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The House That Made Us By Alice Cavanagh

The House That Made Us‘The House That Made Us’ is the first book by Alice Cavanagh.

When Mac and Marie marry and find a home of their own, Mac takes a snap of them outside their newbuild bungalow, the garden bare and the paint on the front door still wet. It becomes a tradition, this snap, and slowly the photographs build into an album of a fifty-year relationship. Every year they take a photo and though things change around them – the garden matures, the fashions change, they grow older – the one constant is their love. Every year, come rain, come shine, from the Seventies through the decades, every photo tells the story of their love. But life never travels the path you expect it to, though they know that a life with love is a life lived to the full. Now, in the present day, the photo album belongs to someone who doesn’t know the people in its pages. As they watch the lives from the past unfold, will the truth of their love story be told…?

Alice Cavanagh aka Juliet Ashton has written a beautiful story that will instantly tug on your heartstrings. It tells the story of Mac and Marie and their life together and the mysterious stranger that visits her and travels down memory lane with her through a photo album.

This book is warm-hearted, tender, and witty. Mac and Marie are a lovely couple, where Mac is quiet and reserved, Marie is fiery and outspoken, their opposites but work wonderfully together. Any troubles that they face brings them closer and they really do make an enviable partnership.

The story is written in past and previous tense, and this makes for wonderful and tender reading as we learn about their story. It’s hard to say too much about the story incase I give something away, but this tender love story is a wonderful start to 2023.

A story of love and new beginnings, ‘The House That We Grew Up In’ is a sweet story of nostalgia but be warned tissues are needed!

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

Books and the City Spring Blogger Event 2019

Books and the City Spring Blogger Event 2019With being based in Northern Ireland, I sometimes miss out on book events, so when the lovely Sara Jade Virture from Books and the City invited me to their Spring Bloggers event, I literally jumped on a plane.

It was a wonderful evening, packed with fellow book lovers and some of Books and the City authors and we got the chance to hear extracts from Iona Grey’s new book called ‘The Glittering Hour’, Alice Peterson’s ‘If You Were Here’, Claire Frost’s debut novel called ‘Living My Best Life’, Milly Johnson’s latest book ‘The Magnificent Mrs Mayhem’ and Rachel Hore’s new book ‘The Lost Child’.

As well as the delicious readings, we were also given proofs of Paige Toon’s new book called ‘If I Could Anywhere’ as well as Catherine Isaac’s new book called ‘Messy, Wonderful Us’.

As per usual Sara Jade’s goodie bags were a delight filled with samples from upcoming books, sweetie flavoured shower gel as well as beautiful book themed necklace and who can forget the cupcakes!

It was also lovely to chat to Louise Candlish about her hugely successful book called ‘Our House’ as well as meet Heidi Swain, Juliet Ashton and Alice Peterson, as well as I finally got a photograph with Milly Johnson.

A huge thank you to Sara Jade and the Books and the City team for organising a wonderful evening and the generous gifts.

The Valentine’s Card by Juliet Ashton

The Valentine's Card“The Valentine’s Card” is Juliet Ashton’s debut novel.

After years of scraping by in Dublin’s theatrical circles, Simeon Quinn is on the brink of hitting the big time. Cast as the dashing male lead in a BBC costume drama, he heads for the bright lights of London for five months of working hard and player harder whilst begging his girlfriend, Orla to join him on this adventure.

But Orla has ambitions of her own, refusing to be a spare part, she stays at home in Tobercree to focus on her career as a teacher, a job she adores. Although she misses Sim and is counting down the days until she sees him again, she hopes the separation will have advantages, lounging about in ill fitting pyjamas and eating toast for dinner.

But Valentine’s Day changes everything. As Orla is told the devastating news that Sim is dead, she receives a card from him. Travelling from Ireland to London, to live and breath Sim’s final moments. she takes the unopened card with her, a card full of so much anticipation and expectation. But will she ever bring herself to read the card and if she does, what will it say?

“The Valentine’s Card” is Juliet Ashton first novel and what a remarkable one it was. From the start, we are cast in the world of Orla’s and Sim long distance love affair. On the awful Valentine’s day when Sim would tragically drop dead whilst Orla was receiving his last ever Valentine’s card. Fearful of what the card will say, she doesn’t open it, but clings to it as it offers her strength and even companionship in the hardest of times.

As the story is told through a series of flashbacks as we see how the couple met and with the current situation, as Orla flees to London to find Sim’s journal so she can recall his final days alive.

The story is strongly cast, Orla is fiercely Irish, with a strong independence and stubbornness about her, that makes everyone around immediately like her, with regular phone-calls with her ‘Ma’ these scenes made me smile, with their gentle loving banter making for light hearted reading in this sad tale. Maud, the kind elderly lady who owns a bookshop beside Sim’s flat, takes Orla under her wing and provides a shoulder to cry on and a bottle of wine when things get tough for the young Irish girl.

“The Valentines Card” is not quite the love story I expected when I settled into it, expecting it to be all hearts and flowers, the story is quite actually quite a sad one, that deals with the matter, of what happens when the one turns out to be someone completely different and that the life you thought you had was just a lie. Beautifully written “The Valentine’s Card”, is a cynical take on a love story, as one girl searches for her happy ever after, whilst trying to find her own path in life. Filled with mystery, intrigue and humour, “The Valentine’s Card”, is definitely my recommended alternative Valentine read!

You can buy The Valentine’s Card on Amazon and other good bookshops.