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.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

book review, Uncategorized

4.5 ⭐️

Okay so let’s talk about normal people, I know it’s been discussed by so many before me and is a million copy bestseller but for some reason I had been putting it off for so long. I watched the tv adaption on BBC which I did enjoy, I loved Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones as Connell and Marianne and for some reason felt I didn’t need to read the book as the tv programme had been good enough for me but I was wrong…which I don’t / won’t often admit, much to others annoyance.

I usually won’t read a book after I have watched the film or tv adaption and now I’m thinking I have been missing out. Don’t get me wrong, the tv adaption was done very well and in keeping with the book but the book delves deeper into the thoughts of Connell and Marianne, we understand the thoughts behind their words and actions and the small details of their personality and coping mechanisms which aren’t easily translated to other media.

My expectations for this book were well, not really existent. I hadn’t planned on reading normal people despite all the good things I had heard, I guess I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it already knowing the story line but I was pleasantly surprised. By having a better understanding of the characters I found I liked them more, I understood some of their difficulties or who they were as a person at the root of it all and it made them less frustrating and oftentimes more heartbreaking.

I relate to Connell’s persistent need to please and conform to societal expectations but I also liked that he was kind, thoughtful and really cared about Marianne although he didn’t always go about things the right way, he was always willing to do anything for her, especially as he got further away from school life back home unlike any other person in her life. I found myself wanting to be more like Marianne in some aspects for example, the freeing feeling of not caring what others think or say about me, a need for knowledge and being opinionated. However they both have their flaws but that is what makes them ‘normal’. Throughout the story they both want to be accepted in many ways, to be loved and to be happy however this was never easy for them and they seem to overcomplicate and overanalyse their relationship and that mixed with poor communication and misunderstanding was a recipe for disaster. The on and off again nature of a relationship is common in the rom-com genre however I found it particularly frustrating in this book. Both Marianne and Connell had feelings for each other from beginning to end and on a number of occasions they used the L word to describe their feelings. They were happy together but through poor communication on both parts it meant that they were both questioning what the other person meant by what they said causing them to break up and make up over and over.

I found myself waiting for moments between Connell and Marianne as they were often sweet, intimate and honest although they didn’t always end well for either of them you could tell that they really cared for each other and truly felt themselves when they could be together.

The ending of the book gave us hope for Connell in the future and maybe hope that something will stay between them both however with the track record over the years, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. I was happy for Connell and how far he has come with the difficulties he had faced over the years and was finally going to do something he really wanted and although he still felt guilty (which he shouldn’t) but is common throughout, there was a positive future ahead for him.

Marianne had strained relationships which was highlighted from the start. Her family relationships were cold, abusive and distant and at school she was bullied for the way she looked and for being different. She had better relationships with with her female friends at university however these were sometime not always healthy and there were a few unhealthy relationships or ‘situations’ with Jamie and Lukas and other men treating her badly, being controlling and violent leaving her feeling used and vacant. I found it discussed these issues although not in depth I felt like it approached them quite well and made the reader think about it and look at it differently as we already cared about Marianne and it was difficult to see her open up to being treated badly as that’s what she felt she deserved which is not true under any circumstance.

I always look for the best in people which is maybe why I liked the characters, to other people they may be annoying and uninteresting but I felt they had good parts and bad parts which they knew of both sides and still cared about each other a lot. Although at times they did frustrate me overall they were a lot more likeable than their ‘friends’ at least.

I would recommend this book however it does have some difficult themes such as depression, bullying, abusive family, violence and suicide I found it was written in a way to not be too heavy but if these are triggers then I would not recommend normal people but I enjoyed the story, the writing, the characters and I enjoyed the commentary the book made on class and society expectations but what I’ll hold onto is the lasting feeling of the book and would give it 4.5 stars!

There is so much I could say about this book and is one that I would probably come back to. Let me know your thoughts on Normal People or any other similar books.

How to Stop Time, The Review

book review, Uncategorized

And just as it takes a moment to die, it only takes a moment to live. you just close your eyes and let every futile fear slip away. And then, in this new state, free from fear, you ask yourself; who am I?…

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I have now finished ‘How to Stop Time’ by Matt Haig and I have been trying since, to articulate what to say to get across my feelings on the book.

The Midnight Library – loved it, would read it again

The Humans – loved it even more would definitely read again

How to stop time – I’m not a big fan

I really wanted to like this book, having loved Matt Haig’s other books and from the recommendations that people gave me, maybe that was the problem, too high expectations, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

Looking at this book as a standalone and not comparing it to the other works. I have come up with the following:

How to Stop Time has been described as:

A love story across the ages – and for the ages – about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live

However, I did not read it as a love story, yes it is a story with a dusting of love however I wouldn’t describe it as a love story in the traditional sense. to me it a story of a man who is ’41’ (439ish) who is constantly hiding in life, afraid of being found out. afraid of his loved ones being hurt and therefore afraid to live. Before I continue I will give you a short synopsis just so you can follow me a bit easier.

Tom Hazard has a secret, a dangerous secret that no-one must find out. He may look like any other 41 year old but when Tom hit puberty he found he had a rare condition. A condition that slowed the ageing process meaning for every 15 years he would only age one year. The story cuts through time back and forth, from modern day to various eras through which Tom has lived his life. From Elizabethan England, working with William Shakespeare at the Globe to playing Piano at Ciro’s in 1920’s Paris, during the golden age of Jazz. Tom has managed to survive these 400 + years without being found after being found by the ‘albatross’ society who all also have the same condition. They protect Tom and allow him to change his identity and live a normal (ish) existence. Hendrich is the leader of the group, our main antagonist in the story. Tom is made to change his identity every 8 years to to keep his cover and protect the society. After spending 8 years alone in Iceland, Tom craves a normal life. Tom asks to be a history teacher working in London which brings a whole set of problems. Including finding love which has been prohibited as it is too high risk.

I felt this story was about a man facing himself and overcoming fear. Tom feels a lot of guilt and sadness and has held on to this for a tremendous amount of time, which doesn’t allow him to move on and live a fulfilled life, Always trying to make things right in any way he can. it is a story about family, father and daughter bond and not being afraid to live life fully and love fearlessly.

I thought the story was a great concept and there are some beautiful descriptions throughout the book however, I felt the story was missing something and I felt like it wasn’t as gripping as I had hoped making it quite difficult to read. My favourite character was Omai who we meet in part 5. He is positive, knowledgeable, worldly and kind. Omai brings the warmth to the book I was hoping for and ultimately I feel is the main turning point of the book.

Although I personally didn’t love the book I can see why people do, I liked parts of the book with William Shakespeare, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chaplin and Captain Cook However, it did feel a bit like dropping names for the sake of a story line at times. Tom comes across as one of those ‘been there done that’ people and although he has, after being around for 439 years, I felt like everything had to relate back to a time when he had done something or saw something which I felt like a lot of things.

I think the ending was good and no, not in a ‘I’m glad that’s over’ way but I genuinely felt warm and happy with the conclusion to the story.

I am still a fan of Matt Haig’s and enjoyed his other books but you can’t always enjoy everything.

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