The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech – Review.


About the Book

Be careful what you wish for…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?
A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have now read and thoroughly enjoyed all four of Louise Beech’s novels. She is the only author who doesn’t write crime fiction who I follow avidly. Her writing is exquisite.
The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a love story. Most of the novel concerns both Ben and Andrew, the reader sees both sides of their story. You first meet Ben when he is in Zimbabwe. You know that it is a life long dream but don’t know why he chose to be there at this time in his life. He is struggling with his emotions though, wanting to ring home, or write but not being able to do so. But he is somebody who struggles to admit to those close to him his true feelings. More is revealed as you read. It is a different setting for me, but I could visualise it through the writing. The weather, the magical sunrises, the lions with their beauty but also the knowledge that they could be a threat. And the vile coffee.
Andrew is a completely different character. Much more open in some ways, he has no problems with his sexuality, but in other ways he struggles. Health issues, a lonely childhood and the unfulfilled dream of becoming an author.
When reading this novel I felt like everything else that was happening in the world vanished. It was impossible to be distracted whilst reading. This is rare for me, I’m best reading with nothing happening in the background but with this book it didn’t matter. It took over everything. There is so much to love. Bob Fracklehurst ( a character who regular readers will know), the humour that is present in a relationship with a soul mate, the wrong words, the excerpts from Andrew’s book at the top of each chapter. I could go on and on.

I’m not ashamed to say I cried. More than once. I cried at the relationship between Ben and Andrew a few times and I also cried over Will. The man who knew he had made mistakes, and regretted them.
An absolutely brilliant novel, told as always from the heart.

Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech – Blog Tour Review.


About the Book

Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’ Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything. Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

My Review

Catherine, whose house was badly damaged in the Hull floods volunteers on a helpline for those who are in a similar situation. She finds that concentrating on being there for others helps her deal with her own life and she can relax knowing that she is helping somebody else. Not everybody who rings in has flood related issues but she listens to them regardless. Some of the phone calls are comical but most are serious and often upset her.
I thought Catherine was incredible. She was made homeless from the floods and sleeps on a friend’s sofa, she is determined, brutally honest and at times has a sharp tongue. Especially with her mother and spoilt, pampered step sister. She has a fractured relationship with her mother and takes pleasure in using bad language just to annoy her. There were many amusing moments where she was admonished. But she has no memory of being nine years old and its starting to trouble her more. As she struggles to cope with current events, she is also determined to remember what happened when she was nine.
There were a few times when I felt choked reading. It’s not a depressing book but it is very emotional and when I got towards the end I was in tears more than once. The descriptions of the flood damage could only come from somebody who went through it. When you see it on the news you don’t feel it, smell it and see the destruction that it leaves behind. And I could sense the frustration at being ignored by the Government and the media, but being humbled by the kindness of those nearby. When she remembers what happened when she was nine and how she dealt with it broke me. I can’t write about that part of the novel in my review without spoilers so you will have to read it to find out more.
Louise Beech is an incredible author who has touched my heart with each of her novels. I feel when reading her words that you can see her soul. Her words are powerful, emotional and there is a passion about things that are important to her and people who are close to her. She is an author who I will never tire of reading. Maria in The Moon is probably my favourite book so far.

To read about Louise’s publication day click here


My Publication Day – Louise Beech.

Today, I  would like to welcome you to my blog to read a new feature. I plan on running a series featuring several different authors and how they feel on their publication day.  Today my guest is the lovely Louise Beech who has already had two books published with Orenda and her third Maria In the Moon will be published in September.


How will you spend the day?

I spend the day often in disbelief. Excited disbelief! Like, wow, it’s here. My baby is really out there. People can actually read it. Often the day is weirdly normal other than that because the actual launches are on different days to when the book is released. So, it can be a quiet day, where I likely carry on writing whatever new thing I’m creating. But now and again I stop and think again, wow, it’s out!

Will you be following reviews from early readers or do prefer not to know? (Excluding blog tours.)

I like to know. But it’s terrifying. It really is, every time. You’ve spent so long writing and editing and reworking, and you really want your work to be enjoyed. So I do look at places like Amazon and Goodreads… nervously!

Is it emotional, getting the novel you have worked on for months into the public eye?

Very emotional. A lot of my novels come from personal experiences, so you can feel quite exposed. I have learned to remember that not everyone feels the same about something. You can never please everyone. So, write from the heart, from your own truth, and put everything you have into it, and then you know you did the best you could, no matter what.

If you have had books published before, does the feeling change?

I swear, I think I get MORE excited! For me, it hasn’t faded one bit. Perhaps if you ask me again in ten years, the answer might be different, but I hope not. And, to be honest, I think I’ll still be excited. I’m just that kind of girl. A clap my hands and jump about kind of girl!

I often wonder and imagine that when your novel is published and you have been working on at least one novel since, is the book that is published less important?

Not less important, but sometimes strange. As in, for example, right now I’ve just been editing book four (The Lion Tamer Who Lost, which will be out next year) and have started book five, while still promoting The Mountain in my Shoe, and now of course Maria in the Moon. So sometimes you forget which story you’re in, so to speak. Because, trust me, I’m deeply in them when I write/edit. I live them.

And is it a distraction, welcome or otherwise having to focus on what is for you old material?

Haha, I quite like it. Maria in the Moon was first written after the 2007 Hull Floods, so it really is ‘old’ material in many ways. It really was a revisit when I came to edit it. But it was like revisiting an old me. A younger me. A me going through a hard time. And it was wonderful to think how far I’ve come since.

Do blog tours make you more nervous or do you see them as beneficial?

I know they are beneficial, but of course you can be nervous. Luckily, it’s usually with bloggers/reviewers who like your work generally.

What is your publication day treat? Champagne, cream cake, 10km run?

A lovely bottle of Prosecco, chocolate, and a dance around the room!


The Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech – Blog Tour.



About the Book

On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all.

Exquisitely written and deeply touching, The Mountain in My Shoe is both a gripping psychological thriller and a powerful and emotive examination of the meaning of family … and just how far we’re willing to go for the people we love.

My Review

How to be Brave was one of my favourite novels from 2015 so I was really looking forward to reading Louise’s new novel. It’s a completely different type of novel, whilst both books are about survival this one was also more of a thriller.
Conor is a young boy in care who gets into a stranger’s car after school. Very anxious to find him are Anne his foster mother and Bernadette who has become his friend through a voluntary friendship scheme. Bernadette has become very close to him through the scheme and he thinks a lot of her. She hasn’t told her husband about their friendship sensing that he would disapprove and stop her going. She had been planning to leave her husband on the day that Conor disappeared but he failed to come home from work.
I worked out fairly early on who Conor was with but I don’t think it was ever meant to be a shock. What is important is why it happened and Conor’s life up to that point. The book tells both Bernadette and Conor’s story throughout but there also chapters from his lifebook. This was a book that would be given to Conor when he turned 18 and it would give him an idea of his family history. These chapters were at times devastating to read, but as well as highlighting the bad side of our care system it also showed that there were those who wanted to do the best for him. It would be wrong to judge people in this novel. Conor’s mothers story was in its self very upsetting and due to her own childhood she was ill equipped to provide the best care for her own children.
Conor was an amazing character, I loved the chapters that he narrated. They showed a need to trust, to love and be loved and also an amazing sense of humour. What was absent was a level of self-pity, he just accepted that his life was a little different to other people. He showed anger but also remorse for any hurt he caused.
There were twists and heartbreak but also friendship and love in another fantastic and heartwarming novel from Louise Beech.
With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received.


How to be Brave

imageI am certain that How to be Brave is going to be a huge success. Based on fact, there are two stories running throughout the novel and both are equally addictive. Natalie and her nine year old daughter Rose are struggling to accept and adapt to the fact that Rose has been diagnosed with type one diabetes. To make the injections that she needs to survive less of a battle Natalie starts to tell Rose about her great grandfather (Colin) who was adrift in a lifeboat for over a month during WW2. She adds to the story by reading an excerpt from Colin’s diary that was found in a box of items that belonged to his wife.
The other story focuses on Colin and his fellow survivors after the ship they were travelling on was torpedoed by the enemy. They had to find land before they ran out of supplies, cope with the blistering heat, some injuries and a constant companion -a shark.
At times I was very emotional. Reading about everything that Colin and his friends had to endure, understandably terrified, but still at times trying to make light of their situation.. And then at the same time reading about Natalie and Rose’s relationship being affected by the diabetes. Both very much alike they had to get past the anger and frustration that the diagnosis had brought. But reading about the events that occurred in 1943 helped them both.
I adored this novel. I did cry quite a lot. I don’t think I’ve cried so much over a book since reading Charlotte’s Web when I was about six years old! But while it didn’t make me laugh as such I did smile a few times. The relationship between Mother, Daughter, Colin and his friends was really quite special.
How to be Brave will definitely be one of my top ten books of the year. It’s a hard act to follow.
With massive thanks to Orenda Books for sending me a copy of this novel.