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Your Closest Friend By Karen Perry

Your Closest Friend‘Your Closest Friend’ is the latest book by Karen Perry.

Cara shouldn’t have survived the attack. But at the last moment, a stranger snatched her to safety. In the hours that followed she told this Good Samaritan secrets she’d never told a soul. Not even her husband. In the aftermath, Cara is home, healed and safe. Which is when the anonymous threats begin. Someone knows things about her they shouldn’t. Cara’s Good Samaritan offers to help her – to save her all over again. That night Cara made a friend for life. But what if she isn’t a friend at all?

‘Your Closest Friend’ is the second book that I’ve read by writing duo Paul Perry and Karen Gillece and I have to admit that I enjoyed it much more than the first book that I read by them.

This claustrophobic and intense thriller is set during a terrorist attack in London when two strangers meet for the first time, when Amy rescues Cara and gives her sanctuary in her workplace. It’s in this short time that the pair of them talk, telling their fears and secrets as they fear for their lives. When Cara says goodbye to Amy, she never expects to see or hear from Amy again, but Amy has gotten herself a lot more involved in Cara’s life than Cara imagined and finds herself suddenly with a new close friend. As Cara’ tries to move forward from that fateful day that she met Amy, she finds her life suddenly spiralling out of control as she begins to receive strange messages from ‘Your Closest Friend’. Meanwhile, Amy is delighted to have met Cara and is convinced that fate has brought them together, no matter how much Cara protests.

The story is cleverly written through the narrative of both Amy and Cara and give an interesting insight into their personalities. Cara is calm and collected, trying to move on from that night and play the perfect mother/wife whilst Amy is consumed by it. The pair of them are intriguing characters, Cara is mysterious and gives little away whilst Amy is compulsive and wild. She’s come from a troubled background and right from the outset, the reader can see that her troubled past has really affected her. She’s obsessed with Cara and occasionally, this does make for unsettling reading as she regularly tries to prove her love for Cara with disastrous results.

Dark, bleak and very atmospheric, this book is a troubling and gripping story of love and obsession, taunt with a strong storyline, narrative and unnerving characters, this story makes for creepy reading, ‘Your Closest Friend’ is a twisted tale about how far a person will go for love.

You can buy Your Closest Friend 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.

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.

The Good Mother By Sinead Moriarty

The Good Mother‘The Good Mother’ is the latest book by Sinead Moriarty.

Having been left devastated and homeless after her husband’s affair and the break-up of their family, somehow Kate has pulled through. Though times are still tough, she’s beginning to see the start of anew life. But when twelve-year-old Jesssica is diagnosed with cancer, Kate’s resilience is put to the ultimate test. She has an eighteen-year-old son consumed with hatred of his father, a seven-year-old who is bewildered and acting up and an ex-husband who won’t face up to his responsibilities. And in the middle of it a beloved child who is trying to be brave, but is getting sicker by the day. Kate knows she must put to one side her own fear and heartbreak and do right by her children, particularly Jessica. But maybe doing the right thing means doing the unthinkable?

Sinead is back with a new book guaranteed to break your heart and have you in floods of tears for the majority of the story.

In her latest book, we meet Kate. A recently single mother who has to return to her childhood home after her husband, Nick had an affair breaking up their family. Kate and her three children, Luke, Jess and Bobby have to deal with their living situation as well as adjust to having a new baby brother. But just as Kate adapts to her new life, disaster strikes when middle child Jess is diagnosed with cancer.

Heartbroken, that wise and kind Jess is ill, Kate is determined to help get her daughter back to full health but they are faced with many setbacks along the well. As the family deal with the many hurdles of the illness, they all have their dramas in their lives. As Nick, tries to be their for his family, he is constantly pushed away and punished for his behaviour, which is understandable but all he wants to make his little girl better.

The story is seen from many perspectives of the book and this all makes for heartfelt and poignant reading, as they all deal and accept Jess’s fate.

Kate, is a wonderful mother, who wants nothing more than to provide a safe and secure home for her children. She’s kind and tries to hide grief from Jess and be brave. But as Jess gets worse and asks Kate to help her, Kate is faced with a dilemma that all parents dread.

For me, I loved Jess, even though she was only 12 years old, she was incredibly wise for her years and accepted her destiny. At times she was angry, but for the majority, she had a quiet dignity about and her calmness kept the family together, particularly her little brother, Bobby, who regularly annoyed people with his obsession with facts and constantly wanting to inform people, which at times could be tiresome.

Luke, is the oldest of the family and now the man of house since his father left them. He’s heartbroken over Jess and wants nothing more to make her better, to help deal with his misery, he throws himself into his rugby and spending time with his girlfriend Piper.

Scenes with Piper and her chaotic family make for entertaining reading in this sad tale, their drama and humorous scene were welcome distraction.

Beautifully written with cast of warm, kind and entertaining characters, this book was impossible to put down and once I started it, I was hooked right in. Sinead, has a wonderful knack of writing issues that are relatable and current and ‘The Good Mother’ deals with the issue of euthanasia. For me, Sinead has become the Irish Jodi Picoult with tackling serious issues in her books. Her books are sensitively written but there is also an injection of humour to soften the harsh blows of the tale, this book is a stunning book that will break your heart and have you laughing throughout. I loved it.

You can buy The Good Mother from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops.

Liz Nugent Writers Tips

Liz NugentI’m wary of offering advice because every writer has a different approach and a different set of rules, but the one thing I would suggest is quite simply –to read. Read as much as you can in as many genres as you can. Read fact, fiction, history, biography, the classics, children’s etc. Eventually, you’ll find the one that appeals to you most.