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What If By Rebecca Donovan

What If‘What If’ is Rebecca Donavan’s first standalone book since her successful ‘Breathing’ series.

Cal Logan is shocked to see Nicole Bentley sitting across from him at a coffee shop thousands of miles from their hometown. After all, no one has seen or heard from her since they graduated over a year ago. Except this girl isn’t Nicole. She looks exactly like Cal’s shy childhood crush, but her name is Nyelle Preston and she has no idea who he is. This girl is impulsive and daring, her passion for life infectious. The complete opposite of Nicole. Cal finds himself utterly fascinated-and falling hard. But Nyelle is also extremely secretive. And the closer he comes to finding out what she’s hiding, the less he wants to know. When the secrets from the past and present collide, one thing becomes clear: Nothing is what it seems.

‘What If’ is the first book that I’ve read by Rebecca Donovan and I truly adored this book, it was heartbreakingly sweet and tender in parts and during the final pages I found myself openly crying, much to the bemusement to the fellow patrons of the local coffee shop.

The story is mostly seen from the eyes of Cal, now a young man who has never properly got over the loss of his first love and friend Nicole. A little girl who joined his group of friends when her family moved to the neighbourhood. Bubbly and outspoken Richelle takes Nicole under her wing and introduces her to her other friends, Cal and Rae and together the four of them form a tight knit friendship, looking out for each other and getting into mischief. Until the leader of the group Richelle and her family move away and without her leadership the group then falls apart. Years later, when Cal is at university, a new volatile creature by the name of Nyelle bursts into his life, reminding him so much of Nicole, the girl who was his first love. But Nyelle, is the complete polar opposite of Nicole, where Nicole was quiet, timid and content to blend into the background, Nyelle is fierce, ballsy and always looking for fun. As well as having a ferocious side, Nyelle had a beautifully caring nature and was regularly looking out for people last well off.

As requested, the author asked for not too be much to be revealed in reviews and it is quite easy to be carried as it is an mysterious story.

The main characters of the story are Cal and Nyelle and they are great leads. Cal, is the caring handsome prince who all the girls like and is oblivious to the trail of broken hearts he has left behind in his path as his heart belongs to Nicole and when Nyelle appears in his life, he becomes fixated and determined to find out who this intriguing girl is and why she reminds him so much of someone he once knew. I loved Nyelle, her fiery attitude always made me smile and trouble never seemed to be far from her and many a time Cal had to save her.

The story is written in two tenses, past and present. The present is completely seen from Cal’s perspective and the past tenses flicks between the group of four as children and moves between the characters explaining the dynamics of the group.

This book is a beautifully written love story about never giving up and the importance of friendship, with two captivating lead characters and a shocking twist, ‘What If’ is a gripping tale that will have reaching for your tissues when you come to the final page.

You can buy What If from Amazonand is available to buy from good bookshops.

Louise O’Neill

Louise O'NeillLouise O’Neill is from Clonakilty, west Cork. Having spent a year in New York working for ELLE magazine, she returned home to Ireland to write her first novel, ‘Only Ever Yours’ which was recently awarded ‘The Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year’ at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards 2014.

  1. Can you describe what your debut ‘Only Ever Yours’ is about
    My debut novel “Only Ever Yours” is a feminist dystopian novel and has been described as “The Handmaid’s Tale” meets “Mean Girls”. Set in a world in which women are no longer to bear daughters naturally, the decision is made to set up Schools where female babies are bred for their beauty and then trained to be subservient to men. The story centres on freida, a sixteen girl in her final year at the School, and fight to secure her future.
  2. To the readers of the website, tell us about yourself and how you got into writing.
    After graduating from Trinity College Dublin with a BA in English Studies, I completed a post-graduate in fashion buying at DIT. I then moved to New York to work for the senior style director of ELLE magazine, Kate Lanphear. I returned to Ireland in September 2011 to begin work on my debut novel which was published in July 2014. I had wanted to write for quite some time but I could never seem to find enough time or energy, I always found something to distract me. There was an element of ‘now or never’ this time though. I became almost obsessive about it sequestering myself alone in my room for months on end until I had a first draft that I felt happy with.
  3. In ‘Only Ever Yours’ the girls have to undertake one of three roles. A companion, who is a wife, a concubine who is essentially a prostitute and a chasity who is a teacher. What made you decide to come up these three jobs and if you were frieda, what would you choose?
    The three categories that the girls are sorted in to was a play on the Madonna/Whore complex, that we are either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ girls. I feel that women are so often placed in to these prescribed boxes, we are not given enough space to be fully formed human beings.

    That is the first time anyone has asked me that question. I definitely wouldn’t want to be a companion anyway, and as much as I love teenage girls, I don’t know if I could cope with living with chastity-ruth for more than five minutes . I’ll go with a concubine. I like the idea of living in a harem because I enjoy the company of other women.

  4. How would you describe your writing?
    John McGahern is one of my favourite authors and I would love to be able to write in the same pared back style that he does. I try to keep my own writing fairly clean, I feel that it becomes more powerful that way. My editor, Niamh Mulvey, has similar taste which helps.
  5. What authors do you admire?
    Besides McGahern, I love Emma Forrest, Donna Tartt, Sylvia Plath, Curtis Sittenfeld, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Margaret Atwood.
  6. What’s been the highlight of your writing experience?
    I have met some really interesting people through Twitter and at literary festivals and conferences. The Irish literary world, and the YA fiction community both here and in the UK, have been so welcoming and supportive.
  7. What was your favourite book of 2014?
    I’m a little bit in love with ‘Young Skins’ by Colin Barrett.
  8. Who is your favourite literary hero/heroine?
    Susan Pevensie. C.S Lewis really fucked her over, in my opinion.
  9. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Immerse yourself in art of all kind, from the theatre and literature to art galleries and independent movies. It fills up the well of your creativity, to use an incredibly cliched analogy.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which 3 books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    This is a difficult question as I rarely re-read books. “Skippy Dies” by Paul Murray, “The Bell Jar”, by Sylvia Plath, “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt.
  11. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    A cup of lemon and ginger tea.
  12. And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon that you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    My second novel ‘Asking For It’ is due to be published by Quercus in August/September. It’s about an eighteen year old girl, Emma, living in a small town in west Cork. It deals with issues of rape culture, victim blaming, and consent.

Follow Louise O’Neill on Twitter Louise O’Neill for updates or check out her website at Louise O’Neill

Read An Extract From Creature Comforts By Trisha Ashley

Creature ComfortsTo celebrate the release of Trisha Ashley’s new book, ‘Creature Comforts’. I’ve got an extract from the book, so sit back and enjoy.

It was ironic that our relationship had gone pear-shaped only once we’d finally decided the time was right to stop working abroad and settle down together in the UK. And last night, when I’d told him I’d already invested some of the small legacy left to me by my father into commissioning stock for the online retro clothes shop I was going to set up, he’d been furious, even though I’d never made any secret of my plans.

He was even angrier when I added firmly, ‘And don’t count on the rest, because I’ll probably need all of it to bail Aunt Debo out. The kennels are having a huge financial crisis.’

‘Your aunt’s affairs are always in financial crisis,’ he’d said dismissively. ‘She overreaches herself taking in all those dogs that are too vicious to be rehomed, so there’s no point in throwing good money after bad.’

Then he’d claimed that we’d agreed to use my legacy as part of a deposit on a house, even though we’d never so much as discussed it. And at that point I started to wonder if he’d ever taken in a single thing I’d said to him.

Until we’d visited his parents in Oxford the previous year, he’d certainly never mentioned to me that he had any intention of going back there to live and work. He seemed like an entirely different person once we’d set foot on UK soil…

‘Look, I’ve got to go and pack. We’ll discuss it all on Monday, when I’m back,’ he’d snapped finally, then put the phone down on me.

I felt angry, confused and very upset. Why, over the course of our three-year engagement, had I never realized that the laid-back, good-natured, popular and cheerful Kieran I’d tumbled headlong in love with existed only as long as everyone else was falling in with his plans? But then, we’d spent most of our engagement on separate continents and even when we had managed to make our vacations coincide, we’d spent them on romantic breaks in exotic locations, watching the sun coming up over the Serengeti, or setting over the Taj Mahal, so I suppose it wasn’t really surprising that we appeared to have entirely misread each other’s character.

You can buy Creature Comforts from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Girl On The Train By Paula Hawkins

The Girl On The Train ‘The Girl On The Train’ is Paula Harkins’ first book.

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

Another thriller that was been built up by all the attention is ‘The Girl On The Train’ and I have to admit, this book definitely makes for dark and absorbing reading as I started it one Saturday evening and finished it on Sunday afternoon. The only times, the book was out of my hands was when I was sleeping, eating and having a shower.

The female protagonists of the story are the reason it’s such a good book, three troubled souls unaware of what is in front of them.

The story is primarily seen from Rachel, an extremely unhappy woman who has never recovered from her divorce after finding out her husband was having an affair. Heartbroken, she finds solace in alcohol, much to the dismay of Cathy, her flat mate and only friend. But on her daily commute, she finds herself obsessed with a row of houses on the train line and a particular house where a couple that she calls Jess and Jason live. Rachel has a harmless fantasy about the couple and the lives they lead, perfect and very much in love, until one day Rachel sees something on her daily commute and suddenly Jess who is actually called Megan disappears.

Rachel then become obsesses with the disappearance and finds herself creating her own investigation as she tries to solve the mystery of Megan’s vanishing, getting close to people and interfering in the case.

The story is also seen from the perspective of Anna, who is the woman that Rachel’s husband left her off. She is an interesting character. A strong woman who is getting tired of Rachel’s behaviour, constantly there in the background. Rachel creates havoc and puts a strain on their relationship. And finally there is Megan, as we get an insight into her life leading up to her disappearance.

As a debut, this book is stupendous and was a story that I found quite impossible to put down. The characters are all extremely unlikeable, so much so that I almost feel an empathy towards them. Rachel is a lonely weak, self pitying character, who is stuck in the past dwelling over a ruined relationship and consumed with a deep jealousy and hatred towards Anna. But we see her develop and become stronger as she obsesses with the disappearance, convinced that Jess and Jason had the perfect relationship and there is no reason for her to go away. Megan is self-obsessed and unhappy with her life and Anna is tired of living in her husband’s ex wife’s shadow and feeling that her life and her daughter life is in jeopardy.

This book is a deeply dark and intense story that pulls the reader in. Gripping from the beginning, it beautifully tells the story of obsession, jealousy and resentment through the narrative of the characters. An unstoppable and unpredictable story that moves faster than a speeding train, ‘The Girl On The Train’, is a fascinating story and is most certainly worthy of all its excitement.

You can buy The Girl on the Train from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Handwritten Girl Takes Part In Creature Comforts Book Tour

I am excited to be part of the book tour for the release of Trisha Ashley’s new book, ‘Creature Comforts’. Check out Handwritten Girl on Monday 2nd March to read an extract from the book.

Creature Comforts Book Tour