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And the cottage isn’t: Family begins with a capital eff.

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! 5 Book Cover Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! 5
Why Mummy
Gill Sims
General Fiction (Adult), romance, family, women's fiction
HarperCollins
27 Jun 2019

I’m wondering how many more f*cking ‘phases’ I have to endure before my children become civilised and functioning members of society? It seems like people have been telling me ‘it’s just a phase!’ for the last fifteen bloody years. Not sleeping through the night is ‘just a phase.’ Potty training and the associated accidents ‘is just a phase’. The tantrums of the terrible twos are ‘just a phase’. The picky eating, the back chat, the obsessions. The toddler refusals to nap, the teenage inability to leave their beds before 1pm without a rocket being put up their arse. The endless singing of Frozen songs, the dabbing, the weeks where apparently making them wear pants was akin to child torture. All ‘just phases!’ When do the ‘phases’ end though? WHEN?
 
Mummy dreams of a quirky rural cottage with roses around the door and chatty chickens in the garden. Life, as ever, is not going quite as she planned. Paxo, Oxo and Bisto turn out to be highly rambunctious, rather than merely chatty, and the roses have jaggy thorns. Her precious moppets are now giant teenagers, and instead of wittering at her about who would win in a fight – a dragon badger or a ninja horse – they are Snapchatting the night away, stropping around the tiny cottage and communicating mainly in grunts – except when they are demanding Ellen provides taxi services in the small hours. And there is never, but never, any milk in the house. At least the one thing they can all agree on is that rescued Barry the Wolfdog may indeed be The Ugliest Dog in the World, but he is also the loveliest.

I loved this series so far, and this book didn’t disappoint. It is written in such a way that you can hear her voice and understand her emotions as they are exposed. And Simon having an affair was just the icing on the cake Ellen didn’t need.

And then there is the issue about the lasagne. The lasagne that Simon loves. That Ellen has struggled to make even though it is complicated (the béchamel sauce, the mince sauce, the layers, the cheese) and that Simon thinks is easy to make.

And finally all the various bad, and good things that happened over the year, between the not so chatty chickens and the wolf puppy and Ellen’s marriage problems. All of which are etailed and explained in a somewhat ‘foul’-mouthed way with great humour and insight.

Whilst I hope, that not many of us have had years Like Ellen’s, most of us have had some parts of it – including the lasagne!

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How difficult is it to lie?

The Most Difficult Thing Book Cover The Most Difficult Thing
Charlotte Philby
General Fiction (Adult), contemporary, thriller, suspense
HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction

WHAT WOULD YOU SACRIFICE TO UNCOVER THE TRUTH?

‘Chilling’ Erin Kelly, author of He Said/She Said

‘Compulsive read’ Harriet Tyce, author of Blood Orange

‘Enigmatic’ Louise Candlish, author of Our House

‘Brilliant’ Jon Snow, Channel 4 News

On the surface, Anna Witherall personifies everything the aspirational magazine she works for represents. Married to her university boyfriend David, she has a beautiful home and gorgeous three-year-old twin daughters, Stella and Rose. But beneath the veneer of success and happiness, Anna is hiding a dark secret, one that threatens to unravel everything she has worked so hard to create.

As Anna finds herself drawn into the dark and highly controlled world of secret intelligence, she is forced to question her family’s safety, and her own. Only one thing is certain: in order to protect her children, she must leave them, forever. 

And someone is watching. Someone she thought she could trust. Someone who is determined to make them all pay.

Stylish and assured, The Most Difficult Thing is an irresistible combination of contemporary espionage and domestic suspense, and a compulsive, highly charged examination of betrayal.

How many lies make a truth?

Everyone in this story lies, and everyone has an ulterior motive. Personally, I never trusted Harry and Anna has invented herself and her family. Maria – well she was up to something right from the beginning, and Clive and David always had something to hide….

Now back to the actual story-telling. I found the middle section hard going and was tempted at times to stop reading. It seemed to be going nowhere and the constant flashing to and fro in time was distracting. But by Chapter 40 it had settled down into ‘proper’ story-telling and then along came Felicity again, and upset the apple-cart!

And as for the ending… most unexpected.

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Cornish Aristocracy and water

A Cornish Summer Book Cover A Cornish Summer
by Catherine Alliott
Romance, family
Penguin UK - Michael Joseph Penguin
13 Jun 2019

Flora's been in love with her husband for twenty years. The trouble is, he's been married to someone else for the past fifteen . . .

Now she's been invited to spend the summer in the shady lanes and sandy coves of Cornwall. It should be blissful.

There's just one small snag: she'll be staying with her former mother-in-law, Belinda.

And Flora discovers she's not the only one invited when her ex-husband shows up out of the blue, complete with his new wife. So now there are two small snags.

Can Flora spend the summer playing happy families with the woman who stole her husband's heart, and the mother-in-law who might have had a hand in it?

Or will stumbling on the family secret change her mind about them all?

If you like Fern Britton, Katie Fforde and Sophie Kinsella, you'll love this heartwarming read. . .

Not my usual reading fare as very much a story told from an ex-family member’s viewpoint of Cornish aristocracy. But I ended up liking it and wanted to find out just what happened and why.

There were some very insightful elements about the married-snob who never quite got the ‘old money/aristocracy’ habits and behaviours. The reverse snobbishness that goes to the nouveau riche from the old rich.

And then the riding and discussions about horses and their behaviour seemed to me to be written by someone who knew them well. And thus impressed me. Who knew that horses approached obstacles such as walls and ditches and assumed that there were dragons – hiding behind the wall or down the rabbit hole? And that you needed to persuade them otherwise.

As the storyline developed there were some interesting dilemmas for the main characters – at what point could they be ignored? Sexual preferences and the environment become important factors to the story’s characters and the storyline.

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I like Llamas

Reinventing Hillwilla Book Cover Reinventing Hillwilla
Hillwilla #3
Melanie Forde
animals, llamas, farms, family drama
Independent
November 4, 2018
340

Life on a llama farm, set in remote “Seneca County,” West Virginia, transitions from contented to chaotic in this final novel in the Hillwilla trilogy -- all under the watchful eye of canine guardian Ralph. Five years after we first met northern urban transplant Beatrice Desmond, she is finally adapting to her mountain hollow among the wary “born-heres” and is more open to the blessings in her life. She has developed a rewarding mother-daughter relationship with troubled local teenager Clara Buckhalter and is inching toward marriage with dashing, but complicated entrepreneur Tanner Fordyce. Meanwhile, Clara sets off on a productive new path, one that would have been unthinkable had Beatrice never come into her life. All of that progress is suddenly jeopardized by Clara’s scheming mother Charyce. Ultimately, the upheaval touched off by Charyce’s schemes serves as the catalyst for new beginnings for the Seneca County misfits (even Ralph).

I was aware that I was ‘dropping in’ to an existing series but normally any author of a series plans for this, with each book having its own storyline. In this series, this was not the case. I found myself thrown into the continuing storyline as though this was a rather large book  that had been chopped up because it didn’t fit a preconceived length.

There was some explanation of what had come before but this didn’t seem to fit naturally into the storyline, more that it had been inserted in as an after thought.

However, the storylines began to gel about half-way through to make an ending to this series.

I did have a point of query in this story though. Sophie the llama they finally adopted was found to be pregnant as she gave birth. Llamas take 11 months to complete gestation and during her life Sophie had been a guard llama – where therefore had she found a boyfriend? An intact male – as the majority of guard llamas would not be intact.

In many ways I like the story and the llamas – I like their wool – who I found rather endearing. I was intrigued by the concept of guard llamas and checked them out. They are a real thing. It seems that their size and smell makes them so strange to the natural USA predators of sheep and cows, that they scare most of them away.

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Waiting for your sister






The Second Sister Book Cover




The Second Sister





Claire Kendal





Adult, Psychological Thriller, Romance




Harper




April 20, 2017




400



The chilling new psychological thriller by Claire Kendal, author of the bestselling novel, THE BOOK OF YOU, which was selected for Richard and Judy in 2015. Perfect for fans of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN and DISCLAIMER. It is ten years since Ella's sister Miranda disappeared without trace, leaving her young baby behind. Chilling new evidence links Miranda to the horrifying Jason Thorne, now in prison for murdering several women. Is it possible that Miranda knew him? At thirty, Miranda's age when she vanished, Ella looks uncannily like the sister she idolized. What holds Ella together is her love for her sister's child and her work as a self-defence expert helping victims. Haunted by the possibility that Thorne took Miranda, and driven by her nephew's longing to know about his mother, Ella will do whatever it takes to uncover the truth - no matter how dangerous...

Twins in thought but not deed, and not age either but in looks, one sister vanishes and the other searches for her.

As she searches she uncovers some rather sinister people and has some rather chilling encounters.

I started this book and read it with interest but not compulsion until the prison scenes. These were detailed with such a chilling description of the prisoner that I really needed to know what he knew and what he had done.

If that air of suspense had been drawn throughout the book I would have ranked it higher but some of the writing was a little pedestrian and over detailed. Personally, I would have edited out half of the front art of the book and extended the last part. But other readers may disagree.

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