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After Dad By Claire Shiells

After Dad‘After Dad’ is the latest book by Claire Shiells.

Millie Malone, a spirited, thirty-something journalist returns home to Northern Ireland after a life-changing decision leaves her London life in ruins. A family reunion soon unravels, opening old wounds and igniting new grievances regarding the murder of her father by the IRA decades earlier. Retreating to the family cottage in Donegal, Millie soon meets Finn McFall, a fisherman originally from west Belfast, who loves to paint and recite Irish poetry. In the new modern Ireland, Millie believes religion is no longer a barrier for love. But she soon finds home is a place still struggling with a fragile peace and simmering sectarianism. As events unfold, Millie is forced to decide between love and loyalty, eventually having to ask herself the ultimate question: can love really conquer all?

As a resident of Northern Ireland brought up during the Troubles, it occasionally feels like a lifetime away, the way we used to live, the segregation. But then a book like ‘After Dad’ comes into your life and you’re reminded once again how we lived and had our opinions.

The story is seen through the narrative of Millie Malone, who’s returned to Northern Ireland from London to see her sick mother. That’s what she tells her colleagues and friends, but really it’s to reset herself after a hard time. Back home, she reunites with her best friend Sasha who’s basking in wealth with the success of her husband’s chicken factories and car washes. Millie decides to take some time to herself and goes to the family cottage and it’s there that she meets Finn, a Catholic fisherman, poet and painter and thinks she’s Catholic also. Millie wants to tell the truth but fears she’ll lose him. So between falling in love and deciding to investigate a potential story about illegal immigrant workers who are being mistreated, Millie finds herself on a journey of discovery for not only herself but for others.

I enjoyed this story, it’s relatable with the attitudes and opinions, the dialect as well as the colloquiums that I grew up with The story not only focuses on the ‘you’s ems’ and ‘them ems’ of the different religions but also throws in the migrants who are being abused. Millie’s father was killed during the Troubles and the resentment and hardship of the pain and grief is very much there in the story. The writing is beautifully descriptive and the setting of the child home holiday and the memories it evoked also made for tender reading.

Hard hitting, poignant and most certainly relatable, ‘After Dad’ is a beautifully written story of grief, new love and new beginnings.

You can pre-order ‘After Dad’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 22nd September 2022.

Mammy Banter – The Secret Life Of An Uncool Mum By Serena Terry

Mammy Banter - The Secret Life Of An Uncool Mum‘Mammy Banter – The Secret Life Of An Uncool Mum’ is the debut book by Northern Irish viral sensation and comedian Serena Terry.

Tara Gallagher is knackered. She used to dream of being Beyoncé but suddenly she’s thirty-six – with three kids, a loving husband, a very boring job – and instead of headlining Glastonbury, she’s in her pyjamas on a Friday night, watching Gogglebox. It’s time for a mammy makeover. She’s going to show her teenage daughter she’s still cool. She’s going to show her husband she’s still an absolute ride. She’s going to show her colleagues she’s still a Boss Bish. But most of all, she’s going to prove to herself that she can still be a mum, still work full time, and still be Beyoncé…

Serena Terry aka Mammy Banter has become a TikTok sensation since lockdown began. Her daily videos show the trials and tribulations of being a mum during lockdown particularly to a teenage girl who thinks everything about her mother is wildly embarrassing.

This book is a story that can be devoured in one sitting, it’s warm, heartfelt and genuinely packed with some comedy gold moments that it was impossible to put down.

I love Mammy Banter and I follow her on social media and her characters are so fun and relatable and when I was reading this story, I could clearly hear the characters when reading the story. From the ‘Jesus, Mary and wee donkey’ that Tara muttered regularly to the way Gemma huffed at her mother.

I wholeheartedly connected with Tara, the fear of losing yourself and wanting to return to a time when you were cooler, with less responsibilities and didn’t care as much about what people think of you.

There are so many fabulously funny moments in the story that made for delicious reading from the slide scenario to the moment that the poor George Clooney lookalike hit on Tara, not to mention, her little boys Nathan and Jax were quick to repeat what Tara said and report to Miss Rose, who’s Nathan’s teacher.

As a debut, this book is a wonderful one, it’s fun, relatable and packed with charisma and a fantastic lead. Set in the heart of Northern Ireland, Serena’s book is brimming with Northern Irish humour and sayings that had me snorting with laughter throughout.

If you’re looking for a pick me up, then look no further, as ‘Mammy Banter – The Secret Life Of An Uncool Mum’ is an inspirational and uplifting story about being true to yourself and embracing your inner Beyoncé!

You can buy ‘Mammy Banter – The Secret Life Of An Uncool Mum’ 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?’.

Seamus 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 Seamus 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’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’ 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.

The Liar’s Daughter By Claire Allan

The Liar's Daughter‘The Liar’s Daughter’ is the latest book by Claire Allan.

Joe McKee – pillar of the Derry community – is dead. As arrangements are made for the traditional Irish wake, friends and family are left reeling at how cancer could have taken this much-loved man so soon. But grief is the last thing that Joe’s daughter Ciara and step-daughter Heidi feel. For they knew the real Joe – the man who was supposed to protect them and did anything but.As the mourners gather, the police do too, with doubt being cast over whether Joe’s death was due to natural causes. Because the lies that Joe told won’t be taken to the grave after all – and the truth gives his daughters the best possible motive for killing him.

Claire Allan is back a new thriller that had my attention gripped throughout. Set in the maiden set of Derry, this psychological thriller is a twisted story of lies and deceit. To the outside world Joe McKee, is the perfect man, God fearing Catholic who took over the care of his partner’s child when she died. But there is another side to Joe, that the only people closest to him know about. So when Joe finds out that’s he’s dying, he expects everyone to rally around him, but everyone is actually counting down until he dies and when he suddenly does die, everyone is a suspect.

The story is seen primarily through the eyes of Heidi and Ciara, the daughter of the dead partner and Joe’s biological daughter. They hate each other, Ciara hates Heidi for taking away her father and Heidi hates Ciara for the bullying and pain Ciara inflicted on her whilst going up. But unknown to both of them, they have more in common than they had ever known.

Both women are interesting. Heidi is a new mother who is fiercely protective of her baby, she’s meek and has struggles in her life, whilst Ciara, I found to be quite a dislikable woman. She’s brash, harsh and is always turning on Heidi, who I found myself quite protective off.

The story is written in past and present tenses and really helps with characters development and shows the reader why both women behave in such a way. I despised Joe, Claire really achieved an instant hateful man who’s slime and sleaze oozed off the pages. So when he’s killed, it’s understandable why there are so many suspects!

Bleak and atmospheric, this book is a tough book to read, touching on abuse and mental illness, this pacy thriller really gripped my attention. With unreliable characters and suspicious situations and a menacing plot line that really pulls the reader in, ‘The Liar’s Daughter’ is a taunt and twisty story that will have you guessing throughout.

You can buy ‘The Liar’s Daughter’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.