Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Closet of Savage Mementos – Nuala Ní Chonchúir

Contemporary Fiction 5*s
Contemporary Fiction

The year is 1991 when Lillis leaves Dublin for Scotland and a new life, a new start away from the grief-stricken world she finds herself in. Working as a waitress she lives in staff accommodation, learns to deal with her colleagues, and falls in love. Life has come good, away from her mother and brother she forges her way into adulthood her own way.

In the second half of the book we meet Lillas twenty years later, back in Dublin and about to become a mother and wondering, as most women do, what type of mother she will make. Will she be like her own? Verity, her mother wasn’t terribly good at it. An artist she was often neglectful, sharp and impatient with her Lillis and her brother Robin… and she was an alcoholic. Sometimes a recovering alcoholic but even when sober Lillis prepares for the worst before each meeting. Going to Scotland gave Lillis some time away from the responsibility of caring too much, something that seems to have been her role ever since her father left some years before. Lillis has a relationship with her father, his new wife and their two young sons but he isn’t one who can cope with the emotions of a young girl who is looking for support, he loves her best when she is bright and sparkly. Robin is also keen to move out of his mother’s sphere, looking to escape the responsibility of caring for a mother who never put him first. The siblings have a bond born of unspoken hardship and up until Lillis departure have shared the responsibility of Verity.

It would be a mistake to say this is a quiet book, in some parts it is so raw I had to set it aside a while to gather myself in order to continue, but at the same time it is understated; I felt like a spectator to Lillis’s world and felt her joy at new-found love as authentic as the grief that undulates with varying degrees through the whole of the book. That isn’t to say this is a gloomy book though rather it is thoughtful, honest and powerful.

I read the second half of this book, heart in my mouth after the heart-rending close of the first and it was only on completing the entire novel that I found myself hopeful that the twenty years that we don’t hear about first-hand also included many moments of joy for this engaging young woman.

Nuala Ní Chonchúir has written a semi-autobiographical novel, one where bad things happen to good people as well as accurately reflecting the inevitable change in relationships over two decades. I liked Lillis from the beginning, she isn’t painted as a saint and if I were her mother I may well have had a few things to say about her relationships but she doesn’t have that guidance and so battles through the bad times with steely determination. In the early days she can seem much older than her mere twenty years and at others much younger as she worries about other’s opinions of her but this is realistic, we are all made up of different facets and often when an author strives to convince their readers that a person is authentic, this aspect is forgotten and we are presented with uniform characters – Nuala Ní Chonchúir created one that I certainly won’t forget in a hurry!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (July 18)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared!

Not many additions but as some of them go back a couple of weeks I thought I’d update you all on those I have acquired.

First up from good old NetGalley is No One Needs to Know by Kevin O’Brien

No One Needs to Know


In July 1970, actress Elaina Styles was slain in her rented Seattle mansion along with her husband and their son’s nanny. When the baby’s remains were found buried in a shallow grave close to a hippie commune, police moved in—only to find all its members already dead in a grisly mass suicide.
Now, decades later, a film about the murders is shooting at the mansion. On-set caterer Laurie Trotter ignores gossip that the production is cursed. But then people start dying…
As Laurie digs deep into what happened all those years ago, the truth emerges more twisted than any whispered rumor, as a legacy of brutal vengeance reaches its terrifying climax… NetGalley

No One Needs to Know is due to be published by Kensington Books on 7 August 2015

I am also delighted to have a copy of The Silent Dead by Claire McGowan, an author whose previous books featuring Paula McGuire have been a big hit with me. The latest in the series will be published by Headline on 19 November 2015.

The Silent Dead


Victim: Male. Mid-thirties. 5’7″.
Cause of death: Hanging. Initial impression – murder.
ID: Mickey Doyle. Suspected terrorist and member of the Mayday Five.
The officers at the crime scene know exactly who the victim is.
Doyle was one of five suspected bombers who caused the deaths of sixteen people.
The remaining four are also missing and when a second body is found, decapitated, it’s clear they are being killed by the same methods their victims suffered.
Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire is assigned the case but she is up against the clock – both personally and professionally.
With moral boundaries blurred between victim and perpetrator, will be Paula be able to find those responsible? After all, even killers deserve justice, don’t they? NetGalley

I also have a copy courtesy of the author,Jack Jordan of Anything For Her . I rarely accept books for review via the author but Jack sent me a lovely, and personalised email which showed that he’d visited this blog and noted the types of books I like to read – his seems to fit the bill!

Anything for Her


Sometimes the past comes back to haunt you.
Louise Leighton’s life has fallen apart, all because of one fateful night. Her husband is an adulterer, her sister is his mistress, and soon, Louise will lose everything she owns. But she never imagined she would lose her daughter.
Eighteen-year-old Brooke Leighton is missing. It’s up to Louise and the Metropolitan Police to find her. Has Brooke run away? Or has she been taken against her will? And can Louise aid the investigation without mentioning the night where all of her troubles began?
If she mentions that night, she will incriminate her daughter for heinous crimes. But if she doesn’t, she may never find Brooke; and if she has been abducted, the person who took her may come for Louise, too.
Sometimes the past comes back to kill you. Amazon

Lastly I have a copy of The Closet of Savage Mementos by Nuala Ní Chonchúir which comes highly recommended by a number of blogger friends following my recent post on Women’s Lives
The Closet of Savage Memories


Lillis takes a summer job working at a lodge in a small lochside village in the Scottish Highlands. Leaving home is a way to escape her sorrow and despair following the death of her boyfriend and a testy relationship with her mother, Verity.
In Scotland she encounters love and excitement but when a series of unexpected events turn her new found life on its head, she is forced to make a life-changing decision, one that will stay with her for her whole life.
The Closet of Savage Mementos is drawn directly from the author’s own experiences and explores heartbreak, loss, motherhood and adoption in a gripping narrative and the same expressive, emotive and exciting prose we have come to expect of Nuala Ní Chonchúir. Goodreads

Any of these take your fancy or perhaps you’ve already read them?
What have you found to read this week? Please do share in the comments below