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:

Popular Posts