The Life of Elizabeth II by Robert Hardman and Are We Having Fun Yet? by Lucy Mangan

Janet Gordon, who lives in Takeley, reviews bestsellers and early fiction for India…

The passing of my best friend – far too soon – just before last Christmas caused my husband and I to pause to think about our wills etc.

And even though it’s such a morbid topic, never knowing what might happen, I know we need to “get our house in order”, and we did.

The other thing we needed to do was to make sure our beloved little dog Rollo would be taken care of. Fortunately, her son Daniel and his cat-centric family are very willing to take their big dog under their wing; having been introduced to their cats, the three seem to get along very well.

Intensify by Sarah Turner (Bantam Press £12.99)

And that’s the premise behind Intensify. It’s funny how, even as adults, we all fall into the roles assigned to us as children. Beth was always told she never stuck to anything. And, true to herself, she never managed to cling to anything, be it jobs or men.

But when she gets a call from her dad saying her sister Emmy is in a coma and her husband was killed in an accident and she could come take care of the girls, Beth has no choice. Faced with a earthy teenager and a toddler nephew, Beth is suddenly thrust into a new world – one where even the task of cooking fish fingers fills her with dread.

Fortunately, Beth has a platonic friend in the form of Jory and a charming, lonely neighbor Albert. Between trying to sing Ted nursery rhymes and chatting with Emmy about how wonderful everything is while trying not to fall apart herself, Beth somehow manages for the first few weeks.

Written by the best-selling author of The mother without a motherit’s about a real teardrop about strengths you didn’t know you had, about things you never knew you could do – and you never thought you’d want to do – and a genuine fear of self that must be overcome.

It’s a reminder to all of us how life can change in an instant and how “stepping up” can be done. Beautifully captured and beautifully observed family life – loved it.

Step Up by Sarah Turner (Bantam Press £12.99) (55929073)

Queen of Our Time: The Life of Elizabeth II by Robert Hardman (MacMillan £16.99)

Robert Hardman has long been a royal expert and this definitive biography of our wonderful monarch is packed with exclusive stories from friends, staff and family, interviews with world leaders and never-before-seen photographs from the royal archives.

It’s a real dive into reading, one that I’ve spent a good few weeks going through and still haven’t exhausted all it has to offer. It would make a wonderful Easter gift.

Queen of Our Time: The Life of Elizabeth II by Robert Hardman (MacMillan £16.99) (55929077)
Queen of Our Time: The Life of Elizabeth II by Robert Hardman (MacMillan £16.99) (55929077)

Are we still having fun? by Lucy Mangan (souvenir press £16.99)

I do not read The Guardian newspaper, so did not recognize Lucy Mangan’s name as Guardian journalist. It’s yet another year of mom in the family-type reading and it’s real laugh-out-loud magic. Mum Liz is married to Richard, a very literal-minded lawyer, and they have two children, Thomas and Evie, seven, five (turning 35).

Told from the perspective of Liz’s internal and external thoughts and conversations, parents’ nights, and all the paraphernalia that goes with work, home, and babysitting two youngsters, it’s hilarious, poignant, sparkling and truthful.

I really didn’t want this to end and I need to know more about this lady so obviously now I have to buy The Guardian!

Are we still having fun?  by Lucy Mangan (souvenir press £16.99) (55929084)
Are we still having fun? by Lucy Mangan (souvenir press £16.99) (55929084)

Reputation by Sarah Vaughan (Simon & Schuster £14.99)

If you have read Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan, you will know what an excellent writer she is. Her latest is another courtroom drama starring MP Emma Webster.

Emma, ​​who is divorced and lives with her 14-year-old daughter Freya, was interviewed for the cover of a high-profile supplement (OK, that’s The Guardian again). With fantastic hair and makeup, wonderfully suited and booted, Emma found it hard not to be wowed by this striking image of herself.

And, of course, Twitter keyboard users found it necessary to tweet filthy and obscene messages to him, about him and what they would like to do to him.

Emma, ​​however, has a serious agenda as she wants to push through a bill on behalf of the family of a constituent whose young daughter was the victim of revenge porn. Emma enlists the help of Mike, a journalist who supports her cause.

Reputation opens with a body at the foot of Emma’s stairs – it’s Mike.

It’s such a thrilling insight from an insider into the world of politics, the world of courtroom drama, and how a reputation can be trashed in minutes. What a terrific read.

Reputation by Sarah Vaughan (Simon & Schuster £14.99) (55929075)
Reputation by Sarah Vaughan (Simon & Schuster £14.99) (55929075)

Twins by LV Matthews (Welbeck Publishing £8.99)

Margo is a live-in nanny and Cora is a free-spirited dancer always on the verge of breaking through. Margo must have it all and has OCD tendencies while Cora somehow does whatever she wears and does her own.

It’s a twisty and gripping family drama with secrets so dark you just have to read on. And as for what happens when that deepest secret is revealed…

The Twins by LV Matthews (Welbeck Publishing £8.99) (55929071)
The Twins by LV Matthews (Welbeck Publishing £8.99) (55929071)

The tide of blood by Neil Lancaster (HQ £14.99)

This is the second in the DS Max Craigie series (the first being grave of the dead). Set near a remote loch in Scotland, a fisherman goes missing and something doesn’t quite ring true. Then a devoted brass tries, unsuccessfully, to talk about a potential suicide from a Glasgow bridge.

Max is called in to investigate when Hamish, the copper who filed the suicide report, is murdered. The killer does not realize that Hamish and his evidence have left traces that lead Max to connect the crimes.

It’s a cracking thriller and I rather like DS Max and his sidekick Janie. Oh and Max is devoted to his Nutmeg cockapoo, so much so that I read in fear in case something happened to the Nutmeg nut.

The Blood Tide by Neil Lancaster (HQ £14.99) (55929080)
The Blood Tide by Neil Lancaster (HQ £14.99) (55929080)

Alycia R. Lindley