What can I say about The last house on needless street by Catriona Ward

book club pick, book review

I read the last house on needless street throughout April for my book club and wow was I impressed. This book has so many twists and turns and really grips you as a reader. I loved this book and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller.

Now I can’t say too much about the story without giving anything away so you will have to read it for yourself but I 100% know you won’t be disappointed.

Goodreads summary:

The story keeps you guessing throughout and is told through a number of perspectives, all of which we are unsure we can trust completely but all I can say is, get your hands on a copy and you will not be able to stop reading.

I know some people have found it strange and have given up at the introduction of Olivia but please please please give it a go.

What I thought about: The Split by Laura Kay

book review, Uncategorized

The split by Laura Kay was released on 18th March 2021, I hadn’t seen much about this book but I was intrigued. The front cover says ‘Ally’s relationship is over, and she’s taking the cat…’ and as a cat lover this inevitably drew me in.

The story is not a romance in a traditional sense but it is very funny. Ally’s girlfriend Emily has just split up with her so ally moves back in with her dad in Sheffield from their bot house on London. Ally’s old friend from primary school, Jeremy, is also suffering from heartbreak from a recent breakup with Ben and they both find comfort in each other after their parents suggest they hang out. Jeremy and Ally soon become the best of friends through the ups and downs of heartbreak and single life. Jeremy believes his ex boyfriend Ben might be running the Sheffield half marathon and convinces Ally to run it with him which is hilarious and I identify fully with them and the hatred they have towards running but the determination they have to complete it. After moping around her dads house in her old bedroom for weeks, Ally needs to find a job and the introduction of these new characters through work is a lovely addition to the already fab friendship Ally and Jeremy have.

I love Ally’s dad and feel like he cares so much and is so supportive of Ally and any decision she makes. He is a very heart warming and funny character that you can’t help but love.

Throughout the book I was increasingly frustrated with Ally and her overwhelming need to get Emily back while trying to prove how far she has come and show Emily she is over it. Although the conversations between Ally and Jeremy are funny and they build a great friendship, Ally does annoy me with all the pining and the emails to try and get her ex back but I guess that’s what a breakup can do to a person.

I feel it is a story about friendship, heartbreak and taking risks. There is also cake, a cat and running. I would recommend this book if you are looking for something funny and light. Although I enjoyed it I would only give it 3/5 but this may be due to my own expectations, I just wasn’t too invested in the character of Ally but I did really like Jeremy.

What books have made you laugh out loud?

My thoughts on: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

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The flatshare has been on my tbr list for a while and so many people have been gushing about it and recommending it so I was overly excited when I got my copy in the post 🥳 & I loved every second of reading it.

I don’t have a single bad thing to say about the book, it is a delight!! Such a feel good book with fab characters that you can’t help but love.

The story does explore emotional abuse in relationships and gaslighting but overall it is a very uplifting and positive book about the strength of friendship and how a relationship should be, although there can be ups and downs the characters support each other and respect their choices, decisions and feelings

I loved that you follow the story from two perspectives both Leon and tiffy and they both bought so much to the story. Leon’s story is about family and the bond you have with a sibling and his job working in a hospice and the difference his patients make to his life and the impact he has on them. Tiffy’s explores toxic relationships, female friendships and her job in publishing and the ups and downs.

I would 100% recommend this book if you want something sweet and uplifting and you enjoy romcoms. It is the perfect read and I would definitely read it again. It had a really good storyline with little ongoing themes to follow throughout which kept me interested. This book made me want to be more positive and not take things too seriously.

My thoughts on: The vanishing half by Brit Bennett

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⭐️ 4.5/5

This book has been long listed for the women’s prize 2021 and is a goodreads choice 2020 winner. I’d heard so many good things about the vanishing half that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and read it for myself.

It is a story about twin girls from a small town in New Orleans called Mallard, spanning from the 1950s to the 1990s. Mallard is a southern black community that Stella and Desiree Vignes, at the age of 16, decide they need to run from to start a new life. They run away together until they go their separate ways, one living as a white woman and the other living as a black woman. They both experience very different lives but they are ultimately led back to each other. One of the twins ends up returning to the town they had escaped from with her black daughter after escaping her husband/daughters father while the other passes as white, living with her white husband in their expensive estate home. Her husband knows nothing of her past and doesn’t have suspicions of her being anything other than what he knows. However when their daughters’ lives intersect they find they will always be intertwined with each other. The story spans many decades following the twins and their daughters over the years. The Vanishing Half is a beautifully written story about racism, social classes, family and love.

When I started reading this I was trying to get to grips with the characters and where the story was going to go, although I had seen good things about the vanishing half I wasn’t fully aware of the storyline. Once I got reading I found myself really enjoying the book and I am glad I initially pushed through the beginning. Once characters had been established and the story started to open up I found the story was beautifully written and was a really important look into racism and complicated family relationships giving a voice to these women to discuss hardships experienced trying to make a better life where racism is still rife, how black and white are ultimately just that.

“She felt queasy at how simple it was. All there was to being white was acting like you were.”

I did like the book and I would recommend it, I liked the characters and the storyline and the different view points that the story was told from. The story follows the Vignes twins, their daughters and their mother and explores how race affects lives and how although they lead very different lives they ultimately intersect with each other.

All the characters have fears and they are all very real fears to have. Fear of being alone that you lie to keep your life, even if you don’t feel like it’s your own.

‘She hadn’t realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.’

Fears of not belonging

‘There were many ways to be alienated from someone, few to actually belong’

and Fears of not being accepted as you are and therefore denying yourself the chance to be happy

‘Well, maybe that’s your problem,” Kennedy said, “You tell yourself no before anyone even says it to you’

Although we can make judgements based on the characters actions and maybe think that we would do differently, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in their position and how I would live my life in their shoes. The characters are likeable and you find yourself routing for them and hoping they find their way and are happy and through it all I don’t think we will know but ultimately they have made their choices and they have grown from them and have had some good things and bad things happen but they are strong and just trying to be good people and good to their families.

There are so many beautiful quotes in this novel and I could quote them all day so please give this book a read and let me know what you think. Yes there are some questions unanswered but I think that’s part of it and it is so well written that you will not forget this book anytime soon.

What I thought about: The Push by Ashley Audrain

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⭐️ 5/5 stunning!

The push is heart wrenching, when I was only half way through I could already feel the pain in my chest, the tears welling in my eyes and an intense feeling of dread. This story is so raw and so honest. It explores motherhood and the relationships between mother and child and also how this can affect other relationships. To have your deepest fears actualised in the form of broken, damaged relationships and isolation, when with the ones that you should have the closest bond. To be a family often is synonymous of being a unit that will always be a team but this is shattered and the devastating story explores this so well.

Although at present I do not have children myself, I can imagine that to be a mother is a huge change and will be challenging in many ways. It is difficult to adjust and to have the responsibility for this new life and they look to you for love and support, what if this doesn’t happen though?, what if you feel they hate you?, or don’t want you, what if you can’t connect and you feel like you are going insane and no one can see this or will help you.

This book was a whole journey for me. The book explores 4 generations of women in Blythe’s family. Her grandmother (Etta),her mum (Cecilia),Blythe and her daughter Violet. Although the focus is on these women, it delves into relationships outside of this but also gives us insight into the life of these women and the heartache and battles that they have been through and why their actions may be a reflection of their treatment. Also how their experiences have been similar & how they have handled certain things that have happened to them.

This book is not a light read and I found it quite intense and quite difficult in parts where it can be quite graphic and does not hold back but I also liked that about the book, I felt immersed in this story and intrigued to keep reading. The book explores growing into womanhood and then motherhood. It also looks at relationships and how they can be toxic and damaging and how people can be gaslighted. I would agree with people who say this is not a psychological thriller in some ways, yes it’s fast paced and there are twists and it’s exciting but I feel like it’s much deeper and really trying to explore in more depth the fears and struggles that women face in life. Society norms of growing up happy, beauty, growing into a woman, getting married, having a baby etc.

This book gave me chills, it is a stunning book that is gripping and hard to put down, definitely a book I would re-read and that’s saying something. I would recommend this book if you are okay with darker, more unnerving reads however I definitely need something a bit lighter as my next read. But oh wow! Was it amazing! Breathtaking.

What I thought about: Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler

book review, Uncategorized

Published feb 2021

⭐️ 3/5

I had lots of conflicting thoughts while reading this book.

Where is this going?

I love it!

am I actually enjoying it?

At least it’s well written,

not…exactly what I was expecting.

But all in all it was a thought provoking book but it’s not a book that i feel I’d pick up again. Or maybe that’s why I should.

I didn’t feel the same need to read this book as I have with other books but it was one that I thought about often. It was a different genre than I think I’d normally choose. I was intrigued by how the book would move forward and how it might end but really I can’t say I ‘enjoyed’ reading it very much but it definitely is appealing. I think it’s written well and an in depth look at society and how social media and the ability to easily communicate with each other and easily access information has had a negative impact on society and individual mental health and self- view. Also how social media can make relationships difficult or maybe breed deceit as everyone wants to be someone else to the outside world.

The book begins on the eve of Donald Trumps inauguration, the nameless narrator is at home with her boyfriend (Felix) but things haven’t been quite right between them and she suspects there is something causing Felix to be different. The narrator stumbles on an Instagram account and discovers her boyfriend is an anonymous online conspiracy theorist. The narrator decides to flee from New York to Berlin after having no desire to stay any longer and pursues a life there, having fond memories of her previous trip. The narrator begins her own deceptions and manipulations via a string of OKcupid dates and meet-ups with new friends/ employers.

I wouldn’t say I disliked the book but I did find myself at times struggling to get through it. The book is written like a stream of consciousness which often was difficult to keep track of. I liked the concept of the book and the commentary it was making on today’s society and the impact of social media. There was a lot of focus on dating and the deception she was creating and a more personal look at her thoughts and feelings as opposed to a wider view of how the world has changed.

The writing is dry and witty which I enjoyed but I didn’t think the narrator was very likeable, what kept me going was the few twists that were weaved in. I felt like the ending of the book was a bit disappointing which surprised me that I felt that way, as I didn’t really know what I was expecting

I’d give the book 3/5 rating. I enjoyed the concept and there were parts where I did laugh out loud but unpopular opinion: it wasn’t really the book for me.

Perfect, Rachel Joyce a review

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Rating: 3 out of 5.

My friend bought Perfect by Rachel Joyce for me for my birthday after I read The Music Shop last year.

Synopsis: Perfect is about two boys who learn that an extra two seconds is going to be added to balance clock time with the movement of the earth. James Lowe is Byron Hemming’s best friend and the cleverest boy at school, James is the one who tells Byron about the extra two seconds and Byron becomes obsessed, waiting for them to be added. One day Byron’s mother makes a mistake but no one notices except for Byron. This is where his perfect world comes crashing down. If the two seconds hadn’t been added would it still have happened? this leads Byron into a spiral. James tries to help his friend Byron save his mother by setting up ‘operation perfect’. The book is set in 1972 and modern day and moves between the two times following the events of the summer 1972 and how it effects events in the future. In modern day we follow the life of Jim who has been in and out of a mental institute until it’s eventual closure. Jim currently works in a café and is suffering from severe OCD and lives a very solitary life.

There is a twist in this story which when you realise, everything falls into place. I liked the use of the twist as it had me guessing throughout.

I enjoyed the story and the mystery of the two seconds however there were parts of the book that felt slow or were repetitive. Particularly parts with Byron’s father, however I think that is to emphasise his obsessive nature and his relationship with his son and wife as controlling and not very personal. I liked that the story jumped between 1972 and modern day and the characters in each setting were likeable. If the story all took place in 1972 I found it would have been difficult to read. I found the movement between times kept me interested otherwise it was quite intense being stuck in one time.

The character of Beverley I found was well written and I was able to imagine her well and the type of person she was. I thought she added a much needed interesting personality to help bring the other characters out and move the story on. The book revolved around Byron’s mother Diana and we find out about her life and feelings through interactions with Beverley mostly as, although Beverley can be quite blunt, fiery and rude, Beverley was Diana’s closest friend. Diana is a ghost of who she once was and Beverley is trying to figure out who she is and bring that person out of her. I liked the character if Jim and really felt for him too wanting him to be able to communicate and build up a relationship with people. I thought he was well written and bought an interesting dimension to the story.

I thought this story was good and I enjoyed the concept of the story but I sometimes felt like it was slow and it was missing something. I liked the underlying message about time and the concept of time. How everyone follows the clock. waking up, going to work, having lunch, going to bed, is time just a concept that we are all following as that’s just what we know? and the idea of not living by the time and doing what you feel like doing when you want.

I’d give this book 3/5 still enjoyed the book but I struggled to get into the story although it was good once I pushed through

xxx

The Humans, Matt Haig Review

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book! I mean this book was surprising, in a good way. At the beginning of the book I was happily reading away chuckling at the comical words of Matt Haig or in this case our unnamed Vonnadorian alien narrator, known to most now as professor Andrew Martin. The humour used was down to earth and relatable and any human would find themselves at least smiling at the pages.

As I read on, I found the story had more depth than I originally expected I was not only reading a funny book about an alien coming to earth but a novel about fitting in, unconditional love, mental health, mortality and power of knowledge. I liked the relationship between our protagonist and Newton which gave him a more human feel, it’s good to know even aliens adore dogs. Having fell utterly in love with ‘The Midnight Library’ which I focused on in my first post, I was super excited to see what ‘The Humans’ had in store and I was not disappointed. I feel there were many themes throughout ‘The Humans’ which were also throughout ‘The Midnight Library’. The weird feeling of not knowing any details about a life you were living and trying to find connections, the colour green = knowledge, philosophy and also touched on body image and how we perceive ourselves and others. I like that in both stories the protagonist was surprised by decisions they made and made decisions they never thought they would make but were ultimately satisfied. I am definitely now a Matt Haig fan! Maybe this should just be a Matt Haig fan blog…I promise it won’t be but I will have at least another review to do when I read ‘How To Stop Time.’

‘Love is what humans are all about, but they don’t understand it. If they understood it, then it wouldn’t disappear’…’it makes you do stupid things – things that defy all logic. The opting for anguish over calm, for mortality over eternity and for earth over home.’

The humans, Matt Haig (2017)

Overall this book was a dream to read, really easy to fall into, surprising and hard to put down. I thought the ending did the book justice and I was happy with the direction of the story. I thought there was a really nice message behind the story and enjoyed the advice to humans towards the end.

which is to say: don’t kill yourself. Even when the darkness is total. Always know that life is not still. Time is space. you are moving through the galaxy. wait for the stars.

The Humans, Matt Haig (2017)

Probably the quickest I’ve read a book and for someone as distracted as me, it’s a real achievement. I would definitely rate it 5/5.

what is your favourite story about being an outcast? any suggestions for what I should read next after ‘How to stop Time’ would be great 🙂

thank you for reading

xxx