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Exciting Times By Naoise Dolan

Exciting Times‘Exciting Times’ is Naoise Dolan’s debut novel which was shortlisted for the An Post Irish Book Award.

When you leave Ireland aged 22 to spend your parents’ money, it’s called a gap year. When Ava leaves Ireland aged 22 to make her own money, she’s not sure what to call it, but it involves:
– a badly-paid job in Hong Kong, teaching English grammar to rich children;
– Julian, who likes to spend money on Ava and lets her move into his guest room;
– Edith, who Ava meets while Julian is out of town and actually listens to her when she talks;
– money, love, cynicism, unspoken feelings and unlikely connections.

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

The Image Of You By Sonia Velton

The Image Of You‘The Image Of You’ is the latest book by Sonia Velton.

Stella lives with her mother, a smothering narcissist. Her world has shrunk since the terrible accident that left her a shut-in. Her days are broken up by deliveries from a courier that she always returns and by the irresistible urge to watch the life of a stranger – beautiful Connie – unfold on social media. But why is she so drawn to a woman she has never met? And what caused the accident she doesn’t want to speak about? Connie is an expat living in Dubai with her partner, Mark, and their two children. On the face of it she wants for nothing and yet she fears that her husband is turning into a stranger. When she finds herself drawn into the lives of the local domestic helpers, she discovers that there are dark secrets in this glittering city.

This story is a fascinating one, seen through the narrative of two women living in different sides of the world but have one thing in common.

Stella is housebound after an accident and never leaves the house. She’s obsessed with Connie who leads a glamorous life in Dubai with her husband and two children. Stella spends her days ordering deliveries only to return them whilst watching Connie’s life on social life.

The story is seen through the narrative of the two women written in the past and the present tense. Stella’s had a difficult with a narcissistic and wicked mother who regularly put Stella down and lead her to believe her that she’d be worthless without her mother and just as Stella finally gets the chance to lead her life, her mother’s dementia sets in and Stella has to give away her independence. To help her deal with the aftermath of an accident, Stella finds solace in the Connie’s life.

Behind social media, Connie’s life is far from perfect. She wants more from her life than attending pool parties and being a house wife and fitting in with the glamorous lifestyle. And when she gets a housekeeper to help around the house, she can’t help but get involved to help her maid’s friend, who gets in trouble with her boss. Connie has a big heart and cares for others, unlike the other socialites who disregard their staff. She’s unhappy in her life and is counting down the days until she can return to England.

This story is a fascinating one, Stella’s obsession with Connie makes for compulsive reading and I found myself speeding through the book. It’s cleverly crafted with a plot line with protagonists that are both relatable. I found myself intrigued with Connie’s story, she’s sympathetic, lonely and keeps herself away from people and odd moments that she has with other people, really does make for tender reading, particularly the moments with Evengi the delivery driver who takes her parcels. These moments makes for sweet reading, as we see rare glimpses of the really Stella, a warm and witty character who’s not used to human interaction.

A moving and original of love, life and new beginnings, ‘The Image Of Her’ is a thought provoking and fascinating story about two women who have never met but their lives become irreversibly intertwined forever.

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

The Winter Cottage By Rachael Lucas

The Winter Cottage‘The Winter Cottage’ is the first book in the ‘Applemore Bay’ series by Rachael Lucas.

When Rilla Clark’s long lost father dies, she leaves New England and heads to his cottage in the Scottish Highlands to sort out his affairs. Rilla’s determined that her visit will be a fleeting one. The little village of Applemore holds a lot of memories for her, but looking back might just open up her heart, which she’s kept well-guarded until now. Lachlan Fraser is less than delighted with his inheritance. He left the grand, crumbling Applemore House as soon as he could, and he can’t see why his three sisters love it so much. Gathered together at their family estate, the battle of wills over what to do with the house is just beginning when into their life walks Rilla, who they haven’t seen for over fifteen years. Old friendships and long-hidden emotions are rekindled as the romance of a Highland winter works its magic – will Rilla and Lachlan discover that home isn’t a place, but a feeling?

At only 256 pages, the first book in a new series by Rachael Lucas can easily be consumed in one sitting with plenty of tea for company.

Seen through the narrative of Rilla and Lachlan who have both returned to the village of Applemore to sort out their houses after their fathers have passed away.

Lachlan is heir to a huge, old castle that’s in dire need of work and a huge tax bill hangs over the family. Whilst Rilla’s family home is located on the Lachlan’s family home and is a much more humble affair.

Rilla was friends was Lachlan and his 3 sisters as a child but was taken away when an incident occurred. She thinks that coming to the town many years after leaving she won’t be remembered but she’s wrong and finds herself with her childhood friends as well as her crush on Lachlan returning, completely unaware the Lachlan’s feeling are the same.

Whilst they’re clearing out the houses and trying to think of ways to find funds to fix the castle, Lachlan and Rilla have plenty of projects to work on together and their bond begins to strengthen. And it’s so lovely to read the interactions between the two of them as they are blissfully unaware of each other’s feelings and both deal with grief in different ways.

This was the first book that I read by Rachael Lucas and it was an absolute joy from start to finish. Filled with warm and charming characters, a close knit and picturesque village with an adorably hyper dog, ‘The Winter Cottage’ has all the makings of the perfect romance novel, love, hope and new beginnings.

You can pre-order ‘The Winter Cottage’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 25th October 2021.

Last Girl Ghosted By Lisa Unger

Last Girl Ghosted‘Last Girl Ghosted’ is the 19th book by Lisa Unger.

When Wren Greenwood meets a good-looking stranger from a dating app, she expects a casual fling – but they connect immediately. Adam Harper is her perfect match. She falls for him. She confides in him. And then he disappears… his profiles deleted, his phone disconnected, his Manhattan apartment emptied. First, Wren blames herself. Then she hears about the other girls – girls who fell in love with Adam, and are now missing. Wren needs answers, but as she follows the breadcrumb trail Adam left behind, it leads back to her own dark past. Suddenly, she’s no longer sure if she’s predator or prey. She only knows one thing: whatever it takes, she’ll be the last girl he ever ghosts…

The night social media switched off, I was blissfully unaware as I was absorbed in this book.

Tense and thrilling from the first page, Lisa writes a fast paced thriller with a fascinating protagonist and an even more fascinating back story.

The story is seen through the narrative of Wren, a successful problem solver who decides to give love a go and sign up to a dating app called Torch where she meets Adam. They fall in love and then just as he’s about to ask her something important, he disappears.

Detective Bailey then comes into her life and is trying to find a man who matches Adam’s description involving three other women and Wren starts her own in investigation into his disappearance and ends up revisiting old ghosts and memories.

Thr story is also seen in a past sequence and this makes for interesting reading as it’s seen from the narrative of a child living in fear of a controlling father who’s obsessed about the end of the world. The innocence and the naivety of the child makes for poignant reading as they try to keep their father happy as well and keep their family together.

Wren is a great character, with a background in problem solving with a blog and podcast series called ‘Dear Birdie’, people write in with their problems and with her best friend called Jax they offer advice. She’s kind, sweet with secrets and thought that meeting Adam who was handsome, charismatic and promised her the dream would finally find her happy ever after.

‘Last Girl Ghosted’ is an interesting and dark twist on ghosting that’s cleverly written, addictive and atmospheric.

You can buy ‘Last Girl Ghosted’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Perfect House By R.P. Bolton

The Perfect House‘The Perfect House’ is the latest book by R.P. Bolton.

Ellie knows she has found her dream home – number six Moss Lane. The place she and Tom can settle down, raise their new baby and start again. But why do their new neighbours think they’re so brave for moving in? Why are Ellie’s keys never where she left them? And why can Ellie hear strange noises in the night that Tom can’t? Suddenly their dream house no longer feels so perfect and when Ellie learns the truth about number six’s dark past, a truth that Tom has been keeping secret from her, she no longer knows who she can trust. Has their perfect home become her worst nightmare?

If you like your psychological thrillers with a hint of the supernatural threaded throughout, then I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

The story is written in the past and present tense as first time mother Ellie embraces her new daughter Trinity as well as adjusts to her new home with boyfriend Tom. But strange things happen in the old house, things that only Ellie sees and everyone begins to question Ellie’s mental health and whether she’s capable of the job of being a mother.

This is one of the creepiest books that I’ve read in a while, with unreliable protagonist, a suspicious partner and a strange mute woman, this book gave me the chills from the first page.

Ellie thinks that she’s found the perfect home, but her dream home is shrouded in misery and death and makes it the talk of the town when they move in. A house associated with death, Ellie feels threatened in her new home with strange sounds, visions, it’s impossible for her to enjoy the new space. With Tom, busy with his job and her mother stuck in Spain with a broken leg, Ellie feels completely isolated and paranoid at a moment pivotal moment in her life.

The older narrative from Ellie’s is from university days with best friend Mia and when she meets and it’s the first hazy days of love.

This book is creepy and unsettling but it was impossible to put down. Atmospheric from the first page, the book was cleverly crafted with suspense building with each turned page and with a plethora of complex characters that all made for suspicious reading, this supernatural thriller has a devilishly twisted ending that left me shocked.

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