Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Book Review: The Invisible Crowd by Ellen Wiles

Two people, born on the same day, yet worlds apart. 
Yonas was born in Eritrea, Africa and has grown up in a world of conflict, war and unspeakable inhumanity. 
Jude grew up in London and is a human rights lawyer, trying to make a difference to the lives of  people who need the most help.
When Yonas is trafficked to the UK, he thinks he is on the first step of a journey that will help save himself and the family that he has left behind. It is not long before he realises that immigrants are not welcomed with open arms. Far from it. He becomes part of the Invisible Crowd...

This is a debut novel with a huge heart. It examines the realities of being a refugee; the indefinite detention centres; the legal obstacles; the tabloid press portrayal of immigrants and the stories behind some of these invisible faces. Wiles has experience in this area as she is a qualified barrister, has a MA in law and Human Rights and has worked with Burmese refugees. She writes with a sense of knowing the true tales behind the headlines.

Each chapter is assigned a character and the reader is invited into their world.There are tales from Eritrea; from the entrapped refugees; from the workers in the dentition centres; from the people who assist the immigrants and the ones that are determined to expose them to government officials. Each chapter begins with a quoted headline from a red-top newspaper. Shockingly, these are referenced at the end of the novel, showing the mass-hysteria that can be created by a frenzied attack on minorities. 

The Invisible Crowd is a poignant and powerful tale that will gnaw at your insides. It is all the more shocking by its accurate portrayal of a system that is seriously flawed. I read over 200 pages in one sitting and most of this was spent picturing the horrors of fleeing from one form of torture, to another.  While there is little lagging toward the end, this is a wonderful novel which may leave a bitter aftertaste: It's the aftertaste of ignorance and compliance.  

The Invisible Crowd is published by HQ and is available in HB and ebook format.
You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage, HERE. 
The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Outstanding New Book Releases for 2018

Originally posted on on 16/1/2018

Outstanding New Book Releases for 2018

Article by writingie © 16 January 2018 Margaret Bonass Madden .
Posted in the Magazine ( · The Big Idea ).

One of the benefits of being a book reviewer is receiving advance copies of titles, often months before publication. Often, these books come with unadorned or unfinished covers and with scant details of the books premise. There is usually a tag line, designed to pique your interest and the style may be compared to other published texts: books, movies or TV shows. Reviewers can receive hundreds of titles per year and, while we are assigned some for review in print, the majority are chosen by the individual. Here are some of the ones that called out to me, published in the first part of 2018, some of which managed to skip to the top of the teetering piles of TBR (To-Be-Read) books that consume every available piece of space in the house:
The Confession – Jo Spain (Quercus – 11th January)
A home invasion; a vicious attack on a wealthy businessman in front of his wife; an immediate confession. But why did JP Carney enter the home of Harry and Julie McNamara? What did he whisper to Harry? Why was Julie unharmed and nothing removed from the house? When JP hands himself into the police, he claims he has no idea why he did it.  A thriller that begins at the end and ends at the beginning. The layers of the story are peeled back, at a tantalising pace, which leaves the reader determined to get to the bottom of JP’s random attack. An addictive reading experience.
Order your copy online here.

An Anatomy of a Scandal – Sarah Vaughan (Simon and Schuster – 11th January)
A high-profile rape trial is the catalyst for this dissection of truth and consent. James is a prominent member of Parliament and has the stereo-typical background to suit his position: Eton, Oxford and a circle of friends; including the Prime Minister. His wife, Sophie, has always been at his side and is devastated to hear that he had been having an affair with the alleged victim. Kate is the barrister who is prosecuting James’ case and she is determined to show that No Means No. Delving into the elitist world of Oxford and examining the traditions that are steeped in its history, Vaughan has created a fictional tale of class, gender and inequality which all clash superbly in this thrilling court-room drama.
Order your copy online here.

Three Things About Elsie – Joanna Cannon (Borough Press – 11th January)
From the author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, this book can be spotted from long distances. The cover is a giant Battenberg cake; depicting a tea-time treat enjoyed by its protagonist, Florence. Living in an assisted community, 84-year-old Flo has had a fall and lies waiting to be discovered. She reflects on the conversations she has with her best friend, Elsie, and fears that their snooping into the life of a new resident of Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly has gotten them into a spot of bother. Readers will identify with Flo, her attempts to grasp at memories and her feisty insistence of the ability to live independently. A genuinely warm and hunourous read, which also touches on the silenced voices of the elderly.  Perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
Order your copy online here.

The Year that Changed Everything – Cathy Kelly (Orion, 22nd Feburary)
Cally is celebrating her fiftieth birthday when her life changes in an instant. Her family is never going to be the same.  Sam’s waters break on her fortieth birthday and begins the journey from being just Cally, to being someone’s mother. What has she let herself in for? Ginger is now thirty and things are not what she expected. It is make or break time. Three women at various stages of their life. Bestselling author Cathy Kelly touches base with new readers, as well as with her loyal fans, in her new heart-warming novel. An ideal way to escape from the stroppy teenagers in your life, the subtle digs on your twitter feed or the gauzy façade of perfection on Instagram.
Pre-order your copy online here.

The Liar’s Girl – Catherine Ryan Howard (Corvus, 1stMarch)
The author of the cruise-line thriller, Distress Signals, is back with her latest novel and it starts with a bang. The body of nineteen-year-old Jen Madden is discovered in a Dublin canal and has all the hallmarks of the infamous Canal Killer. However, the serial-killer has been behind bars for over ten years, after confessing to his crimes. Is there a copy-cat on the streets of Dublin? From his high security unit, Will Hurley agrees to assist the police in their investigation, but only if he can give the information to his ex-girlfriend. Alison must return to the life she left and face the man she has struggled to forget and the painful memories of the past. Slipping in timelines, reeling in the reader – one chapter at a time, the story examines how one lie can lead to serious repercussions. Keeps you guessing until the very end.
Pre-order your copy online here.

Bring Me Back – BA Paris (HQ, 8th March)
Finn and Layla are on their way home from a trip to Paris and, while stopped at a roadside service station, Layla disappears. Twelve years later, Finn has finally moved on with his life and is engaged to married. When his fiancée finds a tiny Russian doll, Finn immediately knows that it was Layla’s; she had it with her, the night she disappeared. The events of the past come flooding back and Finn realises that he should have told the whole truth, not just his version of it. From the author of Behind Closed Doors, this is a read-in-one-sitting book. It jerks at extreme angles; throw shadows on assumptions and, like the Russian Doll, is part of a bigger story. A riveting experience.
Pre- order your copy online here.

From a Low and Quiet Sea – Donal Ryan (Doubleday Ireland, 22nd March)
This powerful tale is a symbol of our times. Three voices reach out and embrace the reader, each with their own version of guilt, grief and a feeling of undeserved existence. Farouk has escaped the terrors of Syria, to find himself in a different type of hell; Lampy is drained by small-town life in his rural village and regrets not fleeing when he had the chance; John is being dragged toward the past, rather than accepting the fate of his future. All three voices are redolent of contemporary life, but with individual beginnings. The prose is exquisite, with vivid narration and a haunting tone. Irish Literary Fiction does not get much better than this. Breath-taking and statuesque in its deliverance.
Pre- order your copy online here.

Skin Deep – Liz Nugent (Penguin, Ireland, 5th April)
From the same mind that brought us Unravelling Oliverand Lying in Wait, we are now treated to the complex and consuming character of Cordelia Russell. But who is Cordelia? This is a twisted tale of devotion, abandonment, determination and dishonesty. Cordelia has lived many lives but now needs to escape her current one. There is a corpse in her dismal, French apartment and it is beginning to smell. The saga of Cordelia is shocking and stimulating, in equal measures. Nugent treats us to a tale which is acidic in its telling but manages to encompass a nostalgic atmosphere at the same time. Readers are brought from the Cote D’Azur; to London; to Rural Ireland and beyond. As the protagonist re-invents herself, Skin Deep is almost like a hybrid of Sebastian Barry, Maeve Binchy and Alfred Hitchcock. It manages to break boundaries with its unique and unflinching look at what goes on behind the mask of femininity and expectation.  Splendidly suspenseful.
Pre- order your copy online here.
© Margaret Bonass Madden.

Bleach House Banter: Flashback Fragrances: 8 Classic Perfumes You Need to Re-Indulge In

Article originally posted on 10/02/2018

Flashback Fragrances:

 8 Classic Perfumes You Need to Re-Indulge In

I am sure there are many of us who can remember the powerful bestselling fragrances of the late 80s and early 90s.
My journey went from Exclamation! to Body Shop White Musk Oil; Poison to Eternity; CK One to LouLou. When I get a whiff of any of these perfumes these days, the results are a combination of flashbacks and mixed memories.
Here are 8 classic perfumes that will give you fragrance flashbacks.
Coty’s Exclamation! was a potent, yet cheap perfume, favoured by teens who wore so much hairspray, that they were a fire hazard. It had a distinctive bottle and was found in every local chemist. It is still available and is €9.80 at time of posting, from  

The Body Shop still have their classic range in store and the White Musk Perfumed Oil is €25.95. It may bring back memories of scout den discos or Saturday shopping trips with the girls.

Dior Poison was a massive success in the late 80s and you could smell someone wearing it, coming from a mile away. A very distinctive and powerful scent, which gives me the shivers due to the memories it raises. It is available from The Perfume Shop at €55.50. Maybe take it easy with application. It is STRONG.

Calvin Klein Eternity was my wedding perfume and is still subtle enough to use today. A huge advertising campaign saw this become a firm favourite for all young women dreaming of eternal love. Yes. We were that gullible. Also available in The Perfume Shop at €44.50.

Calvin Klein also sold the world-famous unisex CK One, which is still widely used today. You can pick up a bottle in most pharmacies from €32.00 and both yourself and himself can bring back those 90s memories. Boots have a full range of CK One products, including Eau de Toilette Spray for €44.50.

One of my personal favourites was Cacharel LouLou (from €15.50) but not sure if I would be brave enough to try it again. It was intensely sweet and cloying, if I remember rightly. Maybe I’ll give it a go – I’m wild like that.
However, there are three ‘vintage’ perfumes that I have re-embraced, recently. See do you remember them:

Rochas Byzance is one of my all-time favourites but can be hard to source. At the time of writing, the least expensive bottle I could find was on ebay and cost €92.59. Personally, I think it is worth it. A musky, timeless smell that last all day. Also, kudos for the amazing bottle!

I have recently fallen back in love with Guerlain Champs Elysées, also difficult to locate but I have sourced on from at £44.95. It is well worth the cash, as everyone comments on it, when I wear it.

The final flashback fragrance that I’m currently loving is Lancôme’s Tresor but the new lighter version, called La Nuit Tresor. It is now in a more elegant bottle and the fragrance will not make your eyes water, as the original did. It is a lovely day-time perfume, despite the title. It’s currently on sale at Debenhams at €48.87. Great gift packs mean good savings.
I hope you enjoyed this trip down fragrance-lane. Are there any of these that you have used, or would consider trying again? Let us know @IndulgeMe_ie.
Margaret Bonass Madden
 Margaret Bonass Madden is a book blogger/reviewer, features writer and mother of five.
She can be found with her nose in a book, surrounded by beauty products and subscription boxes, on Twitterand at

LMFM #LateLunchBookclub February 2018

LMFM #LateLunchBookclub January 2018

LMFM #LateLunchBookclub December 2017

LMFM #LateLunchBookclub November 2017

Bookish Podcast February 2018

Bookish – February 2018

Bookish is back! In our first episode for 2018 we cover some book news including Irish publishers becoming eligible for the ManBooker Prize, we talk about ‘Midwinter Break’ by Bernard MacLaverty as our Bookclub Pick and we have a second look at ’Plainsong’ by Kent Haruf. We also do a round-up of some of the new books and forthcoming book events that we think will interest you. Welcome to Bookish Episode 13!

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Bookish Podcast September 2017

Bookish – September 2017

Bookish – September 2017
On this month’s episode we discuss the future of the novel and how Irish publishers are joining up with UK publishers to maximise sales in our News section; we talk about ‘Seven Folds Make a Paper Swan’ by Ruth Gilligan as our Bookclub Pick; and we meet novelist Hazel Gaynor in our Trilogy Guest Slot where she gets to pick 3 books that inspired her as a writer. We also have a Second Look at a forgotten classic and we do a round-up of some New Books & Events that we think will interest you. Welcome to Bookish Episode 12!

Bookish Podcast September 2017

Bookish – September 2017

Bookish – September 2017
On this month’s episode we discuss the future of the novel and how Irish publishers are joining up with UK publishers to maximise sales in our News section; we talk about ‘Seven Folds Make a Paper Swan’ by Ruth Gilligan as our Bookclub Pick; and we meet novelist Hazel Gaynor in our Trilogy Guest Slot where she gets to pick 3 books that inspired her as a writer. We also have a Second Look at a forgotten classic and we do a round-up of some New Books & Events that we think will interest you. Welcome to Bookish Episode 12!

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