Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Blog Tour - Miranda Dickinson 'Searching For A Silver Lining' with exclusive author content.

I am a massive fan of Miranda Dickinson and was delighted to be asked to participate on the blog tour for her latest novel, Searching For A Silver Lining.  I was lucky enough to catch up with Miranda at this years Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and managed to hear all about the story behind this novel.  I am thrilled to share a piece from the author about two of the characters featured in Searching For A Silver Lining.  I hope you learn to love Miranda's novels as much as I do. Check out all the other stops on the blog tour for more exclusive content...


It began with a promise . . . 

Matilda Bell is left heartbroken when she falls out with her beloved grandfather just before he dies. Haunted by regret, she makes a promise that will soon change everything . . .  When spirited former singing star Reenie Silver enters her life, Mattie seizes the opportunity to make amends. Together, Mattie and Reenie embark on an incredible journey that will find lost friends, uncover secrets from the glamorous 1950s and put right a sixty-year wrong. Touchingly funny, warm and life-affirming, this is a sparkling story of second chances. Perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern, Searching for a Silver Lining will take you on a trip you'll never forget.

Exclusive Author Content

Meet The Cast: Gil Kendrick

Gil Kendrick is a bit of an enigma when we meet him. The co-owner of Kendrick’s Comedy Club (with his twin brother, Colm), he is the grandson of the club’s original owner Jacob Kendrick, who established it as The Palm Grove – Soho’s finest music venue and nightclub in the 1950s. Mattie Bell and Reenie Silver have to persuade him to host the reunion of the famous Fifties’ British singing group, The Silver Five. He agrees, on one condition: that he joins the road trip to meet the group’s former members.

When I wrote the first draft of Searching for a Silver Lining, Gil took a while to find his feet in the story. I could picture him immediately, but I had to work to bring out his own story within the main story of the book. You could say he was a bit shy of the spotlight for a while! But having spent a year of my life getting to know Gil, I love what he became on the page. He’s funny, charming, occasionally grumpy and a surprisingly layered character who reveals a whole other side as the road trip goes on. I hope readers will love him, too!

If Searching for a Silver Lining is ever made into a film (*coughs, bats eyelids at passing film directors*), my dream casting for the role of Gil would be the gorgeous Sam Claflin. He would portray Gil’s dry sense of humour while also showing his flaws and hidden motivations. It took me a long time of looking at many, many photos of Sam to decide this, of course. A writer’s life can be so hard sometimes…

Thanks so much for reading this blog exclusive! For more, follow my Searching for a Silver Lining blog tour. I really hope you enjoy reading the story!

About the author

Miranda Dickinson has always had a head full of stories. From an early age she dreamed of writing a book that would make the heady heights of Kingswinford Library and today she is a bestselling author. She began to write in earnest when a friend gave her The World's Slowest PC, and has subsequently written the bestselling novelsFairytale of New YorkWelcome to My WorldIt Started With a KissWhen I Fall in LoveTake A Look At Me Now,I'll Take New York and A Parcel for Anna Browne. Miranda lives with her husband Bob and daughter Flo in Dudley.

Searching For A Silver Lining is published by Pan and is available in paperback and ebook version. You can order your copy via amazon link below:

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Blog Tour - 'Someone New' by Zoe Miller. Author Feature and Giveaway.

Thanks to Hachette Ireland and Zoe Miller for inviting me on the Blog Tour for Someone New.  I have a copy of the book to giveway to one lucky reader.  Just enter via rafflecopter link below.  Good Luck! 

A suspenseful and sophisticated new novel from the author of A Question of Betrayal and A Husband's Confession, perfect for fans of Lesley Pearce.
Someone New
by Zoë Miller

In her heart, Grace knows the perfect, reliable, good-looking Gavin isn’t right for her. Then she meets Danny. Unpredictable and spontaneous, he turns her world upside down. All of a sudden, Grace is seeing life differently and doing things she never thought she’d do.
But tragedy strikes when Danny dies in a motorbike accident, shattering Grace’s world. As she struggles to come to terms with her loss, she becomes more and more convinced that she’s being followed – sighting a motorbike exactly like Danny’s everywhere she goes. And she starts to wonder if Danny’s death was really an accident.
When she finally voices her suspicions to her family and the police, though, no one seems willing to believe her.
Meanwhile Grace feels ever more under threat as sinister things begin happening to her. What was Danny hiding from her?  And what kind of danger is she in now?


I’d like to say a huge thank you to Margaret Madden for featuring Day 3 of the Someone New blog tour as a guest post on her blog, Bleach House Library.  Today it’s all about the importance of secondary characters and what they can bring to the story.

I usually write my stories in the third person as opposed to first person. It means I am telling the story through more than one pair of eyes. There are advantages and disadvantages to both forms. First person means the story is told on a more immediate and intimate basis, and can feel very natural, which in turn can be very compelling to both write and read, but you are restricted to writing the novel from only one person’s point of view. I find I prefer to use two or three different viewpoints in which to explore every dimension of the story and turn the spotlight onto all aspects of the character. These viewpoints also help to give the reader a more rounded sense of each person and to appreciate different sides of the story. You can switch from one person to another and from scene to scene in a way that racks up the tension. But no matter what style you choose, you do need to have one main protagonist, who touches everyone else to some degree and from whom most elements of the plot will develop and evolve.

In Someone New, the main character is a woman called Grace Bailey. Thirty years old, and as the novel opens, at odds with herself and her life, she was the person through whom I decided to tell the story, but in order to show different aspects to Grace and enlarge on various angles of the plot and broaden the scope of the narrative, I needed a secondary character, someone to act as a counter balance to Grace.

Enter Lucia, Grace’s older sister.

It was fun getting to know the kind of person Lucia was so that she could act as a contrast and bring out a different side to Grace.  Lucia evolved in my mind’s eyes a total foil to Grace, she appears to be everything Grace is not; brainy, highly organised, sparkling and brilliant, neat and petite in her figure and her clothes, running a successful career and the kind of house that fully reflects that success, besides being married to the rather wonderful Robert. Already we can see how having an older sister like this might have an effect on a younger sister’s life and the decisions she makes, before we’ve even got to any of the plot points.

The make-up and actions of secondary characters, when they are set side by side with the main character, can be a catalyst for drama and conflict in itself with the contrast between them and their divergent approach to life. They can also help in deepening our understanding of the main protagonist. They are not merely there to pad out a story but to play an important role in helping to enhance the plot and strengthen our engagement with the protagonist.

In Someone New, I enjoyed pitching Lucia and Grace together on the page. What I liked about them as sisters is that, although they are very different people, they were there for each other, particularly Lucia in the role of big sister to Grace when the bottom fell out of her world.  Although Lucia seems to be fully capable of micro-managing her life in an effortless fashion, underneath that perfect front we see a very human side to her as she reacts to her sister’s distress, feeling a sense of helplessness swamping her, the sight of Grace’s white face sending panic fluttering around her.

Secondary characters must develop in their own right, and Lucia is not featured in Someone New solely to heighten our understanding of Grace, but she has a story of her own to tell, because after we see the first glimpses of her as a vulnerable human, we soon discover there is more going on beneath the surface of that sparkling lifestyle than you might expect!

Thank you Margaret, for having me on your blog!
Zoë xx

About Someone New
In her heart, Grace knows the perfect, reliable, good-looking Gavin isn’t right for her. Then she meets Danny. Unpredictable and spontaneous, he turns her world upside down. All of a sudden, Grace is seeing life differently and doing things she never thought she’d do.

But tragedy strikes when Danny dies in a motorbike accident, shattering Grace’s world. As she struggles to come to terms with her loss, she becomes more and more convinced that she’s being followed – sighting a motorbike exactly like Danny’s everywhere she goes. And she starts to wonder if Danny’s death was really an accident.

About the author
Zoë Miller was born in Dublin where she now lives with her husband. She began writing stories at an early age. Her writing career has also included freelance journalism and prize-winning short fiction. She has three children.
Her previous novels include A Question of Betrayal, The Compromise, A Family Scandal and Rival Passions    

Someone New is published by Hachette Ireland and is available in TPB and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with 12% discount and Free Worldwide Postage, HERE.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:

Blog Tour - 'My Sister's Bones' by Nuala Ellwood. Review and Giveaway.

I am thrilled to be kicking off the month long Blog Tour for #MySistersBones by Nuala Ellwood.  I also have a signed proof copy of the book to giveaway to one lucky reader.  Just enter via rafflecopter link below.  Good Luck! 

Journalist, Kate Rafter, has seen some horrific things and experienced life in war torn countries.  She returns to England after a particularly harrowing assignment in Syria and stays in her empty family home.  The memories of a difficult childhood come flooding back and she struggles to communicate with her alcoholic sister.  She hears screams at night and voices during the day.  Are they real or just a side-effect of her difficult memories?  The combination of grief, alcohol, medication and stress cause her to query her own sanity.  Why is she constantly hearing a child's voice calling out? Is there really something sinister going on in the house next door?

This book is split into two parts.  The first tells Kate's story, as she learns to doubt herself as much as what is going on around her.  A nasty break-up, a serious of drunken altercations and the memories of a cruel father and deceased baby brother.  All of these moments are forever playing in her mind as she returns to her hometown, reluctantly.  The second part is told from the perspective of her sister, Sally.  An alcoholic most of her life, she drinks to forget the past and avoid the future.  Her husband, Paul, is trying to mend fences between the estranged sisters and despite his wife's fragile state, he continues to support her.  

The tension in this debut novel is instantaneous and remains constant throughout.  The fractured memories from both narrators are vague enough to keep you guessing, yet are a constant feed for the unravelling story.  Alcohol is used to cast doubt on the characters lucidity and the unreliability of their memories add to the atmosphere.  Ellwood draws on the experiences of a seasoned journalist to throw light on the distressing situation in war-torn Syria and the effects it has on it's citizens.  The blending of past and present is extended with memories of both girl's childhoods and the domestic violence that both girls witnessed from different angles.  What one child remembers, another forgets. There are quite a few dream sequences, which I am not a huge fan of, but they add to the unreliablity factir.

This is a psychological thriller that deserves some attention.  Ripe for adaptation, the many threads all lead to a climatic ending that managed to surprise me. The characters are believable and the pages practically turn themselves.  When a book keeps you up long after bedtime, you know it's a success.  Definitely a thriller that will hold your attention and keep you guessing throughout.  Nuala Ellwood has produced a top-notch debut in a popular genre...

Nuala Ellwood is the daughter of an award-winning journalist. She was inspired by his experiences and those of foreign correspondents such as Marie Colvin and Martha Gellhorn to secure Arts Council funding for her research into PTSD for her debut psychological thriller MY SISTER’S BONES.

My Sister's Bones is published in ebook format on 1 Nov 2016 and in HB on 9 Feb 2017.  You can order your copy via amazon link below:

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Book Review and Giveaway - 'It Was Only Ever You' by Kate Kerrigan.

Thanks to the author, I have a signed copy of It Was Only Ever You to giveaway.  Just enter via rafflecopter link below.  Good Luck!

1950s Ireland.  Rose and Patrick have to hide their love for each other as they are from two different classes.  Patrick, a talented singer, heads for the bright lights of New York and Rose is devastated.In New York, Ava dreams of finding love in the dance halls of the Big Apple where she dances her way to happiness. Sheila, dreams of managing the biggest rock and roll acts in the USA and encounters the sexist world of the music industry.  The Emerald Ballroom is where New Yorkers go to dance their worries away.  Will it be enough for these young music lovers or will rocking around the clock lead to heartbreak?

From the author of The Dress, comes a tale of music, love and new beginnings.  Kate Kerrigan's eighth novel is alive with the sound of jazz, ballads and rock and roll.  1950s New York is awash with new talent and high fashion.  Women still dream of finding the perfect husband and men still get away with murder.  When Patrick leaves his family behind in Co. Mayo, he also leaves a part of his heart.  Rose is devastated and will do anything to find him.  Ava seems destined to marry a nice, sensible New Yorker and to bid farewell to the dance halls she loves.  Sheila grieves for the family she lost at Hitler's hands and struggles to find her place in the world.  The only thing that they all have in common is their love of music.  Told with melodic simplicity, their stories become intertwined in their quest for happiness.  But somewhere along the line, hearts will be broken.  

This is the ideal read for lovers of Historical Fiction and is perfectly timed for the Christmas market.  More suitable for an older audience, I would think, with it's gentle narrative and endearing characters.  The dance halls hop off the page, with their smoky dance floors, jiving customers and sassy staff.  You can almost hear the music and envision the ladies popping off to powder their noses. These women are living in a man's world yet are determined to make the most of it.  A classic love story with a musical twist.  Time to dust of your dancing shoes and grab the rouge...

It Was Only Ever You is published by Head of Zeus and is available in Hardback, TBP and ebook version.  You can order your copy, with 20% discount and Free Worldwide Postage, HERE.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Book Review: The Ghosts of Magnificent Children by Caroline Busher.

Reviewed by Mia Madden, age 13.

This is an incredulous debut novel about four unique children.  It's 1848 and twelve-year-old twins Archie and Millie live luxuriously.  One night a circus comes and the twins go to it without permission.  They get captured because of their abilities; they can read each others thoughts and Millie can turn into a fox and stick on to walls.  In the same year, fourteen-year-old Theo and thirteen- year-old Ginny wander the streets with a nefarious pick-pocketing gang.  Ginny gets briefly adopted after attempting to rob a finely dressed woman, but gets handed over to the circus. Theo gets caught as well and is also turned in.  The circus wants these two because Ginny has a bird living inside of her and Theo can see your worst secret and how you die.

These four kids band together and stay alive and become known as The Magnificent Children.  But while touring Ireland, strange things happen that will mess with their minds forever.  100 years later, the children wake again to discover that they are dead.  They meet an islander named Rua who wants to help them with their troubles.  The children don't exactly trust Rua, as his father wants to destroy the children once and for all.  Will Rua save the children or die at his ruthless father's hands?

I find this book was sort of like Ransom Rigg's Ms. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and I like it.  After all, no book can be 100% unique.  But, The Ghosts of Magnificent Children was better in my opinion as it was unpredictable, funny, mysterious and tragic at the same time.  An absolutely super debut by Busher and I long for a follow-up title.  Hopefully the author will write plenty of books to keep us entertained.

I recommend this for ages 9+.

The Ghosts of Magnificent Children is published by Poolbeg books and is available in PB and ebook format.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Book Review - "Falling" by Julie Cohen.

Three generations of women.  Three secrets kept.  Each secret has different meaning but all have knock-on effect.

Honor has a nasty fall in her own home and finally realizes that she cannot manage her elderly-self without help. Jo takes control and moves her mother-in-law into the home she shares with her three children and memories of her dead husband.  Lydia resents her Grandmother taking her room and she silently battles her own demons.  Three women, under one roof yet hiding from each other...

We are all good at hiding the truth.  Little white lies can hide a multitude of  secrets and sometimes the truth can hurt more than deceit.   But inevitably things unravel and escalate, often with unexpected repercussions.  While Honor has managed to hide her secret for decades, it surfaces through the unlikely source of a letter discovered by her granddaughter.  Maybe it's time to come clean.  Jo tries to forget the accident that killed her young husband, while also protecting his perfect personae.  Lydia struggles to contain her feelings for her best friend and yet wonders could they be reciprocated.  A new arrival in her class sets off a chain of events that no one could have anticipated.  

Julie Cohen introduces us to one family with fractured links.  Each character has equal status and each narrative is equally compelling.  How many of us would love to offload our secrets to a grandmother rather than a mother?  Stepping away by one generation can ease the weight of the secret.  Honor is a proud and spirited woman who hops off the page.  Jo is not as strong, but her life has not been easy.  Lydia is a teen who needs her mother more than she knows.  It could be any family, in any street, in any modern city.  The writing is gentle yet effective, warm and inspiring and extremely memorable.  This is a novel that I read in two days, connecting with the story more than I anticipated.  Cohen is a talented writer of female fiction and one that I would definitely recommend.  Ideal for fans of Jojo Moyes and Diane Chamberlain. 

Falling is published by Black Swan and is available in paperback and ebook format.

Monday, 10 October 2016

The Girl on the Train: Fiction to Film.

Thanks to for inviting me to review the film adaptation of Paula Hawkin's bestselling novel The Girl on the Train.  This article originally appeared in the stage & Screen review section of

The Girl On The Train: Fiction to Film

Article by Margaret Bonass Madden ©.
Posted in  | .
I was one of the lucky reviewers to read The Girl on the Train pre-publication and knew within three chapters that it was going to be a huge success.  Paula Hawkins used an unreliable narrator to draw us in to the hazy alcohol-fuelled lives of three women in a London suburb and the many twists and turns were dizzying and addictive.  You can read my original review here.
Last week I was invited along for to an advanced screening of the  film adaptation, starring Emily Blunt.  I had been impressed by the trailer and was really looking forward to seeing the book on the big screen.  However, within five minutes I knew I was going to be disappointed.  Firstly, London had been replaced with a New York suburb and rather than Rachel gazing out the window of her commuter train at a tightly packed neighbourhood, she is staring at the beautiful rear lawns of rather large detached houses, with not a blimp on the landscape.  Realistically she would not be able to see the faces of the people she watches, or indeed garner any insight into their lives.  Herein lies the problem, as the whole book (and indeed, movie) is based on the voyeuristic scenes from the start.
Then there is the casting.  While Emily Blunt is fantastic as Rachel, with her bloodshot eyes and perfect drunken slur, her supporting cast are dire.  Rachel’s ex-husband is played by Justin Theroux who manages to make a pretty good argument for why men should NEVER dye their hair.  I spent the whole movie staring at his ridiculously coloured tresses and finding his whole performance wooden and embarrassing.   Missing girl, Megan, is played by Hayley Bennett who manages to make a supposedly sexy young woman looked like a deranged girl playing a part in an adult home movie.  Her husband is meant to be a control freak that she cannot escape from, but instead the viewers are shown many angles of his buff body and treated to his blank facial expressions.  There is no character development and actor, Luke Evans, completely misses the pivotal personality the role required to do this film justice.  Things just continue to slide downwards as we are introduced to Anna, the woman who stole Rachel’s husband and life.  She is played by Rebecca Ferguson and the director chose to transform her appearance to one of complete beige-ness.  Beige hair, beige complexion, beige clothes and an irritatingly beige personality.  So bland that she actually blends into the walls.  A new mum, who does nothing yet requires a nanny, she is another wasted storyline who never gets a chance.
Thankfully, Emily Blunt manages to hold the bare bones of the movie together, but with all the strong female characters that had been present in the 2015 book, how did the director, Tate Taylor, manage to get everything so wrong?  Continuity is a serious issue throughout, scenes switching with major flaws and obvious errors.  The whole thing is a mess.  The soundtrack is too loud and jarring, the sex scenes full of misogyny and gratuitous shots of Megan’s ass.  The domestic violence is brushed over with barely a thought and the women are never given the chance to unfold.
My gut feeling is that due to the popularity of the book, some film executive decided to cash in on the domestic-noir trend at break-neck speed and commissioned a screenplay that was rushed to production without much thought.  The choice of director seems ill-advised and I would suggest that a female one may have added some substance to the weak script.  In saying all this, I have no doubt that this will be a huge blockbuster, drawing in all the fans of the original book and fans of the genre.  But, in my opinion, this is a classic case of why you should never judge a good book by its movie.  Not recommended.
(c)  Margaret Bonass Madden

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