Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Learning to Tell the Time with Easy Read Time Teacher - Review

AD - We received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

At the age of 6, almost 7, part of C's curriculum is learning to tell the time. He owns a few watches too which he loves to wear but he'd always ask me what time it was.

Easy Read Time Teacher got in touch to see if we'd like to try out one of their Rainbow Past & To clocks and I jumped at the chance as it would coincide well with C's school learning too.

The clock takes one AA battery and setting the time is easy enough using the toggle on the back. We had it ready to hang in two minutes.

The face is bright and colourful, perfect for any child's room, and the second hand doesn't tick so it doesn't annoy them in the night.

The Easy Read Time Teacher makes it simple for children to be able to read the time themselves. The big hand will point directly to a number which is the first part of time telling, they then have to check which side they are reading from (the red side which is "minutes to" or green side which is "minutes past") then the smaller hand points to the hour. You also have quarter, half and o'clock displayed too.

C really likes this as everything is there for him, it's just like reading. The first few days that the clock was in his room, he'd be constantly running upstairs saying, "I'm just going to check what time it is!"

The longer we've been using it, the more confident he is getting and doesn't have to think as much when reading. We still haven't mastered telling time from a watch or other clock without the "cheats" but we'll get there in no time, I'm sure.

It's been a great addition to our lives because C knows what time we usually do things such as go downstairs for breakfast at 7.30 so he can read that he still has x amount of time to play in his room.

C has autism so when I say things like "give me five minutes" he gets a little frustrated because he can't physically see five minutes. With the Easy Read Time Teacher, I can tell him we can do something at a certain time and he'll know himself when that will be and can count it down.

The Easy Read Time Teacher is perfect for children from the age of 5-12 and retails at £24.95. You can find our more about their range of watches and clocks on their website.

Monday, 13 May 2019

2019 Reading Challenge | Books 21-25 Round-Up

I'm a little behind with these round up posts - it feels like I've read the ones I'm about the write about ages ago!

You can catch up with 1-5, 6-10, 11-15 and 16-20 and don't forget to come add me on Goodreads!

Two Little Girls by Frances Vick - 4/5

"An innocent girl is taken. The family's lodger confesses.
But that's not the whole story. That's not even the beginning...

It's 1985 and the disappearance of ten-year-old Lisa Cook shocks the nation. Her best friend, Kirsty, traumatised and fearful, gives evidence that helps to put the Cook lodger behind bars.

...But what if Kirsty made a mistake? 

Now, decades later, Kirsty leaves a life she loves to move back to the hometown she hates - tortured by her memorie, she's determined to finally uncover the truth about what happened to Lisa that day. But someone is waiting for her there, someone close to her family. Someone who is hoping to finish off a job that was started years ago..."

In 1985, ten-year-olds Lisa and Kirsty are best friends forever. They have a minor argument, Kirsty goes off home and Lisa isn't seen again, presumed dead.

Fast-forward to present time and Kirsty has moved away and is married to Lee. A family commitment brings her back to her hometown and she becomes friendly with an older psychic lady who thinks she can help her find out the truth about what happened to Lisa. Kirsty soon finds out that she can't trust anyone.

I was excited to read this book based on the synopsis and I really enjoyed it. It's full of twists which kept me on my toes. I don't buy into the whole psychic medium thing so I read those parts with a pinch of salt but the plot is still very good.

Cruel Acts by Jane Casey - 4/5

"How can you spot a murderer?

Leo Stone is a ruthless killer - or a victim of a miscarriage of justice. A year ago, he was convicted of the murder of two women and sentenced to life in prison. But now he's free, and according to him, he's innocent.

DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent are determined to put Stone back behind bars where he belongs, but the more Maeve finds out, the less convinced she is of his guilt.

Then another woman disappears in similar circumstances. Is there a copycat killer, or have they been wrong about Stone from the start?" 

This is a really good crime fiction novel. DS Maeve Kerrigan is looking into the deaths of two (possibly three) women in the hope of finding new evidence against Leo Stone, the man suspected of murdering them, after he is released.

It is full of twists as you follow Maeve and her colleague DI Josh Derwent. I thought I had it sussed about halfway through but it went another direction. This is the eighth book in the Maeve Kerrigan series but only the first I've read. After seeing how well written this book is, and the fact that I loved the characters, I'm definitely going back to read the rest!

The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister - 5/5 

"It's the day Izzy's father is released from jail.

She has every reason to be conflicted - he's the man who gave her a childhood filled with happy memories.

But he has also just served seventeen years for the murder of her mother.

Now, Izzy's father sends her a letter. He wants to talk, to defend himself against each piece of evidence from his trial.

But should she give him the benefit of the doubt?

Or is her father guilty as charged, and luring her into a trap?" 

Gillian McAllister - you've done it again! 

When I first read her novel 'No Further Questions' last year, I very quickly named it my favourite read of 2018 and I got that exact came feeling with 'The Evidence Against You'. It's going to take a lot to beat it.

Izzy's father was convicted of murdering his wife, Izzy's mother Alex, 17 years ago. He has now been released and is protesting his innocence. Izzy decides to listen to his side of the story and see if she can work out if he's telling the truth or not by looking into the evidence.

I couldn't put it down and I kept saying to myself "just one more chapter" until I was up until 2am reading. I was chasing the end to see the conclusion and what an ending it was! I felt like I needed a breather afterwards. It's so well written.

Izzy's father, Gabriel, telling his side of a situation then Izzy recalling the same moment from her point of view was done very well and I loved how it wasn't just all about her trying to find out the truth. It touches on her sadness of not having her mother around to do typical mother/daughter things and her sadness of seeing her father trying to integrate back into society after being incarcerated for almost 20 years.

I cannot recommend this book enough and if you've never read a book by this author before, do it!

Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer by Stephen G Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth - 2/5 

"The book behind the sensational Netflix series 'The Ted Bundy Tapes'. Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer was born out of more than 150 hours of exclusive interview footage with Bundy himself, recorded on death row before his execution in a Florida electric chair. Bundy's shocking eleventh-hour confessions to journalists Stephen G Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth provide a horrifying insight into the twisted mind of America's most notorious serial killer. He was a sadistic monster. A master manipulator. His grisly killing spree left at least 30 innocent young women dead. This is Ted Bundy in his own words."

I love anything to do with crime, especially true crime and I was excited to read this because I thought it would be a great insight into Ted Bundy's mind but it was a really tough read, I got bored very quickly and felt like it was a huge waste of time. I haven't watched the Netflix series but I get the impression that it would translate better as a TV show.

Kudos to the journalists for sitting and listening to, what I can only describe as, utter drivel and word vomit. He speaks in the third person about these crimes, talking as though he's imagining what the person who committed them was feeling or thinking but he's clever and knew what information to leave in and what to omit.  

If you are wanting a quick, easy explanation for Ted Bundy's crimes, this is not the one. 

Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham - 4/5 

"She says she's an ordinary mother.

He knows a liar when he sees one.

Sarah thinks of herself as a normal single mum. It's what she wants others to think of her. But the truth is, she needs something new, something thrilling.

Meanwhile, DI Tom Thorne is investigating a woman's suicide, convinced she was driven to do it by a man who preys on vulnerable women.

A man who is about to change Sarah's life." 

The story starts with DI Tom Thorne investigating a suspicious suicide.

I don't want to give too much away, I can't review without minor spoilers, but we also meet a toxic couple, Sarah and Conrad, and the story is told from two points of view; the couple and the crimes they are committing, and DI Thorne trying his best to suss out what is happening and catch them.

Everything is weaved together very well and there are some great twists thrown in for good measure. The characters are all great and you really feel like you know them because they are given a proper background.

This is the 16th book in the DI Thorne series but only the first I've read. It reads well as a standalone book but judging by this, I'll be seeking out the others. 

Have you read anything good lately that I should check out?
Thursday, 9 May 2019

What I Won - April 2019

We are over a week into May and I almost forgot to write my What I Won in April post. To be fair, it was easy to forget because I'm hardly winning at all. This year has been abysmal! Here's what I did manage to win:

Instagram Wins
Unicorn pyjamas from Character

Twitter Wins
Book bundle from Emily Glenister

A copy of 'A Question Of Trust' from Farrago Books

Betsy the Rabbit from Smyths Toys Ireland
Web Wins 
Portable nappy caddy from Mummy Fever
A case of Black Tower low alcohol wine from Plutonium Sox
A copy of 'A Little Pick Me Up' from Mumsnet Influencers

A lot of book wins this month which I love and some nice little others for myself and my family. Here's hoping the next month is a little better!

Did you win anything nice in April?

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

2019 Reading Challenge | Books 16-20 Round-Up

I seem to by flying through books this year and it's already time to write my round-up of books 16-20! You can catch up with 1-5, 6-10 and 11-15. Don't forget to add me on Goodreads too!

Cape May by Chip Cheek - 3/5 

"September 1957

Henry and Effie, young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon. It's the end of the season and the town is deserted. As they tentatively discover each other, they begin to realise that everyday married life might be disappointingly different from their happily-ever-after fantasy.

Just as they get ready to cut the trip short, a decadent and glamorous set suddenly sweep them up into their drama - Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara's lover; and Alma, Max's aloof and mysterious half-sister.

The empty beach town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, make love, and drink a great deal of gin, Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with irrevocable consequences that reverberate through the rest of their lives..."

It's 1957, Effie and Henry are 18 and 20, newlyweds, and visit Cape May for their honeymoon to Effie's family holiday home as she remembers wonderful summers there. It's Fall so the place is deserted, apart from one other house which they discover belongs to Clara Strauss, a lady who Effie doesn't think fondly of. They develop a new friendship with her, her lover Max and his younger sister Alma.

The book mainly focuses on this honeymoon period in Cape May in the 50s. Effie and Henry discovering each other properly for the first time, but also how the other half live (sex, drinking, losing their innocence) and the whole experience changes them. It is filled with sex scenes, I'm no prude, but there are maybe a bit too many than are needed and they don't really add much to the story.

I went through the book loving parts of it but then feeling let down and a little bored, which is my reason for the 'middle of the road' rating. The honeymoon, and main part of the book, I feel is stretched and a little thin and repetitive, but those last scenes after they leave Cape May and we hear about their future were probably my favourite parts. The scenery descriptions in the book were wonderful too.

Thank you Netgalley and Orion Publishing Group for the ARC. 

The Rumour by Lesley Kara - 4/5 
"When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now, there's no going back.

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flintstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago - no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman. 

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? 
How dangerous can one rumour become? 
And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realises what it is she's unleashed?"

I really enjoyed this book. It's set in a small seaside town where everyone knows everyone. A rumour starts between the school mums at pick up time that a child killer is living amongst them with a new identity under witness protection.

Rumours keep flying around the town and you start to feel wary of everyone. I didn't see the twist coming at all! A very good read.

As Long As We Both Shall Live by JoAnn Cheney - 3/5 
"'My wife! I think she's dead!' Matt frantically calls to park rangers, explaining that he and his wife, Marie, were out hiking when she stumbled off the cliff edge and fell into the raging river below. They start a search but aren't hopeful: no one could have survived that fall. It's a tragic accident.

But when police discover Matt's first wife also died in suspicious circumstances - a fire in their family home - they have a lot more questions for him.

Is Matt a grieving husband, or has he just killed his second wife? Detectives Loren and Spengler dig into the couple's lives to see what they can unearth. And they find that love's got teeth, it's got claws, and once it hitches you to a person, it's tough to rip yourself free.

So what happens when you're done making it work?" 

I went into this book excited by the blurb - a man whose two wives both die in suspicious circumstances years apart? I was expecting him to have been let off of the first one somehow, then a huge investigation starts after the second, but it was sort of all over the place.

It started very strong. The timeline flips between the circumstances surrounding Matt's first wife Janice's death, then his second wife, Marie's, in present day. It then goes into an investigation but a subplot is introduced here, regarding one of the detectives (whose name is Ralph Loren and I honestly couldn't stop thinking of Ralph Lauren every time) but I didn't care too much for that. I just wanted to hear about the wives' deaths and what actually happened.

In the interest of keeping my review spoiler-free, although the writing and descriptions were great, I honestly felt myself getting a bit bored of the incessant twists and turns. I had quite a few eye roll moments and I groaned a little at the ending. It felt like too much.

I did like the references to how women can be just as strong as men, it's all about empowering women and I really liked the female officer, Spengler. It had the makings of a great book. The actual main plot was decent but too many twists for me.

Thank you Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for the ARC. This book will be published on 16th May 2019.

The Girl At The Door by Veronica Raimo - 3/5 
"A tense, provocative and nuanced novel about a rape accusation in an idyllic commune.

I was in my sixth month when the girl came knocking.

The girl came empty handed. On the threshold, her hair down, her jeans tight.

'Are you the professor's wife?' the girl asked me. 'I have to speak to you,' she said.

'The professor raped me,' the girl said." 

This book is set in Miden, a society constructed after something called the Crash. It is run by Commissions, you need to be vetted before you can live there, it is a place where positivity is enforced and you even need permission for people to visit.

It is told from the perspective of Him (the professor) and Her (the professor's sixth month pregnant girlfriend) - we don't learn any names throughout. One day, "The Girl" tells the pregnant girlfriend that her professor raped her a couple of years back.

The story follows life for the two of them in Miden, after moving from their country, as well as the Commission having to basically decided whether or not the professor is guilty by having his friends and peers fill out questionnaire's about his character.

The writing style, I didn't gel with, and a lot of it confused me. The information about Miden was peppered into each chapter and I think I would have preferred a proper bulk background of the commune at the beginning.

Thank you Netgalley and 4th Estate for the ARC. This book will be published on 11th June 2019.

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister - 5/5 

"It's the end of the night. You're walking home on your own.

Then you hear the sound every woman dreads. Footsteps. Behind you. Getting faster.

You're sure it's him - the man from the bar who wouldn't leave you alone.

You make a snap decision. You turn. You push. Your pursuer tumbles down the steps. He lies motionless, face-down on the floor. Now what?

Call 999 
Wait for the police to arrive. For judgement, for justice, whatever that may be. You just hope your husband, family and friends, everyone you love, will stand by you.


Stay silent. You didn't mean to do it. You were scared, you panicked. And no one saw. No one will ever know. If you leave now. If you keep quiet. For ever.

Which will it be?" 

I don't think I'll ever not like a book that Gillian McAllister has written.

Joanna is being harrassed by a man in a bar whilst on a night out with her friend. When walking home, she hears footsteps approaching, getting faster. She panics, pushes him and he falls down concrete steps. He doesn't move.

The chapters flit between 'Conceal' - Joanna choosing to run from the scene and pretend is didn't happen; and 'Reveal' - what happens if she stays and calls an ambulance.

It's so cleverly written, the timeline is exactly the same but just tells you what happens with either decision. It's such a great read and you really can imagine yourself in that position and feel the way Joanna is feeling.

Have you read anything good lately that I should check out?