Jan 27, 2017

Feeling like some Regency Fiction? - Books from Mariel Grey + Giveaway

Surrender of Trust (Book 1)
Lucy Goodwin knows more about horse breeding than a proper young lady should. Her brother’s thoroughbred business has given her purpose and independence, but when an accident leaves her solely in charge, despair and destruction threaten her every move. Trapped in an impossible position, Lucy must do the right thing and watch their dreams crumble, or save their livelihood at a cost too great to bear.

Lord Philip Lyton, Marquess of Chalifour is a member of the prestigious Jockey Club, dedicated to eliminating cheating in horse racing. Trouble raises its ugly head when his business partner falls foul of an accident and he’s suddenly forced to deal with the man’s sister, who seems alarmingly out of her depth. Chalifour respects Lucy’s steely resolve, but knows that single-mindedness can be the most dangerous trait of all.

She might be beautiful and beguiling, but Lucy Goodwin is keeping secrets and Chalifour is determined to find out what they are.
Can be read as a stand-alone read.

Available to buy from....
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A Gentleman's Surrender (Book 2)
Call her a romantic--or a fool, Lady Monique Cathdon is determined to marry for love. After watching her parents tolerate an arranged betrothal, life seems too short to be wasted on keeping up appearances.

After all, what's the point of having a heart if one refuses to follow it?

With a smile the devil himself might be proud of, James Stanton is not what her mother would call a matrimonial prospect. Still, there's something about the young man that sends Lady Monique's heart thumping around her chest, and silences her voice of reason.

Unfortunately for Lady Monique, the stakes are high, and young ladies of the ton make for very poor gamblers. Especially when James Stanton is on the hunt for revenge, and won't let an innocent woman--or his own passionate desires--get in the way of righting past wrongs.

Can be read as a stand-alone read.

Available to buy from....
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble   iBooks   GPlay   Kobo   Paperback

About the author
From the moment she could put pen to paper, Mariel Grey knew she wanted to be a writer. Like all good adventures however, it didn’t happen overnight; it was after several decades of working in litigation that the desire to create dramatic worlds and characters became too great to ignore. Her first foray into historical romance, Surrender of Trust, explored the grime and glamour of regency horse racing, following the determined but impoverished Lucy Goodwin and upright Lord Chalifour. Her second novel, A Gentleman’s Surrender, introduced the innocent Lady Monique and tortured Mr. Stanton, both struggling to find love in a world filled with deceit.

Though entirely at home in the ballrooms and street alleys of London past, Mariel Grey is currently working on a contemporary story set in Florida, a landscape dear to the author’s heart. When she isn’t conjuring words on her computer screen, Grey can be found on the water fishing, snorkeling, and enjoying the incredible natural beauty of her home.

Mariel has a wonderful husband (the hero of her own romantic story) as well as two mischievous rescue kittens (who are quite happy to play the role of villains). In addition to being a dutiful wife and animal wrangler, Mariel is a member of the Romance Writers of America and affiliated chapter of the Ancient City Romance Authors.

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Jan 26, 2017

Filter Shift: How Effective People See the World - Sara Taylor


The way things are going in the world, we really are in need of this book.. It's a simple introduction to the concept that we all see the world through lenses that colour our thinking and communication. Taylor  describes how these filters are made up of our upbringing, experiences, and perceptions as well as a natural instinct to categorize and understand the world. 

Taylor makes it clear that we all have these biases . However, if we enter a discussion with good intention and the outcome is poor, it is easy to believe that the other person must be at fault and they did not have good intent.  I believe that some people can't see their biases, some don't know how to deal with them, and a few don't care. But most people would like to be better people and want to make a difference in how they communicate. Filter Shift gives us some tools to do just that. 

Taylor uses acronyms and diagrams to assist the reader in understanding the steps to shifting their own filters. Each chapter has a summary of Key Points that makes it really easy to understand. She uses evidence-based research to develop her arguments, and various case studies to provide real world examples. She is also honest about her own experiences.

Taylor makes some valid points that really appealed to me, including explaining Multiple Valid Realities, and describing how people often associate difference as having a good or bad value. This can lead us to ignoring difference which can be just as bad as using difference to discriminate. I was also happy to see her challenge the' "I''m colorblind" myth. 

This book serves as a reminder that our initial responses don't make us a good or bad communicator, but what we do afterwards, evaluating and changing our behaviour that does.

In Cultural Studies we use these techniques to evaluate everything from the media to dominate groups in a culture. It's really interesting to me, to apply this to myself. I am always happy to keep learning. 


Filter Shift describes the notion of unconscious filters: how we create them, how we perceive the world through them, and how they control us. The vast majority of us are persistently held back by our unconscious biases and misperceptions, even with the best of intentions. Filter Shift explores the unseen dynamics that get in the way, providing a series of blueprints for success.

Available to buy from....
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The Filter Shift ModelFilter Shift Model
Book Excerpt
False Prescriptions
When it comes to our interactions across difference—frankly, all interactions—an unconscious optometrist chooses our filters based on false prescriptions we write for ourselves. This process is completely natural; our brains are wired to react this way. Our perception of any given situation is filtered quickly and unconsciously. We don’t even realize a filter through which to view an interaction has been preselected without our conscious participation. These false prescriptions are  rooted in our misconceptions of our own cultural competence. Recognizing them for what they are is an essential first step in learning to Filter Shift.
Prescription #1: I’m not around people who are different from me that much, so it’s a moot point
Every interaction is an interaction across difference. That means we all experience this, all the time. I’m misled if I think this person is just like me because I don’t see any obvious differences between the two of us—we’re the same race, gender, age, etc. Yet we are different because our filters are different, and it is our filters that determine how we see and respond to each other. If we allow ourselves to be lulled by external similarities, we easily miss the broader spectrum.
Prescription #2: Exposure = Competence
Here we make statements like “I’m around differences all the time. I have a gay couple for neighbors, my mom has lived with a disability all my life, and my best friend is black!” The inherent belief in these statements is that “I am exposed to difference, therefore I am competent in my interactions across difference”—as if a new skillset is in the air when differences are present and all we need to do is breathe it in. The ability to interact effectively across difference, like any other complex skill, needs to be consciously developed. Think of it in comparison to developing math skills. You would never assume a child could learn math if you just sat them in a room all day where mathematicians were present. As with math, we need intentional, developmental learning and practice to nurture this skill.
Prescription #3: I get this stuff; it’s my coworkers (or spouse or neighbors) that don’t!
Most people, if asked, would say that they do pretty well interacting across difference—that they are already fairly competent. Yet the reality is that only a very small percentage of us actually are competent. This ever-present gap between our perception and reality leads to much of the confusion and conflict that happens as we interact across difference. If I believe I “get it” and still experience situations where interactions with others are ineffective, then it must be theirissue. 
Prescription #4: Identity = Competence
This prescription is particularly tricky in that, while widely believed, it goes unspoken more often than not. It’s the notion that people from marginalized groups—especially people of color and women—are somehow more skilled at interacting across difference, that somehow the experiences tied to our identity inherently increase the reality of our perceptions. In actuality, that’s simply not the case. Going back to the second prescription, we need to deliberately develop the ability to Filter Shift, no matter our cultural origins or identity.
Prescription #5: I’m colorblind!
This comment is typically heard as an individual is trying to frame him/herself as a generally good person. The assumption is that only bad people have biases while in actuality we all have biases. Biases are morality-neutral. They’re a natural product of our brains working to categorize and make sense of the world for us. Eliminating bias is an unattainable goal. Instead, to be more effective, we need to recognize and understand our biases and their impact on how we see and operate. We can only do that by acknowledging that we have biases in the first place.
Prescription #6: Comfort = Competence
We’ve all felt discomfort at one point or another in our lives as we have encountered difference. It may have been the first time we ate dinner at a friend’s house, or the first time we walked into a new workplace, new neighborhood, or new country. The fallacy here comes when we believe that as the discomfort dissipates, a generalized competence somehow materializes. However, just because we’ve become comfortable in a particular situation, or with a particular person, doesn’t mean we’ve learned how to be effective outside of that single situation or with anyone other than that particular individual.

About the author
Sara Taylor is a nationally-recognized speaker and consultant specializing in Leadership and Diversity. With over 25 years of experience, Sara balances her real-life stories with research-based theories to deliver for her reader what she delivers for her clients: Aha! moments with tangible strategies for practical application. Sought after as a thought leader in her field of Cultural Competence, Taylor adeptly explains complex concepts and theories with simple, straight-forward language drawn from with real-world examples and stories, helping individuals and organizations increase their success and create greater effectiveness.

Sara holds a Masters degree in Diversity and Organizational Development from the University of Minnesota and, prior to founding her firm, deepSEE Consulting, was the Director of Diversity for Ramsey County, Minnesota, as well as a Leadership and Diversity Specialist for the University of Minnesota. She and her husband Miguel have four kids and live outside of St. Paul, MN.

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Jan 14, 2017

REALLY excited about this…My Shinning Life with Leonie Dawson

I was introduced to Leonie's way of planning when I was at a really low point. I had realized at the age of 47 that I'd never drive through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in my hair (apologies to Marianne Faithful). I enrolled in a course at a Women's Centre to try and boost my creativity and get back on track.

The lady who ran the workshop was a big believer in Leonie Dawson's books and style, and she shared with us some of the ideas she was using in her own workbooks, while we were busy making art and talking about life.

I Googled Leonie right away and I began listing the 100 things I would like to do and what I had learned and what I had let go of, in the year before. I grabbed the digital books and filled them out. Then I began to realise that by writing these goals down, I was committing to them, and they began to become a priority.

Since using Leonie's books I have enrolled in my Master's degree, had a paper published, completed NaNoWriMo, travelled to Scotland (a life long dream) and embraced my creativity again, just to name a few!! I have also let go of some people, habits and other stuff that weighed me down.

It's really easy to use the pages you are interested in and discard the pages that don't interest you. This year I plan to make art on the pages that don't interest me.

This year I have the print book of My Shining Life and I'm really EXCITED to get going and embrace life at 50!!!

I will leave it here and let Leonie show you a little more:

Look inside the 2017 Shining Year Life Goals workbook!

Leonie Dawson is a mentor to women wanting to create + grow massively successful and heart-centered creative + soulful businesses. She is also an author, retreat leader, visual artist, mama and guide for the tens of thousands who receive her free Shining Biz + Shinging Life eZine each week. Visit her website at LeonieDawson.com & grab your free copy of the Biz & Blog Star Workbook!

This post contains Affiliate links at no cost to you, that help me support my blog. Thanks. 

Jan 11, 2017

Embrace - Movie

My Story: 

I am the sort of person who lives in her head a lot. My body is the vehicle which carries my brain around. It's also useful for giving hugs and picking up my grandkids for a cuddle. But I don't think about it much. This has a negative consequence, in that I don't remember to eat or drink water, sometimes I don't remember to stop eating, I take a while to realise I am hot or cold or tired and uncomfortable, my body is in stress and I don't notice as quickly as some people might.

It also has a positive benefit. I have never been on a diet. I wear what I want, even though people have commented on it, it doesn't bother me. I don't spend much time looking in the mirror, and I'm just as comfortable going for a swim with the grandkids as I am going to the pictures. Since I am very fair, I have learned the hard way about covering up, because I had two basal cell carcinomas removed from my face, and I was a bit self conscious about having stitches in my face, so i guess I am like most people in that way.

But my weight has gone up and down from too thin to obese over the years due to medication, depression, or other health conditions and I still take photos with my family. I make the same comments as most people such as "Gee I'm a bit fat - should do something about that", but I have never been on a diet in my life, I don't have weight goals or targets - and I found out that is quite rare.

Honestly, there have been a couple of times that people have said quite unkind things to jerk me out of this way of thinking, and sadly it has mostly been from women. Here is one such example:

 Last year, I volunteered for a research project that someone was conducting in my home state. I quite often do that, as I find the interview questions interesting. This was about an object, I won't discuss the details too much as I may give away the researcher. Anyway, I answered the interview questions, and the researcher began to take my photo with the object. It seems straight forward - look up now, smile, turn this way or that. But after a few shots I knew things weren't going well. I can sometimes be quite awkward and the photographer wasn't making it any easier, making me perch on the edge of a stool, turn my head forward and my body side on. I was getting very uncomfortable, while being told to "relax".

Then, when I was ready to give up, came the words, " I know it may be a bit uncomfortable to sit like that, but as a photographer I know tricks to make you look slimmer".  Look -  that may not have been the actual words, but I was basically being told I was fat. I know this person has conducted feminist research in the past, so it astounded me. If  I was uncomfortable before, now I was also self- conscious. The photo shoot was hot and I was very distracted, I just wanted to leave. As soon as I left, I ran out and I just wanted to cry. I had thought it was going to be a fun exercise but it turned out to be horrible.

Taryn's Story:

Taryn’s before-and-after image (2013) has been seen

by over 100 million people worldwide

Your body. Create global change.

When Body Image Activist Taryn Brumfitt posted an unconventional before-and-after photo in 2013 it was seen by more than 100 million people worldwide and sparked an international media frenzy. EMBRACE follows Taryn’s crusade as she explores the global issue of body loathing, inspiring us to change the way we feel about ourselves and think about our bodies.
At home in Adelaide, Australia, Taryn Brumfitt is a wife and mother of three. But internationally, she is a highly recognised body image activist whose powerful message has reached over 100 million people worldwide via traditional and social media. After receiving more than 7000 emails and messages from people all over the world, Taryn realised that there was a global body-hating epidemic and felt compelled to find answers.

EMBRACE is told from the point of view of Taryn as she traverses the globe talking to experts, women in the street and well-known personalities about the alarming rates of body image issues that are seen in people of all body types. In her affable and effervescent style, Taryn bares all (literally) to explore the factors contributing to this problem and seeks to find solutions.

After 24 months of travelling, interviewing, production and post production Taryn and the Embrace team have created a film that is relevant, relatable, highly engaging - but above all, life changing.


“A powerful, and important film. Beautifully executed and just so so imperative for girls and women everywhere.”


World Premiere
Sydney Film Festival, 12 June 2016
In competition
Transmission Films – Australia & New Zealand
Gathr Theatrical on Demand – North Amercia
Technical Specs
Running time (US): 90 min
Shooting format: HD
Production completed: April 2016

Production Info

Produced Southern Light Alliance, and the Body Image Movement

Financed with the assistance of
Screen Australia and the South Australian Film Corporation

Filmed in
Australia, USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Austria
and Dominican Republic

From Director Taryn Brumfitt:

EMBRACE is a social impact documentary, which explores the issue of body image. 
The project has been supported by nearly 9000 Kickstarter pledgers who responded to a fundraising trailer I released in 2014, which has now had over 25 million internet views.  We have also had support and from Screen Australia, the South Australian Film Corporation, philanthropists, businesses, celebrities and thought leaders.

The inspiration for EMBRACE came about after I posted an unconventional before-and-after image on the internet in 2013 that sparked a media frenzy. The image, which embraces body diversity, was seen by over 100 million people worldwide and led to hundreds of interviews and articles. But I soon realized how restrictive 4-minute TV interviews, 800 word articles and 140 characters on Twitter can be. This issue needed a louder voice on a bigger platform, so the idea of creating the documentary EMBRACE was born.”


Screen Australia
South Australian Film Corporation

In association with
Transmission Films

Southern Light Alliance

Body Image Movement

In association with

Written and directed by
Taryn Brumfitt

Produced by
Anna Vincent
Taryn Brumfitt

Executive producers
Timothy White
Mathew Brumfitt
Nora Tschirner

Film editors
Bryan Mason
Lindi Harrison ASE

Director of Photography
Hugh Fenton

Composer - Benjamin Speed
Songs by - Jude Perl and Dallas Frasca

Bettina Hamilton

Post Production Supervisor
Elene Pepper

Victoria Cocks

(in order of appearance)
Taryn Brumfitt
Mathew Brumfitt
Mia Freedman
Stefania Ferrario
Professor Marika Tiggemann
Dr Fardad Forouzanpour
Jane Langton
Ricki Lake
Amanda De Cadenet
Melinda Tankard Reist
Nikiah Seeds
Jes Baker
Dr Linda Bacon
Jade Beall
Renee Airya
Turia Pitt
Harnaam Kaur
Nora Tschirner
B. Jeffrey Madoff
Nigel Marsh

Book & DVD:

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Jan 4, 2017

Beck Valley Books Reviewers Choice Awards for 2016

Our wonderful tour reviewers cannot wait to share their top picks from 2016 with you all.
So many awesome reads could be posted here today from so many amazing authors but we can only post the Top 10 Favorite Books and the Top 6 Favorite Series that have been chosen, go here to enjoy all our 2016 tour books.

Here we go.....
Celebrating the Beck Valley Books Reviewers Choice Awards for 2016
(for Reviewers SERIES Choice Awards for 2016 scroll down)