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Book News – Mhairi McFarlane Reveals New Book Called Last Night

Last NightThe wonderful Mhairi McFarlane is returning to our bookshelves with her latest book called ‘Last Night’.

What the back cover says –

Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed have been friends since they were eighteen. Now in their 30s, the four are still as close as ever, Thursday pub quiz night is still sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed.

Maybe Eve should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed sometimes thinks about it too.

Then one night, in an instant, all their lives change forever. And, as Eve learns she didn’t know her friends as well as she thought, she also discovers she isn’t the only person keeping secrets…

With a beautiful cover, ‘Last Night’ will be at the top of my TBR as Mhairi’s books are always guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

You can pre-order ‘Last Night’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 1st April 2021.

Big Girl Small Town By Michelle Gallen

Big Girl Small Town‘Big Girl Small Town’ is Michelle Gallen’s debut novel and was shortlisted for The Costa First Novel Award.

Other people find Majella odd. She keeps herself to herself, she doesn’t like gossip and she isn’t interested in knowing her neighbours’ business. But suddenly everyone in the small town in Northern Ireland where she grew up wants to know all about hers. Since her da disappeared during the Troubles, Majella has tried to live a quiet life with her alcoholic mother. She works in the local chip shop (Monday-Saturday, Sunday off), wears the same clothes every day (overalls, too small), has the same dinner each night (fish and chips, nuked in the microwave) and binge watches Dallas (the best show ever aired on TV) from the safety of her single bed. She has no friends and no boyfriend and Majella thinks things are better that way. But Majella’s safe and predictable existence is shattered when her grandmother dies and as much as she wants things to go back to normal, Majella comes to realise that maybe there is more to life. And it might just be that from tragedy comes Majella’s one chance at escape.

I was immediately drawn to this book after it was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel of the Year written by a Northern Ireland author and nothing could prepare me for the pleasure and joy this story provided during lockdown.

The story is seen through the narrative of Majella, a woman who lives with her mother and works in the local chippy with her friend called Marty. Majella likes the simple pleasures in life, ‘Dallas’, cleanliness and good hygiene. The story starts with the police investigation into her grandmother’s murder and its latest developments which is the talk of the small rural town.

Everyone wants to know everyone’s business, but Majella prefers to keep herself to herself. Her mother hasn’t recovered, after her father suddenly disappeared and spends most of her time feeling sorry for herself and drinking.

The story is mostly based in the chip shop called A Salt an Battered! that Majella works in and this setting provides hours of entertainment with residents from the local, gossipy town coming in for their curry chips whilst putting the world to rights under Majella’s watchful eye.

As a a native of Northern Ireland, I am slightly bias that we produce some of the best comedy writers with our unique dialect and sayings. And for me ‘Big Girl, Small Town’ wholeheartedly embraced it with one liners that made me roar with laughter and snort at the sheer timing of lines as well as names of the characters and the history of their titles.

Majella herself, is the star of the show. She’s not backwards in coming forwards and has a sensitive soul that takes no crap. I envied her for her enjoyment for the simpler things in life and also felt such an empathy with her with her troubled relationship with her mother.

The book has been described as ‘Milkman’ meets ‘Derry Girls’ and I’m saddened to say that I couldn’t get into ‘Milkman’, for me it was a difficult book. But this book was a joy to read from start to finish and one that I wholeheartedly enjoyed, with relatable characters and scenarios and anecdotes.

With an insightful protagonist and a sharp tongue that observes the drama and rumour mill of a small Irish community wonderfully. ‘Big Girl, Small Town’ embraces Irish wit and drama tremendously and showcases the wondrous and occasionally complicated sayings that keep people on their toes in this fantastic debut novel.

You can buy ‘Big Girl Small Town’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Love Your Life By Sophie Kinsella

Love Your Life‘Love Your Life’ is the latest book by Sophie Kinsella.

Ava is sick of online dating. She’s always trusted her own instincts over an algorithm, anyway, and she wants a break from it all. So when she signs up to a semi-silent, anonymous writing retreat in glorious Italy, love is the last thing on her mind. Until she meets a handsome stranger. . . All she knows is that he’s funny, he’s kind and – she soon learns – he’s great in bed. He’s equally smitten, and after a whirlwind, intoxicating affair, they pledge their love without even knowing each other’s real names. But when they return home, reality hits. They’re both driven mad by each other’s weird quirks and annoying habits, from his eccentric, naked-sauna-loving family to her terribly behaved, shirt-shredding dog. As disaster follows disaster, it seems that while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they overcome their differences to find one life, together?

Sophie is back with an rollercoaster of a story packed with big personalities and hilarious situations.

The story is seen through the narrative of Ava who fed up of online dating and its disasters, so she takes herself away to Italy in a romantic writing retreat and it’s on this retreat that she meets a man called Dutch, who she falls in love with. But the unique thing with the relationship is that, they reveal very little about themselves having fake names Dutch and Aria. But when they are back outside in the real world, Ava and Matt realise that they’re are two completely different people and have to really work at their not so perfect relationship.

From the offset, this book is an enjoyable story, Ava is a passionate and driven character who’s obsessed with finding real love much to the amusement of her friends, but can sometimes come across as quite a flakey character with starting so many projects but never ending them. Her relationship with Matt, once they are back home is completely different. Matt is unhappy with working for the family company whilst Ava is a believer of working for living and not living for working. The couple find themselves battling to adjust to their new lives and this makes for interesting and funny reading.

Like Sophie’s previous books, the characters are a great bunch of personalities from Ava and Matt to their outspoken friends bunch of friends. I particularly liked Nell, she’s a strong, robust character battling Lupus but doesn’t stop the illness from speaking her mind and living her life and Matt’s friend Topher who also wasn’t afraid to speak out. There was also the addition of a buoyant Beagle called Harold, who was the star of the book with his cuteness and disobedient behavior.

Fun and witty from the first page ‘Love Your Life’ is another warmhearted story from Sophie that is packed with laugh loud and tender moments that will have you smiling throughout.

You can buy ‘Love Your Life’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

All I Want For Christmas By Joanna Bolouri

All I Want For Christmas‘All I Want For Christmas’ is the latest book by Joanna Bolouri.

When Nick loses his job and is dumped by his glamorous but demanding girlfriend, he is forced to grudgingly accept work as a Santa at a local Christmas grotto. As his friends are getting married or promoted, Nick spends his days being terrorised by unfriendly elves and cried on by snotty, spoiled children. Then he meets 4-year-old Alfie. All Alfie wants for Christmas is for his mum, Sarah, to be happy again. Moved by the boy’s selfless wish, Nick arranges a date between Sarah and his best friend, Matt. But as Sarah and Alfie become part of all their lives, Nick realises that happiness for Sarah and Matt might mean heartbreak for himself.

When it comes to great comical writers with implacable timing and great dialogue, I wholeheartedly rank Joanna Bolouri in that category.

Having read her previous books such as ‘The List’ and ‘Relight My Fire’, I was keen to read her latest festive book called ‘All I Want For Christmas’, as I knew it would lift me out of my reading slump and I was delighted to be right.

The story is seen through the narrative of Nick, who loses his high powered job just on the mouth of Christmas. Unable to find a job, he decides to take on the role of Santa Claus at the local shopping centre. Not the greatest fan of children but proving to be a natural, Nick embraces the job promising the latest toys, but finds himself in a quandary when one of the children asks for his mother to be happy for his Christmas present.

Nick literally takes the task to hand even though, he finds himself attracted to Sarah, the mother of Alfie and decides that setting her up with his best friend Matt.

The story follows the course of the year as Matt and Sarah become a couple, whilst Nick watches on from the sidelines and realises that Sarah is the perfect woman for him and begins to see Alfie as a surrogate son.

Everything about this story is simply perfect, the characters, the plot line as well as the witty dialogue between the characters. I loved Nick, he’s kind, warmhearted and such a giving person putting other needs before his own. Even though, he feels drawn to Sarah, he still believes that Matt can offer her more and watches from the sidelines as he slowly falls in love with her. Also Alfie, Sarah’s little boy was adorable in his sweetness and his primary concern was his mother’s happiness, since his father had died.

The story is filled with hilarious moments with funny one liners as well as the crazy situations that Nick found himself in. But as well as the humour in the story, there’s also an element of poignancy and grief as both Nick and Sarah have to deal with losses and how grief is particularly hard at Christmas.

Witty and heartwarming from the first page, ‘All I Want For Christmas’ is a festive bundle of love and fun that will you creasing up with laughter throughout.

Christmas For Beginners By Carole Matthews

Christmas For Beginners‘Christmas For Beginners’ is Carole Matthews Christmas themed book for 2020.

Christmas is fast approaching at the new Hope Farm. Owner Molly Baker has been convinced to organise an open day to raise some much-needed funds ahead of the New Year, but the nativity tableau is proving challenging. With anti-social sheep, awkward alpacas and a seriously sequined Santa Claus to assemble, Molly is feeling overwhelmed, and in desperate need of some Christmas spirit. Despite the chaos of the farm getting in the way of her event planning, Molly is looking forward to spending the holidays with boyfriend Shelby and his son, Lucas, hopeful that a happy family Christmas is exactly what they need to draw them all together. But while she is busy making plans on the farm, Shelby, it seems, has ideas of his own. As the nativity draws near, the team are working hard to pull off a spectacular festive fete – and make sure the animals and humans remain on their best behaviour. Will this Christmas be merry and bright… or is there more than one surprise in store for Molly and Hope Farm?

If you’re looking for a book that is pure Christmas, then look no further as Carole Matthew’s is back with a warm story of love, friendship and new beginnings.

In this story, we see the return of Molly Baker, who we met in Carole’s previous book called ‘Happiness For Beginners’.

The story is seen through the perspective of Molly as she enjoys life on her farm along with the moody teenage son of her boyfriend Shelby, who she looks up like a son. Shelby is the popular character on a soap series and is always noticed when out and about. When his role is cut from the show, Shelby takes on the role of a villain in the Christmas pantomime and all his time is taken up with rehearsals. Whilst Shelby loves his life in the spotlight, Molly shies away from it and feels at her most happiest at the farm surrounded by friends, the animals whilst getting the farm ready for Christmas along with the help from the new handsome mayor.

I really enjoyed this story, it was warm-hearted and entertaining and was able to get back into easily after returning to read it. Molly is a sweet character and the polar opposite to Shelby who loves the attention whereas she’s at her happiest when she’s up to her wellies in muck. She has a kind heart and spends her time helping others, particularly Luke, who has a troubled relationship with Shelby, but finds solace in Molly’s kind nature.

There are many stories weaved throughout the book, there’s the relationship between Molly and Shelby, Luke finding love for first time as well as Molly getting Hope Farm ready for children who come from troubled backgrounds and suffer from disabilities. The story also touches on difficult subject of domestic violence and the impact it has not only on the adult but also on the children too.

Brimming with warmth and festive fun, Carole’s latest book is another enchanting story from the author. ‘Christmas For Beginners’ is a sweetly and wittily written story of hope, contrary animals and new beginnings.

You can buy ‘Christmas For Beginners’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.