The Rosie Result – by Graeme Simsion

28 03 2020

This is the final book in this ‘Rosie’ trilogy about Don Tillman.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Don is just a really likeable character (possibly moreso because the books are written in the first person from his perspective). By this book he and Rosie have been married for over a decade and have a 10 year old son, Hudson. Don has a lot of things he’s learned about social interaction, rules and patterns to keep an eye out for to understand things he might otherwise struggle with.

Early in the book there’s a suggestion from the school that Hudson may be autistic and that they should look into having him tested. Don is not keen on this, but the comment has also been made about him. He leaves his job to focus on Hudson, to try and achieve various targets (numbered, of course) to help him to fit in.

A lot of the book questions autism stereotypes, as well as educating neurotypicals in ways they can better help those with autism feel comfortable – one being checking if their preference is to be referred to as ‘autistic’ or ‘person with autism’! There’s definitely a message in the book about how we always think of ‘unable to feel empathy’ as a symptom of autism, but rarely do neurotypical people have much empathy for them – definitely a few challenges thrown in, which is helpful.

I’ve made this sound like a heavy book, it’s not. It’s funny, warm, and interesting! There’s also a whole plot with Don opening a bar given his interest and skill in cocktail making – it’s an easy read, just has a good message to share along with it.





Noughts & Crosses – by Malorie Blackman

8 03 2020

I remember this book coming out when I was a teenager, I remember loads of people reading it, but I never heard what it was about and never got around to reading it myself. With the coming of the new series from the BBC, I thought I’d finally give it a go, so got myself a copy off eBay and flew through it!

The basic premise is a divided society, where black people (Crosses) have all the power, and white people (noughts) are the downtrodden and oppressed in society. Callum is a nought teenage boy and Sephy is a Cross teenage girl. When they were kids, Callum’s mum worked at Sephy’s house and so they were friends, but as he is one of the first noughts allowed into a Cross school, their friendship is tested. Things progress from there as a group of noughts are trying to form an uprising. It’s a little bit Romeo and Juliet in its nature.

The chapters are narrated alternating between Callum and Sephy, and the book itself covers a few years, so things change a lot, but it’s told really well and keeps you extremely gripped. Technically it won an award for children’s fiction, but it’s definitely not suitable for young children, and the new BBC series based on it is airing at 9pm – there’s plenty of darkness in it!

I’m watching the first episode of the TV series as I write this, so won’t comment on that here other than to say it seems quite different so far!





Normal People – by Sally Rooney

5 02 2020

Some people see a book everywhere and think they’re above it. Not me. I see a book everywhere and think, well, if everyone else is reading it, that must mean it’s good! And so I grabbed this in Tesco a couple of weeks ago. I started it Saturday night and finished it tonight, just under four days – not very like me, but I’ve been off work ill, so I had a lot of time!

There are a few things about this book that are a bit different:

  • None of the dialogue is in quote marks, you just have to work out where they’d go.
  • Each chapter starts by jumping forward in time, anything from a few days to a few months (and on one occasion, five minutes). I guess in that sense it had a bit of a feel of One Day about it?
  • The chapters are written in the present tense, apart from the fact that there’s a lot of catching up on what happened in the meantime which is written in the past tense, so it jumps backwards and forwards quite frequently – tricky to start with but you get used to it by the end.

All these put together mean it takes concentration, but I did find it engaging. It’s not often I can read 50 pages of a book without falling asleep, but I did that on three occasions with this book!

Connell and Marianne start the book at high school, his mum is her mum’s cleaner, she’s a bit of a loner, he’s got a load of friends, and they start sort of secretly seeing each other a bit. As usual I don’t want to give too much away, but as we go through the next few years including university, we follow the two of them and, as the blurb says, they “try to stay apart but find that they can’t”.

[There’s a few occasions in the book which get a little graphic, they’re fairly brief when they do happen, but just a warning if that puts you off.]





Northanger Abbey – by Jane Austen

24 01 2020

Before this I’d read two of Austen’s books, but for a long time hadn’t read anymore. But it’s a new year, and I thought I’d give it a go again – picked a shortish one so it was more manageable, and it turned out it was way more readable than I remembered!

I’ve watched the ITV adaptation several times so I had a good idea of the plot, but didn’t remember it being funny! For example, from the very first page: “Her father was a clergyman, without being neglected, or poor, and a very respectable man, though his name was Richard – and he had never been handsome.”

This is the story of Catherine Morland, who is taken by family friends to Bath and while there meets both the Tilneys and the Thorpes. The first half of the book focuses on the friendships with these, while the second half takes her to Northanger Abbey as a guest of the Tilneys. Catherine has read a lot of Gothic Horror novels and has something of an overactive imagination, which in that environment gets her in a bit of trouble!

I like how Austen on a few occasions in the book takes a breath and talks to the reader; at one point saying how she isn’t going to do something that most novel writers do, at another referring as to how few pages are left and so obviously we’re near the happy ending, and ending with a question for the reader of: “I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.”

It’s an Austen novel, so you know there’s going to be class, romance, drama, and a happy ending, but it was a good read, I really enjoyed it – the idea of picking up another Austen is less scary now!





The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man – by Jonas Jonasson

23 12 2019

This is the sequel to The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared – he certainly enjoys a long title!

Jonas Jonasson actually never intended to write this book – here’s an excerpt from the forward:


“I’d already said everything I wanted to say about what was perhaps the most miserable century ever. The idea had been that if we reminded one another of all the shortcomings of the twentieth century, maybe it would make us better at remembering and less inclined to make at least
those mistakes again. I packaged this message of mine with warmth and humour. Soon the book spread all over the world.

It sure as hell didn’t make the world a better place.”

We start where the last book left off, on an island in Indonesia with Allan and Jules and a fair amount of cash! However around Allan’s 101st birthday things start to get complicated again and before you know it, we’re off on a North Korean ship with a load of uranium…

Where the first book ran two timelines, this just follows from this point onwards, yet we bump into several world leaders and all sorts of trouble. Allan has found himself “a black tablet” which he fast becomes obsessed with, and infuriating for the others he’s with. He’s a brilliant character, ridiculously laid back in even the most stressful situations.

The whole book is just silly funny, even though it sounds so political, it’s all just a bit ridiculous – in a really warm way.





Postscript – by Cecelia Ahern

4 11 2019

When I was at uni I read P.S. I Love You, to which this is the sequel. I’ve never really got emotional at books but one day as I sat reading the book on the bus back from campus, I ended up in tears! The film was never as good, they changed way too much. But when I heard Cecelia Ahern had written a sequel, I was very excited to read it (and I read everything she writes anyway!). I was going to behave and wait for paperback, but then my friend very kindly lent me her copy!

P.S. I Love You was about Holly in her grief following the premature death of her husband, Gerry, from a brain tumour, and the monthly letters he left her. In this book we’re seven years on, she’s coping much better, she’s met someone and been with him for two years, things are going well. She ends up on a podcast to tell her story, and a group of people get in touch with her, each of whom is suffering from a terminal illness and wants her help to do something similar to that which Gerry did for her. The book follows her journeys with these people while she also tries to work out if it’s making things worse for her, if it’s affecting her relationship.

By the nature of the plot it’s a sad book, getting to know people and then losing them, but it really was still a warm and comforting read with a lot of hope.

Given that it was probably about 11 years or so since I last read it, it took me a while to remember where things had been left, but you don’t need to have read the first to read the second, it works on it’s own if you want it to.





Looking For Alaska – by John Green

21 10 2019

I read a load of John Green when The Fault In Our Stars was a big thing, and at the time bought several of his books, this one has sat there a while, but at only 260 pages it seemed a good one for my Dark Materials break!

It’s a John Green book, so of course it’s got teenagers and drama. Miles hasn’t got many friends at school in Florida, so at 16 goes off to boarding school in Alabama. He has a thing about famous peoples last words, and reads a lot of biographies to collect them. He quickly makes friends with people very different to his previous life (think stereotypical smoking and drinking), one of whom is a girl called Alaska, who is a bit unpredictable. I won’t go any further because of spoilers, but I read this in 3 or 4 days – crazy fast!

A couple of days ago I saw an advert on TV for a series they’ve made of the book which literally went live on Friday and is available on iPlayer, so that’s something else to fit in!

He writes books that are so easy to read and just enjoy. I have one more of his books on my shelf, so I think I’ll be picking that up again in the not too distant future.





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 🙂





Will Grayson, Will Grayson – by John Green and David Levithan

8 11 2018

This has been on my shelves for ages. Having read The Fault In Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns a few years ago I bought a couple more of John Green’s books, but other books beat it to the top of my list more recently.

I enjoyed it more than I thought I would as well. The book is about two guys, both called Will Grayson, who randomly bump into each other one night in Chicago. One is having girl trouble, one is having boy trouble. I don’t want to say too much about the plot as there are twists early on and I don’t want to spoil them. What isn’t a spoiler though is that the book ends with a performance of the “most epic musical ever to grace the high-school stage.”

One of the Will Graysons really beats himself up and has major self confidence issues which I think a lot of us find really relateable (at least I hope it’s not just me!) – I found that a really powerful part of the story. It’s a heavy book in places, but with a lot of fun in it too!

It was a really easy read, took me a little over a week to read the whole thing, I enjoyed it!





The Book Thief – by Markus Zusak

22 08 2018

I nearly gave up on this during the first 100 pages, but it was so worth persevering!

The narrator of the book is Death, and that’s what made the beginning so strange, I got into it once it settled into a more normal narrative, with Death’s thoughts and opinions just popping up from time to time.

We’re in Germany during WW2, Liesel arrives at the home of her new foster parents who are in one of the poorest areas of town, she spends her time helping her Mama collect and deliver laundry, and playing (and a bit of stealing) with Rudy from next door. She’s known as The Book Thief because that’s what she does. For example, at one point there’s a Nazi rally in town, and a bonfire of all sorts of propaganda, but she realises the books at the bottom aren’t burning, so she sneaks in and takes one. At the start, she can’t read, and so with these books and help from her Papa, she learns, but it’s a habit she continues!

I won’t go any further as I don’t want to give spoilers but as I say, once it settled down I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it!