The Mothers’ Group by Fiona Higgins #Review @AllenAndUnwin

The Mothers' Group cover

Have you ever had a book that you put off reading for months, and then—once you finally started reading it—wanted to kick yourself for neglecting such a remarkable book? That’s how I’ve been feeling since I opened this book on my tablet the other day. I only meant to peek and see how it started, but I was drawn into the story so quickly, I had to keep reading.

The Mothers’ Group tells the story of six Australian women who meet at a support group for new mothers:

  • Ginie, the prominent lawyer married to a writer/photographer  who—as the primary provider—must leave her daughter’s care to a nanny.
  • Made (pronounced ma-day), the Balinese emigrant adjusting to being a wife and new mother in a place much different from her homeland.
  • Suzie, the single mother struggling to care for her baby on her own.
  • Miranda, the woman who seems to have the perfect life, and the only mother in the group who also has both a baby and a toddler (her stepchild) to care for.
  • Pippa, the perpetually exhausted, strangely withdrawn woman who shares little of her life.
  • Cara, the friendly woman whose kindness has a knack for putting everyone at ease.

Unlikely to have met under ordinary circumstances, in time the women form a strong bond of friendship as they navigate the joys and frustrations of new motherhood, supporting one another in ways their husbands and other friends can’t. But a day comes that puts their friendship to the test and they learn just how strong—or fragile—it truly is.

I really, really  enjoyed this book. The story is told through the perspective of each woman, with the story broken up into six parts. In them, we see not only what is happening in the present, but also the past of each of them—learning about the events in their lives that led them to becoming pregnant and participating in the mothers’ group. Having the story told in this way gives the reader insight into each of the characters. We discover things that they haven’t shared with the other women, which often explains why they say—or do—certain things when they gather together. There are a few shocking discoveries along the way that definitely shook up my perceptions of these women and their families. That made the book infinitely more interesting to me, because it enriched them all in ways that added to the story.

If I had to choose a favorite character, it would be Made. There was an air of innocence and vulnerability about her that especially drew me to her character. She had to deal with being a new mom just like the others, but she had other difficulties, as well. She was living far away from her family, in a strange (to her) new country. She had to improve her English, which meant she often had difficulty expressing her thoughts and feelings because she didn’t have the (English) words for it. Despite that air of innocence, Made had a great deal of wisdom, and a way of looking at things that proved helpful to her friends in many ways.

Higgins has created a vivid portrait of what new motherhood looks like, and didn’t shy away from making it as realistic as possible. Adjusting your life to include a baby isn’t easy, and it’s refreshing to read a book that confronts that reality, rather than showing the idealized fantasy many women expect while pregnant.

This book is simply beautiful, and I definitely recommend giving it a try!

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Allen & Unwin via Netgalley.

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Author: Fiona Higgins

Title: The Mothers’ Group

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Published: May 1st, 2017 by Allen & Unwin

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the Book

The Mothers’ Group tells the story of six very different women who agree to regularly meet soon after the birth of their babies. Set during the first crucial year of their babies’ lives, the story tracks the women’s individual journeys—and the group’s collective one—as they navigate birth and motherhood as well as their shifting romantic relationships Each woman strives in her own way to become the mother she wants to be, and finds herself becoming increasingly reliant on the friendship and support of the members of the group. Until one day an unthinkably shocking event changes everything. This is an unflinching and compelling portrait of the modern family in all its complexity and intensity: love, sex, and marriage, and all the joys and tensions of raising children in an increasingly complicated world. Moving, provocative, tender, and utterly gripping, The Mothers’ Group will draw you in and never let you go.

About the Author

Fiona Higgins
Fiona Higgins

Fiona is the author of three novels – Fearless (2016) Wife on the Run, (2014), The Mothers’ Group (2012) – and a memoir, Love in the Age of Drought (2009).

She is published by Allen & Unwin and Pan Macmillan in Australia, with translations of her work sold into the Netherlands, France, Germany and Spain.

She has qualifications in the humanities and social sciences and, a long time ago while studying, once worked as an Indonesian translator, a masseuse and a spruiker of fruitcakes (not all at once).

A lover of travel, Fiona recently spent three years in Indonesia with her husband and three children.

She now lives in Sydney, but has itchy feet.

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The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen #Review #BlogTour @greerkh @sarahpekkanen ‏@StMartinsPress

WifeBetweenUs_BlogTourBannerv2r1

I’m not going to go into any details about the book in my review, which will shorten it a great deal, but believe me—I’m doing everyone who hasn’t read it yet a huge favor.  For maximum reading enjoyment, you REALLY need to not know anything beyond what is said in the cryptic blurb. If you do that, this book is guaranteed to knock you off your feet.

That’s how I read this book. I started it with certain expectations of what might happen, and all I can say is I was never so happy to be so completely wrong about a book in my life. I can say without hesitation that The Wife Between Us is easily one of the best books I have ever read in this genre, if not the best. The characters are crisply written, and you’ll find yourself siding with one or the other early on. The plot is complex, yet easy to follow and the events that take place within the story will keep the story uppermost in your mind during those moments life forces you to (reluctantly) stop reading for a while. Thrilling plot twists and stunning reveals will shatter everything you come to expect from the story, and have you frantically reading to see what happens next.

Don’t miss out on reading the book that is destined to be listed as one of the best releases of 2018. Do yourself a favor and add this one to your TBR immediately!

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley.

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Authors: Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Title: The Wife Between Us

Genre: Suspense

Published: January 9th, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

book worth reading

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the Book

A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.

You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.

You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.

You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.

You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.

Assume nothing.

Discover the next blockbuster novel of suspense, and get ready for the read of your life.

About the Authors

Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks (Photo by Bill Miles)
Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks (Photo by Bill Miles)

GREER HENDRICKS spent over two decades as an editor. Her writing has been published in The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. The Wife Between Us is her first novel.

SARAH PEKKANEN is the internationally and USA Today bestselling author of seven previous novels. A former investigative journalist and feature writer, her work has been published in The Washington Post, USA Today, and many others.

Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy by Hallie Lieberman #Mini-Review

Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy cover

The first person to receive a PhD in the history of sex toys, Hallie Lieberman has written a fascinating book that tells you everything you wanted to know on the subject, and more. For example, did you know that until as recently as 2008, it was illegal to sell sex toys in Texas? Obscenity laws there (and elsewhere) set the stage for decades-worth of headaches and careful maneuvering for anyone involved in selling them. Regardless of the specific topic—whether it’s about manufacturing, advertising, or selling—there is always a story to tell on how things were done, and how they evolved over the years.

If you enjoy learning the history of how commonplace items came to be, this is an interesting read.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Pegasus Books via Netgalley.

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Author: Hallie Lieberman

Title: Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy

Genre: Nonfiction, History

Published: November 7th, 2017 by Pegasus Books

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

About the Book

Once only whispered about in clandestine corners, vibrators have become just another accessory for the suburban soccer mom, showing up in all manner of pop culture, from sitcoms to talk shows to the pages of glossy women’s magazines. But how did these once-taboo toys become so socially acceptable? The journey of the devices to the cultural mainstream is a surprisingly stimulating one.

In Buzz, Hallie Lieberman—who holds the world’s first PhD in the history of sex toys—starts at the beginning, tracing the tale from lubricant in Ancient Greece to the very first condom in 1560 to advertisements touting devices as medical equipment in 19th-century magazines. She looks in particular from the period of major change from the 1950s through the present, when sex toys evolved from symbols of female emancipation to tools in the fight against HIV/AIDS to consumerist marital aids to today’s mainstays of pop culture. The story is populated with a cast of vivid and fascinating characters including Dell Williams, founder of the first feminist sex toy store, Eve’s Garden; Betty Dodson, who pioneered “Bodysex” workshops in the 1960s to help women discover vibrators and ran Good Vibrations, a sex toy store and vibrator museum; and Gosnell Duncan, a paraplegic engineer who invented the silicone dildo and lobbied Dodson and Williams to sell them in their stores. And these personal dramas are all set against a backdrop of changing American attitudes toward sexuality, feminism, LGBTQ issues, and more.

Both educational and titillating, Buzz will make readers think quite differently about those secret items hiding in bedside drawers across the nation.

About the Author

Hallie Lieberman
Hallie Lieberman

Lieberman obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2014, with a dissertation on Sex Toy History. Her writing has been published in Bitch, Bust, Eater, The Forward, and Inside Higher Ed, among others. She is often featured on podcasts such as “In Bed With Susie Bright” and Bitch Magazine’s “Popaganda.” She has given talks at many university events and conferences. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Author photo and bio via author’s website.