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The House That Made Us By Alice Cavanagh

The House That Made Us‘The House That Made Us’ is the first book by Alice Cavanagh.

When Mac and Marie marry and find a home of their own, Mac takes a snap of them outside their newbuild bungalow, the garden bare and the paint on the front door still wet. It becomes a tradition, this snap, and slowly the photographs build into an album of a fifty-year relationship. Every year they take a photo and though things change around them – the garden matures, the fashions change, they grow older – the one constant is their love. Every year, come rain, come shine, from the Seventies through the decades, every photo tells the story of their love. But life never travels the path you expect it to, though they know that a life with love is a life lived to the full. Now, in the present day, the photo album belongs to someone who doesn’t know the people in its pages. As they watch the lives from the past unfold, will the truth of their love story be told…?

Alice Cavanagh aka Juliet Ashton has written a beautiful story that will instantly tug on your heartstrings. It tells the story of Mac and Marie and their life together and the mysterious stranger that visits her and travels down memory lane with her through a photo album.

This book is warm-hearted, tender, and witty. Mac and Marie are a lovely couple, where Mac is quiet and reserved, Marie is fiery and outspoken, their opposites but work wonderfully together. Any troubles that they face brings them closer and they really do make an enviable partnership.

The story is written in past and previous tense, and this makes for wonderful and tender reading as we learn about their story. It’s hard to say too much about the story incase I give something away, but this tender love story is a wonderful start to 2023.

A story of love and new beginnings, ‘The House That We Grew Up In’ is a sweet story of nostalgia but be warned tissues are needed!

You can buy ‘The House That Made Us’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Perfect Match By Dandy Smith

The Perfect Match‘The Perfect Match’ is the latest book by Dandy Smith.

Zara has always felt a little ordinary next to her spirited best friend Ivy. Even her dreams seem mundane: a boyfriend, marriage, children… Besides, who would pick her when they could choose Ivy? So when Zara meets Henry and there’s an instant spark, she can’t believe her luck. A wealthy CEO who wants to settle down? He’s perfect. Until Ivy insists he’s too good to be true. As Henry and Ivy repeatedly clash, doubts creep into Zara’s mind. Could it be that Ivy just doesn’t want to share her best friend with anyone else? Or does Henry have a hidden agenda? Zara is caught in the middle, constantly trying to prove who she loves more.
Then someone winds up dead, and Zara realises there’s more to this than jealousy.

If you’re a fan of B.A Paris, then Dandy Smith is your next new author.

This gripping, psychological thriller is written in the past and present tense, it’s seen from the narrative of Zara, who falls for the handsome and charismatic Henry. He introduces her to a world of luxury and sophistication leaving behind her best friend Ivy. Zara and Ivy have an intense relationship, they met at difficult times in their lives and have always been each others shoulder when times are tough. But Ivy doesn’t like Henry and this drives a huge wedge between the friends and when Zara is forced to tell her side of a story that resulted in a death, she’s unsure of what’s real or not.

I really enjoyed this story, it flows at a fast pace with regular twists and drama that really held my attention. The characters are complex but also relatable, Zara has always felt at a loss, her mother is an alcoholic narcissist who’s hated Zara’s father ever since he left her and started a new family. He only sees Zara twice a year and she’s regularly reminded that she’s not part of the new family. Her saving grace is Ivy, a vibrant and boisterous socialite who everyone loves, their friendship is volatile but underneath the drama, they love each other dearly. With all the chaos in her life, Zara finds security in Henry and settles into her life, but as much as she loves him, there’s something about him that doesn’t fill completely right.

The story looks at many hard hitting topics such as sexual assault, gaslighting, narcissism and can make for uncomfortable reading at times but this makes equally compelling reading.

Taunt, intense and with a somewhat unreliable protagonist, ‘The Perfect Match’ is a fantastic rollercoaster of a thriller.

You can buy ‘The Perfect Match’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Death In Heels By Kitty Murphy

Death In Heels‘Death In Heels’ is the first book in the ‘Dublin Drag’ series by Kitty Murphy.

When Fi went to support her best friend’s drag debut, she didn’t imagine a killer would be going to watch it too. And they’re waiting for their grand finale. Fi McKinnery is full of nerves as the gorgeous Mae B (aka her best friend Robyn) takes to the stage for her debut at drag club TRASH, but Mae B is dazzling…that is until local queen Eve lampoons her performance and ruins the show. So when Eve turns up dead later that night, face down in the gutter of a rain-soaked Dublin street, the timing seems awfully suspicious. The police are quick to rule Eve’s death an accident, but Fi is convinced it was foul play. When her ‘Hagatha Christie’ amateur sleuthing backfires, it drives a wedge between Fi and Robyn. But when another friend is targeted in a hit-and-run, she’s determined to get this twisted killer caught, no matter what the consequences. Even as the rest of the gang start to distance themselves, Fi is certain that they’re all in terrible danger. Something dark is lurking beneath the feathers, glitter and sequins of Dublin’s drag scene. And it’s not just the sticky floor and cracked mirrors. Someone is targeting the queens. When another member of the group is gunned down, it’s clear the danger is coming ever closer. Can Fi stop the killer before any more of her friends are hurt?

I’ve spent my day curled up with this book and this cosy thriller set against the backdrop of the bustling city of Dublin.
Written through the narrative of Fi McKinney, who’s best friends with Robyn aka Mae B, who’s dream is to become a drag queen at TRASH drag club and on the exciting night of her debut, another drag queen dies. Although the Irish police believe that Eve’s death was an accident, Fi believes that the death was more sinister especially when other drag queens are targeted.

I loved Fi, a budding sleuth, when she’s not busy as a shop assistant and photographing pets, she’s trying to convince the police and the other drag queens that someone is targeting them. But she’s seen as the ‘little straight girl’ and as much as she tries to fit in with the crowd, she’s constantly excluded. The drag queens are a huge bunch of flamboyant and outgoing personalities, they clash but underneath it all, they are a family.

‘Death In Heels’ was a great introduction to a new series, it’s fast paced, fun, packed with interesting characters and a relatable protagonist who’s at a crossroads in her life. The descriptions of Dublin were vibrant, as were the personalities.

You can buy ‘Death In Heels’ on Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

A Deadly Inheritance By Jane McParkes

A Deadly Inheritance‘A Deadly Inheritance’ is the latest book by Jane McParkes.

When Olivia Wells returns to Creekside, Cornwall, intent on fulfilling her bequest of cultivating a co-working community of eco and creative entrepreneurs in a renovated railway building, she soon finds opposition, sabotage and the murdered body of her friend. She has to put her trust in an unlikely ally to help her investigate exactly who is threatening the success of her ventures, her liberty and ultimately, her life.

This intense and claustrophobic thriller is set in a small seaside town and seen through the narrative of Olivia and Jago.

A successful architect based in New York, Olivia has to return to her roots when her godfather dies and leaves her his estate. Leaving behind her New York lifestyle for the rural wilds, she finds herself the main suspect in a murder investigation when a friend is found dead, the night after they had a fight. Now, the close knit and small minded town are watching Olivia’s every move and turning against her and she’s beginning to find out who her real friends are. Along with the help of Jago, her once nemesis, Olivia is determined to prove her innocence.

I enjoyed this book, it was written well with a plethora of characters that all made for suspicious reading. Occasionally, I found the story moved a bit slowly and the chapters were quite long at times, so I found just as I was getting to sink my teeth into the story, it was time for lights out. In saying that, the author was beautifully descriptive in parts, the vivid details of the small town and its attraction for many tourists.

Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, ‘A Deadly Inheritance’ is packed with drama and suspense and is the ideal story to curl up with during these wintery nights.

You can buy ‘A Deadly Inheritance’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

My (Extra) Ordinary Life By Rebecca Ryan

My (Extra) Ordinary LifeMy (Extra) Ordinary Life is the debut novel by Rebecca Ryan.

I’m kicking off 2023 with a review of the fantastic novel by Rebecca Ryan.

The story is seen through the narrative of Emily, who upon watching a television show becomes quite obsessed with being average. She’s discovered that she’s an average woman, average height, job and life. She decided that she’s tired of being average and devises a list called ‘The Life List’ and sets herself tasks and goals that will make her far from average. But in the background of this exciting list, there is a sad reminder that Emily lost her twin sister Claire when she was a child and had felt that she’s lives in the shadow of the more boisterous character but as Claire’s memorial gets closer, Emily has to finally deal with putting ghosts to rest.

I really enjoyed this story, for a debut it’s fun, witty and totally relatable. I loved Emily, a woman after my own heart, she’d love to change the world, but do it from the comfort of her own sofa. She’s setting outside her own comfort zone with lacklustre energy but brimming with wit and I loved her honesty. Last year, when I turned a certain age, I tasked myself with my own list of adventures and goals, although some are still to be achieved!

Although the story is witty with comedic moments, there is the underlying story of dealing with grief and this does makes for tender reading as Emily reflects on the loss of her twin sister. The story also includes past references so we see the relationship between the pair, the closeness and just how much Emily lived in Claire’s shadow.

Packed with humour, honesty and tugs on the heartstrings. This book is fun and packed with energy plus a handsome love interest, ‘My (Extra) Ordinary Life’ is a fantastic debut that was highly engaging and is perfect for fans of Claire Frost.

You can buy ‘My (Extra) Ordinary Life’ from Amazon and other good bookshops.