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Category: Sheila O'Flanagan

  1. Kat's Review of My Mother's Secret by Sheila O'Flanagan

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    Synopsis: When Steffie helps her two siblings organize a surprise wedding anniversary party for their parents her only worry is whether they'll be pleased. What she doesn't know is this is the day that her whole world will be turned upside down.

    Jenny wants to be able to celebrate her ruby anniversary with the man she loves, but for forty years she has kept a secret. A secret that she can't bear to hide any longer. But is it ever the right time to hurt the people closest to you?

    As the entire family gather to toast the happy couple, they're expecting a day to remember. The trouble is, it's not going to be for the reasons they imagined...

     Kat's Rating: 3/5

    Kat's Review: I am a big Sheila O'Flanagan fan and am rarely disappointed with one of her books. This latest one, although it wasn't a disappointment as such, I just felt it was a little bit 'middle of the road' for my liking. It's a typical family drama and the writing style is no different, there was just something that seemed a wee bit off kilter.

    Roisin is the older sister to sister Steffi and brother Davey. When she throws an anniversary surprise party for their parents Jenny and Pascal, Steffi knows full well that this isn't the sort of thing her parents want as they prefer the quieter life, so when her Mother drops a bombshell at the party it gets the book off to a great start. The characters are well fleshed out and you get that real Irish family feel to the story.  There are a lot of different personalities and threads which keep you engaged as a reader.

    However, unusually for an Sheila O'Flanagan book, it didn't seem to go much further than that for me. It's a solid read but seems to be missing it's usual magic, and the worst part is I can't even tell you why. Yes it was a little predictable, but normally I overlook that as the enjoyment parts are so good. This time around, although I didn't dislike any of the characters, I didn't really care for them either way. Maybe it's a one off, but for me this book felt a little bit too old fashioned and that just isn't the case with this author normally. Here's hoping her next released brings back that little bit of sparkle I felt was missing in this one. 

  2. Kat's Top Ten Romance/Other Fiction from 2014

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    From the books in this genre I have read, I have chosen my favourite ten (in no particular order) and would highly recommend reading them if you haven't already. These aren't necessarily books that have been published, but books I have read in this calendar year.

    The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

    Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake by Sue Watson

    From Notting Hill with Four Weddings...Actually by Ali McNamara

    Rory's Proposal by Lynda Renham

    Love, Lies and Lemon Cake by Sue Watson

    The Unpredictable Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell

    Stolen Girl by Renita D'Silva

    If You Were Me by Sheila O'Flanagan

    A Place to Call Home by Carole Matthews

    The French For Love by Fiona Valpy



  3. Kat's Review of If You Were Me by Sheila O?Flanagan

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    Sheila OFlanagan If You Were MeMy Rating: 4/5

    Synopsis: On a sultry summer evening in Seville, anything can happen... 

    Carlotta O'Keefe is happily engaged, and the wedding plans are coming together. She's clear about her future path, both personally and in her busy career. Maybe Chris doesn't make her heart race every time she sees him, but you can't have that feeling for ever. Can you? 

    Then, on a trip to Seville, Carlotta runs into Luke Evans. Luke broke her heart so long ago she'd almost convinced herself she'd forgotten him. Now, he's not that boy any more, but an attractive and intriguing man. And he can explain everything that happened way back when.  Suddenly Carlotta's not so sure of anything anymore. Except that what she decides now will shape the rest of her life...

    My Review: This book had a very enticing cover (as I think most of SOF’s do) and I couldn’t wait to get started. Carlotta O’Keefe is engaged to Chris and between them they both have busy careers’. I didn’t take to Chris from the outset, he seemed like Mr Perfect and frankly, that never sits right with me. We meet Chris dominating family and see Carlotta struggle to keep everybody happy. The opening few chapters see Carlotta try and fail miserably to return to Dublin for her Mother-In-Law’s party. Without realising it Carlotta is about to set off a chain of events that will change everything.

    The first few chapters actually had me laughing as I think many people can identify with Carlotta from the outset. She manages to oversleep whilst in Seville on a business trip and then running late and missing trains. It makes the transition to the next part of the story a lot easier. Upon her return to the hotel she runs into Luke Evans, her childhood best friend and that’s where the story gets interesting.

    I immensely loved Luke Evans from the start, even though it’s clear that his journey from childhood into adulthood has been far from easy. We start to get to see glimpses of Carlotta’s younger years and her friendship with Luke. We also (albeit slowly) get to find out what went on with Luke’s family many years before. The book is over 400 pages long and although longer than recent books I’ve read it still only took me a day and a half to finish it.

    I was a little bit shocked by one turn of event towards the end of the book, but overall it was as usual a wonderful read from O’Flanagan. She manages to not only tell a wonderful story with characters you love, but also throws on the sights and sounds of the places Carlotta visits in too. A fabulous read which I thoroughly enjoyed.

  4. Kat's Review of Better Together by Sheila O?Flanagan

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    Sheila OFlanagan Better TogetherMy Rating: 4/5

    I have been reading Sheila O'Flanagan since she published her first book and am rarely disappointed with the books she writes. Her last book though wasn't her usual type of story and although I enjoyed it I could see why not everybody would. Her last book seemed to have a more serious theme running through it than maybe her previous books have. I was still looking forward to reading her new book, especially as I had an early proof copy.

    This latest books synopsis sounded very interesting and is based around two women. Sheridan Gray is a journalist who manages to lose her job, her home and her boyfriend in a matter of days. The other main character is Nina, who is dealing with the fallout from her separation from her actor husband Sean; following the national press revealing he was having an affair with a co-star. Nina runs a Guesthouse in Ardbawn and this is co-incidentally where Sheridan ends up.

    Sheridan was an easy woman to like and to read about. Nina was a little harder going as we see her struggle to keep things going. When the two women meet things get a little more interesting. The thing I noticed about this latest book is that straight away I was drawn into Ardbawn, and I really liked the characters that make up his pretty village. When Nina stays at the Guesthouse, she uncovers what she thinks could be an explosive story guaranteed to get her back at one of the national papers. Unfortunately it surrounds Nina and Sheridan has to make some tough decisions.

    The story was certainly interesting and had a mystery element to it which I enjoyed. I warmed to Nina a lot more as the story went on, almost as much as I gained loathing for the husband Sean. As I was nearing the end of the book I realised that we still weren't at the conclusion. To my surprise the last 3 or so chapters managed to wrap up everything and left me feeling a little disappointed. I really enjoyed the story but thought that the ending seemed so quick and almost rushed. It certainly didn't ruin the book for me but made me knock off a star. Overall another great summer read from Sheila O'Flanagan, it seems she never fails to disappoint!

  5. Kat's Review of All for You by Sheila O?Flanagan

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    Sheila OFlanagan All For YouMy Rating: 4/5

    I have read every one of Sheila O'Flanagan's books and have enjoyed every single one of them. This seemed like a different type of book, and with a subject matter that many can empathise with. Deanna Ryan is a character that takes a while to connect with. After the initial first few chapters are read, you begin to get an idea of the bigger picture in the lives of the Ryan women. Lainey on the other hand is a wonderful character that you instantly love. She is the very successful weather presenter, as well as being a hopeless romantic. How the two women are mother and daughter is a mystery in the beginning of the book.

    However, as you read on, you learn a little about Lainey's current life, the decisions she makes and the hopes that she has for herself. Alongside this element of the story, we see the build up and history of Deanna's life and the story that led to Lainey being brought up by her Grandmother Madeleine. The mixture of past and present was cleverly done and everything builds up to create the full picture.

    The romantic element of the story is actually not that important in the grand scheme of things as the main focus is on the family element. Deanna was a hard character to get to know, she seemed intent on being only good at one thing and that was women's rights. As I read on I found myself disliking her even more, but thankfully as I neared the middle I started to see the reasoning behind her actions.

    The book is featured in two main settings, one being Ireland where Lainey lives and works and the other being California, which is where Deanna lives. I loved the switch between the two places as it kept it interesting. I began to feel more involved in the story as you realise there is a lot more than meets the eye to the story of Lainey and Deanna's life. I also loved the element of Lainey's love life and absolutely loathed her boyfriend Ken, who thankfully doesn't feature too much!

    The ending was building up to the conclusion of the story and I enjoyed finally realising that all the pieces of the puzzle fitted however...there is a `but'! I finished the final chapter and thought "oh, I must have missed something?". I was really shocked that it had ended so abruptly and I felt a little bit cheated. I would have loved to have found out just that little bit more regarding a couple of characters such as Shay and Fergal. Looking back, maybe Sheila wanted it that way, where you are left to wonder and it isn't wrapped up quite as neatly as people expect.

    Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this and thought that it was a subtle departure form the normal type of books from SOF. It took me a little while to get into the story, but once I had got there I loved it! 

  6. Kat's Review of Things We Never Say by Sheila O'Flanagan

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    My Rating: 5/5

    I was so lucky to receive an early copy of the new Sheila O'Flanagan book. Her covers are always very appealing and this one was no different. Abbey ...Anderson is the main character in this story and she is the least likely person to want to change her life. However, she doesn't realise that a man called Ryan Gilligan will come into her life and give her news that changes everything. When the Irish lawyer Ryan visits her in her home in San Francisco she realises that her whole life is based on a lie. What she needs to do is travel to Dublin to find out a lot more about what she has been told.

    Now I know that sounds a little vague, but that's the general plot of the story and I really don't like spoilers so that is all I can really say. Abbey is an easy character to like and for the first few chapters I loved the friends and family she was surrounded with. Her relationship with her mother was unexplained, but the reasoning for that becomes evident much later on.

    For some reason which I cannot put into words, this book was one that I really didn't want to put down. It certainly wasn't all roses for the characters and there really wasn't a theme of `everyone has a happy ending'. Maybe this was what made me want to continue reading. Sheila O'Flanagan manages to peel away the layers of all the characters and two different families slowly. It means that as the reader you really feel like you are getting to see people's real colours and as time went on I was swinging wildly between sympathy and annoyance at certain characters.

    The second half of the book really dug into the `dirty worlds' of everybody involved and I managed to finish the second half of the book in one sitting. I have been reading Sheila O'Flanagan's books for as many years as she has been writing and this one is one of the best I have read of hers. IT certainly has a lot of things going on, plenty of twists in the story and enough tension to make you reach for the headache tablets. This was a story that was a little out of the ordinary, but one that I would highly recommend

  7. Kat's Review of A Season to Remember by Sheila O'Flanagan

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    Sheila OFlanagan A Season To RememberMy Rating: 4/5

    This book is not Sheila O'Flanagan's usual offerings and is more like a collection of short stories all brought together. This book opens at The Sugar Loaf Lodge and we meet the owners Neil and Claire. They are suffering in the economic crisis and are worried that at the beginning of December they still have many rooms available. Thankfully they appear to have a Guardian Angel and surprisingly all of their rooms are eventually booked.

    The Sugar Loaf Lodge has a number of rooms and each room is named after a mountain, and so too is each chapter. Each room and chapter tells us a different story about its occupants and how they ended up at the Lodge for Christmas.

    We meet some really interesting characters and it's surprising just how much we learn about each of them and their situation. That's not to say that each person has a happy ending but it definitely gives you an insight.

    I have personally found myself wondering what various people are doing and how they came to be at a certain place. Although normally in my situation it is when I am killing time in an airport and trying to work out who is flying where and who is married to who. This is what in one respect drew me to the book. Usually I am not over keen on short stories but this seemed so different.

    The book focuses on the place but then integrates everybody's story and take on the situation. The characters were also fantastic and were an eclectic mix of people which kept it interesting. We meet a young girl who is heartbroken and trying to move on, a young coupled looking for peace and quiet, and a family group as well as others. The family group that appeared in this story were actually the family that appeared in Sheila O'Flanagan's book `Anyone but Him'.

    Although not a hefty book like hers usually are, this was still a decent size read at 320 pages. The title indicates along with the timing of publication that this was a Christmas themed book. I must be honest and say that this was a wonderfully light and easy read for any time of year. Sheila O'Flanagan has still produced a great book with her absorbing style of writing that fans like me love.

    There is no predictability to this book as there is no real depth to the linking of characters and we only see short snippets of their life, but in my opinion this is what stands this book apart a little bit. It was very refreshing to read something where you don't wait for the linking of characters to come together and you are just finding out about each characters life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think it would make a lovely present at this time of year!

  8. Kat's Review of Stand by Me by Sheila O'Flanagan

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    Sheila OFlanagan Stand BY MeMy Rating: 4/5

    Dominique Delahaye is married to successful businessman Brendan. However, when Brendan disappears, leaving Dominique and their daughter to cope alone, things look very bleak for them. However, will Brendan ever return or is it too little too late in Dominique's eyes?

    This is a pretty hefty book at a little over 500 pages long. However, normally I would settle straight into an O'Flanagan book but this one took me a little longer than usual. What I absolutely loved was the fact that this story is told from beginning to end. Although the start of the book sees Dominique in the current day, you are swiftly transported back to when she was just a young girl and met Brendan for the very first time.

    Dominique is a very young girl and her parents are devout religious people who try to mould Dominique to be more like her brother who wants to be a priest. Dominique has other ideas and becomes very independent even from a young age. Sheila O'Flanagan does a fine job of creating the typical religious Irish upbringing that Dominique has and you almost feel yourself rooting for her to create her own life away from her parents.

    Dominique's husband Brendan is introduced to the story very early on and we get to see how their relationship progresses and their family as well as Brendan's business grows. Before long you find yourself slap bang in the middle of Dominique's seemingly perfect life.

    When Brendan disappears and leaves Domino (his pet name for Dominique) and their daughter Kelly to fend for themselves I found myself beginning to loathe the character. The story itself is wonderful in the sense that you get a real perspective of how their loves have become what they are and the reasons behind it.

    The story is all consuming and I love the introduction of Brendan's brother Greg and his wife, who also happened to be a school friend of Dominique's. It makes for an interesting dynamic of the story and by the last quarter of the book I was so conflicted with how I felt about the different characters I almost got annoyed. The fact that I could get worked up over a story tells me the author has hit the nail on the head as far as the story goes.

    The ending was wrapped up with what I felt was a good conclusion but it would have been nice to see an epilogue maybe a year on. Sheila O'Flanagan has produced another great book which I thoroughly enjoyed.