Thursday, 21 December 2017

Books you may have missed in 2017.

It's that time of the year again. The Christmas trees are up, the presents are wrapped and families are pretending to like each other. Newspapers, magazines and radio shows have all detailed their favourite reads of the year and there was a lot of agreement. But there were also a lot of omissions. I, indeed, have contributed to said lists and tried to add in a few that readers may not have heard of. However, there were plenty that I could not mention (due to time restrictions or word count). I have read almost 150 books this year and find it very hard to choose a top 20, never mind a top 10. But, here are some that I believe deserve a mention. There should be something for everyone here but, if not, I am more than happy to recommend something else. Just tweet me @margaretbmadden or send me a message on the facebook page, Bleach House Library. You can also leave a comment below. There are plenty more recommended reads on this blog, so feel free to look around. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Books you may have missed in 2017.

Rattle – Fiona Cummins 

A Serial killer is searching for special victims to add to his macabre collection. Jakey and Clara have two things in common: they both have unusual bone disorders and they are both young children. DS Etta Fitzroy is chasing leads but is one step behind the Hannibal Lecter-like psychopath. A clever, atmospheric read that will get under your skin and make your flesh crawl. Creepy, tense and extremely addictive. First in the series, with book two coming soon. One of the best crime thrillers that I have read in a long time.

At First Light – Vanessa Lafaye

1993, Florida and a Klu Klux Klan official is shot by an elderly woman, at a Key West rally. The ninety-six- year-old admits her guilt, but not her motive. The reader is brought back to 1919, when Alicia Cortez arrives fresh off the boat from Cuba. John Morales, returning from war, is immediately drawn to the mixed-race beauty. They must hide their relationship, in an era of racial segregation. Inspired by a true story, At First Light is powerful in its retelling of white supremacy and the role of the Klu Klux Klan in America’s history. A stunning read.

The Other Side of the Wall – Andrea Mara

Whilst feeding her baby in the middle of the night, Sylvia sees a child floating face-down in her neighbour’s pond. She rushes to raise the alarm, but no one answers the door. When she checks the garden, there is no sign of a child. Is she losing her mind? Exhaustion and poor lighting add uncertainty to Sylvia's sighting; however more unusual events begin to occur. The reader cannot be sure which character to believe or which direction the story will go. A compelling psychological thriller with plenty of twists and turns.

The One – John Marrs

Advances in science have resulted in the ultimate match-making experience. A DNA database has been designed to find your perfect match; your soulmate. Sending a swab off in an envelope is now the way to fulfill your destiny. But what happens if you are already with someone you love? Are you prepared to take the test, in the hope of proving your suitability? Are you prepared to travel the world to meet your match? Five DNA matches result in five very different outcomes. An excellent concept. Would you take the test?

Six Stories – Matt Wesolowski

Twenty years after the mysterious death of a fifteen-year-old on a camping trip, journalist, Scott King hosts a six-episode podcast where he delves deep into the story from six different perspectives, leaving listeners to draw their own conclusions. The unusual technique employed by Wesolowski is right on-trend, with nods to ground-breaking podcasts like Serial and TV documentaries like Making a Murderer and Amanda Knox. The memories of that fatal night are revisited by the people who were there, one episode at a time, making this a novel that deserves to be binge-read.  A new form of narration that alters the reading experience. Gripping stuff.

The Missing Ones – Patricia Gibney

January 1976, and three children watch with horror as a small body is buried, without ceremony, under a fruit tree. December 2014, and a woman is discovered, strangled, in a rural cathedral. DI Lottie Parker and DS Mark Boyd are called to the scene and can see no reason why anyone would want to harm a fifty-one-year-old county council worker. She has no family, few friends and apparently no enemies. A distinctive tattoo is found on the corpse and a similar one is located on the body of a suicide victim, just days later. For DI Parker, the coincidence is just too much, and she digs deeper to find a connection. The first in the DI Lottie Parker series and a massively successful debut from a new voice in Irish crime fiction.

This is Going to Hurt: Confessions of a Junior Doctor - Adam Kay

The realities of working for the NHS are brought to life in this no-holds barred title, from comedian and former doctor, Adam Kay. Excerpts from his diaries, written on his journey from an innocent medical student, right through to the day he resigned from his role as Registrar, the stories are harsh, honest and often hilarious. laughter may be considered one of life's greatest medicines, but it can be hard to laugh when pen-pushing becomes more important than saving lives. This book will make you laugh out loud, resulting in some strange looks from the people around you. You can either laugh, or cry. Magnificent.

The Legacy of Armstrong House - A. O'Connor

The wild and wonderful world of the Armstrongs has entertained readers throughout this historical fiction series. The saga continues as Kate and Nico, once again, find out more hidden secrets about the Armstrong family. Flicking from the present day, back to post-famine Ireland, O'Connor treats his readers to another addictive read which will delight fans of extravagant Historical Fiction. Think Downton Abbey meets Strumpet City, with a blend of Upstairs Downstairs. Whilst it is the third book in the series, with The House and The Secrets of Armstrong House being its predecessors, this can be read as a stand-alone novel. Great fun.

Midwinter Break - Bernard MacLaverty

Ok, slightly cheating here, as this has made many Top Reads lists this year. This is a slim novel, with a huge heart. Following one older couple, on a weekend break to Amsterdam, the beauty is in what it does not say. The tale has no huge reveal or twist and turns, just the flat-lined existence of a stale marriage and a troubled past. MacLaverty's words are exquisite and powerful, lending a graceful air to the banality of aging. There is magic in the pages of this novel; the words reach out and touch the reader, leaving a lasting impression. Beautifully crafted.

The Girl in Between - Sarah Carroll

Do not be fooled by "The Girl" in the title. It is not the "gripping psychological thriller" one would presume. It is a book that will surprise you in so many ways. A young girl and her Ma are squatting in an old derelict warehouse, on Dublin's quayside. They spend their days hiding from the authorities and trying to survive on the coins Ma collects whilst begging. The girl is fiercely protective of her Ma, despite her shortcomings and their relationship is based on a day-to-day existence.  A novel that will literally catch your breath, as you gain insight into the world of addiction, homelessness and its smothering consequences. The book that broke me; I could not read for days after this beauty.

English Animals - Laura Kaye

This is an absolutely stunning literary debut that hooked me from page one, as Mirka approaches her new life in England. Landing in the midst of a strange environment, with an eccentric English couple she finds herself surrounded by tension, temptation and Taxidermy. The prose is both delicate and insightful as the author has chosen a protagonist who does not speak English as her first language. Sophie and Richard manage to make Mirka feel welcome yet an outsider; helpful but surplus to requirement and  yet she blends in like a piece of their quirky furniture. Creaky floorboards, dripping taps and rusty taps are balanced out with diverse personalities and a sense of claustrophobia. The art of taxidermy is Mirka's escape from the craziness and yet Sophie is a constant drug, flowing through her veins. Sublime storytelling.

Monday, 18 December 2017

The Abandoned by Sharon Thomspon. Exclusive Cover Reveal and Giveaway.

Bleach House Library is delighted to bring you the exclusive cover reveal of Sharon Thompson's debut novel, The Abandoned.  This  exciting crime thriller is published by Bloodhound Books on 25th January 2018. You can read the book blurb below and there is a chance to win a beautiful 1950's themed prize.

The wait is over - Here is the cover of The Abandoned...

The Blurb

Peggy Bowden has not had an easy life. As a teenager her mother was committed to an asylum and then a local priest forced her into an abusive marriage. But when her husband dies in an accident Peggy sees an opportunity to start again and trains as a midwife.

In 1950s Dublin it is not easy for a woman to make a living and Peggy sees a chance to start a business and soon a lucrative maternity home is up and running. But when Peggy realizes that the lack of birth control is an issue for women, she uses their plight as a way to make more money. Very soon Peggy is on the wrong side of the law.

What makes a woman decide to walk down a dark path? Can Peggy ever get back on the straight and narrow? Or will she have to pay for her crimes?

Set against the backdrop of Ireland in the 1950’s The Abandoned tells the story of one woman’s fight for survival and her journey into the underbelly of a dangerous criminal world.

About the Author 

Sharon Thompson lives in Donegal, Ireland. She is a member of Imagine, Write, Inspire. This  is a writing group, under the mentorship of HarperCollins author Carmel Harrington. Sharon’s short stories have been published in various literary magazines and websites. #WritersWise is her collaboration with writer, Dr Liam Farrell. This is a trending, fortnightly, promotional tweet-chat with corresponding Facebook page and website ( Its mission is to encourage and support writers to reach as wide an audience as possible. Although she mostly writes crime fiction, Sharon does have a fun-side and she writes the quirky Woman's Words column for the Donegal Woman wesbiteSharon Thompson. Writing Fun is her writing page on Facebook and she tweets @sharontwriter.

You can follow Sharon via the following links:

To get you in the 1950s mood, Bleach House Library has a copy of The 1950s Ireland in Pictures to giveaway. Click on link below to enter. Open INT and closes 28 December 2017. Good Luck!

Friday, 15 December 2017

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: The Anniversary by Roisin Meaney

Thanks to Hachette Ireland, I have the pleasure of exclusively revealing the cover of Roisin Meaney's forthcoming novel, The Anniversary, published on 7th June, 2018. They have also provided three copies of Roisin's current novel, The Street Where You Live, for a giveaway. Just enter via  the rafflecopter link below. Open to UK/IRL and closes 22nd Dec. Good Luck! 

So, here you go!
 The beautiful new cover of The Anniversary...

The Blurb

By the end of the weekend, everything will have changed. But for better or for worse?
After twenty-six years of marriage Lily and Charlie separate. Lily moving on with her new fiancé Joe, and Charlie, with his new, younger, girlfriend Chloe. Even Lily and Charlie's grown-up children Polly and Thomas have come to terms with their parent's new lives.
But when Lily's mother dies, Lily and Charlie decide to get the family together for one last weekend in the old family summer home - a weekend that just happens to be their thirtieth wedding anniversary.
As the whole family gathers with their respective partners, home truths come out and secrets are divulged. By the end of the weekend, everything will have changed -- but for better or for worse?

The Anniversary will be published by Hachette Ireland on 7th June 2018 and you can pre-order The Anniversary, via amazon link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb: Review and Giveaway.

It is that time of the year again. The last minute dash for Christmas presents is upon us and the task of finding the right book, for the right person, can be quite daunting. This novel may just be the answer to all your prayers. It is a warm and gentle tale, with a big heart, making it ideal for any reader with a big heart; from the school teacher, to your great aunt, and everyone in between...
Thanks to Harper Collins in ireland, I have two copies of Last Christmas in Paris to giveaway. Just enter via rafflecopter link below. Open INT and closes Sunday 17th December. Good Luck!

My Review

1914 and Evie Elliot begins correspondence with her brother, Will, and his best friend, Tom, who have departed for France at the beginning of WWI. She never anticipates that their letters would become so frequent, or that they would cross for many years. The newspapers have glossed over the seriousness of the situation in Europe, with vague stories of battles well fought by brave young men, but Tom reveals the truth in his honest letters to Evie. The conditions are described with a delicate touch, while his ever-decreasing spirit becomes more obvious as the months turn into years. Evie is frustrated with her restrictive role in the war effort and continues to push boundaries, to change this. The two friends dream of visiting Paris, after the war, and sometimes this thought alone is all that keeps them going.

1968 and Tom has arrived in Paris, with a collection of letters and memories. However, there is one last letter to open. The past is forever inscribed in the history of these letters. But how does it all end? 

Gaynor and Webb are two experienced authors, who have both written about WWI and work extremely well together. Their work is blended, seamlessly, and brings the characters personalities to life, via the medium of letters. You will find yourself cheering on the soldiers and the families that await their safe return. You may also be surprised to read of how media censorship was misleading all those on the home front. Would so many young men have signed up, had they known what it was really like, over there?

A really beautiful historical novel, revisiting the wonderful art of letter writing and the lives of those who depended on correspondence to escape the daily trauma of war. An ideal read for the cold winter months and especially at Christmas time. A perfect stocking filler.

Last Christmas in Paris is published by William Morrow and is available in Pb and ebook format. You can pick up the Pb edition in your local bookshop, or order the ebook version via amazon link below:

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Book Review: Redemption by Darren Darker

Guest Review from Diarmaid McCaffrey.

Darren Darker’s Redemption bears all the hallmarks of a modern thriller. A crotchety broken-hearted action hero archetype; vendettas and old grudges; decades old regret and demons from the past that have to be slain. But Redemption twists these conventions into a genuinely original narrative.    

At the tail end of the second World War Karl Muller, a German bomber, crash-lands off the coast of Ireland. Reading the writing on the wall he abandons his plane, leaves behind his partner and starts a new life in rural Ireland and, for decades on end, makes the best of his clean slate. However, when the past comes back to threaten his family, he needs to rely on his friend. Recent widower John Morgan is hoping to rebuild his life in the wake of his wife’s death while at the same time trying to save the Miller family.

The narrative switches several times during the book, most notably back to the 1940’s in Muller’s youth, which is a complex plot device to traverse, but Darker switches back and forward between POV’s seamlessly and manages to convey these themes and general plot in a way that’s fast moving and entertaining throughout (which is no easy feat for any author especially when it’s come to a book that deals with historical aspects). It’s a totally immersive experience, with subtle little details throughout, that paints a perfect picture of the Irish countryside.

While it’s an enjoyable read, Redemption doesn’t have that “polished” feel with somewhat lack-luster editing, which leaves many of the sentences without words and in one scene during the later chapters it magically jumps from Summer to November which was a tad jarring.
(**Ed. update: Redemption has since gone under a re-edit and the author is happy with changes.)

Despite this, passion pours from this piece with remarkable detail regarding the historical aspects and exciting characters.

About the Author

Darren Darker is a member of the Irish Writers Centre and contributor to He started his own car maintenance business 9 years ago and currently has 5 staff and growing. He has been the recipient of several awards for services to the state as a member of the Civil Defence as both a voluntary fireman and a coxswain on a rescue boat whose duties included helping the Gardai search for bodies. Darren is the proud dad of Adam.

He has been an avid reader since he was introduced to Agatha Christie, Sven Hassell and Ed McBain at an inappropriate age! Redemption is the first novel in his John Morgan Series . The follow up - No end to the lies will be out shortly.  

Redemption is available in ebook format. You can get your copy via amazon link below:

Monday, 20 November 2017

Book Review: What Alice Knew by T.A. Cotterell.

Guest Review from Diarmaid McCaffrey.

This psychological thriller revolves around  Alice  - funnily enough - who works as a painter, or more specifically, paints portraits of her clients. (Which allows her to notice small little intricate details people, a nice little trait interwoven within the novel). One faithful day, Alice’s husband Ed doesn’t come home, and she is unable to contact him, setting off alarm bells in her head and questions in her mind. At the start of the novel he appears to be a loving husband who saves lives on a regular basis, but as the story goes on its clear things aren’t what they appear with him.

The characterisation of protagonists in his book is phenomenal. In particular the character of Ed. While his disappearance sets off the events of the book, his presence is felt throughout, to the point where, even without personally knowing him, we feel like we do, sensing his disappearance as rather unusual; out of character for him and even in his absence he seems to go through a character arch. The book eventually builds and builds the tension until it reaches a heartbreaking climax where Alice needs to make a heartbreaking decision.

The story itself is mesmerising, to say the very least. There’s almost a rhythm to the plot, like a well-crafted song. It ebbs and flows in right places; building upon themes like trust, regret, and emotional wounds, trying to get over them; all explored in great detail; all building up to a fantastically set up twisty-ending that offsets the novel perfectly, yet seems to come out of nowhere.

On the whole, T.A. Cotterel’s What Alice Knew is a fascinating book. It contains a tense and unnerving narrative that slowly but surely rises to a crescendo, that is sure to stay with you long after the last page is turned.

What Alice Knew is published by Black Swan and is available in PB and ebook format. You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage, HERE. The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Book Review: Dinner at the Happy Skeleton by Chris Chalmers.

I was honored to be asked to read an early edition of this title and provide a cover quote. It was many months ago, but this gem has now been unleashed on the reading public. Highly recommended!

My Review

Dan is fast approaching forty, has just lost his job and is nowhere near settling down with a man. In fact, he is happily plodding along as a plus one in an existing partnership and spending far too much time into online gay chat rooms. His newfound freedom from the 9-5 world means he now has more time to consider what direction his life is heading. Past conquests and a disastrous relationship with a handsome young waster are all floating around his mind as he logs online to find quick hook-ups. Is this what he really wants?

Dan is everything you want in a protagonist. Flawed yet endearing; clever but blinkered; content to live alone but seeking company. He is cute, funny and solvent. His string of one night stands include liaisons with a well-endowed porn-star and online flirting with men who want to know if he will ride bare-back. The gay online dating world is fast, furious and limited to location.

Chris Chalmers uses his snappy style to bring Dan to life. A novel full of wit, comedy and unflinching honesty, it is like reading a gay Nick Hornby. The world of Dan is one that hops off the page, bringing you through the streets of London and online sex-fuelled dating sites. Cynicism is ever-present but in a thoughtful way. The true gem of this book is it’s wry and witty character, Dan. Wonderfully drawn, he is someone that will remain in your thoughts long after you turn the last page. Sharp, sassy and completely believable. I want to be part of his circle of friends. You don’t have to be perfect to be memorable.

This is clever contemporary fiction at its finest. I dare you not to connect with Dan from beginning to end...

About the Author

Chris Chalmers is the author of Dinner At The Happy Skeleton, Five To One, Light From Other Windows, and for children, Gillian Vermillion — Dream Detective. He lives in South-West London with his partner, a quite famous concert pianist. Chris has been the understudy on Mastermind, swum with iguanas and shared a pizza with Donnie Brasco. Aside from his novels, his proudest literary achievement is making Martina Navratilova ROFLAO on Twitter. 

You’ll find him on Facebook @chrischalmersnovelist, on Twitter @CCsw19, and at

Dinner at the Happy Skeleton is published by J. Mendel Books and is available in PB and ebook format. You can order your copy in your local bookshop, or via amazon link below:

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Book Review: December Girl by Nicola Cassidy.

Molly Thomas loses more than her home, the night her family are evicted from their farmhouse in 1894. Her father is accused of stealing stones from the passage tomb at Dowth, Co.Meath, which originates back to approx. 3,200BC, but Molly knows that most of the local tenants had used the granite stones from Dowth and there a more sinister reason for their eviction.

The Thomas land is owned by the Brabazon family, who live in the nearby Brabazon House, a country mansion well known for hosting grand balls and hunting events. Henry Brabazon is a gentle soul (unlike his father) and dreams of studying criminal law in London, therefor escaping the expectations attached to being heir to the Brabazon title.

When Molly flees Ireland, after her father’s death, she is not to know that what she is running from is a lot less worse than what she is headed toward. Her life spirals out of control and she is not long becoming a victim of circumstance. Things go from bad to worse when her baby, Oliver, is taken from his pram outside a London shop and not one person has witnessed his kidnapping. Will Molly’s luck ever change, or is she cursed to suffer forever?

The novel begins with a prologue, describing the laying of the passage tomb, and then the disappearance of Oliver. The story then flicks back to the evection and introduces the Thomas family and their polar-opposites: the Brabazons.
When Molly escapes to London, via Liverpool, the narrative takes an even darker turn. The young woman is out of her depth and is preyed upon, almost instantaneously. Back at Brabazon House, Henry has his own problems: those of expectations and tradition. Then, the reader is introduced to Gladys and Albert, and a connected thread within the story. The tale continues in England and Ireland, right up until the War of Independence, and immediately afterward.

This is the debut title from Co. Louth native, Nicola Cassidy, who herself grew up in the Boyne Valley and knows the landscape of Dowth extremely well. She has taken the historic monument and used it as an anchor for her story. The saga is spread over almost five decades of turbulent Anglo-Irish relations yet only addresses the violent wars toward the end of the novel, which may be to appeal to the reader who is wanting more Downton Abbey than Rebellion. The structure is a little confusing at times, with the 1896 thread being somewhat lost in the flitting to-and-fro from other strands of the saga and there are chapter headings, for example: “Dowth, Co. Meath, Ireland, St Stephen’s Day. 1894, 10.20pm (Twenty Months Before)” which could have been simplified, ensuring a more fluid reading experience. But these are small editing issues, rather than any criticism of the writing or indeed the story.

December Girl is awash with historical detail about Drogheda and the surrounding countryside, even using nuggets of actual events. The linen industry is booming, the shipping port is a hive of activity and the streets are described with loving detail. Molly is a feminist, before her time and the reader is not treated to a sugar-coated view of her struggles as an independent woman. Far from it. Her story is dark and disturbing. Henry is an altogether lighter character, with a good heart and the benefit of a wealthy upbringing. Brabazon House sounds idyllic and typical of the Anglo-Irish country houses which still stand today. Nicola Cassidy is a name to watch out for. She has come a long way, in a relatively short period of time, and I am sure we have not heard (or read) the last of her yet.  

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

December Girl is published by Bombshell Books and is available in PB and ebook format. You can order your copy via amazon link below:

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Book Review: Hunter and the Grape by Eoin C. Macken.

Eighteen-year-old Cat is on a mission to find Sophie Durango, a girl who has stolen his heart (and his virginity). Fleeing his hometown in Albuquerque, with a few dollars and no real plan, he heads for Los Angeles and finds himself with an infuriating travelling partner, the quirky Star. The pair form an unlikely bond when their bus breaks down in the middle of the desert and they are forced to accept help from an old man and his sullen friend. Re-naming themselves Hunter and Grape they begin a journey of self-awareness, facing up to the past and discovering what true friendship means.

This is the second YA novel from author, actor and screenwriter, Eoin Macken. Like his debut, Kingdom of Scars, this is a contemporary look at a young male's coming of age. Set along the dusty roads of New Mexico, the novel is brought to life with descriptive detail and memorable characters. The dialogue is simple and extremely effective, almost like a play divided into numerous Acts: Act One: A roadside encounter where the two main characters encounter each other for the first time; the initial bus journey and the development of a tentative relationship forming. Act Two: An isolated cabin where the teenagers witness the grief of a stranger. Act Three: Another dusty roadside, further character development and background stories. Act Four: A new friendship with a homeless man and his dog and a trip to Las Vegas. Act Five: An unscheduled trip to Los Angeles and the search for Cat's dream girl; a stolen bike, a new friendship with a lonely french man and a dip in the ocean. The scenery is minimal, as both Hunter and Grape are the main attraction. Their individual stories are all the audience needs. 

These teenagers are both victims of their upbringing  and their circumstances. They are two lost souls who have found each other during their lowest moments. Without each other they may have travelled different paths, but together they complement each other and makes their pilgrimage one of adventure with semi-security. They need each other, despite their initial resistance. Damaged by their pasts, they need to face the realities of the present and learn to wade-into the future.

This is YA fiction, but with a leaning toward drama. A little slow to start, it builds up as the Acts progress and the characters reveal some of their back-stories. Hunter is struggling to be the alpha-male (lots of fist fights and hard-ons) and Grape uses her feminine charms far to much for my liking (including kissing random men to avoid confrontation). There is a sexist undertone throughout the novel which, as an adult reader, I found uncomfortable. I hope that young adult readers will realise that this is not the way gender should be categorised. However, Hunter is a genuinely nice guy, with a good heart, and matures as he travels on his journey. 

A charming, road-trip novel which takes two damaged teenagers on an unlikely adventure through the blistering heat of New Mexico and on to the more capable landscape of Los Angeles. Hunter and the Grape is refreshingly different to other YA novels, with an edgy and arty feel, which would be magnificent on stage or screen. Ideal for older teenagers and young adults alike.

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

Hunter and the Grape is published by Ward River Press 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:

Sunday, 22 October 2017

How To Build A Home Library. Feature from & Irish Times by Sophie Grenham

How To Build A Home Library

BLEACH HOUSE LIBRARY was built from scratch by MARGARET MADDEN in her Co. Louth home
Photograph by Eoin Rafferty
Margaret Madden, blogger and reviewer, quite literally lives in her books. The extraordinary Bleach House Library was built from scratch by the flamed-haired mother of five in her listed 18th-century, seven-bedroom pile in Collon, Co Louth.
Madden immediately zoned in on the sprawling ground floor space, before moving in eleven years ago. “I ear-marked it as my library because it has double doors into the garden, it has a fireplace and it’s a big room,” she explains. “It’s away from the hubbub of the house, slightly isolated in its own wing. When you have as many kids as I have, it’s nice to escape without being too far away.” Looking around the light-filled haven, punctuated with pastels, I can’t imagine feeling anything but peaceful in here.
That’s only the beginning, for I quickly discover that Madden’s collection of roughly 5,000 books occupies nearly every single room in the house, bar the bathroom. While very neatly curated, her treasured literary cargo travels from the flagship library, up the staircase and into the master bedroom.
How does one manage this many books and stay sane? Madden admits that while she regularly donates to charity shops and libraries, more volumes typically find their way back in exchange. Books are alphabetised so she can locate desired titles quickly.
In her experience, what key elements make a decent library, should one embark on such a mission?
“There has to be a mix of old and new with a great non-fiction section,” she says. “Definitely have all different genres in a library. Add a good mixture of novels written by people of colour, from different perspectives and religions, translated fiction. I would be surprised if there was no Jane Austen or Dickens. Although they’re curriculum reads now, there are people who still want to read them for pleasure – not just for exams.”
Despite the seemingly complete appearance of Bleach House Library, this labour of love will continue.“Some people are passionate about their cars and some go horseracing,” she says, smiling. “This is my addiction and it just happens to be literary, so having a room of one’s own that is basically a giant book is just heaven! It is literally a dream since I was a child – and it’s come true.”

Monday, 9 October 2017

LMFM October #LateLunchBookclub

Another month, another great selection of recommended reads, for LMFM's #LateLunchBookclub
I was in with Gerry Kelly, on Friday 6th Oct and revealed which books I thought listeners may enjoy. Once again, there is a nice mix of genres and hopefully something may appeal to you. You can listen to our #LateLunchBookclub broadcast via the soundlink below:


Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen, the creators of the much-loved Aisling character and the popular Facebook page 'Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling', bring Aisling to life in their novel about the quintessential country girl in the big smoke.

Aisling is twenty-eight and she's a complete ... Aisling. She lives at home in Ballygobbard (or Ballygobackwards, as some gas tickets call it) with her parents and commutes to her good job at PensionsPlus in Dublin.

Aisling goes out every Saturday night with her best friend Majella, who is a bit of a hames (she's lost two phones already this year - Aisling has never lost a phone). They love hoofing into the Coors Light if they're 'Out', or the vodka and Diet Cokes if they're 'Out Out'.

Ais spends two nights a week at her boyfriend John's. He's from down home and was kiss number seventeen at her twenty-first.

But Aisling wants more. She wants the ring on her finger. She wants the hen with the willy straws. She wants out of her parents' house, although she'd miss Mammy turning on the electric blanket like clockwork and Daddy taking her car 'out for a spin' and bringing it back full of petrol.

When a week in Tenerife with John doesn't end with the expected engagement, Aisling calls a halt to things and soon she has surprised herself and everyone else by agreeing to move into a three-bed in Portobello with stylish Sadhbh from HR and her friend, the mysterious Elaine.

Newly single and relocated to the big city, life is about to change utterly for this wonderful, strong, surprising and funny girl, who just happens to be a complete Aisling.


1993, Key West, Florida. When a Ku Klux Klan official is shot in broad daylight, all eyes turn to the person holding the gun: a 96-year-old Cuban woman who will say nothing except to admit her guilt.

1919. Mixed-race Alicia Cortez arrives in Key West exiled in disgrace from her family in Havana. At the same time, damaged war hero John Morales returns home on the last US troop ship from Europe. As love draws them closer in this time of racial segregation, people are watching, including Dwayne Campbell, poised on the brink of manhood and struggling to do what's right. And then the Ku Klux Klan comes to town...

Inspired by real events, At First Light weaves together a decades-old grievance and the consequences of a promise made as the sun rose on a dark day in American history.


It's been twenty years since Lindsey has seen her best friend Rachel.

Twenty years since she has set foot in Thornbury Hall - the now crumbling home of the Bagenal family - where they spent so much time as teenagers. Since Patrick Bagenal's 18th birthday party, the night everything changed . . . for good.

It's time for a reunion

Patrick has decided on one last hurrah before closing the doors of his family home for good. All of the old crowd, back together for a weekend.

For the secrets to come out

It's not long before secrets begin to float to the surface. Everything that Lindsey shared with her best friend at sixteen . . . and everything that she didn't . . .

Some secrets should never be told. They need to be taken to the grave. While others require revenge at any cost.


‘Painfully funny. The pain and the funniness somehow add up to something entirely good, entirely noble and entirely loveable.' - Stephen Fry

Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships . . .

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, these diaries are everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn't – about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.


Told in Sebastian Barry's characteristically beautiful prose, "A Long Long Way" evokes the camaraderie and humour of Willie and his regiment, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, but also the cruelty and sadness of war, and the divided loyalties that many Irish soldiers felt. Tracing their experiences through the course of the war, the narrative brilliantly explores and dramatises the events of the Easter Rising within Ireland, and how such a seminal political moment came to affect those boys off fighting for the King of England on foreign fields - the paralysing doubts and divisions it caused them.

Gerry Kelly & Margaret Madden

Myself and Gerry Kelly hope that there is something here that listeners will love. All these titles are available from your local bookshop or library, but should you have any problems, just ask your bookseller, or librarian, to order a copy in for you. Happy Reading!

Please feel free to let us know what you thought of the books. You can leave a comment on this page, or contact me via twitter @margaretbmadden or via facebook  page Bleach House Library.

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