Finding Billie Romano by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

Finding Billie Romano by Jean GraingerFinding Billie Romano (The Tour series Book 5) by Jean Grainger

Genre: Literature and Fiction, Irish Fiction, Family Saga Fiction, Jewish Literature & Fiction

  • ISBN-10: 1082061530
  • ISBN-13: 978-1082061530
  • ASIN: B07VKDMWB7

Print Length: 292 pages

Publication Date: July 21, 2019

Source: Direct Author Request

Title Link: Finding Billie Romano

Book Blurb:

USA Today bestselling author wants to take you to Ireland for a story that will leave you wanting more long after you turn the last page…

Twenty-five year old Billie Romano is struggling. She is grieving the death of her beloved dad and nothing in her life is going right. Her mother has remarried with indecent haste, so when her grandfather presents everyone in the family with a DNA testing kit for fun, Billie couldn’t be less interested in playing happy families.

The test results are shocking, and Billie finds herself caught in a turmoil of emotions as she is faced with a reality she could never have imagined.

Her journey of discovery takes her to Ireland, and to the stunningly beautiful Castle Dysert on the Wild Atlantic Coast, when Conor O’Shea once more steps into the role of fixer of problems and soother of troubled souls. Can Billie make a whole new start or are some cans of worms best left closed? 

My Review:

Finding Billie Romano by Jean GraingerA beautiful entry to The Tour series, each with new support characters but bringing protagonist Conor O’Shea full circle as he had left his tour bus to head the refurbishing of the impressive Castle Dysert. While he is a smaller partner in the facility, it became clear rather quickly that the day-to-day operation of the magnificent hotel would be handled almost solely by Conor. The castle has become an end destination with a whole new experience including fine dining, stables, grounds, and banquet facilities as well as unique and gorgeously appointed suites.

It is no problem then when a very well-to-do American wishes to book rooms for his extended family. There has been a minor behind the scenes shuffle on the receptionist desk owing to unusual circumstances and Conor has plunked Ana, his wife, into the position. Ana had a health issue, which appears to be in remission, and together they have nine-year-old boys. Ana is Ukrainian and immediately identifies with the caller, assuring him his family will be well cared for and that they will even help Billie in her search.

It is Ana who makes the arrangement for the party that would introduce us to Billie Romano and her fascinating link to Ireland. Billie has suffered the loss of her father and is mildly estranged from her mother who recently remarried. There is a tragedy that polarized the family and relationships are strained, but she is bound to follow the lead to Ireland and will do so under conditions not wholly agreeable.

As always with Ms. Grainger’s books, the reader is treated to interesting tidbits regarding Ireland, its people, landscape, and legends. There are always lessons to be learned that seem to satisfy the question in the reader’s mind at the appropriate time.

“All Irish place names make sense if you translate them back to the original language. For example, the prefixes – bally means aile, which is town, kil means church, as in Kilkenny, cloch is a stone, as in Cloughjordan, dun or don is a fort, like Donegal.”

The characters are all richly developed and the descriptions of the countryside so beautiful you’ll be ready to book your airline reservation. You’ll follow the family drama with Billie as she discovers with a shock the family tie that brought her to the Emerald Isle, as well as the drama in the O’Shea home and the possible big marketing-promotion break the castle will receive if a certain rally is booked. There is always so much going on at the Castle Dysert. The conclusion was a perfect resolution on several levels. My only problem is a wealth issue.

I was given an eARC of this novel by the author in the hope of a read and review and was thrilled to receive another. This DNA thing may very well open some chapters people wanted to stay closed or lead to a delightful revelation and this story explores that eventuality. The characters are empathetic and easy to love. Highly recommended.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Jean Grainger - authorThe Author: JEAN GRAINGER, USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR, SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS, WINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

Hello and thanks for taking time out to check out my page. If you’re wondering what you’re getting with my books then think of the late great Maeve Binchy but sometimes with a historical twist. I was born in Cork, Ireland in 1971 and I come from a large family of storytellers, so much so that we had to have ‘The Talking Spoon’, only the person holding the spoon could talk!

I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 150-year-old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dog, a chi-chon called Scrappy-Do.

My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour’. My observances of the often funny, sometimes sad but always interesting events on tours fascinated me. People really did confide the most extraordinary things, the safety of strangers I suppose. It’s a fictional story set on a tour bus but many of the characters are based on people I met over the years.

(…truncated in the interest of space. Please click the author link to see the full range of her published work.)

Many of the people who have reviewed my books have said that you get to know the characters and really become attached to them. That’s wonderful for me to hear because that’s how I feel about them too. I grew up on Maeve Binchy and Deirdre Purcell and I aspired to being like them. If you buy one of my books I’m very grateful and I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, or even if you don’t, please take the time to post a review. Writing is a source of constant contentment to me and I am so fortunate to have the time and the inclination to do it, but to read a review written by a reader really does make my day.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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The Star and the Shamrock by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

The Star and the Shamrock by Jean GraingerTitle: The Star and the Shamrock

Genre: Historical Irish Fiction

  • ASIN: B07SFGLDJH

Print Length: 288 pages

Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Source: Direct Author Request

Title Link: The Star and the Shamrock

Book Blurb:

Ariella Bannon has no choice: she must put her precious children, Liesl and Erich, on that train or allow them to become prey for the Nazis. 

 

Berlin 1939. 

When her husband doesn’t come home one day, Ariella realises that the only way she can ensure her children’s safety is to avail of the Kindertransport, but can she bear to let them go?

A thousand miles away, Elizabeth Klein has closed herself off from the world. Losing her husband on the last day of the Great War, and her child months later, she cannot, will not, love again. It hurts too much.

But she is all Liesl and Erich Bannon have.

Thrown together in the wild countryside of Northern Ireland, Elizabeth and the Bannon children discover that life in the country is anything but tranquil. Danger and intrigue lurk everywhere, and some people are not what they seem.

My Review:

The Star and the Shamrock by Jean GraingerIt is a testament to just how well the author spins a story as each has such charm, is independent, and brings to the forefront information you may never have been aware of that spans humanity with a direct impact.

In The Star and the Shamrock, we are privy to the story of Elizabeth Klein, living in London, who defied her Catholic mother to marry a Jewish man who was shortly killed in the Great War. With her grief, she also lost their child shortly thereafter. It is to the credit of a sympathetic nun that it was recommended she get her teaching credential. She never returned to the beautiful Irish countryside of Northern Ireland or to her mother or the home she grew up in.

Living in London with everyone facing yet another war, she receives a plea from a distant cousin’s wife in Europe, begging her to receive their two children. Ariella Bannon’s husband disappeared after coming to the aid of a Jewish woman and she realized will likely never come home. She is desperate to get her children to safety and successfully navigated the channels to get her children on the Kindertransport–but hopes a relative can receive them.

It is not long after they are safely delivered to her home in London that the city is being bombed, including her home and the school where she taught. Her mother had passed away the previous year, leaving her childhood home her own recourse and it is in Ballycregggan, County Down, where she opens her spacious and comfortable childhood home to Liesl and Erich Bannon. Elizabeth shortly realizes there is a “farm” where many other Jewish Kindertransport children have been sent and they have need of a teacher. It is there she meets many support characters, all of whom are well-fleshed and most sympathetic. She also meets Daniel Lieber, a mechanical engineer, also a Jewish refugee, taking on odd mechanical jobs at the school to help keep it running.

The well-plotted storyline takes on a number of issues, particularly describing a war-time existence, suspicion, love and support or distrust. Elizabeth is thrilled to be a “mother” and does an admirable job at the Farm, gradually learning that children are underestimated in their understanding of a situation. It’s a dark time in our history, but love trumps race or language barriers and there are times when people rally together for the good of all.

As always, Ms. Grainger plucks at your heartstrings with lovingly developed opposing characters, believable dialogue, and tension that pulls you toward what could be a tragic conclusion or the happy ever after. Still, this is war–and you never know.

I was allowed an advance reader copy by the author for a read and review and was absolutely delighted to be counted among those so privileged. How do people survive in these circumstances? The human spirit is amazing! Recommended for any who enjoy good literary fiction, historical fiction, and those behind the front line war scenes that should also be acknowledged for their heroics.

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Jean Grainger - authorThe Author: JEAN GRAINGER

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS.

(Grainger's) Author's Circle - Novel of ExcellenceWINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

Hello and thanks for taking time out to check out my page. If you’re wondering what you’re getting with my books then think of the late great Maeve Binchy but sometimes with a historical twist. I was born in Cork, Ireland in 1971 and I come from a large family of storytellers, so much so that we had to have ‘The Talking Spoon’, only the person holding the spoon could talk!

I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 150 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dog, a chi-chon called Scrappy-Do.

My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour’….The sequel to The Tour, called Safe at the Edge of the World, follows Conor O’Shea once again as he takes another motley crew on a tour of Ireland…The third Tour book in that series is called The Story of Grenville King and in it Conor gets an opportunity to renovate and run an old castle as a five star resort, but something isn’t quite right, and the castle has many secrets…The fourth Conor O’Shea book is called The Homecoming of Bubbles O’Leary and features a group of friends taking their friend Bubbles home to Ireland from New York, on last time.

My first World War 2 novel, ‘So Much Owed’ is a family saga based in Ireland following the Buckley family of Dunderrig House…The history of the period was my academic specialty so I’m delighted to be able to use it in a work of fiction. I released a second WW2 book, called ‘What Once Was True’ earlier this year and so far people seem to really like it.

Shadow of a Century, is set in New York in 2015 as well as in Dublin during the events of Easter Week 1916…The story features three very strong women, united through a battered old flag. Its essentially a love story, but with a bit of intrigue thrown in for good measure.

Under Heaven’s Shining Stars, was published in 2016 and is set in my home city of Cork.

My next book, What Once Was True, tells the story of a big old house in Co Waterford during WW2. Two families live there, the impoverished Keneficks who own it and the hard-working Murphys who work for them. Life has remained unchanged for centuries but when war comes, it means everything changes and people have to question what once was true. This book was selected by Bookbub readers as in the top 19 Historical Fiction books of 2018. The sequel to this, Return to Robinswood, continues the story.

Many of the people who have reviewed my books have said that you get to know the characters and really become attached to them, that’s wonderful for me to hear because that’s how I feel about them too. I grew up on Maeve Binchy and Deirdre Purcell and I aspired to being like them. If you buy one of my books I’m very grateful and I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, or even if you don’t, please take the time to post a review. Writing is a source of constant contentment to me and I am so fortunate to have the time and the inclination to do it, but to read a review written by a reader really does make my day. {Note: Bio truncated in the interest of space. See her full bio here.]

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Return to Robinswood by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is historical fiction by popularly acclaimed author Jean Grainger. Jean is a USA Today Bestselling Author and was selected by BookBub readers in the top 19 of historical fiction books AND is the winner of the 2016 Author’s Circle Historical Novel of Excellence.

March!

Return to Robinswood by Jean GraingerTitle: Return to Robinswood: An Irish family saga. (The Robinswood Story Book 2) by Jean Grainger

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, British and Irish

Print Length: 289 pages

Publication Date: February 19, 2019

  • ISBN-10:1797471155
  • ISBN-13:978-1797471150
  • ASIN: B07NVN3G7L

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Return to Robinswood

Book Blurb:

One Irish house, two very different families, and a war that changed everything.

Robinswood Estate, County Waterford, Ireland. 1946.

Years of neglect and abandonment have left the family seat of the Keneficks almost derelict, but the new Lord Kenefick and his charming young wife Kate, are determined to breathe life into the old house once more.

The war is over and they have survived, so now they must set about making a bright future for themselves and their family. But the shadows of the past are ever lurking, and there are many who are not willing to see the new Lady Kenefick as anything more than the housekeeper’s daughter.

Kate’s family, the Murphys, find themselves once more, inextricably entwined with both the Keneficks and Robinswood, but this time everything is different. Or at least they hope it is.

The legacy of the war cannot be erased, and the events of those fateful years will not be forgotten. Can Robinswood provide a haven for those who need it, or are the scars of the past too deep? Continue reading “Return to Robinswood by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview”

The Homecoming of Bubbles O’Leary by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

The Homecoming of Bubbles O'Leary by Jean GraingerTitle: The Homecoming of Bubbles O’Leary (The Tour Series Book 4) by Jean Grainger

Genre: Literature & Fiction, Irish, Sagas

Publication Date: December 24, 2018

  • ISBN-10:1792633327
  • ISBN-13:978-1792633324
  • ASIN: B07MD964MJ

Print Length: 332

Source: Direct author request

Title and Cover: The Homecoming of Bubbles O’LearyPerfect Old World depiction

Book Blurb:

A luxury stay in an Irish castle, a handsome, experienced tour guide, and a secret that has never been revealed. Life as manager of the magnificent resort of Castle Dysert on Ireland’s wild Atlantic coast is never dull, and Conor O’Shea’s life to date has taught him to be prepared for the unexpected. Even he however, is not ready for the gang from Bubbles O’Leary’s bar in New York. A motley crew, from spinster sisters of a certain age, to exhausted social workers, they are all in Ireland for one reason. The fact that this bunch of unusual people arrive during Ireland’s biggest matchmaking festival just adds to the intrigue. But is everyone who they say they are? Are all their motives pure? Conor is ready to do his best to show the visitors his beloved Ireland, but his personal life takes a devastating turn and he finds himself torn, unsure how to proceed. Is the past best left there, or is there redemption to be found in opening old wounds? Wise and witty, heart-warming and deeply satisfying, Jean Grainger takes us once more on an unforgettable trip to the Emerald Isle.

My Review:

The Homecoming of Bubbles O'Leary by Jean GraingerThe author must have kissed that Blarney Stone more than once!  She can spin such a fable as to keep you glued to the pages, peeking inside the personalities of each of the characters and their stories. Of course, Conor is back, the protagonist who began as a tour guide and now operates Castle Dysert. He married Ana and they had twin boys, now eight years old. The tale is told of Bubbles O’Leary and his bar and immense humanity in New York; how he loved, respected, and regaled his patrons of accounts of his childhood in Ireland. And when he passes away unexpectedly, his closest friends vow to take him home to Dingle. He has cemented a special place in the hearts of each person.

The well-plotted saga begins to lay out a deeply entwined narrative of the individuals who undertake to return him home to Ireland, just when Conor is dealing with crushing family drama, but it is he who they must have to lead their memorial group. Each support character has his/her own story which contributes to the tours they take from the Castle, enjoying the sights. The characters are well developed and engaging.

There is an underlying sinister current that manifests later into the book that adds a mystery to what is an accounting of confronting serious illness, estrangements, lost and new love, and forgiveness. There is humor, the yarn flows easily, the prose so beautiful, the action realistic. You can picture the group in a loving circle with Bubbles’ ashes–an emotional farewell set with the awesome backdrop of the sun setting into the North Atlantic, soft strains of “Danny Boy” in the salty breeze.

I’ve read most of the books Ms. Grainger has published and I must say each has been totally engrossing, engaging, and enlightening. I believe my first book was gleaned through BookBub and noting she lived in Cork, wrote her immediately to ask a couple questions regarding one of the few hints dropped in my grandfather’s books regarding his origins. I’ve been a fan of hers since and loved each new book.

As Ms. Grainger notes, “if she had any Irish in her; she must have to explain the connection she felt with Ireland.” What is the draw? I don’t know, but the author delights the reader whether or not with remote Irish origins in her generous descriptions of the land, the origins, food, ancient artifacts, and sayings. Easy explanations and helpful pronunciations eliminate any off-putting of local colloquialisms and customs and adds to the enjoyment of the story.

I was allowed early ebook download of this novel by the author and greatly appreciated (as always!) the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to any who enjoy a thoroughly entertaining and emotional literary fiction.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5 of five stars

Jean Grainger - authorThe Author:

JEAN GRAINGER – SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS.

Jean Grainger's Author Circle Novel of ExcellenceWINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

‘Warm and wise, reading a Jean Grainger novel is like sitting in the kitchen of a friend. Her authentic writing welcomes you into the heart of Ireland.’ Kate Kerrigan, NYT Bestselling Author.

‘In the same magical tradition as classic Irish storytellers, Maeve Binchy and Frank McCourt, Jean Grainger transports the reader into a world where the characters not only come alive, but become friends, who stay with you long after you’ve closed the last page. I have no doubt that Jean Grainger will be considered one of the finest historical novelists of our time.’ Roberta Kagan, Bestselling author of ‘All My Love, Detrick’ series.

[See her full author bio on Amazon.] I was born in Cork, Ireland in 1971 and I come from a large family of storytellers, so much so that we had to have ‘The Talking Spoon’, only the person holding the spoon could talk!

I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 150 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dog, a chi-chon called Scrappy-Do.

My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour’. My observances of the often funny, sometimes sad but always interesting events on tours fascinated me. People really did confide the most extraordinary things, the safety of strangers I suppose. It’s a fictional story set on a tour bus but many of the characters are based on people I met over the years.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

#ThrowbackThursday – So Much Owed – Jean Grainger

#ThrowbackThursday - Reading Ireland Challenge

Renee began the Throwback Thursday meme on her blog, It’s Book Talk to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books published over a year ago. Sounded like a good reason to join! I’ll be going back over my favorite authors and stories you might not have previously experienced. Hopefully, you’ll find either a story or author that interests you and you’ll check them out. (And, if you’d like to join the fun, you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic from her website. Just provide the link back to her please).

This week I am highlighting Jean Grainger, another terrific, prolific author who has written So Much Owed, which I reviewed on Goodreads and on this blog a year ago March. She has actually written a number of books including The Conor O’Shea series, of which I’ve read two. This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services on December 1, 2013. Ms. Grainger consistently runs four to five stars for her books.

Originally posted March 5, 2017 Read my full review here. Continue reading “#ThrowbackThursday – So Much Owed – Jean Grainger”