Friday, December 23, 2011

The Secrets they Kept (By Joanne Tombrakos)

I've just finished reading The Secrets They Kept - a debut novel by author Joanne Tombrakos.

The very first time I heard about Joanne's existence is when my eye caught her comment on a friend's blog mentioning that she has just self-published her first novel. I've never met Joanne in person. Being in the process of getting my first book published I decided to support Joanne in buying her book just as I would like for others to buy mine when it is available. The story sounded interesting but I didn't really have a clue what to expect.

Joanne, I am so very pleased to say: I was blown away! I read all 287 pages of it in one day! I just couldn't put it down. You had me hooked from around... oh, page ONE.

In short, the book is about Elena, a Greek-American lawyer living in New York City, who thought she knew all there was to know about her family but then all of that changes the day the police arrive at her front door to inform her of the death of a person whom she never even knew existed but who had her name down as his next of kin. Suddenly everything she knew to be real was shaken to the core. Who was this man who called himself George Poulous? That was her father's name and he has been dead for ten years. What are the secrets that her family - especially her mother is not willing to tell. Elana wants answers and, as hard as it is for everyone concerned, she will not rest until she knows all there is to know. As the secrets are slowly revealed it restores broken hearts, broken relationships and new hope for Elana and her family.

The Secrets They Kept had me curious to no end. I don't know if it has anything to do with being a woman *wink*. What I loved most about the book is the pace at which Joanne revealed little by little of the secrets. I was able to enjoy the book without feeling frustrated with the suspense. At the same time she revealed just enough as to not make the book predictable and boring. You cannot finish this book without reading to the last page. Even if you are guessing, you simply have to make sure. Cleverly done, Joanne! I commend you.

The characters are very realistic and so is the emotions that they feel considering the circumstance they face. You don't have to be Greek to be able to relate to them, and though I know nothing of their religious beliefs and traditions Joanne explained that kind of detail sufficiently for it not to disrupt your enjoyment of the story.

I love that the characters evolve. They all start in one place, are forced to make choices and face their demons and fears, and then choose who they want to be when all is said and done. When your secrets have become your shadows it can be very hard to let go. In the same way though, there is hope and freedom when you choose to step out into the sun. It is interesting the choices that each character makes.

I, for one, are always pondering the deeper issues of life. This book has no shortage of food for thought; an entertaining read that does not leave you empty handed. Now there's a bonus! 

This book has a certain energy to it; a rhythm; a well woven, suspenseful plot (yet without being predictable), authentic characters, a lot of heart and a well thought out conclusion.

I've heard and read many things about self published books but, Joanne, I was notably impressed! To publish a book is not as easy as one might think but you've done an outstanding job of it! Well done and congratulations on becoming a published author. I most certainly hope to see another novel from you in the future and wish you all the best of success on this one.

The Secrets They Kept is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and other select on-line retailers in hard copy as well as digital form and definitely comes highly recommended. If you want to know a bit more about Joanne she also writes a blog titled One Woman's Eye.

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