Skip to content

My Mother’s Secret By Sheila O’Flanagan

My Mother's Secret‘My Mother’s Secret’ is by bestselling Irish author, Sheila O’Flanagan.

When Steffie helps her two siblings organize a surprise wedding anniversary party for their parents her only worry is whether they’ll be pleased. What she doesn’t know is this is the day that her whole world will be turned upside down. Jenny wants to be able to celebrate her ruby anniversary with the man she loves, but for forty years she has kept a secret. A secret that she can’t bear to hide any longer. But is it ever the right time to hurt the people closest to you? As the entire family gather to toast the happy couple, they’re expecting a day to remember. The trouble is, it’s not going to be for the reasons they imagined.

As a fan of Sheilia’s writing, I was delighted to delve into this book and read about the drama of a surprise anniversary party that had a lot more surprises than what was expected.

Controlling and organised Roisin, the eldest of the three siblings, is determined to throw her parents the best surprise party ever with the help of her younger sister Steffie and their brother and his partner are flying over especially for the event.

But on a night which is meant to be packed with celebrations and happy memories, Jenny the girl’s mother decides to reveal a secret that she can no longer keep to herself and the once solid family is torn apart.

The story is seen through the different perspectives of the women from the family as well as Davy as he tries to pluck up the courage to propose to his girlfriend. Roisin is distraught that her party is ruined whilst Steffie is dealing with the idea that her life was all based on a lie. She’s already conscious that she’s behind in life and is trying to make her new design business a success. As she tries to deal with the new information that Jenny has told her, she finds herself running off into the night into the arms of handsome chef, Liam Kinsella, who was a childhood friend.

The story takes place over the one night and also includes past and present narratives from Jenny, who is a strong and loving mother, who wants nothing more than to be honest with her children but for years, was afraid to say a thing as she was afraid of the consequences.

A tender tale that is perfect for fans of the well loved author, Maeve Binchy, ‘My Mother’s Secret’ explores the complexities of family relationships with an injection of Irish humour and charm.

You can buy My Mother’s Secret from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Saint Anything By Sarah Dessen

Saint Anything ‘Saint Anything’ is by bestselling American author, Sarah Dessen.

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and – lately – concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident? Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac: gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

I’ve been a fan of Sarah Dessen for years, when I was younger I used to curl up with her books enjoying her warmhearted tales of young adult love and drama.

When I received a copy of ‘Saint Anything’, I was delighted to take a trip down nostalgia lane and enjoy stories of less complicated and dark lives. In this story we meet Sydney, a teenage girl, who lives in her older brother’s shadow. Ever since, he paralysed a boy in a drink driving incident, Sydney has had to live with his guilt as well as fade into the background as their mother focuses her time and attention on bringing Peyton to rights even though he is in jail for the crime.

For a quiet life, Sydney is transferred to another school, away from the prying eyes and curious looks and it’s in this new school that Sydney makes new friends with the outspoken and fun Layla. Layla takes Sydney under her wing and helps her adjust to her new life and introduces Sydney to her chaotic family and handsome older brother, Mac. A quiet and gentle soul that Sydney finds herself drawn to.

The story flows at a gentle pace we see Sydney come of her shelf and begin to live her life, after years of being a wallflower. She begins to speak up for her beliefs and begin to voice her announce, which is a joy to read.

A tender and poignant tale that tackles issues that all teenagers have to go through such as self confidence and self doubt, this book was beautifully written with a relatable tone that all young adults can relate to.

A story of first love and new beginnings, ‘Saint Anything’ is a charming and sweet story about starting over and sometimes just believing in anything is enough to get you through the day.

You can buy Saint Anything from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Carole Matthews Reveals New Book – Million Love Songs

Million Love SongsCarole Matthews’ is kicking 2018 off with a bang with a new book called ‘Million Love Songs’.

What the back cover says –

After splitting up with her cheating husband, Ruby Brown is ready for a change. She’s single for the first time in years and she’s going to dive into this brave new world with a smile on her face and a spring in her step. The last thing she’s looking for is another serious relationship.

Mason represents everything Ruby wants right now: he’s charming, smooth, and perfect for some no-strings-attached fun, yet Ruby can’t help feel that something is missing. Joe on the other hand is kind, attentive and good-looking, but comes with the sort of baggage Ruby wants to avoid: an annoyingly attractive ex-wife and two teenage children.

Ruby soon has some very tough decisions to make. Is she even ready for a relationship? Ruby may think she knows what she wants, is that what she needs to be truly happy?

‘Million Love Songs’ sees Carole Matthews at her feel-good best, with a wonderful and emotional story of starting over and finding happiness. An absolute must-read!

You can pre-order Million Love Songs from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 22nd March 2018.

Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards 2017

Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards 2017

On Tuesday 28th November, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards. For the last number of years, I’ve observed the coverage on social media and television and this year I decided to become part of the experience.

Held in the Clayton Hotel, Dublin, the black tie affair was hosted by RTÉ presenters Keelin Shanley and Evelyn O’Rourke and awarded some of the Ireland’s finest literary talent as well as a special accolade to David Walliams for his contribution to children’s reading.

I had the most wonderful evening at the awards. It gave me the opportunity to meet some of my favourite authors as well as meeting some of my Twitter friends in real life. Set against an opulent background with delicious food and company, the awards was most definitely a night to remember.

The successful winners of the evening were.

EASON BOOK CLUB NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2017
‘Midwinter Break’ by Bernard MacLaverty.

SPECSAVERS POPULAR FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
‘The Break’ by Marian Keyes.

RTÉ RADIO 1’S THE RYAN TUBRIDY SHOW LISTENERS’ CHOICE AWARD 2017
‘He: A Novel’ By John Connolly.

SUNDAY INDEPENDENT NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR 2017
‘I Found My Tribe’ by Ruth Fitzmaurice.

THEJOURNAL.IE BEST IRISH PUBLISHED BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
‘Atlas Of The Irish Revolution’ by John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil, Mike Murphy and John Borgonovo.

IRISH INDEPENDENT CRIME FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
‘The Therapy House’ by Julie Parsons.

NATIONAL BOOK TOKENS CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE YEAR (JUNIOR) 2017
‘A Sailor Went To Sea, Sea, Sea,- Favourite Rhymes From An Irish Childhood’ by Sarah Webb and illustrated by Steve McCarthy.

NATIONAL BOOK TOKENS CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE YEAR (SENIOR) 2017
‘Stand By Me’ by Judi Curtin.

DEPT 51 @ EASON TEEN/YOUNG ADULT BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
‘Tangleweed And Brine’ by Deirdre Sullivan and illustrated by Karen Vaughan.

THE WRITING.IE SHORT STORY OF THE YEAR 2017
‘Back To Bones’ by Christine Dwyer Hickey.

THE LISTOWEL WRITERS’ WEEK POEM OF THE YEAR 2017
‘Seven Sugar Cubes’ by Clodagh Beresford Dunne.

IRELAND AM POPULAR NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
‘Motherfoclóir’ by Darcha Ó Séaghda.

ONSIDE NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
‘Wounds: A Memoir Of War And Love’ by Fergal Keane.

EUROSPAR COOKBOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
‘Cook Well, Eat Well’ by Rory O’Connell.

BORD GÁIS ENERGY SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
‘The Choice’ by Philly McMahon with Niall Kelly.

BORD GÁIS ENERGY INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION AWARD
David Walliams.

Diane Allen

Diane AllenDiane Allen was born in Leeds, but raised at her family’s farm deep in the Yorkshire Dales. After working as a glass engraver, raising a family, and looking after an ill father, she found her true niche in life, joining a large print publishing firm in 1990. Rising through the firm, she is now the general manager and has recently been made Honorary Vice President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. She is the author of ‘For a Father’s Pride’ and The Mistress of Windfell Manor, and its sequel, The Windfell Family Secrets’.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing
    Up to two years ago I was the manager of a publishing firm dealing in large print and unabridged audio. A mother of two grown-up children, with families of their own I had started to go through the feeling of empty-nest syndrome a few years earlier. So to fill in my evenings as my husband watched the football, I decided to try and write a book. This, after many pit-falls, turned into books, now being six published and a seventh in the pipe-line.
  2. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    I’m true to my trade, so if I was to start a book club it would have to be one based on Family Saga’s. Authors on my list would be June Tate, Helene Wiggin, Rosie Goodwin, Annie Murray, Margaret Dickinson and I would have to re-print the best saga writer ever, the wonderful Catherine Cookson.
  3. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    Starting a new novel, you have a basic out line and roughly know the ending. But how you get there is entirely where your imagination takes you.
  4. Why did you decide to write historical fiction?
    I have a great love of local history. My book shelf is full of books written about my home in Yorkshire. I also love the Victorian period, being an avid collector of all things from that period. I could not have written anything other than historical fiction to bring my two loves to life.
  5. If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
    Definitely, pay more attention to English grammar! I’m so busy telling my tale, my grammar seems to go out of the window. Making me spend more time on proof-reading than actual writing.
  6. 'The Windfell Family Secrets

  7. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” From ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier.
    It just captures you straight away.

  8. Who’s your favourite literary hero or heroine?
    Scarlett O’Hara from ‘Gone with the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell. Followed closely by Catherine Earnshaw from ‘Wuthering Heights’. They are both strong women who know their own minds.
  9. What do you think makes a good book?
    A good opening line, a good plot and believable characters.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    Leo Tolstoy, ‘War and Peace’, ‘Jane Austen’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and James Joyce, ‘The Dubliners’. I have in the past started all three but never had the patience or time to finish them, which is a terrible sin in my eyes.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Plot building, so often I read a book that sags in the middle. A plot must be strong enough to continue to keep you intrigued with every turn of the page.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    Coffee, I live and function on coffee.
  13. And finally do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website.
    The third book in the Windfell Series is to be published this next summer entitled Daughter of the Dales and I am about to start work on two books set in Swaledale.

Follow Diane Allen on Twitter Diane Allen for updates or check out her website at Diane Allen