Disability A-Z: I is for Intracranial Pressure, Intracranial Pressure Monitor, Involuntary Movements Intelligence Ignorance and Imagination

I was a letter I was thinking about a lot, and one for which I was wondering what themes to pick. I knew there was going to be some repitition in this ost, but where awareness and knowledge is concerned, repitition is a good thing.

In my H post, I talked about my hydrocephalus and how hydrocephalus is an increase in brain pressure. Apart from my shunt, I have also had an intracranial pressure monitor. This is a small monitor which is implanted in the skull to check for raised pressure. It was suggested for me after I was getting frequent and severe headaches despite my shunt. The monitor meant I had to have yet another surgery and it has left me without part of my skull. I’ll talk more about that in my S post.

Cerebral Palsy has caused lots of things in my body and one of those is involuntary movements. My feet will move involuntarily on my wheelchair footrests and I have hand tremors (more about those in my T post). Any part of my body can move involuntarily, and I can hurt myself. My eyes move constantly in an involuntary way because of nystagmus (more about that in my N post).

I have met people who question my intelligrnce and start talking to me slowly or as if I’m a baby or who will talk to the person next to me instead of me. I do my best to get them to listen to me, but sometimes they don’t. I feel it’s their problem if they don’t want me to. Ignorance is something I really don’t like. If you’ve been reading this A-Z or my blog so far, you’ll know that I always aim to reduce the amount of ignorance there is around people’s knowledge of CP, Hydrocephalus visual impairments and other disabilities.

Ignorance, and saying people are ignorant about something, is not meant as an insult, but rather as an opportunity for the person to become more aware and accepting of those of us with disabilities.

One thing that has helped me in life is my imagination. From an early age, I felt I was a dreamer and had a good imagination. I used this when I tried to meet and get along with people, to defend myself from bullies, and to try to solve problems in life. I used it with schoolwork and university assignments and later with novel and short story drafts. I still have to use it a lot. I’m proud of my good imagination as it makes life interesting and can help when there’s an extra challenge in the way, which there often is, not just because of my disabilities but with life in general. Improving my ability to use my imagination in the way I think is right no matter what anyone says is how I overcame my problems with self confidence. More about my journey with those in my S post.

Harlequin Fall 2022 Blog Tours: Mystery / Thriller- The Opportunist by Elyse Freidman @elysefriedman @http_books

The Opportunist
Author: Elyse Friedman
ISBN: 9780778386957
Paperback Original
Publication Date: December 6, 2022
Publisher: MIRA

About the Author:

Elyse Friedman is a critically acclaimed author, screenwriter, poet and playwright. Her work has been short-listed for the Trillium Book Award, Toronto Book Award, ReLit Award and Tom Hendry Award. She has also won a Foreword Book of the Year Award, as well as the 2019 TIFF-CBC Films Screenwriter Jury Prize and the 2020 TIFF-CBC Screenwriter Award. Elyse lives in Toronto.

About the Book:

A deliciously sly, compulsively readable tale about greed, power and the world’s most devious family.

When Alana Shropshire’s seventy-six-year-old father, Ed, starts dating Kelly, his twenty-eight-year-old nurse, a flurry of messages arrive from Alana’s brothers, urging her to help “protect Dad” from the young interloper. Alana knows that what Teddy and Martin really want to protect is their father’s fortune, and she tells them she couldn’t care less about the May–December romance. Long estranged from her privileged family, Alana, a hardworking single mom, has more important things to worry about.

But when Ed and Kelly’s wedding is announced, Teddy and Martin kick into hyperdrive and persuade Alana to fly to their father’s West Coast island retreat to perform one simple task in their plan to make the gold digger go away. Kelly, however, proves a lot more wily than expected, and Alana becomes entangled in an increasingly dangerous scheme full of secrets and surprises. Just how far will her siblings go to retain control?

Smart, entertaining and brimming with shocking twists and turns, The Opportunist is both a thrill ride of a story and a razor-sharp view of who wields power in the world.

“The rich are different and Elyse Friedman brings the receipts in this twisty story of familial double crossings. The Opportunist is a visceral joy to read and Friedman’s storytelling has more levels than a superyacht. She never hides from the staggering truth that money, in fact, changes everything.” — Emily Schultz, author of Little Threats and The Blondes
“The Opportunist is a wry and unsettling novel featuring one of the most conniving families ever committed to paper. It’s a dark Highsmithian treat about love and greed and murder, and it will make your screwed-up family look like the von Trapps. I devoured it in one sitting. Highly recommended.” — Michael Redhill, author of Bellevue Square
“In The Opportunist, family brings unavoidable dangers. So does money. So does our memory of who we used to be. For her part, Elyse Friedman brings wit and pace and plenty of surprises to a novel you think you’ve figured out at least three or four times, but each time you’ll be thrilled when proven wrong.” — Andrew Pyper, author of The Residence and The Demonologist

Where to Buy:

Barnes & Noble

Contact Elyse:

Author Website
Twitter: @elysefriedman
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elysefriedman/?hl=en


When the calls started up again, Alana ignored them. Ditto the texts and emails, including ones with red exclamation points attached. She had a part-time job that felt full-time and a daughter who required around-the-clock care. She had neither the hours nor the inclination to delve into family drama. And she already knew why her brothers were so desperate to reach her. The younger of the two, Martin, had been messaging sporadically for months about the “skank” their father had taken up with—a nurse, hired by the eldest, Teddy, to tend to the old man’s needs as he grew increasingly infirm and cranky. Nurse Kelly, a woman forty-eight years their father’s junior, a gold digger, obviously, and a clever one according to Martin. Pretty sure she had him at the first sponge bath. Alana was more amused than disturbed. She told her brothers she couldn’t care less. She had more important things to worry about. Eventually, they stopped contacting her.
Then a few weeks ago an oversize envelope had arrived in Alana’s mailbox. Thick creamy paper, her name embossed in swirling gold script—an invitation to the wedding of Edward Shropshire Sr. and Kelly McNutt. Ha! Clever indeed. She felt a fizz of satisfaction, even as she braced for the onslaught from her siblings, who would be outraged at the prospect of losing any portion of their massive inheritance. Alana hated her father and felt nothing but disdain for her brothers. She had no interest in “protecting the family investments” or “presenting a united front” or “having Dad’s back” or any of the increasingly urgent drivel that trickled in from her greedy siblings. She had been estranged from her father for decades and had no stake in this game. It was frankly a shock that she had been invited to the wedding. It must have been Kelly McNutt who insisted on that. The calls, texts and emails started up again with renewed fervor. When Alana finally concluded that her brothers would not leave her in peace until she responded, she composed a simple three-word text, not exactly a family joke, but something they would recognize and understand: BEYOND OUR CONTROL. She added a laughing-so-hard-I’m-crying emoji and sent it to Teddy and Martin.
She stopped hearing from them after that.
It was a rough night. Lily’s BiPAP alarm had gone off twice. She could breathe without the machine, but not as well, and Alana was programmed to leap into action from the deepest slumber. The first time it sounded, around 1:00 a.m., it was a mask-fit alarm. A quick adjustment and back
to bed. The second was more annoying: a leak alarm at 4:28 that took forever to rectify—no matter how much she fiddled, the alarm kept sounding. She finally got it fixed and Lily was able to get back to sleep, but Alana couldn’t. She lay in bed, her brain churning. At 5:40 she got up, made coffee, and bolted two cinnamon buns in quick succession, an act she immediately regretted, even as she was scraping the last bits of hard white icing from the aluminum pan into her mouth.
It was a workday, so she woke Lily early, helped her dress, and did her hair in French braids. Ramona was coming for the day and Lily liked to look nice for her favorite support worker. Unlike Alana, Ramona was big into girlie stuff: hair, nails, fashion. She would give Lily mani-pedis, and they would flip through Harper’s Bazaar and Teen Vogue and critique the outfits. Ramona had been with them since Lily was three years old, and Alana trusted her completely. She was hugely competent and a ton of fun. Lily was an earnest child, but when Ramona was around, she let herself be silly and boisterous. It would not be unusual for Alana to come home and find them both with teased-up hair and full-on glitter makeup, binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. Ramona was what Lily called “chill.” Pretty much the opposite of Alana, who was always stressed out and exhausted.
“What time will you be home?” Lily asked.
“If all goes well, five thirty.”
“When does all ever go well?”
Alana laughed. “It’s rare, but it has been known to happen. I was home on time twice last week.”
“And you have Ramona.”

“OK. But try.”
“I always try, lovey. But if someone shows up out of the blue at four thirty, I can’t just leave. I have to help them.”
“I know.”
Alana worked part-time at the RedTree Shelter, which offered emergency housing for victims of domestic abuse. It was a foolish job for her to have: low-paying and high stress. Not what she needed in practically her only hours away from managing Lily’s health. She should have taken employment that was easy on the soul, like flower arranging—some vaguely pleasant, not overly cerebral activity that would give her time to refresh and restore. She often fantasized about becoming a professional dog walker or making perfect heart shapes in foamy coffees all day, but she stayed with RedTree. It was important work that made her feel a little better about herself. She sometimes wondered if her motivations were selfish at root.

When Ramona arrived, Alana kissed Lily goodbye and left for work. On her third try she managed to get her Stone Age Honda Odyssey to start and was backing out of the drive when a Lexus pulled in behind her, blocking her way. She tapped the horn—a polite “I’m actually leaving here” signal. Nothing. The car just sat there. She honked again, harder, wondering why it always seemed to be a Lexus or a Mercedes or a BMW that cut her off in traffic, or jumped its turn at a four-way stop, or blocked her driveway when she was trying to get to work, for fuck’s sake. She curbed an impulse to ram her SUV into the shiny roadster, and instead left the Honda running while she strode toward the offending vehicle, getting ready to unleash years of pent-up luxury-car-inspired fury on the entitled asshole behind the wheel. But before she could bang her fist on the tinted window, it slid down smoothly, revealing her brother Martin talking on a cell phone. He had it resting flat on an upturned palm held in front of his face. “OK,” he said. “I know. I’ll take care of it.”
“What the hell, Martin? I have to go to work.” It had been years since she had seen him, but he looked pretty much the same—a slightly higher hairline, maybe a few extra pounds. He was still conventionally handsome, fair and blue-eyed with their father’s chiseled chin, but he now had the slightly puffy face of a drinker, the lightning-bolt blood vessels on the side of his nose. He smelled faintly of good cologne with a top note of leather from the luxury rental car’s seats.
He gave Alana the “I’ll-just-be-one-second” finger. “Listen, Damian, I gotta go. I’ll call you in an hour.” Martin pocketed the phone and smiled at his sister. “Sorry about that.”
“What are you doing here?”
“You didn’t get my texts? I need to speak to you. You have a minute?”
“Not at the moment, no.”
“I flew across the country to talk to you. You can’t give me two minutes of your time?”
“I have to go to work, Martin. If you want to ride with me, you’re welcome to. Just let me out, then you can park in the drive and Uber back.”
Martin eyed the dented Odyssey that was belching out exhaust. “Why don’t I drive you and give you cash to cab home?”
“No, thanks.”

He smiled tightly. “Fine.”
Alana returned to the SUV to wait for her brother. When Martin climbed in, he was carrying a stiff white envelope with a button-and-string closure and an airport gift-shop bag.
“Here, I got this for…your daughter.”
“Her name is Lily.”
“I know that. Of course…you named her after Lillian.”
A demented-looking doll with stiff blond ringlets stuck out of the tissue paper.
“Thanks,” said Alana. “She’s a little old for dolls though.”
“Oh. How old is she now?”
“Wow. Time flies. But I thought…”
“You know… I figured she’d still be into dolls.”
“She’s not slow, Martin. Her brain is fine.”
“Oh. So…?”
“She has a rare form of muscular dystrophy. Well, rare for girls, common for boys.”
“She’s inside, by the way. You want to meet your niece?”
Her brother looked confused and pained, as if she’d asked if he wanted to donate a kidney or breastfeed a cat. “I thought you were in a hurry?”
“I am. I’m just messing with you.” Alana eased the Odyssey out of the driveway. She knew Martin wouldn’t want to meet Lily. And she didn’t want Martin to meet Lily.
“Can you turn the AC on?” Martin fanned himself with the white envelope. “It’s so freaking humid in this city.”
“Sorry, it’s busted.” Alana opened the rear windows to
let in more air but felt a perverse pleasure in depriving her brother of climate control.
“So, look, I understand you don’t care about Dad’s wedding—”
“I really don’t and I’m not going.”
“I don’t give a shit if you go or don’t go, but I’m here to tell you that you should care, actually.”
“And why is that?”
“Because this Kelly woman is seriously messing with Dad’s head.”
“His head or his assets?”
“Both. She’s got him wound around her finger. They’re in the process of setting up a charitable foundation.”
“And that’s a bad thing because…?”
“Because guess who’s going to run it and have access to three hundred million dollars?”
“Kelly McNutt?”
“Yes, Kelly McFucking Nutt. It’s a problem. This girl is dangerous.” A harp gliss sounded from Martin’s pocket. He switched his phone to silent mode.
“Well, it’s not my problem. And anyway, how do you know she won’t use the funds charitably and wisely?”
“Very funny.”
“I’m serious.”
“The same way I know that a twenty-eight-year-old nurse doesn’t fall madly in love with her seventy-six-year-old patient.”
Alana shrugged. “Unlikely, but you never know. I saw his picture in Forbes a few weeks ago. He still looks like Charlton Heston on steroids. Maybe she has daddy issues.”

“It would have to be more like granddaddy issues. I doubt she gets off on adult diapers.”
“He wears diapers?”
“He’s been incontinent for years.”
“You must have seen a pre-stroke picture in Forbes.”
“Dad had a stroke?”
“Yes. I told you that last year, Alana.”
“You did?”
“Jesus. Don’t you read your emails?”
“Sometimes the family stuff slips through.”
“Anyway, between that and the prostate surgery, I doubt he can even get it up for Miss McNutt.”
“OK, you know what? I don’t want to talk about this. I’m sorry you and Teddy are going to lose a chunk of your inheritance. But I’m sure there’s more than enough to go around.”
“Yeah, in a perfect world, we’d all be satisfied with our piece of the pie. He’s had playthings before, right? And wasted money on them. But this is different. This one is setting off alarm bells. She isn’t satisfied with having the run of the house and getting a Ferrari and—”
“He bought her a Ferrari?” Alana laughed.
“An 812 GTS. I don’t even want to tell you what that costs.”
“Like how much?”
“A lot.”
“Like a hundred Gs?”
“Try four times that.”
“Yeah. You think she’d be happy with the lifestyle, right? And some agreed-upon sum in a prenup that would effectively let her retire in high style eight years out of college. But no. Apparently, there isn’t going to be a prenup because he trusts her.”
“Really? That’s surprising.”
“I know. This is what I’m saying. Because she makes him exercise and eat his greens, he actually believes she has his best interests at heart. The woman is very savvy, and basically on a mission to alienate us from Dad. She’s been trying to discredit us from the beginning. And she’s subtle about it. She’s supersmart. He’s already given her power of attorney for personal care. How long before she’s in charge of his property too?”

International Day of People with Disabilities 2022

Today is the International Day of People with Disabilities. This year, the theme is:

Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world.

The transformative solutions in my life so far are:

My shunts to help hydrocephalus. It will never cease to amaze me how innovative these are If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t be here today. There’s always a risk they will fail or malfunction and I know I’ve had experience of this happening repeatedly during the first 11 years of my life. Every day they don’t is a gift, as when they do fail or malfunction I am seriously ill and hospitalized for long periods.

My wheelchair which has a lot of things to help me already (tilt, recline and seat riser as well as legrests which are all electrically controlled and help with positioning and activities). Further innovations are the alternative options that can be added onto it.

Positioning belts, harnesses and foot straps.

Equipment such as an electric hoist/ Hoyer lift, an adjustable bed and shower wheelchair.

My computer and iPad, which can be controlled with just my voice.

Voice recognition software and dictation programs which allow me to produce novel drafts on my own and helped me produce schoolwork and university assignments.

I like the way that innovation to help those of us with disabilities is always occurring, but feel that to be truly accessible. the innovative products need to be priced so people can afford them more easily. This phenomenon is known as the disability price tag, and is something I’ll talk about in another post.

Innovation must not just be limited to mobility and assistive technology products, it must be available in all areas of life, from housing to healthcare access and beyond.

I stil feel the world has a long way to go until it is truly accessible and equitable. Even if progress is made in every area of life a person may need, what really needs to change are attitudes towards people with disabilities. Only then will true access and equality have been achieved. This is why I raise awareness of my disabilities, as people need to know more to understand more and be more accepting and inclusive of those of us with disabilities.

I have had to face a lot of misunderstanding and ignorance in my life surrounding my disabilities, and I still do, but when someone understands and helps, it’s a great thing.

I hope and pray that I’ll experience this in my lifetime, but for now I’m still fighting, and will never stop doing so.

Find out more about the International Day of People with Disabilities 2022 here:


The Sea Glass Beach by Tanya Pritchard @rararesources

About the Book:

In 1950’s southern Ireland, single mother Theresa gives birth to a child she names Roisin. Arrangements are in hand for the adoption when Theresa changes her mind. The child, gifted and intuitive, is viewed by the local community as ‘odd’. Reeling from the news of Roisin’s heart-breaking expulsion from convent school, Theresa makes a momentous decision. To protect her daughter, she must send her away.
Canada’s wild beauty serves as a backdrop to a year of challenges for Roisin. She encounters trauma and devastating loss, but also gains a new family and finds love with the enigmatic Cal. Death, grief and culpability are potent forces she must somehow come to terms with. Can a tiny model boat unshackle her from her past and help her journey into a hopeful future?

About the Author:

Tina Pritchard spent most of her life engaged in bringing up a family, taking a social science degree, working as a lecturer, a trainer and more recently as an independent celebrant conducting funerals, weddings and naming ceremonies. Her first book, a psychological thriller, In A Deep Dark Wood, was published in 2021. The Sea Glass Beach is a departure in genre and started life as a short story morphing over the years into a novel. It is a work of fiction inspired in part by her own mother’s experience of giving birth to a child at Sean Ross Abbey Mother and Baby Home in the 1950’s. That child, born all those years ago in Co Tipperary, Ireland, is the author of this book.
Tina loves to write and has won competitions for both her short stories and her poetry. She lives in a beautiful part of the world and gains much of her inspiration from walking her badly behaved terrier, Horace, in the Derbyshire countryside.

Where to Buy:



This extract follows Theresa’s invitation to attend a meeting with the school Principal, Sister Agnes, to discuss Roisin’s educational future.

Approx 452 words

Theresa felt a flare of anger and her cheeks flushed red. Had this woman any concept of what she was saying? Did she know her daughter at all? It seemed, with little forethought, she was ready to deprive her child of the opportunities an education would afford her. It was a ridiculous proposition. Everyone knew how much Roisin hated being confined. Putting her to work in the laundry would be akin to keeping a wild bird in a cage. Over my dead body Theresa thought, outraged by the idea. They want to sap the life and spirit out of her and I am not having it. Whatever the consequences.
She stood, knees knocking and pushed back the chair. It made a sharp scraping sound against the wooden boards. Theresa didn’t care. Her legs felt insubstantial, as though turned to jelly, but inside her anger had become white-hot. Head held high, she paused to take a deep breath. ‘I can’t and won’t agree to your offer,’ Theresa said, holding back tears of rage. ‘but I do ask one thing of you. I don’t want it mentioned by anyone at the school. I should be the one to tell her when I feel the time is right.’
Her composure regained, she strode from the room, down the corridor and out through the front door, slamming it with such force behind her, the windows rattled.
If Theresa had chanced to look back, she would have gained some satisfaction from seeing Sister Agnes’ demeanour. The nun, having observed Theresa’s indignant retreat, had pushed back her own chair and was attempting to stand. Her knuckles, gnarled with age, were gripping the edge of her desk. She appeared diminished and unsecured, as though steadying herself in a gale. On her wizened face was a look of complete bewilderment.
Theresa had always been so respectful and compliant. What on earth was she thinking, stomping out in such high dudgeon? As far as Sister Agnes was concerned, the recommendations were in everyone’s interest, including Roisin’s. Theresa should be grateful. It was a sorry state of affairs when someone in her position could afford to turn her nose up at such a well-thought out offer. The notion her proposal, rejected in such a cavalier manner, might have far-reaching consequences escaped Sister Agnes completely. She wasn’t to know she would be the catalyst for momentous change. Had she had one iota of awareness of her role in altering the course of direction of not one, but two lives, she likely would have remained untroubled. It would be out of her hands and in the remit of the Lord. What will be will be, as she was so fond of saying, ad nauseam.

Used Products and Life Update: November

The products I finished this month are:

Kiko Weightless Perfection Wet and Dry Powder Foundation in shade CR02 This is the second time I’ve had this powder foundation compact.

Care Lipbalm and SOS handcrem, both by Cien (Lidl)

Lovely Makeup Gingerbread Lip Scrub

This month was a very busy month in terms of book reviews.

Here are some of my favourites:

More Than Mistletoe by the Christmas Collective

Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster:

The Christmas Trip by Sandy Barker:

It Could Happen by Melissa Baldwin:

The Shadows of Rutherford House by C.E. Rose:

A Sister’s Promise by Caroline Finnerty:

November 17th was World Prematurity Day and I always blog about that. I was a preemie.

I wonder what December will bring.

Factory Girls by Michelle Gallen @michellegallenauthor @michellegallen @algonquinbooks #FactoryGirls

About the Book:

Number of pages
Publication date
November 29, 2022

About the Book:

It’s the summer of 1994, and all smart-mouthed Maeve Murray wants are good final exam results so she can earn her ticket out of the wee Northern Irish town she has grown up in during the Troubles. She hopes she will soon be in London studying journalism—away from her crowded home, the silence and sadness surrounding her sister’s death, and most of all, away from the violence of her divided community.

As a first step, Maeve’s taken a job in a shirt factory working alongside Protestants with her best friends. But getting the right exam results is only part of Maeve’s problem—she’s got to survive a tit-for-tat paramilitary campaign, iron 100 shirts an hour all day every day, and deal with the attentions of Handy Andy Strawbridge, her slick and untrustworthy English boss. Then, as the British loyalist marching season raises tensions among the Catholic and Protestant workforce, Maeve realizes something is going on behind the scenes at the factory. What seems to be a great opportunity to earn money turns out to be a crucible in which Maeve faces the test of a lifetime. Seeking justice for herself and her fellow workers may just be Maeve’s one-way ticket out of town.

Bitingly hilarious, clear-eyed, and steeped in the vernacular of its time and place, Factory Girls tackles questions of wealth and power, religion and nationalism, and how young women maintain hope for themselves and the future during divided, violent times.

About the Author:

Michelle Gallen was born in Northern Ireland in the mid-1970s and grew up during the Troubles a few miles from the border between what she was told was the “Free” State and the “United” Kingdom. She studied English literature at Trinity College Dublin, then survived what doctors now suspect was autoimmune encephalitis in her mid-twenties. Her debut novel, Big Girl, Small Town was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. Her second novel, FACTORY GIRLS, is forthcoming in 2022. She now lives in Dublin with her husband and kids. Visit her online at https://www.michellegallen.com/

Where to Buy:

$17.99 (US)
Shipping to the U.S. only. Please see our International FAQ for more information.

Barnes & Noble

Advanced Praise:

“Factory Girls is full of the stuff that we’re starting to expect of Michelle Gallen; wild, hilariously angry characters, and language that is vital, bang-on, and seriously funny.”
— Roddy Doyle, Booker Prize-winning author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and Love
“Michelle Gallen’s Factory Girls pulses with dark, irreverent humor. Set in a place where dreams are laughable at best, dangerous at worst, it’s a big F you to the only world these characters know. And yet, there’s vulnerability here. Hope, too. I loved it.”
— Mary Beth Keane, New York Times bestselling author of Ask Again, Yes
“This novel is a wonder; the heroine is cheeky, the humor dark, the dialect thick, the sorrow palpable.”
— Library Journal, starred review
“Gallen fluidly juxtaposes the pedestrian worries of small-town life against the Troubles of the mid-1990s… For fans of Derry Girls and the plucky heroines of Marian Keyes.”
— Booklist, starred review
“Fans of Derry Girls will enjoy the snarky, smart-mouthed Maeve, as well as her friends Caroline and Aoife, as they wittily navigate the working world and life complications that come with entering adulthood.”
— Buzzfeed
“This novel is as hilarious as it is heartbreaking: not to be missed.”
— Shelf Awareness
“A sharp chronicle of the coming-of-age of three Catholic teenage girls during the waning days of the Troubles…. This is lovely.”
— Publishers Weekly
“For fans of the recent Netflix hit Derry Girls comes the darkly humorous Factory Girls… A perfect blend of irreverence and heart.”
— Chicago Review of Books
“A wee novel with an enormous, furious heart, Factory Girls transported me into Maeve’s world. You can almost taste the tension and claustrophobia as Gallen effortlessly captures the stories of young women teetering between stasis and escape. Honest, hilarious and such a recognisable portrait of 90s Northern Ireland, Factory Girls is an essential read.”
— Jan Carson, author of The Raptures
“Gallen manages to take a dark and violent period in history and turn it into one of the most moving and hilarious novels I have ever read. The rich cast of characters will break your heart and make you laugh out loud, sometimes within the same paragraph. I found it difficult to put this book down; while reading it the rest of the world fell away and I was transported to Northern Ireland via an unforgettable voice and a steadily boiling story of friendship, grief, and determination. Factory Girls is one of the best books ever written about The Troubles, and one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time.”

— Silas House, author of Southernmost and Lark Ascending
“Brilliantly observed and full of heart,?Factory Girls?will definitely be up there on my list of best books for this year.”
— Sheila O’Flanagan, bestselling author of?What Eden Did Next
“Factory Girls tells its story in capital letters, Gallen’s comic, insightful novel of young women growing up in a northwest border town [is] a relentless, entertaining and sometimes uncomfortable read . . . With a clear eye for the compromises and hypocrisies this condition of living creates, Gallen has written an original and compelling book that describes a pre-ceasefire society that is both distant and familiar.”
— Irish Times
“A cracking, confident follow-up: at times savagely funny, but with a loamy undertow of complex feeling . . . the highlights are . . . its deft characterization, observational humour and cracking dialogue . . . this entertaining, touching novel should also appeal to fans of contemporary authors such as Lisa McInerney, Louise Kennedy and Roddy Doyle.”
— The Sunday Times (UK)
“Street-smart, ballsy and bold . . . The world of Factory Girls is filtered through her darkly witty mind, but it’s also punctuated by shocking and sudden violence . . . Gallen’s pen draws blood with the sharpness of her observations, rendering a fresh and acutely more complex portrait of Northern Ireland through Maeve’s eyes. Gallen asks, what can one young woman do with hope? Maeve Murray answers . . . Brilliantly, wickedly funny and soul-crushingly sad, Gallen has written the Vienetta of books this summer.”
— Irish Independent
Fall & Winter Preview: 30 Books to Have on Your Radar
— We Are Bookish
“A great read if you’ve already finished Season 3 of Derry Girls.”
— Arlington Magazine

My Review

I really loved Big Girl Small Town and Majella was an amazing character in that. I was so eager to start Factory Girls, as I loved Michelle Gallen’s writing style in her debut novel.

Factory Girls follows Maeve as she takes a job at a shirt factory the summer before going to University. She dreams of big things: of leaving Northern Ireland for London.

I could feel the anticipation of waiting for GCSE results and of wanting to move on with her life. I could remember how eager I was to go to university.

I felt drawn into Maeve’s life and family relationships. The shirt factory was atmospheric. Michelle Gallen has great attention to detail both in Maeve’s life and at the factory.

Factory Girls is an eye-opening look into Northern Ireland, The Troubles and Catholics and Protestants as well as everything Maeve went through. She’s a very well created character, although she uses bad language at times, but I felt she was determined and was wanting her to do well.

Thanks to Michelle Gallen and Algonquin Books for my eARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4 stars

Sunday with a Sassy Shopaholic: New Body Lotions

This week, it was Black Week at Lidl and there were body lotions on sale. I found one with avocado which I’ve never tried before. It has 500ml of product and cost 1.49€, original price 2.29€ The other one I bought, Classic Hydrating Body Cream, has 250ml and is the same price. Originally, it cost 1.99€. The other Hydrating Body Cream on offer was Soft Body Cream.

I did want the Body Milk, whose packaging looks like a dupe of Nivea’s body milk, but it was out of stock. That was on sale for the same price as the avocado body lotion I bought.

All these products are from the Cien skincare range by Lidl.

I know I’ll get use out of them since my skin gets dry at this time of year.

A Sister’s Promise by Caroline Finnerty@cfinnertywriter @bookandtonic @rararesources

About the Book:

Sisters Laura and Penny were once close, bonded together after the early death of their mother. Laura always had her younger sister’s back until one day everything changed and Penny disappeared.
Twenty years later Laura finds herself alone and at a crossroad in her life; questioning her marriage and her future.
Meanwhile Penny has spent her whole life running away from her problems until one day she is forced to stop and face the shocking truth.
When Penny turns up on Laura’s doorstep late one stormy night, holding the hand of a shivering little girl, Laura is immediately suspicious of her sister’s motives. Just what does Penny want and who is this little girl?
Penny carries a devastating secret that will test their bond as sisters and is forced to make an impossible choice.
Can the sisters find it within their hearts to forgive and unite before it’s too late?

About the Author:

Caroline Finnerty is an Irish author of heart-wrenching family dramas and has compiled a non-fiction charity anthology. She has been shortlisted for several short-story awards and lives in County Kildare with her husband and four young children.

Contact Caroline:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolinefinnertywriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfinnertywriter
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carolinefinnerty/
Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/CarolineFinnertyNews
Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/caroline-finnerty

My Review:

I found A Sister’s Promise to be a really gripping novel. It’s not the first I’ve reviewed by Caroline Finnerty, as I enjoyed The Last Days of Us.

I absolutely couldn’t wait to review A Sister’s Promise, and chose it as my book number 2 for the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon October 2022

I was gripped by Penny and Willow’s life from the start. I’m half Irish, and was fascinated by their life change of moving from Ireland to Australia. I was eager to learn more about Australian life. I liked Laura too. Caroline Finnerty writes about family relationships, lifes ups and downs as well as children so well.

I really liked Willow’s character too, she’s cute, and Penny is a great mum to her. Penny is so strong and a fighter and I noticed that in Willow too, and how united and resilient they are. I just wanted to hug them and Laura, I wanted to be there for them.

Fortunately, Caroline Finnerty’s writing style made me feel as if I was “in” the story with them.

I felt truly emotionally invested throughout the whole novel, and was eager to find out what happened next.

A Sister’s Promise was just as heartbreaking and true-to-life as The Last Days of Us. I am hoping to review more books by Caroline Finnerty in the future.

Thanks to Caroline Finnerty, Boldwood Books and Rachel’s Random Resources for my eARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

5 sparkling stars

Where to Buy:


Black Friday 2022

Today’s Black Friday, a day that I look forward to every year. I haven’t been to the shops on Black Friday since 2016 when the night was especially wet and very cold. Even so, my desire to find a bargain won. I knew exactly what I wanted.

Today was a day of errands and so I didn’t get to check the offers out until the evening.

With Black Friday, I always go to the items I’ve been coveting, and this year, they are (by store/website):


Glossed Vinyl Lip Gloss :I am undecided about the shade to pick for this one. I don’t usually buy lip gloss much, as some can be sticky and drying and have a horrible aftertaste. I do have some glosses I love: Kiko 3D Hydra Gloss which is still sold and I Heart Makeup chocolate glosses, which unfortunately aren’t sold anymore.

I was bought a Wet Look lip kit from Primark recently, and that has a gloss crayon and a regular lip gloss.

Colorful Eyeshadow in Ultraviolet (lilac mixed with pink). I am a fan of this range of eyeshadows and have so many in all the types of finish. The unfortunate thing about the range is that every now and then the colours seem to have a complete overhaul and so you can’t always find the same shades year on year. This is not great, but on the other hand it means there are lots of new shades, too.

Sephora Collection Lip Stories Lipstick: I always check tthe stock of these without fail. For a long time,the Sephora site has been showing only 2 shades in stock: Brunch Date, a shade I already have, and Tan Lines, a shade which I don’t have. However, for Black Friday, shades that were out of stock for a long time were back on the website, but shown as being out of stock. Shades include: Yum Yum, Palm Street, Spiked and It’s Electric, all of which I want. I don’t think this is a good tactic, as I didn’t even find these shades in the physical store on my last visit. The only ones I found were lots of lipsticks in the shade Labyrinth City, a shade I already have,as well as the odd one or two in Buzz Me, No Cell Service, and some others.

Sephora Collection Sun Pocket Palette

Urban Decay Half Baked Mini Palette. I have the shades Sin and Foxy already as single eyeshadows, and I love Sin, a mid-pink colour, but I don’t like Foxy, which is a creamy white that does not even show up on my skin. and it’s chalky. This is a shade in my Naked Basics mini palette which I bought years ago. The shade I do love from there is Walk of Shame (abbreviated to WOS in that palette) which is a warm mid-toned nude.

Huda Beauty Power Bullet Lipstick: I have been wanting this for so long and it’s on sale right now. I was praying for a sale on these lipsticks, but I still think 20 euros is expensive for a lipstick. That said, you do save 6.99 on the original price.

BUT, eyeshadows and lipsticks are my favourite makeup items, and I have so many I don’t have space in my makeup drawers. I have great cheaper dupes of the Power Bullet lipsticks by W7 in the shades Exposed (a mid-toned nude) and Modest (a dupe of Huda’s shade Wedding Day).


I have been wanting the large version of the Wild West eyeshadow palette by Urban Decay, and I have been witness to how it has been hovering between first 32 then 37 then 39 and today we are back at 37 euros. Quite a good discount for a palette whose top price is 55 euros.

Maybelline is a long-term favourite brand of mine since I was a teenager. I like the Color Tattoo eyeshadows. I had one in the shade Vintage Plum and have the shade Charcoal. I like the shades Pink Gold and On and On Bronze , so they’ll be the next ones I buy when I need more. They cost 5.24 euros down from 6.99.

I haven’t bought clothes for awhile, and love clothes just as much as makeup.

KIKO: This store always has a great Buy 3 get 3 free offer. I first found out about this offer in 2016, when it was only on Black Friday, but now it’s before Black Friday as well as on the day, with discounts instore and online. This year, I decided to forgo the offer, since everything I like from Kiko has gone up in price, with the exception being the Glitter Shower eyeshadow, which is still 8.99. I still have this eyeshadow and many others from Kiko. I always recommend the Water Eyeshadow (9.99, up 1 euro from the original price) and the High Pigment Eyeshadow (3.99) which I have.

The Wet and Dry Powder Foundation is a favourite of mine, but it now costs 16 euros, which I think is expensive even for this product. I plan to wait to find out if it ever comes down in price.

MANGO: There are so many clothes I like that I feel spoilt for choice. I would like to buy something from here.

PRIMARK: From the website, I like the look of a sequin-covered makeup bag as well as some fake fur-covered ones and some fake leather trousers/pants.Maybe some jewelry. I need to go to the store again as want to see things in person.

I am thinking of treating myself to something. Have you bought yourself anything this Black Friday?

The No-Hoper’s Christmas Club and Other Stories @GeraldineRyan @rararesources

About the Book:

As warming as a mince pie and a glass of sherry, these eighteen festive-themed shorts are just waiting to be unwrapped.
A lonely dog shelter volunteer battles to find new homes for her long-time canine residents while realising her own future is just as uncertain. As the new year approaches, can a fellow animal lover give her the fresh start she so wants for her dogs.
A widowed grandmother prepares to reunite with her forbidden first love, only to discover the grand country pile from where he’s sent her a Christmas card isn’t quite what it seems.
A single woman finally meets a man to couple up with over the festive season, but will the eccentric mistress of her late father destroy her plans?
An ambitious 20-something attends a lavish Christmas party with only one aim – to bag a rich husband. But her plans are derailed when a troubling connection with the aristocrat she’s set her sights on is revealed.
Geraldine Ryan is a prolific short-story writer whose work has appeared in Woman’s Weekly and Take a Break’s Fiction Feast magazines. This yuletide collection follows hot on the heels of her first published anthology Riding Pillion with George Clooney. While Christmas comes but once a year, these moving and humorous tales will stay with you for a lifetime.

About the Author:

Geraldine Ryan is a proud Northerner who has spent most of her life in Cambridge – the one with the punts. She holds a degree in Scandinavian Studies, but these days only puts it to use when identifying which language is being spoken among the characters of whatever Scandi drama is currently showing on TV. For many years, she worked as a teacher of English and of English as a second or foreign language, in combination with rearing her four children, all of whom are now grown-up, responsible citizens. Her first published story appeared in My Weekly in 1993. Since then, her stories have appeared in Take a Break, Fiction Feast and Woman’s Weekly, as well as in women’s magazines abroad. She has also written two young adult novels – Model Behaviour (published by Scholastic) and The Lies and Loves of Finn (Channel 4 Books.) She plans for Riding Pillion with George Clooney to be the first of several short story anthol
Keep up to date with Geraldine’s news, be the first to hear about her new releases and read exclusive content by signing up to her monthly newsletter Turning the Page. By adding your details, you’ll also receive a free short story. Use this link to subscribe: https://bit.ly/Turningthepage

Contact Geraldine:


My Review:

I’ve reviewed three hristmas-themed short story collections so far this year and have enjoyed them all. The No-Hoper’s Christmas Club and Other Stories was no exception; each story is well written and gave me that Christmas feeling all over again. However, each story also has realistic and sometimes difficult themes, but I writing like that as it’s so true- to-life.

Thanks to Geraldine Ryan, Wrate’s Publishing and Rachel’s Random Resources for my eARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4 stars

Where to Buy:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/No-Hopers-Christmas-Club-Geraldine-Ryan-ebook/dp/B0BMJST5H8/
US – https://www.amazon.com/No-Hopers-Christmas-Club-Geraldine-Ryan-ebook/dp/B0BMJST5H8/