Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Guest post, Inspiration, Motivational, New Books

The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club Faith Hogan 5* #Review @GerHogan @Aria_Fiction @Hoz_Books #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost #SecondChance #Friendship #Life #Motivational #uplit #IrishFiction #TheLadiesMidnightSwimmingClub #MondayBlogs

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Easons (Ireland only)

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a lovely heartwarming story set on the west coast of Ireland. It explores female relationships and the importance of living life to the full. The setting is an immense part of this story giving the women space to breathe and think. The relationship dynamics are relatable, and the author explores topical issues in an enlightened way.

Character-driven, it immerses the reader in the main protagonists’ lives, which is an emotional experience. Family drama, heartbreaking decisions and romance are interwoven into this literary puzzle, and despite the shocks and tears, it leaves you feeling uplifted.

Guest Post: The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club – Inspiration- Faith Hogan

It’s been a funny old year, I mean to quote those wonderful words, it’s been the best of times, it’s been the worst of times, certainly, it’s been an extraordinary fifteen months on this side of the pond and although I haven’t travelled to the UK since 2019 – that sounds much too long ago – this has been a year like no other in every part of the world.

Apart from the terrible tragedies that have moved each of us, even if they did not touch our lives directly, there has been such a complete upheaval of life as we’ve known it and sometimes, it feels as if we may never fully return to what went before as normal.

At the end of it all, I’ve found a much renewed love of the book that uplift my spirits. It’s been an essential part of my lockdown armoury. Losing myself in the words of favourite writers who can help me escape the worries that might otherwise have dragged me down further and let-s face it, the nightly news was as much as any of us needed to drift into the tragedies of life.

So, I’ve been reading lots of unashamedly uplifting, happy books. I think it’s helped me to see the positives of having been locked down in a way that has balanced out all the losses. And there have been many positives. While less air travel has meant travel is curbed, I’m also very aware that the environment has managed to get some much needed breathing space. It’s given us great family time – now we’re playing scrabble and regularly sitting down to watch TV programmes together that I’d never have watched otherwise. And it’s given us time to think; perhaps savouring the little things that we’d rushed about so much for before and missed out on the simple joy of them. Things like family meals, long phone calls with friends – when once a text flown off seemed to be as much as we could manage. And then, there have been so many who’ve had the opportunity to work from home and in some cases think of re-locating and maybe taking life off hold.

Yes, it’s been the best of times and the worst of times.

But the one thing I’m sure of, is that a good uplifting book is one of those things that has really come up trumps throughout, a little like scrabble and strangely, The Grand Tour – yep ,in the Hogan House we’re on a binge!

I wrote The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club the year before we’d even heard of Covid 19. I’d written it purely for the joy of telling a story that would uplift my own spirits and so far it seems to have had the same impact on readers who’ve picked it up.

It’s unashamedly feel good, gentle and ultimately heartening, you may cry at certain parts, but you will laugh much more and I hope, as you pick up the threads of Lucy, Jo and Elizabeth’s lives, you will feel you are on a journey with old friends – people you’ll root for, people you’ll be sad to say goodbye to at the end. Because, we all want a happy ending, don’t we and there’s nothing that we could want more than a happy ending for the people we love!

And, as we near the end of this extraordinary year, perhaps we’ve all learned something we hadn’t expected – happiness can be found in the most unexpected places and if we’re wise, we’ll grab it when we can. And happiness is the one thing that we can feel, no matter if we are living in the best of times or indeed, the worst of times…

So, go on, choose your own kind of happy today, jump in with the Ladies Midnight Swimming Club, I promise, you’ll feel better once you’ve dived in there….

Faith Hogan

Faith Hogan is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of five contemporary fiction novels. Her books have featured as Book Club Favorites, Net Galley Hot Reads and Summer Must Reads. She writes grown up women’s fiction which is unashamedly uplifting, feel good and inspiring.

She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She’s a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger – except of course when it is raining!

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Memoir, Motivational, Non-Fiction

The Spirit of the Horse Pam Billinge 5*#Review @pam_billinge @Blackbird_Bks #BlogTour #BookReview #memoir #Motivational #nonfiction #Horses #Love #Life

Sequel to The Spell of the Horse.

The Spirit of the Horse is about following dreams, finding your truth and how much stronger joy can be when we learn to interconnect with all that is.

‘Masterful, uplifting and insightful, this book has left an indelible stamp on my heart.’ Justin Featherstone MC

When Pam follows her dream to a farmhouse with five acres in northern France, she is able to live alongside her horses for the first time. Here, in the heart of nature, deeper insights are revealed into the healing connection between horse and human and the incredible power of presence to transform. Might it be that learning to honour and communicate with another species helps us to reframe the way we perceive each other, as well as how we might see ourselves?

Paperback (£9.99) available to order from Waterstones

and all good bookshops and the usual online platforms.

Ebook (£3.99) Amazon UK iBooks

 [US]Kobo

I received a copy of this book from Blackbird in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I haven’t read The Spell of the Horse, the book this is a sequel to, but this book reads well without having done so, although it did make me keen to read the book that came first. This book hard to define but is very readable, with messages that everyone can take away and think about.

As a memoir, it is engaging and honest. It has depth, Pam’s experience working with her ‘herd’ to help her clients to work out their anxieties, future choices and problems, is emotional, fascinating and thought-provoking.

It’s compelling to explore the spiritual connection between humans and horses through case studies and Pam’s insights. This is a poignant and powerful book.

Pan Billinge – Photo Credit Sabine Coe Photography

Pam Billinge is a therapist, coach and author who specialises in embodied horse-led learning.

This unique approach relies entirely on the emergent relational process between horse and human. At her bases in the UK and in France, Pam supports people of all nationalities, ages and walks of life with their personal and professional development.

Through her workshops and her writing Pam wishes to share the healing wisdom of horses whilst advancing the cause of this
sometimes much-misunderstood species. She hopes also
through her work to reconnect us with the natural world from which we are too often separated.

Posted in Audiobook Review, Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Inspiration, Motivational

Growing Season Seni Glaister 5*#Review @SeniGlaister @HQStories Narrator Kristin Atherton #HarperCollinsAudioUK #Audiobook #BlogTour #Review #loss #selfrealisation #uplit #nature #life #love #GrowingSeason

Danny is riddled with anxiety. But he wants to be strong for his wife Sam. She’s been through so much already. If only he had someone to talk to.

Sam is facing a very different future to the one she expected. She’s ready to move on, yet other people won’t let her. If only she had someone to talk to.

Their new neighbour Diana is hiding from her past. She wanted a new life. Now she’s got it she feels angry and alone. If only she had someone to talk to.

Each of them is hiding their pain. Each of them needs to heal. But only when they learn to let each other in will they finally be able to grow.

I received an audiobook from HQ (Harper Collins Audio UK) via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This character-driven story features a multi-generational friendship. Told from three viewpoints Diana, Sam and Danny, it is a detailed emotional story that explores finding your true self, fitting in, honesty and loss.

It’s introspective and works well as an audiobook. The narrator is clear and engaging, voicing the characters believably and distinctly. The gentle pace enables the listener to know each character well, and the humour, insight and poignancy, make it an emotional read.

The parallels with nature that affects the characters’ lives are well crafted and make this an engaging, thought-provoking story.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Motivational, Romance

Life After You Sian O’Gorman 5* #Review @msogorman @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #boldwoodbloggers #BlogTour #BookReview #Love #Loss #Bereavement #Family #Romance #Friendship #Motivational #Heartwarming #SundayThoughts #LifeAfterYou

Meaningful and moving, a beautiful story with life-affirming qualities.

Milly Bryne’s world came crashing down when she lost her beloved Dad and boyfriend in a matter of weeks.
Losing her Dad has broken her family. Losing her soul mate made has made her give up on life and love.
After swerving from stability to chaos to despair, Milly finally believes she has her life back on track when the unexpected return of a familiar face to Ireland throws her life once more into a spin. Milly is forced to decide if her new life is the one for her, or if there is another path that will bring even greater riches of joy, excitement and fun into her world. Life just isn’t worth living if your heart isn’t in it?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I always love reading a book written by a true storyteller and this one of those. Milly is not coping, no one would know, but she’s still crippled with grief after losing her father five years ago, has a ruthless career that demands all her time and offends her moral code and was abandoned by her soulmate at the lowest point in her life. When her old lover returns, it forces her to look at her life and decide what she truly wants it to be.

Milly is a likeable and relatable protagonist. You want her to overcome her anxiety, learn to live with her grief and be happy. A diverse cast of characters both hinder and support Milly in this quest. Everyone is authentic and adds something to this enjoyable story.

The story explores how Milly and her family members experience, both anxiety and grief believably.

The story is heartbreaking and humorous in equal measure but ultimately heartwarming.

Extract from Life After You Sian o’Gorman

Chapter One

A low hum of chatter, the odd bray from the over-inebriated, the tinkling of Cole Porter from the grand piano in the corner, the soft lighting, the waft of the kind of perfume that hadn’t been bought as an after-thought in Duty Free, the pop of the champagne bottles. Siobhán held up her glass of fizz. ‘I could get used to this,’ she said, putting on a posh voice. ‘I may insist on always socialising in the Shelbourne.’

It was early April and there was a touch of spring in the air and we were both a little over-excited. It was a Tuesday which was enough to celebrate on its own, but we were at the launch of a new development for my boyfriend’s property company and although Ryan and I had been going out for three months, he and Siobhán were yet to meet.

She’d already peered across the room at him as he shook hands with and chatted to some of the other guests. ‘He’s handsome,’ she said, approvingly. ‘The kind of cheekbones that make him look like he’s sucking on a lemon or an eighties popstar.’

Siobhán and I had been best friends since our third year of high school when we both realised we shared a hatred of hockey and a love of talking to each other. We’d lived with each other many times over the years, her moving in with me when my then boyfriend, Darragh, left me five years earlier. Her partner, George, was often to be found on our sofa – normally asleep, wrecked from his early starts in a bakery.

Siobhán’s arm darted out to nab a handful of canapés as a tray bobbed past our heads. She handed one to me. ‘Being a corporate lawyer, you probably eat like this all the time,’ she said, mouth full, ‘expense-account lunches…’

‘I’m lucky if I get ten minutes to buy a sandwich. Normally, it’s just me and Catriona working through.’ Catriona was my boss, one of the partners at my law firm McCoyMcAvoy. I’d worked there since getting onto the graduate scheme, and had slowly made my way up to being junior to the firm’s only female partner. As corporate lawyers, we bent the rules to nearly breaking point, discovering legal loopholes and building cases so rock-solid that we always ensured our clients got their way.

‘Lunch is the most important meal of the day,’ Siobhán reminded me.

‘I thought it was breakfast.’

She held up a canapé. ‘No, I forgot. Nibbles and snacks are the best meal of the day.’ She grinned at me. ‘Can’t live without snacks.’

‘I’d die.’

‘We’d die together for the want of a good snack… talking of which, these are very nice, very nice indeed!’

Siobhán was small, with long, waterfall-wavy red hair, and always wore bright red lipstick. I was tall, with shoulder length light brown hair which I tied back for work, with minimal make-up. She wore long skirts and chunky cardigans and dangly earrings, whereas I couldn’t remember the last time I wore anything that wasn’t sensible. I couldn’t remember the last time I had done something that wasn’t sensible. But, then again, I was the one who’d signed up to be a lawyer and being sensible was part of the deal. Except, I wouldn’t mind some fun. It was exactly why I insisted on Siobhan coming tonight. It was at least something.

Sian O’Gorman

Sian O’Gorman was born in Galway on the West Coast of Ireland, grew up in the lovely city of Cardiff, and has found her way back to Ireland and now lives on the east of the country, in the village of Dalkey, just along the coast from Dublin. She works as a radio producer for RTE.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Fantasy, Friendship, Motivational, Paranormal

Benevolent by Erin A. Jenson 5*#Review @ErinAJensen @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #RandomActsofKindness #love #fanfiction #Supernatural #Life #Motivational #BlogTour #BookReview #Benevolent

A story about the purpose of life, the healing power of fandom, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Tormented by the in-crowd at school on a daily basis, there were two things that gave fifteen-year-old Abigail Perkins the strength to keep going—her best friend, Danny Cobb; and her favorite television show, Supernatural. But the night Danny’s mother calls to say that his battle with cancer is nearing its end, and the doctors don’t expect him to live through the night, even Supernatural can’t dull the ache in her heart.

Devastated by her impending loss and crushed that Danny’s mother won’t allow her to visit him one last time, Abigail crawls into bed and cries herself to sleep that night; and she wakes to find Supernatural’s most endearing angel standing at the foot of her bed.

Told from Abigail’s perspective as she nears the end of her long life and revisits the moments that defined it, this story was inspired by the deep connection that Supernatural fans feel with the show’s beloved characters, and the show’s miraculous ability to help its fans through troubled times.

Amazon UK

100% of the net proceeds from this book will go to Random Acts charitable organization.

Random Acts inspires many amazing things around the world every day — from small acts of kindness, such as inspiring someone to buy a stranger a cup of coffee, to much bigger acts of kindness like building a school in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.

To learn more about Random Acts visit randomacts.org

My Thoughts…

Benevolent is a lovely story full of emotion and a message that resonates. Abbie is dying, and her previous life is playing out in her mind one last time. It begins with her dearest friend who she lost too soon and her first meeting with her guardian angel.

Supernatural the iconic series is Abbie’s solace in times of trouble. Naturally, her guardian angel resembles Castiel from the series. The first chapter is heartbreaking and sets the scene for a book that claims your emotions and provokes your thoughts.

A song title heads each chapter. This is Danny’s gift to Abbie.

The writing is lyrical, and the characters are believable even though the carefully constructed world is magical. It makes you cry, smile, remember things in your life, and all these things make it enjoyable.

I purchased a Kindle copy of this book, as 100% of the net proceeds from this book will go to Random Acts charitable organization.

Erin A. Jensen

Erin A. Jensen is the Amazon International bestselling author of The Dream Waters Series. Her debut novel won the bronze medal for fantasy fiction in the 2018 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and received honorable mention in the 2018 Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-book Awards. A part-time pharmacist and a full-time daydreamer, she lives in upstate New York with her husband and two sons

Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Review, Motivational, Non-Fiction, User Guide

365 Days of Gratitude Journal Marielle S. Smith 4*#Review @MSWordsmithNL @rararesources #GratitudeJournal #MentalHealth #positivity #motivational #BookReview #BlogBlitz #Guide #365DaysofGratitudeJournal

‘Gratitude is the wine for the soul. Go on. Get drunk.’ Rumi

Being grateful is easy…

…when everything goes according to plan.

But how do you keep at it no matter what life throws at you?

Enter 365 Days of Gratitude, the undated daily journal that will help you stay on track.

After years of barely surviving her own emotional minefield, writing coach Mariëlle S. Smith discovered the transformative power of practising gratitude. But, like no one else, she knows that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is easier said than done.

Complete with inspiring quotes, daily prompts, and recurring check-ins, the 365 Days of Gratitude Journal encourages you to create a sustainable gratitude practice too.

Ready to commit to the life-changing power of gratitude? Order your copy of the 365 Days of Gratitude Journal now.

Get 50% off the printable PDF until 6 September 2020 with the following discount code: HAPPYLAUNCH. Go to https://mswordsmith.nl/365daysofgratitude or https://payhip.com/b/Hld2 to claim your copy. 

Amazon UK Amazon 365 Days of Gratitude Journal

I received a PDF copy of this journal from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

If you believe in the value of gratitude journaling but are struggling then this book may be helpful. It is easy to use with useful prompts to guide your thoughts. If specific prompts don’t work for you, adapt them. It’s a guide, not a rulebook.

Attractively set out, it’s easy to summarise your weeks and months of gratitude journaling with weekly, four-week and three-month prompts. There are also motivational quotes to inspire you.

If you want to remember what’s good in your life and focus on the positives, this guide may be for you.

Marielle S. Smith

Mariëlle S. Smith is a coach for writers and other creatives, an editor, and a (ghost) writer. Early 2019, she moved to Cyprus, and island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Memoir, Motivational, Non-Fiction

Leaves of Love Lucy Aykroyd 5*#Review @AykroydLucy @unbounders @RandomTTours @unbound_digital #Paperback #Guide #nonfiction #caring #carers #ageing #experiences #BookReview #BlogTour #motivational #LeavesofLove

 

Are you a carer or companion to someone who is ageing? Are you looking to enhance every moment of their lives to the end yet feel full of trepidation at the prospect? Leaves of Love is a simple yet essential guide for both layman and expert to keep by your side as you learn the beautiful and ancient art of accompanying another over these final transitions.

Leaves of Love is laced with inspiring real-life stories that depict the rich gleanings to be found within ageing and the unexpected opportunities that can reveal themselves when we embrace the reality of our dying. These stories bring with them a tool bag of ideas and practical tips to empower the carer within all of us to value our own unique gifts and love as we have never loved before.

With nature as our guide we learn how to be present when we visit a care home, what matters most as we sit with someone and how and what to expect when we are accompanying a dying person.

Amazon UK Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Dying is one of life’s certainties and also one of its greatest mysteries.

Experienced in helping people with ageing and dying well, the author shares her personal and professional experience in this friendly, short, but informative book. Divided into case studies and reflections, practical considerations and a helpful glossary this book is user-friendly and full of sensitively delivered information.

The book emphasises the positive aspects of this final journey and the importance of respecting the person’s wishes whatever they may be.

Worth reading to add to your knowledge, but invaluable if you are facing this eventuality. I wish I’d had something like this or someone like the author when my mother died.

dav

Lucy Aykroyd, a life-enhancing caregiver and end-of-life doula, raised a large family in Aberdeenshire. She paints, pots and prints, practises yoga and travels about with a massage couch. Passionate about the land and the environment, she lives out her wilderness training, disappears for hours into her garden and springs to life with her dogs on the shoreline near her East Lothian home. Lucy celebrates her own ageing and helps others to make the most of theirs with a lightness of touch, a compassionate heart and a good smattering of humour. 

This is her first independent publication. Her short stories have been included in some anthologies by The Huntly Writers

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Childrens Books, Motivational, Non-Fiction

The Book Dragon Club Lexi Rees 5*#Review @lexi_rees @rararesources #outsetpublishing #TheBookDragonClub #Books #Reading #Writing #kidlit #nonfiction #workbook #journal #TuesdayMotivation.

Packed with awesome activities, this journal has everything a book dragon needs!

  • Tackle the fun reading challenges
  • Set up a book club with your friends
  • Host award ceremonies and parties
  • Make up games and quizzes based on your favourite books

Plus space for book reviews, reading lists and so much more. 

Amazon UK Amazon

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The colourful cartoony cover makes you want to open the pages of this journal designed for children in the 6 -11 years age group. It aims to engage young readers and writers into getting more out of the books they read, reading more broadly and forming a book club with their friends.

The book is fun to read and use, with headings like Awesome Book Challenges, Top Secret Book Club and Cool Stuff To Do. Where you can make bookmarks, illustrate a story and write a bespoke ending for a book you’ve read. The book gives parents opportunities to work with younger children and older children to form a book club and write book reviews.

It’s full of ideas to engage children in reading and writing and has plenty of activities to keep them interested in the holidays. I loved it.

Lexi Rees was born in Scotland but now lives down south. She writes action-packed adventures brim full of witch-doctors, fortune-tellers, warriors and smugglers, combining elemental magic with hints of dystopia. She also writes fun activity books for children. 

Her fantasy adventure, Eternal Seas, was awarded a “loved by” badge from LoveReading4Kids. The sequel, Wild Sky, is available now. 

She’s passionate about developing a love of reading and writing in children and, as well as her Creative Writing Skills workbook, she has an active programme of school visits and other events, is a Book PenPal for three primary schools, and runs a free online #kidsclub and newsletter which includes book recommendations and creative writing activities.

In her spare time, she’s a keen crafter and spends a considerable amount of time trying not to fall off horses or boats.

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dav

Giveaway to Win a Signed copy of The Book Dragon Club,  UK only.

Posted in Blog Blitz, Motivational, Non-Fiction

Hector: At Ground Level by Gary Finnan @GaryFinnan @BalboaPress @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #BookBlitz

This Little Book is about being present to the wonders that exist around us At Ground Level, discovering all that we fail to see when we spend so much of our lives chasing bigger, better, faster, more, endeavouring to fly higher. Everything else seems much more desirable around us than ourselves, or our lives and loves, after a long day at the slug farm.

When do we decide how to proceed with the life we have built thus far: Joy, Passion, Marriage, Divorce, Suicide, Enlightenment? Choices we have made. What if you built from a place of strength rather than always feeling diminished and unfulfilled? A life built upon the life you have, rather than the elusive life you imagine, yet fear. Build a great life in balance with your best self and your nurtured relationships. Transformation is seeing the hidden gems that truly exist in plain sight.

We have all heard someone say, The grass is greener on the other side. Is it?

Most of us were 4 or 5 years old when the belief structure we made with life set in: Iam stupid, I am weak, I don’t deserve, etc. We engaged believing that we should spend our lives proving that we are who we believe everyone else thinks we are. Breaking the cycle of doubt is essential. Loving self is the first love.

The grass is greenest where you are!

Amazon UK

Born in Scotland and raised in Zimbabwe and South Africa, Gary Finnan splits his time between Sonoma Wine country in California and his farm in Aiken South Carolina, along with his wife Eva and two daughters. Gary is an award-winning inspirational author. 

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Motivational, Travel

The Women Who Ran Away Sheila O’ Flanagan 5*#Review @sheilaoflanagan @headlinepg @RandomTTours #Women #Secrets #TheWomenWhoRanAway #weekendreads #SaturdayMorning

Deira isn’t the kind of woman to steal a car. 

Or drive to France alone with no plan. But then, Deira didn’t expect to be single. Or to suddenly realise that the only way she can get the one thing she wants most is to start breaking every rule she lives by.

Grace has been sent on a journey by her late husband, Ken.

She doesn’t really want to be on it but she’s following his instructions, as always. She can only hope that the trip will help her to forgive him. And then – finally – she’ll be able to let him go.

Brought together by unexpected circumstances, Grace and Deira find that it’s easier to share secrets with a stranger, especially in the shimmering sunny countryside of Spain and France. But they soon find that there’s no escaping the truth, whether you’re running away from it or racing towards it . . .

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Headline in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story is an addictive mix of relationships, serendipity and travel. Deira and Grace are running away, but more from themselves than anything they leave behind. Deira’s relationship is ruined, left for a younger, more malleable model. Grace is bereaved. Even in death, her husband still expects her to follow his wishes.

The women meet serendipitously and end up travelling and solving the treasure hunt together. The women are strangers and diverse in age and personality, but that proves to be fortuitous. The age difference allows a new perspective on the other’s life and a wealth of experience in Grace’s case.

The locations are brought to life through eloquent descriptions and give the story a vivid setting. This is a journey of self-belief and realisation, which makes this a heartwarming and motivational read.

Shelia O’Flanagan

Sheila O’Flanagan is the author of bestselling charttoppers, including Her Husband’s Mistake, The Hideaway, What Happened That Night, The Missing Wife, My Mother’s Secret and All For You (winner ofthe Irish Independent Popular Fiction Book of the Year Award).

After working in banking and finance for a number of years, Sheila’s love for writing blossomed into curating stories about relationships in all their many forms.

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