Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Ray Barra A Life in Ballet

Ray Barra A Life in Ballet is a celebration of the life and works of ballet dancer Ray Barra, written by Victor Hughes.

It relates how Barra was a principal dancer for John Cranko and Kenneth MacMillan in Stuttgart, and how he was fundamental in defining the role of the male dancer in modern terms, bringing a manliness to the role of the male dancer.

Victor Hughes takes his readers on an extraordinary journey through the professional life of Barra, dancer, ballet master and choreographer.

He covers his early days with the San Francisco Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre and then onto Europe, in Germany and Spain and Greece as he worked as an international presence in the world of ballet as he worked as a freelance dancer.

The biography also covers a great deal about Barra's private life, including his time when he was drafted into the US Army and served in the Korean War and how he came to learn of the existence of Japanese ballet. And how he was asked to perform dancing to entertain other troops and that he had given dance workshops, too, during his military years.

Victor Hughes (a dancer himself, as well as a writer) has extensively interviewed Ray Barra and this is obvious as the book gives a detailed account of his life, his homosexuality and his relationships with other dancers and people from outside the world of ballet.

The book is also well illustrated with a wide range of photographs

As Ray Barra is now nearing his 90th birthday this will become an important work in the world of ballet.

It's published by The Book Guild at £12.99.


The author of Vis-Ability, Vicki L. Griggs was diagnosed with a very rare eye condition at the age of four.

When she was 13 she required the fitting of a prosthetic eye and she had to deal with problems and issues with her remaining eye, having to cope with terrible, chronic pain resulting from a genetic eye condition.

Vicki relates the problems and difficulties she suffered as she grew up, coping with her pain and the problems she met with at school.

However, Vicki also writes about someone who has a sight impairment can be helped to cope with the situation, and what options are available to them and their family members.

Vicki has been a patient at Moorfields Eye Hospital since she was four years old and has spent the last decade working there as a Play Leader in the Richard Desmond Children's Eye Centre.

If you, or someone you know, has vision problems, then you really need to make sure they get a copy of this book. And it is printed in a format that is helpful for those with a "vision impairment."

It should also be in every optician, every eye department and doctor's surgery throughout the UK, in my opinion.

It's published by Matador at £10.99.

PEP Talk

In this new book by expert Ken Hancott, we learn that sometimes, a PEP Talk is what we need to get us motivated and raring to go, again.

There's positivity and empowerment aplenty in this amazing book, that draws upon proven psychotherapy techniques that the readers of the book can work through at their own pace so that they can boost and improve their positive mental health performance.

You'll be taken through personal life examples in a lighthearted and humorous fashion.

The author shows us how our beliefs our habits and how we behave in life can have impacts upon our well-being and mental health. And our physical health, too, for that matter.

You'll learn why being silly is not a daft idea, how to cope with certain awkward people who we will meet throughout our life (that's in chapter nine) the difference between a Placebo and a Nocebo, how negative notions can be implanted and how they can be dealt with, the tricky matter of attentional bias and much, more besides.

It's not only informative it's a darn good read and at a mere £9.99,  you really cannot afford to not buy a copy.

PEP Talk is published by The Book Guild.

How to harness the power of digital transformation

According to recent reports, 85% of enterprise decision-makers stated that digital transformation will be a part of their organisational optimisation strategy in the next few years.

But only 34% of companies have undergone some sort of digital transformation. This means two-thirds of organisations haven't yet adopted any digital transformation strategies. Those that don't adopt such strategies will fall behind and risk losing revenue in the future.

To help business leaders better understand and create winning digital transformation strategies for their organisation, Maulik Shah CEO of technology consults Invonto, has released a book, The Digital Transformation Cookbook: How to Transform Your People, Process, and Data.

It offers deep and revealing insights into the benefits of transformation, technology trends, and process for preparing winning digital strategies for your organisation.

In his two decades of industry experience, Maulik has worked with many corporations across the USA in growing their business through adoption of digital technologies. Maulik’s consulting firm, Invonto, has been instrumental in the successful transformation of leading businesses across construction, finance, manufacturing, retail, consumer products, high-tech, healthcare, and entertainment.

Broken into seven easy-to-read sections, Maulik reveals why all organisations should begin implementing digital transformation strategies now.

Based on real life examples, he shows investing in technology results in more agile and efficient businesses, happier customers, engaged employees, and profitable ventures overall.

“Risks of not adopting digital can be significant. You will continue to face growing threat from the digital-savvy competitors. In the digital age, the only way to survive and thrive is to embrace digital. Digital transformation is no longer a question of Why? It is now a question of When?” Maulik said.

This book has already received great reviews by digital publishers and readers.

“The Digital Transformation Cookbook shows the importance of digital transformation, the current state of digital, and what organisations need to define a successful digital transformation roadmap for all their digital initiatives.” - Buzzfeed

“Maulik Shah teaches entrepreneurs and founders why digital transformation is critical in today’s business environment, how to develop a strategy that can be implemented easily, as well as the companies that are paving the digital transformation future.” - Thrive Global

“At a time when digital everything surrounds us, it’s hard to keep up with all the advancements in technology. That’s why I look for resources like this one that tells me everything I need to know in a digestible format with examples of practical application. Not only does it clearly define the latest in digital innovation, but it makes it all relevant by highlighting how some of the world’s leading brands are embracing digital transformation to stay ahead of the competition.” - Stephanie Y

You can get your copy of “The Digital Transformation Cookbook” today from Amazon To learn more about Invonto, visit

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Black Blood

In Jane Eddie's Black Blood we meet Danni. She was a trainee corporate lawyer. All seemed great, until she was forced to flee the worlds she knew in London to escape from an abusive and controlling partner.

She finds herself living and working in Aberdeen, working in the oil industry. All seems good, but in the uncertain world of post-Brexit Europe, things start to devolve and not in a good way.

A number of the oil outfits have felt compelled to sell out to the Russians. But then a top oil industry CEO is found dead.

Is this death somehow linked to a number of apparently mysterious deaths on the offshore oil wells?

Who are the terrorists who are attacking the platforms? Who is behind them? Who is giving the orders?

And what if Danni starts to become suspicious that there might be something far, far worse than an abusive and controlling spouse, an abusive and controlling employer?

There's a complex web of deceit, corruption and evil surrounding Danni. What can she do? What can she do?

Danni is minded, of course, to do the right thing. But what if doing the right thing could result in her losing her life?

But what, exactly, was really happening? Who could she trust?

This is a remarkable, exciting novel and I believe that Jane Eddie is a name to look out for.

It's published by The Book Guild at £8.99.

Ned and the Chocolate Cheats

In Ned and the Chocolate Cheats Mark Jarvis introduces his young readers to a world were animals can communicate by talking and where there are plenty of adventures to be had.

Meet Ned, an ebullient Jack Russell. His friend who lives next door is a cat called Gizzmo, who knows all about technological stuff.

Ned is told by Gizzmo about a robbery that has occurred at the local shop. Ned gets his human to take him there, for a walk, obviously, to investigate the events for himself.

Jeff, his human, and Ned decide to try to help solve the mystery, but they soon learn more than they bargained for. They become enmeshed with the worlds of organised crime and MI5!

But what, exactly, is going on? Ned and Jeff zip all over the country and even overseas, to try to make sense of events and to thwart the evil plans of their enemies.

What has chocolate got to do with the situation? And exactly how evil are their opponents? Would they be willing to kill Jeff and Ned?

And if so, can they escape them?

And what did the mobility scooter of Mrs Perkins have to do with it all? And what, exactly, are the chocolate cheats up to?

It's an exciting and very funny novel aimed at children 9 to 11 and their adults, as it's an ideal book to share.

It's published by Matador at £7.99.

Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound is a debut novel from filmwriter Richard Smith.

It's all about rock 'n' roll music, the life choices that we all make and the dream we have.

Meet George, our protagonist. George is 79 and has recently become a widower. Back in the day, the heady 1960s, George had nearly, but not quite, managed to find success as a rock star.

And George is not a happy person. His house is now providing refuge to Tara, his teenager of a granddaughter. Wearied by the constant sniping and arguing between her parents, she left home to live with George.

However, there's the additional problem of Toby, George's son-in-law. He wants to see George stashed away in a care home. 

However, although they all think they know all there is to know about George, they don't. Because George has some pretty interesting secrets.

For example, they don't really know why George's musical career didn't take off. And only George knows how much this sense of failure still gnaws at his guts all these decades later.

Age is no obstacle to ambition and George dearly wants to take one more chance at actually making it as a star.

Unexpectedly the chance to redeem his long moribund musical career comes along, but at the price of the involvement of a long vanished distant relative, who has reappeared in his life. 

And what about Tara? She has ambitions of a musical career of her own. However, the clashes between different generations have caught her unawares and how will she cope with her granddad's dreams and memories and his collection of old vinyl records?

At first the start of their relationship (as people sharing a house) gets off to a less than stellar beginning, but they start to gel together and Tara is soon to face the exact same dilemma that George had to face 50-odd years ago.

What can Tara do? Who can she turn to? Her parents? George? Who? And who, exactly, can she really trust?

It's a vivid and very readable book and will have cross-generational appeal. Although it's a feelgood novel, it does not shy away from the unpleasant aspects of life and is all the more readable for that.

It's published by Matador at £10.99.