Of Wisdom and Valor by Aleksandra Layland

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Helllllllo readers, hope you’re well and ready for an excellent but really LONG post so I won’t be here long. I’ve got a fantastic Q+A with Aleksandra Layland and her book Of Wisdom and Valor.

If you were to describe your book in only three sentences what would you say? (They don’t have to be short sentences!)

Sometimes shorter is best. Specifically, for “Of Wisdom and Valor:”

  1. The good guys win in the end, and you’ve never seen a war like Leofric plans one, but “luck” or “providence” can still have a critical role to play in who survives in the end.
  2. The love stories are touching, and there are several; love is truly the force that holds the universe together and it can transform even the dustiest of hearts into one of passion for life.
  3. In its small way, this novel is also a subtle salute to those who protect and defend us in a dangerous world, and to their families who love and support them while they do so.

Which character did you enjoy writing the most? Who would you say is your favourite?

This a hard one because I really enjoyed writing three characters more than any others: the heroine, Keridwen: the hero, Leofric; and Leofric’s friend and lieutenant, Wulfgar. Since Keridwen and Leofric are no surprise (if an author doesn’t enjoy writing about their hero and heroine, they need to replace them!) and are impressive as the main characters, let me address Wulfgar. He surprised me the most because the more I wrote about him, the more his role in the story increased and the more I liked him. Although Kimbria is not in our time, and is a world not of our own, I see Wulfgar in my head as somewhat of a tall, reddish-haired (close-cropped on the head, and only short growth on the face), man in his early forties who can be absolutely uplifting with his good humor, joking, and teasing. He’s charming and very approachable, yet you want to get out of his way if he loses his temper. The good news is, his temper is the quick kind… it may be quick on, but it’s always quick off, and he’s loved by the men-at-arms who serve under him for all he can break into a swearing session if something “stupid” or irritating happens.

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Did you learn anything from writing your book and if so what was it?

I learned a lot of technical things. Although the story isn’t set here on our own Earth, I used our experiences and civilizational developments in building the world in which Kimbria is located. The indigenous people, the Kimbrii, are a sort of blend between medieval Vikings in appearance and early age Polynesians in culture, such as wearing Viking-inspired dress, dancing and chanting in ancient Hawaiian-inspired movements, and originally skilled in hand-to-hand combat inspired by Maori greenstone weaponry. When they become a horse people, I used the native American, European, and Asian horse cultures as models for their mounted archery. (These cultural differences are spelled out in the first book in the trilogy, Ansgar: The Struggle of a People. The Triumph of the Heart.)

I should add that something else I’ve learned much more about while writing the book is my English heritage. I knew my mother’s paternal grandparents were English, but I didn’t know where from or any other details until I worked on our family genealogy after I retired. To honor those roots, which come from northern England, I incorporated my mother’s maiden name of “Layland” into my pen name; and adopted place names and even the name of the indigenous people, the Kimbrii, from the counties and peoples where my English ancestors lived. (If you’re curious, “Aleksandra” is a nod to my father’s Polish roots.) In the bigger picture, I learned how long it takes me to write a book. I type with two fingers! The idea for the love story of Keridwen and Leofric came to me in my twenties, in dreams. I’ve only been able to finally write it in my sixties, as well as to add to it the rest of the other books which fill out the Windflower Saga trilogy and book series.

Is there a message in your novel that you wanted your readers to grasp?

Very much so. Each of the novels in the trilogy as well as the three related novellas that I’ve completed so far, have a specific theme. “Of Wisdom and Valor” is very much focused on the struggle between good and evil, both within an individual and within a society, as it expressed in the forces that contribute to war and peace. The individual struggle is personified in the character of Gethin, or Lord Gethin as he became. A sort of “con man on steroids,” one to whom the lives of others means nothing.  This individual struggle is captured in the phrase, “Every child can become the light of the world, or its darkness.” On the societal level, the struggle is characterized by corruption in all levels of society, from the monarchy, the religious hierarchy, and down.

 The theme is that corruption in society should be fought, not necessarily by war, although this situation came down to it, but by the commitment and involvement of citizens to demand and bring about good governance, and to hold public officials, religious leaders, and their fellow citizens accountable. Overall, the Windflower Saga is meant to be uplifting in spirit, even though it deals with some very harsh realities of life.

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What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

My mother took me to the library as a small child and I learned to love to read. Both of my parents, though they had only a high school (that the American term) education, loved to read. My dad, who was a brick and stone masonry contractor, use to say that he graduated from the University of National Geographic magazine. And the hardest decision my mom had to make the few times we moved from one part of the US to another, was leaving books behind because there wasn’t room in the moving truck to take them. I use to go to the library as a child, as soon as I was old enough to walk there on my own, and rove the shelves, taking an armload home and bringing an armload back, every two or three weeks. I read all sorts of things, both fiction and non-fiction, but I really enjoyed history and biography a lot.

What are you writing next? Is there a second book on the way?

Of Wisdom and Valor is the second book in the Windflower Saga trilogy (the other two are Ansgar and Far Haven), which I wrote last year, along with three novellas (The Feathered Crown, Far Endeavor, and Bind Not the Heart) that relate to characters in the trilogy. I also just finished two small picture books for kids (Tiyo, the Dog Who Saved Ansgar and Bright Star, A Pony of the Kimbrii) and a short “chapter book” (Keri and Kalina) for young readers. I’m currently working on a “middle grade” novel called Golden Skye of Ansgar, which actually tells something more of the lives of Leofric and Keridwen, when the last of their children is born and they are about to abdicate from the throne as joint monarchs after serving the people of Kimbria for twenty years. Two novellas for young adults and three other novellas are on my plate. They will complete the Windflower Saga book series.

Finally, where can my readers find out more about you and your writing?

I have an author’s page on Amazon. After I finish the novels and novellas in the series, I hope to prepare an “illustrated companion and author’s commentary” in which I can tell the story of what inspired the series, things about the characters that were cut out during editing, etc. The questions I’ve often wished I could ask an author who was no longer with us.

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Amazon

Goodreads

YouTube 

Audio Excerpt from the novel “Of Wisdom and Valor”

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Digital Detoxing (with a book obvs.)

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Helllllllo readers, interesting post today and I know it’s been done before but I wanted to talk about my personal experience with Digital Detoxing. Many of you will know the last couple of years my self-esteem has really dropped. I don’t know when it happened but I kinda felt like I lost part of Lizzy. She kinda fell away like a shadow. For a year (a WHOLE FUCKING YEAR) I just struggled through. Then recently I decided it all needed squashing, my insecurities needed stamping on with both feet.

Anyone that struggles with low-mood and anxiety based wobbles will know then when you’re in that frame of mind your memory and your ability to concentrate just GOES. Well, I was work a month or so a go, and I took my laptop into work and then I left without it. AND I COULDN’T GET IT BACK. So, there I was, in this total confusion and facing an evening alone with my own thoughts. Well what happened instead was  I pulled my socks up, and I had a digital detox and IT FELT FUCKING AMAZING. So, here is my recipe for a bladdy brilliant digital detox.

Bath (OR Fricken awesome shower singing session.)

Okay, so this just might be me, but when I’m feeling insecure there are two ways I can go. It either has to be a really sumptuous bath with a lovely Lush bath-bomb, something like the Frozen Let it Go (Geddit) or something really colourful and glittery or it’s a shower singing session with some really fruity scented shower gel something like the Imperial Leather Mango.

Whichever you feel able to do, do it. Get clean, get those wobbles out of your mind and your chest (they settle there don’t they.)  

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Make A HOT CHOCOLATE (TO DIE FOR)

I absolutely adore a hot chocolate and I’m an absolute sucker for a really heavy, rich one covered in cream and marshmallows, but when I’m feeling a little anxious there are normally struggles about my weight too, so I try to keep a bit healthier. I absolutely adore the Options Hot Chocolate Sachets; they taste delicious even if you mix them with water, and you can use hot milk if you do feel like making it creamier. I ADORE the limited edition Belgian Choc Sweet Popcorn flavour.

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Jammies

Throw yourself into the snuggliest, comfiest clothes that just make you feel fricken amazing. Whether they’re covered in unicorns or they’re splattered with stars; GET THEM ON. I promise your freshly washed pajamas (if possible,) are an absolute hunk. I think this emoji set are to die for. 

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 SNuggle up in bed (and turn everything off)

So you’re hella comfy but what next; for me it has to be getting into bed, setting an alarm for the morning and then turning my phone onto do not disturb. It can be tempting to just turn it on silent but I really that turning DND on and shutting it in a drawer is the only way I will really, really ignore my phone. Also getting into bed and pulling the duvet on or snuggling on the sofa with the blanket is a welcome distraction from my blinking and buzzing phone.

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REAAAAAAAD

I really feel like so many of us don’t read enough any more –  I always see bloggers and youtubers going on about the last time they read a book was MONTHS ago (or the last time they went on a really beautiful holiday.) Well folks, it’s time to dip back into that holiday bag and pull out a tried and tested book. For me if I’m having wobbles in my life then I want something that falls far from the tree – so  I want a book that lets me step back.

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MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN BY RANSOM RIGGS

THE GIRL IN THE ICE BY ROBERT BRYNDZA

TRAIL OF BROKEN WINGS BY SEJAL BADANI

Sleep. That is all.

So that is my list for people that need some time to step back and BREATHE. It’s okay to get things wrong. It’s okay as long as you learn and don’t let it get to you. A digital detox and a space to get away might be just what you need.

 

 

Television Series I would recommend to Amber from ‘The Chocolate Run.’

Hellllllo, readers. Hope you’re having a brilliant Tuesday. As you know I bloody hate Tuesday’s but I actually reaaaly like writing these posts and this one is definitely one to make you smile. This week for The Broke and the Bookish the task is to suggest television series for a book character you love – I’m picking Amber from the chocolate run. #ENJOY

Orange is the new black

I mean it’s a classic! If you haven’t read the book then Amber actually works and adores films and I really think that OITNB has that feel to it. It’s a bit of a bloody blockbuster isn’t it? I think although Amber likes classics she would want to keep up with this series which is SO HOT RIGHT NOW.

House of Cards

 I think me and Amber would be best buddies, and I adored this so I think we could re -watch all of this together? Although she would have probably seen this because it’s good.

GOtham

This is a new series for me that my sister suggested and I haven’t got round to watching it yet. I’ve watched the first ten minutes this morning and I thought it looked fantastic but I had to leave for work #noooooooo.

Maybe we could start this together? Me and ambs.

New Girl

 I feel this is a series that all females must watch because not only is Jess JUST LIFE, but Nick is my utter favorite. Amber watches a lot of really important films whilst she’s at work and it’s really stressful at times. I think this would be the perfect series for Amber to relax to.

How to get away with murder

This series is just PERFECTION. Highly recommend that you watch this and that includes Amber. This series is such a binge watching fest and NOW I WANT TO GO BACK AND WATCH IT.

Stranger things

Amber actually loves sci-fi, supernatural based things and although I’m not sure I’m going to enjoy this because I think it’s a bit creepy I think she would be engrossed. Maybe her and Greg could snuggle up on the sofa and watch this and eat hella chocolate.

GILMOre GIRLS

#CLASSSSSSIC. Amber should and would love this.

SHERLOCK &

BROADCHURCH

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Both of these television series are just perfection –  I absolutely adored Broadchurch and Sherlock. Both have such brilliant filming and I think Amber would really enjoy pulling this to pieces, especially Broadchurch.

THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS

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Finally, Amber sometimes really struggles with her childhood and I think this would be a really sweet programme for her to watch when she just needs to snaffle some chocolate after having a mini argument with Greg. Every girl needs a throwback.

There we go, ten fantastic series that you should watch and Amber should definitely watch with me. I would ADORE watching these with Amber and getting to know her better because she’s bloody fantastic.

Pokemon Go Book Tag

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Disclaimer:  Pokemon Go belongs to Niantic and Nintendo, please don’t sue me.

Okay, I just want to say a massive thank you to Aentee @ Read at Midnight for such a bloody fantastic tag. Firstly what a clever idea, and secondly the imagery is GORGEOUS. Also I thought I would just let you know – I TRIED MY BEST TO NOT GET POKEMON, then I gave in, downloaded it and reached level 20 and joined team Instinct so. There we go.

Rules:

NIL. Link back to my blog is appreciated but optional. Feel free to use my graphics. Tag people, don’t tag people, whatever. Just have fun!

Pokemon-Tag-01Starters

When I played Pokemon on le Gameboy I always picked Squirtle but I said I wouldn’t get obsessed with Pokemon Go so I just randomly clicked Charmander. Now I’ve never seen a Bulbasaur. (SAD FACE) 

For the bookish equivalent, some of my first English language books were by Roald Dahl, Jacqueline Wilson and the Judy Moody books. I was lucky at school that I was pretty good at reading and could read whatever I wanted but those were some of ma faves.

Pokemon-Tag02Pikachu

I still haven’t encountered a Pikachu in the game but I did help T pick him as a starter and then he found both Squirtle and Charmander on his first day! 

Iconic classic I’ll always love? I’m not going to pick HP because I’m sure everyone will so I’m going to pick  The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. It’s a beautiful book and it’s such a fun book to read.

Pokemon-Tag-03-Zubat

GO AWAY ZUBAT – seriously if you’re playing Pokemon I bet you’ve SERIOUSLY had a friggen nuff of Zubat. 

I think maybe Harry Potter and The Cursed Child – I thought about reading it but I’ve kinda changed my mind now. We’ll see – maybe I’ll get back into it.

Pokemon-Tag-04-Ditto

Look how cute Ditto issss, although very, very elusive. 

Hmmmmmmm I think maybe Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 and maybe Out by Nastsuo KIrino. I’m not saying that these books are similar because they are placed in the same location and therefore have the same cultural/social themes. I mean they do but that’s not why I’ve picked them.

They both have the same languid but heavily description based writing style. They really focus in on the action, but in a spot that you wouldn’t always be looking. They take your eye away from the main screen and direct you towards something else – it’s a really fascinating technique which not only engrosses you further in the book but forces you to see what the author is seeing. Both in their own rights are fantastic authors.

Pokemon-Tag-05-Snorlax

I actually have a snorlax called Snorzy and he is my favourite pokemon. EVA. 

LOLOLOLOLOL Game of Thrones. I really want a series to get into and I think this one could be the one but it’s so terrifying that I don’t know what to do with myself. I wouldn’t be worried about spoilers because I tend to come to things like 1458959940 years too late – like I just finished Prison Break and House of Cards in the last few months, but the sheer size of GOT is scary. Like hella scary.

Pokemon-Tag06-Gengar

I love Gengar, love him but I don’t have one yet! I do have a Haunter though which is pretty sweet so we’ll see. Ghastly’s are pretty common where I am. 

I’m currently reading Hard Girls by Martina Cole. It’s not very scary but the fact that I’m 300 pages in and still WE HAVE NO IDEA WHO THE KILLER IS. It’s firstly a little frustrating but it’s actually the first serial killer book I’ve read that’s focused so much on the actual lives of the detectives solving the puzzle. I just want to get through it now and find out what happens.

Pokemon-Tag07-NidokingQueen

I REALLLLLLY REALLLLLY want a Nidoking, but one hasn’t appeared for me yet. Maybe soon, we’ll see. 

I’ve always wanted Luna and Neville to get together because I think they would be just perfect! I love how geekishly similar they are (in a good way,) but then they’re both just freakishly brave and awesome too.

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HOW FREAKING COOL IS RAPIDASH. I haven’t even spotted this one yet. Great job Lizzy and your rubbish tracking skills. 

I’m going to go for Reinheit by Thomas Flowers, not only is he an indie author so that’s pretty cool but also it’s a really exciting, heart plummeting book. Perfection. See my review HERE too  

Pokemon-Tag09-Eevee

I know Eevee’s are super-duper common but I love seeing them – I think Vaporeon is my favorite but I cannot wait for the other evolution’s of Eevee to join Pokemon Go. 

I think I would have to pick The Nighthawk Series by Rachael Richey. I know that I’m actually behind on this because I’m actually currently super addicted to crime novels with serial killers because I’m cool, but I will get round to reading all of these.

I feel like this is a series that could go on for agez – in a good way.

Pokemon-Tag14-Magikarp

I currently have 73 Magikarp candies which is so many any from the 400 I think I need? How have people caught so many Magikarps. ARE PEOPLE CHEATING.

I think I’m going to pick The End of the World Running Club. I picked this up in the London Euston WhSmith with no information really on what the book was about and I don’t normally do that because TRAIN STATIONS BOOKSTORES ARE SO EXPENSIVE.  This however was super good, see my review HERE.

Pokemon-Tag12-Legendary

Probably will never ever get these Pokemon but a girl can dream. 

I also like Aentee have still not read the Percy Jackson series but it’s been on my TBR list in the past so maybe I will still give it a go. I need a new series to read because I want to create a couple of new features on my blog and I think ‘LIZZY ACTUALLY READS POPULAR BOOK SERIES’ could be a good one? We’ll see – this could be the first series.

Pokemon-Tag15Mew-MewTwo

I thing back in the day Char actually caught a Mew but we couldn’t control it at all! I don’t know whether the game spammed or anything but it was just a bloody nightmare but we did catch one. 

This Sherlock Holmes set is utterly stunning and T and I have a bit of a thing where we try to outdo each other on the presents we get each other. SOOOO….. *hint hint nudge nudge*

Pokemon-Tag10-Egg

Is it just me or do 10K eggs actually never, ever, ever appear. I’ve had one so far which is so frustrating because HOW AM I GOING TO GET AN ONIX.

Debut novel I’m excited for? This one.

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Pokemon-Tag11-Lure-Module

I’ve used a couple of Lure’s because the Whether-spoons (#classy) in Hanley is a Pokestop and for some reason you can get GPS inside. I mean it’s not particularly social but take a couple of friends who are also addicted to Pokemon and it’s a pretty great social excursion. 

Auto-buy? I would have said J K Rowling but I haven’t been able to buy Harry Potter and The Cursed Child because I’m not sure I’m ready for it. I think maybe Dorothy Koomson. Her books always make me smile at least.

Pokemon-Tag13-Server-Down

I haven’t actually experienced the server’s being down because TYPICAL LIZZY LATE TO THE PARTY  it was over a month after in launched in the UK that I downloaded Pokemon, but yes this would be annoying. 

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE  a sequel to Remember to Breathe by Simon Pont but I’m pretty sure that’s never ever going to happen. We’ll see eh.

RIGHT, I think I have completely given away how obsessed I am with Pokemon Go and how I should keep it as far away from my blog as possible. This tag was utterly fantastic and took me forever to do but I loved it! If you do want to do the tag I’ve linked the original post above so enjoy! AND GO TEAM INSTINCT. 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday! #BACKTOSCHOOL

Hellllllllo readers, it’s Tuesday and that means it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday. I absolutely LOVE  today’s topic because I truly believe that my love of reading was really created when I was at school. Although I always found that school kind of stopped me reading the books I wanted to read, I found that it also opened a door that I have never been able to shut, and that is my addiction to reading.

So, today’s topic is what books I would have on my shelf  if I was a teacher.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

 

This book I didn’t actually read until last year, but I thought it was brilliant and so telling. I think if I was a teacher I would want to share books with my students that would really test how they think about things.

Lee takes us through the eyes of a child to see the injustice of the adult world and how one parent’s love and crusade to represent the underrepresented teaches us all lessons in humility and compassion – it is just perfection.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

If I was a teacher I think I would definitely teach secondary school students but I think this would still be a book that was on my shelf. This is definitely a talking point – what does the book teach us, what does it represent, is it still relevant today.

Shel Silverstein’s book really reminds us of the tenderness of the relationship between the giver and someone too young, too naive to realise just how much has been sacrificed. It’s an adorable but shocking book and  I really love it.

THE Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

 Randy Pausch offers so much more from childhood to adulthood. While it is a book about maintain the preciousness of our dreams, the true gift of this book is that in dying, Pausch shows us with humor and humility how to truly live.

THE Perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I think as a teacher you need to have a real selection of books, some that are really thoughtful and positive and some that look at the difficulties of life. I really think this a book that would help you take on growing up which is a welcome addition to my shelf.

We need to talk about kevin by lionel shriver


Okay, so this might feel a little dark but this book presents a very sensitive look into one way a murderous, sociopathic student might emerge — audiences are left to decide for themselves whether or not they consider such behaviors the result of nature, nurture or a mix of both.

Although incredibly dark I think this is a book to create a discussion between students and introduce them to the power of literature.

THE girl with the dragon tattoo by stieg larsson 

This one is really just because it’s a guilty pleasure of mine. The narrative of this book is an introduction to a completely different culture and mixture of languages which I think creates a patchwork book. I adored this series and I hope my students would too.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

A beautiful but important book that everyone should read. I can see someone being really bored on a wet-lunchtime and just picking it up and getting heavily, heavily involved. The thought of that makes me very, very happy.

THE BFG by Roald Dahl 

Just because you’re a little older doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read Roald Dahl. This book is brilliant and I think sometimes when the world gets too much this is the perfect cool down.

The Art of Being Brillian by Andy Cope, Andy Whittaker

Some of you will know that over the last couple of months I’ve really struggled to FIND myself. I knew that I wasn’t really, really struggling (like going to the doctors struggling) I just needed a bit of a pick-me up that life was okay, and being lost was okay, and that there were things that I could do to improve my mood.

I know during my school time anxiety and stress didn’t really affect me but I think now, because of social media and cyber bullying etc this book could reaaaally bloody helpful. Perfect for the shelf.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes  by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Classic. Needs to be on the shelf. NO MATTER WAHT.

So there you go, the books that would be on my shelf if I was a teacher and wanted my students to have a shelf they could pick from when they needed something to distract them from the struggles of life. Have you read any of these? Would you pick any of these from my teacher shelf? Let me knowwwwwww.

 

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker

Do something today that your future self will thank you for. (2)

Hellllllo readers, interesting post today and a book I really want to get into quickly. I’ve started to run. I’ll probably write a post about this soon because it’s something I want to talk about more but basically one morning I got up and went for a 3K walk, and then I did the same, over and over and over again. Then a month or so back I started to run that 3K, over and over again until it became a 5K and a 7K. It’s given me a new confidence and a new sense of determination and one thing that really helped me sustain my running was this book.

The End of the World Running Club by [Walker, Adrian J]

I honestly hold the mantra ‘To Survive you Need to Run’ in my head every morning at 6am when I’m exhausted, my head is heavy with sleep and I feel like rolling over and becoming a duvet burrito. When I started running (a little while before I picked up this book) I didn’t realise how hard it was. As a younger version of myself 5 miles really wasn’t that hard to do, but as an adult I could barely make it ten meters without feeling like I was going to have a heart attack.

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The character in the book is the same – stranded from his family in the middle of the collapse of the world, overweight, struggling with mind daemons that he could have done more for his family and relying on too much alcohol to get through it all I saw myself a little in this character. He begins to run, knowing that if he doesn’t make it to Dover where his family are getting ready to leave for a less damaged country, they will be gone, maybe forever. As he continues travelling hundreds of miles the difficulties become more tragic, lack of water, other people who have survived threatening his very existence.

All the way  through he faces obstructions, both physical and mental. Whether an inability to keep his feet moving forward mentally or physical blockages like broken cars, and unstable houses that threaten to cave and squash our runner –  I carried this book everywhere. The thing with running is you don’t really have time to turn over every little stone inside your mind. Instead you have to keep your feet moving, you breath steady, and you HAVE TO KEEP GOING.

If you’re wondering how much is end of the world style writing and running, it’s about a 75% to 25% split, but every move in the book has the need to survive. Whether in a cellar with no air, ravaged cities, or crammed military bases, there’s a sense of hope, seen mostly in the passages of running – where we get to really feel the mental aspect of running, kinda like this passage here:

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“That other beast inside you, the one you rarely see? You have it tethered tight. It watches and waits while you mess up your life, fill your body with poison and muddy your mind with worry. For some it takes just one call to free it. For others it takes five hundred miles of agony. But mine was free now, for the first time since I was a boy, running with a grin like a wolf through moonlit bracken. Pain ran alongside me, kindred and beautiful and garinning my grin. I’ll always be here, it said. Always, but now we’re friends.”

In terms of characters, Ed actually feels REAL. Like a real character – he has problems, he has insecurities, he has wobbles but at the same time he’s exciting to follow. The motley crew that he runs with including the terrifying but hilarious Bryce add their own tune to the book – each has a very special addition to the story line and reading about them all, getting to know their stories, it was beautiful. I have rarely felt so in tune with a book.

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In terms of the writing, the book is beautifully written, the writing is soulful and also to the point, it has such a strong rhythm and as we move further into the book and find more and discover extra characters and subplots Ed pulls us through – no matter how messy the world is, we get to keep going, we keep running no matter difficult or dangerous the road gets. The ending is beautiful, I won’t give it away because that’s not fair but I had a real step back moment, where I had to give myself five minutes (on a bus in Nottingham) but I might have shed a tear.

This book is incredible, whether you define as a runner or not. I know it’s made it into my top ten list of books due to its sheer power to encourage me to always look forward, lace my trainers up and get running. Now it’s your turn.

Amazon

Goodreads 

Waterstones

Reflections: An Exploration of Self Through Colouring, Mindfulness and Focus by Tracy Badau

 

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Reflections: a book for all those seeking peace in a frantic world

 “Reflections is not like any other colouring book. Besides engaging focus in beautiful, well detailed illustrations, it helps us to reflect on how daily stress can be harmful to our mental and physical health. I think that one of the most valuable messages it gives is that, through the exercises and colouring, we can learn techniques to help us alleviate the negative thinking and stress in our lives. An amazing, soul-touching book which I recommend for anyone to use and enjoy!” – Daniella Liberato

The reason that I put this book together was to give people some of the tools and techniques that I’ve learnt on my own journey and now use to disconnect from negative thinking, beliefs and anxieties that used to run my life, in the hope that these tools may help other people to do the same.

I think it’s incredibly hard to remain balanced in today’s world, with the pressures we face on a daily basis.  So having tools and techniques that we can call upon to use when life is challenging us, helps to get us back into centre before we drop into negative thinking and spiral downwards.

It was 14 years ago that I left the UK to head off travelling for what I thought would be for a year.  Little did I know that I was in fact embarking on what would become a journey of self-discovery and wouldn’t see me settling back in the UK for 12 years.

I realise looking back now that when I set off on my travels I was searching for something more, something that would take away the underlying feeling of anxiety and sensitivity to life that I was carrying with me like baggage.  I was searching for happiness and peace and at the time thought that it was outside of me, in another country, another relationship or another job.

I wasn’t happy and was reacting to the world, in victim mode, and was a bit lost.  I felt like sometimes I was just existing through life and often each moment was just a means to an end in the hope that something in the future would come along and give me the happiness and peace I was desperately searching for – I was living in my head in my thoughts a lot rather than experiencing each moment in the present for what it was and that was a really painful, anxious and stressful place to be.

I was drawn to a lot of different teachers and practices who all teach different techniques in their own way, but I realised that they are all pointing in the same direction, that change comes from within.  I recognised then that the happiness and peace I was seeking was already in me and I just had strip away the layers of negative thinking and beliefs that I’d accumulated over the years to re-connect with me.

What I wanted to do is to create a workbook that people can use however they are drawn to using it.  I’ve alternated colouring illustrations with mindfulness techniques, visualisations, negative belief changes, empowering belief integrations, finding your inner strengths exercise, looking at a challenge from different perspectives etc.  I’ve also incorporated some thought-proving quotes throughout the book that have been a source of inspiration to me.

By integrating the self-help exercises with colouring illustrations, I wanted to create a book that would appeal to a wider audience, an audience who might not necessarily reach for a self-help book even when life is challenging them which in today’s world it often does and with this in mind I have kept all the exercises simple, light and easy to follow.

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