Book Review · Books

[Picking Stitches – Book Review] The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (AKA New 2016 Reading Goals)

This year one of my goals is to do more reading. I checked my Goodreads account and apparently only ready 15 of my attempted 25 books. Now, while I think I read more than 15 (who has time to update that regularly), I clearly didn’t read as much as I wanted to. I have a TBR that will take me as long to get through as paying off my mortgage will and it ain’t getting shorter (it’s getting longer with every interesting new book released).

Thankfully I now live in a small town with a library. Hooray for getting books to read (for free) and then giving them back and not having them clutter up my stuff. Seriously, libraries are awesome.

In that vein, I’m not going to share and review every book I read, but some just demand to be shared. This is one of them. I picked it up randomly off the shelves at my local library, and I was so glad I did. It is The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. I will try to be vague but there may be spoilers!


No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.

Until now.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message.’

This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

The Good:

  • This is all about timey spacey things. I love this stuff.
  • The whole idea is a great concept to explore, and I like how realistic Harry’s experiences were, and how believably nonchalant the Kalachakra became after several lives.
  • I love How complex Harry’s relationship with Vincent was. They were enemies, but also incredibly close friends. Vincent was on one hand a sociopath with a God complex, but also I felt he actually cared for Harry on some deeply flawed level. I felt that Harry would have been remorseful at the events immediately following the end of the book even if it was ultimately necessary.

The Bad:

  • It took a while to get into, I know that it was necessary to set the scene and explain how the whole premise worked, but it read a lot easier after it had a proper plot and story established.
  • It also jumped around quite a bit. I found it fine to follow, so I’m not complaining about it’s non-linear-ness, but I did find it jarring that action or important events would be interrupted suddenly with a rambling chapter of Harry’s musing before going back to the main story. I felt it disturbed the pace of reading it.

Favourite Part:
Possibly Harry’s victory letter at the end. It was a very eloquent Harry-ish version of “Haha, I win” which I rather enjoyed.

Favourite Line:

The most it ever seems we know how to do with time is to waste it.”

Out of Ten:
A solid nine!

Overall Thoughts:
The Sci-fi/Fantasy genre is my so totally my thing, so maybe I’m biased, but I really enjoyed it. There’s enough of the character stuff to get you through the living-your-lives-over-again stuff if that’s not your bag, too! There’s a really interesting friendship/nemesis thing going on between our main protagonist/antagonists that I loved. It jumped around a bit and took a while to get into, but the pay-off is great once the story gets rolling and you realise all that at the beginning has helped you understand this universe that Harry lives in before he starts telling you his story of saving it.

If you give it a try, please stop by and tell me what you think!

Hayley Margaret

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you visit your local library to browse?



10 thoughts on “[Picking Stitches – Book Review] The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (AKA New 2016 Reading Goals)

    1. I hadn’t even recognised the Dr Who-esque-ness of it! Shame on me! But you’re right, it is a tad! No wonder I really enjoyed it! Poor you! Your TBR will be enormous by the time you can read just for fun! 🙂


  1. I love your book reviews! This is on my list, I remember my mum telling me about it when she was working through it and she got quite befuddled! I’ll still give it a go though, happily. Love hearing and reading more from you. Imagine if we could hang out at the weekends! So fun xoxo


  2. I haven’t read it, but I might now. I love the library! Heading there tomorrow so Pooh can hopefully pick up book 4 of the Harry Potter series. I know you’re a fan. She’s about to DIE waiting for it after finishing #3 in only 3 days!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi! I’m trying a new thing with my blog where I link to other reviews of a book I read (partly as an attempt to expand my own book-blog horizon and partly to help others who stumble across my page to get other opinions). I just uploaded my own review of Harry August and I linked to your blog because I liked your review! If you’d prefer I remove the link I of course will. Just wanted to let you know!


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