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The Promise By Emma Heatherington

The Promise‘The Promise’ is the latest book by Emma Heatherington.

One terrible moment changes everything for teenagers Kate and David. Brought together during the darkest of times, a spark of hope is ignited between them – a hand held in the darkness, a promise whispered. Neither of them will ever forget those moments. It’s another ten years before David and Kate meet once more, and their lives are now so different. The promise they made to each other on that fateful day still binds them, but now they have so much more to lose. With so much at stake, have they missed their once chance at happiness? They only way they will ever know is to risk everything to be together. Is that too high a price to pay for love?

The latest book by Emma is a sad and tender love story, about being in the wrong place at the wrong time but finding the right person to be with. Seen through the narrative of Kate Foley and David Campbell, they are bound together when they are both caught up in a bomb attack in their local town. Both experience a strong connection with each other and Kates vows to see David again when he’s taken away in ambulance. Many years later they are reunited and their feelings are strong but they are both in relationships and moved on and unable to fight the strong bond that they have developed.

I started this book last night and right from the start, I had an uncomfortable sensation reading it, as it brought back haunting memories of Northern Ireland from a day that people are still seeking justice for. Like, many others I remember the day that the Omagh bomb off, I was in the markets in Dundalk getting a necklace with my name on it. The hush as the radio reported the explosion and everyone pulled their loved ones closer and the television footage of the people climbing from the wreckages.

This book brought it all back and Emma paints vividly the fear and anguish and how it blew lives apart but also brought people together as everyone wanted peace. The divide between Protestants and Catholics as well as the attitudes that had manifested from generation to generation. I lived through it and still to do this day it baffles me.

For me this is a love story that is like no other, whether it’s because it’s set on my doorstep or because I could have been Kate, I felt a deep connection with Kate and as the book progresses, I wished for the kind and sweet woman to get her happy ever after.

The story is seen through the narrative of Kate and David, Kate is Catholic and is seen to be from the wrong side of the tracks, whilst David’s father is Reverend and looks down on people, particularly Catholic’s and this does make for realistic and upsetting reading in parts. The story is written over a period of time as the pair become closer and try to battle feelings, But as David is in a relationship, I had conflicting feelings over this, as I wanted him to be true and not lead Kate on, who had essentially paused her life for him.

‘The Promise’ is like a modern day, ‘Love Across The Barricades’ and Emma beautifully wrote the hardship that Northern Ireland has had to face for many decades and proved that no matter the religion, all lives were changed that day. A story of hope, courage and new beginnings, this book is tremendously written, haunting and relatable.

You can pre-order your copy of ‘The Promise’ from Amazon and is also available from Eason from 14th October 2021.

Who Took Eden Mulligan? By Sharon Dempsey

Who Took Eden Mulligan‘Who Took Eden Mulligan?’ is the latest book by Northern Ireland author, Sharon Dempsey.

‘They’re dead. They’re all dead. It’s my fault. I killed them.’ Those are the words of Iona Gardener, who stands bloodied and staring as she confesses to the murder of four people in a run-down cottage outside of Belfast. Outside the cottage, five old dolls are hanging from a tree. Inside the cottage, the words “WHO TOOK EDEN MULLIGAN?” are graffitied on the wall, connecting the murder scene with the famous cold case of Eden Mulligan, a mother-of-five who went missing during The Troubles. But this case is different. Right from the start. Because no one in the community is willing to tell the truth, and the only thing DI Danny Stowe and forensic psychologist Rose Lainey can be certain of is that Iona Gardener’s confession is false.

This is the first book that I’ve read by Sharon Dempsey and it will definitely not be the last.

The story is primarily seen through the perspective of old university friends Rose and Danny. Rose has returned to Belfast for her mother’s funeral, her first time back in years having not gotten on with her mother or her beliefs and Danny has just been given a massive new case. A young woman has claimed responsibility for the murder of 3 friends and attempted murder of another and the murder scene is referencing an old disappeared case when a young mum called Eden Mulligan disappeared one night. Detective Danny has asked psychologist Rose to help make sense of the case and solve it.

As a child growing up during ‘The Troubles’, I was well accustomed to the shootings, bombings and most famously the disappeared. The people who disappeared without a trace leaving their family in bewilderment hoping that the smallest bit of information will finally give them peace.

For me, Sharon Dempsey has written a relatable crime novel that I easily sank into. As a native of Northern Ireland, I loved the familiarity of the locations and the dialogue between the characters. She paints a picture perfectly of how bleak the city of Belfast once was during the Troubles and now thrives with new bars, shops and a new culture and no longer filled with bitterness, bullets and police Saracens vans filling the streets.

I loved in this book, there are 3 stories, the recent murder case, the Eden Mulligan as well as the relationship between Rose and Danny and how seamlessly they flowed from each story. Both Danny and Rose, have reached pinnacle points in their lives, Rose returning to Belfast to address old ghosts and Danny at the start of a divorce process. Being back with each other helps remind them of their youth, before complicated lives and are able to work together with ideas and theories.

The story flows at a good pace and is a really well researched book giving the reader an overview of the Troubles as well as an in-depth police procedural book. It does make for heavy reading in parts though, as the Mulligan family struggle to get justice for their mother, so many years after her disappearance and to know that these type of events happened on my doorstep does strike a chord.

A well crafted and documented story about broken families, grieving children and how the past is still prevalent now. ‘Who Took Eden Mulligan?’ is a fascinating insight into Northern Ireland and how it’s past can never be forgotten.

If this sounds like your type of book, it will be available from the Kindle Store from 18th February 2021 and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 19th August 2021.

Cover Real – The Promise By Emma Heatherington

The PromiseI’m delighted to be one of the few lucky bloggers revealing the beautiful cover to Emma Heatherington’s new book called ‘The Promise’.

What the back cover says –

One terrible moment changes everything for teenagers Kate and David. Brought together during the darkest of times, a spark of hope is ignited between them – a hand held in the darkness, a promise whispered. Neither of them will ever forget those moments.

It’s another ten years before David and Kate meet once more, and their lives are now so different. The promise they made to each other on that fateful day still binds them, but now they have so much more to lose.

With so much at stake, have they missed their once chance at happiness? They only way they will ever know is to risk everything to be together. Is that too high a price to pay for love…?

With a simply stunning cover, this book is perfect for fans of Karen Swann and Lulu Taylor.

You can pre-order your copy of ‘The Promise’ from Amazon and is also available from Eason from 14th October 2021.

Secrets In The Snow By Emma Heatherington

Secrets In The Snow‘Secrets In The Snow’ is the latest book by Northern Ireland author, Emma Heatherington.

As the winter snow falls on the small Irish village of Ballybray, Roisin O’Connor and her young son, Ben, are saying goodbye to their beloved neighbour Mabel Murphy. Mabel lived a bold and colourful life, but the arrival of her brooding nephew, ‘blow-in’ Aidan Murphy, just makes life more complicated for Roisin. However, in one final act of love, a message arrives from Mabel that changes everything. And as winter turns to spring and the cold snow melts, the secrets both Roisin and Aidan are hiding must be revealed at last…

The story is seen through the narrative of Roisin, who’s recovering from the death of her elderly neighbour and best friend called Mabel, who took Roisin and her little boy called Ben under her wing who moved to Ballybray to start their new lives. Mabel’s favourite nephew has returned to Ballybray for the funeral. He’s a successful business man in New York, who’s struggling with life. Mabel can see that both Roisin and Aidan are struggling with their lives and sets them on a series of tasks to help them get back on their feet as well as unite them in their grief.

Sweetly written this book is a tender story of new beginnings and friendships. Roisin is a lovely leading lady, she’s kind but insecure having come from a troubled marriage which resulted in the death of her husband. Although shes’s recovering from years of abuse, anytime that she feels free and happy in herself, memories of her abusive husband come back to haunt her. She’s a creative spirit, who found not only a friend in Mabel but also a maternal figure as she never had a proper mother/daughter relationship.

Like Roisin, Aidan is struggling with the death of Mabel and finds solace in Ballybray away from the hustle of New York and his unhappy life.

As Mabel send them on series of adventures informing them of her old life and sharing her stories, the pair of them become close friends and see a connection in each other. Both of them are a fork in their lives and Mabel’s videos are the only constants in their lives.

Emma’s writing is sweet and warm-hearted conjuring up vivid imagery of the small Irish village and the descriptive fashion sold in the vintage shop were Roisin works. Both Aidan and Roisin are lovely characters and it’s sweet reading their interactions as they tentatively embark on their new friendship creating new memories. Mabel is also a great addition to the story with her vibrancy and lust for life. Whilst Ben adds an element of innocence to the story with his sweet nature.

‘Secrets in the Snow’ is a warm-hearted story that is perfect to curl up with during these cold winter nights.

You can buy ‘Secrets In the Snow’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Big Girl Small Town By Michelle Gallen

Big Girl Small Town‘Big Girl Small Town’ is Michelle Gallen’s debut novel and was shortlisted for The Costa First Novel Award.

Other people find Majella odd. She keeps herself to herself, she doesn’t like gossip and she isn’t interested in knowing her neighbours’ business. But suddenly everyone in the small town in Northern Ireland where she grew up wants to know all about hers. Since her da disappeared during the Troubles, Majella has tried to live a quiet life with her alcoholic mother. She works in the local chip shop (Monday-Saturday, Sunday off), wears the same clothes every day (overalls, too small), has the same dinner each night (fish and chips, nuked in the microwave) and binge watches Dallas (the best show ever aired on TV) from the safety of her single bed. She has no friends and no boyfriend and Majella thinks things are better that way. But Majella’s safe and predictable existence is shattered when her grandmother dies and as much as she wants things to go back to normal, Majella comes to realise that maybe there is more to life. And it might just be that from tragedy comes Majella’s one chance at escape.

I was immediately drawn to this book after it was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel of the Year written by a Northern Ireland author and nothing could prepare me for the pleasure and joy this story provided during lockdown.

The story is seen through the narrative of Majella, a woman who lives with her mother and works in the local chippy with her friend called Marty. Majella likes the simple pleasures in life, ‘Dallas’, cleanliness and good hygiene. The story starts with the police investigation into her grandmother’s murder and its latest developments which is the talk of the small rural town.

Everyone wants to know everyone’s business, but Majella prefers to keep herself to herself. Her mother hasn’t recovered, after her father suddenly disappeared and spends most of her time feeling sorry for herself and drinking.

The story is mostly based in the chip shop called A Salt an Battered! that Majella works in and this setting provides hours of entertainment with residents from the local, gossipy town coming in for their curry chips whilst putting the world to rights under Majella’s watchful eye.

As a a native of Northern Ireland, I am slightly bias that we produce some of the best comedy writers with our unique dialect and sayings. And for me ‘Big Girl, Small Town’ wholeheartedly embraced it with one liners that made me roar with laughter and snort at the sheer timing of lines as well as names of the characters and the history of their titles.

Majella herself, is the star of the show. She’s not backwards in coming forwards and has a sensitive soul that takes no crap. I envied her for her enjoyment for the simpler things in life and also felt such an empathy with her with her troubled relationship with her mother.

The book has been described as ‘Milkman’ meets ‘Derry Girls’ and I’m saddened to say that I couldn’t get into ‘Milkman’, for me it was a difficult book. But this book was a joy to read from start to finish and one that I wholeheartedly enjoyed, with relatable characters and scenarios and anecdotes.

With an insightful protagonist and a sharp tongue that observes the drama and rumour mill of a small Irish community wonderfully. ‘Big Girl, Small Town’ embraces Irish wit and drama tremendously and showcases the wondrous and occasionally complicated sayings that keep people on their toes in this fantastic debut novel.

You can buy ‘Big Girl Small Town’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.