Wednesday, 30 April 2014

April Random Recommendation and Giveaway. " Every Dead Thing " by John Connolly. Open INT




I just about made it for April's Giveaway! It has been a very busy month with lots of new releases to be reviewed, some interviews and book launches, and of course all the kids were off for Easter. Mad house :)

This months Random Recommendation is the first novel by my favourite crime thriller author, John Connolly.  John has been riding high on the bestseller lists with his newest book " The Wolf In Winter " which I reviewed here recently.  This giveaway is the first in the Charlie Parker Series and shows how amazingly talented this writer is.  A gripping page turner from the start, it is hard to believe this was his first.  High calibre writing and nail biting narrative made this an easy choice for a recommendation.  For those of you who have not yet discovered John Connolly's Charlie Parker character, be prepared to become addicted.......
Just enter via rafflecopter below.  


Synopsis
Tormented and racked with guilt over the brutal slaying of his wife and daughter, Charlie Parker, ex-cop with the NYPD, agrees to track down a missing girl. It is a search that will lead him into an abyss of evil. At the same time, he is warned by an old black woman in Louisiana that 'The Travelling Man' is about to strike again. Multiple strands converge with a horrific confrontation in which hunter and hunted are intimately connected by guilt.


About the Author


John Connolly was born in Dublin in 1968. His debut -EVERY DEAD THING - swiftly launched him right into the front rank of thriller writers, and all his subsequent novels have beenSunday Times bestsellers. He is the first non-American writer to win the US Shamus award.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

" I Can Do It " by Tracey Corderoy and Caroline Pedler





Thanks to Little Tiger Press for the review copy of this book .....

Baby Bear is feeling very proud of himself.  He has learned to button up his rucksack by himself and know wants to do everything on his own.  Mummy Bear encourages him to try new things while keeping a watchful eye.  He wants to press the buttons on the traffic lights, get his own books from the shelves at the library and button up his own coat.  Learning to be independent is a part of growing up and this story captures the innocence of little bear.

The book is full of colourful classic illustration and even has some touch and feel items which had the kids scrambling for a go! The story has a warm fuzzy feel about it and, for anyone who has raised a child, will bring back memories of those determined toddler days.  

This will be a well used book in years to come at Bleach House.......

http://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Can-Do-Tracey-Corderoy/dp/1848957467/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398861222&sr=1-1&keywords=i+can+do+it+tracey+corderoy

" Big Bad Owl " by Steve Smallman and Richard Watson




Thanks to Little Tiger Press for the review copy of this book ......

Owl is grumpy.  Everyone in Cupcake Wood is feeling happy and enjoying the wonderful day.  Owl is just not feeling it.  He would rather go to his Grumpy Branch on his tree and stay away from all the happiness.  But the animals in the wood are not letting him get away with it that easily.....
With beautiful illustrations and easy to follow wording, this picture book is perfect for toddlers learning about emotions.  It shows that everyone gets bad days but it's so much more fun to allow happiness into your life!

The only potential problem is that one of Owl's catchprases is " Flap Off " which, my kids pointed out, sounds very like a well known phrase that we all try to protect our children from..... However, it caused some great fits of giggles when we were reading it :)

I really like this book and will definitely add it to the bulging bookcase !!!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Big-Bad-Owl-Steve-Smallman/dp/1848957505/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398860905&sr=1-1&keywords=big+bad+owl

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Wonderful news for author Jill Knapp, who has been snapped up by Harper Impulse !!





I posted a review of Jill Knapp's novel "Chase" here on BleachHouseLibrary yesterday and I am delighted to share the news that Jill has been snapped up by Harper Impulse!!



I am beyond delighted for her, as she has worked so hard on her "Chase" series and now has the full support of a well established, and well respected publishing house.  Read her story via the link below and then scroll down further for my review of "Chase".




http://www.harperimpulseromance.com/acquisition-announcement-jill-knapp/


*****************************************************************************

" Chase " by Jill Knapp with exclusive journal entry !!






I was sent a copy of this book by the author in return for an honest review......

Amalia Hastings has it all. She is living the dream in Manhattan with a perfect boyfriend, great apartment, good friends and she's doing well in Grad School.  Things couldn't be better. Or could they?  Her Graduate school friend, Michael, is causing some feelings within her that throws doubt into the mix.  All this, and she's only 23 years old.  She begins to wonder what direction she should take, and with her best friend Cassandra by her side , she points herself toward the unknown....

Jill Knapp has written a modern day look at life in Manhattan,  with a touch of the Sex and the City about it.  It looks at relationships between friends, as well as lovers, and also examines the effect Manhattan can have on some people.  The skyline is high, the city never sleeps and there is such a diverse mix of residents.  Amalia has not moved far, having grown up on Staten Island but she rarely returns to her hometown.  Money does not seem to be an issue, which is not really explained (other than saying her parents help her out a little ) and she has a fantastic social life.  Her friend, Cassandra, sounds like an ideal friend.  Honest, generous and available.  She also has Amalia's back, which is what a true friend is for.  The mutual attraction between Amalia and Michael oozes from the pages of the book and you can almost feel the tension at times.  This is similar to a Mr. Big story-line and one minute you think they should be together, while the next you are wishing Amalia would get a grip!  
I understand this is part one of a series, so I am really looking forward to the next installment.  I hope we hear more from Amalia's parents as they seem quirky and unusual.  Cassandra was another character I hope to hear more from. A feisty girl with a heart of gold.  

This is up to date chick-lit. Sharp, sassy and fun.  A few unanswered questions, but that's what makes you want to read the rest of the series.  No release date for the next installment yet, but will keep you posted!

Jill Knapp has written an exclusive journal entry from Amalia for BleachHouseLibrary!!!

Journal of Amalia Hastings
September 8

This morning I saw Michael in Washington Square Park. I didn’t mean to meet up with him, I actually kind of forgot he was going to be there. But as soon as I sat down to enjoy a rare quiet moment in this ever restless city, he emerged like an unwanted sunrise. Warm and beautiful, but you were in no state of mind to appreciate it. We spoke briefly about, well mainly about how we spent all summer not speaking. There’s a new girl at school, Angela. He mentioned he had a few dates with her over the summer. I wasn’t sure how to take it. I didn’t expect him to pine over me all summer long, but the fact that he had moved on so quickly did prove my point for me. That his feelings were on fleeting, and he was in no position to date me exclusively.
I also saw Hayden the other day. He is so opposite of anyone I know here. So full of life and energy. Maybe he’s figured it out and isn’t constantly angsting over his every move like most New Yorkers are. Maybe he just hasn’t been here long enough. Either way, I’d like to spend more time with him. Who knows what could happen?
Cassandra is still being cold and aloof. I can’t tell if she’s upset with me, or just completely tied up with work. I’ll try to make plans with her soon and talk to her about it. Apparently she has a new guy in her life, Brandon. Someone I know nothing about. It’s so strange, I usually can tell you everything about the guy in her life, down to his show size. She seems so different lately. So detached from everything. Withdrawn.
Olivia has been a great friend lately. I’ve been staying with her until I find a new apartment to move into. She also told me about a work-study opportunity at school where I can make some extra money. Fingers crossed I get accepted, I could definitely use the money (and the distraction!).



Chase is available in paperback and ebook format. Jill can be contacted via Twitter @JL_Knapp
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Chase-Jill-Knapp-Zitron/dp/098960800X/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398698968&sr=1-1&keywords=chase+jill+knapp





Mia visits O'Brien Press and discovers the world of children's publishing!





On Friday 25th April, Bleach House Library took a road trip.....Seven of us jammed into the car for a day in Dublin.  The special occasion? Mia was off to interview the staff at Irish Publishing House, The O'Brien Press......

Mia is 10 years old and, like her mother, adores the world of books.  She contributes reviews to this blog as well as to Writing.ie and various children's publishers. She has even had one of her reviews quoted on the cover  of a children's book.   Her idea of heaven was to visit a publishing house and see how it all works.  She planned her questions in advance and thought the day would never arrive!

Well it did arrive, and after some heavy traffic and a late arrival ( oooops ), we found the beautiful three storey house of heaven, located on a leafy Rathgar Street.  Greeted by Clare Kelly, we were brought into meet all the lovely staff and got to see where all the magic of publishing happens.  A team of marketing, sales, PR, editors, graphic designers, and many more, are all involved in getting the author's work into book format and making sure it gets on the shelves of book shops, libraries and schools.  We got to meet the lovely Helen Carr, who showed Mia all the ins and outs of editing a book.  There was so much to do before the book wold be ready for publication!  Clare then showed us around the offices and we ended up in the very fancy conference room where all the big meetings take place .... the room had bookshelves all around and they were filled to the brim with all O'Brien Press titles.  An amazing place.  Here are some of the questions that Mia got to ask Clare.  The answers are not direct quotes,  any errors are not intentional and are all mine. ( I forgot to turn on voice recorder. Well, I thought I had it turned on - I'll definitely check next time we are interviewing. )


******************************************


Tell us about your typical day at The O'Brien Press

Clare says the best part of her job is that no day is ever the same.  There is always new things to be done. She looks after the social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook and updates the blog.  She also co-ordinates book events and launches which means she gets to do fun stuff like getting locations ready and making sure the authors are all happy.  She works with a great team of people and they do everything they can to ensure the book is perfect and ready for all their readers!


When did The O'Brien Press start and what was it's first book published?

Founded in 1974, The O'Brien Press is celebrating 40 years of publishing this year.  The very first book published was : 



What is your bestselling title?

Over the years this has been the most popular children's book and can still be found on the bookshelves of most Irish classrooms :



Do you have any child authors?

The O'Brien Press has all adult authors but think that the author's age doesn't matter - just the story and how the readers react.


Where do you print your books?

The books are printed all over the world; Mostly Asia and UK. It depends on how quickly the publisher needs to get the book printed and what kind of paper/graphics etc are needed.


How long does it take for the book to be ready for the shops?

From the time The O'Brien Press decide to publish the book, it can take about 9 months or more.  Again, it depends on the style of book, whether it is a picture book, and how quickly the editing process is complete. Also, if the book is for a certain season, like Christmas, it needs to be launched at the right time.


Who were your favourite authors, growing up?

Clare adored the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling and as a younger child she loved Enid Blyton, especially The FarAway Tree stories.


What is your bestselling age range?

It seems the blue banded books, typically age 9+ are the bestsellers.  Kids love historical fiction and The O'Brien Press supply lots of these titles to schools, bookshops and via their website.  Kids of this age love to read and if the book is based on real life, it makes it all the better.


**************************************************


Mia and I would like to thank Clare, Helen and all the team at The O'Brien Press for showing us around and answering all our questions.  It looks like such a fun place to work and has definitely inspired Mia to read and review even more regularly.  Clare kindly gave us some signed books and Mia is currently loving this one....



Mia & Clare





You can follow The O'Brien Press on Twitter @OBrienPress on Facebook/TheOBrienPress and they have an amazing website  http://www.obrien.ie/ where you can see all their titles and even order them online.

Check back with us here at BleachHouseLibrary to read Mia's reviews........








Monday, 28 April 2014

" Chase " by Jill Knapp with exclusive journal entry !!






I was sent a copy of this book by the author in return for an honest review......

Amalia Hastings has it all. She is living the dream in Manhattan with a perfect boyfriend, great apartment, good friends and she's doing well in Grad School.  Things couldn't be better. Or could they?  Her Graduate school friend, Michael, is causing some feelings within her that throws doubt into the mix.  All this, and she's only 23 years old.  She begins to wonder what direction she should take, and with her best friend Cassandra by her side , she points herself toward the unknown....

Jill Knapp has written a modern day look at life in Manhattan,  with a touch of the Sex and the City about it.  It looks at relationships between friends, as well as lovers, and also examines the effect Manhattan can have on some people.  The skyline is high, the city never sleeps and there is such a diverse mix of residents.  Amalia has not moved far, having grown up on Staten Island but she rarely returns to her hometown.  Money does not seem to be an issue, which is not really explained (other than saying her parents help her out a little ) and she has a fantastic social life.  Her friend, Cassandra, sounds like an ideal friend.  Honest, generous and available.  She also has Amalia's back, which is what a true friend is for.  The mutual attraction between Amalia and Michael oozes from the pages of the book and you can almost feel the tension at times.  This is similar to a Mr. Big story-line and one minute you think they should be together, while the next you are wishing Amalia would get a grip!  
I understand this is part one of a series, so I am really looking forward to the next installment.  I hope we hear more from Amalia's parents as they seem quirky and unusual.  Cassandra was another character I hope to hear more from. A feisty girl with a heart of gold.  

This is up to date chick-lit. Sharp, sassy and fun.  A few unanswered questions, but that's what makes you want to read the rest of the series.  No release date for the next installment yet, but will keep you posted!

Jill Knapp has written an exclusive journal entry from Amalia for BleachHouseLibrary!!!

Journal of Amalia Hastings
September 8

This morning I saw Michael in Washington Square Park. I didn’t mean to meet up with him, I actually kind of forgot he was going to be there. But as soon as I sat down to enjoy a rare quiet moment in this ever restless city, he emerged like an unwanted sunrise. Warm and beautiful, but you were in no state of mind to appreciate it. We spoke briefly about, well mainly about how we spent all summer not speaking. There’s a new girl at school, Angela. He mentioned he had a few dates with her over the summer. I wasn’t sure how to take it. I didn’t expect him to pine over me all summer long, but the fact that he had moved on so quickly did prove my point for me. That his feelings were on fleeting, and he was in no position to date me exclusively.
I also saw Hayden the other day. He is so opposite of anyone I know here. So full of life and energy. Maybe he’s figured it out and isn’t constantly angsting over his every move like most New Yorkers are. Maybe he just hasn’t been here long enough. Either way, I’d like to spend more time with him. Who knows what could happen?
Cassandra is still being cold and aloof. I can’t tell if she’s upset with me, or just completely tied up with work. I’ll try to make plans with her soon and talk to her about it. Apparently she has a new guy in her life, Brandon. Someone I know nothing about. It’s so strange, I usually can tell you everything about the guy in her life, down to his show size. She seems so different lately. So detached from everything. Withdrawn.
Olivia has been a great friend lately. I’ve been staying with her until I find a new apartment to move into. She also told me about a work-study opportunity at school where I can make some extra money. Fingers crossed I get accepted, I could definitely use the money (and the distraction!).



Chase is available in paperback and ebook format. Jill can be contacted via Twitter @JL_Knapp
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Chase-Jill-Knapp-Zitron/dp/098960800X/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398698968&sr=1-1&keywords=chase+jill+knapp

Thursday, 24 April 2014

" The Dead Ground " by Claire McGowan - Book Tour. Review and excerpt.





Thanks to Bookbridgr.com for the review copy of this book.......

Claire McGowan is back with her new Paula Maguire crime thriller.  I read the first in the series last month and couldn't wait for the next instalment!  I was delighted to see this pop through the letterbox and to be included in the book tour with Bookbridgr.  

Forensic psychologist, Paula Maguire is based in Northern Ireland and works within the Missing Persons Unit.  She is called into help when a baby is stolen from the maternity ward of a local hospital, hours after its birth.  Very uncomfortable with this case, for personal reasons, she struggles to keep her feelings under wrap and keep her secret to herself.  Not long after the kidnapping, a woman's body is found with her stomach cut open and dumped in the snow.  Things go from bad to worse, when a pregnant girl goes missing and another baby has disappeared.  Are the events linked?  Can Paula get into the mind of the killer? Is it too late for the missing woman and infants?

Claire McGowan has delivered another clever crime thriller, hot on the heels of The Lost.  Her protagonist is sharp, edgy and likeable and, once again, the author's knowledge of Northern Ireland and its border towns really make the location ideal for gritty atmospheric scenes.  Paula's missing mother is still a  part of the storyline and interwoven throughout the novel, making the reader desperate to know what happened to her.  Her father is trying to move on with his life yet is concious of his daughters feelings.  Paula  is surrounded by men in her job and seems uncomfortable with female co-workers.  This is a clever move by the author, as a girl who grew up without a mother would, more than likely, struggle with bonding with women.  Add to that, the appalling nature of the crimes and Paula's life is one of extreme stress. 
I read a lot of crime thrillers and can safely say that Claire McGowan is right up there with the best of them.  She doesn't feel the need to go into minute detail with each event, forgoing the technical jargon that a lot of authors depend on.  This means the narrative is the main event.  It's a good old fashioned who-done-it with a modern twist.  Having a female perspective may be a common thread in crime fiction these days, but with Paula Maguire, you get the back story, the history of the troubles in Northern Ireland and the fantastic descriptive passages depicting a wild countryside on a small island.  Well done Claire McGowan, you have definitely secured your place on bookshelves alongside Karin Slaughter and Jonathan Kellerman.

Highly Recommended. See below for excerpt........
The Dead ground is published by Headline and is available in all formats.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Dead-Ground-Paula-Maguire/dp/1472218566/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1397846162&sr=1-1




Excerpt


Prologue
Ballyterrin, Northern Ireland 1993
It starts with the smallest thing: the beat of your heart.
When everything around you is horror, you focus on that.
The pulse. The life. You focus and get on with it.
It shouldn’t be like this. The phone call fills you with
dread and you don’t know why. You’ve been a police
officer since 1972, all the way through the hardest years of
the Troubles. You’ve seen things beyond your worst
dreams. A child blown up in a chip shop, the money for tea
still clasped in their severed hand on the floor. A shooting
in a pub, all broken glass and brain matter and country
music still playing on the jukebox. A woman burned in
a firebomb, her skin hanging off her like a shawl. Yes,
you’ve seen plenty, more than you thought you could ever
live with. You did live, though. It’s either that or die. But
now this one, this one is filling you with sick fear.
The call comes in the early hours of the morning, as
the worst ones always do. After so many years you’re
awake at once, silencing it even before you realise, trying
not to wake Margaret. But then she never stirs. Her back
is an immovable wall beside you. Then you’re up and
stumbling into your trousers in a dawn as dark as pitch.
You pause for a moment outside your daughter’s door, her
teenage breathing thick and deep. Please God, she’ll sleep
right through this and never hear a word. So as not to wake
your women, you put on your boots at the bottom of the
stairs, dry toast clamped in your mouth. You swallow your
tea too fast and burn your mouth; all day you’ll be tonguing
at that one raw spot on your lip.
Movement at the top of the stairs. Margaret, her face
pale in the cloud of her red hair. Her voice is tired. ‘What
is it this time?’
You can’t tell her. God help you. Can’t say there’s a
man just been found in a bog in Louth, small-time crook,
back of his head shot out, and you have to go now to some
farm and tell this news to his wife. You can’t tell her. It’s
Margaret’s worst nightmare, the same happening to you,
never coming home again. She’s been on at you for years to
give the job up, do something else. But what else is there?
What else is there to do? ‘Early start,’ you mumble. ‘See
you later, love.’
She stands for a moment, as if she might say something,
and then she turns her face away. It is the last thing you see,
floating over the railings like a white oval. Later, when all
the rest of her has faded entirely, you will try and catch at
it, her face in the morning gloom that day, her voice cracked
and dry, and how she turns away, once and for good, into
the dark.
You drive through empty streets, a winter mist already
rising off the roads, your breath like steam. It’s October,
dark now until eight a.m. The road down to the farm is
black, rising red in the east. Red sky in the morning,
Shepherd’s warning. That’s what your daughter will say
when she wakes up for school in an hour. Even the
animals seem asleep, faint movement somewhere in dark
fields soaked with dew. Parked on the front drive, Bob
Hamilton’s already there, a nervous new constable in tow.
There’s Bob, out of the car, stamping feet and billowing
breath in the cold. Sergeant Bob he is now, and never let
you forget it. Of course he’s been promoted. Of course the
loyal Orangeman Bob has been promoted over you,
awkward Catholic that you are. There’s never been any
doubt. There’s no reason you should mind at all.
Across the yard, leaning on a battered Ford, is Mick
Quinn, the Guard who woke you this morning with the
news. He’s parked far away, as if there’s an invisible
battle line, and is cupping a fag in the icy morning air.
The Guard works over the border in the South, where the
husband’s body has washed up, but your territory merges,
it bleeds into each other, and these early-morning calls are
more common than either of you would like to think.
Mick is a tall fair fella with an easy smile, but this
morning he’s pale as milk. ‘PJ.’
‘Mick. You going in?’
‘Not our turf, son. You tear away.’
You are technically in the North here, so it’s your ball
game, but you wish all the same the Irishman could be at
your back, instead of bloody Sideshow Bob, red-faced and
dour, not to mention the wet-behind-the-ears constable,
who looks ready to boke into his cap. You trudge back
over to them.
‘Did you knock?’
Bob shakes his head. ‘No answer.’
‘Is she not home?’
‘No, it’s . . .’ Bob hesitates. ‘Her sister’s been ringing
her. She rang us too, apparently, to say the phone wasn’t
being answered. Wanted us to come out here.’
Christ. ‘When?’
Reluctant. ‘Three days back.’
‘She’s been here three days on her own? What did they
do to her?’ You know the husband has been taken by the
IRA. It has all the hallmarks. He’ll have been informing, or
invading their turf on drugs or guns, or maybe nothing at
all, maybe he just crossed the wrong person. Happens all
the time. But the woman. They must have done something
very bad, for her not to answer the phone in three days.
Your heart starts to pound. Focus, focus. ‘We have to
go in.’
‘There’s something else.’
‘What?’ Christ, spit it out, Bob. There’s a woman behind
those dark windows and whatever’s been done to her it
means she can’t so much as pick up a phone to her sister.
And they’ve known for three days, three whole days before
the husband’s body surfaced in the wet bog, and no one has
done a thing.
‘She’s pregnant. Seven months, the sister said.’
Focus.
A few swift kicks and the weak door splinters. ‘Jesus!’
Bob flinches at your blasphemy but then turns pale
himself. The constable is retching in a flower bed. You
clamp your nose shut. The smell is what you’d imagine
after three days. Blood, and piss, and something worse, a
terrible meaty smell that seems to reach out and envelop
you
‘Mrs Rourke?’ You step into the carpeted hallway,
lined with pictures of a family. Wedding shots. Happy
smiles. ‘Hello?’ You move into the living room, see how it’s
disordered, chairs thrown round the place, a boot kicked
through the TV. The kitchen is small, off the living room,
behind a bubbled glass door. You can see something on
the other side of it, a dark shape. The smell is coming
from there.
You stop, the three of you, Bob and you and the poor
wee constable who’s all of twenty. Kevin, that’s his name.
First month on the job. You stop and then you realise it’s
going to be you who opens that door and sees what is on
the other side. You start to walk.
At first it looks like a mangled mess of flesh. Your feet catch
in the tacky slick of blood which has stretched over the
lino. The room feels like it has no oxygen at all, so cold you
can see your breath on the foetid air. You bend down to
the body, or what is left of it. ‘Mrs Rourke?’
She’s dead. She must be, all that blood – her face has
been beaten to meat, red and pulpy, her clothes soaked
black with it. And her stomach, is that – no, Jesus, it’s even
worse. The tangle of skin and blood on her stomach, that’s
her baby.
The baby is purple, its tiny eyes shut. It’s still attached
to her by the blue umbilical cord. It lies on her ruined
stomach as if exhausted. On one of the woman’s hands the
nails are encrusted with blood, and you see she’s been
trying to claw through her own skin. The other hand is
stretched above her head, handcuffed to the handle of a
drawer. You see what has happened. She’s been beaten,
then locked in this kitchen for three days. In that time her
baby has come, and there was no one, no one at all to help.
A knife lies beside her, bloodied, and you see what she has
done, trying to free the child from the prison of her own
body. A little girl. You want to put the poor wee thing
under your jacket.
‘Kevin!’ You’re shouting for the constable. ‘Don’t come
in here, son, don’t look! Get Mick – call an ambulance.
There’s a dead female and an infant, stillborn . . .’
You hear a noise and turn back. A bubble of spit forms
in the woman’s cracked lips. ‘Mrs Rourke? Christ, I think
she’s—’
‘No . . . No . . .’ The free hand reaches towards the
baby. ‘No dead, no . . .’
‘I’m sorry. She’s gone, love. She’s gone.’
The woman tenses for a second, then slumps back in the
pool of her own mess. The limp hand slips from her child’s
blood-slick head, and you scrabble on her damp neck for a
pulse. Nothing. Nothing. In your own chest your heart
goes pounding on, reminding you you’re still alive, and
that this bloodied kitchen with the melamine cupboards
will be with you till the day you lie down and die yourself.
You were sure the woman would die. How could she not?
She’d been in that freezing kitchen for days, bleeding out
across the patterned lino; the dehydration alone should
have killed her. Then she’d be joining the poor scrap she’d
given birth to. But you’ve been waiting in the hospital for
hours now and no one has come with the death forms for
you to sign. You wonder if Margaret’s right, if something
in you has hardened and died too.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

" Can Anybody Help me? " by Sinead Crowley





Thanks to NetGalley.Com for supplying an advanced reading copy of this book.......

New mothers can feel alone. Nervous, anxious, tired and scared.  When the euphoria of the first few days wears off and the bunches of flowers are starting to shrivel in their vases,  the cards are gathering dust on the mantlepiece and the hubby has gone back to work, all of a sudden the loneliness can set in and reality bites.  Some people walk for miles with their newborns, pounding the streets with their three wheelers, others meet friends for endless cups of coffee and compare baby stories and milestones.  Some mothers don't have anyone to meet so go online to meet other mothers and let off some steam.  Mother and baby websites are now a huge industry and a quick search on Google will show you the diverse topics these women are discussing.  Sinead Crowley uses this premise to write a chilling novel with great effect.

Yvonne is a member of netmammy, an online forum for mothers, and enjoys her chats with women in similar circumstances to her.  She is new to Ireland and these women are her only link with the outside world.  Her husband works crazy hours and she needs company.  When one of the users stops posting messages on the forum and a woman is reported missing, Yvonne fears the worst.  
In the meantime, Sergeant Claire Boyle is working the missing person case and, as she is pregnant, decides to also join netmammy.  But then another user stops posting comments.  Is there a connection?  How much can a person really know about an internet friend? Are privacy settings really private?

This is Sinead Crowley's debut novel and it's a cracker!  She manages to grab the reader's attention from the very first page and just does not let go.  I read this in one sitting. I literally could not put it down.  Each chapter had me gagging for the next and the characters were totally believable.  It was clever to combine the investigation with a pregnant member of staff and to have a character who is not flawless, but real.  The writing is simple and easy going, making for a real page turner.  There are no "filler" chapters and the end creeps up on you before you know it.  The author has produced a feisty little thriller which will have us all more aware of our online activities for a while.  
Highly Recommended.

Can Anybody Help Me?  is published by Quercus on 1st May 2014 and is available for pre-order now.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Can-Anybody-Help-Sin%C3%A9ad-Crowley/dp/1782067221/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398270825&sr=1-1&keywords=can+anybody+help+me

The author has also set up a Facebook Page for the novel, where you can get further info ....
https://www.facebook.com/cananybodyhelpme?ref=br_tf



" Things We Never Say " by Sheila O'Flanagan





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

A family brought together for the reading of their father's will.  Two brothers who both believe they deserve the inheritance.  A sister they who has been estranged for years. Two sister-in-laws who feel hard done by. A bitter ex-wife and demanding teenage children hover in the backround.  This is the story of one elderly man's legacy and his desire to do the right thing, whoever it upsets.  An unexpected stranger who arrives, from California, only adds to the mayhem ......

Sheila O'Flanagan has been a best-selling author for many years, rarely out of the book charts.  She has a huge fan base and is known worldwide for her women's fiction novels.  However, this one was just not for me.  The story was interesting to begin with, a family at war over their father's estate, but the characters were so shallow and hateful, I began to tire of the whole book very quickly.  I found it too predictable, very drawn out (Over 500 pages) and quite dated  in its format.  It reminded me of books I read in the late 80s and early 90s which were choc-full of designer clothes, nice locations and lots of property dreams and power suits.  I think the world of women's fiction has moved on from this and it is now more important to have a great narrative and inspiring characters. With so many amazing new novelists out there, the reader is spoilt for choice.  In saying that,  Sheila O'Flanagan is a very successful writer who most certainly does not need the approval of a little book blogger, like me, to end up on the inevitable best-seller lists and I genuinely wish her all the best with this novel. 

Things We Never Say is published by headline Review on 24th April 2014 and is available in paperback and ebook format.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Things-Never-Say-Sheila-Oflanagan/dp/0755378490/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398269897&sr=1-1&keywords=things+we+never+say

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

" Fan " by Danny Rhodes





I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in return for an honest review.....


Hillbsborough 1989.  The worst sporting disaster in British history.  Who can forget those pictures of fans being crushed to death? The feeling of helplessness. The shock of the onlookers who were witnessing the lives being lost.  The discussions of who was to blame. The fear of family and friends of the supporters all over the country.  The shivers felt when You'll Never Walk Alone was played.

Fan is a work of fiction, based around the tragedy of Hillsborough.  The author, Danny Rhodes, was actually there on that day and has used his experience and emotion to write an intense and detailed account of how the event could have impacted someone who witnessed it all.
John Finch was a teenage fan of Nottingham Forest, who travelled all over the country to support his team.  Packed in on trains or buses, himself and his pals would make the journey, home and away, each Saturday and lived for the football season.  The novel is John's story, and flicks between 1989 and 2004, exploring the long term effects of that fateful day......

This is a book about football, yes. But it is more a book about a fan, torn between moving on with his life and remembering the awful past.  The writer brings us into the world of a football fan, the atmosphere oozing from each page. I have never been a football lover and, growing up in Ireland, have never seen the fighting or felt the tension which existed in english football in the 1980s.  I had seen the TV coverage and read reports in the newspapers, but felt removed from it all.  This book brings the reader closer to the supporters, the grounds and the turnstiles. You can almost see the fans gathered in the pubs surrounding the grounds and picture the sea of jerseys and scarves.  John is a deeply troubled man and his world is spinning on its axis.  A trip back to his hometown, and down memory lane, can only make or break him....

Danny Rhodes has bared his soul with this book.  Raw, intense and profound, it is a book that will stay with you long after you have turned the final page.  You don't have to know anything about football to understand the meaning of this book.  You just need to understand grief, trauma and reality.

Recommended.

Fan is published by Arcadia Books and is available in paperback and ebook format

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

" The Girl Who Came Home " by Hazel Gaynor





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

It is 102 years since the tragic sinking of Titanic and yet the story is one that never fails to pull at our heartstrings.  We have seen the movie, read the books and think there is nothing else we can learn about the event.  This book proves us wrong.

Based on the true story of a group of people, all from the same small country town in Ireland, who travelled on Titanic in search of a better life.  Only two survived.  This is the story of the fourteen neighbours, their excitement, their nervousness, their awe of such a fine vessel and their limited interaction with the wealthier passengers on-board. 

The story is split in two; Maggie Murphy is one of the fourteen who travelled to America in 1912 and the reader learns of her harrowing tale from her journal entries as well as flashbacks.  Grace Bulter is Maggie's great-granddaughter and is the one that Maggie chooses to share her memories with.

The novel is written with great compassion and was obviously lovingly researched.  Hazel Gaynor has looked at the tragedy from a different angle but has retained essential facts surrounding the ship and it's, now famous, passengers.  A few details in the book were not ones I had known, little nuggets of information that are peppered throughout the chapters and added to the overall atmosphere. There is a look at what it was like for the family and friends, on land, who were desperately waiting for updates on the event and wondering if their loved ones were among the survivors.  Even when disembarking in New York, following their rescue, the divide between classes was still obvious. Even in tragedy, status was everything.

 The writing is warm and affectionate to its subject as well as having a nice overall pace and chapter length.  I would think it ideal for older children as well as adults and would work especially well for reading groups as there is a great section at the end of the book for further discussion.  A special mention for the beautiful artwork of the cover too!

I live close to the Titanic Museum, in Belfast, and have been itching to visit for the past two years.  I think this novel has given me the final push I needed.  I intend to visit in the very near future.  Thanks to Hazel Gaynor for her research and dedication in the completion of this lovely book.  I hope to see it in many hands over the summer.


The Girl Who Came Home is published by Harper Collins on 24th April 2014 in paperback and ebook format

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Who-Came-Home-Titanic/dp/0062316869/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397677387&sr=1-1&keywords=hazel+gaynor

Friday, 11 April 2014

" Flight " by Oona Frawley






Thanks to Tramp Press for sending me a review copy of this book .......

Four people. Four journeys. Four lives. From Zimbabwe to Ireland,  America to Vietnam, these journeys each come with their own tales.  Some of isolation, humiliation and degradation, others of hope and prosperity in a different world.  

Sandrine has come to Ireland to seek a better life for herself, and hopefully her family.  She is employed by Elizabeth to look after her elderly parents, Tom and Clare, who can longer manage alone. 
Having returned to Ireland on Tom's retirement, the couple are now based in their seaside home in Dublin.  Elizabeth warns Sandrine that they often get confused and can be a handful.  Sandrine soon realises that her hopes of attending school in Ireland are no longer a viable option and she dedicates her time to the monitoring of Tom and Grace.  On her rare occasions to venture out of the house, she is a first hand witness to the hostile treatment of "non-nationals" in Ireland and how the country, as a whole, sees the immigrant workers as some kind of threat to their nation.  Deportations are a regular thing and Sandrine fears she will be discovered as working full-time, despite her student visa status.  On top of this, there is the added problem of her pregnancy.  She has not told anyone, and finds it hard to plan her future with so much uncertainty in the present.

Elizabeth visits her parents almost everyday and watches as they deteriorate at an alarming rate.  When her father has to be placed in a care facility, her mother is distraught. Sandrine does her best to create a normal atmosphere in the house but it soon becomes apparent that Grace is fading.  Elizabeth can only watch, helpless as her parents become shadows of their former selves.  She remembers how much she wanted to leave their home in Vietnam, to study in America, away from the restrictions of Asian life and how even now, in her late 30s, she can still remember the monsoons, the heat and the smell of spices, which were the ingredients of her childhood abroad.

This story is based during the economic boom years of the Celtic Tiger in Ireland.  There are jobs for everyone,  houses being built on land in every town and a flood of immigrants to fill positions that the general population thought beneath them.  The streets are crowded, the shops are bustling and the roads jammed packed with gleaming new cars.  One can see why Ireland was an ideal destination for the thousands of people from troubled countries,  who needed to escape to survive.  
Oona Frawley has cleverly linked the two sides of the story without being either dismissive or preachy. The narrative is jam-packed with melodic prose and I found something beautiful on almost every page.  When trying to pick a short excerpt to use for this review, I really struggled.  There were simply too many.  Descriptive passages are used with such powerful intensity throughout the novel, gliding from chapter to chapter.  There is no need for inverted commas, for example.  The dialogue is blended in with the sentences, of which I didn't even notice for a while, so seamlessly was it done.

It is a while since I was moved to tears while reading a book, but the chapters describing the downward spiral of Tom and Clare were emotionally draining for me.  I could almost have been in the room at times.  Watching a parent, who was always the one in charge, now become the one requiring help,  is a painful storyline.  However, the author has done this with care, and carries it off very well.  Although I thought I would tire of hearing about Tom's career and his obsession with peppers and spices, the narrative moved on and my senses took over.  Scent and sound, imagining the rains and intense heat, this became part of my world as I turned page after page of this poetic book.  
I would recommend this novel for lovers of Colum McCann, Colm Tobin and Anne Enright as it is full of their warmth, passion and clever use of language.


Flight is published by Tramp Press and is available in paperback
http://www.bookdepository.com/Flight-Oona-Frawley/9780992817008




Thursday, 10 April 2014

" SeaWAR " by Sarah Holding. Review by Mia Madden age 10.





Thanks to the author for sending me the review copy of this book..........


The second instalment in the SeaBean Trilogy and we are back with Alice, Charlie and the children of St. Kilda and their adventures in the C-Bean.  This time the machine resets itself and brings Alice back in time, to 1918 where she meets 11 year old Donald and his classmates.  Spix the parrot also tags along and the adventures just keep coming and coming!  

Book 2 is choc-full of time travel fun and mystery and once again highlights the importance of the environment.  Alice encounters a whole new life on St. Kilda and makes some amazing new friends, from different eras.  We are introduced to Karla, the creator of the C-Bean and she seems to have something to hide.... Can Alice and her trusty friends figure out what her plans are for the future of the C-Bean?

This book was a real page turner, with great cliffhangers at the end of each chapter.  There was a lot of information to take in, so may be more suitable for age 10+, or to read aloud with an adult.  Like the last book, this one has a thermochromic cover which changes colour with body heat. Seriously cool!

I reviewed the 1st book in the Trilogy and my review was even quoted on the back of this one, as well as on some bookmarks!!!  I really, really recommend this series as it is simply awesome and I cannot wait for the third book, SeaRISE. 

SeaWAR is published by Medina Publishing and is available in paperback or ebook format.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/SeaWAR-Book-2-SeaBEAN-Trilogy/dp/190933913X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1397152627&sr=1-3

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

" Precious Thing " by Colette McBeth





Thanks to BookBridgr.com for the review copy of this novel.......

Best friends share everything. Gossip, clothes, secrets and memories.  Taste in music, movies and sometimes even boys.  But can they know each other so completely that they would trust each other with anything?  Can there ever be doubts within their friendship? Rachel and Clara have been best friends since primary school.  A deep bond developed between them instantly and bordered on obsession.  Rarely apart, they experienced their teenage years together and are only separated by tragedy. 
Almost a decade later, and Clara is missing.  Rachel is a TV news reporter and is suspicious of the disappearance.  Using her investigative experience, she begins the search for Clara and is soon remembering events from their childhood, not all of which are pleasant.  Memories can hurt, but who will suffer the most? Clara, or Rachel?

Colette McBeth's debut novel is a clever way of looking at friendship and honesty.  It explores the childhood of two girls , both from single parent families, both only children and both dependant on each other.  A thriller which grips from the  first chapter, this book has extremely sharp writing with a perfect pace for its genre.  The story is told from Rachel's point of view and she can be cold and hard at times.  This makes for more suspense throughout the book as the reader just doesn't know what she will do next.  The author's knowledge of the Newsroom is used extremely well, without overpowering the narrative, and thankfully there is not too much technical jargon which I have encountered in other media based novels.  Each chapter is a great length and I found myself saying "just one more chapter" a lot, which is always a good sign.....

With her second novel, The Life I Left Behind,  due to be published in Aug 2014, I think we can add Colette McBeth to the bookshelves, alongside S J Watson,  Alex Marwood and Sophie Hannah. 

Recommended.

Precious Thing is published by Headline Review on 10th April 2014 and is available in paperback and ebook format.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Precious-Thing-Colette-Mcbeth/dp/1472205952/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397046662&sr=1-1&keywords=colette+mcbeth






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