Monday, 4 June 2018

Book Review: Deadly Blind by Siobháin Bunni.



Karin Bolger is a determined woman who has fought her way to the top of her game, despite her gender. Gaining enemies on her rise to success, the business woman does not suffer fools gladly. When Karin and best friend Sive are kidnapped from a remote house is Co. Galway, DI Naomi Fox is called to investigate the case. Karin is a wealthy woman and a ransom note is the inevitable next step. But will her husband pay heed to the Gardaí's advice or give into a ransom demand?  Who has upset Karin so much, or is Sive the real target? Two very different women, both fallen foul of a sinister scheme. DI Fox needs to side-step office politics to gain traction on the difficult case...

While Irish crime fiction is awash with fiesty female detectives, Bunni has introduced a character that needs no mention of stunning good looks or sexual chemistry with her co-workers. DI Fox is the lead investigating officer, that is true, but there is no need to describe what she is wearing, what brand of phone she carries or whether her shoes hurt or not. She is simply a Garda, doing her job. This is a case focused on two female victims and they are polar opposites. Bunni allows for a brief nod to designer clothes and a designer lifestyle, but allows for the fact that this is irrelevant to the thrilling narrative. Readers are not expecting to know (or care) what labels male detectives are wearing so, thankfully, Bunni does not pepper her novel with such irrelevant fashion details. Instead, we are treated to a good old-fashion who-dunnit with page-turning deftness and a thoroughly likable protagonist.

Dublin's streets are balanced with the wilds of Galway, allowing for an understanding of the limited geography of our small island. You can travel from one side of the county, to the other, in less than 2.5 hours and poor DI Fox has to make this journey frequently. A new position in Galway may have seemed ideal, but Garda HQ is based in Dublin and she finds herself more on the the road, than not. The case unfolds with many unexpected turns and Fox is constantly questioning what appears to be obvious. Karin and Sive have been friends since college and their bond has withstood the different paths their lives have travelled. So, why have they both been taken? Fox is not prepared to presume anything and takes the time to know the victims of the crime, rather than rushing to close off another case.

This is one of those novels that keeps you guessing until the end. Just when you think you have it figured out, another twist arrives to surprise you. DI Naomi Fox is smart, intuitive and endearing but without over-kill backstory or emotion. The final chapter seemed an unnecessary one, which actually has echoes of another crime-fiction series but - aside from this - was pretty flawless. Deadly Blind is an ideal read for holidays, waiting rooms or those moments where you want to escape and switch-off. Definitely worth throwing in the suitcase/handbag/glove compartment/man-bag.

Deadly Blind is published by Poolbeg Crimson and is available in PB and ebook format. You can order your copy with FREE Worldwide Postage here.  At time of posting, Deadly Blind is reduced to €6.99 on poolbeg.com.  Also available from amazon link below:


Sunday, 27 May 2018

Book Review: Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey.



When fifteen-year-old Lana goes missing on an artists retreat, everyone fears the worst. Four days later she is found. She is exhausted, yet relatively unharmed. She insists she has no memory of the events surrounding her disappearance and refuses to talk about it. Lana's mother, Jen, returns to London with her daughter and tries to resume family life. But that is not as easy as it seems. Her need to understand the reason for her daughter's missing four days becomes all-consuming and she begins to question her role as a mother.

Emma Healey astounded readers with her smart, witty and astute debut novel, Elizabeth is Missing, published in 2014. Her second novel is just as precise and observant, with a unique (and often deliciously humorous) tale of parenting and paranoia. Jen is intelligent, experienced in mothering and, along with husband Hugh, has provided a warm and loving childhood for both of her daughters. Then why does she feel as if she has gotten it so wrong? She begins to doubt Lana's short-term-amnesia explanation of the missing days and feels let down by the lack of theories from the police, therefore beginning her own research. Stalking Lana's social media accounts; questioning her friends; listening in to phone calls and private conversations; all the while feeling increasingly separated from her teenage child.

Lana retreats to her bedroom, where she demands constant light and craves a view of the sky. She detests leaving her home and physically leans on her mother when they walk the shortest of distances. Hugh watches his wife's increasing anxiety and supports her the best way he knows how: by just being there. The tension between mother and daughter is palpable and Jen's efforts to 'solve' the mystery of Lana's disappearance take their toll: "Jen was aware of the paranoia beneath her thoughts, a hum that rose in pitch whenever Lana and she were alone together."

Hugh and Jen's eldest daughter, Meg, is pregnant with her first child, and her occasional visits to the family home are genuine moments of escapism and reality checks. She reminds Jen of her tendency to be overly-mothering to Lana and yet delivers some home truths about her sister's dramatic, and often condescending attitude to their mother. Is it just a teenage sense of entitlement and superiority complex or something more sinister? Jen cannot be sure, but she is drained by the atmosphere: "Sometimes Jen felt as though her daughter's emotions hung about in the air. Irritation, exhaustion or despair lingered like a cloud of perfume, waiting to be walked through, the particles clinging to whoever passed by."

Healey blends tension, fear, dark comedy and modern family life. Hugh and Jen have a wonderful, patient and resilient relationship which enables them to stay connected through their difficult situation. Hugh is the laid-back Dad, balancing Jen's more restrictive parenting.  Meg is the product of their combined personalities and is a breath of fresh air in a house full of uncertain emotions. When she announces to her parents that she is gay, Hugh "(leap[s] off the sofa to hug her). Oh, thank God for that. I thought you were going to say you were vegan."

While the four unaccounted days are the focus of the novel, the true tale is Jen's need to be wanted and respected by Lana, and to make up for the four days that they have lost together. The responsibility of mothering does not diminish with age; rather the onus is shifted with time and trust in the child's ability to become a responsible adult. Whistle in the Dark is dark, yet funny; equally warm and sharp in its honest look at the role of parenting a teenager in a wifi-enabled environment. Another gem from an extremely talented writer.

Whistle in the Dark is published by Viking and is available in HB from all good booksellers. You can also order your copy via amazon link below:

Thursday, 15 March 2018

The Fear by C.L.Taylor. Exclusive Author Video and 3 copies to Giveaway.




Fans of psychological thrillers are in for a treat!


 There is a sensational new thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author C.L. Taylor and the author has very kindly filmed an exclusive video, telling us all about The Fear. Published on the 22nd March, have a watch of this and get ready for another novel of suspense, thrills and characters which will get right under your skin... 

ENJOY!



 Thanks to Avon and Harper Collins in Ireland, I have three copies to giveaway to Bleach House Library followers. Enter via rafflecopter link below. Open INT. Closes 25th March.





Sometimes your first love won’t let you go… 

When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces. Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. 

Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused. But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…  



ABOUT THE AUTHOR



C.L. Taylor is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Accident, The Lie, The Missing and The Escape.  Her psychological thrillers have sold over a million copies in the UK alone, been translated into over twenty languages, and optioned for television.  
 C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and son. 

 ‘Claustrophobic and compelling’ KARIN SLAUGHTER 
 ‘A rollercoaster with multiple twists’ DAILY MAIL 

The Fear is published by Avon on 22nd March 2018, in PB and ebook format. You can order your copy from all good bookshops and via amazon link below:




Sunday, 4 March 2018

The Liar's Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard





When the body of a nineteen-year-old girl is found in Dublin's Grand Canal it brings back memories of the infamous Canal Killer, who confessed to killing five young students ten years previously. Is there a copy-cat or could there be something more sinister at play? When the serial-killer tells the police that he has some information he wants to share, he has one condition: He will only talk to his ex-girlfriend. He has not seen her since his confession and he needs to tell her something.

Alison fled Ireland ten years ago. Now she must return to her previous life and face the past that she has hidden for so long. Just what does Will want to tell her? Does she really want to know? Can she prevent a future murder by remembering the ones in the past? 

From the author of Distress Signals this is another tense and thrilling tale of secrets, lies and murder. Catherine Ryan Howard treats the reader to snippets from the past and present, where we read chapters from the viewpoint of  'Alison, now' and 'Alison, then'. The past mainly focuses on the life of an undergraduate student; living away from home and getting her bearings in a new city; the friendships made and ones lost; the skipping of lectures  to spend time with Will; the edited version  of college life that she shares with her parents. The University is a fictional one, yet the streets of Southside Dublin are accurate and atmospheric. Interestingly, there is no real change noted when Alison finds herself back in Dublin. She is still traumatised by the past and finds herself back on her familiar stomping ground, which she has avoided for years. 

Garda Malone is assigned to the new Canal murder case and appoints himself as unofficial guardian of Alison. They both trust each other and this results in  plenty of coffee, croissants and leaked information. The story builds gradually and the tension is provided by untitled chapters and shadows from the past.  A trip to her parent's Wicklow home reminds Alison how much she has missed by hiding from Ireland. Her mother is thrilled to have her daughter under her roof and delights in spoiling her. This is a lovely, warm touch in the midst of the madness surrounding the murders.

The Liar's Girl is a dark and tense thriller which starts and ends with gusto. It is a creepy, worrying look at how easy it is to become a victim of a stalker who know all the tricks of the trade. It will definitely make you think twice about walking home, alone. 

The Liar's Girl is published by Corvus and is available in PB and ebook format. Available in all good bookshops and via amazon link below:


Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Book Review: The Invisible Crowd by Ellen Wiles




Two people, born on the same day, yet worlds apart. 
Yonas was born in Eritrea, Africa and has grown up in a world of conflict, war and unspeakable inhumanity. 
Jude grew up in London and is a human rights lawyer, trying to make a difference to the lives of  people who need the most help.
When Yonas is trafficked to the UK, he thinks he is on the first step of a journey that will help save himself and the family that he has left behind. It is not long before he realises that immigrants are not welcomed with open arms. Far from it. He becomes part of the Invisible Crowd...

This is a debut novel with a huge heart. It examines the realities of being a refugee; the indefinite detention centres; the legal obstacles; the tabloid press portrayal of immigrants and the stories behind some of these invisible faces. Wiles has experience in this area as she is a qualified barrister, has a MA in law and Human Rights and has worked with Burmese refugees. She writes with a sense of knowing the true tales behind the headlines.

Each chapter is assigned a character and the reader is invited into their world.There are tales from Eritrea; from the entrapped refugees; from the workers in the dentition centres; from the people who assist the immigrants and the ones that are determined to expose them to government officials. Each chapter begins with a quoted headline from a red-top newspaper. Shockingly, these are referenced at the end of the novel, showing the mass-hysteria that can be created by a frenzied attack on minorities. 

The Invisible Crowd is a poignant and powerful tale that will gnaw at your insides. It is all the more shocking by its accurate portrayal of a system that is seriously flawed. I read over 200 pages in one sitting and most of this was spent picturing the horrors of fleeing from one form of torture, to another.  While there is little lagging toward the end, this is a wonderful novel which may leave a bitter aftertaste: It's the aftertaste of ignorance and compliance.  

The Invisible Crowd is published by HQ and is available in HB and ebook format.
You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage, HERE. 
The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:


Sunday, 11 February 2018

Outstanding New Book Releases for 2018

Originally posted on writing.ie on 16/1/2018

Outstanding New Book Releases for 2018

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Article by writingie © 16 January 2018 Margaret Bonass Madden .
Posted in the Magazine ( · The Big Idea ).

One of the benefits of being a book reviewer is receiving advance copies of titles, often months before publication. Often, these books come with unadorned or unfinished covers and with scant details of the books premise. There is usually a tag line, designed to pique your interest and the style may be compared to other published texts: books, movies or TV shows. Reviewers can receive hundreds of titles per year and, while we are assigned some for review in print, the majority are chosen by the individual. Here are some of the ones that called out to me, published in the first part of 2018, some of which managed to skip to the top of the teetering piles of TBR (To-Be-Read) books that consume every available piece of space in the house:
The Confession – Jo Spain (Quercus – 11th January)
A home invasion; a vicious attack on a wealthy businessman in front of his wife; an immediate confession. But why did JP Carney enter the home of Harry and Julie McNamara? What did he whisper to Harry? Why was Julie unharmed and nothing removed from the house? When JP hands himself into the police, he claims he has no idea why he did it.  A thriller that begins at the end and ends at the beginning. The layers of the story are peeled back, at a tantalising pace, which leaves the reader determined to get to the bottom of JP’s random attack. An addictive reading experience.
Order your copy online here.

An Anatomy of a Scandal – Sarah Vaughan (Simon and Schuster – 11th January)
A high-profile rape trial is the catalyst for this dissection of truth and consent. James is a prominent member of Parliament and has the stereo-typical background to suit his position: Eton, Oxford and a circle of friends; including the Prime Minister. His wife, Sophie, has always been at his side and is devastated to hear that he had been having an affair with the alleged victim. Kate is the barrister who is prosecuting James’ case and she is determined to show that No Means No. Delving into the elitist world of Oxford and examining the traditions that are steeped in its history, Vaughan has created a fictional tale of class, gender and inequality which all clash superbly in this thrilling court-room drama.
Order your copy online here.

Three Things About Elsie – Joanna Cannon (Borough Press – 11th January)
From the author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, this book can be spotted from long distances. The cover is a giant Battenberg cake; depicting a tea-time treat enjoyed by its protagonist, Florence. Living in an assisted community, 84-year-old Flo has had a fall and lies waiting to be discovered. She reflects on the conversations she has with her best friend, Elsie, and fears that their snooping into the life of a new resident of Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly has gotten them into a spot of bother. Readers will identify with Flo, her attempts to grasp at memories and her feisty insistence of the ability to live independently. A genuinely warm and hunourous read, which also touches on the silenced voices of the elderly.  Perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
Order your copy online here.

The Year that Changed Everything – Cathy Kelly (Orion, 22nd Feburary)
Cally is celebrating her fiftieth birthday when her life changes in an instant. Her family is never going to be the same.  Sam’s waters break on her fortieth birthday and begins the journey from being just Cally, to being someone’s mother. What has she let herself in for? Ginger is now thirty and things are not what she expected. It is make or break time. Three women at various stages of their life. Bestselling author Cathy Kelly touches base with new readers, as well as with her loyal fans, in her new heart-warming novel. An ideal way to escape from the stroppy teenagers in your life, the subtle digs on your twitter feed or the gauzy façade of perfection on Instagram.
Pre-order your copy online here.

The Liar’s Girl – Catherine Ryan Howard (Corvus, 1stMarch)
The author of the cruise-line thriller, Distress Signals, is back with her latest novel and it starts with a bang. The body of nineteen-year-old Jen Madden is discovered in a Dublin canal and has all the hallmarks of the infamous Canal Killer. However, the serial-killer has been behind bars for over ten years, after confessing to his crimes. Is there a copy-cat on the streets of Dublin? From his high security unit, Will Hurley agrees to assist the police in their investigation, but only if he can give the information to his ex-girlfriend. Alison must return to the life she left and face the man she has struggled to forget and the painful memories of the past. Slipping in timelines, reeling in the reader – one chapter at a time, the story examines how one lie can lead to serious repercussions. Keeps you guessing until the very end.
Pre-order your copy online here.

Bring Me Back – BA Paris (HQ, 8th March)
Finn and Layla are on their way home from a trip to Paris and, while stopped at a roadside service station, Layla disappears. Twelve years later, Finn has finally moved on with his life and is engaged to married. When his fiancée finds a tiny Russian doll, Finn immediately knows that it was Layla’s; she had it with her, the night she disappeared. The events of the past come flooding back and Finn realises that he should have told the whole truth, not just his version of it. From the author of Behind Closed Doors, this is a read-in-one-sitting book. It jerks at extreme angles; throw shadows on assumptions and, like the Russian Doll, is part of a bigger story. A riveting experience.
Pre- order your copy online here.

From a Low and Quiet Sea – Donal Ryan (Doubleday Ireland, 22nd March)
This powerful tale is a symbol of our times. Three voices reach out and embrace the reader, each with their own version of guilt, grief and a feeling of undeserved existence. Farouk has escaped the terrors of Syria, to find himself in a different type of hell; Lampy is drained by small-town life in his rural village and regrets not fleeing when he had the chance; John is being dragged toward the past, rather than accepting the fate of his future. All three voices are redolent of contemporary life, but with individual beginnings. The prose is exquisite, with vivid narration and a haunting tone. Irish Literary Fiction does not get much better than this. Breath-taking and statuesque in its deliverance.
Pre- order your copy online here.

Skin Deep – Liz Nugent (Penguin, Ireland, 5th April)
From the same mind that brought us Unravelling Oliverand Lying in Wait, we are now treated to the complex and consuming character of Cordelia Russell. But who is Cordelia? This is a twisted tale of devotion, abandonment, determination and dishonesty. Cordelia has lived many lives but now needs to escape her current one. There is a corpse in her dismal, French apartment and it is beginning to smell. The saga of Cordelia is shocking and stimulating, in equal measures. Nugent treats us to a tale which is acidic in its telling but manages to encompass a nostalgic atmosphere at the same time. Readers are brought from the Cote D’Azur; to London; to Rural Ireland and beyond. As the protagonist re-invents herself, Skin Deep is almost like a hybrid of Sebastian Barry, Maeve Binchy and Alfred Hitchcock. It manages to break boundaries with its unique and unflinching look at what goes on behind the mask of femininity and expectation.  Splendidly suspenseful.
Pre- order your copy online here.
© Margaret Bonass Madden.

Bleach House Banter: Flashback Fragrances: 8 Classic Perfumes You Need to Re-Indulge In

Article originally posted on Indulgeme.ie 10/02/2018

Flashback Fragrances:

 8 Classic Perfumes You Need to Re-Indulge In

I am sure there are many of us who can remember the powerful bestselling fragrances of the late 80s and early 90s.
My journey went from Exclamation! to Body Shop White Musk Oil; Poison to Eternity; CK One to LouLou. When I get a whiff of any of these perfumes these days, the results are a combination of flashbacks and mixed memories.
Here are 8 classic perfumes that will give you fragrance flashbacks.
Coty’s Exclamation! was a potent, yet cheap perfume, favoured by teens who wore so much hairspray, that they were a fire hazard. It had a distinctive bottle and was found in every local chemist. It is still available and is €9.80 at time of posting, from perfume-click.ie.  

The Body Shop still have their classic range in store and the White Musk Perfumed Oil is €25.95. It may bring back memories of scout den discos or Saturday shopping trips with the girls.

Dior Poison was a massive success in the late 80s and you could smell someone wearing it, coming from a mile away. A very distinctive and powerful scent, which gives me the shivers due to the memories it raises. It is available from The Perfume Shop at €55.50. Maybe take it easy with application. It is STRONG.

Calvin Klein Eternity was my wedding perfume and is still subtle enough to use today. A huge advertising campaign saw this become a firm favourite for all young women dreaming of eternal love. Yes. We were that gullible. Also available in The Perfume Shop at €44.50.


Calvin Klein also sold the world-famous unisex CK One, which is still widely used today. You can pick up a bottle in most pharmacies from €32.00 and both yourself and himself can bring back those 90s memories. Boots have a full range of CK One products, including Eau de Toilette Spray for €44.50.

One of my personal favourites was Cacharel LouLou (from €15.50) but not sure if I would be brave enough to try it again. It was intensely sweet and cloying, if I remember rightly. Maybe I’ll give it a go – I’m wild like that.
However, there are three ‘vintage’ perfumes that I have re-embraced, recently. See do you remember them:

Rochas Byzance is one of my all-time favourites but can be hard to source. At the time of writing, the least expensive bottle I could find was on ebay and cost €92.59. Personally, I think it is worth it. A musky, timeless smell that last all day. Also, kudos for the amazing bottle!

I have recently fallen back in love with Guerlain Champs Elysées, also difficult to locate but I have sourced on from allbeauty.com at £44.95. It is well worth the cash, as everyone comments on it, when I wear it.

The final flashback fragrance that I’m currently loving is Lancôme’s Tresor but the new lighter version, called La Nuit Tresor. It is now in a more elegant bottle and the fragrance will not make your eyes water, as the original did. It is a lovely day-time perfume, despite the title. It’s currently on sale at Debenhams at €48.87. Great gift packs mean good savings.
I hope you enjoyed this trip down fragrance-lane. Are there any of these that you have used, or would consider trying again? Let us know @IndulgeMe_ie.
Margaret Bonass Madden
 Margaret Bonass Madden is a book blogger/reviewer, features writer and mother of five.
She can be found with her nose in a book, surrounded by beauty products and subscription boxes, on Twitterand at bleachhouselibrary.ie.

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