Friday, March 29, 2013

Smuggler's Kiss by Marie-Louise Jensen

This is Marie-Louise Jensen's sixth novel for children. I have read all but one of her previous books and she never disappoints. If you enjoy strong heroines, historical settings and thrilling adventure then you will love her novels. Smuggler's Kiss delves right into the action with heroine Isabelle about to throw herself into the sea, we don't learn why until she reveals her story later on. However we do discover that Isabelle is rather a spoiled brat, rescued from the sea by smugglers they contemplate throwing her overboard but despite her haughty attitude she might prove useful after all. Forced to help with smuggling lace from France Isabelle finds admiration for the risk the smugglers take and the dangers they face and more than a passing interest in one smuggler in particular. Will Isabelle take the chance to escape, will she be discovered or will she find that the dangers are worth the risk for the chance of a smuggler's kiss. If you are a fan of Historical romance then you won't be able to put this book down. Perfect for fans of Mary Hooper, Eva Ibbotson, Victoria Lamb and Eve Edwards. Suitable for readers 10 and upwards.

In a Moment by Caroline Finnerty

This is another debut, this time for young Irish author Caroline Finnerty. Caroline entered the Poolbeg write a bestseller competition with this book and while she didn't win, the publishers were so impressed they offered her a publishing contract, now the Kildare mum of three is working on her second novel. Caroline pulls off a rather daring narrative trick in the structure of this novel because she begins by introducing the main characters after the terrible moment of the title takes place. Adam and Emma are a young married couple nursing awful grief and pain which is driving them apart. Adam is plagued by nightmares and Emma is avoiding her home and her husband. Their close friend Zoe knows that the situation is getting desperate. In the second part of the novel we meet Jean and we learn of her struggle to raise three children alone and the violent behaviour that her eldest son is now displaying. Finally the moment which brought the characters together is revealed. I can't say much more without spoiling the story. If you are fan of Marian Keyes or Ciara Geraghty then you will enjoy this heartfelt and page turning novel. I am delighted that Poolbeg are publishing such daring and different books. In a Moment is available in bookshops nationwide. 

Blackwood by Glenda Bond

Blackwood is the debut novel from a talented new voice in YA fiction. Gwenda Bond has taken as her inspiration America's oldest mystery. In 1587 114 men, women and children settled an English colony on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. As supplies ran low John White one of the founders returned by ship to England, caught up in the war against the Spanish, White could not return until 1590. He returned to Roanoke to find it deserted and the disappearance of the 114 people including White's granddaughter; Virginia Dare the first English child born in America remains a mystery. Gwenda Bond's tale begins with Miranda Blackwood who from an early age develops an obsession with this mystery and works backstage at the Waterside theatre in Roanoke on a re-enactment of The Lost Colony for tourists. During a performance one night Miranda sees a strange shadow ship. That’s just the first of a series of strange events as once again 114 people go missing from the Island, including it seems Miranda's Dad. She must work with Phillips a teen who can hear the voices of the dead, even though he swore he would never return, the Island has drawn him back. They must unravel the mystery of the original settlers and the new disappearances, before it's too late. There is alchemy, murder, mystery and dark magic combining to make this an edgy, edge of the seat thriller which will appeal to fans of Marcus Sedgwick and Kate Griffin.
This book was published in September 2012 as one the first titles from Strange Chemistry Books, the YA imprint of Angry Robot Books. The team at Strange Chemistry are dedicated to publishing the best in YA Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Steampunk and Horror. 

Housewife with a Half-Life by A.B.Wells

A.B.Wells is the not so secret pen name of Alison Wells who has been shortlisted for a number of literary awards including the Hennessy and Fish awards. Alison has also been published in a number of e-zines and anthologies. Housewife is her first novel published last year and launched in Hughes & Hughes; the novel can be purchased through Amazon and in selected bookshops. In her A. B Wells persona Alison has crafted a witty, weird and wonderful book that is almost impossible to pin down with anything as mundane as description. The basic premise is that housewife Susan Strong is a harassed mother of twin boys who lives a life of cooking, cleaning, bath time and general drudgery when one day she is visited by a strange man who claims to be her Fairy Godfather or Fairly Dave as he likes to be called. Dave explains that Susan is losing pieces of herself and he wants to help. As Susan and her twins Rufus and Pluto are dragged through weird dreams and strange alternate realities they discover that a ruthless Spinner is trying to destroy the universe. He needs to be stopped.  Alison's tale is inspired by her love of physics and science fiction, it features household objects with minds of their own and evil gnomes and geezers. Susan time travels back to her awkward teen age self and forward to a wrinkled white haired old lady. Alison poses deep questions about life and its meaning, about our destiny and the choices we make but they are wrapped in the surreal and funny tale of Susan and Fairly Dave. This book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but if you enjoy the surreal humour of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams then this will have you laughing out loud.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Follow up to Grave Mercy

One of my favourite books of last year was Grave Mercy and the sequel Dark Triumph is out in e-book on 2nd April and in paperback on 6th June this year. Here's a peek at the book trailer on you tube

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bookselling at Waterstones Drogheda

Some of you may know that as well as running this blog and writing fiction I also work part time as a bookseller at my local Waterstones. Here are some pictures of some of the things I've been involved with at Waterstones over the last few years.

Here are some of my favourite ghostly tales which I used in the Lisa Loves promo along with fellow bookseller Lisa Corr. You can find reviews for the books pictured above here on the blog.
More recently myself and fellow Children's Bookseller Maera Black, put together this fab display of Irish Fiction titles for kids of all ages.
Here is a picture of Bippi the Book Bear. Bippi and I do the weekly storytime event every Saturday. Here Bippi is in vampire/ fortune telling garb but I can assure you he is usually much friendlier looking.

Some other events which I have run or organised include author events with Eithne Massey, Erika McGann,  Shiela Kiely, Joe Murphy, Helen Moorhouse, Shirley Benton, Michelle Jackson, Claudia Carroll, Nicola Pierce and Laura Jane Cassidy. I have run book clubs, writing groups, signings, Q&A sessions and panel events and I have also assisted at events organised by my wonderful colleagues Lisa and Maria.
Here are a few more pictures of events which I have been involved with
Erika McGann signs some copies of her debut novel for children The Demon Notebook
 The Literary Ladies event with l-r Helen Moorhouse, Shirley Benton and Michelle Jackson
 Joe Murphy at the launch of 1798 Tomorrow the Barrow we'll Cross at Millmount Museum
So as you can see I like to keep myself very busy.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Some pics of the endless TBR pile.

 This shows some of the mess in the office where I write, read and review. I have since tidied up; a bit.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Watch Over Me Pocket Edition

Publishing tomorrow 14th March is a pocket edition of one of my favourite books of the last few years. Watch Over Me by Daniela Sacerdoti.
Last month I reviewed her newest book Tide; which is the second book in the Sarah Midnight trilogy. However Daniela is a prolific author and wrote a wonderful paranormal romance Watch Over Me which was my first taste of her writing style. This is an irresistible book, you won't be able to put it down.

My original review of January 2012

I adored this beautiful, haunting and romantic tale set in the Scottish highlands. Eilidh is heartbroken after losing a baby and ending her marriage and finds solace in the quiet village where she had spent time with her grandmother as a child. Reconnecting with the slower pace of village life and with old friends including single Dad Jamie, Eilidh begins to heal. I loved the idea of the spirit of Jamie’s mother Elizabeth match-making from beyond the grave; it is a unique idea which encapsulates the spirit of the novel that there is a reason for everything and that destiny prevails. Daniela is a smart and talented writer who has carefully crafted the world of her story, all of the characters even the minor ones are fully rounded and the sense of place in the novel is incredibly vivid. This is a gorgeous and ethereal debut which will have wide appeal. I hope to see much more from this author. (Black and White Publishing)

I hope the release of the pocket edition brings this wonderful book to many new readers

Books I Can't Wait to Read

Head of Zeus are publishing Dana Stabenow in the UK and Ireland for the first time. I have wanted to read this series since my favourite author Diana Gabaldon recommended them.
From their website:
KATE SHUGAK is a native Aleut working as a private investigator in Alaska. She's 5 foot 1 inch tall, carries a scar that runs from ear to ear across her throat and owns half-wolf, half-husky dog named Mutt. Resourceful, strong-willed, defiant, Kate is tougher than your average heroine - and she needs to be to survive the worst the Alaskan wilds can throw at her.
A COLD DAY FOR MURDER: Somewhere in twenty million acres of forest and glaciers, a ranger has disappeared: Mark Miller. Missing six weeks. It's assumed by the Alaskan Parks Department that Miller has been caught in a snowstorm and frozen to death, the typical fate of those who get lost in this vast and desolate terrain. But as a favour to his congressman father, the FBI send in an investigator: Ken Dahl. Last heard from two weeks and two days ago.Now it's time to send in a professional. Kate Shugak: light brown eyes, black hair, five foot tall with an angry scar from ear to ear. Last seen yesterday...
Graham Masterton is best known for his horror fiction here he turns his hand to crime and the story takes place in Cork in Ireland. This is also published by Head of Zeus.
From their website:
One wet November morning, a field on Meagher's Farm gives up the dismembered bones of eleven women. In this part of Ireland, unmarked graves are common. But these bones date to 1915, long before the Troubles. What's more, these bones bear the marks of a meticulous executioner. These women were almost certainly skinned alive.
Detective Katie Maguire, of the Cork Garda, is used to dead bodies. But this is wholesale butchery. Her team think these long-dead women are a waste of police time. Katie is determined to give them justice.And then a young American tourist goes missing, and her bones, carefully stripped of flesh, are discovered on the same farm. With the crimes of the past echoing in the present, Katie must solve a decades-old ritualistic murder before this terrifying killer strikes.

Published by Bloomsbury Circus this looks really intriguing.
From the Website
It's Christmas Eve in Manhattan. Harrison Hanafan, noted plastic surgeon, falls on his ass. 'Ya can't sit there all day, buddy, looking up people's skirts!' chides a weird gal in a coat like a duvet. She then kindly conjures the miracle of a taxi. While recuperating with Franz Schubert, Bette Davis, and a foundling cat, Harrison adds items to his life's work, a List of Melancholy Things (puppetry, shrimp-eating contests, Walmart...) before going back to rhinoplasties, liposuction, and the peccadilloes of his obnoxious colleagues.

Then Harrison collides once more with the strangely helpful woman, Mimi, who bursts into his life with all her curves and chaos. They soon fall emphatically in love. And, as their love-making reaches a whole new kind of climax, the sweet smell of revolution is in the air.

By turns celebratory and scathing, romantic and dyspeptic, Mimi is a story of music, New York, sculpture, martinis, public speaking, quilt-stealing, eggnog and, most of all, love. A vibrant call-to-arms, this is Lucy Ellmann's most extraordinary book to date.

A new Kate Atkinson is always cause for excitement, this one has just been nominated for The Women's Fiction prize and it's not even published yet. It's out from Doubleday tomorrow.

I can't wait to get my hands on the new Kate Morton when it finally arrives in paperback in May. It's published by Pan MacMillan.

Literary Heroines

I am very excited to have received copies of these two new biographies about two of my literary heroines. Both of them talented and both of them died too young. Mad Girl's Love Song by Andrew Wilson is out now from Simon & Schuster and The Real Jane Austen by Paula Byrne is published by Harper Press

Carnegie and Women's Prize for Fiction announced

There are some great titles on both lists, so I am hoping to read as many as I can from each. I was quite surprised  to see that Maggie O'Farrell was not nominated as I thought Instructions for a Heart Wave was outstanding.

Here is the list for TheWomen's fiction Prize

Kitty Aldridge
A Trick I Learned From Dead Men

Jonathan Cape

Kate Atkinson
Life After Life


Ros Barber
The Marlowe Papers


Shani Boianjiu
The People of Forever are Not Afraid


Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl

Weidenfeld & Nicolson   (I have read this and loved it.)

Sheila Heti
How Should A Person Be?

Harvill Secker

A.M Homes
May We Be Forgiven


Barbara Kingsolver
Flight Behaviour

Faber & Faber

Deborah Copaken Kogan
The Red Book


Hilary Mantel
Bring Up the Bodies

Fourth Estate

Bonnie Nadzam


Emily Perkins
The Forrests

Bloomsbury Circus

Michèle Roberts


Francesca Segal
The Innocents

Chatto & Windus

Maria Semple
Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Elif Shafak


Zadie Smith   (This is in the TBR pile)

Hamish Hamilton

M.L. Stedman
The Light Between Oceans  (in the TBR pile)


Carrie Tiffany
Mateship with Birds


G. Willow Wilson
Alif the Unseen     (in the TBR pile)

Corvus Books

and the Carnegie List

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan (age 9+)  (Read and reviewed)

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle (age 9+) (TBR)

Maggot Moon Sally Gardner (11+)

In Darkness Nick Lake (13+)   (TBR)

Wonder R.J. Palacio (10+)  (TBR)

Midwinterblood Marcus Sedgewick (11+)

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat David Shelton (8+)

Code Name Verity Elizabeth Wein (13+)  (TBR)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mumstown Books Expert

I have some news I have become the "Books Expert" for Ireland's premier parenting website, I   am delighted to be involved in a fantastic website which helps parents to connect across Ireland and I hope to help generate discussion about books for all ages, adults and kids.

Here is a link to the Books Forum on Mumstown but you may need to be logged in to see this post or to reply.

Here is the text of my mumstown update

Hi all,

This is my first every article as the new Books Expert for Mumstown. However I have been here as Bookwitch right form the beginning, can you believe that Mumstown is now 6 years old? Some of you living in or around Drogheda may already know me as Lisa Doyle-Redmond.
I have worked in bookselling now for twelve years, having worked for Dubray Eason and Waterstones. For the last couple of years I have also been reviewing books on my blog and occasionally on LMFM radio. So it’s probably fairly obvious by now that books are my passion, so I am very excited about my new role as Mumstown Book Expert.
I would really love members to get in touch and ask me any questions you may have about books; whether you want a recommendation for yourself, your kids or for a gift idea. You can message me here or find me on twitter @LisaReadsBooks or email me
I will be featuring a book of the month for adults and one for kids and I hope to generate discussion about these books and books in general, like an on-line book club.
I will also be posting a weekly feature “Is there a book in you?” This is a week by week writing guide for those who want to start writing fiction. So please get in touch if you have any writing questions.

The first Book of the Month is In a Moment by Caroline Finnerty which is out now from Poolbeg.
This is Caroline’s first novel and it features the story of Adam and Emma whose marriage seems to be falling apart and Jean whose son’s violent outbursts are becoming increasingly terrifying. In a moment the characters lives intersect and are changed forever.
Kids Book of the Month is Back to Blackbrick by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald F out now from Orion.  This is a fantastic debut for older kids and teens which I am sure adults will also fall in love with.

I would love to hear your feedback, about these books and any other books which you have enjoyed recently.

I also included a list of recommended reads for parents and kids

If anyone got a book token for Mother's Day and you are looking for a recommendation please ask. There are so many fantastic books that have just been published. Tell me the last two books you loved and I will recommend a title for you.

In the meantime, here are some suggestions.

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice
From the author of The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets this is the story of Tara lured away from her rural home to the bright lights of London in 1962, she is caught in a whirlwind of music, fashion and love. (Heron Books)

From This Moment On by Colette Caddle
Dealing with the sensitive but topical subject of workplace bullying, Colette is a great writer who knows how to keep readers turning the pages. (Simon & Schuster)

Keeping Mum by Emma Hannigan
Dealing with three mothers and their daughters. Emma is an expert at the family relationship tale. (Hachette Books Ireland)

His Dark Lady by Victoria Lamb
A wonderful Tudor tale for historical fiction fans about Shakespeare's mysterious muse. (Bantam Press)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Flynn's third novel has been a word of mouth success. If you like crime and psychological drama this will be right up your street. Read the book everyone is talking about. (Orion)

Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths starting with The Crossing Places
This is a series of books (the fifth is out now in hardback) which I recently discovered and they are fantastic. They feature a  forensic archaeologist working with the police to solve crime in rural Norfolk If you want to escape from Scandinavia just for a break although there are some fab new Scandi crime novels out now. More on those later.(Quercus)


The Ark of Don Ruadh by Maria Burke is a fantasy for 10 and upwards featuring Irish legends and the supernatural. (Currach Press)

Wormwood Gate by Katherine Farmar is another fantasy this one is set in Dublin. (Little Island)

For younger kids Poolbeg have a great series out now called In a nutshell which retells famous tales current titles include 
The Salmon of Knowledge
The Children of Lir
How Cúchulainn got his name
The Story of Saint Patrick

If you would like more information of these titles or more recommendations, please get in touch or check out my book review blog

Monday, March 11, 2013

Back to Blackbrick by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

Sarah Moore Fitzgerald is a brave new voice in children's literature, she has written academic books before but this is her first book for children and it is assured, strongly written and totally engaging. The protagonist is Cosmo a young boy coming to terms with the accidental death of his brother a few years earlier and his mother's desertion of him to take a job on the other side of the world. Cosmo lives with his grandparents whom he adores but right from page one we know that something is wrong as his grandfather begins to act strangely and forget things. Cosmo tries to help by googling memory loss and using different techniques to help his grandfather remember. However everything comes to a head when social workers and doctors become involved and Cosmo is told that he will have to stay with his uncle Ted for a while. In a moment of clarity his granddad gives him a rusty old key and tells him to go to Blackbrick Abbey. Sneaking away in the middle of the night Cosmo manages to open the gate and on the other side he meets his grandfather as a teenager. Cosmo realises that perhaps his grandfather has given him a chance to change the past and save everything from going wrong. A heartfelt and emotional story which deals with issues deeply personal to the author who lost her father to Alzheimer’s, this is a great read for teens and adults, highly recommended. Thanks so much to Joanna at Hachette Ireland for sending this out to me to review.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell

Maggie O'Farrell was born in Northern Ireland and moved in early childhood to Wales and then Edinburgh, when asked in interviews whether she feels Scottish, British or Irish she usually replies all of the above, although Scotland is home. She has written some fantastic novels set in Scotland but with Instructions for a Heatwave she has finally written a story about an Irish family with some events taking place in Ireland. In a recent interview she said that she hadn't written about Ireland before, as she had left at such a young age, so perhaps she had nothing new to add. She couldn't be more wrong. The book is a carefully crafted exploration of the lives of the Riordan's a London Irish family coming to terms with their father's disappearance in the heatwave of 1976. Gretta is the matriarch, a gloriously written Irish Mammy that many readers will find instantly recognisable, unusually for a Maggie O'Farrell novel there are laugh out loud moments as Gretta questions her wayward daughter's behaviour with characteristic Irish Mammy subtlety "Would you like the loan of a hairbrush?" she enquires. Maggie O'Farrell has in the six novels she has written explored the various ways in which families, in particular women interact with each other; she has become a master of this art. Aoife and Monica are two sisters who have not spoken in years. Gretta is a mother who will talk about anything except the really important things and Michael Francis is a thwarted academic whose wife prefers her Open University friends company to his. All three siblings return to the family home to try and discover what has happened to their father and it seems Gretta may know more than she is saying. This is a novel by a master storyteller at the height of her powers. I will be shocked if it does not win prizes. The writing is exquisite and as an examination of families and relationships it puts so called masters like McEwan and Tóibín in the ha'penny place. 
Instructions for a Heatwave is out now in hardback from Tinder Press a brand new imprint from Headline Books. Check out http://www.headlin see the great fiction you can expect from them this year. Thanks so much to Georgina Moore, Publicity director at Headline who kindly sent me a copy of the novel to review.