Tag Archive | family life

Blog Tour: Review and Extract: My Husband’s Wives by Faith Hogan

I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for My Husband’s Wives by Faith Hogan, with the brilliant Aria, an imprint of Head of Zeus (Thanks to all for the book in return for an honest review) . Below is the review and an extract, and don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour, there’s some amazing blogs in there!

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Length: 260 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Better to have loved and lost, than never loved.

Paul Starr, Irelands leading cardiologist dies in a car crash with a pregnant young women by his side.

United in their grief and the love of one man, four women are thrown together in an attempt to come to terms with life after Paul. They soon realise they never really knew him at all.

The love they shared for Paul in his life and which incensed a feeling of mistrust and dislike for each other, in his death turns into the very thing that bonds them and their children to each other forever.

As they begin to form unlikely friendships, Paul’s death proves to be the catalyst that enables them to become the people they always wanted to be.

The Review: So this is the story of the aftermath of the death of Paul Starr, the perfect-on paper, dream doctor who seems almost too good to be true. And it turns out he is. It’s been some time where I’ve read a book where there were so many lives intertwined and I’d forgotten how great it was when you were invested in each and every character, as I was here. The characters were unusual in their range in terms of age and roles in the book, you had stoic, mothering, bright and energetic and finally the innocent, tell it like it is shoulder to lean on. The differences between each of their lives gave us so many issues and experiences, with a few different genres thrown in there too and it made it all the more enjoyable. Each and every female character had me, and the more I read the more I felt for them. Of course in the blurb there is the mention of ‘unlikely friendships,’ and this was most definitely the highlight- the friendship between the four was excellent, heart-warming and beautiful and timely, which is so important to me-it’s a bit of a bug-bear where a friendship or relationship doesn’t evolve, you’re just suddenly hit with it. That didn’t happen here and I was thrilled. I did say ‘female characters’-the only character I didn’t warm to was Paul, or the memories of him anyway, I found him selfish and sly to be honest and I couldn’t understand that for the most part they continued to speak of him in such a fond manner, where I was livid on their behalf, but then Ms. Hogan had a surprise in store in terms of his character …

As you can tell I really liked this book. There were some issues, I don’t know if it was me, but there were times where I felt like parts had been cut out, maybe to make the story more snappy, but I did get confused from time to time. I found myself to be editing in my head a little as I read where it seemed like some sentences that I would have expected to be in a certain place to explain things were later in the page. Saying that, there weren’t many of these issues, and as this was a review copy it’s more likely they’re fixed since (or else, as I said, it’s just me!)

My Husband’s Wives had ups and downs and mini mysteries, peppered with clichéd (and sometimes cheesy!) occurrences that were predictable in a good way and yet not always fully predictable, ensuring it was always vivid and easy to picture in your mind’s eye. It was a book I’d have read in a day (although it says on Amazon this is 260 pages it felt like more, because it’s such a saga, and yet it flew!) had I had the chance (the kids know when I’m enjoying a book and decide to jump in and do their thing) and yet, conversely, one that, had I known I’d enjoyed it so much, I’d have waited until I could ingest it over a few nights, possibly in front of a big fire.

Rating: 4/5

The Extract

Some moments stay with you forever. The day Evie Considine knocked on her door would be one of those that would not fade from Grace’s memory easily, or ever. It was a warm day. They had planned a picnic the evening before, just Delilah and herself.

Delilah left Evie standing in the doorway, as unsure where to put her as Grace was about how to welcome this familiar stranger to their home.

‘Hello,’ Grace said. Her voice held a little trepidation. Why do you always have a fair idea when you are about to hear bad news?

‘Hello – we’ve never actually met, Grace, but my name is Evie. Evie Considine-Starr.’ She was an icy grey-blonde, coiffed and immaculately tailored. Her navy blue eyes were large and childlike beneath lids that hooded with age more than shrewdness. Her voice was porcelain, but softened by nerves. She held herself straight and might be formidable, but there was a little girl quality to her that picked out her vulnerability so she couldn’t hide it, even if she tried. She was absurdly overdressed for the weather and younger-looking than the sixty-five years she must surely be at this stage.

Grace held out her hand. ‘It’s nice to meet you.’ They shared a handshake with no warmth. ‘What can I do for you?’ She reversed backwards into her hallway, feeling as if this perfectly prepared woman who had slipped silently about in her imagination for so long had caught her in the act of some sordid activity. She moved into the nearby dining room that they never used. She could feel Evie inspecting the place as they entered the room. ‘Have a seat.’ But she did not sit. This was not a social visit.

‘I’m here about Paul.’ Her voice was even, unemotional, but Grace knew it couldn’t be good news; she was a million miles off just how bad though. ‘He’s dead.’ Evie said the words with a finality that took all the air from the room between them.

Grace could not speak, she tried to take in the words, but they weren’t hitting home, her lungs had cut off breathing and after a moment she had to remind herself to suck and blow. It was as though someone had bubbled-wrapped the world and insulated her from those two words.

‘I thought you should be first to hear, and of course to tell Delilah.’

‘He can’t be; he can’t be dead – how?’ Grace’s voice didn’t sound as if it belonged to her. She dropped to the nearest chair. Paul, dead? There had to be a mistake. This was all some awful mix up. ‘How…’ Her mind raced. ‘I mean, when…’

‘Look dear, you’re in shock, we’re both in shock, probably. You’ll have to decide how best to break it to Delilah. She’s, what…’ Evie leaned her head to the side. It was strange to hear this woman speak of her daughter as though she knew her well, as though there were some connection there far beyond what Grace felt there was any right to be. ‘She’s sixteen this year, isn’t she?’ Evie nodded sagely, twisted the emerald and diamond band on her wedding finger. ‘A difficult age to lose her father,’ she shook her head, as though it was all a question of timing. Shock, even Grace could see it, she was in shock. ‘All she needs to hear is that it was painless, as far as the doctors are saying. He was driving at the time, so…’

‘Can we see him?’ Grace had to let the fact that Evie knew anything about their lives slip past her. In this moment, she had to concentrate on taking in the news. ‘What about…’

‘It would be better for Delilah to wait; at least until we see what she has to be prepared for.’ Evie picked an imaginary hair from the lapel of her soft expensive jacket. ‘They want us to identify him. Well, they want me to identify him.’ She sniffed. Perhaps it was as close as she came to crying.

‘Oh?’ Grace felt the room spin about her. Her hands were sweating against her bare legs. She’d put on a denim skirt for a day at the beach. It felt sticky and clingy and as though it might have grown a couple of sizes too small. The whole house suddenly moved in closer about her for a moment. She felt she might faint. She took a deep breath, raised her eyes to see Evie regarding her reservedly.

‘It’s shock. Better to be in the boat you’re in than where Annalise Connolly is.’ The words were cold, but maybe Evie too was still in shock. ‘She was in the car with him. They were travelling from the hospital early in the morning, and swerved to avoid a dog.’ Her voice quivered, only slightly, and then she straightened herself, cleared her throat. ‘He careered into one of those big trucks, from what the traffic police could tell me.’ She nodded towards the front of the house. ‘He was trying to avoid a dog. A blasted dog.’

‘Is she… is she going to be okay?’

‘I didn’t ask.’ Evie stared blankly at Grace; perhaps it was just dawning on her that she should have. ‘I suppose she must be or they’d have said, wouldn’t they?’

‘And the boys?’ It was strange talking about Annalise Connolly’s children like this. They never talked about them; Paul talked about everything but his life with Annalise and the two sons they had together.

‘No, it was just Paul and Annalise, from what the guards can make out.’ Evie shook her head. ‘You’d have to wonder…’ She didn’t finish the sentence, but Grace had a fair idea of the sentiment. Maybe before Delilah was born she’d have felt the same.

‘So, do you want to come?’ She was looking at her watch, a simple Cartier gold snake slid about her papery wrist.

‘Pardon?’ Grace had lost track of Evie’s words, as though she’d missed a step somewhere between the kitchen and the front door; the universe had taken a sidestep on her.

‘The guards, they’re waiting outside to take us to see him. It’s only right that you’re there too. After all, you had a child together.’

‘He was my husband,’ Grace said. He’d never divorced her. She still wore her ring most days. He was still a big part of their lives, even if he had fathered the two boys with Annalise Connolly.

‘No, Grace.’ Evie gazed with the fervour of a zealot. ‘No, Grace. He was still my husband. We never got divorced.’

About The Author

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Faith Hogan was born in Ireland.  She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway.  She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, children and a very fat cat called Norris.

She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.

Author links

Books on Amazon

Twitter @gerhogan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/faithhoganauthor/

Website  http://faithhogan.com/

 

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All We Have Lost by Aimee Alexander

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Length: 276 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal amazon link for the book

What they say:

From the bestselling author of Pause to Rewind and The Accidental Life of Greg Millar comes this ‘stunning tale of modern marriage.’

Kim Waters seems to have it all: her own PR agency, a loving husband and two adorable children. Then Kim announces that she’s fed up plugging Flush toilet cleaner and writing sparkling press releases for mediocre products; she wants to write ‘the great novel’ and spend more time with her young family. She folds her business and settles down to a life of cosy domesticity.

If only it were that easy. The ‘great novel’ is, in fact, a great struggle. Life as a domestic goddess has (many) hidden challenges. And her relationship with her husband is rapidly losing its equilibrium.

As the perfect life Kim has built for herself starts to crumble comes the revelation that will make her doubt everything she had taken for granted…

The Review: I saw Aimee Alexander aka Denise Deegan, speaking at a literary festival some years ago, and I knew from her covers which were dark, her extract, which was a rom com, and the way she spoke about writing, that she was one to read straight away. Of course I didn’t. Instead I went to Amazon, bought two of her books, constantly reminding myself I had to read her, with this hitting fever pitch as I watched everyone around rave over The Accidental Life Of Greg Millar … And again I didn’t get to her. Until Christmas time, and boy am I relived I did!

So the book begins with the lead arriving home to a darkened house after she’s missed her children’s bedtime again. The narrative, that of the first person, present tense variety, was perfect. We see Kim, the working mum who feels guilty all the time, who has done this one too many times and decides to give up life as she knows it to become a stay at home mum and a writer (yes!). This resulted in some very funny book issues, which I couldn’t get enough of (I loved how the protagonist had to come to terms with a best friend who had a book deal based off her notoriety while she was starting from the absolute beginning). My only issue actually was that the writer in me would have loved to see more of this.

This book struck so many chords with me. The feelings, the change of dynamic in the house, sometimes possibly perceived as opposed to actual, and the difference in relationship between Ian and Kim, who were such a great pairing. There were times in this book that I took it upon myself to be mad for Kim as household tasks were now handed over to her, but with no please or thank you (would you know that I perhaps see some of our home situation here, lol?) as decisions they made jointly were suddenly solely the duty of the earner of the house (no fingers, stop typing, you are NOT going to do this!) There was an excellent portrayal of the mixed emotions that come with going from a career to staying at home with children, with the feelings of being content and happy to be with the kids sometimes being usurped by loneliness, an itch to do more, a niggling feeling that you’ve lost your place in terms of value in the world, as well as your rights in the household.

The pacing was excellent, with twists and turns, cliches that turned out not to be and side issues and back issues that I won’t go into as I don’t want to spoil it. I’ll tell you that this is what I would catalogue as a slightly darker form of ‘mom lit,’ and it’s one I’ll be recommending all around me. I really enjoyed this and will most definitely be reading Aimee Alexander’s books (see her catalogue here), again.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Things I Should Have Told You by Carmel Harrington

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Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:

Every family has a story…

But for the Guinness family a happy ending looks out of reach. Olly and Mae’s marriage is crumbling, their teenage daughter Evie is on a mission to self-destruct and their beloved Pops is dying of cancer. Their once strong family unit is slowly falling apart.

But Pops has one final gift to offer his beloved family – a ray of hope to cling to. As his life’s journey draws to a close, he sends his family on an adventure across Europe in a camper van, guided by his letters, his wisdom and his love.

Because Pops knows that all his family need is time to be together, to find their love for each other and to find their way back home…

The Review: I have to start by reminding you of ‘Every time a bell rings’ which I reviewed last year (see review here) and re-iterating what a powerhouse author Carmel Harrington is. I’m lucky enough to know Carmel, through the Imagine, Write, Inspire writing group I belong to, and she is seriously one of the most vibrant, helpful, amazing people I’ve ever met. There’s a reason I’m telling you this, and that is that this book very much matches her personality. It is a book full of warmth, family and hope, a book that is full of messages and ideals, all nicely bundled together with fantastic imagery and great characters. I really enjoyed this book. I read it over three nights, and each day thought about it and looked forward to sitting down with it. As you can see from the blurb it involves a family that is falling apart heading off on a camper van journey. The journey itself is long, and puts us in different locations with so much description, that I found myself actually thinking of the day when I might bring my children on a similar one, to experience the culture and history and beauty that was ever present here. There were so many moments of faraway enchanting symbolism that were excellant.

There were arguments and tension that are all too real in family life, and a number of chords were struck. That being said I suppose I found at times it was a little too innocent especially in terms of the children, and they seemed old beyond their years at times but I don’t have girls so I just may not know what I’m talking about here!

I have to say that over that last year my taste in books has changed a lot, which I suppose it should. I used to struggle with books such as this, that were very homely, and Irish, with warm, wholesome romance but now I must say this is very much up my street. A special mention to Pops, I worried about him through out the book and was afraid to reach the end (not a spoiler!) Very much recommended and actually one I’ll be shouting about in the shorter evenings, where books such as this serve as a treat to be consumed in front of a fire, or at least in a warm room with the rain beating down outside. I loved this book.

Rating: 4.5/5

Note: I don’t know if I’ve told you previously about how I live for The Irish Book Awards? It pretty much dictates my reading in the Winter months, and I’ve found some of my favourite authors that way. Well now Ms. Harrington is nominated for this award. If you have read this book and want to vote for her look in the Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year award here, or even if you just want to have a gander at the range of books and throw in a few votes for those you have read and enjoyed over the year from Irish authors then see fiction awards here . See non fiction here .

Enjoy voting (closes midnight 11th November 2016)!