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The Year That Changed Everything By Cathy Kelly

The Year That Changed Everything‘The Year That Changed Everything’ is the latest book by Cathy Kelly.

Ginger isn’t spending her 30th the way she would have planned. Tonight might be the first night of the rest of her life – or a total disaster. Sam is finally pregnant after years of trying. When her waters break on the morning of her 40th birthday, she panics: forget labour, how is she going to be a mother? Callie is celebrating her 50th at a big party in her Dublin home. Then a knock at the door mid-party turns her perfect life upside down . . .

Cathy Kelly is back with another tale of female friendships and complicated relationships that made for bittersweet reading.

In her latest book, we meet three very different women who all share one significant date in their lives. On the day before Ginger’s 30th birthday, she discovers that the people who she thought were her best friends, weren’t her friends at all. Hurt by the way she’s been treated, she sets herself a mission to make her life happier and too rid her life of all the toxicity in her life. Callie is a modest woman with small demands, she’s the opposite to her husband, Jason, who loves to flash his cash around, but it seems that flashing all that cash has gotten him into trouble leaving Callie and their teenage daughter Poppy to deal with the consequences. Meanwhile, after years of trying to have a baby, Sam and her husband Ted finally have a little girl to add to their family unit, but with having the least maternal mother in the world as a role model, Sam fears that she’s unable to be a proper mother.

I really enjoyed this story, it reminded me of a Maeve Binchy novel, a story of friendships and relationships and the issues that women face on a regular basis such as post-natal depression, deception as well self confidence and body issues and Cathy has written about them all in her book, in a frank and charming tale with an injection of Irish wit from the vibrant characters scattered throughout.

The book is filled many different roles from all walks of life. All three leading ladies are wonderful and with all them I felt an immediate connection with, particularly Ginger. She’s a kind, big hearted woman that people take for granted especially her friends and it makes for sad reading, when she’s confronted with how they really feel about her. But instead of wallowing in self pity, she takes on their criticism to use it to make a change to her life for the better and use it to achieve her goals and find love. Callie, has become used to being a kept woman but quickly adapts to change when she finds that the life she she has been living was based on a lie and does everything in her power to protect her moody teenage daughter. And for Sam, I felt a strong empathy for, as she struggled with being a new mother and adjusting to her life and constantly judging herself.

The book is written from the different perspectives of the women, but they flow seamlessly together as the women’s lives begin to interact and their bonds begin to grow. Wonderfully written, filled with compassion, charm and delicious characters, ‘The Year That Changed Everything’ is an inspirational story of life and change and truly goes to show what a difference a year makes. A charming tale!

You can buy The Year that Changed Everything from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Our Secrets And Lies By Sinead Moriarty

Our Secrets And Lies‘Our Secrets And Lies’ is the latest book by Irish author, Sinead Moriarty.

Having her son and daughter at 21 forced Lucy Murphy to walk away from a glittering future. They are the loves of her life and she is determined that they will have wonderful lives. So a scholarship to a prestigious school seems like a golden opportunity for the twins, the fulfilment of every wish Lucy has for them. But Lucy is confusing her thwarted ambitions with what her children really want. After all, seventeen-year-olds have dreams of their own, dreams they cannot always share with their mother. Until catastrophe strikes, Lucy is blind to the cost of forcing her own wishes on the twins, particularly her sensitive daughter. To have any hope of surviving as a family, all three will have to face up to some surprising and difficult truths.

Sinead is back with another great story about family drama and lies. In her latest book, we meet single parent Lucy, who gave birth to twins when she was only 21. Her boyfriend at the time, left for America leaving her with the responsibility, but thankfully she has the support of her strong family unit, her mother, father and younger sister Jenny.

Fast forward 17 years and Lucy is so proud of her teenage son and daughter who have got into a prestigious school on a scholarship. Her son, Dylan is an extremely talented footballer and the school want him to play on the team and Kelly, his sister has to leave her friends at her old school to be with her brother.

The story span over many storylines which addresses many issues, the hardship of being a single parent, the difficulty of growing up without a father figure, the pressures of fitting into society as a teenager as well as the problems of social media particularly online bullying.

Seen through the perspective of Lucy, Dylan and Kelly, this book gives a great insight into the different personalities. Lucy, is a great woman, she gave up a promising education and career to become a full time mother and has spent the last 17 years of her life, committed to giving her children the best life she can possibly provide. She was heartbroken when Tom, her boyfriend deserted her and his traditional and bullying father belittled her and she never properly got over that. She has always held a grudge against Tom and his father and is determined to prove that she is the best mother in the world. Dylan is excited about his new school and becoming the star player for the school football team, but his football is the last thing on his mind when he meets Taylor and she introduces him to drinking and partying and his priorities change much to Lucy’s dismay. Meanwhile Kelly is struggling to fit in and finds herself isolated and the victim of bullying, both in real life and online.

The story is filled with many wonderfully strong and outspoken characters, all dealing with their own issues and problems. But with every problem, Sinead uses her wit to lighten the situation with the inclusion of Ollie, Lucy’s best friend’s son, a boisterous boy who’s inquisitive mind regularly gets him into trouble and Jenny, Lucy’s younger sister, is a witty and outspoken sister, who regularly had me in stitches with her wise words.

A story riddled with love and drama throughout, ‘Our Secrets And Lies’ is a charming tale about the strength of family bonds, a mother’s love and how everyone just wants to belong.

You can buy Our Secrets and Lies from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Book News – Skin Deep By Liz Nugent

Skin DeepIrish author, Liz Nugent is returning to our bookshelves with her latest book, chillingly called ‘Skin Deep’.

What the back cover says –

‘I could probably have been an actress.
It is not difficult to pretend to be somebody else.

Isn’t that what I’ve been doing for most of my life?’

Cordelia Russell has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck, and the kindness of strangers, have run out.

The arrival of a visitor from her distant past shocks Cordelia. She reacts violently to the intrusion and flees her flat to spend a drunken night at a glittering party. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. She did not expect the corpse inside to start decomposing quite so quickly.

I was fortunate to hear Liz read an extract from the book, during the Crime Noir Ireland Festival in Belfast and I got goosebumps just listening to it!

I loved Liz’s previous books, ‘Unravelling Oliver’ was dark and ‘Lying In Wait’ just chilled me to the bone, so who knows what I’ll think when I read ‘Skin Deep’!

You can pre-order Skin Deep from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 5th April 2018.

Book Tour – My Favourite Film By Claudia Carroll

Claudia CarrollOn the book tour for Claudia Carroll’s amazing new book, ‘Our Little Secret’, Claudia talks about her favourite film.

Ok, so it’s Christmas as I’m writing this, and the TV seems to be on non-stop. Not only that, but one of my all-time favourite movies is on – ‘Gone With the Wind’.

Oh God, what’s not to love about this epic movie, and indeed book for that matter? It’s a movie I keep coming back to, because it’s got everything, romance, drama, war, death, destruction and one of the most unforgettable characters in literature.

Scarlett isn’t necessarily likeable, yet you can’t help but admire her and you bet on her to come up trumps every time. In spite of her emotional short-sightedness when it comes to a certain Rhett Butler, you still find yourself rooting for her and no more so than when she’s backed into a tight corner.

I first saw the movie with my parents and Granny one Christmas night about a hundred years ago and even though they’d all seen it a thousand times before, they were utterly entranced all over again. As for me, I was so swept up in Scarlett’s on/off romance with Rhett, I can clearly remember losing all track of time and at times forgetting where I was.

Our Little Secret

Then I read the book by Margaret Mitchell and couldn’t believe how faithful the movie adaptation was to it. Apparently when she was writing it, she was actually able to interview Civil War veterans…can you image? No wonder the book is so richly detailed and insightful. It’s almost movie lore at this stage abut the film producers ‘search for Scarlett’ and the almost Cinderella story of how they eventually settled on an unknown British actress by the name of Vivien Leigh, who went on to be perfection itself in the film, even bagging herself an Oscar in the process.

For God’s sake, it’s got everything. War, peace, a dizzying love triangle, a thwarted love affair, vengeance, melodrama of course, one of the most memorable last lines of any movie, ever. ‘After all, tomorrow is another day.’

And so it is, Scarlett. And so it is.

You can buy Our Little Secret from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

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.