Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘love’ Category

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.  

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The Disappearance

Author: Annabel Kantaria
Published: 21 April 2016
Reviewed: 4 August 2016
4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Harlequin (UK) Limited, MIRA UK in return for an honest review


Description:

Audrey Templeton wants to spend her 70th birthday with her children on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise. Neither John or Lexi are overjoyed by a week with their widowed, increasingly forgetful mother, but reluctantly agree.


Celebrating at the ship’s famous White Night party, Audrey reveals that although their domineering father left them nothing, when she dies John and Lexi will inherit a life-changing sum. With both children facing financial difficulties, the news is a huge relief.


Then Audrey disappears. The search moves from the ship to the Mediterranean Sea beyond, but there is no trace – she has simply vanished.


As John and Lexi investigate, clues to their mother’s past emerge – a past in India, of scandal and tragedy – hidden until now. Soon they start to wonder if they ever really knew Audrey, and whether they can trust one another… 

My Thoughts & Review: 

The very opening pages of this book immediately grab the reader’s attention, the captain of a cruise ship is calling off the search for a missing passenger who is suspected to have gone overboard.  The passenger in question is Audrey Templeton, celebrating her 70th birthday with her grown up children on a cruise of the Greek Islands.

The author then takes us back to the 1970s where we encounter a much younger Audrey aboard a boat destined for India where her friend Janet lives.  The death of both of her parents in quick succession sees her needing a change in her life, and this seems the obvious one to make.  Her new life in India begins when she meets a dark and mysterious stranger in a coffee bar, there is an attraction there and the pair are married within 6 months, she also becomes mother to her new husband’s twins John and Lexi.  Unfortunately for Audrey, it’s not the Disney fairytale she would have hoped for, a horrific incident brings about their return to London.

Annabel Kantaria continues to weave back and forth between the 1970s and 2013 to tell the tale of Audrey’s life, right up to the point that John wants to put his 69 year old mother into a form of sheltered accommodation.  Without saying anything more through worry of giving too much away,  I will add that Audrey disappears just after telling the twins that they will inherit a fortune……

The plot was easy to follow, the way the story moved back and forth through Audrey‘s life was well written and gave the reader a greater insight into this character and her relationships.  Kantaria has a very enjoyable style of writing, it makes for an easy and enjoyable read, she builds suspense well and ensures that the reader is gripped and interested throughout.  Vivid descriptions of the settings really brought the story to life, as did the wonderful cast of characters.  Audrey in particular is a wonderful character, one that you begin to feel a connection to in her younger years, living in India with a controlling husband and his children that she struggles to connect with.    

Family secrets are always interesting to read about and this is definitely a book that has this in spades!  A compelling and thrilling read.

You can buy a copy of The Disappearance here.   

Read Full Post »

Return To Bluebell Hill

Author: Rebecca Pugh
Published: 18 June 2015
Reviewed: 29 June 2015

4 out of 5 Stars

Description:

Home is where the heart is…

Jessica McAdams has never belonged anywhere; never truly felt at home. Of course, what did she expect from parents who never made her feel welcome in her own house? Leaving her life in London to return home to the charming country village of Bluebell Hill is harder than she thought. Especially as she never considered she’d be returning under such heart wrenching circumstances…

Clearing out the stunning and imposing Bluebell House after her parents’ death is difficult for Jessica—they never had the best relationship and now it’s too late. Yet spending time in the house that was never a home, having afternoon tea with dear old friend Esme—and sharing hot, sizzling kisses with delectable gardener Rueben!—opens Jessica’s eyes to the potential of Bluebell House… Could this big old, beautiful manor really be her forever home? Is Bluebell Hill where her heart is, has always been?

Jessica soon dares to dream of her very own home with delicious Rueben by her side. But when a deep, dark secret of Bluebell House is unearthed, Jessica’s world is turned upside down…

Will Jessica ever find where her heart truly lies? 

My Thoughts & Review: 


Return to Bluebell Hill is Rebecca Pugh’s debut novel and having read her second novel I was keen to read this one.  This book has a lovely cosy warmth to it, the sort of book you can curl up on the sofa with or sit in the sun and lose track of time.  
Jessica McAdams returns to her childhood home of Bluebell Hill to attend the funeral of her estranged parents, and is reunited with her old nanny Esme, but whilst the reunion is overshadowed by the tragic death of her parents, Jessica is nonetheless pleased to be back in the embrace of Esme and soon meets Reuben the handsome gardener.  
As Jessica narrates her tale, we discover that her relationship with her parents was a troubled one, feeling they had no time for her or interest in her, Jessica spent most of her young life with nanny Esme, so it was no surprise that once she turned 18 Jessica left Bluebell Hill for London to start a new life.

Despite little blips and breaks in continuity, this was an enjoyable read, a nice break away from the madness of recent days.  Something about this book grabbed my attention when I started reading and held it through to the end.  Covering aspects such as love, betrayal, regret, friendship and forgiveness this book really ticks many boxes for fans of female literary fiction.  Rebecca Pugh writes with striking detail, her vivid descriptions of Bluebell Hill are a thing of beauty.  The setting of the house was so picturesque I could happily sit back and daydream about it and the wonderful gardens.  Even the descriptions of characters were treated to this flowing grandness, you really do feel like you are there in the book seeing the people and the settings.   

Jessica was a likeable character, well fleshed out and interesting.  Some of her motives did seem a little naive at times, but Pugh takes great care to weave in the troubles of Jessica’s past to illustrate that this may be why the character does not form relationships easily etc.  Reuben, well he’s a book all on his own.  Swoon worthy and utterly delectable, he’s the right mix of strong masculine and caring, considerate that we have come to expect from the genre.  He compliments Jessica’s character well, there is a good dynamic between them and it made for enjoyable and interesting reading.  Another character I did especially like what Esme, a sprightly 63 year old who seemed to have endless energy first thing in the morning and was a delightful contract to Jessica.  Her pearls of wisdom more than once gave Jessica pause for thought, but she never interfered.  
I would have liked to have seen the story of Jessica’s parents explored more, their untimely deaths seemed to hang in mid air for me.  I had wondered that if more would be revealed in the story, as was the case with Jessica’s estrangement from her parents and her leaving Bluebell Hill, but I cannot honestly say that I saw any further mention of this.  The strained relationship she also had with her parents would have been something else I would have loved to have seen expanded upon, but again that’s just my personal preference.   
This was an enjoyable read, heart warming with the right mix of sadness and happiness.  A love story with ups, downs and laughter, beautiful descriptiveness, practically idyllic at times.  A quick read, but for me this was an added bonus, I needed something quick to get my mind off the madness of late and this hit the spot perfectly.  
This was Rebecca Pugh’s début novel, and having read A Home In Sunset Bay, I can honestly say that I am a big fan of her books.  I can’t wait for Down On Daffodil Lane to arrive on my Kindle in August.  These books are all standalone books, you do not need to read them in any order, but I would say that after reading Bluebell Hill, Pugh’s writing has evolved and she seems to have found her flair in writing (that’s not to say she didn’t show great talent in the first place, I just believe that she has now found what works well in her novels).  

This is the sort of book you could load on to your Kindle for your summer reading or equally pick up on a rainy afternoon and be lost in the beautiful sunshine and wonderful countryside.  

You can purchase a copy Return to Bluebell Hill here.   

Read Full Post »

Last Dance in Havana

Author: Rosanna Ley
Published: 19 May 2016
Reviewed: 15 June 2016
Copy supplied by Quercus Books in return for an honest review as part of Quercus Summer Reading Book Club
4.5 out of 5 Stars
Description:

Cuba, 1958. Elisa is only sixteen years old when she meets Duardo and she knows he’s the love of her life from the moment they first dance the rumba together in downtown Havana. But Duardo is a rebel, determined to fight in Castro’s army, and Elisa is forced to leave behind her homeland and rebuild her life in distant England. But how can she stop longing for the warmth of Havana, when the music of the rumba still calls to her?

England, 2012. Grace has a troubled relationship with her father, whom she blames for her beloved mother’s untimely death. And this year more than ever she could do with a shoulder to cry on – Grace’s career is in flux, she isn’t sure she wants the baby her husband is so desperate to have and, worst of all, she’s begun to develop feelings for their best friend Theo. Theo is a Cuban born magician but even he can’t make Grace’s problems disappear. Is the passion Grace feels for Theo enough to risk her family’s happiness?

 My Thoughts & Review:
The moment the Rumba is introduced in this book I knew I’d be held captive by the little details.  The meaning of the dance and the symbolism it holds are beautifully detailed by Ley, you can almost feel the beat of the music, the swell of the bodies rhythmically following the beat of the band, it’s intoxicating, addictive and hard to believe its a novel and not a holiday guide!   
Following the stories of Elisa and her stepdaughter Grace, Rosanna Ley weaves us expertly back and forth between Cuba in 1958 and Bristol in 2012.  
Elisa emerging into womanhood finds love at a dance, she meets Duardo, an aspiring rebel, and within moments of them dancing the rumba she knows she is is love with him.  But as the troubles intensify, the fighting takes it toll on families in Cuba and Elisa’s family make the decision to move to England to start a new life.  We follow Elisa’s life in England in 2012 but dip back into her past as she recounts those days in Cuba before leaving, the beginnings of her life in England and how she came to be part of Grace’s family. 
Fast forward to 2012 and Grace is struggling with relationships of her own.  The relationship with her father is rapidly deteriorating, having never forgiven him for the death of her mother, his alcohol abuse has become another barrier between them.  As she grapples with her husband’s desperate desire to start a family, she becomes increasingly aware of the chemistry between her and Theo, their best friend and the more she fights it, the more intense the feelings become.  
Through the tales of the two women we are to discover love, sadness and longing.  Both want something they cannot have, have lost people they have deeply loved and cared for, but most of all, they long to find what makes them happyfor one it’s being home, it‘s a person that is home and for the other, it’s a special someoneAll of the characters are incredibly realistic, very well written and some of them really make you stop and think, Elisa putting everyone’s needs and happiness before her own is just one example.  The only character I didn’t really take much of a liking to was Robbie, Grace’s husband, but for obvious reason He has to be sacrificed to allow Grace’s story to evolve, and as we only see him through the eyes of Grace it is no wonder that he can be a bit wearing at times.  
The sensitivity shown by Ley towards Philip was very well written.  He lost his beloved wife in a car accident and at the same time his young daughter began to hate him and blame him for the loss of her mother.  He turns to alcohol, feeling it is the only option open to him and struggles on through life, wishing he could reconnect with his daughter but also not push away his new wife Elisa.  The sadness of his tale knits almost poetically with the tales of Elisa and Grace, all are struggling with secrets, all are held back by something and desperately need to move on.    
Ley‘s writing is truly beautiful, she brings Cuba alive with dynamic tenacity, giving the reader a glimpse of the charm of Cuba – the colours, the sights, the atmosphere.  But also, taking the time to include the details of the darker times, the marred history, the struggles faced, this really gives a complete picture of the country – warts and all if you will.  
Another area I found the attention to detail impressive was when describing Grace’s massage therapy work – the techniques used, the use of sound and aromatherapy oils etc show that Ley has gone the extra mile to give her readers as much detail as possible and this added to my enjoyment of the book.  
This is a fantastic summer read, you can almost feel the heat of the Cuban sun through the writing, you can imagine the winding streets and views of Bristol that Elisa and Grace wander whilst thinking But best of all, you can pick up this book and becomes lost in it, it’s vibrant, realistic, entertaining and utterly wonderful!
You can buy a copy of Last Dance in Havana here.
 

Read Full Post »

The Sister

Author: Louise Jensen
Published: 7 July 2016
Reviewed: 17 May 2016
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 supplied by Bookouture in return for an honest review

  5 out of 5 Stars

 



Description:  


“I did something terrible Grace. I hope you can forgive me …”

Grace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s words, the last time she saw her, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn’t know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie …or was there?

You can buy a copy of The Sister here.

Read Full Post »

I’ll See You in Paris

Author: Michelle Gable
Published: 9 February 2016
Reviewed: 2 May 2016
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 supplied by St. Martin’s Press / Thomas Dunne Books in return for an honest review

  3 out of 5 Stars

 



Description:  


Michelle Gable’s I’ll See You in Paris winds together the lives of three women born generations apart, but who face similar struggles of love and heartbreak.


After losing her fiancé in the Vietnam War, nineteen-year-old Laurel Haley takes a job in England, hoping the distance will mend her shattered heart. Laurel expects the pain might lessen but does not foresee the beguiling man she meets or that they’ll go to Paris, where the city’s magic will take over and alter everything Laurel believes about love.


Thirty years later, Laurel’s daughter Annie is newly engaged and an old question resurfaces: who is Annie’s father and what happened to him? Laurel has always been vague about the details and Annie’s told herself it doesn’t matter. But with her impending marriage, Annie has to know everything. Why won’t Laurel tell her the truth?


The key to unlocking Laurel’s secrets starts with a mysterious book about an infamous woman known as the Duchess of Marlborough. Annie’s quest to understand the Duchess, and therefore her own history, takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a decaying estate kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately to Paris where answers will be found at last.

You can buy a copy of I’ll See You in Paris here.

Read Full Post »

Something Old, Something New

Author: Darcie Boleyn
Published: 16 May 2016
Reviewed: 28 April 2016
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 supplied by Carina in return for an honest review

  5 out of 5 Stars

 



Description:  


A heartwarming, giggle-inducing romance from Darcie Boleyn, just in time for the wedding season! Will you marry me…again? 


When Annie Thomas agrees to give her ex away at his wedding to his boyfriend, she thinks she’ll be fine. With her three children at her side, she can handle anything. Then she finds out her gorgeous first ex-husband Evan Llewellyn is flying in from his glamorous life in New York to attend as well!
An unexpected pregnancy ended their relationship and as she stumbles through the ups and downs of life as a working single mum – helping everyone else find a happy ending along the way – Annie refuses to believe their old and incredibly hot spark can still exist.
It’s only when she and Evan are forced to face up to the past together that they’ll discover if they can have their own happily-ever-after too!

You can buy a copy of Something Old, Something New here.

Read Full Post »

Summer at Rose Island

Author: Holly Martin
Published: 13 May 2016
Reviewed: 25 April 2016
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 supplied by Bookouture in return for an honest review

  5 out of 5 Stars

 



Description: 

Fall in love with the gorgeous seaside town of White Cliff Bay this summer and enjoy long sunny days, beautiful beaches and… a little romance.
 

Darcy Davenport is ready for a fresh start. Determined to leave a string of disastrous jobs and relationships behind her, she can’t wait to explore White Cliff Bay and meet the locals. 


When Darcy swims in the crystal clear waters of the bay, she discovers the charming Rose Island Lighthouse. But it’s not just the beautiful building that she finds so intriguing… 


Riley Eddison doesn’t want change. Desperate to escape the memories of his past, he lives a life of solitude in the lighthouse. Yet he can’t help but notice the gorgeous woman who swims out to his island one day. 


Darcy is drawn to the mysterious and sexy Riley, but when it seems the town is trying to demolish his home, she soon finds herself having to pick sides.

She’s fallen in love with White Cliff Bay. But is that all Darcy’s fallen for? 


Pull up a deck chair, sink back with a bowl of strawberry ice cream and pick up the summer read you won’t be able to put down.
 

Discover the other books in the White Cliff Bay series, available now:
1. Christmas at Lilac Cottage
2. Snowflakes on Silver Cove

You can buy a copy of Summer at Rose Island here.

Read Full Post »

A Home in Sunset Bay

Author: Rebecca Pugh
Published: 9 February 2016
Reviewed: 17 March 2016
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 supplied by Carina UK in return for an honest review

4.5 out of 5 Stars

 



Description: 

There’s no place like home… Enough is enough! The always perfect Laurie Chapman had jumped in her car and raced as fast as she could from London heading to Sunset Bay and (she hopes!) the open arms of her estranged sister… 

Mia Chapman loves running Dolly’s Diner in the picture-perfect coastal Cornish town of Sunset Bay. Now that her and Grandma Dolly’s dream is finally a reality Mia has never been prouder! Until Laurie suddenly turns up on her doorstep… How can she forgive the sister who walked away?
Once upon a time Mia and Laurie were best friends. Back together after so long, the time has come for the sisters to figure out what went so wrong all those years ago – and whether they can ever put it right!
An uplifting romantic comedy about sisters, friendship and the love of good food.


I would recommend this to fans of Marcie Steel and Holly Martin’s books, it’s a lovely read and the sort of book you can happily get lost in for a while.  It would also make a great holiday read. 

Read Full Post »

The Little Shop of Happy Ever After

Author: Jenny Colgan
Published: 11 February 2016
Reviewed: 27 March 2016
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 supplied by Little, Brown Book Group UK in return for an honest review

4 out of 5 Stars

 



Description: 

Given a back-room computer job when the beloved Birmingham library she works in turns into a downsized retail complex, Nina misses her old role terribly – dealing with people, greeting her regulars, making sure everyone gets the right books for their needs. 
Then a new business nobody else wants catches her eye: owning a tiny little bookshop bus up in the Scottish highlands. No computers. Shortages. Out all hours in the freezing cold; driving with a tiny stock of books… not to mention how the little community is going to take to her, particularly when she stalls the bus on a level crossing…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

The Auld (Woolly) Alliance

When a Scottish Knitwear and Toy Designer and a French Compulsive Knitter Meet...

Put it in Writing

The Blog & Website of Anne Stormont Author: Writing, Reading, Reflecting

bibliobeth

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” - Cicero

Not Another Book Blogger

Reading, Writing, Drinking Tea

BookBum

A friendly space for all mystery, crime & thriller lovers

Broadbean's Books

Welcome to my blog where I share my thoughts on books.

Audio Killed the Bookmark

Two Girls Who Love To Read Spreading the Love For All Things Bookish! 💕📚🎧

Me and My Books

Books, book reviews and bookish news.

The Beardy Book Blogger

Reading and Reviewing Books - May Contain Beard: "From Tiny Book Blog Buds Shall Mighty Book Blogs Grow" - TBBB

Book lovers' booklist

Book news and reviews

Rosepoint Publishing

Book Blogger, Book Reviewer, Book Promotion

Crime Thriller Fella

Crime reviews, news, mayhem, all the usual

juliapalooza.com

Books, bakes and bunnies

A Knight's Reads

All things bookish

Letter Twenty

it's all about the tea

On The Shelf Books

A bookblog for readers

Gem's Quiet Corner

Welcome to my little corner. Grab a cup of tea (or hot drink of preference), find your happy place and join me to talk all things books...

Creating Perfection ~ Freelance Fiction Editor

Delicately balancing the voice of the author with the needs of the reader