The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

This is a book I’ve seen a lot of people have read, and I’ve also read a mixture of opinions on it. So I thought I’d give it a try, and I found it surprisingly relatable.

It also felt familiar, like I’ve watched a film like it. I don’t know if that’s because its very similar to something I’ve seen or if it just did its job well.

First of all, the imagery is lovely. This is a book where I think, to enjoy it fully, you need to hear its message.

What I mean by that, is that anybody can read a book and say what they liked or didn’t like, but were you listening? Did you really let the message of the book sink into you?

I think its probably a bit of a marmite story. I think a certain amount of the enjoyment will come from relatability and experience. I know it spoke to me.

Our story is centred around our main character, Nora, and she is having a hard time. This book explores themes of suicide, self harm and drugs, so be prepared for that. It’s not heavy like some books I’ve read, and it has a real message behind it that we can all learn from.

I quite like Haig’s writing style and variation. I’ve only read one of his other books before and that was A Boy Called Christmas, but to be honest, whilst they’re very different books – not least because one is a children’s book, they’re both easy to read or listen to.

I checked out this one on Audible, and I really liked the narrator. I think the voice worked very well with the story and it was well performed. It’s no secret that Haig has experienced his own struggle with Mental Health and I think that is why this book works so nicely, it’s not judgemental, it’s kind and it’s weirdly uplifting when you consider the content of it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

M R James Ghost Stories – Volume One

Whilst there are physical copies of this book available, I am not sure if they would be the same so I’m going to present this as an audiobook for the purposes of my review.

Anybody who is a regular to the blog will already know that I enjoy a bit of M R James, so it won’t be surprising that I enjoyed this book. I really enjoy listening to them be told to me too, rather than reading them. Because I feel like this is how his work is supposed to be enjoyed.

These stories are narrated by Derek Jacobi and the book is available as part of the included titles if you’re an audible member so you can read it for free (yes I know, you’re paying the subscription so it’s not free-free but you’re paying that anyway – right?). In addition to that, it’s only 2 hours and 37 minutes long, so it’s not a big commitment.

I found this very relaxing to listen to, and the classical air to James’ work is easy listening anyway. And I definitely had a favourite.

In this collection, we can hear the stories;

  • A View from a Hill
  • Rats
  • A School Story
  • The Ash Tree
  • The Story of a Disappearance, and an Appearance

Now, I enjoyed all of these stories very much, but I have to say that ‘The Story of a Disappearance, and an Appearance’ really grabbed me. It’s the exact sort of Ghost Story I enjoy and it incorporates a thing that we all know (I assume) from childhood.

I am absolutely going to keep picking up M R James books so if you’re interested in those then there will be more on the blog, but also, get yourself over to Audible and have a look, or pick up one of his books.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

Click on the Cover to Buy the Book!

I recently listened to Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer which has been sitting in my Audible account forever and I can’t believe I left it so long. It’s a great story.

So this is part of my Beat the Backlog reads for this month, and I’m pleased to say it was worth the wait. Slowly but surely I’m getting down my Audible library! And obviously I’m filling it up just as fast.. but whatever..

This story is part of The Clifton Chronicles, and it’s book 1. I will definitely be looking to continue because it ends in such a way that you just need to know. It’s nice to have a character you can get invested in like you can with the main character, Harry Clifton.

At the start, and I don’t know whether it’s just the way the narrator read it, it did give me Harry Potter vibes. Because you have a young boy from.. now I don’t want to say an underprivileged background because I don’t like that thought. I guess because I grew up in a similar way, money-wise. However at the side of the other characters I guess he does, and he gets a scholarship to go to a Private Boarding school with prefects and a couple of friends who he bonds with.

I guess its a similar recipe.

That is where the vibes end, this guy isn’t a wizard (sorry magic fans), the story will however keep you turning pages.. or listening to them depending on the method you choose to ingest it.

In a never ending tirade of events, things go badly for the Clifton family as often as they go well. This story is very relatable in that way. There’s always something to overcome.

This tale begins in 1920, when Harry is born and runs through his life to 1940 when the Second World War begins, and you get to see how this impacted people’s expectations for their lives. In addition to the other things Harry overcomes, it’s just one thing after another for him as the book ends with yet another problem..

I really enjoyed this and I’ve actually realised that it might be a subject I want to look at a bit more, I’m sure there are plenty of stories set in this time so you can expect more to land on the blog.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Little Sister by Elana Gomel

Click on the Cover to buy the book!

I was given the opportunity to read this novella some time ago by Crystal Lake Publishing, it’s a Dystopian Historical Fantasy set in Soviet Russia, and honestly, I really enjoyed it!

This isn’t really a genre I usually pick up, but I was offered the opportunity to review and I thought I should branch out a bit and try it. I’m glad I did!

It harnesses a really interesting concept and it’s very well written too. I already knew I liked fiction set around dystopian russia because I’d already read the Metro books, and this really didn’t disappoint. Gomel’s imagery is fantastic and the writing style is very creative.

This story has everything, friendship, survival, love, loss and heartbreak. It’s robust for it’s size with a lot happening within its 116 pages. The two main characters, Svetlana and Andrei are the only ones you really get to know but the supporting cast are nicely developed for the time they have in the book.

I don’t want to say too much about it and spoil the story, but think 1940s wartime vs Silent Hill and you’ve probably got an image of what to expect.

I really like the cover too, and this is something I don’t often comment on because I don’t often choose books based on it – especially since a lot of my reading is review requests rather than something I’ve picked up myself. But something about this one kind of speaks to me, I really like the use of colours and the imagery used.

This is the book blurb;

A schoolgirl steps between a soldier and a ravening monster…

1943. Soviet Union is under attack as WW2 is raging. Fighting in the doomed battle of Kursk, Andrei finds himself in a strange city where Svetlana, a girl he has never seen but who looks eerily familiar, saves him from a fist-faced creature. When Svetlana’s family is lost, the two embark on a harrowing odyssey across the snow-covered plain, battling deformed former humans and taken prisoners by the army of black stars. Against impossible odds, they reach their destination where they discover a secret that will change history.

Little Sister is a dystopian historical fantasy set in the Soviet Era. Presenting a richly imagined alternative history world, this is a tale of friendship, survival, and heartbreak. Fans of The Book Thief and The Wolfhound Century will enjoy this striking fantasy rooted in Russian fiction.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

It’s only a short read so it can appeal to those who don’t have a lot of time to read, or whatever the reasons are for preferring quick reads, I read the whole thing in an afternoon so it’s manageable that way, or if you prefer, the chapters are set out nicely so you can stop between them.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Black Star, Black Sun by Rich Hawkins

Click on the cover to buy the book!

This is one of my back logged books, and it’s ended up that way for no reason other than the fact I bought it myself and it wasn’t a review request.

I visited Birmingham Horror Con some years ago, and spotted Rich Hawkins sitting at his table. I wasn’t particularly familiar with the author but had seen him on social channels so I went to say hello and see what he was selling and whilst I was there, I picked up this book.

So I’ve had this book an embarrassingly long time to only just be reviewing it, especially as it’s quite a small book. However, don’t be misled by its size, it houses a big story.

This book echoes the work of Lovecraft, with an unknown horror taking posession of a town when our main character, Ben, returns home. Rather than comfort, he finds something else. Something dark. Something… sinister.

The imagery in this book is very nicely done, and it’s easy to read too. There are some very brutal pieces of imagery within the story and I enjoyed that. I know that makes me sound a bit evil, but you can’t have something like this and keep anybody safe. So just keep in mind that there are some scenes that are upsetting. Particularly towards the end.

Hawkins is a very talented author and I’ll be interested to read more, I don’t want to say too much more about the story as it’s only 186 pages. But I’ll just touch on the book itself.

My copy has the cover I’ve posted above, but the link I’ve used is a different cover so I’m unsure which ones are currently in circulation by which sellers. Just be aware that this probably won’t be the cover you get through amazon. It is however a beautiful cover, and funnily enough, I didn’t actually spot the jelly fish until recently. So it’s interesting how they fit so nicely onto the landscape.
Also something I enjoyed about the look and feel of the book itself was that on each chapter, the picture of the sun changes ever so slightly, again yours might not be the same, so I will tell you this, you begin at chapter one with an image of a sun, and by the end, its changed colour. I just liked that, I thought it was a nice touch.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Click on the Cover to buy the Book!

Horrific. From start to finish this book is absolutely horrific, but it’s a beautiful ordeal.

Beautifully written, this book follows main character Jude and his friendship group as they age. Throughout the book we learn more about Jude, a very private character. As the childhood trauma is unpacked, the story unfolds towards the heartbreaking conclusion.

There is no respite in this book, there are many different emotions to go through, but even the happy moments are tinged with pain, sometimes regret.

I feel it’s difficult to recommend this book, because the person who picks it up will have each their own experiences. I think, the best that I can say is this. This is not light reading. I listened to the audio book which I think added another layer to the experience of having the story relayed to you, as is how the book is written. The audiobook is over 30 hours long.

Please don’t read this book if you are actively struggling with your mental health or unhealthy coping mechanisms. There will be the temptation to do so when you hear that, I understand, but please don’t. This book tested me.

It’s a brilliant read if you are confidently stable, or you want to know more about Self Harm and Suicide. If you want to understand some of the thought processes behind these subjects, it’s actually a great read because it’s so very accurate.

I have struggled with some of the things in this book, I struggle with invasive thoughts which Jude exhibits and those are dealt with very well in this story. It was a strange experience hearing the thoughts that I have struggled with, in the same tone, relayed from Jude’s thoughts.

I have also struggled with Self Harm, now this isn’t something I often talk about and I think that a lot of the people who know me today don’t know this, but I’m bringing it up now simply because of what I’ve said above. I haven’t acted upon any urge to use this coping method for many years, I believe that I am as far recovered as a person gets from such an experience, and yet during my reading of this book I found myself reliving old thought processes. Knowing I was safe to continue I did, but this book does take an awful lot of responsibility for the reader’s own safety, which is why I really hope you won’t read this if you don’t think you are safe.

My best advice for reading this book is to take lots of breaks. You will find your moods are affected by this, you can’t really avoid that. So please make sure that your self care and support systems are in place because this is a heavy read and it’s more of an experience than a story.

It doesn’t stop at what I’ve already mentioned, this book covers the subject of disability, sexual il;-health, mental ill health including Self Harm, Suicide, Suicidal Ideation, Bereavement, Sexual Abuse, Physical Abuse, Domestic Abuse.

So why did I pick it up? Because I heard that it was a very difficult book to read. I know how that sounds. I find it difficult to experience what other people seem to so easily, I value feeling connected to characters in books because I’ve never been someone who connects to media in such a way that they cry at the end of books or during films. So any time I see reviews stating that something was upsetting, difficult or extreme. I give it a go.

And let me tell you, this put me through my paces.

I will, absolutely, be checking out more of Yanagihara’s work, as this was as beautiful as it was painful. I want to see what else this author has put out because based on this, it’s sure to be amazing. The descriptions and imagery are powerful and as much as that’s difficult, it shows talent.

The other characters are kept up with perfectly also, we follow each in their lives and get to know them as though we were part of the group. The narration of the book is done with familiarity so it easily involves the reader in the events.

So go with care, and take care of you.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

We Watch You by NS Ford with The Write Reads Tours

Click on the Cover to buy the Book!

Welcome to my stop on The Write Reads Tour for Debut novel ‘We Watch You’ by NS Ford.

This book is centred around the disappearance of a girl from a friendship-group with something to hide. When a familiar face keeps appearing and bad things start happening to each of them, questions are raised.

This book is a feast of red herrings on it’s twisty turny path to the end. I really enjoyed this because each of the red herrings plays its own part in the character development.

My favourite character in the book was Lauren, a 30 year old autistic woman who trusts far too easily but who just can’t help but want to investigate and analyse what’s happened with a view to finding Tina. Whilst reading, I was thinking that Lauren might be autistic before it was revealed and I was really quite pleased with the way she was portrayed as she was really relatable.

I found that the other characters were a bit too easy to accept the disappearance of their friend, but actually the more I think about it we’re all very good at having a “that’s terrible.. oh well” attitude to a lot of things. I suppose more of us than we’d like to think would simply assign the search to the authorities while continuing with our lives.

The book introduces us to a lot of different people and we get to learn, through this maze of twists and turns, what really makes them tick. Secrets are uncovered and lessons are learned during this story with an ending that whilst it didn’t completely surprise me, I had told myself wasn’t how it would end, so the authors attempts at misdirection did have me fooled.

A fantastic thriller that could easily be continued if the author so wished it, I would absolutely pick up more books by NS Ford. I’d like to see how the work of this author unfolds with further works but particularly for a debut, this went down very nicely with me.

If you want a revenge thriller, you’ve got one with We Watch You.

The Author;
N S Ford is a book fanatic, blogger and cat lover who lives in the UK with her family. She has a First Class degree in English. When not reading or blogging, she juggles her writing time with parenting, working in heritage and playing the piano.

Amazon Page

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V E Schwab

Click on the Cover to Buy the Book!

Well this may very well be my favourite book of this year already. It’s definitely going to take something special to take the Book of the Month spot off this one.

I absolutely adored this book, I actually listened to it on Audible but I will be looking to get myself a hardback copy to keep because it’s so pretty. I picked it up because I saw a lot of people talking about it, and rather than only hearing good things I also saw that there were people it didn’t work for. This is important to me because so often when there’s so much “hype” I end up not enjoying it as much as I should because it’s been bigged up so much.

So, with an open but wary mind, I embarked on the journey of Addie LaRue and oh my.. I fell in love.

At first, I was a bit unsure whether I’d missed something because I’d forgotten to listen (I do that sometimes), or if I’d perhaps misunderstood something, but when you read or listen to this book – don’t overthink it. All will become clear.

I don’t want to spoil this book so I don’t want to get too far into the story since it weaves such a beautiful tale by itself, I’m certainly glad that nobody told me all about it before I read it – whilst it wouldn’t have stopped me reading it and it wouldn’t have stopped me enjoying it. I’m just happy in this case that I went in blind.

The book is written in third person, so it’s easy to follow along with, and the characters are so complete they’re easy to care about. Even Robbie, who’s a bit of a bitch.

My favourite character is Addie, because there’s something about her that I really connected with. She’s an incredibly interesting character too, having had time for many experiences in her life and I really loved reading about her. Experiencing things with her, not just through her eyes. There’s something about Addie that I can understand on a deeper level.

I also liked the way Luke was portrayed, the imagery around him coming across perfectly. Schwab doesn’t just tell you about this character, she sends him to you, you feel his gaze when he’s around.

It’s only 449 pages so it’s not a massive commitment if you’re not keen on huge reads, or just over 17 hours to listen to, but the experience of it will stick with you.

Definitely one I’ll re-read and definitely an author I’ll watch.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Click on the Cover to buy the book!

Having very much enjoyed Tchaikovsky’s book ‘Cage of Souls’ I decided to delve deeper and check out ‘Children of Time’ which is a two part series so I’ll also be checking out ‘Children of Ruin’ later in the year to complete that story.

The reason I like Tchaikovsky’s work so much is that the imagery is just wonderful. There are scenes in his books that feel like an oil painting, and it’s done without a horrific amount of description too which isn’t always easy to achieve – just ask Stephen King (waits for a slap). In all seriousness though, I like that. Overly descriptive passages get a bit tedious for me and my brain just kind of wanders off, so if an author can give me an image without having to drip feed it to me, I’m all in.

I actually mistook this latest book for being part of a series connected to ‘Cage of Souls’ so whilst I very much enjoyed it I did (completely my own fault) keep waiting for how the stories were going to link together. That said I did still very much enjoy it, which was especially surprising because I don’t like spiders and a good portion of this book is set from a Spider’s point of view. Far from making my skin crawl, it drew me further into the book.

Tchaikovsky is a fantastically imaginative writer conjuring worlds that are both beautiful and harsh in equal measure. A firm bridge between Horror and Fantasy this author keeps the reader hooked and wanting to know more.

I will definitely be carrying on with this Author after the next book as it’s really something that breaks from my usual fare while still having those links. I have previously found that I wasn’t so interested in Fantasy stories but in 2021 I read some fantastic books from that genre so I will be looking deeper into that as a genre.

Of course, technically speaking these books are not in either genre which I have noted, they are science-fiction. But the great thing about science-fiction and the thing that always drew me to it as a child is that it binds fantasy and horror to it by the very nature of what it is. I’ve never stopped being interested in Science-fiction but I do seem to have moved away from it considering how much I liked it when I was young, so I’ll be getting back to that too this year.

I also checked this out on Audible, as I did with the other book and I can absolutely recommend that. The performances given in these recordings are just the perfect addition to the experience and there is one character in particular that you’re going to want to hear and not just read. Particularly if you struggle a bit with keeping on track when reading because her sections can be a little.. out of sorts!

I would definitely recommend this book if you like the three genres I’ve mentioned, and of course, if this doesn’t sound like something you’d like to read – check out the Author. It might be that there is something I haven’t read yet that you’d love.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Sarah Jane Story – Fundraising for Steps

Sarah Jane Burrows, aged 21, from Carlisle was born with Hip Dysplasia and Scoliosis, but in spite of this followed her dreams to become a dancer. Although suffering with pain from her Hip Dysplasia, she was discharged from physiotherapy and therefore assumed this pain was growing pains or physical strain from dancing.

It wasn’t until she was in her second year of University, studying Musical Theatre, that something happened which would change everything.

Sarah’s right foot began to turn inwards, making it difficult to walk and it was after investigating this that her diagnoses for Scoliosis and Hip Dysplasia were confirmed. Undergoing surgeries in July 2021, and having to re-learn to walk, Sarah is now 6 months post-op and going strong with her recovery.

An inspiration to watch, Sarah’s journey came to my attention through the Just Strong Team group as she uploaded a video of her not just walking but running! Sarah has definitely powered through this, despite her intended career now being off the cards and she remains determined.

To mark her 6 month recovery milestone, Sarah is raising money for the Charity which supported her through this time and will be doing so by completing 1000 squats in a month, and 1500 steps a day, which is simply amazing for what she’s been through.

Check out more of her story here, and if you can afford to do so, please donate what you can to keep this wonderful charity going.

Click here to learn more about Steps Charity Worldwide

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment