Thursday, April 25, 2013

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? By Paula Daly

Paula Daly’s debut novel was the subject of a bidding war between five different UK publishers and the publication has been eagerly awaited. Such hype is sometimes unwarranted, I’ve been disappointed in the past when books I just couldn’t wait for where a huge let down, not so in this case. The book is the story of a harassed mum of three called Lisa. (Boy, could I identify.) She works full-time at a kennel which re-homes surrendered and abandoned dogs and lives in a quiet village in the Lake District. Her husband drives a taxi, her oldest two kids are generally uncommunicative as teenagers can often be and her youngest at seven is growing up so fast. Lisa has made some friends amongst the other school mums and is particularly close to Kate whose children are of a similar age. Harassed and tired Lisa forgets about a prearranged sleepover for Kate’s daughter Lucinda, with her own daughter Sally. The next day Lucinda is reported missing. Lisa is devastated and feels entirely to blame. If only she was a perfect Mum like Kate and her sister, Alexa this would never have happened. Determined to find out what has happened to Lucinda and to right a wrong, Lisa starts to do some investigating of her own, but time is running out as Lucinda is not the first girl in the community to go missing and when a third girl disappears everyone begins to fear for Lucinda’s life. However as Lisa begins to peel away the layers of the town’s seemingly quiet and peaceful idyll she discovers all is not as it seems. This is an edge of the seat thriller perfect for fans of Gone Girl or Sister.

Just What Kind of Mother are You is published today by Bantam Press.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In The Postbox

It's been a while since I posted up photos of books I have recently received and in the last few weeks I have received quite a few especially since becoming books editor for So here are a few of the lovely things that came in the post.
I was lucky enough to win these two lovely books Black Diamond by Jennifer Loiske is a YA fantasy which I won from a fab website which features great reviews, interviews and giveaways. The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown has a gorgeous cover with a shiny embossed title which I couldn't stop looking at, this photo doesn't do it justice and I won this from which is the website for women's fiction whether you love to read it or you want to write it. I am looking forward to reading both of them but in particular The Perfume Garden as the plot sounds like a Kate Morton or Victoria Hislop so it's perfect for me. It'll be some time before I can indulge though as I have a number of books to review.
The next book I'll be reading is this one After Flodden by Rosemary Goring which I am reviewing for its set in Sixteenth Century Scotland and I can't wait to get stuck in.
After that I have an appointment with some medieval assassin nuns, that's right it's the second book in Robin LaFevers wonderful His Fair Assassin series and Anderson Press have kindly sent me a debut YA novel which they are publishing this May which they are billing as a cross between Chaos Walking and Stand by Me so that sounds irresistible.

Having seen the author's whirlwind tour of Britain and Ireland in which she managed to do interviews with BBC Breakfast, Ireland AM, RTE Radio 1 and Newstalk and sign books for Eason and Dubray I was intrigued by this title which is a fictional examination of the treatment of Mary Mallon known in popular history as "Typhoid Mary" who was locked away for carrying the deadly fever. Mary Beth Keane has been named by America's National Book Foundation as one of the "5 under 35" so hers is a career to watch. Thanks to Gill Hess for sending this out to me.
Some more lovely historical fiction has arrived from the lovely Frances and Madeleine at Little Brown The Painter's Apprentice by Charlotte Betts. The author's first novel The Apothecary's Daughter won the Historical Romantic Novel category of The RNA awards in February that book is still in TBR pile but I will read both of them soon I promise. Also a proof of the new Elizabeth Chadwick The Summer Queen is the first in a trilogy about Eleanor of Aquitaine I have been a fan of Elizabeth's for a long time so it's exciting to read this as publication is not until June.

Here are some gorgeous kids books which I shall be reviewing shortly. I have reviewed Dolores Keaveney before and she was kind enough to send me her most recent books. I love her vivid , exuberant style. Poolbeg have sent me The Salmon of Knowledge from their In a Nutshell collection and lastly The History Press have sent the adorable Dolls' Hospital Diaries a gorgeous book full of photos which I can't wait to tell you about and which my eight year old daughter is loving. 

Next up some great Irish fiction and poetry. My Father's House by Bethany Dawson is published by Liberties Press a great Irish publisher who publish the very talented Joe Murphy and I am looking forward to finding out more about this one while Love is the Easy Bit is also a debut from Mary Grehan. Penguin Ireland kindly sent this out and as it deals with the motherhood and post natal depression it is a story I am bound to connect with. Dedalus Press have sent me The Bee Loud Glade and anthology of Irish poetry on CD and Máighréad Medbh's Savage Solitude which i am finding fascinating. 
This pile is a mixture of books that were sent to me to review on the blog, that I picked up at work in Waterstones and that I bought myself. If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch was kindly sent to me by Nina at Indigo/Orion and is a YA debut publishing in May. Dead Silence also YA and publishing tomorrow was sent by the lovely Sam at Headline. The Hidden Gift by Ian Somers was sent by Clare from O'Brien Press and Calling me Home by Julie Kibler is a book I'm very excited about it was sent to by Sophie Orme at Pan Macmillan. I am aslo delighted to have been sent The Rook by Daniel O'Malley and Penelope by Rebecca Harrington. I also hope to read How to be a Good Wife, Tigers in Red Weather and Ten things I've Learned about Love asap.

That's about it for now but do stay tuned for new reviews and giveaways coming soon.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

His Dark Lady

As its Shakespeare birthday it seems an appropriate day to tell you about the wonderful second novel in Victoria Lamb's brilliant trilogy about Lucy Morgan. Much has been written about Shakespeare including recently a book which claims that Shakespeare was in fact a pen name used by the Earl of Oxford. Victoria Lamb has used her fiction to imagine another Shakespeare. We see him through the eyes of Lucy, a singer and entertainer in the court of Queen Elizabeth. He is presented as a talented and intelligent writer but also a poor husband and a roguish seducer. Despite his bad behaviour this is a Shakespeare the reader can't help liking. However this is very much Lucy's story. The book moves forward in time from the events of The Queen’s Secret to a court which is beset by intrigue and plots against the Queen at every turn. It is now the 1580s a dark and tense time at the Elizabethan court. Catholic plots and assassins are a constant threat and Elizabeth must decide the fate of her imprisoned cousin Mary Queen of Scots. Lucy is in the thick of it all, a witness to the elicit marriage of the Queen’s favourite Robert Dudley to her cousin Lettice Knollys and entrusted by her guardian Master Goodluck to carry a message to a trusted friend instead she finds herself threatened. Her relationship with Shakespeare threatens to destroy her precarious position at court and Just as Lucy keeps her secrets from the Queen it seems that Will Shakespeare is keeping secrets from her. Whether you have read the previous novel in the series or not this is a fantastic novel of romance, intrigue and adventure perfect for fans of S.J. Parris, Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory.

His Dark lady is available now in Hardback from Bantam Press

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Happy Booker Award

Grace Tierney of the Woodfoolery Blog has tagged me in The Happy Booker Award check out the link above to see Grace's choices which are fab.

I decided to make two lists, one for adult books and one for YA. These are some of my all time favourite books.

Top 5 Adults Books

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirezvani
This is a stunning book set in Seventeenth Century Persia about a young girl with a talent for weaving beautiful rugs who seeks to assert herself in a world dominated by men. It is a sensual and lyrical debut which fans of Khaled Hosseini and Dina Nayeri will be enchanted by.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield 

A fabulous book perfect for fans of Daphne du Maurier or Charlotte Bronte. Biographer Margaret Lea travels to interview reclusive writer Vida Winter and learn the secrets of Angelfield House. A sumptuous gothic tale. I loved it.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
I first read this book nearly twenty years ago and it was already a classic then. It was the first in Bradley's Avalon series which Diana L Paxson has been continuing since her death. It is a retelling of The Arthurian tales through the eyes of his half sister Morgaine. It presents a feminist and Pagan version of the story as Morgaine sees the old ways pushed out and women's wisdom devalued. A must read for Fantasy fans especially if you enjoy the work of Juliet Marillier and Mary Stewart

The Kingdom of Shadows by Barbra Erskine
I have read almost all of Barbara Erskine's books she is a fantastic author who writes historical fiction with a paranormal element. This was my introduction to her writing way back in the 1990s. It weaves together the stories of present day Clare with her Scottish ancestor Isobel Countess of Buchan from the Fourteenth Century blending historical fact and fiction. If you are a fan of Diana Gabaldon then this a must.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
One of my favourite recent reads. I adore the supernatural element and the romance is beautifully done. It's Twilight for grown ups. Historian Diana Bishop discovers a manuscript in the Bodleian Libray which has been missing for many years and there are many magical creatures who want to get their hands on it, including centuries old vampire Matthew Clairmont. This has been a huge hit amongst fans of Diana Gabaldon, Carol Goodman and Elizabeth Kostova.

I will post up my top five YA picks asap and tag some bloggers to get their choices. In the mean time feel free to comment here.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

This is a wonderfully atmospheric and enchanting piece of storytelling in the tradition of Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. Saba is a bright, brave and believable protagonist who is brutally and suddenly separated from her twin sister and her mother at the age of ten just as the Islamic Revolution in Iran was at its height. Saba and her father are Christians who move to their summer home in a small village in the North to escape the ever present dangers in Tehran. Surrounded by village women who become substitute mothers and by her friends Reza and Ponneh, Saba grows up cherished and a little spoiled but the loss of her twin sister Mahtab is so hard to accept that she invents a parallel life for her in America recounting the episodes of Mahtab’s journey through high school, dating and finally Harvard, like a modern Scheherazade. However the brutal realities of life for women are never far away and Saba must witness her best friend being beaten for wearing red shoes and a girl in the next village hanged for her involvement with politics. The hand of brutality also casts its shadow on Saba and feeling increasingly trapped in Iran her dreamlike Mahtab stories become increasingly radical. Finally through marriage love and friendship Saba learns to grow up and to move on. Dina Nayeri has written a strong and richly peopled narrative which readers will find hard to put down.

You can also find this review on where I am on the reader reviewing panel

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April Books of the Month for Mumstown

I got a great response here and on twitter to my choices for March and today I have chosen the April books so I do hope people will read along with me. You can comment here or contact me on twitter or facebook or you can of course comment on the books thread on

April Book of the Month for Adults is From this Moment On by Collette Caddle
Collette is a bestselling author who creates vivid characters and believable stories. In this novel she deals with the very powerful topic of bullying in the workplace. If you want to get your hands on this book it is currently on the 1/3 off offer in Eason, it is also available in other bookshops nationwide. It is published by Simon & Schuster UK and generally retails at approx €17.

April Book of the Month for Children is The Ark of Dun Ruadh by Maria Burke, it is published by Currach Press it is a fantasy adventure for kids aged approx nine and upwards. It is available in bookshops nationwide and is a first novel for the Cork author. The book features brother and sister Simon and Kerry so it will appeal to both boys and girls. It retails at approx €12.99 and an e book is also available. If you or your children have read this book feel free to leave comments here.