Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Making Friends with Anxiety: colouring in book by Sarah Rayner

Out Now
Published by: The Creative Pumpkin Ltd
Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

A heartwarming colouring book packed with tips and insights to encourage mindfulness and help ease worry and panic in the run up to the festive season and beyond. The perfect gift for a loved one or treat for yourself, this is a Special Updated Edition of the bestselling Making Friends with Anxiety: A Calming Colouring Book.

Readers can: • Discover how to ‘make friends with anxiety’ and thereby manage stress • Learn why colouring, in particular, is so therapeutic • Find out about other creative activities that have a similar effect on the psyche, providing an array of solutions to help ease worry over the long term There is also an extra section with advice on how to reduce stress over the holidays offset by nine exclusive Christmas-themed illustrations.

You'll find magical gingerbread houses, plump partridges and animals snuggling by the fire and over two dozen non-Christmassy pictures too. Each illustration incorporates a mantra – a few simple words to help boost your mood. The result is a book to treasure – a unique combination of words of wisdom and pictures filled with childlike joy that will encourage positivity long after the festivities finish and the colouring-in is done.

My review:

I am a massive fan of the Making Friends With Anxiety stuff which Sarah Rayner has bought us. I am a big fan of Sarah's novels, so when I heard she had a non fiction book about anxiety out I was quick to snap up a copy. It's no secret to anyone that I have always been an anxious person, and many years ago suffered a spell of agoraphobia. The book is written in a great way that is easy to understand, jam packed full of tips on how to handle and live with anxiety ass well as reassurance that you are not going mad!

There has been a big trend towards adult colouring in books recently as a form of stress and anxiety relief. Being the big kid i am this really appeals to me. I have trouble filling my days, and boredom often leaves me feeling anxious and inadequate. When I saw that Sarah had a colouring book out I had to get my hands on a copy.

This colouring book is special because not only does it contain lots of beautiful pictures, illustrated by Jules Miller. It also has pages of tips and information about coping with anxiety which is fabulous. I spent lots of time colouring in and not only did the day pass more quickly, but I felt much more relaxed. Reading the tips also helped me enormously. I loved how it is written, in an easy to understand way that clicks. The tips not only come from Sarah, but from a number of other 'real life' anxiety sufferers who really know how it feels, and what can help.

Yesterday I got my hands on this new edition which includes lots of great festive themed pictures which I spent the day colouring in (whilst humming Christmas songs to myself too). It also has loads of reassurance and ideas on coping with for many can be a very stressful time of year. Don't worry about it being too soon though, it's not all festive focused and has lots of other great illustrations and ideas for all year round.

I would highly recommend this colouring in book. It will tap into your inner child, give you some escape from the hustle and bustle of every day stresses, get you in the festive mood, or even escape from it! It would also make a great christmas gift for friends or family. I found it great value for money, much cheaper than many of the colouring books on the market, high quality, excellent pictures and fantastic advice and tips.

Hope you enjoy my colouring in and would love to see yours too.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington

Ebook: Out Now
Paperback: To be published on 19th November

Published by HarperImpulse

Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

An angel gets its wings…

Belle has taken all the Christmas decorations down. This year they won’t be celebrating.

As foster parents, Belle and Jim have given many children the chance of a happier start in life. They’ve loved them as if they were their own. They shouldn’t have favourites but little Lauren has touched their hearts. And now her mother is well enough to take her back and Belle can’t bear the loss.

Hence, Christmas is cancelled.

So when Jim crashes his car one icy December night, after an argument about Lauren, Belle can only blame herself. Everything she loves is lost. And Belle finds herself standing on The Ha’Penny Bridge wishing she had never been born.

But what happens to a Christmas wish when an angel is listening…

Will Belle realise, before it’s too late, that her life is the most wonderful life of all?

Inspired by the timeless tale of beloved Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, Carmel Harrington’s next book tells the story of Belle, a young woman and foster carer from Dublin who faces the hardest decision of her life this Christmas on The Ha’Penny Bridge.

My review:

Take the phone off the hook, put on your comfiest pj's, line up some snacks and your favourite tipple, then wrap yourself up all snuggly and get ready to lose yourself in the world of Belle and Jim! I want to shout from the rooftops 'hooray! Carmel is back and her writing is as magical as ever!'.

Every Time A Bell Rings is a truly beautiful story of love, family, loss, overcoming adversity, and never giving up, that will leave you with a warm glow and a sense that happiness and magic. I loved this book and had trouble putting it down as it really did grab me. Yet I am finding it hard to know how to write a review as I don't want to give too much away, and I don't feel that I can do the book justice.

The book introduces us to Belle and Jim who are the main characters. As the synopsis says, Belle and Jim are foster parents (brilliant foster parents). They have been caring for Lauren, a wonderful little girl who has bought lots of happiness into their lives, and are devastated when Lauren is ready to go back to her Mum. But this is only one small part of a magically told story, told in three parts. What we actually get is so much more. The story is told in three parts and we are lucky enough to follow them both through troubled childhoods into adult life,and I totally fell in love with both of them. It is not an easy ride with many bumps along the way. Having created characters that are very realistic and addictive it is easy to get lost in the book and transported to Dublin and their lives.

I could easily sit here and take you through all three parts of the book in detail outlining what I loved about it, but that would spoil the treat for you, and the synopsis of the book already has quite a bit of detail.

Each chapter opens with a quote which I absolutely loved. I am a sucker for a good quote and this book is jam packed full of them, all of which are thought provoking and beautiful. Infact the book as a whole is very thought provoking. It is not a spoiler to mention that Jim is involved in a car crash. This results in a life changing event for Belle which includes an angel and looking at how life could have turned out differently for each of the main characters. I admit to being slightly nervous when this happened as I wasn't quite prepared for it, and was worried that the angel may take the story I was loving into realms of the unbelievable. But I was wrong. What happens actually is some of the most powerful stuff in the book which I found very thought provoking. I am a great dreamer and what if'er, so this resonated with me. What would it be like of life had turned out differently?

I have to mention the characters of Tess and Bobby, both of whom I loved. Tess is the foster mother who gives unconditional love, kindness, encouragement and is a genuinely good person. I found myself hoping that I could offer even half of the qualities she has to my daughter and family. I also adored Bobby, one of Belle and Jims foster children. He was funny, endearing and a character I really wanted a happy ever after for. Looking at how things might have turned out without Belle and Jim had me wanting to jump in to the book and rescue him.

The book bought many smiles to my face throughout. I come from Irish family and spent every summer there as a child, so could relate to the Irish phrases, but even more to the references of tayto crisps and tiffin chocolate bars....I am craving them since! I also loved that my favourite book of all time is mentioned 'The Magic Faraway Tree'.

I have become a massive fan of Carmel since reading her first book Beyond Graces Rainbow. To me she is an incredible writing talent. Her style of writing is warm, evocative, thought provoking and a reminder to live life to the full and love those around you. This book is no exception. Thankyou for writing another book to savour. I can't wait for the next one.

Friday, 16 October 2015

The Great Village Show by Alexandra Brown

Out Now
Published by HarperCollins
Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

The warm and witty new novel from Alexandra Brown, bestselling author of The Great Christmas Knit Off. Perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan and Carole Matthews.

Tindledale is in a tizzy . . .

The Village Show competition is coming around again and after last year’s spectacular failure, the villagers are determined to win. Meg, teacher at the local school, is keen to help and to impose some much-needed order.

After a terse encounter with a newcomer to the village, Meg discovers that it is celebrity chef and culinary bad boy, Dan Wright. Meg thinks he is arrogant and rude but rumour has it that Dan is opening a new restaurant in the village which could really put Tindledale on the map.

As things come together, villagers old and new all start to come out of the woodwork, including new arrival Jessie who seems to have it all. But first impressions can be deceptive and Meg discovers that when it comes to Tindledale – and Dan – nothing is ever quite as it seems . . .

My Review:

I loved the Great Christmas Knit Off which was the first in the Tindledale series and so was very excited to get my hands on The Great Village show, and it didn't let me down.

The book centres around Meg who is the acting headteacher of the village school. She is utterly delightful and I found myself warning to her straight away which absorbed me into the book within a couple of chapters. When the village takes an interest in holding a village show to try and win a place in the national villages of the year Meg throws herself into the task.

Meg has been a single parent for many years, and with her son off at university life has got a bit dull, but the show, along with a mysterious celebrity chef are about to arrive and inject some life and excitement (as well as intrigue) into Meg's life.

Tindledale is a great setting for a book, and The Great Village Show has a fabulous cast of characters that we get to meet. If you have also read the first in the series you will be delighted to hear that we meet up again with the characters such as Sybil who was the main character in The Great Christmas Knit Off. My other favourite character in this book is Jessie who is a newcomer Mum of triplets moving to the village. Her story is a not grittier, and she is a meek and lovely woman.

I love Alexandra Brown's style of writing. She brings the village and characters to life so easily and made it fun for me to connect with them all. Her descriptions feel like they are transporting me into the scenes and into village life which made the book fun to read. I hated the book ending and leaving Meg and the gang behind as I want to move to a village like Tindledale. I can imagine being in the heart of a close community just like Tindledale has created.

This is a book that grasped me and kept me reading for many hours until I sadly reached the end. Yes, it may seem predictable to some and you hope that the outcomes you guess come true, but that doesn't detract from a well written and feel good book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Thank you to Harpercollins who kindly provided a copy of the book via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Cafe by Jenny Oliver

Out now
Published by Carina
Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

Welcome to Jenny Oliver’s brand new Cherry Pie Island series!

There’s nowhere more deliciously welcoming

When Annie White steps back onto Cherry Pie Island, it’s safe to say Dandelion Café has definitely seen better days! Her childhood home on the Thames-side island idyll is exactly the same retreat from the urban bustle of London as she remembers - but Annie’s not convinced that new owner of The Dandelion Cafe is a title she’s thrilled about.

One (shoestring budget) makeover, a few delightful additions to the somewhat retro menu and a lot of cherry pie tastings later, The Dandelion Café is ready for its grand reopening! But however delicious the legendary cherry pie, that’s definitely not enough to make her come home for good. However, the islanders themselves are a different story – but is Annie ready to let the island, and all those that live there, become her recipe for true happiness?

The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café is Book 1 in The Cherry Pie Island series. Each part of Cherry Pie Island can be read and enjoyed as a standalone story – or as part of the utterly delightful series.

My review:

The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Cafe is the first book in a new series, which always excited me. I love meeting new characters and knowing that when I find a good author that I won't have to wait long to read more of their work. This definitely applies for Jenny Oliver. I really enjoyed this book and rushed through it.

We meet Annie who is coming from London to take over the cafe she has inherited. The manager who has run it over the last few years has passed away and it is up to Annie to see if she wants to carry on the cafe that holds so many happy memories from her childhood and her Dad. We see how she becomes more engrossed in the business and the characters that work there. We also meet Matt, the love interest.

I really enjoyed the book and felt it easy to like and relate to Annie. The descriptions of the infamous cherry pie had me drooling! It felt easy to get to know the characters and become engrossed in reading the story as it developed.

This is the first time I have read any of Jenny's work and I am hooked. She is great at helping me to visualise the scenes and created characters that I liked and was rooting for. The story flows well and at a good pace and I quickly want to follow up with book 2 in the series which I am looking forward to reading soon.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Making Friends with Anxiety: 10 creative crafts book by Sarah Rayner

Out now
Published by: The Creative Pumpkin Ltd
Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

From the international bestselling author, Sarah Rayner, and illustrator Jules Miller comes a beautiful little ebook for people into colouring and other crafts, exploring how simple hands-on creative activities can help us de-stress from the day-to-day grind.

Written with warmth and humour, Making Friends with Anxiety: 10 simple creative activities that anyone can do to reduce stress explains why some of us are particularly prone to feeling panicked or overwhelmed how ‘making friends with anxiety’ can reduce worry.

The author examines how certain creative pursuits like colouring, needlework, whittling wood, painting pebbles, gardening and more have a positive effect on the mind and body, helping to calm and centre us, and boost mood. She also explains that how we don’t need to participate directly in a creative endeavour for it to transform our thinking: just looking at art can be therapeutic, as Jules Miller’s full colour illustrations reveal. There are inspiring patterns and cheery animals, gorgeous flowers and quirky landscapes, and each picture also incorporates a ‘mantra’ – words specially chosen to raise the spirits.

Whether you’re a convert to colouring or a complete creative novice with no experience of crafts, this little book of art therapy will inspire and encourage you, providing an array of cheap, easy and uplifting solutions to nurture mindfulness and positivity.

* Colouring * Making a Collage * Needlework * Whittling wood * Making jewellery * Gardening * Baking * * Looking at art * Listening to music … and more

A follow-up to the 5* word-of-mouth success, Making Friends with Anxiety: A warm, supportive little book to ease worry and panic and the bestselling paperback, Making Friends with Anxiety: A Calming Colouring Book, with illustrations in full colour to stimulate and inspire

My Review:

I had to share this fantastic craft book with you as I think it is brilliant! I first heard of Sarah Rayner when reading her book One Moment, One Morning. I am a big fan of her novels and was amazed to come across her book Making Friends with Anxiety last year. As someone who has had a lifelong battle with anxiety this book was brilliant and really helpful in understanding my anxiety and learning to cope with it without thinking I am nuts!! Since then I have also found her support group on Facebook as well as her colouring book that she has created along with Jules Miller. I have found it really therapeutic and have loved having a distraction both from my CFS as well as anxiety.

This craft book is fantastic too. It is jam packed with lots of ideas such as gardening (which I am learning to love), baking, collage, needlework and other more original ideas such as whittling and pebble painting. But this is more than just a book of ideas, it is also crammed full of information, hints and tips on living with and overcoming anxiety. It is worded in a way that anyone can understand and relate to, and the tips are not only from Sarah but also real people who have shared their experiences and what has worked for them and can help reassure us all.

I highly recommend this book for both ideas on crafty stuff, even for those who don't have anxiety. But to me it is an invaluable support in battling anxiety and having a life I love.