Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Book Review: 'The Midnight Carnival' by Erika McGann. Review from Mia, aged 12.

Review from Mia Madden, aged 12.

This book is the thrilling fourth installment in The Demon Notebook series, from Erika McGann.  This time, Grace and her friends come across a carnival in the park with no posters or flyers to tell them about it.  The girls take a liking to  it and go there every evening.  They meet a bearded ballerina called Justine, lizard-skinned Drake and strong-woman Agata, who make good friends with the young witches.  But Adie soon gets over it and tries to contact her buddies from Hy-Breasel (in the last book).  She ends up bringing home a faery that seems impossible to beat.  So, she goes to Bob (also known as the mirror man from book 2).  Back at the carnival, Jenny gets kicked out of magic class and decides to train with Agata.  Grace soon finds out there's an evil spell keeping the carnival going and Justine asks the witches' help to find an ancient straw doll that's supposedly keeping the acts alive.  Will the girls find the doll and will Adie get rid of the faery?

Like every one of Erika McGann's books, I loved this one.  My favourite character is Una because she's the funny one of the group and her catchphrase, which is 'fudgeballs', is hilarious.  With loads of twists and turns in it, I just couldn't predict what was going to happen next.  I love Erika's writing so much, that Erika is my Confirmation name!  Five stars for this one...

I recommend this book for ages 9+.

The Midnight Carnival is published by The O'Brien Press and is available in paperback and ebook format.  You can get your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage, here.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:

Monday, 28 September 2015

Book Review: 'My Buried Life' by Doreen Finn.

I received a copy of this title, from the publishers, in return for an honest review...

Eva returns home to Dublin, to bury her mother.  The years away have not dulled her memories and she finds herself back in the darkness of her previous life.  Alcohol may numb the pain, for a short duration, but the misery envelopes her and there are ripples of a painful past in every corner of her childhood home.  A bitter break up, a bad case of writer's block and a daily battle with booze.  All these things are like a noose around her neck and she wonders what her future holds.  Two very different men enter her life, neither invited but both welcome in their own way.  Can the shadows of her past be chased away or are they destined to cloud over her forever?

This debut novel is striking in its honesty.  Not all middle class, well-educated children grow up with a sense of purpose.  Some are crippled with insecurity and have no idea what shape their lives will take.  Eva is lucky enough to be a functioning alcoholic, albeit with a distinct lack of family or friends.  Her return to Ireland is not one of fond memories and jovial reunions.  It very well may be the unravelling of her.  The recollections of a lonely childhood are intense and unsettling.  She recalls her loneliness and how her mother never seemed to acknowledge her presence.

 "Being ignored is merely a substitute, a fatigued person's bullying". 

Unlike many Irish novels of our time, Doreen Finn observes the insular vibe of the Irish community and their morbid fascination with funerals. 

 "Irish people love death, though, and its offshoots: removals, wakes, Masses, flowers and cards, not to mention the funerals themselves.  Nowhere else would people travel great distances, take time off work, rearrange entire days because someone has died.  In New York, invitations are issued to funerals.  There is no question of merely turning up at the church.  Americans aren't interested in death the way Irish people are.  They don't drive for hours to attend a removal, or wonder who will tend their grave when they themselves are gone.[...] Funerals are bigger than Christmas here, and they last almost as long."

  The prose surrounding the atmosphere of Eva's claustrophobic environs is stunning.  Equal measures of inadequacy, frustration and addictive despair are spread throughout the pages.  The lack of faith in herself and her decision making are profound and real.  She lingers on the threshold on relationships, unsure of whether to trust her own judgment or just presume the worst in each scenario presented to her.  She blames her mother for her inabilities to form lasting friendships, to take root in any one place.  As Phillip Larkin said, "They fuck you up, your  Mum and Dad.  They may not mean to, but they do."  As the novel progresses, at a gentle pace, Eva becomes more astute, more aware of her limitations and even allows trust to enter her life.  The resulting narrative is powerful.  It allows a glimpse at how a subtle change in mindset can let in enough light to cast a new perspective on ones present and future, rather than concentrating on the shaded areas of the past.  This is a wonderful debut.  One that lingers, without melodrama.  The story of one woman, among many, who chooses to try again...
Highly recommended. 

My Buried Life is published by New Island Books and is available in paperback and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage and 15% discount, here.  The ebook version can be ordered via amazon link below:

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Book Review : 'With Our Blessing' by Jo Spain.

When a newborn baby is snatched from its mother's arms, in 1975, it destroys the life of a young woman and causes ripples of trauma down through the years.  But she is one of many, and goes unnoticed, like them all.  

Thirty five years later, and a brutal murder is uncovered in Dublin's Phoenix Park.  The victim is elderly and has suffered a grisly death.  DI Tom Reynolds and his team are called into to investigate.  Before long, they discover a link to Ireland's sordid secret, The Magdalene Laundries.  While they are offered assistance from the nuns of a former institution,  they are met with a veil of secrecy and decades of Catholic hierarchy.  Could one of the religious order be involved in such a personal killing?  Could they commit such a sin?  One thing is clear.  The past is catching up on the convent and DI Reynolds needs to get there first...

Dublin author, Jo Spain, has debuted with gusto.  This is not only another crime fiction book, in an already busy genre, it is a character based novel with a good bit of bite to it.  DI Tom Reynolds is a protagonist that lingers.  A good family man, not perfect, yet likable.  Thankfully, he is not like other 'troubled' Inspectors.  No drink problem, no sneaky cigarettes, no lusting after his female partner. and no shady dealings within the force.  Just a genuine guy, doing his job, missing his wife and worrying about his daughter.  This is refreshing, as a lot of crime fiction has the angst-ridden hero who battles inner demons alongside their cases.  Not so with Tom.  He has a great team, male and female and a comical driver to add to the mix.  The make up of the investigative team is well rounded, with plenty of scope to feature them in subsequent novels.  
The narrative is strong.  While we are all aware now of the horrors behind the walls of the Magdalene Laundries,  the author somehow manages to make it feel fresh and sharp.  There is no blurring of facts, or large canvas brushstrokes.  It is focused and fair.  There is balance added with the stories from the nuns too.  Far too often there is a general dogmatic approach to the sisters who worked behind these walls, although it is known that there were individuals who were also horrified with the circumstances in the laundries.  Jo Spain acknowledges these nuns and yet still portrays the events with fact-based honesty.  
This is a novel of tension, suspense and stories.  Stories from the past and the present.  From a convent in rural Ireland, to a police force in Dublin.  The Gardaí are well presented, doing their jobs, intent on finding out the circumstances surrounding the murder.  They are just like any of us.  Doing their best, while making a few mistakes along the way.  The convent is well described, with echoes of its heartbreaking past.  The atmosphere is multi-layered, depending on the area of the building, or which sister is in the room at the time.  I did lose track of the nuns at one point, and had to turn back a few pages, but not enough for me to lose focus.  This is a page-turner, no doubt.  The warmness of the characters made it an extra special read, with the added feeling of reading a modern Agatha Christie tipping it into one of the best crime thrillers I have read for a while.  I applaud Jo Spain for this debut, and for introducing DI Tom Reynolds to us.  Book two better not be long coming.  We need more books like this...

With Our Blessing is published by Quercus and is available in paperback and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage and 23% discount, here.
The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:

Friday, 25 September 2015

'A Question Of Betrayal' by Zoe Miller. Author feature and Giveaway.

I am delighted to be hosting a spot on the blog tour for Zoe Miller's A Question of Betrayal.  There is a copy of the paperback edition of this title up for grabs, so just enter via rafflecopter link below.  Good Luck!


A Question of Betrayal: Ever since the deaths of her adored parents, Carrie Cassidy has avoided risk and commitment, fearful of bringing something precious into her life only to lose it again. So now she finds herself working in yet another uninteresting job, and the love of her life, who wanted more than she could give, has left her. Will she ever move on?
Then, a mysterious woman visits Carrie and reveals a secret that forces her to delve into her mother's past. As Carrie learns more about the woman she thought she knew, she finds herself looking at her own life and wondering if she's living it the way her mother would have wanted her to. Meanwhile there is someone watching Carrie who would rather the past stay buried . . .


When writers need to put the right words together…

Carrie Cassidy wasn’t looking for love when she met Mark at her cousin Fiona’s wedding. She’d known the joyful day would be difficult, as it was so at odds with the way her life had come to a full stop, and watching her radiant cousin glide up the aisle on her proud father’s arm reminded her sadly that her beloved father was no longer around and would never escort Carrie up the aisle.  It was no wonder she glugged too much champagne and kept seeing him every time she turned around – the tall, skinny groomsman with the messy black hair and sexy eyes. She caught him watching her from across the room like a heat seeking missile, and knew he was also catching her watching him. Later, Mark took her hand and whirled her out onto the dance floor under the colourful strobe lighting. They danced as if they’d known each other forever, and it was the start of their heady, whirlwind romance.

Mark was the lover who shored up all the corners of Carrie’s life with his presence, his jokes and friendship, and most of all his love. He had adventures planned for both of them that would take a lifetime to complete, but his wonderful plans ground to a halt when Carrie refused to get on a plane, even for a short trip to Paris. After all, her beloved parents died in a plane crash. Mark tried a different tactic. He texted her little messages and put them on post-it notes, placing them around the house for Carrie to read, affirming messages that said:
Carrie is sitting in the departure lounge, looking forward to her flight
Carrie feels good as she walks up the steps to the plane…
Carrie is calm and relaxed boarding the plane…  

It was Henry Ford who famously said words to the effect that whether we think we can or think we can’t, we’re right. If we consider that something is impossible, well then, for us it is impossible. If I told myself it was impossible to write two thousand words a day, chances are I’d never achieve that word count. Whereas if I not only told myself the opposite, but planned to do that, there would be a far greater likelihood that I’d largely succeed. In the constant chatter going on at the back of our heads, the messages we send ourselves are all-important and can mean the difference between getting things done or not at all. In most professions and walks of life, persistence and self-belief are key ingredients in achieving any kind of success, but they are crucial in the business of writing. Writers work alone for long periods at a time, and unlike being in an office with supportive colleagues sitting a few feet away, ready with an encouraging smile or helpful comment if you’re having a bad day, writers have to rely mainly on themselves to get on with it, and that’s where self-belief and positive, affirming messages are so important. At a writing workshop years ago I was told that while it was difficult to get published, it wasn’t impossible. Those words stayed with me, inspiring me and keeping my fingers moving across the laptop keys. We put words together to create all sorts of magical and mysterious worlds, why shouldn’t we put the right words together to encourage ourselves onwards and upwards?

As to whether Mark finally persuaded Carrie to board the plane with his boosting messages, the answer in in the book!


Zoë Miller writes contemporary fiction laced with intrigue and drama. She is published by Hachette Books Ireland and her latest book, A Question of Betrayal, is now out in paperback. When Zoë’s not escaping into her writing world, she juggles her time between her family and the day job. Find out more at, Facebook/zoemillerauthor, or follow Zoë on Twitter @zoemillerauthor.

A Question of Betrayal is published by Hachette Ireland and is available in paperback and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postagehere.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

'DC Super Heroes Origami' by John Montroll.

Thanks to Curious Fox and for sending a review copy of this title...

We have a real mix of age groups in Bleach House, so when we were offered a chance to review this new title from Curious Fox, we jumped at the chance.  First, let me show you the book trailer:

So far so good, right?  Mia, who is 12 years old, was especially excited when this book arrived, as she is DC Super Heroes CRAZY!  It wasn't long before she began her first attempt at origami.  Unfortunately, she did this while leaning on a book, in bed.  Not the greatest location, but she gave it a lash and here are her results:

Not bad, for a first attempt.  Next up, my 25 year old was given the task of making a Wonder Woman wrist band when Mia went for a sleepover at her house.  A kitchen table was used this time, and the results were entertaining:

Some more projects were attempted by Mia, some were pretty amazing, some not so much so.  However, one thing is for sure.  There were HOURS of entertainment involved, and still more pages left to tackle.  This book would make the ideal present for any DC Superheroes fan, or even just for someone who likes create things.  A steady hand is a bonus, but plenty of giggles are guaranteed.   Perfect for Christmas!!!
 Check out this video, for how it SHOULD be done (but more fun watching your family members concentrate, with their tongues sticking out):   

DC Super Heroes Origami is published by Curious Fox and is available in paperback.  You can get your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage and 17% discount, here.  

Monday, 21 September 2015

'You'll Find Me In Manhattan' by Jill Knapp. Cover Reveal and Giveaway. Open INT.

Today I am delight to share the cover image for You'll Find Me In Manhattan by Jill Knapp.  The third installment in her What Happens To Men trilogy, it is New Adult fiction for the savvy among us.  Published by Harper Impulse on 22nd October, you can pre-order this title, along with the previous two novels, via amazon links at the end of this post.

I also have a little giveaway, with  Maybelline Nail Varnish, Minnie Mouse nail files and eye-mask.  Just enter via rafflecopter link below.  Good Luck!

In the third installment of Knapp's "What Happens To Men?..." series, Amalia and Olivia find themselves at a crossroads. Their last year in their Master's program at NYU is proving to be a trying one, all while Olivia is balancing planning a wedding and managing the unwanted input of her her estranged mother who seems to want Alex out of the picture all together.

Amalia finds herself feeling more lost than ever as graduation approaches and her classmates begin making plans for next year. Something in her life just doesn't feel right, and she can't seem to let herself commit to anything when it comes to her future. Still torn between Michael and Hayden she ultimately makes a final decision that will either box her in, leaving her always wanting more out of life, or finally breaking free to find the happiness and stability she's always needed. 

Don't miss the final installment of Knapp's New Adult series about life, love, and finding yourself in New York City, "You'll Find Me In Manhattan"!


I’m a native New Yorker who now lives in North Carolina with my two amazing dogs. I was actually inspired to start writing novels from watching television of all things. There were these amazing shows I watched growing up and I thought if I could just create a story that touched people the way that these stories have touched me, I would accomplish my goal.
Apart from my novels, I have been published in magazines, newspapers, and other websites including The Huffington Post and HelloGiggles. I am also the Features Editor for the online magazine HomeMade Bride.
In addition to writing, I hold an M.A in Psychology and taught at the college level for three years.

You'll Find Me In Manhattan is published but Harper Impulse on 22 Oct 2015 and can be pre-ordered below, along with the first two books in the series:



Sunday, 20 September 2015

'The Book of Learning' by ER Murray. Review from Mia, aged 12.

We received a copy of this title, from the publisher, in return for an honest review...   


This is the first book in the Nine Lives Trilogy.  It's about 12-year-old Ebony Smart, who lives with her Grandpa Tobias and pet rat, Winston.  When Tobias dies, Ebony has to go to Dublin to live with a newly discovered aunt.  Reluctantly she goes, leaving her childhood behind.

When she arrives at her new home, she learns that she is one a few people who can reincarnate. During a tour of the house with her Aunt Ruby, Ebony finds a mysterious book that has her name on it.  Later that night she steals the book and reads about the reincarnating race and a guardian who can access the place where all the souls are kept.  Also a dangerous man called Icarus Bean is out three somewhere, looking for Ebony.  With the help of Aunt Ruby, Winston, two pre-historic wildcats, a new mind-reading friend called Zach and her past-selves, can Ebony find the guardian and Icarus Bean?

I loved this book so much that I made Lego figures of Zach and Ebony, and I don't usually mix up my Lego figures!  My mind was racing when I was reading this book, trying to piece together the clues, but I had to read to figure it out.
I can't wait for the next installment in the series.  I think this is another book to put on my favourites list...

I recommend this book for ages 10+.

The Book of Learning is published by Mercier Press and is available in paperback and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postagehere while the ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:

Monday, 14 September 2015

'My Sister's Child' by Caroline Finnerty.

I received a copy of this title, from the publishers, in return for an honest review...

Sisters, Jo and Isla, are like chalk and cheese.  Jo is the elder of the two.  She is the responsible one.  Always top of the class, ahead in her career, clever with finances and settled in her family life.  Isla is flighty, carefree and unambitious.  However, Jo owes her younger sister some credit for her perfect life.  If it wasn't for Isla her life would be incomplete.  Fourteen years ago, Isla gave her the most precious gift in the world.  The chance to have a baby.  With the help of her donated eggs, Jo and her husband managed to conceive their only child, Realtín.  Their family unit complete, the sisters continue on their well worn paths, albeit in different directions.  All this changes when Isla begins to  dream of becoming a mother herself.  Now she is the one with infertility problems and she needs her older sister to help her out.  Tensions are fraught and the two women each believe they have all the answers.  But do they?

The fourth novel from Irish author, Caroline Finnerty, this is a novel with one big decision at its core.  Does one good favour deserve another?  Is a mother the one who shares the child's DNA or the one who raises her?  Does a child need to know how they were created?  So many questions that have one meaning in legal terms and another in real life.  The author uses two main protagonists as a way of examining this quandary.   Jo is the high-flying, career woman that has devoted her life to being at the top of her game and micro-managing her family.  Losing her mother at a young age, she spent most of her childhood looking out for her younger sister, whether she liked it or not.  She still believes she knows best, and when asked to assist Isla in her fertility journey, she is not ready to compromise.  Isla, on the other hand, has always felt like she was in Jo's shadow.  Not academically gifted, she is more the arty type, and is quite content waiting tables in a local café.  She doesn't see the need for a man in her life, a mortgage or all the other trappings of adulthood.  She does have a longing for a child though, and feels her sister should help her out.  The reader is given both sides of the story and the sister's dilemma becomes more about their past than their present.  There are flashbacks to their difficult childhood and many insights into their opposite worlds.  

Similar to a Jodi Picoult novel, this is a book that will have the reader wondering what they would do if in the same situation.  Unfortunately there is no court case, which could have added some extra-zest, but with Irish law changing recently, this means the book won't date.   Isla's long-term goals are not really an issue for her and most 39 year old women, considering pregnancy, would like to plan how becoming a mother would change their lives. But Isla is free-spirited and I'm sure we all know someone just like her.  While Jo becomes an anti-heroine very quickly, further into the story we discover why she is so regimental and a tad bitter.  Realtín is not the nicest teenager and it seems unlikely that she would not have a friend or two to confide in.  No friends calling to the house, no mention of texts, snapchats or facetime.  There is also a element of unhappiness in Jo's marriage that could be attributed to Jo's superiority complex and her need to control her daughter and their home life.  Her husband, Ryan, never gets a chance to voice his unhappiness.  There are many marriages like this, in the real world, and often the children side with the more 'fun' parent.  The supporting characters are minimal, with Isla having her work colleagues to banter with but no such luck for Jo, who it seems has no adult companionship at all.   This can also be the case for the full-time working mothers out there.  Ryan seems to escape occasionally, but not Jo.  No date nights for the couple either.  All aspects of Jo's world that her daughter may not notice.  Teenagers see what they want to see.  While Isla's world looks like so much more fun than Jo's, looks can be deceiving.

Caroline Finnerty is well able to hold her own among the top female fiction writers, like Cathy Kelly and Sheila O'Flanagan.  She knows how to use ordinary words to create moments of beauty.  The mundane can be magnificent and she can transform the unstructured moments of a day into ripples of stunning sentences.  While the pace is a little slow, there are some poetic moments which carry you through the opposing, yet connected, lives of two very different sisters.  Much like real life...

My Sister's Child is published by Poolbeg and is available in paperback and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage and 16% discount, here.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below: 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

'Etta and Otto and Russell and James' by Emma Hooper. Author Video and Giveaway

Thanks to Penguin Ireland for inviting me on the blog tour for Etta and Otto and Russell and James. Coincidentally, this is my current read and, even more amazingly, I am going to meet the author today at the RTEGuide/Penguin writers workshop in Dublin.   To be in with a chance of winning a paperback edition of this beautiful book, just enter via the rafflecopter link below.  Good Luck!

Here is a great video of the author, Emma Hooper, discussing the inspiration behind Etta and Otto and Russell and James... 


'Tell me about home, please. Tell me about the weather. About the heat or dust or still-ness. Anything. And tell me about you. I keep your photo on the side without the gun. For balance.'
This is a love story that spans fifty years, three lives, two continents and an ocean. It tells of school teacher Etta, who settles in the Canadian prairies during the Great Depression and of the two pupils who fall in love with her: Russell, a city boy who takes to farming despite his twisted leg, and Otto, who struggles in school but always tries hard - even when he's sent to fight a war in a distant land. It is a story of love and joy, pain and passion, memory and forgetting - and one incredible journey. It is the story of Etta and Otto and Russell and James.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James is published by Penguin books and is available in paperback and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postagehere.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below: 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

"Already Taken" by Caroline Grace-Cassidy.

I received a copy of this title, from the publishers, in return for an honest review...

Dubliner, Kate Walsh, is content with her life.  She has quit her 'brown' job, started a new venture ( as an event escort, but who only does what it says on the tin) and dances her troubles away with her best friend, Phillip.  Living independently, in her Ringsend apartment, she visits her sister daily, while managing to avoid her alcoholic father.  The girls have not seen their mother since she walked out on them years before and they need her help.  A letter from their Aunt starts off a journey of hope, laced with some bitter memories.  Meanwhile, a chance encounter in the local butcher shop awakens a longing in Kate.  A longing to be loved.  But is she ready to share her life?  Can she ever trust anyone fully? Is it too late to forgive?  Maybe Hugh can help her dance away her demons...

This is the fourth novel from Irish writer, Caroline Grace-Cassidy, and the first I have reviewed on BleachHouseLibrary.  
Kate is a relative loner.  She adores her sister, Ciara, who has a medical condition called aplastic anaemia and badly needs a bone marrow donor.  Their father is an alcoholic who drove their mother away and Kate blames him for her miserable childhood. Dance is her way of letting off steam.  She sees scenes from Flashdance in her head and heads to the local dance classes to shake off her troubles.  Best mate, Phillip, is there for her.  He runs the dance studio and understands Kate's need to escape into the world of movement.  He cajoles her, entertains her, supplies her with advice (not always great) and wine.  All the things a best friend should do.  
Hugh is a man carrying a heavy load of guilt.  Himself and Kate are attracted to each other from the get-go, but will his guilt, and her fear of trust, be their downfall?  

Caroline Grace-Cassidy uses her characters to tell this story.  Kate is fiesty yet fearful, confident yet still insecure, cutting while caring.  She is human,  Hurt by her past, she tries to make her future something she can be comfortable in.  There is a doubt that she could afford to live on her own in Dublin, with her distinct lack of finances and no job, but that's what's great about fiction.  You don't have to worry about paying the bills.  Hugh is a stereotypical Englishman.  Well-mannered public school boy with floppy hair and great dress sense.  Wealthy, educated, handsome and with a huge heart, he balances out the more cynical and salt-of-the-earth Kate.   

The backstory of Kate and Ciara's childhood is the part that I enjoyed most.  Their parents each having their own issues, the selective memories that hang around Kate's head, the smells and sounds which remind her of dark times.  These were clever insights into the world of a child who lives with an alcoholic.  Again, the novel barely touches on the realities of recovery, or the trauma, expense and heartbreak that it usually entails.  The overall package of the book is great, with fantastic characters and some clever storylines.  There are, however, many mistakes throughout the text and these really began to irritate me.   They could have easily been avoided with some proof reading.  Despite this,  I really enjoyed the novel.  It is warm and funny with some real heartwarming characters.  Ringsend is lovingly described and I wish Phillip was real, so he could be my best friend!  The author's love of dance and of classic 1980s movies is something that hops off the page and made me root out my Flashdance DVD and CD soundtrack.  Any excuse :)

Already Taken is published by Poolbeg and is available in paperback and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage, here.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:

Monday, 7 September 2015

"The Game Changer" by Louise Phillips.

I received an ARC of this title from Hachette Ireland...

Dr.  Kate Pearson is back.  Entering a  new stage in her life, she has taken time off work to spend her days with her son and new partner.  However, the clinical psychologist in her does not take long to surface when she receives strange notes at her home.
Meanwhile, a murder in New York is linked in someway to a death in Dublin and Kate's father is among the names linked with the victim's past.  When she hears of her father's involvement in a research group back in the 1980s, it brings back some long suppressed memories.  But can she remember enough to connect her traumatic childhood with the present-day death?  

DI Adam O'Connor is dealing with some strange disappearances.  A random mixture of adults have chosen to leave their friends, families and homes but not before withdrawing large amounts of cash from their bank accounts.  While they all leave messages to assure their safety, the DI is unconvinced.  All the missing had been attending spiritual guidance and meditation classes, setting off alarm bells for O'Connor and his team.  Is there something more sinister at play?

This is Louise Phillips fourth crime thriller book featuring Dr. Kate Pearson and DI O'Connor.  They are now living together and trying to find their feet as a couple, as well as parents to their respective sons.  Kate is on a sabbatical but is not switching off so well.  Anonymous notes are delivered to their home and are causing her many sleepless nights.  Adam is tied up with a transatlantic murder inquiry and is not telling her the whole story.  The missing persons list is growing and growing, yet there doesn't seem to be any signs of foul play.  Just a lot of missing cash.  Why does Kate feel so scared and unsure of herself?  Is her past finally catching up with her, without her even remembering what happened back then?

This is a novel of twists, turns and roundabouts.  A new roadway is discovered around every corner and you just don't know what is around the bend.  You think you are finally getting somewhere, then, bang....a new sign appears.  There are many markings on the map of this story,  but can you trust your judgement?  Can you believe what you see?  
There are really two main threads to this novel.  There is the mystery of Kate's past and the Irish connection to a New York murder, then the story of the missing persons and their reasons for leaving.  Kate and Adam seem to be ships passing in the night and their earlier electricity has now faded to a glow.  They both seem far too set in their own individual ways to work well as an equal couple, ready to give up a piece of themselves or their chosen careers.   The chapters on individual characters, who have left their homes suddenly, were the strong ones in this book.  Each person has a reason for leaving.  They are vulnerable and prime-picking for users of clever mind-games.  Phillips cleverly shows how minds can be moulded when a person is at their weakest.  The idea of 'belonging' or of being 'understood' is so strong that some people will not see what is blatantly obvious to a more content and centered person.  
 There are facts, figures and real-life examples dotted through the novel, perhaps unnecessarily, but it is up to the reader whether to read more into the real-life stories or not.  The chapters are short and snappy, flicking back and forth between Kate, The Game Changer and a host of other characters.  Louise Phillips is not afraid of shocking her readers.  Once again, there is murder and mayhem along the bumpy ride.  This is a crime writer who is not afraid to lead her readers off the beaten path...

The Game Changer is published by Hachette Ireland and is available in  TBP and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage, here.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:


Saturday, 5 September 2015

"Conor's Caveman: The Amazing Adventures of Ogg" by Alan Nolan. Review from Endija, aged 8.

We received a copy of this title, from O'Brien Press, in return for an honest review...


Conor's Caveman is a great book with lively characters and a great sense of humour.  My favourite character is Ogg.  You would think he's not smart but he is.  He remembers his family from 6000 years ago and that's something we can't do.

The story starts off at a scout trip.  Conor and Charlie are put on the same team.  They go up a high hill and it gets foggy.  They wander off and find a caveman named Ogg.  A few days later Conor's mum still doesn't know about Ogg, but some scientists do. They try to capture Ogg at a scout trip.  

I loved this book and I thought it was great!  Alan Nolan is a great author.  I enjoy him and I hope you will too...
I recommend it for ages 7+


Conor's Caveman is published by The O'Brien Press on 7th September 2015 and will be available in paperback and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postagehere.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

"One" by Sarah Crossan.

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

Conjoined twins, Grace and Tippie, have led a fairly sheltered life.  Surrounded by family and friends, home-schooled, with  local people used to seeing them all the time and therefore not being the object of people's stares.  All this changes when finances become an issue, and they have to move into a new public school.  While they continue their normal routine, like any regular child, they are subject to gawps, stares and barely concealed curiosities.  They struggle to process their new situation but find two friends to share their burden.  All is going (relatively) well, until one twin becomes ill.  A decision needs to be made, and only the girls can make it...

Written in verse, this novel brings Grace and Tippi's world to life with beauty, grace and warmth.  The girls are more than sisters, they are as one.  They share a body, for sure, but so much more than that, they share a soul.  Best friends, with different tastes in food and boys, with two very different personalities.  They may be conjoined, but are two intelligent, beautiful girls who need to be seen separately.  Falling in love, visiting the doctor, choosing what to eat, all these things require consideration on each others part, yet rarely cause tension.  The bond that they have is something that could never be understood by any single person.  
Sarah Crossan has crafted a novel that draws the reader into the lives of two girls, united from birth, as if she had injected their stories directly into the bloodstream.  As you turn the pages, you feel their feelings, see what they see and think their thoughts.  Each character is shaped in their own individual style and their story becomes a part of your life.  I began to slow down as I approached the end of the book, as I was dreading turning the last page.  I did not want to say goodbye to these girls.  I wanted to read more, and more about them.  It only took a few minutes to settle into reading a novel that is written in verse, as it is so beautifully composed.  The words are clever, well thought-out and very lyrical.  Each verse has a title, rather like a chapter, but they come fast and are fluid, blending together seamlessly. Aimed at the YA market, but suitable for any confident reader,  this should be added to everyone's wishlist, immediately.  Since closing the back cover, I have missed Grace and Tippi, their sister, their parents and their friends.  I was a part of their world for a very short time, but what a world it was...

Highly recommended.

One is pulished by Bloomsbury Childrens and is available in hardback and ebook format.
You can order your copy,with Free Worldwide Postage and 10% discount, here.
The ebookversion can be ordered via amazon link below:

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