Monday, 30 March 2015

"A Time for Friends" by Patricia Scanlan

Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the review copy of this title...

Is there ever a right time to break up with your best friend?  
Despite having very different upbringings and backgrounds, Hillary and Colette have been friends forever.  They have watched each other grow up, get married, have kids and while they live in different countries, the friendship has weathered the storm.  
Hillary is the down to earth, hard working woman with a big heart.  A mother of two girls and happily married, she would bend over backwards for her friends and family.
Colette is the wealthy diva, having had everything handed to her on a platter since birth.  Also married, with one daughter, she is not so generous with her time and thinks of herself before anyone else.  
Jonathan is Hillary's new best friend.  A complete breath of fresh air, he is quick to point out the imbalance in the girls relationship and Hillary begins to see how she has been duped by Colette over the years.  But her good heart means she struggles to let go of the friendship.  Until one New Years Day, when a mis-dialled phone call reveals Colette's true nature...

This is basically a tale of three characters, over three decades.  Pre-Celtic Tiger, The Boom Years and The Recession.  Hillary, Colette and Jonathan each have their stories to tell and the spiderweb that links them is what makes this a complete package.  Hillary is a little it too perfect, rarely getting anything wrong (great mother, wife and daughter-in-law, astute business woman, fantastic friend and has good conservative financial sense), whereas Colette is a real Cruella DeVille. (Hard, lacking maternal gene, distant wife and no need to worry about money). She has taken Hillary for granted her whole life and is not about to change now, just because her friend has a new bestie, Jonathan.  He is a flamboyant interior designer with a damaged past but sees the goodness in Hillary.  Unfortunately, he also sees through Colette.  Three becomes a crowd and tensions build.

Patricia Scanlan has done it again.  Another warm and effective character based novel that will envelope you like a cuddle from your favourite Auntie.  She uses throwbacks to the past decades cleverly and the changes in fashion, interior design and even food is a great way of getting the reader to connect with the story.   A look at abuse within the church is a brave move for female fiction in this country and there is no hiding the corrupt politicians either.  The greediness of the Celtic Tiger era is addressed and the only qualm I had was that the big fish didn't really seem to suffer too much from the fallout.  
The Queen of Irish Fiction has still got it and her fans can sit back and relax, as she's delivered another bestseller.

A time for Friends is published by Simon and Schuster and is available in hardback, TPB and ebook format

Sunday, 29 March 2015

"Meet Me in Manhattan" by Claudia Carroll

Holly Johnson has met her dream man.  Clever, handsome, articulate and, more importantly, single.  A transatlantic pilot from Atlanta, Georgia, he is as real catch and sets her pulse racing everytime she hears his voice or reads his messages on her phone.  The only thing is, they can't seem to meet face to face.  Welcome to the world of online dating.  Where little white lies ping into inboxes all over the world, and for every success story, there are plenty of disasters too.   
Holly soon discovers that all is not quite what it seems, and her ideal man is far from the character she fell for.  There is only one thing for it: A trip to NY where she can confront him...

Claudia Carroll is one of Ireland's best loved authors and rather than shying away from the dreaded 'chick-lit' label, she embraces it.  This is an admirable act, as there seems to be a note of distaste lately for said label.  Personally, I have no qualms whatsoever about admitting to reading (and enjoying) these light, fun and relaxing books.  I read most genres and sometimes there is nothing nicer than closing the cover of an academic title, a harrowing newspaper article or even just closing the door at the end of a long day, and picking up a book that means you can switch off, unwind and escape the real world for an hour or two.  If this sounds appealing, then Claudia is the one for you...

From the opening pages it was obvious to the reader that Holly had fallen for the new trick on the block; the Catfish.  A hurtful, dishonest side effect of online dating, these people create completely fabricated online personas and reel in their victims.  The image of Holly sitting in the middle of a busy Dublin restaurant, on a Saturday night, waiting for Andy to arrive on their pre-arranged date, was a little bit heartbreaking.  Then the vision of her dashing across the city to meet him in The Shelbourne Hotel before closing time was a little bit cringe worthy.  But the moment where she realises that she has been duped was the sad part.  Her well meaning friend, Joy, along with her Polish security guard boyfriend, have to break the news that the Southern 'pilot' is not who he seems.  The reader is then brought across the Atlantic as Holly faces the truth, head on.  The descriptions of Manhattan and surrounding areas, are just awe inspiring.  The author obviously has a deep love of the city that never sleeps and adds a touch of sparkle to the pages where Holly comes across its well known sites for the first time.  It is years since I have travelled to New York and having been there during a snow storm, I could identify with the setting of this novel straight away.  A delight to look at and wonderful to experience on foot, not so great for catching a flight out of...

The use of humour is one of Claudia's trademarks, and this novel oozes wit and charm.  I loved Holly's innocence, while the sharpness of Joy and Krzysztof added extra entertainment.  I just wish there was more from this great couple.  All chick-lit has its predictability, and this is no exception.  But, as far as escapisim goes, you could do a lot worse than hanging with Holly as she discovers the delights of New York (especially Grand Central Station).  This is chick-lit as it's meant to be.  Warm, entertaining and with destinations to die for! 

Meet Me in Manhattan is published by Avon Books and is available in TPB and ebook format

Thursday, 26 March 2015

"The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Food and Love in Iran" by Jennifer Klinec. Guest review from Kay Mitchell

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

Guest review from Kay Mitchell

The Temporary Bride is a gentle read and certainly will engage the reader from the start. As promised in the title, it is a reflective piece that documents the journey from childhood to adulthood of Jenny whose independence has been instigated by responsibilities delegated to her at an early age by emigrant parents who wanted to make a success of their opportunities in the New World.
In parts it stretches the reader’s credulity in that at such an early one would be studying and living independently in a foreign country; however the narrator has throughout a keen eye for observation and reflection. Any situation viewed through the prism of the stranger or the outsider brings with a sharp focus as can be seen in this book. This certainly culminates in her journey to Iran and as part of her quest to broaden her knowledge of the food of that country.  However, the journey that begins as a culinary odyssey introduces her to the realm of the domestic; this is the rule of women not men.
Her world to this point has been at times exploratory, at times career orientated and now a subtle shift comes into play. She has gone in search of romance:

‘It is true: what I seek is largely romance, the legacy of a country where women are compared to food- her breasts like pomegranates, her lips like ripe dates.’

One might think Iran as a surprising and unlikely choice wherein to seek romance and yet this is exactly what happens. Yazid is where she learns about how Iranian’s eat in the domestic realm and how family life ticks along on a daily basis. However, its dark side is not avoided as depicted in the challenges she and her lover face as they fall in love and to avoid dire consequences she must become a ‘temporary bride’.  The beauty of this county its cuisine and people is offset throughout by the many references to offal. Various animal body parts float across soups and stews and despite reassurances to the contrary by the narrator the reader is left under no illusion as to the allusory nature of the narrative. The depicted beauty of yellowstone buildings and elaborately tiled Mosques sits side by side with the imagery of the reality of the slaughterhouses and elaborate eye makeup that turns greasy and becomes less than alluring.

It all ends happily and one cannot but be aware of the similarities between this work and  the well known novel of Elizabeth Gilbert: Eat Pray Love; however it is a good read and one I would recommended   to while away a few hours with a pot of tea on a rainy afternoon.

 The Temporary Bride is published by Virago and is available in Paperback and ebook format

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost: Book Two of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series: Volume 2 . Review by Mia aged 11.

Review by Mia Madden, aged 11.

This book is the second in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency series.  In this edition Kitty has gone to Florida before starting her epic around the world flight.  From the Florida Keys to Fort Jefferson, this girl's got a huge helping of history to look forward to.
While in Key West, one of the homes of Hemingway (the famous Author), she hears something that sends her mind spinning; the bell of a typewriter coming from his writing room.  This noise takes Kitty on an adventure that leads to the discovery of stories behind some ancient shipwrecks, seventeenth century treasure thieves, a lot of new friends and how great Key lime pie tastes!
But will she succeed in the hunt for Hemingway's ghost???

This book was amazing, just like the first installment The Curse of the Yukon Gold, which I reviewed last month.  It is a combination of all my favourite genres: Action, adventure and mystery.  I really love the character of Kitty Hawk, she is just like me, but older.  She gets to travel the world and learn all about history, which is something I wouldn't mind doing when I'm older.
The author is planning to visit Ireland in the near future and I have my questions ready for our interview.  He will visit my school about writing books, Kitty Hawk, Wizards, Dragons and how History can be great fun.  I can't wait!

I recommend this book for aged 9+

This title is available in paperback and ebook format

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

"The Lake" by Sheena Lambert

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

Ireland, 1975.  A body has been found at the edge of a lake which covers a forgotten village.  Under the calm waters lie ruins and secrets.  The corpse has obviously been there for many years, and this makes it all the harder for Detective Sergeant Frank Ryan to uncover the mystery of the unidentified remains.  The sleepy town of Crumm pricks up its ears at the arrival of the Dublin Garda and the local pub, The Anglers Rest, is the perfect place to discuss the gruesome facts of the case.  Residents compare notes and feed Frank whatever information they have.  The publican, Peggy, is delighted to have some customers coming and going and begins to enjoy the company of the young Detective Sergeant.  Can the body be identified after all these years?  Is there a connection to the underwater village or is it something more sinister?  The story unfolds via an eclectic mix of characters and the cosy surroundings of The Angler's Rest. 

Sheena Lambert has written not only a crime thriller, but also a flashback to rural Ireland in the 1970s.  Set mostly in a small family run pub, in a sleepy midlands town,  the atmosphere is full of turf fires, Irish Stew and warm glass bottles of Coca Cola.  Twenty Three year old Peggy has pretty much been abandoned by her family and has the heavy load of running the pub solo.  She tries to make a profit by providing hot meals and dreams of owning a colour television, in order to attract more business on match days.  The odd group of fishermen, and a hotch-potch of locals, make up her customer base, while her siblings live their own lives in Wexford, Dublin and London.  
 A short book, it takes off from page one, and the reader is almost like a fly on the wall in the warm pub in Crumm.  The characters come to life from the get go and as most of the action takes place in the bar, it feels more like a play than a novel.  Reminiscent of The Playboy of the  Western World or similar rural based plays, there is a feeling of a stage, and its actors, about it.  The pulling of pints, emptying of ashtrays and calling last orders are subtly present and the sights, sounds and smells of the country pub jump off the page.  
Peggy and her older siblings are the soul of the story (except the eldest, Hugh, who lives in London and only makes a brief appearance).  The visiting Garda adds some spice to Peggy's dull days and she finds herself allowing herself to dream again.  Dream of travel, love, a life outside Crumm.

This may be a short read (under 200 pages) but by no means is it lacking substance.  The narrative is a clever mix of 70's nostalgia and moody, atmospheric scenery, but the heart of this novel is within its stage-like setting.  The day to day activity in the small pub is where the story is.  A story of family, expectations, secrets and denial.  The hidden history and newly surfaced body are just the added bonus.  There is room for further expansion of the characters at a later stage and should the author decide to write a sequel, or indeed a series, I would be on the pre-order list.  My only (small) qualm was the short length of the book and the move from slow, steady character based chapters to an almost rushed ending with less emphasis on the players and more on the need to finish up.  
Overall, a pleasant, theatre like experience that I would recommend to lovers of Irish fiction, past and present, and for less than the price of a pint!

The Lake is published by Killer Reads/Harper Collins in ebook format from 19th March 2015 and the paperback due for release on 4th June 2015. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

"Saving Grace" by Jane Green

I received a copy of this title, via, for review purposes.

Grace Chapman has what most women want, the perfect life.  Her husband, Ted, is a renowned literary author, her daughter has grown up and flown the nest without incident and she is regular in the society pages of upscale magazines, featuring the perfect home to go with the perfect marriage.  However, not everything is as perfect as it seems.  Ted is controlling, her life is full of shallow acquaintances and lacks genuine friendship.  The only thing that keeps her busy is her charity work.  So much so, that when she recruits a new PA for Ted, she takes up the new employee's offer of assistance in her own day to day life.  This is something she may live to regret... 

I have been reading Jane Green novels for many years, having a nice collection on display in Bleach House Library.  So, when I spotted this title, I looked forward to diving in for some reliable, quality female fiction.  The narrative is not unique,  there are many books, movies and even songs about women who are blindsided by 'the other woman' and while we all say that we would never miss the warning signs, it seems that a lot of women still do.  Narrative aside, the first chapter had me ready for a character based novel, with Ted showing narcissistic tendencies and Grace playing the meek, bored, wealthy housewife that can be seen on reality TV worldwide.  Hint: A wardrobe to die for does not a perfect marriage make.  

I had problems with the story from the early stages of the book.  The opening chapters led me to believe that Ted was a dangerous man, violent and possibly ready to inflict some serious damage to the downtrodden Grace.  However, from the second chapter, it became apparent that the biggest threat he posed was the slamming of a door or some silent treatment.  Likewise, the opening scenes imply that Grace lives in terror, has no support and needs our sympathy.  I have felt more sympathy for Wicked Stepmothers in Disney Fairy tales.  She feels the need for 'help' in the house, which includes cleaners and now this PA, Beth.  She needs help sorting out her pantry (such a chore), sorting through her collection of shoes and rain jackets at the back door (which should take about 30 minutes, max) and paying the household bills (so exhausting, as we all know).  There is a constant pandering to the diva-ish author husband, who remains mostly in his garden office, and then the offloading of unwanted designer clothes to the staff, before heading off to a homeless shelter to cook them fancy meals.  I am not totally convinced that the residents of the shelter wouldn't rather have more basic meals and a handful of the discarded clothes.  Grace has a near meltdown when a charity lunch she has 'organised' has a hiccup (she left most of the organising to Beth, and therefore it went belly up) and the guests have to eat off paper plates and stand up, rather than sitting on colour co-ordinated chairs while slicing into fancy food on china plates  The shallowness of the characters makes it very hard to identify with them and makes for very uncomfortable reading.   When, later in the book, Grace falls asleep on a bench in a fancy London park (wearing cashmere, no less), she compares herself  to the homeless that she had helped feed.  Seriously???

The story goes from odd to plain bizarre when Beth's true intent becomes obvious to Grace (about six months after any sane person would have noticed) and the socialite flees a psychological exam in a hospital, barefoot, and heads to England.  No one thinks to come and find her, her grown up daughter included, and one minute her funds are unavailable, next they are back again.  Huge plot holes, an obvious love interest and a recipe at the end of almost all chapters (but not consistent, just making me hungry at inappropriate moments) make for a weird experience.  Had it been written as a debut, I would say that it need major editing, more believable characters and a better storyline.  I was very disappointed.    It won't put me off Jane Green's novels, as I am a big fan of her work.  I hope this was a one off blip and I can brush it under the carpet (with no help from cleaners).

Saving Grace is published by Pan and is available in paperback and ebook format

Saturday, 14 March 2015

"Summer Triangle" by Carolann Copland

Majid watches in horror as his girlfriend dies in a bomb attack at an Irish festival in Saudi Arabia.  Islamic fundamentalists blame the Irish for bringing their western ways to their country and Majid struggles to come to terms with his grief.  Falling in with the wrong crowd, he finds himself embroiled in the Islamic battle against the west and his life takes on a new meaning.  An attack on Irish soil, is planned and Majid is a major cog in the wheel.

Arriving in Ireland, under the pretense of studying, Majid meets Shona, a local girl with her own battles.  A teenage mother, learning to cope with sudden responsibilities, she is trying to change her weaknesses and turn them into strengths.  Living with the father of her child, she feels trapped and alone.  Meeting Majid lifts her spirits and her world suddenly seems brighter.

Tommy adores his baby daughter, but he cannot figure Shona out.  One minute he is preparing for school exams, the next he is a father and partner to a troubled girl he barely knows.  How is he to know what to do?  Who is watching out for him?  When Shona goes missing, he feels relief rather than pain and it forces him to make some grown up decisions...

Carolann Copeland has written a story of many worlds.  The world of intense religious beliefs, the world of teenage parenthood and the world of uncertainty.  Through Majid, Shona and Tommy, the reader is guided through the tentative steps into adulthood, responsibility and  all the obstacles that appear along the way.  The two different cultural backgrounds are so jarringly opposite that it is a little hard to see how they could blend together, but as the story unfolds, it is possible to see how Shona would be attracted to a someone so different.  She is not your average teenager and Majid has an air of mystery and offers a change of direction for her.  I couldn't identify with Shona, however, as she ignored the most important people in her life, instead choosing to think of only herself.  Majid was a bruised and heartbroken young man, who was sucked into the world of fundamentalists whn at his lowest.  But for me, the best character in the novel was Tommy.  A teenager who barely knew his baby's mother, he stepped up to the mark, took his blow on the chin and became an adult overnight.  Everytime he was let down by Shona, I felt his pain and completely understood his anger.  
The Islamic narrative throughout the book was progressive and interlinked with the character's story lines, making it subtle but important.  Skillfully written, this is a book that is not only ideal for adults, but would be a great YA read too.  Political and extreme religious themes can be off putting for a lot of readers of women's fiction but this novel should not be overlooked.  It is more a story of grief, love and the journey to happiness and fulfillment.  What better way to examine these themes, than through the eyes of young adults?

Summer Triangle is published by Emu Ink and is available in paperback and ebook format

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

"The Bone Seeker" (The Edie Kiglatuk Arctic Crime Series) by MJ McGrath. Guest Review from Niall Moore

Review by Niall Moore

The Blurb
In the third novel in this highly praised mystery series that will appeal to fans of The KillingTop of the Lake, and The Bridge, Edie Kiglatuk works as a summer school teacher in the Canadian arctic. When one of her female students is found dead in nearby Lake Turngaluk, Edie enlists the help of Sergeant Derek Palliser to pursue the case, promising the girl’s Inuit family that they will uncover the truth. Meanwhile, lawyer Sonia Gutierrez investigates the toxicity of the lake and suspects that there might be a larger conspiracy involved. As the three clamber over rocky terrain under twenty-four-hour daylight they start to unearth secrets long frozen over—risking their own lives in the process. With stunning prose, M. J. McGrath delivers another thrill ride through a hauntingly beautiful landscape. 


In some ways this book reminded me of driving an electric car; Start it, point it in the right direction and away you go, with no drama...

The plot revolves around a local girl who is murdered, throw in an understaffed police department, local secrets and a mysterious Dept. of  Defence section and you have the plot.  Sound familiar? I thought so.  
The only difference is that it is set in the Arctic Tundra and features Inuit people. The setting is something I could not envisage and therefore a lot of the descriptive narrative was lost on me.

This book will not put you to sleep, but neither will it keep you awake at night...


The Bone Seeker is published by PanMacMillan and is available in paperback and ebook format

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Roisin Meaney 'Two Fridays in April' Blog Tour. Books, cakes and crisp sandwiches...

To celebrate the publication of Roisin Meaney's eleventh novel (Yes, ELEVEN), I am delighted to have her blog tour stop off at Bleach House Library today.  The stunning trade paperback has been released by Hachette Ireland and is also available as an ebook.   Roisin has written an exclusive feature for the blog and tells us about her passion for baking...

Mrs Bun the Baker
          One of the pleasant by-products of having written for children (in 2007 I co-wrote a children’s book with fellow writer Judi Curtin; prior to that I’d written one all by myself, in 2006) is that I’m often asked to come to schools and talk to children about my life as a writer. I always incorporate a question and answer session into the visits, as children tend to be wonderfully inquisitive, and invariably their questions are highly entertaining by dint of the complete unselfconsciousness of the questioners. Children have no qualms about asking how much you earn – my response to that one is to ask them if I look rich, which generally satisfies them – but my favourite question, and one that crops up again and again, is ‘what would you be if you weren’t a writer?’ And my response never varies: ‘I’d be a baker.’
          I love to bake. I particularly love to bake when the weather is awful, or when my story has become stuck somewhere along the way. My kitchen has one wall that’s all glass from worktop level upwards, and it overlooks a beautiful old five-foot high stone wall, and my neighbour’s fine collection of trees just beyond it. On stormy days, or on days when I’m uninspired, I tune the radio to a classical music station, assemble my ingredients on the worktop and sieve and measure and chop and beat and knead to my little heart’s content as I watch the trees thrashing about in the wind.
          It’s all the therapy I need – and usually all the inspiration I need too. By the time my cake or tart or loaf of bread is filling the kitchen with its glorious warm scent, I’ve generally managed to come up with the next bit of the story.

          I must confess to being a little self-indulgent in my writing; my first book, The Daisy Picker, story featured Lizzie O’Grady who loved to bake, and who ended up resigning from her dead end waitressing job and finding a restaurant that needed a bread supplier. In Putting Out the Stars, three couples took it in turn to host dinner parties, so I had great fun planning their various menus. My biggest indulgence would have to be Hannah, who opened her own cupcake shop in Love in the Making. That book was a joy to write, because of course I had to bake any cupcakes she did, to make sure they came out right. I remember stacks of cookbooks sitting by the laptop while that story was in the making, and frequent pauses in the writing while I pored happily over them.

          The book I’m currently writing has as its main character a woman who could not by any stretch of the imagination be called a cook or a baker. She feeds her children crisp sandwiches and spaghetti hoops on toast, and when she entertains she buys in quiches and cakes rather than attempt to make them herself. But it’s Christmas, and she’s actually produced her first ever cake, with a recipe from a neighbour who does like to bake. The icing hasn’t gone well – her snowman has distinct Yeti characteristics – but she tells herself it’s the taste that will count. Poor woman has yet to cut it…..
          But I need to finish up here – there’s a certain sour cream coffee cake recipe that I’ve been mentally drooling over for some days now, and I think it might be time….



It's Friday, April 2. Daphne Darling knows that she should be celebrating her stepdaughter Una's 17th birthday, but it's hard, because the date also marks the one-year anniversary of her husband's death and she and Una just can't seem to connect anymore. Daphne can't turn to her own mother Isobel for advice as their relationship is distant, to say the least, and Mo, Finn's elderly mother, is still grief-stricken at the death of her only son, so she is of little help. But by the end of that day in April, marking the occasion with a slice of cake and a glass of wine will be the last thing on anyone's mind...
Before that Friday, Daphne, Mo and Isobel were all stuck in the past, with their grief and their loss. And then Una takes matters into her own hands, and even though she makes a terrible mistake, she teaches Daphne, Mo and Isobel something about life: that it is to be lived and that, in spite of everything they've been through, happiness can still be a part of it.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series Book 1) by Iain Reading. Review by Mia, aged 11.

Review by Mia Madden

This book is about a teenager called Kitty Hawk who has raised money to fly from her home in Tofino, Canada  to Juneau, Alaska in her De Havilland Bearer seaplane.  She is going to do some humpback whale research.  During this research trip she discovers a fishing boat that crosses her route often and decides to follow it.  She then finds out, near the Dyea Ruins in Skagway, Alaska, that the fishing boat passengers are gold thieves.  This discovery brings Kitty to climb the Chilkoot Pass to the small city of Dawson and many more historical sites.  

This book was amazing and it just goes to show that you don't have to rely on really famous authors like JK Rowling, David Walliams, James Patterson, etc to write a great book.  It is a good idea to try out new authors, like Iain Reading, Erika McGann and Sarah Holding, as well as big-name ones and you might discover a new favourite!  

I loved this book and especially the character of Kitty (who I even dressed up as for World Book Day).  One day, I think Kitty Hawk will have her own World Book Day book...

I recommend this for ages 8+

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is available in paperback and ebook format and is first in the Kitty Hawk Series.



The Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency is a thrilling new series of adventure mystery books that are one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure. The books feature Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations. 

The Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency books are perfect to fire the imaginations of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history they will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn and will inspire anyone to learn and experience more of this amazing planet for themselves as Kitty sets out on the ultimate adventure - flying around the world!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Exclusive Cover Reveal for Zoe Miller "A Question of Betrayal". Published 16th April 2015

Prolific Irish author, Zoe Miller, has kindly sent me the exclusive cover reveal of her upcoming novel A Question of Betrayal.  Published by Hachette Ireland next month, I think they have done a wonderful job on this one ;)

Here is the blurb....


On a windswept beach in County Cork, a woman rescues a young man from the sea. A gifted musician, Luis Meyer’s life has fallen apart and he’s determined to end it all, until an angel of mercy pulls him from the water…

More than thirty years later, Carrie Cassidy is still reeling from the deaths of her adored parents, John and Sylvie, in a tragic accident. She’s flitting from one job to another, unable to move forward, unable to forget the past. She can’t even commit to Mark, the love of her life, who has now moved on.

Then a mysterious visitor reveals a secret that forces Carrie to delve into her mother’s past. When she does, she discovers a woman struggling to come to terms with her choices – a newlywed who, it seems, was in love with another man.

Determined to find out the truth about her mother’s relationship with Luis Meyer, Carrie must confront painful and possibly dangerous truths. And the only person who can help her is the one she’s hurt the most.

Publication date: 16th April 2015
This title is available to pre-order on Amazon 

Friday, 6 March 2015

"Winter Siege" by Ariana Franklin & Samantha Norman. Guest review from Aiveen Cooper.

Review by Aiveen Cooper.

Ariana Franklin, author of the Mistress of the Art of Death Series, passed away in 2011  before completing her latest work. Her daughter Samantha Norman completed her mother's manuscript work to produce her mother's fifth book, Winter Siege.

Set in 12th century England this story brings together the lives of two very different heroes - a Norman mercenary named Gwil and a young girl from the fens of Cambridgeshire who was suffered a terrible ordeal. Their story unfolds in a war torn England, divided by the battle for the throne between the Norman Empress Mathilde and reigning King Stephen.

Gwil rescues the girl and reluctantly takes her under his wing. The relationship between this odd pair slowly grows and Gwil does everything he can to protect the girl from dangers she is facing from the perpetrators of her horrific attack, and from the terror within her. Gwil has suffered his own tragedy and is far from perfect, which are traits I love in a hero. The book reminded me of the work of the late David Gemmell who was a master of the flawed hero.

This was my first time to read anything by Franklin so I had no expectations.  I was unsure of the intermittent sections where the ailing Abbott is narrating the story to a young scribe, but I was eager to keep reading to discover
the fate of our unlikely pair. There are plenty of other strong characters including the evil monk Thancmar and Lady Maud of Kenniford. This was an enjoyable and compelling read and I am keen to read the other books by Franklin too.

Winter Siege is published by Bantam Press and is available in paperback and ebook format. 

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

2 signed copies of 'Can Anybody Help Me?' by Sinead Crowley & 2 bookmarks to giveaway.

Thanks to the author I have two signed copies of the psychological thriller Can Anybody Help Me? to giveaway, along with two limited edition bookmarks.  Just enter via rafflecopter link below for your chance to win...

Here's my review of this page-turner:

 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 and is available in paperback and ebook format.

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