The Gift, Cecelia Ahern. Book Review

The Gift – Cecelia Ahern

book cover, black background with a  gift tag attached to a snowdrop.

The Blurb

Everyday Lou Suffern battled with the clock. He always had two places to be at the same time. He always had two things to do at once. When asleep he dreamed. In between dreams, he ran through the events of the day while making plans for the next. When at home with his wife and family, his mind was always someplace else.
On his way into work one early winter morning, Lou meets Gabe, a homeless man sitting outside the office building. Intrigued by him and on discovering that he could also be very useful to have around, Lou gets Gabe a job in the post room.

But soon Lou begins to regret helping Gabe. His very presence unsettles Lou and how does Gabe appear to be in two places at the same time?

As Christmas draws closer, Lou starts to understand the value of time. He sees what is truly important in life yet at the same time he learns the harshest lesson of all.

This is a story about people who not unlike parcels, hide secrets.They cover themselves in layers until the right person unwraps them and discovers what’s inside. Sometimes you have to be unravelled in order to find out who you really are. For Lou Suffern, that took time.

My Review

I listened to this book on Audible, the narrator, Mark Meadows, had an Irish accent which fitted perfect with the Irish characters. In fact, I think Mark Meadows could become a favourite of mine, he’s so good to listen to.

The story revolves around the main characters Lou and Gabe, but their story is told to a young boy being held at the Police station after throwing a frozen turkey through a window.

Lou first appears as a generous and kind character as he takes a homeless person, Gabe, off the streets and gives him a job in his office block. As the story progresses we see Lou as an uncaring, selfish and cheating character, trying to get to the top position in his office in whatever way he can. He has a beautiful wife and two little children, but he rarely makes time for them. He ends up upsetting most of his wider family members too when he takes over his Dad’s 70th birthday party, but passes the buck to his secretary.

Gabe, however, sees something good in Lou, and despite the fact that Lou is rude to him, he seems adamant to make him see the error of his ways and help him any way he can.

There is an air of mystery in the story as strange things begin to happen, reality has to be suspended as we see Lou getting his wish of being able to be in two places at the same time. It’s only by having the extra time this gives him that he realises just what he is sacrificing and what is really important to him.

Will he choose the big job or his family?

The ending of Lou’s story gives a twist that you may be expecting, or not. It all reminded me a little of ‘Tales of the Unexpected.’

Verdict

I really enjoyed this book, if mostly for the narrator. The story was based around Christmas time and we get a look at the joys of Christmas celebrations Dublin style. The imagery is just right and although the minor characters are not written in too much detail, it doesn’t really matter. The focus is mainly on Lou and Gabe.

The story was a little extraordinary but I’m not complaining about that. The ending did feel like I was being preached too, but I guess the point was a good one to make. I think you could probably cut all that out and people would still get the message. Because that what this whole story is about, delivering a message.

If you don’t wish to listen on Audible you can buy this book on Amazon for £7.99

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Mix It Up Linky

Last But Not Least Lola

This week Boo was introduced to Lola Zuckerman

Lola Zuckerman’s name is a big problem because she’s always Z-for-Zuckerman last.

Lola always seems to be getting herself into trouble despite her best efforts not to. She’s a love able character that will appeal to all youngsters who are just starting to read independently. Aimed at 7 to 10 years old the books have short chapters with fun illustrations. 

We were sent three books to review.

Last-But-Not-Least Lola Going Green

Lola Zuckerman hates being last for everything. If only she were Lola Adams or Lola Appleby or anything but Z for Zuckerman. And she is having a particularly hard time right now. Her best friend Amanda Anderson is now her ex-best friend. Her grandparents have moved back to Texas, and her mother is launching a new career. Why is everything always changing? What would make things much, much better is if Lola were to win the Going-Green Contest at school and beat Amanda Anderson, who is determined to win first place too. How can Lola, who is always last, prove that she’s not least? This first book in the Last-But-Not-Least Lola series is a laugh-out-loud, heartwarming, and intensely satisfying story about the importance of friendship and creative problem-solving.

Last-But-Not-Least Lola and the Cupcake Queens

Lola’s mom is home but not home, because she’s frantically working all the time. Lola’s friends are here but not here as allegiances among the foursome change faster than you can forget your lines for a school play. Lola means well but can’t help acting on her emotions and getting into trouble. She’ll need to dig for bravery as she deals with a possible ghost next door, stage fright, and, hardest of all, making amends with her friends. In this heartwarming tale, Lola is braver than she thinks, and her friendships are stronger than she realizes.

Last-But-Not-Least Lola and the Wild Chicken

Lola’s back! She patched things up with frenemy Amanda Anderson, but it’s not happily ever after for these two best friends, at least not yet. Lola doesn’t want to share Amanda, especially not with Jessie, who seems to be around . . . all the time. Can there be more than two best friends? And what does a wild chicken have to do with anything? Hint: The answer involves a class trip to a farm. When Lola is around, you never know what will happen next. This second book in Christine Pakkala’s dynamic series is sure to capture the hearts of readers who love a spunky heroine and some unexpected antics.

Our Verdict

Boo has really enjoyed reading these books, they have captured her imagination and ignited her love of reading independently. 

Disclosure: We were sent these books for free in return for our promotion. The links in this post are affiliate links which will cost you no more but may earn me a little money if you use them. Thank you.

Keeping in Touch with Neveo

Recently, I was contacted by Neveo and asked if I would like to try their product. I was really thrilled and I have been dying to tell you all about my experience with it.

If you are a regular reader you will know how much I love my photographs. I love printing them off and making photo books too and I’ve shared many of them with you. 

We like to share our photos over social media, with a click of a button you can share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. But what if the person you want to share with doesn’t use technology? We tend to forget that there is a whole generation out there that finds technology difficult to master. My Mother had never been near a computer and my Mother-in-law really has no clue what to do on one. Even her mobile phone is used for calls only.

Staying Connected

Neveo asked me to make a magazine of photos to send on a regular basis to my kid’s grandma. With their app. on my phone I can transfer photo’s directly and add some text. Then Neveo take them and print them in a lovely glossy magazine. 

Example magazine
Example magazine

We used to live in the same street at the kid’s Grandma and she would see them every day. Since we moved away they see her less and less, and she’s missing out. But, even if we were still living nearby, I’m sure she’d love a magazine of their photos every month. It’s such a lovely gift, something to treasure.

You can use it for other family members too, just create a profile for Grandad, Auntie, Uncle, Cousin etc. The choice is yours. Once you’ve chosen your recipient you can also ask other family members to join in and add their photos to the same account. For example, for my kid’s Grandma we also asked my husband’s brother to add photos of his children, her other grandchildren.  Then all the photos were combined in one album.

Pages from my album for my kid's Grandma, featuring six photographs with text.
Our magazine

The whole process was simple and the finished magazine was a real treat.

How it Works

You can pick an album of up to 50 or 100 photos to be sent every month. For 50 photos the price is £9.99 per month, for 100 it’s £14.99. There is no extra cost for postage even if you are sending it to another country and you can cancel at any time. Currently there is a special offer of 3 months free on a yearly subscription.

Then you download the app. on your phone and start adding photos to your album from your camera roll, Google or even Facebook.  You can also view these on your online account and add extra photos from your computer. 

example of the app. on a mobile phone
phone app. example

You can also invite other family members to add their photos. They will need to add their own name and password, and only they will be able to add text to their photos.

You can write a quick description about each photo, or add a couple of sentences to make it more personal and chatty, like writing a letter. 

The app. sizes and prints the photos along with the text which means you don’t have to spend hours organising and editing. You can however, move the order of the photos around if you wish.

At the end of the month the magazine is printed and sent off to it’s recipient who it going to be thrilled to receive it.

 a copy of a completed magazine for Grandma
Our magazine

Neveo

Neveo currently has a special Christmas offer where you can get 3 months free on a yearly subscription.

You can download Neveo on IOS Apple

Or Android or you can visit the website

What do you think? Do you have family member who’d love to receive this every month? 

Disclosure: I was asked to review this product but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Discover Our Solar System

Author: Colin Stuart
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Button Books (7 Oct. 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1787080164
Product Dimensions: 24.8 x 1.1 x 24.8 cm

The Blurb

Sit back, buckle up and get ready to enjoy a cosmic tour of our amazing solar system! Inside this illustrated guide you’ll discover the incredible things that make up the solar system and how it came into existence. While you marvel at the beauty of the planets and our Sun and Moon, you can  learn astonishing facts about them. You’ll also find out exactly what dwarf planets are, and the differences between asteroids, comets, meteors, meteoroids and meteorites. Plus you can delve into the fascinating history of space and travel and glimpse what the future may hold. With all this and much more, you’re sure to come away from your journey with an even greater sense of awe at the wonders above us.

inside the book, Discover our solar system.

Our Verdict

The Little Man, aged 8 years, is currently obsessed with outer space. He loves reading anything to do with the solar system so this book was greatly received. 

The hardback book is very resilient with thick paper pages. The illustrations are colourful and details and the text provided in short paragraphs which are easy to digest but full of interesting information.You can learn about the Space race with a detailed timeline of the discovery of rockets, to the first space walk and up to current technology launching a sports car into space. There are also details about how rockets are built and how they work once launched.The main purpose of the book though, is to teach everything a child needs to know about the solar system, each of the planets is described along with dwarf planets. You can also find out what Asteroids, comets and meteorites are. The Little Man really enjoyed reading through this book and I’m sure he will pick it up again and again. 

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for the purpose of this review, all my thoughts and opinions are honest and entirely my own.

Linking up to Talk of the Town with Jera’s Jamboree and Bookboodle

Teach Your Child Meditation

Teach Your Child Meditation, by Lisa Roberts. Book review.

Front cover - Teach Your Child Meditation

The Blurb

Even Children need to learn ways to calm and centre themselves. With its hands-on exercises, Teach Your Child Meditation gives kids ages 5-12 important tools to relieve anxiety, cultivate mindfulness, and gain confidence. More than 70 illustrated exercises, which all have fun names like ‘Funny Bunny Breath’ and Elephant Shower’, are organised to highlight their special benefits: Choose from such categories as ‘Hocus Pocus, I Can Focus,’ ‘The Chill Zone,’ Stress Busters’ or a sections with group exercises that teachers and parents alike can use.

Whether the goal is for a child to sleep better, concentrate before a big test of game, or enjoy some much-needed relaxation, this guide helps anyone who loves an plays with children to introduce them to the many benefits of meditation.

About the Author

Lisa Roberts is a registered yoga teacher and a registered children’s yoga teacher, and holds a certificate in children’s yoga therapy. She has worked in the paediatric wellness field since 2006 and currently runs the inpatient yoga program at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Lisa offers professional training teaching kids Adaptive and Accessible yoga for paediatric professionals, parents and yoga teachers. In addition to Teach Your Child meditation, she has developed a line of teaching tools for paediatric yoga teachers, parents, and kids.

Why We Love This Book

I started teaching my older kids meditation when they were young to help them sleep and release their stresses. It was natural for me to continue this with my younger kids  years later.

I truly believe that all children should learn at least a few mediation techniques as it is a really useful tool to have at all times in life.

What I loved about this book is it’s simplicity. Each Section gives you the focus of the meditations and why they should be done. For example, breathing, focus, chilling, energy equalising, connecting and stress busting meditations. Then the exercises are set out in a real simple format spread over only two pages. It makes it so easy to just get stuck in.

Balloon Breath: What is balloon breath? How does it help? Simple Steps for kids.
Balloon Breath

Balloon Breath

What is Balloon Breath?

Balloon Breath is a breathing technique that slows down the breath while encouraging full and deep inhales and exhales to cam the mind and body.

How Does it Help?

Balloon Breath is great to use as a quick exercise to centre and calm oneself during activities or to refocus before or during class. Linking physical movement to the breath encourages mind-body concentration and self -regulation. The physical movement of raising the arms up overhead in this exercise allows more space in the torso to accommodate fuller and deeper breaths

Simple Steps for Kids

  • Begin sitting comfortably, either on a chair or on the floor with the hands resting on the thighs. Relax the shoulders, arms and face.
  • Or, begin standing, feet hip-width distance apart, arms resting by the torso, shoulders and face relaxed.
  • Begin to breathe in and out through the nose
  • Inhale, sweeping your arms up overhead. imagine you are filling up a giant balloon.
  • Exhale, slowly lowering your arms to resting your lap or by your side.
  • Repeat for several rounds.
  • Get creative: Imagine the colour of your balloon as you inflate it.Does thinking of a certain colour make you feel more relaxed? Visualise releasing your balloon into the sky as you exhale. Where does your balloon go?

Meditation and mindfulness is very popular these days and if you are thinking that it’s something that your child would never do then this book will teach you otherwise. In just five minutes you can make your child more relaxed or less stressed with these simple exercises that any child would find easy to acheive.

The book contains 70 of these fun and so simple ways to help teach your child the basics of meditation. They will learn how to control their breathing in stressful situations and how to relax when worked up, plus much more. 

Teach Your Child Meditation is dedicated to those who dare to teach beyond the mind and awaken the soul. 

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

Disclosure: I was very kindly sent a copy of this book to review, which I have done honestly. This post may also contain affiliate links.

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I’ve also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit me…is this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I’ve loved. If I don’t love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It’s always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I’ll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.