Friday 24 September 2021

The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams | Book Review

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The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams - 3/5

"One cancelled wedding

When the day finally comes for Annie to marry Alexander, the last thing she expects is to be left standing at the altar. She was so sure he was Mr Right. Now, she has no idea how she could have got it so wrong.

One unexpected encounter

After a chance meeting with Patrick, an old friend who reminds her of who she used to be, Annie takes a vow of her own: she’ll say yes to every opportunity that comes her way from now on.

One spare ticket for the honeymoon

Could a spontaneous trip with Patrick be the way to mend Annie’s heart? She’s about to find out as she embarks on her honeymoon – with a man who’s not her husband…"

I have read two of Laura Jane Williams' books before, Our Stop and The Love Square, and I really enjoyed them both. The Lucky Escape was great but, for me, not really on the same level.

Firstly, the story was a little bit predictable. Annie is due to get married to Alexander and he leaves her at the altar. His parents tell her to still take her honeymoon that they paid for and she debates it. 

After being on a bit of a downer, understandably after the break up of a serious relationship, she joins a bootcamp class to try and shake herself out of it. There she reconnects with Patrick, a friend who she knew from a drama group as a teenager. The two become friendly and she invites him along on the honeymoon to Australia.

The diversity feels a little bit too forced and I would have loved more fleshing out of the characters. I really liked the development of Annie's relationship with her mother and the exploration of how she felt following Alexander leaving her. 

Also, the main character's name is Annie Wiig and I couldn't help but constantly imagine Kristen Wiig's character of Annie in Bridesmaids!

Although predictable, it is a nice, easy to read romance!

Monday 20 September 2021

Early Years Learning Resources from Teacher Play

 [AD/Gifted - I received this item for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Our little ones have had a tough time of it when it came to their education these past few years. E is in Primary 3 now and her last two school years were interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning that she didn't spend a lot of it actually in school. Most of it was home learning but hopefully we won't have any interruptions this year.

Emma Anderson, an assistant headteacher from Peterborough has set up a business called Teacher Play which sells products that aim to help children flourish in their early stages of life by assisting their language, reading, writing and numeracy skills.

The products are targeted towards children aged 1-7 and are great for helping with vocabulary, phonics and conversational skills. E is at the upper end of the age limit but I thought they would be a great help for her considering her past two school years were a little unusual to say the least.

We were very kindly sent the Common Exception Words: Set 2. E is very good at reading and can read phonetically well but these have been great for helping with her "tricky" words.

Inside the pack, you get 64 double-sided cards, each with a question or mini story which helps your child understand how we use that word. You can either choose to read this to your child or, like E, they can attempt to read it on their own. The child then uses a dry erase marker to trace over the word to help them learn it.

When we first opened out the pack, E said "Oh, this isn't a fun toy!" but once we began with the first couple of cards, she kept asking to do more! She gets set homework each day and we also add a couple of these cards in as extra. Sometimes we will even do a little test to see if she can create different sentences using the word on the card. The illustrations are beautiful too.

We also received a Phonics Mat, a Capital Letters Mat (I LOVE the addition of the countries and flags - an extra little learning tool), a list of all Common Exception words, an Alphabet Mat and a Numbers mat. All of these we have used during homework time so E can do the majority of it independently, without needing to ask me for help.

The Common Exception Words cards, I feel, have helped E lots of the past couple of weeks and I can see her becoming more confident with more difficult words. The full range at Teacher Play look fantastic and I wish they were around when my children were younger!

You can browse the range at Teacher Play or follow them on Instagram.

Friday 10 September 2021

Next Of Kin by Kia Abdullah | Book Review

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Next Of Kin by Kia Abdullah - 5/5
On an ordinary working day...

Leila Syed receives a call that cleaves her life in two. Her brother-in-law’s voice is filled with panic. His son’s nursery have called to ask where little Max is.

...your worst nightmare...

Leila was supposed to drop Max off that morning. But she forgot.

Racing to the carpark, she grasps the horror of what she has done.... about to come true...

What follows is an explosive high-profile trial that will tear the family apart. But as the case progresses, it becomes clear there’s more to this incident than meets the eye...

Oh my goodness, Kia Abdullah can write a courtroom drama like no other. I gave Take It Back and Truth Be Told 5/5 too and I fully expected Next Of Kin to follow in their footsteps.

The story follows Leila Syed and her sister Yasmin. Their parents died when they were younger, with eighteen-year-old Leila raising eleven-year-old Yasmin. She worked hard to provide for herself and her younger sister, eventually opening her own architecture firm.

Leila is married to Will, they have separated but are on relatively good terms and Yasmin is married to Andrew. We learn that Will and Leila have not been able to conceive and Yasmin has a three-year-old son called Max. Their eldest son Toby died previously due to epidermolysis bullose, a skin condition.

One morning, Andrew calls Leila to ask if she can drop Max to nursery. She accepts but takes an important call and rushes to work, leaving Max in the car on the hottest day of the year. I went into this book without reading the synopsis so I genuinely gasped when I realised what was about to happen.

The main bulk of the novel focuses on Leila's court case. Abdullah has written the witness statements so well that I was doubtful at parts and wanted to know the truth myself. The book explores the sisters' relationship, that sibling jealousy with both of them thinking the other has a perfect life. It is so interesting reading about how words can be turned against you or how a simple, insignificant moment in the past can contradict you. 

I felt so many emotions whilst reading and I changed my opinion on almost every character. Just when I got past one twist, there was another that I totally did not expect. 

That ending too... I need more. What happens next?!