February 2021 Books #AmReading Laura Briggs Month @PaperDollWrites and then some!

It’s February, and the Love month is upon us, as well as a crazy birthday month for our family… Here’s to reading!

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This month, I am going to work through some of the list of Laura Briggs books I have accumulated… (and I am also reading a couple of arcs for writer friends, and the first draft of a novel by a colleague!) The Little Hotel In Cornwall is an eight book series, that I’d like to complete, by Laura, as I have heard some lovely things about it.. I have another series by her, but, will savour them another time, as my penchant for picking up NetGalley arcs means I need to read them, too!

A Little Hotel in Cornwall

A Little Hotel in Cornwall by Laura Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have had a good few Laura Briggs books on my Kindle for a while now, through the recommendation of several reader friends of mine, and thought why not read them this month?
So the first book in the series is this, A Little Hotel in Cornwall.
A cute start to the series, where our American heroine ends up in this lovely hotel in Cornwall, and, instead of being a guest, finds herself working there.
Why is she there? Not for a holiday, no, but on a search for a well-known author, who she wants to mentor her…
I won’t go into the ins and outs, because that would spoil the story, but it all happens in quite a comical way.
A fun read.

A Spirited Girl on Cornish Shores (A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 2)

A Spirited Girl on Cornish Shores by Laura Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another fun chapter in the life of Maisie, living and working in a Cornish hotel, under an assumed name, totally by accident!
Will she pull off her act, in order to fulfil her dream of finding her elusive author target, to become her mentor?
Who knows, because she keeps getting pulled in all sorts of different directions!
This time, the aspiring author is helping an Earl to celebrate his 100th birthday, with the Penmarrow Hotel booked exclusively to house his family.
And it’s Halloween.
And the Earl has a few spooky activities planned, including seances.
Oh, and don’t forget that blossoming romance with Sidney…
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to have some thoughts of my own, about what might transpire by the end of this series… still, it’s the suspense that keeps me wanting to read more!

Sea Holly and Mistletoe Kisses (A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 3)

Sea Holly and Mistletoe Kisses by Laura Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another fun step into the life of Maisie and her quest for writerly fame, while working in a Cornish hotel.
This time, she gets caught up in an ice sculpture contest with a guest who is a fellow American, and who also appears to have taken a liking to our writer…
Does this mean the end of the road for the budding romance between Maisie and Sidney, the local(ish) handyman?
Lots of little twists and turns, and another end on a cliffhanger.
Of course, I want to read on. I need to know if my hunch is right!

The Cornish Secret of Summer's Promise (A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 4)

The Cornish Secret of Summer’s Promise by Laura Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The next in the series following our author to be, Maisie Clarke, who has managed to settle into a Cornish hotel, as a maid, after travelling there to pursue her literary dream.
This time, she gets embroiled in a jewellery heist!
And, I will tell you now, that my hunch from the last two books has been proved wrong, but another shocker, in its place!
Light-hearted, easy to read, and extremely addictive. Off to read book 5 now!

A Train from Penzance to Paris (A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 5)

A Train from Penzance to Paris by Laura Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great chapter to our Author to be Maisie Clarke’s journey to writing fulfilment.
She’s only just realised she’s in love, when the chance to chase her literary dreams, with the help of her Author hero, has sprung.
A tough decision to follow her writing heart leads her to situations she would never have found herself in, ordinarily.
It was interesting to get out of her Cornish background for a while, and learn more about Maisie the writer, rather than Maisie the American wannabe writer, turned hotel maid.
We meet some more interesting characters and visit different locations, but I have to say, I kinda missed the hotel, the staff, the eccentric guests, and definitely Sidney!
As did our heroine.
Oh, and that twist I thought I had got right, then wrong… well, I might be on track, again!

A Cornish Daisy's Kiss (A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 6)

A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss by Laura Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, this was a sequel that really got into the nitty-gritty of some of our favourite characters!
Maisie is back in Cornwall, at the hotel and in the village that has become something akin to home for her, on her quest for literary success.
Only now, she wants, more than ever, to develop her relationship with Sidney, who has his own secrets.
As always, the story is peppered with mysteries, that aren’t all fully solved, here, but enough to make you think. I’m still sure of my original hunch, re: that famous reclusive author, but still don’t know!
I really enjoyed this book, as it dove into the characters more, and we learned a lot about Sidney, Dean, and even Mr Trelawney, the hotel manager.
Can’t wait for the penultimate one. About to get right in there!

A Stargazy Night Sky (A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 7)

A Stargazy Night Sky by Laura Briggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, my goodness! The twists and turns! Laura Briggs, I am going loopy with all that keeps happening in Maisie’s life!
If she wasn’t planning on being a writer, her experiences over the last couple of years should have convinced her to become one, anyway!
From chasing a reclusive, successful writer, to taking on the identity of another person, to get a job, helping to solve mysteries and burglaries, break-ins, random trips to Paris and London with a person who turns out to be someone entirely different. I could go on, but then what’s the point of you reading the series?
It was so lovely to re-enter our favourite American author-to-be’s world, again, with her happily ensconced in a fledgeling relationship with Sidney.
Okay, so I have changed my tack on the mystery famous author’s identity, since the end of the last book, but WOW! to certain revelations in this book!
We can sense a thawing in the demeanour of Dean, the rather cranky university friend of Sidney, and the secrets of Norman, the gardener. Maisie is so close to finding out who her secretive author is, and has news of her own to share, by the end, but then the twist at the end!
Oh! What is going to happen in the last book?
Quick, I need to read it now!

The Cornish Key to Happiness (A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 8)

The Cornish Key to Happiness by Laura Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And, just like that, the series ends!
What a fabulous ending to a wonderful series. Again, this one took part more out of Cornwall, than at the hotel in the series title, but all loose ends were tied up!
Sidney disappears at the end of the last book, and we pick up with our soon to be published authoress, distraught. Maisie has no idea where her man has gone, but his friend, Dean, is able to shed some light, leading Maisie on another unexpected journey to find out what is going on.
Another case of many layers being peeled, to reveal the reality of certain characters, Sidney, in particular.
Oh, and that main mystery, that has followed, all through the series? I was RIGHT!
Loved reading the whole series. I did it in thirteen days!
Sad to see the end, but in a good way, as I can see nothing but happiness, and I am glad there are a whole other bunch of books I can read by the very talented Laura Briggs!

The Littlest Library

The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s fair to say that the majority of us don’t want to rock the life ‘boat’ too much. As long as we have everything we need to continue, comfortably, it’s just easier to continue, isn’t it?
This is Jess. Living her life as she always has, with her librarian job, and her home with her beloved grandma.
She’s had enough boat rocking, early on in life, so the smooth-sailing suits her fine.
Until her grandma passes away, leaving her alone in the world. Then her job goes.
She realises that its time to take the wheel, herself, and steer her life in a new, unknown direction
She ends up selling their home, and moving to a small village, buying a quaint, but ramshackle cottage, and setting into the close-knit community.
Here, she meets several locals and finds that a solitary phonebox, officially on her land, ends up binding her to the community, more than she could ever think possible.
Creating the Littlest Library in that red phone box ends up being something she is most proud of, but it’s not until she’s on the brink of losing it, and her new, near-idyllic life, that she realises that its time to embrace the new direction her life ‘boat’ has veered towards.
What a truly lovely story.
Jess is a dear woman, who has had her fair share of grief, and I was cheering for her, the whole way through the story. Her collection of books, which was actually curated by her grandma, ends up in the hands of many, bringing the joy only books can, but it was the little veiled messages that I loved. Pencilled in notes, and highlighted passages, that her grandma had marked in some of the books, that were only brought to her attention by the readers, as they borrow books, reading into the messages as if they were left for them, but in reality, for Jess.
And, of course, there is the romantic tension. Jess never envisioned herself settling down, so meeting a man so soon after arriving in the village doesn’t even register on her radar… but, as will happen, she does meet someone, Someone with enough of their own baggage. Easier to steer clear… but that would be boring, wouldn’t it?
I loved the other characters, from Hannah, the long-distance best friend, to Diana and Mungo, the eccentric members of the parish council, and Becky, a surrogate best friend. Oh, and, obviously, Aidan. bat-counting, tree surgeon, single dad, Aidan. That man.
All I know is that I want to find a little red phone box and turn it into a library… I’m quite possibly moving to that small village, soon… what are the odds?
Thoroughly enjoyed it!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Orion Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 18th March, 2021

The Lost Hours: The most emotional, gripping fiction novel of 2021 from the bestselling author

The Lost Hours: The most emotional, gripping fiction novel of 2021 from the bestselling author by Susan Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now, that was a psychological thriller and a half!
The disappearance and subsequent uncovering of the body of seventeen-year-old Karen Lomax, over twenty years ago has been forgotten by most. Unable to trace the murderer, or the events that led to her death, the case is closed.
Fast forward to the present day.
Annie and David Crayce seem to have it all. A wonderful marriage, three beautiful children, a hugely successful business, and a supportive family behind them.
Who knew that the chance arrest of their daughter, as someone just around when a crime was committed, could lead them to the turmoil of being in the middle of a reopened murder case?
Wow. Just Wow.
Susan Lewis, you have done it again, haven”t you? You reeled me in, and kept me hanging right til the very end! There were so many moments where I questioned my self as to who might have actually been responsible for the death of a poor teen, but the way the PTSD of war years was woven into it, as well as the thoughts and actions of the police involved, I was kept on tenterhooks.
And, yes, had it not been past 1 am last night I would have carried on reading to get to the end, but I had to put the book down.
Fantastic.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing April 1st, 2021

The Single Dad's Handbook

The Single Dad’s Handbook by Lynsey James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Evan Harper lost his wife, leaving him a widower and a single father.
He’s wallowing in grief, still, two years on, with a little girl about to start school, and his. family and friends wanting him to take the next steps to move on.
Before she passed away, Claire carefully collated a notebook, filled with letters for her husband and daughter to read, at key moments in their lives.
This set of letters ends up being the catalyst for change, in Evan’s life, and he finds himself beginning to embrace life, and a few people, too…
A cute story, an easy read, Very similar to a lovely book I read a couple of years ago, about a husband who passes on and leaves a notebook for how to fall in love again, for his wife.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collines, One More Chapter for an ARC. in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 2nd April, 2021

The Magician's Soul (The Great Dagmaru, #3)

The Magician’s Soul by Linda G. Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was so excited to read the latest chapter of the Great Dagmaru series, and I wondered whether it would be the last…
But, after reading it (all in one day, I’ll have you know), I’m sure there must be more to come. Please, Linda, tell me it is so!
We’re back with Herman and Stephen, as they plan their wedding, and the bliss of being together, finally with the curse from The Dagmar family finally behind them.
Or so they think.
Every time I read the next one of these books, I think, “surely, everything will be smooth-sailing for them, now!” then something else gets thrown at them!
Well, the curse may have given up on them, but there is still a huge evil force trailing them.
This time we get to know Herman’s fathers alter ego much better, and another member of her family,
Rudy, who is key to a whole new set of twists and turns that Linda takes us on, in this book.
Another fab read!

The Summer Job

The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Birdy Finch is kinda stuck in a bit of a rut. No family that she feels worthwhile being around, no decent. boyfriend, and not even a proper job to keep her going. All she has is her best friend Heather, and even she is leaving her, for a chance at happiness, for a while, at least.
With no place to live, and nothing else she can do, other than give in and go back to her parents, Birdy decides to pretend to be her friend for a summer, taking up a job she was offered, in the depths of Scotland. No one will know, right?
Except Heather is a sommelier and a very good one at that, and the place she was meant to be working is a hotel restaurant with aspirations of their first Michelin star…
Armed with the knowledge that there is red, white and rosé, oh, and bubbles, too, Birdy finds herself plunged deep into the world of wine and hospitality, far removed from her brief experience as a barmaid.
Oh, and what’s the chances that while she is pretending to be someone else, she meets someone who could be the love of her life, but he doesn’t even know who she really is?
The Summer Job is chock full of fantastic characters, and Birdy’s situation, though a tad unrealistic, is hilarious, at times, heart-rending at others.
The descriptions of the lochs and scenery around the hotel take you right there. I could almost smell the fish at the port!
You know she’s going to get found out. That’s a given, isn’t it? But the little twist at the end makes for a fresh reveal!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 2nd April, 2021

Into the Blue (By the Sea, #3)

Into the Blue by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hats off to you, Kay!
Another heartwrenching story centring around a family based in Maui.
I have truly enjoyed all the stories in this trilogy, and this final episode was the icing on the cake, tying many little threads together to create the perfect finish.
This time we concentrate on Jules, a mother who has already suffered her own losses in her life.
And Jonah, her son. Always allowing himself to think he was to blame for his little sister, Nama, disappearing in the sea, as a child, then experiencing the horror that was active service in the army.
Finally, Helen, the matriarch of a fractured family, fractured, but still reset, and working well.
When Jules youngest daughter, Kira disappears, the family pulls together in a way you’d hope all families, did, but the shock of Jules suffering a stroke at the same time puts untold pressure on them all.
This story speaks of culture, tradition, faith, and most of all, family.
A beautiful read. Seriously. Go get it! As soon as it is out!

Releasing 19th March, 2021

The Wife Who Got a Life

The Wife Who Got a Life by Tracy Bloom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my, reading this book made me think someone had been spying on certain aspects of my life, but then again that is the beauty of a book like this. So many women will read it, and something from it will resonate with them.
So, we have our heroine, Cathy Collins, late forties, about to hit menopause, but not too sure, teenage children hitting their own milestones, a husband who might just be having his middle-aged crisis, wanting to leave his great job, to chuck it all in, to teach.
This leaves Cathy wondering how they will manage, financially, since she only does a little extra work on the side, and anyway, who’s going to employ someone like her, a middle-aged woman, whose CV will consist of cooking awful dishes, cleaning her house constantly, and collating the receipts of a couple of local businesses. Oh, and cleaning her parents’ loo!
On top of that, her high flying older sister in the US sends here a motivational diary for Christmas, and despite all her misgivings, she decides to add a few goals to it.
Peppered with fantastically humorous episodes, as well as much more serious issues, The Wife Who Got A Life, is a brilliant read, and the cast of characters are a joy too. From Cathy’s family, to the book club ladies who are a support system in themselves, as well as the gang at The Mustard Factory, you are in for a great ride, as well as a great read!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 15th April, 2021

Flying Duo by Zoe May

Flying Duo by Zoe May ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Check out my post tomorrow for the review, on release day!

S'more to Lose (The Campfire Series, #2)

S’more to Lose by Beth Merlin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has been sitting on my kindle for a little while, now, so I thought it would be a good time to read it. I was unaware, when buying, that it was the second in a series. Now, usually, I want to read books in order, but I let that go.
Now, after reading the book, I think I will, at some point go back to book one, and then read the subsequent two, as I thoroughly enjoyed the story.
Gigi is one half of the G Malone design duo that is about to take the world by storm, having been asked to design the wedding dress for the future Queen of England.
Unbeknown to her, tangled within the ‘nearly’ Royal family that she is working with, is her ex-fiancé, who is in a relationship with the sister of the bride to be.
What a mess.
Her feelings for him, are still not fully resolved, as they never had proper closure, and, to top it off, shes got a Viscount falling for her, too!
So much angst and torment!
Will she get the dress, and the wedding wardrobe designed, with her partner, Jamie? Will she succumb to the charms of the man she was in love with for four years? Or, will she end up becoming a part of the British aristocracy, herself?
I had great fun, reading, and as I mentioned, I think I will have to invest in the rest of these!

The little ice cream shop by the sea

The Little Ice Cream Shop By The Sea by Lizzie Chantree
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Take a few scoops of family drama, drizzle it with some hot men, scatter some sprinkles of misunderstandings along with a wafer of romance, and you get Lizzie Chantree’s new novel, The Little Ice Cream Shop By The Sea.
Genie has devoted the whole of her life so far, to helping her parents and grandparents keep their family business afloat, a restaurant and ice cream bar on the seafront, in an Essex town.
She’s only twenty-two, but everything revolves around the restaurant, especially since her grandmother passed away. Genie works hard to try and retain the soul of a business fast going under.
Changes in circumstances mean her parents decide to sell the business, and move to Cornwall, and her Grandfather plans to travel the world. But Genie can’t let her heritage go to waste, like that.
Enter Ada, an older woman with her own griefs. She’s a widow, with many memories, and they are the reason she is there, having left the rest of her family in the US.
An unlikely friendship between the two is the catalyst for them going into partnership, and Genie’s hopes of keeping her family business, stay alive.
Of course, it would be far too simple if that was the end to the story.
Enter a hunky waiter, a handsome son of Ada’s friend, and a gorgeous, tanned Adonis of a grandson (of Ava’s) and you have your heartaches and romance too.
Oh, and not forgetting all the family secrets hidden deep below the surface, that work their way up and out into the real world again!
I really enjoyed reading this and devoured it in a day!
I sometimes forgot how old, or young, Genie actually was, what with all she has experienced in her life. The early twenties are the time to chase your own dreams, make your mistakes and find your true path, but it is as if Genie has been treading that path since she was a fourteen-year-old.
I felt quite sad for her that she hadn’t had much of a chance to live her own life, but understood her insistence in wanting to keep the legacy of her family alive.
An easy read, with some interesting twists, and a few sizzling scenes, too… just make sure they don’t melt your ice cream

And there you have it. My February reads! Were there any in there to tickle your tastebuds?

New Release: Lockdown Innit – Poems about Absurdity by @Marjorie_Mallon

My dear friend and amazing blogger and author, Marjorie Mallon has been busy, again. During the first lockdown, she ended up compiling a host of diary style posts, and entries from many in the blogging community, detailing our experiences of Lockdown – a situation we never thought we’d be in, and hoped to never experience, again.

Now, as we sit in the midst of Lockdown three, here in the UK, she’s been doing more Lockdown writing! This one, a collection of Lockdown related poetry, is out from tomorrow! Go, get it!

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Lockdown Innit is a poetry collection of eighteen poems about life’s absurdities and frustrations during lockdown. Wherever you live in this world, this is for you. Expect humour, a dollop of banter and ridiculous rants here and there. Amongst other delights, witness the strange antics of a swan posing by a bin and two statuesque horses appearing like arc deco pieces in a field. Check out the violin player on a tightrope, or the cheeky unmentionables wafting in the lockdown breeze!

Preorder Buying Links Lockdown Innit Releases February 26th

Kindle Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08VW81Q53/

Kindle Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08VW81Q53/

 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56949934-lockdown-innit

Universal link for kindle: https://mybook.to/Lockdowninnit

Lockdown Innit is the second book that I have released during this time period

The first, This Is Lockdown released in kindle in July 2020. This Is Lockdown is a compilation and anthology of my diaries, poetry, flash fiction and 28 wonderful contributions from international authors, bloggers and creatives sharing their thoughts, poetry, and flash fiction during covid19. Many old friends contributed to the anthology and I discovered many new authors, and creatives via compiling this anthology.

This Is Lockdown is available in a shorter paperback version with poetry, flash fiction and contributions  (the diaries are only in the kindle version.)

Kindle: mybook.to/Thisislockdown

Paperback: mybook.to/Thisislockdownpb

And here is my mini review:

Lockdown, Innit is an eclectic collection of poems, in various forms, that have been inspired by the craziness that is Covid-19. From odes to loved ones, who are too far to see, or hug, to the poetic brilliance of The Face Mask Rolls, where Marjorie recounts the journeys of various face masks, discarded by their wearer, carelessley. Shook my head at the Danger To Pedestrians, sympathizing with other walkers, as we go about our normal walking lives, to be overtaken by the impatient joggers who have discovered anew hobby in lockdown… terrorising the pavements! The Breast Lump, I found particularly poignant, as I have had one aunt go through a similar scare, just the other day, and the fear of Covid-19, stopped investigations, before she was convinced that this was important, and also because my uncle has beed diagnosed with cancer during this pandemic, and again, it has been a tough journey… I enjoyed the journey, which took me through the whole range of emotions. Fabulous, Marje!

AUTHOR BIO

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros!

On the 17th of November I was born, in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit.) My early childhood was spent in Hong Kong. During my teen years, my parents returned to my father’s birthplace, Edinburgh, where I spent many happy years. As a teenager, I travelled to many far-flung destinations. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six-foot hunk of a Rock God husband. My two enchanted daughters have almost flown the nest, but often return with a cheery smile to greet me.

During the day, I work in an international sixth form with students from around the world. I’m the meet and greet lady who welcomes them to their new college and issues them with late slips when they don’t get to their lessons on time!

I write YA fantasy, paranormal, horror/supernatural short stories, flash fiction and short form poetry. More recently, I have produced and compiled an anthology/compilation set during the early stages of COVID-19 entitled This Is Lockdown. Following on from this, in February 2021 I will be releasing Lockdown Innit, poems about absurdity which will be available in kindle and shortly after release in paperback. 

I’ve been blogging for many moons at my blog home Kyrosmagica, which means Crystal Magic. From time to time I write articles celebrating the spiritual realm, inspiration and my love of nature, crystals and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious.

My eclectic blog shares my three loves: reading,  writing, and creativity. I adore reading and have written over 150 reviews on my blog: https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

Articles:

https://lightboxoriginals.com/difficult-times/

https://lightboxoriginals.com/lollipop-leaves/

AUTHOR SOCIAL MEDIA DETAILS

Authors Website:https://mjmallon.com
Authors Amazon Pagehttps://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon

#ABRSCAuthors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1829166787333493/
Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17064826.M_J_Mallon

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-j-mallon 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mjmallonauthor/

BOOK LINKS

Kyrosmagica Publishing

YA Fantasy: The Curse of Time Book1 Bloodstone

https://mybook.to/TheCurseofTime

Poetry, Prose and Photography: Mr. Sagittarius

http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

An anthology: This Is Lockdown 

Kindle: mybook.to/Thisislockdown

Paperback: mybook.to/Thisislockdownpb

Short Stories in Anthologies:

Bestselling horror compilations

Nightmareland compiled by Dan Alatorre

“Scrabble Boy” (Short Story)

Spellbound compiled by Dan Alatorre

“The Twisted Sisters” (Short Story)

Wings & Fire compiled by Dan Alatorre

“The Great Pottoo” (Short Story)

Should Kids ‘Catch Up’, Or Should The Curriculum ‘Slow Down’? #TeacherThoughts #TeacherThursday

It’s been quite a week, already, and it hasn’t even finished, yet.

BoJo made the announcement we all knew was coming, but kinda hoped wouldn’t. That ALL schools are reopening to the children on Monday, 8th March.

Now, as you all know, we have been ‘open’ the whole time, remotely teaching the pupils who would usually be in our classrooms, since January 4th.

The extreme lockdown was put upon the whole country, as another variant of the virus ravaged the country. That, and the fact that good old BoZo decided that a little mixing at Christmas wouldn’t hurt…

Boy, was he wrong! And to top it off, he allowed a huge amount of schools to start back, after Christmas, for one day, before deciding to send everyone home, to learn remotely. And that one day appeared to make a huge difference to the figures, in that they jumped, as the cross contamination.

back to school

And so, we come to this week’s announcement, that schools will be reopening to pupils from 8th March. Still, though, no staggering the start, just everyone back.

Okay, so there are a couple of differences, in that pupils in Secondary school will have to wear masks when in class, too, and they will be asked to have regular LFD tests, to lessen the asymptomatic spread of the virus.

Still no huge changes for Primary schools. Neither have teachers been prioritized with regards to the vaccinations. No new ventilation systems, no compulsory face coverings, no reduced class size. But we, as a staff, are being tested twice a week.

Apparently, it isn’t schools that spread the virus… (it’s the people within them that do!)

check box

Anywho, that wasn’t what I was meant to be waffling about…

It was the little fact that the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, slipped into his announcement today, about Summer Schools.

As we all know, children across the board have faced disrupted learning for a year, now, and there is no guarantee that it is over, by any means. But, I’m getting frustrated by the Government’s turn of phrase now. Kids are ‘falling behind’. Kids need to ‘catch up’.

Sorry, catch up to whom, exactly?

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Each and every child out there has faced the same issues, and yes, I agree, that some from disadvantaged backgrounds or those with Special Eduactionan Needs, will have possibly have accessed even less learning.

But they are all in the same boat.

They have all lost around a year’s learning.

So, why the push to ‘catch up’? Why cause untold stress to both children, and school staff alike, pushing them to ‘catch up’, when, surely it would be simpler, for the DfE to rework the curriculum for these children.

We need to add a bigger section on well being, and those outdoor and creative pursuits, to allow these children the opportunities to develop, or recover, their social skills, communication and languge skills, and their physical development needs attention, too.

Maybe they learn the importance of certain grammar skills, or how to create a leaflet, or the importance of improper fractions, and decimals, a year later.

How about they concentrate on those fundamentals, for a little longer?

What if phonic knowledge, and the understanding of number was given more importance, for a little longer, to embed it, instead of piling on this ‘catch up’?

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But, no, that wouldn’t do, after all, it was stated, somewhere, that this pandemic will have lost these children around £40k in earning potential, when they grow up…

Just reread that last sentence.

How on earth can they even suggest that? What proof do they have?

If we were to slow down the curriculum, we’d become more in line with several European countries who have education systems and results that far surpass our own, as well as better mental health within the youngsters living there. And they are definitely not losing out on that earning potential…

So, the plans have been bandied about, to extend school days, or to shorten the summer holidays, so the kids can ‘catch up’. Or, the one he mentioned today, Summer School. (For the children who have fallen behind significantly. The same kids who we may have found it hard to get engaged, throughout lockdown.)

Yet again, they are forgetting that these children have missed being in school, but they have still had the learning opportunitites, through the remote learning provided, and the tireless support of their teachers and teaching assistants, over the period of lockdown.

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I’ve yet to meet a parent who is excited by that idea.

Most of them are horrified, saying they wouldn’t send their kids, because they needed a break from all the stress. Now, if funding was plied into summer sports clubs, youth clubs, and initiatives of that nature, they’d be there in a flash.

And I am pretty sure most kids will not happily say they want to spend their summer holiday at school, considering they have still been learning, albeit at home, the whole time. (You should have seen the mugs of my two teens when I said there is a chance there might be Summer School, this year…)

Oh, and who will staff these summer schools?

A token amount has been earmarked for all schools, with the throwaway comment that you could offer your current staff some overtime, or hire some summer staff to run these initiatives… though the amount they say will be given, might pay for maybe two or three members of staff, for a month. (Exactly how many children are you talking about us teaching during that summer period?)

Er, hello.

I work through most of my summer, already, preparing for the new cohort that is due to start in September, including sorting out the classrooms, getting resources ready, researching new lesson ideas… the couple of weeks I do try to switch off, is well deserved! And this is all going to be after a hugely exhausting year, where we, as a profession, and all school staff, have not stopped. We’ve worked hard, despite people out there suggesting that teachers are just being paid to sit at home and post a couple of ‘lessons’, (don’t get me started!) to provide an education to our pupils, in a format that none of us have been trained to do, and I think that, for the most part, we have done bloody brilliantly!

So, you are suggesting that I, quite possibly, work through that break, too?

I’m not going to answer that.

There is sure to be another U-Turn, soon enough, but just the discussions or thoughts of their ideas is making my blood boil.

I am going to get off my soapbox, now.

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Thank you and good night (morning).

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 311 – Teenager

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“A mother’s treasure is her daughter.”

— Catherine Pulsifer

Thank you Spidey, for finding such a lovely quote.

Yesterday, was Lil Princess’s birthday. My daughter turned teenager.

I am quite overwhelmed, you know, because, firstly, I am now a mother to two teenagers. So I feel old!

But mainly, because I don’t know where the last thirteen years disappeared to. It only feels like the other day that she arrived, kicking and screaming, into the world, and now, she’s nearly a woman!

When people say, ‘make the most of those young years’, they are right. At the time, you may be finding it hard to deal with young children, and you wish away the years where they won’t sleep, keep crying, asking “Why?”, follow you everywhere, even the loo.

But, honestly, you will suddenly find yourself here, like me, with the kids who are full of hormones, and they don’t actually want to be anywhere near you, (unless they want something, in which case they can be really sweel!), they don’t really talk to you, their rooms start to smell, because they live in mini pigstys, no matter how much you try to keep them tidy…

Then, the flip side, when they get older, they become mini friends. The conversations you can have with them, the jokes you can share, and, with my girl anyway, the advice and tips on hair, clothes and make-up! (Mind you, I really don’t care about those things, but if I ask her for help, she’s in her element!)

We enjoy music together, silly Netflix films and series. Baking together in the kitchen, girlie chats about life.

It’s all part of the joys of being a mother, you know, and though I miss my little squidgy baby, I have a beautiful young lady by my side, now, and she will always be my baby…

Happy Birthday, Lil Princess 💜

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Have a peaceful, love-filled Sunday Peeps.   

The Little Ice Cream Shop By The Sea by @Lizzie_Chantree #BlogTour

I am delighted to welcome the very talented, and generally very lovely Lizzie Chantree to my blog today, to introduce her new book, releasing tomorrow!

Over to you, Lizzie!

Why did you choose the setting you chose and do the locations hold any real life significance to you?I chose this setting because I’m from Essex and the coastline is beautiful here. I’ve always wanted to write a local story and I was sitting in a little cafe by the sea, when an elderly lady came in, sat down and began crying. The young waitress rushed up to comfort her and they spoke for quite a while. After the lady left the waitress told me they had only just met, which it made me think about the kindness of strangers. The cafe I was in was beautiful and had been family owned for generations. I wondered what would happen if they all fell into a state of disrepair and a story grew from there. The little ice cream shop by the sea is about unexpected friendships through the generations and how family heritage can sometimes mean more to some than others.
This story has a bankrupt celebrity chef in it who flies in to protect his grandmother. What made you think of this character?
Cal has had such success but overstretched his business and his world collapsed around him, so he’s been hiding and licking his wounds. Hearing about the ice cream shop owner, Genie, and her new friendship with his grandmother, he decides that Genie must be after his family money and rushes to protect his grandmother, Ada. He doesn’t realise that a few of his actions make the cracks in Genie’s relationship with her own parents even deeper and he uncovers a family secret he really wishes he hadn’t. 

Blurb

From the international bestselling author of If you love me, I’m yours, Ninja School
Mum and Babe Driven.
Genie’s family is in crisis. Their seafront business is failing with the loss of Genie’s
grandmother and her legendary ice cream flavours. Genie is determined to be the one to save
her family’s heritage, but suddenly her mother wants to sell to developers and leave their shared
history behind.
Buying the business and taking on a sixty-eight year old business partner, Ada, with a
mysterious past and a gorgeous but distracting grandson, Genie sets out to prove her parents
wrong.
Ada’s grandson, Cal, wants to protect his gran from ‘pensioner persuader’, Genie, but soon
realises that living in a little seaside town and away from the paparazzi in Hollywood can actually
give him time to heal. Hiding in a seafront business with its fiery owner and working as kitchen
staff, is the only way he can think of to keep his ex-Hollywood glamour-puss, gran from harm.
But his meddling might also ruin Ada’s second chance at love. 
Hiring a private detective and learning about Genie’s parent’s past makes Cal regret his own
impulsiveness. The information he has unearthed could destroy their blossoming romance and
turn Genie’s world upside down.
Genie soon discovers that friends can become enemies and your closest family can have lied to
you for your whole life.

Book links: Lizzie Chantree.

Universal book buy link for The little ice cream shop: viewbook.at/IceCreamShopByTheSea

Universal book buy link: Networking for writers: viewbook.at/NetworkingForWriters

Universal book buy link: If you love me, I’m yours: viewbook.at/IfYouLoveMe-ImYours

Universal book buy link: Ninja School Mum: viewBook.at/NinjaSchoolMum

Universal book buy link: Babe Driven: viewbook.at/BabeDriven

Universal book buy link: Love’s Child: viewBook.at/Amazon-LovesChild

Universal book buy link: Finding Gina: viewbook.at/FindingGina

Bio
International bestselling author Lizzie Chantree, started her own business
at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent
Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year. She writes books full of
friendship and laughter, about women with unusual businesses, who are
stronger than they realise.

Social media links:

Website: www.lizziechantree.com

Author page: https://www.viewAuthor.at/LizzieChantree

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LizzieChantree/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7391757.Lizzie_Chantree

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lizzie_chantree/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/LizzieChantree/pins/

FB Groups: https://www.facebook.com/groups/647115202160536/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/lizzie-chantree

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/lizzie-chantree-03006425/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCop-RlAcGqggZG3JfE-Mw

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