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Strange Sally Diamond By Liz Nugent

Strange Sally Diamond‘Strange Sally Diamond’ is the latest book by Liz Nugent.

Sally Diamond cannot understand why what she did was so strange. She was only doing what her father told her to do, to put him out with the rubbish when he died. Now Sally is the centre of attention, not only from the hungry media and police detectives, but also a sinister voice from a past she cannot remember. As she begins to discover the horrors of her childhood, Sally steps into the world for the first time, making new friends and big decisions, and learning that people don’t always mean what they say. But who is the man observing Sally from the other side of the world? And why does her neighbour seem to be obsessed with her? Sally’s trust issues are about to be severely challenged.

I was delighted to have been sent a copy of ‘Strange Sally Diamond’ by Liz. Liz is one of my favourite authors, her debut novel called ‘Unravelling Oliver’ has one of the best opening lines that I’ve ever read and the first line to ‘Strange Sally Diamond’ was just as gripping.

Prior to reading the book, I attended a book launch for the book at Belfast bookshop, No Alibis and Liz discussed her inspiration behind Sally Diamond and why she decided to create Roscommon Noir as the setting for a story a small rural town called Carricksheedy.

The story is set in 3 parts and is primarily seen through the narrative of Sally Diamond, a woman who lives her life by literal instructions, so when her father advises her upon his death to put him out with the bins, that’s exactly what she does.

Suddenly a media frenzy descends onto Sally and the quiet life that she’s been leading is taken away and she’s put into spotlight making friends for the first time, adapting to social situations and human interactions.

I loved Sally Diamond, she’s honest, blunt and absolute breath of fresh air, her life has been far from perfect and so the trauma of her childhood is what makes her who she is as a person and her behaviour. She speaks her mind and is always quick to put others in their place when she doesn’t agree with them.

Although the story is a fantastic one, it’s not for the faint hearted focusing on child abduction, sexual assault, child abuse, racism and diversity and these parts of the story does make for hard and unsettling reading. But like Liz’s previous books, she adds some lightness to the story to balance out darkness and this often takes place with Sally.

Another element of the story are the postcards that are sent to the Sally from New Zealand and the sender is another narrative in the book, but it’s hard to say much about them without giving something away!

This book is another wonderfully crafted story from one of Ireland’s favourite crime writers. The chapters are short and snappy so they really pull the reader in dark making it impossible to put down. The book is also beautifully descriptive in parts, from old home that Sally grew up to the new cottage with a steam that flows underneath the floorboards, Liz really paints a picture with her writing. Witty, dark and compelling from the first page, ‘Strange Sally Diamond’ is an absolute must read for all crime fans.

You can buy ‘Strange Sally Diamond’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Meredith, Alone By Claire Alexander

Meredith, Alone’Meredith, Alone’ is the debut novel by Claire Alexander.

Meredith Maggs hasn’t left her house in 1,214 days. But she insists she isn’t alone. She has her cat, Fred. Her friend Sadie visits when she can. There’s her online support group, StrengthInNumbers. She has her jigsaws, favourite recipes, her beloved Emily Dickinson, the internet, the Tesco delivery man and her treacherous memories for company. But something’s about to change. First, new friends Tom and Celeste burst into her life. Then an estranged sister she hasn’t spoken to in years.
Suddenly her carefully curated home is no longer a safe place to hide. Whether Meredith likes it or not, the world is coming to her door.

This book is one of the most beautiful debuts I’ve read and will certainly be featuring in my top 10 books of 2022.

The story is seen through the narrative of Meredith who after a terrible incident doesn’t leave the house. With home deliveries and the ability to work from home, she’s content with her life with her best friend Sadie and her ginger cat Fred. But one day Tom McDermott from Holding Hands befriending charity enters her life and between him and her online friend Celeste, she starts to think of life beyond her front door. But to step beyond her threshold, Meredith has to face up to her past and make amends.

The story is written in the past and present tense. The past present features Meredith as a child with her older sister Fiona who live with their mother. A cold and hard faced character who’s bitter after since the girls’ father left. She’s a complex woman and it was unsettling in parts as she had such a split personality and the girls were always on eggshells as they never knew what mood she’d be in. The past tense to the story really sets the scene to how Meredith came to staying indoors.

The story is set in Glasgow, a city I’ve visited and the author has beautifully described the streets and landscape of the city painting a vivid description. Her writing is stunning in parts and so picturesque from the four walls of Meredith’s house to the anxiety of confronting her fears. Other supporting characters such as Sadie, who’s Meredith’s best friend is a bright and vibrant character who adds a splash of colour to Meredith’s small world, whilst Meredith herself is an admirable woman, who finds comfort in jigsaws and cooking. Her life has been far from perfect, but she’s a strong, empowering woman and I fell in love with her witty personality from the first page.

This book is an absolutely gorgeous and heartwarming story that was impossible to put down. With short chapters, it was a delight to consume and with complex, relatable and fun characters, ‘Meredith, Alone’ is an inspirational story of resilience, new beginnings and friendship.

You can buy ‘Meredith, Alone’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Paige Toon Reveals New Book – Only Love Can Hurt Like This

Only Love Can Hurt Like ThisWonderful news for fans of Paige Toon as she’s revealed her brand new book called ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This’ with her new publisher Penguin.

What the back cover says –

Neither of them expected to fall in love. But sometimes life has other plans.

When Wren realises her fiancé is in love with someone else, she thinks her heart will never recover.

On the other side of the world, Anders lost his wife four years ago and is still struggling to move on.

Wren hopes that spending the summer with her dad and step-family on their farm in Indiana will help her to heal. There, amid the cornfields and fireflies, she and Anders cross paths and their worlds are turned upside-down again.

But Wren doesn’t know that Anders is harbouring a secret, and if he acts on any feelings he has for Wren it will have serious fall-out for everyone.

Walking away would hurt Wren more than she can imagine. But, knowing the truth, how can she possibly stay?

With an absolutely stunning cover and a title that will get stuck in your head,’Only Love Can Hurt Like This’ sounds like a heartbreaker of a story, so tissues are a must!

You can pre-order ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 27th April 2023.

We Were Never Here By Andrea Bartz

We Were Never Here‘We Were Never Here’ is the latest book by Andrea Bartz.

It was meant to be the holiday of a lifetime. Until Emily found their hotel suite covered in blood. Her friend Kristen claims a backpacker attacked her . . . she had no option but to kill him. And with no evidence of the assault, Emily must help her hide the body. But back home, as the walls close in around the events of that night, Emily is forced to ask herself: Can her closest friend be trusted?

There’s no surprise that ‘We Were Never Here’ has been chosen for Reese Witherspoon’s book club and is now being adapted as a Netflix movie, this book is addictive with a capital A.

The story is seen through the narrative of Emily, who’s best friends with Kristen. They take themselves away to Chile on an adventure, only for tragedy to strike and Emily to come back a nervous wreck and fearing that the body that herself and Kristen buried will be discovered. Now settled back in Milwaukee and starting a new relationship with Aaron, Emily can relax until Kristen comes back from Australia for a surprise visit and Emily finds herself wondering if she really truly knows her best friend.

This story is dark, gritty and really gets under your skin. Right from the offset, we see that this isn’t a normal friendship. Kristen is the leader and Emily follows and the story is incredibly claustrophobic as Emily looks for space to start her new relationship but Kristen is there at every turn.

The toxicity of the friendship drips from the pages as Emily tries to distance herself from Kristen but the more she tries, the more Kristen tangles herself into Emily’s life.

An immersive and original story that was impossible to put down. ‘We Were Never Seen’, is an intense psychological thriller about obsession, deceit and manipulation and delves into intense female friendships and false memories. With suspense building with every page and twists that left me reeling, this book is an cinematic experience and it’s not even hit the screens yet!

You can buy ‘We Were Never Here’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Apples Never Fall By Liane Moriarty

Apples Never Fall‘Apples Never Fall’ is the latest book by Liane Moriarty.

The Delaney family love one another dearly – it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other. Joy Delaney and husband Stan have done well. Four wonderful grown-up children. A family business to envy. The golden years of retirement ahead of them. So when Joy Delaney vanishes – no note, no calls, her bike missing – it’s natural that tongues will wag. How did Stan scratch his face? And who was the stranger who entered and suddenly left their lives? What are they all hiding? But for the Delaney children there is a much more terrifying question: did they ever know their parents at all?

I actually read this book back at Christmas and it was another great thrilling story from one of Australia’s greatest authors and in true, Liane’s style, the story starts right at the pivotal moment of major change in the Delaney family’s lives.

The story is written in and past present tense and is seen through the narrative of Joy Delaney and her children, Brooke, Amy, Troy and Logan and how their lives dramatically changed when a stranger called Savannah appears in their parents lives and fits seamlessly and replaces them. One day, both Joy and Savannah disappear and Savannah’s husband Stan is seen as the main culprit in her disappearance despite his protests.

I loved this story, the multiple narratives and dual tenses made for gripping reading. I found Savannah to be a fascinating character, she appears in Joy’s and Stan’s lives one evening in complete distress and they take her in knowing nothing about her. Joy treats her Savannah like the daughter she never had as her relationship with her own daughters is quite strained at times, as they were brought up in a competitive family and this upsets both Brooke and Amy and are immediately suspicious of Savannah.

The Delaney family are a complex group of people. Both Joy and Stan are tennis instructors and their children were brought up to be tennis champions but sadly that wasn’t the case and that’s left a sour taste in Stan’s mouth and this causes friction in the family. They try to live up to their father’s high standards but are constantly letting him down. Stan is a petulant man with a temper and is prone to leaving when the going gets tough. All the children, now grown ups have their own issues in their lives, separation, mental health as well as fertility and their troubles make for relatable reading.

Joy is at a standstill in her life, she has spent her years coaching and bringing her children up and now Savannah has come into her live and exudes excitement and mystery, but she also shows an interest in Joy, something that she’s been missing for years.

The present tense are seen through the narrative of the police investigating Joy’s disappearance, her friends and children as they all wonder about the mysterious Savannah and what caused Joy to disappear.

‘Apples Never Fall’ is another rollercoaster of a suspenseful domestic noir from Liane, packed with drama and intrigue from the first mysterious text from Joy to her children to the final scene that hooked my attention throughout. Cleverly and wittily written, ‘Apples Never Fall’ is an observational story about family dynamics and mishaps, that was a complete guessing game!

You can buy ‘Apples Never Fall’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.