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Blog Tour – Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Published November 7, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

What did I think?:

Little Fires Everywhere has been out in America for some time and has had so many excellent reviews from bloggers/book tubers whose opinion I trust. Little, Brown publishers has actually brought forward the release date of this novel because of the hype it has been getting, Reese Witherspoon has even optioned the book for an upcoming television adaptation. After the huge success of the Big Little Lies adaptation that she was involved in producing, I’m one hundred percent certain it’s going to be fabulous. So when the publishers contacted me and invited me to be part of the UK blog tour, I quite literally jumped at the chance and I’m so glad I did. Little Fires Everywhere is a novel that deserves all the hype and much more. I don’t often go on Twitter and wax lyrical about how great a book is that I’m currently reading but with this one, I simply had to. This novel is quite simply unputdownable and I have to admit, I neglected so many other things I could have been doing just to lose myself in the wonder of Celeste Ng’s writing and intriguing characters.

Little Fires Everywhere is primarily a novel about families but the issues explored in this astounding novel run much deeper than that. It’s the story of the Richardson family – Elena, her husband Bill and their four children Lexie, Trip, Moody and Izzy in a community that is proud of its impeccable values. Everything is run like clockwork, there are certain rules to abide by and standards to uphold including what colour to paint your house and where exactly to put your rubbish bins! However, Elena’s perfect world is shaken to the core when she decides to take on a “deserving” tenant from a lower socio-economic background and Mia Warren and her teenage daughter Pearl come whirling like a typhoon into their lives.

This is also the story of a little Asian baby who is abandoned by a fire station, then adopted by a rich couple in the community as all chaos breaks loose when the child’s birth mother begs for her to be given back and Mia and the Richardson’s end up on opposing sides of the argument. Much more than this, Little Fires Everywhere is a tale of motherhood, the secrets we keep from those we love the most, the dramatic fallout when secrets come to light and how money can sometimes buy you a completely different (but not necessarily better) life.

I could go on and on about the plot of this novel but I really want everyone to read it and find out for themselves. It covers so many more issues and themes than I’ve discussed here and many times as I was reading, I felt I had to put the book down briefly just to fully absorb everything the author was telling me. At times, I was personally invested in what happened to some of our characters and at these points, it was an emotional, quite heart-rending experience. My favourite thing about this book however was the characters who are just drawn with such exquisiteness they could almost leap off the page and be real people. They’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination (which would really annoy Elena who strives for perfection at all times!) but that just makes them more believable and instantly more interesting to read about. I haven’t read Celeste Ng’s first novel, Everything I Never Told You, but after the sheer gorgeousness of this novel, I think you can guess what I will be buying ASAP!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014, and named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications. Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the ALA’s Alex Award, and the Medici Book Club Prize, and was a finalist for numerous awards, including the Ohioana Award, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award.

Celeste grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Celeste attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award. Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize.

Currently, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Find Celeste on GoodReads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/164692.Celeste_Ng

On Twitter at: @pronounced_ing

On her website at: http://www.celesteng.com

Thank you once again to Grace Vincent and Little, Brown publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Little Fires Everywhere will be published in the UK on 9th November 2017 in hardback and will be available from all good book retailers. The blog tour is running from Monday 6th November until Tuesday 14th November so don’t forget to check out my fellow bloggers stops for some more fantastic reviews!

GoodReads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35221049-little-fires-everywhere

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Fires-Everywhere-Celeste-Ng/dp/1408709716/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1509560237&sr=1-1

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Blog Tour – Stories For Homes Volume Two – edited by Debi Alper and Sally Swingewood

Published October 6, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

“Stories give our imaginations a home. It’s good to see them helping to give people shelter in the real world, too…”
– Joanne Harris, author of ‘Chocolat’

“A cornucopia of witty, tragic, elegant, raw, heart-warming and terrifying stories that take the idea of Home, play with it as only truly talented writers can, and all to help those who have no home at all.”
– Emma Darwin, author of ‘The Mathematics of Love’

A home is something most of us have the luxury of taking for granted but for many it is a grim struggle to obtain what should be a basic necessity. Stories for Homes is a collection of witty, poignant, funny and heartbreaking short stories by fifty five authors, both established and emerging, reflecting the connection between the immediacy of housing crisis and the stories people tell about their lives around and within it. Volume Two of the anthology includes stories, poems and flash fiction and again all proceeds will be donated to Shelter, the charity for housing and homelessness.

What did I think?:

When the lovely Faye asked me to be part of a blog tour for Stories For Homes Volume Two, a collection of stories, poetry and flash fiction from fifty five published and non-published authors, I jumped at the chance. This is mainly because proceeds from the sale of each e-book go directly to the charity Shelter that helps the homeless and that this particular volume was released in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London recently. It is dedicated to all the victims and the survivors, the exact death toll of which still remains unknown. I suffer with a chronic illness and a lot of the time have trouble sleeping so I was actually watching the news as it all unfolded in the early hours of the morning and it left me both horrified and completely saddened, especially as it’s clearly something that could have been prevented.

In Stories For Homes Volume Two we get a wonderful mixture of stories that all have the central theme running through them of having a home to come back to. Whether the protagonist(s) in the tale are away from home and are missing it or it might be a home that they make for themselves and learn to love, each story bounces off the page with poignancy and a great deal of heart. I honestly don’t believe there is a bad story in the collection. Obviously there were some I liked more that others and a few that had an incredibly profound effect on me but each story stood on its own quite vividly and I truly believe there is something here for everyone.

Personal favourites had to be The Tiger Who Came Back To Apologise by Jan Carson which was quirky but brilliantly written and follows the reaction of a young single mother as a man from a previous relationship knocks on her door one day. There was also Siamese by Poppy O’Neill, a fascinating story of a possibly dystopian world where a pair of conjoined twins find a way to deal with the hordes of people who pay money to stare through the window of their house and watch them at their daily tasks. Then there was the thought provoking poem, It Was Only A Patch On The Wall by Andy Leach which explores how easy it can be for such a little thing to turn into something that may cost you your livelihood and home.

I almost wish I had taken notes on each story as I made my way through the collection, there’s so much more I could say and infinitely more stories I could mention, especially the few that cover the immigration experience that I have to admit, broke my heart a little bit. If you enjoy short stories or even fancy giving them a try for the first time, there are not many collections I can recommend higher than Stories For Homes, Volume Two with such an eclectic mix of authors and diverse subjects to enjoy, I guarantee you’ll find at least one story that will move you in some way. Plus, you’ll be donating money to a very special cause – what could be better?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

Summary:

Published and unpublished writers come together to create an anthology of stories about what ‘home’ means.

55 writers are included in a second charity anthology that brings issues around housing, poverty and crisis to life through the power of storytelling. Volume One of the Stories for Homes Project raised over £3K for housing charity Shelter and raised awareness of housing issues. Volume Two of the anthology includes stories, poems and flash fiction and again all proceeds will be donated to the charity.

Sally Swingewood, who also edited the collections, commented:

“The Stories for Homes collections would not be possible without the generosity of a huge number of volunteers. By working together we have produced a book which will not only delight but also help address one of the biggest humanitarian crises facing modern society. In a world where migration, identity and belonging are in the news daily we have a duty to help everyone have a home in which they feel safe and settled. Stories for Homes is one way we can be part of the solution”

Further Stories

A dedicated website includes a further collection of flash fiction and poetry, real life experiences from people who have had housing problems or have experienced homelessness, as well as a series of articles from a professional working with homeless people.

http://www.storiesforhomes.wordpress.com

Thank you once again to Faye for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, it’s been an absolute honour to take part and to Shelter Charity for their amazing work. Stories For Homes Volume Two was published on 28th September 2017 as an e-book and is available from all good book retailers now. Why not check out some of the other stops on the tour?

Amazon UK Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stories-Homes-Two-Jacqueline-Ward-ebook/dp/B075W8H8QT/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506875151&sr=8-1&keywords=stories+for+homes+2

Blog Tour – Fire Lines by Cara Thurlbourn

Published September 24, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

When your blood line awakens, how do you choose between family and freedom?

Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.

But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.

Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to the lovely Faye for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Bewick Press for providing me with a digital copy of this thrilling debut novel in exchange for an honest review. I would not be exaggerating when I tell you that Fire Lines is the most action packed story that I’ve read for a long time. Seriously, at times I was on the edge of my seat not knowing what was going to happen next and with the addition of a magic-based plot, a dastardly villain and a strong female lead it’s the perfect read for anyone who loves their fantasy narratives.

The amazing world that Cara Thurlbourn has created is composed of four different cities and a variety of cultures although when we first meet our heroine Émi, she is ensconced in the land of Nhatu which is surrounded by a gigantic wall, cutting it off from the rest of the world. The city itself is divided into a number of quarters which is associated with social class and after Émi’s father is taken prisoner for an infraction, she and her mother are moved into the lowest quarter, The Red Quarter where food is scarce, their lodgings are decidedly dodgy and they are forced to undergo random inspections without warning. The law makers in this land have made it known that the giant wall is there for protection since the evil Mahg started using black magick for his own detestable means. As a result, anything magical is expressly forbidden and anyone who is seen to possess powers or instruments that could be used for magic is punished in the most brutal manner.

Of course, you might have guessed, our heroine discovers that she does possess some magical know how but has no idea how to control or harness it. When the cruel Cadets discover that Émi might have strange abilities she is forced to flee and for the first time, manages to get over the wall and discover the fantastical new lands she had previously believed to be just myths. This is when Émi discovers who she really is, that she has a twin sister called Ava and that it is imperative that she find her to stop our villain Mahg completing his wicked plans. With the help of her new friends The Watchers, Émi must draw on all her strengths and hone her emerging powers for the inevitable battle that is to come.

I have to say, the world building in this novel was really wonderful. I loved the different lands we saw through Émi’s eyes, particularly the city of Tarynne and the special bond that they developed with their elephant companions. Émi herself was a fantastic, independent female lead although rather reckless and impulsive at times which had me worrying at times what mess she was going to end up in next. I would have loved for the rest of the characters to be a bit more fleshed out – it felt like there was a lot of potential for characters like Garrett, Alyssa and Tsam to have more vibrant personalities, especially Garrett who I adored for reasons that I simply cannot spoil for anyone who wants to read this! As a “baddie,” Mahg was pretty brilliant and very well drawn although I’d love to have known a bit more of his back story and how he came to be as hateful as he is, perhaps this will be explored further in the second novel?

To be honest, the story really came alive for me at the beginning where Émi is stuck under the hideous rules and regulations of Nhatu. At the end of the first chapter, I was captivated by the world which reminded me a lot of a harsh Nazi regime and was at times, quite difficult to read about. When Émi manages to escape, I felt the story lost some of the rich detail that was so exciting to me in the first few chapters although I did appreciate that the narrative had to move on and move on it certainly did – at a startling pace! From then on, the action ramps up considerably and doesn’t let up until the end which provides a tantalising glimpse into the second novel in the series. I think fans of fantasy, strong female characters and exciting/tense sequences will find a lot to enjoy in this story and I’m intrigued to see where things are going to go for Émi after the dramatic finale that the author leaves us with.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Cara Thurlbourn writes children’s and young adult fiction. ‘Fire Lines’ is her first novel and it’s a story she’s been planning since she was fifteen years old. Cara has a degree in English from the University of Nottingham and an MA in Publishing from Oxford Brookes University. She lives in a tiny village in Suffolk and has worked in academic and educational publishing for nearly ten years. Cara blogs about her author journey and in November 2016 she crowdfunded her first children’s book. 10% of its profits are donated to animal rehoming charities. Cara plans to write at least two more books in the Fire Lines series, as well as a young adult mystery series, and has lots more children’s stories waiting in the wings. You can sign up for Cara’s newsletter, for giveaways, updates and latest releases, here: http://www.firelines.co.uk

Website: http://www.firelines.co.uk

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/carathurlbourn

Thank you once again to Bewick Press for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. Fire Lines is due to be published on 26th September 2017 and is available from all good book retailers now. Why not check out some of the other stops on the tour?

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35581157-fire-lines

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fire-Lines-Cara-Thurlbourn-ebook/dp/B075FTR12K

 

Blog Tour – The Red Thread (The Straits Quartet #1) – Dawn Farnham

Published September 20, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Set against the backdrop of 1830s Singapore where piracy, crime, triads, and tigers are commonplace, this historical romance follows the struggle of two lovers Zhen, a Chinese coolie and triad member, and Charlotte, an 18-year-old Scots woman and sister of Singapores Head of Police. Two cultures bound together by the invisible threads of fate yet separated by cultural diversity.

What did I think?:

A huge thank you to the lovely Faye for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Monsoon Books for sending me a free copy of The Red Thread, the first novel in a quartet in exchange for an honest review. One of my favourite things as a reader is to learn about different countries and cultures and I’m especially interested in places within Asia like China and Singapore whose customs are explored in the most intricate detail in this novel. I have to admit, when I first started the book, I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to enjoy it as much as I had hoped, it was a bit of a slow burner although meticulously researched and beautifully descriptive. Then, by about halfway through, I became much more invested in the characters and their lives and found myself reading it a lot quicker, intrigued by the love story within.

The Red Thread is set predominantly in Singapore in the 1830’s where there were a great variety of different nations and religious practices living together – from the Malaysian, Chinese and Indian to the European and British whites. Our heroine for the novel is Charlotte who has recently come over from Scotland where she had been living with an aunt to join her brother Robert, who has a very important job as Chief Of Police in Singapore. The story explores Charlotte adjusting to life in a foreign climate, learning the customs and nature of the people and making new friends and acquaintances.

From the very beginning on disembarking from the ship she comes into contact with a young Chinese labourer called Zhen and there is an instant attraction between them although they do not meet until about halfway into the novel. When they do, love starts to blossom and things become very difficult for both characters. Zhen is engaged to be married giving him an opportunity and money that he thought he would never have had yet because of the difference in their cultures and social status, their relationship is likely to be frowned upon, meaning that marriage between the two of them would be an impossibility.

I think if you want to learn more about Singapore and the wealth of different cultures in the 1800’s, this book is perfect for you. Dawn Farnham writes a novel rich in exquisite detail and I especially enjoyed the sections that focused on the various cuisines available, Chinese folklore and beliefs – particularly about death and how a funeral is arranged and the vast effort that is also placed into arranging a marriage. As for the characters, I have to say I didn’t really get on with Zhen. I loved the sections with him and his friend Qian and enjoyed the friendship that they shared but as a personality, he irked me slightly and I didn’t agree with the way he treated his wife and even Charlotte herself at times.

Despite this, I did find this a fascinating story and it was so evocatively written that I was instantly pulled into the early nineteenth century in a land completely foreign to myself but somehow, it felt strangely familiar after merely a few pages. I also really appreciated how the author used actual historical figures, like Irishman George Coleman who was responsible for a lot of the architecture/buildings in Singapore at that time. His life and many others seemed effortlessly woven into the main narrative and by the end of the novel, I did feel like I knew a lot of the characters intimately. If you enjoy lavish historical detail, a slower paced plot, poetry and a forbidden love story, this just might be the book for you.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Dawn Farnham is the author of The Straits Quartet (The Red Thread, The Shallow Seas, The Hills of Singapore and The English Concubine), as well as numerous short stories, plays and children’s books. A former long-term resident of Singapore, Dawn now calls Perth, Australia, home. Her new book, Finding Maria is published in October 2017. Learn more about Dawn at http://www.dawnfarnham.com.

Website: http://www.dawnfarnham.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/farnhamauthor

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

Thank you once again to Monsoon Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. The Red Thread was published on 7th April 2015 and is available from all good book retailers now. Why not check out some of the other stops on the tour?

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21149887-the-red-thread

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Red-Thread-Chinese-Singapore-Straits-ebook/dp/B005DIAOSM

Blog Tour – Prisoner Of Ice And Snow – Ruth Lauren

Published September 15, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In a thrilling fantasy that’s equal parts Prison Break and Frozen, Valor attempts the impossible—breaking her sister out of prison.

When Valor is arrested, she couldn’t be happier. Demidova’s prison for criminal children is exactly where she wants to be. Valor’s sister Sasha is already serving a life sentence for stealing from the royal family and Valor is going to help her escape . . . from the inside.

Never mind that no one has escaped in three hundred years. Valor has a plan and resources most could only dream about. But she didn’t count on having to outsmart both the guards and her fellow prisoners. If Valor’s plan is to succeed, she’ll need to make unlikely allies. And if the plan fails, she and Sasha could end up with fates worse than prison.

This fresh and exciting middle-grade debut effortlessly melds an unforgettable protagonist, a breathless plot, and stunning world-building—and is impossible to put down. An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Cathryn Constable.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Faye who invited me to be part of this blog tour and to Bloomsbury Children’s Books for providing me with a free copy of Prisoner Of Ice And Snow in exchange for an honest review. As soon as Faye emailed with the synopsis of this book, of course I knew I had to have it straight away. This middle grade fiction and epic fantasy/adventure story was a joy to read with strong characterisation, a compelling plot and a beautiful message of sisterhood that I really appreciated. Basically, anything that is compared to “a cross between Prison Break and Frozen,” is bound to make me want to read it!

Prisoner Of Ice And Snow is set in the cold and wintry climate of Demidova (a land comparable perhaps to Russia) and when we meet our heroine Valor she is attempting to shoot a member of the royal family with her crossbow. However, there is method to her madness. Her twin sister Sasha was recently accused of stealing a precious and hugely important music box that was meant form part of a peace treaty with the neighbouring land, Magadanskya. Sasha has been given a life sentence in the notorious prison, Tyur’ma and now, after her attempt on Prince Anatol’s life, Valor will now join her, which of course was her grand plan all along. You see, Valor has a brilliant plan for them both to escape (even though nobody has actually managed to escape in three hundred years) and she is so determined and devoted to her sister that she might just pull it off.

There was so much in this book to love, I’m not quite sure where to start. The nods to Russia were wonderful and was one of the things that attracted me to the book in the first place but the best thing about the novel for me personally would have to be the character of Valor and her relationship with her sister, Sasha. Valor is one of the bravest fictional females I’ve come across in recent times and I had nothing but admiration and excitement for her tenacity, sheer ruthlessness and self belief that she would manage to free both herself and Sasha. There are a lot of terrible things that happen to the children in Tyur’ma and what amazed me about Valor is that even though she had some hideous and horrific experiences, not once did she think about giving up. Her love and protectiveness for Sasha never wavered, even at the toughest of times and it occasionally brought tears to my eyes as I was reminded of my close relationship with my own sister. Not only do we have Valor and Sasha but we have a multitude of other fascinating characters that I instantly adored, including street urchin Felixs, Valor’s cellmate Katia and the intriguing Prince Anatol. Combined with an action-packed plot that leaves you scarce able to draw breath I am incredibly excited to see where Valor and Sasha’s story will take them next – especially after THAT ending.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Ruth Lauren lives in the West Midlands in England with her family and a lot of cats. She likes chocolate, walking in the woods, cheese, orchids, going to the movies, and reading as many books as she can. She’s been a teacher and worked in lots of different offices, but she likes writing best. Prisoner of Ice and Snow is her debut novel.

Website: https://www.ruthlauren.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ruth__lauren

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/ruth_lauren

Thank you once again to Bloomsbury Children’s Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. Prisoner Of Ice And Snow was published on 7th September 2017 and is available from all good book retailers now. Why not check out some of the other stops on the tour?

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35382914-prisoner-of-ice-and-snow

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1408872757

Blog Tour – The Way Back To Us by Kay Langdale

Published August 23, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

I am a mess of tears on the train. Can’t remember the last time a book broke my heart so much… (Lucy Dillon on Away from You) Perfect for fans of Adele Parks and Maggie O’Farrell.

Since their youngest son, Teddy, was diagnosed with a life-defining illness, Anna has been fighting: against the friends who don’t know how to help; against the team assigned to Teddy’s care who constantly watch over Anna’s parenting; and against the impulse to put Teddy above all else – including his older brother, the watchful, sensitive Isaac.

And now Anna can’t seem to stop fighting against her husband, the one person who should be able to understand, but who somehow manages to carry on when Anna feels like she is suffocating under the weight of all the things that Teddy will never be able to do.

As Anna helplessly pushes Tom away, he can’t help but feel the absence of the simple familiarity that should come so easily, and must face the question: is it worse to stay in an unhappy marriage, or leave?

What did I think?:

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog tour stop today for this fantastic and emotional novel by Kay Langdale. Thank you so much to Jasmine Marsh and Hodder & Stoughton for inviting me to take part in this tour and providing me with a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. It’s no secret that I love a story that deals with difficult subjects and when I read the synopsis of The Way Back To Us I knew I simply had to be on board. In my day job, I work for Great Ormond Street Hospital where I come across a number of children who have very serious and rare diseases. Reading fiction for me is normally a great escape from the real world that I have to face but, for a change, I thought it would be interesting to read a fictionalised account of a child with a life-limiting illness. I had high expectations and I’m happy to say they were completely fulfilled – this is a moving, addictive read that had me completely wrapped up in the characters lives and even better, it was one hundred percent believable.

The Way Back To Us mainly focuses on Anna, mother of Isaac and Teddy and wife to Tom (although we hear from a number of perspectives, including the boys themselves). When Teddy was born he seemed like a normal, healthy baby until it was noticed that he wasn’t quite making those huge developmental milestones. After a barrage of tests and investigations, Teddy is diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2 (SMA) which is characterised by progressive muscle weakness across the entire body, breathing issues, feeding difficulties and skeletal abnormalities. Teddy cannot stand or walk without help and relies heavily on his wheelchair and the constant loving care of his mother to get through every day and have some sense of normality in his life although what he can do is severely limited compared to his older brother, Isaac.

The story follows Anna as she struggles with daily life looking after Teddy and making sure he has the best possible life despite his sad circumstances. Everybody in the family is affected by Teddy’s illness, including Isaac who is often left to manage by himself completely unintentionally because of the level of care and dedication needed to look after Teddy. To add to her worries, Anna and her husband Tom’s relationship seems to have hit a new level of “broken beyond repair.” She takes all the responsibility of looking after Teddy upon herself and refuses to allow him in or admit that she needs help. As a result, their marriage is incredibly fragile and is teetering on the edge of disintegrating completely. Can Anna and Tom address the issues in their relationship and start to talk to each other again or is has what they once had as a couple disappeared for good?

The Way Back To Us was such a poignant and beautiful read. I adored the characters, especially the boys, Teddy and Isaac and really felt for all parties in their horrific situation. It’s true, I did feel like shaking Anna and Tom at points, especially when as a reader you could see everything that was going wrong and what the other person could potentially do to fix it….then they did the exact opposite! This frustration that I mention is only in a good way I assure you, it certainly motivated me to keep reading whilst praying that everything turned out well for the family in the end. The author has obviously done her research into a condition that is obviously distressing and heart-breaking and because of her meticulous plot and flawed but very “real” characters, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey she took me on and found this a hugely powerful read.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Kay Langdale was born in Coventry, England.

From a young age she loved to read and to write.

She attended Bedford College, London University, graduating with a first class degree in English Literature and then went to Oxford University where she completed a doctorate on Samuel Beckett’s prose fiction. She briefly taught twentieth century literature at St Edmund Hall, Oxford before beginning work as an account handler and copywriter at a brand consultancy.

She is married to a South African entrepreneur, with whom she has four children who are now mostly grown. Kay divides her time between their homes in Oxfordshire and Devon.

Now writing her eighth novel, Kay also works as an editor for the charity The Children’s Radio Foundation which trains young broadcasters in six countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

When not writing Kay enjoys running, ballet barre, yoga, swimming, coastal walking, learning Italian, cooking and reading. Always reading.

Find Kay on GoodReads at : https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/862970.Kay_Langdale

on her website at: https://kaylangdale.com/

on Twitter at: @kaylangdale

Thank you once again to Hodder & Stoughton for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. The Way Back To Us was published on 10th August 2017 and is available from all good book retailers now. Why not check out some of the other stops on the tour?

GoodReads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35382450-the-way-back-to-us?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silence-Between-Us-Kay-Langdale-ebook/dp/B01KTS4XPA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503341159&sr=1-1&keywords=the+way+back+to+us

Blog Tour – EXCLUSIVE short story prior to the release of The Arrangement by Sonya Lalli

Published August 8, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

You can’t choose who you fall for…but it helps if there’s a list

Raina, twenty-nine, is still unmarried much to the dismay of her family who think that by now she should have been married in a dream Indian wedding. The pressure to settle down reaches new heights when her grandmother, Nani, decides to play matchmaker in order to find her the perfect man.

Eager not to disappoint her family, Raina goes along with the plan but when the love of her life returns – ex-boyfriend Dev – she’s forced to confront her true feelings and decide what she really wants.

Funny, feelgood and heart-warming, The Arrangement shines a light on being single in your twenties, societal and cultural expectation of women, and modern day arranged marriages. Perfect summer read for fans of Ayisha Malik’s Sofia Khan is Not Obliged and Aziz Ansari’s Master of None.

Hello everyone and welcome to a very special post on my blog. The Arrangement, published by Orion Books, is due to be released on 10th August but prior to that the author, Sonya Lalli is providing a short story about one of the characters in the novel to give you a bit of a taster of what The Arrangement might be like. The story will be published by five lucky bloggers in five parts.

Over to the author, Sonya Lalli :

In The Arrangement, thirty-year-old, fun-living Serena is on the sidelines. She shares a mutual friend with the novel’s heroine Raina, and for a while dates one of Raina’s relatives. Even though Serena’s story doesn’t make it into my novel, I wanted to share a bit more about her own dating misadventures – and give you a few clues about what’s to come in The Arrangement! 

The first part was published yesterday by Bronagh, The Handwritten Girl so if you want to read it please click HERE for her post. Today, bibliobeth is host to the second part of the story:

“Red chinos. Ten o’clock.”

Serena casually glances to her left, but all she can see is a group of women decked out in neon pink and sparkles huddling around a bride-to-be. None of them are wearing red chinos.

“No, my ten o’clock, silly.”

She looks right, and instantly spots him. Red Chinos is one of the only men at the bar not on his cellphone, and he has his legs crossed so tight Serena wonders if he has to pee.

“He’s bachelor number one.”

“He’s not really my type.”

“How has your type worked out for you so far?”

Serena sticks out her tongue, and the next thing she knows Shaylee’s up from the table and walking towards him. She taps him on the shoulder and a beat later they’re both looking at her. Serena shrinks lower in her seat.

What had she just agreed to? Was she really going to go on three dates in three hours just to prove a point?

She watches them converse, and a few minutes later Red Chinos gets off the barstool and Shaylee hops on. Serena can’t help but notice the smirk plastered all over his face as he draws nearer.

“Serena,” he says, sitting opposite her in the booth. “Your friend over there said you think I look interesting.”

“Interesting.”

“So let’s just get to the point, shall we?” He leers at her. “I’m cute. You’re cute. Wait, how tall are you?”

Her mouths drops a little as he sizes her up.

“About 5’2” or around?” He nods, as if pleased with his ability to measure her sitting down. “I usually prefer taller women.”

“I usually prefer –”

“So should we get out or here or what?”

Serena glances at Shaylee across the bar. She’s made friends with the woman on the stool next to her, and they’re laughing at something on Shaylee’s phone. There was no being rescued from this, was there?

“I think my friend wants us to get to know each other,” Serena says eventually. “Here.”

In public, she thinks.

“And what do you want, Serena?”

Why had Shaylee picked her the creepiest guy in the whole bar? Was she trying to prove a point to Serena? She racks her brain for what to say.

“Uh, what’s your… name?”

“Noah.”

She laughs.

“Why are you laughing?”

“You can’t expect me to believe your name is really Noah.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s just… that’s the name of Ryan Gosling’s character in The Notebook.”

He stares at her blankly.

“And, if you walk into any bar into Toronto, chances are 95% of women my age are going to think of Ryan Gosling the minute you say that name.”

“Noah is my name.”

“Nobody is actually named Noah. You clearly use that name as some sort of… move to pick up women.”

Serena presses her lips together, trying to conceal a smirk. Normally, she’d be the last of her friends to call out a guy for being a creep. But if Shaylee was going to screw her around like this, she might as well have some fun.

She leans forward, smiling cockily. “Tell you what. I’ll go home with you if your driver’s license actually says Noah.”

“Is that so?”

“Hundred percent.”

He reaches into his wallet – a little too quickly. Seconds later, he slides across his Ontario drivers license.

Noah Forester

“Shit…”

“I can’t hear you with your foot in your mouth, Serena.” He leans forward to grab the license. “Or is that even your real name? Maybe I need to see your ID.”

“Listen,” she sits up. Her face is burning hot. “I’m sorry. I didn’t… I don’t, I’m not – ”

“Don’t worry. I’m not expecting you to come home with me.”

She sighs in relief, and is suddenly overwhelmed by embarrassment. Why had she called him out like that? Had she been too rude? Maybe he wasn’t the creep she thought he was?

Standing up from the booth, he leans down so close to her face she can smell his dank-IPA breath.

Maybe not.

“I’m looking for something easy tonight, sweetheart – and you’re not worth the effort.”

After Red Chinos leaves the bar, she regrets having not spray painted a warning sign on him for the other women who would cross his path that evening. She sinks bank in the booth as Shaylee walks over to her.

“So how did it go?”

“Are you kidding me?”

“Yeah, I was just taking the piss with that one.” She sits down, rubbing her hands through her hair. “When I walked up to him, he said, ‘mademoiselle, what are you le drinking ce soir?”

“I hate you.”

“No, you don’t.” Shaylee grabs her drink, which she’d left at the table, and throws down the rest. “OK, I’ll pick a better one this time. I promise. It can only go up from here, right?”

Serena glances around the bar, completely disheartened. She liked being in love. She liked chasing, and being chased; falling, and then letting someone catch her. Kris had caught her in the beginning, and then let her fall, hard, until she was all by herself, staring up at something and someone she didn’t even recognize.

She thought James would be different – James who made her laugh as they waited for the kettle to boil, who spent half the workday communicating with her on Slack primarily with emojis, GIFS and compliments. Then he’d stood her up. At least he’d let her down early.

“Hey,” she feels Shay’s hand on hers. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for this to bum you out.”

“No, it’s okay.”

“Thinking about James?” She shrugs, and Shaylee continues. “Any guy who doesn’t treat you right doesn’t deserve you.”

“I know that. In theory.”

“Well, in theory, one of the next two guys I’ve lined up for you just might deserve you.”

“And if they don’t,” says Serena, reminding her of their deal, “I’m never dating again.”

For my review of The Arrangement by Sonya Lalli, please come back and visit on the 10th August when my review will be published!