Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Secrets We Share by Emma Hannigan

Clara Conway is a woman with secrets.
But consequently Clara's family is in the process of falling apart. Her son Max emigrated to the US years ago and she has yet to meet her teenage granddaughter, Nathalie ... because Max and his mother no longer speak. 
Meanwhile Clara's daughter Ava is fighting for a piece of happiness. When Clara unexpectedly reaches out to Nathalie and her niece comes to visit, Ava's thoughts turn to Max, the brother she loved and lost. The brother whose abrupt disappearance left the Conway family heartbroken.
When Nathalie finds a pile of torn, faded letters, she unlocks the door to Clara's past. Can Nathalie's time with her grandmother start to right some very old wrongs? And can Clara find a way to reach out to Max and thereby begin to heal the whole family once more? 
After all, some secrets are meant to be shared ...

When Clara's husband passes away she decides to hire a private investigator to find her son who left home twenty years ago after a family argument. She finds out that he is now living in America and has a seventeen year old daughter. From her home in Ireland Clara writes to her granddaughter Nathalie introducing herself and inviting her to visit.
Tragic circumstances find Nathalie's mother reading the letter first and arranging for her daughter to go and stay with her newly found grandmother or Oma as she's called. 
This part of the story is set in present day but through letters we find out along with Nathalie the reason why Clara's parents brought her from Austria to live in Ireland.
Clara's daughter Ava has never recovered from what she thought as her brother's betrayal and is not looking forward to meeting her niece. Many secrets will be revealed and old wounds re- opened before healing can begin.

I cried my eyes out reading this book. I loved Clara she's the grandmother everyone should have and yet she's been deprived of her granddaughter's childhood. She is so accepting and forgiving and when you read about her background it will break your heart too.
The book flowed seamlessly from present day to war time in Austria and Germany and I found it so hard to put it down. The ending was....I'm not going to reveal it but I cried many tears. 
This is the first book I've read by Emma Hannigan but it won't be my last.

Amazon for kindle

Monday, 13 April 2015

All The Dark Secrets by Jennie Felton.

 When terrible tragedy strikes at the local colliery, the residents of Fairley Terrace's ten houses suffer more than one loss and, for Maggie Donovan at number six, the world turns upside down. Turning for comfort to the one man she can trust, she finds a sudden and undeniable passion instead. But any future with Josh Withers seems a betrayal of her past, and Maggie realises the only way to survive is to conceal a very dark secret of her own...

One of my favourite authors today is Amelia Carr and I'm pleased to say this is her debut novel writing as Jennie Felton.  She also has books written under the name of Janet Tanner.
I would say if you like the style of Catherine Cookston,Josephine Cox or Katie Flynn then you'll enjoy this book too.
It is a family saga which means more books to come in the series, the next being The Miner's Daughter.

Set in 1895 in a small mining village where everybody is expected to follow in their father's footsteps and work down the mine at a very early age. We learn a little about each family who live in Fairley Terrace. This book is mainly the story of Maggie and the Donovan family. 
Maggie works in a drapery shop and it's expected that she would one day marry and settle down with her boyfriend Jack   but she also wonders if she loves him enough to make that commitment. Jack along with Maggie's dad and her younger brother Billy work in the local mine.
Life is hard for everyone and when disaster strikes it touches them all. 

I liked Maggie from the start of this book. She makes mistakes but manages to make the best of things. My heart went out to her mother who tries to do her best against the odds. No one could like Maggie's father and his treatment of his wife and son. 
I always hate it when a baddie is introduced to a story but we do need them. We meet  Reuben who works in the gent's drapers next door to where Maggie works he fits the baddie mould perfectly and is just the most vile person. I wanted him to go away or fall down a well. I could feel the hairs in my arms standing up every time he appeared. 
This was an easy book to read and I didn't guess the twist until just before it was revealed. It's a long time since I read a book in this genre but I enjoyed it and  will be reading the next book to find out how all the families have moved on. 

Amazon for kindle and paperback 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Ahoy For Joy by Keith Reilly

For Belfast teenager, Michael Colgan, words haven’t always come easily. However this changes after he meets Anna, a Dutch schoolgirl, on holiday. During their romantic, care-free, pen-pal exchanges, full of tales of the present and hopes for the future, Michael gives no clue of his true life, at a time when the ‘troubles’ dominated Northern Ireland.

Anna is enchanted by Michael and his words, which include poems painting beautiful visions of idealistic Irish life as well as stories describing the warmth and humour of the people surrounding him.

What Michael doesn’t write about is the trauma he experiences, which leaves him all but invisible to his peers, silently suffering as the conflict rages around him. Little does he know the profound effect that his words will have on others…

One of the advantages in reviewing books on my blog is that occasionally a book is offered to you that you may never have come across by yourself.
I love highlighting new authors and Ahoy For Joy is a debut novel from Belfast born writer Keith Reilly. I must admit I wouldn't have been attracted to the title of the book and it's not until you reach the ending do you realise where the title comes from and it all makes sense. 

I felt connected to this book in a number of ways. When I received an email from the author asking if I'd like to review his book which is set in Belfast I was actually packing to fly there to visit family. Fortunately the book arrived the day before we left so I was able to start reading it on the plane.
The cover picture which was painted by the author depicts the shipyards where my uncle worked, he actually left Glasgow to work there. 
The opening chapters of the book shows us Michael as a young boy from Belfast camping in Morecambe with the Boy's Brigade. Another uncle of mine was a BB Captain and his wife (like in the story) went with her husband on camping trips to cook for the boys.
There were more coincidences throughout the book but I'll keep them to myself.

I found myself really liking Michael. He was a young boy during the troubled times in Belfast and had been affected so badly that he couldn't relate to any of his peers,until he met a Dutch girl called Anna. They met while he was camping with the Boy's Brigade in Morecambe and fate would have it that her and her friends were leaving the very next day. Michael manages to get a note to her with his address and a correspondence between the two young people begins.
Halfway through the book something happens which I was not prepared for and I had no idea how the author was going to handle the rest of the book. He handled it brilliantly and the book had a good ending.
That's as much as I'm prepared to tell you I want the rest of it to surprise you as much as it did me.
 I must admit I cried  a few times towards the middle and definitely at the end of the story and today as I write about it I can feel the tears pricking my eyes.
This book is not my usual read but I'm so glad I read it.

Ahoy For Joy is a love story. It tells how two young people who through one quick meeting can have a profound effect on each others lives.
I love the author's style of writing it is almost poetic. The descriptions of Belfast added to the atmosphere of the book. There is a paragraph near the beginning that really touched me and I'd like to share it.
" The little words of encouragement that people receive from time to time. The little comments that make us feel okay about ourselves and our decisions sometimes come from unexpected sources. Life can be like that, just when we doubt ourselves the most,when our fears have invaded our consciousness,when our limitations seem to have been breached and our thoughts are at their lowest ebb,a little light shines."

Reading on the plane to Belfast where the book is set.

How very true.
I loved it and highly recommend it.
Download for Kindle

Paperback from The Book Depository frre postage worldwide

Scroll down to read about the author.


Born in Belfast in 1962, KEITH REILLY left to travel the world at 18, exploring Europe, India and South East Asia and meeting his Dutch wife, Maryke, en route. Today they live in Dorset and have two grown up children.
Keith focused on his career and became managing director of an international electronics firm. However, his creative side could not be ignored. Over the years he has published a number of artworks of Belfast and other cities, but more recently has turned to words for creative expression, from which emerged his debut novel, Ahoy for Joy.
The cover illustration for Ahoy for Joy is from an oil painting entitled Belfast Shipyard from Pearls house by Keith Reilly.