A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart #BlogTour @ClaraHDiaz @keefstuart

Today I am over the moon to share with you my review of A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart on the blog for organised by Clara Diaz.

About this book…

A father who rediscovers love

Alex loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn’t understand him. He needs a reason to grab his future with both hands.

A son who shows him how to live

Meet eight-year-old Sam: beautiful, surprising – and different. To him the world is a frightening mystery. But as his imagination comes to life, his family will be changed . . . for good.

My review…

I picked up a copy of this book as it was recommended for fans of The Rosie Project which I really enjoyed. But then it sat on my TBR pile as I wasn’t sure I would be grabbed by the storyline when I read the blurb. But you know that thing where you kick yourself because you’ve had a BRILLIANT books sat right next to you for weeks and you hadn’t realised how much you would love it and that it would take over your life? Yep, that!!! As soon as I started reading I knew that this book was going to be something very special indeed and it’s probably going onto the list of my most favourite books EVER!

I have a friend who’s son has been diagnosed on the autistic spectrum and I always have so much respect for  her. It is so demanding being a parent anyway but having a child with autism seems to need such a huge strength of character and organisation that exceeds anything I can imagine. So I could understand totally why, at the beginning of this story, Jody has asked Alex to leave the family home. To have your partner not give the same dedication day in day out that you do, no wonder she took the difficult decision to do it on her own, she practically was anyway. And I have to say I was backing her 100% as Alex seemed such a self absorbed loser that I thought she’d do a far better job of parenting Sam on her own. But then when Alex goes to live with bachelor mate Dan, we start to get a clearer picture of how the past has affected the Alex we see now. He adores Sam but hasn’t been able to share the same connection as Jody, he has always been holding back, that is until Sam discovers Minecraft. Now having a family full of girls, I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about video games therefore had to spend time familiarising myself with Minecraft so I could visualise what Sam saw. I was then able to get more out of those very poignant and heart wrenching scenes where father and son bonding brings on unexpected changes in both their lives.

I don’t think I have ever read a book before where I laughed out loud so much at a one sentence, then laughed even more at the next only to be fighting back the tears by the end of the chapter. I adored Sam, what an amazing little boy he was, showing a courage and determination any parent would be proud of. His relationship with his father and how it was developed was brilliantly brought to life by the sharply humorous style of writing. And I felt a great affinity with Alex once I realised what had happened in his past as I then understood why he reacted as he did in certain situations. His journey to reclaim the relationships in his life made for a bittersweet comedy drama filled with wonderful characters that I didn’t want to let go of.

So be prepared to run the whole gauntlet of emotions here with tears and laughter sometimes coming so close together you dont know which is which! Be prepared to meet the most amazing little boy who will leave a lasting imprint in your heart. And be prepared to leave this book feeling magically uplifted with a warm fuzzy glow that sees you smiling at complete strangers! I couldn’t put it down once I started and then I didn’t want it to end. I just adored every last word I managed to squeeze out of this amazing book and I cant recommend it highly enough.

I will end by saying that I hope someone snaps up the film rights to A Boy Made of Blocks as it would make one of those wonderful, feel good films that British cinema seems to do so perfectly. I already have it cast in my mind if anyone needs me to get the ball rolling!

A Boy Made of Blocks: The most uplifting novel of 2017 is available to buy now from Amazon UK

Meet the author…

Keith Stuart is an author and journalist. His heartwarming debut novel, A Boy Made of Blocks, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and a major bestseller, and was inspired by Keith’s real-life relationship with his autistic son. Keith has written for publications including Empire and Edge, and is games editor of the Guardian. He lives with his wife and two sons in Frome, Somerset.

What Alice Knew by T.A. Cotterell #WhatAliceKnew @beckyh1712 @TACotterell1

About this book…

Alice has a perfect life – a great job, happy kids, a wonderful husband. Until he goes missing one night; she receives a suspicious phone call; things don’t quite add up.

Alice needs to know what’s going on. But when she uncovers the truth she faces a brutal choice. And how can she be sure it is the truth?

Sometimes it’s better not to know.

My review…

I think I’m going to struggle reviewing this book as I don’t want to give too much away! I went into it with an open mind, not having read any reviews, and I’m glad as I think I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about the plot which is always a refreshing change for me!

And where do I start?! Probably by saying I loved how this author was able to make me feel such a deep dislike for this couple! I will talk a little about them separately but as a couple I found them to be the worst kind of pretentious, self-obsessed middle class parents I have possibly ever read about! I wondered how they would have developed leading married lives with different partners but had a feeling that Ed in particular would have been exactly the same! I might be a bit controversial here and say that although Ed was a pompous, arrogant and egotistical husband I put a lot of his behaviour down to how others reacted to him. His patients with their expensive gifts and adoration were playing to his ego but I felt that Alice with her blind devotion and steadfast loyalty was actually just as culpable. When Ed went missing and wasn’t answering his phone, she was repeatedly saying that situations were “unlikely” and “inconceivable” as she knew her husband so well that it was ridiculous to assume any wrong doing by him. In fact, I felt that she behaved far more like his mother than his wife with her unwavering conviction that she absolutely knew Ed 100% so that she wouldn’t even entertain the notion that he may be in the wrong! I felt so frustrated by her!

I also felt that while Alice maintained an undeviating almost maternal devotion to her husband, her relationship with her own children seemed forced and awkward as if they were on the periphery of their family. She didn’t seem to engage with them as I would have expected especially once the plot starts to unravel. It does become apparent once we meet Alice’s own mother why this may be but weirdly, for me, it didn’t make her more amiable but quite the opposite.

I think this storyline wouldn’t have worked half as well were it not for the absolutely beautiful, almost poetic, writing of T.A. Cotterell. I found myself almost hypnotised at times by his seductive prose as it flowed across the pages. His artistic knowledge also shone through along with his obvious passion for the arts and it gave his book an authenticity that lifted it for me. This book instigated such strong feelings of repugnance and frustration but it still had me rapidly turning the pages desperate to uncover the truth. And the least said about that ending the better!

It’s hard to believe that this is the author’s debut novel as he has such a confident, self assured style. He has set the bar high for himself in the future but I can’t wait to discover where he goes from here.

Many thanks to the publisher for my review copy of What Alice Knew.

What Alice Knew is published in e-book on 1st December and in paperback on 20th April 2017 and can be preordered on Amazon UK here.

Meet the author…

T. A. Cotterell read History of Art at Cambridge University. He worked in the City before resigning to become a freelance writer. He is now a writer and editor at the research house Redburn. He is married with three children and lives in Bristol.