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A Christmas Miracle in the Little Irish Village by Michelle Vernal #Review

  Michelle Vernal's A Christmas Miracle in the Little Irish Village was published on September 27th by Bookoutre . Ava Kelly loves returning to Emerald Bay for Christmas. Snowflakes fall on the green rolling hills and mulled wine fills The Shamrock Inn with the smell of winter spice. But this year, the Kelly family is hoping for a miracle… When twenty-four-year-old Ava Kelly and her adventurous twin Grace return home to The Shamrock Inn, their Ma’s favourite baubles bring back so many memories of Christmases past. They have always done everything together, even leaving their little Irish village for the excitement of London. But with the locket her handsome ex Shane gave her hanging just above her heart, Ava has just one wish this festive season… After a year stuck in a job she can’t stand and going on dreadful dates, Ava longs to be back with Shane. Curling up in front of the fire with him, the brooding fisherman everyone else sees melts away as his blue eyes meet hers.

Valentina by S.E. Lynes

Valentina is the author's debut novel, belonging to the psychological thriller genre. It centres on Shona, who has moved to a seemingly idyllic cottage on the outskirts of Aberdeen with her partner, Mikey and their baby. Without her other friends and family, we learn, in the early pages, of her feelings of isolation and loneliness as she adjusts to Mikey's absences as he is working offshore in the oil industry. Shona is befriended by a fellow young mother, Valentina. Although the book is written largely in the first person, mainly through Shona's eyes, we know from the start that somewhere along the way, something has gone wrong. 

    I enjoyed the way in which the story gradually unfolded and we glimpsed Shona's mounting doubts as to whether all was as it seemed. I did predict some of the truth of Shona's situation but was not prepared for the final denouement which I found shocking with a delicious twist. Similarly, I turned the page half way through and realised with a jolt that the 'I' now longer belonged to Shona but to Valentina. I enjoy books with multiple perspectives and it was a real positive to me to suddenly switch over to Valentina's point of view. Both Shona and Valentina's sections were written with distinct voices and the main characters in the book were all deftly written and fleshed out. 

    In Valentina, we have a story in which the main characters develop and their outlooks change over time. Because of the detail woven within the text, we are able to believe in this change and understand their perspectives and why they act the way they do. The author is able to weave together the descriptive language which evokes the atmosphere and mounting tension with the conversational tone of the two narrators. 

 In short: a life unravels as doubts and insecurites mount.

Thanks to the publisher, Blackbird Books, for an e-copy of the novel which is due to be published on July 1st 2016.


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