Blog Tour

Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness

Today I’m delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness. Every now and then a book comes into your life that you know will only make it better. This is one such book.

When Joe Harkness suffered a breakdown in 2013, he tried all the things his doctor recommended: medication helped, counselling was enlightening, and mindfulness grounded him. But nothing came closer to his experiences with nature and, in particular, birds. How had he never noticed such beauty before? Soon, every avian encounter took him one step closer to accepting who he is.

The positive change in Joe’s wellbeing was so profound that he started a blog to record his experience. Three years later he has become a spokesperson for the benefits of birdwatching, spreading the word everywhere from Radio 4 to Downing Street.

In this groundbreaking book filled with practical advice, How explains the impact that birdwatching had on his life, and invites you to discover these extraordinary effects for yourself.

‘I can’t remember the last book I read that I could say with absolute assurance would save lives. But this one will’ – Chris Packham

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Even as I sit and write this I can hear a chorus of birdsong outside. It is a constant source of comfort to me and so to take it to the next step, to spend time learning about these wonderful creatures and identifying them seems completely the right thing to do. It’s funny, but now that I think about it I can relate a great deal to what Joe talks about in Bird Therapy. Birds are naturally soothing (unless of course you are in a Hitchcock movie). They can make us stop with their sound and their beauty… and it’s almost like pausing and taking a breath. Our destructive thoughts are interrupted and for a moment nature takes over, grounding us in a way that is incredibly hard to do in the world we are living in today.

I think in so many ways Bird Therapy is a very important book.  There are frustratingly still so many issues behind discussing mental health, a stigma that still exists.  It take a great deal of courage to put yourself out there and I am always inspired and in awe of those who can talk about their personal experience with mental health.

So who is Joe Harkness?  Well if you are already someone interested in birdwatching then you may well have heard of him.  I hadn’t until I was invited to take part in this blog tour.  He works as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator, a challenging and stressful job.  He is also a very talented writer and has been writing his Bird Therapy blog for over three years.  Joe is very honest with his own health issues and this honesty is incredibly moving.  To witness, through this book, his absolute rock bottom and see how he has come back  is incredibly inspiring.  Yet is an incredibly upbeat book, filled with fascinating facts and information (and even tips on how to bring Bird Therapy into your life too).

It is beautifully written and the overpowering message for me was the importance of reconnecting.  Reconnecting with nature, the world around us and with ourselves.  I have read many books on coping with mental health issues and this seems to be a common theme.  That at times we just need to stop.  The world is racing along at high speed, everything is instant and then  gone in a heartbeat.  No wonder we are struggling to keep up.  But do we really need to?  The answer is no.  The answer is to find your happy place.  A place where the brightness overpowers the dark.  This will then help us to cope with all the other stuff that life throws at us.

Throughout my own recovery from mental health issues I found solace in the garden. I love the peace and quite, the routine of planting, weeding, and if it all goes wrong then I know that nature will recover.  There is always a fresh start (otherwise known as spring).  Joe has found his solace in birdwatching and from his despair something truly wonderful has emerged.  He is incredibly knowledgeable in what he writes and there is so much in this book that many people can relate to.  He reminds us of the simple pleasures of looking at the worlds around us.

Yes this is a book about birdwatching and mental health but it’s also a fascinating read about human nature.  Even if you have no desire to become a watcher of birds there is something in this book that will move and inspire you.   Even if you don’t suffer from mental health issues then this book will still delight in it’s celebration of nature and it will give you a better understanding of those who do suffer.  Because statistics show that each and everyone one of us either suffer or know someone who suffers form mental health issues – even if we don’t know it yet.

This is an absolutely stunning read inside and out.  The illustrations were a wonderful addition too. When I read the synopsis for the book and saw the cover I thought Bird Therapy was something very different and very special.  Now that I have read it, I would say it most definitely is.

Thank you for sharing your experience Joe.  It truly was a wonderful read.

Bird Therapy is published by Unbound.

Thanks so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour. Bird Therapy will hold a treasured spot on my bookshelves.

About the author

Joe Harkness

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Joe Harkness has been writing his Bird Therapy blog for the last three years. He has written for Birdwatch magazine. The Curlew and the i newspaper, among others. Joe also speaks about his experiences and has recorded three ‘tweets of the day’ for BBC Radio 4. He works as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator and has worked with vulnerable groups for nine years. He lives in Norfolk.

You can follow Joe on Twitter at @BirdTherapy

You can also read more on Joe’s blog on the therapeutic benefits of bird watching here

The blog tour runs on until June 21st so do check out some of the other posts along the way.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour

#Zero by Neil McCormick

Today I’m delighted to be on tour with the rather fabulous #Zero by Neil McCormick and oh my, is it the craziest road trip going.

Zero is a drug fuelled, burnt out pop star who has one of the most recognisable faces on the planet. Every second of his life is played out for the fans to watch, every moment perfectly choreographed for the best publicity to keep him shining, keep him (and those around him) at the very top. Yet in reality he’s hit rock bottom and suddenly wants nothing more than to escape it all, to disappear into obscurity whilst running towards the woman he loves. The only problem is that the woman he loves just happens to be a world-famous actress currently filming in the depths of the jungle, who is old enough to be his mother, and reported to be cheating on him with her current co-star.

Undeterred, Zero escapes the clutches of his entourage and keeps on running, trying to make his way across America without being killed, kidnapped or recognised.  As he steps away from the bubble of life at the top he begins to search for the young Irish boy with the big dreams he once was. The boy who is disgusted with what and who he has become and questions if he truly deserves the adoration that comes with his success. What follows is a crazy, drug-fuelled week with a whole host of characters, each screwed up in their own individual ways but all instrumental in his pilgrimage to find himself again.  Zero wants to gain back a sense of worth, a sense of control and most of all a sense of freedom.

#Zero is a story about fame, selling your soul to the devil (your manager) and finally finding what really matters. It’s a story that highlights just how far we have gone with social media in a world where fame has become a form of ownership, where there seems to be no boundaries on privacy. Power comes in many forms.  I remember reading that it was once believed that each time your photograph was taken a little piece of your soul was captured and stolen.  I think that there is some truth to this.  Being in the public eye, constantly photographed, filmed and shared all over the internet with no off button, must, at times, be all consuming.   Yes  Zero lives a life that most people only dream of but I think Neil has written a novel that shows that more often than not the reality is a far cry from what we dream it all be.  Zero is a major success but those around him are not people who care and love him but simply see him as a product rather than a person.

Neil McCormick knows a thing or two about the music business (see about the author below).  His previous book Killing Bono (originally published as I Was Bono’s Doppelganger) which Elton John was quoted as calling ‘The best book I have ever read about trying to make it in the music business.’.  Well #Zero seems to me about surviving once you’ve made it. Isn’t it the dream of so many kids? The adulation, the money, the popularity, the making a mark on the world, perhaps even giving yourself some form of immortality.  Yet #Zero shows just what it can cost.

There is not much that is beautiful about Zero’s life but within this novel, beneath all the drugs, sex and hedonism there is a rather beautiful message and the last few pages were incredibly moving but oh. my. god. the ride getting there was a blast.  Funny, fast and furious. This is an awesome read.

Thank you to the wonderful Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.  Such an amazing read.:)

 

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Synopsis

Zero is the latest craze. Young, sexy and brilliant, he is a multi-hyphenated (singer-songwriter- rapper-producer) superstar for the digital generation. According to his publicist at least. He’s also a narcissistic, insecure, hyperactive, coke-snorting, pill-popping, loud-mouthed maelstrom of contradictions skating over the thin ice of terminal self-loathing.

He has touched down in New York with his sycophantic entourage for the launch of a new single/album/movie/tour. It is countdown to Year Zero. But the boy at the centre of the media feeding frenzy is cracking up. Inside the echo chamber of his own skull, he isn’t sure he deserves all the attention, doesn’t even know if he wants it anymore and is being driven half-mad by the mysterious absence of the love of his life.

As the crucial hour approaches the young star cuts and runs, setting off on a wild trip across America pursued by paparazzi, fans, fortune hunters and his Mephistophelian manager, Beasley. He’s about to find out that when you have the most famous face in the world, you can run… but you can’t hide.

About the author

Neil McCormick

1-6Neil McCormick is the Daily Telegraph’s chief pop and rock music critic. He is an author, radio pundit and television presenter, with his own music weekly interview show, Neil McCormick’s Needle Time, broadcast on Vintage TV. His memoir, Killing Bono (originally published as I Was Bono’s Doppelganger) was turned into a feature film in 2011. He lives in London.

You can follow Neil on Twitter at @neil_mccormick

#Zero is published by Unbound.

For those of you wishing to purchase via your local independent bookshop the ISBN no is: 9781783526628.

Or you can purchase on all online bookshops such as Waterstones.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Debut, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

55 by James Delargy

Two Suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?

Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints. 

All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers – he was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim. Heath is a serial killer.

As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55. Gabriel is the serial killer. 

Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins needs to find out who is telling the truth – and quick. He is forced to call in Mitch, his former partner and now insufferable superior, a partnership which dissolved in acrimony years earlier. Can Mitch and Chandler uncover the truth, before the 55th victim is taken?

James Delargy has written one of the most exciting debuts of 2019. He masterfully paints the picture of a remote Western Australian town and its people, swallowed whole by the hunt for a serial killer.

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Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for 55 by James Delargy.  I can’t believe that this is actually a debut!  It’s very well plotted and shows incredible promise from this new author.  I can’t wait to see what he brings us next.

For a brief time we enter the small, remote town of Wilbrook.  A community where the local police sergeant knows all his residents.  His small team are like a second family to him and life is quiet.  That is until one day Gabriel walks in to his station claiming to have escaped from a serial killer, a man called Heath.  Of course things become complicated when a man called Heath arrives at the station claiming that Gabriel kidnapped and tried to kill him.  This is what we do know as we go into the story and James skilfully carries us through, leading us to conclusions and then shattering them along the way.  The twists and turns kept me on my feet and although I thought I knew what was going on, he made me constantly doubt myself right the way through.  It made for exciting reading.

I was immediately on Chandlers side and I can’t tell you how many times I would have quite happily punched Mitch in the face.  His arrogance, lack of empathy and the underhand way in which he treated Chandler, left me wondering just what had gone on between these two men who had once been ‘friends’.  As the story unfolds we also flash back to a time when both men were newly instated as officers and worked together on a case searching the harsh Australian outback for a lost teenager.  That case had a lasting impression on both men and it’s not surprising that it now comes back to haunt them.  However, no one could have foreseen the devastating consequences that it would have brought so many years later as Chandler and Mitch attempt to put their issues aside and work on this new case.  Old ghosts are hard to bury though and soon the investigation becomes personal and very deadly.

The two suspects also made a lasting impression and my mind changed on many occasions as to which one was the guilty party.  Now it’s not often that I get spooked by a book whilst reading during the day but this one certainly had me on edge.  Snuggled up on my sofa, alone in the house and suddenly every creak and groan of my surroundings became an ominous sign.  My pulse raced and yes I was very nervous when nature called and I had to venture upstairs. I had to check EVERY ROOM for goodness sake.  This is an absolutely riveting read and one that had me on the edge of my seat right from the very start. The ending left me with my heart in my mouth as James tormented my imagination right to the very last word. I’m thrilled to discover that there may be a film adaptation and hope that comes to fruition.  I urge you to read 55 and thoroughly recommend it!

About the author

James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland and lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi-rural England where he now lives.  He incorporates his diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing.  55 is his first novel, which has been sold in 19 countries so far and optioned for film by Zucker Productions in partnership with Prodigy Pictures.

You can follow James on Twitter at @JDelargyAuthor

For more information visit his website at Jamesdelargy.com

55 is published by Simon & Schuster  on the 4th of April. Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in this blog tour which runs until the 10th of April.

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