Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Unmumsy Mum

The Unmumsy Mum by The Unmumsy Mum
Published by Bantam Press
11th February 2016
Hardback Edition


The Unmumsy Mum writes candidly about motherhood like it really is: the messy, maddening, hilarious reality, how there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and how it is sometimes absolutely fine to not know what you are doing. The lessons she's learnt while grappling with two small boys – from birth to teething, 3am night feeds to toddler tantrums, soft play to toilet training – will have you roaring with laughter and taking great comfort in the fact that it's definitely not just you...

If you aren’t a parent then you may just about be forgiven for not knowing who ‘the unmumsy mum’ is, but if you are blessed to have children, then you almost certainly do.  Our author is a 30-something parent of two small boys, who blogs about her daily life and of the trials and tribulations, as well as the odd highlight, of being a parent.
The revelation here is that this is a ‘warts and all’ blog, and the book is exactly the same.  There are no frills here, no filters showing only the best bits of life with little people.  This books delves into the real-life nitty gritty of parenting, and if you are not on this particular journey yet, this book should not be read by the faint-hearted.
Whilst my two girlies are no longer in nappies, I still enjoyed reading this immensely.  It is totally laugh out loud and you can certainly relate so some, if not all, of the dramas written between these pages.  In fact it is this feeling of parenthood that has made the unmumsy mum blog so successful, as parents around the world are smilling through their tears and toddler’s tantrums, and uniting by saying, ‘that’s my day too’.
If you have ever had to juggle a supermarket trip with a child who won’t get up off the aisle floor, taken hours to go out of the house due to the behaviour of the small people in your life, or ever thought that maybe you’d just like to hand them back for a whole 5 minutes of peace, then grab yourself a copy of this book, reminisce and drink a very large glass bottle of wine whilst congratulating yourself that you are, in fact, doing a grand job.
I know some very new parents who might just want to start reading this now, in preparation!

p.s there is no mention of Ruth in here, bloody Ruth!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Monday, 7 March 2016

Instructions for the End of the World

Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain
Published by St Martins Griffin
8th December 2015
Hardback Edition

He prepared their family for every natural disaster known to man-except for the one that struck.

When Nicole Reed's father forces her family to move to a remote area of the Sierra Foothills, one without any modern conveniences, it's too much too handle for her mother, who abandons them in the middle of the night. Heading out to track her down, Nicole's father leaves her in charge of taking care of the house and her younger sister, Izzy. For a while, Nicole is doing just fine running things on her own. But then the food begins to run out, the pipes crack, and forest fires start slowly inching their way closer every day. Wolf, a handsome boy from the neighboring community, offers to help her when she needs it most, but when she starts to develop feelings for him, feelings she knows she will never be allowed to act on once her father returns, she must make a decision. With her family falling apart, will she choose to continue preparing for tomorrow's disasters, or will she take a chance and really start living for today?

This is a YA novel about survivalists, and those who are already prepared for the end of the world.  I think that this is more common in America, where this book is set, but I’m sure that there are those people who stockpile everything ‘just in case’ in the UK too.  Nicole Reed has a father who is prepared for the ultimate disaster, where there will be no shops, no electricity and no modern world.  With this in mind, he teaches his eldest daughter Nicole how to survive should such an event ever happen.  The Reed family seem happy in their modern world set-up until the family move to a dilapidated house in the middle of the Sierra Foothills and ex-Lieutenant Colonel James Reed can start living the lifestyle that he coverts so much.  With a teenage daughter who is just becoming interested in fashion, music and boys, for Nicole’s younger sister Izzy, this indeed is ‘the end of the world’ and the family starts to crack at the seams.

When Nicole’s mother disappears and her father sets off to find her, the two sisters are left on their own to fend for themselves.  With no modern conveniences to hand, no neighbours, and no car to drive, they really are in the wilderness, and it will be Nicole, who is only 16,  relying on her survivalist ‘training’ that will help them to pull through.  Alongside the Reed family, is a neighbouring commune where Wolf, a handsome teenager, lives.  He and Nicole become friends and it is he who she turns to when everything seems to be falling apart.  The trouble is, Nicole knows that her father would never allow her to have such a friendship, should he return to their home.  Does Nicole have to make a choice between what her head knows her father requires, or what her heart tells her she desires, or is it ever possible to have both?

Instructions for the End of the World raises some interesting issues, about parenting, society and how we live in this modern world of ours.  It is definitely a story that makes you think, as this certainly isn’t a fluffy novel.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Look at Me

Look at Me by Sarah Duguid
Published by Tinder Press
25th February 2016
Hardback Edition

Lizzy's mother died two years ago, leaving a family bereft by her absence and a house still filled with her things. Then, one day, Lizzy finds a letter from a stranger to her father, and discovers he has another child. Lizzy invites her into their world in an act of outraged defiance. Almost immediately, she realises her mistake.

 This is a book that clearly highlights the phrase, you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.  One day Lizzy, an aspiring actress, discovers a letter from Eunice to her father Julian.  In it, Eunice reveals that she is indeed his daughter from an affair he had whilst married to the now deceased Margaret and she would love to meet her ‘family’.  Despite her father telling her to 'leave well alone', Lizzy replies to Eunice and then the two meet up and Lizzy ends up bringing Eunice back to the family home she shares with Julian and her brother Ig.  Eunice instantly seems to warm to the family and starts to try to make herself so useful that they won’t ever ask her to leave.

In some ways Look at Me is a little creepy, but it doesn’t necessarily hit you in that way to begin with.  Eunice winds herself into the family nest, and like a cuckoo stealing other birds’ eggs, she tries to fit in but never wholly succeeding.  As time progresses, Lizzy can see the error of her ways, but by now, it seems too late to actually ask Eunice to leave, for she has moved in, lock, stock and barrel.  When she begins interfering with Margaret’s possessions, the atmosphere in the house begins to change, and even laid-back Julian comes close to losing his temper with his newly-found daughter.

At the annual memory meal for the death of Margaret, things come to a head and you know that there is going to be some sort of dramatic finale, but involving whom is never certain.  Look at Me is a tale of families, and of bonds and connections and also of how these once-tight bonds can so easily become loosened by the introduction of another.  By the end of the book I’m quite sure that given her chance again, Lizzy would never have replied to Eunice in the first place.  Oh the benefit of hindsight!

 Happy Reading

 Miss Chapter x