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Win A Copy Of Little Lies By Liane Moriarty

'Little Lies?I am delighted to be having a giveaway on the website where I am giving one lucky reader an opportunity to win of my favourite books of 2014 and that is Liane Moriarty’s new book ‘Little Lie’s.

I first became aware of Liane last year with her other book ‘The Husband’s Secrets’ which was the winning book of Richard and Judy’s Autumn 2013 Bookclub.

The story behind ‘Little Lies’ is –

Jane hasn’t lived anywhere longer than six months since her son was born five years ago. She keeps moving in an attempt to escape her past. Now the idyllic seaside town of Pirriwee has pulled her to its shores and Jane finally feels like she belongs. She has friends in the feisty Madeline and the incredibly beautiful Celeste – two women with seemingly perfect lives . . . and their own secrets behind closed doors.

But then a small incident involving the children of all three women occurs in the playground causing a rift between them and the other parents of the school. Minor at first but escalating fast, until whispers and rumours become vicious and spiteful. It was always going to end in tears, but no one thought it would end in murder . . .

Wonderfully intriguing, this book is a compelling read that I was unable to put down!

To be in with a chance of winning this book, simply answer the question below by leaving your answer in the comment box.

Which book club did ‘The Husband’s Secret’ win?

The lucky winner will be revealed on Wednesday 1st October. Good luck!

One Wish By Maria Duffy

'One Wish‘One Wish’ is Maria Duffy’s latest book.

When Londoner Becky Greene moved to Ireland, she was ready for a fresh start – and to leave her dysfunctional family far behind. But when she discovers that she’s pregnant, after a one-night stand, all of a sudden she suddenly has more than herself to think about.

Fast-forward four years and now her daughter Lilly is asking questions about her father. While tracking down high-flying property developer Dennis Prendergast is the last thing Becky wants to do, she knows that Lilly has a right to know who her father is. But when Becky finally locates Dennis, she discovers that his life has taken a very different route. And finding out he has a daughter is definitely not in his five-year plan.

Can people ever really change? As Becky comes to know the person Dennis is now, and a little more about herself, she begins to think that maybe people can.

I really don’t like it when I read a book and I don’t enjoy it. It almost feels like I’m letting the author down and sadly this was the case with Maria Duffy’s new book ‘One Wish’.

I tried my hardest to enjoy it and there were some likeable elements about the story but think it was because I found the lead character Becky such a hard woman to like.

The story of ‘One Wish’ is about Becky Greene who after a one night stand becomes pregnant. As Becky’s parents were both alcoholics and her father was abusive, Becky is determined to give her little girl the best life that she possibly can, filled with love and happiness but minus a father. But as Lilly gets older, she becomes obsessed with finding out who her father is. Eventually Becky admits defeat and begins to look for Dennis, the man who she met that night. Unbeknown to Becky, Dennis’ life has taken a disastrous turn. After being hit hard by the recession, Dennis lost everything including his home and now moves from doorway to doorway with his meagre possessions.

The story is seen primarily from the perspective of Becky and Dennis. As Becky begins to look for Dennis and her shock at how things have turned out for the once successful business man. The scenes with Dennis were the only parts of the book that I found really interesting as it seemed that Maria really researched the state of homelessness in Dublin and addressed the issue that there is hope and help available. Dennis is a great character, humble and grateful, he accepts his life with occasional bitterness but mostly he tries to work hard to get his act together.

Like I initially said, I found Becky to be a hard character. In her management position at a bank, she was cold and arrogant towards her colleagues, making scathing remarks when someone was laughing and overall I didn’t like her. Her own upbringing was a difficult one so that was probably why she was so controlling in her own life and with others around her. I found her reaction to Dennis quite surprising, it was as though he had unknowingly let her down with his state of affairs and I regularly found myself getting angry with her.

Other characters that featured in the story were Alice who was Becky’s nanny and friend, she was a lovely, heartwarming character with a kind heart and was almost like a mother to Becky. She provided a older perspective to life and often had some wisdom to offer whereas Becky’s other friend Kate, was the younger of the three and a lot more outspoken, rarely pausing to think about the consequences. Alice and Kate had their own problems in the book and both made for interesting side issues as the story flowed along.

As one of Ireland’s new bestselling authors, Maria Duffy writes an interesting story that strongly highlights the homelessness issue in Ireland. Regrettably I didn’t enjoy ‘One Wish’ but that’s not to say that I will give up on this author, it just wasn’t for me.

You can buy One Wish from Amazon and is available from good bookshops.

Paper Swans By Jessica Thompson

'Paper Swans‘Paper Swans’ is Jessica Thompson’s latest book.

Ben Lawrence seems to have it all – the hot job, the flashy car, the luxurious apartment. But one tragic day in his past mars his future. Since the events of that day he hasn’t truly got close to anyone. He made a promise that love was the price he would pay for his mistakes. When Effy Jones – a bright, ambitious charity founder – walks into the PR firm where Ben works, neither realise that their lives are about to be turned upside down.

‘Paper Swans’ see the return of Jessica Thompson with her signature style of writing, a story told by both the female and male leads, this time it was case of Ben and Effy, an unlikely pair who have a strong attraction towards each other but just like Jessica’s previous books, they both have issues that makes this new relationship unable to properly work.

Ben, is a hard working PR guru, one of the best in the business, his grumpy boss thinks he’s great and his colleagues admire him. Rich, handsome and with no shortage of female companions, he lives the life of a jack the lad, never committing and always shying away from relationships. To the outside world, it looks like he has no desire to settle down but behind closed doors, he harbours a deep secret which makes him stay away from love. Trying to fight against the memories of his past, he attends a therapist but nothing seems to help until he meets Effy and suddenly love seems like an option.

Effy is completely different to Ben, having successfully set up her own charity called Dafina Kampala, for poverty stricken children in Uganda, she is a selfless person with a huge heart. She makes Ben feel like a better person, as he is given the chance to work alongside with her charity and she makes him appreciate the smaller things in life. Although, Ben feels close to Effy, he can’t tell her about his past and lives in fear that she will find out the truth about him. Loved up and happy, the couple enjoy a new relationship until Effy goes out to Uganda to work on her charity but not before she finds that Ben is working with a company that caused a major oil disaster. Disappointed and hurt that he kept such big news from her, she leaves Uganda heartbroken and ignoring all contact with him.

Like her other books, ‘Paper Swans’ has a sweetly illustrated cover of paper swans in yellow and silver foil. Another addition to the story is that each chapter’s title is a line within a chapter, I thought this was particularly quirky and made me look out for the lines.

I’ve read all of Jessica’s books and have enjoyed them immensely, they are always poignant stories of love and heartbreak, told in dual narratives with compelling characters and ‘Paper Swans’ was just that.

Both Ben and Effy are interesting characters with Effy being a more stronger person of the two. After witnessing poverty and sickness in the world, she wants to make a change whereas Ben is a whiz kid in public relations but this is probably what makes the two of them such an interesting couple with opposites attract. Effy is quite forward and is quick to tell what she thinks, which often catches Ben off guard.

We know Ben has suffered some great tragedy in his life and there are mentions of this from the very start but once again in Jessica’s signature style of writing, there are little mentions of memories but nothing is revealed until the end.

This book is another wonderful story from one of my favourite authors, it’s a sweetly written tale about love but also focuses on the subjects of mental health and poverty and handles both topics beautifully. A highly recommended and heartwarming book.

You can buy Paper Swans from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Best Of Me By Nicholas Sparks

'The Best Of Me‘The Best Of Me’ is Nicholas Sparks latest book.

Amanda and Dawson were teenage sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks – with a passion that would change their lives for ever. But life would force them apart. Years later, the lines they had drawn between past and present are about to slip. Called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who once gave them shelter when they needed it most, they are faced with each other once again, and forced to confront the paths they chose. Can true love ever rewrite the past?

I’m not the biggest fan of Nicholas Sparks, the first book that I read by the American author was his last book, ‘The Longest Ride’ and didn’t particularly enjoy it. But having just finished ‘The Best Of Me’ my opinion of the author has changed.

The story is primarily seen through the perspective of the leading characters Dawson and Amanda, a teenage couple who fell in love. From opposite sides of the tracks, Dawson came from a family with a bad reputation and immediately Amanda’s family were opposed to the relationship, giving her an ultimatum that she is to choose her future, education or Dawson. But Dawson, being the gentleman that he is, he bows out of relationship giving her the opportunity to live her life to the max, but doing so, never gets over his first love, living a life of work and solitude. Meanwhile also for Amanda, she never recovered from the boy who got away, even though she is married with children, Dawson is constantly in her thoughts especially with her husband having a drinking problem and their little girl who passed away, she often thinks about what might have been. But when mutual friend Tuck passes away and requests that they both return home to take care of his business, the couple are giving a second chance to meet and ponder over lost times.

This story is beautifully romantic and heart aching in equal measures, as two people who are obviously still in love with each other, battle with emotions and morals. Unhappy with her marriage and her bitter relationship with her mother, Amanda confides in Dawson as he provides an unlikely shoulder for Amanda. As the days pass, they grow closer and reminisce on the times that they spent with their good friend Tuck, they are lead on an adventure as they take care of his final request.

I really enjoyed both characters of the book and found them relatable and thought they complimented each other wonderfully, Amanda with her outspokenness and Dawson’s quiet, brooding nature, the scenes with them made for tender reading. An interesting addition to the story, was even though it is mainly about Amanda and Dawson, there are couple of sub stories thrown in, that makes the story even more riveting with family bust-ups and upheavals. These scenes were short and snappy parts and often gave the story a sense of urgency and drama.

The story has an easy storyline that flows easily along and takes an unexpected twist that will leave the reader in bits. Another new author that I will have to look into at some point, Nicholas Sparks has written a beautifully romantic about love and heartbreak that will you reaching for the tissues as this tender story pulls at your heartstrings.

You can buyThe Best Of Me: Film Tie In from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops.

My Top Five Hotels By Claudia Carroll

Claudia CarrollTo celebrate the release of Claudia Carroll’s new book ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’and as the story is based in a hotel, Claudia tells us about her top five hotels in the world.

The Moon Palace Golf Resort and Spa, Cancun, Mexico.
Well, I’ll give you a laugh. Years ago a few pals were all going to Mexico on what the travel agent told us was an ‘all inclusive’ package. Now this was a new concept at the time, one that none of us eejits had ever come across before. And we were genuinely stumped. All-inclusive? What did that mean? Food covered but not drinks? Or the other way around? Or, worse, bed and brekkie covered but after that you were entirely left to your own devices?

So off we tropped, all buffed and spay-tanned, to the Moon Palace hotel in Cancun. And Oh. My. Actual. God. Turned out all-inclusive mean just that…absolutely everything. You name it, everything. You want room service at 2 a.m. with a bottle of champagne on the side? Covered. Cocktails at the pool whenever you feel them one? Covered. Or you fancy breakfast and lunch and a full afternoon tea – cupcakes included, naturally – followed by a four course dinner, where you don’t even have to bring you purse with you? Ditto.

Well, we were only stunned.

Final word on the Moon Palace? ‘If a hotel like this ever opened in Ireland,’ one of my pals quipped, ‘it would go bankrupt within about two days. Max.’

The Roosevelt Hotel, New York City.
Oh God, this place is a little gem. If you’re a shopper, as I am, then NYC is your Mecca. I’m lucky enough to be there about once a year and always stay at the Roosevelt. The location is perfect, on Madison Avenue and East 45th St and the hotel itself is so impressive, with a big sweeping staircase like something out of an Edith Wharton novel. It’s two minutes from all the fabulous shops on 5th Avenue, so it’s handy for running back to dump all the bags. Best of all, it’s not too spendy either!

The Covent Garden Hotel, London.
I think this hotel is probably right on your doorstep, Jo! I’ve never actually stayed here, but last year, Avon ran a competition for my readers and the prize was afternoon tea at the Covent Garden Hotel, which I was lucky enough to be asked along to as well. Oh it was so stunning! The afternoon tea was a dream come true; I turned into one of those annoying people who kept photographing their food, then posting it all over Facebook and Twitter, so everyone could admire them. The cupcakes were little works of art! One day, I’d love to stay there as I’d say the rooms are to die for but in the meantime, it’s so lovely to pop into for tea and one of those famous cakes.

The Burj Al Arab, Dubai.
Again, I’ve never stayed here, but I was on a girlie beach holiday years ago with a pal and we stayed at the lovely Sheraton hotel, right on Jueriah beach. It was gorgeous and not too expensive, but in Dubai, the Burj al Arab’s famous silhouette absolutely dominates the skyline; there’s no avoiding it. So over the holiday, my pal and I became obsessed with seeing it for ourselves.

Anyway, we made dinner reservations there and it was just breathtaking. The entire hotel is designed with the maxim, ‘more is more,’ and you want to see it! Solid gold bannister rails and more marble than I’ve ever seen outside of the Vatican. Best of all? My pal and I thought our meal would probably cost us the earth and I was dreading the bill, but when it arrived it was no more than you’d pay in any mid-priced restaurant here in Dublin. Highly recommended!

In fact, I loved it so much, I set one of the closing chapters of ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’ right here.

The Trevi Hotel, Rome.
I love and adore The Eternal City and first stayed in this hotel when one of my oldest pals got married there, about eleven years ago now. Best wedding Ever. It’s right beside the Trevi fountain and is charming, rather than posh, if you’re with me. It’s higgledy-piggledy with rooms all over the place and no lift, just a winding staircase, so it kind of gives you the feel that you’re staying on a ship. The restaurant is one big long dining table for breakfast and dinner, so it’s lovely as you get to chat to fellow guests. And it’s location is just perfect as you can walk to all the sights….and in Rome you do a lot of walking! And a lot of drinking wine, but then that’s another story….

You can pre-order Love Me Or Leave Me from Amazon and will be available to buy from 23rd October 2014.