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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.

Sharon Dempsey Reveals New Book Called Who Took Eden Mulligan?

Who Took Eden MulliganNorthern Ireland author, Sharon Dempsey has revealed her new book for 2021 called ‘Who Took Eden Mulligan?’

What the back cover says –

‘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….

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.

Claire McGowan

Claire McGowanClaire McGowan is a Northern Ireland author who writes crime under new own name and female fiction as Eva Woods. Her latest thriller called ’The Push’ is out now.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
    I grew up in Rostrevor Co Down in Northern Ireland and now live in London. I write mostly crime fiction and also women’s fiction, as well as radio drama and scripts.
  2. Tell us about your new book called ‘The Push’.
    ‘The Push’ is about a group of couples, all very different, who are all expecting babies and go to the same antenatal group. When someone dies in a suspicious fall at one of their gatherings, their secrets and lies begin to unravel.
  3. You write both female fiction and crime. Which genre do you find easier to write?
    Definitely crime! I tend to over-plot my women’s fiction as I’m so used to having to write lots of twists and turns.
  4. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    I’d invite Marian Keyes who seems brilliant fun and reads a lot!
  5. You come from a rural village in Northern Ireland, has that been a setting in any of your books?
    It features in some of my Paula Maguire books, though I rarely write about actual real places. I usually give them a different name and change them slightly.
  6. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    ‘The Secret History’ -The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation
  7. Why do you think Northern Ireland is so popular and successful for crime authors?
    I think we have an incredibly rich history of crime and loss here, which we are only now beginning to be able to write about.
  8. The Push

  9. Who’s your favourite villain or hero?
    It’s hard to think of a better or more interesting character than Hannibal Lecter – he’s sometimes a villain and sometimes an ally, at least in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    Something very long – I still have to read the new Hilary Mantel, so probably that, then maybe the complete works of Shakespeare, and the artist’s way so I could work my way through it.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    I think there needs to be a balance between developing your skills, and almost more important,
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    Giant cup of tea – I drink lots of tea all through the day
  13. And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I’ve just finished my next thriller, ‘I Know You’, and also have a true-crime audiobook coming, which will be announced soon.

    You can find Claire McGowan on Twitter and her website for updates.

You can buy ‘The Push’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Rewrite The Stars By Emma Heatherington

Rewrite The Stars‘Rewrite The Stars’ is the latest book by Northern Ireland author, Emma Heatherington.

From the moment they meet one December day there’s something between Charlotte Taylor and her brother’s best friend, Tom Farley. But Tom’s already taken and Charlie has to let him go. It’s another five years before their paths cross again only a secret from the past forces Charlie to make a choice. She promises herself she’ll never look back. The years pass and Charlie moves on with her life but she can never forget Tom. He’s always there whispering ‘What if?’ Can Charlie leave the life she has built for one last chance with Tom? Or is the one that got away not really the one at all…?

I set and read this charming book in two sittings over the weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed this heartwarming book.

The story is seen through the narrative of Charlotte Taylor who one day meets Tom Farley and becomes besotted with the idea of him being the one. Years later, they meet again only for things again not to work out when Charlotte’s brother is involved in a terrible accident that she feels responsible for. Tom moves away to London and Charlotte stays in Dublin. Both Charlotte and Tom are musicians but Charlotte focuses on her teaching career whilst Tom is in a popular band that is rapidly getting bigger and forever reminding Charlotte of what might have been if they had given the relationship a proper chance.

The story is written over a period of time as both characters develop and move on on their lives, Charlotte meets Jack, falls in love and get married, the expected progression in life, but all the while wondering what if.

Charlotte is a lovely lead character, she’s kind, relatable and like everyone else in the world, wonders if the grass is greener on the other side. Warmly written with poignant moments that makes for tender reading and with laugh out one liners and fantastic supporting characters, ‘Rewrite The Stars’ is a warm and cosy story that is perfect to curl up with on these cold autumn evenings.

You can buy ‘Rewrite The Stars’ from Amazon and is available from good bookshops.