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Archive for the ‘autism’ Category

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Keith Stuart’s wonderful  novel “A Boy Made of Blocks” and share my review with you.

Description:

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Discover a unique, funny and moving debut that will make you laugh, cry and smile.
Meet thirtysomething dad, Alex

He loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn’t understand him. Something has to change. And he needs to start with himself.
Meet eight-year-old Sam

Beautiful, surprising, autistic. To him the world is a puzzle he can’t solve on his own.
But when Sam starts to play Minecraft, it opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other . . .
Can one fragmented family put themselves back together, one piece at a time?
Inspired by the author’s experiences with his own son, A Boy Made of Blocks is an astonishingly authentic story of love, family and autism.

My Thoughts & Review:

A Boy Made of Blocks is one of those rare books that changes how a reader thinks, it makes you pause and re evaluate things you once took for granted and makes you appreciate the things you do have.

From the very beginning of the novel Alex is a character that many readers will struggle to connect with.  His attempts to rebuild his life after the breakdown of his marriage are awkward, showing incredible insensitivity, impatience and a complete lack of understanding.  Making the decision to try a trial separation from his marriage to Jody he moves in with a friend, his temporary break from the toils of parenting are welcomed.  However, there is no break for the long suffering Jody, she still has to parent Sam, their eight year old autistic son.
It’s at this point that I will freely admit to not having much knowledge of Autism and related spectrum disorders.  Having never encountered this disorder I did some research whilst reading this book and I can understand some of Alex’s struggles.

Narration by Alex opens this character up for a lot of criticism, but also lets the reader see what it can be like to struggle to adjust to something so huge.  There is no comprehensive parenting manual handed out when exiting the maternity hospital, and as a parent I know that sometimes “winging it” is the only thing you can do.  So when parents are faced with a life changing diagnosis of their young child this must make things 100% more confusing, more difficult, and more challenging.

As the story unfolds, the reader begins to empathise with Alex, understands his troubles and realises there’s a deep rooted issue that needs to be addressed.  I sympathised with Jody, she is the main carer for Sam having given up her job previously.  Alex feels that Jody has no time for him, and in a way he is right, Jody spends her day navigating the labyrinth of triggers with Sam whilst trying to keep a home for Alex to retu

rn to at the end of the working day and she is exhausted – physically and mentally drained.  It’s no wonder therefore that their relationship falters, they are both struggling and both need the others support.

Sam is a wonderfully rich character, the author’s writing really gives the reader a feel for how Sam struggles with everyday life.  How noises or changes to routine can upset him to the point of meltdown, and the fallout from it all is traumatic for both Sam and his parents.  His struggles with school and the interactions highlighted an issue faced by many parents in this situation and the need for more specialist schools equipped to help and support.

The turning point for the family is the discovery of Minecraft, a computer game that Sam discovers after Jody was given an old xbox for him to play with.  The effect it has on Sam is beautiful, Alex’s reaction when he watches Sam playing it was a joy to read.  Seeing that light bulb moment for Alex when he realises that his son has connected with the game, captivated by it.  Minecraft appearers a very structured game, things have purpose and a place which means that Sam can relate to this.  But through playing the game he and Alex begin to bond, a connection between them forms.

There is a very poignant aspect to this novel, but it’s also humorous and insightful at the same time.  Keith Stuart has written a story that evokes emotion and laughter whilst educating his audience, the fact that he has written it from personal experience adds an authenticity.

Utterly brilliant, tear jerking, funny and true to life are just some of the things I can say about this book, but it’s really one you need to read for yourself to decide.  Just make sure you have tissues near by….

You can buy a copy of A Boy Made of Blocks here.

 

About the Author:

keith_stuart_2015_copyright_ashley_bird_horizontal (2).jpg

In 2012 one of KEITH STUART‘s two sons was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The ramifications felt huge. But then Keith and both boys started playing videogames together – especially Minecraft. Keith had always played games and, since 1995, has been writing about them, first for specialist magazines like Edge and PC Gamer then, for the last ten years, as games editor for the Guardian. The powerful creative sharing as a family and the blossoming of communication that followed informed his debut novel.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour, a new set of bloggers each day right up to Friday 20th January 2017!

blog_tour1

 

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A Boy Made of Blocks

Author: Keith Stuart
Published: 1 September 2016
Reviewed: 13 August 2016
5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Little, Brown Book Group UK / Sphere in return for an honest review

Description:

Discover a unique, funny and moving debut that will make you laugh, cry and smile.
Meet thirtysomething dad, Alex

He loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn’t understand him. Something has to change. And he needs to start with himself.
Meet eight-year-old Sam

Beautiful, surprising, autistic. To him the world is a puzzle he can’t solve on his own.
But when Sam starts to play Minecraft, it opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other . . .
Can one fragmented family put themselves back together, one piece at a time?
Inspired by the author’s experiences with his own son, A Boy Made of Blocks is an astonishingly authentic story of love, family and autism.

My Thoughts & Review:

A Boy Made of Blocks is one of those rare books that changes how a reader thinks, it makes you pause and re evaluate things you once took for granted and makes you appreciate the things you do have.

From the very beginning of the novel Alex is a character that many readers will struggle to connect with.  His attempts to rebuild his life after the breakdown of his marriage are awkward, showing incredible insensitivity, impatience and a complete lack of understanding.  Making the decision to try a trial separation from his marriage to Jody he moves in with a friend, his temporary break from the toils of parenting are welcomed.  However, there is no break for the long suffering Jody, she still has to parent Sam, their eight year old autistic son.  
It’s at this point that I will freely admit to not having much knowledge of Autism and related spectrum disorders.  Having never encountered this disorder I did some research whilst reading this book and I can understand some of Alex’s struggles.  

Narration by Alex opens this character up for a lot of criticism, but also lets the reader see what it can be like to struggle to adjust to something so huge.  There is no comprehensive parenting manual handed out when exiting the maternity hospital, and as a parent I know that sometimes “winging it” is the only thing you can do.  So when parents are faced with a life changing diagnosis of their young child this must make things 100% more confusing, more difficult, and more challenging.   

As the story unfolds, the reader begins to empathise with Alex, understands his troubles and realises there’s a deep rooted issue that needs to be addressed.  I sympathised with Jody, she is the main carer for Sam having given up her job previously.  Alex feels that Jody has no time for him, and in a way he is right, Jody spends her day navigating the labyrinth of triggers with Sam whilst trying to keep a home for Alex to return to at the end of the working day and she is exhausted – physically and mentally drained.  It’s no wonder therefore that their relationship falters, they are both struggling and both need the others support.

Sam is a wonderfully rich character, the author’s writing really gives the reader a feel for how Sam struggles with everyday life.  How noises or changes to routine can upset him to the point of meltdown, and the fallout from it all is traumatic for both Sam and his parents.  His struggles with school and the interactions highlighted an issue faced by many parents in this situation and the need for more specialist schools equipped to help and support.      

The turning point for the family is the discovery of Minecraft, a computer game that Sam discovers after Jody was given an old xbox for him to play with.  The effect it has on Sam is beautiful, Alex’s reaction when he watches Sam playing it was a joy to read.  Seeing that light bulb moment for Alex when he realises that his son has connected with the game, captivated by it.  Minecraft appearers a very structured game, things have purpose and a place which means that Sam can relate to this.  But through playing the game he and Alex begin to bond, a connection between them forms.  

There is a very poignant aspect to this novel, but it’s also humorous and insightful at the same time.  Keith Stuart has written a story that evokes emotion and laughter whilst educating his audience, the fact that he has written it from personal experience adds an authenticity.

Utterly brilliant, tear jerking, funny and true to life are just some of the things I can say about this book, but it’s really one you need to read for yourself to decide.  Just make sure you have tissues near by….

You can buy a copy of A Boy Made of Blocks here.  

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  Georgia bakes and writes.: A novella 

Georgia Bakes and Writes

 

Author: Grethe Tozer
Published: 19 November 2015
Reviewed: 26th November 2015
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy purchased via Amazon

  5 out of 5 stars 

Georgia is a divorced single mum trying to keep life going on as normal as possible for daughter Spencer. Spencer has needs that require careful consideration and time, for her things have to be a certain way for her to cope and Georgia is damned if she’ll let anything get in the way of her little girl’s happiness, so if that means she’s late for work because she has to put her daughter first then she will.
When Georgia loses her job she desperately tries to think of something that will keep her busy whilst Spencer is at school. A plan is made, a blog is started and things take off for Georgia.

Without ruining the story (or ending!) for anyone, I won’t say much more about the plot, other than to say I absolutely loved it. It felt so real to life, the misunderstanding, the confusion, the hurt feelings, the blunt honesty are all things we deal with and seeing Georgia soldier through them was heartwarming.

For a debut novella this was impressive writing, the characters were interesting, engaging and real, we all have that friend like Iris that brings a bottle of wine over, reminds us that idiots are always idiots but buoy us up and help us to move forwards.
Having not had any experience of children with any special or additional needs this was an interesting read, just a glimpse into the life that Georgia had with Spencer made me realise just how hard it must be on a parent caring for a child with autism, but how rewarding it can be when they can achieve something like Spencer did in the story.

I really hope that some of the delicious recipes surface, my mouth was watering at the thought of some of them! And I can’t wait to try making my banana bread with some yoghurt to see the difference it will make!

Despite being a short read, this was wonderfully enjoyable. It held my attention all the way to the end, and it had an ending that brought a happy sigh and a smile. It’s the sort of read you could happily curl up with on the sofa (or other chosen reading place) with a cuppa (or hot chocolate) and just relax. The pace was good, things moved along well, narrative didn’t drag, plot was interesting and engaging, and as I’ve mentioned, I adored the characters (especially Spencer’s blunt honesty!), in all it was an enjoyable, heart warming read and I would definitely recommend it!

I would have no hesitation to recommend this to anyone that enjoys Romance, YA, Fiction or a short and sweet read.

If you would like to read this, a copy can be purchased via Amazon Georgia Bakes and Writes (UK Kindle Version)

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