You’d swear too….

Why Mummy Swears Book Cover Why Mummy Swears
The struggles of an exasperated Mum
Gill Sims
Biography & Autobiography, humour, literature
HarperCollins
June 18, 2018
352

Why Mummy Swears is the much anticipated new novel from Gill Sims, author of the hilarious Why Mummy Drinks and online sensation Peter and Jane. 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?

I giggled, giggled, and giggled some more. So many episodes rang true – if exaggerated – and I could guess that they were based on actual events, not just for her, but for us as well.

I too tried to feed my first child organic, home cooked mush – and he rejected it in favour of jars. I even tried to hide my own food in the jars but he spotted the difference.. my lovingly cooked food – many hours spent following recipes – didn’t fool him one bit. Jars from factories were preferred.

And the cost of school holidays racked up a significant amount with pony camps, adventuring in Wales, and so on for us too.

I am left wondering what could have been in her app ‘Why Mummy Drinks’ that made her so much money – I suspect a lot of people would really like one to exist! (reality check – it doesn’t exist, I know, I looked for it!)

 

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When there is more than you think: Dawn explains

More Than Us Book Cover More Than Us
Dawn Barker
Women’s Fiction, Family Drama
Canelo
21st May 2018
Kindle

When parents disagree on how to care for their child, is it justifiable to take extreme measures?

Emily and Paul have a glorious home, money in the bank and two beautiful children. Since leaving Scotland for Paul to play football for an Australian team they have been blessed. But sadness lies behind the picture-perfect family - sixteen-year-old Cameron has battled with health troubles his entire life. There's no name for what he has, but his disruptive behaviour, OCD and difficulty in social situations is a constant source of worry.

When Paul's career comes to a shuddering halt, he descends into a spiral of addiction, gambling away the family's future. By the time he seeks help, it's his new boss Damien who recommends and pays for a rehab facility.

While Paul is away, Emily has to make a tough decision about their son. She keeps it from Paul knowing he'll disapprove. And when a terrible accident reveals the truth, Paul takes his son and goes on the run, leaving Emily to care for fourteen-year-old Tilly, who unbeknown to her parents is fighting battles of her own.

Can the family join together for the sake of their loved ones, or will their troubles tear them apart?

 

Dawn Barker explains Autisim and the book

First of all, thank you for having me on your blog today. I’m very excited that More Than Us is out now!

Thank you also for asking me to explain a little bit about some of the mental health conditions that are central to the characters in More Than Us. For those who haven’t read it yet, More Than Us tells the story of a family who must make drastic decisions about the mental health treatment of their son, and then deal with the fall-out for their family, and particularly their children, when the parents have completely opposing views about his psychiatry treatment.

One of the main characters in More Than Us is a teenage boy named Cameron. Cameron has always been different to his sister, and different to the other children around him. He was harder to manage as a baby and toddler, with behavioural issues and struggles at school. His mother is sure there’s something wrong with him; his father thinks he’s just a child and shouldn’t have to be the same as everyone else.

I chose to write about this issue in the book as when I’m not writing, I work as a child psychiatrist here in Perth, Australia. I therefore see every day that diagnosing behavioural and emotional difficulties in children is not as straightforward as diagnosing a medical illness: there’s no blood test or scan that can tell us what’s ‘wrong’ and we depend on information and observation from many places to help formulate a diagnosis and tailor treatment, both psychological and sometimes, medication, if appropriate. Also, children are developing and changing all the time, and so are their symptoms.

In More Than Us, Cameron doesn’t fit neatly into any box. He has features of an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and he also has features of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Over many years, other symptoms appear that seem to relate to ADHD, or anxiety, or depression. This again, is not uncommon in my day to day work.

In child psychiatry, symptoms often overlap. For example, an Autistic Spectrum Disorder involves symptoms of not only social difficulties, but also restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder involves, amongst other symptoms, repetitive compulsive behaviours that may appear to parents, or teachers, as restricted behaviours. The two conditions, however, are very different, as is their treatment. To complicate things, children may have both conditions, and in fact many mental illnesses commonly co-occur with others.

I see children with social difficulties all the time in my practice, and Cameron in More Than Us struggles to relate to his peers at times. It had been suggested when he was younger that he may have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, which, by definition, involves difficulty in social communication. However, he doesn’t quite fit in that box.

Other mental health disorders can create social difficulties too: someone with OCD may be so preoccupied with their worrying, obsessional thoughts and completing their compulsions that they can’t concentrate on social interactions; someone with ADHD may struggle to control their impulses or their attention on conversations; someone who is depressed will be so flat in their mood that they don’t have the energy or motivation to relate to others.

I wanted to explore in the book how all of our behaviours exist on a spectrum, from what we would class in our society as ‘normal’, social and confident children, to those people whom we see at work or school every day who don’t fit the norm. They may be ‘quirky’ or a little odd, or avoid social interactions, or just seem to not understand social communication. That’s not necessarily an illness or mental health condition and diagnosis depends on a really careful and thorough history and observation of a child and family over time. Not every child who has social difficulties has an autistic spectrum disorder, and diagnosing children is complex.

I hope that readers of More Than Us can put themselves in the place of Cameron’s mother and father, and consider what they would do in that situation, if Cameron was their child. After writing the book, it has become even clearer to me that there is no right or wrong answer, and no right or wrong way to raise your own child, but even if parents disagree about treatment, or any aspect of parenting, they mustn’t forget that the most important thing is to ensure that their child is happy and thriving, regardless of their own views.

Thanks again for having me on your blog today and I hope your readers enjoy More Than Us.

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Author Bio:

Dawn Barker is a psychiatrist and author. She grew up in Scotland, then in 2001 she moved to Australia, completed her psychiatric training and began writing. Her first novel, ‘Fractured’, was selected for the 2010 Hachette/Queensland Writers Centre manuscript development programme, was one of Australia’s bestselling debut fiction titles for 2013, and was shortlisted for the 2014 WA Premier’s Book Awards. Her second novel is ‘Let Her Go’. Dawn lives in Perth with her husband and three young children.

Twitter: @drdawnbarker

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Cold Water Swimming

The Lido Book Cover The Lido
Libby Page
swimming, literary fiction, romantic humour
Orion
(19 April 2018)

'THE LIDO is a joyous and uplifting debut - a testament to kindness and friendship and all those values society must hold dear' SARAH WINMAN, author of When God Was a Rabbit and Tin Man

Meet Rosemary, 86, and Kate, 26: dreamers, campaigners, outdoor swimmers...

Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but everything she knows is changing. Only the local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder of the past and her beloved husband George.

Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She's on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist, and is determined to make something of it.

So when the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, and to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim - it is the heart of the community.

The Lido is an uplifting novel about the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how
ordinary people can protect the things they love.

'A standout hymn to female friendship and the power of collective action' Stylist

'Feel-good and uplifting, this charming novel is full of heart' Lucy Diamond

'Did I #lovethelido? So much my heart broke a little turning the last page. A stunning debut' Clare Mackintosh

Brrrr…

My grandkids swim in an outdoor pool, I doubt it is heated, but I know their mother sits and watches wrapped in several blankets with a hot drink and a hot water bottle! Me – I like my water 30 degrees at least  – above permitted heat I know but…

So I maybe wouldn’t have joined the petition to keep the Lido open, not for me, but certainly there are lots of people who don’t mind the cold so maybe I would join for them. And for a Community Asset which should be kept of course!

I read a recent article by Libby Page who wrote of friendship. Across age, backgrounds and cultures. And the importance of community assets as meeting places to facilitate these friendships. without somewhere where everyone is welcomed, we are impoverished and the lesser for it.

This novel reminds us of the richness of a locality where feet traverse the soil and encounters with others is the norm.

I really must visit Brixton and the market!

 

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The herd mentality

The Cows Book Cover The Cows
Dawn O'Porter
humour, contemporary, literary fiction
HarperCollins
April 6, 2017
464

Fearlessly frank and funny, the debut adult novel from Dawn O'Porter needs to be talked about. COW [n.] /kaʊ/ A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd. Women don't have to fall into a stereotype. THE COWS is a powerful novel about three women. In all the noise of modern life, each needs to find their own voice. It's about friendship and being female. It's bold and brilliant. It's searingly perceptive. It's about never following the herd. And everyone is going to be talking about it.

Well, not a book for those with a genteel mentality about how life can or ought to be lived by the young and fearless women of today.

It is frank about sexuality and Tinder and one-night stands.  It explains through the medium of a blog why women might not want children and why a single life with a young lover can be better for some women than marriage and 2.5 children.

And it demonstrates just how much there is a double standard when women are caught enjoying their sexuality as against men. And how the herd mentality works against women who don’t live by the conventional rules.

A great book for feminists and young women. We need to tell our young women that pink frilly dresses and blonde curls, and cute button noses and all that are not an essential requirement for success. And that we should applaud those who break the mould and become Chief Engineers and Space Scientists and childless by choice.

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When you need to Question

36 Questions that changed my mind about you Book Cover 36 Questions that changed my mind about you
Vicki Grant
contemporary fiction, romance, humour
Hot Key Books
(19 Oct. 2017)

36 questions guaranteed to make two strangers fall head over heels in love with each other? What's not to like. A clever, wry, funny, rom-com. For fans of The Rosie Project.

Inspired by the real psychology study popularized by the New York Times and its "Modern Love" column, this contemporary YA/crossover is perfect for fans of Eleanor and Park, Jo Jo Moyes, Carrie Hope Fletcher and Cecila Ahern.

Two random strangers. Thirty-six questions to make them fall in love. 

Hildy and Paul each have their own reasons for taking part in the psychology study (in Paul's case it is the $40, in Hildy's the reasons are significantly more complex). The study poses the simple question: Can love be engineered between two random strangers?

Hildy and Paul must ask each other 36 questions, ranging from "What is your most terrible memory?" to "When did you last sing to yourself?" By the time Hildy and Paul have made it to the end of the questionnaire, they've laughed and cried and lied and thrown things and run away and come back again. They've also each discovered the painful secret the other was trying so hard to hide. But have they fallen in love?

A book that started really well but failed to deliver on its initial promise.

The psychology experiment was well described but the story it finally told was not as gripping and in my opinion their issues were not worth the effort of discovering the answers.

I debated as to whether to class this as a 3 or a 2, but will give the benefit  of the experiment being genuine and one that interests me, and go for a 3.

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