Fishbowl – by Bradley Somer

3 04 2022

I tried to read this a couple of years ago, but got so bored with the first chapter that I gave up and put it back on the shelf. But before it went into the charity shop box, I decided to give it one more go.

It seems that if you can get through the first chapter, which is an extended, metaphorical description of an apartment building, then a story actually begins and it’s readable!

The entire book takes place over a half hour period, during which we follow the stories of several people in the building (some of which overlap a little – a la Love Actually style). At the end of the half hour, Ian the goldfish falls from the top to the bottom of the building, and sees little snippets of all the stories, though his fall is weirdly spread throughout the book, so you have to keep an eye on the order of events occasionally.

Once I got into it I did get invested in some of the stories (though not all), and did enjoy it, but gosh, just scrap that first chapter. There were also some random bits in the middle where the author takes about a page to tell you the entire future life story of someone in one of the apartments who has no links to anyone else and isn’t mentioned anywhere else in the entire book, and to be blunt, I don’t care about at all!

There was a quote near the end: “It’s said that everything happens for a reason, but it’s never said that reason is always a good one.”, which I thought was worth sharing.

My favourite thing about the book, and probably the reason I tried again, is that down the side is a flick-book of a goldfish falling from the top to the bottom. I’ve found a video on YouTube of someone doing it, albeit incredibly slowly, enjoy!





One Of Us Is Lying – by Karen M McManus

23 02 2022

I’ve been describing this book as The Breakfast Club meets Agatha Christie: five kids from five different American high school stereotypes, all in detention together, one of them dies, whodunnit?

The book is narrated by the four other kids in turn as they try to work out what happened, who did it, and why. Is it one of them, or someone else? The boy who dies had a gossip blog which has a reputation for always being accurate, and had been about to post stories that would ruin each of the other four teenagers lives, so there’s a lot to dig through.

I did guess the solution, but not with all the detail that was revealed, so still enjoyed it as it worked its way through. And now that I’ve finished it, there’s a series of it that has just arrived on Netflix, so I’m ready to see what they’ve done with it!

And it has the added bonus of putting an Abba song in your head every time you look at the cover, even if it’s not exactly the same words!





The Flat Share – by Beth O’Leary

23 01 2022

The premise of this book made me pick it up, plus people seem to say good things about her books, so I thought I’d try one.

It’s rare I read a 400 page book in a week – it either means it’s addictive or easy to read. I’d say this was more on the easy to read side of things, but it was enjoyable!

Leon needs some extra income to pay for his brother’s solicitor; and as he works nights in a care home, decides to advertise for a flatmate who would have the flat evenings and weekends, and he’d have it in the day, so they’d share a bed, but never meet!

Tiffy, who works in publishing hobby books, answers the ad as she looks to get away from from her ex, who she’s starting to realise has been pretty controlling. The only other place she could afford is full of mould and mushrooms, and so she takes the risk to live in this unconventional way with a stranger.

So each has their own stuff going on, but what sort of a book would this be if they didn’t meet? It’s chick-lit after all…





Death on the Nile – by Agatha Christie

31 10 2021

My third Agatha Christie and my second Poirot!

I’m starting to notice a pattern now (unless it’s just coincidence with the ones I’ve read so far), which is why I’ve struggled to get into each one, and that’s that she opens the book by introducing an absolute shedload of characters with maybe a couple of pages each, and then the story properly starts, at which point my head is spinning, trying to work out who’s who.

That said, it then doesn’t seem to take long after that, and always gets better once a diagram is thrown in. This time it was a plan of the cabins on the boat with all the names of the occupants, though it didn’t appear until about halfway through the book.

The early character confusion aside, I really enjoyed the book, the further I got in, the faster I read, and the less I was able to put it down! Obviously, it’s a murder mystery, so I’m not going to give much away as that’s the fun of the book (if you can call books about murder “fun”, but given Christie’s insane success, I think it’s ok to enjoy it!), but it’s got all the twists and turns and red herrings you’d hope for, and Poirot’s brilliant lines, as well as a couple from Christie herself!

As I was borrowing my mum’s copy I didn’t turn down pages to remember the quotes I really liked, but it turns out that this was time wasted since I fell asleep on the book last weekend and totally creased the cover – what a fail!

Anyway, there’s a Kenneth Branagh film of this coming out next year, the cast includes Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Russell Brand and Adam Garcia, so naturally I’m intrigued and excited to see that! Trailer below:





Freckles – by Cecelia Ahern

11 10 2021

I’ve read everything Cecelia Ahern has written, but normally try to wait for paperback, so when my friend got the hardback copy and then passed it on, I was thrilled to not have to wait!

Allegra Bird is a traffic warden just outside of Dublin, and is unnerved when an angry driver tells her that people are the average of the five people they spend the most time with, and so hers must be awful. She realises that she doesn’t know who her five people are, and that’s the focus of most of the book. There’s also a storyline about her trying to meet her mum who gave her up when she was born.

It was ok, but definitely not my favourite among the other books she’s written. I have two main frustrations:

  • She decided not to use speech marks, which she hasn’t done before, but I’ve found a couple of other books do recently. I don’t get the point of this, all it really seems to do is make it harder to read!
  • The ending wasn’t strong. It was anti-climactic, convenient and just a bit twee. I was disappointed to be honest.

I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads, not awful, but low for me I guess.





Emma – by Jane Austen

17 09 2021

I’ve watched so many adaptations of this book, but never got around to reading it (though I did read the Alexander McCall-Smith version for the Austen Project a few years ago). But under my new goal of reading one Austen a year (among other things), I chose this as it’s the one I knew best of the ones still unread, so it was the obvious choice!

For those unaware, Emma is about 20 and lives a life of comfort and ease to the point of being somewhat spoilt, with her hypochondriac father. She has a habit for matchmaking, though doesn’t intend on marrying herself. She’s not someone you’d like in real life, but goes on quite a journey throughout the book. It’s a story about class and relationships, and looks at several pairings of people as you work your way through.

I really enjoyed it, but for some reason it took me 10 weeks to read! I didn’t realise it was broken up into three volumes, but at nearly 500 pages, I guess that makes sense! The other thing that really surprised me was that for a book that’s only just over 200 years old, how different some of the spellings are, I tried to note some down as I went:

“stopt”, “chuse”, “shew”, “dropt”, “staid”, “Swisserland”, “Surry”, “surprized”, “every where”, “every thing”, “what ever”, “&c”.

I quite like some of those, but they’d all be seen as wrong these days!

It feels like a warm hug of a read, probably because it’s just such a familiar story to me, but then again, there’s a reason why it’s a classic!

I will leave you with trailers for three of my favourite Emma adaptations if you want to dip your toe in:

Firstly, the BBC version from 2009, this is a 4 part series so gets in a lot more detail. I think Romola Garai is my favourite Emma in an adaptation.
Then the film that came out a couple of years ago, I always like to have a film and a series version incase you don’t have time for a full series! Bill Nighy is excellent in this as Mr Woodhouse!
And finally, one of my favourite films of all time, Clueless – the story of Emma, but redone for a 90s US high school – and including the never-aging Paul Rudd.




The Thursday Murder Club – by Richard Osman

3 07 2021

I was so proud of myself for waiting for the paperback of this to come out, I’ve wanted to read it for ages! My parents gave it to me for my birthday, with my mum asking as I unwrapped it, if she could borrow it when I’m done! (Of course I said yes!)

Cooper’s Chase is an upmarket retirement village built up around an old convent in Kent, and four residents (Joyce, Elizabeth, Ibrahim and Ron) meet on a Thursday in the Jigsaw Room and go through old unsolved murder cases to see what they can discover.

But then there’s a murder in the village, and they decide to do what they can to investigate. They’re a bit rebellious, not always keeping the police informed when they discover something, and then wanting to trade information with them!

It’s a lovely bunch of people, all with really defined characters, there’s a decent backstory to each of the police officers involved too. It’s so so weird that a murder mystery could be warm and fuzzy, but it is!

Also, because Richard Osman wrote it, there are obviously some random thoughts he’s thrown in, including an excellent analysis of Escape to the Country which Dave Gorman would be proud of, and insistence on the correct way to work through a double layered box of biscuits, the idea of retirement village developers looking for 60+ year olds in Waitrose cafes, and this highly relatable line: “He had read a headline about Diet Coke once, which was so worrying he had chosen not to read the article.”

My only slight slight niggle? I don’t understand why there’s a dog on the cover – any insight is welcome!





The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden – by Jonas Jonasson

11 06 2021

When I read Jonasson’s books about Allan Karlsson and thoroughly enjoyed them, a friend sent me this one, and I finally got around to reading it!

For the first part of the book it follows two stories separately, starting in 1970s South Africa, and 1940s Sweden respectively. Nombeko lives in the slums of Soweto emptying latrines, but gets run over by a drunk engineer, and as her punishment is taken to work on his compound. Ingmar is completely obsessed with the Swedish royals and desperate to meet the king, but when he manages and is disappointed with what he finds, he takes on a life mission to end the Swedish monarchy either by himself, or any decendents he may have.

It took me a while to see how on other these stories would combine, but that they did! I don’t want to give too much away, but hopefully without context this is enough to whet your appetite: the rest of the book contains: twins registered as one person, a surplus atomic bomb, a pillow warehouse, and a potato farm. It’s maybe a tiny smidge less wacky than Jonasson’s other books, but not much!

Right at the start of the book I struggled a bit as characters got introduced and then disappeared from the plot completely, so it was hard to know who was worth “getting to know”, it happened a few times through the book, but it became easier to identify who these were, and just focus on the characters that stuck around. Once it got into a rhythm I really enjoyed it!





The Last Day – by Andrew Hunter Murray

1 05 2021

I was fascinated by the concept of this book. The year is 2059, 30 years after the Earth stopped spinning, after gradually slowing down between 2020 and 2029. The plant is now in lock-step with the sun, and so half the world is in cold darkness, half is scorching hot, and life only exists on the border between the two – interesting!

The book is set in the UK, where the sun is low in the sky as if just after dawn – this is one of the things I found hardest to keep straight in my mind, e.g. when the character returned home in an evening, in my head it was dark, and I frequently found myself having to completely reimagine scenes as they would have been!

As the author also happens to be a QI elf, the book explains what caused the rotation of the Earth to slow, some of the more detailed affects that has had, which make it much more satisfying for a logistical brained person like me! Things like: how the first day of The Slow, was only 0.144 seconds longer than the previous day, but how that in itself was enough to collapse GPS systems worldwide, how 15 months into the slow, countries were adding Dead Air to their days to cope with them lengthening, but how England updated Eurotunnel timetables daily, and France weekly, so after a while, there was a crash, and how houses have been adapted to simulate day and night with reflective shutters so people still have a chance to sleep properly.

I have one outstanding niggle, which is why the earth stopped spinning and and the deceleration didn’t continue into starting to spin the other way, but that might just be my lack of understanding – hopefully I will lend it to my dad at some point, and then he can explain it to me!

In all honesty, it’s these bits of the book I found most interesting, how it would all happen, rather than the ‘plot’ which involves Ellen Hopper trying to uncover a secret that the government wants to keep hidden, although that was interesting too, just not what gripped my attention and imagination the most!

Just two quotes to share from this book:

At one point, someone who remembers life before The Stop is talking about it and says “I always think it must have been better to be Cain than Adam,. No memory of paradise.”

And later on, “Everyone says they’re opposite endeavours, politics and science, that one deals with truth and the other with perception.”





Such A Fun Age – by Kiley Reid

7 04 2021

I’m a huge sucker for hyped books, I always assume they must be hyped for a reason, so that’s what led me to pick this up.

The book focuses on the relationship between Alix and her babysitter/nanny Emira, and the fallout from an evening where, in a supermarket, Emira is stopped by the security guard as they think she’s kidnapped the white child who she has with her.

Emira is 25, works two part time jobs and is painfully aware that by her next birthday she will come off of her families health insurance, whereas all her friends seem to be doing much better as becoming adults. But she also has a beautiful relationship with the little girl she looks after 3 days a week, and seems to understand her much more than her mother does sometimes.

There were several twists in the book (and so I won’t say much more for fear of spoilers), one or two made me gasp out loud, but one I did see from very early on, which is the only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars to be honest!