Week in Review – 14 May 2017

Lovely week this week, Tuesday my walking group joined up with another for Bristol WalkFest and Mental Health Awareness Week, it was a beautiful blue sky day and it was great to see some of the guys from the other group and catch up with them (our groups occasionally join up so I know most of them already).

Also, as it was Mental Health Awareness Week, I wrote a piece for the charity I volunteer at which is up on their website. If you are interested you can read it here. The piece was also published to the Huff Post, which we were pleased about. I love volunteering with this charity which is also the charity who provide my mental health care, well for the next few weeks at least as I’m being discharged soon (eeek!) They are absolutely amazing, and unlike many of the national campaigning charities, these guys work on the frontline doing work that the NHS isn’t able to provide or has contracted out, which is why I had care from them, and I can tell you that the service they provide is a thousand times better than anything I have ever received from the NHS.

On Tuesday evening I went to see the musical Wonderland with some of my family. This is a musical retelling of Alice in Wonderland. It was a bit different from how I was expecting it to be but still very enjoyable, I was pleased that many of the songs had a more rock feel to them and that it was an original score (I have a particular dislike for musicals made up of “real” songs).

Unfortunately, during the early hours of the next morning we were woken up by someone trying to break into our flat through our bathroom window. The friend they had with them was trying to steal Hubs motorbike just outside. The bike theft is becoming a bit of an ongoing problem, Hubs had a bike stolen just before Christmas, and this is at least the fifth time we know of that the replacement one has almost been taken. Luckily Hubs woke up before the person got inside and scared them off, the police were brilliant and got here within a few minutes, had the helicopter up searching for the little buggers (I guarantee they were teenagers around here), but having heard no more they haven’t found them. We are at the point of phoning them so often that we are pretty sure we have our own personal police guard now which is why they arrived so quickly!

Ironically, we were talking only a few days ago about not feeling comfortable here anymore, partly because it’s so small (it’s the tiniest flat in the world, I swear nobody could find somewhere smaller than this) and partly because of all the crime problems we’ve had in the last six months. Then this happened, it’s like someone is telling us to get lost!

Finally, I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had taken part in the Grimbold Books podcast. It is now up on their website for all to listen to. We talked about book blogging and being a book reviewer. It was great fun, I’ve never taken part in a podcast before but would definitely do it again. I was with a group of seasoned pro’s including their other guest BookTuber Thomas Wagner from SFF180. You can listen to the Podcast here.

So, onto my bookish update this week… (as always click on the covers for more info/to see the posts)

Currently Reading

Roadie - C.M. Stunich Legion - Julie Kagawa

What I’ve Read

The many colours of us Into the Hall of Vice - Anabelle Bryant  Save The Date - Aven Ellis Groupie - C.M. Stunich

New Books

Bought / Freebies

Connectivity - Aven Ellis The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square - Lilly Bartlett Roadie - C.M. Stunich Real Ugly - C.M. Stunich

Giveaway Wins





I’ve got one 5* review this week in Into the Hall of Vice and I took part in a Mental Health Awareness Week blog tour this week with Loving the Life Less Lived, I was honoured to be included on this tour given my connection to the subject.

Cry Wolf - Greta Stone Into the Hall of Vice - Anabelle Bryant Loving The Life Less Lived - Gail Marie Mitchell

Other Posts

Vicki from Cosy Books joined me on The Bookshelf this week, if you missed it do head over and check it out. I also had a really lovely guest post from Pat Abercromby earlier in the week about writing a book from the point of view of a carer.

Just One Life - Pat Abercromby The Bloggers Bookshelf Logo


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#BlogTour: Loving The Life Less Lived by Gail Marie Mitchell @GailMitchell42 @RedDoorBooks #MHAW17 #LTLLL #AuthorInterview #Review #Giveaway

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, as most of you know this is a topic very close to my heart as someone living with Bipolar. I volunteer at a local mental health charity and I write about my own experiences over at my other blog.

It wasn’t a difficult decision to join the blog tour for Gail Marie Mitchell’s Loving the Life Less Lived. While I don’t generally read mental health books I was intrigued by the synopsis and the timing of the tour was perfect for ensuring something went up during this important week. I will be cross posting this over on my other blog so my mental health friends will see it aswell to ensure both my blogging communities get to celebrate this wonderful book.

Also, don’t miss the giveaway at the end of the post, I have one copy of the book for my readers (UK only sorry).


Like many people, Gail Marie Mitchell battled with anxiety and depression for many years, finding it exhausting, stressful and demoralising at times.

Realising that this approach to her condition was futile, Gail chose a different approach: acceptance.

Taking control in this way removed some of the pressure and enabled Gail to focus on developing coping strategies, creating the tips and tools that are included in this empathetic and practical book.

Gail focuses on the positive aspects of her condition, showing how a person living with mental illness is so much more than the label that society puts on them. She found acceptance empowering, enabling her to live her life to the full. Perhaps not the life she had planned, but one that is happy and fulfilling and that she loves. She is Loving the Life Less Lived.

By sharing her experiences and describing what she learnt from them as well as the resulting coping strategies, Gail has created an essential companion for anyone dealing with mental illness and their family and friends.

Loving The Life Less Lived - Tour Banner

Author Interview

Hi Gail, Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by on BrizzleLass Books.

1.    Tell us a bit about Loving the Life Less Lived for those who haven’t come across it before.

It’s part memoir / part self-help book. The ‘memoir’ part talks about my experiences of anxiety and depression over a number of years and my journey to healing. I have tried to be honest about my darkest moments but also hopeful about the possibilities. Mental illness is definitely not a life sentence; in fact looking back it has actually enhanced and enriched my life. The ‘self-help’ bit includes different sections on the ‘tools’ I use to manage my mental health. I don’t believe there is one ‘quick fix’ solution to anxiety or depression so it is about finding what works for you.

2.    What inspired you to write your story, and to turn it into a kind of self-help journal?

At the time I wrote the book there were very few titles out there by people who’d actually experienced anxiety and depression. I’d read loads of books by ‘experts’ but people who live through panic and despair day to day are the real experts. There are several more books out there now which is really good news. I wanted to tell people who were living with anxiety and depression that they are not alone. I also wanted to share some of the tools that have helped me on my journey.

3.    What made you start referring to your journey as the Life Less Lived?

The actual title for the book came to me in a flash, it literally dropped into my mind one day when I was particularly fed up and hiding under my duvet. Really though the Life Less Lived is a misnomer. In the way most of society judges things my life is ‘less lived’ because my career hasn’t gone as planned, I’ve had lots of deviations in my life, never had my plans turned out quite as I intended but the reason I LOVE it is because the live less lived is, in actual fact, much richer and fulfilling than anything I could have planned.

4.    You talk about having a positivity journal, I’m a big fan of journals I have several and also keep lists for everything, do you keep any other journals aside from your positivity journal?

If I had time I definitely would. I’m a great believer in journal writing, both as a healing process in itself but also as a tool to look back and see how far you have come. I spend 5 or 10 minutes a day on my positivity journal, which not only includes things I am thankful for but also lessons I have learnt and achievements I have made. If I get any other time to write during the day I am now turning my hand to fiction, writing a YA novel.

5.    You talked about your trip to the USA, this resonated with me having done a trip of my own at a pivotal point in my own journey. What do you think it is about travelling that makes us feel more in control than being at home?

Ooh, great question! I think there is something about travelling which gives the sense of moving on and making progress. I also think seeing different sights, people & places puts things in perspective. When we are at home in our own ‘world’ we can be fooled into thinking that that is the only world but when we travel our everyday lives seem far away, we can see our problems from a distance and they don’t seem so overwhelming or powerful.

6.    You speak about contacting the GP, most of us have plenty of stories to tell when it comes to our dealings with GPs, do you have any stories that stand out? (they don’t have to be horror stories…funny ones count!)

There is one that I talk about in the book where I was really at the end of my tether; I didn’t think I could carry on. I had summoned all my energy to visit the GP, psyched myself up to get into the surgery and then, half-sobbing and shaking, I’d blurted out my tale of woe. The GP was looking at my strangely and didn’t appear to be listening. When I’d finished he said ‘you do realise you are morbidly obese don’t you?!’ I was devastated. I went in desperate, I came out thinking I was a physical wreck as well as a mental wreck. It was horrible.

Having said that, there are many very good GPs and I have had some wonderful experiences too, somehow it’s the bad ones that always stand out.

7.    You talk about self-help books, yours is very much a self-help books with lots of useful insider tips for managing many of the key aspects of anxiety and depression, that said do you have any recommendations for books which have helped you?

I’m discovering new self-help books all the time. I have just started The Mindfulness Playbook by Dr Barbara Mariposa which is a simple and practical guide to Mindfulness and I am waiting to read Frazzled by Ruby Wax. If I was to pick one self-help book which has really helped me in the past it would probably be Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Dummies although that was quite hard work, it was worth it.

I sometimes find that the best ‘self-help’ books are not self-help books at all. Just getting stuck into a great work of fiction can take you to another space and time and distract you from your worries. I’ve just finished The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood which I was really able to escape into.

8.    Given your experiences do you think we as people or society as a whole puts too much pressure on us to live up to an ideal that the majority of us cannot meet?

Yes, absolutely. I don’t think it is intentional but it seems that there is more and more pressure from employers to meet targets, from advertisers to get the latest products, from magazines to be sexier and happier. I think it is worse for children and teenagers today, to get good grades, to keep up with their friends, to look the ‘right’ way. Young people today have access to the internet 24/7 so the pressure is never ending. I want to get the message out that it’s ok to be not ok. It’s fine to be ordinary; it’s great to be different.

9.    How did you find it sharing your experiences? Opening up about painful times in your life?

It was cathartic. I had already worked through a lot of the experiences I wrote about but some I hadn’t and writing them down as though explaining them to a friend helped me process them in my mind. I didn’t want to sugar coat anything but I also wanted to show that I learnt something from every experience and that, even at the times when I thought I couldn’t carry on, the situation eventually passed and I came out stronger.

The harder bit was letting people read it. Not strangers, I never minded that but my family and close friends. I was very worried about their reaction as I’ve never been able to explain so clearly how I feel verbally but somehow writing it down, it just flowed. Thankfully they were all great and I got really good feedback from everyone which was a relief!

10. The theme of mental health awareness week is striving or thriving, what do these mean to you?

I never use the expression to ‘suffer’ from anxiety and depression, although in the past I have definitely suffered from them! Now I manage them, mostly successfully, sometimes I still have a blip but having mental illness doesn’t mean you can’t also have a fulfilling career, close friends, a loving relationship and achieve all your aims and ambitions. You can live life to the full and love every minute of it. True you might have to take more care of yourself, rest more, get support, pace yourself but having experienced the darker side of life can really make you appreciate the joy and beauty in the ordinary and everyday experiences which many people take for granted.

Thank you so much for stopping by and wishing you all the best with the book.


Despite my own issues with mental health I’m wary about reading memoirs because they are so personal to the person who has written them, if I don’t like them I always worry how my review will affect them (I’ve had a bad experience in this area and it is not one I wish to repeat). I also as a rule don’t like self help books so steer clear of these.

There was something about this synopsis though that made me rethink my policy of avoid avoid avoid, and I have to say I’m very glad I did. Gail Marie Mitchell writes in a similar manner to the way I do about my own mental health with a raw honesty and openness. She doesn’t hold back any dark or light corners of her life as she works through her experiences with depression and anxiety.

Certainly something that stood out to me as I read through the book was how many similarities in our stories there were. While my illness was technically different I still suffer with depression and anxiety, I still get panic attacks so could relate to the symptoms and experiences that Gail talks about in this book. Things she has been through often mirrored things I have been through and things she has tried to cope with so have I.

The more I read the more I realised that there are so many of us out here with these stories, who have similar experiences whatever our mental illness. I think that’s one of the most accomplishing things with a book that’s well written like this, it’s like a hug from a friend saying “I know what you’re going through”.

The other aspect to her book is her more self-help aspect, within each chapter she offers advice on dealing with whatever the focus of that chapter has been, from approaching the GP, to managing a panic attack. What I liked about these are they are practical learned tips from someone who has lived them. I found myself nodding my way through the tips knowing they are similar to the tips I would offer someone if they asked me, yet many of them are different to the “official” advice that would be offered in a professionally written book or if handed out by someone in a professional capacity.

While I found some of this hard to read, just because it will always be hard to read about someone struggling with their mental health for me. I felt an affinity with Gail that I haven’t felt reading someone’s memoir in a very long time. I feel like I came away from the book with a new friend and confidante.

I highly recommend this book, especially to people who may be newly struggling with anxiety and or depression, it will help you understand how to manage practically and probably help you avoid some of the pitfalls which can creep up in front of you.

Sending a huge thanks to Gail Marie Mitchell and Anna at Red Door Publishing for the eARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.


About Gail Marie Mitchell

Gail Marie Mitchell - Author Image

Gail Marie Mitchell has tried her hand at many things over the years from studying chemistry at the University of York to teaching in the favelas of Brazil. She now works in the exciting world of accountancy, supporting small charities in the East Midlands area. She lives in a country idyll with her husband and spends her time working, writing and trying to make sense of this crazy, confused and broken world we live in. She has lived for much of her life with anxiety and depression, conditions she has slowly learnt to accept and celebrate and which have led her to write Loving the Life Less Lived.

You can read her blog and poetry on her website at www.lovingthelifelesslived.com



  • Giveaway ButtonOne copy of Loving the Life Less Lived available to UK readers of my blogs!




Book & Buy Links

TitleLoving the Life Less Lived
Series: N/A
AuthorGail Marie Mitchell
Genre: Mental Health | Memoir | Self-Help
Publisher: Red Door Publishing
Publication Date: 4 May 2017
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: Paperback
Pages: 256
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | WaterstonesFoylesBook Depository

Week in Review – 7 May 2017

This week has been a bit of a shock to the system, after several very busy weeks I got hit quite hard with a dose of mania and psychosis coming back this week. A warning shot from the bipolar that I was doing too much, and when I saw my support worker on Friday she told me as much as well, reminding me that I knew better and had to look after myself. So I’m re-evaluating what I am doing with my time, how much time I’m spending running around, volunteering, helping family etc so that I don’t end up really sick again and totally incapacitated because that’s just not good for anyone.

Friday evening saw me tootling over to Bath for the Robin Hobb event I’ve been rather excited about. It was held in Christ Church which despite my lack of religion and dislike of the uncomfortable seating was a really nice venue for this type of event. There was an hour of “in conversation” with Jane Johnson who is the Publishing Director over at Harper Voyager, she’s pretty much a legend herself given she launched the imprint and Robin Hobb, thanks Jane! It was a wonderful conversation covering Robin Hobb’s books, characters, writing processes, life, and family. There were many funny moments and many relatable moments and as someone who started reading her books right at the beginning when the first one was launched twenty years ago it made me feel nostalgic to go back to the beginning and start again, maybe I should!

At the end of the evening there was a signing and the chance to meet the lady herself, along with the fantastic jacket illustrator Jackie Morris.

Now I may have mentioned before that I have a problem with going mute when I really admire someone’s work. I used to do this a lot with bands I had to interview, and yes, it happened with Robin Hobb. In all honesty it’s a great privilege to whoever I meet if I go mute, it means I think very highly of them! I managed to squeak out a “It’s a great honour to meet you” asked to get a photo then scuttled away! Some people stood there talking for ages, I envy those people greatly! All those things I wished I could say but my voice was broken…thanks anxiety!

So, onto my bookish update this week… (as always click on the covers for more info/to see the posts)

Book of the Month

It’s time for me to announce my Book of the Month for April, I had a few in the running and I couldn’t decide between two so I’ve doubled up this month because of that.

dragon-of-ash-stars the-last-days-of-magic

The Last Days of Magic was also my most visited post during April so you guys obviously enjoyed it aswell so thanks for that!

Currently Reading

The many colours of us

What I’ve Read

Cry Wolf - Greta Stone  

New Books

My no adding to the TBR fell apart this week… but I have got some brilliant new books on there!

Bought / Freebies


Book Post

Holiday In the Hamptons - Sarah Morgan 


Shifter_Clans_Series_Box_Set   The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square - Lilly Bartlett 


There Is Always More To Say - Lynda Spiro Memortality - Stephen H. Provost HEX - Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Other Posts

This week Kate Coe was featured on The Bookshelf and was the first blogger to take part. I hope you enjoyed her answers, I came out the other end with a huge list of books to go on my wish list!

Into The Heat - Tamara Lush The Bloggers Bookshelf Logo


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Week in Review – 23 April 2017

It’s been a funny old week this week. I had a book that I’d been chomping at the bit to read that I had to admit defeat on just past the halfway mark. I will write a brief review on it next week as I did make it far enough to form some valid opinions and it only seems fair, but I was genuinely gutted to be making the decision to walk away from it.

I’ve been really busy with my volunteering, I’ve done two whole days this week which has wiped me out, I’m not used to that anymore (I know, I know, most people work full time but I’ve been out of commission for three years!), I’ll hopefully be doing more of this kind of thing as I build up towards working again (yay!) so fingers crossed the old bipolar cooperates!

I won a couple more giveaways, I don’t have all the books yet so they aren’t all on here but I’m not sure where all this luck is coming from lately! Speaking of Giveaways my blogiversary giveaways are still open and I’m running one in conjunction with Sybil Bartel at the moment to win a copy of her book Thrust, the links are in the Giveaways section below.

I also have spaces throughout May for people to take part in my The Bookshelf feature. It’s open to Bloggers and Authors so if you fancy it drop me a line via the form over on this page and I can send you the questions! It’s a great bit of fun and I would love to get more Bloggers involved.

So, onto my update this week… (as always click on the covers for more info/to see the posts)

Currently Reading

There Is Always More To Say - Lynda Spiro

What I’ve Read

the-unlikeable-demon-hunter-deborah-wilde    The Dragon's Legacy - Deborah A. Wolf  The Darkness of Love - Catherine Green 

New Books

This week I picked up a novella I’ve been hearing loads about The Old Man At The End of the World, hopefully I will have some time to read it soon, it sounds a hoot. I also won a historical novel which sounds a lovely read at a giveaway run by the lovely Danielle at Books Vertigo and Tea. I don’t read much historical fiction anymore but this one really stands out for me so I’m looking forward to giving it a go.

Bought / Freebies


Giveaway Wins

Book Post

Shattered Minds - Laura Lam


The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters - Jaimie Admans   Save The Date - Aven Ellis


 Rough - Sybil Bartel  Then. Now. Always - Isabelle Broom

Other Posts

I had a lovely guest post from dual-timeline novelist Kathleen McGurl this week,

  The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters - Jaimie Admans Fractured Silence - Carrie Ann Ryan Legacy of the Mind - H.R. Moore  the-authors-bookshelf-logo


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  • Bookishly Stationary Set & Second Place Prize of Book & Nook Candle – Blogiversary Giveaway (UK Only) Rafflecopter
  • eBook Copy of Thrust by Sybil Bartel with Rough (International) Rafflecopter
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card with Rough – Tour Wide (International) Rafflecopter
  • $20 Amazon Gift Card & eBook of Legacy of the Mind with Legacy of the Mind – Tour Wide (International) Rafflecopter
  • Amazon Kindle Fire or $100 Amazon Gift Card and FREE eBooks from Prowlers & Growlers – Blitz Wide (International) Rafflecopter

The Discoverability Challenge – 2017

I was looking to add a challenge to my reading this year in addition to the Goodreads Reading Challenge which is just about the number of books you read. I enjoyed keeping tabs on how Joanne Hall was doing with her Discoverability Challenge last year, a challenge to read more female authors, especially within the SFF genre. When she posted she was doing it again this year and within the post put a call out for others to join her this seemed the perfect challenge to join, especially as I have quite a pile of books waiting to be read by female authors I’ve not read before.

The rules are simple, read at least one book per month in any genre, fiction or non-fiction by a female author you’ve not read before. As I take part in blog tours and pick up books from NetGalley this will be easily achievable so I have set myself the goal of making sure that I read at least one SFF novel by a female author I’ve not read before each month to chip away at that pile I mentioned earlier!

I will keep a list here of all the authors I read who qualify for the Discoverability Challenge, and for all the books I specifically read for the challenge I will tag them and link them back to this page. I’m looking forward to seeing how many new female authors I discover in 2017!

My 2017 Discovered Female Authors

  1. Victoria Aveyard – Cruel Crown
  2. Jill Mansell – Meet Me At Beachcomber Bay
  3. Sheila Norton – The Vets at Hope Green
  4. Anabelle Bryant – The Den of Iniquity
  5. Lele Iturrioz – Seasons Within
  6. Cassandra Piat – Stuck With Me
  7. Anne Bishop – Written In Red
  8. Judith Colquhoun – A Country Practice: New Beginnings
  9. Nikki Landis – Dark Promise
  10. Sarah Morgan – Sleepless in Manhattan
  11. Donna Compositor – Curse of Stars
  12. Liz Gavin – Celtic Fire
  13. Clare Morrall – When the Floods Came
  14. Jane Ederlyn – Reborn
  15. Tamara Lush – Hot Shade
  16. Abbie Roads – Saving Mercy
  17. H. Leighton Dickson – Dragon of Ash & Stars
  18. J.D. Hughes – My Beautiful Disaster
  19. Laini Taylor – Strange the Dreamer
  20. Sybil Bartel – Rough
  21. Harper Sloan – Lost Rider
  22. Deborah Wilde – The Unlikeable Demon Hunter
  23. Catherine Green – The Darkness of Love
  24. Deborah A. Wolf – The Dragon’s Legacy
  25. Lynda Young Spiro – There is Always More to Say
  26. Greta Stone – Cry Wolf
  27. Gail Marie Mitchell – Loving The Life Less Lived
  28. Rachel Burton – The Many Colours of Us
  29. C.M. Stunich – Groupie
  30. Cristina Hodgson – A Little of Chantelle Rose
  31. J. Aislynn d’Merricksson – Mother of Wolves
  32. Patricia A. McKillip – Alphabet of Thorn
  33. Tiffany Shand – Shifter Clan Series
  34. Lilly Bartlett – The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square
  35. Jaimie Admans – The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters
  36. Anna Stephens – Godblind
  37. Laurie Winters – Home Field
  38. Tani Hanes – Living In The Shallows
  39. Rachel Van Dyken – Cheater
  40. Joanna Mazurkiewicz – Wyvern Awakening
  41. Holly James – Worth Remembering
  42. Caitlyn Lynch – Ellie’s Encounter
  43. Chantelle Griffin – Made In The Image Of The Goddess
  44. A.L. Michael – Cocktails & Dreams
  45. Errin Krystal – The Last Dragon Rider
  46. Aimee Brown – Little Gray Dress
  47. Sarah Bennett – Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove
  48. Karen Marie Moning – Darkfever
  49. Terry Tyler – Tipping Point
  50. Erika Gardner – The Dragon in the Garden
  51. Pepper Winters – Tears of Tess
  52. Brittainy C Cherry – The Air He Breathes
  53. Sylvia Ashby – The Sinking Chef
  54. Maxine Morrey – The Christmas Holiday
  55. J Kenner – Wicked Grind
  56. Nikki Sex – Abuse
  57. Natalie K. Martin – What Goes Down
  58. Keary Taylor – Branded
  59. Alexandra Weis – Damned
  60. C.M Stunich & Tate JamesElements of Mischief
  61. Violet Blaze – Biker Rockstar Billionaire CEO Alpha
  62. Summer Cooper – Professor Next Door
  63. Leigh LaValle – Breathless
  64. Allie Burns – The Lido Girls
  65. Lilac Mills – And A Sixpence For Luck
  66. Ellen Wiles – The Invisible Crowd
  67. J Mercer – Dark and Stormy
  68. Mhairi McFarlane – You Had Me At Hello
  69. Jackie Ladbury – Air Guitar and Caviar