Brain Tools for Teens by Malin Gutestam

Thank you to Love Reading for the opportunity to read and review Brain Tools for Teens. I am the mother of two teenagers and I also work for a social mobility charity working to encourage students to aim high for their futures, so I was keen to read this. This was published by Hjärnskap last month.


Brain Tools for Teens – a Practical Actionable Guide to Improve Your Mental Wellbeing and Learning.

Have you ever thought about …?

  • Why nothing seems to stick in your memory when you study?
  • Why you feel unfocused and stressed?
  • Why it is hard to balance school work and spare time?

Brain Tools for Teens is written in a warm and engaging manner, speaking directly to teenagers, using a combination of personal stories, evidence to aid understanding of the issues, and includes more than 160 practical and realistic tips for implementation of strategies.

You may find brain Tools for Teens helpful if you are;

  • a teen in need of tools to feel more in control of your health and learning
  • a parent looking for new tools to support teens in challenging times
  • an educator looking for a resource to promote teen mental wellbeing and reduce stress
  • someone working with teens in search of new tools to help teens navigate this changing world

 Here is exactly what you will get in Brain Tools for Teens;

  1. The Teenage Brain:  How your brain works and how to take care of it.
  2. Focus:   Attention, multitasking and how to focus.
  3. Sleep:   Why sleep is a vital tool for learning and mental health.
  4. Physical Activity:   The benefits of movement for performance and creativity.
  5. Down Time:   Different breaks and how breaks can increase performance.
  6. Connection:  How positive connection promotes health and learning.
  7. Play:   How play creates inner motivation and is beneficial to learning.
  8. Time-in:   Simple and accessible tools to manage stress and feel calm.
  9. The Learning Brain:   How learning works and how to boost your learning.
  10. Stress:   What stress is and how some reactions to stress are beneficial.
  11. Where do you go from here?   A simple strategy to keep checking in.
  12. To Parents and guardians:   How we support and encourage teens.

Brain Tools for Teens is colorful, has a structured layout, lots of constructive illustrations and simple summaries. It also contains inspiring stories of teens and young adults who have created new well-functioning habits in their lives. You can choose to read just the chapter that feels most pertinent to you or read the book cover to cover. It is a practical actionable guide you can come back to when you need to.

Create and add to your own toolbox for mental wellbeing and learning. Buy the book and start reading today!

My thoughts:

I have only seen a PDF copy but I was very impressed by the content, layout and ideas. The book is written for teenagers, to explain how important it is that they mix up their studies with exercise, socialising, sleep, etc. The book explains all the science behind the suggestions and features reports from students about how they discovered they needed to make changes. Lots of common sense ideas, especially about the impact of mobile phones on sleep and studying.

There is a section at the end with advice for parents and teachers. This appears to be a useful book for all ages.

Author Bio:

Malin Gutestam is passionate about providing science-based tools that optimize brain health and learning for teens and young adults. Her interest in the brain and learning has also led her to become speaker, coach and author. 

A secondary school teacher in Sweden for the past 20 years, she has been teaching Physical Education, Entrepreneurship, Ways of Working and Learning, Pedagogical Leadership and Health Pedagogics to16-19-year-olds. Malin´s curiosity led her to become a tutor in PBL (Problem Based Learning). She has also co-founded a health project with focus on physical activity and learning for teens, developed a course for learning to learn strategies as well as the course Young Brains which was run as a pilot study. Malin has run many workshops for teachers on the connection of physical activity and learning and co-created learning materials for brain breaks and values.

Malin loves to give talks and run workshops about how brain science can be applied to create better conditions for learning, better brain health and more creative processes and share them with high school students, college students, parents, teachers or business professionals.

In 2016, Malin Gutestam was awarded The Helge Prize, a Swedish scholarship for teachers, which led to the publication of the Swedish version of Brain Tools for Teens. 

She holds an MA from Örebro University and a postgraduate certificate in Neuroscience in Leadership from Middlesex University (focusing on the next generation of leaders) as well as a Brain Based Coaching Certificate from the Neuroleadership Institute.

Malin’s greater mission is to contribute to an education where students can learn, grow, thrive and pursue their passions. She believes that now more than ever do we need the creativity, compassion, skills and knowledge of today´s teens to find new ways of solving the problems of today.

Visit Malin’s website for free learning resources. Malin also shares research, tips and ideas about brain health and learning for teens and young adults on Instagram @braintoolsforteens. 

Plant Magic by Dr. Greg J Kenicer @thebotanics @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Thank you to Kelly at Love Books Tours and The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh for a gorgeous copy of this book. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.


An informative and entertaining look at why plants have been used in magic and what that tells us about people and plants in a post-magic world.

With chapters on subjects as diverse as Witchcraft, Curses and Blessings, Divination, the Plants of Faery, Hallucinogens, Divine Plants in the Christian and Pagan traditions and a Plant Bestiary, Greg Kenicer’s book is an erudite and informative look at how and why various plants have had a role in Europe’s supernatural and magical traditions.

Individual entries look at particular plants combining botanical analysis with historical examples and anecdote to explain exactly why each plant came to be used in this way. Considerations of dangers and actual efficacy cast light on how modern science is now re-examining the uses of many of the plants and how the evolution of the plants themselves has been influenced by our use of them.

Whether Foxglove or Mandrake, Hawthorn or Aspen, Rowan or Oak, St. John’s Wort or Bird Cherry, Plant Magic  shines a bright and fascinating new light on dozens of familiar plants.

My thoughts:

As a child we often discover the fictional magic of plants in books such as the Magic Faraway Tree and the folklore stories about Robin Hood etc. Plants have been used for centuries to make medicine and food, but also to make enemies ill or to kill them.

This book is a reference book to explain how the wide number of plants have been used for food, medicine and pain, from trees, to fungi, from herbs to ferns.

I live in Oakhurst, named after the Oak trees growing in the area. I was fascinated by the amount of information about how Oak trees were the symbol of Zeus, and linked to Merlin the wizard. I wasn’t aware that acorns were used to make love potions.

There is a section at the back of the book about Mystery Plants, such Laughter Leaf and Was Wak trees. These are plants that have featured in stories such as the Arabian Nights and this book explains how the stories may have evolved.

A fascinating book, looking at folklore, legend, botany and science. I’ve enjoyed dipping in and out of the pages, learning more about the plants in our garden and those seen on our daily dog walks.

Author Bio:

Dr. Greg J Kenicer is the author of Plant Magic.  He is also a botanist and a lecturer at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. He is an expert in the evolution and diversity of peas and beans but the fantastical relationship between plants and people is where his heart really lies.

Buy Link

The Better Half : On the Genetic Superiority of Women by Sharon Moalem

Today I’m pleased to share a review for a non fiction book on my blog. Thank you to Penguin UK for a digital proof copy via NetGalley – apologies for the delay in reading and reviewing.

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

An award-winning medic and scientist makes the game-changing case that genetic females are stronger than males at every stage of life

‘A powerful antidote to the myth of a “weaker sex”‘ Gina Rippon, author of The Gendered Brain

Here are some facts: Women live longer than men. They have stronger immune systems. They’re better at fighting cancer and surviving famine, and even see the world in a wider variety of colours. They are simply stronger than men at every stage of life. Why? And why are we taught the opposite?

Drawing on his wide-ranging experience and cutting-edge research, Dr Sharon Moalem set out to understand why men are consistently less likely than women to thrive. The answer, he reveals, lies in our genetics: the female’s double XX chromosomes offer a powerful survival advantage.

Moalem explains why genetic females triumph over males when it comes to resilience, intellect, stamina, immunity and much more. And he calls for a long-overdue reconsideration of our male-centric, one-size-fits-all view of the body and even of how we prescribe medications – a view that still frames women through the lens of men. 

Revolutionary, captivating and utterly persuasive, The Better Half will make you see women, men and the survival of our species anew.

My thoughts:

This book was published back in April 2020 in the UK, at the start of Lockdown. I had a dip in my ability to concentrate and read mostly ‘light fiction’ full of uplifting stories. However, as a female in the middle of a global pandemic, I really should have read this because I now appreciate that my body may be more able to fight Covid-19 than those of the males in our house.

This was an interesting read. Admittedly I didn’t fact check the science but I did understand the majority of it, with my A level science and medical underwriting knowledge. My major concern was discovering that women are much more at risk of autoimmune conditions (a cousin has MS) and that many medicines haven’t been tested on women, so the dosages are based on men..

Definitely worth a read, to see why the X and Y chromosomes mean that we have different health issues and the risks to be aware of.

Author Bio:

Sharon Moalem, MD, PhD, is an award-winning physician-scientist and geneticist. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Survival of the Sickest and Inheritance, an Amazon Best Science Book of the Year, among other books. His work brings together evolution, genetics, and medicine to revolutionize how we understand and treat disease, and his clinical research led to the discovery of two new rare genetic conditions, and to his discovery of a first-in-class antibiotic which targets ‘superbug’ infections. His books have been translated into more than 35 languages.