Archive | January, 2012

Book review: The Two Week Wait by Sarah Rayner

30 Jan

What if the thing you most longed for was resting on a two week wait?

After a health scare, Brighton-based Lou is forced to confront the fact that her time to have a baby is running out. She can’t imagine a future without children, but it seems her partner doesn’t feel the same way, and she’s not sure whether she could go it alone.

Meanwhile, up in Yorkshire, Cath is longing to start a family with her husband, Rich. No one would be happier to have a child than Rich, but Cath is infertile.

Could these strangers help one another out?

The Two Week Wait is Sarah Rayner’s fourth novel. Her last book, One Moment, One Morning has sold over 200,000 copies in the UK and I’d been hearing lots of good things about The Two Week Wait so when I was offered a review copy, I jumped at the chance. I haven’t read any of Sarah’s previous novels so approached the book with an open mind but expecting an emotional read based on the synopsis. What I found was a fantastic read that absorbed me more than any book has in a long time. I read it in two days because I just couldn’t put it down; I just had to know what happened to Lou and Cath and their hopes for becoming mothers.

I became totally involved in both Lou and Cath’s stories from almost the first page. The narrative doesn’t hang around and events move swiftly as Lou’s health scare prompts her to consider parenthood sooner than she thought and Cath is determined to explore all of the options for having children despite her own infertility. Rayner has clearly done her research and the novel gives a very clear insight into the practicalities of the IVF and egg donation process which combined with the emotional exploration of the subject taking in Cath and Lou’s experiences and the thoughts and feelings of their partners, friends and families gave me as a reader much to think about as the story progressed.

Rayner explores the topic of IVF treatment and egg donation from a myriad of angles and I was impressed by just how many varied viewpoints she wove into the novel whilst maintaining the personal and emotional connection with Lou and Cath. I loved that the book wasn’t black and white about parenthood and raising children and I’d highly recommend this book to book groups as I imagine there could be some really lively discussions arising from it.

For fans of Rayner’s previous novel, One Moment, One Morning, a number of the characters from that novel are present in this one, including Lou but there are also new characters including Cath, her partner Rich and their families. You don’t need to have read one book to enjoy the other although, having enjoyed Rayner’s writing so much, I do plan to read her other novels now.

It fascinated me that the two key characters never meet yet are so intimately involved in each others’ lives and the book is cleverly written to maintain the two stories in separation. Rayner’s writing and style reminded me of one of my favourite authors, Maggie O’Farrell in the way that she gets to the heart of her characters emotions and puts them on the page beautifully. As a mum, I think I would have had a strong emotional connection to the book anyway but Rayner took that connection to another level through the depth of feeling that she provoked in me for her characters.

The story is told in alternating ‘snapshopts’ featuring Lou and Cath which makes for great pace and gripping reading. I was so wrapped up in events that I was telling my husband about them as though they were happening to friends of mine. Rayner held my attention right to the last page with an epilogue that made me cry. This book is absolutely deserving of my first 5/5 for a 2012 release and I highly recommend it to readers looking for a sensitive, warm and absorbing read.

5/5

The Two Week Wait is available exclusively from Waterstons now and will be available on general release on March 1st.

You can find out more about Sarah Rayner and her novels on her website at: http://www.thecreativepumpkin.com/

With thanks to Emma at ed public relations for sending me a review copy.

Mini review: Wise Bear William by Arthur Wooten and Bud Santora

28 Jan

In Wise Bear William: A New Beginning, toys long forgotten in an attic discover that children are coming up to rescue them.

All wanting to be picked, each toy examines their own self-described shortcomings and turn to one another for comfort and advice. But the most important thing they discover is that as much as you fix things up on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that really counts.

I reviewed Arthur Wooten’s last novel, Birthday Pie, last year and Arthur very kindly sent me a copy of his latest book, Wise Bear William: A New Beginning for Christmas. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to put a little review up even though I don’t normally cover children’s books. Wise Bear William: A New Beginning is Arthur’s first foray into writing a children’s book and I hope it won’t be his last. This is a lovely story and is beautifully illustrated by the talented Bud Santora.

I’d say this is an ideal story for children aged five upwards and is a great bedtime read as it has a lovely gentle pace and a fab ending which will leave everyone smiling.

The story unfolds as a group of toys stored in an attic find out that children (the grandchildren of the toys’ original owner) are going to pay a visit to the attic to see the toys and maybe even take them to a new home. William Bear is the toy that all the other toys consult as they prepare for the children’s arrival. The story has a nice message that stresses the importance of what’s inside over looks as the toys try to fix their imperfections to make themselves more desirable.

Wise Bear William left me feeling a little like I did when I watched the last Toy Story movie; I wanted to dig out all of my old toys and give them a hug and although this is a children’s book I think readers of all ages would enjoy it!

5/5

You can find out more about Arthur Wooten and his work at: http://www.arthurwooten.com/

Book review: Finding Mr Flood by Ciara Geraghty

26 Jan

Dara Flood always says the most interesting thing about her life happened before she was born. Thirteen days before she came into the world, her father walked up the road and never came back.

Now in her twenties, Dara’s life has a careful routine. She lives in Dublin with her mother and sister Angel. She has pizza with friends every Wednesday, salsa class every Friday, and sees her boyfriend every Saturday. It’s safe and that’s the way she likes it.

Then Angel gets desperately sick and Dara’s ordered life falls apart. Neither she nor her mother is a compatible match for the kidney Angel needs. So Dara sets out to find the father who could be their last hope. But on the path to uncovering the truth about her father, Dara learns that to let life – and love – in, sometimes you just have to let go . . .

Finding Mr Flood is Ciara Geraghty’s third novel, but the first book of hers that I’ve read. As regular readers of this blog will know, I love discovering new authors and Ciara is now high on my list of ‘finds’. Ciara’s writing style in Finding Mr Flood is individual and different and gives the story, told in the third person, a quirky air which I really enjoyed.

This is a large book at over 500 pages and there is a huge amount of detail and complexity in the characters and plot. At times I felt that the amount of detail made for slow (but still enjoyable) reading but there are also parts of the book that are fast paced and had me racing through the pages, particularly in the final part of the story.

As the novel begins we are introduced to a number of key characters in quick succession; the Flood family, consisting of Dara, her sister Angel and their Mother who is referred to for the majority of the novel as ‘Mrs Flood’, their neighbor Mrs Pettigrew, Dara’s lover Ian, her colleagues (Tintin and Anya) at the dog pound where she works and in a seemingly unrelated plot-line, Stanley Flinter, his five brothers and family. Stanley is the youngest of six brothers and having a rough time of things, particularly in his love life and career.

I was impressed by the depth that both key characters and minor ones display; Geraghty has really got inside the heads of all of her subjects and the story is peppered with intimate facts and feelings which really made me connect with Dara and Stanley and although she only has a small role, I loved Mrs Pettigrew.

The ‘Mr Flood’ of the book title vanished just before Dara was born and the majority of the book charts Dara’s quest to find him in the hope of securing a kidney match for Angel. But as much as the book focuses on Dara’s search for her father, the real story is that of Dara’s development as she faces her fears and takes control of her life. I felt for Dara straight away; she has a difficult relationship with her mother, blames herself for her father leaving and the sister she relies upon for security and warmth has an uncertain future. There are a number of twists and turns to the plot which make for an engaging story and I thought the romantic element was excellent and very well developed.

Overall this is a bittersweet and emotionally charged novel which tackles some heartbreaking topics. But despite the sad themes running through the book there is also a lot of humor, much of it very subtly observed and Ciara Geraghty’s writing is warm and sensitive. I really enjoyed this involving read and if you are looking for a novel with emotional depth, an element of mystery, great storytelling and a lovely romance then this could be the book for you!

4/5

I’d like to thank Katy at Hodder for sending me a copy of this book for review.

You can find out more about Ciara Geraghty and her novels at: http://www.ciarageraghty.com/

Book news: Vampire State of Mind by Jane Lovering

25 Jan

The lovely Choc Lit gang revealed the cover for Jane Lovering’s next novel Vampire State of Mind over on their Facebook page the other day. Isn’t it gorgeous? And such a fab title too. Described as “Choc Lit’s version of Buffy”, I can’t wait to read this one. Vampire State of Mind is out in August – perfect timing for your beach reading list!

Check out One More Page’s Facebook page for more book news and gossip!

Book review: Just Another Manic Mum-Day by Mink Elliott

24 Jan

Roxy, Jack and daughter Joey, three, are building a new life for themselves in sunny Sydney, Australia, but Roxy’s finding it hard to settle down. When she discovers she’s pregnant again, things become even more complicated – how will she cope with a second child? Frustrated at the lack of places for stressed-out mums to go, Roxy and her new friend, Shoshanna, set up Just Another Manic Mum-Day – a café catering exclusively for parents. But when an opportunity arises for Roxy to return to England, she realises just how much she’s missed home …

I love the cover for this book; it’s fun and cheerful and I only had to look at it to feel brighter in these cold dark winter days. I also love the title for the book – that Bangles song has always been a favourite of mine (showing my age!) so I was really looking forward to reading this one.

Set in the famous Bondi Beach area of Sydney, the story focuses on Roxy, her husband Jack and three year old daughter Joey who have moved to Australia from England and are trying to adjust to their new life. Roxy is a larger than life depiction of a stressed out mum and I had mixed feelings about her at first as I thought her reactions to some situations were a little over the top and I didn’t agree with some of her actions in relation to one of the the jobs she takes on. On the other hand, I could empathise with her as she tries to fit in to a new life and country whilst juggling a demanding three year old and finding herself pregnant again.  As I read more, I warmed to her, partly because she made me feel like I’m not the only one who has to deal with screaming temper tantrums on a regular basis but mainly because beneath all the hyperactivity and stressing, she’s a good mum and loves her family; she’s also a very funny character and really jumps off the page!

The supporting characters are interesting and there are a number of sub stories, all of which revolve around parenthood in some way that give different viewpoints on the main story. I liked the community feel to the story and the ‘tribes’ of parents that Elliott describes and I thought that the stresses that having chldren can put on relationships were sensitively handled as Roxy and Jack try to keep their heads above water.

There is a lot in the book that mums and dads will empathise with and the storyline touches on plenty of hot topics from super nannies and reward charts to couples therapy and coping with job losses. That’s not to say the book won’t appeal to readers who don’t have children! I thought the idea of a cafe just for parents and carers was brilliant and coupled with the Australian setting it made this the book a refreshing and original read. Mink’s style of writing is lighthearted and funny but underneath the humour and drama the story has a nice message about the importance of family and what really matters when it comes to being a parent.

For me, Just Another Manic Mum-Day’s contents had much the same effect as the cover and title; the book is a fun, sunny read that made me smile. I haven’t read Mink’s first novel, The Pi**ed-Off Parents Club yet but Just Another Manic Mum-Day features the same characters and I’d now like to go back and meet Roxy and Jack before their move to Australia. I also hope Mink decides to visit Roxy and her family again in a future novel as I’d love to find out how she fares as her two children grow up!

4/5

You can find out more about Mink and her novels on her website at: http://www.minkelliott.com/

With thanks to publisher Sphere for sending me a review copy.

Book review: Build A Man by Talli Roland

23 Jan

Slave to the rich and the rude, cosmetic surgery receptionist Serenity Holland longs for the day she’s a high-flying tabloid reporter. When she meets Jeremy Ritchie — the hang-dog man determined to be Britain’s Most Eligible Bachelor by making himself over from head to toe and everything in between — Serenity knows she’s got a story no editor could resist.

With London’s biggest tabloid on board and her very own column tracking Jeremy’s progress from dud to dude, Serenity is determined to be a success. But when Jeremy’s surgery goes drastically wrong and she’s ordered to cover all the car-crash goriness, Serenity must decide how far she really will go for her dream job.

Build A Man is Talli Roland’s third novel and although I’ve enjoyed them all, this is my favourite so far! I said in a previous review that I thought Talli had really found her niche in writing chick lit with an edge that is fun, modern and romantic and Build A Man is another brilliant example of this; the plot is original and fun but still manages to make you think, the hero and heroine are well developed and genuinely likeable but by no means perfect and the romance is spot on and actually believable.

I think Talli’s novels feel very ‘of the moment’ because they look at trends such as reality TV (The Hating Game), YouTube and the cult of celebrity (Watching Willow Watts) and Build A Man continues the theme by focusing on the tabliod press and cosmetic surgery. Leading lady Serenity Holland is the link between the two; she’s desperate to break into tabloid journalism and is handed the perfect story whilst working as a receptionist at the ‘Transforma Harley Street Clinic’.

When Jeremy Richie walks into the clinic determined to turn himself into a prize catch by changing everything about his appearance, Serenity leaps at the chance to make her tabloid dreams come true and unbeknown to Jeremy a tabloid star is born. The lengths Serenity goes to to keep Jeremy and her cosmetic surgeon boyfriend, Peter in the dark whilst gathering her story and juggling her clinic job and her new reporter role are inspired and make for a lot of humour in the early parts of the novel. Coupled with Serenity’s caustic thoughts on the clients at the clinic, Build a Man is a very funny novel.

But as well as fun and humour, there is a serious and as the novel progresses, dramatic darker side to the story. Talli balances the two perfectly resulting in a story that entertains and makes you think. As the drama unfolds, the romantic element to the story steps up a gear too and I found myself completely gripped wondering what the outcome would be. Both Serenity and Jeremy are very believable characters and I genuinely wanted a good outcome for both of them. Talli has also created an excellent supporting cast and the secondary storyline involving Talli’s best friend Kirsty had me just as engrossed as the main plot.

With Build A Man, Talli has firmly established herself as one of my ‘must read’ authors and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel Construct A Couple.

5/5

I’d like to thank Talli for providing a copy of Build A Man for review.

You can find out more about Talli and her novels at: http://www.talliroland.com/

Author interview: Eva Stachniak

21 Jan

Today I’m delighted to welcome Eva Stachniak to One More Page as part of her blog tour to celebrate the release of The Winter Palace. Eva was born in Wrocław, Poland and now lives in Canada. Her career has included time as a radio broadcaster and English and Humanities lecturer. An award-winning author, The Winter Palace is Eva’s third novel and tells of the rise to power of Catherine the Great. Welcome Eva!

You’ve written both historical and contemporary novels previously, what drew you to the historical fiction genre?

My passion for history, and the belief that history illuminates the present. And also the need to tell the forgotten stories from beyond the former Iron Curtain—bring them back to our collective memory.

The Winter Palace tells the story of the rise of Catherine the Great; why did you choose to tell Catherine’s story?

Catherine fascinated and tempted me since my second novel Dancing with Kings, where she appears for a brief moment. Her story is astounding. A petty Prussian princess who became a powerful Russian empress. An immigrant to Russia who made her adopted country one of the most powerful empires of the world.

Also it is important to remember that the 18th century Russia was a vast and multicultural country. Under Catherine’s rule one-third of Poland became part of the Russian Empire, and remained so until the end of World War I. When I was growing up in Poland, Catherine was considered to be a rather sinister figure, the empress who dashed Polish hopes for independence. My own family, both on my mother’s and my father’s side were subjects of the Russian Tsars. My grandfather was even drafted into the Russian army.

And once I started researching Catherine’s life I found her irresistible.

I love historical fiction that focuses on strong female characters and there are several in this novel; who was your favourite character to write and why?

I have to confess that I was captivated by all three powerful women who make the core of the plot, Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, Catherine who through most of the novel is Grand Duchess of Russia, and of course, my narrator, Varvara/Barbara. Elizabeth absorbed me because she was so unpredictable, so sensuous, so spontaneous and so full of contradictions: A sinner and a devout Christian repenting her sins as soon as she stopped enjoying them. A woman delighting in sex, food, music and dancing. Catherine, on the other hand, impressed me with her sense of purpose, her serious dedication to her goals, and her ability to attract loyalty from all quarters. And Varvara? She was my key to the two empresses. She was my eyes, my ears, and my guide.

There is a wealth of fascinating detail about the 18th century Russian court in the novel; how did you go about your research and what was the most interesting area for you?

I read diaries, letters, memoirs. I visited archives. I travelled to St. Petersburg and looked at every painting I could find that portrayed scenes from the 18th century life in Russia. One of my all time favourite sources are The Russian Journals of Martha and Catherine Wilmot, compiled from many letters that the Wilmot sisters wrote from Russia to their family in Ireland. For several years, they were cherished house guests of Princess Dashkova herself, the youthful friend of Catherine, and as foreign visitors to Russia they kept their eyes wide open and reported on everything that amused or intrigued them: funeral customs, the abundance of servants in Russian palaces and manor houses, the sights in the streets. They also heard many personal stories about Catherine from their hostess, and I used many of them in the novel.

It was the researching of the everyday details of life in a Russian palace that I found most fascinating.

The story is told through the eyes of Vavara, a young Polish girl serving at the court; why did you decide to tell the story from her point of view?

The Russian imperial court was home to many foreigners, including Catherine herself, who came to Russia from a small German princedom of Zerbst. Foreigners, immigrants are good observers, and I wanted my narrator to have this outsider’s point of view.

Another reason for wanting to tell Catherine’s story from outside was the need to understand the essence of Catherine’s power over people. I wanted the reader to experience Catherine’s power over those around her, show how this Prussian Princess managed to command the hearts of so many.

And then, of course, Varvara is a spy, able to see beyond closed doors, the best narrator an author can imagine.

If you could live during any historical period which would you choose?

Right now, it would be the 18th century Russia, because I’m still working on the second Catherine book. If I could find myself at the Winter Palace, I’d want to know what people talked about in their most mundane, every day conversations. I would want to know, for instance, what Catherine’s servants made of the kangaroos their empress kept in the Taurida Palace gardens. The animals came as a gift from King George III. Someone had to feed them. Take care of them. Did they seem merely odd? Or frightening, perhaps?

When you’re not writing and researching, what do you like to read?

I’m a voracious reader.  Many writers sustain and inspire me. Lately I’ve been reading Kate Grenville’s marvelous historical novels set in Australia, and the unsurpassable Hilary Mantel. But I don’t particularly look for historical fiction. Any well written book will seduce me.

You are currently working on a second novel about Catherine the Great, can you tell us a little more about what we can expect next?

The Empire of the Night, the second Catherine novel, will be told from Catherine’s point of view. It will cover the pivotal points of her thirty-four years rule. If The Winter Palace is the story of Catherine’s fight for power and her own survival, The Empire of the Night examines the consequences of wielding absolute power for so long. Together, I hope, the two novels will complement each other, and give the reader a fuller picture of this remarkable empress and a captivating woman.

Thank you Eva – I’m already looking forward to The Empire of the Night.

You can find out more about Eva and her novels on her website at: http://www.evastachniak.com/

Eva continues her blog tour tomorrow with a guest post at: www.curiousbookfans.co.uk and please look out for my review of The Winter Palace next week.


Book News: The Winter Palace Blog Tour

19 Jan

The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak is one of my historical fiction hotpicks for 2012 and was released today. The novel tells the story of the early years and rise to power of Catherine the Great and is a wonderfully detailed depiction of life at the Winter Palace.  I’m very excited to be part of Eva’s blog tour to mark the launch of the book and I’ll be publishing an exclusive interview with Eva on Saturday so please stop by for that. The full tour line up can be found below starting with an extract from the book on the gorgeous History Tellers website.

Book Review: The Promise by Lesley Pearse

19 Jan

London, 1914. Belle Reilly finally has the life she’s dreamed of thanks to a devoted husband in Jimmy and the hat shop she’s wanted to own since she was a child. But as the storm clouds of World War One begin to gather, Belle’s already turbulent life is to change in ways she never imagined possible.

When Jimmy enlists in the army and leaves for the battlefields of Ypres, her world is shattered and she realises she can no longer stand by and watch, she must volunteer to help the wounded. But her work as a Red Cross ambulance driver in France throws her into the path of Etienne, the enigmatic man who played a significant role in her childhood, and Belle finds herself torn agonisingly between forbidden passion and loyalty to a good man.

But the past returns to haunt her present in other – more unpleasant – ways and Belle’s character is put to the test like never before. Can she survive this most brutal of wars with her spirit intact? And will destiny finally lead her to lasting happiness even while war rages all around?

The Promise is Lesley Pearse’s twentieth novel and sequel to her number one bestseller Belle. Firstly, I’d like to say, don’t worry if you haven’t read Belle – I haven’t and The Promise works perfectly well as a standalone novel. There are plenty of references to the past, but any blanks are filled in as the story is told. I certainly don’t feel I suffered for not having read Belle but because I enjoyed The Promise so much I’ve already downloaded Belle to my Kindle!

The Promise tells the story of Belle Reilly’s life from 1914-1919, set against the backdrop of the First World War and had me gripped from start to finish. This is the first of Lesley’s books that I’ve read and I can’t believe it’s taken me until now to discover her! I love sagas like this and in Belle, Lesley has created a character that I liked and cared about immediately. From the beginning it’s clear that Belle hasn’t had the easiest of starts in life but as the novel opens we find that she’s happily married with her own business and a well thought of member of the community in Blackheath where she lives. Circumstances soon conspire to thwart Belle’s happiness and she displays amazing strength and perseverance as she copes with the hand she’s been dealt and this was one of the traits that I liked most about her as a character.

At over five hundred pages, this is a substantial read that will draw you in to Belle’s world and leave you sad to say goodbye at the end but despite the length, I found it a quick and engrossing read. Pearse is a skilled storyteller and The Promise is an emotional read with some surprising plot twists. I loved the historical aspect to the book and the experiences of Belle, Jimmy and the rest of the cast of characters made the impact of the war and the changes in society because of it feel very real and personal. I’m not a fan of battle scenes in books but there was just the right amount of detail to gain my empathy and understanding and I found Belle’s experiences as a volunteer ambulance driver fascinating.

The Promise is very much a love story and alongside a lot of heartbreak there are plenty of romantic moments in the book and I loved the romantic sub-stories – especially Belle’s friend Miranda’s. As the war ends and the novel draws to a close Belle is still only in her early twenties which leaves plenty of scope for Lesley Pearse to revisit the character in future and I very much hope she does as I’d love to know what happens to Belle next.

4/5

The Promise is released today and I’d like to thank Emma at ed public relations for sending me a review copy.

You can find out more about Lesley Pearse and her books at: http://www.lesleypearse.com/


Author interview: Mink Elliott

18 Jan

Today I’m excited to welcome Mink Elliott to the blog on the latest stop of her Just Another Manic Mum-Day blog tour. Welcome Mink!

Your second novel, Just Another Manic Mum-Day is released tomorrow, please could you tell us a little about it?

I’d love to! It’s about Jack, Roxy and Joey, their three-year-old daughter, and what happens to them when they flee Britain for the sunnier shores of Sydney. Roxy feels very fish-out-of-water-y as a newcomer to such a hot climate and when she discovers she’s pregnant again, she’s thrown into further disarray. Amid the chaos and clutter of family life (Joey can talk under wet cement and is a champion tantrummer while hubby Jack is getting surlier by the minute) and with nowhere to run and hide, Roxy and new best friend Shoshanna find a gaping chasm in the market and manage to open up a cafe for parents  – a sanctuary for stressed-out  mums and dads.

How did you come up with the idea for the book?

It wasn’t a bolt out of the blue idea, it was one that came to me in dribs and drabs, building on itself quietly, until it was almost a fully-fledged story.  I knew I wanted to write about paradise and our perceptions of what we’d be like if it didn’t rain all the time, it was warm and we could go to the beach every day if we wanted to…I wanted to explore the idea that day to day life with kids can become a grind no matter who or where you are…And I wanted to find out what motivates most of us – what makes us happiest and whether home is, as they say in the classics, where the heart is. The weird bit is the title came first, then the story. Which isn’t how it worked with The Pissed-Off Parents Club, my first novel, or my third, the one I’m working on at the moment. With those, the story came first and the title was obvious as a result, if that makes sense?

How have your own experiences as a mum fed into the story?

They haven’t. I mean, I’m the very definition of cool, calm and collected; my kids never throw tantrums; they eat all their vegetables and fruit; do as they’re politely asked to (I find I never need to shout and have completely forgotten what exasperation feels like); my husband is like a best girlfriend to me – he loves nothing more than to chat all day with me, sitting in cafes necking Earl Grey and scoffing brownies…HA! In my dreams! In all honesty, some of my own experiences as a mum were fed into the story: I fell pregnant shortly after we got to Sydney and my daughter is a keen talker, capable of throwing some real jaw-droppingly embarrassing tantrums – but that’s where the similarities end, I’m afraid. The rest is made up. All the characters in the book are fictitious – but the thoughts and feelings they have are, I hope, universal.

As a mum to two young children I know it can get pretty stressful sometimes; what are your top tips for stressed out parents?

I was going to ask you the same thing! I’m always seeking advice on how to deal, asking barristas, other mums, taxi drivers – all help and advice gratefully received!!! Because I haven’t got a clue, to be honest. People say ‘pick your battles’, but I always pick the wrong ones and end up in a right state, so that’s no good – too woolly. Take a deep breath and walk away into another room/another life/another time and space continuum? Oh, I know! Go to a cafe with free childcare and let someone else take the lion’s share of the load for a few hours. Meet some friends and have a decent, uninterrupted conversation. Do something for you, something that makes you feel good and happy, capable and strong – like you probably felt a long time ago in a (childless) galaxy far, far away… Being a mum is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do and I find it pretty overwhelming most of the time. It’s exhausting and frustrating and relentless and hard, but just this morning I was welling up, thinking about how much I love those crazy kids. I was hugging my five-and-a-half year old daughter too tightly, telling her how proud I am to be her mummy and how lovely she is to her baby brother and how she’s got to stop growing up so fast and could she please try to stay sweet and innocent for a few more years etc etc. She was trying to wriggle free of my embrace and I finally realised she was craning her whole body to get a look at some stripper or lap dancer on the TV … Suddenly I was plunged down into the dark depths of stressed out mum mode, resorting to the tried and true talking loudly in capital letters technique:  I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO TURN THAT RIHANNA MUSIC VIDEO OFF! NOW STOP PFAFFING AROUND OR WE’LL BE LATE FOR SCHOOL AGAIN! GET DRESSED AND EAT YOUR WEET-A-BIX! BLIMEY! FOR ONCE WILL YOU DO AS YOU’RE TOLD?! Oh well – take your magic moments where you can get them, I say – even if they look nothing like you imagined they would.

I love the title for your book how did it come about and are you a Bangles fan?!

Ha ha – no, not really. Having said that, I did used to spend an inordinate amount of time wishing I looked a bit more like Susannah Hoffs – all short and sexy with huge come-to-bed eyes (instead of short and dumpy with puffy, red, still half-asleep eyes). But Manic Monday has always been on a loop in my brain – it’s one of those songs that swims around in your sub-conscious as you drag yourself out of bed to get to paid work on time or to the unpaid work of looking after a screaming baby. So maybe that was it – in a terminally sleep-deprived state, with that song playing incessantly on my own internal CD system, it forced itself upon me!

Describe lead character Roxy in a sentence.

She’s exciteable, full of ideas  and a bit of a dreamer, really, but she’s also a champion of the downtrodden, exhausted mum – and proof that sometimes dreams can come true.

What do you like to read when you get a chance to relax?

How To Find The Time To Relax books, mainly! Also, I’ve just finished A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French and I really enjoyed that; one of my best friends sent me Stewart Lee – My Life And Deaths As A Comedian and I’m loving that; and I’ll devour anything by John Pilger and Fiona Gibson. I’m reading a lot of authors’ websites at the moment, too, to get some tips on how to do mine (I’m a total novice when it comes to the internet and social networking, you see) and keep coming back to Ciara Gerachty, Milly Johnson, Jane Costello…Oh! And I always look at www.onemorepage.co.uk when I get a minute!

And finally … what can we look forward to next from Mink Elliott?

I’m going to be at Waterstone’s in Bath for a lunchtime signing on Saturday the 21st of January, 2012 and I’m really looking forward to that! Do drop by and say hi if you’ve got some spare time up your sleeve and you happen to be wandering  around beautiful Bath. Book-wise, it’s still in its early stages, but I’m really excited about my third novel. It’s about a nostalgia-freak, stay-at-home-mum of three who…um…ooh! I don’t know how much I can tell you, actually. But basically, without giving anything away and in a series of pithy phrases, it’s a story about rose-coloured glasses, being careful what you wish for and forever wondering ‘what if…?’. Clear as mud, right?!

Thank you Mink!

You can find out all about Mink and her books and read the first chapter of Just Another Manic Mum Day on her new website at: http://www.minkelliott.com/