My thoughts on that green eyed girl by Julie Owen Moylan

book review

This book was bought for me as a birthday present in June and it jumped way up my tbr list as the other books sat solemnly on my wooden shelves watching as a grabbed this new book to read. 

Luckily I was not disappointed with my choice to read it early. It wouldn’t be one I’d normally pick in a book shop however the book is beautiful and the turquoise pages drew me in. All I knew was what the blurb had told me and it sounded intriguing and something that could either be executed very well or poorly.  

The story is set In two different decades, 1955 and 1975 and as I have previously said I love different Eras and reading about how different it was and also how similar. Below I have included the synopsis from waterstones. 

Although I was rooting for the characters I still found them frustrating. Dovie is a people pleaser and doesn’t want to upset anyone but this causes her more hurt and trouble in the long run. Gillian and Dovie’s lack of communication is what causes a lot of their problems. It was giving me ‘normal people’. The frustrating relationship where they want to be together but they just can’t communicate well enough for it to work. I did like Gillian and Dovie and wanted it to work out for them. In 1975 our main character is Ava winters who is a teenager navigating her own family problems along with trying to be a normal teen experiencing life. I enjoyed reading both decades as they both, I felt, had interesting storylines and I also wanted to see things work out for the characters. I like how the stories become entwined. Too find out how you’ll have to give it a read.

There were some very important and serious themes in this book that helped me to understand the poor treatment people have experienced and the extreme methods used to ‘cure’ them of their quote ‘unnatural activities’ although upsetting I think it’s important to know about the past so we don’t repeat it in the now. The author describes how the women were arrested and treated awfully because of their sexuality and these innocent women went through a lot of pain and trauma and had unhappy lives which is horrible but it was the reality and you see through the book how their whole lives had been affected terribly by this and by the fear of being caught. Although the book doesn’t describe anything too graphically as an emotional person I did find I really felt for them and for anyone at the time having to hide who they were/are.

Another difficult theme was that of feeling unloved from those that should be there unconditionally and also navigating family relationships and problems as a young person. I think ultimately this book is an interesting mystery, dealing with feelings we all feel to some degree or at least can relate to: guilt, shame, the need to impress, desire, feeling alone and feelings of not being good enough. But also positives such as finding good friends that become like family and having dreams to pursue.

I would recommend this book as I was gripped the whole way through and I enjoyed the characters even when they weren’t too likeable and there are little twists throughout. So if you are interested in fiction or trying to figure out the mystery then give this one a go!

I was struggling to get back into reading more and this year I am well behind on my goal. This book has given me a bit of a boost to try different books and get stuck in.

Good to be back at it again- introduction and what I’ve been reading in 2022 so far

book review

I’ll start by saying hi, I am back. And I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted but I am glad to be back and sending out a post and hopefully connecting with people again

2022 for me has been a year of real progress and working on myself. So I have been reading but I haven’t felt in a position to really post anything and I’ve had to not let the guilt get to me.

I started the year mentally, not in the best place but through therapy i have really started to come through and see a happier life so although I’ve not been posting it has been a journey and I’m feeling ready to be back at it again.

I set my goal on goodreads at the start of the year to read 45 books. Last year I read 44 and thought one more will be easaaaay but it’s the 7th month and I’ve read 22 so either a lot of catch up needed or some really quick reads. Any recommendations welcome 🌝

So I thought I would talk about 5 of the best books I’ve read this year so far.

1. The seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid : I LOVED this book it is so well written in terms of character portrayal. The characters feel real and I felt a connection to their stories. It is a story that has real sadness and the reality that people face in not being able to be themselves and feel happy and open about who they are and what makes them truly happy. Great read and has stayed with me since 100% recommend

2. Nothing to see here by Kevin Wilson: I initially picked this book up as it looked interesting with a illustrated cover and the blurb said it was about children that spontaneously combust however they are ok and it’s a normal thing for them. so I thought it sounded like an odd concept to give it a go. I found this book captivating and at points brought me to tears and made me laugh out loud. I am such an empath and it made me want to just make sure the children were safe and looked after and happy and that it would turn out okay for them. A great story which gave me all the feels. Loved it and would read again.

3. Daisy Jones and the six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: this book is 100% one of the best books I have read. I love music. I love the idea of the 70s and the movement of the time and the characters again so well written that it feels real and I wanted to be part of it all. It explores interesting and serious topics but it doesn’t feel too heavy. The story is written as a transcript like an interview with the band and with friends and family and it was lively and fun. I hoped it wouldn’t end. It is also being made into a Netflix programme which I’m super excited for.

4. The no show by Beth O’Leary: at first I wasn’t sure what was happening and if I was going to enjoy the book however I’m not one to give up but it was interesting enough to keep me reading and I am so glad I did. It is funny, it is sweet and some great twists and turns to keep you reading non stop. I was in a bit of a slump and this book helped me get out of it. Again it made me laugh it made me cry it shocked me and I felt it all. Beth o Leary continues to keep me entertained and also fall in love with the characters and their story’s

Maybe in another life by Taylor Jenkins Reid: again Taylor Jenkins Reid has really smashed it for me in my reading list this year. Having read 3 of her books I’ve found the love for the way she writes and makes you believe in the characters. The story splits into two alternate realities where decisions the main character makes paves two very different lives and makes you think differently about all the whatifs we have and how things would have turned out had we just done something different. although things might not be what we expect it doesn’t mean it won’t work out.

I have read some fab books and can’t wait to continue with my journey 🙂 any and all recommendations welcome!

Thank you for reading ☺️

Reading goal 2022

book review, Uncategorized

I only started reading for enjoyment again last year, after years of not really picking up a book. For me this past year of getting into reading again has made me a lot happier, more focused and a lot more reflective. I’ve enjoyed finding a hobby that is relaxing but also uses imagination. I feel inspired and find myself recalling the stories in my head and the enjoyment I got from them. This is why I decided to write about the books I’ve read to recount the experience and also for others to find books to try.

My goal for 2021 was to read 30 books and I ended the year having read 41 which I was so pleased with. The goodreads challenge kept me on track and I enjoyed a variety of books I probably would never have picked up. My new goal for this year is to read more non-fiction. I’ve not been one to want to read anything but fiction as I see reading as a break, I spend my day normally at work and then I have coursework and other things that take up my time, so reading became my hobby but I’ve realised non-fiction doesn’t need to be textbooks or complicated, long winded novels. they too can bring enjoyment, insight and be beneficial for many reasons.

I started this goal by this month reading ‘shy’ by Annie Ridout. First of all this book is eye catching, it has a yellow cover and hot pink words on the front, I know what you’re thinking, ‘you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover’ but we have all done it right? In this case I think not only does the bright cover bring me joy but the comforting words in side brought to me a lot of inner peace that I needed. As a shy person I often feel ashamed and boring, often making me dread social events, even though I enjoy seeing people. I have often felt that shyness is a fault that I need to work on. but ‘shy’ enforces that it is not a fault it does not need to be cured or exorcised from a person and shy people should not always have to adapt themselves for others.

There have been many books and articles written about how to be more extroverted. How to be less shy. How to be more outgoing, I like that this book looks at all these societal ideas and says introverts should not always be the ones having to change themselves and maybe situations should be made with introverts in mind. With the right environment a shy person can thrive and grow in confidence. Shy is not synonymous with weakness or failure.

With shy children it’s so important to go at their pace and to also take them seriously when they do feel ready to try something. Even if we don’t imagine them being able to muster the confidence to do it. They need to be given the opportunity to try. And maybe Succeed. And possibly fail but we can’t say: I don’t think you are ready for this. As thats for them to decide.

Shy

Growing up quiet and rather shy I did often feel like I wasn’t taken seriously or listened to but that has also followed me in my adult life at times, those that give me the time and support I need have seen the real me.

It’s so important that we think about how we can support each other and help each other to thrive in our own way not underestimate someone who is quiet or not listen and help them progress as you feel they aren’t able to. This book is packed with great quotes, tips, research and experiences from professionals from all walks of life. The book discusses the differences between social anxiety, shyness and being an introvert. It is such an interesting read split up into 10 easy sections and whether you read it for yourself or to support your friends, family, your children, your partner or just get a better understanding of how shyness affects people and how it can lead to great success.

My thoughts on: Nothing to see here by Kevin Wilson

book review

A brief Synopsis … doesn’t do the story justice

Lilian attends an elite boarding school as a scholarship student where she befriends the beautiful and wealthy Madison. Despite their differences they form a close friendship and become inseparable. Later during their time at boarding school a scandal forces Lilian out of the school. Madison and Lilian continue to keep in touch writing letters to each other although a reunion is yet to happen. Years later Lilian receives an urgent plea for help from Lilian in the form of their usual letters. Intrigued, Lilian follows up no longer making excuses to not meet.

Jasper, Madison’s husband has twins from a previous marriage and they are now faced with having to care for them full time following devastation. Knowing Lilian will be discreet and keep her secrets Madison knows she’s the only one she can turn to.

You see, children can often have little quirks and they are a big responsibility but the responsibility and need for a lot of care increases ten fold when they can SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST at any given moment. Although they remain unharmed it is not ideal for the senate to have fire children.

The book was published in October 2019 by Ecco press and it wasn’t until 2021 that it caught my attention. I purchased the book and was excited to read it but as with all things for me it took a while to get round to reading it. It is my fourth read of 2022 and I am not disappointed! Not one bit.

I had expectations of the book to a certain extent but I hadn’t thought too much about it, I knew others had enjoyed the book and I knew the general idea of the story but that’s as much as I had processed. I picked the book up and after only a few pages I knew it was going to be an interesting read.

What I liked about this story was how loveable Bessie was. She is ten years old but she understands a lot. Their upbringing had not been easy and it seemed they had to teach themselves a lot of what we all take for granted and Bessie would beat herself up for not knowing things when she had not been given the tools in life to have the chance to learn. She was sweet, honest, funny and wise and she was my favourite character. creating many moments in the book that bought tears to my eyes. I loved The way Lilian interacted with the kids and the way she thought of them. To take on another families children and treat them as your own and love them unconditionally is a strong thing to do and really shows her character. The love in this book was powerful and moving

Even though I actually did not like to be touched, I just let it happen, I allowed it, it was fine

Page 167

Roland and Bessie, the twins, and Lilian really opened up and allowed each other in which was something none of them would have done for anyone before and this bond really made this book memorable. We all want unconditional love and to feel safe and this was captured perfectly throughout the story.

They would always, kind of, belong to me. I had never wanted kids, because I had never wanted a man to give me a kid. The thought of it, gross; the expectation of it. But if a hole in the sky opened up and two weird children fell to earth, smashing into the ground like meteorites, then that was something I could care for. If it gleamed like it was radiating danger, I’d hold it. I would.

Page 168

Although the fire caused the children to be isolated and experience life differently, Bessie confessed she never wanted it to leave she wouldn’t know what to do without it. Roland and Bessie had been treated badly by those who should love them unconditionally and should protect them from harm so when they didn’t have that, they had the fire to protect them. Their innocence and naivety makes you love these children even more and just want to wrap them up and tell them it’s all okay.

I loved this book, I loved Lilian, Roland and Bessie and was invested in their well-being the whole way through routing for them and I think that’s what I want from a book, to connect with the characters and feel for them. the book was comforting, hilarious, bizarre and warming.

I 100% would read this book again and I wouldn’t normally say that so if you take anything from this please give it a try.

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.

My thoughts on: Before the coffee gets cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

book review, Uncategorized

3 stars ⭐️

The concept of this book really intrigued me about the time travel and the stories of the characters, I had heard mixed reviews about this book however I went into it with an open mind not knowing what the there would be in store for me.

Before the coffee gets cold is a relatively short book with only 192 pages so it’s not a big read. The book is set in a small cafe in Tokyo which has been serving specially brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. This coffee shops offers a unique opportunity for its customers to travel in time. The book is split into sections following 4 customers and their decision to travel in time. What made them want to do it and are they willing to risk it? It lets people face their past and allow them to move forward with their life. Although nothing can be changed, they can learn and find peace. However, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold otherwise they will become a ghost, trapped.

I found this book quite difficult at the beginning to keep track of who everyone was, how they were related to the story and the other characters however once I grasped this part I was able to follow the story and each character’s history much more easily.

I liked the concept of this book however I’m not sure it was executed how I was expecting. It may be that I was expecting more than I thought originally but I feel that although people could travel in time there wasn’t that much that happened during these sections. I was more interested at the present time and understanding what drove these people to want to time travel and what they hoped it would bring them. I liked the present time characters and their story’s as they were better developed and weaved the story together.

The stories were heart warming and I liked the connections between the characters and the idea of a magical cafe that allowed you to go back in time. The time travel was well thought out by the author. I liked that there were set rules and that it was treated as a very important responsibility to pour the coffee that was passed down through generations but I did feel like something was missing. It did make me think and I did feel for the characters for the losses they have experienced and the guilt and regrets they had held onto. I think this book is more focused on these ideas than there actually being a storyline to follow.

I would recommend reading before the coffee gets cold because it is interesting and a great concept which I’m sure will appeal to many. My rating was 3 stars at this time however I might revisit and see if anything changes.

April Book club pick – The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

book club pick, Uncategorized

For April we have decided to read the last house on needless street. Released on 18th March 2021, This book has been called a horror thriller and I would normally not read anything described as a horror as I would be sleeping with the light on for weeks so I’m hoping it will be more of a thriller but I am grateful that I am being pushed out of my comfort zone and I’m looking forward to giving it a go.

I use goodreads ALOT to help track my reading, set goals and discover new books and keep a TBR list which is super useful. So I have been on goodreads to find out a little bit about the last house on needless street when we were deciding on our book for the month. Goodreads synopsis is the following:

Goodreads

I love a good thriller with twists and turns that keeps you hooked so I’m really hoping this will be a good one. Stephen King praised this novel saying the the buzz around Cattiona Ward’s new novel is real & well if Stephen King is saying it…

I’m looking forward to this one and can’t wait for my copy to arrive. Let me know your thoughts If you have read this one or if it’s on your tbr.

What I thought about: The Push by Ashley Audrain

book review, Uncategorized

⭐️ 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.

My thoughts on Klara and The Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro

book review, Uncategorized

The Sun always has a way to reach us.

Klara and the Sun

⭐️ 5/5

At the beginning of 2021 I read Ian McEwan’s machines like me that explored artificial intelligence and the ripple affects on humanity and ultimately questioned if AI would surpass humanity and become hostile, whereas I feel Kazuo Ishiguro focused on the positive, optimistic side of AI and their loyalty. Whether it would be possible to be living in harmony with artificial friends. I was very excited when I read the synopsis for Klara and the sun and immediately added it to my want to read list on goodreads and pre-ordered it for the release on the 2nd March. The book is beautiful inside and out and I was not disappointed.

Klara and the sun is unforgettable, such a lovely story with so much hope and optimism even at the darkest times. I loved this book and it gave me such a warm feeling. To me this is a story about trying to understand human feelings and actions, loyalty and understanding what makes us all individually special. Whether we are ultimately special or are we replaceable?

I liked that all the characters seemed to be asking the same questions and were on a learning journey together. Klara (an artificial friend) is the narrator of the book and the story is told from her perspective which means we would only know and be able to understand as much as we are told. The AFs ( artificial friends) are powered by solar energy and therefore the sun is so important to them for nourishment and to keep them strong which is a prevailing theme throughout the book However Klara’s generation, the B2s have difficulty with solar absorption which may lead to personality defects which makes the sun even more important. The personification of the sun really gave us this omniscient, powerful character that was our only hope it seemed. Klara worships the sun and believes so strongly in the help and the love that the sun provides making everything better and there is a real belief that the sun understands human behaviours and concepts such as love and loss. Society has been divided into the ‘lifted’ and the ‘unlifted’ which is often the source of tension throughout the story. Although the idea of being lifted or unlifted is not explored in depth, we understand that there are difficulties for both Josie (lifted) and for her best friend, Rick (unlifted) and the guilt of the parents for their decisions.

The story is set in a near future dystopian America where AFs are being developed and are bought as friends for lonely children. The role of the AF is to protect the child who chooses them and be there for their needs. Klara spends some time in a shop and has a few people interested in her however she holds out for 14 year old Josie who is frail and suffers will long periods of debilitating illness, Josie pre-warns Klara that it may not always be good…that things may be ‘Strange’ but she will always be taken care of and Klara becomes Josie’s AF and spends all her time trying to help Josie feel better and not be lonely. Klara finds herself in all sorts of situations and is always trying to work out what is happening around her and how she can help Josie and what her role is in this new life. There is something dark or sinister happening in the background of this story and we spend the book wondering what it may be and how it affects our characters. the lead up and reveal of events throughout the book are written beautifully, there is unease but the writing is also subtle and draws you in without it feeling over the top. I found it such a good read and was reading through it quickly as I wanted to see what would happen, I had to slow down to really spend some more time in this story.

There seems to be lots of family secrets or things that must not be spoken about which gives the story an air of mystery. However Klara’s innocence keeps us hopeful.

I like Klara. I like her observations and how she uses them to draw conclusions, often in a very human way, as I would assess situations. however we are always being reminded that Klara is an AI and not human whereas in other AI fiction there is a focus on trying to show how human AI are. Klara’s vision is split into boxes just like a CAPTCHA, when the internet tries to identify if you are a robot. It gives the story a surreal feeling and you experience a range of different views in a small grid through Klara’s eyes. There are also times where Klara is experiencing her memories differently and can manipulate them to see them in different ways or happening in different places which also adds to the surreal element. I like that Klara has no desire to become more or feel any superiority over humans or other models of AI. Klara refers to people in third person, again reminding us that there is something not quite right and she is not human. Instead of using names for others such as Klara’s Mum or Paul, Klara’s dad, she refers to them as the mother and the father which gives her a detached feeling to relationships of people to Josie and keeps her removed from them personally.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys sci-fi or general fiction. A truly wonderful read 5/5.

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.