#bookreview: Days of Wonder by Keith Stuart (@keefstuart)

Days of Wonder Book CoverFormat: E-book (Kindle)
Publisher: Sphere
Published: 7th June 2018
Pages: 480 Pages
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Illness; humour.

The Blurb
Tom, single father to Hannah, is the manager of a tiny local theatre. On the same day each year, he and its colourful cast of part-time actors have staged a fantastical production just for his little girl, a moment of magic to make her childhood unforgettable.

But there is another reason behind these annual shows: the very first production followed Hannah’s diagnosis with a heart condition that will end her life early. And now, with Hannah a funny, tough girl of fifteen, that time is coming.

Hannah’s heart is literally broken – and she can’t bear the idea of her dad’s breaking too. So she resolves to find a partner for Tom, someone else to love, to fill the space beside him.

While all the time Tom plans a final day of magic that might just save them both.

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book Depository


THE REVIEW

Father and daughter duo, Tom and Hannah, take you on a hilarious journey of love, laughter and heart troubles. Yes, heart troubles, not just that of the emotional variety. Let’s not sugarcoat the issue here Hannah’s heart is falling and everyone is worried. Other than her tiredness and her ability to lose her breath in 10 seconds, she’s doing fine!

Well, the Days of Wonder is certainly one of my favourites reads of 2018. It’s going to take a lot for me to add another book to this category anytime soon.

There is a natural balance of humour from the Willow Tree Theatre with a seriousness of Hannah’s heart disease. You’d imagine that on some occasions you’d feel sadness or grief, but you would be wrong. It made me laugh, whilst still appreciating the need to listen to the important topics that Keith highlights throughout. I think the main idea behind this approach was to add a hint of normality to an often traumatic time.

Hannah’s character is strong and realistic. She has an adult head on her young shoulders. However, she still likes to hang around with her best friends and boyfriend.

Tom and Hannah’s relationship was something I admired. It’s very rare that you read about a single dad raising their children, especially when they are going through something as dramatic as Tom is experiencing. They never have to worry about being alone as the Willow Tree Theatre company are like their family. The community spirit from Ted, Sally, Magaret, Shaun and James (I’m sure I’ve missed a few characters off this list) radiates from Keith’s words. Each member of the theatre provides you with enough backstory to keep your curiosity at bay. I particularly liked Magaret and her ‘way back when’ stories.


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#bookreview: Mr Peacock’s Possessions by @LydiaSyson

Format: Hardback
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Published: 17th May 2018
Pages: 432 Pages
Genre: Fiction, Historical, American, Literature.

The Blurb
Oceania 1879. A family of settlers from New Zealand are the sole inhabitants of a remote volcanic island.

For two years they have struggled with the harsh reality of trying to make this unforgiving place a paradise they can call their own. At last, a ship appears. The six Pacific Islanders on board have travelled eight hundred miles across the ocean in search of work and new horizons. Hopes are high for all until a vulnerable boy vanishes. In their search for the lost child, settlers and newcomers together uncover far more than they were looking for. The island¹s secrets force them all to question their deepest convictions.

An intimate, intense and beautifully realised novel of possession, power and the liberating loss of innocence, this will delight fans of MISTER PIP and THE POISONWOOD BIBLE.

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book Depository


THE REVIEW

What a wonderfully written piece from Lydia Syson. Mr Peacock’s Possession makes me want to read historical fiction more often than I usually do. Each time I turn the first page of a his-fic, I shy away because I worry that I’m not going to enjoy the topic. However, travelling back to 1879 with Mr Peacock filled my mind with curiosity. I did jump onto Google to find out some more about Oceania which I have to admit is interesting.

The small New Zealand Island is home to two different communities which come together to make it their home. Sadly, a small child goes missing and in a bid to try and find him all their dark secrets make an appearance.

I thought the book’s title was clever. You presume it is referring to objects that Mr Peacock’s most values when in reality it’s talking about the people of the island. You can sense how the Islanders are feeling by each of their stories. The novel highlights certain characters POVs and their differences.

I noticed from reading page one that the book would air a pessimistic and dark feeling. Given the nature of people’s attitudes during the 19th Century, I doubt life was always a pleasant experience.

Check out the other stops on the tour below!

Take a look at yourself and then make a change

Clocks in Space

Do you recognise the lyrics? You may know the title of this post as a famous Michael Jackson song, Make a Change. As much as I’d like to talk about MJ and his musical career, this post is going to be all about me and things going on in my life. Things are a-changing.

A Book and Tea began in 2013. I wanted to create a little home on the web to talk all things books, typically book reviews and author interviews, and to share my love of reading. It’s pretty obvious that I love to read and most of the time my nose is always in a book.The past 5 years have been fantastic. However, times change and I think my blog needs a new direction to reflect my life. I’m sure you have all noticed that all I’ve posted recently is book reviews and also, that it has been less frequent. There are many reasons for this and I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say my hobbies and lifestyle has changed.

As result, I’ve decided that I am going to start including foodie posts (baking/cooking/Weight Watchers) and Sewing (clothes making). My life isn’t just about books anymore and I’d like my blog to reflect that. Don’t worry though, I will still be posting about books – it’s my number one love (after my husband, obviously).

I was talking to Lisa (from Lisa Talks About, go visit!) this afternoon and honestly, I felt so relieved to talk to someone else about it. I’m not sure why but I haven’t wanted to say it out loud as that makes it all final, doesn’t it? However, it does feel right and I’m going with what my heart and gut tell me.

So, there you have it. Welcome to A Book and Tea, version 2 – books, food and sewing. I hope you continue to join me on the journey and if you decide not to, then that’s ok! Thank you for your support during the past 5 years – it’s been magical!

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#bookreview: Bring Me Back by @BAParisAuthor

Format: Paperback
Publisher: HQ Stories
Published: 1st March 2018
Pages: 384 Pages
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery Thriller; Crime.

The Blurb
A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She’s turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book Depository


The Review

Bring Me Back will be the third book that I have read by BA Paris and as always, I was not disappointed. However, it was probably my least favourite of her novels. Paris’s other books include The Breakdown and Behind Closed Doors – all with a thriller/crime feel.

Told in three parts, Bring Me Back is the story of Layla and her disappearance. Finn, her (ex?) boyfriend, is the narrator whereby he talks you through his own ramblings, as well as his relationship with Layla’s sister Ellen (oh er). I’ll have to admit that I felt a little awkward knowing that Finn was planning to marry Layla’s sister Ellen, regardless of how long Layla had been missing for (12 years!). Part of me hopes that he was doing it because he actually did love Ellen, rather than to be with her because she reminded him of Layla.

You also get to read the narrative of an unknown character that is playing with Finn’s head. Is it Layla? his friend Harry, or someone else? The ending will reveal all.

A clever story of mind games, sleep deprivation and what, when, how, why’s? – you may also experience a lack of sleep too because you just have to find out if Layala is back! However, let’s be honest here and say that (to me) it wasn’t as action-packed as I thought it was going to be. I’d say it was more of a calculated and well-thought-out story that left you feeling content with reading for a few hours.

Other book reviews commented on how obvious the ending was – totally don’t understand that. They must be great detectives because I had NO idea that was going to be the outcome. Yes, I did try and think about who took Layla because she wouldn’t have just left on her own accord – that’s not a spoiler! However, I never imagined the ending to be how it was.


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#bookreview: The Fear by CL Taylor (@callytaylor)

The Fear Book Cover

Format: E-book (Kindle)
Publisher: Avon Books
Published: 22nd March 2018
Pages: 400 Pages
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller; Crime.

The Blurb
When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.

Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.

But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book Depository


The Review

As I write this review, The Fear is jumping to the top of the Sunday Times bestsellers list and it’s totally deserved! I’ve not read many books like this and yes, I may sound like a broken record, but it’s true it’s bloody brilliant. It drew me in, messed with my emotions and then spat me back out. How could you do that to me? Anyway, it was ‘Wow’.

The Fear contains materials that some readers may find distressing. However, Taylor deals with it sensitively and appropriately. The main concept of the novel focuses on child grooming and the parties involved with one man’s actions. You’d expect it to be quite a difficult read yet it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable, just angrier that things like this happen to vulnerable people.

During the ordeal, you read the POVs of three women Wendy, Chloe and Louise. They each have a relationship with Mike – whether that is through love or hate – and their stories are how he has affected them through his actions. There’s no denying he is a sex offender but will he ever change his ways? You’ll have to read to find out 😉

Prepare to be taken on an emotional rollercoaster of mind games, violence and infatuation.

The Fear Book Review BannerImage Credit: Avon Books UK


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#bookreview: The Perfect Girlfriend by @KJHAuthor

Format: Paperback
Published: 22nd March 2018
Publisher: Headline
Pages: 368 Pages
Genres: Thriller, Suspense; Psychological Thriller

The Blurb
Juliette loves Nate.
She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing.
Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend.
And she’ll make sure no one stops her from
getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

Purchase the book: Amazon UK


The Review

Juliette is a psycho – there’s no way you can make it sound any nicer than it is. She is clever (I know, right?), manipulative and cold-hearted. But, do you know what? I actually felt sorry for her. Her troubled upbringing coupled with her traumatic time at boarding school probably had something to do with her psychotic ways. You also learn about the death of her younger brother and mother. There’s no excuse to act like a woman scorned but you can understand why she acts the way she does.

During the story, you see Juliette become an air hostess where she embarks on a jet-setting career across the globe. It’s something new for her and something she’s always wanted to do. Why I hear you ask? Well, that’s to get closer to Nate. He’s a pilot for the airline that she’s recently joined – see where this is going? Here we have a prime example of a ‘Bunny Boiler’ style scenario but with the dial turned up to the extreme. Nate is her ex-boyfriend and she wants to be closer to him.

As much as I did enjoy The Perfect Girlfriend, I felt that the story didn’t pick up until halfway through. It took time for it to accelerate into something that makes you think: ‘wow, you really are mentally unstable’. You don’t need convincing that she’s troubled, you know straight away she’s someone to stay well away from. The first-half was more about Juliette’s calculating mind and then what she wants to achieve. The second-half was her putting the plan into place and causing some destruction in many people’s lives.

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