Children’s Book Review: The Light in the Night by Marie Voigt

ABOUT THE BOOK

So when Cosmo comes to life, it is the perfect opportunity for Betty to help him overcome his fear and show him the beauty of the night.

With a lantern in one hand and Cosmo’s paw in the other, join Betty on a wonderful adventure that will light up every child’s story time!

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Pages: 32
Publishing Date: 7th February 2019

OUR THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK

This is such a cute children’s book and has quickly become a staple read on my daughter’s most favourite pile of bedtime stories.

My girls love this handsomely illustrated story, which teaches the virtues of bravery and teamwork in a gentle fashion. There is a lovely surprise at around the halfway point, which genuinely took my breath away with its innovation. Betty and Cosmo are endearing characters who accept each others faults and together, through their friendship, become braver and make a huge difference to each other’s lives.

Book Review: A Version of the Truth by B P Walter

ABOUT THE BOOK

We all see what we want to see…

2019: Julianne is preparing a family dinner when her son comes to her and says he’s found something on his iPad. Something so terrible, it will turn Julianne’s world into a nightmare and make her question everything about her marriage and what type of man her husband is or is pretending to be.

1990: Holly is a fresher student at Oxford University. Out of her depth and nervous about her surroundings, she falls into an uneasy friendship with a group of older students from the upper echelons of society and begins to develop feelings for one in particular. He’s confident, quiet, attractive and seems to like her too. But as the year progresses, her friends’ behaviour grows steadily more disconcerting and Holly begins to realise she might just be a disposable pawn in a very sinister game.

A devastating secret has simmered beneath the surface for over twenty-five years. Now it’s time to discover the truth. But what if you’re afraid of what you might find?

Publisher: Avon
Pages: 368
Publication Date: 7th February 2019

MY THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK

A Version of the Truth is definitely different from anything I had read before. There was a lot I liked about this book, but admittedly some parts were depicted way too graphically for my liking.

I am not always a fan of different time lines as I quite often feel it takes away from the actual flow of the book, but it worked extremely well for this novel. Not only did it give the reader the chance to “recover” after some of the chapters, but it also gave such a good and clever insight into James’s life (from his time at university compared to the present day). At times I felt, we were ahead of Julianne’s shocking discoveries and more than once did I feel the need to warn her.

The Version of Truth is probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you enjoy the slightly more twisted and graphic psychological thrillers, then this could definitely be a read for you.

Blog Tour: The Escape (Guest Post by Clare Harvey)

I am so pleased to be kicking off the blog tour for Clare Harvey’s newest novel, The Escape. I am only a few chapters in, but already completely compelled by this story.

About The Escape

One winter morning in Germany in early 1945, Detta passes a group of exhausted British prisoners of war who are being force-marched westwards. One man catches her eye and she cannot forget him. The following day she receives an urgent message to contact the local priest: he needs her help. 

Miranda is a photography student in Berlin in 1989 as the Wall falls. Trapped in an abusive relationship, her one hope for escape is an old postcard of the village her grandmother, Detta, was born in. As Miranda flees through the rubble of the Berlin wall and into the East, she begins to suspect she’s being followed by the Stasi.
 
Two very different timelines; two women who share a history and a dark secret. Can they save each other now the time has come to reveal it?

Confessions – Guest Post by Clare HarveyC

My typical day consists of lying on my chaise longue in a silky negligee in front of a roaring log fire, dictating bon mots to my secretary, whilst drinking champers and eating chocolate truffles. Although occasionally I might get picked up in a chauffer driven Rolls and whisked off to a TV studio to chat to celebrities about my latest book…

Yes of course I just made that up (but you’d be surprised how many people actually think an author’s life is like this)! 

What’s an author’s life really like? I’m going to spill a few secrets about mine, and you can judge for yourself:

Secret number one: I talk to myself. Yes, I know, first sign of madness and all that. Whilst I was writing my debut novel The Gunner Girl, I even found myself having conversations (‘D’you fancy a cuppa, Clare?’ ‘Oooh, yes, thank you, Clare, a cup of coffee would be lovely!’ etc.) Writing is a largely hermit-like existence, so I suppose talking to myself became inevitable. Eventually I got a dog for company, who I like to think of as my furry PA (although his shorthand and typing skills are pretty lamentable) and I now talk to him instead – which is not mad at all, ask any dog lover. Oh, and I talk to my characters, too, especially when I want to discover their back stories – I interview them and get them to tell me all about themselves (I’m not sure if other writers do this – it would be interesting to find out). 

Secret number two: I work in bed. I used to tell people that this was because I get cold in winter (if it’s a freezing day and I have some research books to read, why not read in bed – it saves on heating bills?) But the truth is that even during last summer’s heat wave, I worked in bed. I find writing comes easier from the horizontal, perhaps because I have left my ‘internal editor’ behind with the laptop at the desk downstairs (I always write longhand in the first instance). But sometimes I like to prepare a scene and then take a little power nap before writing it, because I find that writing flows so much better if I have just woken up. I let my furry PA up on the bed, too (not that it improves his secretarial skills much). It’s just getting a tad embarrassing that the window cleaners always seem to come when I’m there. I’m almost embarrassed enough about it to change my bed-working habit. 

Almost.

Picture shows Clare working in bed, with support from her furry PA

Secret number three: I sleep in my clothes. I have only done this once. Oh, all right, twice. Here’s why: I was desperate to get the final draft of my work-in-progress finished by the school holidays, so I’d been up really late getting through it. By the time I’d cleaned my teeth, etc. it was already past one in the morning, and really cold. I remember thinking that I would have to take all my clothes off, get into my pyjamas and probably a jumper, too (my husband works away during the week, so I do tend to pile on the nightclothes without him next to me to keep me warm) and bed socks, and all the while the clock was ticking on, and I knew that I’d have to be up in a few hours to walk the kids to the tram stop in the freezing cold and…Yes, I went to bed fully clothed, and wore the same clothes the following morning. But it was only the once (well, twice, if I’m strictly honest). 

Now you know a couple of secrets about me, you can be the judge. A glamorous life? Not really… But make sure you don’t breathe a word!

You can catch up with Clare, and find out more about her and her books here: 

Facebook: @clareharvey13

Twitter: @ClareHarveyauth

Instagram: @clareharvey13

Website: clareharvey.net


Planning for 2019

If you are anything like me you will have started planning ahead for 2019 weeks ago. I love to be organised! Writing lists, daily to-do-tasks etc. gives me a feeling of accomplishment and helps me to not feel overwhelmed. When Danilo asked whether we would like to review some of their products from the 2019 calendar range, I jumped at the opportunity.

left to right: The Incredibles Family Planner, Mary Poppins Fashion Diary, Princesses change-it-up calendar

I usually have at least one diary per year on the go (don’t ask – I am a stationary hoarder and when I find one during the year I like better than the one I currently use, I have to buy it…). Most years, we will have a calendar in the kitchen for doctor’s appointments, school activities, meetings etc. and one in the girls’ room.

The Incredibles Family Planner

I really like this calendar! It comes with different columns for each family member and lots of stickers to add a great deal of personalisation. There is also a flap on the bottom which can hold appointment cards and other small items. I love this feature. Normally these cards would be plastered all over our fridge and constantly fall off as the girls love playing with the fridge magnets (surely, that’s just not us! :-))

Mary Poppins Fashion Diary

You can never go wrong with Mary Poppins! This diary will be a great companion for me for 2019.

Princesses Change-It-Up Calendar


Our girls love Disney and everything princess related. Our trip to Disneyland Paris was such a huge success, especially meeting their favourite princesses :-). This change-it-up calendar is just perfect. The months column is separate from the actual picture column which means she can choose a different princess pretty much every day and change the pictures around as often as possible. Such a brilliant idea.

All three calendars have a RRP of £9.99 and are available from the Danilo website, calendar club and select high street stockists.

Which are your favourite diaries/calendars to use?

Thank you very much to Danilo for gifting us these products for the purposes of creating this blog post.

How I learned to manage my time more efficiently (Book Review: Enjoy Time by Catherine Blyth)


I’ll be the first to admit that my time management recently has been, let’s say, rather catastrophic. To be fair, I can’t even pinpoint what happened exactly, but for some reason or other, I found myself in such a rut of chasing time literally every day. I’d get to the evening wondering where the day had gone. When I was approached asking whether I would like to review the newest instalment, Enjoy Time,  from the Build + Become series by Quarto, I immediately jumped at the chance. 

About Enjoy Time

We are living longer than ever and, thanks to technology, we are able to accomplish so much more. So why do we feel time poor? In 20 eye-opening lessons, Catherine Blyth combines cutting-edge science and psychology to show why time runs away from you, then provides the tools to get it back. 

Learn why the clock speeds up just when you wish it would go slow, how your tempo can be manipulated and why we all misuse and miscalculate time. But you can beat the time thieves. Reset your body clock, refurbish your routine, harness momentum and slow down. Not only will time be more enjoyable, but you really will get more done. 

My thoughts on Enjoy Time

This book has made such a huge impact on me. Not only have I learned a lot about myself and how I managed my time, but it taught me a few important lessons along the way. The most valuable aspect I took away from this read is to sit back, re-evaluate and approach matters with a better strategy. I found Enjoy Time so helpful and interesting. Already the second headline: “Stop Rushing. Get More Done” completely resonated with me. How often have I found myself rushing around like a headless chicken, getting hardly anything done in the end (apart from adding a few stress-related grey hairs!)

Enjoy Time is divided into 5 parts covering 20 lessons in total. Each lesson explores a specific concept of time (i.e. procrastination – of which I am certainly a queen of!) and offers ways of how you can apply the things you’ve learned in your daily life. Toolkits at the end of each lesson, summarise what you have learned so far and a section on further reading concludes each lesson. 

I especially loved the motivational quotes ahead of each section. The amount of research and studies that went into writing this book, must have been immense. The end result is definitely worth it!

Time is not money. Time is your life. 

After initially reading this book from cover to cover, I have already picked it up several times since referring back to certain sections. One big change I have made to my time management is to plan a lot more wisely. As I mentioned above, procrastinating is my biggest downfall (I could easily mindlessly scroll through Instagram for hours on end and then wonder where time has gone). Each evening I am now writing a to-do-list for the following day with achievable tasks. And instead of leaving things to later on in the day, I try and work through most of it during the morning. This obviously still takes the same amount of time, but I feel so much better for having already ticked off most of my tasks before lunchtime. I seem to have so much more time in the afternoons this way and most important of all, I feel a lot less stressed. 

Enjoy Time is part of the Build + Become series. You can find out more information here

Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Build + Become. All opinions and words are entirely my own.