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The Secrets They Kept Paperback – September 23, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joanne Tombrakos is a Storyteller, Marketing and Sales Consultant and Adjunct Professor in Digital Marketing at NYU. She blogs on demystifying digital for business and life at 

What sets her apart from other consultants is that she is able to combine the perfect storm of a twenty-five year career in media advertising, sales and traditional marketing working for corporations that include CBS and Time Warner, expertise and hands on experience as an early adopter of digital, with skill as a storyteller. 

This offers her clients, whether a large corporation or an entrepreneur, insight, knowledge, and strategic direction to flourish in today's changing landscape. She brings a fresh perspective, energy and enthusiasm in an informal style to her customized workshop training programs and presentations. Topics range from: The Consumer in the Age of Digital, Selling to the Educated Consumer to Storytelling for Business.

She considers herself a creative entrepreneur and is the self-published author of It Takes An Egg Timer, A Guide to Creating the Time For Your Life and a novel, The Secrets They Kept. Joanne contributes to The Huffington Post, ForbesWoman and BlogHer. 

She has a passion for beaches, good wine and laughter. 
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Joanne Tombrakos (September 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984007601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984007608
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,806,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joanne Tombrakos is the Founder and Chief Storyteller at Joanne Tombrakos International, a marketing consultancy specializing in all things digital, specifically social media, content marketing and personal branding online. A Digital Demystifier, Indie Author, Speaker and Global Educator, she is also the Creatrix of YOUR DIGITAL YOU, an online and onDemand course designed to improve your digital footprint and build your personal brand.

Above all, she is a writer, having published two books to date, It Takes An Egg Timer, A Guide to Creating the Time For Your Life and a novel, The Secrets They Kept. She blogs at on demystifying digital for you and your brand. Her writing has also appeared in The Huffington Post, ForbesWoman and BlogHer.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anand S. Jha on May 1, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The story is more from a woman's perspective, and perhaps a woman reader may connect with the story better. Overall, i liked it, but not loved it. We are all imbibed with values of love and respect for everyone, especially our family. This is what this novel is very strong on. The fact that the plot revolves around a secret is incidental, to my mind. This story is really more about love and caring that one ought to have for near and dear ones. Unwavering support is the very basis of all relationships, and this novel brings that fact very nicely. The novel itself could have been a little crisper and shorter, tending to get a little repetitive, but that is not a major drawback. The initial few chapters give away the novel being a first-time author's work, but I found the second half of the novel more taut, consistent and flowing. I really liked the ending. Recommended read.
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Format: Paperback
This was the author's first novel. Elena Poulous, a Greek-American attorney, gets the surprise of her life one weekend when the police notify her of the death of a Yiannis Poulous. Having never heard of him, she is somewhat further mystified to learn she has been listed as next of kin, nominated to settle his affairs. Her immediate task, apart from arranging his funeral, is to interrogate her family about this man and discover why she has never heard about him. But she heads straight into one brick wall after another, the most tight-lipped of her kin being her mother, Kristina. Who was this man, and why is everyone so reluctant to talk about him?

The plot, in black and white, doesn't really sound that compelling, but, the emotions that emerge from this Pandora's box of secrets, kept for so long, pack such a powerful punch, you are kept well and truly glued to the pages. Yiannis Poulous had no idea his humble request would bare some truths and make those whose lives he entered look at themselves very closely. He had no idea how some revelations would improve fragile relationships.

This is written with sincerity and feeling. Each and every character means something to you and you care deeply how each will fare. The threads of Greek culture and religious beliefs woven into the tale, and their importance, add dimension and interest to the drama.

Although an excellent debut, however, I really would urge the author to ensure her next novel is better edited than this one. There were endless errors which were irritating (amongst them a name change for poor old Giuseppe Mazzini who became Manzini). But the writing was good, the story well structured, the characters well developed, so there was plenty to keep me happy! Certainly an author to keep an eye out for.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to review it.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I received an e-copy of this book from the author for review.
The book's premise looked very interesting to me. It really did exceed my expectations and I enjoyed delving into the secrets of the Poulose family. The book was written and well researched. I enjoyed learning more about the Greek Orthodox beliefs and practices. The Greek traditions were richly represented and my mouth watered most times when the author mentioned the delicious Greek food!
The characters were complex yet relatable. I especially enjoyed the depiction of the mother-daughter relationship between Kristina and Elena. Their relationship was particularly dysfunctional. Elena's realization that she acts more like her mother than she realizes and how that affects her current relationships was well-written.
There were times when I wanted to throttle Elena and times I wanted to hug her. She was so wrapped up in protecting herself from love that she was missing out on being loved.
The secrets mentioned in the book aren't earth shattering. It's really how they affect each of the characters. They become larger than life and end up changing the way that the whole family relates to one another.
The author uses a series of flashbacks to describe events that happens to the characters as they relate to Yannis. I enjoyed the historical times explored during these flashbacks and wished I could have spent more time there.
Once the reader is aware of Kristina's secret especially I did feel like the plot began to lag as Kristina repeatedly shut down and refused to talk to Elena about Yannis. The first few times were understandable but the longer it went on the less patient I was with Kristina and the process of revealing the secret to Elena.
However, the relational redemption that Kristina and Elena experienced more than made up for the slight plot lag in my opinion.
This was an enjoyable book. Recommended!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Secrets. The word itself slaps us with something scary and ominous. It reeks of ghosts and irrevocable mistakes committed in the dark, hidden, buried so deep that, in time, they become ingrown, take on a life of their own, and mushroom in significance. And of course secrets have a siren's call, sucking us into the page. Like the voice and the story line in this family saga, they make us turn the page.

In THE SECRETS THEY KEPT, a debut novel, Joanne Tombrakos presents the story of Elena Poulous, an attorney and member of a Greek-American family rich in tradition and large with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, living and dead. Elena struggles to get to the bottom of her family's secrets, and in so doing, she connects to life.

The story opens with a surprise. The police knock on the door of her New York apartment and inform her of the death of a stranger who claimed her as his next of kin. As Elena begins to settle his affairs, she encounters a web of secrets that her family members have worked a lifetime to keep buried. In the end, she and others begin to change.

The recent past is brought to life through a box of letters found in the dead man's apartment, a Pandora's box if there ever was one:
"She smelled the odor of it before she saw it. Musty, almost mildewy. There it sat, not a yard away from her. It was just a small square cardboard box with a lid."

Because of the author's sense of storytelling, objects like the letter box take on a symbolic presence: a ring, a baby carriage rocking precariously on a dock, the triune number in liturgy, and, in Central Park, the bust of Giuseppe Mazzini.
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