Book Review: I Wanted You To Know by Laura Pearson

I Wanted You To Know

I read ‘Missing Pieces’ by Laura Pearson a while ago and really enjoyed it – so when I was offered the chance to read an advance review copy of Ms Pearson’s most recent book, I accepted it immediately.

Since reading Missing Pieces I have followed Laura on Twitter – and so knew she’d been through a breast cancer diagnosis whilst pregnant with her second child.  That personal experience has clearly been the driving force for this book.

Here’s the blurb:

“Dear Edie, I wanted you to know so many things. I wanted to tell you them in person, as you grew. But it wasn’t to be.
Jess never imagined she’d be navigating single motherhood, let alone while facing breast cancer. A life that should be just beginning is interrupted by worried looks, heavy conversations, and the possibility of leaving her daughter to grow up without her.
Propelled by a ticking clock, Jess knows what she has to do: tell her daughter everything. How to love, how to lose, how to forgive, and, most importantly, how to live when you never know how long you have.
From best-selling author Laura Pearson comes her most devastating book yet. Honest, heart-wrenching, and emotionally raw, I Wanted You To Know is a true love letter to life: to all its heartache and beauty, to the people we have and lose, to the memories and moments that define us.”

This book is absolutely, brutally, brilliant.

I cried A LOT reading it – and Laura doesn’t shy away from the shittiness of breast cancer at all – but it’s not all doom and gloom.  The relationships between Jess and her daughter / mother / best friend / father / ex boyfriend / best mate’s brother are all explored beautifully.

I guess I empathised most with Jess’s BFF Gemma.  One of my best friends had her own breast cancer journey a couple of years ago – and I was the one trying to be a supportive friend.  Admittedly I didn’t have to take care of a newborn like Gemma does in the book – but we did borrow her son as our 5th child for a week to take him away for half term.  It’s the balance of trying to keep things ‘normal’ whilst still recognising that things are never going to be normal ever again.  The letters Jess writes to Edie also made me really emotional – as there were many things my friend was scared she wouldn’t see – her daughter smashing her GCSEs and A-levels and turning 18, her son going to his Middle School prom and starting High School – all the type of things Jess addresses in her letters to her daughter who isn’t even a year old at the time.

Just like ‘Missing Pieces’ a dysfunctional family is central to the storyline – and written about so well – and you could totally empathise with lots of the characters (and want to punch others).

This is not a fun, easy, light hearted read – it really does make you think about being grateful for what you have RIGHT NOW – and speaking up for that, telling people what you think – and not waiting until it’s too late – or almost too late.

Whilst it made me do big snotty crying, I still really enjoyed this book – and a huge thank you to Netgalley for my ARC.  I know there will be people where this is a bit too close to home – and I’m not sure whether it would be a good or bad thing for someone in a similar circumstance to read it.

Most of all, and very selfishly, I’m bloody chuffed that my friend didn’t have to write letters to her children like Jess did………

 

 

 

 

Fencing

Tomorrow child number 3 starts her first fencing lesson at her new school.

Fencing

Totally different to any fencing her father did in his youth!

Obviously I mean this…………..

Fencing 2

 

Book Review: The Lying Room by Nicci French

The Lying Room

I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Nicci French before, but when the publisher emailed me to ask me if I’d like to read this new one – as I’d read books in a similar genre from them before – I jumped at the chance, as the blurb sounded good.

“Neve Connolly looks down at a murdered man.
She doesn’t call the police. 

‘You know, it’s funny,’ Detective Inspector Hitching said. ‘Whoever I see, they keep saying, talk to Neve Connolly, she’ll know. She’s the one people talk to, she’s the one people confide in.’
A trusted colleague and friend. A mother. A wife. Neve Connolly is all these things.
She has also made mistakes; some small, some unconsciously done, some large, some deliberate. She is only human, after all.
But now one mistake is spiralling out of control and Neve is bringing those around her into immense danger.
She can’t tell the truth. So how far is she prepared  to go to protect those she loves?
And who does she really know? And who can she trust?
A liar. A cheat. A threat. Neve Connolly is all these things.
Could she be a murderer?”

This is a brilliant fast paced domestic thriller with Neve as the central character – and looking at her relationships with her family and friends.

The storyline races through – and sometimes you feel like you’re reading it almost in real time – the adrenaline is pumping in you as a reader as much as the characters in the book.

It’s very cleverly written – and, like Neve, you’re not sure who you should trust and who you shouldn’t!

Some of the character’s back stories are unpicked in depth – but others just hinted at.  I kept expecting to find out more of what had happened in Neve’s daughter Mabel’s life historically (the mother / teenage daughter relationship is written brilliantly) – but it is never explained in full.

As well as the room that is lying, Neve’s house is also a focal point of the storyline – with friends coming and going all of the time.  The ‘craziness’ of it all really comes across in the writing.

The pressure builds and builds as the book progresses. The climax is brilliant – and not predictable at all – a really great read.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my advanced review copy – and definitely think about pre ordering ready for publication in early October.

 

 

 

Book Review: So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

So Lucky

I LOVED The Cows, Dawn O’Porter’s last book – and when I saw my friend had been sent an advance review copy of Dawn’s new book – So Lucky – I literally BEGGED to borrow it!  And I have to say there is now a queue of others who want to – as everyone in our book club adored The Cows.  In fact we’re all slightly obsessed with Dawn O’Porter and think she would be a very welcome attendee at our next book club meeting (where essentially we just sit in the pub drinking, discussing books we’ve enjoyed and going off on massive tangents. #Emilysweirdlipsdream)

So the minute I received it (pushed through my letterbox awaiting my return from holiday – how’s that for service – and the perfect post holiday pick me up!) I cracked on with reading it.

Here’s the blurb:

“I’M A MOTHER
I feel like I’m failing every day
I HAVE A CAREER
I have to shout to make myself heard
I’VE GOT THE BEST FRIENDS
Sometimes I feel so alone
I LOVE MY BODY
I don’t know who I am beyond it

Sometimes it looks like everyone is living their best life.
Everyone, except you.
But no life is perfect, everyone is fighting a private battle of their own – it’s just a struggle to say it out loud.
Fearless, frank and for every woman who’s ever doubted herself, So Lucky is the straight-talking new novel from the Sunday Times bestseller.
Actually, you’re pretty f****** lucky to be you.”

 

And boy was I not disappointed – it’s brilliant!

It reminds me a lot of The Cows – and that’s not a bad thing at all.  It tells the story of 3 women – Ruby, Beth and Lauren – and initially you don’t know how they’re all going to interact – but you just know that the stories are going to intertwine in a really clever way – and that’s exactly what happens.

Whilst the story is based on the 3 lead characters – it deals massively with their interactions with other people – as wives / lovers / mothers / colleagues / daughters / daughters in law / friends – and is brilliantly portrayed. Particularly the parental relationships are very raw / sad / emotional / beautiful – but all very different.

None of the characters is perfect – each has their own issues and things they’re dealing with, which isn’t what they project out to the world – which is kind of the point of the whole book.

Now I do need to issue a disclaimer at this point!  One of the characters suffers from horrible piles for a very specific reason.  I need to point out that my horrible piles, which I have blogged about before, are definitely not caused by the same thing……

The use of social media posts for one of the characters is very clever – and the comments by her followers underneath (and their Insta handles) are fabulous.

There are unusual topics covered in it – but that added to the quirkiness of it – and Dawn is never going to write a ‘vanilla’ book (I make that sound like I’m her mate, rather than just a stalker of her Instagram stories…….)

I really enjoyed how the book ended – it wasn’t predictable at all for any of the characters, which I thought was great. It’s witty, funny, clever and all wrapped up in some #girlpower – a fabulous combo.

It’s out on 31 October 2019 – which, let’s face it, could be an incredibly difficult day (don’t mention the B word) – so I would suggest pre-ordering this so you have something to distract you for a few hours, you won’t regret it – in fact you’ll be #SoLucky.

(I appreciate that I am an utter knob with that last line………)

 

 

 

Book Review: Till The Cows Come Home by Sara Cox

Till The Cows Come Home.jpg

I’ve always felt an affinity with Sara Cox.  We were both born in 1974, although I was the school year above (honestly, why is that still ‘a thing’ in your mid 40s?!) I spent the 90s being a ‘ladette’ and keeping up with the lads booze consumption-wise.  Admittedly Sara’s ‘party girl years’ were spent being a model around the world and making it in the world of TV – whilst I was training to be a chartered accountant in The Midlands – but otherwise, practically parallel lives?!  Thankfully my exploits never made the Daily Mail (but if anyone has back copies of the Birmingham Chartered Accountants Student Society newsletters – there are some dodgy photos of me at BCASS Balls!!) We both then had short lived first marriages, and thankfully longer lived second marriages – and our kids are similar ages.  In fact some Christmasses ago Sara and I shared a tweet exchange about a particular Sylvanian Families house we were both having to put together for our firstborns – when they were about half the age they are now! I made the move from Radio 1 to Radio 2 at a similar time to Sara – admittedly only as a listener rather than a presenter – but on numerous occasions Sara has read out my texts (in the olden days) and more recently tweets – which I like to think is because we are kindred spirits (and not just because there wasn’t much sent in by listeners that day……)  Anyway – when I saw Sara had written a book about her childhood I was keen to read it – and as I’ve said before, I’m lucky enough to be sent loads of free books to review – so it’s quite unusual for me to part with cash for a book – but in this case I did!

Here’s the blurb:

“Till the Cows Come Home is DJ and TV presenter Sara Cox’s wonderfully written, funny coming of age memoir of growing up in 1980s Lancashire.
The youngest of five siblings, Sara grew up on her father’s cattle farm surrounded by dogs, cows, horses, fields and lots of ‘cack’. The lanky kid sister – half girl, half forehead – a nuisance to the older kids, the farm was her very own dangerous adventure playground, ‘a Bolton version of Narnia’.
Her writing conjures up a time of wagon rides and haymaking and agricultural shows, alongside chain smoking pensioners, cabaret nights at the Conservative club and benign parenting. Sara’s love of family, of the animals and the people around them shines through on every page. Unforgettable characters are lovingly and expertly drawn bringing to life a time and place.
Sara later divided her childhood days between the beloved farm and the pub she lived above with her mother, these early experiences of freedom and adventure came to be the perfect training ground for later life.
This funny, big-hearted and often moving telling of Sara Cox’s semi rural upbringing is not what you’d expect from the original ladette, and one of radio’s most enduring and well loved presenters.”

 

The book tells the story of Sara’s life (and how she ended up Sara rather than Sarah professionally at least) from her birth and childhood, up until she started on TV with The Girlie Show.  It’s not strictly chronological – but basically is – with some meanderings, just as you’d expect if you were chatting to a mate. In fact, because Sara’s voice is so familiar – you can almost hear her saying what she’s written and it feels like chatting to a mate – albeit a bit one sided.  (Actually, if you were to buy the audiobook you would exactly hear it in Sara’s voice!)

Being the same age, loads of the reference points were the same – shops, TV programmes, dress sense, sickly sweet drinks etc – which was great.

I grew up in the suburbs of Brum – and not on a farm – but in recent years we have acquired chickens, pigs and horses – and so lots of those references were also apt.  We also have a horse traumatised by a plastic bag blowing the breeze…….

I really enjoyed the romp through the 80s and 90s and was keen to know how the story developed – as this isn’t the ‘Sara’ that you have read about in the papers over the years.

The book made me realise we have other things in common too – a shared love of our families – immediate and extended, and more than anything, a powerhouse 4 foot 11 inch mother to credit for where we are today (although my Mum is probably now going to comment that she’s actually 4 foot 11 and a half?!)

All in all a great read – and I look forward to a future instalment in a few years time.