Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Worlds Apart by Ber Carroll (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Worlds Apart by Author Ber Carroll!

Author Guest Post

Family Secrets 

Family is at the heart of all my novels. I can’t help being fascinated by the unconditional love that glues families together, not to mention the in-jokes and shared memories, the politics and allegiances, the conflicts, grudges and ever changing dynamics. But what I am most intrigued by are the secrets which can be unearthed in families. If you dig deeply enough. 

‘We’re a close family. We have no secrets.’ 

How many times have you heard this proclamation? ‘Rubbish,’ I always feel like saying in reply. It’s the ‘close’ families who are the most secretive. There’s often a driving instinct to protect the other family members, or an overwhelming need to save face, or both of the above. If the family isn’t close, there isn’t so much at stake, is there? I like to think that behind every family secret there’s a good intention: not to hurt, or to upset, or to embarrass someone you care about. And it has to be said that sometimes secrets are for the overall good of the family. What we don’t know won’t hurt us, right? 

Worlds Apart is about a big Irish family, and a secret from long ago. 

Erin loves her family dearly, but has always felt like an outsider looking in. And, Laura, Erin’s cousin, feels as though she has been abducted by aliens and dropped into a life that isn’t hers. Aside from the Irish family at the centre of the story, there’s a diverse cast of characters from all over the world, each of whom plays an important role in helping Erin and Laura discover the life they should be living. But secrets have a way of bubbling to the surface, and nothing will ever be the same once the cousins find out the truth about their family. 

I come from a big family: five siblings, twenty-odd first cousins, and hordes of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and other relatives. And, yes, there are secrets aplenty. Old secrets kept from us by my mother (who is the most secretive person in the universe!). Newer secrets held by me and my siblings from my parents (Now Mum will be demanding to know what we’ve hidden from her). Age-appropriate secrets, screened from the younger members of the family until they are the ‘right age’ to understand. Partial secrets, where the full (true) version of the story hasn’t been relayed. Developing secrets, where we are still deciding how to handle a particular situation. 

Families. The tenderness. The hurts. Sticking together. Pulling apart. The things we don’t tell each other in the name of love. Does your family have a secret, old or new?

About The Author

Ber Carroll was born in Blarney, County Cork, and moved to Australia in 1995. Her first novel, Executive Affair, was inspired by her initial impressions of Sydney, and her exciting, dynamic work environment at the time. Ber now lives in Sydney’s northern beaches with her husband and two children. Worlds Apart is her sixth novel. Incidentally, Ber is short for Bernadette, but please don’t call her Bernadette: this is what her mother calls her when she is in trouble for something.

Ber’s novels have been published in five countries, including Ireland. If you would like to know more about Ber and her novels, you can visit her website at, or you can subscribe to her newsletter (Book Chat) with fellow authors Dianne Blacklock and Liane Moriarty (see Ber’s website for a link to the newsletter and to find Ber on Facebook).


Book Review

Worlds Apart by Ber Carroll
Publisher: Killard Publishing
Publication Date: April 14, 2014
Format: Paperback - 316 pages
             Kindle - 574 KB
ISBN: 978-0992472108
Genre: Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: World's Apart

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Two women worlds apart ... one secret that changes everything.

Erin and Laura are cousins and best friends who share a love of languages and travel.

Erin, a French teacher in Dublin, reaches crisis point and drops everything to move to Australia. In Sydney, not only does she land the perfect job, but she meets the perfect man. Finally, her life is falling into place. Except Sydney isn't home, and never can be.

Back in Ireland, Laura is struggling. Her husband appears distant, her work life is spinning out of control and her daughter's strange new nanny is undermining her at every turn. She longs to travel in Erin's footsteps, to drop everything and run far away. But these are dangerous thoughts for a mother and wife.

As Erin and Laura desperately try to find their place in the world, a shocking family secret comes to light, and nothing will ever be the same again.

'Ber Carroll has given us a cast of warm, engaging characters in a sparkling story that crosses the globe between Ireland and Australia. I enjoyed every page of this touching, authentic novel.' - Liane Moriarty.

'This novel is a wonderful full-bodied read. Ber Carroll has a clever eye for characterisation and story.' - Cathy Kelly

'With all the humour and empathy of Binchy ... Carroll captures the conflicts and compromises women make.' - Daily Telegraph

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Dublin, February 2010

Erin gazed at the narrow, jagged lines streaked across the window panes. The rain had ice in it. All day it had been coming in short, bitter bursts, whipping sideways against the glass. It felt reassuring to be inside, and to imagine, rather than experience, how cold and sharp it would feel against her bare head. The room was artificially warm and bright, the oil heaters lending a slight stuffiness to the air, the electric lights overcompensating for the gloominess outside. It would be dark by the time she left school at four o’clock and, if the weather forecast was to be believed, it would be freezing by early evening.

‘Tristan Keary, stop that right now!’

‘Sorry, Miss.’

‘It’s Mademoiselle, not Miss.’

‘Sorry, Mademoiselle Donovan.’

‘Sorry? I thought we were in a French class here.’

Tristan looked blank, an expression he had practised and perfected since the day he’d started secondary school, in fact maybe since the moment he’d been born. Erin emitted a long-suffering, very teacher-like sigh.

‘Emily, please tell Tristan how to apologise en français.’


‘Merci, Emily. Tristan?’

‘Pardonnez-moi, Miss – I mean, Mademoiselle.’

‘Lucky for you, Tristan, that an apology somehow sounds far more genuine when it’s said in French! Now, everyone, continue with your work, please.’

Erin stared at her students until one by one they succumbed, heads swooping towards exercise books, pens twirling in thought, and silence – beautiful, rare silence – crept across the classroom and into the recesses of her head. Not pure silence, of course. Sighs, sniffs, shuffles and position-changing in chairs, rulers clattering against desks, the rain thrashing against the glass, thwarted in its attempts to get in, the sound of paper being torn – coming from Tristan’s direction? – all removed the possibility of complete quiet. Nevertheless, it was as close to silence as Erin would get in the remaining twenty minutes of this forty-minute class and it was to be enjoyed.

In these rare moments of quiet, she often paused to consider how fond she was of them, her students, and this class of third years in particular. Each of them, in their own unique way, had a special place in her heart: Emily, bright, earnest, a question always hovering on the tip of her tongue waiting to be asked – its answer, when provided, promptly analysed and catalogued for future use; Tom, awkward, self-conscious, far too serious; sweet little Aoife, always so eager to please; Darragh, accident-prone, writing clumsily with his left hand, his right in plaster after tripping over in the school yard last week, his second broken bone since Erin had known him; Aaron, looking achingly more adult than his classmates, downy hair on his upper lip, his long legs folded under the desk, towering over Erin and most of the other teachers in the school; Lisha, originally from Nigeria, who had arrived in Ireland and into this class two years ago but who remained on the outer and unsure of her place amongst these teenagers who were the same age as her but with so little else in common. Even Tristan, with all his bravado and clowning around, was special. Erin hadn’t told them yet that she was leaving, that this was her second-last week at St Patrick’s Community School. She would tell them next week. She smiled to herself as she imagined the outcry at her news.

‘But, Miss, I mean Mademoiselle, it’s the middle of the school year!’

‘And this is our Junior Cert year. The most important year of our lives!’

‘Why are you going? Is it something we did? Is it Tristan?’

‘Of course it’s not me, knuckle-head!’

‘Who will we get now? Don’t say Grouchy Gallas! Not her, please. Anyone but her!’

Erin would miss them – more than she could ever tell them. She felt guilty for leaving like this, in the middle of the academic year, the Junior Cert exams looming on the horizon. She wished that she had it in her to stay, that she could hold it together for another few months and guide them through the mock exams and then the real thing.

‘Is it your health, Mademoiselle? Is it because of your heart?’

She imagined that Aoife, trying harder than the others, would hit closest to home. Yes, it was her health, and in many ways it was her heart, too. Despite the guilt, the worry that they might do badly in their exams because of her untimely departure, the suspicion that Madame Gallas would be too stern with them and ruin their enjoyment of the language, Erin felt sheer and utter relief that she only had the bones of one more week to get through. She was hanging on by a thread, the thinnest thread imaginable. Part of her, the part that felt a week was interminably long, wanted to stand up right now and walk without explanation from the classroom, through the grid of corridors that led to the main door, outside into the stinging rain, breaking into a run halfway down the drive, no longer able to disguise or control how desperately she needed to get away. In light of thoughts like this, and the disruption they’d already suffered in term one due to her ‘heart’ trouble (which had in fact been a severe – not to say, excruciatingly embarrassing – panic attack), it was much better that her students had someone more steady to guide them over the coming months.

The sounds of fidgeting increased in volume, a sign that some of the students had finished their assignment. Erin’s attention was required, to control those students who were finished and allow the slower ones to complete their work in some degree of peace and quiet.

‘Tom, avez-vous terminé?’

‘Oui, Mademoiselle.’

‘Apportez-le ici.’

Tom gathered his book and pencil and, looking as though the weight of the world were on his shoulders, loped towards her desk. Erin quickly marked his work, keeping one eye on the classroom, particularly Darragh and Tristan, who looked as if they were up to no good.

My Book Review:

Worlds Apart is an intriguing story about two cousins, the complexity and drama of family relationships, and the buried secrets that come to the surface and changes their lives.

Author Ber Carroll weaves a fascinating tale that transports the reader between Dublin, Ireland and Sydney, Australia, as the reader follows the alternating life stories of two cousins: Erin Donovan and Laura Torres. This is an intriguing story that delves into the complexities and drama of the cousins' lives and family relationships wrought with trials and tribulations, drama and buried family secrets. A world apart, the reader gets drawn into Erin and Laura's story, as they both face challenges in their lives with tension, drama, and an unexpected touch of mystery thrown into the mix. The author does a great job of drawing the reader into the story by alternating between the lives of both cousins, while adding in surprising twists and turns, and intertwining the complex dynamic of the family's past and present that swirls with mystery and secrets.

The author takes the reader on a wonderful journey that is filled with an interesting cast of characters and enough drama, tension, and even a touch of romance, that easily keeps them turning the pages and wondering what will become of the cousins lives and their family's relationships when the buried secrets come to the surface. You can't help but get drawn in as the cousins learn to deal with the challenges, choices, disappointments, and successes of everyday life, and how they overcome them in order to find a happy medium in their lives.

I loved the author's rich description of the alternating settings of Dublin and Sydney. It feels like you are transported to these cities where you get to vicariously experience the sights and sounds and landmarks, it makes you want to visit them.

If you love to read stories about complex and dramatic family relationships interwoven with everyday life experiences, then Worlds Apart is a must read.


Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

August 11 – Keep Calm and Blog On – Review
August 11 – Ski-Wee’s Book Corner – Review
August 13 – A Writer in A Wheelchair – Review
August 13 - Chick LitPlus – Review
August 14 – Relatively Yours – Guest Post
August 15 – Annabel & Alice – Review
August 15 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
August 18 – Reading in Black and White – Review & Excerpt

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