Posted in Book Review, Friendship, Non-Fiction, Parenting and Famlies

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A – Gill Sims @HarperCollinsUK @HarperNonFic @whymummydrinks #Parenting #Family #Relationships – 5* #Review

Family begins with a capital eff.

I’m wondering how many more f*cking ‘phases’ I have to endure before my children become civilised and functioning members of society? It seems like people have been telling me ‘it’s just a phase!’ for the last fifteen bloody years. Not sleeping through the night is ‘just a phase.’ Potty training and the associated accidents ‘is just a phase’. The tantrums of the terrible twos are ‘just a phase’. The picky eating, the backchat, the obsessions. The toddler refusals to nap, the teenage inability to leave their beds before 1pm without a rocket being put up their arse. The endless singing of Frozen songs, the dabbing, the weeks were apparently making them wear pants was akin to child torture. All ‘just phases!’ When do the ‘phases’ end though? WHEN?
 
Mummy dreams of a quirky rural cottage with roses around the door and chatty chickens in the garden. Life, as ever, is not going quite as she planned. Paxo, Oxo and Bisto turn out to be highly rambunctious, rather than merely chatty, and the roses have jaggy thorns. Her precious moppets are now giant teenagers, and instead of wittering at her about who would win in a fight – a dragon badger or a ninja horse – they are Snapchatting the night away, stropping around the tiny cottage and communicating mainly in grunts – except when they are demanding Ellen provides taxi services in the small hours. And there is never, but never, any milk in the house. At least the one thing they can all agree on is that rescued Barry the Wolfdog may indeed be The Ugliest Dog in the World, but he is also the loveliest.

Amazon UK

Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins Non Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

There are so many of this type of book around at the present time, but this series remains dominant. As soon as you start reading, it grabs you and you’re laughing out loud, or digging into the depths of family memories when a similar incident happened to you, or someone you know.

This time Ellen’s marriage is beyond help, and she faces life as a single mum. There are compensations, getting to buy the ‘house of your dreams’, well very nearly, but Peter and Jane are teenagers now and dealing with their attitude, eating habits and apathy alone, on a daily basis, means that if Ellen had a swear box it would be overflowing with cash.

The honesty, and talent for encapsulating the humour of parenting teenagers, an ex-husband, and learning how to date again, make this a lovely book to escape with. You can read a chapter or two, and then come back, and it’s easy to get into, but it is addictive reading, and why not laughter is good for you.

The relationships are so believable, the conversations with ‘Mother’, hilarious and oddly poignant, the best friend who so supportive but facing challenges she never thought she would, and the ex-husband who undermines at every opportunity and wonders why things have turned out the way they have???

There is so much to enjoy in this, humour, often satirical and self-deprecating, poignant moments of guilt, that every mother experiences, as they struggle to find themselves in their ‘mummy’ role and a keen observant exploration of parenting that most will relate to.

Posted in Book Review, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Parenting and Famlies

Hard Pushed – Leah Hazard -5* #Review @Hutchinsonbooks @PenguinUKBooks @hazard_leah #Memoir

No sleep for twenty hours. No food for ten. And a ward full of soon-to-be mothers… Welcome to the life of a midwife.

Life on the NHS front line, working within a system at breaking point, is more extreme than you could ever imagine. From the bloody to the beautiful, from moments of utter vulnerability to remarkable displays of strength, from camaraderie to raw desperation, from heart-wrenching grief to the pure, perfect joy of a new-born baby, midwife Leah Hazard has seen it all.

Through her eyes, we meet Eleanor, whose wife is a walking miracle of modern medicine, their baby a feat of reproductive science; Crystal, pregnant at just fifteen, the precarious, flickering life within her threatening to come far too soon; Star, birthing in a room heady with essential oils and love until an enemy intrudes and Pei Hsuan, who has carried her tale of exploitation and endurance thousands of miles to somehow find herself at the open door of Leah’s ward.

Moving, compassionate and intensely candid, Hard Pushed is a love letter to new mothers and to Leah’s fellow midwives – there for us at some of the most challenging, empowering and defining moments of our lives.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Random House UK Cornerstone – Hutchinson Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Authentic, awe-inspiring and absorbing, this sharing of a midwife’s working life is a must read for everyone. Humorous and poignant it explores what it’s like to be responsible for assisting new life into the world through the eyes of a dedicated midwife as she shares her experiences with the women she helps.

Midwifery has mystical connations, and if you have ever experienced the brutality and wonder of birth you understand why. I’ve experienced birth twice as a mother and once as a birthing partner, and this memoir brings it all back. The writing is informal but full of vivid imagery and genuine love and respect. It made me cry, laugh and remember.

Out in digital on 30th April 2019 and Hardback and Audio on 2 May 2019

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Shari Low – Because Mummy Said So – Extract and 4*Review

The era of the yummy mummy has finally gone.

To celebrate this, Shari Low has taken a baby wipe to the glossy veneer of the school of perfect parenting and written Because Mummy Said So to show us the truth about motherhood in all of its sleep-deprived, frazzled glory.

This is a book that every experienced, new or soon-to-be parent will relate to – well, hallelujah and praise be those who worship at the temple of Febreze. For over a decade, Shari wrote a hugely popular weekly newspaper column documenting the ups, downs and bio-hazardous laundry baskets of family life.

Because Mummy Said So is a collection of her favourite stories of parenting, featuring superheroes in pull up pants, embarrassing mistakes, disastrous summer holidays, childhood milestones, tear-jerking nativity plays, eight bouts of chickenpox and many, many discussions that were finished with the ultimate parental sticky situation get-out clause…

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Extract- Ready, Aim, Fire…

If reincarnation does in fact exist, can I please make a special request to come back as Julia Roberts? The lovely Julia was pictured last week leaving a Pilates class with her six-week-old twins. It was a sweet, precious and intimate snapshot of domestication: just Julia, her husband, her babies, and an army of helpers so large it could have invaded a small country.

Ladies, how many things are wrong with that scenario? Well, for a start, when my babies were six weeks old I couldn’t find my way out of my dressing gown, never mind into a wee Juicy Couture tracky for a jaunt up the leisure centre.

Secondly, the gilded A-lister was partaking in the practice of evil: an exercise class. Doesn’t she know that there’s an unwritten rule among the sisterhood (or should that be motherhood)? For at least two months – or in my case, years – after childbirth, we’re supposed to milk the memory of the physical trauma we’ve inflicted on our bodies by endeavouring at all times to have our feet in an elevated position and our mouths in close proximity to a chocolate snack. It’s the law.

And thirdly – and this is the real killer – Team Julia was carrying everything for her. She didn’t have a bulk-size box of Huggies strapped to her back. There were no bottles of milk dribbling up the arm of her jumper as she attempted to juggle baby, bag and feeding equipment. And she wasn’t within projectile-vomit range of either of her newborns.

That’s not motherhood, it’s a holiday.

While Miss Roberts gets the five-star, deluxe version of motherhood, this week I’ve been subjected to the self-catering, dodgy plumbing and offensive odours version. In the latest episode of my oh-so-glamorous life, I decided it was time for almost-three-year-old Brad to lose the nappies.

For those of you who are just tucking into a wee cup of tea and a bacon roll, I’ll spare you the details. But let’s just say that disinfectant spray became my very best friend. On the first day of Brad’s nappy liberation, I spent the whole time on my hands and knees contemplating puddles. Who knew children that small could store that much water? My second-born son is the toddler equivalent of a Saharan camel.

By lunchtime, I was soaked, exhausted and could feel the thud of my will to live tunnelling to freedom.

Worse, Brad was getting thoroughly sceptical about my promise that ‘Big Boys Pants’ would give him supernatural powers. Hopefully, one of which would be the ability to control his bladder.

Never has my familiar prima-donna war cry, ‘I bet Jackie Collins doesn’t have to put up with this pish!’ had a more literal meaning.

At four o’clock, wet, smelling of Eau de Sewer and covered in stains that I didn’t even want to think about, I speed-dialled the husband for moral support. It didn’t go well.

‘Hi, honey, having a good day?’ he had the absolute temerity to ask.

A GOOD DAY? Aaargh!

Yes, I know the poor man was only being polite but in my pee-soaked brain that somehow became a patronising comment from a smug bloke sitting in a comfy chair, in a civilised office, having conversations with other adults that consisted of words of more than one syllable, all the while partaking of hot and cold running bloody cappuccinos.

How dare he!

I slammed the phone down in disgust. I didn’t say I was rational. I’m a mother of two toddlers – that’s not in the job description.

Next day, over breakfast I was mulling over my dilemmas for the day: whether donning waterproof clothing was an overreaction, whether Dettox was available in gallon-size tubs and how to convince my husband that we didn’t, in fact, require a marriage guidance counsellor. So absorbed was I in my woes that I didn’t notice that Brad had left the table for a far comfier seat – one atop the porcelain throne. Yes, my wee angel had finally mastered the concept of waste management.

Overjoyed, I had an irresistible compulsion to call the One O’Clock News team to announce the thrilling news: Brad was toilet-trained. There’s only one downside – his aim isn’t brilliant. But then, I’ve never met a grown man who doesn’t share that problem, so I’m guessing it’s a gender thing.

There’s obviously a limit to the supernatural powers of Big Boy Pants.

My Thoughts…

Candid snapshots of life with children are popular at the moment, what makes this one different is that it is retrospective. A collection of thoughts that featured in the author’s column at the time ranging from 2004 -2017. Some of the people and events mentioned will bring back memories and add entertainment value to these amusing anecdotes about parenting and being a working mum.

This book is a fun-filled read for all parents, and its innate honesty is part of its charm. Being the perfect mummy, while holding down a full-time job was a mantra in the nineties, and the first decade of the twenty-first century, thankfully this stereotype has been ousted in recent years by a more realistic view of parenting which this book certainly showcases.

It’s worth reading because its funny, realistic, thought-provoking and poignant and given that many of the stories started in the early noughties a true original that has sparked the honest parenting blogs and books that currently are an important part of our culture.

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Shari Low has published eighteen books under her own name and pseudonyms Millie Conway and Ronni Cooper. She is also one half of the writing duo, Shari King. She lives near Glasgow with her husband, two teenagers and a labradoodle. 

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Posted in Book Review

Why Mummy Swears – Gill Sims – 5* Review

Welcome to Mummy’s world…
The Boy Child Peter is connected to his iPad by an umbilical cord, The Girl Child Jane is desperate to make her fortune as an Instagram lifestyle influencer, while Daddy is constantly off on exotic business trips…
Mummy’s marriage is feeling the strain, her kids are running wild, and the house is steadily developing a forest of mould. Only Judgy, the Proud and Noble Terrier, remains loyal as always.
Mummy has also found herself a new challenge, working for a hot new tech start-up. But not only is she worrying if, at forty-two, she could actually get up off a bean bag with dignity, she’s also somehow (accidentally) rebranded herself as a single party girl who works hard, plays hard and doesn’t have to run out when the nanny calls in sick.
Can Mummy keep up the facade while keeping her family afloat? Can she really get away with wearing ‘comfy trousers’ to work? And, more importantly, can she find the time to pour herself a large G+T?
Probably effing not.

Amazon UK

Amazon

 My Thoughts…

Full of satirical humour, this hilarious account of being a mum in the 21st-century is guaranteed to make you laugh and empathise with Mummy Ellen as she recounts her experiences with demanding but lovable kids, a less than appreciative husband and parents who present nearly as many problems as her children.

Its nearly twenty years since my kids were this age but I still remember the picky eaters and the constant sibling squabbling, so this story is timeless. The writing style is easy to read and chatty, but beneath the fun and despair, Ellen feels on a daily basis there are relevant examples of how women are perceived within the family and by society at large.

Whether you are in the midst of bringing up a young family or are experiencing it the second time around like me as a granny, this book will lighten your day and let you know it doesn’t only happen to you.

A pertinent, fun read, that you’ll find hard to put down. I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins – non-fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: More Than Us- Dawn Barker – Guest Post – 4* Review

When parents disagree on how to care for their child, is it justifiable to take extreme measures?

Emily and Paul have a glorious home, money in the bank and two beautiful children. Since leaving Scotland for Paul to play football for an Australian team they have been blessed. But sadness lies behind the picture-perfect family – sixteen-year-old Cameron has battled with health troubles his entire life. There’s no name for what he has, but his disruptive behaviour, OCD, and difficulty in social situations is a constant source of worry. 

When Paul’s career comes to a shuddering halt, he descends into a spiral of addiction, gambling away the family’s future. By the time he seeks help, it’s his new boss Damien who recommends and pays for a rehab facility.

While Paul is away, Emily has to make a tough decision about their son. She keeps it from Paul knowing he’ll disapprove. And when a terrible accident reveals the truth, Paul takes his son and goes on the run, leaving Emily to care for fourteen-year-old Tilly, who unbeknown to her parents is fighting battles of her own.

Can the family join together for the sake of their loved ones, or will their troubles tear them apart?

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

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Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

More Than Us FB coveer

Guest Post – Dawn Barker

The writing process for More Than Us 

First of all, thank you for having me on your blog today. I’m very excited that More Than Us is out now!

More Than Us is my third novel, so I’d hoped I’d be a more efficient writer this time around, but it took me longer to write than either my first book, Fractured or my second, Let Her Go!

Generally, when I write, I start with a vague idea of a particular character or issue that I find intriguing and complicated. For More Than Us, this was the idea of a family disagreeing about the mental health treatment of their child. This is not unusual, and as a child psychiatrist, it’s something that I see quite often in my practice. I also see strong views in the wider society about both the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues on children, both from the point of view of overdiagnosis and treatment (that I believe does sometimes happen), and the other extreme, people who do not believe that there is any place for psychiatrists in the treatment of children. I believe that the reality is somewhere between these opposing views, and wanted to explore that in fiction.

I began writing the first draft of More Than Us many years ago; I remember talking about it while I was living in Cape Town, over four years ago. At the time, I had just finished editing my second novel, and my mind was starting to look for new ideas.

Generally, when I write the first draft, I set myself a daily target of 500 words per day. I don’t plan what I’m going to write, or outline chapters or the plot, I just write scenes and characters and let them develop along the way. I’m not sure this is the most efficient way of writing, but it’s the way I’ve always done it! With More Than Us, knowing that I now had three young children, and was going back to work, I aimed for 1000 words a day just to get to the end of the first draft. I believe that getting all the ideas on to the page without worrying about how good or bad they are, is essential.

I then put the draft away. I had released my second book, Let Her Go, in Australia, and so was touring around promoting that, and I had gone back to work as all three of my daughters had started school. After spending a couple of years working hard on writing and promoting my first two books, I needed a break from it for a while.

In 2017, Canelo published Let Her Go, and I was thrilled when they said they would also like to publish my third novel…a year later! I panicked a little, as by now I was working essentially full-time, and busy with my family, but I know I work better with a deadline and agreed. I then opened up the draft of More Than Us on my computer…and panicked some more!

For the next six months, I wrote a second draft. I found it frustrating not to be able to work on it every day, as I had with my first two books, but also had to accept that I needed to work, and ultimately, family time was more important than writing when my children weren’t at school. I then wrote a third draft, this time having turned down some work and taken some time off my day job to fit it in, and then a fourth and a fifth… Finally, after many 4 am starts, I submitted More Than Us to my agent, and then to Canelo, at the end of 2017. The early part of this year was taken up by edits, and I’m so pleased that it has finally been published!

It’s been a lesson for me to accept that it’s not always easy to find the balance between writing and real life, but the satisfaction and excitement of finishing a 100000-word project is worth it!

Thanks again for having me on your blog and I hope you enjoy reading More Than Us.

My Thoughts…

Mental health issues are discussed more openly in the 21st-century, and this story examines the two extremes of ignoring mental health problems or labelling every behavioural difference as a mental health issue for a fictional family in Austrailia.

The scenarios portrayed are believable, and the differing parental reactions to their children’s behaviour are well-researched both regarding mental health facts and differing viewpoints on mental health. The family experiences addiction, depression, obsessive behaviour and low self-esteem issues and the circumstances surrounding them are authentic, and the strain on family relations is convincing.

Written from the two parents points of view, they view the same issues differently, which makes for discord, fear and finally understanding. There is no jargon overload, despite the book’s detailed content. What comes across is the human reactions to the problems they face and their differing ways of solving them.

A sensitively written story that examines mental health issues in children and parents and how they are perceived and resolved.

I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Dawn Barker is a psychiatrist and author. She grew up in Scotland, then in 2001 she moved to Australia, completed her psychiatric training and began writing. Her first novel, Fractured, was selected for the 2010 Hachette/Queensland Writers Centre manuscript development programme, was one of Australia’s bestselling debut fiction titles for 2013, and was shortlisted for the 2014 WA Premier’s Book Awards. Her second novel is Let Her Go. Dawn lives in Perth with her husband and three young children.

Twitter: @drdawnbarker