Friday, July 17, 2015

Blog Tour Review, Author Interview & Giveaway ~ The Secrets We Keep by Stephanie Butland

Rating: 4/5 Stars
Author: Stephanie Butland
Available Formats: eBook & Paperback
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark 
Publication Date: 07-07-15                Pages: 384
Purchase ~ Amazon                               Add ~ Goodreads 
A tragic accident, a broken heart, and a marriage drowning in secrets...

Mike always walks the dog in the evening while Elizabeth relaxes in the bathtub--but one night he doesn’t come back. Mike has drowned while saving a teenage girl named Kate, his dog standing on the bank barking frantically as the police pull his body from the water.

But despite her husband being lauded as a hero, Elizabeth can’t wrap her mind around the fact that Mike is gone--and Kate won’t reveal the details of what really happened that night. 

Elizabeth finds herself facing the unfathomable possibility that she may not have known her husband at all. Does she really want to know the truth? Or will the weight of Mike’s secrets pull her under?

My So-Called Review: 
The Secrets We Keep is one women’s story of coming to terms with the fact that her husband wasn’t who she thought he was. But don’t be fooled into thinking this is a storyline you’ve read many times before because it isn’t. Elizabeth's husband, Mike has just died while saving a young girl from potentially drowning. Everyone now sees Mike as a hero who tragically died but Elizabeth still can’t understand why her husband was even at the river to save this girl in the first place. Then she meets Kate, the young girl Mike saved, and pieces to a puzzle that Elizabeth could have never fathomed start fitting into place. I don’t want to say anything more about the plot because this is one of those stories where it’s best to go into knowing as little as possible.

I loved how this book deals with grief which is then compounded by hurt and betrayal. I’ve never been through anything like Elizabeth has, thank God, but it felt very realistic to me. Even if you find out someone you loved wasn’t who you thought they were or that they did something terrible it doesn’t mean you stop loving them or mourning their loss. I thought this was beautifully portrayed by the author, Stephanie Butland. I especially loved Elizabeth’s letters to Mike and how this formed a type of therapy for her; it was brilliant and added such a unique element to the storyline. This isn’t just a story about loss & grief though, there’s also much suspense surrounding the night Mike died. You’ll want to know just as much as Elizabeth does what really happened that night. Did Mike really die why trying to save Kate or did something more sinister go down?

The Secrets We Keep is a wonderful, compelling read; a complex story surrounding secrets and relationships and the one that I believe readers will connect with whether they’ve been through a heavy loss or not. Elizabeth is such a beautiful, strong and intelligent woman who’s had to deal with the life given to her as best as she can, you can’t help but admire and want to root for her to find peace. But fair warning, you’ll need to keep a box of tissues close at hand for this one! I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy a psychological thriller with an emotional, deep vibe woven in. This would also make a fantastic Book Club read. This is the first book I’ve read by Stephanie Butland and I look forward to reading what she has in store for us next J

Thank you to the publishers, Sourcebooks Landmark and to NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary, advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. And a special thank you to Michelle Podberezniak, Publicity Intern at Sourcebooks for inviting me to join The Secrets We Keep official Blog Tour. Keep on reading to find out more about this talented author, including my interview with Stephanie and your chance to win a paperback copy of The Secrets We Keep!  

My So-Called Author Interview:
I’ve got a real treat for you guys today! Stephanie Butland, the wonderfully talented author of The Secrets We Keep was kind enough to stop by My So-Called Book Reviews so she could sit in the hot seat and answer some of my questions :) Don't worry though, this is a spoiler free zone so none of my questions, nor Stephanie's answers contain information that could possibly ruin this book for you in any way. So please, read on and enjoy!!

1) Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing?
I always wanted to be a writer, but at some point real life took over and I became a trainer specialising in thinking skills and creativity (something I still do, and still love). Then at the age of 37 in 2008 I was diagnosed with a breast cancer, and I turned to blogging as a way of sharing and exploring my feelings about dancing with this awful disease.  Two memoirs ('How I Said Bah! to cancer' and 'Thrive') came from that experience, and having rediscovered my love of writing, I decided to have a go at a novel. 

2) What inspired you to write The Secrets We Keep?
I wanted to explore what happens when something comes out of left field and knocks you over - and also, to think about whether anything in life is truly unexpected. 

3) Did you do any research either prior or during the writing of your novel? If so, what kind?
Initially (and foolishly) I thought if I wrote a contemporary novel I would spare myself research! But as I wrote I discovered I knew almost nothing about the following: house fires, community policing, drowning, police procedures following a death, genetics, marathon running, living in Australia, being a translator..... the list goes on! One thing I find amazing is how many people are willing to share their expertise and answer a writer's really foolish questions.

4) If you could spend the day with one character from The Secrets We Keep, who would it be and what would you do or talk about?
Oh, I think it would be Mel, Elizabeth's clever, spiky sister. We'd shop for shoes and drink cocktails and laugh a lot.  We'd probably end up in a bar overlooking a different city to the one we started off in! 

5) Who were your favorite authors growing up and how have they influenced your writing?
The first 'grown up' authors I encountered (in my early teens) were the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen. When I was in my mid-teens I discovered John Updike and have been a fan of his work ever since. Although these look like very different authors they have two things in common: complete commitment to character driven narrative, and unflinching attention to detail. I wouldn't claim for a moment to be like them but those are the things I learned from them, love about their work, and try to emulate.  

6) What is one book that you wish you would had written and why?
Only one?!  Goodness, that's difficult. 'A Suitable Boy' by Vikram Seth for narrative depth and sheer commitment. 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood for wit, prescience and showing how complex humanity is. John Updike's 'Pigeon Feathers' for the satisfaction of having created perfection. 

7) Can you give us any hints on what your next project is?
My next novel 'The Other Half Of My Heart' is set in Throckton, where 'The Secrets We Keep' is set, but follows a mix of old and new characters. The story focusses on Bettina, who runs a bakery and thinks she is doing a pretty good job of rebuilding her shattered life until someone she used to know shows up out of the blue. I loved writing it - as part of my research I learned to bake bread and I still really enjoy doing that! The third novel in the trilogy returns to Elizabeth, five years on, and how she decides to move forward.

About the Author:
I’m a writer, and I’m thriving after breast cancer. (I used to say I was a survivor, but that was a bit lacking in joie de vivre.)

Although I’d never have chosen it, my dance with cancer has changed my life in many positive ways. Now I am happier, healthier, and more careful with my precious life and the precious people and things in it.

I’ve written two books about my dance with breast cancer, and I’m working on my third novel at the moment.

Aside from writing, I work as a speaker and trainer, and I work with charities to help raise awareness and money in the hope that cancer will soon be about as scary as a wart.

Contest ends August 7, 2015 ~ Open to US Residents Only
Giveaway provided by publisher, blogger not responsible for prizing


  1. I like that you asked Stephanie, the one book she wished she had written. Good Job!

    1. That's one of my favorite questions to ask too, but one I know most authors have a hard time answering. Most can't narrow it down to just one book, I loved that Stephanie gave us her top 3 :) Good luck in the contest Misty!!