A Boy Made of Blocks

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“Life is an adventure, not a walk. That’s why it’s difficult.”

Alex’s life is falling apart. He works at a job he despises, he’s just walked out on his wife, and, above all else, he doesn’t know how to be a father to his son. But, Sam, a lonely eight-year-old boy on the autism spectrum, has just become obsessed with a computer game; one which will help Sam better understand the world, and help Alex better understand his own son.

A Boy Made of Blocks is one of those books that you just want to keep reading for as long as possible. It has such heart to it, that, from the first page, it’s clear Kevin Stuart has put a lot of himself into this book.

The result is a wonderfully thoughtful, but honest, look at how autism affects both those who have it, and those around them.

I feel that reading this book gave me a better understanding of what life on the spectrum must be like, and not only that, it did so in a way that really highlighted how, while being autistic can mean struggling to understand the world on a daily basis, it can also be an incredibly beautiful way of looking at that world.

And I think that comes across, because Stuart doesn’t want us to pity Sam, he wants us to understand him, and see what a kind-hearted boy he is. That’s a side of autism I haven’t seen explored in literature before, and it was honestly such a joy to read.

A Boy Made of Blocks is out now in paperback.

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This post is part of the A Boy Made of Blocks Blog Tour being run by Little, Brown Book Group. Thanks to Clara Diaz for inviting me to be a part of this tour, and be sure to check out the other stops by searching #MadeofBlocks on Twitter!

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Relativity

This is a story of family and physics, similarities and differences.

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Some books just touch your heart and make you feel all the feels, and this book was one of them for me.

Relativity, Antonia Hayes’ debut novel, follows the story of a young boy, his single mother, and his estranged father, as they struggle to overcome past hurts and present differences to reunite their family.

The entire story is told from the point-of-view of the three different characters, and Hayes differentiates between them wonderfully. I’m often a little deterred by books written from multiple POVs, but, in this case, each character has a voice unique to them, which is immediately recognisable, so instead of a story that could feel broken up, the result is one where you learn to love the differences between the characters, and the individual ways in which they view the world.

Ultimately, this story revolves around Ethan, a 12-year-old with a fascination for physics and astronomy, and, for me, it was his voice and his story that made this book as touching as it is. He is an incredibly complex character, and often speaks of things very matter-of-factly, but underneath all the science talk, you can sense the vast amount of love he has to give.

“Ethan gave the vagueness of her life definition. And although Claire complained about his clothes and Lego scattered about the house, she needed them there to punctuate her existence. He made their house a home.”

This is a story of family and physics, similarities and differences. It’s heart-warming and compassionate, with characters that prove we all have something to offer, but which sometimes we need others to help bring it out.

Relativity is published in the UK on January 17th.

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This post is part of the Relativity Blog Tour being run by Little, Brown Book Group. Thanks to Clara Diaz for inviting me to be a part of this tour, and be sure to check out the other stops below!

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Pushing Through

I’ve been trying to write this blog post for six weeks.

It’s not like I have anything difficult to say, I just haven’t been able to write it.

Likewise, I haven’t been able to read anything either.

I’m a book blogger and yet I’ve not been able to read or write…I’m kind of screwed, aren’t I?

When you’re diagnosed with a mental health disorder, or a chronic illness, they don’t give you a list of what to expect, for the simple reason that the lists would never end, but one of the things you soon realise, is that the things you once loved doing suddenly feel like climbing mountains.

I’ve always been a creative person, but somehow, the things I love doing most feel beyond my reach.

My desire to read hasn’t gone away, I still yearn for a good story, but the simple act of reading is no longer simple, it’s an effort; the idea of reading a whole book in a day is a mammoth task where once it was an everyday occurrence.

Writing is made harder by the fact that I feel like I don’t have anything to say. Where once I could prattle on about anything, nowadays the first sentence alone feels impossible; my drafts folder has never been as full as it is right now, but it’s only full of half-hearted unfinished posts that I could never find the end of.

And all this has made me marvel at those authors who are able to keep writing through it all.

I think we take it for granted that an author must be able to write without abandon, but they’re only human (as ridiculous as that sounds: how can the holders of such imaginations be mere mortals like us?!).

So this is a hats off to every author who manages to push through the pain, both physical and mental, and produce the works of art, for the simple reason of bringing others joy.

I really don’t know how you do it, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart that you do.

 

You Will Not Have My Hate

There’s a lot of hate in the world right now; anger seems to fuel the news on a daily basis, and where once the world seemed to be growing closer, now, the divide feels stronger than ever before. At times likes this, it’s difficult to remember that hate only fuels hate, yet, last year, one man with more reason to hate than most, reminded us just why we shouldn’t.

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There are only two of us – my son and myself – but we are stronger than all the armies of the world.

On November 13th 2015, Helene Muyal-Leiris attended a concert at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, France, along with 1500 people. By the end of the night, 89 of those people were dead, Helene included, along with 41 others killed at other attacks across the city, in what was the deadliest attack on France since World War II.

Three days later, Helene’s husband, Antoine, wrote an open letter to his wife’s attacker in which he wrote, ‘You stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hate.’ That letter has since been shared over two hundred thousand times, and produced the title of his short memoir, detailing the days following the attack as he and his seventeen-month-old son, Melvil, tried to come to terms with their loss.

You Will Not Have My Hate is a heartbreaking read, but one which should be required reading for all of us, at a time when it’s difficult not to feel anger towards those who try to hurt us. As a result of the world we now live in, too many of us now know what it’s like to worry about whether a loved one is safe, those horrible moments of not knowing, the waiting that feels like it stretches on for years.

‘Waiting is a feeling without a name.’

It’s impossible to understand what it’s like when that waiting ends in bad news, yet Leiris’ writing opens a window into that horrific time, and allows us in. At times, it feels as if we are intruding on something we shouldn’t be allowed to see; moments which should remain private to only Antoine and his family, but in opening up about these moments, he teaches us that empathy comes not in anger at those who hurt others, but in being there for those who are hurt.

5/5

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Pale Dreamer

You may or may not have realised by now but I’m a teensy bit obsessed with Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season. Everything about it gives me all the feels!

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I could sit here and list many many reasons why, the world-building, the unpredictability, the sudden “Janice-from-Friends-OH MY GAWD” moments (hello, end of The Mime order, I’m talking about you!!)…but right there at the top of the list is PAIGE…can kill you with her mind…MAHONEY. The badass, faced a poltergeist as a child, Pale Dreamer! I LOVE HER.

Talking of The Pale Dreamer, in THREE WEEKS(!!!) a prequel novella of the same name is being released in e-book form, all about how Paige become Jaxon’s Mollisher.

You can

PRE-ORDER IT NOW

and it will be delivered straight to your e-reader of choice on

DECEMBER 6th!

I don’t know about you, but I am may be a little bit excited about that.

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Just a little bit.

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Okay. A LOT.

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Love in Wonderland

“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”

I must admit, I’m not a big fan of retellings and origin stories, especially when the author differs from the original storyteller. So when I heard that Marissa Meyer was taking on Wonderland, one of the most beautifully crafted fantasy worlds ever created, I was worried.

I needn’t have been.

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Heartless is the story of Catherine, a young woman with her heart set on opening a new bakery with her best friend. Unfortunately for her, she’s also caught the eye of the King of Hearts, and there’s no way the Queen of Hearts is going to be opening a bakery any time soon. Luckily for her, however, Catherine’s world is about to be thrown upside-down when a new Jester arrives at court.

For a book called Heartless, this story couldn’t have more heart. The characters are fun, and intriguing, and the plot is unpredictable and twists and turns endlessly.

It seems unbelievably that anyone could come close to matching the whimsical quirks that make up Carroll’s original Wonderland, but it’s immediately clear from the first page that Marissa Meyer herself has a love for the work, and is determined to replicate the light-hearted feeling that made Wonderland what it is. It’s fair to say she was successful.

‘The music that followed was it’s own sort of magic. The lilts and the skips, the dancing notes…the bluebells stopped ringing so they could listen, the breeze stopped whistling, the finches stopped chittering.’

The characters we know and love from the original, are all here, and they are just as you imagined them; she has really encapsulated the voices of each of them perfectly, and it is very easy to forget you’re not reading a story written by Lewis Carroll himself.

4/5

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Halloween Reads

I don’t know about you, but I love a good creepy read. There’s nothing better than a book that grips me so much I’m willing to scare myself silly right before bed! So with Halloween right around the corner, I thought I’d highlight some of the reads I’m going to be picking up at this most “festive” time of year.

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Hex
Thomas Olde Heuvelt

With a cover like that, how could this book not be t-t-terrifying! Hex is about a small town, haunted by the Black Rock Witch, whose mouth and eyes are sewn shut, where no one can ever leave. I’ve heard nothing but horrifying things about this book, and Halloween seems the perfect time to scare myself silly with it!

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House of Leaves
Mark Z. Danielewski

I first heard about this book after reading the incomparable S. by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst. Unfortunately it’s virtually impossible to find anything remotely similar to that book, but this book kept being mentioned again and again. Telling the story of a family who move into a house where something isn’t quite right, I’ve had it on good authority that this book is one of those books that you never forget once you’ve read it. In the case of a horror story, I’m not sure whether that’s a good or a bad thing!

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The Dead House
Dawn Kurtagich

I will rave about this book to anyone I can find, because it was by far my favourite book of 2015. Telling the story of Kaitlin, who comes out at night, and finds herself being haunted by…something, I’ve actually already read this, and raved about, but having got hold of the beautiful US edition, I just have to read it again!

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Scare Me To Sleep: An Anthology of Short Stories to Dream About
Various

And finally, Scare Me To Sleep is an anthology of twelve short horror stories written by a collection of bestselling authors. I’ve just started reading this, and it’s already creeped me out on multiple occasions. Plus, the best thing about this book, is that all proceeds raised are donated to charity!

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Let me know what spooky stories you’re reading this time of year, in the comments!

Happy Halloween!