Thursday, 31 August 2017

The Cosy Canal Boat Dream – by Christie Barlow

Original Cover
My own copy

The blurb:

Welcome to the Little Rock marina – where hearts are healed and dreams are made…

For the last two years Nell Andrews has been struggling to stay afloat. As her life tumbled down around her, the only safety net has been her cosy canal boat, The Nollie. Tucked away inside, Nell has found a place to heal her broken heart. And now she’s ready to move on and follow her dream…

Gorgeous Guy Cornish, with his easy Irish charm, makes him an instant hit with everyone at the marina, and the perfect person to help Nell with her project. But Guy has his own reasons for being at the marina, and a past that threatens to sink Nell’s dream…

My Opinion:

*Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I have read some of Christie Barlow’s previous book and was really excited for this one from the start. I loved the sound of the blurb and the cover is so dreamy. Don’t get fooled by the snowflakes on the cover. The story is set in winter, but it’s not about Christmas or other wintery elements. This is such a cosy and lovely read, you can read it any time of the year.

The book starts with something really sad. Nell Andrews loses her husband. The prologue is very captivating and takes you immediately into the heart of the story.

Now, two years later it’s still hard. Nell has one save place: her cosy canal boat Nollie. She is ready to move on and follow her dreams. There are a lot of people around her and they are all there for her and part of the story as well. Bea, her husband Nathan and son Jacob are absolutely adorable. Bea is the best friend a woman can wish for, Nathan is a loving and sweet husband and Jacob just adds some cute freshness. There is also Nell’s mother Gilly and other people, who live in Little Rock Marina. The highlight of course lovely Mr. Irish, called Guy. All these characters get their story told as well and this adds a lot of interesting drama to the story.

I loved seeing Guy and Nell getting closer and closer. Their scenes were wonderful and sweet. Of course there were some stones in their way as well.

The setting of this book is amazing and Christie Barlow captured it beautifully. Her writing makes you dive into the book from the start, never wanting to leave it again. I got hooked, especially towards the end and just wanted to be around this lovely bunch of characters. The book gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling and I absolutely adored the ending!


Christie Barlow on Twitter: @ChristieJBarlow

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Guest Post: Top 5 Books - by Elizabeth Buchan

JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte
The unmatched story of an orphan’s struggle to grow into maturity who, after suffering deprivation and abuse, survives to take charge of her life and family, all rolled up into a novel with high gothic drama and echoes of the fairy tale. Above all, its heroine stubbornly insists that, if she is poor and plain, she has a much as heart and soul as the richest and handsomest. It is great cry for equality.

Atonement by Ian McEwan
This shows the author on top form in which he uses his narrative skill to explore themes of guilt, retribution and redemption in such a clever and subtle way that one is almost persuaded that the novel is simpler than it is. Also the ending offers big questions for debate.

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
I still laugh and weep after several re-readings. The story of a buttoned-up travel writer whose son has died and whose wife has left him, and his subsequent emotional education at the hands of the chaotic Muriel shimmers with humanity and tenderness. Who else can write about ‘ordinary’ people with such freshness and insight? 

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
An extraordinary and complex novel. Filled with romantic longings, Emma a troubled young wife is married to a doctor in the French provinces and driven almost mad with boredom. In it, Flaubert drives deep into the female psyche, exposing intimate, pitiful and, ultimately, destructive fantasies.

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
This is an agonized, heartbreaking, sobering and haunting account of Vera Brittain’s experiences of the 1914-18 war which turned her into a life-long worker for peace. In her anger and grief, the author speaks for a wasted generation in particular and for the agony and stupidity of war in general.

About The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan

As the Second World War draws to a close, Intelligence Officer Gus Clifton surprises his sisters at their London home. But an even greater shock is the woman he brings with him, Krista - the German wife whom he has married secretly in Berlin.

Krista is clearly devastated by her experiences at the hands of the British and their allies - all but broken by horrors she cannot share. But Gus's sisters can only see the enemy their brother has brought under their roof. And their friend Nella, Gus's beautiful, loyal fiancée, cannot understand what made Gus change his mind about their marriage. What hold does Krista have over their honourable and upright Gus? And how can the three women get her out of their home, their future, their England?

Haunted by passion, betrayal, and misunderstanding these damaged souls are propelled towards a spectacular resolution. Krista has lost her country, her people, her identity, and the ties that bind her to Gus hold more tightly than the sisters can ever understand...

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

A Year in the life of a teacher

People always think that teachers have a lot of free time during their holidays, which is actually not true. I have written a post about that here: The truth about teacher holidays

Yes, we got more weeks off, but we also have to work after teaching, to prepare lessons. We have to do the same thing during our holidays. Of course it depends on how you organize yourself, so I thought I’d share a year in the life of a teacher.

For me, the school year ends at the end of June. We have our end of the year Musical, say goodbye to my 6th graders and clean up the classrooms. The new school year starts during my summer holidays. I go away in my summer holidays, but usually it’s smaller trips (last year it was Ticino for a few days and a few days in London and Munich) and I tend to prepare a lot for the new school year on rainy days or I set myself a certain time slot. Our school system changes to the new semester, which means I can print off my lists, start labelling and preparing the first week of the new year. That’s always the first step, of course there are also things like the classroom door and of course kind of a plan for the whole year, where I place the different topics for the different subjects. When the time slot is over I enjoy summer and my other hobbies, so I never work too much on one day. I have a list of things to do and try to be done with it around August 20th, because the new school year starts around the end of August. In out team we have two kick-off days the week before term starts, where we discuss the first day, duties and get our classrooms ready.

The first day of school is always a special one, because we all meet in the aula, the teachers are introduced, the new students are introduced, before each class goes with their class advisor to the classroom. I’m the grade 6 class advisor and I always start with an introduction game, before getting everything done. We talk about the rules, write them down, the students full out profiles, label things, make a picture for the door, get their material etc. I usually plan in a whole week to get everything done with my class. I also teach grades 5 and 3 and with these I do a smaller introduction thing and then start with the actual subject teaching. The last day always ends with a little ritual, for example letting balloons with wishes fly or something similar.
After the first week everything starts properly: I start teaching the subjects with books and other material, we start having tests, activities start as well. After teaching I have to correct and prepare according to what happened in the lessons. The second week also means parents evening, where all teachers introduce themselves to the parents and give them all the info they need.
I also get to meet the student from uni, who I’ll be mentoring. I had a guy last year and he came every Wednesday morning and taught a lesson, I had to observe and give feed back. There is a sports day and a fall hike in the first few weeks.

After six weeks it’s time for the first holidays, we get one week in October. Last year I went to London for three days and spent the other days relaxing or preparing. I also had to write my comments for the mid term reports, which are sent out right after the holidays. It’s a lot to write, because I teach three classes and also have to write class advisor comments. The comments are the basis or the parents-teacher meeting in the second week after the holidays. The first day back is a professional development day for the teachers. Other than that it’s about continuing our teaching, testing the students and getting closer to Christmas. We get some bank holidays, have a Halloween afternoon, Founder’s Day, a Christmas crafts morning and our Winter Musical. I did the last two winter musicals and it’s actually a lot of fun. Of course it’s extra work, but I love my drama club with the kids. Around a week before Christmas it’s time for holidays. We get three weeks off. I usually use the first week to get all the Christmas presents and we sometimes have a concert then, so we rehearse as well. Then I just enjoy and relax, hit the sales and prepare the next few school weeks.

Since I have a student from uni, I don’t have to prepare that much, because he teaches everything (almost anyway). The student teaches for three weeks, where I have to watch, observe, give feedback, give tips and decide if he/she is capable to do this job. After these three weeks it’s back to normal teaching. I teach 6th grade, so it’s also time for me the student and the parents to decide where they go after primary. I invite them all to a meeting, where we discuss everything and fill out the needed forms. January also means the end of the first semester, so I get to write some more comments and put the final grades in. It’s only one week though and a Monday, because afterwards we have our ski days. I usually organise them with another teacher, it’s three days in Davos, being around the kids 24/7. It’s exhausting, but also fun. The Friday after is a PD day for the team. Then we get a week off, this time I spent a few days in Gstaad and just relaxed for the rest, it’s winter after all.

After that we have around 6 weeks of school, where we continue the material, make more tests and have a little Easter Egg Hunt. The meetings with the 6th grade parents continue; we need to have a definite decision until mid March. This is always a lot of work, exhausting and I’m glad when it’s over, because some meetings can be really difficult. At the beginning of April, we get three weeks off and that’s actually when I tend to go away for the three weeks. I prefer this to summer and it has worked out well every single time. This time I went to Dallas for a week and then spent 10 days in Tenerife. This means I have to prepare everything before the holidays and also write some mid term report comments. It’s a busy time, but so worth it.

We usually get back at the end of April with the last parents-teacher meetings to discuss the progress and the mid term reports. It’s about ten weeks to the end of the school year, so we start finishing up all topics/subjects, have a project week, do some excursion, have another sports day and start cleaning up everything. There are some bank holidays in between as well and I usually go away for at least one of those. This time I spent a few days in London with my bestie at the end of May. The last tests happen in the second last week, because afterwards we need to finalize the grades, write the last comments and start saying goodbye to the 6th graders. The last week is used for the students to collect everything in the classroom, clean up, play games, watch movies, say goodbye and more. The last school day is dedicated to the summer musical and the diploma ceremony for the 6th graders. At 11 am everything is over. The teachers take the afternoon to clear the classrooms and we have our summer bbq.

Happy Holidays ;)