Books/book review/fiction
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Cultivating What?

The Farm Book Cover The Farm
Joanne Ramos
General Fiction (Adult) , Literary Fiction
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ)
07 May 2019

THE MUST-READ DEBUT NOVEL OF 2019. Sharp, compulsive and darkly funny, this is an unforgettable novel about a world within touching distance of our own.

Ambitious businesswoman Mae Yu runs Golden Oaks – a luxury retreat transforming the fertility economy – where women get the very best of everything, so long as they play by the rules.

Jane is a young immigrant in search of a better future. Stuck living in a cramped dorm with her baby daughter and shrewd aunt Ate, she sees an unmissable chance to change her life. But at what cost?

A novel that explores the role of luck and merit, class, ambition and sacrifice, The Farm is an unforgettable story about how we live and who truly holds power.

A book that makes you think about your own moral code and just when you might be tempted to farm out a body! Yes, a body – perhaps your own body, or perhaps you might farm someone else’s?

And what would you be cultivating? Why a baby?

So The Handmaid’s Tale with a twist and actually something that is all too likely to be inexistence, and as it would be very secret, we would never know.

We all know that people use surrogate mothers when they can’t have babies for themselves – male couples for instance, or perhaps when they can’t carry a child themselves due to illness or…

But the premise in this book is that the uber-rich may want to use surrogates for other reasons. Perhaps they are too old have a child, perhaps they are too busy, or perhaps they just don’t want to ‘spoil’ their figures? Or just go through the grind of pregnancy?

And how to choose your surrogate? What would motivate them? There are good reasons why in the UK you cannot pay the surrogate expect for reasonable expenses, and also, even with a contract, the child is still the ‘property’ of the person who carries it through pregnancy. In Australia the law prevents commercial surrogacy, and this is the case in most countries. In some even altruistic surrogacy is banned, eg France and Germany; but in the US it is decided by the State. States generally considered to be surrogacy friendly include California, Illinois, Arkansas, Maryland, Washington D.C., Oregon and New Hampshire among others. Both New Hampshire and Washington State have laws permitting commercial surrogacy from 1/1/2019.

So a very timely book on a subject that is very controversial still. Well written and one that I couldn’t put down – I wanted to know what happened to the young women who contracted out their bodies for pregnancy and still think that Jane was badly treated despite what she thought!

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Books/book review/Fantasy/Romance
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Find the Prince

Lincoln Book Cover Lincoln
AngelBound
Christina Bauer
contemporary fiction, romance, fantasy, angels, demons
Monster House books
26 Feb 2019

When it comes to fighting demons, Prince Lincoln is the greatest warrior in the history of his people, the thrax. Now Lincoln faces his hardest fight yet...and it's not on a traditional battlefield. Lincoln is falling in love. And the girl is part demon. Between a fated dance at the Ryder mansion...a life-changing walk through a hedgerow maze...and a massive battle with none other than the King of Hell...Lincoln realizes that he wants to share his life with Myla Lewis, the part-demon girl who has captured his heart. However, an evil thrax noble--the powerful Earl of Acca--is prepared to do anything to stop Lincoln and Myla from having a future.

I am very fond of this version of world building and love the idea of demons getting loose and causing illnesses etc – but being invisible to the human eye. And that the Thrax and others like human ice-cream and films. The Ghouls are creepy and the monsters are very imaginative. Don’t read these books if you get nightmares as they will inhabit them!
I have now read all the books so far published in the series and found them enjoyable, but I thought that of all of them Armageddon was rather slow in tension building.
The story of Lincoln finally comes out now – his background and how he courted Myla from his perspective and then we learn about how Maxon got his night terrors in Armageddon.
Better to have read Armageddon before Maxon but this author does not produce books in chronological order so a bit tricky…
However, if you can manage to sort out the storyline in your own mind, then do read the books as they are published.

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Books/book review/fiction/humour
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I ended very cheerful

Reasons to be cheerful Book Cover Reasons to be cheerful
Nina Stibbe
humour, romance, coming of age
Penguin
(28 Mar. 2019)

'When people in the village heard I was about to start working in the city they tried to unsettle me with tales of woe. The sun, blotted out by the tall buildings, couldn't shine and the rain was poisoned by the toxic fumes that poured from the sock factories. My skin would be covered in pimples from the hell of it all'

So begins a young woman's journey to adulthood. Lizzie Vogel leaves her alcoholic, novel-writing mother and heads for Leicester to work for a racist, barely competent dentist obsessed with joining the freemasons.

Soon Lizzie is heading reluctantly, if at top speed, into the murky depths of adult life: where her driving instructor becomes her best friend; her first boyfriend prefers birdwatching to sex and where independence for a teenage girl might just be another word for loneliness.

In Reasons to Be Cheerful Nina Stibbe shows her extraordinary gift for illuminating the vital details which make us human. She is that rare writer who makes us laugh whilst reminding us of the joy, and the pain, of being alive.

 A story that crept up on me until the life of our heroine Lizzie became so bizarre that I just had to keep on reading. Her mother, her family, friends and in particular her work at the dentist’s – JP Wintergreen -, became part of my fantasy life and dreams too. The discussions were absurd and yet, somehow resonated of the time.

Her mother was described as being a:

Drunk; divorcee; nudist; amphetamine addict; nymphomaniac; shop lifter; would-be novelist; poet; and playwright.

In that order.

And her boyfriend was clearly asexual or gay, she assumed, because he liked having freshly laundered clothes, made fruit salads, and once experimented with lemon in his tea. And most importantly of all, never got his penis out, despite her belief that it was often intended as a compliment.

We never really find out just how many pregnancies Lizzie’s mother had, or affairs, but we do realise, that due to her addictions, as a child, Lizzie and her elder siblings, more or less raised themselves in a rather eccentric and liberal household.

The oddities of Lizzie’s family and her work  and romances, are recounted in such a dry manner that I found it difficult not to become enthusiastic over the life of this town and want now to meet them all in real life please!

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Books/book review/non-fiction
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Giving Birth: True

Hard Pushed Book Cover Hard Pushed
Leah Hazard
memoir, medical, science, nursing
Hutchinson
May 2, 2019
304

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.

A true memoir by a Canadian/English midwife about her work in the NHS. Her book shows us just how underfunded, understaffed, under waged and under resourced midwives are. They are perhaps the least recognised area of nursing for its strains and difficulties that come from being there at the time of birth – literally your babies’ lives are in their hands – and they are overworked. There aren’t enough beds now that just about every birth is in a hospital.

Home births are now a rarity (except perhaps in very rural areas of Scotland where getting to a hospital is tricky). And yet, given the right circumstances, and assuming that the birth is not expected to be difficult, a home birth can be much less traumatic for all, including the baby. The next best thing is what was offered when I was pregnant. The GP ward. Where you are quiet and attended by your GP and a midwife rather than the high tech version. And you can easily move into the high tech version if needed. Giving birth can be hazardous for some and unexpected occurrences happen quickly. Which bis where the poor midwife is on hand – hopefully, to sort the issue out.

Though I did appreciate the high tech version when I had to have epidurals and caesareans.

I found this a genuine and moving book. I know a young midwife and met her several times as she was training, and know how hard it was for her and what long hours she worked.

Leah told her story in a very accessible style. Her words were clear and not flowery – but compassionate and truthful.

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Books/book review/Romance/net galley/Tea and Cake
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Books and Coffee – great!

Little Book Cafe: Amy's Story Book Cover Little Book Cafe: Amy's Story
Little Book Cafe
Georgia Hill
women's fiction romance
harper impulse
19 Oct 2018

Escape to the seaside for a new three-part series for fans of The Canal Boat Cafe and Willow Cottage

Amy, the manager of The Little Book Café, is a hopeless romantic who had her heart broken, but quietly refuses to give up on love.

With her friends Tash and Emma, not to mention their shared love of books and delicious cake from the café next door, Amy might just find the courage to fall for a real life romance this time…

Amy's Story is the final instalment of The Little Book Cafe series so wrap up warm this Autumn and treasure this wonderful book.

This cafe is actually next door to the bookshop even though you can purchase coffee and cakes inside the bookshop. I found this rather confusing as I could not decide where the coffee came from.. but as the premises were jointly owned..

This book is set in a fictional south coast UK town which is all too nice and neat for reality – where these towns are struggling and not so nice any more – but some of the economic difficulties were mentioned as were the lack of anything for youngsters to do – which led them to petty vandalism.

 A cosy book that lacked any ‘bite’ with a very ‘soft’ style. Very much in older style of traditional romances which include a Cinderella hiding from the world in baggy clothes etc with a weight problem – she thinks. And a rescuer.

Sweet but could have been better.

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