Friday, 27 December 2013

" Confessions Of A Hostie " by Danielle Hugh

I received a copy of this from Net Galley for review purposes.

Ever wondered what those glamorous Cabin Crew get up to when they land? What they are really thinking as they pass over the drinks and do their safety demonstrations?  As I worked for an airline for 11 years,  I already knew the answers to these questions but as I was based on the ground,  I was curious to see if it was different in the air.....

Danielle Hugh ( not her real name ) has written a short and sharp account of life both on and off duty.  The book is divided into little stories/chapters and, as she travels to different destinations and works with different crew members, the reader gets a taster of what the life of an International Hostie is really like.  The jetlag, food poisoning, bitchy staff, flight delays and last minute rostering are just some of the downsides of the job.  The upsides are also mentioned.  Amazing locations, best of hotels, some great friends and lots of shopping!

This is a perfect read for anyone who has thought they would like to be cabin crew.  Would you have the patience to deal with some of the irate, drunk or just pure mad passengers.  Not even for a few minutes, but for hours on end?  Danielle is a little judgmental and comes across as a bit shallow, but as a single girl, she only has herself to worry about.

While the writing is a bit sloppy and, at times, repetitive ( especially when referring to a not-so-bright passenger towards the end of the book ), it is a nice easy read and perfect to dip into for shorts periods of time.  Ideal for a handbag or a short train/bus journey.  Maybe hide the cover if you are reading onboard a flight :)

Published by Monsoon Books.  Available as e-book.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl. Guest Review by Cassie age 10

Thanks to Cassie Morse, age 10, for this lovely, honest review.......

Roald Dahl is in my top ten authors.  I love his books because he uses emotive language to persuade me to read on ( even if it's my bedtime !! ).

In this book, Charlie is on an amazing adventure in the Chocolate Factory!  Will he be the one who gets the prize or not?  I won't tell you the end because I'm not a spoiler....Ha ha ha ha, He he he he!!!

I would recommend this Roald Dahl's books for all ages because they are fun and funny!!
I absolutely love these books and if you don't, that's your opinion, not mine.....
I hope that you start your amazing adventures with Roald Dahl books too!


This edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is published by Puffin Books and is widely available.

Monday, 16 December 2013

" SeaBean " by Sarah Holding (SeaBean Trilogy Book 1) Review by Mia, age 10

11 year old Alice lives on St. Kilda, a remote Scottish Island, where her Dad works to help save the environment.  When she discovers a strange black box, called c-bean, little does she know that it will lead to some amazing adventures for her and her classmates.  Like a hotel room, it has keycard entry and also has voice recognition as well as loads of other seriously cool things.
The c-bean teaches the children about the dangers in the world and takes them to faraway places.  On their adventures they find a stray dog, called Spex, and an injured parrot called Spix.

This book has a thermochronic cover which means that it changes colours with body heat. It also has some pictures inside.  I found this really awesome!  I like this book because it is so full of adventure and mystery and taught me a lot about the world.
It is the best book that I have read.....EVER, and I can't wait for the next book in the series.

This book is perfect for ages 9+

SeaBean is published by Medina Publishing and is available now in paperback and Kindle format.

You can follow Sarah Holding on Twitter @SeaHolding

" The Reaper " by Steven Dunne

I came across this author on Twitter and having read the synopsis of his books, decided to read them in order and The Reaper was the first one.

Detective Inspector Damon Brook is trying to move on with his life.  Having suffered a breakdown, a broken marriage and struggling to forget a case he was involved with, years before, he moves to the North of England for a fresh start.  Unfortunately, the old case comes back to haunt him as it seems the killer, who he had nicknamed The Reaper, is back. But he has also moved North.....perhaps to be closer to Brook?

DI Brook is a likable character, who keeps to himself and just wants to get the job done. A tired, worn down and disheartened DI who is sick of office politics and cannot switch off his memories.  He is assisted by a young WPC and the attraction between them is obvious but does not interfere with the storyline, unlike in other crime thrillers.  The character list widens from about half way through the book as we are introduced to the suspect and his intense and twisted mind.  DI Brook is well on par with him and the interactions between them are tense and chilling without the usual fanfare of this genre.
Some graphic descriptions are used so if you are upset by this kind of thing, use your readers inner censorship.  As the body count increased, so did my longing to know more.  A real page turner with some well written prose, this novel has definitely made me want to read the next of Steven Dunne's books.

Similar in style to early Michael Connolly and later Karin Slaughter, I recommend you give this English author a will be pleasantly surprised!

The Reaper is published by Avon and is available in paperback and ebook format.
Steven Dunne can be contacted on Twitter @ReaperSteven

His other books are also available : The Disciple, Deity and The Unquiet Grave.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

" Incitement " by David Graham. Reviewed by Declan Madden

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

Incitement by David Graham is the winner of The John Murray Show, RTÉ Radio/ RTÉ Guide/ Kazoo Competition .

This thriller set in the illegal narcotics trade sees DEA agent Diane Mesi investigating a war between two groups battling for supremacy . Michael Larsen is the ex-soldier and mercenary hired to drive this war in order to destroy both sides . Mesi suspects the violence is being dictated by a third party but finds it hard to get support from her agency and is running out of chances to prove her point . What is not clear to either is that both are being manipulated by  a higher force who has a different endgame in play and will stop at nothing to achieve this .

This is a fast-paced thriller with plenty of twists along the way . I found it well researched and for a debut novel is very assured . The novel moves easily from South America via Mexico to the United States and keeps the reader engaged along the way .It's a real page turner with good set-pieces along the way and a strong cast of characters . I could see this being turned into a movie and I have even tried to cast the main characters for a bit of fun .

I would highly recommend this novel and look forward to reading more in the future from the author .

Incitement is published by Andromoda Publishing and is available in paperback and ebook format

" Christmas At Thornton Hall " by Lynn Marie Hulsman

Thanks to Lynn Marie Hulsman for the advance reading copy of Christmas at Thornton Hall.  This debut novel is launched tomorrow and I had a little Q & A session with the author to get to know her a bit better.  See the interview with Lynn underneath this review.....

Juliet Hill has had an awful start to Christmas.  She has just broken up with her boyfriend and she has nowhere to go for the festive season.  When her chef agency offers the job of catering at Thornton Hall over the Christmas period, it seems the ideal way to lick her wounds.  She has catered for them before and knows the Earl, his eccentric family and their staff well.  Too well, it seems.....

This is a fast paced romance novel with lots of colourful characters and crazy capers.  The staff at the Hall are a great mixture of personalities and the Owners of Thornton Hall are whole lotta crazy!

Juliet is at a crossroads in her life and seems to think that if a man looks at her twice he may end up proposing to her. Bizzare. She has a couple of admirers at The Hall, but are either of them suitable?  Should she give up on her ex and move on or consider a reunion?

This book flies along, sometimes so fast that I had to re-read parts to catch up.  There are a few flashbacks to previous encounters with the Thornton Hall family and staff, but they are very vague.
I found Juliet to be a little immature with her approach to men, and her future, but I loved the characters in the kitchen of The Hall:  Two clashing Gay Butlers competing for top dog position within the house, a cute Irish couple who have been there for years and a ditzy maid who has no filter.  These characters made for an entertaining look at life below stairs in a modern day Country House.

Lynn Marie obviously enjoys comedy and has brought lots of it to her debut novel.  Perfect read for the season and I look forward to her next book.

Here is my Q & A with the author......

Hi Lynn,

Here are your quick fire questions :

1. Your earliest Christmas memory?

I'm afraid I found out the truth about The Big Guy very, very early, at about age 5. I have four older brothers, if you can imagine. When you're the littlest, you're always trying to play catch-up, and travel in the big leagues. My sense that secrets were being kept was ultra-keen as I never wanted to be the one left out, or in the dark. On the night in questions, they were kindly trying to ring sleigh bells outside the window  and someone was somewhere braying like a reindeer to stir up excitement at my Grandmother's house where scads of relatives were spending Christmas Eve Night. Unfortunately, my desire to be in the know led me to open one too many closet doors. Needless to say, I discovered the "present closet." The scales had been stripped from my eyes, and no matter what they said, I could never go back to being innocent. I played along, though, because even at 5, I sensed that they wanted me to believe. It was just as well. I was TERRIFIED by department store Santa's and the closest I ever got to one was an arm's length away, and that was only to get the candy cane.

2. Your best Santa gift received as a child?

Without a doubt, it was my first Sasha doll. When I was little, there was this line of expensive dolls from Russia that came in a large tube. In the vein of American Girl dolls, they were very pricey, and had fashion-forward outfits you could buy to go with them. It was an extravagant gift by my family's standards, and it made me feel like a princess.

3. Your favourite Christmas song?

Let it Snow, for sure, and especially when it's sung by some '40s or '50s star like Rock Hudson or Rosemary Clooney or Doris Day.

4. Favourite Christmas Book?

How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I read it and watch it every year. That said, I just completed a grown-up romance novel by Trisha Ashley called Wish Upon a Star. It definitely ranks.

5. Traditional Christmas Dinner or something unusual?

Oh, I love a traditional Christmas dinner. I can't wait for fall and winter every year so I can start roasting things. We always have a whole turkey, and I insist on barrels of gravy. I like the kind of stuffing my mother made that involves bread, onions, and celery. As I've grown older and my tastes have gotten more sophisticated, I like to roast brussels sprouts with garlic, and I adore beets with vinegar and onion. But, the holidays aren't the holidays without a super-trashalicious dish my mother always served. Broccoli casserole. It's made with frozen chopped broccoli, cream of mushroom soup, grated cheddar cheese, and fried Ritz crackers on top to form a crust. There! I shared. Please don't judge me. It's a steamy, creamy, cheesy, buttery, crunchy taste of heaven.

6. Red/Green decorations or something more modern?

I enjoy a nice pink a silver tree if I'm out at a wine bar, and don't mind some purple splashes on my chocolate wrappers, but in the home, I'm way retro. I do love a bit of gold in there, too, though. 

7. Family Christmas traditions?

One new tradition is that my friend Kate and her daughter Eloise come over with enough buttery pre-made, homemade dough to make 10 dozen cookies. She brings paintbrushes, colored royal icing, and cookie cutters. My two kids and I pitch in, and by the end of a long day, there's food dye on the ceiling and sugar on the back of every dining room chair, but it's worth it. People LOVE getting decorated holiday cookies that not only look festive, but taste like real food!

Every year, I watch lots of traditional movies like Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life. With the kids, we have added A Christmas Story, Elf, and Shrek's Christmas. My husband's all-time favorite is The Bishop's Wife. With that one, we put the kids to bed, and open a bottle of wine. It's very romantic.

8. Your favourite thing to do over the Christmas holidays?

I love hunkering down when it's snowing outside, to listen to Christmas music, play board games, and have everyone laying around in pajamas on blankets in the living room. I live in a New York City high rise, so we don't have a fireplace, but we often visit friends and relatives who do. Indoor fires in the winter time are just magical!

Thanks again to Lynn Marie for the chance to read her book and for answering my quicky Christmas questions !!

Christmas At Thornton Hall is released 12 Dec and is published by Harper Impulse

The author can be contacted via Twitter @LynnMarieSays.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Guest Review Rainbow Magic: Kylie The Carnival Fairy by Daisy Meadows

Thanks to Cassie Morse, age 10, for this lovely review....... 

I absolutely LOVE fairy books. They are the best books of all time. I have read over 100 fairy books.  
In this book Kylie, the carnival fairy, needs some help because Jack Frost has stolen the three hats that make the carnival rides work.  The three hats make the carnival fun. Will Kirsty and Rachel, two humans, get them or not? 
The mosty fun about this book is that is part of 3 books in 1.

I would recommend these books for ages 7+ and I hope kids who read this book, enjoy it as much as I did.

Kylie The Carnival Fairy is published by Orchard Books and is available in paperback and ebook format.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Primary School Book Event in Collon National School

What a wonderful opportunity to promote the joy of reading and reviewing with children.  Thanks so much to Collon National School, Co. Louth, for allowing myself and fellow Blogger, Lisa Redmond from Ink and Paper Hearts, to give a little talk to 60 kids.  We met Miss Stafford's 3rd Class and Mr Garvey's 4th Class. The children were very well behaved and it was obvious that they already love reading.  Had a lovely chat about how a book starts as an idea in the author's head and how it gets to the published stage.

We had giveaways and review copies to share out as well as some great posters and bookmarks from O'Brien Press and Little Island Books.  Hope this is the first of many school events and can't wait to read some reviews from these wonderful children.......

Thursday, 5 December 2013

" Amber Brown Is Not A Crayon " by Paula Danziger. Review By Mia Madden age 10

There are lots of Amber Brown books but this is the first one.

Amber Brown is 9 years old and sick of people slagging her name......
She is a funny kid and her and best friend Justin are always having fun, in and out of school.  They even have a chewing gum ball, where they stick all their used gum together and squash it in to a ball shape.  They have been adding to it for years.....eeeeeewwwwww!!!!!

When the best friends hear that Justin has to move away, they try to persuade Justin's parents to stay in town.  Will it work or will they be seperated?

I love the Amber Brown books and have almost all of them.  They are nice and short so perfect for reading on a school night!  Amber is a colourful and energetic child, very different from kids in other books.

I recommend this for kids age 8+ and bet you will become addicted to the wonderful tales of Amber Brown.

Amber Brown is not a crayon is published by Puffin books and is available in paperback.

My guest post on "Countdown To Christmas" Q&A session

Thanks to Shaz from for inviting me to take part to her countdown to Christmas. Here is the Q&A session.......

The latest blogger to take part in my Countdown to Christmas with a festive fun Q&A is Margaret who reviews at BleachHouseLibrary.

What’s your earliest or favourite Christmas memory? My parents used to bring us in to Dublin City Centre every Christmas Eve to look at the lights and decorations and see all the market stalls.  There was less Christmas mania in the shops back then, so this was a huge treat for us.

What are you looking forward to most this Christmas? I’m hoping Santa will bring me a Kindle Fire, as I have the old Kindle with no backlight and love reading late into the night but husband would prefer the light off ! 

Do you have any family traditions that you always follow? We always open our gifts on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day, just leaving the Santa ones for the big day.  The tradition goes back to my Family. 

Do you do the whole traditional Christmas dinner or have alternative? Love, love, love the traditional Christmas : Turkey, Ham, stuffing, Christmas Cake ( although, even though I make one every year, it’s only my husband who eats it.  The kids pick off the icing J

What’s your favourite Christmas song or carol? Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas”

What film do you hope to curl up and watch on Christmas afternoon?
Elf with Will Ferrell.  Just sooooo funny!

Do you have a favourite Christmas book that you read again and again?
I read the kids “ The Christmas Miracle of Johnathon Twomey” every year. So sweet.

Which singer/band would you like to turn up carol singing at your door?
Michael Buble.....Hubba Hubba !!!!

Which celebrity would you like to snog under the mistletoe?
Clive Owen, no doubt J

If you could spend Christmas anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Right here, In Co. Louth, Ireland, with my amazing family.  Just perfect. 

What’s top of your wishlist this Christmas?
Kindle Fire HD

If you could do one good deed for someone less fortunate than yourself this Christmas, what would it be?
As we foster Children, I feel we do this every year anyway.  It is a joy to see their faces when they have never celebrated Christmas before......Christmas is all about Children! 

Now a few quickfire questions to finish...

Tree: real or artificial?  Real

Fairy Lights: White or Multi-Coloured?  White

Drink: Mulled Wine or Bucks Fizz? Buck Fizz

Food: Mince Pies or Xmas Pud? Neither for me.....both for Hubby

Games: Monolopy, Trivial Pursuit or something else? Scatagories...always causes masses of laughter.

Thanks Margaret.  Head over to to read Margaret's reviews or connect with her on Twitter @margaretbmadden.

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

As I said on my Blog Profile, I review old and new releases, as well as children's fiction and classics.  Today's review is definitely a classic, but recent enough.  Winner of the 2009 Costa Fiction Award, this is the amazing Brooklyn.....

Set in the 1950s, this is a book of Four Parts.  Each part tells Eilis Lacey's story.  Part one introduces the reader to Eilis, who in her early twenties, lives with her Widowed mother and her older sister, Rose.  Set in rural Ireland, we learn that the two girls are bright and intelligent.  Rose has a job in an office and is an avid golfer, Eilis is great with numbers and works part time in a local shop.  She longs for more but there are no opportunites in Ireland at this time and her brothers have already emigrated to England to find work.  The small wages the girls earn are passed to their mother to help with the running of the house, and the little amount they keep for themselves tends to be spent on a trip to the local dance hall or cinema.
When a visiting Priest offers to sponsor Eilis to emigrate to America, the family sees it as a great way to further herself and readily agree.
The author describes the long journey, first to England and then onwards to NewYork by ocean liner.  Eilis's life is about to change.

Part two concentrates on Eilis settling in to her new surroundings in Brooklyn.  She moves in with an Irish woman who takes in young girls as lodgers and is a real motherly influence.  The severe homesickness gets to her, and she finds it hard to make friends.  Although she has employment in a large department store she still feels like a fish out of water and even volunteers to help out with the homeless on Christmas Day with her Priest.  She is nervous of her surroundings at first, but soon aclimatises and it all becomes a way of life.

Part three sees Eilis moving on, she starts night classes in accountancy and even finds a boyfriend.  The problem is, he is Italian and this is not an ideal match.  She tries to hide his heritage and only tells her Priest and writes letters to her Sister about him.  They seem a great match and they slip into a comfortable courtship.  Just as they are discussing their future together, a call to return to Ireland puts the brakes on any plans and Eilis boards the boat back home again.

The final part examines her return trip to Ireland and how the future is less certain.  She is torn between her love of her motherland and her easy life in America.  How can she choose between them? Is responsibility more important than opportunity?  Is love the main reason for choosing one place more than another?

I could quote so many beautiful passages from this book, but it is too hard to choose just one or two.  The whole novel is one, long, joyful experience and no one part is better than another.  It is plain to see how this book was Award winning.  Simple, elegant, insightful and an absolute pleasure to read from page one, to the final word.   Colm Tóibín is a masterful storyteller of many novels and short stories, a real jewel in our little island's literary crown! 
How wonderful that this book is now on the recommended reading list for our Leaving Certificate Students in Ireland.  What a way to finish school......


Brooklyn was published by Penguin in 2010 and is still widely available in paperback and as an ebook.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

" Keeping Mum " by Emma Hannigan

Thanks to Lisa from for this review copy.

I have read a couple of Emma Hannigan's books and found them great so was delighted when asked to review this newest offering.

It is a novel about eight women, four mothers and their daughters.  Each has their own story and as the four mothers are roughly the same age, as are the four daughters, it is nice to see how each family are different but have some similarities.  The main link between the mothers is the fear of their little girls growing up and finding themselves in the big bad world without their Mums,  while the daughters yearn to get out there and gain some independence with their parents approval.
A week in Spain is on the cards for the women and their offspring, to help build some bridges and perhaps regain some trust.  Although they have never crossed paths before, all the ladies find their problems are not exclusive to them and sometimes a stranger's opinion can be just as valued as a friend's.

The book flicks between characters at a nice pace and each story is given equal attention.  Some of the problems seemed a little shallow to me but some people's idea of a problem is another's daily grind and visa -versa.
Emma Hannigan is wonderful at writing from a woman's point of view and can describe feelings, so gently and calmly, that the reader seems to know the characters personally without any effort.

This is a perfect read for Mums and Daughters everywhere who are separating on their different paths in life.  Sometimes words have to be spoken to allow the roads to be clear ahead.

Ideal for fans of Cathy Kelly and Sheila O'Flanagan.

Keeping Mum is published by Hachette Books Ireland and is available now

Emma Hannigan can be contacted via Twitter @msemmahannigan or Facebook( Author Emma Hannigan )

Monday, 2 December 2013

BOOK TOUR : " Gracie's War " by Elaine Everest

This novel starts as England declares war on Germany.  Grace and her friend, Peggy, are young girls looking forward to the Church Social and their biggest worries are what to wear, or who to dance with.  All this changes when Grace makes a mistake with Joe, Peggy's cousin, who is off to war.  This one night, and her lapse of judgment, will change to course of her life forever.

The novel moves along through the war years and follows Gracie on her journey through some difficult times for both herself and her family.  Throughout the story, her friend Peggy is the real star.  She stands by her friend 100% from day one and never lets her down.  Without Peggy, Grace could have had a very different life and the outcome may have produced a very alternative ending.
Elaine's writing is old style, moving through the years quite rapidly, there are no filler chapters and it is reminiscent of Catherine Cookson and Danielle Steele. An good, old fashioned war time tale, I'm sure we will hear lots more from this author.
"Gracie's War" is published by Pulse and is available now


Elaine Everest is a freelance writer and lives in Swanley, Kent with her husband Michael and Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry. She has written over sixty short stories for women’s magazines worldwide. Her features have appeared in publications ranging from The Guardian, The Daily Express and the Daily Mail to My Weekly and Your Dog. Her opinion pieces have led to many appearances on radio including chatting to Jenni Murray on Woman’s Hour about having a husband under her feet all day long. Elaine has written numerous columns for canine publications centred around her expertise in the world of dogs. This has led to commissions to write three successful books for dog owners.
Elaine’s successful writing life led her to become a qualified teacher for adult education. Four years ago she founded The Write Place creative writing school and holds regular classes at The Mick Jagger Centre in Dartford Kent.
Elaine was BBC Radio Short Story Writer of the Year in 2003, short listed for The Harry Bowling Prize in 2012, Short listed for The Festival of Romance novel competition in 2012 and winner of the Myrmidon Books (Pulse Romance) Write for Us competition in 2013.
Gracie’s War is her first published novel and is set in North West Kent where she grew up. A member of the Romantic Novelist Association, Elaine is a graduate of the RNA New Writers Scheme. Gracie’s War is short listed for their Joan Hessayon Award in 2014.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

" If I Was A Child Again " compiled by Caroline Finnerty

A collection of memories and inspirational words from some of Ireland's finest writers, journalists and TV personalities.
All royalties from this book go directly to Barnardos.

As a huge fan of Irish writing and of the work of Barnardos, buying this book was a win, win for me.
It is a perfect little package of the thoughts and views  from 41 contributors, all who describe their thoughts of their childhood and how they would love to live it all again, change it, keep it the same or slow down their journey to adulthood.  Some of the stories are heartfelt and show how the authors lives were very different in childhood, while others are a comic recalling of some of the things they did way back when life seemed simpler.  Each have a personal touch and I could certainly identify with the recollections of school, libraries, weekly comics and how the grass would appear greener in some of my friend's homes.
Most of the stories are nostalgic for more basic times, where there was less of a search for perfection on a daily basis, technology was less important and friends and family were the core of happiness.

This would make a perfect Christmas gift for anyone, male or female, who enjoy good, simple writing, who have memories of a childhood where board games and family movies were on the menu and the contents of a Christmas Stocking were the highlight of their Christmas Day.

Well done Caroline Finnerty for compiling this wonderful collection and for helping Barnardos improve the lives of children.

If I Was A Child Again is available in paperback and Ebook format.

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