Contemporary

All posts in the Contemporary category

Blog Tour – Do No Harm by L V Hay

Published July 18, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Till death do us part…

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong…
Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives…
Chilling, dark and terrifying, Do No Harm is a taut psychological thriller and a study of obsession, from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the always fabulous Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of Do No Harm in exchange for an honest review. I’m adoring the new wave of psychological/domestic thrillers that are coming out at the moment and although sometimes I worry that they’re going to be too similar, so far I haven’t found any yet that aren’t both unique and thrilling reads. This is definitely the case with Do No Harm, it has so much to recommend it – a compelling, twisty plot, fascinating and very readable characters and of course, those unexpected moments (I call them “gasp out louds”) that cement the book in your memory and make it more likely you’ll remember the story months down the line.

L V Hay, author of Do No Harm.

This is the story of a marriage, as you might have guessed. Actually, hang on a second, this is the story of TWO marriages. We have our main female lead, Lily and her new husband Sebastian who have recently married and are attempting to achieve full wedded bliss but are being hampered slightly (understatement of the year!) by the spectre of Lily’s previous marriage with ex-husband, the very intense Maxwell. Lily and Maxwell both share a son and although they share custody fairly amicably, the boy becomes a perfect pawn for both finding out what is going on in the newlyweds’ household and manipulating that situation for some other, more venomous motives. Lily and Sebastian are desperate to enjoy their new life as man and wife and Sebastian, to forge a relationship with his stepson but it’s not long before the cracks start to show and the family are at breaking point. However, what they don’t realise is exactly how out of hand and dangerous their lives are about to get.

Do No Harm is a gripping tale where you really never know what’s coming next. I’ve read so many novels in this genre and I can’t help myself trying to predict what’s going to happen but with this novel? I failed miserably. I kept thinking I had figured it all out and feeling quite smug and clever then my bubble was well and truly burst when L V Hay pulled that metaphorical rug right out from under me and completely twisted everything round beyond all recognition. I thought it was going to be obvious. It’s not obvious. I thought it was going to be predictable. Nope, definitely not predictable. I love when an author surprises me and refuses to submit to a cliché and Do No Harm does this time and time again. I’ve also had the misfortune to be in an obsessive, negative and manipulative relationship and the author describes the uncomfortable, confusing nature of this perfectly. Expect the unexpected with this exciting novel and just enjoy being taken along for a ride where ANYTHING could happen.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

L. V. Hay is a novelist, script editor, blogger, and head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival. She is the author of Writing & Selling Drama Screenplays and the thriller The Other Twin.

Check out L V Hay’s website HERE

Thank you once again to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Do No Harm was published on the 30th June 2018 and is available as a paperback and an e-book. If you fancy some more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Do No Harm on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39215628-do-no-harm

Link to Do No Harm on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Do-No-Harm-L-Hay-ebook/dp/B079YWK3GK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531663434&sr=8-1&keywords=do+no+harm+lv+hay

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Shtum – Jem Lester

Published July 17, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Powerful, darkly funny and heart-breaking, Shtum is a story about fathers and sons, autism, and dysfunctional relationships.

Ben Jewell has hit breaking point. His ten-year-old son Jonah has severe autism and Ben and his wife, Emma, are struggling to cope.

When Ben and Emma fake a separation – a strategic decision to further Jonah’s case in an upcoming tribunal – Ben and Jonah move in with Georg, Ben’s elderly father. In a small house in North London, three generations of men – one who can’t talk; two who won’t – are thrown together.

What did I think?:

There were a few things that first attracted me to Shtum by Jem Lester. Initially, I couldn’t fail but to be pulled in by that gorgeous cover and the way it was published as a naked hardback (one of my favourite types of hardbacks) then I read the synopsis and the early reviews and I got The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time vibe from it which intrigued me and made me more keen to check out what it was all about. Now I ordinarily hate comparing books to each other but did Shtum live up to the dizzying heights of Curious Incident? Unfortunately, not quite but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book by any stretch of the imagination. I think when you go into something expecting a direct copy, it’s never going to end well and Shtum deserves to stand on its own as the story of a very different and fascinating family that I did end up feeling a range of conflicting emotions for.

Jem Lester, author of Shtum.

In a nutshell, this is the story of Ben Jewell who has recently separated from his wife, taking custody of his severely autistic son Jonah and living with his father, Jonah’s grandfather Georg. The interesting thing about Ben and Emma’s struggles is that their separation is staged, purely so that they have a better chance of getting Jonah into the residential school of their dreams that will offer them a much higher level of support than they have previously been receiving. Both parents are at breaking point, with Jonah and with each other and Ben has turned to drinking heavily as a way of escaping rather than helping to run the family business. He is also dealing with a difficult relationship with his father, Georg and as the fight to get Jonah the best care rumbles on, everything comes to a head for all parties concerned and they must learn to pull together as a family if they are all going to get through this hardest of times unscathed.

An indication of the main problems that a child with autism spectrum disorder can present with.

Now, I’m in no way, shape or form an autism expert but I had no idea how devastating an effect severe autism can have on a family. Compared with Curious Incident, where our protagonist is on the milder end of the spectrum, Shtum gives a no holds barred account of the “other” end where lack of speech, continence and occasional aggression seem to be the norm. I cannot imagine how debilitating it must be for the child and for the family as a whole and it was certainly an eye opener into a different, very cruel world. On further reading, I’ve discovered Jem Lester happens to have a severely autistic child so presumably has drawn on a lot of his own personal experiences to tell Ben and Jonah’s story and this makes the narrative all the more poignant, increasing my admiration and respect for the author ten-fold.

As for the conflicting emotions I mentioned earlier, that was mainly directed towards the behaviour of certain characters in the novel whom I found endlessly frustrating at points. Yes, we understand why Ben drinks and also why he shirks work. In the horrendous situation that he finds himself where his child requires constant, specialist care, you can’t blame him for becoming depressed and losing himself in something that will make him forget his troubles and responsibilities for a while. But this was also the reason why I just wanted to shake him. Him and Emma, for burying their heads in the sands and ignoring the issues or not asking for the appropriate help that they obviously deserve. Ben’s love for Jonah completely shines through and this is lovely to see, despite his misgivings and considerably “human” reactions to an awful situation BUT there were so many opportunities that he had the chance to turn his life round, build his fractured relationship with his father, sort his drinking out and each time, he just failed miserably.

Of course, it is always difficult to get that happy ending and it was authentic in the way that Ben took his sweet time to address his troubles but personally, I just found myself getting annoyed with him too quickly for his occasionally ridiculous actions. However, if you can get past this, this is a heart-breaking read that is well worth the time and investment purely for the different slice of life that this kind of challenge brings to thousands of families all over the world every day. I appreciated the sentiment, the volatile relationships and the humble way in which the author approaches a difficult and emotional subject area.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Book Tag – Shelfie by Shelfie #8

Published July 10, 2018 by bibliobeth

Image edited from: <a href=”http://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame image created by Jannoon028 – Freepik.com</a>

Hi everyone and welcome to a brand new tag – Shelfie by Shelfie that I was inspired to create late one night when I couldn’t sleep. If you want to join in, you share a picture (or “shelfie”) of one of your shelves i.e. favourites, TBR, however you like to organise them, and then answer ten questions that are based around that particular shelf. I have quite a large collection and am going to do every single bookshelf which comprises both my huge TBR and the books I’ve read and kept but please, don’t feel obliged to do every shelf yourself if you fancy doing this tag. I’d love to see anything and just a snapshot of your collection would be terrific and I’m sure, really interesting for other people to see!

Here are the other Shelfies I’ve done: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7

Anyway – on with the tag, here is the fifth shelf of my first bookshelf (I’ve chosen to split it up into two separate shelfies because of the sheer number of books, oops!). Here is the front shelf and we’re looking at the middle part of this image.

And here are the questions!:

1.) Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

Finally we have a bit of organisation on my shelves! Just a little bit though, I didn’t want to go too mad…haha! This shelf has a couple of miscellaneous books at the far left and horizontally but generally we have a few books by Zoe Marriott (which I haven’t read yet, surprise surprise!). Then the rest of the shelf is all of my short stories collections which are either in use or lying in wait for my Short Stories Challenge.

2.) Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it/ a memory associated with it etc.

I don’t have too many strong memories associated with books on this shelf but I’m going to mention 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill. Anyone who has followed my blog for a while or knows me well is aware that I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I’ve only started getting into his son, Joe Hill’s writing recently and this was one of the first books that I bought of his. It’s currently active in my Short Stories Challenge – I think I’ve read two of the stories so far?

3.) Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

Sigh. I’m afraid I have a definite book in mind for this. It’s again another book active in my Short Stories Challenge, the collection by Helen Oyeyemi called What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. I’ve only read one of the stories in the collection so far – Books And Roses but unfortunately I really wasn’t impressed and I was so disappointed, I’ve heard such wonderful things about her writing! I am definitely going to carry on with the collection for now but if I had to, that’s the book I would ditch.

4.) Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

Purely for the cover alone it would be Angela Carter’s Book Of Fairy Tales. Look at it – it’s just gorgeous!!

5.) Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

I think that would be The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw. I just haven’t managed to get round to it yet but it’s on the front shelf to remind me of its existence. Apparently!

6.) Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

The newest addition and one I hope to read VERY soon (who am I kidding?!) is When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait Of The Writer As A Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy. It was short-listed for The Women’s Prize For Fiction this year and I’ve heard such amazing things.

7.) Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. I’ve mentioned it before on the blog and I’ll probably mention it again before I blinking get round to reading it!! (*eye roll*).

8.) If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

There’s no room for any object on this shelf unfortunately, it’s double stacked as a lot of my shelves are!

9.) What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

Like other shelfies I’ve done, I think it demonstrates the variety of genres I enjoy although because I decided to be organised with this shelf, it says that I enjoy a short story or two!

10.) Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

I won’t tag anyone but if anyone wants to do this tag, I’d be delighted and I’d love to see your shelfie.

For other Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere, please see:

Chrissi @ Chrissi Reads FAVOURITES shelfie HERE and her Shelfie by Shelfie 2 HERE.

Sarah @ The Aroma Of Books Shelfie 1A, 1B, 1C 1D

Dee @ Dees Rad Reads And Reviews Shelfie HERE

Jacquie @ Rattle The Stars Shelfie HERE

Stuart @ Always Trust In Books Shelfie #1 HERE.

Thank you so much to Chrissi, Sarah, Dee, Jacquie and Stuart for participating in Shelfie by Shelfie, it really means the world to me. Hugs!

If you’ve done this tag, please let me know and I’d be happy to add you to Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere!

COMING SOON on bibliobeth : Shelfie by Shelfie #9

Mid Year Freak Out Tag 2018

Published July 3, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to a tag that’s really doing the rounds at the moment – the Mid Year Freak Out Tag which I loved doing last year. Here we go!

1.) The Best Book You’ve Read So Far This Year

This book has now made it onto my all time favourites shelf and I’m already dying to re-read it which usually doesn’t happen for a few years at least! It broke my heart and made me laugh in equal measure and if I’m ever asked for a recommendation, this is the latest book that I push into the hands of everyone who asks. 

2.) Your Favourite Sequel This Year?

I’ve got a feeling that one of the Marnie Rome books appeared in this spot last year, I’m so predictable haha! For me, this series keeps getting better and better and this book for “favourite sequel” spot was a no-brainer.

3.) A New Release That You Haven’t Read Yet But Really Want To?

Okay, so I was initially put off this book because I heard it was about ice hockey. I’m not a huge fan of reading about sports so thought it wasn’t for me. Then I started to see all the amazing reviews, then I realised it wasn’t just about ice hockey, NOW my fellow bloggers are starting to virtually bash me on the head for not having read it so far. This will happen soon, I promise. Er, this month or next month I mean!! For my interview with Fredrik Backman – please see my post HERE. (shameless plug).

4.) Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half Of The Year?

I think I might have already mentioned Melmoth by Sarah Perry in a previous tag but Bridge Of Clay by Markus Zusak is another one I’ve got on pre-order and am really excited for it to be released!

5.) Your Biggest Disappointment?

I was going to choose one of our Banned Books, Blood And Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause for this answer but in the end, I’m going to choose this. Lee Child has so many fans around the world, I really, REALLY wanted to like this book. I don’t know what it was, maybe I came to the series too late but I didn’t get on with it at all. Huge disappointment! Read my review HERE (but please LC fans, don’t come after me with pointy sticks!)

6.) Biggest Surprise Of The Year?

I read this as a buddy read with the lovely Stuart from Always Trust In Books. It was our first buddy read together so I will always have fond memories of it because of that but I honestly wasn’t prepared for how much I enjoyed this. I was completely gripped the whole way through and this is the first YA series that has got right under my skin for a long time now. Check out my review and our Twitter chat HERE.

We recently read a non fiction together, Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt so look out for our review on that coming in the next couple of weeks. We are also just about to start on the follow up to Scythe, called Thunderhead and I think I can say for both of us that we are VERY excited!

7.) Favourite New To You Or Debut Author?

This was an easy pick for me. I read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine with my blogger BFF Janel at Keeper Of Pages as our second buddy read and it was also our second five star! Gail Honeyman is new to me and she is also a debut author so that ticks both boxes and I can safely say, whatever she writes next I will be pre-ordering and incredibly excited for.

8.) Your New Fictional Crush?

I have to be honest, I don’t really get fictional crushes but if I had to choose, I’d choose Henry from one of my all time favourite books, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger which I re-read again this year. He’s a little bit mysterious, a little bit dangerous and I love the way he loves Clare. I’m not big on romance but their relationship just captured my heart.

9.) New Favourite Character?

I read the Nightingale with Janel @ Keeper Of Pages for our third buddy read and although my review isn’t up until tomorrow (spoiler alert, I ADORED it!) I had to include it on this tag because I completely fell in love with the character of Isabelle. I’ll talk more about her tomorrow but wow, I don’t think I’ll ever forget her!

10.) A Book That Made You Cry?

It takes a lot for a book to make me cry, I’m not sure why! But when a book does, I will never forget it. I came close to crying with The Heart’s Invisible Furies and The Nightingale, books I’ve already mentioned in this tag but I really teared up during a particular moment of H Is For Hawk, by Helen Macdonald, a non fiction book about grief and falconry where Helen is feeling sad and then plays with her hawk for the first time. It’s really heart-warming and was a passage I read over and over again.

11.) A Book That Made You Happy?

Matilda by Roald Dahl, an old childhood favourite and one Chrissi Reads and I picked for our Kid-Lit challenge this year. I absolutely adore it and it’s always a delight to re-read. 

12.) Your Favourite Book To Movie Adaptation That You’ve Seen This Year?

Has to be The Handmaid’s Tale, adapted from the novel by Margaret Atwood. I love the book (it’s another of my all-time favourites) and I loved the TV series too, I’m currently watching the second one on Channel 4 and it’s so chilling!

13.) Favourite Book Post You’ve Published This Year?

I hate this question as I’m always really insecure about how my blog posts are received. I guess there’s two I’m quite pleased with for very different reasons, Another Day In The Death Of America where I really enjoyed ranting about guns in America and The Time Traveler’s Wife which I’ve already mentioned above where I got into some quite personal details about my own life. 

14.) The Most Beautiful Book You Have Bought/Received This Year?

I’m actually on a book buying ban this year (this excludes pre-orders and any books I might receive for my birthday of course!) so I’ve been really good about not buying many. I did get this beautiful Penguin clothbound classic of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott from my boyfriend for my birthday while we were on holiday in Mexico which was a lovely surprise!

15.) What Are Some Books That You Need To Read By The End Of The Year?

These are the main two books that my fellow bloggers have been begging me to read soon. And I will, I promise!

So that’s my answers, thank you so much for reading and I hope you’ve enjoyed my choices. Let me know in the comments if you agree with me or tell me what you might choose yourself. Anyone who wants to do this and hasn’t done it yet, consider yourself tagged!

 

Giveaway – Somewhere Beyond The Sea by Miranda Dickinson

Published July 3, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to a very special post on bibliobeth today. Today the lovely people at Pan Macmillan have allowed me to give away a copy of Somewhere Beyond The Sea by Miranda Dickinson. Apologies to the publisher that I wasn’t able to post this content as part of the blog tour, I happened to be quite poorly and completely forgot about my commitment to them but I’m thankful to them that I’m still able to post it now. So here’s all the information about the book!

What’s it all about?:

Can you fall in love with someone before you’ve even met?

Seren MacArthur is living a life she never intended. Trying to save the Cornish seaside business her late father built – while grieving for his loss – she has put her own dreams on hold and is struggling. Until she discovers a half-finished seaglass star on her favourite beach during an early morning walk. When she completes the star, she sets into motion a chain of events that will steal her heart and challenge everything she believes.

Jack Dixon is trying to secure a better life for daughter Nessie and himself. Left a widower and homeless when his wife died, he’s just about keeping their heads above water. Finding seaglass stars completed on Gwithian beach is a bright spark that slowly rekindles his hope.

Seren and Jack are searching for their missing pieces. But when they meet in real life, it’s on the opposing sides of a battle. Jack is managing the redevelopment of a local landmark, and Seren is leading the community campaign to save it.

Both have reason to fight – Seren for the cause her father believed in, Jack for his livelihood. But only one can win. With so much at stake, will they ever find what they are really looking for?

Miranda Dickinson’s Somewhere Beyond the Sea is a sparkling tale of love, life and finding magic where you least expect it.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Miranda Dickinson has always had a head full of stories. Coming from a creative family where stories and songs were always present, it was perhaps inevitable that she would end up adoring words. A songwriter for over 15 years, Miranda has successfully penned over thirty songs, delivering both live and recorded performances in a range of venues across the UK and Europe. Her first solo project album, About Time is due for release this year. To hear her music, visit www.mirandadickinson.com – and be sure to leave a message if you like it!

Miranda began writing in earnest four years ago with her first novel, Coffee at Kowalski’s – a romantic comedy set in New York’s Upper West Side. This was spotted on HarperCollins’ site for unpublished authors, Authonomy.com at the end of 2008 and was released by Avon (part of HC) as Fairytale of New York on 12th November 2009. She has also written several short stories, scripts and novel excerpts, many of which are published on Helium.com. Miranda is also a regular contributor for www.myvillage.com writing a range of local interest articles for the Birmingham area and national film and festival reviews.

Find Miranda on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2998054.Miranda_Dickinson

on her website at: http://www.miranda-dickinson.com/

on Twitter at: @wurdsmyth

Somewhere Beyond the Sea is out now, published by Pan Macmillan in paperback, eBook and audiobook.

Interested? Want to win a copy? 

All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below:

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Please make sure if you are under 18 you have permission to email me your address which will only be used for the purpose of this giveaway and not stored. 

I’m happy to say this giveaway WILL be international but please allow time for the book getting to your country as I’ll be sending it from the UK. Obviously I’ll keep you updated by email as soon as I send it! This giveaway will run for two weeks and I’ll notify the winner by email as soon as possible after the closing date. 

Good Luck everyone!

Love Beth xxx

My Sweet Friend – H.A. Leuschel

Published June 6, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives
A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?
Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.
But is Alexa all she claims to be?
As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?
In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to the author, H.A. Leuschel for getting in touch with me via email and asking if I would like to read her new novella, My Sweet Friend after thoroughly enjoying her short story collection, Manipulated Lives last year. Of course I jumped at the chance. Manipulated Lives really spoke to me personally as a past victim of psychological and emotional abuse/manipulation and I was intrigued to read more of Helene’s work where the theme of manipulation is once again explored. Unfortunately, I’ve been unlucky enough to experience these kind of problems with an ex-boyfriend and with friends and once again, so many parts of this novella resonated with my own personal experience. I saw so much of myself in the character of Rosie and I recognised other people I have known in Alexa – in short, it brought so many memories back and made me thank my lucky stars that I’m a stronger person in a much better stage of my life.

Helene Leuschel, author of the novella, My Sweet Friend.

So in a nutshell, this novella focuses on two female leads, Alexa who has had to take leave from a job she has only recently started as a result of stress and she is off sunning herself on a beach in Bairritz. Then we have Rosie who has been with the company for a long time when Alexa joins the team and they strike up a friendship. It is not long before Rosie begins to feel uneasy about the nature of their relationship however. There are the snide comments, the unrealistic expectations and the way Rosie is slowly made to feel as if she is going crazy. There are particular incidents where Alexa denies saying or doing a certain thing putting Rosie in serious financial and emotional difficulties and Rosie is constantly covering for her mistakes at work. Is Alexa a real, honest friend that is just misunderstood? Does Rosie really know the real Alexa at all? Finally, is their relationship a genuine friendship with all the ups and downs that a regular friendship suffers or is it something toxic that needs to be extinguished as soon as possible?

The town of Bairritz, France where Alexa travels to after taking leave from her job.

I was utterly gripped by this short story and quite frankly, appalled by the ever so subtle manipulation carried out which sadly, works all too well on vulnerable people. The author has dug remarkably deep into the human psyche and the ways in which we can affect another human being’s emotions, even by the tiniest little act. Things like this may seem insignificant and in Rosie’s case, are very difficult to prove that they are happening but when it builds up gradually over time, it can destroy a person’s self-esteem which from personal experience, can be very difficult to recover from, if you ever really fully recover. This is a fascinating tale which draws on psychology to illustrate how a person’s thoughts and emotions can be disassembled, piece by piece until the affected victim becomes almost a shadow of themselves, questioning everything, even their own sanity.

My Sweet Friend is another brilliant outing from H.A. Leuschel and I’m incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to experience her writing style once more. This is a tale to make you think, reflect and consider people you may have met in your own life, especially if you recognise having been manipulated in the past.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel was the thirty-second book in my quest to complete the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

Blog Tour – Days Of Wonder by Keith Stuart

Published June 4, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A story about family, love and finding magic in everyday life, Days of Wonder is the most moving novel you’ll read all year.

Tom, single father to Hannah, is the manager of a tiny local theatre. On the same day each year, he and its colourful cast of part-time actors have staged a fantastical production just for his little girl, a moment of magic to make her childhood unforgettable.

But there is another reason behind these annual shows: the very first production followed Hannah’s diagnosis with a heart condition that will end her life early. And now, with Hannah a funny, tough girl of fifteen, that time is coming.

Hannah’s heart is literally broken – and she can’t bear the idea of her dad’s breaking too. So she resolves to find a partner for Tom, someone else to love, to fill the space beside him.

While all the time Tom plans a final day of magic that might just save them both.

Days of Wonder is the stunning follow-up to Keith Stuart’s much-loved debut A Boy Made of Blocks – and a book to fall in love with.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Clara Diaz and Sphere Publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I first came across Keith Stuart when I read his incredible debut novel, A Boy Made Of Blocks which completely captured my heart. So, it’s safe to say not only was I stupidly excited when I received my copy of Days Of Wonder but my expectations for the novel were astronomically high. Luckily, I was in no way disappointed. Keith Stuart writes with passion and intelligence but most importantly of all, with real heart and this novel was a touching, beautifully realised piece of contemporary fiction with an emotional edge that had me laughing and tearing up in equal measure.

Keith Stuart, author of Days Of Wonder.

This novel explores the special relationship between single dad, Tom and his fifteen year old daughter, Hannah. His wife and Hannah’s mother, Elizabeth left when her daughter was quite young and since then, it has been them against the world. This is particularly poignant when Hannah begins to get ill and heart-breakingly, is diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. In other words, her heart just isn’t strong enough to pump blood around her body. The cold, hard reality of this condition is that she could die at any time and more recently, her normal, teenage exertions have caused her to black out, indicating that she could be getting worse. Tom, manager of the local Willow Tree Theatre, has been trying to keep her spirits up ever since she was diagnosed, by introducing her to the theatre and encouraging the troupe of actors he employs to put on small plays for her each year on her birthday – these he calls “days of wonder.” The rest of the narrative follows Hannah and Tom as they struggle with her condition and the potential closure of the place that they love the best. They learn the importance of leaning on their friends within and out of the theatre and explores the beautiful bond between father and daughter as they deal with the terrifying situation where they never know whether one day may be her last.

This picture illustrates the thin walls of Hannah’s heart compared to a “normal” heart.

Oh my goodness, this book. It was so moving and brilliantly written, by the end I felt as if I knew all the characters intimately, as if they were in my own life. Keith Stuart expertly blends the happy and devastating moments of Hannah’s life with wonderful, laugh-out-loud humour and painful, gut-wrenching moments so that one moment you can be smiling and by the next page you’re horribly upset. My favourite part of the whole novel has to be the characterisation which is simply fantastic but in particular, that father-daughter relationship between Tom and Hannah which filled me with a sort of aching longing for a relationship I sadly have not experienced myself. Besides this, there are multiple other characters, like fiesty pensioner Margaret and their close friends at the theatre: Sally, Ted and James amongst others who are all beautifully drawn and all feel startlingly authentic. Additionally, all these characters have their own problems in their lives, for example, Callum’s struggles with mental illness, Sally and Ted’s independent marital issues, James’ private and internal battle with his own feelings….. I could go on.

Told in alternate chapters between both Hannah and Tom’s point of view, this is a stunning story of a father and daughter who forge a stronger and more meaningful relationship through their tough times. It highlights the importance of family and friends and the magical consequences of fighting for something you desperately believe in. As the saying goes – read it and weep. I certainly did.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Keith Stuart is an author and journalist. His heartwarming debut novel, A Boy Made of Blocks, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and a major bestseller, and was inspired by Keith’s real-life relationship with his autistic son. Keith has written for publications including Empire, Red and Esquire magazine, and is the former games editor of the Guardian. He lives with his wife and two sons in Frome, Somerset.

Find Keith on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/441866.Keith_Stuart

on Twitter at: @keefstuart

Thank you once again to Clara Diaz and Sphere publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Days Of Wonder is published on the 7th June 2018 and will be available as a paperback and e-book. If you fancy some more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34460802-days-of-wonder?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Days-Wonder-most-magical-moving/dp/0751563315/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528039280&sr=8-1&keywords=days+of+wonder+keith+stuart