Monday, 27 January 2014

Alternative "Classic" books everyone should read. Part One

Do you ever get sick of those lists that pop up on Twitter and Facebook that tell you THE classic books that you should read.  Almost never varying and mostly pre-1970s,  I am a bit fed up of the term "classic" being used for only old books.  Hence, I decided to do up my own list.  I consider these to be classics and while a few have been made into movies,  have you ever read the books?  We all know that they tend to be better than the edited and sometimes, recreated versions on the big screen.

Quite a long list, but maybe you will spot something that will appeal to you :)

NEW "CLASSICS"  Part One.......

1."Room" by Emma Donoghue

2. "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana deRosnay

3. "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne

4. "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Seabold

5. "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese

6. "The Language of Flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

7. "The Bridges of Madison County" by Robert James Waller

8. "The Snapper" by Roddy Doyle

9." North and South" by John Jakes

10. "The Help" by Katherine Stockett

11. "Animal's People" by Indra Sinhah

12. "Mary Poppins" by P.L. Travers

13." The Secret Scripture" by Sebastian Barry

14. "The Secret Lives of Bees"  by Sue Monk Kidd

15. "As Small As An Elephant" by JenniferRichard Jacobson

16. "Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow" by Peter Hoeg

17. "The Penance Room" by Carol Coffey

18. "Out of Africa" by Karen Blixon

19. "The Herbalist" by Niamh Boyce

20. "Beloved" by Toni Morrison

Right, there you go! Part one of God knows how many parts....Will try to add more every few weeks.  All of these books are available on Amazon and your local bookshop should be able to order them in too.  Also, as they are "Classics", most are available from your local library.  Let me know in the comments section, underneath, if you have read any of these and what you thought of them.

Happy Reading !!!!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

" Farewell Trip " by Karen Dixon & Gary Twynam

I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

After her husband's death, Ruth discovers some letters written for her to read after his passing.  He wants her to revisit their special places and scatter some of his ashes in each location.  Each letter has a different story and destination and they all piece together so the reader gets to know both Ruth and Trip ( his nickname since college days ) and their lives together.  We are also brought along Ruth's journey through grief, anger, and doubts as she struggles to adjust to widowhood.  

Each chapter contains a letter from Trip and the outcome of Ruth's response to the said letter.  She is only allowed open one at a time, on completion of the ash scattering.  There are also insights into the marriage of Trip and Ruth,  sometimes corny, sometimes sad, but very real and heartfelt.

Similar in style to "One Day" by David Nicholls and with a nod to "PS I love You" by Celia Ahern,  this is a lovely, warm and affectionate read that I devoured in one sitting.  I'm not sure how co-writing works, does each author take the voice of a different character or do they bounce ideas off each other and combine them?  It doesn't really matter, as this pair have worked well together and produced a great book that should appeal to readers of all ages from teens to pensioners.  

Farewell Trip is published by Carina and is available in ebook format.
Both authors can be contacted via Twitter @garytwynam  @karinjldixon

Friday, 24 January 2014

" Black Roses " by Jane Thynne

"Marriage. England. Peace. Or Berlin".

Carla is an English Rose, born into a wealthy family and has lived a sheltered life.  She dreams of being an actress, and avoiding a marriage proposal, she heads for the world of cinema in Berlin, 1931.

The rest of the world is relatively unaware of the day to day effects on the Berlin population, as the Nazi Regime impose their laws and take over the city.  Clara finds herself in the thick of it after a chance encounter with Englishman, Leo.  Suddenly she is forced to make some tough decisions and perhaps make a change in the potential oncoming war.

Jane Thynne has brought us a new perspective on WW2 and the role of British Intelligence in Germany. While the book has characters and storylines that are based on fact,  there is still a feel of fiction throughout.  The writing is descriptive, informative and carries itself very well.  Having recently studied this period in History, I found the backround information regarding Communism, Facisim and the Third Reich as well as the bizzare influence and changes imposed by Hitler and his "Brown Shirts" very well covered.  However, some readers may find some of the book a bit like a history lesson. ( Not always a bad thing, by the way ).

The character of Clara has the potential become one of real substance and,  now I know there will be more Clara Vine books, this makes sense.  She needs more depth and feeling to make her more real.  The other English character, Leo, is great.  While the reader is not given a lot of details,  he still becomes endearing.  

This novel is a nice way to discover the stories of Germany in early 1930s, from a different angle.  The descriptions of the city are really well done and, having never visited Berlin, would make me want to visit.  The women of Germany are also brought to the forefront as the author attempts to show us how the wives and girlfriends of Hitler's men are expected to behave.  It is very well researched and the author's notes at the end of the book are a great addition.  I look forward to the next installment of Clara Vine's story.

Black Roses is published by Simon&Schuster and is available in Paperback as well as ebook format.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters

Thanks to for the review copy of this book.

This historical novel tells two different stories. 
Roberta, who works in The Old and New BookShop,  loves finding treasures in second hand books. Old photos, letters and cards are regular finds and she keeps each one for her own collection.  When she is given an old suitcase belonging to her grandmother, she discovers a letter signed by her grandfather, but it doesn't seem to make sense.  It is dated after his supposed death in WW2.  Here begins a journey of discovery for Roberta and she may be surprised with the results.

Dorothy is stuck in an unhappy marriage and struggling to make ends meet while her husband is off fighting in the war.  A chance encounter with a Polish pilot sees the start of a longing within herself and she begins to see the future as something to look forward to, rather than dread.  Her recent past has been difficult and full of heartbreak, so dare she hope for some happiness?

With two strong leads and a wonderful array of supporting characters, this novel glides seamlessly back and forth between eras and intertwines the two stories very cleverly.
Dorothy is a protagonist of substance, full of depth and has an amazing story to tell.  Roberta, on the other hand, is more vague, insecure and without the link to her grandmother would not have been a character I would see as holding her own in a book of this caliber. 

The writing is flawless.  Each chapter glides along and interlinks nicely with the next.  The story is consistent and the content exact.  Not too many characters are introduced, and the ones that we do encounter are relevant to the situations.  I thought the introduction of  Mrs Compton in Dorothy's tale was a very clever move by the author and well thought out.  
 I can see this book being a great addition to Book Club reading lists and would foresee it hitting the bestseller lists very soon after it's release.
The only problem I have with this book, is that I didn't write it myself!
Highly Recommended.

Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase is published by Hodder&Stoughton and is available from and other bookshops from 27th Feb 2014.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Book Tour - " I Found You " by Jane Lark

I was delighted to be asked to participate in the Book Tour for Jane Lark's New Adult Romace novel, I Found You.  
Not normally a genre I would read, however, the concept of the story was all too good to pass up on.

While out for a run on a cold Winter's evening on Manhattan Bridge, Jason spots a young woman standing on the edge,  in just a t-shirt,  and it seems she is preparing to jump.  Rachel is oblivious to her situation and Jason has to convince her that going home with him is the best option.  Here starts this wonderful story.....

Most of the novel is just these two characters, their past, present and future.  Rachel obviously has issues and Jason has some explaining to do to his girlfriend and family when he takes in this stray girl.  Both in their early 20s, Rachel and Jason are unsure of their futures and Jason in particular is struggling with the expectations of  him.  They have a special bond from the start and seem to bring out the best in each other.  This does not come without a price though, as other people are hesitant to see Rachel as anything other than trouble.

This novel grabs you from the very first page.  Jason is a genuine good guy and someone we would all love for our daughters!  Although Rachel is troubled, and fighting some inner demons, she also has a good heart.  
The writing is smooth and at a perfect pace.  There are other characters, mostly Jason's family, but the two main protagonists are what counts.  Their interactions are superb and the reader feels as if they are watching them on a big screen.  There is a nice balance between wholesome and nasty and while the idea of a young guy just rescuing a random stranger seems a bit unbelievable at first, when the reader learns more about Jason's manner and personality, it does become more realistic.  Rachel, on the other hand, seems very real from the start, as there are so many young women out there who can find themselves lost and alone after making some bad choices.

This is a great read and I found it perfect to pick up each evening for my night-time read. Recommended.


Jane is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romances.

She began her first novel at sixteen, but a life full of difficulty derailed her as she lives with the restrictions of Ankylosing Spondylitis.

When she finally completed a novel it was because she was determined to be able to say I’m a writer.

Now Jane is thrilled to be giving her characters life in others’ imaginations at last.

Jane is also a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development, and uses her knowledge of psychology to bring her characters to life.

‘Basically I’m a sucker for a love story. I love the feeling of falling in love and it’s wonderful to be able to do it time and time again in fiction, plus my understanding of people helps me write the really intense relationships I enjoy creating.’


I Found You is available now in e-book format

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Giveaway - Signed copy of "Incitement" by David Graham

Jan 2014 Giveaway

Happy New Year Book Lovers!

To celebrate, I thought we should have a giveaway and thanks to Irish Author, David Graham, we have a personalised signed copy of his amazing thriller "Incitement" to send to one lucky reader.

We reviewed this novel late last year and have put a copy of the review under this post.  It's a perfect read for the chilly New Year evenings :)

Just leave a blog comment below or RT and follow @MargaretBMadden to enter this giveaway.  It's open Internationally.

Best of luck everyone!!!

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

David can be contacted via Twitter @DavidANGraham and also welcomes requests for review copies from Book Bloggers.

Monday, 6 January 2014

" Beyond Grace's Rainbow " by Carmel Harrington

I came across this author on Twitter, where I have discovered amazing talent, and she's an Irish author too! Judging by the amazing reviews and the fact that it had won the March 2013 Kindle Book Award and was recommended by Bord Gais Energy Book Club,  it seemed I just had to get myself a copy.  I am glad I did......

Grace has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and knows that the only hope she has is finding a suitable bone marrow donor.  None of her friends are matches and, as she was adopted as a baby, there are no family members to test.  She is a single Mum to Jack and has raised him alone, albeit with the support of her close group of friends.  These friends are her coping mechanism and, along with Jack, keep her motivated.
As the need for a donor becomes more and more of a priority, Grace and her friends decide to track down her birth mother in the hope of prolonging Grace's life.  With some unofficial detective work and a few road trips, the search begins.

Although the subject matter of this novel is not upbeat, the characters bring the book to life.  I would certainly be grateful for Grace's wonderful friends and their constant support and rallying.  As awful it must be to discover you have cancer, to have the constant presence of these friends would definitely be a benefit to any sick person and make the rounds of chemo and sleepless nights seem worth the fight.

Carmel Harrington has written a warm, endearing tale of a woman's journey through illness, good and bad.  It is more a novel of spirit and friendship, love and hope, than one of medical procedures. It will make you laugh, make you cry and make you want to be part of this tight circle of friends. It will stay with you well after you have turned the last page.  Well worth the £2.99 on Kindle!

Carmel can be contacted on Twitter @HappyMrsH 

" Golden Boy " by Abigail Tarttelin

I received a copy of this book from for review purposes.

Max is a cute, sporty and popular 15 year boy living in Oxford and enjoying school, football and girls.  He is living a lie though, as he is neither boy or girl.  Born intersex, his parents have hidden this fact form all but their best friends.  It has never really been a major issue in Max's life until something happens which turns his world, and that of his parents, upside down.  All of a sudden, Max finds himself lost and alone in a world where no one is even aware that he is different.

Let me start by saying that I have not read many accounts of intersex, and therefor started this novel with a very open mind.
I was gripped by the end of the first chapter, and read it in a day.  I literally could not put it down.  The story is intense and heart wrenching and the writing style made it even more enjoyable.  The book is split into chapters, with each one alternating between Max, his parents, his brother, his doctor and his girlfriend.  I like how this was done as it gave each character a voice and gave the story more depth.  Luckily, the medical jargon was not overdone, as often is the case with these types of novels, and the details were neither too much nor too little.
When Max's mother looks back at the period when her child was diagnosed as intersex, the reader may question her judgment in relation to surgery, but this decision was one she couldn't make at the time and then the years seemed to slip past, making the decision an even more difficult one.

My only qualm with this book was the character of Daniel, Max's little brother.  He was annoying, spoilt and not a bit likeable.  The book would have worked equally well without him.

I couldn't believe the author was in her twenties.....she is a very talented girl and I will keep my eye out for more of her work.  This would be an ideal read for a book club who really enjoy getting a discussion going.....I will certainly recommend it to my own club!

Golden Boy will be published by Orion Publishing on 30th January 2014

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