Twenty Books Featuring Mothers - Warts and All

Mothers, that word can conjure a huge range of different emotions in people, deep abiding love, heart-breaking sorrow, bitter anger or even indifference.  While there is plenty to celebrate in this short collection of novels featuring Mums, I’ve also included some books that may be a little different to the normal hearts, flowers and merrymaking of Mother’s Day. These twenty tales not only feature mums who can be seen in the best light, but flawed mothers also star. Then there are several books that I just had to include, where a strong female influence rather than an actual mother sits as the focus. I’ve picked a number of different genres too, from humorous to horror, fantasy to modern and contemporary, and crime to family drama. Mums crop up everywhere in literature, and so this is a celebration of mothers, step mothers, or people acting as a mother-figure - warts and all. 

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman

Author: Julietta Henderson Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/04/2021

Our May 2021 Book Club Recommendation. Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. This is one of the most squeezable and loveable books going, yet it comes with sharp and poignant notes as well as a dancing wit and humour. Norman’s best friend and comedy partner dies before they turn 12, in his grief Norman decides he’s going to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe, and his mum Sadie is determined to help him. The focus here is on family and the many different forms it can take. Chapters are headed by either Norman or Sadie, each has the most wonderfully distinctive voice. Julietta Henderson has created a cast of beautifully individual characters, they walk off the page, with little snippets of information filling in their spirit and letting you see who they truly are. Norman is a complete joy to get to know, he entered my heart and let me see with fresh eyes. There is an exquisite balance here, between heartache and warmth, piercing and diverting, amusing and engaging. The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman proclaims that empathy and kindness are winning combinations and is completely gorgeous in every way. This LoveReading Star Book is an absolute delight of a debut, it will be one of my highlights of the year.

Star Books
All My Mothers

All My Mothers

Author: Joanna Glen Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/08/2021

What a truly special book this is, thoughtful, refreshing and comforting, this novel has entered my heart and soul. From a young age Eva has questions about who she is and where she has come from. As she grows up, alters and changes, the questions remain and she begins to find answers. I adored Joanna Glen’s debut, The Other Half of August Hope which hurtled straight into our LoveReading Star Books collection, and this, this is just as memorable, just as beautiful, and firmly cements this author as one I will be looking out for. Eva has the most honest and contemplative voice, her voice is so individual that you can hear her, even feel her as she speaks. Even the smallest of her small thoughts planted seeds which rooted, grew, divided, and she entered my awareness and took up residence. Joanna Glen has a real gift, she is able to go beyond the surface of things to find the unfamiliar and make it feel like home. I love it when a book provokes new thoughts and feelings, and that is exactly what All My Mothers does. It also joins the LoveReading Star Book list, and becomes one of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month. Congratulations to Joanna Glen, All My Mothers balances fear and wonder, loneliness and belonging, despair and elation, it is a true joy to read.  

eBooks of the Month
Woman of a Certain Rage

Woman of a Certain Rage

Author: Georgie Hall Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/07/2021

The most wonderful, funny, and engaging novel, Woman of a Certain Rage simply danced into my hands and I read with true glee. Eliza has hit middle age and the menopause, as she navigates all that her hormones throw at her, can she rediscover the joys of her youth? I wanted to wriggle with excitement when I heard that this was Fiona Walker taking a writing step in a new direction as Georgie Hall. I completely understand why she is using a different name, as she says on her site: “I don’t want to mislead readers into expecting a big-cast Walker romp”. I genuinely feel as though I have been waiting for this novel, she takes the menopause years and runs with it, with laughter, warmth, and most of all empathy. She explores family life with teens and parents while maintaining a career, a relationship and home-life while the menopause is on the rampage. She made me snort with laughter on a number of occasions, and I frequently exclaimed as I recognised and related with different scenarios. While the midlife years and all the trials and tribulations that come with it sit centre stage, this is a book that can be read right through the age groups. All hail Georgie Hall as she uncovers the menopause with wit and honesty, excuse me while I find a few rooftops to camp out and shout from. Beautifully readable and laugh-out-loud funny, Woman of a Certain Rage is a LoveReading Star Book with attitude.

Star Books
A Dark Matter

A Dark Matter

Author: Doug Johnstone Format: Ebook Release Date: 23/11/2019

Piercing, wonderfully real and so very readable, this is another cracking novel from Doug Johnstone. Set in and around a funeral home in Edinburgh, three generations of Skelf women arrange funerals and handle a little private investigation on the side. I love Doug Johnstone’s writing, it feels so authentic, yet he has the ability to get under the skin and nudge new thoughts and feelings into being. Dorothy, Jenny, and Hannah are simply wonderful, and Edinburgh itself sits brooding in the background. It’s the small detail that really matters here, encouraging the most vivid and intense picture to form. As I came to the end I realised I wanted to hear more about these women, and later learned there is to be a series, so, so pleased! A Dark Matter, sitting as it does in death, crime, and wrong-doing, still felt like a breath of fresh air, it really is a fabulous read and I loved it!

eBooks of the Month
Good Me Bad Me

Good Me Bad Me

Author: Ali Land Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/08/2017

One of Our Books of the Year 2017 |  September 2017 Book of the Month Shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger 2017. Ooh, this truly is a fabulously captivating and unpredictable tale, and it kept me clinging to the very edge of my seat. Annie’s mother is a serial killer, Annie informs on her mother and we hear her story as she attempts to deal with her new foster family and the approaching trial. Immediately from the start this feels different, my mind flashed onto high alert setting and remained there for the entire story. Annie's name is changed to Milly and she tells her own tale, speaking in short, sharp, powerful sentences. I felt her confusion, loneliness, and wanted to hug her as her thoughts tumbled in limbo. Her feelings wormed their way into my mind, making me think, making me question. Ali Land doesn't hold back, ‘Good Me, Bad Me’ is uncomfortable, powerful, provocative, and an absolute knockout. ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
Darling

Darling

Author: Rachel Edwards Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/02/2019

Prepare yourself, this is a slicing, clever, wonderfully captivating tale ready to twist thoughts, to skewer feelings. Thomas falls in love with Darling, his 16-year-old daughter Lola is horrified, each woman is determined not to lose Thomas. The intriguing prologue immediately hooked my attention, my eyebrows raised, my eyes opened wide, my mind gasped. We hear from both Darling and Lola, each so different, so vibrantly alive with conviction. Darling’s voice is rich and full of flavour, I could close my eyes and still hear her, while Lola is sharp with a head full of thoughts, brittle, yet flaming, fiery. I found myself reading faster, wanting to gobble up the pages, yet was determined not to miss a single word. By the time awareness started to prickle my consciousness, by the time understanding crashed in around me, I was on a non-stop collision course with the end. Darling is a powerful read, a vibrant, punchy, thoughtful wow of a read, and I loved it. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Star Books
The Farm

The Farm

Author: Joanne Ramos Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/05/2019

An intriguing and thoughtful debut that pushes, prods, and provokes thoughts on social class, wealth and motherhood. Golden Oaks is a retreat that locates and looks after host females who act as surrogates for the extraordinarily rich, those who can’t or don’t want to carry their own child. Every move, every heartbeat of each host is monitored until they give birth. We follow the lives of four women, each with very different reasons for their involvement with the retreat known by the occupants as The Farm. For the first few chapters I sat on the edge, watching and learning, I then felt myself sliding into the pages, fully immersed, compelled to witness. Joanne Ramos has created a fascinating storyline, with intimate access to the thought processes of the four women ensuring I was able to observe the interaction, the assumptions, the decisions made. The Farm is a clever, challenging debut, and while set just in the future, is very much of our time. 

eBooks of the Month
Space Hopper

Space Hopper

Author: Helen Fisher Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/02/2021

Slip into this beautifully simple yet profound novel and explore love, relationships, regret and second chances while travelling through time to the 1970’s. Faye’s mother died when she was a child, 30 years later and she is able to return to her mother’s side, will she take the chance? The time-travel aspect feels utterly plausible so I suggest that you suspend thoughts of reality and just let yourself go. It’s just so easy to fall into this novel, debut author Helen Fisher encourages a connection to form as Faye tells her own story. I wanted to reach out, be a voice of reason, yet I remained by Faye’s side as I read her tale, soaking it up until I felt as though it was a part of me. I explored loss and grief, love and hope, and oh how I hoped. Emotional, yet heartwarming, sharply realistic yet joyously magical, Space Hopper really is a gorgeous tale that I can highly recommendand have chosen as a Liz Pick of the Month and LoveReading Star Book..

Star Books
Sal

Sal

Author: Mick Kitson Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/01/2019

Just gorgeous… this is an emotional and quite, quite beautiful read. After a particularly traumatic time at home, 13 year old Sal and her younger sister Peppa escape into the wilds of Scotland. Sal has spent a long time preparing, the wilderness beckons them, can they survive on their own? Sal tells their story, the first chapter is so clever, I started to realise what had been happening, and then a few carefully chosen, yet almost casually thrown away words, sent a shockwave running through me. I could clearly hear Sal’s voice, she is so individual and distinctive, her words entered my mind and expanded, filling my heart. Mick Kitson encourages the Scottish countryside to sing with intensity, while you can hear Sal, you can see and feel the clean and natural space she and Peppa find themselves in. Kindness flows from unexpected places, and love is behind every word shared by Sal, even in the darkness. Simple, beautiful, provocative yet touching, this is an outstanding debut, and a read I will return to again and again. Highly recommended and one of my picks of the month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Where We Belong

Where We Belong

Author: Anstey Harris Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/05/2021

Oh, this is almost too gorgeous for words, thoughtful and full of emotion, it’s a simply wonderful story that connected to my heart and soul. Cate Morris has no option other than to leave everything she knows and move to Hatters with her son Leo, will they be welcomed with open arms? Anstey Harris writes with beautiful eloquence, her debut novel The Truths of Triumphs of Grace Atherton was one of my picks of the month and a LoveReading Star Book, and I’ll let you into a not so secret secret, Where we Belong is too. I was completely charmed by the first sentence, settled in with joy and then the end of chapter one caused me to take a deep breath. This is emotionally intelligent writing and perfectly timed reveals of information lay in wait. Hatters Museum of the Wide Wide World is just lovely, do I want to go there? Yes I most certainly do, so was captivated to learn that it is based on a real location. Where We Belong bewitched me with its secrets and beauty, Anstey Harris really is the most wonderful storyteller and I salute her. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Star Books
Everything's Perfect

Everything's Perfect

Author: Nicole Kennedy Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/06/2021

A smart, contemporary, entertaining look at friendships and what it is to be a mother in the social media age of perfection. While glamorous and celebrated social media celebrity Cassie fights to remain relevant, anxious new mum Beth finds herself on the road to viral stardom. This is the debut of lawyer Nicole Kennedy, and it was written during her third pregnancy. She has the ability to capture the big little things that really matter, writing with a light yet provocative, and warm yet witty pen. The main characters induced feelings that swung between affection and disapproval, while sitting in among the supporting cast are some truly cackle inducing creations. Social media stands to the fore, the plot weaves in and out of the need to display perfection and how damaging that can be. While undoubtedly amusing, Everything’s Perfect is also thought-provoking too, making for a gleefully readable novel.

Debut Books of the Month
The Impulse Purchase

The Impulse Purchase

Author: Veronica Henry Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

A friendly and heart-felt embrace awaits in this wonderfully entertaining and rewarding novel. You’ll find a multi-generational story covering tots to great-grandparents and a return to the village of Rushbrook as visited in A Home from Home. This is a standalone novel, but if you follow Veronica Henry there will be some recognisable elements. Cherry, Maggie, and Rose take on a run-down pub in the hope of breathing life back into the heart of the village. Veronica Henry is a firm favourite with the LoveReading team, her feel-good novels have such emotional reach, and it’s always incredibly easy just to sink into their warm and welcoming arms. She’s an author I am always happy to recommend, and this particular tale allows an escape from our current reality. She excels in finding love and joy, and creating a family that you feel a part of. While men feature with some pretty fabulous characters among them, it’s the women who really shine. I felt as though I was stepping into their story, their pub and village. The smaller parts are full of exuberant life too, and alongside the vividly realised location, ensure a well-rounded tale. I needed this story, this uplifting tale in my life, The Impulse Purchase is a little slice of reading heaven. Sitting as a LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Pick of the Month, we can happily recommend this book far and wide.

Books of the Month
Lives Like Mine

Lives Like Mine

Author: Eva Verde Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

I’m thrilled to introduce you to the most thought-provoking and intoxicating debut novel. Constantly ambushed by prejudiced in-laws and estranged from her own parents, Monica struggles to play happy families. Her loving husband fails to challenge his racist family, however a chance meeting on a school outing brings Joe into her life. The style of writing conjures a conversation, Monica pours out feelings, occasionally fractured but flowing into your own thoughts. Spaces lurk, they caught me unaware, and I stumbled before I settled in and started to feel at home. This novel really spoke to me, it slowly gathered me up, allowing me to get to know Monica at her pace, and she is the most fascinating, flawed, yet beautiful character. I felt as though she was speaking directly to me, trusting me with her honesty. Eva Verde has the most compassionate yet bold writing style, there is a subtlety at play even when the words gang up and get punchy. I flinched, laughed, raged, ached, as emotions hurled and curled themselves around me. I have given Monica a piece of my heart, her authenticity shines, as does this fiery, powerful story. Lives Like Mine, a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, is hand on heart gorgeous and I proclaim it a must-read.

Debut Books of the Month
My Name Is Monster

My Name Is Monster

Author: Katie Hale Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/01/2021

Katie Hale is our January 2020 Debut Author of the Month. Click to find out more about Katie on our blog. Oh… my… word, this is one fabulous debut! I found a deceptively simple, and stark dystopian foray into a world blighted by bombs and sickness. Monster is completely alone until one day she finds a child. She becomes mother and passes on her knowledge, but are her mothering skills being received in the way she is expecting them to be? Told in the first person, Katie Hale has created short chapters where thoughts scatter, bounce, zigzag. I filed away feelings and emotions as I read, each within touching distance, lying in wait to prod and provoke. This feels honest, as though looking at a future just within grasp, or back to a history that has already happened. The feelings are raw, sometimes painful, yet relatable and believable. I found the premise of this novel absolutely fascinating, I explored interpretation of meaning, motherhood, and thoughts on the basic cycle of life. ‘My Name is Monster’ is poignant, moving and wonderfully different, it is also incredibly intimate, readable and surprisingly beautiful, I adored it. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

Debut Books of the Month
This is How we are Human

This is How we are Human

Author: Louise Beech Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/06/2021

A beautifully poignant, thought-provoking and special novel that really does travel to the heart of what it is to be human. 20 year old Sebastian knows exactly what he wants, his hormones are raging and he is desperate for sex however his autism limits his ability to meet girls. When Sebastian’s mother Veronica contacts escort Violetta, the lives of all three change forever. The novel focuses on the three main characters, each is vividly realised and I positively ached for and adored all three. Their individual stories weave through and under and around each other, the short chapters tying them together, creating one whole tale. Louise Beech often crosses genres in her novels, and has explored crime through to relationship stories. Her particular skill, on display in all of her novels, is allowing us to connect and sink in to what it means to be human, she takes us below the surface, below the obvious, and allows us to explore. My emotions sang throughout this novel, I balanced the exquisite tightrope that swings from the pages, stepped out, and fell in love with the words, the feelings they evoked. The title is absolutely perfect, and when I had finished, I just sat pondering its meaning. The Author’s Note at the end shows just how connected Louise is to this story, how she was inspired by her experience of autism as ‘an outsider’ and she also talks about #OwnVoices. This is How we are Human is bold and provocative, thoughtful and warmhearted, and I declare it is completely gorgeous!

Star Books
Sundial

Sundial

Author: Catriona Ward Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/03/2022

So exquisitely haunting it hurts, Sundial slithers into thoughts to carve out a spot and make itself at home. Fearing for the future of both her daughters, Rob takes troubled Callie to her own childhood home in the Mojave Desert and revisits the past. I have been of fan of Catriona Ward since her debut Rawblood, each of her subsequent novels has become my new favourite, and that is most certainly the case here. Just reading the synopsis sent a shiver through me, I had to have this book! As I started to read, goosebumps shivered and skittered their way down my skin to declare just how special this was going to be. A quiet menace slipped past my boundaries to create a heightened sense of fear for what was to come. The smallest yet most vital of moments are created to tip feelings already in the balance. Trust is a scarce commodity, love though, love is more than evident as mother and daughter test their relationship. There is also a grace to be found, in the eloquence of words as they slice and then stitch to form the most vividly real and vibrant story. Sundial is an intensely dark and blazingly beautiful novel about the love that can hold us together, or shatter us into pieces. This stunning tale that hovers on a sharp edge of horror has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Pick of the Month, it will undoubtedly be one of my books of the year.

Star Books
Man at the Helm

Man at the Helm

Author: Nina Stibbe Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/06/2015

Fabulously funny, sharp and yet also touching and poignant, this semi-autobiographical novel from Nina Stibbe is wonderfully captivating and engaging. Two sisters (aged 11 and 9), conclude that finding their newly divorced mother a man will lead to happiness and turnaround the distinct unwelcome the family received after moving to a new home in 1970. Stibbe writes in such a way that you feel you are there, in that very moment, helping to plot an often unwittingly devious and destructive strategy. Achingly sad, moving and outrageous in turn, this evocative well observed novel shows how children know more than we think, think more than they should and have the ability to bounce back from adversity time after time. Just a quick bit of advice; snorts, giggles and guffaws will escape at will, so think carefully before reading in public. ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
Reputation

Reputation

Author: Sarah Vaughan Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

This powerful, provocative, intoxicating rush of a read hit me head on and ploughed through my thoughts. Mother, former teacher and now MP Emma Webster is used to the press and public judging her, when a man is found dead in her home it opens the floodgates. Trolling, bullying, the difficulties of being a woman and a powerful one at that, are examined while encased in a plot that accelerates into a thrilling story. Newspaper reports and social media comments lie in wait. The focus on different characters and their points of view ensures each nuanced layer splices to the next. Only Emma is written in the first person, I felt her emotional reaction and found myself positively aching for her. The characters are beautifully flawed, each giving you access yet creating a space to explore their personality and choices made. Sarah Vaughan allows you to see what’s coming, the what but not the how, letting you in while creating tension with the slicing edge of the story. Thoroughly provoking thoughts while being highly entertaining, Reputation is timely, convincing, and exhilarating read.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

Author: Marianne Cronin Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/12/2021

The One Hundred years of Lenni and Margot is so special, it’s gentle yet pointed and warmly amusing as it highlights life within sight and touching distance of death. To celebrate their joint 100 years, 17 year-old Lenni and 83 year-old Margot paint their life stories while in hospital. Singing of friendship, love, and family, we discover how they can all be found in the most unexpected of places. This is Marianne Cronin’s debut novel, and I’ve added her to my list of authors to look out for. While Lenni and Margot are the stars, the other characters add essential energy. She brings these characters to vibrant life with a few perfectly chosen words. The smallest of details matter, in fact are vital. This book is so visual, slipping backwards and forwards in time, snapshots of the years appeared like magic to paint their own picture in my mind. The pages dance with joy and hope, while being realistic about death. I laughed and I cried, yes this novel is emotional, yet it also delivers the most heart-warming hug too. A well-deserved LoveReading Star Book, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot comes with a 'must-read' label of recommendation from me.

Star Books
Em & Me

Em & Me

Author: Beth Morrey Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Beautifully glorious, this book danced into my heart and soul and I want to dangle from the rooftops to shout about it. Since Em was born Delphine has spent her time as a single mum protecting her daughter and a secret, as she begins to taste the joy of life, her past starts to unravel. This compassionate, generous, and heart-warming novel about being brave and second chances deserves to be a huge hit. I adored Beth Morrey’s debut, the LoveReading Star Book, Saving Missy, and Beth’s unique touch is just as evident in Em & Me. She has the ability to take your thoughts into unexplored places yet plant the story in vibrantly authentic circumstances. She also develops the most charmingly relatable characters, they become known, cared for, a part of you. The plot weaves and flows through good and dark times with eloquence and empathy. I stepped into this book with trust, and came out with my heart full of warmth and emotion. Yes, I know I’m being rather gushy, but I seriously love this book! A LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, the wonderful Em & Me is delightfully rewarding novel I’ll be recommending far and wide. The LoveReading LitFest invited Beth Morrey to the festival to talk about Em & Me. The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member. And see why you'll love Beth and this book as much as us!

Books of the Month

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