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Filter This By Sophie White

Filter This ‘Filter This’ is the debut novel by Sophie White and it’s a fun and insightful story about the pressures and drama of social media.

Ali Jones is hell-bent on achieving her #lifegoals: 10,000+ Instagram followers and a win at the upcoming Glossie Awards. So when she inadvertently leads people to believe she’s pregnant and immediately gains thousands of followers, she realises that riding the ‘Mummy Influencer’ wave could be her ticket to Insta-success. But then Tinder Sam, Ali’s one-night-stand, resurfaces, determined to take his new role as baby daddy seriously. Elsewhere on Insta, Ireland’s biggest influencer (and Ali’s idol) Shelly Devine has it all — at least on screen. But beneath the immaculately curated feed, Shelly harbours a secret from her followers — and her husband — but who will be the first to discover what she’s been hiding? As Ali’s lies spiral out of control, and Shelly starts to take a hard look at her life choices, what will it take for them to realise what’s truly important before they lose what matters most?

The story is seen through the narrative of two women Ali Jones, an upcoming and aspiring influencer and Shelly Divine, one of Ireland’s most influential social media icons. Both women are at polar ends of the spectrum, one just starting out and the other is at the peak of her game. But both lives change dramatically and both women find themselves harbouring a secret that is detrimental to their careers.

After becoming a Wildcard at the Glossies Social Media Awards, Ali accidentally leads people to believe that she is pregnant after a cryptic post. Suddenly she’s in big demand, with brands wanting her face all over their products and the life that Ali had always dreamed off has become a reality. Meanwhile, Shelly has led her fans to believe that she has the perfect family and marriage, but it’s all quietly crumbling down around her as her husband tires of her lifestyle and there’s now another baby in the mix.

I genuinely loved this story with its bright and inviting cover, I gobbled this book up in one sitting as I joined Ali and Shelly on their social media journey.

Wittily written, the story reflects on the reality of social media, the pressure and demands to promote brands as well as to create a fake and artificial life. I really enjoyed the characters, both women are strong and are determined to make successful lives for themselves, they are also icons to their fans proving that influencers can lead successfully financially lives. I also enjoyed the location of the story. Set in the bustling city of Dublin, locations and venues stood out and I was able to make connections with them.

A keenly observed and relatable story about the world of social media and the pressures to maintain a perfect life, ‘Filter This’ is a fun and modern story that proves with filters and gradients, nothing is ever as it seems.

You can buy ‘Filter This’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

My Writing Space – Catherine Ryan Howard

Catherine Ryan Howard Writers Space
In the first of a new feature on the website, I talk to Edgar nominated Crime author Catherine Ryan Howard about her writing space and it’s quite the beauty!

Writing my second novel, ‘The Liar’s Girl’, took an awful long time and was not an especially enjoyable writing experience. I had a serious case of Second Novel Syndrome. One late night after a long, long string of late nights, I got so fed up of looking at my desk I vowed that, as soon as I finished the book, I’d treat myself to a desk makeover. I wanted to love where I worked and it’s safe to say, I do now! My desk is a pink-trimmed Micke from IKEA topped with an adjustable standing desk from I keep copies of my own books on the shelves next to it – to remind myself that I’ve done this before, I can do it again – and I’ve decorated the wall with cards, prints and trinkets that make me smile and/or encourage me when I’m feeling meh and am tempted to go binge-watch Netflix instead. This is my new computer which has a ginormous screen: it’s perfect for me because I like to work with the current draft and previous draft side by side. Please note: there isn’t usually a glass of wine on this desk – I’d just finished a four-hour install/backup/transfer of the new computer when I took this, and felt like a reward! Coffee is my usual fuel.

‘Rewind’ is Catherine’s latest novel and is available to buy from Amazon and good bookshops.

For more information about Catherine and her books, go to Catherine Ryan Howard

Skin Deep By Liz Nugent

Skin Deep‘Skin Deep’ is the latest book by Irish author, Liz Nugent and has recently been awarded the award for The Cancel All Plans Award for the Book You Can’t Put Down at the Dead Good Book Awards and I wholeheartedly agree that it was totally worth the award.

The book is set in rural Ireland and is seen through the narrative of Cordelia. As a child she was idolised by her father, the prettiest girl on the island, she believes that she is special and deserves to have everything her way, but life tragically changes for her when her family are killed in a fire. Now an orphan, she finds herself moved from pillar to post and determined to get things her own way, no matter the way. The story then flows from the past tense to present tense when Cordelia finds a body in her room.

I found Cordelia to be an absolutely fascinating and hateful character that shocked me so much throughout the story. From a young age, she was led to believe that she was the prettiest woman alive and deserved to be treated like a queen, but Cordelia was a horrible, emotionless person that left a trail of heartbreak behind her without a hint of remorse. She was cold towards everyone and didn’t care how she jeopardised other lives.

The story travels around Europe and gives a hint of exotic to the claustrophobic Irish story. There were some folklore stories that made for unsettling reading as well as perspectives from people who had interacted with Cordelia and this gives an insight into her behaviour and the drama that she leaves behind her.

Atmospheric from the first page, this book is cleverly written with an outstanding lead, ‘Skin Deep’ is a brilliantly brutal and dark story, filled with drama and deceit, this book is a must read for all.

You can buy ‘Skin Deep’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Normal People By Sally Rooney

Normal People‘Normal People’ is Sally Rooney’s second book and it won a whole host of awards including, Costa Novel of the Year 2018, An Post Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year, Winner of the Specsavers National Book Awards International Author of the Year and was longlisted for the Booker Prize.

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years

Marianne, is the quiet, recluse in the small town, she lives with her mother and bullying older brother and Connell is the popular and studious young man who many admire from afar. His mother is also the cleaner of Marianne’s house. Whilst picking up his mother from work, Marianne and Connell begin to get to know each other and begin a secret relationship that stops when Connell doesn’t bring Marianne to their prom.

The story then flows over a number of years and is seen from their perspectives as they reconnect, never truly admitting their feelings but are there for each other during the difficult times. Both embark on other relationships and friendships, but they always come back to each other.

This book is an interesting story, it’s raw and honest and deals with issues of abuse, confidence and self-worth. Marianne is a complex character, she feels not worthy of love and ends up abusive relationships and each time Connell saves her, we hope that this might be the time that they get their happy ever afters but life gets in the way. Connell is the unlikely hero in the story, he’s there for Marianne to help her through the tough times, but always fails to make commitments which is frustrating at times. They are opposites, one coming from money and the other without and it’s interesting to see the dynamics of the relationship change over the years.

Sally doesn’t bother with punctuation in her stories, a similar style to Cormac McCarthy and at times this can make the reading difficult to understand but after a while I got used to it. I was curious about this book and after seeing it win so many awards, I understood the hype. The characters are damaged and troubled and so is their relationship, but they are constantly drawn to each other and their interaction with each does make for tender and insightful reading at times.

‘Normal People’ is a very well written story with some witty and poignant dialogue, having said that I didn’t enjoy it as much as ‘Conversations With Friends’, but still thought it was an engaging book.

You can buy ‘Normal People’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Cecelia Ahern Reveals New Book – Postscript

Cecilia AhernlWonderful news for fans of Cecelia Ahern’s bestselling novel, ‘PS I Love You’, as Cecelia has revealed that she has written a sequel to the book called ‘Postscript’.

What the back cover says –

When Holly Kennedy is approached by a group calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, her safe existence is turned on its head. Inspired by hearing about her late husband Gerry’s letters, the club wants Holly to help them with their own parting messages for their loved ones to discover after they’re gone.

Holly is sure of one thing – no way is she being dragged back to the grief she has left behind. It’s taken seven years to reinvent herself, and she’s ready to move on with her life.

But Holly comes to realize that when you love someone, there’s always one more thing to say…

With the news only being announced today, there is already so much excitement over the book and with a cover yet to be revealed, there’s something else to look forward to!

You can pre-order ‘Postscript’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 19th September 2019.