Star Wars: Tarkin (James Luceno)

Kwik Reads


Goodreads Link

Even better than I had hoped!

TL;DR – The story of Grand Moff Tarkin’s rise to power. An awesome tale and a must-read for Star Wars fans.

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RAGDOLL RATING: Exceptional

What I thought…

I’ve never read a Star Wars book before, and I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’d heard people talking about Tarkin on twitter, and since I love the character I thought I’d give it a go. Best. Decision. Ever.

So, Tarkin chronicles the life of one of the most powerful men in the Empire, from his childhood to his rise to the position of Grand Moff, and oh boy is it exciting. James Luceno did a marvellous job of bringing the character to life.

I read the audiobook version of this book, and dang the production quality is superb. Sound effects and occasional music and everything. BEAUTIFUL. But I guess you’d expect that from a Star Wars book – they can afford not to cheap out on that stuff.

Anyway, well worth a read or a listen.

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Darkwood (Gabby Hutchinson Crouch)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

Completely fabulous, can’t wait for the rest of the series. A strong contender for Book of the Month

TL;DR – A funny, clever and wonderful fairytale re-telling.

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of fairytales, fantasy and female characters who kick butt!

About the Book…

Darkwood is a sort of fairytale retelling and variety pack. The lead character is Gretel, of Hansel and Gretel fame, driven out of her home by villainous Huntsmen who (wrongly) accuse her of being a witch! Gretel finds herself in the Darkwood, and soon winds up as part of a band of witches, featuring such wonderful characters as The White Knight (Snow White), Jack (of the Beanstalk fame) and my personal favourite, Trevor the Talking Spider. What follows is a hilarious adventure to fight back against the forces of evil!

What I thought…

I flat out adore this book. There are 2 things I didn’t like about it, and I’m gonna start the review with them because then I can gush about how good it was uninterrupted.

  1. The word ‘cowl’ is used to describe clothing with sleeves, which confused me.
  2. It’s written in the present tense, which I’m generally not a fan of. HOWEVER, I will come back to this point in a moment.

OK, where to begin. Let’s start with the setting. I’m a big fan of fairytales and folklore, and combining so many stories into one setting was a real treat for me. Each story has been turned on its head and reimagined, and then blended into something better than the sum of its parts. It’s really clever, well executed and extremely good fun.

And it’s funny! Oh man. I mentioned Trevor the talking spider in the intro and I’m gonna talk about him here. Trevor is *exactly* the type of character I love to read about. He’s small and apparently useless, but he dreams big. He wants to be useful. He wants to be a spy! And every time he gets the chance he does something daft. Like disguises. It’s silly, and playful and I love it.

Now I’m going to return to point 2 of my complaints. Present tense. I don’t like it, it annoys me and I’ve never been able to get over it. Until now. I really love how this book was written. I’m turned around on the use of present tense in writing, which is a big thing for me to admit.

Final Thoughts…

I love this book. I can’t wait for the rest of the series. I suppose the biggest compliment I can give to this book is that it made me want to write the book I’ve been planning for so long. It’s encouraged me to get up and give it a shot!

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: Cretaceous (Tadd Galusha)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

For the dinosaur lover in your life.

TL;DR – A superb book about living life, the dinosaur way.

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Dinosaur fans, folks who appreciate the comics as a medium

About the Book…

Cretaceous is my best guess at the perfect use of the comics medium. The story follows a t-rex as he goes about his daily life, doing t-rex things in a t-rex way. It’s full of dinosaurs and drama and it’s super freakin’ sweet.

What I thought…

The first thing that needs to be said about this book is it includes no dialogue. Not. One. Word. No speech, no narration, NOTHING. And yet this book is absolutely soaked in drama and emotion.

We follow a T-rex, a loving, family-oriented T-rex, who goes out hunting to support its family. But disaster strikes! His partner and babies are slaughtered by opportunistic dinosaurs! Tragedy! What follows is an exploration of life in the past, mixed with a tale of revenge. We also follow a triceratops in its battle for survival.

The art in this book is beautiful and so expressive – it moves me better than words ever could. I felt like I had a deep understanding of the characters by the end of this book, and they don’t even have names. Galusha expertly uses his art to tell stories of love, revenge, survival and family, all without saying a word.

To top it off, at the back there is a little section telling you what all the creatures were and compares their height to an average human, which was a great touch.

Final Thoughts…

I loved this book, and if you appreciate the comics medium, you should definitely give it a go.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: Pilu of the Woods (Mai K. Nguyen)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Intensely beautiful in every way.

TL;DR – A beautiful story about overcoming your demons

Book of the Month
Book of the Month (November 2018)

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Ragdoll Rating: Exceptional

Recommended For: Anybody who struggles with the nasty voices in their heads.

About the Book…

Poor Willow. Life feels so hard. She runs away from home into the forest after an argument with her sister, where she makes a discovery. Willow finds a forest spirit, Pilu, crying in the woods. Pilu has run away too, but now she is lost. Willow knows the woods better than anyone and offers to return Pilu to her home safely. The pair become firm friends immediately but the monsters are not far behind.

What I thought…

This book is so beautiful. Willow has these monsters in her head, monsters that make her angry and aggressive. She tries to bottle them up, to keep them subdued and hidden – an attempt at being strong. But it doesn’t work. The monsters get angrier the more they are resisted and then they burst out and take over, causing Willow to do things she really regrets.  But with Pilu’s help, Willow learns to overcome the monsters through compassion and understanding. This book shows a real deep, clear understanding of what it’s like to live with little demons in your head – monsters that don’t feel part of you, creatures you despise. It’s something I go through constantly, and to see Willow work through things compassionately is so close to my own personal experience it genuinely made me weep.

The story also deals with loss, feelings of isolation, and friendship. It’s so wholesome and heartwarming.

I’m making a complete pig’s ear of explaining the story, but trust me, it is wonderful.

The illustrations, also, and so pretty. Nguyen’s art style is adorable, and the characters are all so sweet, you just want to hug them until everything is alright again.

Final Thoughts…

This book was completely beautiful in every way, and I will absolutely be buying a physical copy as soon as I am able.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: Quantum Mechanics (Jeff Weigel)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

I got me a new favourite graphic novel!

TL;DR – A pair of young mechanics are kidnapped by pirates. Adventure follows.

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Ragdoll Rating: Exceptional

Recommended For: Fans of comics, especially girls ’cause it has 2 awesome female leads!

About the Book…

Rox and Zam live and work, tinkering around in a space junkyard. One fateful day, a real pretty ship comes asking for repairs, but is turned away. The girls offer their services, but find themselves quickly kidnapped by the most feared space pirate of them all.

What follows is a brilliant tale of underdogs fighting the system.

What I thought…

Let’s just go through a quick checklist of things I already loved about this book, long before I finished it:

  • 2 female leads, one of which is fat (and a lizard), both genius mechanics who are totally brave and crazy and totally awesome
  • Space pirates
  • A ship shaped like a skull and crossbones
  • Brilliant, cute artwork

I’m not gonna lie, it would be very hard for someone to put those things in a book and have me hate it – but I don’t just throw that ‘Exceptional’ rating around for just anything.

This book is funny, it’s got plenty of action and it’s totally ridiculous. The main characters, Rox and Zam, are totally awesome female leads. Cool and fun, super smart and totally adorable – and they make excellent pirates! I love the addition of the baby Zolorians (lil’ baby lizard mechanics) – they are so cute and silly. I love them partly because they are about as far away from ‘serious’ as you can get. They are vaguely telepathic, have an affinity for mechanics and eat power cells, and they wind up playing a pivotal role in the story despite being babies. It’s just hilarious and I love it.

Final Thoughts…

If you like space silliness, then you HAVE to read this book, then come back here and tell me all about it. Definitely getting a physical copy of this ASAP.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities (Mady G)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

The book I wish I’d had a decade ago.

TL;DR – A cute, fun tour through the world of queerness

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Everyone. Especially anybody questions or recently out.

About the Book…

This book is very brief, but very informative tour through the world of identities, labels and relationships. The comics focus on the wisdom of a snail, who teaches a bunch of snail buddies about all the beautiful humans.

The book is broken into sections, each dealing with a different aspect of the queer experience. Each chapter is ended with a little summary comic featuring an adorable set of creatures known as Sproutlings.

What I thought…

As I said above, I wish I had had this book a decade or more ago. Transitioning was the result of years of questioning my sexuality and gender identity, and the whole period was a very difficult time. I still – 5+ years later – struggle with some aspects, and this book would have helped me a great deal.

Obviously I can’t speak for every queer person, but I personally feel that the content of this book is brilliant. It’s really inclusive, covering a wider variety of topics (albeit very briefly in some cases).

The book starts by discussing sexual orientation, and (correctly) declares it to be distinct from gender identity. Then there is a section on gender identity itself, including non-binary identities and the differences between identity and expression. It’s a really good chapter. Then we have a section on asexuality, something I find is often ignored in by a lot of people. The book finishes itself off with sections of advice, covering healthy relationships and coming out. Mady G makes great efforts to point out the fluid nature of identity, talks a lot about spectrums and how labels and concepts can differ from person to person. I think it’s really well done, and you can definitely tell it’s been written by someone with experience of what they are writing about.

I also love the illustrations, courtesy of J.R. Zuckerberg. I admit I’m slightly biased in this regard. If you want me to love anything, make it cute and I’m basically sold – and this book is CUTE. I love the Sproutlings, they are all my best friends and I want to live in their cute little forest. But ignoring my obvious bias, the illustrations are really lovely, they make what can feel like a difficult subject feel easier.

Finally, I want to mention the very last pages. Tucked away at the end of this book are a series of little activities – I assume aimed at the younger audience. Their inclusion is a really nice touch. The activities include, among other things, a section to write a letter to your younger self (something I know a lot of queer folk have found really helpful) and an invitation to design your own Sproutling. I just thought that was really cool.

Final Thoughts…

If I ever get hold of a time machine, I’m sending this book back to my teenage self. This is definitely a must read for anybody who needs a gentle guide into our big queer world.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: We Are Mars (Cheryl Lawson)


Goodreads Link | Author Website

A city on mars! What could possibly go wrong…

TL;DR – A super space thriller, full of excitement and wonderful characters.

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RAGDOLL RATING: 5/5 BUTTONS

Why I read it…

I originally bought this book as a sort of weak thank you after Cheryl very kindly offered me some excellent advice on kicking writers block. Though I would have bought it either way, because it sounded exciting and I love a good sci-fi novel!

The Story…

Rubicon was once the pinnacle of human achievement. A city on Mars with with best technology and brightest minds all in one place. But that was years ago. After the expedition failed to discover evidence of life on Mars, funding dried up and Rubicon began to stagnate.

After a biological contagion is discovered in the drinking water, Rubicon descends into chaos – and that’s only the beginning.

We Are Mars is an wonderful science-fiction thriller.

What I liked…

We Are Mars explores a side of space exploration that often gets neglected in the sci-fi genre. Rubicon was once a technological marvel, but it’s systems are now becoming antiquated, and the supply ships that arrive every six years are more inclined to bring branded drinks dispensers than vital mission supplies to the Red planet. Rubicon is thrown into complete disarray when the aging water filtration system fails to prevent an outbreak of an unknown toxin to the drinking water, made worse by the completely unforeseen medical problems in genetically engineered humans.

The numerous tragedies that unfold during the course of the book, provide a wonderful backdrop to the interrelationships of the books main characters. One particularly interesting relationship builds between Jaxon and Dana, who prior to the outbreak constantly butted heads as Jaxon did all he could to rebel against the authority Dana represented, and Dana tried desperately to reign Jaxon in and maintain order. But as the pair find themselves forced into an impossible situation, they find themselves showing qualities that were hidden or ignored, and their working relationship becomes strong, building throughout the book. I enjoyed the way the characters evolved as the book went on, and the gravity of their situation hit them in unique and interesting ways.

Finally, I loved the world building. Rubicon has clearly undergone a considerable level of thought, avoiding the ‘generic space city’ vibe and instead becoming a believable and fascinating location. The rules and regulations imposed upon the inhabitants are infuriating, but completely understandable given the mission parameters. It is, as the book says, more scientific experiment than living city, something that Jaxon and his cohorts find themselves desperate to change.

What I disliked…

Each chapter focuses on one (or more) characters, and it took me some time to wrap my head around who was who. Each time the narrative switched to someone I hadn’t heard of, I got a bit confused, and then when it switched back to someone I did know, I couldn’t remember who they were – although this became easier as the book went on, and I would chalk this up to an issue with my comprehension ability than the book itself.

Final thoughts…

We Are Mars is a really fun and exciting read, that sets itself up nicely for the sequel (which I cannot wait to read). The plot and characters are excellent, and the world building is top-notch.

SUPER SPECIAL BONUS: AUTHOR INTERVIEW!!!

Twitter is an awesome place sometimes. This time it’s awesome because I managed to get We Are Mars author Cheryl Lawson (@WeAreMarsBook) to answer some questions about her work, which I’m super excited to present to you here!

Cheryl Lawson

1) What inspired you to write about disasters on a Martian colony?

I decided on a Mars drama because of two things: 1. The isolation of a Mars colony makes it vulnerable and 2. Mars is such a hostile place, I felt there was already a lot to work with. I’ve realized, while writing both books, that there are dozens of ways to die on Mars and it provides a lot of opportunity for an exciting and dramatic narrative.

2) If you had to pick two parts of We Are Mars you like more than any other, what would they be and why?

Firstly, the characters stories are my favourite part of the book. They are complex and the pressure of they are put under reveals unexpected traits and behaviours. Second, the ending – which is more of an opening to Storm at Dawn – is my next favourite part. It gives a clue for the coming crisis.

3) I see from twitter you have recently completed your first draft of Storm at Dawn, the second book in the Rubicon Saga. Is there anything in it that you a really excited for people to read?

Yes! The characters relationships are severely tested and the threats abound in Storm at Dawn. There’s a significant plot twist towards the end that opens the plot for the next, as yet untitled, third installment of the Rubicon Saga. It’s going to be a cracking read!

4) Finally, is there anything you’d like to tell my readers?

We Are Mars is not all about the science. It’s about the people and the character cast is richly diverse. The science sets the stage for some amazing interpersonal drama and if your readers enjoy complex, layered characters, they will love the Rubicon Saga.

Thank you so much Cheryl, for answering my questions.

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Please note: I know the author on twitter, however I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: Mirai (Mamoru Hosoda)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

One of my favourite books ever.

TL;DR – A wonderful, beautiful story about family, sibling rivalry and love.

EBBannerRagdoll Rating: EXCEPTIONAL

Recommended For: Anybody who wants a beautiful story and isn’t put off by a bit of confusion.

About the Book…

Life is pretty good for Kun, until his sister Mirai is born. Suddenly his parents seem irritable, and have less time to spend with him, and poor Kun struggles to adapt to his new reality. He hates his new sister, he hates his parents and he hates his new life. Kun’s world has been turned upside down in an instant. But after an impossible encounter with a future version of his new little sister, Kun is thrown into an even more impossible journey and nothing will ever be the same.

What I thought…

Let it be known by one and all that I want to kiss Mamoru Hosoda and his beautiful mind. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this strange little book is one of the best I have ever read.

I don’t know what it is about this book. Perhaps it’s got something to do with being the eldest of four children, perhaps it has something to do with my own internalised difficulties with perceived rejection and change, perhaps it’s something else, but this book reached out and touched my very soul (an impressive feat considering I don’t believe in the soul!). Kun is such a relatable and believable character. He is flawed, what child is perfect, but everything he does, from his initial negative, even violent reactions over the arrival of his new sister, to the results of his dream-like journey…I just felt it, deep down inside me, that I knew exactly how he felt, and how he was hurting.

Kun is a lost boy, trapped in a scary world of conflicting emotions and change and that hits me where I live. Seeing his journey, meeting members of his family and learning from them, and then losing himself completely and almost irretrievably was heart breaking, and completely poetically beautiful. I refuse to tell you much about the ending, all I can say is that if I hadn’t been convinced by the story up until that point (which I absolutely was) the final few chapters would have swung it.

My only critique about this book is that the dream-like encounters come out of nowhere. You’re reading a slice-of-life story, and all of a sudden things get weird and sci-fi. I still have no idea what was going on, and a little bit of me wants an explanation, but a much, MUCH bigger part of me doesn’t care. Just be aware of it, and if it bothers you, please just accept it and keep reading, it is SO worth it.

Final Thoughts…

I genuinely did not expect the reaction I got from this book. It is currently 3:30AM, and I hauled myself out of bed as soon as I finished reading to write this review because I felt an overwhelming urge to tell anyone and everyone who would listen to read this book. I love it, and I really hope you’ll give it a try.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Drawn to Sex: The Basics (Erika Moen)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Everybody and anybody, whether you’ve never had sex or you do it all the time.

About the Book…

Drawn to Sex: The Basics is a brief (but extensive) look into the world of Sex Education. Wise and clever advise on a whole host of important topics is presented with a wonderful array of cute illustrations.

The book is broken up into four sections; Sex the Concept, Doin’ it Safely, Doin’ it With Yourself, and, Doin’ It with Other People. The first section starts with what sex is, consent and so on, and the following sections build from that starting point.

This would be an ideal starting point for getting a deeper understanding of the world of sex.

What I thought…

My first impression of this book came from the introduction, and it caused me to do something I haven’t actually bothered doing so far in the reviewing career. I made a list of positives and negatives! The trigger for this was literally the first line of the book, which read:

“Hello my Dearest Perverts!”

Now, this phrase appears several times in the book, and is only ever used as a term of endearment. Perhaps it is also intended as a way of reclaiming the word, to help put some distance between the ideas that sex is perverted, and that perverts are bad, therefore sex is bad. Whatever the reason, it unsettled me a little…actually quite a lot.

Fortunately, on reading the rest of the book, I completely abandoned the list because there was nothing to properly dislike.

There are so many things to like about this book. I’ll briefly break down the book, then talk about some extras I loved. Obviously am not an expert on sex education (or sex generally) in any sense of the word, so I can’t I just have to assume that the information in this book is factually correct. Having said that, I learned just a ridiculous amount by reading it.

Section 1, Sex the Concept, starts by taking a look at what sex actually is, the various forms of sexual acts, consent and sex positivity. It also tries to advise the reader on how to answer the question Am I ready to have sex? It’s a really interesting chapter, and I was really pleased to see how reassuring the whole thing was. It is made absolutely clear that sex is good, if that’s something you want, and that it’s totally valid and normal if you don’t want sex now, or ever! It also talks about how being sex-positive doesn’t mean you have to be crazy in to kinks fetishes, and the finer points of what constitutes consent.

Section 2, Doin’ it Safely, is all about protection, barriers and contraception. We get a little bit of information about STI’s and the importance of getting tested regularly, including some details about what sort of things testing actually involves. Then it moves on to contraception, starting with condoms. This is probably the best condom related information I’ve read, especially considered the nightmare we were given in school (and if you’ve never heard of the Johnny Condom song, then think yourself lucky…). We also get taught about internal condoms – note, internal, not female, this book is super good at not using gendered terms for things, it’s really trans inclusive which I love. We also get told about things like dental dams and finger cots. Then we get loads of information about forms of birth control, all of which have a list of positives, negatives and some side effects, which I thought was a really good idea. To round off this section there is a chapter on sexting, which I assume is put in the Safely section because it points out that there is always a chance that a sexy pic will be seen by someone other than its intended recipient (and it gives ways to lessen the chance it gets linked back to you), a warning about the legal implications of sexting while under age, and a bit about not how consent extends to pictures as well. Actually the way consent and not sharing other peoples nudes was brought up was really nice to see and well put.

Section 3, Doin’ it with Yourself, is all about healthy exploration of your body, your likes and dislikes and masturbation. This chapter talks about fantasies and how they are normal and healthy, and examining them can help you understand your needs better. But it also talks about how not everything in your head is an actual desire you need to act on, and it says in a non-judgemental way that you can and should find help if you find yourself worried about fantasies. It was a good chapter. Then it talks a bit about the Sexual Response cycle, which I had never heard of but which is basically about how there is more to sex than the orgasm. This section concludes with some advice on masturbation for people with vulvas and people with penises (note that again, there was careful use of inclusive language. This section involves tips on exploring your body, diagrams – both external and internal – of the sexual organs, and a brief look at how sex toys can help with self pleasure.

Section 4, Doin’ it with Others, is all about how sex works with other people. This section takes a look what I suppose are the main forms of sexual contact with others. It breaks down what is involved, how to do it safely,  what to do if things go wrong and all sorts of other good stuff. It includes more diagrams and cartoons, tips and advice and even covers things such as safe and sensible threesomes!

So that’s the content covered, now on to the extra bits I liked.

First off,  is the cartoons throughout. The visual representation of content makes it so easy to absorb and remember. It doesn’t feel cold or clinical or judgemental, it is warm and friendly and  reassuring. The characters featured are really diverse, different races, genders and sexualities. It also includes characters in wheelchairs and with other disabilities, which is something I have not seen in…well in anything if I’m honest. The language in the book is also really carefully selected. I’ve already mentioned how it is trans inclusive, but the book also reminds you from time to time that it’s OK to not want sex, or have a low sex drive.

Ideas such as safe sex, consent and ‘sex should feel good for all involved’ are brought in throughout the book. Each section builds on what came before, providing what I feel is a really well-rounded and detailed look at the subject. Sources are provided whenever statistics are used and wherever the author feels there is more to be said, but not enough space, the reader is provided with websites to look at for further information.

One word of warning, the language in this book is not clinical or…professional seems like the wrong word…it uses a lot of slang words as well as technical terms. As such, this book contains a lot of instances of ‘swear words’, and also cartoons of people engaged in various sexual positions. So this is probably more of a teen+ book…

Final Thoughts…

This book is excellent. I learned a huge amount from this book – I’m not likely to need it, but it’s good to be informed. The comic style of presentation means that this is a book you can easily read in a day and would find it easy to come back to if you needed a reminder. It’s excellent. Read it, give it to your teens and your buddies and your partners. Get informed, bub!

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Professionals Choice: Conversations With Friends (Sally Rooney)

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Goodreads Link

This book was recommended to my by a bookseller (whose name I stupidly forget to take down) at my local bookshop (Toppings, Ely). This is what she had to say about it:

  • Sally Rooney has a wonderful understanding of the way people work.
  • This book is just an excellent look at how millennial life can be lived.
  • Everybody should be reading her.

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Rating: 5/5 Buttons

About the book…

Conversations With Friends is a snapshot of the lives of Frances, her best friend (and former partner) Bobbi, and their new, married friends Nick and Melissa. When Frances finds herself kissing Nick at a party, the pair begin a complicated affair and set in motion a chain of events that could lead to bliss, or heartbreak. Conversations… is a beautiful look into the world of queer and non-monogamous relationships.

Trigger Warnings: This book contains references to sex, self harm, alcoholism, mental and physical health problems. I think that’s everything.

What I thought…

The first thing to say is the Conversations With Friends is not the kind of book that I would usually read.

The second thing to say is that from now on, it definitely IS the kind of thing I’m going to read.

I’ll start with what drew me to the book. The honest answer is, I really don’t know. I had a stack of recommendations in front of me and something about this unassuming yellow paperback, that is nothing like anything else I’ve ever read just called out to me and I took it home. It might have been a subconscious yearning to read about queer relationships, but I really don’t know.

The story itself is all about the characters, Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa. Frances in particular is amazing. Frances is hard to love at times, but easy to root for. I found her so relatable in so many ways. Her struggle to handle intimate attachments was so natural and believable. In her darkest moments, Frances looks back at old conversations with Bobbi, just to prove to herself that if everything else fails, once upon a time she had meant a lot to somebody. She struggles with self harm and body issues. Her romantic entanglements leave her confused and desperate to figure out her place in the world in relation to everyone else. I found it impossible not to see bits of myself in Frances, good and bad, and it made me feel a little less alone. The other characters just as well rounded and thought out.

The story in itself was engaging, I read the whole book in three sittings, and oh boy was it emotional. Rooney takes you effortlessly through a whole host of emotional states as the story progresses, and it’s so easy to feel what the characters are feeling, even if you haven’t experienced it yourself. I often found myself just wishing Frances could see the good in her darkest moments, but I knew that she couldn’t, and it was heartbreaking.

Finally, a note about adult content. It wasn’t until I had started reading this book that I suddenly realised that a book about adult relationships could very well have sexual content, which I’m really not that interested in. So I was worried about that. This book does have sexual content, but it isn’t explicit, or at least not gratuitous. It’s sex mentions and a small amount of detail, not pages and pages of smut.

Final Thoughts…

I’m super pleased that my first Professional’s Choice pick was such a rousing success. I would recommend this book to anybody who wants a beautiful story about life and love and sorrow. It is beautifully written, wonderfully engaging and a really super read.

I will definitely be picking up Normal People (Sally Rooney) next time I’m at the bookshop.