How to Stop Time, The Review

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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

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

A Few Books On My TBR List

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Being a bit of a newbie to reading there are SO many books I want/need to read however not being superhuman I’m not sure I will be able to read them all in 10 months or so. But I will try to read as many as I can. Wish me luck!

Here are 6 books on my TBR list, just a small selection. Please let me know any thoughts on them or any suggestions for books you have read and loved, or that you want to read. In no particular order:

1. Writers and Lovers – Lily King

This book has had so many wonderful reviews which initially drew me in. The art work on the cover is also another factor of why I looked into this book. The story follows 31 year old Casey who is trying to navigate life and also write a novel. A story of love, loss and trying to find your way in life to the next phase. Really excited about this one! I think this will be the next book I read.

2. The starless sea – Erin Morgenstern

Again another highly regarded book amongst readers and another stunning cover. I don’t know too much about the story but it stems from the main character, Zachary, finding a strange book in the university library that sends him on a quest. The story has mystery, adventure, puzzles and twists and turns to keep you gripped. It sounds like a fun story and I’m definitely in need of an adventure.

3. When all is said – Anne Griffin

This novel is a highly praised Irish novel. I stumbled across this book when looking for recommendations to read in 2021. This story follows Maurice Hannigan on a single night at the Rainford House Hotel. Maurice orders 5 drinks throughout the night to toast 5 different people in his life who are vital to him. Through these people, the ones who have left, Maurice tells his story. There are themes of love, highs, lows, regrets and feuds. I would like to read this book as it sounds like it will be moving, interesting, funny and sad at the same time. A journey to really get to know our main character and how he got to where he is today.

4. The push – Ashley Audrain

This is a psychological drama about family and choices. A story of motherhood and those feelings and fears of a new mother. Blythe Connor wants nothing more than to be a warm, comforting mother and be everything to her new baby that she never had but as the difficulties and struggles of early motherhood set in, Blythe feels as though there is something wrong with her daughter. Or is it all in her head? Blythe’s husband Fox dismisses these thoughts and Blythe begins to question her own sanity. I feel this book will be an exciting, gripping journey where we question what’s real and is our narrator reliable and what can we believe.

5. The heatwave – Kate Riordan

This is a thriller about mother and daughter set in France in the 1990s. There are unusual fires across the countryside and Sylvie receives a letter calling her back to the old family home in the south of France. Sylvie returns with youngest daughter Emma, filled with dread on returning to this place. Sylvie tries to protect Emma from family secrets and the truth of what happened here, what happened to Elodie, Sylvie’s other daughter, her mysterious death at 14. it looks to be about family secrets, manipulation, dysfunctional relationships and it’s all a mystery. Again lots of good reviews for this book.

Luster -Raven Leilani

Edie is in a dead-end job and finds her self struggling to succeed at what she enjoys, painting. Edie is feeling lost and that no-one cares that she doesn’t know what she is doing with her life. She then meets Eric, a white-middle aged man with a suburban family, including a wife – who has agreed to a sort of open-marriage. they also have an adopted black daughter. In a world where she is constantly navigating sexual and racial politics. Edie finds herself falling into Eric’s world…and family. This book examines the life of a young black girl and the longing for a sense of belonging and fitting in. this book has been described as funny and provocative and has been well received. this book would be something ive not really touched on before but would be really interested to read and find books with similar themes.

If you have any thoughts let me know I’d love to hear from you and what books are on your TBR list this year!

Keep reading 🙂

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