Book Review: Confessions of a First-Time Mum by Poppy Dolan

I received a email from the marketing team behind this book asking if I wanted an advanced copy in exchange for a review.  Obviously I said yes (and was quite excited someone had approached me rather than me begging on NetGalley!)

Here’s the blurb:

“Stevie’s life has changed beyond recognition since having her first baby. She loves being a mum, but between the isolation and being vomited on five times a day, she really wishes she had someone to talk to.

With husband Ted working hard to keep the family afloat, Stevie really doesn’t want to burden him with her feelings. Turning to the internet, Stevie starts the anonymous First-Time Mum blog and blasts the rose-tinted glasses of parenthood right off her readers.

In the real world, Stevie meets the formidable Nelle and gorgeous Will, along with their own little treasures, and starts to realise that being a ‘perfect mum’ isn’t everything. But when the secret blog goes viral, Stevie must make some tough choices about who she wants to be, and whether she’s ready for the world to know the truth…”

 

Confessions of a first time mum

The press release sent with my copy said it would be perfect for fans of The Unmumsy Mum, Gill Sims and Emma Robinson and my one concern was ‘surely this has been done to death’, and I was worried it would be same old same old baby stuff.  Within the first few pages the word ‘eleventy’ had been used – and I know that one single person doesn’t have ownership of a word – but to me that’s a Gill Sims word – so my hackles were up!!

However, my fears were unfounded – and I really enjoyed the book.

Yes, some of the topics were things that are covered by many current Mum blogs – such as loving your children fiercely – but still finding them annoying, or wanting to step off the treadmill occasionally – but all was done in an honest and, at times, amusing way.

My 4 kids range from almost 15 down to 6, and there was nothing ‘honest’ about how hard motherhood was when my eldest were born.  I was lucky I had sisters / friends who’d had babies before me and were honest about it – as otherwise I really would have thought I was rubbish at being a Mum.  The fact that new Mums now have this support – and social media empathy – must make a massive difference – and that is the whole premise of ‘First-Time Mum’.

At times you wanted to give Stevie a bit of a shake – especially about being upfront with her husband about how she was feeling – but you could see how things easily spiral out of control.  Stevie’s new friends are great – and you can really get the team vibe between them.

I also liked the pub quiz section – who doesn’t love a pub quiz, and the random facts you get to know as a parent (and I LOVED Fantasy Football – and really hope football is coming home this week!!!)

This is a fun and easy, quick read – perfect for night feeds if you have a newborn (or for lying with a 6 year old with a horrid ear infection in my case!)

Thank you Canelo for my advanced review copy – and I’ve been a bit slack with not reading it for 3 weeks – so it’s not advanced now, and you can buy it already!

I’m not sure I can slot this into my 2018 Reading Challenge anywhere – although it would work as a book published in 2018 if I hadn’t already filled that category!

 

 

 

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Book Review: Missing Pieces by Laura Pearson

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I saw this on Netgalley and thought it looked interesting and so requested it – and was delighted to receive an advance review copy.  Although I’ve been a bit slack and not read it until after publication – but at least that means you can buy it now, rather than me tempting you and then you having to wait – for which I have form!!

Here’s the blurb that enticed me:

“What if the one thing that kept you together was breaking you apart?
All Linda wants to do is sleep. She won’t look at her husband. She can’t stand her daughter. And she doesn’t want to have this baby. Having this baby means moving on, and she just wants to go back to before. Before their family was torn apart, before the blame was placed.
Alienated by their own guilt and struggling to cope, the Sadler family unravels. They grow up, grow apart, never talking about their terrible secret.
That is until Linda’s daughter finds out she’s pregnant. Before she brings another Sadler into the world, Bea needs to know what happened twenty-five years ago. What did they keep from her? What happened that couldn’t be fixed?
A devastating mistake, a lifetime of consequences. How can you repair something broken if pieces are missing?”

Now – I don’t like reviews to have spoilers, but sometimes parts of the storyline are so fundamental, and also so difficult for people who’ve been through situations, that I think the blurb needs to be upfront.   So – if you don’t want to know any more then stop now – but I think it needs to be said that this book’s entire premise is based around the death of a young child.  Having watched a friend lose her son (in his instance to an evil b*stard brain tumour) I think it could be really upsetting for someone to pick up this book not knowing that was going to blindside them within the first chapter.

The first half of the book is set in the immediate aftermath of the death of Phoebe in the mid 80s.  It is written just beautifully and is very emotional.  I found it hard going at times – emotionally.  But you wanted to keep reading and know what happened.  Each chapter is at a new date and it specifies the number of days since Phoebe’s death – starting in single digits and increasing.

The book is set in Southampton – where I went to University – and the campus, and the Common both feature – and I always like having such reference points – although geographical knowledge definitely wasn’t fundamental to enjoying the book.

The second half of the book is much closer to now – in fact 9,000+ days from Phoebe’s death.  It’s very interesting picking up with the characters – from the Sadler family and peripheral people – after such a large period of time has passed. This chunk of the book finally explains what actually happened to Phoebe – and how many of the central characters blames themselves for the events of that fateful day. It felt like the whole  book was building to the point where you found out what happened.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, and the way the individuals develop is really interesting.  It ends with potential new beginnings for most of the characters – which is lovely after a read that was harrowing at times.

This is Laura Pearson’s debut novel – but I am sure it won’t be her last, as it is really good, well written, pacy and keeps you wanting to read on. I’m not sure there could be a sequel – although I’d love to know what happens to Esme and Bea in particular.

Now – again – I’m going to try and shoe horn this into a category on my reading challenge 2018 – this time I’m going for ‘A book with song lyrics in the titles’, as Missing Pieces is a song by Jack White.  And yes, I did have to Google that – but it felt quite apt, as my son’s guitar teacher had cancelled his lesson that night as he was off to see Jack White in concert in London. #spooky.  Equally it could fit into ‘A book that involves a bookstore or library’ – let’s see what categories I need to juggle about with come December!

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Life of P.T. Barnum, written by himself

I have spent a large proportion of this year trying to shoe horn books I’ve been given into categories in my reading challenge – but I decided I needed to try and tick off some of them properly – as broadening your reading is surely the main reason for doing a challenge such as this?

The very first category is ‘A book made into a movie you’ve already seen’.  I – along with most of the world – have recently seen The Greatest Showman – and loved it.  In fact the soundtrack has become the Price family soundtrack of the summer, as it’s something everyone from my 46 year old husband who doesn’t like some of the kids rap music, down to the 6 year old who knows ALL OF THE WORDS – will listen to.   But back to the film, I did wonder how much of it was true – and what bits of his lifestory were missed out as it was only a standard feature film – so I thought reading about Phineas would be great fun.  I saw on Amazon that he’d written an autobiography, so thought I’d try that.

P T Barnum

 

Here’s the (somewhat cynical!) blurb from Amazon:

“For more than fifty years, Phineas T. Barnum embodied all that was grand and fraudulent in American mass culture. Over the course of a life that spanned the nineteenth century (1810-91), he inflicted himself upon a surprisingly willing public in a variety of guises, from newspaper editor (or libeler) to traveling showman (or charlatan) and distinguished public benefactor (or shameless hypocrite).   Barnum deliberately cultivated his ambiguous public image through a lifelong advertising campaign, shrewdly exploiting the cultural and technological capabilities of the new publishing industry. While running his numerous shows and exhibitions, Barnum managed to publish newspaper articles, exposés of fraud (not his own), self-help tracts, and a series of best-selling autobiographies, each promising to give “the true history of my many adventures.”   Updated editions of The Life of P. T. Barnum appeared regularly, allowing Barnum to keep up with demand and prune the narrative of details that might offend posterity. The present volume is the first modern edition of Barnum’s original and outrageous autobiography, published in 1855 and unavailable for more than a century. Brazen, confessional, and immensely entertaining, it immortalizes the showman who hoodwinked customers into paying to hear the reminiscences of a woman presented as George Washington’s 161-year-old nurse, the impresario who brought Jenny Lind to America and toured Europe with General Tom Thumb, and the grand entrepreneur of the American Museum of New York. Above all, it ensures that Barnum would be properly remembered . . . exactly as he created himself. ” 

Obviously as I started the book I couldn’t imagine him looking like the photo on the cover of the book – he had to be Hugh Jackman!

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Initially the book talked about Barnum’s childhood – there was lots about his family, school friends and quite a lot about his local church.  In the film his Dad was a tailor – and whilst that was referenced in the book – his Dad had lots of other jobs too.

It’s written in quite an amusing style – which feels weird when you know it was written almost 200 years ago – and it is quite evident that Barnum loved telling a tale (and bigging his own part – I’m sounding as cynical as the blurb now!!)

What I found odd was the story of Barnum’s wife in the film makes great play of her family being wealthy and him taking her away from this and her parents looking down their noses – but in the book, Charity was the daughter of a tailor herself – and her parents didn’t live in a big house.  It seems strange that the film-makers took such a different tack.

I  have to say from about 35% through the book I started to tire of Barnum’s almost diary aspect of the story – and the tricks he played on other people, or other people played on him.  How much money he made, what the expenses were.   It just felt quite repetitive.  A lot was also made of his religious upbringing and how the church featured in his every day life – which wasn’t referenced in the film at all.

Just when I thought I might give up (which I HATE doing – but life is too short for dire books) it was the bit where they do a tour in the UK for Queen Victoria.  Now, in the film it’s a real ensemble trip – but actually it was for General Tom Thumb.  But – not only did they go to London, but they also came up to Birmingham – where I live!  There was quite an extended passage about Stratford upon Avon – and visiting the various Shakespeare houses / churches – and then about going to Warwick Castle and Kenilworth Castle (which was already a ruin in the mid 1800s!)  It talked about the road from Warwick to Coventry having the most beautiful views of any stretch of road in England! Now I’ve driven the A46 many times, and have never really been bowled over by the vistas – but it was still great to read about areas I know well – and actual buildings I have been in too. It really caught my imagination again (phew!)

Barnum then mentions he tried to buy Shakespeare’s birthplace to have it shipped to the US but was thwarted by locals buying it instead. I can confirm it’s still in Stratford as we visited last year!

Lots and lots is made of Barnum’s vow of temperance – and how he persuaded many others to take the pledge. Something else overlooked in the film completely (in fact I can remember him and Zac Efron dancing about with beers!)

Introducing Jenny Lind to the masses is discussed – but unlike the film, he wasn’t caught in a compromising photograph causing marital strife – or did he just chose to omit this from the autobiography??

His family are barely mentioned at all until the very final chapter – and even then it’s only to give the details of his 4 daughters.  There’s a 7 year age gap between the first 2 (who were much closer in the film), and then a daughter who died as an infant, before a 4th that survived.

All in all this is not the best book I’ve ever read – but interesting to read something written in the 1850s.  The film clearly took total artistic licence – which I guess isn’t a surprise – but I’m still not sure what was true and what was Barnum spin!

But at least I’ve ticked off ‘A book turned into a movie you’ve already seen’ from my 2018 Reading Challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Why Mummy Swears by Gill Sims

 

Why Mummy Swears

I ADORED the first book by Gill Sims – ‘Why Mummy Drinks’ when it came out last year – and so have been eagerly anticipating the sequel.  I have been stalking Netgalley in an attempt to secure a copy – not because I wanted it for free, hell no, I’d have paid double to get my hands on it – just to get it as soon as possible!  So I was DELIGHTED when I saw it pop up and did a proper happy dance when they approved me for an advanced review copy.

Here’s the blurb:

“It’s every parents’ nightmare – the start of the school holidays – and instead of sitting in the sun, reading a book over a cold, crisp glass of Pinot Grigio, Mummy has two bored moppets to attend to. After frantically booking sports camps, child minder slots, not to mention time off work, Mummy is exhausted. But this is only the beginning…

After being dragged to join the school’s PTA in the new term by an annoyingly kind-spirited neighbour, Mummy is stuck with organising the Christmas Fayre and pleasing all the overly disapproving parents. In combination with getting to know her father’s surprise new glamorous (and much younger) wife, and being forced to spend more time with her narcissistic mother, life isn’t cutting her much of a break. What more could possibly happen?”

So this picks up a couple of years down the line from the first book and puts us back into the lives of Ellen, Simon, Jane and Peter.  (I should point out I’ve had massive issues writing ‘Jane and Peter’ when ‘Peter and Jane’ is so much more familiar an order.  However, my brain INSISTS that children are listed in age order.  If my own children co-ordinate their joint writing of a card – to a grandparent or other family member – woe betide them if they don’t do it in the correct order.  I also have to check the children in ascending or descending order at bedtime – as to randomly skip between the 4 would bring a plague on the house over night.  I realise I am digressing somewhat – a bit like Ellen in a job interview #injoke)

There was definitely no ‘difficult second album’ about this book – it was a corker right from  the start

It is fabulously written – and just so true to life in so many ways.

The bits about the PTA are spot on – when I was on the committee (back when my first two kids were young, by the time it was the second two, my husband threatened divorce if I recommitted!)  the husband did ask if we could buy ourselves out with a donation rather than have to keep spending hours volunteering and not seeing our own children at events.  Although I also remember getting hideously drunk with a very good friend at a summer fayre (yes, why is it fayre not fair?!?  I thought that was just our PTA – but seemingly this is a national phenomenon) and being left in charge of the carousel – and not having a clue how long each session was.  #dizzykids

Also the whole working Mum shizzle.  My husband is brilliant, totally hands on, great Dad – but still the day to day kids admin, the who needs to be where and when, the how we sort out holiday cover all falls to me.  Admittedly I’m a total control freak and would probably stress even more if he was in charge – but still, from what I see with most of my friends, it always falls at the mother rather than father’s door.

The additional characters around the central family are great – and you can see so many people you know in it! As with my review of the previous book – I am naming no names – unless you bribe me with gin.

As the title would suggest – there is some fruity language – but I’m guessing you wouldn’t even consider this book if that was an issue.  I can imagine a significant number of ex PTA chairs that I know wishing they’d used some of the risque language in emails to parents as happens in the book!!

Now – I broke one of my cardinal reading rules, and abandoned another book part way through to read this – I felt like I was being unfaithful to the other book – but #whatevs. I also have no clue where it will fit into my 2018 Reading Challenge – but frankly, I don’t care!  It was FABULOUS.  I was also very excited when I got to the acknowledgements (yes, I am that sad, I read those too) to find out that a friend and colleague of my lovely book industry insider friend was an editor for this – so now I can practically claim to be Gill Sims’s BFF. #weirdstalkerreviewer

A HUGE thank you to Netgalley for letting me get my paws on this a month early – and for everyone else, get your pre order in on Amazon now, you will not regret it!

 

Book Review: The Wives (or “When Life Gives You Lululemons” if you’re reading this in America!!) by Lauren Weisberger

I was very kindly lent a proof copy of this by my friend who works in the book industry – she is a star!  But what with her dealings – and Netgalley – I keep reading books that I can’t immediately review, as blog posts are embargoed until nearer their release date.  It is severely hampering my blog stats – but never mind, come the summer, I’ll have a plethora of posts about new books!!

This is the latest book by The Devil Wears Prada author Lauren Weisberger.  It’s been released as The Wives in the UK – but as When Life Gives You Lululemons in the US.  I guess the difference is because that specific athleisure brand isn’t as omnipresent in the UK as it is the other side of the Atlantic.

The Wives

Here’s the blurb – whatever the title!

“Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. A successful stylist and image consultant to Hollywood stars, she cut her teeth as assistant to legendary fashion editor Miranda Priestly in New York. But with Snapchatting millennials stealing her clients, Emily needs to get back in the game – and fast.
She holes up at the home of her oldest friend Miriam in the upscale suburb of Greenwich. And when Miriam’s friend, model Karolina Hartwell, is publicly dumped by her husband Graham, a senator with presidential ambitions, Emily scents the client of a lifetime.
It’s not just Karolina’s reputation that’s ruined. It’s her family. And Miriam and Emily are determined he won’t get away with it. First they’ll get Karolina’s son back. Then they’ll help her get her own back. Because the wives are mad as hell . . .”

Now whilst I’ve read and watched The Devil Wears Prada – it was a long time ago, and so I didn’t really come at this with any preconceived ideas, other than Emily looking like Emily Blunt and Miranda Priestly looking like Meryl Streep and being a bit of a cow.  (Clearly I found it memorable!!)

I immediately liked the 3 main characters – all very different, which made it interesting.

Having young kids and having previously worked in a similar type of job, I guess Miriam was the one I could relate to most (I’m not an ex supermodel or stylist like the others!!!) but that didn’t mean I didn’t like the others too.

Possibly my favourite quote was American Girl dolls being the cocaine of the kindergarten generation – so true!! And we only see a tiny portion of it living this side of the Atlantic – my 6 and 7 year olds would think they’d died and gone to heaven if they went into one of the US stores!!

Whilst the storyline focusses on Karolina’s marriage ending and losing her step son – the other characters also have significant things going on in their own lives, and all of the stories intertwine.

I really enjoyed the book – and devoured it in just a couple of days.  There are a couple of minor niggles (such as the word asinine was used 3 times in the first chapter or two, which felt a bit odd – like maybe the author had just discovered it?!) but overall it was an easy, escapist read.

The final chapter seemed a bit random – almost as if it would be a scene after the final credits started rolling of a film – but it’s left the story set up for a sequel at some point in the future.

But overall, a fun escapist, easy read that I really enjoyed.

This will slot into my 2018 Reading Challenge as a book set it a country that fascinates you – as I enjoyed the US references (and I’m desperately trying to shoe horn everything to tick off categories!!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Songs Of Us by Emma Cooper

The Songs of Us.png

This is another book I saw reviewed in a magazine and then actively sought an advance review copy on NetGalley.   And I was so pleased I did – this book is FAB-U-LOUS.  I think it’s my favourite read since Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – and that is saying something.

Here’s the blurb:

“If Melody hadn’t run out of de-icer that day, she would never have slipped and banged her head. She wouldn’t be left with a condition that makes her sing when she’s nervous. And she definitely wouldn’t have belted out the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ in assembly at her son’s school.
If Dev hadn’t taken the kids to the zoo that day, then the accident wouldn’t have happened. He wouldn’t have left Flynn and Rose without a dad. Or shattered the love of his life’s heart.
But if they hadn’t seen the missing person report that day, they might never have taken the trip to Cornwall. And, in the last place they expected, discovered what it really means to be ‘Us’.”

Melody is a single Mum – trying to do the best for her 2 children – but with the added complication of a condition that makes her sing songs when she’s nervous.  The eclectic mix of songs she chooses is just brilliant – and the fact she doesn’t get the lyrics right all of the time is amusing and endearing. Both Flynn and Rose have ‘complications’ to deal with – linked too, or probably because of, their father’s disappearance – but all wrapped up in your standard teenage angst.  I thought this particularly well observed and written (mostly because of having teenagers myself!).

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away – and there is a HUGE plot change in the middle that takes the wind out of your sails – but it only adds to the amazing roller coaster the book takes you on.

Whilst the major plot lines revolve around the immediate family – the peripheral characters are also really important and fundamental to the story line in lots of ways.  It was good to see how their stories panned out too.  How people deal with a crisis can be so different – and whilst you can see that, for example, Melody’s Mum has the best of intentions – she does like any crisis to be firmly centred on the impact on her rather than the main protagonist for that specific issue.

I really didn’t want to put this down – even though the final 15% had me weeping LOADS – but it is great.  It’s written well – but not in a ‘I’m a really high brow novel’ kind of way – but in a ‘fun, clever, witty, emotional, entertaining, but still written with eloquence and care’ kind of way.  I can also definitely see this being made into a film / TV series – the soundtrack would be immense!

I’d decided to slot this into my 2018 Reading Challenge as A Book About Mental Health – but is it???

The Songs of Us is published in September – but you can pre-order a copy now.  Thank you Netgalley for my copy.

ETA – have just seen you can download it for Kindle NOW – and it’s only 99p.  DO IT, you won’t regret it!!! 

ETA (again!) – there is a Spotify playlist that goes with the book which is a) brilliant and b) reminds you of the bit of the book where each track appears, which is just lovely! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: One Day In December by Josie Silver

One Day in December

I saw this book reviewed and it sounded great, so I popped onto NetGalley and saw I could get an advance review copy – which was very exciting.  Here’s the blurb that enticed me:

“Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist. After all, life isn’t a scene from the movies, is it?
But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.
Laurie thinks she’ll never see the boy from the bus again. But at their Christmas party a year later, her best friend Sarah introduces her to the new love of her life. Who is, of course, the boy from the bus.
Determined to let him go, Laurie gets on with her life.
But what if fate has other plans?

Following Laurie, Sarah and Jack through ten years of love, heartbreak and friendship, One Day in December is a joyous, heart-warming and immensely moving love story that you’ll want to escape into forever, for fans of Jojo Moyes, Lucy Diamond and Nicholas Sparks.”

I LOVED this book right from  the start!  I expected it to be a bit like ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls, and be about the same single day in December spanning the decade – but it wasn’t.  It was written either from Laurie or Jack’s point of view and jumped weeks / months at a time.  Because of that every chapter was really important – to compare it to an album, it was all killer and no filler!

I have to say I  guessed roughly what the ending would be – but wondered how the author would get us there without the main protagonists hating each other or being complete sh*tbags to each other.  It twists and turns dramatically – and I don’t want to give too much of the story away (I loathe reviews that do that) – but it really did keep me enthralled.  So much so that my husband thought I may have fallen asleep / drowned in the bath – but actually I was just lying in lukewarm water wanting to finish the book before I got out! (Apologies for the visuals that may have created…….)

Laurie was a great central character, and I really liked her and was rooting for her from the start.  She was a lot younger than me – but that didn’t stop me enjoying the book. The ending of the book is wonderful – and in fact the last few chapters did have me weeping for many different reasons (good job I was in the bath!)

I’ve read that the author wanted to write a Christmassy novel that would be the literary equivalent of festive films like ‘Love Actually’ or ‘The Holiday’ – and she has most definitely succeeded.  However I also think One Day In December would make a fabulous film…………

I wasn’t sure how to shoe horn this into my 2018 Reading Challenge – so, I am taking a bit of a flyer on ‘A book from a local author’! In the book Laurie’s parents live in a village in the suburbs of Birmingham (as do I) and her Dad is an Aston Villa fan (as am I).  People aren’t often written as Villa fans unless there is a local connection – so my fingers are firmly crossed that Josie Silver is local(ish!).  Her bio says she lives in a small Midlands town – so hopefully within 20 miles of Alvechurch and that can count as local!!

If I were you I would definitely pre order this ready for a festive read this Christmas.

 

 

 

Book Review: The Invitation by Keris Stainton

The Invitation

“When Piper James unexpectedly gets a message from her insanely hot teenage crush Rob Kingsford, inviting her to their school reunion, her heart flips. She hasn’t seen Rob in eight years – and he’s always been the one who got away

Throw in some old friends (and frenemies), a sister on the edge of a meltdown and a few too many cosmos and you have all the ingredients for a real night to remember… Will Piper and Rob finally get together, the second time around?

A hilarious and uplifting story about conquering your demons and being true to who you are.”

I saw this on Netgalley and it looked just my bag – and needed after a particularly complicated, heavy read last time – so I downloaded a free advance review copy! #yaytofreebooks!!

I haven’t read anything by Keris Stainton before – but having seen her compared to Mhairi McFarlane – I had high hopes!

It was a lovely, easy read – and I liked Piper from the start.  The fact that she’s not stick thin is vital to the storyline in a number of ways – but it’s mentioned in passing rather than weight / size specific – which I really liked.  I also liked the body positive message that Piper gave out – that shaming her on social media for being overweight was unacceptable – but equally so was shaming others for being ‘too skinny’.  Nobody should be shamed for their size – whatever that might be. #getsoffsoapbox

Whilst the blurb talks about the relationship between Piper and Rob – it’s actually much more than that.  It deals with sibling relationships, relationships between male and female platonic friends, the effects of grief, relationships with older relatives – and feels much more nuanced than some straight rom coms.

I suspect I’m a bit older than target audience (and until there were some raunchier scenes I had thought would be a good book for my 14 year old, in fact she’d probably still think it was fine!!) but even this middle aged Mum of 4 enjoyed it.

I devoured it in a matter of hours, and would definitely read books by this author again.  I’ve noticed that it’s down as a 99p download on Kindle once it comes out in June – and it’s most definitely worth the price of half a cappuccino!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling The Novel by Emer MyLysaght and Sarah Breen

Oh My God

I saw the wonderful Marian Keyes recommend this book on Twitter (it’s already been published in Ireland – where it’s set) and then found it was to be published in the UK in May – and so I could download an advanced review copy from Netgalley – so that I did!

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen, the creators of the much-loved Aisling character and the popular Facebook page ‘Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling’, bring Aisling to life in their novel about the quintessential country girl in the big smoke.

Aisling is twenty-eight and she’s a complete … Aisling. She lives at home in Ballygobbard (or Ballygobackwards, as some gas tickets call it) with her parents and commutes to her good job at PensionsPlus in Dublin.

Aisling goes out every Saturday night with her best friend Majella, who is a bit of a hames (she’s lost two phones already this year – Aisling has never lost a phone). They love hoofing into the Coors Light if they’re ‘Out’, or the vodka and Diet Cokes if they’re ‘Out Out’.

Ais spends two nights a week at her boyfriend John’s. He’s from down home and was kiss number seventeen at her twenty-first.

But Aisling wants more. She wants the ring on her finger. She wants the hen with the willy straws. She wants out of her parents’ house, although she’d miss Mammy turning on the electric blanket like clockwork and Daddy taking her car ‘out for a spin’ and bringing it back full of petrol.

When a week in Tenerife with John doesn’t end with the expected engagement, Aisling calls a halt to things and soon she has surprised herself and everyone else by agreeing to move into a three-bed in Portobello with stylish Sadhbh from HR and her friend, the mysterious Elaine.

Newly single and relocated to the big city, life is about to change utterly for this wonderful, strong, surprising and funny girl, who just happens to be a complete Aisling.”

First things first, I’m a Brummie with limited Irish connections – and so I think some of the references in this sailed right over my head, and I couldn’t even attempt the pronunciation of some of the names  – but lots of it I did get, or could take a good guess at what it meant.  Total target market would be late 20s / early 30s Irish women – but that doesn’t mean I didn’t, and others wouldn’t, enjoy it.  The book goes in heavy on the Irishness at the start – and from reading other Netgalley reviews, I think that’s put some people off, as they just didn’t get it at all – but I’m not one for giving up – so persevered, and I’m glad I did as the story develops a lot more and you get to know Aisling and her family and friends much better.  I suspect (although have not followed the Facebook group so can’t be sure) – that it started off with lots of the jokes off the Facebook page – but then had to be filled out with proper novel!

I liked Aisling straight away – in her no nonsense way.  I was slightly concerned that I am *quite* Aisling with some things. Actually I think some of my friends should be more worried about the likeness, given Aisling works in pensions administration #mentioningnonames.  In some ways Aisling’s naivety reminded me quite a lot of Eleanor Oliphant in one of my favourite books from last year, and there is a definite ‘Bridget Jones for 2018’ vibe going on too – Aisling knows the Weightwatchers points in EVERYTHING!

I was surprised that a chunk of the storyline is about a brain tumour – that’s not mentioned in any of the blurb I’d read – and, unfortunately, I know quite a lot of people who are involved in their own brain tumour issues at the moment – and this could easily blindside them.  I will definitely be giving people a heads up about that part of the book – although maybe I’m just hyper aware of them and it wouldn’t be such an issue for other people.  Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and people under 40, despite receiving less than 1% of the national spend on cancer research. You can donate here if you want to help find a cure for this horrible disease. Anyway – back to the book – which isn’t all doom and gloom at all.

You find yourself laughing at and with Aisling, cringing with her, crying with her – and all the time wanting the best for her. Big topics – particularly in Ireland – like gay marriage and abortion – are part of the storyline, but are weaved into it as normal everyday things, you don’t feel like a drum is being banged.

It’s generally an easy read book, with real laugh out loud moments, but also a heart.  I’m not sure middle aged English women are target market – but I did still enjoy it.

This fits into my 2018 Reading Challenge as a book written by two authors.   Thank you Netgalley for my free copy in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls

 

“Three girls. Three tragedies. One unthinkable secret.
The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma.
But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or can there only ever be one?
All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.”

FINALLY – a book I can review in real time – hoorah!  This was out last year, but a lovely friend just let me borrow it – and it’s good!!!

It cycles between Quincy’s current life – written in the first person – and historic events, written in the third person.  I liked this different style of writing (but I am such a geek!)

Quincy lives in New York, and I enjoyed that it felt quite familiar having been there a few times recently.  The descriptions of Central Park in particular were great – both in the daytime and at night.  I can imagine it being a very different place after dark – but I don’t plan to find this out.

I liked Quincy and was rooting for her from the start – although sometimes she needed a bit of a shake!!

The story twists and turns significantly – in a good way – and some of the twists are very unpredictable – particularly towards the end – but it kept me intrigued and consequently I devoured it in just a few days.

The descriptions of some of the crimes are quite gruesome – needed for the story – but still quite vicious, so don’t read this book if you’re of a sensitive disposition!!

I’m not sure where this will fit into my 2018 Reading Challenge as yet. One of the categories is a female author writing under a male pseudonym – but this is the exact opposite!  Riley Sager is a gender neutral name chosen by a male author who had previously been published, but apparently felt this new genre would be more readily accepted as a ‘female’ author.  Interesting!