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Wahala By Nikki May

Wahala‘Wahala’ is the debut novel by Nikki May.

Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in London. They have the gift of two cultures, Nigerian and English. Not all of them choose to see it that way. Everyday racism has never held them back, but now in their thirties, they question their future. Ronke wants a husband (he must be Nigerian); Boo enjoys (correction: endures) stay-at-home motherhood; while Simi, full of fashion career dreams, rolls her eyes as her boss refers to her urban vibe yet again. When Isobel, a lethally glamorous friend from their past arrives in town, she is determined to fix their futures for them. Cracks in their friendship begin to appear, and it is soon obvious Isobel is not sorting but wrecking. When she is driven to a terrible act, the women are forced to reckon with a crime in their past that may just have repeated itself.

This book is simply brilliant, it’s a debut that is a witty and charming story about love, friendships and unsettledness that made for absolutely great reading. ‘Wahala’ is Nigerian for trouble and this book was certainly trouble for me, as I was reading it into the late hours but it was totally worth it!

The story is seen through the perspective of best friends Ronke, Boo and Simi, three mixed race girls who have a strong bond. They’re all at a crossroads in their lives, Ronke is wanting to settle down with her boyfriend Kayode, even though Boo and Simi think he’s unreliable and a bit of a flake much to her disappointment. Boo is unhappy in her life of doing the same thing each day and wants more from her outspoken little girl Sofia and french husband Didier, whilst Simi is enjoying a child free life, even though her husband Martin actively wants to add another person to their duo. All the girls lives were pretty quiet until the arrival of glamorous and ridiculously rich Isobel, Simi’s childhood school friend, who brings drama and charisma where-ever she goes.

The mix of personalities is wonderful in this story, Ronke is a kind and generous woman who’s loves nothing more than caring for others and cooking traditional Nigerian dishes, which sounded amazing by the way. She’s the one that Boo and Simi come to for advice. Simi is an interesting character that I found myself reacting to most, even though she has done well for herself, her father still treats her as an inferior, as she’s a female who didn’t go onto bigger things and this can make for sad reading. She’s content in her life, busy in London whilst her husband works in New York but they still have a great relationship and proves that absence does make the heart grow fonder. Boo is a disgruntled woman, who’s bored and is tempted by the greener grass even though she has a husband who adores and her little girl is almost as outspoken as her!

All these characters bring something vibrant to make this story fun, sassy and poignant. It’s also an interesting insight into the Nigerian culture, particularly their mouth watering cuisines, fashion and tradition and how they had to adapt their lives with moving to the United Kingdom.

I’ve been drawn to this book for a while and when I was offered the chance to read it, I jumped at it. The cover is wonderfully rich and vibrant and its title just screams ‘read me’.

Wonderfully written and flows at pace that was impossible to put down, ‘Wahala’ is an addictive and intoxicating story about love, greed and obsession that can easily be consumed in one sitting and is a joy to read from the first page.

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

The Comfort of Monsters By Willa C Richards

The Comfort of Monsters‘The Comfort of Monsters’ is the debut novel by Willa C. Richards.

In the summer of 1991, teen Dee McBride vanished in the city of Milwaukee. It was the summer the Journal Sentinel dubbed ‘the deadliest . . . in the history of Milwaukee.’ Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s heinous crimes dominated the headlines and the disappearance of one girl was easily overlooked.

2019, nearly thirty years later, Dee’s sister, Peg, is still haunted by her disappearance. Desperate to find out what happened to her, the family hire a psychic and Peg is plunged back into the past. But Peg’s hazy recollections are far from easy to interpret and digging deep into her memory raises terrifying questions. How much trust can we place in our own recollections? How often are our memories altered by the very act of speaking them aloud? And what does it mean to bear witness in a world where even our own stories about what happened are inherently suspect?

For me this was a bit of a slow burn story that I found it hard to get into but once the pace picked it up, it was difficult to put down.

The story is seen from the perspective Peg, who’s sister Dee, disappeared over 30 years ago and now her dying mother has hired a psychic convinced that he’ll find her daughter and she can finally be put to rest. It’s controversial as people are cynical towards the psychic particularly at the fee that he is charging. Meanwhile, in the town of Milwaukee there are a spate of disappearing men and a serial killer is on the loose and the police are more invested in that case than Dee’s disappearance.

The story is written in the past and present tense. The past leading up to the Dee’s disappearance and her turbulent relationship with her older boyfriend called Frank who no one likes particularly Peg. Both Dee and Peg are complex characters who have a bit of a volatile relationship but at the end of the day, have each other’s backs. Peg goes out with Lief, an aspiring poet who’s spends his day, drinking and smoking, who’s relationship with Peg is strained particularly when it comes to sex and Dee is witness to this. The present scenes are interesting reading, as Peg’s family cling onto the hope of recovering Dee and Peg who has essentially put her life on hold, has to deal with ghosts and remembering old times and lives with the guilt of not doing more.

This book is a taunt read and once it gets moving is interesting. It’s dark, complex and set against a bleak town that is struggling with poverty and living in fear of serial killer. What is interesting about this book, is that the serial killer aspect is actually a true story and this is chilling, as young gay men were preyed upon and viciously murdered.

‘The Comfort Of Monsters’ is an intricately written story weaved with drama, lies and lust that made for dark reading.

You can buy ‘The Comfort Of Monsters’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

On A Night Like This By Lindsey Kelk

On A Night Like This‘On A Night Like This’ is the latest book by Lindsey Kelk.

Within days of wishing she could change her life, Fran Cooper is acting assistant to a celebrity, on a yacht in the Mediterranean, and en route to a tiny Italian island and the glittering Crystal Ball, along with the world’s rich and famous. When she – quite literally – bumps into a handsome American called Evan, a man able to keep his cool in the face of chaos, the magic really begins. Evan makes her a promise: no last names, no life stories, just one unforgettable night. Yet Evan belongs at the Crystal Ball and Fran is a gatecrasher. They may be soulmates, but their homes are an ocean apart, and their lives a world apart. They’ll never meet again – unless, on a night like this, everything can change forever.

If you’re looking for a distraction, then look no further as Lindsey has delivers a belter of a story in her latest book that made for enchanting reading over the Christmas holidays.

Meet Fran who’s at a crossroads in her life, her relationship’s in a rut and her career has paused. But then the opportunity arises to be a PA to a huge celebrity for a week on a boat in Italy and she jumps at chance. Hoping this job will kickstart her career as well as figure out if absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. Fran becomes the PA to Juliette, a party lover who has a reputation for being difficult. Whilst Fran does her best to keep her new boss happy, things don’t go quite to plan and to her delight Fran ends up attending the most magical night of the year at the Crystal Ball.

I loved this story, it’s fun, romantic with inspirational and relatable characters set against the background of the Mediterranean that made for fun reading. Fran is delightful, she’s a kind character who’s lost in her life and uncertain about her fiance so she jumps at the opportunity to start afresh. Juliette is also fascinating, a celebrity as big as Beyoncé, she’s tired of being in the spotlight and wants some peace and quiet and finds a kinship with Fran and her quieter life. Their interactions make for fun reading as they confide in each other and compare their lives. One aspect that I completely loved, was the magical Crystal Ball. For one night only, Fran got to be Cinderella at the ball and met the charismatic and handsome Evan. She got to pretend to be someone else, a distraction from her real life in Sheffield, dressed in a designer dress and a mystery to the other customers as they tried to figure out who she was. Was she royalty, a model or some upcoming celebrity. I loved the rumour mill that surrounded Fran as people tried to place her.

This book is beautifully written and packed with charm, humour and strong characters that made the book an enchanting story to sink into. An uplifting romantic tale that had me cheering throughout, join Fran ‘On A Night Like This’ as she searches for her happy ever after with her Prince Charming.

You can buy ‘On A Night Like This’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Mad About You By Mhairi McFarlane

Mad About You By‘Mad About You’ is the latest book by Mhairi McFarlane, one of my favourite authors.

Harriet Hatley is running away from everything. Getting married. Her boyfriend’s family. Her past. A dream house-share seems like the perfect place to hide, but her unlikely housemate Cal is no stranger to running away himself. And he’s also hiding secrets of his own. Can these two take a crazy risk, face the past and finally find a reason to stay?

Over the Christmas holidays, I was delighted and fortunate to have received a proof of Mhairi’s latest book and I was mad about it! I set aside one day to read it and the only time it was put down was when I refreshed my tea and replenished the biscuit plate.

Mhairi has a fantastic knack of creating relatable, quirky protagonists, brooding, charismatic males and delicious scenarios that make for wonderful reading. One perk to Mhairi’s books is that the chapters are short and snappy, so the reader gets easily absorbed in the story.

‘Mad About You’ is seen from the narrative of Harriet. Fresh from a relationship, this wedding photographer has just moved in with Cal who’s also just out of the relationship breakdown. The pair of them are dealing with their own dramas and although they are trying to keep their lives separate, they keep getting caught up in each other’s worlds.

Harriet is a great protagonist, bravely calling time on a relationship and starting afresh whilst everyone else is settling down. As she moves on and her photography empire begins to grow, Harriet is faced with an unsettling reminder of her past. A previous relationship ignites a new passion in her and although facing her past puts a fear in her, she has to address it.

Mhairi’s book are always witty, romantic and warm but there’s always an underlying serious issue and in this book, the theme is gaslighting. An issue that is becoming more prevalent and not enough is known about. Mhairi addresses the issue, the actions and consequences and how it has gone to effect Harriet in other relationships and how even now many years later, this person still has some control over her and doesn’t want other people to suffer like her.

As Harriet faces up to old fears, she’s adjusting to her new life with Cal and how they are helping each other deal with relationship breakdowns. Their initial wariness of each other slowly towards into banter and their scenes together really made for entertaining reading that made me smile and as Harriet found herself warming towards Cal, I found also myself falling for Cal. He’s funny, opinionated and in the short time, that he’s gotten to know Harriet, he’s fiercely protective of her.

Harriet and Cal are not the only stars of the book, their friends Lorna and Sam also add some warm-hearted humour to the story that had me laughing throughout as they offered support to their friends during the hard times.

Again, Mhairi has written another fantastically witty and charming story that engages with the reader so much. Her characters are relatable, charismatic and fun and are people that I’d love to have as friends. The story is filled with humour and love but also concentrates on lesser known issues, that definitely needs to be addressed more.

An addictive and fun love story about packed with wonderful characters, one liners and tense moments, ‘Mad About You’ is a story of endings, new beginnings and facing old ghosts that was impossible to put down.

You can pre-order ‘Mad About You’ from Amazon and will be available from good bookshops from 14th April 2022.

Aisling And The City By Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen

Aisling And The City‘Aisling And The City’ is the fourth book in the ‘Aisling’ series and is also the winner of the Popular Fiction Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2021.

With her cafe BallyGoBrunch flying and the door firmly closed on her relationship with boyfriend John, Aisling accepts an unexpected job offer and boards a business-class flight to New York in her best wrap dress and heels. As she finds her feet in the Big Apple, she throws herself into the dating game, grapples with ‘always-on’ work culture, forges and fights for new friendships and brings her good wedges to a party in the Hamptons, much to her friend, Sadhbh’s, dismay. But catching up with family and friends on WhatsApp and email is not the same as sitting in Maguire’s putting the world to rights over mini bottles of Pinot Greej and a shared bag of Taytos. And yet New York has so much to offer, not least in the fireman department.

Everyone’s favourite Aisling is back and this time, she’s taking New York City by storm with her antics.

After the success of the wedding of the century at Ballygobbard that she helped organise, Aisling has been headhunted by an event planner in New York, who wants Aisling to bring her A game organisational skills to help win an election. Leaving the quiet, country life behind Aisling finds herself reconnecting with family and new Irish friends and an Italian fireman who’s really ignited a fire in Aisling.

I love the Aisling series, in a world of disruption and fear, she brings hope and light with her personality and unique ways. And in this latest book, we see her step out of her comfort zone and really push herself and prove once again that nothing is beyond her capability. She makes friends along the way, with her charming ways and it’s heartwarming to see her engage with the Irish community and how they all gravitate towards each other. Her interactions with her new bae, Jeff make for entertaining and charming reading as they get to know each other and how easily they fall into each other’s lives. And even though, Aisling her moved on, her first love John is always there in her thoughts and it seems that’s the same for him, as they continue to stay in touch. Whilst she finds her footing in her new powerful job, Aisling finds herself coming across a multitude of clashes and personalities and each time, she wins them over with her Irish charm and unique ways.

As this book is set in the present, the authors made reference to the pandemic but they did it in their own style which made for lighter reading and was a welcome distraction to the current disaster.

I genuinely love the Aisling series, she’s a woman who’s relatable, fun and sensible and her ways of behaving, communicating and the situations make for very heartwarming reading. Even though, Aisling is living the wild life in New York, her heart belongs to Ballygoggard and her continued communication back home with Majella and her mother makes for even more fun reading.

With an ending that left me Bollygobsmacked, Aisling is back with a bang. Filled with fun, drama and Aisling’s dry wit, ‘Aisling And The City’ was impossible to put down!

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