Blog Tour // Relativity - A Book All Out Of My Comfort Zone Which I Was Absorbed By

18 January 2017

51oo0k0LFKL._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_ Relativity – Antonia Hayes
Published: 17th January 2017
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
My Rating:
‘A true storyteller: her characters are alive’ Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap
‘Wonderful; a beautifully written, heart-breaking novel’
S J Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep

‘Genuinely difficult to put down’ Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project
‘I tore through it’ Courtney Collins, author of The Burial

‘An affecting, gripping debut novel about the nature of family and identity’
Mail on Sunday

Ethan is an exceptionally gifted young boy, obsessed with physics and astronomy.
His single mother Claire is fiercely protective of her brilliant, vulnerable son. But she can’t shield him forever from learning the truth about what happened to him when he was a baby; why Mark had to leave them all those years ago.

Now age twelve, Ethan is increasingly curious about his past, especially his father’s absence in his life. When he intercepts a letter to Claire from Mark, he opens a lifetime of feelings that, like gravity, will pull the three together again.
Relativity is a tender and triumphant story about unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts, and testing the limits of love and forgiveness.
I will begin this review by saying this book was completely out of my reading comfort zone. I don’t read a lot of adult fiction which doesn’t fall into the category of romance (seriously, I’ve taken a look through my shelves and I really don’t). I wasn’t completely certain of what to expect going in. The book’s summary reveals little (so I won’t elaborate too much, either) and just leaves you knowing the story revolves around Ethan and his mom and his father, Mark, who he knows little about.  It was so different to my usual books yet exactly the kind of book I enjoy reading. Nothing is as you expect in it and it raises so many questions.

Even this I’m not sure I want to say, but this book taught me a few things about myself. That may sound strange but the story between Claire and Ethan and why Claire split with Mark, Ethan's father, is a complex one. It deals with a serious subject and so many secrets are kept until the end of the book that there is continually doubt about what happened. As such, I realised I am an optimist who wants to believe the best in people. I wanted to believe the best in Mark and I didn't realise I was such an optimist. I almost cast Claire as the bad guy in my mind, reaching judgements because that’s what others had told her to believe. Even when I was casting her as the villain, though, I was sympathising with her plight and understanding she was in a difficult position all along. I didn’t agree with her decisions, even at the end of the book, but I understood why she made them.

I think that’s one thing which is really great about this book. Each of the characters is a fully realised person with flaws and bad decision-making skills, but you understand why they make the choices they do. You can empathise with their situation and even when you want to judge them you can’t because you get them. I mean, Claire makes bad choices but she does them out of love. She adored Ethan more than anything and only wants to help him have the best kind of life, as any mother wants for their child. She wants to help him avoid getting hurt, even if that ends up hurting him later on. Then there’s Ethan who is just 12 years old and even though he is some kind of science whizz kid, he’s still a kid making silly choices like going places without telling his mother, hiding things, and getting into fights at school. He is flawed and though I wanted to scold him like a naughty child I couldn’t say I wouldn’t make the same decisions too. And then there is Mark, who we don’t get to meet immediately and know little about. I felt bad for him. The entire way through the book I really felt bad for him. It seems he got a raw deal and got left alone and it seems unfair. You grow to like him as the book progresses, he seems like a nice guy and you care for him. The fact you can understand and like all these characters when each of them is giving you reasons not to is just astounding.

I did find reading about science a bit boring, though. I get Ethan is a science genius and that Mark was studying theoretical physics for his PhD but I find science so boring. My brain just fails to compute it well despite my three GCSEs in the subject. I felt like I was getting a physics lesson throughout this book. So much of the science went over my head it was unbelievable. Physics was definitely my weakest science subject at school, I could never fully grasp it even with my good maths understanding. So reading the science in this book was difficult. The times Ethan goes off about one science concept or another had my brain switching off a little bit. Some may say that means I didn't enjoy the book but in fact, the skilful writing meant that even if I had to skim read a science-y bit I was fully engrossed in the story itself.

The thing with this book is you get both Mark, Claire, and Ethan's POV and it is difficult to dislike any of them so when you're dealing with the difficult subject matter of this book it's hard. I want to believe the best and say Claire is at fault yet at the same time I hate Mark and all he has done as well. I can understand why he did what he did and I understand why he acted as he did and yet I hate him. I also hate Claire and all the secrets she has kept for so long. She is also in the wrong. The only character I like regardless is Ethan because he is stuck in the middle, but even then he kept acting like a dumb kid, but he is so it’s ok. In the end, I enjoyed this book even with my mixed feelings. It seems like a book which sticks with you for a while. It's not one I'll easily forget.

Also, did I mention it was set in Australia? Love a book which isn't in the US or the UK.

What was your most recent read outside of your usual comfort zone and did you enjoy it? And have you read Relativity, what were your thoughts?

Blog Tour | A Boy Made of Blocks // A Truly Wonderful Read Which Packs An Emotional Punch

16 January 2017

Published: 5th January 2017
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
My Rating:
A beautiful, funny and surprising story of family and love, perfect for fans of The Rosie Project, David Nicholls’ Us and Nick Hornby’s About a Boy.
MEET THIRTY SOMETHING DAD, ALEX… He loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn't understand him. Something has to change. And he needs to start with himself.
MEET EIGHT-YEAR-OLD SAM… To him the world is a puzzle he can't solve on his own.
When Sam starts to play Minecraft, it opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other… When life starts to tear one family apart, can they put themselves back together, one piece at a time?
A Boy Made of Blocks is a beautiful, funny and heart-warming story of family and love inspired by the author’s own experiences with his autistic son.

I will begin by saying I was emailed about this book once before I took part in this blog tour. I was really interested in reading but I was drowning in a sea of books and didn’t have the time so I had to say no. When I got emailed about participating in the blog tour for this book I couldn’t think of a single reason I would want to say no, even though I am still drowning in a sea of books. I wanted to read it because this was about a father of an autistic child who was inspired by his own experiences to write a book and am I glad he did. I was actually meant to post this Wednesday, but I accidentally committed to another book tour on that for Relativity, so it's a couple of days early.

I actually have a cousin who is autistic. I don’t see him often, he is quite shy and often doesn’t come to family gatherings but I distinctly remember, even as a child, he rarely made eye contact, was never happy if he couldn’t do things as he wanted, and always liked to follow a certain routine when it came to visiting places he knew. He was a handful but I know everyone really loved him and his unique way of doing things. I say this because Keith Stuart obviously knows how that is and understands how frustrating autistic children can be but how utterly wonderful they are as well and it comes across on every page of this book. This book just made me so happy to read.

It begins with the main character, Alex, struggling in life. He is going through a trial separation from his wife, Jody, and has moved from the family home to live with his friend Dan. He hates his job, feels utterly terrified by his autistic son, Sam, and doesn’t know how to get to a point where Jody will allow him back home.

He doesn’t know what he’s doing wrong but he knows he must be because he dreads going home and dealing with Sam’s tantrums and he dreads going to work and he is losing his temper and isn’t happy. The only problem is he doesn’t know what’s causing him to feel the way he does and Jody wants him to figure out what’s causing his unhappiness and fix it because otherwise, she cannot live with him.

I enjoyed reading this book because Alex and his mindset felt so genuine. I know how frustrating it can be with autism feeling like nothing is getting through and everything being a struggle and that comes across. This book works because Alex is such a sympathetic character, he isn’t flawless, in fact, he is very flawed. Instead, he is real. He felt like I could bump into him on the street and he wouldn’t seem out of place. Every character felt real and think that was because it was inspired by Stuart’s own experiences. The mistakes which Alex makes are ones any person could make because he hadn’t thought things through and acted rashly.

I have to say, I didn’t fully appreciate the character of Alex until he made the decision to try and connect with his son properly instead of continually feeling like Sam was a challenge to be attacked he instead chose to actually speak with him and listen to what he had to say. When Alex and Sam finally connected playing Minecraft together and got to know one another, that is when I fully appreciated what a great book this was. From that point onwards I was utterly in love with the characters and their foolish decisions and poor life choices that made them human.

In the end, this is inspired by a real person’s life, sure, it’s not a biography, but instead inspired by Keith Stuart’s own experience with his son and playing Minecraft. But that small element of truth shines through this book. Minecraft doesn’t magically cure Sam of his autism, or of the tantrum’s and fears he experiences. It does allow him a way to communicate with others and allow him to build a true connection with others he had previously been unable to experience and that’s what made this book wonderful. I stayed up way too late to reach the conclusion of the book and I was in tears by the end because I am a sentimental fool. I hope everyone reads this book and has a chance to read something a little different because it is completely worth it.
keith stuart
In 2012 one of KEITH STUART's two sons was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The ramifications felt huge. But then Keith and both boys started playing videogames together - especially Minecraft. Keith had always played games and, since 1995, has been writing about them, first for specialist magazines like Edge and PC Gamer then, for the last ten years, as games editor for the Guardian. The powerful creative sharing as a family and the blossoming of communication that followed informed his debut novel.
Has anyone else read this? What did you think? And isn’t it the best when you read something a little different every so often?

Sunday Summary // 15.01.2017

15 January 2017

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It’s Sunday again (yay). I’m mostly happy about it being a Sunday because of the major cliffhanger from last week's Sherlock, but also I really enjoy writing these posts.

So, I’m sure you’re all wondering how the photo album present went with my supervisor? She loved it! She was all emotional and almost in tears over it and I am absolutely thrilled she loved it. I couldn’t be happier. Although, it turns out I am terrible at dealing with emotional people (which is silly because I am the most overly emotional person, I cried at the below video because that’s who I am… although I was watching the full show and it was narrated by David Tennant so imagine that and you might be crying too). Anyway, turns out emotional people are not my forte and I do not know how to handle it. It does mean I win at birthdays this year, though.
Now, how about the rest of my week? I mean, there were minor frustrations at work which are hardly worth mentioning now. I also saw one of my friends for the first time all year and we had a fun time chatting at the pub for far too long. And I went to see my nan on Saturday because my mom was too hungover from her Christmas party (in January, yes) to go herself. It’s good to know that in my family you can still drink too much sometimes and regret it the next day, no matter your age. Otherwise, it’s been a slow week of reading and sleeping. I’ve not even turned my PS4 on despite my love for Final Fantasy XV because I’ve been determined to read a bit more this week. Would you believe I’ve only read 6 books so far this year? I know! I am on track to finish a seventh, though.

What I’ve Been Reading

So, I finished my readalong with Kaja and Danya of Ready Set Rogue and that book took a full turn to WTF? with it’s crazy ending. That being said my Goodreads review is rather mild towards it because I kind of enjoyed the crazy in equal measure to thinking why am I reading this? I think this is an example of me being far too nice to romance books but I don’t care. I may not recommend it because the romance is rushed and the characters are a bit terrible at times and the mystery seems to have gone off the deep end at the end, yet I didn’t struggle to get to the end either. Is that weird?

I also (finally) finished Wayfarer on Friday. I got around to reading a recap which Alexandra Bracken posted for Passenger and I finally remembered fully what was happening. I really loved it but I wish I’d reread Passenger first. Live and learn.

Now, onto the new books I've read this week. I read A Boy Made of Blocks on Wednesday and I stayed up to near enough midnight to finish. It was such an emotional and powerful read and I simply wanted to get lost in the world of those characters. That one was read for a blog tour (which is next week) and I’m more happy than you know to have read it. And then I read To Love and to Cherish Friday and Saturday because I needed some light romance and a book which wasn’t a review copy to read. I mean, I intend to review it and it was sent to me by the publish but I was reading it because I wanted to and now because I wanted to read in time to post a review for it. Currently, I am reading The Scam because I know every Janet Evanovich book is a fast read I don't want to put down.

New To Me

Now, you know that £20 budget of mine… turns out it doesn’t exist when you’re angry shopping at the supermarket (honest to God, there should be trolley etiquette and it should be you don’t leave it in front of half the shelves while you select what you want or stop it right next to someone else so no one can get past you. Basically, don’t be an inconsiderate dickhead or I will mentally maim you for being a twat). In my defence, my budget was broken by Carrie Fisher’s most recent book and it’s on loan already at my local library. All my other purchases, this week, were made on a gift card. I feel like that is a win. And, currently, I’m only a few pence over £20, now if only I hadn’t spent another £2.80 on a book which hasn’t been delivered yet. Oh well. I will say this should (hopefully) be my final purchases of the month. I'll be playing ARC catch up over the next two weeks with my own books mixed in. I mean, I do still have money on my gift card but I can wait to buy a few more books.
I got two more reviews copies. One of them is Pretty Face which I flailed madly about (you guys know I love Lucy Parker, right?) and then I was sent an email about Someone To Love and I decided to say yes considering I’ve got the first book to read for a blog tour anyway, why not, right?
I also took a trip to the library this week. Basically, if I have any more books to hand I won’t know what to read. I know. It’s a problem. But I am pretty happy with my borrowed books, once more I continue a series I’m enjoying (and am almost caught up on). I have the next book in a series I love about libraries! And I have two books which have been on my TBR for a while and I can finally get around to reading. And as for Nice Dragons Finish Last? Everyone says they love it so I need to get reading.

And now I’m off to read lots and conquer those mountains of books (or play Final Fantasy). What have you been doing this week? Anyone else gone angry shopping at the supermarket and felt like maiming shoppers because they are idiots? No? Just me? Oh well.