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

mummy - And the cottage isn't: Family begins with a capital eff. Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! 5
Why Mummy
Gill Sims
General Fiction (Adult), romance, family, women's fiction
HarperCollins
27 Jun 2019
five star - And the cottage isn't: Family begins with a capital eff.

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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The witness

widow - The witness The Last Widow
Karin Slaughter
General Fiction (Adult) , suspense, thriller
HarperCollins
13 Jun 2019
five star - The witness

Michelle felt her mouth drop open. A van slid to a stop beside her daughter. The side door rolled open. A man jumped out. Michelle gripped her keys. She bolted into a full-out run, cutting the distance between herself and her daughter. She started to scream, but it was too late. Ashley had run off, just like they had taught her to do. Which was fine, because the man did not want Ashley. He wanted Michelle

Karin Slaughter is one of my favourite authors but this time she served up a book that was very dark indeed and delves into the psychoses of several people including her hero and heroine as well as their foes. A gripping book that goes to the wire.

The story shows just how mad can some Americans get in their belief in how the original and entitled inheritors of the land are white men – yes, women are only useful for providing children and looking after the men. So a complete patriarchal society and selective memory as to who ‘owned’ the land they claim.

And then there is the belief that young girls really do want to be raped by fathers and other males from a very very young age – yes, according to paedophiles they are sexually aware and ready from babyhood.

So we have a man, a paedophile in fact, who is a cross between a prepper – in that he wants to live off the land and in a very basic ‘biblical’ manner, whereby the patriarch has many wives (even if they are all his female children); that all other ‘adult’ males can be used as cannon fodder but shouldn’t be near his females unless he has absolute control over them – and a person who reasons that society has become corrupt and needs to be cleansed, violently, and as completely as possible, and is willing to sacrifice everyone else to his beliefs. I am not American but I do believe that there are white supremacists who believe similar things about society and that being white is to be the world’s inheritor.

The last widow is to be the witness to this sacrifice to ensure that society knows who performed the cleansing and why.

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Be a painter… have some debt!

whistler - Be a painter... have some debt! Mrs Whistler
Matthew Plampin
Historical Fiction , Literary Fiction
HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction
03 May 2018
four star - Be a painter... have some debt!

Chelsea, 1876

Struggling artist Jimmy Whistler is at war with his patron. Denied full payment, he and muse Maud Franklin face ruin.

As Jimmy’s enemies mount, he resolves to sue a famous critic for libel, in a last-ditch attempt to ward off the bailiffs. Although she has no position in society, Maud is expected to do her part. But Maud has a secret that forces her to choose between art and love.

Mrs Whistler is a dazzling glimpse inside a world of passion, art and power.

A nice blend of reality plus imagination – as the author himself admits, the exact circumstances cannot be known as there were no diaries, and ‘Mrs’ Whistler herself and her actions and feelings were never documented at the time.

It seems clear that Whistler was not only a braggart but also naive and always thought that either people were his friends or his enemies and never considered that some may have had dubious reasons for being his friend – see Howell. And were so many of his paintings really destroyed? If so, it was a real shame. But his classic painting of his mother is still to be viewed.

Personally though I cannot agree with his reaction to Burne-Jones having seen a recent exhibition of his work where it demonstrates just how good he was, and how multi-talented, despite his later somewhat fanciful works of angels etc.

I am great fan of Whistler’s moody paintings where the items are barely distinguishable – the low light and almost monochromatic effect are wonderful.

I surprised myself by enjoying the book, but then I like (almost) all the Pre-Raphaelite painting/painters and found this an interesting exposition of just how they lived – so many debts – yet so much entertaining, and the fostering of children was heart-rending to read about.

venice - Be a painter... have some debt!

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Comfort is offered

gift - Comfort is offered Gift from the comfort food cafe
Comfort Food Cafe
Debbie Johnson
contemporary fiction, romance, humour
Harper Collins
(18 Oct. 2018)
four star - Comfort is offered

Cosy up at the Comfort Food Cafe for a romance that isn’t just for Christmas…

*Don’t miss out on the new Comfort Food Cafe novel and return to Budbury for a Christmas to remember*

Christmas has never been Katie Seddon’s favourite time of year. Whilst everyone else shares memories of families coming together and festive number ones, the soundtrack to Katie’s childhood wasn’t quite so merry.

But since she moved to the village of Budbury on the gorgeous Dorset coast, Katie and her baby son have found a new family. A family who have been brought together by life’s unexpected roads and the healing magic of a slice of cake and a cupful of kindness at the Comfort Food Café.

This year, Katie’s new friends are determined to give her a Christmas to remember, and with a gorgeous newcomer in town, Katie’s Christmas wish for a happy home for her son might just come true.

I have read this entire series about the Budbury cafe (by the sea) and it makes me feel warm and cosy inside and want to join in their fun.

Each book gives us a view of the village and its inhabitants from their different story viewpoints, even when the timeframe and occasion is the same. We learn more about them each time, as the stories focus on one ‘pair’ in each book.

This book, as ever, has a happy ending with a matched pair and a father – or two -for a young boy.

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The mystery of the Battenberg cake






content?id=2ElhswEACAAJ&printsec=frontcover&img=1&zoom=1&source=gbs api - The mystery of the Battenberg cake




The Mystery of Three Quarters




Hercule Poirot (New)





Sophie Hannah, Agatha Christie,





Poirot, detective, suspense, mystery




HarperCollins




August 20, 2018




400


five star - The mystery of the Battenberg cake

The world's most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot - the legendary star of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express and most recently The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket--returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in 1930's London. Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met. Poirot has also never heard of a Barnabas Pandy, and has accused nobody of murder. Shaken, he goes inside, only to find that he has a visitor waiting for him -- a man who also claims also to have received a letter from Poirot that morning, accusing him of the murder of Barnabas Pandy... Poirot wonders how many more letters of this sort have been sent in his name. Who sent them, and why? More importantly, who is Barnabas Pandy, is he dead, and, if so, was he murdered? And can Poirot find out the answers without putting more lives in danger?

The opening chapters of this book are so vivid that in my ind’s eye I see it happening.

I see David Suchet bustling and hear him deliver the words. I see his very special walk – such a distinctive gait – and take off his hat and coat.

It is perhaps because i have seen Suchet’s TV performance portrayal so often that he comes to mind, but still my imagination visualises him throughout the story as the character of Hercule Poirot. The mannerisms he used are mentioned in the story and sonthe echoes remain.

I cannot say the same of the chapters ‘written’ by the detective. He slips back into the background even though he is half the book.

I found the story very entertaining – better in my mind than the original stories even though they are intended to ‘copy’ her style. More amusing and more accessible. I still didn’t get the answer though – as just in the original Christie books there are masses of red herrings to mislead you!

Oh and the Windowpane cake is really a Battenberg so a very well known recipe, so little chance of it being stolen.

I suspect that without David Suchet the story would not have been so appealing but as he is one of my favourite actors…

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