Growing up in Ireland

People often ask me if the Girl in the Shadows is about my own life. No, it is a work of fiction but I have used my experiences of rural life in Ireland to add flavor and depth to the series.

My Grandparents lived on a hilly farm in Co Kerry. My Dad and I used to visit them regularly from our farm in West Cork. I always volunteered for the trip (about 50 miles over the mountains) as I loved meeting my extended family – Uncles, Aunts and Cousins.

As soon as we arrived my Grandfather would pour a shot glass of Irish whiskey for my Dad. My Grandmother would hang the blackened kettle over the fire and put a few pinches of tea leaves into the battered stainless steel tea pot.

While the kettle was boiling my Grandmother would cut slices of sweet currant cake and place the pound of butter on the bord (table). Cups would be taken off the dresser and the fine turf ash rinsed out of them with a little water from the bucket. The rest of the water would be poured into  a bowl and the empty bucket would be handed to me.

The well was a shallow hole in the ditch a few hundred yards down the road, filled by water dripping off the hill behind it. An old piece of wood was lodged over the hole to keep the worst of the dirt and debris out of the well and this would have to be carefully replaced once the bucket was full. It took a bit of practice to fill the bucket without stirring up dirt from the bottom of the well.

By the time I got back to the house the tea would be on the table and the currant cake would be buttered.

Sometimes, if we arrived early we would have bacon and cabbage with boiled spuds. My Grandmother used to show off the beautiful bacon with its two inches of fat, “Did you ever see a finer piece of meat?”

After eating I would help my Grandmother wash the ware. She always used Daz washing powder for the job. She never saw the point in getting washing up liquid when the clothes washing powder did the same thing.

My Dad would help my Grandad haul in a massive piece of tree trunk and this would be laid in the hearth on top of the glowing embers.This chunk of wood slowly burnt in the middle and when the fire needed making up, the two sides were simply pushed together. A few pieces of turf were thrown on top for good measure.

My Grandfather would take us on a walk around the farm, starting with the steep hill behind the house where the sheep were grazed and finishing up down by the river where the two or sometimes three, cows were kept. We would drive the cows home for milking.

It was my Grandmother’s job to milk the cows and I loved watching her as she filled the buckets with the creamy milk. The cow shed smelt of bracken as this was the bedding used by my Grandfather – straw was unknown on the mountain.

My Grandmother would pour a little milk into a bowl just inside the cow shed, “For the cats, they keep the mice away.”

After milking the men would drive the cows back down to the river fields.

As darkness began to fall the rest of my Dad’s family began to arrive bringing their own families with them. The parents would sit in the house drinking tea and playing cards while we younger ones played outside or just sat around in groups.

My cousins were as fascinated by my life in Cork as I was by their lives in Kerry. The counties are side by side but sometimes it seemed like a whole world away.

As the evening wore on we made our way into the fire and watched the card games and listened to the chatter.

Finally, the table was pushed back against the wall and everyone pulled up a seat to the fire.

“So! Who’s first for a song?”

One by one we all sang for the company. My cousins had some of the sweetest voices I have ever heard and I was always embarrassed to follow them but everyone clapped, praised and thanked each of the singers in turn so I never really minded.

All too soon it was time for Dad and I to say our goodbyes and head back over the mountains. I consoled myself with the knowledge that in a few short weeks we would be back again.

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Hot News for Fiction Lovers

With so many great fiction books available where do you begin? How do you select your next great read?

  • Do you pick from authors you already know?
  • Do you subscribe to book marketing emails?
  • Have you joined readers groups on sites like Goodreads?
  • Do you prefer to read recommendations from friends?

Just how to you go about finding some of the amazing reads out there?

Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Amazon’s Most Wished For list

Barnes and Noble Recommends list

Goodreads Fiction Books lists

Other places to search:

  • Facebook – search readers or writers groups.
  • Twitter – search using  #amreading, #readers, #greatreads and try any other relevant hashtags you can find.
  • Pinterest – search books and follow author boards. Pin books you might like to come back to at a later date.
  • Instagram – many authors are now using this platform but also if readers love a book they will post here.

There are many more ways to get connected to your next fantastic book. Try them all and if you have any great ideas make sure you share them in the comments!

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The Girl in the Shadows Part 3

When the Apple is Ripe, it will Fall

The Girl in the Shadows is coming to Amazon again soon. The third book in the series tells the story of Grace’s new life with her family around her. She is no longer the carefree little girl we first met. Now she has matured into a sensible woman who knows what she wants – even if she does need some help along the way.

She retains her special way of looking at the world and moves us all to tears as quickly as to laughter.

Laugh with her, cry with her, but most of all, fall in love with her.

Sign up now for info on release dates, free promotions, giveaways and loads more

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Ten Great Books for Christmas

Ten great books to curl up with over the Christmas Holidays in front of a roaring fire with rain pattering against the windows and the wind howling down the chimney…

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte – Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott – Classic novel of 19th-century family life during and after the Civil War, in a household with four sisters. Alcott based the March family largely on her own real-life family.

Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt – “When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”
So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy — exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling — does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father’s tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.
Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank’s survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig’s head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors—yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.
Angela’s Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt’s astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.

Circle of Friends – Maeve Binchy – Big, generous-hearted Benny and the elfin Eve Malone have been best friends growing up in sleepy Knockglen. Their one thought is to get to Dublin, to university and to freedom…
On their first day at University College, Dublin, the inseparable pair are thrown together with fellow students Nan Mahon, beautiful but selfish, and handsome Jack Foley. But trouble is brewing for Benny and Eve’s new circle of friends, and before long, they find passion, tragedy – and the independence they yearned for.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austin – “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners–one of the most popular novels of all time–that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues.

Heidi – Johanna Spyri – What happens when a little orphan girl is forced to live with her cold and frightening grandfather? The heartwarming answer has engaged children for more than a century, both on the page and on the screen. Johanna Spyri’s beloved story offers youngsters an endearing and intelligent heroine, a cast of unique and memorable characters, and a fascinating portrait of a small Alpine village.

Watermelon – Marian Keyes – Marian Keyes begins Watermelon with a rather inauspicious romantic opening when the heroine’s husband leaves her for Denise from the flat downstairs the day their first child is born. Claire, the deserted wife and mother, returns to her family in Dublin and, after going through the required stages of “Loss, Loneliness, Hopelessness and Humiliation”, begins to feel much better–so much better that when James tries to win his way back into her affections, he gets more than he bargained for.

A Thousand Acres – Jane Smiley – When Larry Cook, the aging patriarch of a rich, thriving farm in Iowa, decides to retire, he offers his land to his three daughters. For Ginny and Rose, who live on the farm with their husbands, the gift makes sense–a reward for years of hard work, a challenge to make the farm even more successful. But the youngest, Caroline, a Des Moines lawyer, flatly rejects the idea, and in anger her father cuts her out–setting off an explosive series of events that will leave none of them unchanged. A classic story of contemporary American life, A Thousand Acres strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a father, a daughter, a family.

The Lovely Bones – Anna Sebold – The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder — a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family’s need for peace and closure.
The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was raped and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished.
Sebold creates a heaven that’s calm and comforting, a place whose residents can have whatever they enjoyed when they were alive — and then some. But Susie isn’t ready to release her hold on life just yet, and she intensely watches her family and friends as they struggle to cope with a reality in which she is no longer a part. To her great credit, Sebold has shaped one of the most loving and sympathetic fathers in contemporary literature.

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger – Audrey Niffenegger’s dazzling debut is the story of Clare, a beautiful, strong-minded art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: his genetic clock randomly resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous and unpredictable, and lend a spectacular urgency to Clare and Henry’s unconventional love story. That their attempt to live normal lives together is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control makes their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

All descriptions courtesy of Goodreads. If you love books you should be on Goodreads

 

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2 Free Copies!!! Enter Now!!!

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Girl in the Shadows (Part 2) There's No Place Like Home by Kim O'Shea

The Girl in the Shadows (Part 2) There’s No Place Like Home

by Kim O’Shea

Giveaway ends January 29, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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Grace is Back!

Our favorite character, Grace, has returned to make us laugh, cry and hold our breath as we quickly turn the pages to find out what she has been up to now.

Find out here!

Sam Gomes from Ireland kindly left a review on our Facebook page

“Having Read a few of Kim’s fabulous books I thought I’d write a little review for those who haven’t read any of her books. Growing up myself in the uk I was a little sceptical about reading girl in the shadows thinking I may not get the Irish humour! I must say I was totally wrong. Anyone from any country can relate to Grace she’s a typical girl always wondering what it’s like to be grown up she’s naughty funny and very inquisitive & I could relate to her a lot. Each character in the book has been well described and the more you read it the more you learn to love each & everyone of them I think every family has a grace in it 🙂 I loved how I could relate to where she lived and I visioned her growing up where I now live even though that was never confirmed. Girl in the shadows is most certainly one of my favourite books & I read it in a few days as I couldn’t put the book down. I look forward to reading more about Grace & her family!! Kim is most certainly a very talented writer”

 Girl2

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Cover Reveal!

The Girl in the Shadows  Part 2 – There’s no Place like Home

 

Chapter 1

I’d been feeling unwell for some time before my mother asked my employer if she would go with me to see a doctor. I’d always been treated like a child and I was aware that after being born with a lack of oxygen, my brain did not work quite the same way and my outlook on life was often very different from what other people expected of me. I tended to take a more simple but questioning view of life. This had often led me into trouble before but I was completely unprepared for this….

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Fall in love with Grace and her beautiful way of looking at the world.

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Best Irish Authors – Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy was born in Dublin in 1940. She wrote newspaper columns and plays but is probably best known for her wonderfully Irish historical fiction novels and short stories. Her true to life characters portrayed life in Ireland with an often humorous twist.

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Among her many wonderful characters my favorite is Benny, the awkward lump of a girl from Circle of Friends. Maeve mentioned that she considered herself to be a lump of a girl and never expected to marry, however she met her future husband Gordon, in London while recording a piece for radio. They married in 1977 and were together until her death in 2012.

circleoffriendscover         circleoffriendsUScover

As a young woman Maeve worked on a kibbutz in Israel and the life she saw and experienced there help to influence her writing. Her parents always believed in her and they sent her letters from Israel to a newspaper where they were published.This was the catalyst for her writing career.

Although I have read many of her short stories, her novels will always have a place in my heart and they have influenced my own writing of The Girl in the Shadows series.

I was very upset when I heard the news of her death. I wondered what I would do without my favorite author but to my delight her publishers have announced that they are going to publish one further collection – A Few of the Girls. In the meantime I will re-read some of the novels listed below.

tararoadcover         tararoadUScover

How many of the following novels have you read?
Light a Penny Candle (1982)
Echoes (1985)
Firefly Summer (1987)
Silver Wedding (1988)
Circle of Friends (1990)
The Copper Beech (1992)
The Glass Lake (1994)
Evening Class (1996)
Tara Road (1998)
Scarlet Feather (2000)
Quentins (2002)
Nights of Rain and Stars (2004)
Whitethorn Woods (2006)
Heart and Soul (2008)
Minding Frankie (2010)
A Week in Winter (2012)

For more info and details of the upcoming collection, “A Few of the Girls” make sure to bookmark the official Maeve Binchy website

 

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The Best Irish Books Ever

Are you a fan of Irish fiction? Do you have a list of must read Irish fiction? Are you looking for something Irish and something wonderful to read?

Delve into our beautiful emerald isle and immerse yourself in our amazing culture, heritage and literature.

 

Above all, Have Fun!

 

These links will give you some ideas or help in choosing your next favorite Irish book!

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Click here for a list of 20 classic Irish novels

Popular Irish fiction comes in many forms. Check out this list here

Click here for Irish Bestsellers

Fabulous fiction from Poolbeg, click here

For fantastic Irish children’s books click here

For a complete overview of Irish fiction from 1650 to 1900 click here

If you want to be part of a reading club, check this out

 

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So, you have no excuse! No matter what type of Irish fiction you are looking for, you will find exactly what you need.

Search, Research, Find, Acquire

and

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Another Great Review!

From a lady in Dublin, Ireland

kimoshea_cover

I read the book very quickly, within a day or two. It was one that I couldn’t put down, I kept having to read and find out what was happening next.

Grace’s innocence, enthusiasm and funny inquisitive nature brings you to have quite a few giggles.

It reminds the reader of what life was like back in the day, so simple and yet they were happy.

Definitely a read I would recommend to everyone. Genuinely one of the best books I have read in a very long time.

Ruth Deery, Ireland

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