Thrive by Mark Barnes


‘Thrive’ is a witty, informative guide designed to simultaneously educate and entertain. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, partly because of the author’s light-hearted approach and partly because the survival guide layout was a novel way to explain a dry topic.

Barnes’ guide to survival in the corporate world was intertwined with a bustling jungle theme. The author’s attempt to “inject a little fun” into business by comparing it to the cut-throat ecosystem of the rainforest was especially successful because it turned a serious, complex topic into something relatable and easy to understand. Though I tend to prefer fiction over non-fiction, I enjoyed this book more than some of the recent dystopias I have read, simply because of its fun manner and colloquial prose. I also found that I learnt a huge deal about corporate life along the way.

Chock-full of analogies and little exemplar speech bubbles, this guide was both helpful and factual. By using real-life observations, Barnes’ advice was really able to resonate with the reader. I’m sure that many readers – myself included – could recognise some of the scenarios outlined in this book! Barnes generated an empathetic bond with his readers, and through this bond was able to teach his audience the key ideas behind business. Reading ‘Thrive’ has taught me how to not only survive in the corporate jungle, but how to succeed and flourish.

Everything about this book was fun yet factual. The numerous references to snakes, insects, bears and other forms of jungle life were cleverly linked to their corporate counterparts with stunning precision. Insects are, indeed, those low down on the corporate ladder who do the actual company work that has been delegated to them, and snakes are found in every office, identifiable by their charm and silver tongues.

I would recommend this book to anyone who finds themselves trekking through the corporate jungle, hacking at the greenery and struggling to reach the foliage. ‘Thrive’ is a highly motivational, business-driven survival guide that will never cease to inspire and educate.


Exclusive Author Interview! Meet James Stoddah

Ring of Conscience is a mystery/thriller by James Stoddah which I reviewed last week.

I found myself caught up in the mystery, almost as a side-line character. One of the book’s clever attributes is that it stands alone as an exciting and enthralling mystery, but can also be interactive. You can follow the clues online – or even attempt to beat the characters to it – as I attempted!

I caught up with James on Skype and we had a chat about the book and his ideas. Here’s an exclusive interview with the master himself:

So, briefly, what is Ring of Conscience about?

It’s about an eccentric professor who leaves a multi-million pound legacy in an online treasure hunt. Detectives discover it while trying to track down a missing woman then there’s a race to uncover the clues to save the woman and stop the bad guys. It’s set in both England and America

What inspired the book?

I’ve always liked the idea of treasure hunts. I used to set up hunts for the kids when they were young, not just in the house, but sometimes all over the county.
For my Son, Harley’s 9th birthday I went out the previous day leaving clues in shops and coffee houses in towns over fifty miles apart. It was so much fun, his friends enjoyed it. Of course the treasure was in the boot of the car all along but it took about ten clues before they worked that out!

The locations in the book were based on places I had been and other experiences I’ve had. I didn’t like the idea of all the action being in a room following the thoughts of the characters so it was important that there was plenty of action outside. It was fun to write.

You say the ring of conscience exists?

Yes, Jason Chadwick’s story in the book is my own. Only my sister made the ring up for me. I wrote a song about stealing the Crown Jewels and being traced, having dropped the ring. It was based on a very strange dream I had when I was seventeen.

Were you into treasure hunting yourself?

Not directly but I enjoyed the Indiana Jones type of treasure hunting films and read books that were based on treasure hunts, such as Wilbur Smith’s “Seventh Scroll”. I was also fascinated by reading about the tomb discoveries and read Howard Carter’s book about the discovery of Tutankhamun.

Many of the clues are inspired by Roman, Greek and English mythology. Is this a passion of yours?

Only recently. It was only as I was researching for Ring of Conscience that I started becoming fascinated. One of my favourite things about writing is the research. When I was at school, I struggled to find the enthusiasm to learn and I don’t think I was naturally curious. This is something that has awakened in me throughout adulthood – I am passionate about learning now – especially when I am motivated.

The website in the book exists but you have you have a parallel website where people can actually win prizes?

Yes. works in the same way as (the website in the book) but with a different set of clues. I have made up a gold replica of the ring which has the Melodema symbol engraved on it. There are also other prizes and I’ve agreed a percentage of revenue from the book to be given as a cash prize. So basically the more books we sell the bigger the stash of treasure will be!

Thanks James for the chat. I loved your book and I wish you all the best with it. I hope you all enjoyed this interview as much as I did!

Ring of Conscience is out now via Outlet Publishing Group.
More information: and the treasure hunt website, if you fancy a go, is GOOD LUCK!