#BlogTour Count the Ways by Joyce Maynard

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Count the Ways by Joyce Maynard.

About the Author

Joyce Maynard is the author of nine previous novels and five books of nonfiction, as well as the syndicated column, “Domestic Affairs.”

Her bestselling memoir, At Home in the World, has been translated into sixteen languages. Her novels To Die For and Labor Day were both adapted for film. Maynard currently makes her home in New Haven, Connecticut. Follow @joycemaynard on Twitter, Visit joycemaynard.com

About the book

In her most ambitious novel to date, New York Times bestselling author Joyce Maynard returns to the themes that are the hallmarks of her most acclaimed work in a mesmerizing story of a family—from the hopeful early days of young marriage to parenthood, divorce, and the costly aftermath that ripples through all their lives Eleanor and Cam meet at a crafts fair in Vermont in the early 1970s. 

She’s an artist and writer, he makes wooden bowls. Within four years they are parents to three children, two daughters and a redheaded son who fills his pockets with rocks, plays the violin and talks to God. To Eleanor, their New Hampshire farm provides everything she always wanted—summer nights watching Cam’s softball games, snow days by the fire and the annual tradition of making paper boats and cork people to launch in the brook every spring. If Eleanor and Cam don’t make love as often as they used to, they have something that matters more. Their family.

Then comes a terrible accident, caused by Cam’s negligence. Unable to forgive him, Eleanor is consumed by bitterness, losing herself in her life as a mother, while Cam finds solace with a new young partner.

Over the decades that follow, the five members of this fractured family make surprising discoveries and decisions that occasionally bring them together, and often tear them apart. Tracing the course of their lives—through the gender transition of one child and another’s choice to completely break with her mother—Joyce Maynard captures a family forced to confront essential, painful truths of its past, and find redemption in its darkest hours.

A story of holding on and learning to let go, Count the Ways is an achingly beautiful, poignant, and deeply compassionate novel of home, parenthood, love, and forgiveness.

Review

I can imagine this story will resonate in a completely different way with readers, some will experience this as a tale of the complexities of love, relationships and family dynamics. To others it will be the autopsy of a marriage and of family life.

For me it didn’t evoke feelings of love, nostalgia or understanding, but rather very much the opposite. When a relationship has borne the fruits of many years of intimacy, friendship, love, laughter and birth, slowly disintegrates into ashes made up of resentment and disillusionment – the result can be a harrowing picture. Often that picture is lopsided and misinformed, as it is here.

By protecting her children from the truth of their father, which is the correct, therapeutic and socially acceptable thing to do, you run the risk of being at the short end of the stick. History is then written to report of the angry, scorned woman. The woman who left without reason, and the woman who abandoned the status quo. the woman who causes all discontent and problems in the children of said divorce. How utterly unforgivable, which is mirrored in the way her friends and children treat her. I was angry for her. I know women like her who have sat on the truth for decades to protect the emotions of their children, only to be treated with contempt, whilst the husband and father is lifted up on a pedestal. She has a right to own her anger.

Perhaps the clearest image to emerge is the fact that once you have suckled, pampered, taught and raised your children into adulthood and they decide to treat you with disdain for whatever imagined or real ailment they might have or problem they encounter, then perhaps you have served your obligation to them. Indeed there seems to be a 21st century wave of parental blame that encompasses everything a person may feel or do. 

I really enjoyed it. I thought Maynard had her finger on the pulse of family, especially when it is redefined involuntarily. She paints an accurate picture of the gender inequality when it comes to being a parent, in situations of divorce and in romantic or sexual relationships as one veers beyond the younger years. It’s an excellent read by an observant and skilled writer.  

Buy Count the Ways at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎William Morrow pub date 13 July 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Come Back to Me by Daniela Sacerdoti

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Come Back to Me by Daniela Sacerdoti. It’s a contemporary read with elements of magical realism combined with the concept of what family is for each of us. It’s a lovely read.About the Author

Daniela Sacerdoti is a phenomenon. Over one million copies of her novels have been sold in eBook, her debut novel Watch Over me was the 8th bestselling Kindle book of all time in 2015 and she was also ranked as the 11th top-selling Kindle author. Daniela writes beautiful, haunting and bestselling fiction for adults (the Glen Avich series), young adults (the Sarah Midnight trilogy) and children. Her novels have been translated in twelve languages. Daniela was born and raised in Italy. She studied Classics, then lived in Scotland for fourteen years, where she married and taught in a primary school.

Daniela’s children’s book Really Weird Removals.Com was shortlisted for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards. She has also written for the BBC. Daniela, her husband and their two sons make their home in a tiny village in the Alps.

To discover more about Daniela and her world, visit www.danielasacerdoti.com.

Follow Daniela on Facebook, on Amazon, on Goodreads,

Buy Come Back to Me

About the book

Three separate lives. Three broken hearts.

Haunted by his wife’s death, Matt arrives on Seal Island determined to be alone and unable to escape his grief.

In the island’s hospital, a young woman named Rose lies in a coma, trapped by the memories of events leading up to her accident.

Grace, the island’s doctor, is at the heart of the community. Only she knows how much she regrets turning down the chance of love and a family years ago.

For these three people hope seems gone. But life is about to offer an unexpected new beginning…

Review

There are many types of reading experiences; the ones that leave you feeling happy, sad or angry. Now and again you get a book that reaches from the pages and takes a piece of you, even if just for a moment.

It may give you a sense of peace, a few seconds of indignation or fill you with rage. It doesn’t really matter what emotion or thoughts linger, but if they do then the author has done their job by extending a hand to invite you inside and you entering their house of words, staying for a while and leaving with some of their powerful words imprinted in your memory forever.

Sacerdoti evokes that kind of magic with her story. It is a perfect fictional exploration of grief, forgiveness, accepting life and the obstacles it throws in your way, and finding your own type of happiness.

This is the third book in the Seal Island series and the focus is on multiple characters who become connected through the island. Matthew is still riddled with guilt after the death of his wife. He welcomes the isolation of and on the island. Grace keeps herself busy to avoid thinking about her all her regrets, about the life and family she should have had. Then there is Fergus and the strained relationship with his teenage daughter, a young girl who feels abandoned and neglected by both parents.

The story of Rose runs alongside the others, but takes place in the past, as we see her navigate the complicated oppressive relationship between herself and her brother.

On the surface that may seem like a normal contemporary story about family, relationships and love, but the author makes it stand out from the crowd by adding a layer of magical realism to the story. It falls over a certain character like a soft, soothing and healing blanket.

It’s a contemporary read with elements of magical realism combined with the concept of what family is for each of us. It’s a lovely read.

Buy Come Back to Me at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Headline in eBook on 1st May and available in paperback original on 25th July. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

I was thrilled when Sarah Morgan announced last year that she would be writing her first book of women’s fiction. Finally she gets to spread her wings and cross boundaries, and most importantly show even more readers ow talented she is. I am delighted to take part in the BlogTour for How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan.

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes romance and contemporary women’s fiction and her trademark humour and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. She is a 3 time winner of the prestigious RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America and has been nominated five times. Sarah lives near London, England, and when she isn’t reading or writing she loves being outdoors.

How to Keep a Secret is Sarah’s first standalone women’s fiction novel, coming to the UK in June and to the US in July 2018!

Follow @SarahMorgan_ @HQStories @HarperCollinsUK on Twitter

On Facebook www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan

Visit sarahmorgan.com

Buy How to Keep a Secret

About the book

When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surprise.

Lauren has the perfect life…if she ignores the fact it’s a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.

Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it’s… Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she’s determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.

Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?

Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha’s Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challege, the rewards could be infinite…

Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan’s brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.

Review

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here; Sarah Morgan’s first venture into women’s fiction, and I can honestly say it was worth the wait. Finally Morgan has taken a step towards a genre, which will give her the opportunity to show her full potential. Not that she has to prove how talented she is as a writer or storyteller, but this means she has less boundaries fencing her creativity and talent in.

The story is about three generations of the Stewart women, their relationships with each other, and the secrets they keep to make sure they all stay safe. The focus is on Lauren and Jenna, sisters who know each other like the back of their hands or at least they both think they do. The main thing they have in common is a disdain for the mother they both experienced as aloof and neglectful.

Jenna still lives near her childhood home on Martha’s Vineyard. Her whole life revolves around becoming pregnant and having a baby, to the point of putting her marriage on the line. Lauren is trying to deal with her obnoxious teenage daughter and her husband, who seems to be focused on everything other than his family.

Nancy has been keeping her own painful secrets in order to protect her daughters. Then when tragedy strikes in the family she finds herself having to confront her past and her fears in order to heal wounds of the past.

There is an emphasis on the tenuous strings holding people and relationships together, and the way they are easily shattered. Words said in haste, being in the wrong place at the right time and not having the courage to speak out. All things that can change the course of a life.

The author has a very distinctive style when it comes to story-telling. It’s a mixture of pure honest emotion, the intricacies of relationships, and her flair for timing and creating the kind of scenes that tug at your heartstrings.

The story of the Stewart’s is subtle and relatable. It speaks to the mother and daughter relationships we all experience, often struggle with, and yet ultimately are also driven by and flourish because of them. The sisterhood that exists, albeit it often subconsciously, and regardless of whether via blood connection or not, to support each other in times of struggle.

The secrets we keep usually don’t stay buried forever.

It’s a successful and exciting new venture for Morgan, and I hope just the beginning of many more.

Buy How to Keep a Secret at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The Christmas SistersHoliday in the HamptonsNew York Actually (From Manhattan with Love #4)Miracle on 5th Avenue (From Manhattan With Love #3)Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love #2)Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #1)Christmas Ever AfterFirst Time in ForeverMaybe This Christmas, Sleighbells in the SnowSuddenly Last Summer or The Notting Hill Diaries, all by Sarah Morgan.

SarahMorgan_HowKeepSecret_BlogTour.jpg

#BlogTour One Small Thing by Erin Watt

It’s my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for One Small Thing by Erin Watt today. It’s an emotional roller-coaster ride filled with strong characters, right-fighters, and with a young girl at war with the world and herself at the midst of it all.

About the Author

Erin Watt is the brainchild of two bestselling authors linked together through their love of great books and an addiction to writing. They share one creative imagination. Their greatest love (after their families and pets, of course)? Coming up with fun–and sometimes crazy–ideas. Their greatest fear? Breaking up.

Follow @authorerinwatt (brainchild of authors: @JenSFred and @ElleKennedy)

Follow @HQStories and @HarlequinTEEN

Buy One Small Thing

About the book

Their secret could tear everything apart…

Beth’s life hasn’t been the same since her sister died. Trapped at home by her over-bearing parents Beth needs to get out. So when she sneaks out to a party and meets the boy everyone’s been talking about she’s shocked by their instant connection, and the part he played in her sister’s death.

A forbidden romance is the last thing either of them planned for, but the more time they spend together, the deeper their feelings become. Beth has a choice to make – follow the rules, or risk ruining what she cares about most.

Review

Grief plays a major role in this story, and the different ways people deal with it or don’t deal with it, as is the case with Beth. Her inability to accept any kind of emotional reaction about her losing her sister becomes the active volcano in the midst of the emotional minefield surrounding her. She has to deal with her parents obsessive need to protect her and their refusal to let Rachel go, the killer and his need to be punished indefinitely for her death, and the community and friends who all have an opinion on how she should react to the tragic event.

Watt makes it easy to understand both sides of the coin, when it comes to Beth and her parents. As a parent you are terrified another child will be taken from you, so your reactions don’t seem over the top or extreme. You can justify any action or rule that will keep your kid safe, right? Simultaneously you have Beth reacting and rebelling against the restrictions, the oppression and the panic that oozes from their every pore. Normal teenage shenanigans become more dangerous and risky, when seen through the lens of the frightened and angry parent.

Everything takes on a more explosive and destructive element when Beth hooks up with a handsome mysterious young man at a party, who later turns out to be the person charged and sentenced for the death of her sister. Beth struggles to satisfy her instinctual attraction to him, whilst pretending to hate him for what he has done to her family. She finds it difficult to juggle what she knows of him with what she experiences when she spends time with Chase.

This author duo certainly knows how to tug on the heartstrings and make the reader feel the intensity of the emotional upheaval the characters go through. The sign of good YA romance is being able to communicate the confusion, passion, anger, sadness and joy of a young person, which is usually all over the place, in a way that makes the reader connect with the characters and the story.

At the same time Watt also subtly weaves important topics like abuse, peer pressure, isolation and child-parent conflicts, into this tapestry of grief and pain. It’s an emotional roller-coaster ride filled with strong characters, right-fighters, and with a young girl at war with the world and herself in the midst of it all.

Pre-order/Buy One Small Thing at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Published by HQ on 28th June 2018 Paperback £7.99 /

eBook £2.99 pub date 26th June 2018

pub date 26 June 2018 Audio 12.99


About HQ

At HQ we love writers and readers. We publish books we believe will bring pleasure and satisfaction regardless of genre or classification. Our aim is simple. To combine the classic values of readability and quality with a focus on reaching readers directly, while giving writers the support they deserve. HQ is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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

The Betrayals by Fiona Neill

the betrayalsI think I might put this book on my list of favourites for this year. It wasn’t at all what I expected, and yet at the same time it was.

I don’t even think the betrayals are the driving force in this story. The deterioration of Daisy, the codependency of her brother Max, and of course the triggers, they are what propel the story forward with quite a lot of force.

First of all kudos to the author for the in depth research and description of the obsessive compulsive disorder. It controls and rules Daisy, her life and to a certain extent the lives of those around her. Like many other disorders, it has become somewhat of a blasé throwaway phrase that people mention in a jokey kind of way. The truth is it can control and take over your entire life, and indeed people who suffer from severe OCD are often unable to cope with the demands of everyday life, due to their condition.

I enjoyed the perfect imperfections of the characters and the story. In general life isn’t an ice cream sundae with a cherry on top. It tends to be more like a melted mess that drips faster than you can eat it.

The lives of two families are changed forever when Nick and Lisa decide that lust is stronger than loyalty. Their spouses and children are less than thrilled. In fact Daisy believes their betrayal is the trigger for her OCD and every other problem in her life. To be more specific she believes Lisa is the root cause of her problems, and what Daisy thinks Max thinks too.

It’s interesting how Daisy suffers from selective memory and fixates on her father and his mistress. Memory and in particular false memories and the way our brain works in relation to memories is Nick’s speciality, which makes some aspects of the plot all the more ironic.

It really is an engrossing read, perhaps more so because the complete disintegration of families and relationships is so commonplace, and it leaves many victims in its wake. Neill writes a compelling plot with relatable characters.

Buy The Betrayals at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The A to Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson

A to ZIf my mother did this my sister and me, then I would conjure up her spirit to tell her what a fool she is. My sister and I would both find this process a complete waste of time, and one that would probably end with one or the other in jail. (Makes note not to buy this book for my mother)

I would however do this for my daughters if I felt they needed to reconnect and be there for each other after my death. Not that I would ever let things become so bad that I wasn’t speaking to my children on a regular basis.

Blood is thicker than water, however blood doesn’t mean you automatically have to be friends. In fact the reality is that many take a step back from family members because they are related but don’t like them.

Andrea has planned everything in fine detail. She wants Rose and Poppy to reunite and become the friends they once were. She wants them to support each other and get over the problems that keep them apart.

Poppy and Rose used to be as thick as thieves until something ripped them apart. Now they are like strangers, and Poppy doesn’t even know her nephew.

Rose is just as guilty as Poppy, as far as I am concerned. It takes two to tango and yet Rose places all the blame on Poppy. Of course it is more of a betrayal if it is your sister, but come on now blaming one person is ludicrous.

The idea itself is quite an interesting one. You don’t know what you’ve lost until it is gone forever. It is all about taking people for granted and letting relationships get to the point of no return. Both women have to learn to put the past behind them and to move forward with a clean slate. It is an emotional and honest read, possibly because it is a realistic scenario.

Buy The A to Z of Everything at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @Debbiemjohnson@HarperImpulse or @HarperCollinsUk

Join us on the Blog-Tour: Love Is by Haley Hill

Come along and have a gander at the tour, and see what I and my fellow bloggers have to say about the life and times of Eleanor Rigby in Love Is by Haley Hill. Follow the links below to read all about it.

Follow @HaleyHillNow and @HQStories on Twitter and look out for #LoveIs

9th Sep at bookaholicconfessions.wordpress.com

10th Sep at sincerelybookangels.blogspot.co.uk

11th Sep at kellysbookcorner.blogspot.co.uk

12th Sep at brizzlelassbooks.wordpress.com

13th Sep at bookishjottings.wordpress.com

14th Sep at cancersuckscouk.ipage.com

15th Sep at manybooksmanylives.com

16th Sep at here and cherylmmbookblog.blogspot.co.uk

17th Sep at bookreferees.org

18th Sep at thewritinggarnet.wordpress.com

Hope to see you here on the 16th for my review of Love Is…!

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

charmsThe style of the story is reminiscent of The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy and the subsequent Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

Arthur is grieving for his wife. His story is about processing the grief and coming to terms with the woman she was with him and the woman she was before he come into her life.

Isn’t that true for all of us or at least the majority of us? There is always an element of ourselves and our lives we keep hidden from our spouses and/or life partners. The life, friends, adventures and experiences before you settle down, and sometimes even after you’ve settled down. Secret lives and the unknown facets of the person you love.

This is exactly what happens to Arthur. He finds an expensive charm bracelet in a small box hidden in a shoe in his wife’s cupboard. A trinket he has never seen before and knows nothing about.

The charms end up leading him on a lifetime of adventures. He discovers so many new things about Miriam, things he couldn’t have imagined her ever doing. Ex-lovers, trips to exotic places and even living in India for a while. It makes him doubt the life they had together and the love they had for each other.

In the end this is a story of how Arthur emerges from the darkness and the depths of his grief. How he reconnects with life and in a way with the Miriam he used to know and most importantly the Miriam he knows now.

It’s a lovely tale of sorrow, loneliness and despair, which is replaced by curiosity, happiness and a zest for life.

Buy The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

dictionayI absolutely loved this book. It has been long-listed for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, and I have to say it not only deserves to be listed, but also to win. I admit the last few pages made me cry. Tends to be my reaction to things or works of art of great beauty. Music, art and yes, even great and beautiful fiction.

Some authors write well and others are just natural storytellers, the combination of the two can make for a spectacular read. Copleton does both really well. In fact if I didn’t know any better I would swear Amaterasu was not a fictional person at all, and wrote this story herself, that’s how realistic it is.

The title doesn’t really do the story any justice, however I do believe it emulates the subtlety of the tale. Within the subtle weaving of emotional turmoil is the fragile spider-web of family dynamics. Those elements are off-set and enhanced by the intricate details of the bombing of Nagasaki.

I also really enjoyed the passages at the beginning of each chapter. The information about Japanese traditions, phrases and etiquette gave an extra level of understanding to the story.

The main focus is on the relationship between Amaterasu and her daughter Yuko. The way Amaterasu interferes to change and determine Yuko’s path in life, how she deals with her guilt, and how her past casts a long shadow over her entire life.

Simultaneously Amaterasu has to deal with the possibility that her grandchild may not have been killed at all. When the alleged grandson turns up at her door after many decades, everything she has resigned herself to for so many years is torn apart by doubt. Her resistance to the possible truth is fascinating. as if the burden of guilt is bigger than the joy at being wrong all those years.

Irrespective of the actual ending or the truth, I think Hideo’s true identity becomes irrelevant at some point. He is merely another victim of an unnecessary tragedy and atrocity. Does it really matter whether he is Hideo or not?

As for Amaterasu, I understand the meddling and the manipulation. She is a mother and only wants what is best for her child. Unlike Yuko she has the full picture and all the information, perhaps if she had been honest Yuko may have made different choices in regards to Sato.

This story is captivating and emotionally moving. It is literary fiction at its finest. Copleton manages to capture the horror and the aftermath of Nagasaki in a way that makes the reader feel as if they are right there. The family dynamics and relationships fit snugly around the pikadon. Family and man-made atrocity go hand in hand to create a truly wonderful read.

Buy A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.