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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.

Smile By Roddy Doyle

Smile‘Smile’ is the latest book by bestselling Irish author, Roddy Doyle.

Just moved in to a new apartment, alone for the first time in years, Victor Forde goes every evening to Donnelly’s pub for a pint, a slow one. One evening his drink is interrupted. A man in shorts and pink shirt brings over his pint and sits down. He seems to know Victor’s name and to remember him from school. Says his name is Fitzpatrick. Victor dislikes him on sight, dislikes too the memories that Fitzpatrick stirs up of five years being taught by the Christian Brothers. He prompts other memories too – of Rachel, his beautiful wife who became a celebrity, and of Victor’s own small claim to fame, as the man who says the unsayable on the radio. But it’s the memories of school, and of one particular Brother, that he cannot control and which eventually threaten to destroy his sanity.

For years, I’ve been a fan of Roddy Doyle’s books, I remember sitting in the local library reading language and situations that were most definitely far more advanced than me. But, for me that was the joy of Roddy Doyle, coarse language and characters that constantly shocked the reader.

But if you’re looking for something like that in his latest book, then you’re in for a surprise as this book is quite different from his previous novels.

In this story we meet Victor Forde, recently moved to a new area in Dublin, he goes to his new local where he meets a man called Fitzpatrick who claims they went to school together. Fitzpatrick stirs up old memories and feelings that Victor had hidden away and makes him confront the childhood that he would rather forget, a childhood of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the Christian Brothers Catholic School.

The story travels between the past and present tense and is seen through Victor’s narrative. The story reflects on the prominent moments in his life, where he meets his partner Rachel, their life as a successful celebrity couple and his battle with writing a novel about Ireland as well being respected as an author.

Throughout the story there is a sense of foreboding and an underlying despair that truly comes to light at the end, as Victor finally confronts his ghosts.

Victor is a desperate character, who longs to be successful but his childhood is holding him back from ever moving forward. The scenes where Victor is remembering his childhood are quite unsettling and can make for moving reading at times.

The story flows at a gentle and slow pace but at every moment, the reader is engaged with this likeable and troubled character. Dealing with the dark issue of child abuse that was quite prominent in Catholic Church and still something that the country has to deal with, ‘Smile’ is a bittersweet story that is filled with sharp wit and a troubled lead, this cleverly written tale of life’s journey and observation made for moving and sad reading.

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

Keep You Safe By Melissa Hill

Keep You Safe‘Keep You Safe’ is the latest book by Melissa Hill.

Every mother faces impossible choices. Vaccination is one of the hardest. For single mum Kate O’Hara, there was no decision to make. Her daughter Rosie is one of a small percentage of Irish children who can’t be vaccinated against measles. All Kate can do is hope that her little girl is safe. For mummy blogger Madeleine Cooper, it was a leap of faith she wasn’t prepared to take when she and her husband declined controversial measles jabs for their daughter Clara. All she can do is pray that it’s the right decision. But when classmates Clara and Rosie both become sick will Kate pay for Madeleine’s choice?

For those who know Melissa Hill, they would have enjoyed her romantic and fun stories of love and friendship. But, with her first book with HQ, Melissa has gone a little bit darker with her writing and writes about most parents fears, when their child becomes seriously ill.

The story is seen through the eyes of mothers Kate O’Hara and Madeleine Cooper, who’s daughters become ill with measles. The possible consequences that both girls were never given the MMR Booster, a vaccination against various illnesses including measles. As Madeleine’s daughter recovers from the illness, Kate’s becomes worse and it suddenly becomes a situation where her daughter is fighting for her life.

The two women are complete polar opposites. Kate is a single mother after her husband suddenly died. She’s struggling to make ends meet as a single parent, but her daughter Rosie is her priority. Unfortunately, Rosie wasn’t able to get the MMR vaccination as she was allergic to it, so Kate lives in constant fear that her daughter will become ill. Meanwhile, Madeleine is the ultimate yummy mummy, with her outspoken views and popular blogs, she voices her views on parenting, which others may not always agree with, but that doesn’t bother Madeleine. She’s confident and occasionally unorthodox. Like Kate, her daughter Clara was also not vaccinated, but that was because, Madeleine and her husband Greg were worried about the side effects, as some people believed that the vaccine could cause Autism.

Essentially the story is a battle of morals and ethnics. As Clara becomes better, Rosie gets considerably worse and all fingers of blame point towards outspoken Madeleine as they decided not to get their children vaccinated.

It’s heartbreaking to read both mothers sides of the story as they are both in their own types of hell. Kate is praying that her daughter gets better whilst also reluctantly disliking Madeleine for having a healthy daughter. But she is also tortured, that her daughter may possibly never fully recover and the only way, she can pay for her treatment is to take Madeleine and her husband to court.

Whilst, the tables have turned for Madeleine, she is delighted that Clara is safe and well but she is also guilt ridden at the thought of poor Rosie. As well as that she has become a public hate figure for her outspoken opinions on not vaccinating her daughter.

This story is realistically and cleverly written and really does tug at heartstrings. With having both sides of the story with two hugely different personalities, where Kate shies away, Madeleine embraces the spotlight. The story is so vivid in parts, that you really get a clear understanding of the torture that both mothers are going through and at the end of the day, the both share a common ground of just wanting to keep their children safe.

Riveting from the very start, ‘Keep You Safe’ is a completely different story from Melissa. Tackling issues and dilemmas that all parents face and face, this book was an emotional roller coaster I kept me gripped and will most definitely raise a lot of questions in book clubs.

You can pre-order Keep You Safe from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops 21st September 2017.

The Break By Marian Keyes

The Break‘The Break’ is the delicious new book by Marian Keyes.

Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her. He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in south-east Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it. Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet. However, for Amy it’s enough to send her – along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers – teetering over the edge. For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns if he returns, will he be the same man she married? Will Amy be the same woman? Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then isn’t she?

Marian Keyes is back with another fabulous book, a book that made me lose track of time as well as let numerous cups of go to waste and go cold.

In her latest book, we meet Amy, a deliciously kind and outspoken woman who works in PR, mother to three daughters, her life is rarely a routine and when her husband Hugh announces that he wants to take a six month break to travel the world to help him through his grieving process after losing his father. Amy’s reaction and mine was WTF?

As Hugh travels the world, Amy is left with the worry that he’ll cheat on her, leave her for a younger model, never return and this will be the end of their marriage.

But whilst Hugh is discovering himself, Amy is also finding a new appetite for life. She’s refusing to accept pity from her neighbours and give up on her marriage, even though her heart is breaking.

Amy is also on her own path of self discovery, embarking on new affairs, tackling with being a single parent and being the mother of a successful video blogger with an attitude.

I absolutely adored this book. The book is filled with Marian’s charm and wit as well her warmth. The characters are similar to the Walsh family, their dysfunctional, outspoken and there is never a dull moment, with their larger than life mother and a father who battles Alzheimers. In her light hearted tale, Marian delivers a story that has serious issues, Alzheimer’s and the effect it can have on a family, the pressure and stress. Teenage pregnancy and the legality of abortion in Ireland plus the surge of video blogging and how anyone can do it, no matter the age.

Amy is a fabulous character and one that I could never tire of reading. As the story progresses, Amy becomes a stronger and more confident woman and this is a joy to witness. Hugh was a different story altogether, I wholeheartedly hated him and the rage he invoked in me was astounding. His selfishness to find himself whilst Amy was left to look after the family and deal with the sympathy and the gossip that he left behind, it enraged me!

The characters are engaging and all have their own quirks that made for such enjoyable reading plus all the chapters are short, so one chapter can rapidly become seven or ten.

Deliciously fun and warmhearted, this book is an enchanting story that was impossible to put down, filled with charm, drama and plenty of Irish wit, ‘The Break’ is most certainly Marian Keyes at her very best. I dare you not to enjoy it!

You can pre-order The Break from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 7th September.

Orange Blossom Days By Patricia Scanlan

Orange Blossom Daysn‘Orange Blossom Days’ is the latest book by Irish author, Patricia Scanlan.

Anna and Austen MacDonald, an Irish couple, are preparing to enjoy their retirement to the full. But the demands of family cause problems they have never foreseen and shake their marriage to the core. Sally-Ann Connolly Cooper, a feisty Texan mother of two young teenagers, is reeling from her husband’s infidelity. La Joya becomes a place of solace for Sally-Ann, in more ways than one. Eduardo Sanchez, a haughty Madrileño, has set out with single-minded determination to become El Presidente of the complex’s management committee. But pride comes before a fall. Jutta Sauer Perez, a sophisticated German who aspires to own her very own apartment in La Joya, works hard to reach her goal. Then the unthinkable happens.

Patricia is back with a new book, filled with many nationalities from across the world who all share a love for their apartments in the La Joya de Andalucia, in a small Spanish town. The resort provides the couples with the perfect escapes from the stress of live and home, but for some the resort isn’t as perfect as some hoped and new problems arise.

From the Emerald Isle, we have retired couple Anna and Austen MacDonald who have used their nestegg to treat themselves to a second home and escape from the dramatic and needy clutches of their daughter Chloe and her desire for a big wedding. Their intentions to spend time relaxing together don’t always work out much to their dismay, as one of their children is always looking for their attention and money. Texan couple, Sally-Ann and Cal lead separate lives even though they put on an united front, until Cal bursts their bubble and they literally have to go their separate ways. Whilst Eduardo is a stickler for rules and nothing annoys him more than seeing the residents of the resort taking liberties and disobeying the rules, so he runs for president of the resort, hoping that his wife will support him, but Consuela has gotten tired of his controlling ways and goes out to find a life of her own and finally there’s Jutta, the manager of the resort, a strict German woman who runs the resort like a ship, the only thing that gets in the way is her demanding father, her frivolous husband and annoying sisters.

I love Patricia’s books, they are the perfect books to sink into and relax with, filled with warmhearted and engaging characters, her lighthearted tales always make for tender reading. In this book, the wide selection of characters and personalities , give the story plenty of twists and enjoyable turns.

The many nationalities, give the story a clever spin, the lighthearted and witty Irish characters, Anna and Austen are the warmer elements of the story with their gentle nature, they made me smile with their Irish sayings and slangs whereas Sally-Ann was fun and vibrant with a strong heart and finally both Edmundo and Jutta are both driven by their careers and will stop at nothing that gets in their way, to be honest I found them the least likeable of the characters, they were obnoxious and rude.

Filled with warm and relatable characters set against the sunny climate of Spain, ‘Orange Blossom Days’ is a tender tale of love and friendship and is the perfect escapism read.

You can buy Orange Blossom Days from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.