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Gerry McCullough Belfast Girls – out now in Kindle and paperback editions Danger Danger – out now in Kindle and paperback editions Johnny McClintock’s War: One man’s struggle against the hammer blows of life – out now on Kindle & paperback Angel in Flight: the first Angel Murphy thriller – out now in Kindle and paperback editions Angel in Belfast: the 2nd Angel Murphy thriller – out now in Kindle and paperback editions Angel in Paradise: the 3rd Angel Murphy thriller‚ – out now in Kindle and paperback editions” title= Not the End of the World: a futuristic comic fantasy novel – out now in Kindle & paperback editions “The
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Gerry McCullough    award-winning Irish writer & poet – author of Belfast Girls Gerry's author page on Amazon Follow Gerry (@Gerry1098) on Twitter 'Gerry McCullough - Irish writer & poet' on Facebook  'Belfast Girls' podcast on iTunes 'The Seanachie: Tales of Old Seamus' podcast on iTunes 'Belfast Girls' podcast feed 'The Seanachie' podcast feed

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  Belfast Girls - book reviews (109)

**** belfast girls, 14 Apr 2015
By Amazon Customer

Gd wee read, really enjoyed it.

***** Five Stars, 17 Feb 2015
By Mr Paul Bonnett

Good Read

***** Five Stars, 15 Feb 2015
By Elizabeth Gardner

Ex. Read

***** Compelling Read, 11 Feb 2015
By Brendan

Excellent insight into life experiences in people and in N.I. All necessary credentials for a good read - romance, danger, love and loyalty.

***** Great book, 26 Jan 2015
By Catherine

This was one of the first books I read on my Kindle. Was brilliant. Would highly recommend it :)

**** An enjoyable read, 17 Aug 2014
By Lynn Redfern

I have just finished this book and found it a most enjoyable read. It sort of shocked me to think this could be true story in today’s climate. I have recommended it to friends and hope they enjoy it as much as I did.

**** Enjoyable and Interesting Saga, 15 Aug, 2014
By Lia Fairchild

This is the first book I’ve read set in Ireland and the first by this author. It was well-written and interesting. I found the setting to be intriguing, and I enjoyed the experience of following the saga of these women growing up and apart and back together again. The story showed how no matter how much our lives change over the years, it’s those first deep connections that stay with us and welcome us home when we need comfort and support. I especially like the ending and its sweet sentiment.

**** ... friend lent me this book and we don't usually enjoy the same kind of books, 5 Aug 2014
By Mrs Joan Bennett

a friend lent me this book and we don’t usually enjoy the same kind of books, she enjoys chick lit, and romances, but i thought i would try it and found the first few pages didn’t quite capture my interest as i thought it was going to be a chick lit about models etc. glad i persevered as it turned our to be a really good read.

***** Thoroughly Entertaining, 20 May 2014
By zumba12

I loved Belfast Girls and the way in which they appeared, complete with foibles! The plot was good and kept me interested throughout.

***** Belfast Girls, 17 May 2014
By Christopher McGuckin " johnoe" (Belfast N Ireland)

Finished the book Belfast Girls tonight. The book flows effortlessly along from drama, fun to the farcical - a must read on any night, day, evening. In other words a gem of a book, Gerry McCullough has written a book for Belfast. Love it buy it. John McGuckin

**** Fast moving with lots of interest, 12 May, 2014
By Barbara Carpenter

Interesting characters and plots. Enjoyable read that’s fast moving. Liked the storyline and of course the ending. Nice to know the author is Irish.

***** Excellent piece of work, 10 May 2014
By Seán O’Doherty

couldn’t put it down, now for the rest of the story of Belfast girls and the things they get up to, felt like I was there

***** Top notch storytelling, 25 Apr 2014
By Tricia "Tricia@ATW" (The United States)

Belfast Girls follows the lives of three girls from girlhood to adulthood. As they grow up, their social circle expands, sometimes including unsavory characters intent on dragging them down. Their early adult lives are marred by the gangsters and drugs which eventually shape all their lives in very different ways. Sheila is a level-headed, career-driven woman who becomes a model. Though she could settle down with any number of men (movie stars, race car drivers), she can’t keep her mind off John, her university crush whose strict made-up rules come between them. Phil has a solid moral backbone, but has blinders on when it comes to Davy. She’s willing to overlook her own sense of right and wrong, and even willing to lose everything, to protect her lover. Mary succumbs early on to the lure of drugs and partying, but finds happiness in spirituality. The three friends live very separate lives, but always seem to find their way back to each other, with their friendships not only intact, but stronger than ever.

From the very start, Belfast Girls was a book I couldn’t put down. By the end of the book, I loved the main female characters as if they were my own best friends, and I felt as if I’d known them all my life. I was very sad to see the book end. Though I did not like John through much of the book, he showed his true colors when it counted and redeemed himself in my eyes. Through self-reflection, John matures and changes.

The author weaves history and facts about the region into her tale, and I feel like I learned something while being entertained. I enjoy realistic books that explore human nature, and this book was perfect. McCullough’s characters undergo tremendous character development as they navigate tragedy, disappointment, heartbreak, and success. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-written book with top notch characters, an engrossing plot, and beautiful storytelling.

**** Brilliant Book, 05 Mar 2014
By Paul Lyness

I thought this book was a really good read and coming from Northern Ireland and being teenager of the eighties I was able to identify with the characters. I would definitely recommend.

***** Belfast girl, 09 Jan 2014
By Denise Gordon

Great read. Couldn’t put this book down. Have now been looking at more books to purchase by the same author.

**** brought back memories, Jan 02, 2014
By Celtic Daughter

I grew up in Belfast during the troubles and reading this book brought back many happy memories for me - I remember many of the places mentioned and I found it to be an entertaining book with a lovely "Irish" flavour. Good interaction between the characters, flowed well and the characters were all quite realistic and believable.

***** Belfast Girls, Dec 22, 2013
By Penny Eileen Garrison "Penny" (Florence, OR, USA)

I enjoyed this book. Lots of people in it and great story weaves with the people in the book. Not a short read. well worth the read. keeps your interest
Complex book twists and turns which makes a great book
Penny Garrison

***** belfast girls excellent, 07 Oct 2013
By Lorraine

enjoyed every min of this book it was very interesting the way the future turns out different for each of them

***** A really good book, 10 Sept 2013
By Sylvia Delves

I enjoyed reading Belfast Girls and found it a very good book. Funny and exciting at times I am glad I chose this book to read.

**** Not what I expected, Aug 31, 2013
By Rhonda Berry Hipp (NORTH AUGUSTA, SC, US)

I don’t know what I expected, but found the story to be very good. The story line follows a group of kids through childhood into adulthood. How their choices changed the direction of their lives.

**** Entertaining Read with substance, 14 Jun 2013
By diebus

"Belfast Girls" by Gerry McCullough was recommended to me by a friend. It is the story of three teenage girls as they grow into womanhood in Belfast.

It follows their love entanglements and the career paths they pursue at a time of political stabilisation in Northern Ireland. Yet, now they face different problems as drugs, crime rings and untrustworthy men mess with their lives.

The book seems a great illustration of the post-conflict times in Belfast and Dublin. The three girls are well chosen to highlight different experiences and they complement each other well to make a varied group of friends which makes for an entertaining read with bite and substance.

**** A Different Perspective, 23 May 2013
By J. E. Vincent (Lincolnshire)

I really enjoyed this book and wondered how various other reviewers could only give the story a one or two star review. We all think that with the troubles over in Northern Ireland being over to a greater extent, that the people could get back to living peaceful lives again, but forget that there are criminals out there ready to move in. The drug situation is one I’d never given thought to so it opened my eyes to a different world. The main characters were warm and friendly and the ‘religious epiphany’ brought another dimension into the flow. It was good to read of different faiths being brought together through understanding that their faith lay in the same God, and the peace it brought to the characters was tangible.

I’ve given the story five stars because I’ve never read this author before and if this book is an example of the others, then I’ll happily try some more.

**** I enjoyed it!, 18 May 2013
By jacqueline.grimes4

I really enjoyed Belfast Girls, but to be honest I didn’t find it a page turner. It is well written, and has some good characters, and I enjoyed reading about places I know of, but I was not believing in some of the storyline. I would recommend this book, and will read others by this author.

**** Great local story, Apr 17, 2013
By Liz McClean

Great book would recommend it, good storyline that kept you turning the pages and if you’re from Belfast it’s even better cause you recognise lots of places that keeps it real.

**** Easy reading, Apr 12, 2013
By Mandy

Throughly enjoyable read. Catches you from the 1st page & being a Belfast girl myself I could relate to the characters. Would recommend especially for those who only understand Belfast from news reports, read it for a different perspective.

**** Belfast girls, Mar 8, 2013
By Elaine O'Neill

Very good book enjoyed reading it and would like to read more of Gerry McCullough books. Read the book in one night.

***** Really enjoyable reading, Feb 26, 2013
By Lizzie Keys

Thoroughly enjoyed this book great story about 3 girls growing up in Belfast and the paths of adulthood they started out on. Highly recommended.

***** Entertaining and educational, Feb 25, 2013
By Mrs. F. H. Mortimer “Faith Mortimer” (Cyprus and the UK)

Apart from the ‘old’ troubles of Northern Ireland I really didn’t know a lot about this country until I’d read ‘Belfast Girls’ Gerry being a natural born Irish girl has given her novel, Belfast Girls, voice.

I was intrigued by the different stories of Sheila, Phil, and Mary, and these make up a spectrum that encompasses many aspects of Belfast society. Gerry talks about everyday life, touching on education in the schools and religion, and the past political unrest - and how this affects everyone.

What really brought her book home to me was that now that Sinn Fein is less dominant, the drug gangs have moved in and their atrocities are reminiscent of the past Irish Troubles.

Each character was well-portrayed, even if I felt less inclined to be sympathetic to one or two of them ... I abhor drug running, for instance.

So all in all, I found that not only is this book an entertaining read, it’s also a good insight into the life of young women growing up in Ireland. Gerry McCullough’s book has been added to the long list of books about her country and she has produced a very creditable novel. Well done - I learnt a lot! The author has done an amazing job with this work, and it deserves the praise thus far. Recommended.

**** Belfast ROCKS, Feb 18, 2013
By mamasophie

Really a great series of stories all tied up in a neat bundle. The over-arcing way in which the characters interact and their lives intersect have you wondering about Six Degrees of Separation as a global issue ... it isn’t just for Kevin Bacon anymore.

***** Poignant, Feb 16, 2013
By Gwyn

The fact that there is an element of truth in this book makes it all the better to read. It is plausible, sad and moving and yet you can’t put it down. I will look out for more by this author.

***** very enjoyable read - recommended, Jan 10, 2013
By Mr. Robert Craven "RobC" (Dublin)

Gerry McCullough’s great novel Belfast Girls has it all: High fashion, drugs and a kidnapping. The central characters Sheila, Phil and Mary - grow up in post-conflict Belfast and also it’s about the men who matter to them. Although from different religious backgrounds, starting off as childhood friends, the girls manage to hold on to that friendship in spite of everything. It’s a hugely enjoyable book and recommended.

***** Realistic novel, Jan 4, 2013
By Yule Linden (Brooklyn)

The book tells the story of three modern days girls from Belfast and their friendship. As the plot develops we get a little drama, a little romance, a little fun here and there and some mystery. It’s a nice read, giving a realistic insight on modern Belfast.

***** Beautiful, Dec 29, 2012
By Tiffany Farris

Gerry McCullough has proved herself to me a fantastic writer. I am extremely impressed. When I started this book I am sad to say I had never read a story set in Ireland or heard of this author. It’s always a thrill to find a book so well written. It flowed and moved gently as if it was alive. OUTSTANDING!!

***** Belfast Girls Review, Dec 12, 2012
By Enda McLarnon (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

I think I have read almost every book that has to do with Belfast. Gerry has done a really good job with this one and it is a funny and enjoyable read. I would recommend this to anyone who has read books like the Paperboy.

***** Great book, Dec 6, 2012
By Tishminx

Sad, witty, funny a great read and a free kindle download which was great. Thoroughly lost myself in the story

***** Great fiction set in interesting facts, Dec 4, 2012
By Shirley Norwood

If you like your romance with suspense - and some thoughtfulness - and you also enjoy learning about a country and culture not your own, this is a great choice. While it all ends well, there are many twists and turns, and an interesting perspective on present day Ireland, written by an author who should know. Enjoy, and then get the next one.

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***** Love, Fashion and Drugs., Dec 4, 2012
By Mrs. Phyllis J. Burton (Farnham, Surrey, England)

Belfast Girls by Gerry McCullough

Love, Fashion and Drugs!

I really enjoyed this book: an excellently written story about three young girls growing up in Belfast.

Take Sheila: she is beautiful and is persuaded to become a model and thus leaves the Belfast streets and friends for the big, wide, wonderful world of fashion. But not before she meets John Branagh. John is a confused young man, who wants to be loved but on his own terms. They both develop strong feelings for one another, but because of their obvious differences, cannot be together.

Mary, his sister gets in with the wrong crowd and develops a serious drug problem, but once she sees that they are ruining her life, she takes a different path and decides to help other people instead. But poor Phil is in love with Davy Hagan: a feckless individual and she gradually becomes embroiled in a dangerous drug ring. The differing stories of these three young girls’ lives, drags you into the story and refuses to let you go. It also puts a different slant on the problems you read about in the newspapers. Belfast Girls is difficult to put down and well deserves my 5 * Rating. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

***** Great read., Dec 2, 2012
By Melanie Johnston

Loved this book. Not my normal type of read. I will go on to read more of this great author.

***** Belfast Girls, Nov 8, 2012
By Marie Kealey

This book I was not able to put down. The story was very interesting and enjoyable. l would love to read a sequel of this book if the author wrote one.

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**** An Interesting Look at Belfast Life, Oct 10, 2012
By Tim F. Merriman

The switching from chapter to chapter among three well-framed characters was engaging and interesting. I liked all of them and worried about their choices.

The author writes well and is a good storyteller. When it took us to the "drug" world, and all rough language was missing, it did not seem as realistic as I would expect. I prefer an author not use four-letter words just to be sensational but when they are realistic it seems right and totally lacking, I begin to realize the author may not be comfortable with that language and those characters.

I highly recommend the book. It’s a good read and a look at Belfast life from a woman’s point of view.

Tim Merriman author of The Leopard Tree

***** Loved it!!, Oct 3, 2012
By Joanne Mayer "me" (Norn iron)

really good story, kept me hooked through the whole book. kindle version needs to be tidied up though, some pages the word size was different and I had to keep adjusting the size. Didn't put me off the story, some people get too caught up with being annoyed about mis-spelt words and there are a few in this version but its easy to figure out what the word should be. People need to get over themselves. Great read would definately recommend it.

***** such a good book, Sep 28, 2012
By Beth "Beth" (midwest USA)

I loved this book so very much. I loved the characters, could not resist caring about them. And because I live in the US and have never traveled anywhere, I found the Belfast setting, culture, history, etc so very compelling. This book is definitely on my list of things to read again.

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**** Wonderful story, Sep 28, 2012
By Dandee Book Worm

This is meticulously researched of the lives of 3 girls as they mature in Ireland, a country torn by inner strife massively exacerbated by outside intervention. The author does not flinch from the realities of life in Belfast and the sometimes extreme cost to lives and happiness. It's a story of loyalty (and the price of NOT having it), friendship (against all odds), love (even when ultimately undeserved and unwise), loss, success and failure - both of epic size. You must keep careful tabs on the characters, because there is a large cast of them. I wanted to give it a ‘5’ but I think the author got a little carried away with the story - tried to do too much story in one book. I think it would have been much better if the story had been whittled down to 1-2 main characters. Don’t get me wrong though, this is a GOOD book with GOOD writing in it! Highly recommended.

**** Good Read!, Sep 10, 2012
By GinnyReader

I enjoyed reading this book -- I felt it took me back to days when things were more "innocent." I liked reading about Sheila’s climb to fame, especially how she interacts with the men who touch her life. Mary’s character was well-done, too. I could only feel sorry for Phil. I kept hoping she would wake up and change.

Gerry McCullough tells a good story. I would recommend this book to others.

**** I enjoyed, Sep 5, 2012
By D. Holland (devon)

Not my usual Crime thriller but It was on Amazon for a cheap price so I ordered it.

It is an easy read and does keep you reading to the end and I did enjoy it.

The Kindle does allow you to read books you maybe would not pick up as a paperback especially if you are like me and look for the free or special buy prices.

The characters are likeable and it does have more to it than a typical romance.

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**** Good Holiday Read, Sep 1, 2012
By sue

This book is ok for reading while chilling by the pool when on holiday, not hard to read and easy to follow.

***** Great Read, Aug 19, 2012
By Mr. P. A. T. Fitzpatrick "podrobgob" (Belfast, Ireland)

I recently purchased this book and really enjoyed it. It is well written and easy to follow. I do not usually read novels but enjoyed the entailing story of the girls weaving in and out of each other’s lives. Well worth buying!

**** Belfast Girls, Aug 16, 2012
By K. Plummer (Port Orchard, WA USA)

Just finished Belfast Girls and would like to recommend it. It’s a good read which touches on a lot of issues, but is a relatively quick read. Relationships and drug trafficking in Ireland are the core of the story line.

***** Belfast Girls by Gerry mcCullough, Aug 05, 2012
By jude

Excellent read from chapter one the book explodes and was very hard to put down, my first Gerry McCullough novel and it won’t be my last.

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". . . glimpses of insight and understanding . . .", August 2, 2012
By Gabriel Constans

It is hopeful that Belfast Girls is a prelude to greater things to come.

This literary offering is a good start for Gerry McCullough. Her first novel, set in present day Belfast, makes good use of place, time, and character development. It is, at its core, a romance, with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as its backdrop. Though it chimes in at 346 pages, it is a quick read—well worth the price.

The tale revolves around three childhood friends (Sheila, Phil, and Mary) as they attend college, the men in their lives, and the events shaping and molding them into mature young women who face their individual trials and tribulations and learn the value of family, friends, and faith.

Sheila becomes a world-known model surrounded by many admirers, but feeling alone and separate, longing for her journalist boyfriend John Branagh to stop judging her and come to his senses.

Phil can’t let go of her attraction and desire to be with Davy Hagan, even though his involvement in drug trafficking has her paying the price for his behavior.

Mary gets mixed up with a party crowd, almost dies from an overdose, and finds herself in a religious community. There is a clear inspirational and moral thread apparent throughout.

Sheila is the character that tends to be the most striking and memorable, though Phil and Mary each have equal billing in time and attention. All of the women’s reactions, though at times predictable and stereotypical, are believable, as are their families and friends.

The courtroom scenes with Phil protecting Davy are especially poignant. It may or may not be an Irish trait, but it appears that the people inhabiting this story are emotional, without being over sentimental. Put another way, they live their lives without having great expectations, but appreciate brief glimpses of insight and understanding.

It is no great surprise concerning relationships how often we see what we want to see, but it becomes apparent to John when he realizes that, "He had never cared for the real Sheila, only for his own idealization of her." There is melancholy for what may have been if they’d made different choices, but nobody stays overly drenched in regret or grief for the past.

Ms. McCullough’s other recent release, Angel In Flight: an Angel Murphy Thriller, from the same publisher, may be worth checking out. If it has the same solid foundation as Belfast Girls, less predictability, and a little more depth, it will be another step in this author’s journey to becoming not only a good writer, but a great writer—to the benefit of readers in all republics and nations.

**** a great read, May 11, 2012
By vonvon31

Wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy this book but thought for 72p it was worth a go. in fact I could not put it down and read it in 2 days. Highly recommend.

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***** A great read. Thoroughly enjoyed it., April 13, 2012
By Jacoba

Well I came to reading this with no knowledge of what I was in for. I now blame Gerry for the fact I’m in trouble again for not leaving my Kindle for the past six hours. The housework be damned.

I loved this book about three Belfast girls whose stories intermingled with each other’s lives as well as having their own path.

There was so much realism in this, nothing seemed sugar coated or easily fixed. Crimes were paid for in one way or another and the choices each girl makes linked to the consequences of how their lives panned out. All this with the backdrop of Belfast and the Irish legacy of the past brought in to play a large part in the plot. The struggle of each character as they grew up together and were inevitably drawn apart was masterfully written. I literally couldn’t tear my eyes away, and had to know how all would end up for these three very endearing characters.

I have downloaded Gerry's next book Danger, Danger, but I’m loath to start it, as I fear I may be yet again attached to my Kindle for hours on end, and I really do need to get some other things done!!!

Thanks for a great read. Highly recommend this when you have the time to spend. I can assure you, you won’t need a bookmark with this one.

***** Belfast Girls, April 10, 2012
By Eddy Roberts

Brilliant book about the the lives and experiences of three girls in Belfast. There are elements from many different walks of life and this book is extremely well written.

***** Great Book, April 10, 2012
By Christine Moore

Great book following the loves and lives of three girls from the Irish city of Belfast. Great story line and thoroughly enjoyable.

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***** A coming of age story with a thriller edge., March 14, 2012
By Babs Morton

I came to this book, having heard good things and having already had the pleasure of reading short stories by the same author. I wasn’t disappointed. This is a wonderful coming of age story, following the lives of three friends growing up in Belfast. The characters with their individual hopes, fears and ambitions are beautifully portrayed at all ages, along with the respective men in their lives. The Troubles were depicted in varying degrees throughout the story culminating in a shocking finale. It’s easy to get caught up with the girls and the good/bad decisions they make which ultimately affect their lives.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and I’m now looking forward to this author’s next book.

**** Belfast Girls, March 6, 2012
By Mary Vensel White

Belfast Girls begins as a coming of age novel, following the lives of three girls as they navigate careers and loves. But it’s part crime novel too, part social commentary, and part historical fiction, as it’s set against the backdrop of Ireland in the 20th century---the history, the culture, the politics. You’ll follow this riveting story from Ireland to the U.S. and back, from the modest beginnings of three young girls to the glitz and glamour of the fashion industry, the turmoil and violence of the drug trade, the growing pains of an entire country. McCullough presents characters we can’t help but root for, and for outsiders, the look inside modern Ireland is a fascinating one.

***** Irish Gem Belfast Girls February 10, 2011
By Wilma

For anyone who has missed any of Gerry’s fab books I can highly recommend Belfast Girls – it’s one of those ‘must just read two more pages before I get the bus, cook diner, go to sleep.’ Her writing is a creative breath of fresh air.

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**** Belfast Girls, February 7, 2012
By bethanchloe "bethantownsend" (Liverpool)

I’ve never read anything set in Northern Ireland before, well not to my knowledge anyway and I definitely haven’t written anything set in this period and I found it really interesting as well as enjoyable. The combination of the fictional plot with the aftermath of the Troubles was really interesting to read about and unluckily for Belfast, it didn’t exactly come off as somewhere I’d like to visit any time soon.

The characters were believable and real, Phil in particular was a favourite as she sacrificed everything for absolutely no discernible reason in my opinion and it’s really to see Mary’s transformation from drug fiend to enlightened spiritualist. The only character who fell flat for me was Sheila. Her ‘ice maiden’ supermodel persona is really well constructed but I didn’t like the ending and the way she remained blameless in everything that happened and of course, her relations with John Branagh. It just didn't feel ‘right’ to me.

Aside from that, this novel was just my kind of thing, switching between different perspectives and telling different people’s stories and how they all cleverly knitted together in the end. I’m only sorry it didn’t portray Belfast in a brighter light!

**** Belfast Girls make good, January 17, 2012
By Miss Melanie S. Dent (Reading,UK)

I really enjoyed this gripping heartfelt tale of friendship against all odds.

It is clear that Ms McCullough cares deeply about her characters which in turn lets the reader care too. We share their triumphs, cry with them when they get disappointed or hurt and cheer when something good happens.

Compelling dialogue, evocative description and a real flair for storytelling makes this a must read. There is something in it for everyone; romance, danger and glamour as well as real women whose different lifepaths are still connected by the strand of their childhood friendship across the religious divide. There are surprises in store.

***** A Gem from Ireland, January 6, 2012
By Barbara Silkstone (Florida, USA)

This book is a true gem among the many books on female friendship. Sheila, Mary, and Phil are soul-mates in a way that only friends from childhood can be. Three lives leading to divergent paths. A romantic thriller that is so satisfying in its depth of character and the taste and feelings of a place I’ve wondered about. I visited Ireland a few years ago and fell under its spell. Belfast intrigued me. What was it like before and after? Belfast Girls is a fascinating peek behind the headlines of yesterday and into the faces that struggle, thrive, and unfortunately perish today. The writing is superb. Gerry McCullough is a classic story-teller in the best tradition. Highly recommended.

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***** Not another 5-star review?!! December 04, 2011
By Mike Church (Spain)

This is an excellent read, and a thoughtful insight into the lives of three friends (Belfast girls) who lead very separate yet ultimately interwoven lives. The descriptions seem realistic to me, and I particularly enjoyed the pacing of the novel: never dragging yet never galloping out of control, either. I also liked the author’s refusal to paint a black and white picture of "the Troubles", and the message that there can never be winners in conflicts of this magnitude. Definitely recommended.

***** A great contemporary read! November 30, 2011
By Bubbity (UK)

Belfast Girls is Irish author Gerry McCullough’s debut novel about three girls - Sheila, Phil and Mary - growing up in a new Northern Ireland where religious differences mean little and July 12th is just an excuse for a bonfire. We follow their friendship through adolescence and beyond. Sheila is attracted to Mary’s brother John Branagh; Phil to the wreckless Davy Hagan who’s already becoming involved in the drugs scene. Phil and Sheila’s early experiences with John and Davy are fraught with misunderstandings and sexual mishaps. But Sheila is destined for greater things - no longer the gawky ginger-haired schoolgirl, she has become a stunner and follows a career modelling the clothes of fashion designer, Francis Delmara, in an effort to prove to herself that she is attractive and worthy. She becomes a supermodel, loved for her looks while her inner emotional life is a disaster. Meanwhile, Phil is becoming embroiled into Davy’s world of shady drug dealings. Drug pedalling and drug mafias have replaced The Troubles and given way to a new terrorism which impacts on the lives of all three girls. Gerry McCullough is an excellent story-teller and plotter. Will the relationship between Sheila and John ever succeed? Will Davy ever give up the lure of the drugs world and settle down with Phil? The author builds up the suspense masterfully and holds it right until the end in a story that is both heart-breaking and life-affirming. Happily recommended.

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***** Ireland Present Tense November 28, 2011
By PD Allen "Author of Quantum Meditations" (Indiana)

This book takes us on a wonderful journey through present day Ireland. What starts out as a crime thriller quickly evolves into a literary festival beyond the boundary of genres. In following the characters through their personal journeys, we are presented a powerful mosaic of contemporary Ireland. With thrills, comedy and romance, this book never fails to engage and entertain. Definitely the product of a living bard.

***** Enjoyable and relaxing November 28, 2011
By Elizabeth Jasper Writer (Andalucia, Spain)

I’m drawn to stories with an Irish flavour, for understandable reasons, and this one did not disappoint. It is a good read. The story is well-paced and the writing smooth. The characters are entirely believable and I enjoyed following their individual stories, which were woven together in a seamless pattern of contrasts and complements.

I really relaxed into the world of these three girls - good time out for me, and I will read more by this author. Recommended.

***** A look at modern Ireland through the eyes of three friends October 08, 2011
By Mary Vensel White

Belfast Girls begins as a coming of age novel, following the lives of three girls as they navigate careers and loves. But it’s part crime novel too, part social commentary, and part historical fiction, as it’s set against the backdrop of Ireland in the 20th century---the history, the culture, the politics. You’ll follow this riveting story from Ireland to the U.S. and back, from the modest beginnings of three young girls to the glitz and glamour of the fashion industry, the turmoil and violence of the drug trade, the growing pains of an entire country. McCullough presents characters we can’t help but root for, and for outsiders, the look inside modern Ireland is a fascinating one.

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***** "BELFAST GIRLS" (GMTA REVIEW), September 26, 2011
By kittybullard "Kitty D. Bullard" (North Carolina)

I loved this book. Ireland has always been an interest of mine and learning more about it from this book was simply amazing. The story of two girls, Sheila and Phil and their life in Belfast, Ireland as they go from being children to teenagers and finally adults is touching enough. Though when you begin to toss in a few boys here and there especially John Branagh and Davy Hagan, life starts to get a bit difficult.

Two girls, hopelessly in love with two boys, one destined for the priesthood and trying to live a good life, the other into mob activity, drugs, and all kinds of trouble. They lead these two girls on such an adventure and even though Shelia and Philomena know they should turn away and forget them, it’s impossible when they keep popping back up in their lives.

A touching story and at the same time a fantastic parody of modern life in Ireland, Gerry McCullough has written a wonderful book. I would place this high on the list of to-reads!

Kitty Bullard /Great Minds Think Aloud Literary Community

***** A masterclass., September 03, 2011
By Weescottishlassie

Like the title of my review says, this book is a masterclass, and a vivid dissection of the human condition in all of its inglorious foibles. Whilst exceptionally well written, this is not necessarily an easy read by virtue of the trials and tribulations that the main characters face throughout the book; but you should read it nevertheless.

At times reading Belfast Girls it is like holding up an unforgiving mirror to our own lives and the lives of people very familiar to us, and the author is unapologetic and unflinching about that. Personally, I applaud the quality of the writing and storyline, as well as the courage displayed in tackling such aspects of the darkness that colours peoples lives.

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***** Four and a half stars., August 25, 2011
By Marj

This story drew me in from the start. It is well written, without typos (or none that I noticed) and a good story.

Recommended. I didn't ‘love’ it, but more than ‘liked’ it. I’d like to give it 4 1/2 stars, but the option is not allowed.

***** Excellent read, August 22, 2011
By Crime Lover "Crime Lover" (New York)

This is one of the best books I have read about Belfast. McCullough is a terrific writer, and I can’t wait to see her next one for sale soon.

***** Good fun, pacey and well worth a place on your Kindle..., August 22, 2011
By David Makinson

Gerry McCullough’s ‘Belfast Girls’ is a light, entertaining and pacey story about three friends and their different life choices set in Northern Ireland, post troubles. Gerry manages to combine glamour, romance and elements of thriller all in the same story, exhibiting a sense of the fun that she clearly had in writing it.

I would suggest this is excellent for a light holiday read by the pool or to while away an hour or two on a flight.

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**** enjoyable, August 16, 2011

an enjoyable read. characters are a bit naive. lovely descriptions and colloqualisms which remind me of the city i grew up in.

***** Belfast Girls thumbs up :), August 14, 2011
By Avril

A pleasure to read, enjoyed by both my teenage daughter and myself. Would appeal to a wide variety of readers.

***** Lessons in life, June 19, 2011
By Mr. P. A. T. Fitzpatrick "podrobgob" (Belfast, Ireland)

I recently read this book, and have to say that I found myself being pulled into the story. Being from Belfast myself, it was wonderful to read a book where I could visually imagine what I was reading.

In addition the story line is well developed and follows the lives of people as their paths meander and cross over each other.

I fully recommend this book for anyone who is interested in Belfast, and also for Belfast that is emerging from conflict, and how people are living their lives in this age.

***** Belfast exactly!, June 18, 2011
By Deanna

As an ex Belfast girl I absolutely loved the language and the tale of this book.
Captured the tone of Ireland North and South and the friendship of the three irish mates.

A great read - thanks Gerry, well done
More please

***** Lessons in life, June 18, 2011
By HannahWar

Belfast Girls is a book that has it all, great characters, suspense, action, nice descriptions and clear-flowing dialogue. Gerry is a very accomplished writer who knows how to hook her readers. I also found the book very interesting from the political perspective. Eyes are no longer focused on Ireland but it is a society struggling with a violent past. On a human level we get a good insight into this past.

***** Belfast Girls, June 02, 2011
By Janice Donnelly (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

Belfast Girls gets you in and hooks you from the dramatic opening scene until the final chapter. I like how the story begins in the present and takes us back to the early days of the three main characters. Sheila, Phil and Mary the Belfast Girls of the title are totally likeable and the story unfolded I cared about them and wanted things to work out for them as they grew from childhood to the world of adulthood.

The pace was good, the tension building with each page turned, I literally couldn’t put it down. Belfast is my home city, the author writes authoritatively and knowledgeably about Belfast post ‘Troubles’ if you have never been to Belfast, but think you know all about it, I urge you to read this book. The media portrayal of Belfast all too often is matter of fact and glib, Protestants and Catholics do not get on, end of story; Gerry McCullough tells of a more complex situation, where ordinary people do and did live side by side together in friendship, she explains the backdrop to the political situation during and after the ‘Troubles’ accurately and sensitively. A great read.

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***** Captivating, May 26, 2011
By V. Henry "Canuck" (Canada)

I was first interested in the book because of the title, being from Belfast myself. My niece Janice Donnelly, who has a new book coming out very soon called, "Buying Time", also set in Belfast,told me of this new Author. Janice's book will also be the same Publishing Company. I read a chapter of Gerry's book on Nightreading (Night and was so engrossed that I couldn't wait to get the book.

It is very well written and very interesting, as the Author moves flowingly from one character to another. It takes place after the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland and the changes in life for some of the characters. Three childhood girlfriends, now grown up and how they are adapting to life in the New Belfast. Gerry, captivates you with the insight into each character and the story flows so easily that you cannot wait to turn the page. It has a mixture of Suspense,Friendship,Love and about Ireland as well.

Truly a good read.

***** An unforgettable, can’t-put-it-down novel by a first rate writer, May 21, 2011
By G. Polley "blogger and writer" (Sapporo, Japan)

Sheila Doherty, Philomena (Phil) Maguire and Mary Branagh: you’ll remember their names long after you've finished this wonderful first novel by award-winning Irish poet Gerry McCullough.

Romance, thriller, political intrigue and murder mystery, Belfast Girls is the story of modern Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic where drugs and drug gangs have infiltrated every level of society as they have everywhere else.

Sheila, Phil and Mary are the kind of characters that stick in your mind and bring you back for further visits. They just stick with you. I know I’ll be back to get to know them better in the weeks and months to come.

Gerry McCullough is one fine writer. I look forward to her next novel.

By Sheila M. Belshaw (UK, Menorca & Cape Town)

In this accomplished debut novel Gerry McCullough weaves with a born story-teller’s talents a tale that encompasses every spectrum of the human psyche, delving deep into her characters’ inner personalities as well as giving us a vivid picture of the vagaries of life in the fascinatingly complex Northern Ireland city of Belfast.

With romance at the core of the novel we are also treated to a saga that is enriched with breathtaking action, mystery, suspense and some tear-jerking moments of tragedy.

Of the three very different girls whose intertwined lives this new exciting novelist so appealingly portrays, the beautiful red-headed supermodel Sheila Doherty stands out as an unforgettable character that will stay with me for a long time, in much the same way that Jane Eyre continuously lures me back into her life.

Reading this unputdownable book gave me the impression that McCullough is bursting with a plethora of stories that she can’t wait to tell.

I look forward eagerly to reading her next novel.

(also posted on Bookalicious Travel Addict blog)

***** A thoroughly enjoyable read. May 08, 2011
By Book worm "lisabookworm" (UK)

I thoroughly enjoyed this kindle book. It was mainly about 3 girls who grew up in Northern Ireland and became good friends. All of them intelligent girls, doing well at school but their lives taking completely different paths.

Sheila who was always the tall beautiful one. In love with a man who expected perfection from her but left her when he realised she wasn't perfect. She went on to be famous, travelling all over the world, but still holding a torch for her man despite the many temptations thrown in her way. She still compared them all to him.

Mary who was clever but got into bad ways and with the wrong people. Could she turn her life round before she ended up in a bad way?

Phil (Philomena) who was kind and caring and always loved her man Davey, despite him getting mixed up with some bad people. Northern Ireland had been going through the ceasefire, but drugs and money laundering and people trafficking had taken over. Phil knew Davy was into something bad but she loved him and he kept her out of it so she would be safe, but would she?

The Belfast Girls lives separated somewhat when they left school as their lives took them down this different path, only to end up back together again when they most needed each other.

This book kept me wanting to read more. I loved the way the characters came from the same backgrounds but their lives went down totally different paths, only to collide in the end. Very well written, and a hint into what life in Northern Ireland became like for some after the ceasefire. A very good read!

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***** A great book! May 01, 2011
By Dave

This is an excellent book. The characters are well written and you really feel like you know them by the end. It's a page turner too and holds your attention from start to finish. I would recommend it to anyone. I'm looking forward to reading something else by the author.

***** Fun, heartfelt, and the story rings true. April 28, 2011
By R. Acoya (USA)

Starting in early childhood, we meet Sheila and Phil, next-door-neighbors who become fast and lifelong friends. We follow them into early adulthood, adding their other BFF Mary to the mix. As with many girls, we meet their true loves: John, who can’t decide if Sheila is his true love or a distraction; and Davy, who tries to keep Phil separate from his burgeoning drug business.

Sheila falls into the life of a highly sought-after model for a dear friend’s fashion business, with its late nights, early mornings, parties, money, and glamor; she is kidnapped during one of the season’s biggest runway shows, leading to yet more confusion about John.

Phil rather muddles along, loving Davy but trying to stay in denial about his drug involvement; to protect her love, she would go to jail rather than implicate him in a set of circumstances that may or may not be of his doing.

Mary parties hard, and after a near-death overdose, finds peace and meaning in a new life dedicated to serve.

The three girls are true-to-life characters, well-developed in a modern Belfast setting. It is through this current state of the country that the girls are first exposed to the ugliness of bigotry and hatred, yet they find the strength within themselves and each other to remain true to who they are.

***** an important read, April 11, 2011
By Katherine Holmes (Duluth, Minnesota)

Belfast Girls has voice, its telling accentuated with Irish nuance. The alternating stories of Sheila, Phil, and Mary together make a mosaic that encompasses many aspects of Belfast society, its schools, its business sector, religious influence, and the ties of the drug gangs that are too reminiscent of the Irish Troubles. What is so appealing about the characters is their independence and their steadfast feelings of friendship and leery love that course the novel.

However these relationships develop into surprising climaxes. After Sheila becomes aware of underground crime through her modeling career and because she resembles a relative whose political involvement was kept secret, the plot plunges headlong with her tip to the police. Unknown to her, this affects Phil and her other relationships before her departure to success.

All along, the fates of the girls are handled with realism and a deft sensitivity that had me absorbed both with the individuals and the dark gang war that affects them all.

(also posted on Milliongossip blog)
***** an important read, April 6, 2011
By Tiffany Harkleroad "Tiffanys Bookshelf" (Kittanning, PA, USA)

Growing up in Belfast is not easy for Phil, Sheila, and Mary. As children, the girls all got along, and were shielded from the dangers of the times in Ireland. But as life progressed, they grew up, grew apart, and grew aware of the realities of life. Men, glamour, drugs, gangsters. Who will save these girls in their times of need?

I have to admit, the book had a little bit of a slow start for me. It took me a while to get into it, to really feel connected to the characters. But I am so glad that I stuck it out. Over the course of the timeline, we get to know these three women, and the important men in their lives, as closely as we do our favorite television characters. I would "tune in" to another chapter just to see what would happen to these girls that I now cared about. With the brilliant descriptions of the setting and action, this book would make a fantastic mini series.

This story has a lot going on, but the action gets really fast paced at one point, and keeps you rocketing to the end of the story. After the book is over, you need to take a few moments to let it all soak in.

I was not very familiar with the life and political climate of Ireland, so it took me a bit to catch on to this aspect of the book. But I definitely learned a lot. Which is why this book is so important.

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***** An Excellent Read, March 21, 2011
By F. Nath "fn21" (UK)

Three girls, three lifestyles and an excellent debut novel.

Beautifully drawn characters and a novel that stays with you, what more could you want?

Don’t just sit there, buy it!

***** Belfast Girls - a remarkable first novel. March 15, 2011
By Jake Barton

There are many facets to this debut novel. Thriller, Romance, Crime and all have their place. The strength of the book, for me, is the author’s facility with characterisation. The three women, the Belfast girls of the title, are each allowed time and space to become viable as people with whom the reader can readily identify.

The politics, without which a novel set in this period would not be complete, are well described, the thriller aspects are strong and there’s a real story here. Recommended.

***** Belfast Girls Take Centre Stage March 14, 2011
By Garbhan Downey (Derry)

Searching for ‘the good things in life’, the heroines in Gerry McCullough’s novel reflect new Belfast

Confession time. It’s not often you hear God being invoked in a mainstream Northern Irish novel – at least as a positive force. And to be honest, for the cynical among us, it can be a little unsettling.

But this reader’s fears that religion – and, more terrifyingly again, religious preaching – might become a dominant theme in Gerry McCullough’s debut novel Belfast Girls prove completely unfounded.

[ Read complete review ]

***** terrific book, March 13, 2011
By Noir Fan (New York)

This is one of those books you can easily re-read, over and over again. McCullough has a way with words that always stay with you, long after you’ve put the book down. Perfect as a gift. Perfect for the train journey home.

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***** Excellent read, March 10, 2011
By Cormac Mac "Crime King" (London)

Belfast Girls is a terrific read. Bought this after hearing it being recommended by Irish author, Sam Millar. Gerry McCullough is quickly becoming Belfast’s answer to Maeve Binchy, with great story telling and beautiful writing.

Ulster Tatler: logo
The Modern World (Ulster Tatler ’Book of the Month’) March 4, 2011
By Kellie Chambers

Co. Down author Gerry McCullough’s new novel Belfast Girls is a fascinating exploration of post-conflict Belfast. The novel focuses on three friends: Sheila Doherty, Philomena Maguire and Mary Branagh. Within the novel, McCullough charters the lives and loves of the girls as they progress from their schooldays to adulthood.

From a tender young age Sheila considers herself an ‘ugly duckling’, who can never live up to the beauty of her mother. However as she gets older she grows into her looks and soon takes the world by storm as a successful super-model dubbed the ‘ice maiden’. However Sheila’s cool exterior hides secret heartache. Philomena may seem lucky in love when she is reunited with her childhood sweetheart Davy. However Davy is entangled in the local crime scene and Phil eventually must decide whether to betray Davy in order to save herself. Mary is the wild card amongst the three girls. However after hitting rock bottom, Mary is left with the unenviable task of trying to rebuild her life from scratch.

Belfast Girls is an original novel, providing a refreshing examination of modern-day Belfast. Through the friendship of the three friends, who are from different religious backgrounds, McCullough shows how people are starting to unite and move on from the damage done during the Troubles. However, McCullough’s writing is far from naive and she shows how there are still undercurrents of tension throughout the province threatening to erupt at any time. This is skillfully illustrated by McCullough’s portrayal of the drug scene which has become rife in the city since the peace process. What makes McCullough’s writing so fascinating is her refusal to make characters and situations merely black and white - instead she exposes the grey areas, making the novel much more realistic.

Belfast Girls is a multilayered novel, which expertly travels from one genre to the next. With themes of romance, adventure, glamour, drugs and kidnapping, McCullough’s debut novel will not fail to excite. Her punchy, well paced text ensures the novel maintains the reader's attention from start to finish. McCullough, who has had a distinguished reputation as a successful short story writer for many years, perfectly showcases that she can carry the weight of a full length novel with ease; Belfast Girls is an impressive debut, which perfectly showcases her innate literary talent, whilst marking her out as a name to watch in future.

***** New view of Belfast, March 4, 2011
By Kristen Stone

Being an English person who has never visited Ireland, north or south, this was a wonderful introduction to the country I have only ever seen on the News. We follow three modern-day girls as they grow up and become women in their own right. The differences in religion being nothing to them and they do not judge their friends by which church they attend and just accept that they go to different schools. Early on there is a particularly chilling scene when the Catholic friend of the main Protestant character comes across the prejudices of the ‘opposite’ side, fuelled, almost inevitably, by drunken adults.

Thankfully, no real harm is done and the children in the story continue to grow into adulthood and remain friends.

Time separates them, as is often the case with childhood friends, and we follow their individual searches for love and the satisfaction we all crave. I won’t say any more in case I give the game away.

Well done, Gerry. I loved this book.

***** Oh, those lovely lasses, February 28, 2011
By Build another bookcase (somewhere near you)

A very enjoyable read, each chapter of Belfast Girls is almost standalone. Great hooks to keep us reading. The short chapter style keeps pace and flow. Highly recommended.

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***** Brilliant read, February 26, 2011
By Kelly Fitzpatrick (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

Belfast Girls was not quite what I was expecting from the title - it was well-written, fast-paced, full of drama and exciting. I found it hard to put down and really enjoyed getting to know the characters.

This book is well worth a read and I will be passing it onto a few friends too.

I look forward to the next book.

Musings of a Romantic Mind February 22, 2011
By Joanne Ellis (author, Australia)

Today I am reviewing Belfast Girls by Gerry McCullough another writer from the Night Publishing home.

Before I began I was looking forward to reading about a culture I know nothing about and I wasn’t disappointed. Gerry gave me a wonderful, fresh look into Ireland and its people and regardless of the different expressions and ‘language’ I found this a smooth and easy read. In fact it was nice to have a change of scene.

The story starts off with a bang the way I like it and then eases into the childhood of the three Belfast Girls, how they met and then how their lives unfolded. The story building with love, drug gangs and fashion until it reached the crescendo which was the action filled beginning.

Yet it didn’t end here. As the girls lives went in different paths, their stories still mingled together directly and indirectly in a clever and page turning way... the biggest part which had me wanting more was, will Sheila and John finally get together and what will happen to Phil? These questions that needed answers had my turning the page. I could give you the answers to these questions but that would be giving too much away. J

Belfast girls has action, angst, fashion and love and would appeal to anyone interested in a good romance with other exciting elements mixed in.

***** An Excellent Read!, February 18, 2011

The author’s writing is tight, to the point, not overly burdened with description, so the reader is able to move along at a good pace. The description of Sheila on the catwalk in the prologue was very nice. It gave a clear idea what she felt while having so many people watch her dance and pose around. Ending this with the kidnapping was expected (after reading the pitch) but well done. Having the first chapter opening to Sheila 16 years earlier as a homely and skinny ten year old set the stage for her to meet Phil, a Catholic girl (Sheila being Protestant), gives the reader an inkling of one of the themes that is bound to play a large part as the book progresses. Simply, it looks as though this is written with a clear sense of where this will develop: the drunken Protestant man picking up Phil and threatening to throw her into the fire was another good indication how large a part this novel will deal with the religious tensions in Northern Ireland a couple of decades ago.

Although I haven’t finished reading this yet, I just felt I had to state that this is exceptional writing and well worth the purchase. I hope to see many more books by this writer.

***** Thought-Provoking.. A True Example of Fiction Imitating Life, January 29, 2011
By Patricia Vandenburg (leeds new york)

Gerry is an amazing storyteller. Her character development is skillful and has such depth that we are immediately immersed in this trio of women. I love the fact that she opens the book with present day suspense, and then goes back to the beginning, making us turn the pages with anticipation of when the present and past will collide. The emotions we experience through their adolescence into the college years are so familiar that we can put ourselves right on that dance floor or around that bonfire. The underlying conflict between Protestant/Catholic differences across the country make their friendship that more powerful...Wonderful descriptives paint a vivid atmosphere which makes you truly experience life in Northern Ireland. I highly recommend this not only as a must read but as a great gift....Patricia aka Columbia Valentine Scot

***** intense characters for an intense place, January 29, 2011
By Charles M. Warady (Israel)

Gerry McCullough is a great writer. She takes Belfast and brings it to everyone on a level which makes it identifiable. The characters are so well defined and the pace doesn’t let up. You can’t write about Northern Ireland without bringing up religion and Ms. McCullough is not shy about broaching the subject. There is no confusing Sheila, Phil, and Mary. The men in their lives hold the interest of everyone who reads this. For me, it was the personalities that was the gripping part. I remained interested in what was going to happen to the people involved. It’s a character driven novel, and so well written. You certainly don’t have to be Irish to enjoy this one. Well done.

***** Get Ready For A Wild Ride!, January 9, 2011
A Kid’s Review

From the very first paragraph author Gerry McCullough "abducted" this reader. She forced me into a car and took me down the dark, icy, uncertain streets of Belfast. I had no choice in the matter. All I could do was clutch the armrest and go for the ride. I’d never had the opportunity to visit Northern Ireland’s capital city until this book transported me there. Not only is the imagery cinematic, but you can also touch, smell, feel, and hear Belfast during some of its most trying times. As for the characters and their dilemmas...well...just read the first few pages. It’s no surprise this book has done so well since its recent release. Thomas J. Winton
author - Beyond Nostalgia

***** Belfast Girls, January 1, 2011
By Strawberry

Close to the heart, I felt a strong empathy with every character in this well written and evocative book.

Seldom has a writer made me feel so in touch with everyone and their emotions. Memories came flooding back. The book has all the ingredients of suspense, drama and attention to detail expected from a natural storyteller.

Wonderful stuff, lookin forward to lots more from this writer.

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***** A great buy., December 10, 2010
By Demonica (UK)

I was priviledged to read a pre-publication draft of this book and I am so delighted to see it in print. This grips the attention from the first page with the authentic feel and voice of Northern Ireland. The characters are well-crafted and real and the author makes you want to know their stories. This is a wonderful debut novel. Highly recommended.

***** A great buy., December 9, 2010
By MBoyle.

This book is at the top of my Christmas wish list. My friends who have this book have all said its a great read. Looking forward to receiving my book of Belfast Girls by Gerry McCullough.

***** excellent and important!, December 9, 2010
By Teresa Geering

I have just finished reviewing Belfast Girls and I sincerely believe it has the potential to be shortlisted for the 2011 Booker Prize.

Belfast Girls is primarily about the lives of several friends, totally unaffected by different religious beliefs which is considered against all the rules.

As we move through the years, the writing expertise of Gerry McCullough, cleverly shows us how lives can be so deeply affected by religious and political issues of the Irish nation. Yet strength of friendship can still maintain and provide solidarity.

The story begins within the fashion world, and we learn that Sheila Doherty has survived the gangly carrot top teenage years and matured into a beautiful, green eyed, red haired super model walking the famous cat walk.

Nicknamed the Ice Maiden through indifferences in her personal life she contentedly lives up to the image.

Her friends pass through her life at various stages, including her original love interest John Branagh a reporter with BBC TV. Will they ever get together I kept asking myself?

We watch with bated breath, as drug gangs intent on holding their territory to the extent of murder are introduced into the story. Close friends from childhood, each following their own political viewpoint.

As we move on to the closing chapters, we observe Shelia Doherty now an international star walking the famous cat walk for Delmara Fashions. Suddenly hooded gunmen break in and in the mayhem Shelia is kidnapped due to mistaken identity ..............

BELFAST GIRLS for me has been an absolute pleasure to review. This is a story that held my interest from beginning to the unexpected ending.

Like many other readers of BELFAST GIRLS, I would certainly recommend it as a 5 star read.

A serious contender for the 2011 BOOKER PRIZE

***** excellent and important!, December 9, 2010
By Jessica L. Degarmo

Not only is this book an entertaining read, it’s also an important look at the life and times of young women in Ireland. This book has a depth to it that adds to its believability. The issues of religious struggle, coming of age, and high fashion are expertly woven into the plot so that we care about the characters. The author has done an amazing job with this work, and it deserves to go far. Hats off to Ms. McCullough!

***** wonderfully written, December 9, 2010
By Mel Comley (France)

I loved this book. The characters were believable and as a reader I felt connected with them straight away.

Also loved the fact the book takes place in Ireland it’s a place I’ve always enjoyed reading about but never had the fortune of vistiting.

An intelligent read that has been wonderfully written.

You won’t be sorry if you buy this stunning novel.

Impeding Justice

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***** Troubles of a different sort, December 1, 2010
By T. Hewtson LE ROUX

I suppose it is true of most places that are covered in the news daily for years; when the story is over, we rarely hear what happens next.

In the case of Northern Ireland, the violence of the IRA and the UDA has been taken up by drug gangs (a bit like the former KGB still controls Russia, but in another form).

I certainly hadn’t associated Belfast with the fashion industry. I hold my breath for when Belfast fashions arrive in Hull.

’Belfast Girls’ is an excellent street-level briefing on Northern Ireland in the Troubles and post-Troubles era, seen through the eyes of three girls who are schoolfriends. One gets directly into drugs and ODs, another gets into someone who is an opo for a drugs syndicate, and the third gets into fashion which is also a drug in its way.

The supermodel among them, Sheila has probably the most comprehensively irritating boyfriend in the history of fiction - an update to Jane Austen’s Darcy whose appeal I have never understood - a portrait which is not only accurate of a certain sort of man, but also emblematic of the political and religious prejudices that have blighted Northern Ireland. It is fascinating how Gerry McCullough can make a ‘righteous’ character appear generally more low-life than Phil’s drug dealer boyfriend who may indeed be the more principled of the two leading males, until the self-righteous John redeems himself.

In short, the streets of Belfast remain as dark as the front cover, but the writing is both educational and compelling.

***** This book is a MUST read., November 28, 2010
By Soooz Burke

Author Gerry McCullough has not merely written a book. She has lovingly crafted a work that insinuates itself into your soul.

The world of the ‘Belfast Girls’ is life in Northern Island as it is today, a contemporary world steeped in ancient traditions.

Gerry McCullough has given life to her characters, they live and breath, laugh, hope, cry and dare to dream.

You cannot help but become connected with them, such is the nature of the book and the skilled hand of a craftsman or in ths case craftswoman at work. She lures you into their world and you are there with them, feeling their pain and sharing their joys.

The pacing is fast, the characterizations are truly memorable. Be aware... this book is un-put-down-able, so allow the time to enjoy it in one sitting.

Bravo Gerry McCullough, you have crafted a book that will endure.

***** Real characters - believable and authentic November 26th, 2010
By preciousoil

A modern day Belfast chronicle of three girls growing up in the reality of contemporary Northern Ireland - with visits to Dublin and New York thrown in. You’ve got almost everything here: love and rejection, friendship and lust, the ‘safe’ world of fashion and glamour contrasting with the harsh world of crime and danger, fame and disgrace, despair and hope ...

Sheila’s life takes off. She’s got it all! But her ‘ice maiden’ success is hollow and empty. On the surface she’s living a dream, but she’s not enjoying the reality. Phil takes a more obvious route, but things get more and more complicated - leading to disaster. Mary quickly becomes a train wreck - but amazingly she manages to survive and turn her life around.

The men are a contrast, too. Davy is light-hearted and takes what he wants from life, has few scruples and no worries about consequences; while John is serious, ambitious, self-righteous and confused. It’s difficult to decide which is worse - the straight forward, self-centred, all-out bad guy, or the well meaning, but moody and tormented, ‘good’ guy? And the other men in Sheila’s life all have their own quirks and agendas.

This novel definitely holds your attention - even on a second reading! It is well written and you want to keep on reading and finding out more about these people. The characters are very real and natural and the story builds steadily towards the final outcome. You’ve managed to capture something that is believable and authentic.

Well done! Hope it goes from strength to strength!

(based on first 18,000 words) July, 2010
By HarperCollins reader

Set in contemporary Ireland, BELFAST GIRLS is the tale of three friends who become involved in a crime case when one of them, a model, is kidnapped. Joining in the hunt is the victim’s ex-boyfriend, a television reporter who did not leave their relationship on good terms. While the novel begins with the elements of a thriller, this is also a character-driven story about the three women, their relationships with men and each other, and how they became who they are today. The setting is unusual but intriguing to American audiences, who might not know much about the political situation in Ireland.

For the most part the writing flows smoothly, although the scenes are often short and take place over a number of years. The prologue is fast paced and full of action, bringing the reader right into the story. But the main strength of the writing is the care and detail that is taken with the female characters’ lives, Sheila in particular. The trajectory of her ascending life contrasts nicely with that of her friend Phil, who does not seem to have made the best choices. While Mary seems like a less-developed character at the moment, it sounds like she has the potential to become a good foil to the other two.

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