Wednesday, 30 October 2013

" Barracuda " by Christos Tsiolkas

I received an advance reading copy of this book from for review purposes.

This is the story of Daniel Kelly.  His dreams of winning Gold, in swimming at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, for Australia have just been dashed and his public meltdown after the race has knock-on effects far beyond anyone's imagination.

The novel is an exploration of the life of a gifted child.  The pressures of early morning training, high expectations from both adults and peers and lack of a normal childhood.

Daniel is the son of a Greek Mother and Irish/Scottish Father.  His mixed race status seems to be a huge cross to bear and when he wins a scholarship to a posh private school, he feels that he has to prove himself even more than the other swimmers on the team.

" If he was nicked, he would bleed. And if he bled, a scab would form, and he would feel it in the water, he would sense it as he was swimming.  It would be just a small sensation, just a niggle.  But it could be enormous.  Like a fly landing on his naked shoulder over summer, when it became all he could think of.  All you could think of was that small, trivial thing, but before you knew it, it would be the scab he was thinking of in the water the next day, the feel of it as the water rushed past it, an itch that would want to be scratched, that would make him pause, for a third of a third of a third of a second.  But that was all it took, the Coach said it all the time, for that third of a third of a third of a second to make you lose concentration and then you would slip back, fumble a stroke, and then you would find yourself a quarter of a body length then half a body length then a body length behind.  He couldn't be nicked, he couldn't dare be nicked. "

The relationship with his coach is a very important part of his life and like most teenagers, he does not realise how important until it is too late.
Chronic bullying and lack of understanding from his Father causes Daniel's temper to gain momentum and by the time he is trying out for the Australian Swimming Team, he is losing his focus.
With his life's sudden change,  he quickly spirals out of control and becomes a victim of circumstance.  Drink, prison, sexual degradation and extreme loneliness and self loathing become his new routine.

The writing in this novel is just simply amazing.  Not for the faint hearted, the story can be dark and twisted but the prose and depth of characters far outweigh the bad language and dark sexual references.  A long book, over 500 pages, but I could not wait to get back to it each time I placed it down.   Christos Tsiolkas is way ahead of any other modern fiction writer when it comes to tackling the gritty thoughts of our current generation.
While his characters can be very obviously disturbing,  their underlying personalities shine through on occasion and the reader can sense that there is more to them than meets the eye.  This author likes to shock, and in this book he certainly does!  However,  I highly recommend this novel for anyone who enjoys intense writing with an almost poetic feel.  The main character, Daniel, has lingered with me long after I turned the final page.

This title will be published by Atlantic Books and is available from 2 Jan 2014 and can be purchased via and other bookshops from this date.

Monday, 28 October 2013

" Into The Darkest Corner " by Elizabeth Haynes

Guest review by Louise O'Reilly

The story is about Catherine, who having enjoyed the single life for some time, knew a great catch when she saw one.
Charming, gorgeous, charismatic - Lee seems almost too good to be true. And her friends clearly agree, as one by one, they fall under his spell.  But Lee's erratic and sometimes controlling behaviour makes Catherine feel increasingly isolated.  She is driven "Into the darkest corner" and has to plan an escape.
Four years later, when she seems to have gotten her life back, and is struggling to overcome her demons, she dares to believe she might be safe from harm. Until, one phone call turns her world upside down.

Well, to say this was nail biting is a complete understatement. I loved this book from the first page.
It was brilliantly written and compelling from the first word.
So well written, I could actually "feel" Cathy's fear and anxiety - if that makes sense.
I loved the way the chapters were alternated to before and after the attack.
It was fascinating to see how she got control back and reclaimed her life.
Lee was a complete charmer and you could really understand how she fell for him and ended up under his control.
The way Cathy lost touch with her friends, happens to us all, but again, Lee was to blame as he chose to control them aswell, and unfortunately, they fell for it.

I hated finishing the book am waiting for the next one.......

"Into The Darkest Corner" is published by Myriad Editions and is available in Paperback and Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

" The Compromise " by Zoe Miller

This is the fifth novel by Zoe Miller, an Irish author.  I had not read her books before but entered a giveaway on her Facebook page and won a copy.  It arrived in post with nice handwritten note inside and as the cover was so pretty, it skipped to the top of my TBR pile.

This is the story of four childhood friends with a secret.  After one of them is found at the bottom of a cliff, the friends start to wonder if the secret will come to light.
Flicking from 1970's through to today's times, the reader is slowly introduced to the four main characters and their families.   
I enjoyed reading about the friends in the 1970s and 1980s but not so much in the current times.  There was far to much emphasis on the characters houses, possessions and what designer labels they were wearing. The characters themselves were a little weak and I felt nothing for them.  The writing in the novel is nice and easy to read, chapters flow along but I struggled to even know who's thoughts I was reading more than once.  The cliffhanger was not too obvious from the start, but I think the secret was.

I will definitely read more of the authors work, I am a big supporter of Irish Fiction writers, and hope it is a case of this just not being my cup of tea.

This book is published by Hachette Ireland and is widely available now.

Zoe Miller can be contacted via Twitter @ZoeMillerAuthor and Facebook at Zoe Miller.

Monday, 21 October 2013

" Rescue Me, Maybe " by Jackie Bouchard

I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

This is a story of loss and new beginnings.
Jane's husband, Ryan, has just passed away after an illness.  She is in a battle over his ashes with his Mother and her beloved dog has died.  Deciding to leave Philadelphia, and all it's bad memories, she offers to help out at her Aunt and Uncle's B&B while she plans her next move.  A big change in lifestyle from the corporate world she is used to, the relaxed ways of the B&B are a welcome change for her and she soon settles into a nice steady routine.  Part of this new life includes Maybe, a dog that Jane had rescued from a truck stop on the way to her Aunt's.  Maybe is drawn to Jane and the two are soon inseparable.  To Jane's horror, Maybe becomes ill and all the memories, that she had thought were left behind, resurface.

Jackie Bouchard is an obvious dog lover who helps the reader see the joy and happiness that a well loved pet can offer.  While it is difficult to see how Jane can miss her dog more than her husband, I can definitely identify with the pain of losing a furry best friend.

The writing is steady, moves at a nice pace and includes some great lists, drawn up by Jane, on how to move on with her life.  No big surprises, but a very enjoyable read  for anyone who loves, or have loved, their family pet.
Perfect for fans of Marley & Me.....

Jackie can be contacted via Twitter @JackieBouchard or her website

Sunday, 20 October 2013

" Bridget Jones - Mad About The Boy " by Helen Fielding

 I bought this as soon as it was available, despite reading poor reviews in the newspapers.  Normally I take broadsheet reviews with a pinch of salt and stick with book blog reviews.  There were not many of these reviews available so curiosity got the better of me.

I went into this read open minded and with nice memories of the previous two novels about Bridget.  She was young, scatty and in love.
This book skips through to current times and she seems to have reversed her mental age.  Annoying, needy, and maddeningly immature is how I would describe her.
Now a widow, with two young children, she has no money worries and a limited circle of friends.  She is just short of grabbing strangers off the street to play with her.  If I was introduced to her, I would find her cute for all of 5 minutes and then run, with my children, as far away as possible.  She can barely dress herself and maintain her household, despite having a cleaning lady and nanny and I would not be confident with her minding kids for 10 minutes, never mind raising two of her own.

She finally starts to think about dating again and we are subjected to some of the most cringeworthy,  "comical" moments of her first outings. The fact that she is now 51 years old but carries on like a confused teenager is just completely bizzare....

A lot of the book is written with text and twitter talk and after a while it gets exhausting.  Although, Bridget's first attempts at understanding Twitter were quite funny, this wore off eventually.
Her daughter appears to have a lisp and dreadful speech problems but these are not consistent and she is never corrected when she uses the wrong words.  I think it is meant to be cute, but in fact is really annoying. Bridget's diary is full of capital letters and excessive punctuation and irritating "Gaaaaah"'s.

When I asked a friend recently if the fact that I was struggling to read this book was a sign of me getting older, she suggested that perhaps it showed that Bridget just did not grow up.  I now see her point.

A terrible sequel, to be read with caution.  May cause headaches with all the capital letters!

This title is published by Jonathan Cape and is now widely available. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

" There's More To Life Than Cupcakes " by Poppy Dolan

I received a copy of this from Novelicious Books for review purposes.

Ellie has turned 31 and real life looms over her......her job is under threat, her best friend is starting to think like an adult ( highly unlike her ), other friends have moved to the suburbs and her husband and family are wondering when she will have a baby.  She is in a wonderful state of denial and avoids baby talk at all costs, even when it is obviously the only thing on her husband's mind.  When her friend, Lydia, signs her up for a baking class, it seems the perfect way to switch off.  
Each week she meets up with fellow bakers , Joe and Hannah, to knead dough, bake perfect pastry and escape from the constant baby thoughts.  
Ellis also begins a blog, where she can rant about the fear of becoming pregnant and of being a terrible mother.  Through all this, though, she keeps secrets from her husband, Pete, for fear of upsetting him.  Will it all catch up on her or will she continue to bake her way through her uncertainty?

First off, let me warn readers that you are not to read any of this novel on an empty stomach!!
It's like the old tip passed down from generation to generation, never shop on an empty stomach,  you will regret it.....
It is full of the most wonderful descriptions of food outside the Sunday Times Food section.  I was found rooting through kitchen cupboards, looking for snacks, at the weirdest times while reading this book.

Ellie is a woman of a certain age who needs to decide whether she wants to start a family with her husband, Pete, or remain a couple.  No more lazy Sunday mornings, late nights out, afternoons watching box sets.  She is gripped with panic at the very idea of being a mother, but Pete watches on with rose-tinted glasses as their family and friends reproduce.

I really enjoyed this book, full of funny one-liners, comical situations and amazing baking!  The supporting characters were great, Ellie's friend, Lydia, was just fantastic at the beginning and the dinner party with Hannah and her partner was a scream.  The only downside, for me, was the fact that Ellie seems very immature with her last minute worrying about starting a family.  Should that not be one of the first things you discuss with your future husband? I felt that her thoughts were more suitable for a much younger character, not a woman in her thirties who has a wonderful husband,  family and friends who would be more than happy to help her should a baby be an option.

Poppy's writing style is just perfect for this genre.  Light, funny and warm.  After struggling through some women's fiction recently, I found this novel lovely and refreshing.  Like a cool sorbet between courses......

This book is published by Novelicious Books and is available from 10 October 2013.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Guest Post - " Madame Part One - Bittersweet Goodbyes " by Patrick Lorcan Woods

Thanks to Fidelma Maher from Esquire's Book Club for this review.......

“Madame is set in Ireland in the early 1940’s. Its a story set around three central characters namely “Madame”, “Nathan” and “Fr. Peter”. Madame is the woman who Fr. Peter entrusts five boys to be secretly cared for in a homely environment in a place called Glendora, outside Dublin. We do not know the real reason why the boys are to be reared by this Protestant woman, only the fact that it is a secret tightly kept by the Catholic clergy in impoverished Glendora. As the story enfolds, secrets emerge from the local workhouse as the five children’s lives are entwined with them and Fr. Peter and the other clergy, who run the workhouse. This story takes on a few twists and turns, while addressing issues of clerical abuse and ultimate neglect. There are many characters which makes the story a bit confusing at times, but it also makes it real. I enjoyed this book but found it a bit too gritty and explicit at times because of real-life events which have emerged in recent times regarding clerical abuse. The authors writing style is fluid and descriptive but gets a bit contrived and slow in the middle but regains pace towards the end. The story is enjoyable and as its the first part of a trilogy I am looking forward to reading part two .”

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

" Either Side Of Midnight " by Tori de Clare. Review and interview with author.

I stumbled across this title on Twitter one evening and contacted the author to get a review copy.  It is an E-Book so after downloading it to Kindle I told the author it may be a while before I got to read it as my To Be Read pile is huge.  However, the book was calling to me and I decided to read the first few pages while waiting for X Factor to start......
Before I knew it, I was 30% through it and could literally not put it down.  It grips the reader from the first page and all of a sudden, takes over from all other priorities of the day! ( I missed X Factor for starters ).

The story begins with Naomi ,19 years old , in a hotel bathroom preparing for her wedding night.  She has mislaid her necklace and thinking she dropped it on the way to the room, heads off to hunt for it.  She is grabbed by a masked man and thrown in the boot of car, driven for hours and wakes up in a country cottage, chained to bed.

This is the gripping tale of  love, trust, innocence and family disputes.  Naomi is a twin, her sister being the more assertive and confident of the two.  Her father is mild mannered and controlled, like the girls, by his wife, Camilla.  
Nathan is Naomi's new boyfriend who no-one seems to trust and is surrounded by a cloud of mystery.  
With flashbacks to when Naomi met Nathan and some history of the troubles within the family, this book is fast paced, racy and pulls the reader on a journey which takes them in many different directions.  Many times I thought I had the ending worked out, until I moved to the next page.....
A wonderfully written thriller that will have you turning the pages at a great speed, dying to know what happens next!

The characters are strong, especially Camilla and Naomi, there are no filler pages or chapters and the pace is great.  Naomi is studying music in University and it is obvious that the author has an appreciation and understanding of this subject.  
Naomi's innocence may not have worked as a believable trait had it not been for the balance of her sister.  The reader can see how one twin could overshadow the other and how they may be completely different personalities by their own choice.

I finished the 364 page novel in two sittings.  It would have been one, had my family allowed it!

Tori de Clare has kindly agreed to answer a few questions for BleachHouseLibrary so scroll down below to see our little interview.....

1.                   Thrillers seem to be a male dominated genre.  What made you choose to write a thriller?
Well, my story is unapologetically for women and young women. I think there is a bit of a gap in the market for thrillers/crime books that aren’t explicitly violent. I don’t enjoy anything explicit. Subtlety is key for me in any book, both content and the writing itself. Personally, I don’t care for a lot of bad language either. So I didn’t include any. You have to be who you are when you’re writing. It’s a bad idea to copy or to try to be popular. It doesn’t work. I wrote the kind of book I would like to read.
I enjoy all kinds of literature, not just thrillers. Two things fascinate me about books – brilliant writing and fantastic stories. Ideally, but rarely, the two come together. If a writer is going to tell an ordinary kind of story (like Ian McEwan often does, for example – and I adore him) then they’d better be a literary genius. For the rest of us – the ordinary human beings –  I’m afraid we have to rely upon other things to captivate an audience. Story and plot have to come first. So I set out to write a page-turner, just to see if I could!

2.       Was the main characters young age very important to the story?
 Crucial. My character is naïve and innocent when she meets her husband. She’s been home-taught and barely mixed with people her own age. She has a domineering mother and is too soft to stand up to her; she has a lot of learning/living to do. And she’s a virgin. I mean, who’s a virgin these days past 20? It wouldn’t have been right for the plot had she been streetwise.

3. Manchester and The Lake District are featured in the book.  Do these places have meaning to you?
Very much so. I grew up in East Manchester and lived there until I was 28.  My son is currently a student at the Royal Northern College of Music which features heavily in the book. My experience of the college is first-hand. The Lake District, less so. I’ve visited a few times. It’s very beautiful and very remote in parts. It’s hilly and wet and picturesque – perfect for the needs of the plot.

3.       Camilla is a hard woman, were there ever times you wanted to soften her?
Definitely hard, no doubt. But it is a veneer really. She’s insecure like so many ‘hard’ people. They’ve usually just had a hard time, going way back. It’s a shell, for protection. I hope I did soften Camilla towards the end. I wanted the reader to have sympathy for her. The story is about her journey too. She’s a deep and complex character who is afraid to give too much away. ‘Hardness’ is often a front. Behind it, lurks fear.

5.  What inspired you to write your first book?
Laughing at this question, because Either Side of Midnight is not my first book. But it is my first published book. My first book is a paranormal suspense. I sent it out to agents to try and get it published in the traditional way. Two big London agencies read it in full (which is an achievement in itself). Both agencies took four months each. During this tense time of waiting, instead of twiddling my thumbs, I started to write Either Side of Midnight, for something to do! The fact that it is a thriller, filled with suspense, reflected my mood I suppose.  (I’m learning about myself here as I answer).

6. Are you self published by choice, to allow free reign over your work?
No, I think the previous question explains that I tried very hard to be published in the traditional way. That said, there has been a revolution in the publishing industry. Even traditionally published authors are having to market themselves quite aggressively, or they won’t manage to compete with self-published authors who are using all the social media platforms available – very effectively. I’ve recently been in touch with Tina Seskin, author of A Step Too Far. Like me, she spends most of her day finding ways to publicise her book. No writer – unless they’re right at the top of the chain – has the luxury of sitting back and waiting for readers to come to them. That is a thing of the past. So, I’m very happy to be self-published. My entire life, I’ve worked alone. I’ve been self-employed for 25 years as a piano teacher, and I virtually taught myself to play the piano (my mum would shout the odd instruction from the kitchen). I work best on my own. I don’t think I could answer to anyone now. I’m too independent.

7. Who was the first person who read your first draft? 
 My sister, I think. I have three sisters. I’m close to all of them, but one of them lived in the Middle East for ten years, so we communicated mainly by email. During this time, she read everything I wrote, bless her. Over the years, she has encouraged me and helped me so much. It really is invaluable to know that somebody believes in your work. My sister is a very good writer herself. Her emails kept me entertained for years. But I can’t persuade her to put virtual pen to paper. So I’m doing it for both of us!

8. If your book was made into a tv drama or movie, who would you see in the roles of Naomi and Camilla?
Ooo – that’s a great question. And of course, it would make a great film!! A music student of mine, who read and loved the book, has created a fan-made book trailer and posted it on Youtube. She chose some TV characters, so it’s hard for me to imagine anyone else now. When I picture Naomi, I see the girl she chose. And I do like her. If you’ve read the book, check out the trailer and tell me what you think of the character choices. Camilla? No one really springs to mind.

9. Have you started another book yet? If yes, tell us a little bit about it.
I’ve got as far as planning to write another book. It will be a sequel to Either Side of Midnight. I’ve plotted it, partly. At the moment, I’m so busy publicising the current book that it’s hard to find writing time, but I’m very determined to get back to writing. I love to write. I never intended ESoM to have a follow-up, but there seems to be some unfinished business that I need to attend to.

10. How has social media helped you with promotion of your book?
If only I knew how to utilise social media, I’m sure it would help a lot. I published ESoM in July without any sort of a social platform. It was stupid. I was like Naomi, ignorant and naïve – insanely so. My first free promotion launched the book and propelled it into the spotlight. Following this, ESoM sold 1600 books in a month. I had no platform to help to sustain those sales, so they died. I’m currently learning how to market and promote my book and I appreciate just how important Twitter and Facebook are in the process. Blogs and book reviewers are a crucial cog in the wheel too. I now need a blog. But I also need time to write. I feel as though I’ve got half a dozen plates in the air that I’m spinning, and can’t cope with a seventh! I have another free promotion coming up soon, and now I do have a social media platform in place, it will be very interesting to see if the book takes off more successfully this time.

Thanks so much to Tori de Clare for answering my questions open and honestly and for writing a wonderful, page turning thriller!

At time of review, this book is available for download on Amazon for the incredible price of £0.96GPB....

Saturday, 12 October 2013

" The First Time I Said Goodbye " by Claire Allan

I received a copy of this book from the author, for review purposes.  It had a lovely handwritten note inside, which I just love !

True love is the subject of many stories, whether in book form or in the movies.  Sometimes the stories are  standard boy meets girl, have a fight, make up and get back together, for ever and ever and sometimes they are a story of lost love, where they are destined to be together forever,  but for one reason of another this never comes to pass.  This story is just that little bit different and what makes it even more compelling is the fact that is is based on a true story......

2010 and Annabel is grieving from the loss of her Father.  Her mother, Stella,  decides to take a trip back to her hometown of Derry, Ireland and the two woman begin a journey which leads to more than a reunion of long lost relatives.
Stella has other reasons for returning to Ireland for the first time since she left for America all those years ago.  In 1959 she was a young factory girl, madly in love with a US Marine based in Derry and her whole life was ahead of her.  How, then, did she end up marrying a different American man, Annabel's Father, and why is it so important to return to Ireland now?

This is more than just a story of love.  It is a tale of fate, family and circumstances.  The characters are warm and enduring and the past intermingles with the present so smoothly that you don't even notice the change in period.  Stella's family are wonderfully written and you can almost feel as if you are sitting in their home, having a cup of tea beside the fire.  The bond between them is very real and anyone who has ever sat through a family reunion in Ireland will recognise a lot of the rituals that Claire Allan describes as well as the atmosphere at these events.
Stella's love, Ray, returns to The States when his troop is removed from Derry and she starts to imagine her new life in America as she waits for her visa approval to enable her to follow him over:

" A moment can change the course of your life forever.  All the plans - dreams and hopes you thought you had can suddenly disappear. Life can take a new direction. Things change.  Decisions are made - decisions that you think are the best for everyone at the time but that have consequences so far reaching you can't possibly understand what they will mean for you.
Stella Hegarty learned that on Feb 16 1960, when just as it seemed as if the paperwork would finally come through for her new life with Ray, her life turned on a hairpin and things would never be the same again. "

A lot of Irish authors have tried to recreate the Ireland of the past and have succeeded, but usually with lots of stereotypical Irish-isms which can really annoy us who were born and bred here.  However, Claire Allen has not chosen this route, and for this, the reader should be grateful.  She has concentrated on the story and the effect that love can have when it is real.

The novel had the added benefit of having been based on a true story, of which the author had written about in 2011 for The Derry Journal.  She, very kindly ,sent me a copy of the article and I could see why she chose to recreate the story in a book. 

Quite simply, this is one of the nicest, warmest and moving love story I have read in years and I found myself very emotional while reading it.  It had some personal meaning to me,  as it was a similar tale to a relative of mine, and I had to stop reading a few times in order to pull myself together.  I didn't want it to end and the lump in my throat remains with me, even as I write this review.

Thank you Claire Allan for telling a wonderful story, with amazing characters and loving research.  I  know plenty of women of all ages will enjoy this novel and the feelings that arise from it.......

The First Time I Said Goodbye is published by Poolbeg and is widely available.
Claire Allan can be contacted via her website or

Friday, 11 October 2013

My Week In Words - Day 5 with

Friday -

I have no school today so using the spare time to catch up on some reading and organizing the upcoming Blog and Review event for Primary School.

Dropped one of the crazy dogs off at the groomers at 10am and then headed off to meet fellow blogger Lisa, from and She has agreed to join me for the school event and even has some children's review books for it, so some of the kids can participate straight away.  Have contacted some publishers to see if they have any promotional material to send us, which would mean we could do some goody bags or giveaways on the day.  Kids love free stuff !!
I'm getting excited about the event and really hope it helps promote reading for young children :)

After a quick coffee and an episode of Ray Donovan ( my bad boy fix ), I head up to collect kids.  They are in great form and ,after a feed, they relax in the playroom.

A delivery arrives from and I look forward to sampling some later......Well, it IS the weekend afterall!

More review books also arrive and I add them to my huge To Read and Review pile, which I keep in the library.  Answer some emails from publishers about new releases and download some proofs to my Kindle.  I wonder if any of the supermarkets are selling extra hours in the day???

My husband is working locally today so means can all eat together and finally the kids will see him for more than a few minutes.  Definitely a good excuse to open that wine delivery !
Notice a few spelling mistakes in my week with words but, as already online, I can only blush and try to slow down in future ;)

Thanks to Feed My Reads for letting me rant on every day this week.  It was a pleasure and while nothing of note happened to me this particular week, you at least got the chance to see how an average week for a blogger is..........

" Inside The Peloton - My Life As A Professional Cyclist " by Nicolas Roche

Review by Finn Madden aged 13.

This book is about an Irish Cyclist, Nicholas Roche, son of the only Irish Tour De France winner, Stephen Roche, and his tale of  how he got to be such a big name in cycling.

At the start of the book, he tells of how his parents met and all about his Dad's success.  He talks about growing up and how close he is to his sister, Christel.

Nicholas didn't have the easiest childhood, changing from Irish to French schools, as his family were constantly on the move. He was mad into soccer and rugby but tore a ligament in 1998 which ended those sports, but started his cycling career.
He joined professional team Cofidis in 2005 after some good performances in amateur races and from there on, his career took off, peaking in 2010 when he came 5th in La Vuelta.

The book has diary entries from Nicholas for The Irish Independent which make it very entertaining and at the end of the book, he has included quotes from Stephen Roche a small piece from 2012 Tour De France winner,  Bradley Wiggins.

I liked reading this book as Nicholas wasn't  neither cocky or modest.  He described his emotions and his pain very well.  

I would recommend this book to any cycling fans of all ages !

This book is published by Transworld Ireland and is widely available.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

My Week In Words - Day 4 With


Dispatched kids as usual and headed off to English class.  I have skipped a year so was looking forward to getting a bit more of a challenge.  I wasn't disappointed!  Lots of new reading material, some old, some new and lots of essays to write.  I'm actually in my element....
Finished class and drove home enjoying the sunshine over the green fields that surround the motorway. Feeling very positive today :)

Grabbed a quick bite and did some homework.  Got a bit of housework done before heading off to collect kids.  Spoke to Principle about a planned visit by yours truly to the school to have a 3rd and 4th year discussion about book blogs and reviewing, which I hope will promote reading locally.  This is scheduled for November so must get planning.

Returned home and fed younger kids while I caught up on FB, Twitter and Blog.  Started the Irish version of Feed My Reads last night and trying to get to grips with the FB page as I'm not great on the auld computer ;)

More housework, some transferring of books sent from publishers to my Kindle and some pre-review posts to edit.
Even managed to fit in cello practice today, although, after my Red Setter knocked the cello over with his tail, it doesn't sound very tuned :(

Way behind on dinner so will have to lash something together and hope they don't notice it's lack of planning!
Lots of calls made to rearrange appointments for foster child, now that I have changed my English class days.

Off to read Claire Allen's new book " The First Time I Said Goodbye " ( She is a great Irish Author who is very chatty on Twitter ) which I received the other day for review.  Lovely handwritten note inside thanking me for my support and I feel sooooo special :))

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

My Week In Words- Day 3 . With

Wednesday -

After house cleared of children this morning, I managed to get over an hours reading done.  Finished " The Drowning Pool" by Syd Moore.  Updated Goodreads and went off for lunch with a friend.  
My internet was playing up so caught up on dreaded housework.  
When I was back online I caught up on emails ( lots of new review requests and press releases to be downloaded ), updated twitter and facebook.  Then got stuck into reviewing the newly finished book.  When I had finished loading it to my Blog, I then tweeted copy to author.  Within minutes she had contacted me with actual photos she had used as part of her research for the book, and that I had coincidentally quoted in the review.  I ask permission to use these photos on my blog and she graciously agreed.  They are amazing photos and the reaction from the updated review was just great! 
I am hoping the author will come and stay in Bleach House the next time she comes to Ireland, as I have a b&b which is actually situated in our library and could have an author night like I had last month.

Picked up 2 youngest from school, made lunch and started on my legendary homemade lasagne ( takes 2 hours).  More housework and basic refereeing with children.
Started work on setting up FeedMyReadsIreland and hope I am not taking on too much.....
Was meant to practice cello as didn't get a chance over weekend but my phone/email/twitter/fb are hopping !!!

Eldest kids home from school and chat about their day.  Get dinner and supervise homework.  I had no school today so none for me.
Will do second dinner now for husband and then treat myself to long soak in bath.  It's getting cold this week and we live in a very windy area.  Could be perfect location for a spooky thriller if I ever get around to writing it!!

Have selected new book to read and review and will start that tonight. 

" The Drowning Pool " by Syd Moore

I came across this title while browsing  As it is approaching Halloween, I thought it would be perfect.  I have not read a good old fashioned ghost story for years and the cover sucked me in!

Young Widow, Sarah Grey, is making a new start.  Relocating to a small coastal town in England with her four year old, Alfie, and starting a new job as a teacher in the local private school.  She has a close circle of friends who help her unwind and relax as well as support her through her grief.  The book starts with a night out with her friends, drunk and at ease, they discuss the local folklore and the legend of The Drowning Pool, where years ago women were dunked to see if they were witches or not.  This legend includes the story of 19th Century Sea-Witch, coincidentally called Sarah Grey also, who came to a gruesome end.  Later on, Sarah begins to experience strange feelings and dreams which appear to be related to the story of her namesake.  Nightmares begin, unusual sightings and sounds occur and she believes she has been chosen to help solve the mystery surrounding the Sea-Witch.

While researching the woman's story, Sarah comes across an old photo where she thinks she can see something unusual in the reflection of a windowpane....

" I held my hand over my mouth, and breathed heavily.
My brain had frozen, stilled by disbelief, but my eyes raced on, looking back to the page again.  I was positive now - I would recognize those doleful eyes anywhere.
What did it mean?  What was she trying to say? 
As my wits slowly returned, I became aware of a strange sensation: a tiny voice, not quiet a whisper, was emanating from the page, pleading softly. "

The book moves a long at a gentle pace, gripping you from the get-go and has waves of shiver inducing moments throughout.  The story is based on fact so a lot of research was done into the legend of the Sea-Witch. The main character, Sarah is well written and the reader does feel her fear, loneliness and uncertainty as she finds herself burdened with the "gift" of seeing into the past.  She has a fondness for wine and the occasional cigarette which makes her a more believable character than you normally come across in today's books or TV shows and her friends also seem real.  There is very little mention of her husband's death and this is probably for the best as it could have distracted from the ghost story.
 I enjoyed Syd's style of writing and the chapters are a nice length, ideal for the "one more chapter before I go asleep" readers.

All in all, an enjoyable read and perfect for this Halloween Season!

The author has kindly provided two images of the actual photo that Sarah was looking at in the above excerpt.....
Embedded image permalink

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Spooky, eh??????
Thanks so much Syd for allowing me to use these images!!!!

The Drowning Pool is published by Avon Books and is available in paperback and ebook format.

My Week In Words - Day 2 with

Tuesday -

Same morning routine on all school days.  Today I have History class so like yesterday , arrive at 9.40 and get straight into Mussolini and the History of Irish Gaelic Games Association (GAA).  Finding it hard to concentrate as had a late night with one of the kid's non-stop nosebleeds.  
Had a piece published on a fellow bloggers site ( and my Twitter and email are really busy with wonderful posts from followers who loved the article ( On reading with foster children ). Have updated Blog to include the piece.  Then receive some great comments about this "week in words" feature.  Love busy Social media days :)
However, also lots of missed calls from social workers and Foster child's GP about some tests that need to be run. Try to return them during short break but they are now not able to take my call.   

After class, I head home, do lots of boring housework and head off to collect kids from school.  Mad dash back as have to bring youngest foster child to visit her Mother once a week at 3pm.  Barely have time to get her changed out of uniform and we are off again.  Have to bring my own daughter with me as no one to mind her so then have to hang around the local town for almost three hours.  Hard to entertain a 10 year old for that long every week, so today brought my Kindle for her to use in coffee shop, while I read.  Finally get through to Doctor and Social Worker.

Pick up foster child from her supervised visit and return home. She has a mobile phone from her Mother so I need to make sure it has no SIM or facility for accepting calls as this is not allowed. Seems ok but there are lots of videos and photos which may lead to a change in mood later. 
Two elder kids have since returned home from school and I get homework started with younger ones while also cooking dinner.  My homework will have to wait as no time.  Got most of novel read last night but still a bit behind for review.  Was hoping to have done tonight.

Answer some emails from publishers re new releases and some upcoming blog interviews/blog tours.  Also go through today's post which brought some fab new titles for review and some lovely handwritten notes from authors. Go back on Twitter to thank everyone and post some photos etc.

Will copy and paste yesterday's week with words feature to my blog later on when kids in bed, and hopefully get a chance to actually talk to husband later :)

Bed and book will finish me off for the night.....Very tired so will be lucky to get 100 pages read.  Ah well, there's always tomorrow!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

My Week In Words - guest post on - Day 1

I noticed a lovely feature on Feed My which was called My Week In Words, where Authors, bloggers and lots of folks from the publishing world were asked to write down their week in words.......This sounded like so much fun, I asked if I could partake :)  Luckily, the agreed, despite my lack of published work !!

Here is day one -

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

My Book Week in Words with Margaret from

Here is a little blog posting for My Book Week in Words with Margaret 

Monday - 

A typical start to a school day in Bleach House. 
My Husband wakes me at 7.45 and then heads off to work.  I drag myself from my bed and the mayhem begins..... 4 kids living at home who are of school going age. I am a foster carer but also have 4 kids of my own.  The two older ones can organise themselves but the two younger ones are a bit of a challenge sometimes.  Luckily, today there is no major drama and they head off at 8.45.  After sorting out the 3 mad dogs and getting myself in gear, I head off to my English Class which is a 40 minute drive away.( I have just gone back to school part-time, to study English and History ).  I arrive at 9.40 for a class that is meant to start at 9.00 but this is the best I can do. I forget all the chores I will have to face on my return, and get stuck in ! I even manage to check and update Twitter, Facebook and answer some emails during break. 
After 3 hours, its time to head home and by the time I get back, I remember I haven't eaten since lunchtime yesterday - Grab a sandwich from shops and have with nice cup of tea while watching re run of last night's X Factor ( fast forward all the sobbing storylines ).
Post arrives and there is a beautiful new book from Clare Allen ( Irish Author ) for me to review. I LOVE getting books in the post!
At 2.40 it's time to collect 2 youngest from school and today is their book fair.  Despite having 1000s of books in the house, we still come home with more!
Give them lunch, and do homework with them before I tackle my own.  Clean up after lunch and then choose a winner for a giveaway I have run on my blog.  Contact winner and update Twitter, Facebook and Blog.
Ring a few friends while hanging out washing and loading another lot in to the machine. Contact a foster parent, who has a difficult placement,  to see how she is getting on.
Older kids now home from school and I actually escape to my room for a bit of quiet while younger kids play.  Halfway through a novel to review for blog and get some more read. 
Dinner time and while they eat, I fold clothes and sort into 7 different piles for various bedrooms. Will have to make another dinner later for Husband when he gets home at 7.45.  
It's then bath time for two youngest. I will have another quick read while they play before bedtime, then when they have gone to bed, I will retire to my own bed and hopefully finish novel.  Will keep an eye on Twitter etc for any book related updates and eventually fall asleep before midnight.
Not a bad day, quiet calm actually.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Guest post on - Reading with Foster Children

I was honoured to be asked to do a little guest post for Sam's wonderful Book Blog.  She is a teacher as well as a fellow book addict, and as I have the utmost respect for teachers, and the work that they do, I jumped at the chance to be involved!

Here is a copy of her post ..........

Guest Post - Reading to Foster Children @bleachhouselibrary

I would like to thank Margaret for taking the time to participate for a piece for my blog. Margaret decided she would like to share something special with us, and I believe it's special too. 

Welcome Margaret.

As far back as I can remember I have read.  I have recollections of visiting our local Library one evening per week with my Father.  The children's section was up a windy staircase and was a little piece of heaven for me. I had my own library card and felt so important.

My Mother used to take me to an independent bookshop called Books Unlimited every few weeks and let me pick up whatever tickled my fancy at the time.

I had a standing order for Twinkle magazine which I then upgraded to Bunty and subsequently, Smash Hits and other teen magazines. I became addicted to Nancy Drew mysteries and from then on my love of books was ingrained in me.....

When I became a Mother I was completely sure that books would be a part of each of my children's lives.  They got their own library cards ( now electronic, unlike my old cardboard one ) from birth and were read to every day, regardless of age.  After child four, there was not a kids book that I had not read and I still have most of them. The kids say they remember most of the stories and they still get excited by a trip to the bookshop or library.

Now my eldest is 24 years old and my youngest is 10, the kids books have reappeared on our bookshelves as we now foster kids from all age brackets.  Again, I am back in storyland and getting to re read some amazing books from over the years. 

We have been fostering for almost three years and have had some long term and some short term placements.  I get so excited when I hear there is a toddler coming as they have rarely been read to and to see their little faces light up when you turn the page of a book that you are reading to them is just priceless!

The next age bracket is when they are just starting school.  This can be challenging, as a lot of the time, they have been stuck in front of tv or games consoles and have no idea about reading, writing or even their colours.  Days of the week is a common void in their vocabulary and even getting them to sit still on a chair is a battle.  I try to work with this age bracket on a back to basics level when it comes to reading and the attic is searched for ABC books,  jigsaws and posters to aid us along the way.  I have a stash of early readers that I work through with them and providing their main language is English, this can be taught in a reasonable time with some patience and perseverance.  Eastern European children take a bit longer as their alphabet is quiet different to ours.

Over time, these kids who may have never read before, or shown any interest in books, become little sponges:  eager to learn, eager to read and constantly asking for another story.  The ones who have left here and returned home, have all left with books and I would hope their love of books stays with them for the rest of their lives.  

If the only thing I can do for these children is teach them to read, I would be happy with that.  Anything more than that is an added bonus.

Thanks again Margaret, being a teacher myself I agree with the importance of reading and how it should be embedded from a young age, so they find and develop a love for a book. Your story is amazing and it takes a very special person to be a foster parent. Keep up the great work!

You can contact Margaret via twitter @bleachhouselibrary 

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