Book Review: The Mum Who’d Had Enough by Fiona Gibson

 

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I follow the author Fiona Gibson on Twitter – and she happened to tweet to say this book was on special on Amazon, so being a sucker for social media ad type stuff, I went to buy it!  Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“After sixteen years of marriage, Nate and Sinead Turner have a nice life. They like their jobs, they like their house and they love their son Flynn. Yes, it’s a very nice life.
Or, at least Nate thinks so. Until, one morning, he wakes to find Sinead gone and a note lying on the kitchen table listing all the things he does wrong or doesn’t do at all.
Nate needs to show Sinead he can be a better husband – fast. But as he works through Sinead’s list, his life changes in unexpected ways. And he starts to wonder whether he wants them to go back to normal after all. Could there be more to life than nice?”

The book has chapters written by different characters – initially Sinead and Nate – but later on in the book by a new character who is introduced – Tanzie.  I liked the way it was told by different people – and their differing views of the same scenes.

I found Sinead incredibly annoying and judgemental – and not a very nice wife, mother, or friend.  She was incredibly self centred and frustrating.  If you’re not happy with something then say something – don’t expect the other person to be psychic – and don’t just flounce off without giving them an option to respond.

Nate was a wet lettuce and needed a good slap, and to just be a bit more motivated to do stuff.

Their son Flynn was a typical teenager, and whilst his cerebral palsy was referenced – it didn’t really affect him as a character.  The teenage interactions (and specifically oreos and such like for breakfast) definitely rang true.

I liked Tanzie the most – but definitely best of a bad bunch!

A friend has just FINALLY passed her driving test – and so I quite enjoyed that element of the storyline because it’s something that’s been on my radar recently.

The book was an easy read – and I did want to know what happened – but it’s not going to win any prizes.  It’s nothing taxing – so if you fancy something like that, then it’s fine – but having just read some amazing books, it all felt a bit flat and done before.  I’m just glad I didn’t pay full price for it!

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

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I’ve read, and enjoyed, books by Lucy Foley before – so when I saw someone raving about this new one on Twitter, I hopped on to Netgalley to try and nab an advanced review copy – but couldn’t find it.  I shared my despondency on Twitter, and the lovely Lucy Foley herself sent me a link to it on Netgalley where I could download it.

The previous books by Ms Foley that I’ve read have been fabulous epic novels straddling eras and continents – but this was a departure, her first crime / thriller book.  I have to say, I had high expectations.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“A shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.
All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.
During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands–the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.
They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.
Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.
The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.
Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.
Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?”

I loved it from the start!  It flicks between who is narrating – sometimes it’s one of the female guests or the female staff member (in the first person) or one of the male members of staff (the only one in the third person) – and it also flicks between before and after the murder.  This jumping around keeps you on your toes and builds the suspense brilliantly.  There are clues throughout as to who the victim is – but it’s not actually revealed until near the very end – which really does keep you guessing.  It also meant I couldn’t put it down and read far too late into the night!

As with Ms Foley’s previous books, the descriptions of the geographical landscapes are incredible and stunningly atmospheric – you really feel like you’re snowed in somewhere in the Highlands too.

The group of friends, who have mostly known each other since being at Oxford Uni together – apart from relative newcomer Emma – aren’t that nice!  There wasn’t a single one that I was rooting for particularly – but that didn’t lessen my interest in the book. There are lots of underlying tensions – between partners and between friends – which means any of them could be victim or murderer, and there are other people in the frame as well.  The staff seem to have hidden pasts for various reasons, and there are a couple of Scandi’s thrown in for good measure – only adding to the intrigue. It’s like a modern day Agatha Christie and would make a perfect Sunday night drama on TV – or even feature film.

Yet again I like the cleverness and intricacy of the plot, and feel like a lot of thought has gone into writing it both in the structure, content and use of language.  Ms Foley is a very talented writer indeed. In a world of ‘disposable’ fiction, this feels like a book that will stand the test of time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Becoming by Michelle Obama

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“In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America – the first African-American to serve in that role – she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her – from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it – in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations – and whose story inspires us to do the same.”

It would appear that I – along with a large proportion of the UK and US based on the book charts – read Becoming by Michelle Obama over the festive period!

I have to say I really enjoyed it.  From her early years in Chicago (which I visited some years ago – so I could picture some of the settings), through her own career, her relationship with Barack, becoming a Mum – and then, what she is most famous for, becoming First Lady.  And not just any First Lady – but the first African American First Lady and all of the extra scrutiny and pressures that came with that.

It was interesting to see how Michelle’s early years and upbringing affected all of her decisions as she got older.  Her love for her family shines out of the pages.  I hadn’t realised that her mother had relocated to the White House with them and was such a help when the Obama girls were growing up as part of the First Family.

As a working Mum, I also appreciated the fact that the similar ‘working Mum guilt’ affects even the most famous people in the world!!

The parts in the UK – or UK related – are also really interesting – and Michelle’s connection with the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school in London is discussed a couple of times – along with her meeting of our Queen Elizabeth too.  The famous Carpool Karaoke with James Corden is also featured – she (Mrs Obama, not the Queen) seemed such a natural doing that – I hadn’t even considered she’d spent time practising!

Seeing it all written down makes you appreciate how much change the Obamas brought to the White House and Government as a whole – making everywhere a lot less old, white and male – and also how the appointment of the 45th president of the US has reversed lots of that………..

I quite often beg and borrow (I haven’t quite resorted to stealing yet!) books – but I actually paid for this with my own hard earned cash, as I was keen to read it – and I’m glad I did.  The book finishes when the Obamas handed over the presidency to the Trumps, and I look forward to a sequel in the future to find out what Michelle’s life was like post the White House……..

 

 

 

 

The Prices Do Australia

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I said last month that I would ‘blog the sh*t’ out of our trip to Australia – but guess what, I was too busy having the holiday of a lifetime to do any blogging at all!!

But – I really want to – I want to remember every little bit of the holiday for the future – which was one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place, to have a permanent record of family ‘stuff’.

I want to remember:

the amazing Christmas lights at our friends’ house in Bunbury,

the fabulous new game for Christmas Day ‘find Daddy’s phone that he’s dropped in the ocean’,

snorkelling and diving at the Great Barrier Reef (although perhaps not the ultra unflattering photos of me in a stinger suit – which my husband has ‘kindly’ now got as his computer screen saver),

the 7 year old getting confused and asking why the kangaroo Daddy had for lunch was called Phillip (it was actually a kangaroo fillet)

the fireworks to see 2018 out and 2019 in from our hotel room overlooking Sydney harbour,

2/3rds of the family climbing Sydney harbour bridge

and lots and lots and lots more.

So my one and only New Year Resolution is to get all of the above documented properly to remember forever.

The Price family loved Australia and we will definitely be back (well, depending if we all survive the whole jetlag thing – the little 2 have been up since 3am…………….)