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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.

Becoming Someone by Anne Goodwin **Blog Tour Review**

I am delighted to take part in the blog tour to celebrate the publication of Anne Goodwin's Becoming Someone. Today is the final day of the tour. It is a collection of short stories which revolve around the themes of identity, gender, sense of self. Here's a little more to whet your appetite...

What shapes the way we see ourselves?

An administrator is forced into early retirement; a busy doctor needs a break. A girl discovers her sexuality; an older man explores a new direction for his. An estate agent seeks adventure beyond marriage; a photojournalist retreats from an overwhelming world. A woman reduces her carbon footprint; a woman embarks on a transatlantic affair. A widow refuses to let her past trauma become public property; another marks her husband’s passing in style.

Thought-provoking, playful and poignant, these 42 short stories address identity from different angles, examining the characters’ sense of self at various points in their lives. What does it mean to be a partner, parent, child, sibling, friend? How important is work, culture, race, religion, nationality, class? Does our body, sexuality, gender or age determine who we are?

Is identity a given or can we choose the someone we become?
My Thoughts
This collection of short stories highlights so many roles that people play over their lifetime. In many of the stories, there is a feeling of looking back at how time has moved on and how one's sense of self can alter over the years. I found this to be a strong theme in the arresting A Smell of Paint where a daughter returns to her childhood home. It makes you think so much about what has happened in that family and how they have all seen themselves. Unable to forgive a father who left, she has reproached him over the years with paintings of the wife he rejected. Then the paintings changed to food and you feel that painting rather than eating is all she will do. Told from the perspective of the mother, you see the brother and sister as he brings her home. You can't help but feel the pain which this family has lived through.

   It is hard to pick out one story over the other. In a way, I feel that a collection of stories has to be seen as an entity, like a tapestry of emotions. One which absolutely shocked me though was How's Your Sister? It takes a little while to comprehend just why the narrator is so adamant against seeing her sister but when you realise what has happened, it brings you up short. You picture both the parents struggling to put a brave face on and can feel the anger which the narrator has bubbling under the surface. Of course, you never get to meet the sister and can only guess at how she has seen herself over the years. 
    In brief, this is a varied collection which shows you different aspects of identity and what gives an individual a sense of self. You can dip into it or pick a story to read and can be sure that there will be a thought-provoking look at what it is to 'be'.
In short: Powerful writing which examines what makes a person. 

About the Author

Anne Goodwin’s debut novel, Sugar and Snails was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, was published in 2017. Alongside her identity as a writer, she’ll admit to being a sociable introvert; recovering psychologist; voracious reader; slug slayer; struggling soprano; and tramper of moors.

You can read my review of Anne's first two books here: Sugar and Snails  |  Underneath 

You can follow Anne here: Website   |   Twitter

Purchase link: Amazon UK
Thanks to Anne and Inspired Quill for a copy of the book and a place on the tour! 

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