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Short Story Prize for aspiring writers’ fairy tales

The National Literacy Trust and Bloomsbury Publishing are calling on budding children’s fiction writers to recreate a classic fairy tale, with the chance to have their work published.

The Short Story Prize 2017 is set to unearth brilliant new talent in children’s writing across the UK.

The writing competition challenges unpublished authors to capture children’s imaginations with a short story that gives a well-known fairy tale a modern twist. Entries should be between 2,000 and 4,000 words, aimed at children aged 8 to 12.

The top 10 stories will be published in an eBook anthology by Bloomsbury, the renowned publishers of titles by J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman and Louis Sachar. The 10 winners will also receive £200 each.

This year’s competition, which follows the success of the New Children’s Author Prize 2015 and the Poetry Prize 2016, will be judged by representatives from the National Literacy Trust and Bloomsbury Publishing.


Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust said:

“Exciting and inspiring literature is vital to our work, so we are delighted to be working with Bloomsbury Publishing for the third year to uncover new children’s writing talent.

“For decades, fairy tales have been used to help children and adults better understand themselves and the world around them. We can’t wait to see how aspiring authors will give the magical stories we love a modern twist, while supporting our work to help more children fall in love with reading.”


Ian Lamb, Head of Children’s Marketing and Publicity at Bloomsbury Publishing said:

“Bloomsbury are delighted to once again partner with the National Literacy Trust on a competition that looks to discover the talent and imagination of undiscovered writers. Short stories are often a key way for young people to get into reading and we cannot wait to read the wonderfully twisted submissions.”


Emma Cox, winner of the New Children’s Author Prize 2015 said:

“This is a magical opportunity to grasp with both hands – how fabulous to write a twisted, wicked modern take on a fairy tale…. I’d say don’t doubt yourself: enter this competition. Have faith in the talent that you have, throw in a bit of luck, some powerful magic and support the wonderful work of the National Literacy Trust. Set yourself achievable targets, start scribbling ideas down now, carry your story in your head wherever you go … it’s a wonderful experience, and if you’re one of the 10 winning writers you will have created your own happy ever after. Just think of that.”

The launch of the Short Story Prize 2017 comes after a new national celebration of creative writing was announced earlier this month. National Writing Day on 21 June 2017 encourages people to put pen to paper and unleash their imagination”.

First entry is £30 (subsequent submissions £15). The competition closes at midnight on 25 June 2017.

All proceeds will help the National Literacy Trust continue its work to tackle low literacy levels in deprived communities across the UK.

Find out more

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Blog Book Review: Be With Me, It’s C  by Avril Chester

Inspiring, touching and innovative, this collection of poetry by breast cancer survivor Avril Chester sees the author express her hopes and fears through the written word, and encourages others to do the same.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, aged 37, Avril found herself faced with many new things to process: perplexing medical terms, yo-yoing emotions and physical changes.


It’s no surprise then, as she herself admits, that she struggled to open up to others about her emotions and experiences during diagnosis and treatment. Unexpectedly, however, she found solace in writing, working  through the floods of thoughts and feelings in the form of short poems instead.


Avril says she noted down some of the poems during anxious daytime moments, others during long sleepless  nights, and found the act of writing to be a hugely calming activity, helping her to focus her mind, communicate with her friends and family when she didn’t feel like talking, and to keep a record of how far she’d come.


Here she has gathered them together in a short volume that tugs at the heartstrings even as it reminds readers of their own inner strength in fighting the ‘Big C’.


A key element to Be With Me, It’s C is that it is designed to help others ‘write out’ their own thoughts, fears, feelings and hopes, whether in the form of poetry, prose or just simple scribblings. To this end, each left-hand page is blank, and the paper has been tested to ensure it won’t blot or smudge when closed.


This is a short collection, running to just 44 pages, but it covers a lot of territory, with the poems dealing with every aspect of coping with the disease, which as the author notes has a mental as well as physical impact.


From the initial panic of finding a suspicious lump  to struggling to feel feminine and attractive when losing one’s hair, all these experiences are used as grist  for the literary mill.


The author’s bravery in dealing with her predicament is evident in each word and on every page. While some of the works are entirely original poems, others are pointed pastiches of famous pieces of poetry and music.


For example, The Night Before Christmas has been reworked to reflect the dichotomy between festive cheer and a looming mastectomy, which actually happened for the author in December of 2015, while Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise is cleverly adapted and inspires with the fighting words ‘I will not be broken, I will live to soldier on’.


Other iconic wordsmiths who receive this treatment, to excellent effect, include William Wordsworth and Shakespeare.


It’s inspirational stuff, and the poems are clearly deeply biographical and heartfelt, reflecting the deepest thoughts and emotions of a woman who has been through extremely challenging times but has emerged triumphant.


Be With Me, It’s C would be a thoughtful gift for anybody facing a similar situation, or for those around them, who will of course have their own anxieties and questions about what their loved ones are going through.


Buying the book will also help benefit research into the disease, with at least 10 per cent of the money made from the sale of each book going  to Breast Cancer Care.


The most important thing about this collection, however, is how it demonstrates clearly the cathartic power of the written word, and provides encouragement for others to do as Avril did, whether it is for public consumption or kept strictly private.

Be With Me, It’s C by Avril Chester (Gibson Publishing) is out now, RRP £6.99 in paperback. 

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Blog Book Review: Jodie and the Library Card by Julie Hodgson

Book-loving children and teens will find it hard to tear themselves away from this fantastically bitter-sweet tale of friendship, growing up…and time-hopping adventures.

In the first of what looks set to be a series of adventures for time-travelling bookworm Jodie Broom, author Julie Hodgson takes us on a thrilling hop skip and jump through history, seen through the eyes of a smart and engaging young heroine.


Jodie is 12 (“nearly 13!”) and in many ways she is like most young girls growing up in 2017 – she loves music, books, and hanging out with her friends.


But Jodie Broom is growing up in 2075 and in this future books have been banned for over 50 years.


There are no physical books, no newspapers; everything is consumed electronically – even food and music are simulated versions of the real thing. Robo-nannies are on childcare duties, and anybody found in possession of ‘real’ books faces stiff punishment.


Thankfully, Jodie is given a library card that allows her to venture into the past  – setting the scene for a rollicking adventure and bring back some precious books to store in a secret hiding place.


But when her stash of contraband books is discovered, Jodie faces the wrath of teachers and parents, and the excitement steps up a gear as she and Pacman attempt to outsmart the authority figures.


Jumping through time zones at will, the pair meet a new friend, Kai, and all three set off on a challenge involving an intriguing cast of characters including Attila the Hun, and a kindly, bearded man who absolutely denies being an off-duty Santa Claus (as Jodie and her friends strongly suspect).


The book has moments of high tension, particularly when the youths make the somewhat unwise decision to zap themselves back to the deck of the Titanic.


And it’s a page-turner that doubles as a handy history lesson. From the Blitz to Portugal’s Carnation Revolution, the book visits pivotal moments in history, sneaking interesting facts and information about historical events into an addictive read.


Jodie and the Library Card has already picked up a string of awards – including a New Apple Award for Excellence, Readers’ Favourite Book Award and Wishing Shelf Book Award – and it’s not hard to see why.


In Jodie, the author has created an engaging, likeable and believable character for her target nine to 12-year-old audience, while the travels through the fourth dimension grip from the get-go.


That being said, parents picking up the book out of curiosity may well find themselves quickly drawn into the action, and learning a thing or two in the process, and it’s easy to imagine the book playing out on the silver screen.


With several more Jodie Broom books in the pipeline, this promises to be the start of something very enjoyable – and should inspire armies of young readers to appreciate the importance of books.


Jodie and the Library Card (Lulu Books) by Julie Hodgson is out now in paperback, priced £5.38. Visit

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Blog Book Review: An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles by Paul Spencer Sochaczewski

Victorian scientist Alfred Russel Wallace has been dubbed the ‘the forgotten naturalist’ and for over 100 years has been in the shadow of his more celebrated peer, Charles Darwin.


In recent years, however, there has been renewed interest in the work of this pioneering and exceptional figure, co-credited alongside Darwin with the theory of evolution by natural selection, and An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles will do much to drive forward this Wallace renaissance in the public’s mind.


This fully revised and expanded edition of the book, first published in 2013, offers the reader a unique mix of meticulously-researched biography, travelogue and contemplation of contemporary conservation and human rights concerns — with a healthy dose of boy’s own adventure thrown in for good measure.


‘Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes,’ as the old proverb goes, but author Paul Spencer Sochaczewski has gone much further to get under the skin of Wallace, retracing his steps across South-East Asia in a 40-year odyssey that took him far off the beaten path in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.


As such, this is far more than a dry, academic examination of his subject. Instead, the wild, often contrary and above all, extraordinary, mind of Wallace is vividly presented to the degree that you sometimes feel he is alongside Sochaczewski on his travels.


As we learn, Wallace was as much a force of nature as a devotee of the natural world. Born into financial hardship at a time when the rigid social hierarchy presented significant barriers to advancement for those without pedigree or capital, he was effectively a self-made man. His achievements are even more impressive considering Wallace left school at the age of 13.


The sheer magnitude of his intellectual curiosity and genius for new insights, combined with a staggering amount of good old-fashioned pluck, led him to venture to the Amazon at the age of 25 without any money or backing, any grasp of the native languages or, indeed, having any experience of overseas travel at all.


Wallace’s four-year Brazilian adventure was followed by his eight-year sojourn in Southeast Asia, which resulted in his classic book The Malay Archipelago.


By the time of his death in 1913 he had been hailed far and wide as the UK’s greatest living naturalist, while author G.K. Chesterton went so far to describe Wallace as one of the two “most important and significant figure[s] of the nineteenth century.”


As Sochaczewski explains, at first he followed Wallace’s path more by accident rather than design, arriving in Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo, after joining the United States Peace Corps in 1969, before taking up an advertising job in Singapore.


Once he realised the parallels, however, he threw himself into his physical and intellectual quest with gusto, having many memorable escapades in the process such as venturing through seldom-visited rain forests on the look-out for birds of paradise, finding new species with over-excited botanists, getting acquainted with orangutans or searching for tiger magicians or mythical giant cannibal tribes, to name but a few.


He uses these experiences as a frame to introduce Wallace’s many interests and contributions to human understanding, not only in the fields of biology and evolution, but also many other disciplines such as geology, ecology, climatology, humanism and even, in his later days, spiritualism.


Each chapter of the book follows a theme. Creationism vs evolution,  Why Boys Leave Home, Women’s Emancipation, Animal Intelligence, Our Need/Fear Relationship with Nature, and Environmental Challenges are all covered in thoughtful detail — and each could be read as a fascinating piece of long-form journalism in its own right.


And despite his clear admiration for Wallace, Sochaczewski is not afraid to point out the perplexing contradictions in his character, such as on matters of slavery, the Western definition of the “savage,” and colonialism, where at various points he is either staunchly of his time or far ahead of it.


The author, a noted conservationist and the former head of communications at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), also uses his (and Wallace’s) experiences to make trenchant comments on contemporary issues such as the replacement of British colonialism with ‘brown-brown colonialism,’ abuse of human rights, and the ongoing destruction of habitat.


Further depths to these musings are added by the judicious inclusion of extracts from Wallace’s own papers and journals, as well as conversations with local people. The reader is spoilt for perspective and context, coming away with a well-rounded impression of the man and his world, both then and now.


The final chapter provides the author’s take on the lingering Darwin-Wallace Controversy, which still rages to this day over which man deserves the main credit for the key concept of the ‘survival of the fittest’.  Many readers may come away from this feeling that Wallace not only has the better claim, but was morally the superior as well.


Fitting for an examination of one of life’s most ardent collectors, An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles is packed with collected anecdotes, reminiscences and fun facts.  It has been widely praised by many VIPs active today in the study of nature and conservation, and it’s clear to see why.


There are two equally engrossing narratives to enjoy — Wallace’s and Sochaczewski’s — and with a shared brio for discovery that’s utterly engaging and infectious, you’ll reach closer for the passport with every page. Highly recommended.


An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles – Campfire Conversations with Alfred Russel Wallace (Didier Millet Pty) by Paul Spencer Sochaczewski is published on April 24, priced £16.95 in paperback and £7.95 as an eBook. Visit Amazon UK

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Cityread London announces its 2017 programme and partnerships

Cityread London, which is featuring Elizabethan thriller Prophecy by S. J. Parris (HarperCollins) as its 2017 title, will be celebrated with a month long programme of events including a specially commissioned immersive theatre production at the Charterhouse, a talk by S.J. Parris at Lambeth Palace Library, a 1000 book giveaway at The Golden Hinde, Tudor foodie events including a history of gin workshop and a medieval feast as well as historical and author focused events across Greater London, Reading and Slough.


Prophecy is a gripping Elizabethan spy thriller, focused on the plot against Elizabeth to put Mary Queen of Scots on the throne. Set in 1583 its protagonist is the real life shadowy Giordano Bruno, an Italian “monk, scientist, philosopher, and magician” and excommunicated heretic.


HarperCollins have printed 7,000 branded copies for Cityread which are available via libraries across London where reading groups and book clubs will be reading the books alongside locally organised events. OverDrive are sponsoring the festival for a third time, and readers can borrow the Prophecy ebook for free from their local library and read via the OverDrive app.  In addition a Quick Read about life in Elizabethan London by Rupert Colley has been specially commissioned as part of the History in an Hour series and will be distributed free of charge via libraries and prison reading groups for adults who struggle with reading.

Click here to below to hear a sample of the book


Audible, the world’s leading provider of spoken audio entertainment first sponsored Cityread London in 2016 and is again confirmed as sponsors for 2017.

J. Parris said:

“I’m thrilled that Prophecy has been chosen as London’s CityRead for 2017 and really excited to take part in this fantastic programme aimed at bringing old and new readers together. I hope readers will enjoy discovering Tudor London through the book and the events, and perhaps realising that it’s not as far removed from our own world as we might imagine.”


Anthony Hopkins, President of the Association of London Chief Librarians said:

“Cityread presents a special time of the year where London’s libraries get together to promote a book for Londoners and deliver a range of activities in our libraries. We are looking forward to working again with Cityread and to another successful year.”


Andy Ryan, Director of Cityread London said:

“Cityread is London’s huge, exciting, interactive, annual citywide book group.  Take part by picking up a copy of Prophecy from your library, bookshop or from the Golden Hinde on 31 March – we’ll be giving away 1000 copies.  Join in a library book group, chat about it to a friend., or tell us what you think on Twitter and Facebook.  Throw yourself into the sights, feels and tastes of London 1583 by taking part in our performances, supper club, gin tasting and book handling events.  Codpieces optional.’

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Blog Book Review. A Practical Guide to Your Human Rights and Civil Liberties by Dr Michael Arnheim

With the UK entering a new phase in its dealings with Europe, this comprehensive and clearly-worded guide will be a great help to people trying to understand their rights in the wake of the Brexit vote.


Written by experienced Human Rights barrister and noted author Dr. Michael Arnheim, A Practical Guide to Your Human Rights and Civil Liberties takes a broad look at all aspects of human rights and liberties for UK citizens.


There is no shortage of books on human rights, but where this title differs is that it not only covers the Human Rights Act but the whole span of human rights, including Magna Carta and the Common Law, which embody fundamental rights that are often ignored or misinterpreted.


In straightforward prose that avoids complicated language, and which succinctly explains the meaning behind the common legal jargon, the book clearly structures its content to be easily accessible and highly practical.


The first chapter outlines where British citizens’ rights actually come from, including the Magna Carta, natural rights, acts of parliament including the Human Rights Act and the powers held by bodies under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).


The second chapter, “A Fistful of Fallacies,” exposes the ”politically correct”  hype surrounding human rights put out by the civil rights “lobby” and also shows how to recognise and react against ‘judicial supremacism’ – that is, judges interpreting the law with their own agenda in mind.


The remaining chapters address specific rights, many of which are in practice enjoyed primarily by special interest groups, such as terror suspects, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and even convicted killers – at the expense of law-abiding members of society.    These include the Right to Life, the Right to Freedom of Expression, the Right to Privacy and the Right to a Fair Trial. The last chapter is a lively Socratic Dialogue in Q&A format.


Arnheim, the author of 19 books including two previous books on human rights, looks at the subject from the perspective of those who might find themselves accused of human rights breaches as well as of those making such allegations. 


Likewise, the book recognizes that both parties in a human rights dispute have rights, how different human rights can clash, and also provides winning strategies for human rights cases in court as well as how to avoid such a case ending up in court in the first place.


By so doing, it’s likely to be a huge help to law students and legal professionals but will also appeal to the ‘man on the street’ looking to gain a better understanding of where they stand in relation to the sovereign powers at home, at work and in public places.


Arnheim, a Sometime Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, has an enormous amount of experience in the field, and his straight-talking (though never dumbed down) approach to our rights offers an excellent and valuable go-to resource.

A Practical Guide to your Human Rights and Civil Liberties by Dr Michael Arnheim (Straightforward Publishing) is available now in paperback, priced £10.99, and as an eBook priced £4.99.

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Jesus, King of Edessa by Ralph Ellis

In the realm of biblical archaeology it is often very difficult, if not impossible, to provide an objective historical reality to figures of the Old and New Testaments.


Of these, probably the most problematic is Jesus. If the Gospels are put aside then there is precious little evidence attesting to the actual existence of the Christ figure.


While this may not necessarily be a problem for those who are satisfied to rely on faith alone or the literal truth of the Bible, it leaves a yawning and troubling gap in the historical record for historians.


Author Ralph Ellis has made it his life’s work to reconnect events and persons from the Bible with empirical facts. Though he makes clear that his interest is from a purely areligious perspective, any endeavour that puts the foundations of a religion under scrutiny is unavoidably contentious – and his latest book, Jesus, King of Edessa, could be the most controversial of all.


Was Jesus Christ, in fact, a little-known warrior king of Syria who led a failed Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire? Was the New Testament actually a work of political propaganda on behalf of Emperor Vespasian that portrayed his beaten foe as a passive messiah to quell further rebellion?


These are bold claims indeed, but they are argued with conviction and a wealth of supporting evidence. Including gospel evidence, which records Jesus as being a king who jailed alongside rebels who had committed murder in the Revolt.


Based on a 30-year quest that has taken the author all around archaeological sites and dusty archives in the Near East, the book puts forward a plausible explanation for the true identity and genealogy of the biblical Jesus


Previous books by Ellis have made the case for a connection between the patriarchs and events of the Old Testament with the Pharaohs of Egypt, in that they were historically one and the same, much as the 1st century AD chronicler Josephus Flavius attests. And Jesus, King of Edessa – the third and final book in his ‘King Jesus’ trilogy – follows a similar line in exposing a forgotten or erased dual identity.


Essentially, Ellis contests that although Jesus has long been placed in the public consciousness as a lowly pauper, in reality he was a son of King Abgarus of the Syrian kingdom of Edessa. The master of a small realm, but with a large treasury and lofty ambitions.


His son, King Izas-Manu, became a minor prince of Judaea and, according to Josephus, the instigator of the Jewish Revolt of AD68 – 70. This Jesus-Izas aimed to seize upon instability within the Roman Empire left by the death of Nero and take control of the levers of power.


However, he was defeated by commander-cum-emperor Vespasian and, as the history books are always written by the victors, deleted from the historical record. The emperor, Ellis contends, then instructed historian Josephus Flavius to distort Jesus-Izas Manu and his motives to avoid future uprisings in a book that has come down to us today as the New Testament.


Ellis points to startling parallels between Izas and Jesus, such as the traditional royal plaited crown of thorns that the kings of Edessa were pictured wearing; the similarities in their names, as well as the figurehead of a king leading the Jewish people in revolt.


He also calls upon overlooked accounts by Syriac historians of the period that provide an alternate perspective on the events surrounding the revolt from that of Josephus or the Bible.


Ellis describes his latest work as “The book the Catholic Church has been dreading for 1700 years”, which should give an idea of how explosive are the claims he makes within its 500-plus pages.


If he’s right then our understanding of Jesus will be completely overturned. For a start it would shift Jesus in the historical timeline from the AD30s to the AD60s, and make him a key figure in the Great Jewish-Roman War. And the huge implications for the identification of King Izas Manu as the Christian saviour and the basis of orthodox Church teachings can only be imagined.


Ellis has painstakingly cross-referenced all his findings, and the inclusion of maps, photographs of key locations and religious and historical artefacts, and even video links, brings the text alive for the curious reader.


They’re not claims to be taken lightly – to put it lightly – and whether you end up agreeing with the conclusions or not, Jesus, Kind of Edessa puts forward a fascinating case for consideration.


Jesus, King of Edessa by Ralph Ellis (Edfu Books) is available now, priced £6.90 as a Kindle eBook and £19.50 in paperback. Visit


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Book review: Wyvern and Star by Sophy Boyle

This exciting new novel is set against one of the most dramatic periods in English history, the Wars of the Roses.


That tumultuous struggle of the fifteenth century saw the throne of England pass –  several times over – between the rival houses of York and Lancaster before it was eventually won by an offshoot of the Lancastrian line, the Tudors.


With its heady mix of treachery, bloody battles and dynastic rivalries, it’s no wonder that the explosive contest for the crown has long fascinated so many, from historians to playwrights and novelists – including Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin.


While most novelists writing on this period choose to focus on the house of York, Sophy Boyle has instead based her new series Wyvern and Star on the Lancastrians, no strangers themselves to intrigue and bloodletting.


Wars of the Roses devotee Boyle has taken the unusual line of weaving the story around fictional lead characters backed by a large supporting cast of real historical figures.


At the heart of the action is the fictional Robert Clifford, a flawed character; a daring but vengeful man who squanders his gifts and his chances, giving rein to short-sighted and self-destructive impulses.


The book sets out its stall with the opening chapter, a disturbingly vivid and brutal recollection of the slaying of a young foe. Though a hardened soldier, Clifford cannot forget his involvement in this shameful murder, and we soon learn that this is only one among a number of regrets haunting him.


This novel – the first in a series of seven – spans the years 1470-71, the beginning of the second phase of the conflict. Clifford, a staunch Lancastrian, means to bring his fortunes back from the brink with an audacious plot to invade England, wrest the crown from the Yorkist king Edward IV and return the imprisoned Lancastrian Henry VI to power.


As the novel begins he’s emerging from a dark decade of penniless exile into what he hopes will be a more favourable future with Alice de Vere, the woman he loves. But Alice, who’s both fascinated and horrified by Clifford’s menacing reputation, turns his schemes on their head when she marries instead Edmond Beaufort, Duke of Somerset – leader of the Lancastrian faction and Clifford’s erstwhile friend.


The book follows the parallel stories of Clifford and Alice, along with a cast of impressively-drawn characters whose lives are inextricably linked with those of the ill-starred pair. While Clifford’s faithful follower Loic Moncler is a solid and loyal confidant throughout, others in the inner circle reveal themselves to be scarcely less treacherous than the enemy. Clifford’s eldest son, Hal, harbours feelings of his own for Alice, while younger son Aymer has inherited all his father’s ruthless ambition.


As the novel races towards its battle-scarred climax, Clifford and the Lancastrian alliance come tantalisingly close to victory, but all is jeopardised by rivalry and betrayal within their own faction.


Packed with vivid detail, evocative prose and a thrilling, twisting plot, Wyvern and Star offers an utterly engrossing and escapist read. Its streak of gallows humour and the modern voice keep it fresh, ensuring readers with a taste for hard-edged historical fiction will lap it up.


Wyvern and Star sets the scene for an equally explosive second installment, expected to be released later this year.


Wyvern and Star by Sophy Boyle is out now, priced £8.99 in paperback and £3.99 as an eBook. Visit to find out more.

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Book Review: Thrive – How to Achieve and Sustain High Level Career Success by Dean Williams and Mike Tinmouth

Ambitious professionals who want to rise to the top – and, as importantly, stay there –would be well-advised to read this practical, informative and actionable business how-to guide.


Written by two experts in the field – award-winning executive coach Dean Williams and business journalist Mike Tinmouth – Thrive is a clear-cut, no-punches-pulled blueprint to career success that will help any talented individual achieve their true potential.


The book sets out its subject matter in clearly-defined chapters and follows a non-linear structure which allows readers to ‘plug in and play’, starting from whichever section seems most relevant to their present situation rather than feeling obliged to read straight from cover to cover.


Thrive, Williams’s second book, following Creating Grade ‘A’ Business Relationships, offers plenty of insightful guidance based on Williams’s vast experience as a top-tier executive coach. He counts global blue chip brands including Samsung, Barclays, MasterCard and BUPA among his clients and has undertaken nearly 2,000 senior coaching sessions in the last decade.


Given this, he has the inside track on the common challenges and traps that professionals can encounter when looking to move up the corporate ladder and is able to present an informed roadmap to going about career progression the right way.


The biggest fail, he says, lies with rising stars rushing to advance their careers without being fully prepared for the increased workload, responsibilities and expectations that inevitably come with promotion.


Though on paper they may have a CV to die for, many will struggle to adapt to the new work environment if they haven’t done the necessary groundwork first, resulting in an unsustainable situation that can lead to demotion and possibly lasting reputational damage.


At the heart of the book is Williams’s patented ‘Career Annulus’ – a tried-and-tested model for senior leadership success. The model offers a process, formula and science for advancement, and challenges individuals to measure their performance against nine core elements.



The authors makes it clear that anybody who is not already excelling in their current role should not imagine that they will somehow shine in a more senior position, quoting Henry Ford’s sage advice that “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”


Yet it can still be hard to know when it’s the right time to take the next step, and mistiming that jump can prove VERY costly in the long run, so having a checklist such as the Annulus is a great aid.


By breaking down the recipe for promotion into specific elements, such as ‘Peer Support’ and ‘Be An Ambassador’, it makes the process far less daunting and will, no doubt, serve as both an initial motivator for those truly ready to begin thinking about promotion, and an invaluable compass for those already committed on the path.


The book offers smart tips for shining in the workplace and in interview situations – both for internal and external positions.


Much of the advice – for instance, appear confident, dress the part, maintain a cheerful disposition – may sound like simple common sense, but as the authors point out, common sense can be surprisingly hard to come by!


Other sections provide sound tips on such things as handling workplace jealousy, and how to accept the news of a failed interview, with many real-world case studies throughout to provide further illumination of best, and worst, practice.


Thrive is aimed squarely at ambitious employees looking to instill a structured and disciplined model to success all the way to the most senior of leadership positions.


It should also be noted that HR, learning & development and talent teams – will also find much of use within its pages. After all, many employers are guilty of neglecting their talent to the detriment of their own bottom line, seeing their most prized staff burn out or be scooped up by competitors.


Not everyone is ambitious, and the authors don’t have any issues with those who are content where they are, but if you are the sort of person who wants to rise to the top of the talent pool, catching the eye of directors and being recognized as serious contenders, then Thrive is highly recommended.


Thrive – How to Achieve and Sustain High Level Career Success by Dean Williams and Mike Tinmouth (Grosvenor House Publishing) is available now, priced £9.99 in paperback and £7.19 as an eBook.

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Travelex’s Next Great Travel Writer 2017 – Deadline for entry Friday 5th February

Travelex and Penguin books have come together in a search for the US and UK’s best new travel writer. Entrants must submit a 1,000 word short story about a ‘travel experience like no other’ to impress a panel of celebrity bloggers, journalists and Travelex and Penguin representatives.


The winner of the competition will receive an impressive £1,500 prize and a two hour, one on one session with a Penguin editor in order to discuss writing style and ideas. There is also a student category allowing for university entrants from any discipline to break into the writing industry and win a £500 prize!
The general public also have the chance to vote for their favourite travel writer. Using social media, Travelex are going to award the person from the judge’s shortlist who gets the most tweets supporting their entry. Just use their unique hashtag, (#NGTW) and tweet the TravelexUK twitter handle and you could be in with the chance a winning a set of beautiful Penguin books.
The successful candidate will receive a one-to-one session with a Penguin editor as well as a £1,500 prize. Click here to find out how to enter. Deadline for entries is Friday 5th February 11,59 GMT 2017.

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