The #Bookvent Calendar 2018: Book of the Year

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#Bookvent – Celebrating my top reads of 2018 

So this is it. I have been counting down since the start of the month to get to this – the point where I name my #bookvent book of the year for 2018. This is a book which absolutely blew me away. It made my heart sing, it made me cry. It made me blow snot bubbles at my postman – not my finest hour it has to be said … The best thing about this book is that I know that the author really doesn’t realise how absolutely talented she is. Her stories are told from the heart, full of extraordinary characterisation and beautiful narrative and this book is no exception. A story of love, secrets, acceptance and loss, my 2018 Book of the Year is

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The Lion Tamer Who Lost

By Louise Beech

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…

Set half on a Lion reserve in Africa, and half in Hull (I know right?) this book takes readers on a journey which is beautiful, poignant and moving in equal measure. Featuring elements of the plot which in other hands would be taboo and somewhat seedy, Louise Beech has an unrivalled skill which allows her to transport the reader beyond the darker side of the narrative to the essence of the story which is, at its heart, one of love. The book sees Ben in Africa, fulfilling a promise he made to his mother before she died, but also looking back on a life that he longs for but can never be. We know he is running away from something, more than just a complicated relationship with his own father which is testing enough, but something which is not yet fully apparent. A failed relationship with the man that he had once thought to be ‘the one.’ We look back through Andrew and Ben’s lives, from the moment they met through to the moment at which they separated. Their tragic story is broken up by the chapters which form Ben’s present day, his time spent rescuing lions. The story is beautiful, a true love story which is heart warming and yet also devastating, and you will need to read the book to find out why. But as emotional as reading Ben and Andrew’s story are, it is also heart warming to read about the months Ben spends in Africa, and the relationship he develops with a young rescued cub called Lucy. These scenes, the description of the landscape and the blossoming tolerance between Ben and Lucy (as you can never call it a true friendship) is stunning, and a sign of just how brilliant a writer Louise Beech really is. And just as you think all is well, that there is a moment of hope for Ben, you are faced with a devastating truth that will floor you. You cannot help but be moved by this story. You cannot help but be moved by all of Louise’s stories but this … this one is something else. Emotional and lyrical, with stunning narrative and truly memorable characters, this is one hell of a book. Bravo Ms Beech. Bravo.

If you’d like to read my full review of The Lion Tamer Who Lost then you can find it here. The book is available to purchase from the following retailers:

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ Kobo ~ Waterstones

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Happy #bookvent reading all

JL