#BlogTour Her Mother’s Secret by Rosanna Ley

Today it is a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Her Mother’s Secret by Rosanna Ley.  It is a thoughtful story with vivid imagery and a smorgasbord of emotions. The characters are realistic and the situations evoke empathy.

About the Author

Rosanna Ley has had six novels published by Quercus Books. She has worked as a creative writing tutor for many years and has written articles and stories for a number of national magazines. Her writing holidays and retreats take place in stunning locations in Spain and Italy. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives in West Dorset by the sea.

Follow @RosannaLey @QuercusBooks

Visit rosannaley.com

Buy Her Mother’s Secret

About the book

Escape to the heart of enchanting Brittany with the bestselling author of The Villa and The Little Theatre by the Sea. The perfect treat for fans of Santa Montefiore and Veronica Henry.

For many years Colette has avoided returning to her homeland – the magical island of Belle-Île-en-Mer in Southern Brittany – afraid to confront the painful memories she left behind. She is living on the Cornish coast when she hears about her mother Thea’s failing health and realises that the time has come for her to go home. But can Colette ever forgive Thea for what she has done?

Despite Colette’s wariness, romantic Belle-Île still fascinates her. She takes on the running of her mother’s flower shop and makes friends with Élodie from the Old Lighthouse where Thea once worked as a nanny and with the enigmatic Étienne who shares Colette’s mixed feelings about the island. As Thea opens up to her for the first time, Colette finds herself softening and being drawn back into the landscape of her past. But can Belle-Île also be a part of her future?

The ghosts of that past still linger. What happened all those years ago and how did it cause the rift between mother and daughter? It becomes clear that the beauty of Belle-Île hides a devastating family secret – one that Colette is determined to unravel at any cost.

Review

Secrets, everyone has them, but how they impact your life or psyche really depends on the secret and how much you think revealing it will change your life. I think the same applies to this story. Over time the importance of keeping certain things hidden has grown into a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Pride, emotions and fear of rejection makes it impossible to rectify mistakes of the past.

Colette is called back to the place she once called home, to the bedside of her dying mother. Saying goodbye makes her re-evaluate her own life and relationships. It also throws up some conflicts and unanswered questions from her mother’s own past. Not everything is as black and white as Colette always presumed it to be.

One of the main themes of this book is being or feeling at home somewhere. Having roots and experiencing a sense of belonging or connection to a particular place. This is especially the case for people who have parents with different nationalities, people who move around a lot as children or spend their childhood in one country and the rest of their lives in another one.

It is a thoughtful story with vivid imagery and a smorgasbord of emotions. The characters are realistic and the situations evoke empathy. The descriptions of the surroundings elicit this feeling of serenity, awe-inspiring beauty and nostalgia. Not in a sense that the reader may have been there, but in a way that makes us recall our own experiences of taking in the same kind of moments in time.

Ley has created a warm and heartfelt read, despite all the secrets and accusations. It makes us aware that our parents have other identities besides that of a parent. They were lovers, friends, daughters and sons, before they became the hopefully nurturing parent. They often have a lifetime of hidden encounters and secrets tucked away inside them. I think it is safe to say we never know someone completely. We only know what they want us to see and hear.

The author plays with the emotional connections we have with each other and our loved ones, but she does so with sensitivity and compassion. I was impressed by the way she expressed the confusion one can have when it comes to feeling at home somewhere. It’s like an inner siren song, sung only for that individual, and although others hear their own they can never completely comprehend what someone else hears and feels inside.

Buy Her Mother’s Secret at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Paperback pub date 14 June 2018 Kindle pub date 8 March 2018

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#BlogTour Ask Me To Dance by Sylvia Colley

ask me to dance final.png

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for Ask Me To Dance by Sylvia Colley. It is a heartfelt tale of healing, forgiveness and understanding. When someone deals with personal grief and anger without airing it in any way they can become an emotional ticking time-bomb.

About the Author

Sylvia Colley was born in Romsey, Hampshire. She became a teacher and spent many years as Head of English at the Purcell School in North London.

She has published a book of poetry, It’s Not What I Wanted Though, and a novel, Lights on Dark Water. Her work has been read on BBC Radio 4. She lives in Pinner, Middlesex.

About the book

Rose Gregory has suffered a devastating blow, a double bereavement from which months later she is still reeling. Sanctuary and rest are prescribed by her doctor. But when she arrives at her refuge, a dank and decaying Monastery, she finds it is not the haven promised. Despite the veneer of calm contemplation, the Monastery turns out to be a hotbed of intrigue and disharmony. Rose witnesses bullying and cruelty and ultimately in defence of the vulnerable turns to violence herself. Sylvia Colley’s extraordinary understanding of a woman’s struggle to deal with grief, the denial, the anger, the loneliness, is described without sentimentality. A beautifully written and moving story.

Review

‘I woke to a dead soul housed inside a live body’

Rose spends a lot of time trying to escape her grief and her emotions. She is distraught on the inside and yet on the outside she appears to be cold and in control. There is only so much a body can hide until it starts to react to such an incredible strain. It takes a while for the crumbling to start, and when it does she is guided towards a place where she can find some peace.

Her most poignant moment was admitting she was frightened that her faith wouldn’t move mountains at all and that she was frightened of putting God to the test, which of course equates to her doubting her faith in general. The realisation that no matter how much you pray there usually isn’t a miracle waiting around the next corner. Sometimes there is no explanation or reason.

It takes Rose a while to understand that she is not just dealing with anger, she is also dealing with guilt. What if she had been there? What if she hadn’t been ill that day? Did she make the right choices after the accident, and most importantly how could she forget the dead in favour of the living.

In a way I think Rose believes her loss is a punishment and the confirmation of the lack of love and understanding she also encountered as a child. You are not good enough to be loved, hence being punished by such an immense loss. The anger about her past has always smouldered deep inside her, but the loss of her loved ones is the striking of the match, and the events in the retreat are fuel which ignites and unleashes the fierce storm of anger within her.

Ask Me To Dance is a story about grief, faith and pain. It is about questioning each moment in our lives that somehow forms our personality and the choices we make in our lives. When something or someone destroys the imagined foundations of our existence, some of us rebuild the structure, but some people give up completely.

Colley keeps it simple and relatable. This could happen to any person at any given time. She approaches the topic of faith without being preachy, bullying without crass incidents and healing without sudden heavenly revelations. It is an endearing tale written with a lot of compassion, and yet very down-to-earth.

Buy Ask Me To Dance at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Publisher Muswell Press

#BlogTour Paul McGraw: Kid to Killer by Paul Elliott

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for Kid to Killer by Paul Elliott. It is the story of a boy with a strong sense of justice, which evolves into vigilantism. One could argue that one man’s justice is another man’s murder.

About the Author

Paul Elliott, born in Edinburgh in 1974 is the creator and writer of the book Paul McGraw: Kid To Killer which is available now on the kindle store

Having grown up in some of the roughest areas of Edinburgh and leaving Wester Hailes Education Centre after year one with no qualifications, he joined the army as a junior officer at 15 years old but very quickly realised it wasn’t for him.

Paul then moved onto being a nightclub bouncer, debt collector, personal security provider and car dealer before trying his hand at writing a novel.

Twitter @EdinburghAuthor

Facebook: Paul Elliott/Author

About the book

A fifteen year old boy sees it as his duty to rid Edinburgh of the scum that prey on the innocent people of the city. He finds that to punish the guilty he must first face fear,loss and betrayal.

He will soon discover things aren’t always as they seem, and there are other people who have uses for a young killer as well as bigger forces at play.

Review

A fifteen year old kid, who believes he can solve the problems of the world or at least those of Edinburgh by taking out dangerous criminals one at a time. A belief born out of having to learn how to survive in a dog eat dog world, and a world full of bullies.

I am fairly certain that the idea of being a vigilante and dispersing of all the dangerous elements of society aka kill them, is one which passes through quite a few minds occasionally, then again that might just be me. The most obvious danger in that is who decides which criminal is on the hit-list, and how do you decide. I would think it would be an easy decision to kill rapists, serial killers, child molesters and mass killers, but who draws the line and where? Who decides which crime fits the ultimate definitive punishment?

The argument is similar to for and against the death penalty. What happens if you kill an innocent person, does an eye for an eye really equate to real justice? I won’t weigh in with my personal opinion on vigilantism or the death penalty. Justice systems are flawed, which is how murderers end up on back on the street and killing again, and also how many innocent men and women spend decades behind bars.

In this scenario you also have to wonder who is being put on the hit-list by whom and why. Is there some ulterior motive behind specific names. More importantly what makes the self-appointed vigilante more able or knowledgeable to make those choices.

Elliott presents a premise quite a few readers will nod their heads at, but there will also be a lot of shaking of heads. In that sense it will create discussion and debate. It is the story of a boy with a strong sense of justice, which evolves into vigilantism. One could argue that one man’s justice is another man’s murder. It could do with a little polish and smoothing of the edges, but I expect that will come with a honing of skills. Kid to Killer is the first in the series, so it will be interesting to see where the author takes this vigilante.

Buy Paul McGraw: Kid to Killer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Pub. date 2nd June 2018

#BlogTour Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

Today it is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald. Her books focus on relationships and the complexities of those relationships, as they change and evolve throughout time. The perception of each person is subjective and seen through their own frame of references, which is how MacDonald approaches each book.

About the Author

Linda MacDonald is the author of four novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternative and The Man in the Needlecord Jacket. All Linda’s books are contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues.

After studying psychology at Goldsmiths’, Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. The first two novels took ten years in writing and publishing, using snatched moments in the evenings, weekends and holidays. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing.

Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham in Kent.

Follow @LindaMac1 @MatadorBooks #MeetingLydia

About the book

Meeting Lydia explores the very relevant topics of childhood bullying, midlife crises, the pros and cons of internet relationships, and how the psychological effects of these affect the main character and those around her. Readers will be gripped by the turbulent life of Marianne who navigates the onset of menopause, an empty nest, a suspected errant husband and a demanding new obsession that pulls her in deeper as the story unfolds. Those interested in the psychology of relationships will enjoy this novel, as well as those who delight in an enthralling story with relatable characters and the powerful question of what happens when the past catches up with the present. This second edition has reworked the early chapters of the first edition, making for a pacy and shorter version more in line with the audiobook.

Marianne comes home from work one day to find her husband talking to a glamorous woman in their kitchen. Old childhood insecurities resurface, stemming from a time back at school when she was bullied. Jealousy rears its head and her happy marriage begins to crumble. Desperate for a solution – and introduced by her daughter to social networking – she tries to track down her first schoolgirl crush, the enigmatic Edward Harvey. But Marianne is unprepared for the power of email relationships …

Review

To be frank, I found Marianne completely unlikeable, especially in the first few chapters. There is incessant complaining and blaming of others. As the story unfolds her inner turmoil becomes a lot clearer, and the reasons why she seems at the very least like a petty jealous fishwife. Then some of the interactions with her husband make it easier to understand her.

He is insulting and crosses boundaries with other women he wouldn’t allow his wife to cross. He makes her feel small, invalid and unloved. Simultaneously Marianne makes it hard to be liked. She finds it difficult to deal with natural hormonal changes. The sense of feeling bereft at no longer being able to conceive is replaced by confusion about the uncontrollable physical symptoms she experiences. Instead of seeking help or talking with someone, she withdraws even further into the confines of her own fears and insecurities.

Meeting Lydia deals with historic bullying, the symptoms of early and perimenopause, the way society treats women after they pass into the middle-age bracket, and ultimately the way our deepest desires and goals remain unfulfilled as life passes us by.

And this is the moment where, as a reader, especially as a woman, you have to take a step back and try to understand her thought processes. Why do women of a certain age become invisible to others? The loss of youth, the ageing process, and definitely when their roles as mothers have been fulfilled, they are no longer of any interest to potential love partners for instance. Unfortunately the younger generations of women are unable to see themselves fitting into the same category ( ahh the innocence of youth), and more often than not they become the adversary instead of the supporter.

As for men, well they expect a woman to stay the same throughout the decades, despite letting themselves go. A hypocritical attitude, but quite common. There is also a lack of understanding for the changes women go through, although admittedly women don’t understand them completely either.

Marianne seeks closure for events in the past and tries to come to terms with the new phases of her relationship and her age. She starts what could be perceived as an emotional online relationship, which helps her to work through all of the above. In a way it is a long one-sided therapy session, with the other person being completely unaware of the importance of the correspondence.

MacDonald always manages to hit on core emotional issues in her stories. They may be woven into the fabric of a fictional scenario, but it doesn’t make them any less realistic for readers. The charm of her particular style of storytelling is the way she combines everyday emotions, problems and inner dialogues with relatable characters. Her main character represents the unhappy, confused, unloved and dissatisfied woman that lives in the majority of women, it just surfaces more often in some of us. In an way it is actually Marianne meeting Marianne or the woman she is, as she goes forward.

Buy Meeting Lydia at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Buy Paperback version

Read my review of The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald

#BlogTour The Girls’ Book of Priesthood by Louise Rowland

It is a pleasure to take pat in the BlogTour for The Girl’s Book of Priesthood by Louise Rowland. This book has a title, which may steer readers away from what is an entertaining, realistic and honest approach to what is simply a woman doing a job, which is ‘owned’ by men. Leaving aside faith and religion for a minute, this could apply to any career considered to be a purely man’s domain.

About the Author

Louise Rowland grew up in Bournemouth and studied English at Cambridge. She went on to work as a speechwriter, journalist and copywriter – including 11 years in Munich, Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam. She has a Masters in Novel Writing from City University, where she won the course prize. She lives in London with her husband and has two grown-up daughters. The Girls’Book of Priesthood is her first novel.

Follow @louiserowland20 @MuswellPress

Buy The Girls’ Book of Priesthood

About the book

Meticulously researched, The Girls’ Book of Priesthood is being published to coincide with the anniversary of women’s ordination in March.

‘I mean, you know, someone says “woman priest” and you think the whole grey-hair-bobbly cardigan-house-full-of-cats thing, right?’

Margot Goodwin is a young curate struggling to survive her trial year in the parish, when everything and everyone seems hell-bent on stopping her. Success would mean becoming a fully-fledged priest, something she feels profoundly called to do. Failure would not only prove her father right, but would also delight all the antis who consider women priests at best a joke, at worst, an abomination. But from the very start, Margot faces a multitude of challenges, both personal and professional, from the hostile teenage daughter of her host family, to the married parishioner she is hopelessly drawn to. Can she convince everyone – herself included – that she’s more than a lipstick-wearing, part-timer with a PhD, and realise her long-held dream of becoming a priest.

girlnew

Louise Rowland on writing The Girls’ Book of Priesthood

What inspired you to write the book? I started writing the book as part of the Novel Writing Master’s at City University. Initially, I was very keen to do something around the idea of the cuckoo in the nest’: a stranger renting a room with a dysfunctional family and the tensions that would create.

The ‘stranger’ then became a male curate (a character loosely inspired by a young trainee priest friend). That in turn opened up a whole raft of new questions. What kind of person would choose to be a priest? Where would his personal boundaries lie, living cheek by jowl with a messy family set-up? How would he be treated by the teenagers in the house –, by everyone he met in the ‘real world’?Could he ever check out and simply be himself? But it was when I decided to make the central character female that the whole book really came to life. If the role of priest is a tough call for men, try doing it if you’re young and female and likely to encounter a whole extra layer of prejudice and stereotypes (and that’s just from your colleagues).

I wanted to explore who exactly this young woman was; what motivated her; why she didn’t just go off and live a ‘normal’ life; what kind of sacrifices she’d have to make. Would she be able have a relationship without feverish prying eyes?

What research was involved in it?  I was lucky enough to be able to interview around twenty female priests around the country: some of them right at the start of their journey at theological college; some knee deep in training on the job in parishes; and one or two who had been amongst the small initial batch in the mid 90s – including a woman who had marched down Whitehall, banner aloft, like a clerical suffragette.

Did you uncover anything surprising when talking to these women? All the time. How diverse they were as people and how far they confounded the lazy stereotypes: women priests as earnest, frumpy, make-up and men-free zones – well-meaning but completely out of step with the modern world. The women I spoke to shared a razor-sharp intelligence – and most revelled in a robust gallows humour, underpinned by a very clear-eyed appreciation of just what they were letting themselves in for. And several of them were exceptionally glamorous – even in a dog collar!

This is not a ‘Christian book’ – but does it stem from some form of personal experience of the Church or religious faith? I didn’t set out to write a ‘Christian book’ in any sense. What gripped me as a writer was the potential internal conflict of a young woman who desperately wants to fulfil her profound sense of calling – but who also craves the things that most other mid-20s millennials want. A loving relationship, a sense of personal freedom, control of her own identity … fun.

My family and I are part of the congregation at a socially liberal Anglo-Catholic (ie choir, robes, female and gay priests) church in central London. As one of the current church wardens, I help out on a voluntary basis on the administrative side.St Mark’s is an entirely fictional creation – but its depiction undoubtedly draws on insider knowledge of how that whole world works, its rhythms and challenges and some of the personalities that tend to inhabit it.

Faith itself is a very private matter for me – and always been subject to constant questioning, as I think it is for many people. One of the women I interviewed talked about her branch of the Church of England as being very comfortable with ‘not knowing all the answers or having all the certainties’. I’d put myself firmly in that middle of the road camp –sometimes hesitant but still hanging-in-there. I once read an interview with David Cameron where he compared his religious belief to the radio signal in the Chilterns: it comes and goes, at times falteringly weak, at others, clearly defined. To me, that’s the perfect analogy!

(Q&A provided by Muswell Press and Louise Rowland)

Review

Although it may be a blasé and sweeping stereotypical statement – the role of women as the listener, the advice-giver and the problem-solver, is one that has always been attributed to our gender. Perhaps unwillingly when it comes to the same traits in leadership roles, and it is most certainly met with distrust in the role of leadership as it relates to religion and faith.

Revered in the role as the nun, the subservient celibate mistress of the faith and married to God, but regarded as too emotional, not level-headed enough and well let’s just say way too female to lead a flock to their salvation. Always in the supporting role and never in role of the hand of God.

At times I felt this was more about the way society perceives women in general, than just the adjustment and acknowledgement of women in priesthood.

Adding to that particular sentiment is the attitude of her friend Clarissa, who seems to be trying to squeeze Margot into the role society expects her to inhabit, instead of supporting her attempt to win over the patriarchal religious institution and the attitude of both the members of her church, her family and the leaders of said institution.

What resonated with me was the notion that the flock believes the priest belongs to them in some way. A special in-the-flesh messenger straight to God, which automatically means they can infringe on privacy and try to dictate attitudes, clothes and behaviour. Perhaps more so when the vicar/priest is a woman. They forget the person is doing a job and because faith is all encompassing and a 24/7 job, it leaves no room for self-thought or even just the occasional stint as a free person.

I think perhaps the expectation of this book is one of a preachy heavy-handed attempt to look at our existent or non-existent relationships with faith, and the difficulty society has in accepting women as leaders of faith and religion. The latter is true, but Rowland is clear on the notion that this isn’t in any way supposed to be a book about Christians or Christianity, and it isn’t.

It is a story of a woman trying to combine her career choice, and the opposition she faces in a job made-up by men, ruled by men and where the rules are set in stone by men. At the same time she is a normal woman, who wants to have a relationship within the confines of those strict rules, and is trying to navigate the difficult stormy waters of her own emotions and the expectations of her family.

In a way it reads like a sleuth come rom-com with a hefty portion emotional turmoil and political side-stepping thrown in for free, and let’s not forget the sanctimonious attitude of the church towards enlightenment and progression. Just as DNA changes and evolves to withstand and survive environmental changes, so must society and the people within it.

This book has a title, which may steer readers away from what is an entertaining, realistic and honest approach to what is simply a woman doing a job, which is ‘owned’ by men. Leaving aside faith and religion for a minute, this could apply to any career considered to be a purely man’s domain.

Rowland surprised me with this subtle and realistic portrayal of Margot. It has the charm of Father Brown combined with a contemporary voice. It is also a reminder of humanity, of simplicity and of kindness, and yet it is also a wake-up call to chisel away at the archaic systems still at the helm of our ships. It’s time for diversity and equality to infiltrate the crumblings walls of years of patriarchal oppression and automated obedience.

Buy The Girls’ Book of Priesthood at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Visit muswell-press.co.uk

#BlogTour A Mind Polluted by Martin Geraghty

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for A Mind Polluted by Martin Geraghty. A disturbing tale of anger, revenge and emotional turmoil. As a reader you may ask yourself who the real culprit is, and who should be carrying the burden of blame. Read it and see what you think.

About the Author

Martin Geraghty is a forty-five-year-old from Glasgow. He is a self-employed Private Investigator who claims his profession is not remotely as interesting as it may seem. Human beings and how they react to the various curveballs that life throws at them is generally what inspires him to write. He has had work published in various litzines including Razur Cuts and Glove. When not writing or playing amateur detective, he can be found on a golf course or indulging in his chief passions, food, wine and music. A Mind Polluted is his debut novel.

Follow @MartinGeraght1 @crookedcatbooks

Visit martingeraghty.co.uk

Buy A Mind Polluted

About the book

His world falls apart…

Triggered by overhearing a confession from his mother’s lips when he was a young boy, Connor Boyd carries the burden of the secret through his life.

Is falling in love his saviour? Or will he embark on a journey down a self-destructive path which ultimately leads to his version of justice?

Will he concentrate on his future, or be consumed by his past?

Review

I could talk about this book for pages. It is controversial in a sense that not everyone is going experience or evaluate the story of Connor the same way, and I don’t just mean the subjective reading experience each reader has. However first just let me say kudos to Geraghty for the ending. Talk about way out of left field, but in a way it creates an even bigger platform for discussion.

Imagine hearing something as a child that changes your entire outlook on life, your family and your attitude in general. The kind of comment that buries into your head like a parasite. A worm munching away at the stability of your temperament and personality, the stability of your relationships and inevitably changes your path in life.

Although the story gives you that initial perception I would also argue that Connor may have made the same choices irrespective of being privy to a comment made in anger or haste. The majority of kids and teens experience, see and hear things they aren’t supposed to, and yet it doesn’t automatically set them on a path of destruction.

The volatile aspect of his personality may have appeared eventually, and towards the end of the story someone does confront Connor with his constant need to blame others. He is always the victim and never the one at fault. No matter how controlling, how insulting or how abusive he is, he always blames the other person. In fact, a tree could fall on him from a great height in the middle of a desert and he would always blame his mother. The woman who has become his personal demon, the sat nav in his destructive life.

Someone give the child, the teen and the man a hefty slap, and tell him to take responsibility for his actions. His actions, his choices and ultimately his decisions. Although the story veers into the issue of mental health at one point, and he could certainly have done with a lot more support, especially as a child, I personally think the last pages speak to an altogether different evaluation.

The irony of A Mind Polluted is that at the end Connor and his mother probably have more in common than either of them are willing to acknowledge. The scales of nature vs nuture are weighing up equally by the end of this dark tale of anger and regret.

I have to hand it to Geraghty, you can read this and feel empathy or read it and feel the underlying current of aggression. It is a two-way path, a crossing, depending on your personal frame of reference. Is it a mind polluted by emotional turmoil or is the mind polluted from the get-go, a seed that grows when watered sufficiently with the right or wrong kind of nourishment?

Buy A Mind Polluted at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Paperback available now, E-book release 10th May 2018 Publisher: Crooked Cats Books

Days of Wonder by Keith Stuart

days of wonderI absolutely adored A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart and I have recommended his work quite often, because it is a great read, but also for its emotional and educational value in regards to the topic of autism and a father seeking a connection to his son.

I was genuinely interested to see of he could bring the same kind of emotional inner turmoil and tug-of-war to the table with Days of Wonder.

The answer to that is yes, but in a completely different way. The focus in Days of Wonder is on the relationship between Tom and his daughter Hannah, however the difference is the connection between them is already there. Instead the author explores the difficulty between father and daughter as she comes of age, with the added tragic factor of a future she may never be part of.

The topic of a child with heart disease is one I found easy to relate to. Being told that your child has joined the inner sanctum and group of children suffering from or affected by a terribly frightening disease, especially when it comes out of the blue, is devastating and incredibly traumatic.

Luckily for my child, who was a guinea pig for a new procedure nearly 25 years ago, the medical world had a solution and she is now a healthy young woman. For Tom and Hannah the reality is a lot more dire. They both know that their time together is limited and on a timer.

Tom decided a long time ago to make every birthday Hannah manages to celebrate an event to remember, and there is no limit to his imagination. I loved the ideas he prepared for his child, especially the fairy parade. What a wonderful memory and experience to give to your child. This is the kind of parent Tom is, but he is also a typical father who has trouble letting his beautiful caged bird fly and experience the world for herself.

Days of Wonder is an ode to the relationships between fathers and daughters. The majority of stories focus on mother and daughter bonds or dysfunctional family relationships, which makes this a refreshing change of tempo and a smorgasbord of emotions.

Stuart manages to change a tragedy into a warm, heartfelt coming-of-age story. He portrays the father as a man willing to go to any length to ensure his daughter experiences each moment to the fullest, even when she decides it is time to cut the cord between them. Kudos to the author for giving Days of Wonder the ending it deserved, and not falling prey to the scenario some readers may want to see, as opposed to the brutal reality it needed.

Keith Stuart offers up his heart, mind and part of his soul, which is part of his style and it’s what makes his books so memorable. He invites the reader to sit down at the table with his characters and become part of the family. At the end of Days of Wonder you may just see the fairies dancing in your garden at night too, and that is the magic Stuart creates.

Buy Days of Wonder at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Published by Little Brown Books Uk 7th June 2018

Follow @keefstuart @LittleBrownUK

Follow boymadeofblocks.tumblr.com

Read A Boy Made Of Blocks