd Book Birthday on Valentine’s Day 2019! I’m excited to share it with your readers because 1 in 7 people experience migraine, and 1 in 5 women do.

My book helps people who get migraines and bad headaches by sharing a framework I developed to gradually shift my lifestyle. You make one small change each week over 8 weeks, and then stay on the strict version of the dietary Plan for 3-4 months before testing foods to add them back. The Plan helps each person determine their unique migraine pattern and triggers, so you can craft your life to avoid those triggers as much as possible. It’s also anti-inflammatory, so it helps reduce inflammation in the brain that supports migraines occurring.

(That sounds a simple and effective method Stephanie.)

I was diagnosed with migraines and vertigo four years ago at age 53. That’s really late in life to get diagnosed. Doctors missed it because my symptoms were atypical. I thought I got bad weather headaches, not migraines. I didn’t have aura or have to spend three days in a dark room.

When I started having vertigo attacks, I finally saw a specialist and got a diagnosis. He gave me a diet sheet, and when I got home I found that three-quarters of what was in my refrigerator was in the “do not eat” column. That was shocking, because I was eating a super-healthy diet at the time, I had a food blog, and I had a degree in nutrition education.

(Oh! I’m about the same age as you, eat healthily and have the same symptoms. It never occurred to me these could also be migraine. I think The Migraine Relief Plan could be just what I need.)

I bought every book that was available, and found them to be somewhat helpful, but most confusing and contradictory. I learned a lot of piecemeal things that might help me, but the contradictory information was frustrating. Eventually I did my own research at the medical library at our university so I could develop this Plan to help others.

Included are 75 recipes that are free of known migraine triggers, are anti-inflammatory, and made from whole foods. All the recipes are provided in metric as well as U.S. measurements. And they’ve all been tested by people with migraines: singles, couples, and families.

(I’m going to get started on these recipes immediately Stephanie.)

So, tell me more about what we can expect from an evening in with The Migraine Relief Plan.

The tone of the book is very personal. I share my trials with wellness and staying on the Plan. There’s an entire chapter about failure! Most diet books act like you wave a magic wand and all the food in your house (and in your life) is magically perfect, you never have cravings, and you never go to parties or eat out. My book addresses all that quite honestly.

I had a reader named Jason who’s been very active in our Facebook group on behalf of his wife. She’s gone from 3-4 migraine days a week to 1 per week, and he’s been cooking up a storm and sharing his recipes that follow the Plan. It even allowed them to go out for a celebration dinner, which they had come to avoid.

I hear from readers that they appreciate how much of my own experience I shared, they really believe that I get it, and that they love how gradual the lifestyle changes are. For example, you don’t actually change anything you eat until Week 4, and that’s just your snacks. As a health and wellness coach, I wanted to set people up for success, so I show readers how to arrange their kitchen and their home environment to shift to a migraine-friendly lifestyle.

I’ve also had a number of people read the book who deal with chronic pain, inflammation, or who want to lose weight and are looking for a realistic approach to that. And people who follow gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, or low-sodium diets also love the recipes.

(This sounds brilliant.)

What else have you brought along and why?

Lindas Book Bag - StephDaisyLake-LindasBookBag 

Well, I know you are a cat household, but I had to bring along my dog Daisy. She walks with me every single morning. It’s how we start the day.

(She’s delightful and even though I am a cat person, I’m really happy to meet Daisy!)

Lindas Book Bag - DogWalking-LindasBookBag

We usually do a 30-40 minute walk, then I do 10 minutes of very light seated yoga, and 10 minutes of meditation. I’ve worked up to this morning routine gradually over time, as I have a chronic pain condition called fibromyalgia that flares up if I overdo it. Daisy is always there with me, and I add small walks in throughout my day, especially if I have been writing.

Happy Book Birthday-all

It’s been a huge pleasure to stay in with you Stephanie and to find out more about The Migraine Relief Plan on its birthday. As soon as we’ve finished chatting I’m going to investigate it further as I think it has so much to offer someone like me. Thank you for staying in with me to tell me all about it.

Thanks again for having me, Linda. I appreciate you sharing my book with your readers, and I hope you enjoyed your time with my book in your bag!

I really did!

About Stephanie Weaver

The Migraine - VerticalBlueDoor

Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC, is an author, blogger, and certified wellness and health coach. Her recipes have been featured in Cosmopolitan, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Parade, and more. She lives in San Diego, CA.

You can find Stephanie on Instagram and Facebook and you can follow her on Twitter @SWeaverMPH.

Am I Ugly? by Michelle Elman

Am I Ugly

My grateful thanks to Alice Geary at Midas PR for sending me a copy of Am I Ugly by Michelle Elman in return for an honest review.

Am I Ugly is published by Head of Zeus and is available for purchase here.

Am I Ugly?

Am I Ugly

In today’s world of supplements, celebrity diets and social media, it’s very easy to be hard on ourselves about the way we look. With all this pressure to strive for ‘perfection’ aesthetically, it is easy to forget how damaging this can be psychologically. Michelle Elman is a leading part of the body positivity movement that has been gathering momentum to liberate people from these unrealistic standards, recognise that all bodies are equally valuable and broaden the billboard definitions of beauty.

Am I Ugly? is this inspiring woman’s compelling and deeply personal memoir that describes her childhood experiences of life-threatening health problems, long stays in hospital and fifteen complex surgeries that left her scarred, both mentally and physically. The narrative follows Michelle’s journey from illness to health, and from childhood to adulthood as she deals with her body-confidence issues to embrace both her scars and her body – and help others to do the same. This remarkable book grapples with the wider implications of Michelle’s experiences and the complex interplay between beauty and illness.

My Review of Am I Ugly?

With life threatening illnesses, Michelle Elman endures a childhood that will leave both physical and mental scars.

I have to confess I read Am I Ugly? over quite a long period of time, not because I didn’t enjoy it (if, indeed, enjoy is the correct verb to use), but because I found it such a powerful book that I needed to tackle it in short bursts. Structured like a traditional three act Greek tragedy with just as much drama, Am I Ugly? is divided into 36 chapters all headed by questions about identity, at least one of which I can imagine that every human, male or female, on the planet can relate to.

I found Michelle Elman’s account of her life, her insecurities, and her attempts to come to terms with her body and mind, utterly fascinating. She writes in a captivating and fluent style about her experiences. There is a raw honesty and she doesn’t spare herself in the telling. I think Am I Ugly? could do more to further understanding of self image and to aid good mental health and well-being than any erudite thesis because here we have a warm, intelligent, independent woman who is prepared to open herself up to scrutiny and not only survives, but thrives. I found her writing brave, accessible and moving. Michelle Elman realises she is a product of her past but she also develops the tools to cope with that realisation and explains the process in a manner I think will bring solace to so many others.

By the time I got to the end of Am I Ugly? (and was in tears at Michelle Elman’s letter to her 11 year old self) I felt I had lived some of the author’s experiences with her, had met vicariously a woman whom I would be proud to know in real life and had been given tools that I can apply to my own life even now. Her epilogue might just be the most powerful and effective three pages for a reader lacking confidence that they have ever encountered.

I heartily recommend Am I Ugly? to anyone struggling with physical or mental illness, anyone who feels a lack of confidence and crippling insecurity or to anyone who knows someone who is suffering in this way. Am I Ugly? is powerful, uplifting and helpful writing.

About Michelle Elman

michelle

Michelle Elman is a five-board accredited body confidence coach, award-winning body positive activist and author. She has appeared on Sky News, BBC Radio London, BBC Radio 5 Live, LBC; and has featured in over a hundred press articles worldwide. Michelle’s TEDx talk ‘Have you hated your body enough today?’ has been viewed over 40,000 times.

You can follow Michelle on Twitter @ScarredNtScared and find out more by visiting her website. Yiou can also find Michelle on You Tube, Instagram and Facebook.

The Frizz by Jasmine Fogwell

frizz

My thanks to Jasmine Fogwell for a copy of her children’s book The Frizz in exchange for an honest review.

The Frizz is available for purchase here.

The Frizz

frizz

Jeannie Avery Gibbins has frizzy hair and a wild imagination. Every day her mother has to help tame the frizz to get her ready for school.

But each morning, when Jeannie sees her hair in the mirror, she gets an idea. Today, she doesn’t see frizzy hair, instead she sees a lion’s mane.

What do you think Jeannie’s hair will turn into tomorrow?

My Review of The Frizz

Jeannie’s hair has a life of its own!

The Frizz is a charming children’s story about a girl with difficult to tame hair. It has super illustrations that give extra detail and enhance the story. At the risk of sounding sexist, I think it will probably appeal more to girls than boys simply because of the reference to hair products and items like bobby pins.

The structure is great for children as there is both repetition when Jeannie wakes up, and development through the attempts to tame her hair on each day that Jeannie gets ready for school, so that young readers can feel reassured and excited simultaneously.

The vocabulary is accessible to those who are more independent readers, with a few more challenging aspects so that I think The Frizz will develop confidence in reading. I thought Jeannie’s antics (like using a hairbrush as a microphone for her singing) were a smashing blend of familiar behaviours children can understand and more unusual ones (such as being a mop) that children can use to build their own imaginations too.

The Frizz is a fun and entertaining story that I recommend.

About Jasmine Fogwell

jasmine

Jasmine grew up in Norland, Ontario, Canada. She graduated from Heritage College and Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario with a Bachelor of Religious Education. One of her passions is skiing and she is a certified Level 2 ski instructor with the Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance. Jasmine enjoys being in the mountains, reading, playing soccer, and traveling.

You can find Jasmine on Facebook.

The Cleansing by Anton Eine

Cleansing-cover-fb

Regular Linda’s Book Bag readers will have spotted that I almost never feature science fiction, but when Anton Eine got in touch and said The Cleansing was a short story of only 18 pages I thought I’d give it a go! I’d like to thank Anton for sending me a copy of The Cleansing in return for an honest review.

The Cleansing is available for purchase here.

The Cleansing

Cleansing-cover-fb

Will beauty save the world? Not this time…

This sci-fi short story gives us a view of our world from perspective of alien invaders that just arrived to destroy any life on Earth.

Can we do anything to save our fragile peace, to protect our home and the very existence of the humankind?

My Review of The Cleansing

Aliens arrive to ‘cleanse’ Earth of any life.

There’s a really interesting structure to The Cleansing as it is written entirely in dialogue so that it feels quite futuristic and I think it would translate extremely well into a radio play. Equally, it would support a longer narrative with more description and development too as it is an interesting concept.

There’s little character development or conventional setting as befits the structure of the writing, but what is fascinating is the exploration of themes and concepts in The Cleansing. I thought the presentation of life on Earth as a kind of computer simulation was very interesting and the references to both God as a ‘Pre-Eternal creator’ alongside science as the rationale for Earth lead to some though-provoking ideas.

I felt we could learn a lot from The Cleansing. There is a clear message that humanity does not learn from its mistakes in history. The aliens contemplating whether they should eliminate Earth give a salutary lesson that humans are not as important here on earth as they might believe.

I don’t read science-fiction usually, but I did enjoy Anton Eine’s The Cleansing. It makes a great read for a lunchtime break or as a palette cleanser between other genres and I recommend others give it a try.

About Anton Eine

Anton

Anton Eine is an independent author and you can find out more by following him on Twitter @AntonEine, finding him on Facebook or visiting his website.