Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What Doesn't Kill You by Laura E. James - Book Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

 
Review by Suze
 
Griff thinks he's happily married to Evie, until she asks for a separation without telling him why. She's keeping her reasons a secret and no matter how hard Griff tries to find out the truth, he has no idea. He misses his family, even his stepdaughter Tess, who isn't always kind to him. Evie is taking care of Griff's father, Logan, and continues to do so even after taking a break from her marriage. There's something Griff can't forgive his father and he hardly ever goes to see him while he knows he's ill. Will Griff eventually find out what's bothering his wife and will he be able to save his marriage or is it too late?
 
While Evie and Griff are struggling with their relationship Evie's daughter Tess has problems of her own. She doesn't think she can share what's going on in her life with her mother and the consequences are serious. Tess has to grow up quickly now that Griff is no longer at home and Evie spends so much time with Logan. She helps taking care of her little brother and she's there whenever her mother needs her, but who's there for her when she needs it the most?
 
What Doesn't Kill You is a beautiful gripping story. Evie and Tess are both strong, they've been through a lot and haven't come out unscathed, but they keep going. They are incredible people and I greatly admired them for it. Evie is Logan's sole carer and he's so ill someone has to look after him fulltime. Evie can't give him what he needs and that's putting a lot of pressure on her. Fortunately she has her daughter to hold the fort when she's away. Tess is a sweetheart and she isn't bitter, while she went through so much pain and heartbreak. Reading about what happened to her brought tears to my eyes. I loved her spirit and positive attitude, she's a wonderful person and she gives the story a lovely spark by bringing joy to the people around her. She and Griff are slowly building their trust while he's away most of the time and only visits the place he still calls home. I found that amazing and Laura E James describes the process in a terrific sensitive way that feels natural at the same time. The whole family is interesting to read about and I couldn't wait to find out what would happen to them.
 
Griff's strength is admirable and he's a man with a protective nature. He loves unconditionally and I liked how much he's willing to do for his family. His worldview is black and white and he tends to forget that there can be a lot of grey in between. He's a kind man, but he's also a person with strong opinions and he can't be easily convinced he should change the way he sees things when he's wrong about something. Two tragic past events are still having a big influence on his life and he can't forget what happened and lives with a lot of guilt. My heart ached for him sometimes as he has the best intentions, but life hasn't treated him well in some ways. I kept hoping he would find his way back to Evie and Laura E. James kept me guessing until the very end of her story, which is something I loved.
 
What Doesn't Kill You is an impressive story. Laura E. James writes about difficult topics in a fantastic empathic way. Her descriptions of feelings are spot on and thoroughly thought through. Multiple points of view are making her novel extra fascinating, the voices are all strong and every angle possesses an equally great quality. I loved how original and surprising her story is. The many unexpected twists and turns kept me on the edge of my seat. What Doesn't Kill You is thought-provoking and intriguing. I couldn't put this book down and think it's absolutely brilliant.
 
Guest Post

What If …?
By Laura E. James

Thank you so much, Suze, for inviting me to With Love For Books. What a beautiful blog.

My latest book, What Doesn’t Kill You, was released as a paperback on January 9th 2017, having first been published digitally at the end of 2015. It is the first title under Choc Lit’s Dark imprint, which remains a constant thrill and honour for me. As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved books and writing and the stationery that goes with it, and I dreamed of one day becoming a published author, but I never dreamed one of my books would spearhead a brand new imprint.

The reason for the new imprint is that the story tackles difficult issues – Dark Choc Lit – compelling, emotional, hard-hitting novels – and I think it describes What Doesn’t Kill You perfectly.

The novel examines the dynamics and pressures of a blended family – the Hendrys – and what happens when communication breaks down or is forcibly halted. It’s Griff Hendry’s first marriage, but Evie Hendry’s second. Evie has a fifteen-year-old daughter, Tess, from her abusive first marriage, and a two-year-old son, Dylan, with Griff. Evie is a member of the sandwich generation; she is raising her children while looking after her disabled father-in-law, Logan, who is elderly and frail.

I love examining the dynamics of family relationships. In the planning stages of What Doesn’t Kill You, I had it in mind to have Evie caring for her elderly mother, while raising a family – that in itself could have created tension within the family, but then I wondered what if (Ah, the writer’s question,) Evie cared for her father-in-law? How would Logan, a proud and private man, feel about being cared for by his daughter-in-law? And what if he makes unreasonable demands of Evie? What effect would that have on their relationship?

Evie feels it is a privilege to spend time with Logan, but is aware she’s missing out on seeing Tess grow up, and she made a promise to her daughter when she was born that she’d always be Evie’s priority. To increase the potency of the blend, I asked what if Evie and Griff have their own child? I wondered if this would make Tess feel pushed out. Her mother’s time is precious, split between looking after Dylan, and caring for Logan. Would this make Tess resentful of her step-granddad and her half-brother?

Tess was a great character to write. I chose first person as I wanted to get deep inside her mind and view the world through her eyes. Her personality formed quickly and her chapters almost wrote themselves. Her dislike for her step-father is obvious, but it’s not until later the reader discovers why Tess harbours such distrust towards Griff.

Another of my early what if moments came when I decided to explore a marriage that had hit the rocks before the start of the story. I needed to know what had caused the split, how this was going to keep the couple apart and if there was a way they could work it out and mend the rift. I knew I was going to write about the sandwich generation, with the elderly relative and his carer, and how much of Evie’s time this would take, so what if the hero had a job where the working hours and shift patterns made co-ordinating family life impossible? With these what ifs in mind, and with a desire to write my first alpha hero, Griff Hendry, coastguard, was born.

Then, before I put pen to paper, I asked what if Griff is all about saving?

What if Logan isn’t?
 
About Laura E. James


Possessing little in the way of domestic skills, and with an insatiable hunger to write, Laura E. James found a much better use than cooking, for the family kitchen. Tucked neatly in one corner is her very small, but very tidy desk from where she produces issue-driven romantic novels, short stories, and flash fiction. She considers her legendary affair with stationery, the urge to smell new books, and her mum’s love of reading as the catalysts for writing.

A long-serving wife, and a mother of two outspoken children, Laura is constantly amazed by the question, ‘Are there any plans for tea?'. Living in and enjoying the inspirational county of Dorset, her formative years were spent in Watford, a brief train ride away from the bright lights of London. Here she indulged her love of live music, and, following a spectacular Stevie Nicks gig, decided to take up singing, a passion that scored her second place in a national competition.

Her debut novel, Truth or Dare? is published by award-winning Choc Lit, and details can be found on the page dedicated to the book, here.

She's a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, a proud Romaniac, and writes with her local group, Off The Cuff.

Links

                  www.theromaniacs.co.uk

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a signed copy of What Doesn't Kill You by Laura E. James.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.

35 comments:

  1. The book review sounds intriguing. Thanks for sharing. Love the cover and guest post too.

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  2. Thank you so much for the wonderful review, Suze. I am so pleased you enjoyed the story of Griff and his family. You've made my day :-) xx

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  3. This sounds really good. The review makes me want to go and get it RIGHT now.

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  4. Sounds like a great read . Thanks for the chance .

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  5. What doesn't kill you sounds like a good read! Thank you

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  6. I liked the review. Sounds like a good read.

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  7. \the book sounds great, just my cup of tea.

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  8. What an interesting book! Great guest post. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. This sounds very good, and I love twists and mysteries that are only revealed at the end.

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  10. I've had a few of those What Doesn't Kill You moments in my life. I'd definitely like to read this book. :)

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  11. Look forward to reading. Thank you for the giveaway.

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  12. this looks like a stonking good read! hope you carry on writing xx

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  13. Love the title of the book sounds a good read

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  14. I love this cover. I would definitely want to pick this book up if I saw it in a bookstore.

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  15. Thank you for all these wonderful comments and good luck with the giveaway 😊

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  16. laura e james is a brilliant author,have already read one of her books and thoroughly enjoyed it! x

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  17. Good luck with the release!

    --Trix

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  18. Thanks for the giveaway!

    mia2009(at)comcast(dot)net

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  19. Sounds like a very powerful story

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  20. Thanks for the review and giveaway!

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  21. Thanks so very much for your amazings books...

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  22. Thanks so very much for your amazings books...

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  23. Sounds like a very interesting book:)

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  24. I so hope I win this book. It sounds awesome😀

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  25. Sound a really interesting book.

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  26. Sounds shocking with lots of secrets. I'm loving the fact :)

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  27. The review sounds fantastic :) really made me want to read it!

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  28. Love the sound of this book, awesome review

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  29. Look forward to reading this one. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  30. What an interesting story line!

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  31. Thank you for all your wonderful comments and for entering the giveaway. I hope you enjoy What Doesn't Kill You.

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