The Subtle Knife – by Philip Pullman

14 10 2019

Having read Northern Lights a few months ago, I thought it was best to pick up the sequel before I forgot too much about it! I’m also unsure if the new TV series covers just the first book or the full trilogy!

The first book was set in one universe, this one moves into 3, and what I found really helpful, was that in the margin of each page was a little icon that related to the universe you were currently in, so if you picked up the book you could remember where you were – or sometimes even mid-reading!

There was one point around a third to halfway through where I very nearly gave up – I’d read the same page so many times over several days and just couldn’t get into it to get past it, but I’m glad I carried on. That bit was in what felt like a bit of a side plot that at that point I just didn’t care about yet, but it was needed for later on.

This book left off on what felt like an even bigger cliffhanger than the first one, and I’ve had a lot of people advise me when I was struggling to carry on with this book, that this is one you just had to get through to get to the third which sounds like it might be deemed the best of the three, so I’m looking forward to picking up the next one! Might just find something else to read first to help divide the books in my head so they don’t all merge into one 🙂





The Little Mermaid and other fairy tales – by Hans Christian Andersen

27 08 2019

My brother and his girlfriend live in Denmark, and got me this beautiful edition of these fairy tales for my birthday this year. (They do a few other books in this range if you’re interested). It contains illustrations but also things that fold out or move to make it more interactive.

It contains twelve of his stories, some of which I knew, some I thought I knew, some I knew the title, and some I knew nothing about at all:

  1. The Little Mermaid
  2. The Nightingale
  3. The Ugly Duckling
  4. The Swineherd
  5. The Tinder Box
  6. The Princess and the Pea
  7. The Emperor’s New Clothes
  8. The Red Shoes
  9. Thumbelina
  10. The Steadfast Tin Soldier
  11. The Little Match Girl
  12. The Snow Queen

Some of them turned out to be more violent, gruesome or heavy than the maybe filtered versions we know – there is very little of The Little Mermaid in the Disney film of the same name. She’s not called Ariel, she has her tongue cut out, she goes to kill the prince with a knife in his sleep, all sorts of chaos!

It’s a really beautiful book and really interesting to read the original versions of the stories.





Northern Lights – by Philip Pullman

18 08 2019

I think this was fairly popular when I was a teenager but just not a book I ever got round to reading. A fair while ago I saw the trilogy going cheap, (I’m guessing in The Works?!) and it sat on my shelves for a bit. I heard there was a new TV series of it coming out this year, so it jumped up my to read list a bit!

I didn’t really know much about what it was about other than all humans have “dæmons” who are animals who are sort of them, but that’s in. When I had only read a few pages of it someone saw it in my handbag at church and implied it was a bit controversial to have in the building – having only just started it I had no idea if this was the case, having now finished it, I guess I can see where that person might have been coming from, but at the end of the day it’s just a story and I don’t really see a controversy, but maybe it’s moreso in the later books – I guess we’ll see.

Definitely enjoyed it, though kinda found myself wanting the story to resolve by the end of the book, but I guess in hindsight, knowing it was a trilogy I should have known that wasn’t going to happen! It was a good bit of escapism and I do want to know what happens next – just got another book I need to read first and then I’ll be onto the sequel. In the past I’ve read a few things before reading the second part of a trilogy then by the time I’ve thought about reading the second book, I’ve forgotten so much from the first that I never get round to finishing the trilogy, so I won’t leave it too long this time, plus I want to finish the trilogy before watching the TV show as I’m not sure how quickly they’ll work through all three books!





Talking As Fast As I Can – by Lauren Graham

20 07 2019

If you’ve never seen Gilmore Girls, probably don’t bother with this book. If you have, definitely do!
And if you haven’t, here’s the opening scene of the pilot to give you a taster of why you should:

I’d been trying to read something else for a while and hadn’t been able to get into it, so picked this up and just flew through it! It’s her autobiography but definitely with a focus on her career, and even more so on Gilmore Girls. My favourite bits were probably when she watched back a load of episodes from the original series and shared some thoughts and memories, and then her diary entries from when they made A Year In The Life, which this was published around the release of.

It also contained some pretty decent life advice, things she’s learnt along the way, from diet and exercise, to her thoughts on being single. But all of this normally comes with some tongue in cheek or wacky joke to keep the mood light!

It was a really easy read, and a lot of fun – as I say, probably wouldn’t interest you if you weren’t familiar with the show, but if you are, I think you’ll love it 🙂





Roar – by Cecelia Ahern

30 06 2019

As a dedicated Cecelia Ahern fan of course this jumped to the top of my reading list!

It’s a book of 30 short stories, each about a woman, none of which is given a name. A lot of the stories have a moral or political message, it’s a pretty feminist book, but the ones I enjoyed most were those that had the slightly fantasy flavour that some of her novels had.

For example, “The Woman Who Ate Photographs”, where the woman develops a secret habit of eating old photos, each of which fill her with the memory and feelings from that moment!

One of my favourites was probably “The Woman Who Wore Pink”, which speaks of a world where everything is completely split into blue and pink, right down to the chairs you sit on in a coffee shop – not segregated, they can be at the same table, but everything is allocated and everyone wears a coloured wristband to identify their gender. Just a really interesting idea to dig into for a few pages.

I don’t tend to read short stories much, but it was a nice change to read these bite size snippets rather than one continuing story. I don’t think I’d do it often as you get way more flow in a full blown novel, but as I say a nice break, especially as the previous book I’d read had taken so long!





A Short History of Nearly Everything – by Bill Bryson

14 06 2019

I remember wanting to read this book about 15 years ago, and have had this copy on my shelves for many years. Unfortunately, I’m a much slower reader when it comes to non-fiction, and the two months this took me to read has easily knocked my Goodreads target for the year out of the window, but I’m glad I finally read it!

The book takes you through a scientific history and breakdown of the world (no kings and queens in here), from the depths of space, down to what makes up an atom, from cloud formations to tectonic plates to neandertal man. But it’s all done in a chatty way that’s easy to follow 98% of the time – occasionally he lists a few too many long science-y words and I found myself drifting off, but you could generally skim through to the next paragraph in those situations.

A lot of it is told from the perspective of when each thing was discovered and it was fun to learn about the chemist who insisted on tasting every element he worked with (and so ended up dying pretty young), and the one who thought you could get gold from urine, just because of the colour! He also discusses how Pluto isn’t really like the rest of the planets, because of course, this was written while it still was a planet!

One thing that in a way I found kind of reassuring was the uncertainty of nearly everything in this book. Nearly every chapter or section finished with a statement about just how little we know about the area that had just been discussed – the best one was early on: “The upshot of all this is that we live in a universe whose age we can’t quite computer, surrounded by stars whose distances from us and each other we don’t altogether know, filled with matter we can’t identify, operating in conformance with physical laws whose properties we don’t truly understand.”

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite lines from the book:

“At an elemental level gravity is extraordinarily un-robust. Each time you pick up a book from a table or a coin from the floor you effortlessly overcome the gravitational exertion of an entire planet.”





Little Women – by Louisa May Alcott

22 04 2019

I read a copy of this as a child, but for my birthday last year was given this beautiful edition, part of the Penguin Clothbound Classics series. I’ve admired them for ages so was very glad for an edition of my own – just a shame that a little bit of handling has already faded the design a little!

A few weeks ago I rewatched the 2017 TV adaptation, and realised how different it was to the 1994 film adaptation which I’m so familiar with, so thought it was time for a reread, to see which was “right”.

Turns out the TV show was pretty close, and the film, which I probably watch about once a year, is completely out of order in the second half! (This doesn’t mean I love it any less though!)

Reading the book really was like a warm cuddle each time I opened it. The only reason it took so long to read is that it’s been a busy few weeks, and really it’s two books in one. In the USA the whole book is called Little Women, and all adaptations tend to cover the whole thing, but sometimes in the UK it’s split into two books, Little Women and Good Wives, but fortunately this lovely edition covered it all!

If you haven’t read this or seen any of the adaptations, please please do!