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Should I Tell You? By Jill Mansell

Should I Tell You‘Should I Tell You?’ is the latest book by Jill Mansell.

Amber, Lachlan and Raffaele met as teenagers in the Cornish seaside home of kind-hearted foster parents. Years on, the bond between them is unbreakable. But Amber has a secret. She’s in love with Lachlan. She can’t tell him, because that would never work – he’s definitely not the settling-down type. Surely it’s better to keep him as a friend than to risk losing him for good?. Raffaele has his own dilemma. He had the dream girlfriend in Vee, until it all went horribly wrong . . . and he still can’t understand why. Is Vee hiding something from him? Now their widowed foster dad Teddy has found new love. Younger, charming and beautiful, Olga seems perfect. But is she? Or will she break Teddy’s fragile heart?

Sit back and relax in the latest offering by Jill Mansell, another charming story of friendship, new beginnings and love.

The story is primarily seen through the perspective of fostered siblings Lachlan, Amber, Raffelle who were all fostered by Teddy and May. Their foster parents helped structure them into the people they have become, May nurtured Lachlan’s love of cooking which led him to become a successful chef, Amber creates beautiful art from glass and Raffelle has become a successful celebrity hairdresser who uses his cutting skills to help those less well off which makes for touching scenes in the story. All three characters have interesting parts in the story, Lachlan is the local lothario, Amber is attracted to Lachlan and Raffelle is dealing with the breakdown of his relationship with Vee, who’s dealing with a breakdown of her own.

Since May passed away, Teddy takes himself away on a cruise and he meets Olga an outspoken Russian woman who likes expensive things. I found myself torn in my opinion of Olga, one minute you think she’s a gold digger and the next minute, you’re touched by her kindness and warmth, so she was definitely one of my favourite characters in the story. Another lovely character in the story is Benji, only son of the outspoken and confident Peggy, he struggles to interact with people due to his stutter but then he becomes friends with Jo and she helps him blossom.

Once again, Jill has delivered another joyful story that is packed with heart, warmth and laughter. The variety of characters all dealing with their own problems, all flow at a lovely pace and their interactions make for heartfelt reading. The story has multiple stories weaved throughout about love, heartbreak, family and catfishing which all come together seamlessly in the end.

A story proving that you don’t be blood related to be family, ‘Should I tell you?’ Is beautifully written and is another fantastic story from Jill made that for poignant and enjoyable reading.

You can buy ‘Should I Tell You?’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? By Seamus O’Reilly

Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?2021 saw Seamus O’Reilly’s debut book about childhood loss in Derry made for heartfelt reading called ‘Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?’.

Séamas O’Reilly’s mother died when he was five, leaving him, his ten brothers and sisters and their beloved father in their sprawling bungalow in rural Derry. It was the 1990s; the Troubles were a background rumble (most of the time), and Séamas at that point was more preoccupied with dinosaurs, Star Wars and the actual location of heaven than the political climate.

The story is seen through Seamus’s innocent narrative as he adapts to life without his leading female role model as well as deal with the guilt and fear of forgetting her and that his father will be taken also.

This story is beautifully written and as it’s set in Northern Ireland and it’s a relatable one that made for genuinely heartwarming reading. Seamus’s father is the real hero of the story, who took on the role of mother/father to 11 children and made a life for them that all children would be envious off.

Packed with heartwarming and funny scenarios that made for laughing and tearful reading as one boy tries to find his place in life and within a huge family. ‘Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?’ Is a sentimental and loving story filled with Northern Ireland charm made for poignant reading.

You can buy ‘Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

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.