Wednesday, 21 November 2018 The Pact by Carol Coffey. Exclusive Extract and Gi... The Pact by Carol Coffey. Exclusive Extract and Gi...: Thanks to Poolbeg Books, I have an exclusive excerpt from Carol Coffey's latest novel, The Pact . There is also a copy to ...

The Pact by Carol Coffey. Exclusive Extract and Giveaway.

Thanks to Poolbeg Books, I have an exclusive excerpt from Carol Coffey's latest novel, The Pact. There is also a copy to giveaway. Enter via rafflecopter link at the end of the excerpt. Open INT and ends on 30th November. Good Luck! 

The Blurb

When Richmond homicide detective Locklear is called in to investigate the attempted murder of a young Mennonite in a Virginian farming town, he is instantly drawn into a web of secrecy and lies spanning back to the American Civil War.
 Frustrated by the refusal of locals to co-operate with the investigation, Locklear realises that to find the perpetrator he must first solve a 150-year-old mystery.  With his leads restricted to historical records, the Native American is running out of time to save the orphaned boy’s siblings from a similar fate. As the body count in a seeming local feud rises, Locklear is no nearer to solving the most complex case of his career. 
Flanked by his trusted colleague Jo Mendoza and local cop Carter, Locklear finds himself embroiled in a silent religious community where nothing is as it seems and everyone has something to hide.

Praise for The Penance Room
‘A must-read for fans of Jodi Picoult . . . Quite irresistible’
Sunday Independent

Chapter 1

The 5 a.m. call from Lieutenant Alex Kowalski had woken Locklear from a fitful night’s rest. For two weeks since his enforced vacation, the kind of sleep he was accustomed to had eluded him, nights of deep exhaustion when he would sleep soundly and escape the horrors of his waking hours. For it was by day that visions of the murdered – faces of men, women and children – haunted him until the perpetrators were caught and he sentenced the victims to the watery grey grave of his tormented mind. He was known in the department as a detective without a life, who spent what time remained to him trying to solve why others lost theirs and who had taken it from them. It was a life that even now, only a few years from retirement, he knew he did not consciously choose. In his drinking days, when his thoughts were ironically clearer, he believed that this life had chosen him. This life of structure, routine, of method – things he had not known in his youth spent travelling the country with his Native American, mentally fragile mother and her array of badly chosen boyfriends.

As he lay there he went over the information his boss had given him. He had worked under Alex Kowalski for almost thirty years and considered the man as near to a friend as he would ever want, or need. A Mennonite youth named Andrew Fehr had been found hanging in a disused barn on an abandoned farm, barely hanging on to life, Kowalski had said, apologising quickly for the pun that Locklear did not get. The small, tightly knit religious community would not comply with the local police, not even the local pastor who had miraculously found the young man struggling on a rope. The rafters were too high to climb without a ladder so a suicide attempt had been ruled out. There were fresh tyre tracks in the barn and on the dry dirt road leading to town so the boy had not been alone, at least not until he was strung up and left to die. The trooper, a man named Carter who would link up with him when he arrived, said the boy had some kind of mental disability and that the paramedics had said it would be a miracle if he survived, but if he did it was likely that the damage to his brain would mean he would be unable to say what had happened. Locklear felt that this was why Kowalski had chosen him for the case. He usually only dealt with homicides and the young man, at least for now, was still alive, but Kowalski had a good nose and knew this would suit him. He didn’t relish the idea of seeing or speaking to a living victim but the boy’s brain, he figured, was as good as mush so he was no better than a corpse. He preferred his cases cold, preferred to follow his own leads, preferred when there were no emotions to deal with and he could work on the hard facts.

Locklear lifted himself off his bed and took a cold shower. The July sun was already blazing through the windows of his apartment. He had lived in the tiny one-bed almost as long as he had worked for the Richmond P.D. It suited his needs in this life which were few.
After a brief tour of duty in the army, he had joined the police in South Dakota where he had been born and where his mother, in the throes of dementia despite her middle age, was seeing out the last of her days in a haze of confusion. He stayed to be near to her but found himself unable to visit, unable to see her in that condition. She did not know him and he had never known her. When she died he could find no reason to remain in South Dakota – he had no other family, least none that he knew of, so he wandered around from state to state, much like his mother and he had done together, until his money ran out, forcing him to take a post in New York in narcotics. The work of the division frustrated him – hours spent investigating small-time drug-addicted mules, while their bosses who hid behind legitimate businesses in uptown addresses, walked free. As each year passed, Locklear felt that he was dying inside, a slow death caused by inexplicable rage against an enemy he could not see. It was during these years that his heavy drinking began – initially as a way of finding sleep from the tormented thoughts that filled his every waking moment. Soon, his days were lost in a haze of legal bureaucracy and his long nights in drunken stupors. Four torturous years later, a chance opportunity to work on the murder of a narcotic crime lord had whet his appetite for homicide and he finally found his passion, his home. So, with an ease he did not think possible, he put the bottle away and bided his time.
When a job in homicide came up in Virginia, he did not even think about the upset of relocating on his life. He didn’t have very much to move.

It was almost seven by the time he took to the road for the three-hour drive to Dayton, a tiny farming village of Mennonites. Irene, his station’s secretary, had booked him into a hotel in the nearby town of Harrisonburg where he would pick up local trooper Carter and take a look at the site. His most recent trooper had thrown in the towel and had asked for an assignment as far away from his fractious superior as possible. The trooper had lasted five months – a record as far as Locklear was concerned.
As he drove along Route 64 he went over the details he knew so far. He knew from previous cases that it took no more than six minutes for a person to die from hanging so the chance arrival of the local pastor was suspicious and not miraculous. He reasoned that the pastor must have been present when the crime was taking place – but why string the boy up and then save him? And if he wasn’t in the actual barn, if he was watching from nearby, why let the person commit the crime? Why not stop it? At the junction on 64, he took a right onto the 81 and thought about the victim. Why would someone harm a mentally deficient youth, especially in a religious community? The idea that the perpetrator was unknown to the youth, that the crime was committed by a stranger, was out of the question. Someone had put time and thought into the crime – and emotion – possibly hate – but why? Why not shoot the youth? It was quicker so there was less chance of getting caught. Unless the killer, or would-be killer knew that even if he – or she – was seen, no one in the community would tell.

As he pulled up in front of the large police station, he already knew that this was going to be a frustrating case where nothing made sense and clues led nowhere ... for now. As he pulled back the door into the reception area, he knew immediately that the trooper sitting at the desk farthest from the door was Trooper Carter. Even from a sitting position, Locklear could see that the trooper was tall and lean – an ex local-team baseball hero, now retired and  no doubt teaching junior league on Saturday mornings to a brood of kids.
Locklear waited while Carter, who had his back to him, threw a small ball back and forth against the wall while he talked on the phone.
“Sure did ... poor kid was almost dead ...”
Locklear flashed his ID at the man on the desk and then stood silently as Carter revelled in what was probably the most exciting thing to happen around there in a hundred years.
“Yeah ... I did an examination of the scene myself ... got the big boys coming down from the city to tell us how it’s done and do what we did all over again.”
Locklear coughed.
“Yes ... sir ... can I help you?” Carter spluttered, standing to attention.
Locklear had seen hundreds like Carter over the years. Not-too-bright troopers good at the local police stuff but useless as shit when it came down to serious crime.
“Hope so ... I’m one of the big boys come down to tell you how it’s done.”
Carter blushed. “Ah, I was just kidding – that was my wife Virginia – she’s chuffed I’m working on this – telling her friends and that – so I was just ...”
Locklear took a better look at the man who would be his partner in this investigation. He guessed Carter to be around thirty years of age, yet there was more innocence to his bright blue eyes and thick fair hair than a man of his years had a right to. Despite his height, Carter looked like a boy in a police uniform.
“Your wife’s name is Virginia? Seriously?”
Carter blushed some more. “Yeah, her folks are immigrants. Loved the place when they got here and I guess they wanted to show their appreciation of this fine state, you know?”
Locklear nodded at his genial partner, although he didn’t know. He rarely understood what ordinary people did in ordinary circumstances.
Carter looked the tough-looking plainclothes detective up and down, trying to make out where he was from. He hadn’t said enough to place an accent but he wasn’t from around here, that was for sure, so he already knew there’d be trouble. People here didn’t take too kindly to strangers poking their noses into things they didn’t rightly understand. But the face told a lot. The criss-cross of fine broken veins across his bulbous nose told a story of drinking, past behaviour by the look of things. His dark-brown eyes did not match the pale colouring of his face. He could tell Locklear had once been a handsome man before the ravages of drink set in. The detective had high, hollow cheekbones and a strong jaw line. A furrowed brow told of a man who had spent many years outdoors but his hair was the most interesting, thick and straight, a little on the long side for a police officer and still jet-black for a man of advancing years, suggesting some mixed blood – Native American he would have guessed but mixed up with enough white people to have given him skin no darker than what came naturally from too many years in the sun.
“Well, trooper, are you going to stare at me all day or are we going to Dayton?”
“Guess we’re going to Dayton, sir.” Carter had seen enough. For the next few weeks, or months, depending on how drawn-out the investigation was, he would be second fiddle to a possibly half-Indian ex-alcoholic who already had him pegged as an idiot country bumpkin cop.

The town of Dayton, which lay just over five miles away, had clearly become an extension of Harrisonburg as the larger town sprawled towards the pretty village. Only a small green belt divided the two towns but the change in landscape during the twelve-minute journey was obvious. Large, middle-class houses gave way to worn-down clapboards. Fast-food joints and express coffee houses disappeared and were replaced by fields dotted with cattle and sheep, milking parlours and an air of poverty. Carter had insisted, albeit politely, that the pair travel in his police car which the locals of Dayton would recognise.

After a brief ride along the John Wayland Highway, Carter turned right onto Mason Street and right again into the parking lot of an impressive faux-Georgian building which seemed at odds with the dilapidated houses that surrounded it. The two-storey building of bright brick was adorned with five marble pillars and large-paned windows that gave a stately, almost regal look to the rural police station.
“What are we doing here?”
Carter shrugged. “This is where your incident room will be.”
“I know that! I meant what are we doing here now? I’ve got to take a look at the goddamn site! Now!”
Carter did not move. He stared hard at the sergeant as the broad smile slowly drained from his face. “Sir, you ought not to take the Lord’s name in vain – especially around here.” He sat a while longer, unease rising through his lean body. His fingers twitched around the bulk of keys hanging from the ignition but he did not turn the key.
Locklear watched as each muscle in the trooper’s jaw jumped.
“What is it?” he asked, almost shouting without meaning to.
“You’ll see,” Carter replied quietly, turning the patrol car slowly right onto Mason Street and out of town.
As they neared the site, Locklear sat bolt upright in his seat.
Carter stopped the car and lowered his head as though he was looking for something on his lap.
The barn and the entrance leading to it, which was the scene of the crime and Locklear’s only real hope of figuring out what had happened, was occupied by about fifty people, each stomping over the evidence that he needed to see. The police tape which cordoned off the area had been torn down and two small Mennonite boys were using it as a tug-of-war rope.

Locklear opened the door of the car and was greeted by singing, the soft hum of the voices of Mennonite women spread through the small group. The men stood silently, nodding, their heads bowed and their lips moving without sound. The crowd did not look entirely as Locklear had expected them to. Some of the women were, as he knew was customary, dressed in long, plain grey dresses and white lace bonnets and the men were dressed in black waist-coated suits and white shirts, but most of the people present were dressed in plain clothing, ordinary clothes which were no different to what would be worn in any farming community.

At the entrance to the barn an old Mennonite man of around eighty, in traditional dress, sat in his horse-drawn black carriage, the only buggy to be seen among the pickups and station wagons parked haphazardly around the lot. Locklear noted the body language of the man. He was the only one who did not appear to be praying and his stone-like facial expression gave him the air of a man who did not want to be there.
Locklear moved his gaze to the centre of the crowd, none of whom had taken notice of his arrival. The man holding the Bible looked like just about every preacher he had seen on television, clean cut and freshly shaven with the bright clear eyes of a clean-living man. Dressed in modern clothes, the middle-aged preacher stood around six five with a shock of thick, blond hair. He looked up briefly from the tome and smiled broadly at the visiting policeman before returning to his prayers which Locklear noted were in what sounded like German. Low German it was called, he remembered.
Locklear, aware that he was being ignored, suddenly exploded. “God dammit!”
Carter rushed from the car, grabbing him by the arm.
“Sir, be careful not to upset sensibilities here. They mean no harm. Praying is all they’re doing.”
“Praying all over my goddamn crime scene!” Locklear spat as he marched closer to the crowd.
“They don’t see it that way. They answer to no one but the Lord.”
Locklear swung round and glared at Carter. “Are you one of them? Are you?”
Carter looked to the ground. “No, sir. I’m Baptist but ...”
“Well, then do your fucking job and help me get these people off my crime scene.”
Locklear’s language finally roused the attention of the congregation. He looked towards the now hushed crowd which parted without fuss, freeing the path of the preacher.
Locklear could feel himself tense a little. He had no experience interviewing so-called holy men and did not know what the correct protocol should be.
The preacher threw out his right hand.
“Willkamen,” he said.
Locklear searched for insincerity in that one word but found none. He didn’t take the outstretched hand.
“Snackst de Platt?” the pastor asked.
Carter moved forward and shook his head. “English, Pastor Plett.”
“I’m Pastor Plett – Henry – and this is my wife, Rachel.”
Locklear watched as a small dumpy woman, dressed in a long grey dress and a white bonnet covering her blonde hair, moved forward, smiling as she walked through the crowd of worried faces.
“Welcome,” she echoed. “You’ve come from Richmond. We’ve heard of your arrival. Please come to our house after prayers for sustenance.”
Locklear thought for a moment. “Heard of my arrival. From whom?”
Rachel Plett now looked as worried as her husband’s small congregation. She glanced nervously over Locklear’s shoulder at Carter who had not taken his eyes from the dusty ground, now trampled by fifty pairs of uninvited feet.
“Pastor,” Locklear began as gently as his angry mood would allow, “this is a crime scene. None of these people should be here. I need everyone gone right now so I can find out what happened here.”
Henry Plett’s face darkened. “Your name, sir?”
“Sergeant Locklear.”
The pastor seemed to hesitate, then said, “Your Christian name?”
Locklear grimaced. He never told anyone his first name. It resulted in too many questions. Only Kowalski knew it and he was not likely to repeat it.
“I am not a Christian,” Locklear replied defiantly, hoping to put an end to the probing.
Quiet murmurs grew up from the crowd but the sound he heard loudest was the groan emitted from Carter’s mouth.
“Mr Locklear, we are here to pray for young Andrew. He is much loved in our community.”
“Then let me do my job. Let me find out who tried to kill him and get off this godd–” He stopped before using his favourite curse word. “Please leave so I can do my job.”
Pastor Plett looked at his congregation and beckoned for them to leave. Slowly, men, women and children, even the very young ones, filed silently past him, most with eyes fixed on the ground. An occasional woman glanced at Locklear nervously.
When the last of the crowd had driven off the dusty lot, Locklear surveyed the ground. Scores of tyre tracks criss-crossed the ground around the barn and on the roadway that led into the farmyard, making it impossible for him to figure out the type of car that was present when Andrew Fehr was hanged.
He hunkered down and spread his fingers across the dry earth. Lifting a small piece of soil, he smelt it and held it in his hands. He was never sure why he did this. It was instinctive. It was in his blood. Each time he did this something stirred in him. He loved the earth, the soil, and if his work didn’t keep him in cities it would be here, in nature, that he would live and breathe. But there weren’t enough murders in the countryside to keep him alive and so he lived among tall buildings and concreted ground where soil was absent and the only trees he saw were plastic offerings in the entrances of foyers.
He stood and walked towards the barn and through its open, weathered wooden doors. Inside, bales of mouldering hay lined its sides. He could hear the quiet footsteps of a nervous Carter behind him. He looked up at the long beam that ran across the middle of the large barn. There was nothing that the boy could have used to climb on, not even the hay which was little more than dust, obviously forgotten by whoever had packed it there.
“I took photos of the tyre tracks and of the rope,” Carter said. “They’re with forensics in Harrisonburg.”
Locklear did not reply. It didn’t look like he was going to be able to trust Carter and he had already decided to ask Kowalski to send another outsider to help with the investigation.
“You think that boy climbed up here and tried to hang himself?”
“No, sir,” Carter replied quietly.
“Then ... what do you think happened?”
Carter stared blankly at Locklear. “I don’t rightly know, sir.”
“Yep, I was afraid you were going to say that, Carter.”
Locklear ignored the question and made his way out of the barn to take in the vista. The abandoned farm was more rundown than he had imagined it would be. A small, dilapidated farmhouse faced the barn, its back to the road, giving the area a sense of old-world isolation. There was no glass in any of the windows and the front door was missing. A torn fly-screen screeched eerily in the wind as it moved backward and forward on its rusted hinges. The farm was situated on a high hill and as far as the eye could see the soil was parched and lifeless, sheltering only a few tufts of dry patchy grass. Locklear scanned further and noticed a small holding set on lower land adjacent to the farm. Its grass was a deep green and fat milking cows grazed in the lush pasture. A tiny house could just about be seen as the land dipped steeply away. It was a simple scene but even in the distance the neighbour’s farm appeared to be well kept compared to the wasteland on which he stood. What, he wondered, could make two adjoining farms look so very different?
“Who owns this farm?”
“It belongs to the Fehrs.”
“Why aren’t they farming it?”
Carter shrugged.
Locklear grunted. For a man who was teamed up with him to supply local knowledge, Carter seemed, or pretended, to know very little. Locklear threw down the soil he was still holding and, as he moved back towards the car, he noticed a tall man standing in the dried-out scrub at the entrance to the farm. A brown-felt cowboy-type hat was pulled down, shielding his eyes. From the clothes he wore Locklear could tell the man was young – light-brown boots over dark-blue jeans and blue-check shirt. As they passed he made no attempt to move and even Carter, who seemed so at ease with the unusual community, visibly tensed.
“Who was that?”
“Luke Fehr,” he answered quietly.
“A relative?”
“The victim’s older brother.”
“Gotta talk to him,” Locklear said, looking back into the scrub for the man but he had already disappeared from view.
“Oh, he won’t talk to you, sir. Luke Fehr doesn’t talk to anyone.”


The Pact is published by Poolbeg Books and is available in TPB and ebook format. You can order your copy HERE.

Further Reading from Carol Coffey

Monday, 19 November 2018 Book Review: As Good As Gold by Patricia Furstenbe... Book Review: As Good As Gold by Patricia Furstenbe...: ***We received a copy of this title, from the author, in return for an honest review.*** Having read, and loved, Patricia's c...

Book Review: As Good As Gold by Patricia Furstenberg.

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

Having read, and loved, Patricia's children's novel Joyful Trouble, we were more than happy to review her new collection of poetry and Haiku. Each of the 35 poems are written from a dogs perspective and delightfully explore the sights, sounds and smells they encounter. The collection is split into four parts: Questions, Colours, Musings and Haiku.

In Questions, we encounter inquisitive dogs who are fascinated with their surroundings. They have questions about other animals and different types of weather, and often ending with their 'humans' coming to rescue them from potential problems. In Why, Rain? a puppy escapes from the safety of the garden and, distracted by new experiences, he finds himself in a jam:

"And puppy cries, his feet are stuck,
He cannot cross this river;
He's cold and hungry and alone.
"I'll help you," speaks a small snail.
"I'll call your mom. Just wait a bit. I'm going."

In Orange, the joy of Christmas is seen through the eyes of a dog:

"It's weekend, there's such rumbling and they're all over the room,
Mom, Dad, the children... the grandparents too!
There are plenty of boxes, some open, some not
And there's something else, in the house, in a pot!
It doesn't make sense.
A tree indoors?

There are plenty of photos throughout the book, my only qualm being that perhaps younger children would enjoy pictures of the other animals and birds dotted throughout the collection. An owl, a frog, a snake. Kids love to see pictures when being read to.

This is a very cute addiction to a family library and the short poems are ideal for distraction or night-time reads. Who doesn't love puppies?

As Good As Gold is available in paperback and ebook format. Both can be ordered via amazon via links below:


Wednesday, 7 November 2018 My Mum Tracey Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson. Review ... My Mum Tracey Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson. Review ...: We received a copy of this title, from the publisher, in return for an honest review. Review from Endija, aged 11. My Mum Tracy ...

My Mum Tracey Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson. Review from Endija, aged 11.

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

Review from Endija, aged 11.

My Mum Tracy Beaker is a funny, loving book by Jacqueline Wilson, starring Jess Beaker (Tracy's daughter) and Tracy herself.

Jess thinks Tracy is the best mother ever, but when Sean Godrey (Tracy's childhood friend) comes along, Jess isn't happy, though Tracy is over the moon.

Jess wants everything to go back to the way they were, when it was just her and her mum living in their perfect flat.

But will things work out for Jess and Tracy Beaker? Find out in this brilliant book! 

Suitable for ages 8+

*****Note from Editor*****

Reviews from children are the best! There is nothing like the way they word things. There is no need to change them, as their words are the genuine ones. The photo above - complete with tea stain - shows how the reviews begin as hand-written ones, with plenty of mistakes as they gather their thoughts.  It can be hard to get children to read, never mind review books, so asking them to embellish more is not feasible (or wise). Age appropriate reviews are perfect and may assist parents/guardians/teachers in their search for the right book, for the right age-group.

My Mum Tracy Beaker is published by Doubleday and is available in HB, ebook and audio. You can order your SIGNED* copy with FREE WORLDWIDE POSTAGE and 12% discount HERE. 
*limited signed stock

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Carmel Harrington’s A Thousand Roads Home. Author Interview and Giveaway

Last week I was lucky enough to meet up with Carmel Harrington at the LMFM studios on publication day of A Thousand Roads Home. I had reviewed the book on October's #LateLunchBookclub   and just had to come back and chat to her when she was back in studio with Gerry Kelly.

Below is the video of our interview and there is also a chance to win a signed copy of the novel! Just leave a comment below, or on the original you tube clip to enter. Open INT and closes 1st Novemeber. Good Luck!

You can listen back to Carmel's interview with Gerry HERE.

You can listen back to my review of A Thousand Roads Home, on October's #LateLunchBookclub HERE.

The Blurb

Where is home? Wherever the people you love are.
Single mother, Ruth, and her son, DJ, have never truly fitted in, but that didn’t matter, so long as they were together. When their home comes under threat, their quiet life will change forever.
DJ meets Tom, a man who ten years ago walked out of his house and never looked back. Ruth, DJ and Tom have all felt like outsiders. Burdened with grief and insecurities, they are not living their best lives. But together, these three ordinary people will do an extraordinary thing…

A Thousand Roads Home is published by Harper Collins and is available from all good bookshops now. You can get FREE WORLDWIDE POSTAGE and 12% discount (at time of posting) via

Also available in ebook format:

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Book Review: Mine by J. L. Butler

Francine is applying for Queen’s Counsel and is determined to prove her worth: “’How many state-school-educated QCs are there…How many women, Northerners, ethnic minorities … The very top end of our profession is still full with white upper-middle, Oxbridge men…’” Then she meets Martin Joy. Seeking a divorce, he sweeps in to Francine’s office and the attraction is instant. A chance encounter in Selfridge’s sees Francine being wooed by the handsome millionaire: “He pushed his shirtsleeves up and I noticed what good forearms he had: strong and tanned with a light trail of hair across the top.” Within hours, the lawyer is “in love” and seems to have repressed all her legal training. She has also forgotten the small detail of her bipolar pills: “I had missed taking my medication last night and this morning, and I knew I would soon feel a comedown, or panic or derailment, but for now, my mind was consumed by him and all felt well.”

Francine is loving the wining and dining, the Aston Martin and lavish properties: “we were the beautiful people, sophisticated and urbane.” What could go wrong? A missing wife, that’s what. Donna fails to appear in court and questions are asked. Martin suggests she has probably jetted off “for a detox” and will return to Chelsea “tanned, ten pounds lighter.” Briefly, Francine considers the alternative: “I’d heard about Missing White Woman Syndrome before … Donna Joy wasn’t just blonde, white and beautiful. She was estranged from her millionaire hedge fund banker husband.” The plot becomes gloopier when Francine ‘remembers’ following her client; seeing him with Donna on the night she disappeared.

Mine attempts to be on-trend and ripe for TV adaptation; full of hedonistic-lifestyles of the self-entitled. However, it also ticks every cliché box: mental health, alcohol, handsome/wealthy man causing brain fog, sexual assault (not reported), amazingly-patient female friend and forgiving boss. The writing can be beautifully descriptive when detailing the high-end streets of London, but the concept of a high-flying lawyer is rather spoiled by many clangers. While undergoing therapy (of which one ten-minute session seems to do the trick), Francine is asked if she has heard of the term dissociation. “She shakes her head”. Really?  Like a Harold Robbins novel from the 80s - sexy and bizarre - but the women of today deserve more than the suggestion that Martin “had the most muscular and tanned forearms that were the very definition of manliness.” 

Mine is published by Harper Collins and is available in Hardback and ebook format.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Book Review: The Wives by Lauren Weisberger

***originally posted in Sunday Independent 29 July 2018***

Hard-nosed Emily steps in to save the reputation of ex-supermodel

Fiction: The Wives, Lauren Weisberger, Harper Collins, €15.99

The Wives by Lauren Weisberger1
The Wives by Lauren Weisberger
Margaret Madden
Emily Charlton, ex-assistant to fashion editor Miranda Priestly, is now in her 30s, running her own image-consultancy business to the stars.
Her days of pandering to the devil are over, yet now she faces a new problem. The millennial Snapchat generation is stepping on her territory and stealing her business: "Olivia Bell was twenty-six and gorgeous and popping up at every worthwhile party and event on both coasts. She was loud. And all over every social-media platform. And moving in on Emily's clients as if she owned the industry."
Emily is asked to help when Karolina, a former supermodel and now wife of a presidential candidate, is arrested for drink-driving and insists she was not drunk. Something is not right. Emily agrees to crisis-manage the situation. This requires a visit to the suburbs and the hard-nosed Emily is out of her comfort zone.
Karolina has side-stepped her modelling days and now devotes her time to minding her stepson while her husband races toward the White House.
When the women discover just how low Senator Hartwell has gone to discredit Karolina, they plan their revenge and are determined to do whatever it takes. Emily turns Karolina's scandal into a platform for re-invention. A more 'mumsy' haircut, complete wardrobe overhaul: "from her eight-thousand-dollar Hermes Kelly to a much more accessible Michael Kors tote. The supermodel had downgraded herself to something resembling normal".
Emily is now less sharp around the edges, but her fighting spirit is ever-present. Less Up-Lit and more Fun-Lit.
Bar the overuse of the word "asinine", I thoroughly enjoyed this. Real Housewives meets The Good Wife.
Sunday Indo Living

Friday, 27 July 2018

The Clubhouse Mystery by Erika McGann. Review by Endija, aged 10.

Cass and her best friends, Lex and Nicholas, are the Bubble Street Gang! They investigate crimes, solve mysteries and have brilliant adventures. They’ve even got their own secret clubhouse.

After the annoying baby twins demolish the fort Cass has built in the sitting room, she has the great idea of building a proper fort – outdoors – that can be the Bubble Street Gang’s clubhouse. Lex’s granny suggests the perfect spot at the back of Mr McCall’s field and Cass and the gang get to work.

The gang settle in quickly and begin planning their next adventure, when they realise someone is using the clubhouse when they’re not there. Stuff moves around, cookie crumbs are left behind and the door is left open. Join Cass and the Bubble Street Gang as they investigate The Clubhouse Mystery.

Review from ten-year-old Endija.

"The Clubhouse Mystery is about three kids, Cass, Lex and Nicholas and their club, the Bubble Street Gang. Someone has broken into their clubhouse who could it be?

The three of them go into a fun and exciting adventure to find clues and solve the mystery.

I thought the book was really good and exciting, with a lot of adventure. It was one of the best books I've ever read".

Suitable for age 7+

The Clubhouse Mystery is published by O'Brien Press and is available in PB from all good bookshops. The ebook can be purchased via amazon link below:

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: A Soldier's Wife by Marion Reynolds.

Thanks to Poolbeg Books, I am delighted to share the cover of A Soldier's Wife by Marian Reynolds. I also have an early copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Just enter via rafflecopter link below. Open in Europe and closes 31st July 2018. Good Luck to everyone! 

About the Book

A Soldier’s Wife is a compelling family saga, set during the years 1902 to 1922. Ellen, romantic and naïve, falls in love with James, an Irishman serving in the British Army. They are posted to India but on the journey their first child dies. They are both devastated and isolated in their grief. Gradually, with the help of friends and a further pregnancy, Ellen and James begin to enjoy the luxurious lifestyle.  

After seven years, they return to Ireland and James is demobbed. Dublin is rife with political and civil unrest which leads to the General strike. Their lifestyle is very different and although James has a secure job, Ellen witnesses terrible poverty among her neighbours. They and their three children settle down in their small house but WW1 is declared and James enlists. Ellen is left to bring up her children in a city which views the wives of British soldiers with suspicion. For over four years, letters are her only contact with James.  He is wounded twice and posted missing. 

He returns home in 1919 to find Ellen has become a different woman, one who has held her family together  through the 1916 Rising, taken in her unmarried sister and child, been influenced by the suffragettes and nursed her neighbours through the Black Flu. Their children have become nationalists which inevitably causes conflict with their father.          
James is traumatised by his experiences in the trenches and suffers from nightmares and depression. He cannot understand the anti-British feeling in his home and his city. His place in the family has been usurped by his son. Unable to find employment, he feels emasculated and impotent, abandoned and isolated. Can Ellen heal James, restore his relationship with his children and draw their  family back together again? 

About the Author

Marion Reynolds is from Dublin and read English at Trinity College, Dublin and was awarded an Communications by DCU. During her career, she worked as a teacher and lecturer in both Ireland and the UK. She is a regular contributor of articles, interviews and book reviews to newspapers such as the Irish Examiner and the Evening Echo. She has had a number of short stories published. She teaches creative writing and mentors writers of memoir and historical fiction.

West Cork, where she lived for many years and Wicklow, where she now lives with her husband, have inspired her writing and her painting. 

She is currently writing the sequel to A Soldier’s Wife.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A Soldier's Wife is published in PB by Poolbeg Books on 1st August and is available for pre-order in all good bookshops, and via amazon link below:

Monday, 16 July 2018

'The Book of Revenge: Nine Lives Trilogy Book 3' by E.R. Murray. Q&A with Mia, aged 14.

In 'The Book of Revenge,' the final book in E.R. Murray's Nine Lives trilogy, Ebony Smart faces her toughest challenge so far. Her enemies, Judge Ambrose and Zach Stone, have a powerful new ally and an army of Shadow Walkers to use against her. Without the help of The Book of Learning, Ebony, with pet rat, Winston, and the Order of the Nine Lives, must find a way to discover their plans, defeat the magical beings and rescue her parents. A story of ghosts, time-travel, battles and dark magic, this is Ebony’s greatest adventure so far – but will it also be her last?


As fourteen-year-old Mia is a firm-fan of E.R.Murray, who better to grill her about the final installment of the Nine Lives Trilogy? It can be difficult getting a teenager to commit to writing anything out of school time, so we compromised on a Q&A about The Book of Revenge. Kudos to Mia for not revealing any spoilers and shame on me for the delay in posting this article. However, it is totally worth it...

Q&A with E.R.Murray and Mia Madden

     Now that you’ve finished your first book series, are you going to miss the characters? Which would will you miss the most?

Funnily enough, I won’t miss them like I expected. But I was working with these characters for eight years in total, if you count all the years prior to any publishing deal, and although I’m fond of the characters I created and I wanted to do my best for them by finishing the trilogy, I’ve been ready for new characters for some time now. But writers are like that; we’re magpies, always chasing the next shiny new idea.

But out of all the characters, I think I would miss Winston the most – I enjoyed writing him so much and he developed way beyond what I expected when I started out writing The Book of Learning - Nine Lives Trilogy 1. I always knew that he was integral to the overall concept, but I thought he might be eclipsed by Uncle Cornelius. However, he took on a life of his own and stole the show.

      Do you plan on starting another book or series?

I’ve already started two books and they’re both very different. One is for an adult audience and set in the future; the other is a potential series for children (aged 8-12) with a female protagonist and another interesting pet – this time, it’s a crow. I don’t know where these projects will lead and it’s really early days, but I’m enjoying writing them.

I don’t ever like to not have a manuscript on the go – I tried that once and it felt really horrible to start from absolute zero with no guarantees, so I always have at least one first draft waiting in the wings for when the current priority project is finished. I started these current manuscripts as side projects while writing The Book of Shadows and The Book of Revenge – it meant I didn’t feel directionless when the trilogy was published and it also meant ideas could tick away in the background over time.

       If you were to choose one of these characters as a sidekick, who would you choose? Icarus, Winston, Chiyoko, Seamus or Uncle Cornelius?

I’ve already given Winston some love, so I’m going to say Uncle Cornelius. He’s such a quirky character and lots of fun – I like the way he swings from being like a naughty, inquisitive kitten to a ferocious, protective beast. Plus, he’s big enough to take rides on – how could that be anything other than the best fun?!

      What do you imagine Ultimation would be like?

Ooh, this is a great question! In my mind, it’s peaceful. Calm. With no bodily or human limitations, dissolving into the universe and all its nature, I can picture a sense of true freedom. Imagine no pain, no need to sleep, no conflict! And yet it would be as wild as wind and ocean storms, as well as nurturing and gentle like spring growth. I think it would be wonderful.

      Would you rather fight against Zach or Mrs O’Hara?

I think Mrs O’Hara has more heart but Zach would be easier to overcome because he’s so hot headed and therefore, I’d rather challenge him. Mrs O’Hara has a powerful dark side and I get the feeling you shouldn’t mess with her.

       If you were faced with the same truth as Ebony at the start of the trilogy, how would you react?

Although I’m intrigued by everything, I’m actually very practical and a quite a realist, so, just like Ebony in the beginning, there’s no way I’d believe that I was reincarnated. Ebony’s initial reaction is what influenced the title of the first book, The Book of Learning; she has to learn the truth and learn to accept it to survive the curse. I’d be difficult to convince – I’d probably fob everything off on a scientific basis – though I have seen ghosts when I don’t really believe in ghosts so you never know!

      Do you think there is actually a secret base in the Botanical Gardens?

I think we should go and create one – how cool would that be? Especially the room based in the glass roof! I’ve always wanted to walk around those walkways up high, even though I know it’s probably not safe. But it looks so special up there. I always write stuff into my books that I want and can’t have, so that’s definitely where this idea came from originally. 

      Was it more fun creating the Shadowlands and its inhabitants or 23 Mercury Lane?

I really liked creating both, but 23 Mercury Lane was based on an apartment I lived in on Lower Hatch Street and had some real descriptions of features etc. The Shadowlands meant using more imagination and so I probably enjoyed that a bit more. I did like turning Mercury Lane into a kind of character in its own right  and adding plenty of spookiness and fun additions like the breakfast room with its dump trucks and mini helicopters – I’d be too jumpy to live there though.

Weirdly I think I’d find the Shadowlands more attractive; there’s a sense of being able to control what happens in there when you master it, whereas that’s not the case with the house. The Shadowlands came to me almost fully formed; I didn’t realise it at the time but the idea started when I was walking with my husband around the country lanes of West Cork and we started talking about what it would be like if we could rip up the earth to travel faster. As soon as I got home I wrote our ideas down and by that evening, I had the Shadowlands completely clear in my mind. But then I had to get it down on paper…

      If you were to pick one object that would stay with you throughout your life, what would it be?

I’m not really sure. I’m not really a belongings person – I prefer to experience than to have – and I always lose stuff. So perhaps my passport? That way, I would never have to give up travelling and meeting new people or seeing/trying new things. I love travel. Travel and words – my two favourite things.

Are there any characters in the trilogy based on people you know?

I usually imagine a character and then steal bits of other people’s habits and personalities to make them come to life, but no character is ever based on just one person – at least not yet. But Ebony Smart is based on the kind of person I wish I had been when I was her age – I think she sticks up for people and bravely stands her ground, which was something I would often be afraid to do, particularly around bullies. I have some clear memories of when I let bullies won by turning away – it’s not something I would ever do now but I always felt powerless as a child and it frustrated me so much, I couldn’t wait to be an adult.

I also have a close friend who Aunt Ruby is loosely based on – the way she is so free and doesn’t care what people think – but I don’t think she likes that character very much so I’m not going to reveal her name! I stole the name Cornelius from a man I met while out walking when I first visited West Cork, where I now live, and I pinched someone else’s fishing boat for some dramatic sea scenes. Other than that, the one-eyed dog Mitzi was my favourite of my father’s nine dogs, so I immortalised her in the book for being so friendly. Otherwise, they’re all make-believe. 


You can hear E.R.Murray talking about the Nine Lives Trilogy (and her top three reads) to myself and Bob Johntson, of the Gutter Bookshop, on  Headstuff's Bookish Podcast.

The Book of Revenge is published by Mercier press and is available in PB in all good book shops. Also available in ebook format.

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