Friday, 30 January 2015

#IrishFictionFortnight Finale - Claudia Carroll Giveaway - Book Bundle.

#IRISHFICTIONFORTNIGHT
DAY 14 

One lucky reader is going to be the recipient  of an amazing book bundle from Avon books & Claudia Carroll.  One of Ireland's bestselling authors, and a bit of a National Sweetheart, it is my honour to finish #IrishFictionFortnight with Claudia's work.  Included in the giveaway are five paperback titles : 

Love Me Or Leave Me 

Me and You

A Very Accidental Love Story

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

Personally I Blame My Fairy Godmother

Claudia Carroll is published by Avon Books and all her titles are available in paperback an ebook format...

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Any lover of women's fiction will be a lucky winner of this competition, and I just wish I could enter myself!  Open INT, the giveaway can be entered by clicking the rafflecopter link below.  Good Luck Everyone. 

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Patricia Scanlan feature and Giveaway for #IrishFictionFortnight

#IRISHFICTIONFRIDAY
DAY 14



When I came to the decision to celebrate Irish Fiction, and the idea of #IrishFictionFortnight was becoming a reality, I went straight to twitter as a form of research.  I put out some feelers, and the response was amazingly positive.  It seems my gut feelings were correct.  Most book lovers in Ireland, UK, Europe, and beyond, had plenty of Irish fiction on their bookshelves and embedded in their memories.  When I asked what readers had cut their teeth on, as adults, there were two main names that kept popping up.  Patricia Scanlan and Marian Keyes.  Both writers were instrumental in the introduction to popular women's fiction in the 1990s and still remain bestsellers to this day. 
 However, the biggest recurring tweet, all through #IrishFictionFortnight, was about Patricia Scanlan's City Girl and the iconic character, Devlin.  She was young and someone that Irish women could identify with.  Her caterpillar-to-butterfly story was the beginning of a new era in fiction.  'Chick-Lit' may be a phrase that is subject to some battering in this new millennium, but for anyone over thirty, we adored it.  We had escaped from the recession of the 1980s, had grown up being forced to read Peig and Dickins in secondary school, had no access to internet, and Woman's Own was about as racy as things got.  City Girl was therefore like the equivalent of Sex and the City.  Racy, fun and about independent women.  It turned our heads and made us view Irish fiction with a new open mind.  There were sequels, City Woman and City Lives, and they became immediate bestsellers upon their release.  I remember buying Apartment 3B, Mirror, Mirror and Finishing Touches.....the books just kept coming, and I was filling my bookshelves. 
 The readership then hit an age where we were strapped for time..... day jobs, weddings, newborn babies and the sleepless nights.  Exhaustion took over and the our time to read books was taking a hit.  But, through it all, Patricia Scanlan kept writing, kept her reputation as a leading lady of Irish Fiction, and we all grew up.  Now she is influencing a new generation (One girl on Twitter says she was born after City Girl was published, but still adores it) and her words remain, within their bindings, on bookshelves all over the world.  She has a new novel out on 12th March 2015, called A Time For Friends, and when I posted a picture of my advance reading copy online, the response was uplifting.  All us book lovers are excited for any new title from a favourite author, but, a new Patricia Scanlan means more.....almost like a relation announcing an upcoming wedding.   It's something to look forward to.  Even if you were not alive when Devlin was created!

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Big Thanks to Patricia, and Simon & Schuster, for the two giveaway books for #IrishFictionFortnight.  Open INT, just enter via rafflecopter link below...



"Arimathea" by Frank McGuinness. Giveaway for #IrishFictionFortnight

#IRISHFICTIONFORTNIGHT
DAY 14

Thanks to Brandon/O'BrienPress for the giveaway copy of this title.  Open INT, just follow rafflecopter link, at the bottom of the page, to enter.  Good Luck!


THE BLURB


'The great spirit of Frank McGuinness radiates in this magnificent novel. Myriad voices converge on one glistening core; it is a high-wire act earthed in the deepest humanity.' Sebastian Barry
It is 1950. Donegal. A land apart. Derry city is only fourteen miles away but far beyond daily reach. Into this community comes Gianni, also called Giotto at his birth. A painter from Arrezzo in Italy, he has been commissioned to paint the Stations of the Cross. The young Italian comes with his dark skin, his unusual habits, but also his solitude and his own peculiar personal history. He is a major source of fascination for the entire community.
A book of close observation, sharp wit, linguistic dexterity – and of deep sympathy for ordinary, everyday humanity.

THE PRAISE

A work of passion and truth, in which imaginative daring is matched by deep psychological insight.
(Declan Kiberd)
Poetic and strange, elemental and truly original, Arimathea engages fearlessly with the mysteries of art and love.
(Deirdre Madden)
a novel infused with an understanding of everyday life – the language laced with wit and McGuinness’ panache as a playwright evident in the story as each character takes to the stage
(Belfast Telegraph)
invested with a weighty, parable-like intensity
(Times Literary Supplement)
a powerful, passionate novel … quirky, authentic, often humorous voices
(Books Ireland)
a Greek chorus of quirky, authentic, often humorous voices
(Books Ireland)
curious, unique and unsettling
(Sunday Independent)
this book demands and deserves to be approached on its own terms
(Sunday Independent)
deeply funny about the absurdities of human behaviour 
(Irish Examiner)
McGuinness’s montage of voices creates beautifully bleak first novel
(Sunday Business Post)
a wonderfully unsympathetic portrait of an Irish town and its quietly suffering inhabitants
(Sunday Business Post)
a beautifully thought-provoking piece of fiction
(Sunday Business Post)
distinctive and alive … arresting
(Irish Times)
a distinctively Irish book … echoes of Joyce
(Irish Times)
McGuinness the playwright has shown with Arimathea that he is also a novelist, and he has given us a substantial and intriguing book to contemplate and to remember
(Irish Times)
in his willingness to leave the rest unresolved … Frank McGuinness creates something both beautiful and new
(The Guardian)
an atmosphere of folklore pervades. Lyrical cadences reverberate in the phrasing and there is a profusion of symbolism … imbuing the novel's events with the uncanny aura of fable or myth
(The Literary Review)
the strangeness of McGuinness's novel, the offbeat atmosphere and the narrative motility, certainly make it an intriguing piece of work. It is perhaps worth enduring bafflement to read a novel that is so defiantly unusual
(The Literary Review)

Arimathea is published by Brandon/O'Brien Press and is available in paperback and ebook format
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"Levi's Gift" by Jennifer Burke. Review & Giveaway

#IRISHFICTIONFORTNIGHT
DAY 14

Thanks to the author, I have a copy of Levi's Gift for one lucky reader.  Open INT.  Just enter via the rafflecopter link at the bottom of the page...


MY REVIEW

A mother, a daughter and a lost grandchild.  Sometimes grief can bring people closer that they ever thought imaginable.   

Lena is watching her daughter, Mattie, spiral downwards into a pit of depression following the stillbirth of her son, Ben.  A difficult mother and daughter relationship at the best of times, she suggests a trip to Italy, hoping it may heal some wounds.  But who's wounds is she really trying to heal?

A story of love, loss and regret, under the shimmering sunlight of Italian skies,  The stories of young love, old love and in-between love.  The effects of forbidden encounters, lost lives and altered paths. 

A visit to see a friend ordained as a priest is where the past collides with the present.  Can Lena and Mattie ever have the bond that has eluded them all this time?  Will the peaceful surroundings of a seminary be a help or a hindrance? 



Jennifer Burke has written a novel full of spirit.  Religious spirit.  The descriptions of the Catholic seminary, just outside Rome, are eloquent and detailed.  The seminarians, nuns and priests are lovingly described and seem flawless.  There is a world of peace, comfort and serenity behind the walls of the seminario, and the author uses the sounds of a choir to blend these aspects together. 

The main characters of Lena and Mattie are each given their own parts within the novel,  but I'm not sure this was necessary.  Both characters are tough and not without flaws.   Lena is a woman who has carried an inner turmoil for almost twenty years.  Seemingly unaware, she has ignored her daughter for most of her life, and only when she sees her in the depths of despair does she seem to notice her existence.   Mattie is grieving.  Grieving hard.  But trying to grieve alone, as she has had to deal with most things alone for her whole life.  Luckily for both women, there is a family, nearby, who embraces their oddness.  Ruth is Lena's best friend and her family have been there for years.  Mattie and Ruth's son, Simon, were sweethearts before college and Simon's brothers feel like Mattie's brothers.  A devout Catholic family, the complete opposite to Lena and Mattie, they are responsible for the trip to Italy.

Jennifer writes with a real passion for the seminario and for the life contained inside its walls but I found myself getting a little bored.  The story took a while to kick in and when it did, there was so much religious intone that my mind wandered again.  Luckily, Ruth and her family kept the story alive.  I adored Simon and his brothers, thought Ruth was an absolute legend, considering what she had to put up with in Lena, and the nuns were fantastic.  Lena, however, was not a nice character.  Selfish and prone to fainting fits when the going got tough.  Mattie was also guilty of drama queen tactics and hurtful behaviour.  Like mother, like daughter.  Returning, from Italy, with more knowledge but more bitterness, the women eventually become more relaxed and likable as they forge on in their respective lives.  Luckily, Ruth hangs around too.

Jennifer Burke's writing is superb.   She uses beautiful prose and there is immaculate attention to detail.  The scenes where the seminarians have a secret wine and cheese night, below stairs, had me wishing I was there too, sipping organic wine while sampling local cheeses and breads.  The author is passionate about her subject,  this is obvious in her writing but the religious, and in turn musical scenes, were a little too much for my personal tastes.  I felt it was eating into possible character development and taking away from the narrative.  However, this book is perfect for someone who prefers their books from the literary genre and I will certainly look forward to reading more of Jennifer's lyrical prose.

Levi's Gift is published by Ward River Press/Poolbeg and is available in paperback and ebook format.

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Thursday, 29 January 2015

"Music From Home" & "Sarah Love" by Geraldine O'Neill. Giveaway for #IrishFictionFortnight

#IRISHFICTIONFORTNIGHT
DAY 13

Thanks to the author, I have two great titles to giveaway. Just enter via rafflecopter link at the bottom of the page...


THE BLURB

Maria Conti has a full and busy life in 60's Manchester. Having lost her mother at a young age, she has a close and loving relationship with her father, Leo who owns an Italian restaurant, Leonardo's. Finding first romance with Paul Spencer seems like the icing on the cake. 
Secretly, however, she worries over Leo's drinking and gambling binges. Then he buys a racehorse she know he cannot afford. Maria has no one to advise her as Leo's family are in Italy and her mother's family in Ireland rejected her when she married a foreigner. 
Having carefully guarded her father from female attention, Maria's attitude alters when the elegant Diana Freeman comes into their lives. She hopes that Diana's presence may distance Leo from his addictions. 
Then Leo is tragically killed. In the dark days that follow it emerges that he has left them deeply in debt and their home and her beloved Leonard's are in jeopardy. Maria has no choice but t o turn to her estranged Irish Family. 
Still reeling from her loss, she fins she has yet another challenge to face, In Ireland, as she uncovers a bitter legacy of secrets and lies, she comes to realise that their mother was not the person she's been led to believe she was.

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THE BLURB

As she puts the final stitches in her perfect wedding dress, Sarah Love receives dreadful news which wrecks all her future plans. Heartbroken and humiliated, she leaps at a chance to make a fresh start away from her native Tullamore. 
Within a week she has crossed the Irish Sea, and is lodging with other young women in a house off Newcastle city centre, just a short walk from Harrison’s – the rundown knitting and sewing shop where she will work for reserved and troubled spinster, Lucy Harrison. 
Sarah now finds herself amongst people of different classes, religion and race, and when her Irish nationality is attacked she must discover the skills to survive. 
Putting the past behind her, she channels her energies into rebuilding the old-fashioned, neglected Harrison’s into a thriving business and her wonderful sewing and design skills soon lead her down a new and exciting path in life. 
A path without love though, as she is too raw to consider romance again. Or so she thinks …


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Music From Home and Sarah Love are published by Poolbeg and are available in paperback and ebook format. 

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"Bogmail" by Patrick McGinley. Giveaway for #IrishFictionFortnight

#IRISHFICTIONFORTNIGHT
DAY 13

Thanks to New Island Books for sending me this title for giveaway.  Just enter via rafflecopter link below... Good Luck!


Modern Irish Classics

In 1991, the BBC made a three-episode TV series of Bogmail entitled Murder In Eden

THE BLURB

A truly funny and stunningly well-told tale of murder in a small Irish village in Donegal, Bogmail is a classic of modern Irish literature. Set in a remote village, the action begins with a murder when Roarty, a publican and former priest, kills his bartender then buries his body in a bog. It's not long before Roarty starts getting blackmail letters, and matters quickly spiral out of his control. Twisty, turny and enlivened with colour that echoes the landscape and surroundings, Bogmail was Patrick McGinley's first novel, yet it remains just as fresh today as the day it first appeared.

Published by New Island, Bogmail is available in paperback and ebook format.  Only 99p, on Kindle, at time of posting

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"Look Into The Eye" by Jennifer Barrett. Signed copy to giveaway.

#IRISHFICTIONFORTNIGHT
DAY 13

Thanks to author, I have a signed copy of her first novel Into The Eye to giveaway for #IrishFictionFortnight.  Just enter via rafflecopter link at the bottom of the page...



THE BLURB

What happens when the right people meet, at the wrong time?

Melanie McQuaid is firmly fixated on the future, whilst troubled journalist Richard Blake is stuck resolutely in the past. Sparks fly when they first meet, until Richard's past catches up with him and a dramatic turn of events changes the course of both their lives.

Disillusioned from a broken engagement, Melanie chooses to keep life simple by avoiding love altogether. Pushed to her limit, she eventually embarks on a life-changing trip to the Norwegian fjords. Richard is meanwhile furious at his assignment to report on the international anti-whaling campaign. Alone at sea, a family tragedy back home finally forces him to confront his demons.

On opposite sides of the world, they look into the eye of a whale - two magical moments which ultimately bring them back together; but can the time ever be right for Richard and Melanie?

Set in the twilight years of Celtic Tiger Ireland, Look into the Eye takes readers on a journey through the mystical fjords of Norway and the balmy Pacific Ocean, inviting them to share in the magic of a close encounter with whales in the wild.

The author will be donating half of her royalties from 'Look into the Eye' to organisations dedicated to the protection and conservation of whales and dolphins around the world, and to youth mental health charities in Ireland.
Look Into The Eye is published by Poolbeg and is available in paperback and ebook format. Jennifer Barrett is also the author of The Songbird's Way, which I featured here recently.

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Denise Deegan "And By The Way". Giveaway for #IrishFictionFortnight

#IRISHFICTIONFORTNIGHT 
DAY13



Thanks to the author, I have a copy of 'And By The Way' to giveaway.  Just enter via the rafflecopter link below...
THE BLURB

At Strandbrook College, we are Kids Of. Kids of diplomats, media stars, musicians, artists, actors, oh, and wealthy people who aspire to all of that. I'm the kid of a rock star. Means nothing to me.
When Mum died, six months ago, I didn't just lose her, I lost my dad - to work. The only thing he does now is annoy me. He hires people like 'The Stylist' who wears bullets in her belt and makes him look like a hobo. Seriously.
But 'The Rockstar' isn't the only person who drives me mad. There's David McFadden, a guy in my class who could have helped but didn't. Now, it's too late. I don't want his help. Because I'm not going to trust anyone, love anyone, rely on anyone. That way I'll never be hurt again.
If only I could solve the problem of Rachel, my best friend, who won't let me pull back just like that. Even David McFadden won't stay out of my face. But I'm not going to fall for his blue eyes, his windswept hair or the plaited leather on his wrist.
And when he says he wants to help, I'm sure as hell not going to listen....

And By The Way is published by Hachette Ireland and is available in paperback


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Denise Deegan is the best-selling author of seven contemporary novels, including her most recent series for young adults, The Butterfly Novels. 
Denise has been a nurse, a china restorer, a pharmaceutical sales rep, a public relations officer, an entrepreneur and a college lecturer. Her most difficult job was being a checkout girl, although ultimately this experience did inspire a short story...
At school, Denise did not shine at English. She did not study English at University. She has always loved story and communication. What drives her to write is her curiosity about people, in particular, why do what they do.
She currently lives in Co.Dublin with her husband and children.

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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

"Summer Triangle" by Carolann Copland. Giveaway for #IrishFictionFortnight

#IRISHFICTIONFORTNIGHT
DAY 12

Thanks to the author, I have a copy of Summer Triangle to giveaway to one lucky follower.  I am currently reading this novel, and am really enjoying the different locations and diverse characters.  It's a wonderful written book and I don't think you'll be disappointed.  To enter, just click on the rafflecopter link at the bottom of the post...


THE BLURB

Shona and Majid are living different, but ordinary, lives on opposite sides of the globe, when both their worlds are 
shattered.
Majid, who witnesses the death of his fiancé, a bomb victim at an Irish/Saudi festival, is so distraught he runs from his problems – right into the arms of Islamic fundamentalists. Together his new allies and he plot to show Ireland exactly what they think of its cooperation in the US war against terror, but will Majid really get the closure he so desperately craves?
Meanwhile Irish teen Shona falls pregnant following a drunken party and stumbles through early motherhood in a haze of alcohol. An overheard conversation about her past leaves her wallowing in the self-pity of betrayal and ripe for falling into the wrong hands.
When 08/08 threatens to become Dublin’s very own 9/11 will a chance meeting of the two teenagers hasten their road to self-destruction or help them to rise from the ashes of the past?
Particularly when there are dark forces at work…

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I was also lucky enough to get a preview of Carolann's latest novel's details and look forward to its release in March!

DOMINOES (no image available, just yet)

Rory Mc Gee has spent two years setting up the dominoes of his life’s path anew, but one push of the first domino and his recently ordered world topples out of his control. As he watches everything fall around him, his only consolation is that the last domino to drop will expose the politician, who Rory knows murdered his former girlfriend Maria Dooley, eighteen years ago... before the man had swapped the sword for the pen.
Rory’s quest for the truth brings on the collapse of his life and that of his family and friends, and manages to drag Maria’s daughter Shona Moran through the mire with him. It doesn’t matter what goes down as long as the murderer falls too.
Ex IRA activist and present day politician, Fergal O’ Gorman, is exposed on live television during elections, causing a media frenzy. Rory is able to set his demons to rest and overcomes the guilt he has felt about Maria’s death, in this story of buried love and exhumed hatred; where revenge is achieved... but at such a cost.

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Summer Triangle is published by Emu Ink and is available in paperback and ebook format (Kindle version is on £2.20, at time of posting).  Giveaway open INT. Good Luck!


"The Rising of Bella Casey" by Mary Morrissy. Giveaway for #IrishFictionFortnight

#IRISHFICTIONFORTNIGHT
DAY 12

Thanks to Brandon/O'Brien Press for the giveaway copy of this title. I think it is one of my favourite book covers of all time, simply stunning!  To be in with a chance of winning this book by award winning author, Mary Morrissy, just enter via rafflecopter link below...


THE BLURB

'a wonderful book from one of our finest writers' Colum McCann
Bella is a bright, clever girl who trains as a school teacher, determined to escape the limitations of her genteel impoverishment and become a “mistress of her own life”. However, the manager of her school, the Rev Archibald Leeper, a married clergyman, develops a morbid attachment to her, which is to colour the rest of her life. Leeper places Bella in an untenable position; her only escape is to seduce a young army corporal, Nicholas Beaver, to hide the fact that her reputation has been ruined by the clergyman. She marries Nicholas and they have five children.  However, when Nicholas dies at the age of 40 from syphilis, Bella realizes belatedly that she is not the only one who has been keeping sexual secrets.

Bella Casey was the sister of the playwright, Sean O’Casey. Tellingly, though, her brother chose to kill her off prematurely in his autobiography – at least 10 years before her actual demise.

From the Back Cover

From a piano abandoned on the strife-torn streets of Dublin at Easter 1916, Mary Morrissy spins the reader backwards through the life of enigmatic beauty Bella Casey, sister of the famed playwright Seán O’Casey.
The real and imagined are entwined in a haunting and deeply affecting novel of sexual secrets, obsession and desires.

About the Author

Mary Morrissy has published two novels, Mother of Pearl (shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize) and The Pretender (nominated for the IMPAC award), and a collection of short stories, A Lazy Eye. She is a winner of the prestigious US Lannan Prize and the Hennessy Award for short fiction.  Her short stories have been widely published and anthologised in the UK and the US, most recently in the Faber Book of Irish Short Stories 2011. Her story ‘The Scream’ won honourable mention in Best American Short Stories 2010, edited by Richard Russo.

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Published by Brandon, The Rising of Bella Casey is available in paperback and ebook format

"A Crack in Everything" by Ruth Frances Long. Giveaway and feature.

#IRISHFICTIONFORTNIGHT
DAY 13

Thanks to the author, I have a signed copy of A Crack in Everything to giveaway as part of #irishFictionFortnight.  Just enter via rafflecopter link at the bottom of the page. 



Dublin and Dubh Linn
By Ruth Frances Long

One day I was mooching around in Dublin (it was my birthday, I was allowed to mooch) and I found an angel. I didn’t just find an angel, as it turned out. I found a whole world. A new story.
Halfway down South William Street, painted on doors leading to an alleyway or loading area, was the black and white graffiti angel which inspired everything about A Crack in Everything and the world of Dubh Linn. She was beautiful, mysterious, with the sense of the Mona Lisa about her. Her eyes followed you as you walked by. No one seemed to know who had painted her there.
And now, of course, as is the nature of all fae and ephemeral things, she is gone. Painted over. For a while the doors led to a nightclub which was also fitting, as the angels leads Izzy to Silver’s Hollow, a fae nightclub deep within the parallel dimension which holds the city of Dubh Linn. But now, this appears to be gone as well. What will arrive there next? Anyone’s guess. I for one can’t wait to find out.
One of the things which attracted me to writing urban fantasy set in Dublin is the city itself, the way things seem to shift and move of their own volition. The city is like a living, breathing thing, hiding parts of itself, revealing other, older places when you least expect it. With a thousand years of history to draw on, with myths and legends forming part of its fabric, urban legends are rife and seem to fit here. The Irish are good at stories. We live and breathe them. You can’t just tell someone “I went from a to b”. There has to be a tale involved. We need the sights and sounds, the smells, the things that make a story spring to life. (Dublin excels at sights, sounds and smells!) It is such tales that Dubh Linn, and Dublin itself, are built upon.
Dublin demands to be a character in its own right in any tale that leads the reader along its grimy cobbles or wide avenues.

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A Crack in Everything is now available from O’Brien Press and in all good bookshops. Its sequel A Hollow in the Hills is due out in September 2015.


THE BLURB
A Crack in Everything: Welcome to The Other Side ...
Chasing a thief, Izzy Gregory takes a wrong turn down a Dublin alley and finds the ashes of a fallen angel splashed across the dirty bricks like graffiti. She stumbles into Dubh Linn, the shadowy world inhabited by the Sidhe, where angels and demons watch over the affairs of mortals, and Izzy becomes a pawn in their deadly game. Her only chance of survival lies in the hands of Jinx, the Sidhe warrior sent to capture her for his sadistic mistress, Holly. Izzy is something altogether new to him, turning his world upside down.
A thrilling, thought-provoking journey to the magic that lies just beside reality.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

"A Shadow In The Yard" by Liz McManus. 2 copies to giveaway for #IrishFictionFortnight

#IRISHFICTIONFORTNIGHT
DAY 12

A THOUGHT-PROVOKING LITERARY GEM FROM TD LIZ MCMANUS, SET IN NORTHERN IRELAND.

Thanks to Poolbeg/Ward River Press for the giveaway copies of this title.  Due for publication on 1st Feb 2015.  To enter, just click on the rafflecopter link below.  Good Luck!





THE BLURB

In 1969 a young woman lives on the edge of dramatic upheaval in Northern Ireland.  Married with two small children, Rosaleen is largely untouched by the major political events of the time but, beneath the surface of quiet domesticity, violence and betrayal threaten to subvert her sheltered world.

Thirty years on, her daughter is living in a radically different Ireland.  Aoife enjoys an independence unknown to her mother's generation.  While the past has the power to haunt her, she is determined not to be dominated by it.  Then, suddenly, she is faced by a choice that goes to the core of her being, and the past becomes a potent force, transcending time and place.


For fans of Jennifer Johnston, Elizabeth Bowen and Joseph O'Connor.

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"Dance Lessons" by Áine Greaney. Giveaway for #IrishFictionFortnight

#IRISHFICTIONFORTNIGHT
DAY 12


Thanks to the author, I have a paperback edition of Dance Lessons to giveaway.  Just enter via rafflecopter link at the bottom of the page.  Good Luck!


THE BLURB

A year after her husband’s death in a sailing accident off Martha’s Vineyard, Ellen Boisvert bumps into an old friend. In this chance encounter, she discovers that her immigrant husband of almost fifteen years was not an orphan after all. Instead, his aged mother Jo is alive and residing on the family’s isolated farm in the west of Ireland.

Faced with news of her mother-in-law incarnate, the thirty-nine-year-old American prep school teacher decides to travel to Ireland to investigate the truth about her husband Fintan and why he kept his family’s existence a secret for so many years. 

Between Jo’s hilltop farm and the lakeside village of Gowna, Ellen begins to uncover the mysteries of her Irish husband’s past and the cruelties and isolation of his rural childhood. Ellen also stumbles upon Fintan’s long-ago romance with a local village woman, with whom he had a daughter, Cat. Cat is now fourteen and living with her mother in London. As Ellen reconciles her troubled relationship with Fintan, she discovers a way to heal the wounds of the past. 

Deeply rooted in the Irish landscape and sensibility, Dance Lessons is a powerful story of loss, regret, and transformation.

About the Author

Born and raised in County Mayo, Áine Greaney is a writer and editor living on Boston’s North Shore. She is the author of the novel The Big House and the short story collection The Sheep Breeders Dance. In addition, she has written several award-winning short stories and numerous feature articles for the Irish Independent, the Irish Voice, Creative Nonfiction, and the Literary Review, among others. Her latest short stories, La Belle Femme, and Snow,  are available as e-shorts on Amazon, from Pixel Hall Press.
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"You, Me and Other People" by Fionnuala Kearney.5 copies to giveaway. Pub 26th Feb 2015.

#IRISHFICTIONFORTNGHT
DAY 12

Huge thanks to Jaime from Harper Collins for organising 5 copies of this novel, for #IrishFictionFortnight.  Just enter via rafflecopter link at the bottom of the page.  Good Luck!


THE BLURB

Fionnuala Kearney’s You, Me and Other People is perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Liane Moriarty. Told from the viewpoint of both parties, it’s wise, funny, perceptive, and often unbearably sad. Betrayed by the man who was not only her husband, but her partner in crime and best friend, Beth is struggling to cope and come to terms with Adam’s betrayal. But unable to forgive him again, she has to rediscover who she is, and how she can live her life without the man she thought was her soulmate. Adam thought he wouldn’t get caught. Stressed out at work, this dalliance was the physical release he needed. Beth, the wife he adores, was never meant to find out. As Beth begins to make a fresh start, Adam finds his life spiralling further and further out of control and when another ‘indiscretion’ of his comes to light, there are devastating consequences for everyone involved…


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Fionnuala was born and raised in Ireland, and now lives in Ascot with her husband and two daughters. She has worked as a model, songwriter and ‘home finder’ for celebrities and high net-worth individuals before turning her hand to writing.

You, Me and Other People is published by Harper and is available from 26th Feb 2015 in paperback and ebook format.
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Monday, 26 January 2015

"A Husband's Confession" by Zoe Miller. Review and Giveaway.

#IRISHFICTIONFORTNIGHT
DAY 11

I have a trade paperback copy of 'A Husband's Confession' to giveaway as part of #IrishFictionFortnight. Just enter via rafflecopter link, at the bottom of the page, to be in with a chance.  Good Luck!


MY REVIEW

Two brothers, two wives and two happy families based in Dublin.  Could it really be that simple? 
Max and Ali run a popular bakery and coffee shop in Dublin City Centre and are finally reaping the rewards for their years of hard work.  Two children and a comfortable home, that contains the memories of their life together, completes the picture.
Finn and Jo, together since they met and married in Australia, twenty years previous, also seem to have it all. A wonderful daughter, two successful careers and a house that would not be out of place in the pages of a glossy weekend newspaper supplement.
But, things are not as perfect as they seem.  Someone has discovered a secret, and if it comes out, things will never be the same again.......

This is Zoe Miller's sixth novel and she shows no sign of slowing down, thankfully.  I connected with the characters quite quickly as their past stories made them come alive.  Knowing how the couples met, and eventually ended up where they did, made for more personality in each of them.  I found the children very general though and would have liked to know more about Jessica and her life outside the family home.  

The book starts with a hit and run, late one night, and the reader is left to guess the connection.  A series of nasty pranks, in Max and Ali's bakery, also add to the puzzle.  Finn is gradually fading away from him wife and she wants to know why?  So many changes,over a short period of time, makes the reader want to turn the page and see what the connections are. 

Zoe Miller has a lovely, easy style of writing with some beautiful descriptions of everyday life.  What sometimes passes as mundane, can be brought to life by just taking in the details.  Swans on a river, stars in the sky and even the touch of a husband's hand as he passes you on the stairs.  There is less emphasis on the locations and cars/clothes/bags than her previous novel, and for this I was grateful.  The characters are what keep the story moving and finding out the secret that seems inevitable to come out.  When it does, it makes the reader think about whether it is better to keep some things to yourself and carry the burden or to lay it all out on the table, resulting in someone else getting hurt?  I would imagine there are pros and cons to either scenario and I can't say much more without this turning into a spoiler!

This is a perfect read for the summer.  I perhaps would have liked it a little shorter, but that could also be my impatience to know the ending!

The Husband's Secret is published by Hachette Books Ireland and is available in paperback and e-book format.
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