Relationships and families: advice and issues

Sorrow and Bliss

Sorrow and Bliss

Author: Meg Mason Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2022

It’s hard to believe it’s a debut as the challenging subject matter of depression is handled with such a deft touch. So dark, it’s pitch, pitch black. Yet so so sensitive. It’s a masterclass in ascerbic narration and perfectly pitches the dark and the light. When we first meet Martha, she talks about her husband Patrick with such disdain, such boredom and he comments that Martha can supply anyone with an inventory of his flaws. But then everyone thinks he’s perfection, so sweet, so kind, living his life in the middle setting with Martha swinging between the extremes. So where does it all go wrong? Narrated in the aftermath of their separation, Martha is forced to return to her childhood home to live with her dysfunctional, eccentric, bohemian parents this book is filled with laughs and tears. At the heart of the novel is long term mental illness, the crushing depression with which Martha has battled since childhood, a depression which comes in waves for weeks or months at a time. However, it’s never named in the book; what is more important is Martha’s quest to know herself, to work out who is she is and why she never seems able to find contentment. It’s hilarious. It’s brilliant. It’s a sharp observational and witty book of huge talent and I can’t wait to read more of what Meg Mason has to offer.

Books of the Month
Neglected

Neglected

Author: Cathy Glass Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/02/2022

Little Jamey, 2 1/2 years old, is placed with experienced foster carer, Cathy Glass, as an emergency. The police and social services had no choice after a neighbour reported Jamey had been left alone all night while his mother went out partying. Scared, hungry and withdrawn, Jamey has spent so much time in his cot that his leg muscles haven't developed, and he can barely walk. He is craving affection, and Cathy and her family find him very easy to love. However, as Jamey begins to settle in and make progress a new threat emerges. Coronavirus and lockdown changes everything.

Mama A World of Mothers and Motherhood

Mama A World of Mothers and Motherhood

Author: Hélène Delforge, Quentin Gréban Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/02/2022

Undoubtedly a beautiful gift to give and share for Mother’s Day, Mama also makes the perfect present for mums-to-be, new mothers, and long-time mamas. Hélène Delforge's stirring, honest words are a universal, lyrical wonder, with Quentin Gréban's portraits of mothers from all corners of the globe, across many different eras, infused with life, love and radiant detail. Mama presents a journey through motherhood in all its complexity from those first steps, first words, first giggle, first exclamation of “Mama!” and first “I love you”, through to worries about the world — how mothers need to be “a fortress against the hardships of the world”. Then there are those guilt-inducing remarks, the conflicting “unwanted advice” about breastfeeding, bottles, how to handle a crying baby, and where your baby should sleep. It’s an emotive tale of change, of mother and child journeying together, of planting seeds, tending them, and watching them bloom. Above all, this is a soulful once-a-mama-always-a-mama story to treasure, no matter how old you or your child might be.

Self-Contained Scenes from a single life

Self-Contained Scenes from a single life

Author: Emma John Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/01/2022

There is a piece of cod-wisdom regularly dispensed to single women: romance will arrive when you least expect it. I had assumed it would also make its own travel arrangements too. Emma John is in her 40s; she is neither married, nor partnered, with child or planning to be. In her hilarious and unflinching memoir, Self Contained, she asks why the world only views a woman as complete when she is no longer a single figure and addresses what it means to be alone when everyone else isn't. In her book, she captures what it is to be single in your forties, from sharing a twin room with someone you've never met on a group holiday (because the couples have all the doubles with ensuite) to coming to the realisation that maybe your singleness isn't a temporary arrangement, that maybe you aren't pre-married at all, and in fact you are self-contained. The book is an exploration of being lifelong single and what happens if you don't meet the right person, don't settle down with the wrong person and realise the biggest commitment is to yourself.

A Beautiful Nightmare

A Beautiful Nightmare

Author: Christine McGuinness Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/11/2021

It's easy to focus on the glitz and glamour of celebrity lifestyles without knowing what's happening behind the scenes. Christine McGuinness is well known for being the wife of comedian and Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness, as well as being a model and TV star in her own right. In her book, A Beautiful Nightmare, she offers a raw account of her life, including dealing with anorexia, heavy drinking, infertility and, in more recent years, parenting three young, autistic children. Her book offers honest insight into the nitty-gritty of daily life – schooling, mealtimes, family outings, parties, and more – with its tough times, challenges, love and laughter. She shows that autism is more than just a statistic or description on a page. This is a real family struggling and worrying about what the future holds. As a final revelation, a diagnosis reveals that Christine is autistic, too, leading to much soul searching about her own life experiences. Hopefully, having been written by a high-profile TV celebrity, A Beautiful Nightmare will offer some comfort and support to other parents in a similar situation – that they're not alone – and will also raise awareness and understanding of autism among the book's readers and Christine's existing fans.  

eBooks of the Month
The Kickass Couple 7 Secrets to Transform Your Relationship

The Kickass Couple 7 Secrets to Transform Your Relationship

Author: Dr Gloria Lee Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/10/2021

The Kickass Couple 7 Secrets to Transform Your Relationship is written by Dr. Gloria Lee, a clinical psychologist. This book will be beneficial to all couples, no matter their ages or stage of the relationship. Dr. Lee aims to empower and support couples. Single people will also benefit from this information, so they can apply it when they are in a relationship. Dr. Lee explains that by understanding our own attachment styles/needs and those of our romantic partner; we can create an unbreakable, fulfilling partnership. She uses three sources of information: research, her own childhood experiences, and the insights gained from her clinical work with couples. This is a concise book, consisting of nine chapters. She begins by defining what a “kickass” couple is. She then explains how the quality of our relationships with our primary caregivers (our childhood attachment template) affect our beliefs, thoughts, and feelings about relationships. It also affects our reactions and behaviour with partners. She discusses triggers, which are unresolved childhood wounds/needs. When couples are aware of their partner’s attachment styles, they can help each other move towards secure attachment and a more fulfilling relationship. She presents us with real-life stories from couples and stories from her own experiences in her childhood and marriage. She also gives tips on improving communication. She explains all the relevant theories logically. This book is helpful and easy to understand. Furthermore, I found it optimistic and encouraging. I highly recommend it. Susan Gibbs, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
An Innocent Baby

An Innocent Baby

Author: Cathy Glass Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/09/2021

When foster carer, Cathy Glass, is asked to foster Darcy-May, a two-day old baby, she is very concerned. The baby is coming to her straight from hospital and will have no contact with her teenage mother, Haylea. Even more worrying, she will be brought to Cathy with a police escort as it's vital her extended family don't know where she is. Abandoned at birth, Cathy and her family quickly bond with little Darcy-May although they have to accept she will eventually leave them to be adopted. But fostering is rarely straight forward, and when Haylea asks to see her baby a different story begins to emerge. It's so alarming that even Cathy, a highly experienced foster carer, struggles.

An Impossible Wife

An Impossible Wife

Author: Rachael Siddoway Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/09/2021

Mitch and Sonja’s marriage faced challenges unlike most. Mitch fell in love with Sonja from their first meeting, but despite the passion between them, Sonja’s harrowing struggle with bipolar disorder created roadblocks to their happily ever after. Written by the couple’s own daughter, An Impossible Wife, is a raw, honest look at everything it takes to love a partner with a mental illness and proves that even friendly fire can draw blood. The compelling narrative about love, mental health, and the difficulties that emerge when the two are combined is heart-wrenching. This true story takes an intimate look at a man fighting for his wife and marriage. An Impossible Wife is a lighthouse of hope for those facing an all-consuming mental illness, either for themselves or for someone they love.

Love and Care

Love and Care

Author: Shaun Deeney Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/05/2021

For centuries much has been written about a mother’s love for her son, fewer words have been dedicated to the reverse. When his controlling elderly father becomes a danger to his aged mother, Shaun Deeney takes the decision to place his mother in a charming care home. Later, following his father’s sudden death, he takes the unusual decision to remove her from the care home and to provide for her himself, in the family home, with the assistance of paid-for carers. So unheard of is this, the care home themselves have never heard of anyone doing it before and no-one even knows what forms are required. The softly spoken truth is that residents rarely leave such places until their final journey. What follows is an endearingly candid account of Denney facing down his doubts, and those of others, to provide the very best care for his Mother. In so doing he rediscovers the Mother he loves but hardly knows and forgoes his ‘new-found freedom’ as a divorcee to embrace his role as a dutiful caring son. With diversions into his daughter-assisted forays into internet dating, and his quest for love and a relationship, Deeney writes with engaging honesty and humour on the mistakes and triumphs of his decisions and explores the power of forgiveness, tolerance and understanding in this affecting account of what it means to be a son, a father and a man who faces up to the responsibilities of all three.  His generosity of spirit in sharing the truth of his experience makes this a highly readable tale of redemption and a celebration of love’s many hues. The LoveReading LitFest invited Shaun Deeney to the festival to talk about Love & Care. 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. 

Empty Nest

Empty Nest

Author: Carol Ann Duffy Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/02/2021

'Duffy is magnificent, grounded, heartfelt, dedicated to the notion that poetry can give us the music of life itself' Scotsman In this stunning anthology Carol Ann Duffy has selected 99 poems exploring parenting. The special bond between parent and child is both powerful and unique. And yet there is a time when that bond must ease, where our grip on that dear one must loosen, when we must let them go whether we are ready to or not. In Empty Nest, a beautiful selection of modern and classic poems range along the tender line between parent and child, covering growing old, the deep love of a parent, the everyday of family life and leaving home to live an independent life, but also unthinkable grief, loss and estrangement. Some of our very favourite poets feature in the selection, such as Elizabeth Bishop, Jackie Kay, Simon Armitage, Shakespeare, Imtiaz Dharker, Seamus Heaney and Don Paterson. These poems are by turns wry, affecting, profound, melancholy and wise; they will console and comfort those suddenly facing a house that's much cleaner but also much quieter than it was. There is something here for every reader to treasure.

Symona's Still Single

Symona's Still Single

Author: Lisa Bent Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/10/2020

What do you do when you’ve reached 37 and your biological clock is ticking so loud you can’t hear anything else? Decide to change your fortunes by going out there and actively looking for Mr Right, of course. Symona’s journey through the dating world is as funny as it is frustrating and I had more than one laugh-out-moment. Smart and astute, I really enjoyed reading about her adventures in dating and often felt as though I’d met some of those men at certain points in my life.  Selected by Dorothy Koomson, Our Summer 2021 Guest Editor. Click here to read the full Guest Editor Piece. 

Pretending

Pretending

Author: Holly Bourne Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/04/2020

He said he was looking for a 'partner in crime' which everyone knows is shorthand for 'a woman who isn't real'. April is kind, pretty, and relatively normal - yet she can't seem to get past date five. Every time she thinks she's found someone to trust, they reveal themselves to be awful, leaving her heartbroken. And angry. If only April could be more like Gretel. Gretel is exactly what men want - she's a Regular Everyday Manic Pixie Dream Girl Next Door With No Problems. The problem is, Gretel isn't real. And April is now claiming to be her. As soon as April starts 'being' Gretel, dating becomes much more fun - especially once she reels in the unsuspecting Joshua. Finally, April is the one in control, but can she control her own feelings? And as she and Joshua grow closer, how long will she be able to keep pretending?