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The Anniversary By Hilary Boyd

'The Anniversary‘The Anniversary’ is the latest book by Hilary Boyd.

Stella once thought that if she never saw Jack again, it would be too soon. But life has other plans for her and her stubborn, handsome ex-husband. Looking after their daughter in a time of need, Stella finds herself unwillingly reunited with the man she shared the best years of her life with – followed by the worst. Where tragedy once tore them apart, now Stella and Jack are being drawn back together. But each of them has a new partner and a new life. Should they fight temptation? Should the past remain the past? Or are some loves simply meant to be?

‘The Anniversary’ is a sweet and tender about love and growing old. Jack and Stella thought their love was forever, until a death of their child drove them apart. Now, years later their only daughter is expecting their grandchild and they are spending time together for the first time in years.

I have read a few of Hilary’s books and I’ve come to enjoy her warm-hearted stories of love and friendships that come together neatly together in the end and ‘The Anniversary’ is no different.

The story is seen through the narrative of both characters and flows back and forth in past and present sequences, setting the scenes for the reader as they fall in and out of love and the dramatic events unfurl before them.

Both characters are interesting people, Stella is a kind and considerate woman who never got over the loss of her little boy, she’s always felt responsible for his death and found she was unable to move on, being constantly reminded off him. Like Stella, Jack also felt responsible for Johnny’s death but he wanted to carry on and make the most of life, much to Stella’s dismay.

Now, years later they have both moved on and are in new relationships, but they find old feelings returning much to their surprise and they begin to tentatively form a friendship and speak openly about their past and their future, particularly with their grandchild approaching.

This is a very enjoyable story, that is poignant and tender in parts, a story of loss that really tugs at the heartstrings. ‘The Anniversary’ is a lovely story to curl up with, with sweet character and the odd funny moment throughout, this book is perfect for fans of Patricia Scanlan.

You can pre-order The Anniversary from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 20th September 2018.

One Day In December By Josie Silver

One Day In December‘One Day In December’ is Josie Silver’s debut novel.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist. After all, life isn’t a scene from the movies, is it? But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away. Laurie thinks she’ll never see the boy from the bus again. But at their Christmas party a year later, her best friend Sarah introduces her to the new love of her life. Who is, of course, the boy from the bus. Determined to let him go, Laurie gets on with her life. But what if fate has other plans?

I’ve been fortunate to have read some amazing debuts over the years but I have to say that this debut has really stolen my heart.

The story is seen through the narrative of Laurie and Jack, who’s eyes lock one December day and even though they are fated to be together, something or someone is constantly standing in their way. Over the course of ten years, they deal with marriages, divorces and breakups all whilst keeping each other in the friend zone.

I adored this book and consumed it greedily as the characters and plot line were fantastic. Laurie is a sweetheart of a character and ever since she saw ‘Bus Boy’ aka Jack, she was convinced he was the one, that is until her best friend Sarah brought him home and fell in love with him as well. Being the kind and best friend that she is, Laurie never exposed her true feelings and wished nothing more than love and happiness to Sarah. Jack struggles with his emotions and wants to be friends with Laurie, but does occasionally find himself wondering what if?

The story takes place over a decade and gives an interesting into the dynamics of the couple as they move on with their lives and relationships but are always drawn back to each other.

Sweetly written, this book is a heartwarming and engaging story from the very beginning, with sweet and captivating characters and the picturesque setting of a bustling London which would be perfect to curl up with on these approaching winter nights. A tear jerker, a heart tugger and an occasionally laugh out loud moment, ‘One Day In December’ is a romantic tale about finding the one and never giving up on love.

You can pre-order One Day in December from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 18th October 2018.

Isabelle Broom

Isabelle BroomIsabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began and studied Media Arts in London before joining the ranks at Heat magazine, where she was the Book Reviews Editor. Always happiest when she off on an adventure, Isabelle now travels all over the world seeking out settings for her novels, as well as making the annual pilgrimage to her true home – the Greek island of Zakynthos. Currently based in Suffolk, where she shares a cottage with her dog Max.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
    I have been writing stories down ever since I could write things down, but even before that I enjoyed creating imaginative games with my toys. I was a big fan of ‘Care Bears’ as a kid, and I would make up plays and have my toys act them out. My dream growing up was always to become an author one day, but it wasn’t until about four years ago, when I won a short story competition, that I felt confident enough to tackle a big, solid novel. And thank heavens I did! I continued to work full-time while writing my first four novels, but last summer I made the decision to scale back a bit and turn my hand to freelancing, which I still do today. I’m based in Suffolk now, where I share a small converted barn with my dog Max, and on the days that I’m not working in the city, I’m writing, plotting, reviewing books for heat magazine or I’m off travelling the globe to research novel locations. It’s a very busy life, but it’s all mine and I love it.
  2. Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming book, ‘One Thousand Stars and You’?
    My new novel is set in the colourful and endearingly chaotic country of Sri Lanka, where Alice and her two best friends have travelled to for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to celebrate turning 30. Alice’s long-term boyfriend Richard has not gone with them, however – adventurous locations are definitely not his scene – but he says to Alice that when she gets back, they should take the big next step in their relationship. For Alice, who was outgoing as a child until having her wings clipped by a nasty accident, this holiday feels like her last hurrah. And then we have Max. The three girls encounter former soldier Max and his friend Jamal a few days into their trip, and the five of them begin to travel together. Drawn to one another from the off, Alice and Max soon discover that they have lots of things in common, but is it just friendship they’re feeling, or something deeper? It’s a story about being brave, being yourself, and being bold – but most of all it’s an exploration of love in all its many guises. Is simple contentment good enough if it means saving those close to you from upset, or should you always chase down happiness as ferociously as you possibly can?
  3. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Oh, gosh! Well, there are just so many authors that I love and respect, across all genres. To keep things simple, I’ll stick to fellow scribes of so-called “women’s fiction”, and I would choose Rosie Walsh (author of ‘The Man Who Didn’t Call’) because she is wise, warm, funny and writes more beautifully about love than anyone else, Katie Marsh (‘The Rest Of Me’), who makes me laugh, think, cry and feel with her wonderful books, and Cesca Major, due to her wit, passion and utterly captivating writing.
  4. Why did you decide to write female fiction?
    I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision, to be honest. One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to “write the books you want to read”, which is exactly what I do. I grew up reading a variety of genres and still enjoy many types of both fiction and non-fiction, but the subject that has always fascinated me the most is people – how lives are shaped by love, tragedy, heartbreak and success; how we respond to one another; how we find someone to share life with; how travel helps us to grow. I pour so many of my own experiences into my writing, and I believe that if you begin with a foundation of truth, then you can’t go far wrong. I want books that make you think and feel as well as just entertain you, so those are the stories I try to write.
  5. Your books are always set in amazing locations that you travel to for research. Where has been your favourite location?

    That’s such a toughie! The thing is, every location has its own set of merits. The Greek island of Zakynthos, where I set my debut novel ‘My Map Of You’, occupies a very special place in my heart because I used to live there – and still return every year. It’s more of a second home than a mere novel setting, and I dream about retiring there one day. Prague is so beautiful and magical, Mojacar in Spain is like something from a fairy tale and Lake Como is staggeringly stunning – plus, they have all the cutest dogs there. Sri Lanka – despite poisoning me with its contaminated water twice now – holds so many cherished memories for me, and I long to go back and explore more. I will let you in on a secret, however – the setting for my 2019 novel, which I’m halfway through writing now – is definitely a contender for very close second favourite after Greece…

  6. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    There are so many! I love the very beginning, when you sit down with a few ideas and a blank page and start plotting. I love seeing my covers for the very first time, because that is the moment you realise your scrambled collection of words and thoughts will one day be a real book, and I get a huge buzz out of delivering that final, copy-edited and page-proofed edit, knowing that the next time I see it will be when it’s delivered back to me in a big pre-publication box of shiny finished novels. Of the writing nuts and bolts, my favourite bit is when characters begin interacting. You can plot and plan and outline those people as much as you want, but you never really know them until they begin communicating with one another – that’s the point when the real magic starts to happen.

  7. One Thousand Stars And You

  8. Is there anything that you would change about your writing journey?
    I feel extremely fortunate to have secured myself an incredible agent and a legendary publisher, and while there have been ups (that first call saying an offer was in) and downs (my first big structural edit – I lay in the bath and wept), overall, it’s been a total blast. The fact that I get to make up stories for a living still prompts numerous pinch-me moments, and I am and continue to be so very grateful. Of course, if I had a magic wand in my hand right now, then a few (hundred thousand) more sales wouldn’t go amiss. Oh, and a film rights deal with Aidan Turner snaffling the lead role, please!
  9. What’s your favourite book of all time?
    Impossible question klaxon! There are too many, I honestly don’t have one favourite – I have many favourites. I can tell you my favourite book of the past few months, though – ‘This Is Going To Hurt’ by Adam Kay. Not only hilarious, but absolutely vital. I cannot recommend it enough.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    ‘War and Peace’, because it’s huge and I love it, but never have time to read it. ‘Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince’, because I love all-things Potter and this book is my favourite of the seven, and probably something by Bill Bryson, too, to keep me chuckling. I still cry tears of mirth whenever I read ‘The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid’.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Decide which genre you want to write within, then set yourself a challenge to read the Top 10 bestsellers in that category, be it crime fiction, sci-fi dystopia or romance. As you read, note down observations. Ask yourself what these authors have done differently, or better, and how they have developed their characters, then map yourself a list of dos and don’ts. If you haven’t already, then pick up a few “how to write” books and learn as much as you can about structure and plot. Trust me, getting lost in the middle of your novel will only knock your confidence and set you back. The planning may seem dull compared to the fun writing part, but it will help you to stay on track and make sure that your character arcs don’t vanish into thin air. Try to write every day, even if it’s just a few lines, and on the days the creative juices aren’t flowing, go back and edit what you’ve already done. You need to live and breathe a book for it to really flourish.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    Probably Post-it notes – and a pen. Lots of thoughts occur to me when I’m in the writing flow and scribbling them down is absolutely paramount. The one item I do NOT need is my phone. So, so, soooooo distracting!
  13. And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I guess the biggie is that my new novel ‘One Thousand Stars and You’ is out now. There’s also a competition currently running on my Penguin Author Page (, where you can win the chance to be a named character in my summer 2019 novel. I often do giveaways and polls etc on my Twitter and Facebook, and whenever I embark on a research trip abroad, I use the hashtag #BroomsBookTrip on all my many Instagram photos. Just search for @isabelle_broom to find me. My next big adventure is coming up on 2 November, and it’s a DOOZY!

  14. Follow Isabelle Broom on Twitter Isabelle Broom and Facebook Isabelle Broom for updates.

    You can buy One Thousand Stars and You from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght

Sarah Breen and Emer Mclysaght. Photo credit Al Higgins

Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen are the fabulous writing duo behind the hilarious, Irish novel called ‘Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling. The Novel’. A book that all women can relate to, at some stage in their lives.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
    Sarah: Emer and I met studying media in Dublin. We hit it off immediately – I thought she was hilarious from day one – and we started hanging out whenever we could and eventually moved in together. Emer went on to work in radio journalism and I got into magazines so our professional lives never really overlapped, although we always dreamed of working together one day. In 2016 an Irish publishing company approached us about writing a book together and we decided to go for it.

    Emer: Having both worked in Irish media, writing for Irish women, we felt like we would be able to have a go at writing a novel. It’s the kind of thing you dream about when you’re growing up and your favourite subject in school is English and you’re devouring a few books a week.

  2. What made you come up with the concept for the ‘Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling’?
    We came up with the character of Aisling one day during a conversation about mascara – we decided whoever keeps the brown mascara industry going is also the person who hangs up signs in the office kitchen begging people to put their mugs in the dishwasher (always typed in comic sans!). She’s that friend who writes “suits you” under pictures of women holding babies on Facebook and knows the Weight Watchers Points in absolutely everything. Our friends soon got into it so Emer made a Facebook page, called Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling, where we could all share our “Aislingisms”. It gained a cult following and now has more than 50,000 members. The novel is based on what happens when Aisling gets sick of waiting for her boyfriend to pop the question.
  3. How do you find it, writing as an duo?
    Sarah: We couldn’t imagine writing any other way! Because we know Aisling so well, and know how she’d react in any situation, it’s easy for me to continue Emer’s thoughts and vice versa. We usually decide what needs to happen in the next few chapters and just go away and fill in the blanks. I’m always HOOTING at Emer’s work.

    Emer: And I’m always in bits at Sarah’s work. I think we compliment each other in our writing. Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling has a mixture of both very funny and very sad moments, and somehow between us we’ve managed to strike the balance just right. It’s like we were always meant to write this book together!

  4. Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling

  5. You have quite a following on your Facebook page, which provides entertainment, solutions and current affairs, how have you found the response to the page?
    We are incredibly proud of the OMGWACA group. It’s crazy to think that what started out as an in-joke about Aisling 10 years ago is now this warm, inclusive community that’s spawned so many real life friendships. It’s really only a matter of time ‘til we have our first OMGWACA wedding!
  6. As pointed out in the book, we all have a bit of an Aisling in ourselves. What defines you as an complete Aisling?
    Sarah: I reckon I’m about 40% Aisling – I religiously collect Boots points, I would never get off the bus without thanking the driver and nothing makes me happier than drying clothes outside on the line (the amount of electricity the dryer uses is shocking!). I think Emer is a bit more Aisling than me – I’ve seen her bring earplugs to a music festival and she will insist on queuing for a flight the minute the gate opens.

    Emer: Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a good night’s sleep at a festival, or an airbed, or a lock for your tent! I would agree that I’m more of an Aisling, maybe 50%. It’s true that I don’t feel at ease until I’m safely in my plane seat and my carry on is safely stowed. I also indicate religiously on roundabouts and would be evangelical about the difference between tea towels and hand towels.

  7. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    Sarah: Anything by Marian Keyes – ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ is a favourite of both mine and Emer. The entire works of Adrian Mole – he was SUCH an Aisling. And some kind of survival manual – I’d need to be able to distil my own gin or else I’d just walk into the sea.

    Emer: I hope that Sarah would let me borrow her ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ and her Adrian Mole. I’d also bring the collected tales of ‘Anne of Green Gables’, it was a real childhood favourite. And while we’re at it, a couple of my old Paula Danziger books. I think that reading funny women like her when I was younger really influenced my writing.

  8. Who’s your favourite literary hero or heroine?
    Sarah: Bridget Jones – I love how funny, real and relatable she is. That Aisling has been compared to her is incredibly flattering.

    Emer: Sarah beat me to it with Bridget. I’d also have to mention Adrian Mole again, he’s just the perfect amount of hero with a dash of ridiculousness.

  9. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    Sarah: “The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds.” It’s from ‘Lullaby’ by Leila Slimani. How could you not want to read on?!

    Emer: “We slept in what had once been the gymnasium”, from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. I just feel like it’s so loaded. It already gives away so much.

  10. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    It sounds like a no-brainer, but write the book you’d like to read. If psychological thrillers are your bag, hone your detective skills. Not every book has to be a work of literary genius. Just start writing!
  11. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    Sarah: Food. I like to reward myself after every paragraph.

    Emer: I write at a laptop but always have a good old pen and paper beside me for making notes to come back to. It might just be one scribbled word but it will be enough.

  12. And finally do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    We are currently writing the screenplay for the film adaptation of Oh My God What a Complete Aisling’, which has been such a joy. We are also putting the finishi’ng touches on the sequel, which is due out in September.

You can follow the ladies on Twitter Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght for updates. And don’t forget to check out the amazing ‘Oh My God What a Complete Aisling’ Facebook page, which started this whole adventure

You can buy Oh My God What a Complete Aisling 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.