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Idol By Louise O’Neill

Idol‘Idol’ is Louise’s first book with her new publisher Transworld and it’s just as gripping as her previous books.

For Samantha Miller’s young fans – her ‘girls’ – she’s everything they want to be. She’s an oracle, telling them how to live their lives, how to be happy, how to find and honour their ‘truth’. And her career is booming: she’s just hit three million followers, her new book Chaste has gone straight to the top of the bestseller lists and she’s appearing at sell-out events. Determined to speak her truth and bare all to her adoring fans, she’s written an essay about her sexual awakening as a teenager, with her female best friend, Lisa. She’s never told a soul but now she’s telling the world. The essay goes viral. But then – years since they last spoke – Lisa gets in touch to say that she doesn’t remember it that way at all. Her memory of that night is far darker. It’s Sam’s word against Lisa’s – so who gets to tell the story? Whose ‘truth’ is really a lie?

The story is seen through the perspective of Samantha and is written in the past and present tense. Samantha is an influencer with a legion of followers, who follow her way of life, obey her every word and most importantly believe every word she says.

But when Samantha releases an article about a lesbian encounter with a friend, her world turns upside when this friend replies with a different version of the story. Samantha finds her world falling apart and having to defend and justify her actions and past.

I absolutely love Louise’s books, her writing is sharp with deplorable characters that you instantly hate but you find their flawed personalities addictive and suddenly it’s 3 o’clock in the morning and you’re struggling to get up for work the following day.

In the typical style of Louise’s writing, she takes a complex subject of toxic female relationships as well as the contradictions of influencers and deliver a wonderfully, intricately weaved story with twists and drama along the way.

Samantha is a horrible character, a narcissist absorbed in her own world and sees everything through her own narrative. To her loyal followers, she’s a vision of purity when in-fact she’s a cruel and jealous person and when she lets the mask fall, it makes for fantastic reading.

Louise’s writing is sharp and she’s unapologetic for shining a light on the harsh reality of social media, where likes and engagement are considered more important than personal feelings and privacy. It gives a true account of the world that we live in and are all consumed with on a daily basis.

A gripping story with revelations that shook me to the core, ‘Idol’ is another thought provoking, brutal and compulsive book from Louise that reeled me in from the first page.

You can pre-order ‘Idol’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 12th May 2022.

Handwritten Girl’s Top 12 Books Of 2020

Top 12 Books Of 2020It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a strange old year. For some of us, we either lost our reading mojo and for others, we discovered a new passion that helped us escape the chaos of the world.

For me, my reading dipped regularly. Sometimes, I couldn’t be found without a book in my hand and other times, I left a pile of half read books in my path unable to find one to catch my attention.

If you’re looking for book ideas for yourself or for others for Christmas, check out my top 12 books of 2020, for some ideas.

Click on the links to read my thoughts on the books and why these books might appeal to you.

‘The Dilemma’ by ‘B.A. Paris
‘The Minute I Saw You’ by Paige Toon
‘The Other Passenger’ by Louise Candlish
‘Grown Ups’ by Marian Keyes
‘My One True North’ by Milly Johnson
‘The Last Charm’ by Ella Allbright
‘My Dark Vanessa’ by Kate Elizabeth Russell
‘Just My Luck’ by Adele Parks
The Lockdown Diary of Tom Cooper’ by Spencer Brown
‘The Flipside’ by James Bailey
‘Invisible Girl’ by Lisa Jewell
‘After The Silence’ by Louise O’Neill.

Although these books are available on Amazon, please consider buying from an independent bookseller to help supporting local businesses during this time.

After The Silence By Louise O’Neill

After The Silence‘After The Silence’ is the latest book by Irish author, Louise O’Neill.

On the day of Henry and Keelin Kinsella’s wild party at their big house a violent storm engulfed the island of Inisrun, cutting it off from the mainland. When morning broke Nessa Crowley’s lifeless body lay in the garden, her last breath silenced by the music and the thunder. The killer couldn’t have escaped Inisrun, but on-one was charged with the murder. The mystery that surrounded the death of Nessa remained hidden. But the islanders knew who to blame for the crime that changed them forever. Ten years later a documentary crew arrives, there to lift the lid off the Kinsella’s carefully constructed lives, determined to find evidence that will prove Henry’s guilt and Keelin’s complicity in the murder of beautiful Nessa.

Louise O’Neill is back with another fantastic book with a deep exploration of female characters and toxic relationships, with a shocking end that kept me awake far later than my bedtime intended.

For me, Louise has become that author, who’s book I have to read on its publication day and after completion, I then sit back with my thoughts at the genuinely gripping and atmospheric writing.

The story is primarily seen through the narrative of Keelin Kinsella written in the past and present tense. The past sequences are about her life, her family and meeting her second husband Henry Kinsella, who’s family was a blow in to the remote island and brought much needed economy to Inisrún. Keelin falls for Henry’s charm and security and they marry. But on her 37th birthday party, a young girl was found murdered at the house and this later became known as ‘The Crowley Girl’ and although no one was ever charged with her murder, all fingers pointed towards Henry. Now 10 years later, an Australian film making duo want to make an anniversary documentary about the murder and talk to everyone involved, including Keelin and Henry.

‘After The Silence’ is a new angle for Louise, as it’s the first murder mystery from the Irish author, but having said that, it’s one of the best mysteries that I’ve read in a while.

The setting of the small rural and remote island where only access is available via a boat, gives an eerie and claustrophobic vibe to the story. It’s a small close knit community that was torn apart from the murder and never recovered, with speculation and conspiracies shared at every opportunity.

The characters are extremely interesting in this book, particularly Keelin. She left an abusive relationship for the sake of her eldest son and thinks that she has found love and security with Henry but it comes at a price. He’s controlling and manipulating and has people come to house to do her hair and make-up instead of letting her leave the house. He says that it’s for the best for her, as people have turned against them since the murder. She’s convinced that he’s only looking out for her but as time goes by, Keelin begins to wonder if she has left one abusive marriage for another. Through the past and present sequences, we see Keelin change in character, she becomes meeker and more subdued as her wings become more clipped. Henry is a charming and charismatic man, who boasts wealth and statue but after the death of the young girl, the village have turned on him even though he denies any involvement and hopes the documentary will prove his innocence.

Like Louise’s previous books, ‘After The Silence’ focuses on toxic relationships, gas lighting and inter partner terrorism (a new one for me). She explodes coercive control and writes in great detail, how much a person can change with slowly being chipped away. This story evoked some extreme reactions in me from profound sadness to raging anger to think that there were men and women in the world that are exposed to this type of treatment on a daily basis, unaware of how they were going to be treated to walking on eggshells and not create a negative reaction. It’s also evident that Louise went to huge lengths of research for this book, exploring relationships and police procedures.

As well as the past and present sequences, there are also extracts from the film makers interviewing residents of the island and this makes for really intriguing reading, as they all have their own thoughts and opinions on the night as well as Henry and Keelin Kinsellsa.

As the story is set on a remote island, there are elements of the Irish language throughout it and this gave an almost folklore vibe to the story as well as the tight knit community who all seek to find justice for the young girl.

A compelling dark and twisted story of murder and devastation, ‘After the Silence’ is an atmospheric and psychological story about the justice for a young girl that raises unanswered questions and takes a look at what really goes on behind closed doors when everything is quiet.

You can buy ‘After the Silence’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

My 12 Books Of 2018

My 12 Books Of 2018

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have read some fantastic books this year, including some cracker debuts. So if you’re looking for book inspiration for Christmas ideas for yourselves or for that special someone in your life, then I would highly recommend these books, as they made me laugh, cry and keep me on the edge of my seat throughout 2018.

I’ve included my reviews of the books, to give you an idea of what I loved about them.

‘The Importance Of Being Aisling’ by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen
‘Roar’ by Cecelia Ahern
‘I invited Her In’ by Adele Parks
‘You Let Me In’ by Lucy Clarke
‘One Day In December’ by Josie Silver
‘One In A Million’ by Lindsey Kelk
‘Watching You’ by Lisa Jewell
‘Five Years From Now’ by Paige Toon
‘The Man I Think I Know’ by Mike Gayle
‘Almost Love’ by Louise O’Neill
‘Our House’ by Louise Candlish
‘Faking Friends’ by Jane Fallon

Happy reading!

The Surface Breaks By Louise O’Neill

The Surface Breaks ‘The Surface Breaks’ is Irish author, Louise O’Neill’s reimagining of ‘The Little Mermaid’

Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice?

For fans of Louise O’Neill, you will be well aware that her tales are never uplifting with happy after evers, they are dark and honest stories of toxic relationships, abuse and primarily stories where women are treated as inferior and ‘The Surface Breaks’ is no different. So if you’re expecting a lighthearted Disney tale, then you’re in for a shock.

Gaia hates her life, living at the bottom of the sea with her sisters waiting to her paired off with a man that she secretly loathes. Ever since, her mother disappeared Gaia has always wondered what’s above the water but her father, The Sea King has always forbidden her to go to the surface. But one day, she finally goes above the water and see a human who immediately steals her heart. She can’t get him out of her head and in a moment of madness gives her beautiful voice to the Sea Witch, in exchange for legs so she can get the human to fall in love with her. Once on water, Oliver the man she fell for rescues her and brings her to his home, but having no voice makes it hard for someone to fall in love with you and Gaia begins to question her thinking and even wonders if Oliver is the man that she fell for.

This is a dark and disturbing tale that does make for quite gruesome and unsettling reading in places as Gaia has to deal with the most horrible pains and injuries in her legs when she becomes human, I often the descriptions in these scenes to be incredibly vivid. She’s a striking woman that men both under and above the water are drawn too but Gaia wants to be seen as more than just a face, she wants to be recognised as person and as a woman and hates what her sisters and other mermaids have to go through in the Kingdom. Discriminated against and belittled, they have no value and are purely used to look good and produce babies.

This story is occasionally an angry and reactive read, with the way the men treat women and is most certainly a feminist and empowering story that does occasionally have the original fairytale weaved throughout it.

It has been pointed that there are similarities in this story to Louise’s debut ‘Only Ever Yours’, the women competing against each other and I would certainly agree with this statement.

A dark and sharply written retelling of a well loved classic, the story covers many current issues that Irish women are going through but like the recent Referendum verdict, it has a hopeful ending that leaves the reader hoping that the tides will change.

You can buy The Surface Breaks from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.