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 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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#authorinterview: The Summer of Hopes and Dreams by Lynsey James

Happy Friday everyone. How are we all doing? Hopefully, not too cold I hope! The UK is currently experiencing the #BeastFromTheEast, so there’s lots of snow and we’re all freezing cold(!). One positive is that it’s the perfect weather for staying in and reading. 🙂

Today at A Book and Tea, I’m joined by the lovely Lynsey James, author of The Summer of Hopes and Dreams. You may also be familiar with her other books The Broken Hearts Book Club and Just the Way You Are. If you’re not, get downloading now!

So, let’s get to it…

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams is your latest release, although I’m going to post a fabulous book review later, can you give us a brief synopsis?

Lynsey: Sure! The Summer of Hopes and Dreams is all about Cleo, who’s lost her way a little bit in life. She’s been dealt a bad hand and hasn’t had it easy in life. But finding her teenage bucket list changes everything! She starts embracing life again and even meets a hunky personal trainer named after an iconic Neighbours character.

Cleo Jones has parts of her life and personality that we can all relate to. This is something I love in a character – was this your intention or just something that naturally came about?

Lynsey: A bit of both really – I wanted Cleo to be really relatable as a character, and for people to see elements of themselves in her. At the same time though, her personality was just so strong in my head as I was writing. I knew exactly the kind of person I wanted her to be, and so did she!

There’s a serious topic of weight loss and eating disorders, they were written perfectly within the novel, did you find this difficult to write?

Lynsey: I did because elements of it were quite personal. Like Cleo, I’ve experienced body dysmorphia and have had my own journey with it in the last couple of years. I wanted to make sure I portrayed the themes in the book sensitively without seeming like I was skating over them. There were a couple of scenes that took some time to write because I really wanted to nail the emotional impact. That sometimes meant delving quite deeply into my own experiences, which wasn’t always easy. I’m happy with how they came out though.

Cleo’s dream is to become a dance teacher. What are your hopes and dreams for 2018? Unless you’ve completed some already!

Lynsey: Ooh good question! The main one is to keep writing, which I’m working on right now. I’ve always got about a million ideas in my head anyway! Other than that, I’m trying to be a bit more active and healthier, which is going pretty well so far. I can’t say no to cake though.

What exciting books can we expect from you in the future?

Lynsey: I’m working on an idea right now that I absolutely LOVE. I can’t say too much about it because it’s really early days on it, but it may be my favourite book yet. Watch this space for more news…

And lastly, everyone who visits A Book and Tea gets asked this question, how do you take your tea?

Lynsey: Milk and two sugars, please!

About Lynsey James

Lynsey James Author Photo

Lynsey was born in Fife and is an incurable bookworm. A careers adviser at school once told her writing wasn’t a “good option”, so Lynsey has tried a little bit of everything, including makeup artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company. Now, she finally has fulfilled her dream and is writing full-time. When not writing, eating cake or drinking tea, she’s daydreaming about the day Matthew Gray Gubler finally realises they’re meant to be together. It’ll happen one day. Follow her on Twitter at @Lynsey1991

About the book

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams cover

Format: E-book
Publisher: HQ Digital
Published: 11th September 2017
Pages: 384 Pages
Genres: Chick Lit, Romance, Disorders

The Blurb

It’s been a difficult year for Cleo Jones. The car accident that crushed her leg didn’t just destroy the village baker’s dreams of becoming a dancer but crushed her confidence too. And recovering from that has been harder than healing from any number of broken bones…

But this season is going to be different. Life is turning around for Cleo! Maybe it’s the invitation from her childhood bully to their high-school reunion that’s shocked her out of a ten-year slump. Or joining Carb Counters and finally starting to shed the weight she’d piled on during her recovery – or maybe it’s catching the eye of her gorgeous personal trainer!

Whatever the answer, this is going to be a feeling she never forgets… watch out world, Cleo Jones is finally fighting back!

Purchase the book: Amazon UK

The Review

Cleo is a girl that we can all relate to. She’s changing her ways and everyone can see her smile fill her face. It’s no secret that she’s having to deal with a few personal issues that seem to rear their ugly head. However, the warm arms of a stranger bring her joy. I loved Cleo, well, who wouldn’t? She’s the type of girl you want to be friends with (she bakes!).

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams is a story about new beginnings and learning to love yourself – let’s spread the word.

#bookreview The Gender Games by @junodawson

Format: E-book (Kindle)
Published: 1st June 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 368 Pages

The Blurb
Why we are all being messed up by gender, and what we can do about it.

‘It’s a boy!’ or ‘It’s a girl!’ are the first words almost all of us hear when we enter the world. Before our names, before we have likes and dislikes – before we, or anyone else, has any idea who we are. And two years ago, as Juno Dawson went to tell her mother she was (and actually, always had been) a woman, she started to realise just how wrong we’ve been getting it.

Gender isn’t just screwing over trans people, it’s messing with everyone. From little girls who think they can’t be doctors to teenagers who come to expect street harassment. From exclusionist feminists to ‘alt-right’ young men. From men who can’t cry to the women who think they shouldn’t. As her body gets in line with her mind, Juno tells not only her own story but the story of everyone who is shaped by society’s expectations of gender – and what we can do about it.

Featuring insights from well-known gender, feminist and trans activists including Rebecca Root, Laura Bates, Gemma Cairney, Anthony Anaxagorou, Hannah Witton, Alaska Thunderfuck and many more, The Gender Games is a frank, witty and powerful manifesto for a world where what’s in your head is more important than what’s between your legs.

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book Depository

The Review

Well, ain’t this book a big ‘f##k you’ to all those gender stereotypes.

I thought The Gender Games would primarily be about Juno’s transition and although it largely is, it’s also a story that shows you the trials and tribulations of gender as a whole.

Have you ever been treated differently based on your gender? I know I have! The amount of times in my professional life where I’ve not been listened to because I’m a woman is scary. I’d say one thing and it would be “no, no”, yet a male colleague would say the same and their response is usually ‘oh yes, here have some praise’. It loosely happens now in all areas of my life, not just work and it’s bloody annoying. If I’m wrong or don’t know something I admit to this fact, I’m not one to make stuff up so you can imagine it’s frustrating!

Can’t you tell I’m passionate about this subject? Anyway, let’s take it back to Juno. You learn about her life pre-transition and her journey from male to female. It’s an honest and true account of her life with all the funny moments thrown in too. It’s lovely to read. To me, Juno is a strong, beautiful woman who deserves all the happiness.

I’m a firm believer in the whole, who cares who you are, who you love or what you do as long as you’re happy. If (a massive if) I have children all I’d ever want for them is to be happy. I’d support them and love them. People are very quick to judge and put others down and sadly, the amount of comments I’ve seen about transgender is shocking. What gives them the right to be so mean? Nothing! If you’ve got nothing nice to say then don’t say it!

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