Hello everyone! I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing blog tour for; This is Me by Shari Low. Not only am I sharing my review of this gorgeous book, I also have an exclusive extract for you, so with out further ado, enjoy.
Married to Ray, her first and only love, Denise has never for one moment regretted putting the husband she idolised on a pedestal above everyone and everything else. But, after forty years of marriage, he is gone, leaving Denise to discover that their perfect marriage was fatally flawed. Now she faces a future alone, but first she must face the betrayals of the past.
The estranged daughter of Denise, the woman who put her husband before her children, Claire took the opposite path and devoted her life to raising her family, sacrificing her marriage along the way. With her teenage sons about to flee the nest, she realises she may have left it too late to find her own happy ever after.
This is the story of two women, both alone, both cautionary tales of one of motherhood’s biggest decisions.
Who is more important, your partner or your children? And what happens if you make the wrong choice?
Of course she’d lost people before. Her parents. Ray’s parents. But in those cases, their houses had filled with family and friends who came to offer sympathies, to share the loss, to bring casseroles and bread and tales of the times they’d had with the person who’d passed. Mourning was a time for gathering, for coming together to celebrate a life and share the sorrow of a passing.
No one was knocking on her door.
No one had come in the week since she’d returned home from the hospital, bereft, clutching only his bloodstained clothes, his watch and his wedding ring.
She snatched up her phone again, the second glass of red wine making her bold, pushing her to take action, to find someone – anyone – to share this grief. She scrolled through her contacts. When was the last time she’d talked to her siblings? Five years ago? Ten? Had she really not spoken to anyone else in her family in all that time? Of course, they had so little in common, and hadn’t been close for years before that anyway.
No, she couldn’t call them now. What would be the point? So they’d feel obliged to come, to sit awkwardly in her kitchen, giving fake sympathy and platitudes about a guy they’d never particularly liked in the first place? No. Ray would hate that. He hadn’t liked them when he was alive, so he wasn’t going to want them there in death.
She flicked through more numbers on the screen, then stopped when one name brought on another flash of pain. Doug. Her son. She could hear Ray’s roar of rage if she called that number. It had been many years since she’d heard his voice, seen his face, but that was his loss. She knew that. Hadn’t she and Ray discussed it so many times? Claire and Doug had walked out of their lives for the same reasons. She didn’t even want to think about that now. Hadn’t Ray told her again and again that they weren’t worthy of her? Only Ray deserved her time and her love.
Numbers exhausted, she threw the handset on the bed, her eyes drawn to Ray’s mobile phone, which had been sitting on the charging dock on his bedside table since the morning she’d called the ambulance.
Reaching over, she picked it up, switched it on, then watched as the screen came to life with the image of the two of them, toasting each other with champagne on the deck of the Queen Mary 2 as it set sail from Southampton en route to New York just a few months ago. Their fortieth wedding anniversary. The captain hadn’t believed them, said she looked far too young to have been married that long.
She punched in the code to open the phone, realising it was the first time she’d ever done that. She’d seen Ray doing it so many times that she knew the code by heart, but he’d have been furious if she’d ever looked through his phone, so she never had.
She went to contacts, the names coming up in alphabetical order. Restaurants. Hotels. Car valet. Architects. The tradesmen who sub-contracted for him on bigger jobs. Joiners. Landscapers. Painters. Plumbers. X. Y. Z. The end.
The ‘Z’ category was empty, but there was one number in the preceding group, identified with only a Y. That was it. Just Y. It was all Denise needed to identify who it belonged to. That woman. Her.
He’d kept that bitch’s number.
A guttural sob escaped her. A whole fucking set of contacts and there was not a single person she could call for comfort, for help, to listen to her pain, until the very last contact in his phone. Y. It was a cruel bastard irony. The only person who might have just a glimmer of understanding about how she was feeling right now. And it would be a cold day in hell before she made that call.
She quickly searched his messages and past calls for any contact with Y, but there was nothing. Small consolation. He still shouldn’t have saved that bloody number.
She tossed the phone across the bed, the thud as it hit the duvet breaking through her red mist of anger, then she picked up her wine again and climbed into bed, still fully clothed, hoping that the warmth of the duvet would make the shivering stop.
She reached over to Ray’s side and picked up the tie that she’d left there, wrapping it around her neck, desperate to have a part of him touching her.
How was she to live? What was she to actually do with her days? Her dreams had been their dreams. Her plans had been their plans. How was she to move forward on her own, to have a purpose in a life without him in it?
First confession time; I haven’t had the pleasure to read any of Shari Low’s work before, but from reading this one I will be reading more of her work in the future. I was fascinated by the sound of this and that was enough to draw me and want to read it and am I so pleased that I did, this is a hugely emotional and very poignant book that is so relative to our times and our lives.
This is Me is such a heart-warming story that so many women can relate to, it’s bursting with huge amounts of emotion. Its real and at times haunting, and it will certainly make you evaluate your own life and the choices you have made. It’s all about the two women; mother and daughter Denise and Claire and their choices in life; motherhood and relationships, the choices they have to make and the consequences that arises because of those decisions.
Denise has always put her husband; Ray first above all else, which did include her daughter Claire. Denise idolized her husband and when he passes she soon realises that her marriage was the idyllic haven she had always thought it to be. She sees that over the years her and daughter Claire have drifted further and further apart and they are at the stage that their relationship may never be fixed. Claire has always resented how her mother treated – or not treated her and she vowed that she would never be like that with her own children. She has always put her sons first, even at the cost of her own marriage but now they have flown the nest she starts to see that she has isolated herself and worries that she may missed her chance for happiness for herself.
This is a powerful, thought provoking read that so many can relate to in one way or another, it really focus on the estranged and fragile relationship between mother and daughter. Questions arise throughout that really make you think, and look at your own relationships through fresh eyes.
This is written through both Denise and Claire’s POV, you see both sides of the story and see the damage that has been caused on both sides. The question of who was in the right does pop up many times during the book, and to be honest I think both were wrong in ways, but This Is Me is one of those books that will open conversations and make people talk. The characters are perfectly written, they are real and relatable and I thoroughly enjoyed going on their personal journeys with them and when we find out what kind of man ray really was….well he was horrid!
There is sadness, tears, laughter, confusion, frustration, honestly you will go on a roller-coaster ride of emotions with this, the writing is so clear and vivid that you will feel every emotion as thought your are living it yourself.
Very highly recommended!
About the Author
Shari Low is the No1 best-selling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In December, A Life Without You, The Story Of Our Life, With Or Without You and her latest release, Another Day In Winter. And because she likes to over-share toe-curling moments and hapless disasters, she is also the shameless mother behind a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. Once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, a labradoodle, and two teenagers who think she’s fairly embarrassing except when they need a lift. For all the latest news, visit her on Facebook, twitter, or at http://www.sharilow.com
Follow Shari : Website / Twitter: @ShariLow / Facebook: @sharilowbooks
Blog Tour Schedule
Do have a look at the over great blogs on this tour.
Follow Aria : Website / Twitter: @aria_fiction / Facebook: @ariafiction / Instagram: @ariafiction
Hello everyone! I am so excited to be sharing the very first and exclusive look at Faith Hogan’s up and coming book; the Girl I Used To Know and I have to tell you that this cover is just so pretty. But, you don’t want to hear me whittling on take a peek for yourself…
About the Book
The Girl I Used to Know by Faith Hogan
Two women. Two very different lives. One unexpected friendship.
Amanda King and Tess Cuffe are strangers who share the same Georgian house, but their lives couldn’t be more different.
Amanda seems to have the perfect life. But the reality is a soulless home, an unfaithful husband and a very lonely heart.
While Tess has spent a lifetime hiding and shutting her heart to love.
But if they can open up to one another, these two women may just learn that sometimes letting go is the first step to moving forward and new friendships can come from the most unlikely situations.
Perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond, Marian Keyes, Rowan Coleman and Veronica Henry.
Website: www.ariafiction.com / Twitter: @aria_fiction / Facebook: @ariafiction / Instagram: @ariafiction
About the Author
Faith lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and two very fussy cats. She has an Hons Degree in English Literature and Psychology, has worked as a fashion model and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.
Follow Faith: Twitter: @GerHogan / Facebook: @faithhoganauthor
#Review What Happened to us by Faith Hogan (@gerhogan) #Blogtour via @aria_fiction #Christmas #Romance #WhatHappenedToUs
I have the great pleasure to share my review of What Happened to Us by Faith Hogan as apart of this mammoth month long blog tour via Aria Fiction.
A heart-warming story full of winter warmth and new beginnings. Perfect for the fans of Cecelia Ahern.
Carrie Nolan is devastated when she is dumped by Kevin Mulvey after more than a decade without even a backwards glance! On reflection, she has sacrificed her own long term happiness establishing their critically acclaimed Dublin restaurant and pandering to his excessive ego.
Meanwhile Kevin can’t believe his luck. Valentina, their new waitress is a stunner, the kind of girl that turns heads when she walks in a room and surprise, surprise she has chosen him! He is living the dream!
Carrie seeks solace from a circle of mismatched friends who need her as much as she needs them. Jane, who struggles to run the pub on the opposite side of the street, Luke, who has stopped drifting while his father settles in a nearby nursing home and Teddy, a dog who asks for nothing more than the chance to stay by Carrie’s side.
With Christmas just around the corner, all is not quite as it seems and a catastrophic sequence of events leads to the unthinkable…
How far do you need to fall before you learn the true value of family and friends? And is it ever too late to start again…
This is a wonderful, sweet and thoughtful story that has a strong sense of love, friendship and family, it leaves the reader feeling immensely warm and cosy, plus hugely satisfied. This is the first I have read my Ms Hogan, really I have been missing out on something here, she is an exceptional story teller who has takes the reader on an emotional journey as we temporally walk in the shoes of her strong and kind heroine; Carrie.
Carrie, what an extraordinary woman, she really is sweetness and kindness incarnate, suddenly is told by her weasly boyfriend Kevin that after ten years in their relationship he is leaving her for another woman. But not just any woman, a twenty year old goddess and the new waitress at their restaurant “the Sea pear”. For ten years they have been happily plodding along, living together, working together and for him to suddenly come and not just break what they had together, but to smash it to smithereens and then to top it Carrie must work side by side with the wretch and his floozy as they parade around shoving their so called ‘love’ in her face. I got to say that Carrie is a much better woman then me, the fact that she didn’t throw a pan at him is a testament to her good nature.
But all is not so well in both camps, and with a few mishaps along the way we soon see just how amazing strong and resilient Carrie is and just how much of a useless waste of space, Kevin was. With the help of her two friends; June who works across the road in the pub, and stranger Luke who suddenly appears in her life both of her best friend have heartaches and not to mention woman best friend Carries little dog; Teddy who she finds in the street, who as we all know dogs can be valuable support when needed, with their continued help and support of her three companions Carries finds the strength to face the world alone.
This is brilliant, the characters are beautifully written – even the love to hate them Kevin and his strumpet Valentina, I love that word don’t you; Strumpet? 😉 Ms Hogan has got the character’s personalities perfectly , Kevin he is a useless wretch, he is the most pathetic man I have ever come across – I’m surprised he can get dressed himself and Valentina, well I’m going to say it again – strumpet! Carrie though, she really is a marvel Ms Hogan has written her perfectly, I love her resilience her spirit and her kindness and the friendship between June and Luke is both touching and real.
This is a book that you will sit down and curl up with again and again\, it is comforting and enjoyable and highly recommended and I am looking forward to reading more from Faith Hogan. The message I got from this was that with true friends by your side and with a kind heart no matter what you face you will win.
This was a ARC copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review as apart of this blog tour,
What Happened To Us can be purchased from Amazon.
About The Author
Faith was born in Ireland and currently lives there with her husband, four children and two fussy cats. She gained an Honors Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate from University College, Galway. She was a winner in the 2014
Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair- an international competition for emerging writers. When she’s not writing, she’s an enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger.
About the book
1910 – A compelling tale of female empowerment in Bath’s leading department store. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.
Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath’s premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.
Determined to break from her father’s iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington’s into a new decade, embracing woman’s equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.
Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington’s plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?
As soon as I first heard about this book I have been eager to read it, it is an era that I am hugely interested in and I felt so honored when Rachel Brimble gave me the chance to review it for her. This excelled my expectations of it ‘The Mistress of Penningtons’ is incredibly good! This is the first book I have read by Ms Brimble and as such I came into this book with completely fresh eyes, it is a wonderful introduction into her work, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one.
Set during Edwardian era at a time where the world is moving forward, women are finding their voices, and nothing is going to get in their way to get what they want, what they deserve, fighting for their rights. Pennington’s is stuck in the past the likes of Selfridges are leaving all other stores behind and Elizabeth Pennington can see it happening. She wants to take their families business into the future, she has so many idea’s and visions of how to take Pennington’s Department store forward. She just has to convince her old-fashioned father; Edward that just because she is a woman and not the son he wanted, she can do the job as good, or even better than any man.
Elizabeth really resonated with me, I understood her passion, her belief in women’s abilities to do whatever they want to. She knows women can do everything a man can, she hates how women are treated and she knows that it is only a matter of time before they get that vital say. I love how she proposes equal pay and proper tea breaks for the workers. She wants to prove that she isn’t just made for being a wife and a walking incubator for a husband’s heir, that she can make Pennington’s into something extraordinary.
My goodness, how I admire this woman, she is brilliant and the way she tries repeatedly to stand up for herself with s much backbone is wonderful. She is an intelligent woman who is passionate about what she believes in, she is hardworking and creative. She has real fire and spirit! You can really see what an incredible woman Elizabeth is by how she stands firm even when her father is crushing her sense of self-worth. Elizabeth has a pretty bad relationship with her father; Edward she craves his approval and attention.
I have never in my life read a book, and within the first few pages hated a character as much as I detested Edward Pennington. Not just in the way he treats his daughter and women in general, but how he disregards and disrespects hardworking and working-class people like Joseph. I found him to be a bigoted, bullying and condescending man. Who, in my opinion those very people he hates, such as Joseph are worth a hundred of that horrible man. True, he does turn a corner within the book and Brimble has done a wonderful job with his development throughout the book.
Hard-working glove maker; Joseph Carter like Elizabeth he wants to forge his way into business, he wants to take his small family run business to great heights he has visions of grandeur and a passion for doing good which is why is decides to take his produce to Pennington’s to be sold.
I so understand Joseph, in a way he is from the same cloth. He is unashamed of his humble roots, his status in society and proud of his place and his people. I love this man, he is wonderful. Smart, super sexy, charismatic, charming and a true gentleman. He has morals, honor and a good chivalric heart. But he is also wounded, he feels guilty about his wife’s death, he thinks he should have stopped what happened to her and since that fateful day, Joseph has been living in darkness. Your heart breaks for him!
Joseph really is a wonderfully caring man, he is decent, hardworking and honest. He wants to finish what his late wife started and help the community, to help those in need. But his darkness in him he longs for vengeance he wants to bring his wife’s killers brought to justice. In one way or another!
I love that moment when they first meet, it’s one of those scenes that would be brilliant in a film. Eyes catching across a crowded department store and each takes a breath, each knowing in that moment that this is the person for them. For a woman who is so free and single minded, who is adamant that she doesn’t need a man in her life, she can’t stop herself but fall under Joseph’s spell. She is instantly drawn to his allure and charming personality, his sure determination, passion and somewhat cocky manner stops her in her track’s.
They both see that they share the same vision, same ambitions, same dogeared determination and soon they join forces to push forward to that ultimate goal, but there they have a manipulative and egotistical Edward Pennington to try and out maneuver. This man will do what ever he can to make sure that his grand and might Pennington’s never land’s in the hands of a mere woman (who should be at home with a husband) and an up-start working class, laborer.
This book is incredibly good, for me this is everything I want from a Historical Romance, its set in an era that has always caught my attention. The history is clear and precise, it is like finding something you have been looking for. The plot is crisp, and it flows seamlessly. You are gripped with the story, the era and its character’s throughout. The character’s themselves are extremely likable and very easy to relate to. It’s just so stylish!
I cannot recommend this enough, for my first foray into Ms Brimble’s work I am very impressed and will defiantly be reading more from her.
A definite must read, if you like watching Mr Selfridge then you will love this book too!
This was a ARC copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.
The Mistress of Pennington’s is to be released on 1st July and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.