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Welcome along to my Friday post to celebrate Indie Publishing!  Today I am delighted to bring you a wonderful book from Black & White Publishing and share my review The Ludlow Ladies’ Society by Ann O’Loughlin.


Book Feature:

Published: 4 July 2017

Description:511muvjzs5l-_sy346_

Connie Carter has lost everybody and everything dear to her. To help nurse her grieving heart and to try and find answers, she moves from her home in America to Ludlow Hall, deep in the Irish countryside. All she knows about Ludlow is that her late husband spent all their money on the house – without ever mentioning it to her. Now Connie needs to know why.

At Ludlow Hall, Connie befriends Eve and Hetty and is introduced to the somewhat curious Ludlow Ladies’ Society. But can Connie ever reveal her hurt? And, more importantly, can she ever understand or forgive? As the Ludlow Ladies stitch patchwork memory quilts to remember those they have loved and lost, the secrets of the past finally begin to surface.

The Ludlow Ladies’ Society is a story of friendship, resilience and compassion, and how women support each other through the most difficult times.

My Thoughts & Review:

I was lucky enough to win an early copy of this book through a blog giveaway over on Bleach House Library , pop over and check out Margaret’s reviews sometime.

The Ludlow Ladies’ Society sounded like the perfect read to take on holiday with me, the sort of thing that I could pick up and put down (if I had to) and generally sounded like a nice change of pace from my usual crime reads.  But when I started reading this book I realised I had underestimated the pull it would have on me.  Soon I was caught up in the stories of these women, invested in each of their heartbreaking tales of hardship and struggles and feeling so connected with this book.  Various of the members of the Ludlow Ladies’ Society has a secret hidden in their past that they’ve tried to overcome, or have kept hidden for one reason or another.  Ann O’Loughlin carefully lays bare each of their pasts, shares their dark secrets and allows the reader to come to terms with the deep sadness that each of these women has endured.  Whilst I found some of the tales saddening, I also felt pride that the women reached forms of closure in order to move on.

The way the sewing group is woven through the book is wonderful, this community of women supporting each other and their friendships and loyalty keeping each other going at times of hardship.  The idea that they create memory quilts to commemorate events in their village or the people within it is a lovely one, but some of the memories unearthed are not the most pleasant.  The ladies decide to create quilts for the exhibition in the town hall with the first prize being the chance to meet Michelle Obama and show their exhibits at a special show.  The emails that are interspersed throughout the narrative with the progress of the group and their task make for some brilliantly funny reading, the chairwoman, Kathryn Rodgers comes across as trying to be professional but failing slightly in her attempts which just makes this even funnier.

On the whole, I found this to be a very enjoyable read and found I was reaching for the tissues occasionally (honest it was my hayfever!), it is a story rife with emotion and spirit.  It’s the sort of book you read and find you’ve become invested in the characters, you begin to care what happens to them and care about what has happened to them.  When an author can evoke this level of emotion and attachment from the reader then  you just know the book is a special one, I will be sure to look out for more books by this author as I enjoyed her style of writing.

You can buy a copy of The Ludlow Ladies’ Society  via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to Margaret Madden at Bleach House Library and Lina Langlee at Black & White Publishing for the opportunity to read an early copy of this.


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If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page.

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Valerie Keogh TOTMS

 

Description:

When Kelly Johnson’s husband disappears, her perfect world in the Foxrock suburb of Dublin falls apart. Then she stumbles on a dead body in the graveyard behind her house.
A coincidence? Garda Sergeant Mike West thinks so until he finds a link between the dead body and Kelly’s missing husband.
And then to add to the problem, Kelly disappears.
The investigation takes West first to Cornwall and then to Cork, on the trail of a tangled case involving identity theft, blackmail and illegal drugs. And as if the complications of the case weren’t enough there is the constant, irritating – and definitely unsuitable – attraction, to the beautiful Kelly, who will keep disappearing!.

My Thoughts & Review:

There’s something about Scottish and Irish crime fiction that I adore, perhaps it calls to my roots being a humble 1/2 and 1/2 lass, or perhaps its the wonderfully rich personalities that inevitably shine through in these books…

“That One May Smile” begins with Kelly Johnson beginning another day, barely surviving after her husband vanished three months ago without any explanation.  Her life has fallen apart, she fails to see that her beautiful home as turned into a midden, that personal hygiene is no longer of importance to and all she wants is her husband Simon home.  Realising she is without her lifeline coffee, she quickly dashes out to the shops and on the way  back home she discovers a dead body in the graveyard behind her home.  Suitably shaken, she phones the Guards to report it who come out to investigate.

Garda Sergeant Mike West is curious about the case, and as a detail driven character he is determined to find out every minor detail that he can to tie things up.  He discovers a link between the dead body and the missing Simon Johnson and quickly realises there is far more to this case that initially thought.  The case would be a whole lot less troublesome if Kelly Johnson stayed put, making discoveries of her own she heads off to search out answers to her own questions.

From the very outset this was a very intriguing read, and I had many questions.  What happened to Simon Johnson, who was the body in the graveyard, what did that clue on the body mean, what was the connection between it all??  Valerie Keogh spins a fantastic tale that twists and turns, keeping her readers guessing at what might happen next.  The characters that have been created are interesting and challenging.  I found that initially I struggled to connect with Kelly Johnson,  but on reflection the situation that she was in was not an easy one and who knows how they would react in those circumstances.  The development that she undertakes throughout the book is well thought out, when revelations are unearthed Kelly is shocked but processes them logically and finds an inner strength to keep going.  Despite Kelly being the main character, I felt that I got to know Mike West better.  The details given about the detective showed a wonderful insight into this character, his torturous past is detailed later on in the story and gives a great understanding of why he is a stickler for detail and directions.  I really want to mention Detective Peter Andrews, one of West’s colleagues.  Whether this character was intended to be funny I do not know, but the quick wit of this character alone makes this book worth reading!

A very well written book with a gripping plot and well paced.  I cannot wait to read the next book in the series “Close Ranks”.

You can buy a copy of “That One May Smile” via Amazon here

 

My thanks to Noelle and Kate at Thick as Thieves Book Publicity and Promo for the opportunity to read and review this book, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

 

Follow the blog tour:

The One That May Smile Blog Tour (1)

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Paperback Original &eBook Published: 23 February 2017

Description:  

My Thoughts & Review: 

The discovery of tiny bones in the hem of a wedding dress is strange enough, but to then ascertain that they are a baby’s bones is enough to turn a simple break-in into a full scale investigation for the Guards in Dublin.
Detective Cathy Connolly and her boss Inspector O‘Rourke have their work cut out for them tracking down answers to solve this grisly case.
Throw in the mysterious appearance of a fugitive killer from Las Vegas, who is intent on tying up loose ends in Dublin and the Guards have more than enough to deal with.   This is the first of instalment of the Garda Cathy Connolly series and it definitely doesn‘t hold back.  The writing it superb, the plot is interesting and gripping, characters are multidimensional and easy to relate to.  The various elements of the story are well written.  Masterfully weaving together the tales of Mary‘s past and present dementia like struggles, Zoe‘s world slowly falling to pieces around her and the personal life of Cathy Connolly mixing with her professional duties.  It would be easy to assume that something would get lost in the myriad of characters and details but as far as I was concerned, nothing did.  The detail in this book was incredible, even the intricacies of the art work created by Zoe was thoroughly detailed, so much so that I could almost imagine the canvases. 

The chemistry and camaraderie between Connolly and O’Rourke is a delight to read, they are a great pairing, and the hints to their shared history open up the opportunity for Sam Blake to go so many ways with this series, I cannot wait to see what she has for us with book two.   

Secrets and lies rarely follow a linear path, the ones in this book scaled the chart of complexity and just when you thought that the secret was as dark as it got, another layer is peeled away and for some characters the truth was too much to bear.  
With so many twists and turns, both expected and unexpected, this book is entirely engrossing.

I enjoyed this book so much that at just over half way in I was already recommending it to friends that I thought would appreciate it.  

You can buy a copy of Little Bones here.  
About the Author:
Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the hugely popular national writing resources website Writing.ie. She is Ireland’s leading literary scout who has assisted many award winning and bestselling authors to publication. Vanessa has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book.

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the-day-that-never-comes-cover

Published: 23 January 2017
Reviewed: 17 January 2017

5 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by publisher

 

Description:

Remember those people that destroyed the economy and then cruised off on their yachts? Well guess what – someone is killing them.

Dublin is in the middle of a heat wave and tempers are running high. The Celtic Tiger is well and truly dead, activists have taken over the headquarters of a failed bank, the trial of three unscrupulous property developers teeters on the brink of collapse, and in the midst of all this, along comes a mysterious organisation hell-bent on exacting bloody vengeance in the name of the little guy.

Paul Mulchrone doesn’t care about any of this; he has problems of his own. His newly established detective agency is about to be DOA. One of his partners won’t talk to him for very good reasons and the other has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth for no reason at all. Can he hold it together long enough to figure out what Bunny McGarry’s colourful past has to do with his present absence?

When the law and justice no longer mean the same thing, on which side will you stand?

The Day That Never Comes is the second book in Caimh McDonnell’s Dublin trilogy, which melds fast-paced action with a distinctly Irish acerbic wit.

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit, when the second novel comes out in a series that I’ve fallen in love with I am a little hesitant.  What if the second book is rubbish?  What if the characters have lost their sparkle and interest?  What if….what if….what if?

But my worries were unfounded, Caimh McDonnell has written another cracker of a book, encompassing some of my absolute favourite characters ever to grace our pages and I have to say, I would love to see them cast in real life just to see the hilarity of the situations.
For those not familiar with Caimh’s writing (catch yourselves on and check out the review of “A Man With One Of Those Faces”  and then buy a copy as it’s on special offer right now), it’s a whirlwind of hilarity, catastrophe and sheer madness with characters that are various shades of interesting.

“The Day That Never Comes” continues much in the same tone as book one, Paul Mulchrone has a problem, well quite a few problems, but the four legged, desk defecating Maggie is his main one.  Paul is still as feckless, cynical and a victim to poor judgement.  Brigit Conroy is still a fierce woman, one you’d take on at your peril and Bunny McGarry…..where do I begin with the hurley brandishing, grumpy ex Gardaí?  He’s missing, and no one’s seen him for days.

I’ll not bore you by rehashing the plot, but I will say it’s clever.  There’s a darker feel to this book, the characters have developed from the previous book but retained the key aspects of their respective personalities.  Brigit has definitely fared well, she has become stronger and fierier in the interim.  The way in which she handles herself publicly is confident and takes no nonsense, but she wears her heart on her sleeve when it comes to more personal matters which is endearing really.
Paul is one half of the wonderful comedic duo that features in this book, his friend Phil Nellis is the other.  Poor Phil is ‘that’ friend most of us have had at one point, a bit naive and a wee bit gullible but has a heart of absolute solid gold.  The dynamic between these two characters is sheer brilliance, I could almost imagine them in the pub (with a pint for Maggie), chatting away.  There’s a fantastic quote about Phil that I can’t find now I’m looking for it, but I shall paraphrase (sorry Caimh) “That was the unnerving thing about Phil; he could go from being completely stupid to moments of  brilliance, often in the same breath.”

The pace of the book is perfect, it’s a quick read with plenty satire and moments that will have a reader laughing out loud.  The plot is well crafted and there’s an authenticity that pours from the pages, the subtle nuances are spot on, you can almost hear the accents, experience the cultural aspects all through the innovative use of language.

You can buy your copy of “The Day That Never Comes” in the UK here, and USA here.

About the Author:

caimh_press_pic2

Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats. Born in Limerick and raised in Dublin, he has taken the hop across the water and now calls Manchester his home.

His writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created. He was also a winner in the BBC’s Northern Laffs sitcom writing competition.

During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).

Follow Caimh’s witterings on @Caimh


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour (and go back for the ones you’ve missed!) there’s some great reviews, guest posts and a cheeky giveaway! 

the-day-that-never-comes-blog-tour

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The Perfect Gift

Author: Emma Hannigan
Published: 14 July 2016
Reviewed: 11 August 2016
4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Headline Review in return for an honest review
Description:

Happy Birthday, darling girl…

Ever since she can remember, Roisin has received a birthday card in the post. Signed with love from the birth mother she has never met.

Brought up by her adoptive parents, Keeley and Doug, Roisin has wanted for nothing. But on her thirtieth birthday a letter comes that shakes her world.
For Keeley, who’s raised Roisin as her own, the letter reminds her of a secret she’s been holding for thirty years. 

And for Nell, keeping watch in the lighthouse, the past is a place she rarely goes. Until a young runaway arrives seeking shelter, and unwraps the gift of hope for them all…

My Thoughts & Review:

The Perfect Gift is a heart warming tale about mothers and daughters.  How they must learn the diplomacy of compromise, to build trust and let go of secrets in order to move on in life.  

This is Emma Hannigan’s tenth novel and quite possibly her best yet.  Her writing flows beautifully, evoking emotions from readers at the very beginning of the book with a deeply moving prologue that had this hardened crime fiction fan tearing up.
  
Set in Ireland, the story centres around three women, who have all suffered great sadness and pain.  Roisin, adopted as a baby by Keeley and Doug has always struggled to fit in and find her place.  She decides to return home to set up her own business after travelling.  But she has a secret that she has never shared with anyone. 
Keeley runs a B&B with husband Doug, and is very successful.  But she also holds a secret, one that she has kept from her husband.  

Finally Nell, a recluse who lives in an old lighthouse, her only company is her cleaning lady Mo.  Nell has a past she would rather forget about, but the discovery of a young runaway pushes her to face her past.  
Each of the women are forced to confront their secrets and the revelations open their eyes to a different world, one where they no longer need to protect themselves from hurt by hiding away.   

Characters are truly wonderful, Roisin is such a spirited character, her ambition and enthusiasm are infectious, almost leaping off the page at the reader.  They are all believable and easy to relate to.  

This is the sort of book to pick up when you need to slow down, lose yourself in a good book and just relax – an escape if you will.  Despite guessing some of the secrets part of the way through this book I still thoroughly enjoyed it.  Reading Emma Hannigan’s books are like catching up with an old friend, they’re comforting and wonderful, you feel emotional but ultimately you feel a sense that everything is ok in the world after reading it and it reminds you to appreciate the family you have.  

You can buy a copy of The Perfect Gift here.   
 

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