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

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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.

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.

The starless sea by Erin morgenstern

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4.5 / 5 ⭐️

“Do you have a particular favourite?” Simon asks

Eleanor considers this. It is not a question she has ever been asked, but a book comes to mind.

“I do. I… I do. It’s…” Eleanor pauses “would you like to read it?” she asks instead of trying to explain it. Books are always better when read rather than explained.

“I would very much so” Simon answers.

“I can get it and you can read it and then we could talk about it. If you like it. Or if you don’t, I would want to know why, exactly. It’s in my room, would you come with me?”

I feel like this book is trying to get at something similar to that tenacious D song, if you know it, Tribute. This is not the greatest book in the world, no this is just a tribute. but this is a very good book but I feel like the books discussed in this book must be AMAZING!

This book is one that I don’t think I’d have picked up if I was in a bookstore however I had seen reviews of this book and people loved it or hated it so I was intrigued and thought I’d move away from what I’d normally read and give it a go. I’m not usually a fantasy lover, I tend to go for books that are realistic and easy to relate to. Though I see how there are relatable elements in fantasy I just tend to read about everyday things. I’m not sure if I’m a full fantasy convert now but maybe an Erin Morgenstern convert!

The writing of this novel is beautiful, there is so much care and attention to the world the author is creating to give you the details to create this magical world and it is truly magical.

The story is about a university student, Zachary Ezra Rawlins, an avid reader and gamer studying for his thesis. He stumbles upon a book in the library with no author or any record of being in the library when he checks it out. It is a small book full of intrigue taking him on a journey of twists and turns intertwined with short stories all building up to something bigger.

When I started this book it wasn’t what I had expected, definitely didn’t start as I expected. I thought maybe a different book had been inserted in the cover then I learnt that there weren’t any rules and soon stopped expecting things and let the author take me on this journey.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is the main character in the book but he is not the character that gripped my interest. The characters you meet throughout the story are all there for a purpose and are important to the plot moving forward. The keeper, Mirabel, Dorian, Kat and Allegra were all interesting and not who they first seem, they all have histories, futures, secrets, purposes and all have a part to play. I wasn’t always fully invested in Zachary and his story but it had mystery, magic, fate, love and all the elements you’d look for in a story and I liked the romance between Zachary and Dorian but I wanted to know more about Dorian to better understand him.

I can see why people might not like this book but I loved the short stories throughout, they felt so magical and really developed the characters and linked everything together. Throughout these stories it would keep me guessing and trying to solve the puzzles from the trails they were leaving and I wold get excited when I get a link right or another piece of the puzzle would fall in place. Some of the short stories I’d be happy to just read a book full of them. My favourite one being about the innkeeper and the moon. I would love to visit that inn! I also enjoyed the ballad of Simon and Eleanore.

Love love love the bees and the idea of a magic kitchen & I love the cats. It is a fab story with so many fun elements and it all works well together. There is some jumping around and following different stories but I didn’t find it complicated and I liked the short stories breaking it all up I didn’t find them distracting or an inconvenience I feel they did their job and bought more to the story. I liked the idea of people not always being just that and I would probably re read the book to experience it again.

So what I’m trying to say is, if you’re looking for a bit of escapism to a beautiful immersive world this book is for you and you should 100% read it, it’s like travelling to a new world from the comfort of your sofa or wherever it is you read.

🐝 🗡 🔑

https://www.instagram.com/bookatitagain/

My thoughts on Klara and The Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro

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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

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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.

My thoughts on Writers and Lovers by Lily King

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4/5 stars ⭐️

I love romance and I love comedy and literally cannot get enough, ever. Writers and Lovers filled that void I felt, perfectly. When I wasn’t reading it I was pining after it, all I wanted to do was sit and read this book.

Writers and Lovers is set in 1997 about Casey Peabody who is 31 years old and waitressing tables while in her spare time writing a novel that she has agonised over for 6 years of her life. This story has it all, love, loss and loans. Casey is struggling to get by on her waitress wage, living in a rented potting shed, trying to get her novel published while still paying back thousands of dollars worth of student loans and dealing with the cost and worries of health.

It is as much a story about finding your way in life and accomplishment as it is a story about relationships and the different kinds of relationships you will experience in life.

Casey as a character I find likeable as well as relatable. She doesn’t have her life at all together but she is trying to work towards discovering what she wants and what makes her happy. I like that Casey isn’t afraid to feel things and is able to articulate those feelings and make decisions despite all her unknowns. We learn a lot from Casey about her past and her relationships with family and love interests. Casey is dealing with the sudden loss of her mother, which is spoken about throughout the book with some heartbreaking moments. One part where she momentarily forgets the loss of her mother and feels excited to talk to her mum and then reality sets in, that she can no longer do this. For me family is important and it’s often my parents I want to tell any exciting news, to not be able to do this is a devastating thought, not being able to talk to the people closest to you for any reason. Although Casey grew up with her father it was often difficult and is still strained as an adult which we find out about throughout the story which also adds to her feelings of failure and her need to be successful.

I’m not always a big fan of a love triangle however I feel the way it played out in the book was better than others I have read before. Although there is stereotyping I didn’t feel like it was too cheesy and I still liked the male counterparts. Oscar has dimension which I felt through his relationship with his young children who he is the sole carer for that gives him a softer side, he had also lost his wife to illness which gives him a different outlook on relationships and life. He is older, knowledgable and kind. Oscar is not afraid of telling Casey how he feels which feels refreshing. Silas is young, in a similar situation to Casey, struggling with trials and tribulations of what it is to be an author and dealing with grief too. He wears a leather jacket which is described often, emphasising an air of coolness. Silas seems more impulsive and exciting trying to discover who he is and also who he is as a writer. All the characters have flaws but I like that the flaws are not exaggerated or overly referred to, they are subtle which adds to the realness of the story and the characters.

Writers and lovers is a feel good book and a great read in my opinion. Although there is sadness there are lovely moments of happiness in this story. The characters are realistic and the relationships are positive as opposed to being exaggerated and creating unrealistic expectations. I loved the friendships Casey had at work, the support that she had from people in her life and her positivity and endurance to carry on and succeed even when things are not going right. Casey is able to overcome her fears and get to a better place. I knew the ending would be happy and uplifting and that’s exactly what I was looking for as typical with Rom-coms. The book will be one that I will definitely remember with a smile and would recommend to anyone wanting a feel good story and for anyone who loves books or has or had dreams of being an author.

Next I will be reading Normal People by Sally Rooney which I loved on tv so I am very excited.

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 Midnight Library – Review

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘The Midnight Library’, I feel like this book doesn’t even need an introduction. I feel as though i’m very late to the party but still glad I came. The Midnight Library was written by Matt Haig and was published in September 2020. The story follows Nora Seed who decides she no longer wants to live and there is no way she wants to be in this life. Although, the idea initially sounds as though it may be quite a sad story to follow, I found this book a delight to read, I hung on to every word and felt quite uplifted.

There are themes of regret, love, family, mental health and generally answering all those what ifs. The idea of being able to change all those regrets and live those ‘imagine that’ moments really gripped me initially but I also loved the characters. I wanted Nora to find happiness, I wanted her brother to find happiness and I wanted all the character’s to have the ending that they deserved. I found that this book really made me reflect on life and my effect on other people and how small acts of kindness may actually be significant.

Having finished the book last night, I woke up this morning feeling I now want to live a life where I don’t want to sweat the small stuff and I want to have a positive impact in life. I also understood that although you may have regrets, sometimes thats just the way things need to be and no matter how many times you may try to change destiny, theres just no budging.

So I guess really what I am saying is this book inspired me to share and try something new.

give this book 5/5 & I recommend the book to ABSOLUTELY anyone

xxx