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Harper Collins UK

Put a Wet Paper Towel on It by Lee Parkinson and Adam Parkinson

Everybody has memories of their primary school from friendships made to lessons learned, but how much do you really know about what goes on inside the building? Brothers Lee and Adam Parkinson (a teacher and a teaching assistant respectively) open the doors to reveal what life is really like for a primary school teacher, highlighting the funny moments and also the downsides of life working with the younger generation.

If you are unfamiliar with the two Mr Ps, they are known for their hugely popular podcast, Two Mr Ps in a Pod(cast), and also for their posts on social media. I suppose you could describe this book as an extension of the podcast and you can definitely hear the authors’ voices as you read. It is obvious how much the authors love their jobs, their positivity shining throughout. It is written in quite an informal way, making it an easy read and one which is accessible to all, regardless of whether they have a professional interest or not.

As someone who is in the trade, so to speak, I spent most of this book with a smile and a knowing look on my face. Any one who works in a primary school will be able to recognise their place of work as they are reading, showing how similar schools actually are. From the staffroom to school productions, children to educational visits, so much resonated with me and I could certainly identify with many of the stories being told!

The ongoing Covid pandemic has highlighted to many just how hard a job teaching can be with lots of parents gaining a new appreciation of teachers due to them having to undertake home learning during lockdowns. It was pleasing, therefore, to see the downsides of the job also being discussed, the role of the government featuring prominently. I applaud the two Mr Ps for saying what most teachers would agree with.

This is a humorous read and if you’ve ever wanted to know what really goes on in a primary school, I heartily recommend it.

With thanks to Harper Collins UK and Net Galley for my copy.

**BLOG TOUR** The Guilty Mother by Diane Jeffrey

In 2013, Melissa Slade was tried and convicted of the murder of her twin baby girls, but did she do it? Now, new evidence has come to light, seeming to support the view that it was, indeed, a miscarriage of justice and an appeal is planned to try to overturn her conviction. Newspaper reporter, Jonathan Hunt, covered the original case and now his boss wants him to take a closer look at the evidence to try to uncover the truth. Reluctantly, he begins to investigate, hoping to find out exactly what happened to Amber and Ellie Slade.

Losing a child is a tragedy that no parent should have to endure, but for Melissa Slade and her husband, Michael, this is only the beginning of their nightmare. The loss of Amber was attributed to sudden infant death syndrome, but the later death of Ellie caused the alarm bells to ring, with Melissa being convicted of her murder. We soon realise that at the time of the deaths, all was not well in the Slade household. Melissa was clearly struggling with the two girls, her relationship with her husband far from perfect. The addition of an au pair to help look after the babies added extra tension and with other family members from their previous marriages present in the house, there was no shortage of potential suspects.

As well as some of the book being written from the point of view of Melissa, we also have chapters written from the perspectives of Jonathan, and junior reporter, Kelly. Both of these characters had also experienced tragedy in their lives but I was pleased that this did not take over the story, something which other authors can often do. I found both of the journalists likeable, keen to uncover the truth about what had happened. I particularly enjoyed seeing how Kelly developed throughout the book, going from an inexperienced, wet behind the ears reporter, to someone who shows great promise in investigative journalism. Although The Guilty Mother appears to be a standalone book, I feel that there is enough scope in these characters to give them a second outing.

This is one of those books where you constantly change your mind about who was actually responsible for the deaths. Many of the characters had potential motives and my theory changed constantly as to what had happened. Despite working out one of the mysteries in the story, I did not predict the conclusion and was surprised when the truth was revealed. The ending is clever and definitely provided one of those ‘gasp’ moments!

I raced through this book, desperate to know the outcome. I have never read any of Diane Jeffrey’s work before, but I will definitely be rectifying this as soon as possible! A superb read!

With thanks to HQ Digital and Net Galley and to Izzy Smith for organising the blog tour.

 

 

 

Why Mummy Swears by Gill Sims

It’s the start of the school holidays and Ellen is exhausted. Tired of being ‘just’ a mother, she longs to get back to work and feel useful once again. After managing to bag her dream job, she soon realises, though, that this brings with it a plethora of other problems which threaten to overwhelm her. With a dysfunctional family, a less-than-supportive husband, childcare problems and now a starring role on the PTA, we really do get to find out Why Mummy Swears!

Although I have not read the previous book Why Mummy Drinks, I have been privy to some of the very funny Facebook ‘Peter and Jane’ posts about Ellen’s children so had some idea of what to expect. What I got was a laugh-out-loud book which, at times, was also very poignant. Gill’s writing is spot on and you can almost hear Ellen’s voice as she talks you through each disastrous day.

I imagine that plenty of people, when reading this book, are nodding their head as they recall similar events that have happened to them although I am yet to hear of anyone who has had a Christmas quite like the one described here! I shall never look at a gravy boat in quite the same way again… I definitely had a knowing look on my face when reading about the attempt to split a restaurant bill, something I think many of us have experienced!

Although most of the book is written in a light-hearted way, the problems of modern parenthood are also dealt with – I’m sure many parents have had the social media argument with their children and are also trying to juggle their work and home life without feeling they are neglecting one of them. There is also a very topical nod to the mildly irritating Fortnite that all children seem to have become obsessed with.

As the title suggests, there is a lot of swearing but even this had me chuckling – some of Ellen’s phraseology was incredibly descriptive and I was surprised that Peter and Jane were not copying on a regular basis!

If you are looking for a book to make you laugh out loud, then Why Mummy Swears could just be the book for you. An excellent read and I will now be going back to read Why Mummy Drinks.

With thanks to Rosie Margesson and Harper Non Fiction for my copy of Why Mummy Swears, which is published on July 16th.

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Lisa is protective of her daughter, Ava. Maybe over-protective. That’s what Ava thinks anyway. All Ava wants to do is spend time with her friends doing the sort of things other teenage girls do. She has a secret, though, and it is one that spells danger. Lisa, on the other hand, prefers to keep herself to herself, classing Marilyn, a work colleague, as her only friend. Both of these women also have secrets but which of them has a secret so dark that its discovery could change the life of everyone forever?

Sarah Pinborough’s previous book, Behind Her Eyes, was one of last year’s most talked about books, partly due to the #WTFthatending hashtag that was all over social media. It was a book that certainly divided opinion but as someone who really enjoyed it, I was excited to see what Sarah would come up with next.

Lisa and Marilyn are all incredibly flawed characters and it was easy to see how they found themselves drawn towards each other. While Marilyn’s secret is not too difficult to figure out, Lisa’s is truly shocking and not one I saw coming at all. This reveal turned the book on its head and made me question everything I had read. It is hard to say too much without giving away the plot but it is very clever writing from Sarah Pinborough to make you like and loathe a character at the same time.

Ava’s story was probably the one that disturbed me the most as, from the start, there was a sense of foreboding as she communicated with an unknown ‘friend’ on Facebook. Although it was inevitable that this liaison would come to no good, it was not in the way I expected. Another clever piece of writing that, once again, highlights the dangers of social media.

While Cross Her Heart does not make you gasp in the same way as Behind Her Eyes, there are definitely enough twists and turns to keep you guessing due to all of the secrets being kept by the three main protagonists. I loved how the author dropped in a bit of information almost in a blasé fashion, making me wonder if I’d somehow missed a bit of the plot, only for it to be addressed later.

Cross Her Heart is a great read. With thanks to Harper Collins UK and Net Galley for the ARC.

 

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