NetGalley Reviews

It’s been nearly two years since my last batch of NetGalley reviews, and I have a habit of nabbing “read now for first 50/100/200 requests” books so have quite a few more that I’ve read (and more that I’ve not read). I’m listing them in reverse order of when I got them, and the further back we go, the more likely my reviews are going to be “er, don’t remember much…”

The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert (Penguin, 2018)

(received December 2017; read March 2018)

Seventeen year old Alice has spent her life on the road with her mother, running away from what appears to be a host of bad luck. After the death of her grandmother, the borderline between reality and fairy tale merge as characters from her grandmother’s stories appear to be hunting Alice…

The Hazel Wood has a great concept, with some very dark and disturbing tales. I do like stories where humans and faerie meet, but it’s not my top genre and overall I found The Hazel Wood merely meh. It just wasn’t my kind of book.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow, Nevermoor 1 – Jessica Townsend (Orion Children’s Books, 2017)

(received October 2017; read October 2017; bought)

Ten year old Morrigan has been blamed for all local misfortunes since her birth. As a cursed child, she’s fated to die on her eleventh birthday, but instead she gets whisked away to the magical city of Nevermoor…

If I was reviewing the NetGalley release of this, it gets zero stars. The formatting made the book almost completely unreadable. However, I just about managed to read the first few pages and decided to purchase the book on the basis of those and the synopsis. And the beautiful book cover, and being half price didn’t hurt 😉

This is the first book in a magical series and it is wonderful (or possibly Wundrous). I’ve only given four stars because I think it’s one that I’ll need to re-read to get more from, and see how the series progresses, but it’s definitely a must read for anyone who likes children’s fantasy and magical worlds. I’m looking forward to more.

Why Mummy Drinks – Gill Sims (HarperCollins, 2017)

(received September 2017; read September 2017)

I follow Peter and Jane and Mummy Too on Facebook. and generally half love / half dislike her posts, so when this came up as Read Now I grabbed it out of curiosity. And actually, it was much better than I was expecting.

Being fictionalised works for Gill Sims, and her main characters worries about middle-age, middle class problems, children, husband, not feeling like she fits in anywhere are amusingly captured. The main thing that bugs me is wondering if it really is that easy to write an app, as it seems to take her no time to throw together? I’m sure it doesn’t work like that. But I still found it a fun read. Enjoyable popcorn.

Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough (HarperCollins, 2017)

(received August 2017; read August 2017)

Why, oh why, do I always fall for synopsis that promise amazing twist endings. This one even has its own hashtag #wtfthatending.


This book is genre fiction. It becomes very obvious with the dreams and the doors that this is heading in a particular direction. And although I may have got a detail of the ending wrong, the general gist of it seemed pretty obvious. The title is a complete give away too. Sigh.

Understanding Autism in Adults and Ageing Adults – Theresa M Regan (IndieGo Publishing, 2017)

(received April 2017; read April 2017)

I went through an autism book phase last year and I can’t remember the details of this one. I don’t think it used much problematic language and was up to date with current research.

There is a definite need for more books about autistic adults, and this is a welcome addition to increase awareness of why there are undiagnosed adults and how this can be addressed.

As I said, I don’t remember in great detail, and it wasn’t as good as Luke Beardon’s Autism and Asperger Syndrome in adults, and I’m sure it had some problematic areas, but it’s on the good end of the autism book spectrum.

How To Stop Time – Matt Haig (Cannongate, 2017)

(received April 2017; read April 2017; bought)

I’m sure this bestselling – and soon to be converted into a Cumberbatch-headlining film – novel needs little introduction.

I find Haig’s twitter and facebook posts generally awesome. In a handful of sentences, he defends mental health and describes depression and anxiety so well. I appreciate his insight.

And I do like his work. I liked The Radleys, The Humans, the Christmas trilogy, I appreciate Reasons to Stay Alive, I will be buying Notes from a Nervous Planet as soon as it’s published. And I did really enjoy How To Stop Time. Enough to buy it in hardback, and again in special edition illustrated hardback. But it’s still not an all-time favourite. I think, for me, Haig is someone I need to read twice to be able to appraise fully, and once I’ve done that I might be able to give a better review.

Let The Dead Speak – Jane Casey (HarperCollins, 2017)

(received February 2017; read March 2017)

We are now deep into “I can’t remember this book” territory, and it will get worse.

This is a thriller / crime thing. I like them as popcorn. I probably ought to write a post on adult thrillers and why I bother to read them, but I think my opinion will come through on the several books in this post.

This is the seventh in a series, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book. Not knowing the backstory of the characters wasn’t detrimental, although maybe it would have increased my enjoyment if I’d known the characters longer. But I did enjoy it. It was a good read. I just can’t tell it apart from any other crime thriller.

See You In The Cosmos – Jack Cheng (Puffin, 2017)

(received February 2017; read March 2017)

The eleven year old main character of See You In The Cosmos has an asperger-esque / Curious Incident Christopher feel to his personality so, although stereotypical, I thought I might warm to this story.

But it’s just lacking somehow. It’s not the heartwarming tale it seems to want to be, and a year later I can  barely remember it. I think Zoe Toft’s review on Goodreads describes See You In The Cosmos beautifully. It didn’t work for me.

Everything But The Truth – Gillian McAllister (Penguin, 2017)

(received January 2017; read January 2017)

If you liked Gone Girl, you might also enjoy Everything But The Truth.

This is not a compliment.

Two unlikable characters in a relationship and having a baby. Poor child. They’re both awful as far as I remember and I don’t know why they were together or why I was supposed to care about them staying together. I do not like books with unlikable main characters. What is the point? I disliked Gone Girl, and I disliked Everything But The Truth.

Good Me, Bad Me – Ali Land (Penguin, 2017)

(received October 2016; read in 2016)

Back into twisty thrillers that don’t work for me territory. It’s an interesting concept: a teenage girl whose mother is a serial killer, given a new lease of life being fostered into a rich family and trying to be normal.

And it’s just as predictable as you’d expect it to be, given the title and the synopsis. Quite fun in a horrific way (the mother murdered children), but ultimately just meh. Why do I keep falling for thriller synopses?!

Missing, Presumed – Susie Steiner (HarperCollins, 2016)

(received August 2016; read March 2017)

Crime thriller popcorn.

I read this back to back with Let The Dead Speak and I can’t remember them from each other. From the synopses, it seems that Let The Dead Speak is the one that I remember details from, so I’m not sure if they’re muddled up together or I just don’t remember this one at all. I think I don’t remember this one at all after flipping through some Goodreads reviews.

A Boy Made Of Blocks – Keith Stuart (Little, Brown, 2016)

(received May 2016; read in 2016; bought)

At first, I thought I was going to really dislike this book. Marriage appears to break up because of autistic child, dad can’t deal with autistic child, isn’t autism a strain for the parents etc. The beginning of the book was a hard read.

But it’s not one of those books after all. The main protagonist learns to connect with his son via Minecraft, and he grows throughout the novel realising that he is the problem, not the autistic son. It’s a delight having a novel from an “autism parent” perspective that shows that it’s the parents’ viewpoint that can cause issues, and by trying to understand what autistic people are feeling and thinking, instead of expecting them to conform, works.

Baby Doll – Hollie Overton (Century, 2016)

(received April 2016; read in 2016)

Baby Doll is more-or-less Room (Emma Donoghue) written from the mother’s perspective instead of the child’s.

And the mother has a twin sister.

Okay, so I don’t remember much of this, but I remember being bugged by the child. She has a daughter who may as well be a stuffed toy for all she ever seems to react to anything. It seemed a bit lazy, not really bothering to see anything from the child’s viewpoint. I forget most of the rest. Another popcorn read but if you only want to read one captured teen escaping after many years, then read Room.

M Is For Autism – The Students of Limpsfield Grange and Vicky Martin (Jessica Kingsley, 2015)

(received August 2015; read August 2015 & July 2017; bought)

M is for Autism is a small, very colourful book, telling the fictionalised story of a teenage girl who chooses to be called “M”, and her journey to an autism diagnosis, based on lived experiences of autistic teen girls.

M is for Autism should be pressed into the hands of every teen/tween autistic (or suspected) girl and her parents. It is wonderful. The artwork is from the students of Limpsfield Grange, a school for girls on the autism spectrum.

There is a sequel YA novel, M in the Middle, which I also thoroughly recommend.

The Quality of Silence – Rosamund Lupton (Little, Brown, 2015)

(received August 2015; read April 2017)

A mother and her deaf daughter drive across the treacherous icy roads of Northern Alaska in search of the missing husband/father who they’ve been told is dead.

There were bad guys and totally implausible bits, and I don’t remember too much now but I think it was okay.

Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

I thought I’d try out a book tag this week, and I do like an unpopular opinion!

1. A Popular Book or series that you didn’t like.
Monsters of Verity duology. This seems to be raved about on BookTube, and I loved the A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy from the same author, but I couldn’t get on with this. I did finish This Savage Song but I DNF’d Our Dark Duet because life’s too short.

2. A Popular Book or series that every one else seems to hate but you love.
I’m going to go for an author, Neil Gaiman. Not that hugely popular and enormously bestselling Neil Gaiman is hated by every one else, but I’ve seen several BookTubers dislike the one book of his that they tried. No matter how hard I try, I seem to love every single one of them. I’ve been reading Gaiman since I was a teenager (first one was the Douglas Adams biography, then Good Omens because I read all Terry Pratchett’s work; so I didn’t really read him until my 20’s but still…) and in 20+ish years, almost everything I’ve read by Gaiman is on my favourites lists.

3. A Love Triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with (warn ppl for spoilers) OR an OTP that you don’t like.
This one has been stumping me. I can’t think of a love triangle I’ve read recently. Just to be awkward, I’m going for Harry Potter. Lily should have married Snape instead of James 😉

4. A popular book Genre that you hardly reach for.
Classics. I was completely put off literature at school with Jane Eyre and Silas Marner and a whole host of dullness that I had no interest in. Generally, if something is labelled a classic, I probably don’t like it. I’m not stupid, I just prefer genre fiction. I’ve read classics I’ve enjoyed, but I do go by book description and many do not interest me in the slightest so I’ll leave them be.

5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.
This is the last question I’ve answered. I’ve been stuck on it for three days. I can think of plenty of characters that are both popular but also popularly unpopular (Edward Cullen etc) but not a generally beloved character that I really dislike (that I know of). I’ve googled lists of popular characters, and almost all of them are from classics I’ve not read so I can’t really choose them! I really am stumped on this one, and would be grateful for any suggestions!

6. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into.
David Almond. Almost all his books seem so highly lauded but I just find them generally awful. I did love Skellig. I thought A Song For Ella Grey was probably the worst book I read for years (review here). The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas was just meh. So I’ve not bothered reading any others, although I do want to re-read Skellig and then read My Name Is Mina at some point.

7. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing. (examples “lost princess”, corrupt ruler, love triangles, etc.)
Mary Sue (male or female) in YA. Yes, the main character of a story needs to be interesting, and will probably be “more” than other characters, but there seems to be too many who are utterly perfect. They pick up fighting so fast, they’re the best hacker in existence, they are the chosen one and have these awesome abilities that they can use perfectly first time… Even the flaws that are thrown in to make them seem more interesting, aren’t. I have favourite novels with main characters who are interesting but still too Mary Sue-ish. Still love them, but I like my protagonists to be more flawed.

8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading.
Most epic fantasy that seem to consist of neverending large tomes. I like fantasy, but I could never get into the likes of Terry Brooks, David Gemmell or Stephen R. Donaldson when I was younger and more inclined to read huge tomes. So I guess I’ll go for A Song of Ice and Fire. Not that I have no interest, I really would like to read them at some point, but I can’t see it happening anytime soon.

9. The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie”, but what movie or T.V. show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?
How to Train Your Dragon. I love the films and the series, and especially the first film. I’ve tried reading the first book but it just seems wrong and I couldn’t get into it at all. This may be because I saw the film first.

Original tag video:

January and February 2018 Book Stats

I have read 15 books in January and February, which I’m really impressed with. Especially as that’s my goal count total, not actual books read. Here are the actual 36 books that I read:

Of these, 13 were picture books, so too short for my personal goals. Five were graphic novels, of which I counted one because it was over 200 pages. However I could count the other four as two more reads but that’s not how I work! Two were DNF – although again they could count as one as between them I read over 300 pages. Thornhill could probably be included as a graphic novel because it has so little text, so again I didn’t include it in my goal count. Finally Mostly Mary was a very short read so I also didn’t count it.

I bought *cough* 86 books. Oops. 30 were second hand from various charity shops, local library, and Poundland. 14 were Kindle books (some bought with Prime credit). 4 were World Book Day books bought with vouchers. 21 were from Amazon (oops, bad me!) 15 were from Mostly Books (well, 17 including the WBD ones…) One was direct from Nosy Crow online, and one from a different indie bookstore in Cowley.

I need to be banned from charity shops.

And Amazon.

And Mostly Books.

Well, maybe not Mostly Books… 😉

Of the 72 physical books, I bought 11 picture books, 11 highly-illustrated books, and four graphic novels.

Of all 86 books, ten were non-fiction. Of all 86 books, 12 were not aimed at children or YA. 23 were (probably) YA, 11 picture books, and 40 for early readers or middle grade. I think. I’m not an expert at separating MG/YA.

Of all 86 books, I’ve read 26. Not all of the books were for me, so I won’t necessarily be reading them all anyhow, but the majority were so that’s even more for my ridiculous TBR. Ah well!

Oooh, the first book for March has just arrived. I so need help… 😉

Reading Harry Potter In My Childhood

Oh, BookTube, you are full of such young people…

I was watching a BookTuber today who had their 30th birthday. I thought yay, someone more my own age…

Actually, I’m twelve and a half years older than them. (Sarah-Jane at The Book Life, I’m enjoying her videos a lot.) That’s quite significant.

She was talking about not reading Harry Potter in her childhood.

Harry Potter didn’t exist in my childhood.

I then started to think about when I first discovered Harry Potter. I wasn’t there at the beginning, and to be honest, I hadn’t (re)discovered my love of children’s literature at that stage in my life, but I didn’t care what age range a book was aimed at if it sounded good.

For whatever reason, I picked up the first two paperbacks. They were definitely a Big Thing already at that point. Azkeban was out in hardback, but not paperback so I can narrow the date to between July 1999 and April 2000, and as I couldn’t wait for Azkeban to come out in paperback, I’m guessing it was sometime in the second half of 1999.

I was 24.

The final (main) Potter was published July 2007, just before my 32nd birthday. For someone twelve years younger than me, the seven books would have been published from when they were 10-20, so would be part of their childhood.

For a thirty year old, Harry Potter was part of their childhood.

I feel very old all of a sudden!

I’ve only ever read the entire series once, and after Azkeban that was on the day of release for all the other books. One of my reading goals is to re-read the Harry Potter series because I think I missed out on much of it from the gaps between reading, and is probably why I wouldn’t put them on a favourite book list.

With my TBR pile being so big, and there being other books I want to re-read, I can’t see me reading them again for several years. I probably ought to read them to my girls but I’m hopeless at reading aloud and we have a huge read-aloud TBR pile too (mostly seem to read non-fiction at the moment as my youngest loves history!)

Harry Potter is only part of my girls’ childhoods in terms of films. I have managed to produce non-readers (for now – I think the eldest is more like her dad and prefers film although will read sometimes, but I have hopes that the youngest will discover the right series and fall down the rabbit hole…) Tablets and YouTube (why read when you can watch people playing Minecraft, building Lego, or making slime? Nope, I don’t get it either…) have a lot to answer for in this household!

Audio Books

I’ve been watching a lot of BookTube (YouTubers who talk about books) recently, which has been getting me inspired to read more and thinking about different aspects of bookishness (it should be a word).

One thing that I see many readers “read” is audio books. I have no problem with the concept of audio books. I do believe they “count” as reading and have no snobbery over “reading” only being in a certain way.

But… I don’t like audio books. I can’t do them.

There are two main reasons that I can think of for my dislike for audio books.

1. I’m autistic.
This doesn’t mean that all autistic people can’t stand audio books. We’re all different. Some autistic people can’t concentrate on reading text and therefore audio is much better. Some autistic people can only read non-fiction and don’t understand novels. We’re all different. But for me, I’ve worked out that I process auditory information with more difficulty than visual information.

I used to think I didn’t think visually because I don’t see pictures in my mind but then it was explained to me that visual includes text and that makes complete sense to me. If I’m asked to do something, I need it in writing or I’ll get it wrong (unless it’s something simple, but even then I might forget!) I always preferred communication via email when I worked, because it made more sense to have things to look back on. Now I know why.

So audio books are fairly useless to me because my mind wanders and I can’t concentrate on the words being said. Films and television don’t have this, because there is a visual element as well as the audio. But I also struggled with free online courses when I tried them because they seem to be video based and I needed transcripts to skim through too.

Which leads me to…

2. It’s so slow.
Continuing with online learning, I got so frustrated with video based learning because you can’t skim it. For lessons, if I already know something I find it very boring. And then get distracted, and lose interest… School was not great for me, and I’m even more impatient as an adult! But you have to listen to every second of a video or audio in case you miss something new or important, but a 30 minute video might only include 5 minutes of relevant information, so I can skim through text and pick out what I need, and concentrate where I need to.

For novels, that isn’t relevant because I want to read everything and not skim (unless I’m bored and I want to know if it’s worth continuing or I should just stop) but again audio is so s-l-o-w. I’m a reasonably fast reader. I’m not a speed reader but I read something like 60-100 pages per hour of an average novel (depending on text and page size), although I’m much slower with non-fiction.

So a 300 page novel will probably take me about 4 hours to read. So (looks for a book that might suit…) take Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. Amazon says it’s 292 pages. I don’t know how long it actually took me to read but it was an easy read so let’s be generous and say 4 hours. The audio book is 7 hours and 10 minutes long. Seven hours for a short book! I’ve just looked up a longer one, 503 pages but 14 hours! Eek! I know a lot of bookish types listen on twice speed but that’s unlikely to work for me.

I’d rather read two novels than listen to one in the same amount of time.

So, that’s why I don’t do audio books. I know they’re vital for many people, and I know that some are brilliantly narrated, and some have full cast versions which seem like they’d be awesome. But they’re not for me.


I generally tend not to DNF books, I try to persevere through something once I’ve started it, but I’m about to DNF my second book of this year because I want to read more and part of that is deciding that life is too short to force myself through something I’m not loving.

It’s not that I never want to read the book I’m DNF-ing (Our Dark Duet – VE Schwab), it’s just that I really can’t be bothered to read it now. I only bought this duology (This Savage Song / Our Dark Duet) because they were both 99p on Kindle, and technically I got them free because of credit from taking slow shipping on Prime. I loved the Darker Shade of Magic trilogy so I’ve been surprised how dull I’ve found these two.

I finished This Savage Song, so I don’t feel that I’ve not tried even though I’m DNF-ing Our Dark Duet on pg130-ish. I’ve read some reviews of Our Dark Duet just in case it’s worth sticking with but my opinion hasn’t changed so bye-bye it is.

The first book I DNF-ed this year was The Versions of Us – Laura Barnett. Touted as a cross between Life After Life and One Day, I was interested in the concept. However the characters didn’t interest me, I didn’t particularly like them and I didn’t care enough to follow their stories. I loved Life After Life, but I remember feeling meh about One Day although I can’t remember much about it now.

The Versions of Us was a charity shop purchase so will be going back to one next time I unhaul. I persevered to pg220 on that one, so I definitely gave it a try, but again life is just too short and my TBR piles are just too high!

Despite planning to read physical books I already own in order to reduce the books in my house, my most recent reads have been new books (physical and Kindle) that I’ve just bought. This is typical of me – as soon as I write a list of what I want to read, I avoid it!


My TBR pile is slightly huge, and I’m still buying books. Oops.

I don’t normally have a list of books I plan to read at a particular time, because it depends on how I feel, but this year I thought I’d do a list of books I’d like to have read by the end of the year, and then see how well I did!

This year I’d like to read:
Gentlemen and Players – Joanne Harris
The Blue Lady – Eleanor Hawken
God in Ruins – Kate Atkinson
The Rosie Effect – Graeme Simsion (part read)
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Wizard & Glass – Stephen King (started)
Wind Thru’ The Keyhole – Stephen King
Wolves of the Calla – Stephen King
Song of Susannah – Stephen King
The Dark Tower – Stephen King
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage – Sydney Padua
Shogun – James Clavell
Seed – Lisa Heathfield
Muddle Earth – Chris Riddell & Paul Stewart
Muddle Earth Too – Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell
The Thirteen Treasures – Michelle Harrison
The Thirteen Curses – Michelle Harrison
The Thirteen Secrets – Michelle Harrison
The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness (reread)
The Ask and the Answer – Patrick Ness
Monsters of Men – Patrick Ness
The Book of Three – Lloyd Alexander (reread)
The Black Cauldron – Lloyd Alexander (reread)
The Castle of Llyr – Lloyd Alexander (reread)
Taran Wanderer – Lloyd Alexander (reread)
The High King – Lloyd Alexander (reread)
Dragon’s Blood – Jane Yolen (reread)
Heart’s Blood – Jane Yolen (reread)
A Sending of Dragons – Jane Yolen (reread)
Dragon’s Heart – Jane Yolen (don’t own yet)

That’s more than enough pre-planned books, I’ll chose the rest as and when I feel like reading them! I’d also like to include at least six non-fiction titles in this year.

So far this year I’ve read:
The Girl Who Saved Christmas – Matt Haig (illus Chris Mould)
Mostly Mary – Gwynedd Rae (illus Clara Vulliamy)
Vampire Fire – J R Rain
Goodnight Mr Panda – Steve Antony
Swapsies – Fiona Roberton
Tamsin and the Deep – Neill Cameron & Kate Brown
Tamsin and the Dark – Neill Cameron & Kate Brown
The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf – Nick Bryan
Rush Jobs – Nick Bryan
The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell
The Tudors: Kings, Queens, Scribes and Ferrets! – Marcia Williams
Nanette’s Baguette – Mo Willems
Different Class – Joanne Harris
Turtles All The Way Down – John Green
The Adventures of Egg Box Dragon – Richard Adams & Alex T Smith
The Versions of Us – Laura Barnett (DNF)
Here We Are – Oliver Jeffers
Midnight Moon – J R Rain
Make More Noise – Various
Thornhill – Pam Smy
Fantastically Great Women Who Made History – Kate Pankhurst

And by the end of today, I’ll have finished:
A Spoonful of Murder – Robin Stevens


Book Blogging

I’ve fallen out of the blogging habit (although the plan is to get back into it this year), but I’ve been keeping a track of my reading and achieving an average of reading at least one book a week for the last five years, because I *love* books and reading, and I just wasn’t making the time to read when I could have.

I’ve recently been wasting my reading time on watching book vloggers. I’m enjoying the videos, and they’re great for relaxing to, plus I can leave them on in the background while I do other things (like write this!) They’ve not been good for my TBR list though, because I’ve bought several of the books they’ve covered (the ones that are currently 99p or £1.99 on Kindle). I DO NOT NEED any more books to read!

One of the things I’ve realised from watching the few booktubers that have come up as recommendations, is that I actually do read a lot of books! Compared to bookish people, I thought I barely read, but I guess the people I saw reading 200+ books a year are actually more exceptional than I already thought!

Another thing with the booktubers (who mainly seem to be white female teens / early 20s) is that I read a lot quicker than I thought too. I’ve watched a couple of 24hr readathon blogs and surprised by how little was read! When I was a teen I’d read two books in a day (waking hours, not 24hrs) fairly regularly. I remember avoiding revising for university exams by reading three books in a day instead… Anyhow, what I mean by this is not “ugh, they call themselves bookish people and they barely read” but “oh, I’m actually not bad at reading after all”!

I don’t know how they get through all their book hauls though! But I guess that’s a bookish thing, buying too many books? Did I say too many? No such thing!

I’ve recently sorted through all my books (well, not *all*, just most of the ones not on bookcases…) and written a TBR list based on both physical and eBooks. It’s a bit long. Oops.

I have (roughly) 70 non-fiction and 350 fiction books to read. Not including the ones I want to re-read. That works out at about EIGHT years worth at my usual reading pace. But there are so many more that I want to read that I don’t have, or haven’t been published, and ones to re-read, and…


So I need to up my reading again. Last year I read 76 books. Well, I read 76 books that I count as part of my total. I read 101 books including graphic novels and early readers. I don’t know how many books I’ve read including picture books. I don’t count books that take under an hour to read in my personal “book a week average” challenge, but I do record them as read in my Bullet Journal. This year I’m also writing down picture books read, because that has slipped to a handful as my girls are getting older, but I want to get back into reading and reviewing picture books because I love them.

So far this year I’ve read:
The Girl Who Saved Christmas – Matt Haig (illus Chris Mould)
Mostly Mary – Gwynedd Rae (illus Clara Vulliamy)
Vampire Fire – J R Rain
Goodnight Mr Panda – Steve Antony
Swapsies – Fiona Roberton
Tamsin and the Deep – Neill Cameron & Kate Brown
Tamsin and the Dark – Neill Cameron & Kate Brown
The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf – Nick Bryan
Rush Jobs – Nick Bryan
The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell
The Tudors: Kings, Queens, Scribes and Ferrets! – Marcia Williams
Nanette’s Baguette – Mo Willems
Different Class – Joanne Harris

So far this year I’ve bought: Oh dear, oh dear… 42 books. And I have another 6 on order… Nine are eBooks so don’t take up space at least! Ten (and the six on order) are new books, and the remaining 23 are second hand, hence the total being so high. I need a book-buying ban. And a book cull.

I don’t want to cull my TBR list because I do want to read them all. I’m trying to get through the physical books first because there are several that I will return to charity shops after reading, and I do need to cull.


Book collecting – I can do very well, but I’m going to slow down.

Book reading – I can do quite well, but I’m going to read more.

Book reviewing – I’ve really got to push myself to do this again!

Wednesday Waffle

It’s Thursday.

Which just about sums up how awesome I am at keeping new year’s resolutions.

Not that I make resolutions. I have goals. It’s slightly more do-able. Slightly. I haven’t made all my goals for the last two years of doing them, but I’ll try again this year.

One of this year’s goals is to blog again. I’m aiming for once a week. Once a day just doesn’t work for me. Even my instagram once a day challenges I end up doing in bursts of five or six.

I’ve just bought a new A5 Leuchtterm 1917 dotted notebook to be my fourth Bullet Journal. I wasn’t going to start the new year in a new journal but I’ve been watching lots of BuJo setup videos on YouTube so I want to redo mine and ignore the clutter of the current one. I’m now using that one as my daily journal, to get in the habit of writing every day for myself.

So. Here is a post. It’s a bit lame, but I expected that. I was hoping to do a waffle and a book review post every week but I’m only going to commit myself to one a week because I get too stressed with any sort of deadline at the moment.

New Year. New BuJo. Old TBR list, growing. Old me. New paints. Which I’m now going to play with!

Happy New Year.

How Did You Manage School?

Mr Chaos asked me this morning, as we yet again worry about choosing the right secondary school for our eldest daughter.

I honestly don’t know. I guess because I went to a small girls-only secondary, because my primary teacher recommended that my parents sent me private if they could afford it (thinking that I wouldn’t cope with a big secondary, quite accurately I suspect), it wasn’t the same as surviving a huge mixed state school.

There were 400 pupils at my school, aged 8-18, and about half were boarders. My mum drove me to school every single day from age 11 to age almost-18 (summer birthday) because we lived up to 25 miles away, although I expect a “normal” child would have worked out busses. But I was never “normal”.

I started self harming by the age of 17, but I was miserable for long before then. But also I was happy enough living in my own little world. I just read books constantly. I did school, then I forgot about it. I rarely did homework; I rarely studied (I was one of those annoying people who could pass exams with looking at the work ten minutes before going in to an exam); I didn’t see “friends” outside of school. I didn’t know that my experience was really quite different to most people.

Somehow I got through secondary. Somehow I went to university. I don’t really know how I did any of it, other than I just knew I had to and I was rubbish at breaking rules so I did what I thought I was supposed to. My school reports are full of comments like “we’re not sure if Anne-Marie is happy”, and “maybe she would benefit from outside help”, and “if only she would apply herself to all subjects, not just the ones she likes”, and “I was disappointed to hear her say that she finds most subjects irrelevant and uninteresting” (I learnt to not say what I really felt at that point!)

My daughters are not me. The small local primary school has been right for them. Not perfect, but better than our other options. Getting anyone to understand that your child is wearing a mask much of the time, and needs more support than they see, is difficult.

MG is in year six, in less than a year she will be in secondary education somewhere. Most of her classmates will travel to secondaries on their own from the start, age eleven. I can’t imagine my eldest daughter travelling to school alone. It takes five minutes to get her through the door to school most mornings, and those are the good days.

I don’t drive. I’ve failed ten practical driving tests. I don’t know whether that’s because of my autism (I know plenty of autistic people who drive, but we’re all different) but it limits our options. I want to send my daughters to a Montessori based school: no homework; no uniforms; 20% of all lessons taught outside; genuine individual support (25 pupils age 11-16). But it’s a drive to get there. There are busses, but the time to bus there and back would double the school day, which is not feasible.

We think we’ve chosen the most likely candidate for MG’s next school. £16K/year fees – we’ve been offered financial assistance, but I don’t want anyone to spend that kind of money if it’s not exactly the right place; and I really don’t think it is exactly the right place.

I know I’m accused of thinking of my children as “special snowflakes” and being an over-anxious mother. I am over-anxious. But in my parenting, my anxiety over my children has grown over time. I used to be utterly blase about sending my children to nursery and school, and completely trusting of the people looking after them.

After years of trusting everyone else, it’s not worked. Supporting my children with their unique needs does work. I’m only just starting to express my opinions more confidently; I’m only just telling school when I think things need to change; I’m only just starting to try to trust in my opinions.

But I don’t quite trust my opinions. I don’t believe in myself. I struggle through every day. I don’t know how to express myself in the right way. I do curl up under a duvet and cry most days.

I don’t know how I managed school. I don’t think I did. I don’t think I’m managing life much either. But I’ll keep plodding on, and trying, and hoping.