Book Review: The Sh!te Before Christmas by Serena Terry

Having followed Serena Terry / @mummybanter on social media, and enjoyed her first book – when I saw she had a sequel out – and it referred to Christmas in a similar vein to me – I had to request a copy off NetGalley!

Here’s the blurb:

One month to go. One stressed mum. Can she pull off the perfect family Christmas?
Twas the sh!te before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for … mum!
Like every mum, Tara wants a perfect Christmas for her family – but no-one else is lifting a finger and she’s losing her elf-ing mind. From the kids behaving badly (vaping! Potty training! The Nativity!), to a distracted husband acting very out of character, the last straw is Tara’s glamorous, feckless, boundary-less mother moving herself back in for the holidays.
Can Tara pull off the holly jolly Christmas of her dreams? Will she deck the halls and not her family? Or is this a Christmas catastrophe”

I finished this book ages ago – but for some reason forgot to post the review! Anyway – we’re now in advent, so life feels much more Christmassy – so definitely the right time to purchase and read this – or it would make a great Christmas present.

It was fabulous to go back to catch up with Tara and her family – it felt like visiting friends for Christmas! All of the relationships from the first book are revisited – and Tara’s Mum plays a key role in this book too. Whilst you could read this as a standalone book – I really think it would be better if you’d read the first book so that you know the back story to all of the characters – from Tara’s immediate family, to her friends and work mates.

The relationships are – again – the centrepoint of the book. From the stroppy teenager, to the excitable small child, the grumpy husband, the nightmare boss – all if it is written very well.

Some of the book was quite predictable, some of it completely surprised me – so all in all I really enjoyed it.

Is this book going to win any literary prizes? Probably not. But a bit like how I don’t always want to watch Oscar nominated films – sometimes a funny, relevant, laugh out loud, have a little weep book is what you want – and this fits the bill perfectly.

A big festive thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for my ARC.

Book Review: Mammy Banter, The Secret Life of an Uncool Mum by Serena Terry

I have often been amused by the social media output of Mammy Banter (I don’t do Tiktok – but it seems to be shared to ‘old person’ social media (Facebook!) too. So when I saw she’d written a book, I requested an ARC from NetGalley. Here’s the blurb:

“From the creator of viral Tiktok sensation, Mammy Banter, comes a hilarious warts-and-all novel about modern motherhood – and how having it all sometimes isn’t what you think it might be.
She used to want it all.
Now she just wants a nap.
Tara Gallagher is knackered. She used to dream of being Beyoncé but suddenly she’s thirty-six – with three kids, a loving husband, a very boring job – and instead of headlining Coachella, she’s in her pyjamas on a Friday night, watching Gogglebox.
It’s time for a mammy makeover. She’s going to show her teenage daughter she’s still cool. She’s going to show her husband she’s still an absolute ride. She’s going to show her colleagues she’s still a Boss Bish.
But most of all, she’s going to prove to herself that she can still be a mum, still work full time, and still be Beyoncé…
The debut novel from viral TikTok star, Mammy Banter

I found this very amusing from the start. Some social media stars have written fabulous books – and others not so much (naming no names) – but this is very definitely in the former camp and was really entertaining.

I liked the main character Tara from the outset – and the fact that she has 3 kids – a teenager, a 5 year old and a toddler – meant lots of scope for child related anecdotes of all ages – and ages I’ve covered with my own tribe.

There were some bits – and some language – that was quite Northern Irish (but hey, I’ve watched Derry Girls, so was totally fine!!) – however I felt like I understood it all even though I’m a Brummie.

I liked the fact that the book covered Tara’s relationship with her husband and kids, her friends (old and new) and her colleagues – it really looked at all areas of her life and how everything intertwined.

Lots of it was so very true to life – the 13 year old daughter who is at one point mortified by her mother’s behaviour (mother AND father in our house!) but then also desperately still needs her parents. I loved the interaction with the smug mother at soft play (reminded me of a hellish experience at Kidzania with the mother of all hangovers one January 1st whilst on holiday!)

It was entertaining, funny, escapist, and very easy to empathise with Tara – a lovely, amusing read. It’s out next month, so not long to wait if it sounds like your bag.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC.