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My 12 Books Of 2018

My 12 Books Of 2018

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have read some fantastic books this year, including some cracker debuts. So if you’re looking for book inspiration for Christmas ideas for yourselves or for that special someone in your life, then I would highly recommend these books, as they made me laugh, cry and keep me on the edge of my seat throughout 2018.

I’ve included my reviews of the books, to give you an idea of what I loved about them.

‘The Importance Of Being Aisling’ by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen
‘Roar’ by Cecelia Ahern
‘I invited Her In’ by Adele Parks
‘You Let Me In’ by Lucy Clarke
‘One Day In December’ by Josie Silver
‘One In A Million’ by Lindsey Kelk
‘Watching You’ by Lisa Jewell
‘Five Years From Now’ by Paige Toon
‘The Man I Think I Know’ by Mike Gayle
‘Almost Love’ by Louise O’Neill
‘Our House’ by Louise Candlish
‘Faking Friends’ by Jane Fallon

Happy reading!

The Surface Breaks By Louise O’Neill

The Surface Breaks ‘The Surface Breaks’ is Irish author, Louise O’Neill’s reimagining of ‘The Little Mermaid’

Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice?

For fans of Louise O’Neill, you will be well aware that her tales are never uplifting with happy after evers, they are dark and honest stories of toxic relationships, abuse and primarily stories where women are treated as inferior and ‘The Surface Breaks’ is no different. So if you’re expecting a lighthearted Disney tale, then you’re in for a shock.

Gaia hates her life, living at the bottom of the sea with her sisters waiting to her paired off with a man that she secretly loathes. Ever since, her mother disappeared Gaia has always wondered what’s above the water but her father, The Sea King has always forbidden her to go to the surface. But one day, she finally goes above the water and see a human who immediately steals her heart. She can’t get him out of her head and in a moment of madness gives her beautiful voice to the Sea Witch, in exchange for legs so she can get the human to fall in love with her. Once on water, Oliver the man she fell for rescues her and brings her to his home, but having no voice makes it hard for someone to fall in love with you and Gaia begins to question her thinking and even wonders if Oliver is the man that she fell for.

This is a dark and disturbing tale that does make for quite gruesome and unsettling reading in places as Gaia has to deal with the most horrible pains and injuries in her legs when she becomes human, I often the descriptions in these scenes to be incredibly vivid. She’s a striking woman that men both under and above the water are drawn too but Gaia wants to be seen as more than just a face, she wants to be recognised as person and as a woman and hates what her sisters and other mermaids have to go through in the Kingdom. Discriminated against and belittled, they have no value and are purely used to look good and produce babies.

This story is occasionally an angry and reactive read, with the way the men treat women and is most certainly a feminist and empowering story that does occasionally have the original fairytale weaved throughout it.

It has been pointed that there are similarities in this story to Louise’s debut ‘Only Ever Yours’, the women competing against each other and I would certainly agree with this statement.

A dark and sharply written retelling of a well loved classic, the story covers many current issues that Irish women are going through but like the recent Referendum verdict, it has a hopeful ending that leaves the reader hoping that the tides will change.

You can buy The Surface Breaks from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Almost Love By Louise O’Neill

Almost Love‘Almost Love’ is the latest book by Irish author, Louise O’Neill.

When Sarah falls for Matthew, she falls hard. So it doesn’t matter that he’s twenty years older. That he sees her only in secret. That, slowly but surely, she’s sacrificing everything else in her life to be with him. Sarah’s friends are worried. Her father can’t understand how she could allow herself to be used like this. And she’s on the verge of losing her job. But Sarah can’t help it. She is addicted to being desired by Matthew. And love is supposed to hurt. Isn’t it?

When it comes to books by Louise, you are guaranteed, an emotional rollercoaster of a story that will leave you exhausted at the end, so much so that I literally had to take a step back from the book and review my thoughts before typing them up

Her books delve into the dark worlds of toxic relationships, gas lighting and leading characters, that leave you feeling conflicted when you find yourself disliking them.

In ‘Almost Love’, we meet Sarah, a troubled young woman who has moved from one disastrous relationship to the next as she tries to put her life in order and sort out her head. The story is written in the past and present tense and is seen solely through the narrative of Sarah, as she reflects on her current relationship that is crumbling around her because of a previous relationship that she never got over.

Sarah meets Matthew, twenty years her senior she becomes infatuated with him and waits on his every beck and call. She craves for mere seconds of his attention and when he calls her, she drops everything for stolen moments in hotel rooms. She becomes obsessed with him, which causes trouble with friends and her father, who all want better for her. But for Sarah, Matthew is perfect for her, he introduces her to a world of arts and culture, a world that she longs to be part off. Now, in a new relationship with Oisin, a man her own age, she can’t seem to move on from Matthew and finds herself comparing the relationships and the men and takes all her inner turmoil out on Oisin.

This story is a dark and gritty read that really question relationships and where you stand in them. Sarah is a complex character and as much as I tried to, I couldn’t warm to her. She was horrible to all those close to her particularly her father, who she has a turbulent relationship with ever since the death of her mother. She’s quite self-absorbed and uses those around her, she belittles Oisin constantly and this can sometimes be unsettling reading as she battles her emotions around her.

This book is honest and that’s what makes it such an unique and compelling story, it doesn’t gloss on the fairy tale magic of relationships but focuses on the harsh reality of wanting to be loved and falling out of love, which also a sad and tender element to the tale. A frank and honest tale about love, self loathing, obsession and just how dark it can all become, ‘Almost Love’, is an agonisingly realistic story about the complexities of relationship and how sometimes in life, being you is never quite enough for someone to love you, this book is relatable to any person who has ever been in a relationship.

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

Literary Lunchtimes- Louise O’Neill

Louise O'NeillAward winning Bord Gais author, Louise O’Neill is coming to Belfast for a one off event to talk about her books, ‘Only Ever Yours’ and the most recent story ‘Asking For It’.

The freelance journalist from West Cork won the Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year award for her début 2014 novel, ;Only Ever Yours;. Her new novel, ‘Asking For It’, is a harrowing exploration of rape culture and victim blaming.

The event was originally planned for Wednesday 25th November but has now been moved to Wednesday 2nd December due to popular demand and will take place in the Ulster Hall. Tickets purchased remain valid for this new date.

To book your ticket for the event which costs £5, click here.

Asking For It By Louise O’Neill

Asking For ItAward winning Irish author Louise O’Neill is back with her second book called ‘Asking For It’.

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confidentOne night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma. The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does. Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes.

I first became aware of Louise when I read her award winning debut, ‘Only Ever Yours’ a book set in a dystopian world where women are artificially created and men are born naturally, the book was so gripping and depressing in equal measures that I was unable to put it down and this was also the case with her new book ‘Asking For It’.

Unlike ‘Only Ever Your’s’, ‘Asking For It’ is set in a small Irish town, where religion and good living is important and small mindedness is rife in the tight community.

The story concentrates on one very important subject and that is the issue of consent when it comes to sex and the power of social media and just how drastically, these once fun forums can change someones life for the absolute worst.

‘Asking For It’ is seen solely through the eyes of Emma, who unfortunately is not a nice girl. She’s bitchy, jealous and extremely manipulative. The leader of a group of popular girls, girls want to be her friend and boys want to with her and Emma uses this to her advantage as much as she can,. Until one night she gets completely drunk and ends up on her porch the following day, remembering nothing. But, as time goes by, pictures begin to appear on the internet of her with different boys and suddenly her life changes for the worst when she finds herself not only the victim of rape but online bullying as the community and her friends turn against her, purely because of her behaviour, how she was dressed and who her attackers were.

Like Louise, I am also from Ireland and I am fully aware of one of the stories that influenced her to write this type of story. A couple of years ago, a story appeared all over social media, about a 17 year old girl called ‘Slane Girl’ who was pictured at a concert in Slane with various boys in compromising positions, ‘Slane Girl’ became the target for trolling and was bullied all over the internet whilst the boys in the pictures were never mentioned.

The realism of this story, makes for incredibly bleak and raw reading, as it highlights just how times and attitudes have changed. It’s already hard enough for a person to deal with being raped, being violated but to then have the finger of blame pointed at them purely because of what a person is wearing is just utterly mind blowing. The book really points out just how messed up society is, how the victim is left to feel guilt even though they are already struggling with so many negative emotions.

As the story is seen solely through her eyes, it makes for unsettling reading, as she battles with her emotions and tries to appear stronger than she is, particularly when she has flashbacks which are pretty horrific. Even though Emma isn’t a nice person, it’s still heartbreaking to see this confident, bold character become a shadow of herself and try to carry on with life, even though the world is against her. The majority of the story makes for hard reading, as Emma battles with problems and lack of support around her whilst the finger the blame and doubt is regularly pointed at her.

With graphic content and a harrowing storyline, that sadly is probably an everyday occurrence, ‘Asking For It’ is a gripping, hard hitting story that highlights the incredible importance of consent, how warped society has become and just how powerful and destroying social media can be, a book that everyone shoud read.

You can buy Asking For It from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.