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A House Full Of Secrets Book Tour – Digital Detox

Zoe MillerI’m excited to have the wonderful Zoë Miller on the website for the book tour for her new book, ‘A House Full Of Secrets’ and today we talk about digital detox and our addiction to social media.

Firstly I’d like to say a big thank you to Bronagh for hosting me on her wonderful book blog, Handwritten Girl. I’m delighted to be featured here today. This post on the blog tour is all about digital detox, one of the story elements in ‘A House Full of Secrets’. I hope you enjoy, Zoë x

What would we do without our mobile technology? Without our phones and tablets and laptops, which have become almost like an additional, invisible vein attached to our bodies, carrying a constant drip feed of disparate information, updates, likes, comments, chit chat, news, fake news intermingling with global catastrophes, selfies and shout-outs, straight to our hearts and minds.

I’m as guilty of the addiction as anyone else. If I find myself in a beautiful location, the automatic reaction is to take a photo or a video to share with on-line friends. Out for a celebratory meal, it’s hard to resist capturing an image of the lovely food and wine, for future posting. Parties and events can seem incomplete without stamping a virtual record of it on some social platform. Our timelines could almost be called our lifelines.

Social media can be a great way of keeping in contact but like everything else, but there are times when life occasions are in danger of being viewed solely through the screens of our mobiles instead of us fully experiencing living in the actual moment and this can have a questionable impact on our wellbeing. Currently, the government, as part of the 2018 healthy Ireland campaign, is recommending that in the interests of mental wellbeing, we take a daily, 30 minute break from our mobile phone. 30 minutes? What does that say about how often we check them? Problem is, as well as checking our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter updates on a regular basis, many of us are always ‘on’ to email, work and otherwise, with the result that we’re never really away from our jobs or free to enjoy quality, genuine downtime.

Coming from an era – not so long ago – when moving to a new house meant waiting years for a connection to a land line, I think mobiles are a brilliant invention for ease of communication. However in view of the way our dependency on all things digital has taken over our lives in a few short years, when I was researching county Mayo as a suitable location for A House Full of Secrets, and discovered there are digital black spots in parts of the county – thanks to its spectacular landscape of towering mountains and deep valleys – inspiration began to fizz in my writerly brain.

Imagine if – you have a family get together, an estranged family no less, divided by old wounds and secrets, at odds with relationship issues and work problems, coerced to come together over a long weekend, in a beautiful and remote house that’s drenched with shadows and secrets.

Imagine if – that family are forced to go cold turkey on all things digital for the weekend because there is no Wifi or mobile coverage. But hey, as Lainey points out, it will be good for the family to have an ‘unplugged weekend’ and be more present to each other instead of communicating through their screens, and anyway, people pay a fortune to retreat to a digital detox weekend, don’t they?

A House Full of Secrets

But is it as easy as it sounds? Would a digital detox rank up there along with withdrawing from other kinds of addiction, where cold turkey is a chilly and difficult place to be?

‘A House Full of Secrets’ finds Vikki incommunicado for the weekend and unable to access an important London work conference, thus putting her job on the line. Jenna’s husband Alex is normally a slave to his phone and she can’t understand how his sister persuaded him to go cold turkey for the weekend when for him, ditching his phone is almost equivalent to losing a limb.

But as the weekend unfolds, it transpires that these are only small concerns. Having no contact with the outside world takes on a far more serious significance when there is a turbulent storm approaching, marooning them all, coupled with the realisation that someone inside that house is out to exact a painful revenge for past hurts.

There are times when a digital detox can be very refreshing and restorative, and there are times when you could do with having a powered up mobile to hand…

© 2018 Zoë Miller

You can buy A House Full of Secrets from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Adele Parks Reveals New Book – The Image Of You

The Image Of YouExciting news as Adele Parks has already revealed the name and cover to her new book called ‘The Image Of You’.

What the back cover says:

When all you can see is what they want you to see… Can you ever trust someone you meet online?

Anna and Zoe are twins. Identical in appearance, utterly different in personality, they share a bond so close that nothing – or no one – can rip them apart.

Until Anna meets charismatic Nick.
Anna is trusting, romantic and hopeful; she thinks Nick is perfect.

Zoe is daring, dangerous and extreme; she thinks Nick is a liar.

Zoe has seen Anna betrayed by men before. She’ll stop at nothing to discover if Nick is as good as he seems.

The problem is, lies may hurt. But honesty can kill.

I absolutely adored Adele’s previous book, ‘The Stranger In My Home’ so I can’t wait to read this one!

You can pre-order The Image of You from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops.

A Husband’s Confession By Zoé Miller

'The Husband's Confession‘The Husband’s Confession’ is the latest book by Zoé Miller.

The artisan bakery Ali and Max Kennedy own isn’t just a successful business – it’s a second home, a dream come true. But when bad luck begins to stalk the couple, Ali worries that her fear of losing it all is becoming a reality. Across the city, Max’s brother Finn and his wife Jo long for the carefree happiness they had when they first met in Australia over twenty years ago. But when Finn loses his high profile TV job and becomes more bitter by the day, Jo starts to suspect that he’s hiding something from her. While both couples navigate their marriages, little do they realise that Max and Ali’s daughter Jessica harbours a dark secret which threatens to destroy the whole family. Then it happens – the accident. And the Kennedys will never be the same again.

I’ve heard of Zoé Miller and know that she is a well established Irish author but ‘A Husband’s Confession’ is the first book that I have read by her and it was a truly compelling and thrilling story that kept me hooked from the start.

The story revolves around the lives of the Kennedy brothers Max and Finn and their wives Ali and Jo, at just the moment when their perfect worlds start to unravel. Max and Ali’s bakery business is thriving with him in demand for television appearances when they start to receive hoax bookings and Ali begins to wonder why her husband is so concerned. Finn and Jo met in Australia and fell madly and passionately in love but when his acting career starts to slow down, Finn becomes withdrawn and distant pushing Jo away. Max and Finn have a difficult relationship, not close to one another. Finn is jealous of Max’s success and always passing some kind of snide comment.

But then one night, Max and Ali’s daughter is injured in a hit and run accident that has left her battling for her life and at a time like this it should bring a family together, but seems to drive everyone further apart.

The story starts at a prologue in the present where an incident occurs. Cunningly written, we don’t know who is involved in the incident. The story is then divided into two parts, the events leading up the incident and the consequences after it.

All the characters in this book are wonderfully interesting and strong, particularly the leading ladies who work hard alongside their husbands. Both with passions for their families and life, Jo and Ali are quite similar in their personalities but never got the chance to have a proper friendship due to their husbands competitiveness.

Max and Finn are two complex characters that have a dislike for each other, the story regularly flicks back to the past to the point where their relationship deteriorates and this gives us a great insight and understanding as to why they behave as they do.

This book is a thrilling read, cleverly written in a style of a who done it type of scenario, we are left guessing until the very end. Alternating between the past and present at regular intervals, we meet the Kennedy’s when they were at their worst to their very best. With a strong plot line and engaging cast of characters, ‘A Husband’s Confession’ is masterful piece of writing that begs the question, is it possible to forgive and forget?

You can buy A Husband’s Confession from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

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.

Some Girls Do By Clodagh Murphy

Some Girls Do‘Some Girls Do’ is the latest book by Clodagh Murphy.

Claire Kennedy is NiceGirl, the anonymous writer of steamy online blogs ‘Scenes of a Sexual Nature’. An interest sensation, she attracts the attention of Mark Bell, a hot London publisher. But when it become clear that Mark is interested in more than just a book deal. Claire has to act fast. Because little does know Mark know that NiceGirl is a lot more experienced in the bedroom than in real life Claire Kennedy. Mark is offering Claire the life that she has always dreamed of – a steady relationship, the literary world of London and a posh Highgate apartment. But when Claire hires the skills of struggling artist and commitment-phobe Luca to brush up on her sex skills, things gets little bit more complicated.

Although I follow Clodagh on Twitter, ‘Some Girls Do’ is actually the first book that I have read by the Irish author and may I say that it was a particularly book to start with.

Our heroine of the story is Claire Kennedy, a nice quiet girl who sells books in a bookshop but on the World Wide Web, she is another type of a nice girl. Claire aka NiceGirl writes a blog where she has a whole new identity regaling her audience with sexual exploits and thoughts, but unknown to her audience, it’s all an act. Claire has only had sex three and a half times and she is far from the experienced woman that she claims to be. So when a handsome publisher approaches Claire and offers NiceGirl a book deal, Claire realises that she needs to get some experience in the sexual department and asks loveable and handsome Romanian Luca for a helping hand.

I loved Claire, I loved her passion not only for her art but for life. I admired how she stepped out of her comfort zone and went into a world that was initially scary and initiating but literally grasped it with both hands. Another thing that I thought was lovely about Claire was her gentle and caring side, as she cared for her unwell mother, solely taking on the responsibility as her carer whilst her brothers and their wives carried on with lives. It seemed that everyone had moved on with life, where Claire’s seemed to have taken a back seat and far from feeling miserable or bitter, Claire puts on a brave face and carries on with the secret success of her blog, whilst her sisters-in-law openly bitch about the website unaware of how close to home the creator actually is!

Luca, the kind man who has took on the hard and tiring task of being Claire’s teacher, is quite an interesting and complex character. Originally introduced as the rogue of the story, he is actually quite a nice person, that you feel at ease. With his experience and gentle guidance, he gives Claire the well needed confidence in herself, as well as providing her with the welcome distraction and release from worrying about her mother. Whilst Mark, the handsome publisher, plays the gentleman of the story wooing Claire with romantic dinners and walks. Her mother Espie, added a delicious injection of humour to the story with her quick wit and sharp tongue, I was regularly sniggering at the scenes that she featured in.

I will admit it, I loved this book! I thought it was deliciously rude and fun with its risqué content which made me gasp, sometimes in delight and others in shock at some of the dialogue and scenes. As I travel by public transport, I regularly found myself looking over my shoulder during the saucy parts making sure that no one was trying to get a sneaky look, but I imagine with one of most prettiest and aspiring covers of 2014 in gentle hues of grey and pink, everyone had an idea of what I was blushing and sniggering at.

A wonderfully frank and fun story, ‘Some Girls Do, is at its core, a love story that was impossible to put down. A coming of age eye opening steamy tale that I imagine men and women will love, is packed with confidence, laughter and the males perspective on sex and relationships, Clodagh certainly knows how to write thrilling story! Now to look into her back catalogue…

You can buy Some Girls Do from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.