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The Troubles With Us By Alix O’Neill

The Troubles With Us‘The Troubles With Us’ is the debut book by Alix O’Neill.

Growing up on the Falls Road in 1990s Belfast, Alix O’Neill has seen it all – burnt-out buses blocking the route to school, the police mistaking her father for a leading terrorist. Not that she or her friends are up to speed with the goings-on of the resistance. They’re too preoccupied with the obsessions of every teenage girl – booze, boys and Boyzone – to worry about the violence on their doorstep. Desperate to leave Northern Ireland and the trials of her mother’s unorthodox family – a loving yet eccentric band of misfits – behind, she makes grand plans for the next stage. But it’s through these relationships and their gradual unravelling that Alix begins to appreciate not only the troubled history of where she comes from, but the strength of its women.

As teenager growing up in Northern Ireland during the 1990’s, this book was a complete relatable story. Hell, I could have even been friends with the girls as they dealt with the heartbreak of Take That breaking up and going to their first disco, all dealing with the drama of living through the Troubles and us versus them.

Alix’s writing is deliciously fun and fresh, she delivers serious issues with wit and sensitivity that all teenagers from the 1990’s can totally relate to.

It’s an enlightening story that vividly portrays the hardship of growing up during the Troubles and the regular sighting of army presence that all teenagers were accustomed to.

Bursting with energy, drama and the real hardships of being a Northern Irish teenager, this story made me giggle and relate to on all levels, ‘The Troubles With Us’ an unique story packed with Northern Ireland charm that showed an genuine insight of being a teenager at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

You can buy ‘The Troubles With Us’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Someone I Used To Know By Paige Toon

Someone I Used To Know‘Someone I Used To Know’ is the latest book by Paige Toon.

At fifteen, George is the foster brother Leah never asked for. As the angry, troubled boy struggles to come to terms with his circumstances, Leah finds herself getting drawn closer to him. Theo’s wealthy family have mysteriously pulled him out of boarding school and he’s now enrolled at the local state school with Leah and George. When their worlds collide that summer, the three teenagers form a bond they believe will be unbreakable. But life doesn’t always go to plan. Shocking news brings Leah back to Yorkshire, baby daughter in tow. But Emilie’s father Theo isn’t with them, and George has unexpectedly returned. After half a lifetime, have they healed the scars of their pasts? Will coming back home set their hearts in a different direction?

I spent one Saturday tucked up with the latest book by Paige and it was the perfect way to spend a few hours.

The story is seen through the narrative of Leah and is written in the past and present tense. The past is when she is 15 and 2 new boys are introduced into her life. Her parents are foster parents and bring George into their home and Leah and George becomes unlikely friends and she offers a bit of stability and comfort to his life. Theo, the posh rich kid joins their school and the duo become a trio and Leah becomes conflicted as to who owns her heart. Now many years later George is back in their lives after disappearing and Leah has a little girl with Theo and is trying to deal with a new life but the same emotions.

You know when you sit down with a Paige Toon book, there are always three essentials to get you through it. Tea, chocolate and tissues because always at some point there will be some reveal that will break your heart and only these three essentials will help and ‘Someone I Used To Know’ is no different.

I loved Leah, her easy adaptation to new children coming into their lives as well as being an older sibling. She’s’ a strong woman who’s been through a lot and I really enjoyed reading her journey. Her own struggle with grief but also having two best friends that were going through stuff and she was there for both of them. I must admit I really did like George, with his kind soul and spirit. Paige has a wonderful knack of writing the ideal man in her books, deliciously handsome, charismatic and 9 times out of 10, I also fall for them!

I also admired her parents for their kindness for giving so many children a better start in life, offering them security in their unstable world.

This book is a life affirming and uplifting story that really made for tender and poignant reading and I genuinely never wanted it to end. Oozing with heart, charm and nostalgia, ‘Someone I Used To Know’ is a beautifully written and heartbreaking story about love, loss and family and is a must for read for all Paige Toon fans.

You can buy ‘Someone I Used To Know’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase By Jane Riley

Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase‘Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase’ is the latest book by Jane Riley.

Jack had two dying wishes: that his wife scatter his ashes somewhere ‘exotic’, and that she not give up on life once he was gone. He intended to spur her on to new adventures, but despite clinging to her red suitcase, Geraldine Verne hasn’t left the house for three months. It takes an accident for Geri to accept help from her friends, but when Meals on Wheels arrive she is mortified. Yet heartbroken volunteer Lottie brings with her more than cottage pie and custard. Like Geri, she too is struggling to cut loose. As a gloriously unlikely friendship blossoms, Geraldine begins to feel a long-lost spark of life and a newfound confidence. Perhaps what both women needed most, after all, was each other.

Although this book is a story of loss and grief, it’s delivered in such a upbeat and quirky style that I was immediately absorbed in this story.

The story is seen through the narrative of young at heart Geraldine Verne, who’s struggling with the loss of her husband. So much so that keeps his possessions and ashes in a red suitcase that she wheels around with her. A once vibrant character, she’s become reclusive and avoids company until one day after having an accident, her friend called Len Goodman sets her up with Meals on Wheels so she can be looked after whilst he’s away on a cruise. Geraldine becomes friends with Lottie, one of the meal delivery ladies and although there’s over 30 years of difference in age between the 2, they become friends and share a mutual share of grief. As Lottie deals with a relationship breakup and Geraldine deals with no longer having Jack in her life.

I loved this story, it’s warm-hearted, funny and tender and made for really sweet reading. Geraldine is a great character, she’s eccentric and vibrant and as much as loves company finds it hard to talk to people without Jack no longer being at her side. It’s lovely to read her and Lottie’s interactions, as Lottie gently coaxes her into getting back into the world and help Geraldine rediscover her lust for life. To help her deal with her grief, Jack leaves a puzzle for Geraldine to solve and this makes her feel that he’s still with her and this makes for sweet reading as she discovers letters and clues from her true love. One addition that made for interesting reading was Jack’s passion with butterflies and it made for fascinating reading at the variation of the species.

‘Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase’ is a poignant and fun story about love, loss and letting go.

You can buy ‘Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Pug Actually By Matt Dunn

Pug Actually‘Pug Actually’ is the latest book by Matt Dunn.

Loyal rescue pug Doug wants his adoring owner Julie to find unconditional love and happiness – and he knows she won’t find either in the arms of Luke, her married boss. Doug is terrified that Julie will become a lonely cat-lover if she stays single too long, but he can’t let her fall for any more of Luke’s empty promises. Julie needs to move on – and Doug is convinced that Tom, a newly divorced V-E-T, is perfect for her (despite his questionable occupation). There’s just one problem: Julie and Tom can’t stand each other. Doug doesn’t quite understand the quirks and complexities of human relationships, but he won’t let that get in the way of his mission to bring Tom and Julie together. After all, being a ‘rescue’ works both ways.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the delight of reading a book by Matt Dunn. So when I was offered a chance to read his latest book, I jumped at the chance.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of Doug, a rescued Pug who has a good instinct and sense of smell. He loves his owner Julie and dislikes her boyfriend, a married man called Luke who’s just stringing Julie along and when they finally break up. Doug is delighted as this is the perfect time for Julie to find someone else and uses his match making skills to pair Julie up with a man called Tom and even though he’s a V-E-T, Doug thinks they’re perfect for each other.

I adored this book, it’s a cute and quirky love story that instantly brought a smile to my face. Having the narrative seen through the eyes of a Pug made for adorable reading as we saw the world through this tiny dogs’ eyes and how he wanted to put his owners world to right. He’s witty, fun and always up for a walk even when his little legs are tired. I loved how he saw the goodness in Tom and confronted his fear of the vets as well as getting himself attacked purely for Julie to spend some time with Tom.

I liked Julie, she lacked confidence and didn’t see herself worthy of love or full time relationships and was content with the short morsels that Luke threw at, she finds solace in drink and it was lovely to see her grow in confidence and begin to warm to Tom. Luke was extremely dislikable and I loved Doug’s interactions with Luke as their dislike was evident from the very start. The story doesn’t just focus on Julie’s relationships but also her dad’s, who’s also still grieving the wife he lost many years ago.

It was lovely to sink back in a book by Matt as his books always bring a smile to my face and they are so cleverly written. upbeat story about love, moody cats and a kind Pug called Doug, ‘Pug Actually’ is a pawsome story that was deliciously fun and filled with warmth and wit.

You can buy ‘Pug Actually’ from Amazon.

The Mix Up By Holly McCullough

The Mix Up‘The Mix Up’ is the latest book by Holly McCullough.

Paige might bake wedding cakes for a living but that doesn’t mean she’s dreaming about her own perfect day. Far from it. Trusting people is hard after she was badly let down by her family and boyfriend just when she needed them most. And to make things worse, her ex has just walked into her bakery with his new fiancée. Needing a little no-strings-attached fun, Paige goes to a party where her friend knows just the guy – the guy in the black top. There’s just one problem. There are two men wearing black tops. Noah was meant to be her perfect distraction…instead, he wants more than just a bit of fun. But could the wrong guy turn out to be the right choice?

The story is seen solely through the narrative of Paige. An up and coming baker who’s been asked to bake a wedding cake for her ex-boyfriend and his wife to be. To help deal with this heartache, she takes her friend’s advice and decides to get back out there and meets Noah, a handsome and fun ENT who unfortunately would like something a bit more serious then what Paige was looking for.

I loved this story, it was heartwarming, funny and had such a lovely protagonist that I immediately sunk into this story.

I loved Paige, she’s a relatable character who’s been heartbroken and really doesn’t value her worth. Her best friend is constantly telling her how great she is, but Paige still doubts herself and keeps people at a distance to avoid more headache. Even though her ex Chris, treated her terribly, Paige feels his behaviour is justified and to be honest it makes for hard reading when you discover what he did. Before the big revelation, I already didn’t like Chris, so this was intensified by the end of the book. I loved Noah, he’s fun, caring and even though Paige pushes him away, he’s determined to stay.

A sweetly written story that blooms beautifully as our leading lady grows in confidence and lets people get close to her, ‘The Mix Up’ is a tender and romantic comedy about love, friendship and facing fears.

You can buy ‘The Mix Up’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.