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After Dad By Claire Shiells

After Dad‘After Dad’ is the latest book by Claire Shiells.

Millie Malone, a spirited, thirty-something journalist returns home to Northern Ireland after a life-changing decision leaves her London life in ruins. A family reunion soon unravels, opening old wounds and igniting new grievances regarding the murder of her father by the IRA decades earlier. Retreating to the family cottage in Donegal, Millie soon meets Finn McFall, a fisherman originally from west Belfast, who loves to paint and recite Irish poetry. In the new modern Ireland, Millie believes religion is no longer a barrier for love. But she soon finds home is a place still struggling with a fragile peace and simmering sectarianism. As events unfold, Millie is forced to decide between love and loyalty, eventually having to ask herself the ultimate question: can love really conquer all?

As a resident of Northern Ireland brought up during the Troubles, it occasionally feels like a lifetime away, the way we used to live, the segregation. But then a book like ‘After Dad’ comes into your life and you’re reminded once again how we lived and had our opinions.

The story is seen through the narrative of Millie Malone, who’s returned to Northern Ireland from London to see her sick mother. That’s what she tells her colleagues and friends, but really it’s to reset herself after a hard time. Back home, she reunites with her best friend Sasha who’s basking in wealth with the success of her husband’s chicken factories and car washes. Millie decides to take some time to herself and goes to the family cottage and it’s there that she meets Finn, a Catholic fisherman, poet and painter and thinks she’s Catholic also. Millie wants to tell the truth but fears she’ll lose him. So between falling in love and deciding to investigate a potential story about illegal immigrant workers who are being mistreated, Millie finds herself on a journey of discovery for not only herself but for others.

I enjoyed this story, it’s relatable with the attitudes and opinions, the dialect as well as the colloquiums that I grew up with The story not only focuses on the ‘you’s ems’ and ‘them ems’ of the different religions but also throws in the migrants who are being abused. Millie’s father was killed during the Troubles and the resentment and hardship of the pain and grief is very much there in the story. The writing is beautifully descriptive and the setting of the child home holiday and the memories it evoked also made for tender reading.

Hard hitting, poignant and most certainly relatable, ‘After Dad’ is a beautifully written story of grief, new love and new beginnings.

You can pre-order ‘After Dad’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 22nd September 2022.

Before I Do By Sophie Cousens

Before I Do‘Before I Do’ is the latest book by Sophie Cousens.

Audrey is marrying Josh; steady, dependable Josh, the love of her life. They share a flat and a bank account, and it’s the only relationship that Audrey’s ever had that feels like something she can put her trust in. But romance should be full of fireworks, and as the big day approaches, Audrey’s found herself wondering if Josh really is ‘the one’. So, when Josh’s sister Miranda arrives at their rehearsal dinner with Fred – Audrey’s ‘What If?’ guy, the man she met six years ago and had one amazing day with but never saw again – Audrey can’t help but see it as a sign. Surely Fred’s appearance the night before Audrey is due to get married can’t be a coincidence. And when everything that could go wrong with the wedding starts to go wrong, Audrey has to wonder: could fate be trying to stop her from making a huge mistake?

Looking for a romantic story to get lost in? Then ‘Before I Do’ is just the ticket. The story is written in the past and present tense leading up to Audrey’s and Josh’s wedding, Audrey has been looking forward to this moment for years, but then Fred turns up as the plus one of Josh’s sister, Miranda. Fred was ‘Photo Booth guy’ the one that could away and the one that Audrey always wondered if he was the One.

Now that he’s appeared in her life, the security that Audrey felt with Josh is no longer there.

I loved this story. It’s fun and romantic with a protagonist who was relatable. Audrey’s life had been far from perfect, with her actress mother Vivian always vying for the limelight, she wasn’t a good role model with relationships, now onto her second husband after cheating on her first.

The beginning of the story starts at a pivotal point in the book and after that the story flows at a lovely pace and the past and present perspectives really set the decent and the characters as well.

A refreshing voice in female fiction, ‘Before I Do’ is a heartwarming story about what if, love and everything in between.

You can buy ‘Before I Do’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Butcher And The Wren By Alaina Urquhart

The Butcher And The WrenThe Butcher And The Wren’ is the debut novel by Alaina Urquhart, co-host of the popular podcast, ‘Morbid’.

In deep Louisiana, a serial killer with a taste for medical experimentation is completing his most ambitious project yet. The media call him ‘The Butcher’ – and, so far, he’s proved impossible to catch. With her encyclopaedic knowledge of humanity’s darkest minds, and years of experience examining their victims, forensic pathologist Dr Wren Muller is the best there is. The longer the Butcher’s killing spree continues, the more determined she is to bring him to justice. And yet, he continues to elude her. As body after body piles up on Wren’s examination table, her obsession grows. Pressure to put an end to the slaughter mounts. And her enemy becomes more brazen.

Who better to write a book about serial killers than Alaina Urquhart, co-host of ‘Morbid’, a podcast about serial killers. With her extensive knowledge, of personality and characters, I figured that ‘The Butcher And The Wren’ would be a fascinating and addictive story and it certainly was!

The story is seen from the narrative of Jeremy and Wren. Jeremy is a sociopath who works a normal office job inputting data but also enjoys kidnapping people, torturing them before leaving their bloodied bodies for Wren to look after. As the bodies mount up in the most gruesome manner, as a forensic pathologist, Wren is one of the last people to see the victims and figure out what became off them. But as Wren tries to get into Jeremy’s mind who the media have named ‘The Butcher’ due to the slain victims. She tries to find out what pushes a person to become a serial killer and Jeremy begins his killing spree a bit closer to home.

I loved this story, I’ve always had an interest in serial killers and criminology and have subscribed to a few murder podcasts and I’ll most certainly be adding ‘Morbid’ to the list.

The story is an in-dept exploration of the human mind and behaviours and it’s fascinating to see the narrative of Jeremy, who appears emotionless and completely stable in his actions. Reading the narrative of both characters, gave a cat and mouse vibe story, which was almost like a countdown to whether Jeremy would ever be stopped and I found myself rapidly devouring the book, as Wren got closer to Jeremy.

Although the story is wonderfully dark and atmospheric, with the swampy, humid Louisiana air and the unfortunate people that Jeremy preyed upon, there is an element of humour in the story that balances the goriness of the victims as well as the procedures that Wren performs.

With intense characters, storyline and short, snappy chapters that were easy to absorb, ‘The Butcher And The Wren’ is a fantastic debut, cleverly written, thoroughly researched and slightly reminiscent of ’Dexter’, a must for all fans of crime!

You can buy ‘The Butcher And The Wren’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Hypnotic By Sherry Hostler

Hypnotic‘Hypnotic’ is the latest book by Sherry Hostler.

Trying to outrun his past and save his marriage, Tom is unwittingly drawn into a university experiment which has a hidden objective. Can you hypnotise someone to commit murder? The experiment is led by the obsessive Bethany, who harbours a secret she will do anything to keep safe. The more involved Tom becomes in the experiment, the more he risks everything he holds dear. But is it too late to turn back?

‘Hypnotic’ is seen from the narrative of university student Bethany and an older man called Tom. They are both at a turning point in their lives, both recovering from terrible circumstances and are dealing with their problems in their own ways. Tom finds solace in drink much to the upset of his wife Gemma and even though, he knows it’s tearing the couple apart, he can’t stop. Bethany attends counselling sessions with a woman called Leigh, who’s helping her channel her emotions in a positive way and even helps with a university assignment that leads Bethany to meet Tom. Along with her student friend Jordan, they are going to hypnotise someone to see if under hypnotism could cause someone to commit a murder. When Tom sees an advert for a group to help with sleeping disruption, Gemma urges him to attend as this might help them. As Tom works with Bethany and Jordan and the hypnotism, they all have ulterior motives for attending the group.

I really enjoyed this story, the dual narratives gave an interesting insight into the complicated characters and I found myself racing through the pages, solely so I could find out the source of their issues. The hypnotism parts made for fascinating reading and it’s obvious that the author has a genuine interest in the topic due to the sheer amount of detail and research that has been put into the story.

Of the two characters, I have to say Tom was my favourite, it was hard not to feel sympathy for him as he continuously pushed the self destruct button on his life and relationship and it made for hard reading at times, as he struggled.

A cleverly written novel about obsession, deceit and recovery, ‘Hypnotic’ is an intense and addictive story.

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

Fellstones By Ramsey Campbell

Fellstones‘Fellstones’ is the latest book by Ramsey Campbell.

What the back cover says –

Fellstones takes its name from seven objects on the village green. It’s where Paul Dunstan was adopted by the Staveleys after his parents died in an accident for which he blames himself. The way the Staveleys tried to control him made him move away and change his name. Why were they obsessed with a strange song he seemed to have made up as a child? Now their daughter Adele has found him. By the time he discovers the cosmic truth about the stones, he may be trapped. There are other dark secrets he’ll discover, and memories to confront. The Fellstones dream, but they’re about to waken.

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