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before i go to sleep

Before I go to Sleep By SJ Watson

In a :

“Before I go to Sleep” is the story of Christine, a woman in her late forties who every morning when she awakens finds herself suffering from varying degrees of amnesia. Sometimes she believes that she is a child, whilst other times a girl in her late teens or twenties. One factor remains the same however and that is her lack of any recently formed memories, including any of her husband. It is not until she is secretly contacted by a Doctor Nash, a specialist in her condition that Christine discovers that she has been keeping a journal and that this may be the key to finding out why everything is not as it seems. Is Christine really losing her mind altogether or will her paranoia turn out to be justified?



Number of Pages:


Interesting Fact:

Whilst writing his debut novel, SJ Watson worked as an audiologist in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing impaired children, working on his book in the evenings and at weekends.

Been Made into a Film?:

Yes although the film adaption got mediocre reviews for the most part. Here’s the link to the trailer anyhow:

What I like about the book:

About two thirds of the way through I thought I knew exactly what was happening only to later discover that I was totally wrong. That’ll teach me to be so smug!

And Dislike?:

It did take me a while to get into and the fact that Christine has to read her journal every morning I found tedious (don’t ask me why as it wasn’t me who had to read it). In retrospect I guess there were some inconsistencies that if you weren’t caught up in the story-line might annoy you but I found myself more frustrated by Christine’s lack of common sense. For example, if you were locked in a room with a potential attacker on the way, would you sit and read a book, even if said book was going to tell you whether or not he was going to kill you? Thought not.

Final Thoughts:

Overall I enjoyed the book despite its shortcomings, it kept me guessing and was an original idea but I wouldn’t read it again.


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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

In a   Empty nutshell. Original case for your christmas surprise.:

As it should be, the blurb on the back of this book is so intriguing that it enticed me into buying it and I’m so glad that I did because it turned out to be a veritable roller-coaster of a story. It focuses on the life or rather endlessly revised lives of one Ursula Todd, born into an upper middle class family in the early 1900’s who embarks on her existence only to have it cut short in various different ways and have to start all over again. And again…and again. Not a book that captivates immediately but rather draws one in little by little as we witness the ripple effect that even apparently inconsequential events can have on one’s life. I particularly love the unflinching account Atkinson gives of wartime Britain, a far more wretched portrayal than I’ve ever read before and one which stands in stark contrast to the carefree, archaic (and at times deadly) childhood Ursula spends at Fox Corner, the family home. At times the jumping backwards and forwards in time can be a little jarring but it is clearly necessary and on the plus side keeps you on your toes.



Number of Pages:


Interesting Fact:

Atkinson had intended Life After Life to be principally a war novel but soon after starting writing realised that it had to be as much about the years before the war as during as the main character was born in 1910  and had to somehow get from that point to the war years.

Been Made into a Film?:

According to The Telegraph Lionsgate have bought the film rights and the script will be written by Semi Chellas (who has written for Mad Men) and Esta Spalding (who has written for the US adaptation of the Scandinavian drama The Bridge). Exciting stuff!

What I like about the book:

Not being able to really second guess where it was going or what type of ending it would have. I have to say I did like the finale, although in many ways it didn’t seem to be the pinnacle of the story. For me it felt as if the journey getting there had been far more important.

And dislike?

The injustice inherant in certain parts of the story rankled a bit, but to be fair, they only made it more like real life, which whether we like it or not, is generally unfair.

Final Thoughts:

Not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination but well worth the effort and gets you thinking.



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Letters of Note compiled by Shaun Usher

In a 

This beautiful book was my Secret Santa present from my brother about two years ago, (my family can’t keep secrets) and is really fascinating to dip into every so often. Having copies of these letters beneath your fingertips even if they are only replicas is a snapshot of history right there in front of you and feels like a much more genuine portrayal of the past because it’s in the writer’s own words. Many of the letters are intensely personal, a few of them humorous and still more of them heartbreaking but all of them are interesting in their own way and this book serves as a glimpse into the past of ordinary as well as incredibly famous people.



Number of Pages


Interesting fact

Usher’s website of the same name has been live since 2009 and receives more than 1.5m visits every week.

Been made into a film

Nope, not sure that would work!

What I like about the book?

Everything! In fact this post has taken ages to write because every time I glance inside I get hooked again and end up reading on for ages. My favourite letter in the book was one entitled “Our Frank”, penned to the family of Frank Cualla by the Connell family after they found Mr Cualla dead following the Lockerbie disaster. It brings a lump to my throat every time I read it but also makes me feel glad to know that there is such goodness out there in the world.

And dislike?

Well my issue is a hardback so I can’t lie down and read it in bed. That’s about all that’s wrong with it I reckon.

Final Thoughts:

This is a really interesting read and makes for an excellent present. If you are anything like me it will also make you want to write to someone, even if is only your french penfriend who you  never understood anyway.

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The next generation of Mr Men

Roger Hargreaves’ army of Mr Men and Little Misses has been delighting children ever since their arrival in 1971 and came about when Hargreave’s son asked him what a tickle looked like. Well, of course Mr Tickle was born and the rest was history but I got to thinking the other day, where did Hargreaves get his inspiration from? Perhaps a logical place might have been  stories that he read himself and so with this in mind, I’ve decided to have a go at inventing a few myself, using characters from famous books to help me along the way. Feel free to have a go yourself, here’s my list, in descending order of my favourites:

10)  Bella from Twilight                             Little Miss Moody

9)    Peter Pan                                                Mr Immature

8)    Grandpa Joe                                           Mr Indolent

(Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

7)    Colin (The Secret Garden)                Mr Hypochondriac

6)   Bill Sykes (Oliver Twist)                     Mr Psychotic

5)    Katniss (The Hunger Games)           Little Miss Very Very Unlucky

4)    Piggy (Lord of the Flies)                     Mr Victim

3)   Christian Grey                                         Mr Stalker

(50 Shades of Grey)

2)   Tess of the d’Ubervilles                       Little Miss Naive

1)   Alice in Wonderland                              Little Miss Junkie


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Books I wish I’d never read

Although reading is unarguably one of the greatest pastimes in the world, we’ve all had books that, given half the chance we would go back in time and stop ourselves from reading, perhaps because they were a  waste of time, or maybe they have haunted us ever since. Here in reverse order of biggest mistake, are the top six reads that I regret:


6) The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner:

For some reason I persevered with this series way longer than I should have and managed to get half through book 3 before I finally gave up. Perhaps I’m simply too old for this YA story-line, whatever the reason  I just didn’t click with it and found the constant lurching from one adrenaline filled disaster to the next frankly exhausting. A little too similar to the Hunger Games for my liking too, I definitely preferred the films.

5)Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews                                                              

At the time of reading (aged 12 or 13)  I really enjoyed this book, but then went on to read more Virginia Andrews and looking back realise now that they weren’t at all suitable for a kid of my age. I don’t think my Mum could have known about the story-lines involving incest and rape that I was happily sitting in a corner of the living room reading but hey ho, none of it seems to have scarred me.


4) Paradise Lost by John Milton

Whoooooosh, I’m not ashamed to admit that this one went right over my head! I didn’t understand ANY of it when I read it for A-level English and though I’d say I ought to give it another try now I’m actually scared that my brain might melt. Wikipedia describes it as ” An epic poem in blank verse by the 17th century poet, John Milton. The first version, published in 1667 consisted of ten books with over ten thousand lines of verse.” Nuff said.


3)Any Jack Reacher novel by Lee Childs straight after I’ve read another one.

This is not to say I don’t like Child’s stories about hunky good guy Jack Reacher, I do actually really enjoy them, it’s just that I overdosed on too many of them one after another and put my self off reading any for a while. I’ve done exactly the same with cheese and pesto sandwiches.


2)The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson

Now I know that all kids books can’t be about fairies granting wishes and so on but if you’ve never read this believe me when I say, this book is HARSH. I came to read it with my (admittedly sensitive) younger daughter after having watched the Disney film and man, were we in for a shock! Not to spoil things but basically Ariel after an already traumatic love affair ends up with the choice of killing her true love so that she can turn back into a mermaid or face dying with the rising of the sun. Cheerful stuff or what? To be fair I should have known what we were in for after reading The Snow Queen. On the plus side, the illustrations in the copy we read were beautiful. Perhaps a better read for older children who dislike fish?


1) A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer

I must admit that this is another book on my list that I haven’t read to the end because, to put it quite simply I couldn’t face it. I have in the past managed to finish “We need to talk about Kevin” and that was horrendous enough, actually I wish I hadn’t read that either but this book is all the more heartbreaking because I know that it’s a true story. Obviously burying our heads in the sand doesn’t help any child in an abusive situation and if Pelzer’s book does anything to help then who am I to knock it, but I just haven’t the heart to read it.


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cell 2

Cell by Stephen King

In a    :

Now I’d gone a pretty long time without reading any Stephen King until having run out of books recently I reread an old favourite of mine and realised anew why I loved his stories so much. And once again, Cell doesn’t disappoint. The basic premise is that a signal, (The Pulse) is sent out simultaneously over the populations’ cell phones so that anyone using theirs at the time loses their mind and tries to kill either themselves or the people around them. Obviously those not infected then reach for their cells to contact the emergency services or loved ones and end up becoming affected themselves. The story follows protagonist, Clayton Riddell, a man who doesn’t own a cell phone, as he tries to survive  the now zombie like population, find his son and ex-wife and band together with the few remaining survivors. What really complicates matters as the story unfolds is that the cell victims gradually evolve from unfocused savages to co-operating “flocks” who, it turns out want to rid their world of any remaining normals.



Number of pages:


Interesting Fact:

A charity auction was held by Ebay, the winner of which, one Pam Alexander, won a role in the novel. Ms Alexander passed the honor onto her brother, Ray Huizenga who, in the story survived “The Pulse” but later died helping to kill one of the flocks.

Been  made into a film?

Yep, here’s the link :

What I like about the book:

As always Kings’ descriptions are so flowing and consuming that you are literally right there in the story alongside Riddell, watching all the horror unfold. The pace is just right all the way through, the action sporadic enough to keep you on the edge of your seat but the descriptions and interactions between the characters  in depth enough to make you really care about them.

And dislike:

The gore. I know I know, it’s Stephen King and that’s just the way he rolls. In fact I’m pretty sure the book wouldn’t work without all the incredibly graphic violence but I can’t help being squeamish.

Final Thoughts:

If you like/love Stephen King, you’ll enjoy this book. Similar to some of his other novels, (The Stand spring to mind), it’s a keeper nonetheless. If you’ve never read Stephen King before this is a good place to start, it’s action packed, fast paced and absorbing but be warned it’s not for the faint of heart.

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