Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Book review of Tree Slayer by Harriet Springbett

French Village Diaries book review Tree Slayer by Harriet Springbett
Tree Slayer by Harriet Springbett

My review today is for Tree Slayer, the second novel from Harriet Springbett, that carries on from where book one, Tree Magic, left off. Rainbow, a young girl who has an extraordinary bond with trees, is about to take her Baccalaureate exams at lycee in Cognac, when a huge storm hits the west of France, felling hundreds of trees. Despite the reservations from those around her, and her plans for the future, she knows her destiny lies with finding her soulmate in the Pyrenees and working together to defeat the Tree Slayer.

Eighteen-year-old Eole is happiest when he’s alone, with his dog, on the high pastures of his beloved mountains. This summer too much has changed in his life for him to cope with. He has lost his friend Tintin, who was helping him prepare for university, his mum has something to tell him about his past and then he meets Rainbow. Tree Slayer is their journey through France; two slightly different teenagers, who must understand each other’s gifts and learn how to work together on a mission to save the trees.


I really enjoyed being back with Rainbow and much as I loved Tree Magic, this book is even better. There is a little bit of magic in every page as Harriet pushes the boundaries of reality in a totally convincing way, and challenges what we perceive to be normal. So much thought has gone into the words, descriptions and characters, especially the logic that makes Eole tick, resulting in a book that opens your mind to an alternative way of thinking. I wish I’d read it in my teens, not that I didn’t enjoy it now, I loved it, but I know it would have been one of those special books of my childhood that would have stayed in my memories forever. I can’t wait for book three in the series.


Any 14-18-year-old with a healthy imagination will, I’m sure, love this book, (as well as Tree Magic), but I’d encourage you to read it too, whatever your age. We are never too old to get lost in a world where trees can talk and those special enough to hear them have a message for us all.


Tree Magic and Tree Slayer are published by Impress Books and links to Amazon can be found below. Harriet will be joining me here on Friday to talk about her love of France and all things French.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Book review of A Winter's Dream by Sophie Claire

French Village Diaries book review A Winter's Dream Sophie Claire
A Winter's Dream by Sophie Claire

My review today is for A Winter’s Dream, the third book in Sophie Claire’s series centred around the English village of Willowbrook, but where the hillside villages of Provence also have their part to play. I fell in love with Sophie’s writing when I read her first novel and with each book the characters, locations and descriptions have just drawn me in even more. Natasha, Evie and Liberty now feel like friends and I feel at home in Willowbrook.

French Village Diaries book review A Winter's Dream Sophie Claire
A Winter's Dream Blog Tour

In A Winter’s Dream we meet Liberty, assistant to Evie at the Button Hole (who we met in last year’s winter treat The Christmas Holiday). Liberty has just turned thirty, has no idea who the mystery sender of a bouquet of flowers that arrives on her birthday every year is, and with friends Evie and Natasha both happily settled, fears her quiet life sewing quilts and walking her dog, has meant she is seen as dull. With December approaching she sets herself a challenge; for one month, she must say yes to anything new that comes her way and do something every day that takes her out of her comfort zone. I’m a great believer in doing things that push me outside of my comfort zone and I love to set myself challenges, so I knew I was going to enjoy this book, and I did. 


The first challenge Liberty sets herself is to get a lodger to help pay the bills, and as luck would have it, Natasha and Luc’s friend Alex Ricard is looking for somewhere to stay. Alex is everything Liberty isn’t. He takes risks, he prefers city living to village life and traveling rather than putting down roots. He is also moody and angry at the way his career has abruptly come to an end, but his inner turmoil about having no focus or direction anymore meant I couldn’t help but feel for him. Despite their rocky start, there is something about Liberty’s determination to face her fears that soon sees Alex helping her with her challenges. December is a long month, but as she meets new people and ticks off her challenges Liberty begins to see what she has been missing out on. When doing a good deed for a friend leaves her stranded in France over Christmas, her challenges become a little bit more magical until she discovers what it is she truly wants in life.


Now the nights are drawing in, treat yourself to one (or all three) of Sophie’s books and whatever the weather outside, you’ll feel so much better (and warmer inside) by the end of the book. This book might also inspire you to set yourself a challenge or two and who knows where that might take you.


A Winter’s Dream is published by Hodder and Stoughton and will be available in ebook and paperback from 1st October. Links to Amazon for all three of Sophie’s books can be found below.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

European Languages Day with Twinkl


French Village Diaries European Languages Day Twinkl
Languages Spoken in France for European Languages Day on Twinkl

Welcome to European Languages Day, celebrated on 26th September since 2001, with the aim to highlight the amazing variety of languages spoken across Europe and to encourage us all to learn another language.


I was contacted by Twinkl, an online language learning resource, and asked if I could say a few words about why I think learning languages is beneficial. You can read what I had to say in their article here, which also has some fun French facts, a quiz about European languages and lots of links to help you if you want to improve your French. 


Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Twinkl in anyway and did not receive any form of payment for this post.


Monday, September 21, 2020

Poitiers, terre de vélo (land of the bicycle)

French Village Diaries Poitiers, terre de vélo
Poitiers, by bike

Poitiers, terre de vélo (land of the bicycle)

Following on from yesterday’s Tour de France post, it is obvious that while cycling has always been big in France, the cycling bug seems to be spreading faster around here than a certain virus we’ve all become familiar with. 

French Village Diaries Poitiers, terre de vélo
Poitiers Mag, the town's monthly information publication 

The new Maire of Poitiers, Léonore Moncond’huy, has made it her mission for the town to be known as the “land of the bicycle: for getting around, for exercise and to keep healthy”, stating also that “more than a sport, the bicycle is a spiritual state and a way of life” and I couldn’t agree more. Teaching primary aged children to ride a bicycle is one of her council’s educational priorities, and outside of the sports clubs they want to increase and encourage events, businesses and associations that bring life to the Poitiers cycling community, and she’s already made a great start.


French Village Diaries Poitiers, terre de vélo
Poitiers from above

Poitiers not only hosted a finish stage of the Tour de France, it held a weekend fête du vélo, where families could experience safe closed road cycling, coinciding with the final stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes that finishes in Poitiers every year. There have been a number of new cycle paths introduced all over town, notably linking the town centre to the university campus, a fantastic initiative for a town that welcomes thirty thousand students every September and is always rated as one of the best student towns in France. They have also reintroduced a scheme that offers residents a 25% reduction (capped at 250€) for buying an electric assist bike and bought an additional two hundred electric assist bikes for their hire scheme. Chapeau Poitiers, although this is a trend that can be seen in cities throughout France, including Paris where many of the temporary cycle routes that went in to get the city safely moving after lockdown, have proved their worth and are here to stay.


French Village Diaries V93 voie verte Deux-Sèvres
V93 cycle route and the proud sign from the Deux-Sèvres dept

Closer to home we have also seen exciting improvements to cycling infrastructure and evidence of big investment projects aimed at encouraging more people onto bikes and it’s worked. I know we are keen cyclists not afraid to challenge ourselves to ride that extra kilometre, but we are just as happy out for a shorter ride with friends. 

French Village Diaries V93 voie verte Deux-Sèvres
V93 at Brioux-sur-Boutonne

When we first stumbled upon the new V93 voie verte (cycle path) signs, we couldn’t resist following them and were amazed to discover quiet, mostly traffic free paths that took us to places we’ve never seen, despite living here sixteen years. We then took our cycling friends out for a Sunday morning ride, sharing our new route along the Boutonne river between Chef Boutonne and Chérigné. It was a hit with everyone and now they know where it is, they’ve all said they would use it again. Every ride we have done on this new route, (that is so new no online maps exist just yet) we have seen other cyclists out too, which just goes to prove, if the safe cycling infrastructure is there, the cyclists will find it. The more people out on bikes, the better, both for their physical and mental health and for the environment.

French Village Diaries V93 voie verte Deux-Sèvres
V93 at the chapel in Chérigné

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Poitiers, Tour de France

French Village Diaries Poitiers, Tour de France
Tour de France, Poitiers 9th September 2020, caravane

Poitiers, Tour de France

Today sees the end of the three-week cycling fest that is the Tour de France. Thanks to Covid-19, it is later than usual this year, but it’s been no less spectacular, in fact France has looked resplendent in her late summer colours and I think the only bad weather was in Nice, of all places, on the first day. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Paris this afternoon as I know how unpleasant watching the final in the rain can be. Falling in September rather than July, also meant that I got to watch it on my birthday for the first time, and that was a treat. 


French Village Diaries Poitiers, Tour de France
My Tour de France mask from the caravane

From the start, restrictions have been in place to try and eliminate the risk of a Covid-19 cluster breaking out and there were no guarantees that it would make its full three weeks, with all the teams still present, but it did. While the riders have played by the rules, keeping in their safe bubbles and wearing masks for their interviews, sadly some of the roadside fans have let their excitement get the better of them. Their masks slipped, or forgotten, as they carried on as usual; too close to each other and too close to the riders as they shout, cheer and run alongside them. It sometimes made for uncomfortable viewing.


We took the opportunity to catch some live action as Le Tour arrived in Poitiers on 9th September. Not wanting the hassle of finding somewhere to park or navigating the closed roads around Ed’s flat where the route was passing, we decided to arrive by bike. A logical idea for two cycling nutcases, except for the fact Poitiers is over eighty kilometres from home and the wind was cruelly blowing directly at us for most of those kilometres. 


French Village Diaries Poitiers, Tour de France
A quiet and people-free spot to watch the Tour de France, Poitiers

Having cycled over four thousand kilometres this year and climbed numerous big mountains, many of them Tour de France favourites, recent bike rides have been nothing but a pleasure. The weather has been lovely, yoga has improved my core strength and cycling position, and my legs have powered the pedals with ease. I was looking forward to a day in the saddle, excited to experience the publicity caravane and cheer the pro-riders as they raced by, before catching up with Ed and Pearl for a family pizza night. It didn’t go as expected. Cycling into the wind took so much energy, every pedal stroke was an effort and soon things began to hurt that haven’t hurt for a long time. I was so disappointed with myself, but a restorative flan from a patisserie just outside Poitiers ensured we made it to Route de la Cassette, about twelve kilometres from the finish line, which we thought would make a good viewing point. 


French Village Diaries Poitiers, Tour de France
Tour de France publicity caravane, Poitiers

We found ourselves a quiet stretch of road, with a bit of shade, and waited for the caravane to arrive. As is usual for us, we were mostly ignored by those throwing the exciting promo gifts like cycling tops, caps and goodie bags, but we did pick up a few key rings (and I do like a key ring), a packet of sweets and some broken biscuits. Whether the biscuits are already broken, or break on contact when thrown, will probably always remain a mystery. We then settled down for the long wait for the actual race to come through, our tired legs enjoying the break, our sore bottoms not so happy to be sitting on the pavement. 


French Village Diaries Poitiers, Tour de France
The Tour de France, Route de la Cassette, Poitiers

It was a fast and flat race towards the finish line and all breakaway riders had been caught by the main bunch, which meant we’d cycled 86km into the wind, for no more than a forty-five second blur of coloured lycra zoom past. It was madness, but for the buzz and the atmosphere I would do it all again next year. When we watched the television coverage later that evening, we were so glad we hadn’t tried to watch it nearer to the finish, or on the bridge by Ed’s flat as in both locations the crowds were ridiculously packed together and we wouldn’t have been very comfortable with that. 


Well done to Le Tour and all involved for carrying on and coping with a new normal in this weird old year of 2020. It was an exciting race all the way up to the deciding final minutes of yesterday’s time trial, with a variety of teams and riders doing what they do best, pushing their bodies to the limit and proving they’ve got what it takes to win. 

French Village Diaries Poitiers, Tour de France
The Tour de France, Route de la Cassette, Poitiers

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Another birthday, another milestone

French Village Diaries another birthday, another milestone
The birthday girl in the frame

My stomach and head are a whirl of emotions at the moment. It would seem that although I am fitter and (hopefully) healthier than I have ever been, and certainly weigh in at the lightest I’ve been as an adult, time doesn’t stand still. Yesterday I celebrated my 49th birthday and I’m hoping there will be a long, slow twelve months ahead of me before I find myself crashing into the big five-o. 


For an unremarkable mid-week day in mid-September, it turned out to be a pretty momentous day. Ed had been home since Saturday, so it was a real bonus to have all of us together on my birthday, that falls at a time of year when activities normally resume after the summer holidays and we are rarely all in the same place. If the best gift a Mum can ask for is a happy, confident child young adult, making his own way in the world, then I got my wish. Yesterday, for the first time, Ed packed his bags, loaded them into his car, gave us both a hug and kiss, and drove off to Poitiers university, alone. No more am I needed for school runs, after-school activity taxi services, or uni drop offs, although I do still hold the franchise on his laundry service. It is now very much up to him how often he comes home and how long he stays for. As much as it is marvellous to see him become his own person, I can’t lie, it felt rather strange to watch him drive away. The house seemed unusually quiet for the first ten minutes or so as Adrian and I both tried to look busy (on Facebook) as we wondered what to do for the rest of my birthday, and indeed, the rest of our lives.


French Village Diaries another birthday, another milestone Niort
Birthday flan in Niort

It didn’t take too long before a bike route had been planned and we set off to our start point in Prahecq, knowing that as Niort town centre was our destination, a patisserie stop should soothe our emotions and refuel us on the mid-point of the thirty kilometre bike ride. We have now cycled (in stages) all 75kms of a brand new cycleway, the V93 that runs close to home as it makes its way through the southern part of the Deux-Sèvres. In Niort it joins the Vélo-Francette that runs from the coast in Normandy to La Rochelle and from the Deux-Sèvres/Charente boarder it heads east towards Limoges. Our plan now is to follow it across the Charente and on towards the Haute-Vienne.


French Village Diaries another birthday, another milestone
Sharing the courgette love

Yesterday evening we dined with some of our fantastic friends, who not only put up with our quirky cycling addiction but came up with some amazing birthday gifts too. From the courgette cushion that could only have been designed with me in mind, to the wine glasses that left me speechless and the delicate handmade key ring that has been added to the collection on my bike, I was truly spoiled. 

French Village Diaries another birthday, another milestone
My new golden leaf key ring

Yes, I do know the key rings add weight to the bike, and tinkle and clink as I cycle along, but I don’t care.


French Village Diaries another birthday, another milestone
An original birthday gift

When one friend realised there wasn’t much available in Brompton-themed gift ideas, she only went and hand etched a detailed Brompton bicycle onto four wine glasses, just for me. I am overwhelmed to be surrounded by such talented and great friends. They even managed to raise my spirits with fun, laughter and fine food, so I almost forgot Ed’s departure earlier in the day.


Next year’s birthday will have to be quite extraordinary to even get close to this year.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Book review of Someday in Paris by Olivia Lara

French Village Diaries book review Someday in Paris Olivia Lara
Someday in Paris by Olivia Lara

Someday in Paris


'An epic, sweeping romance about soulmates and second chances' Holly Miller.


'An absolutely unforgettable love story' Mandy Baggot.


'A deeply moving, richly evocative story of love, loss and the power of hope' Miranda Dickinson.


Finding the one is only the beginning... 

1954. Zara is fifteen the first time she meets Leon. During a power cut in a small French museum, the two spend one short hour in the dark talking about their love for art, Monet and Paris. Neither knows what the other looks like. Both know their lives will never be the same. 


1963. In Paris, Leon no longer believes he will ever find the girl he lost that night. After dreaming about him for years, Zara thinks she has already found him. When they meet at an exhibition, they don't recognise each other – yet the way they feel is so familiar... 


Over the course of twenty years, Zara and Leon are destined to fall in love again and again. But will they ever find a way to be together? 

'It's about dreams and taking chances. Missed opportunities and mistakes. Loss and sacrifice. But above all, it is about love. The kind of love that survives time, distance... even death. The kind of love I wish for you.' 


A magical new love story about star-crossed lovers, perfect for hopeless romantics and fans of One Day and The Notebook


French Village Diaries book review Someday in Paris Olivia Lara
Someday in Paris by Olivia Lara

My Review

An unusual revelation in the opening chapter, that involved a mysterious cemetery visit, instantly had me hooked. I had no idea where this book would take me, but I knew I had to dive right in.


The book then jumps back in time and we meet Leon and Zara when their relationship begins with a chance meeting in a museum library, during a power cut. Despite not seeing each other’s faces and almost forgetting to ask their names, they know they have a connection they can’t let go. They begin writing to each other, pouring out their feelings and thoughts, not knowing if they will ever get the chance to meet in person again. What follows is a love story that keeps us hanging on for decades, that is deeply emotional and gives you all the good, and the bad, that love can throw your way. You get a hint about the unusual dreams and dramas the women in this book experience at the beginning, but nothing quite prepared me for what was to come.


Museums, the art world, books and libraries all have their part to play in this novel and this added an extra depth for me, as well as a release from the heavy emotions. I also enjoyed the locations we visited, and the descriptions of Colmar in the Alsace in particular made me want to plan a visit. 


This book might not be one to lift your soul in troubled times, but it will certainly pull you in to its rollercoaster ride of emotions and give you a lot to think and ponder on, even when you are not reading it. 


Someday in Paris is currently only 99p on kindle UK and you will definitely get your money’s worth from it. 


Purchase Links 

Amazon US 

Kobo US 

Apple US 

Barnes & Noble 


Kobo UK 

Apple UK 


French Village Diaries book review Someday in Paris Olivia Lara
Olivia Lara Someday in Paris

Author Bio 

OLIVIA LARA was born and raised in Bucharest in a family of booklovers and storytellers. Since university she has worked as a journalist and marketer in Romania, France and the United States. She is currently a marketing executive in San Francisco and lives in the Bay Area with her husband, young daughter and four cats. Someday in Paris is her first novel.


Social Media Links  




Author website 


French Village Diaries book review Someday in Paris Olivia Lara
Someday in Paris by Olivia Lara

Goodreads Giveaway

Olivia Lara is running a Goodreads giveaway for 50 kindle copies of Someday in Paris. As per Goodreads latest rules, this is open to those in the US only. 

Click here to enter.

What readers are saying about Someday in Paris

'I absolutely adored this book and stayed up late at night to finish it!! I couldn't put it down. This was a truly epic love story' Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 


'Magical, all-encompassing and timeless; an unforgettable romance' NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 


'Without question 5.0 Exquisite Stars!! There are not enough magical adjectives to describe the beauty of this story!! Someday in Paris moved me beyond words and to quite a few tears' Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 


'Some books leave you a print in your heart which make them difficult to forget ... Emotive, sweet and unforgettable ... The most beautiful book I've read in a while!' NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 


'This is a book for hopeless romantics, for those who dare to dream, and for those who believe in true love everlasting ... I could not put it down' Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 


'This book left me speechless. I haven't read such an amazing story in a long time' Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

'I absolutely loved this book ... The story kept me hanging on and reading late into the night' Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Friday, September 4, 2020

La Rentrée 2020 a return to a new normal

French Village Diaries la rentrée 2020 a return to a new normal
2020 back to school picture

It has been a testing week. My sixteen-year-old car had to have its CT controle technique (MOT) and unbeknown to us, the test centre itself was being checked and tested as it put my car through its paces. As if that wasn’t enough, at exactly the same time, but in a town forty kilometres away, Ed was taking his driving test. She (for in France it is la voiture) passed her CT but it was a few days anxious waiting to find out about the driving test. Ed had come home from Poitiers at the beginning of March for a long weekend, a last lesson and to take his driving test on the Monday morning, when lockdown scuppered all his plans. The weird thing is that on the eve of him returning to independent life in Poitiers, the news we’d hoped for was in; he’d passed his test. Well done Ed, that’s another tick in the major life events box and the beginning of a new chapter for us all.

French Village Diaries la rentrée 2020 a return to a new normal
Ed in his car with his A plate (new driver marker for three years)


September signifies the return to school, or la rentrée and even if you don’t live here, just being on holiday in France at the end of August or beginning of September is enough to know that it is big business. Supermarkets dedicate aisles to back to school supplies, frazzled mothers search out the required items on the seemingly never-ending lists and bored kids squabble over pencil case or school bag designs. I am relieved I no longer have to worry about buying the correct size of exercise books, or why it is some teachers request paper with small squares, some large, some A4 sized, some foolscap. This year I’ve baked him a cake and will stock up the fridge and cupboards with tasty treats, as I’ll miss not having to cook for him. Having had him at home with us for almost six months, taking him back to Poitiers today felt quite odd and the house will seem quiet without the backdrop of his guitar and music.

French Village Diaries la rentrée 2020 a return to a new normal
Ed off to school 2004


This year it is our 17th rentrée in France, and it has never been my favourite time of year. My Facebook memories this week have shown me it was five years ago when we first left Ed at lycée, where he was boarding from Monday to Friday, and two years since we set him up in the flat in Poitiers. I should be used to it by now, but this year feels as hard as leaving him in 2004, aged not quite four, for his first morning in a French speaking nursery school. I’ve no concerns on the language side of things now, but it’s the realisation that letting him return to Poitiers and the lecture halls at university will well and truly burst our virus-free bubble, and there’s nothing I can do to keep him safe. This week he went to a meeting on campus, that was well organised and has left me a bit more reassured. Obviously, masks will be worn, but there are also one-way circulation systems inside corridors and staircases, plus a contingency plan in place to split and rotate classes between online and onsite should the need arise. La rentrée this year is a return to a normal that’s not quite normal, except for the swallows.


The September weather has a fresh edge to it, especially overnight, and every morning the swallows gather in large numbers on the electric wires, enjoying the warmth of the sun, scattering into the sky like confetti when a car disturbs their chatter. It’s a magnificent sight, more spectacular than the excitement of seeing the first swallow arrive in March or April but tinged with sadness as I know they will soon be off for a winter in Africa.

French Village Diaries la rentrée 2020 a return to a new normal
My new notebook


September is also when Adrian would normally return to travelling away from home for work, but all is eerily quiet on the work front. For me, at least this has offered a gentler rentrée than the abrupt end of summer I am used to. I still see it as a time for new beginnings and I didn’t totally avoid the back to school aisle, seduced (as usual) by a pretty pack of notebooks, offering a fresh new page to release the tumble of words that have been bouncing around inside my head all summer. It is also time to return to the writing projects I lost confidence in over the last few months and get back to regular blogging.


If you or your family are also heading back to a new normal, I do hope it’s as safe a rentrée as possible for everyone.



French Village Diaries la rentrée 2020 a return to a new normal
Ed back at his flat giving me a goodbye hug

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Stop the World: Snapshots from a Pandemic


French Village Diaries Stop the World: Snapshots from a Pandemic anthology
Stop the World: Snapshots from a Pandemic

STOP THE WORLD: Snapshots from a Pandemic


I had some exciting post this week, a real paper book, Fed-Ex’d over from the US. Book post is always exciting, but this book is a little bit more special for me; my name (along with forty other names) is on the front cover.


Way back during life in lockdown, American author and editor, Lise McClendon, asked me if I would be interested in submitting something for an anthology she was putting together, called Stop the World: Snapshots from a Pandemic. I was honoured to be asked and delighted to be part of something that has recorded such an unexpected moment for social history.


Lise McClendon felt it was important to bring together writers from all over the world (she has contributions from forty writers in ten countries) to ensure what we were thinking and feeling during lockdown is preserved, even if it is a period in time we may all wish to forget. 


French Village Diaries Stop the World: Snapshots from a Pandemic anthology
You'll find me on page 36

My contribution is factual, about our way of adapting and coping to life in lockdown and alongside other personal essays, there are also short fiction and poetry pieces, all based on experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic. 


With its bite-sized reads for whenever you have a moment, it is an easy book to dip in and out of and I found it interesting to see how many different emotions and reactions there were to something that we all experienced, wherever in the world we were. My copy proudly sits on the coffee table in the lounge, a permanent reminder of an extraordinary year.

French Village Diaries Stop the World: Snapshots from a Pandemic anthology
A book with my name on

ISBN: 9780578717753

Thalia Press pub date:  August 4, 2020

Contact: Lise McClendon, 406-698-5268



July 1, 2020


Thalia Press is pleased to announce the release of a topical, up-to-the-minute anthology of personal essays, short fiction, and poetry based on experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic in this unique year. Forty writers from around the world took time during this spring of lockdown, contagion, and uncertainty to explore and share their emotions and creative impulses for the record. 


STOP THE WORLD: Snapshots from a Pandemic, a brainchild of editor Lise McClendon, was shepherded by her with her co-editors— Taffy Cannon, Kate Flora, and Gary Phillips— to bear witness to the events taking place all around us, and especially within us, as we grapple with disease, isolation, death, and, yes, a healthy dose of chaos. 


Some writers chose to mine their own psyches and experiences, whether the challenges of life in lockdown or their struggles with productivity and focus. Others felt called to dystopian and wry, dark fiction.  Across the globe the reactions portray a similar anger, pain, and struggle from writers from the US, Canada, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, Northern Ireland, Spain, Italy, and Romania. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Book review of 365 Days of Gratitude Journal by Marielle S. Smith

French Village Diaries book review 365 Days of Gratitude Journal Mariëlle S. Smith
365 Days of Gratitude Journal Mariëlle S. Smith

365 Days of Gratitude Journal


‘Gratitude is the wine for the soul. Go on. Get drunk.’ Rumi


Being grateful is easy…

…when everything goes according to plan.

But how do you keep at it no matter what life throws at you?

Enter 365 Days of Gratitude, the undated daily journal that will help you stay on track.


After years of barely surviving her own emotional minefield, writing coach Mariëlle S. Smith discovered the transformative power of practising gratitude. But, like no one else, she knows that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is easier said than done.


Complete with inspiring quotes, daily prompts, and recurring check-ins, the 365 Days of Gratitude Journal encourages you to create a sustainable gratitude practice too.


Ready to commit to the life-changing power of gratitude? Order your copy of the 365 Days of Gratitude Journal now.


French Village Diaries book review 365 Days of Gratitude Journal Mariëlle S. Smith
Publication Day Push for 365 Days of Gratitude Journal

My review

Having enjoyed, and got a lot out of, Mariëlle’s 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner, I was looking forward to learning more about journaling and interested to see how gratitude journaling would work for me. This year has been a difficult one for so many, looking for the positives and things to be thankful for at the end of the day, can only be a good thing.


In Mariëlle’s own words “I’m hooked on gratitude because it enables me to perceive everything in life as magical again”.


In the diary we learn to focus on three good things that happened during the day, rate the day, giving it a score, pick out something we want to remember about it, and think on something we could have been more grateful about, before moving on to tackling tomorrow. Every week, month and quarter Mariëlle adds in some extra prompts to help us look back at the bigger picture, think things through a bit deeper and look at what we have learned from what we have written. 


Ending my day with a moment of mindful mediation about how the day has been, brought a calmness to my mind and helped me to relax. Writing things down gives them a permanence and they become a reference point to look back on in order to help us to move forward in a more positive way. This can have many benefits on our health, state of mind and performance.


I had high hopes for this book, and I wasn’t disappointed, but it did take commitment and effort from me and as with everything in life some days were more difficult than others. I liked the layout, which is clear and encouraging, I enjoyed reading the inspirational quotes at the end of every week and although I am a long way from perfecting the art, the dabbling I have done has whetted my appetite to keep going.


I’m certainly grateful I had the opportunity to review this book and keen to keep up the good work I’ve started.


Purchase Links 

Get 50% off the printable PDF until 6 September 2020 with the following discount code: HAPPYLAUNCH. Go to Mariëlle’s website here or here to claim your copy. 

Amazon US 


French Village Diaries book review 365 Days of Gratitude Journal Mariëlle S. Smith
Mariëlle S. Smith

Author Bio

Mariëlle S. Smith is a coach for writers and other creatives, an editor, and a (ghost) writer. Early 2019, she moved to Cyprus, and island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count. 


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