book reviews, spoiler free

A Boy Made of Blocks Spoiler Free Review

36487851A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

Rating: XXXXX

Published August 9th by Hachette

“Life is an adventure, not a walk. That’s why it’s difficult”

Meet thirtysomething 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. Beautiful, surprising, autistic. 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?

My family is a family that games together. Among other things when we got married me and my husband had Minecraft props and world of warcraft decorations etc. Years later our now three-year-old son shares our passion for Minecraft and has become utterly obsessed. Our little man is bright (I may be slightly biased okay?!) but he has some trouble communicating and expressing himself, since playing Minecraft he has opened up so much and we love to play together as a family, he showed me how to make a potion last week because apparently, I’d been doing it wrong! So when our son’s childminder recommended a book to me about a little boy who plays Minecraft with his Dad I was eager to check it out myself!

A Boy Made of Blocks, I discovered is much more than a boy playing Minecraft with his Dad. Alex said Dad starts off as a very difficult character to like and it wasn’t until over halfway through, maybe even three quarters that I had even considered that maybe I wouldn’t really dislike him by the end of the book. It felt hard to read in places because of the way Alex acts and reacts to events that happen but as a parent I felt totally hypocritical because none of us are perfect and raising a child, autistic or not, is damned hard work and it’s tiring. We make mistakes, we say and do things in the heat of the moment that are not great and we know it, we beat ourselves up for it but as this book shows it’s not just about those things it’s about what we do after and how we never stop learning and growing as we encourage our children to do. Once I grasped this concept I saw Alex for what he really was, a parent who was scared and unsure and that was something I could utterly relate to the more I read. Alex, for all his faults, in-fact maybe because of them actually is one of the most real characters I have ever read and that really helps to bring home the entire story for me.

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Alex goes through a lot of bad stuff that comes his way and so this book addresses that as well because let’s face it bad stuff almost always likes company and it added to the feeling of total overwhelming and crushing misery that drives him to a point where he realises he has to change. There are a great cast of supporting characters, Alex’s sister and mother, his best friend, his wife and of course their son Sam who are all written wonderfully, each with their own quirks, stories and baggage. I loved that they didn’t feel just shoved in to bloat out the story, they were all integral and important parts as well as each being likeable in their own way, even when they, like Alex, were doing some pretty unlikeable things.

I will admit, this isn’t my usual kind of read at all and I did find it a little slow to start, “When do we get to the Minecraft parts?” I kept thinking to myself and I was ecstatic when they finally did happen and it was an absolute joy to read the way Sam began to enjoy the game and open up more, especially when I recognised a lot of the responses and reactions as the same way my son interacts with the game, how he loves to commentate what we’re doing, how he teaches us and loves to show us things he’s made and more. It was at that point I knew I was hooked.

As the story progressed I got more and more addicted, unable to put the book down I finished the last third in one long sitting because I just had to know what happened and I was in no way disappointed. I was completely blown away, I literally gasped out loud a few times, my son even got out of bed to come and sit with me while I read and I’m so glad he fell back to sleep so I didn’t have to explain why I was sobbing at my book. This book is an absolute gem and I’m so grateful to have read it, I genuinely think it’s helped me to take a better perspective of my life and it’s really helped me to understand my son a little better, to be more patient and I think (I hope!) it’s made me a better parent for reading it. One thing I will say is that they totally missed out on a better cover for this edition, the cover for the initial hardback release and kindle edition covers are lovely but I love the Bulgarian one!

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Regardless of the cover though, A Boy Made of Blocks has been a joy to read and an inspiring roller coaster of emotions. A great read for parents or any other guardian, especially those who have children that do play Minecraft and maybe don’t understand much about the game or what about it appeals to their children. Thank you so much, Jo, if you’re reading for recommending it to me!

 

 

spoiler free, tbr thursday

TBR Thursday – Janurary

The very first Thursday of the year has arrived and thus the first of January, this means it’s time for my monthly (when I remember) TBR post! I’ve had so much to read lately and there are still so many great books coming out this year that I’ve upped my Goodreads reading challenge goal from fifty to sixty for 2019 and I’m feeling pretty confident I’ll easily smash that. As for this month, I’ve got a couple of my highly anticipated books to read, a future release and a recommended title before I start to dig into my ever mounting physical TBR pile that I’ve been meaning to get to for the whole of last year! Let’s take it easy and just start with January for now though shall we?

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A Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare
This is my current read and I’m having to listen to most of it via Audiobook because it’s just so huge and heavy it feels impossible to read physically. James Masters is a brilliant narrator and there have been some absolutely brilliant scenes but so far there is A LOT of filler and I can’t believe I’m saying it but I’m so done with the over the top teen angst right now and I literally live for books full of it normally, not to mention the crazy amount of sexual tension but it just feels so overdone in this book that I’ve already had to take a couple of breaks from it. I would really like to get it finished this month if possible.

Monsters by Sharon Dogar
This is a Young Adult fictionalising of the early life of sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein from Anderson Press. I was lucky enough to receive a proof for this book due out in February 2019 and have just started to read this book that I think sounds very promising and from what I’ve read so far I’m sure will keep me enthralled. 

The Wicked King by Holly Black
I’m so excited to be back with my favourite trash ship Jude and Cardan this year despite feeling like one of the only people to have not already read the sequel to The Cruel Prince. The first folk of the air book completely blew me away and I have high hopes for its successor, with less than a week to go however I’m cursing the fact that I forgot to preorder it though so this may end up being a kindle read until I can afford to get to a town with a bookshop or it comes back online at Waterstones or Amazon!

A Good Girls Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
I’ve technically read almost the whole of this book already after I devoured my beautiful advanced reading copy I was lucky enough to win at YALC. Electronic Monkey were super clever and tore the last few chapters out of the ARCS so we had to contact them to have access to those last few chapters which I’ve done and although I received them last year and promised myself I would read them as a reward for finishing NaNoWriMo things have just been too hectic but this month I’m determined to finish it ready to read the finished copy when it releases May 2nd!

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A Boy made of Blocks by Keith Stuart
This book was actually a gift from Nate’s childminder and although at first glance it is nowhere near my kind of book she recommended it to me after reading it herself and it turns out it’s about a little autistic boy who loves to play Minecraft. As me and Chris have always enjoyed Minecraft and now Nate is rather obsessed with it I knew this was something I had to read and like with Monsters I have started it already although I’ve only made a small amount of progress as I feel like I need to be in the right frame of mind to read it as it can feel a little emotionally heavy and perhaps a little close to home for me and I’m sure it’ll rip my heart out so I’m taking it slowly between my other reads for the time being.

As you can see there’s a nice bit of variety mixed in but sadly no Sci-Fi unless I get stupid lucky and Rock The Boat accept a blood sacrifice for an advanced copy of Aurora Rising then of course all of these other books get thrown out of the (not literal) window until that’s done, I’m actually thinking of focusing purely on some science fiction reads next month so I’ve kept it out of my TBR this month before I become utterly obsessed in spaceships again next month. Let me know if you’ve read any of the books on my TBR and if you liked them? What are you most excited to read this month?