Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Book Review: The Woman At 72 Derry Lane by Carmel Harrington.



Rea may not have left her house in over a year, but she is well aware of what is going on next-door. Despite the sturdy walls of the houses on Derry Lane, she can hear the realities of her neighbour's marriage. But how can she help if she cannot place a foot over the threshold of her home?
Stella and Matt appear to have it all. The beautiful couple turn heads wherever they go and seem flawless. If only the truth was known.
Behind closed doors, the residents of Derry Lane have secrets. Some more dangerous than others...

The seaside town of Clontarf, Dublin, is the setting for Carmel Harrington's latest novel. A beautiful area, steeped in history and home to the affluent. But, as with many villages and towns located near a large city, the residents rarely know their neighbours. With busy lives and hectic schedules, we often find ourselves with 'wave and smile' relationships and never get to really know who we live close to. The sense of community can fade and loneliness can be a reality. Rea is alone in Derry Lane. Her family have moved on and she finds herself trapped in the confines of her home. Agoraphobia has taken over her life and she spends her days in mismatched PJs, eating food delivered to her door. A local teenager takes out her bins (for an extortionate fee) yet she craves his bravado and humour. When Stella arrives at her door, she is hesitant to let her into her life. She has heard what goes on in 70 Derry Lane and is not sure she wants to get involved. But Stella looks so lost. She invites the young woman in to her house and they immediately find solace in each other's company. The world suddenly seems wider; their friendship becomes linked through their mutual pain; the light begins to enter the rooms of Derry Lane.

Carmel Harrington is renowned for her emotional reads. She touches the reader by bringing hope, love and inspiration into their lives, through her characters and their journeys.  In The Woman At 72 Derry Lane she weaves stories from the past and present; riding on a wave of emotions. There are magical family times; laugh out loud nights with friends (with the BEST hairdresser ever!); gut-wrenching scenes of despair; tense moments of fear and pain. This novel has it all, and more. The characters are brought to life with genuine affection and their stories are mesmerizing. The author has researched her topics and it shows. There are scenes in this book that will have you holding your breath and gasping with empathy and despair. It is entirely possible that you may have a book-hangover when you turn the last page. You will most certainly realise that you need to be careful what you wish for. Sometimes all you need is right there in front of you. A compelling and emotional novel that will delight and hurt, in equal measures. Sure to be a summer sensation.  

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Follow the publication day fun using #UglyCry where there will be photos of readers reactions to the emotional scenes in #72DerryLane. @HCinIreland will have a copy of the book to giveaway to the best #UglyCry photo.


The Woman At 72 Derry Lane is published in TPB by Harper Collins in Ireland on 15th June 2017. The ebook is available for pre-order via amazon link below:
*I received an ARC of this title, for review purposes.


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Ludlow Ladies' Society by Ann O'Loughlin: Exclusive Cover Reveal and Giveaway.

Exclusive Cover reveal.

The Ludlow Ladies Society by Ann O' Loughlin. Pub. 4th July 2017.

Thanks to Black and White Publishing, I have the honour of revealing the cover of Ann O'Loughlin's latest novel, The Ludlow Ladies Society. They have also donated two Advance Reading Copies for giveaway. To be in with a chance of winning one, just enter via rafflecopter link at the end of the page. Open INT and closes on 31st May. Good Luck!
And without further ado....


The Blurb

Connie Carter has lost everybody and everything dear to her. To help nurse her grieving heart and to try and find answers, she moves from her home in America to Ludlow Hall, deep in the Irish countryside. All she knows about Ludlow is that her late husband spent all their money on the house – without ever mentioning it to her. Now Connie needs to know why.

At Ludlow Hall, Connie befriends Eve and Hetty and is introduced to the somewhat curious Ludlow Ladies’ Society. But can Connie ever reveal her hurt? And, more importantly, can she ever understand or forgive? As the Ludlow Ladies stitch patchwork memory quilts to remember those they have loved and lost, the secrets of the past finally begin to surface.

The Ludlow Ladies’ Society is a story of friendship, resilience and compassion, and how women support each other through the most difficult times.

"The Ludlow Ladies Society brought me to a beautiful place and into a circle of friends that I didn’t want to leave. Unputdownable. Ann’s world is uniquely Irish in its warmth and charm.”
KATE KERRIGAN


Author Bio

A leading journalist in Ireland for nearly thirty years, Ann O’Loughlin has covered all major news events of the last three decades. Ann spent most of her career with independent newspapers where she was Security Correspondent at the height of the Troubles, and was a senior journalist on the Irish Independent and the Evening Herald. She is currently a senior journalist with the Irish Examiner newspaper covering legal issues. Ann’s debut novel, The Ballroom Café, was one of the top 20 Kindle bestsellers of 2015, and her second novel, The Judge’s Wife was shortlisted for a Romantic Novel Award (RoNA) and an Irish bestseller for five weeks. Ann has also lived and worked in India. Originally from the west of Ireland she now lives on the east coast in Co. Wicklow with her husband and two children.


Links:

Ann O’Loughlin on Twitter: https://twitter.com/annolwriter
Ann O’Loughlin on Facebook: https://facebook.com/annoloughlinbooks


The Ludlow Ladies Society will be published in PB and ebook format on 4th July 2017. You can pre-order your copy via amazon link below:



a Rafflecopter giveaway 


ARC cover


As an added bonus,, Ann O’Loughlin has just launched a brand new mailing list. Black & White Publishing will be giving 15 lucky subscribers the chance to win an eBook copy of The Ludlow Ladies’ Society via NetGalley. For your chance to win one of these copies, simply sign-up to Ann’s mailing list using the link below before 30 June 2017.

Mailing List Sign-Up: http://eepurl.com/cPVml1


Monday, 15 May 2017

The Woman at 72 Derry Lane by Carmel Harrington. Exclusive Extract and Giveaway.






twitter prize

Thanks to Harper Collins, I have the pleasure of sharing a sneak-peek at the latest novel from Carmel Harrington, published on 15th June. There is also a chance to win one of two signed early editions of the book and a little extra prize (for twitter followers) of an A4-sized wooden wall plaque, which I thought captured the feeling of Carmel's novels perfectly.  Twitter winner will also receive a signed edition of the book.

To be in with a chance of winning The Woman at 72 Derry Lane, just enter via rafflecopter link below.  To enter twitter competition, see pinned tweet @margaretbmadden. Good Luck! 





The Blurb


On a leafy suburban street in Dublin, beautiful, poised Stella Greene lives with her successful husband, Matt. The perfect couple in every way, Stella appears to have it all. Next door, at number 72 however, lives Rea Brady. Gruff, bad-tempered and rarely seen besides the twitching of her net curtains, rumour has it she’s lost it all…including her marbles if you believe the neighbourhood gossip.
But appearances can be deceiving and when Stella and Rea’s worlds collide they realise they have much in common. Both are trapped in a prison of their own making.
Has help been next door without them realising it?
With the warmth and wit of Maeve Binchy and the secrets and twists of Liane Moriarty, this is the utterly original and compelling new novel from Irish Times bestseller Carmel Harrington.

 What Readers Think Of Carmel Harrington's Books


‘Will make you see life in a different way’ Woman’s Way


‘Heartwrenching and heartwarming’
Evening Herald

‘Guaranteed to brighten your day’
Novelicious

‘Carmel Harrington has done it again! Brilliantly written … it surpasses all expectations’
Chicklit Club

‘A bittersweet, quietly brilliant novel that will make you cry, laugh and cry all over again’
Female First

‘Funny, poignant and bursting with heartfelt humour’
I Heart … Chick Lit

‘Completely stunning’
Reviewed the Book

‘It will stay with you, well after you have turned the last page’
Bleach House Library

Exclusive Extract from The Woman at 72 Derry Lane


Looking at the trees, Stella thought that maybe next door was her answer. Her gut, her every instinct told her that despite the gruff exterior, her neighbour, Rea, was a good person. It had to be her who called the Gardaí each time. That showed she cared, didn't it?

So, before she had a chance to talk herself out of it, she found herself knocking on her neighbours door.

'I was surprised to see you,' Rea said. 'A nice surprise, I might add, but one I wasn't expecting.'

Rea looked at Stella closely, taking in how agitated she seemed, her hands wringing in her lap. 'You have a look of someone with something on her mind. Spit it out.'

Stella nodded, then cleared her throat. 'Can I be frank with you?'

'I'd rather that. I've little or no patience for anyone who beats about the bush.'

Stella smiled, warming even more to this woman; while she was what many would call brusque, her eyes were kind. 'I should have practised what to say. Sometimes finding the right words is difficult.'

'When you get to my age, that's something that comes with the territory,' Rea smiled.

'Oh I doubt that. You're not so old.'

Rea took the compliment.

'First of all, please don't be offended by this question, but I need to ask it all the same,' Stella said, leaning in.

Rea brushed aside her apology, 'You don't know me, so I would think you have more questions than answers.'

Somehow even before she spoke, she knew the answer, 'Can I trust you? I need to be sure that you won't repeat this conversation to anyone.'

'When you say anyone, I assume you mean your husband?'

'Yes,' Stella nodded.

'You can say what you like here. Think of it as a confessional.'

'I gave up believing in God a long time ago,' Stella replied.

'I've a pretty up and down relationship with her myself too.'

'Her?'

'Why not?' Rea said.

Stella smiled, thinking that she liked that idea a lot and liked Rea even more.

'Well, leaving God and confessionals aside, would you take my word for it, that you can trust me?' Rea asked.

Stella felt her shoulders sag with relief, nodding. Her heartbeat accelerated so rapidly she thought it would jump out of her chest and bounce clear across the floor, right out the door.

'I want to leave him,' Stella said.

'Good for you.' Rea had never been so glad to hear a statement in her whole life. Maybe this one had more about her after all.

'Then why don't you? He's at work. You're not chained to the house. Just pack a bag and go.'

'He's clever. He's backed me into a corner. I need to sort some things out first before he ....'

Rea watched the girl before her tremble, unable to finish the statement. 'Before he hits you again?'

Stella nodded, looking so broken, lost and very alone, that it made Rea's stomach flip nervously for her.

'Matt has told me over and over that I'm all alone without him, that I'd not last a moment on my own. He's right about one of those things. I don't intend to prove the second.'

'You've got nobody?' Rea asked. When Stella nodded, Rea felt something give deep inside of her. The girls face looked so sorrowful and bereft and she recognised how that felt.

'I have family living in France. That's where I'll go,' Stella shifted her weight slightly, wincing in pain as she did.

'That bastard, how could a man do that to a woman, to anyone?'

'He's not a man when he loses his temper. He's an animal. And each time he loses it with me, less of the man I married remains. I'm afraid that soon they'll be none of him left.' Stella took a deep breath and continued, 'I know you don't know me. I know that me landing on your doorstep is a terrible imposition. But I'm desperate. I don't have anyone else to turn to.'

It took Rea all of a nano second to reply. 'Now stop that. I'm very happy you called in to me. What do you need? Because if it's in my power to give it to you, it's yours.'

Rea reached over to hold one of Stella's hands between her own. 'He seems to be losing his temper with you more frequently. The walls may be thick in these Victorian houses, but they are linked all the same, so noise travels....'

Stella felt her old friend shame come back to torment her. The embarrassment of knowing that the most horrific, dark, secret part of her life was silently witnessed by her neighbour was a difficult pill to swallow.  'Yes, you're right.'

'You've got to get out of that house sooner rather than later. Do you hear me?' Rea said, her voice rising in anger.

There was a time that Stella would have disagreed with this. But things were different now. She didn't plan on dithering. 'I know. Its hard when you are in the middle of it, to see a way out. He's been chipping away at me for so long, I've forgotten who I am.'

'Well then, that's the first thing you have to work out. How to get back the Stella you were before he came into your life. As for being trapped, the only person who can hold you back, is you,' Rea said.

She stood up and walked to the door, saying, 'I better make some tea. A large pot too. I think we'll need it, to work through this mess. But work through it we will. Two heads are better than one.'

'Thank you,' Stella said, almost breathless with gratitude.

Rea stopped at the doorway and said to her, 'You were wrong about something else you know. You're not on your own. Not anymore.'

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The Woman at 72 Derry Lane is published by Harper Collins in Ireland on 15th June 2017 in TBP and ebook format. 



Saturday, 13 May 2017

Book Review - Reinventing Susannah by Joan Brady.




Susannah is in her fifties. Her children have grown up and her life is mostly filled with housework, cooking meals for herself and husband Rob and prepping for her monthly bookclub. However, when Rob announces that he is off on a year-long trip of self-discovery, and she is not invited, things begin to change. It is time for Susannah to do some reinvention of herself...

Susannah is atypical of many 'women of a certain age' (a phrase I personally hate, but it serves a purpose in this case). She has devoted the latter part of her life to raising a family and ensuring the smooth running of the household. Rob, a banker, has always supported his wife and twin daughters but now feels he has missed out on something and has secretly been planning his escape for years. Downtrodden Susannah is pushed into moving on and (conveniently) lands a job as a newspaper columnist. Suddenly she is flying first class to cover a Mind, Body and Soul conference in London and being wooed (badly) by a famous self-help guru. A whole new set of opportunities are opening up when she least expected them.  Her love of writing comes back to her and she even begins to notice men 'of a certain age' (why do we never hear this phrase when referring to men?).

Joan Brady has a knack of bringing her characters to life. Susannah may be a little mousy, but she is balanced by her new boss (the young and determined Katie) and despite their differences, the two women work well together. Rob is a piece of work. Within two pages he shows his true colours and you can see how Susannah managed to blend into the background of their marriage. I suspect there are many, many women who find themselves stunned with their situations when their children move out. Not all of them will land their dream jobs so easily, or find themselves moving on without financial strain. But, perhaps fictional stories like Susannah's will inspire some to take a chance. Brady uses her writing skills to bring a mature lady to life. Reinventing Susannah is a warm, charming and easy read, ideal for enjoying on a summer holiday or on the patio with a glass of whatever tickles your fancy. Especially if your children have left you with no more 'Mom's Taxi' duties. A feel-good read, ideal for fans of  Cathy Kelly and Carmel Harrington.

Reinventing Susannah is published by Poolbeg and is available in TPB and ebook format. You can pick your copy up from all good booksellers, or via the amazon link below:


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Book Review - Our Little Secret by Claudia Carroll.

This review was originally posted in Sunday Independent, 24 April 2017.

A good deed leads to despair with a sinister twist

Fiction: Our Little Secret, Claudia Carrroll, Avon €18.20

Our Little Secret1
Our Little Secret
Margaret Madden
Taking someone under your wing. We have all done it. With the best of intentions, we see someone who may be down on their luck, and draw them closer into our fold.
But often there is a downside to this approach and Claudia Carroll explores the darker side of befriending a stranger in Our Little Secret.
Sarah Keyes has a comfortable life. She spends her days balancing her demanding job in a small law firm with her role as a mother to her teenage daughter, Darcy. Recently separated, she has no time for romance.
When she encounters a young law graduate, Lauren, she thinks nothing of giving the girl a helping hand. Before long, her protege has a post in Sarah's law firm and has inserted herself into Sarah's life, especially with Darcy. They seem to get on fantastically so Sarah is surprised to learn that her daughter is not happy Lauren is moving into their spare room. "Looking back, I should have seen the signs. Because they were all there, only I chose to ignore them," Sarah muses.
Meanwhile, in the workplace, Lauren is making her mark. She conveniently seems to be in the right place at the right time and is a huge hit with the partners. Sarah's life is slowly crumbling around her and she thinks she knows who is responsible. But how does she prove it or, indeed, gain back control?
In her 14th novel, Claudia Carroll dips into domestic noir. Sarah is a frustratingly naive victim, who ignores all the warning signs, while Lauren takes advantage of this.
Darcy is used as a pawn in Lauren's game with a secret being the bait: "I won't tell if you don't," was all Lauren would say. Because who knows?" she says casually. "Maybe someday I'll need you to repay the favour for me."
This sinister tale is a modern-day version of the Bette Davis film, All About Eve, showing how trust can be abused and kindness can be dangerous.
Sunday Indo Living

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Book Review - Cats Undercover by Ged Gillmore.


We received a copy of this title, from the author, for review purposes.

REVIEW FROM MIA MADDEN, AGED 13.


This is the hilarious sequel to Cats On The Run by Ged Gillmore. It is about three cats named Ginger, Tuck and Minnie, who live a fairly happy life on an abandoned farm called Dingleberry Bottom which is bordered by a great, dark forest called (funnily enough) the Great Dark Forest. Ginger's role is to take care of food supplies for winter and also for daily use. Tuck helps his two friends, despite being a massive scaredy-cat. As for Minnie, well she really just sits around and does nothing but watch her favourite TV show, Kitten's Got Talent. Ginger starts to notice the food stocks decreasing and suspects Minnie of stealing food. But it's not Minnie. Ginger soon finds the real thief and follows them to get what is rightfully hers (and Tuck's and Minnie's, technically). 


While this is happening, Minnie gets news that she is going to audition for Kitten's Got Talent. She sets off without considering the fact that she has no money for transport. And poor Tuck is left by himself. And so, being the scaredy-cat that he is, goes off to search for his friends. He gets lost along the way and ends up in the place of his nightmares; The Dark Forest. As if things couldn't get worse, he gets captured by a pair of humans who plan to turn him, and other cats, into a a fur coat! Will the three cats get reunited and achieve whatever goals they had at first?

Cats. It just had to be cats. It couldn't have been dogs? I hate cats. But the animal choice evidently didn't affect my opinion of the book as it is one of the funniest books I have read since Skulduggery Pleasant. But maybe the author would write some books about dogs? *Nudge, Nudge* Just kidding. The book is absolutely pun-derful. The sheer pun-tasticness of it made it a very enjoyable read. I recommend this for ages 8+.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Ged Gillmore was born slap-bang in the middle of England and spent his formative years there before moving to London and trying to sound posh. But he failed miserably and after 18 years in the capital he moved to Sydney. 

When he's not falling off his surfboard at Bondi or dabbling with a day job which pays the bills he sits at his laptop and bashes out fiction. He frowns while writing his crime fiction series about an English criminal forced to become a private investigator (it's fiction - honest!), but laughs his head off when he's working on his children's chapter book series starring Nip & Tuck, his two cats. Sometimes Nip & Tuck sit on his laptop and he loses a day's work...
Cats On The Run, the first book in the hilarious Tuck & Ginger series, was written for friends as a distraction while Ged was working on his first crime thriller. After being pestered by multiple parents to turn it into a book Ged did just that and it was published in mid-2015 and distributed via Scholastic Australia. Ged has been thrilled with the reaction to the book and enjoys touring schools in Sydney and introducing school children to his laugh-out loud fiction. The much-anticipated sequel, Cats Undercover, launches in early 2017 and promises to take the craziness up a notch.
And of course work continues on Ged's crime series, which follows the lovable English rogue Murdoch as he tries to adapt to a new life in Australia and leave his criminal tendencies behind. Murdoch's dangerous past is never far behind and certain shady characters are hell bent on seeking their revenge in his little piece of paradise. 
Ged will release this gripping three-part crime noir series in September 2017. Stay tuned!


Cats Undercover is available in paperback and ebook format. You can order your copy via the amazon link below:


Sunday, 23 April 2017

Book Review - Joyful Trouble by Patricia Furstenberg. Ages 8+



We received an advance copy of this title, for review purposes.

Review from Endija, aged 10.


This book is based on the true story of a dog called Joyful Trouble. There are three main characters: five year-old Tommy, his nine-year-old sister Anna, and their grandad. When they see a Great Dane in a parade, Grandad tells the kids the story of a dog he loved, called Joyful Trouble. He remembers being in the Navy during WWII and meeting the dog on the way to work one day.

Joyful Trouble was a mischievous but very helpful dog. The seamen got to know and love him and the dog was soon part of the crew. Joyful Trouble and Grandad were good friends and were put to work together. Along the way, the dog meets new friends, loses old ones and still is very happy. He causes a lot of trouble (that's how he got his name) but also stops fights and commotion. In this book, Grandad is the story-teller and Anna and Tommy are the very eager listeners.

I love this book and it made me happy and, at some parts, sad. It is also a bit funny. The reason I love it so much is because I love dogs and true stories. I hope others will also enjoy it. I would recommend it for ages 8+.

About The Author

Patricia Furstenberg came to writing though reading, her passion for books being something she inherited from her parents.

She won two key legs (chapter six, "Someone is Missing" and chapter nine, "Reconstruction of the Crime") of the Write Your Own Christie Competition and was runner-up for chapter four. The Judges "were impressed by her thorough investigation and admired the strength of her narrative; they were impressed by her style" and congratulated Patricia on winning the penultimate chapter. "This was perhaps one of the hardest rounds of the competition and the judges felt that Patricia's chapter was confident and intriguing." The judges thought Patricia's writing style is "well structured, with a great sense of tension and suspense."
The Judges were Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie's grandchild involved in publishing and promoting her books since 1960s, David Brawn, Agatha Christie's Publisher at Harper Collins UK for the last 20 years and Daniel Mallory who works primarily with thrillers and crime fiction at Harper Collins US.

When she’s not writing Patricia likes to read, read, read, drink coffee and listen to music.
One of the characters portrayed in her children stories is Pete, the yellow toy elephant. Not many know, but Pete exists and lives in Pat's home.
This Romanian born writer is living happily with her husband, children and dogs in sunny South Africa.

Patricia Furstenberg Author Page and Blog: http://alluringcreations.co.za/wp/
Patricia Furstenberg for Huffington Post SA: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/patricia-furstenberg/

Connect on Twitter: https://twitter.com/PatFurstenberg
Connect on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PatriciaFurstenbergAuthor

Joyful Trouble is available in paperback and ebook format. You can order your copy via amazon link below:

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