REVIEW: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

REVIEW: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

Synopsis 

‘Mrs Creasy disappeared on a Monday.

I know it was a Monday, because it was the day the dustbin men came, and the avenue was filled with a smell of scraped plates.

England, the summer of 1976 and the heat is blazing and Mrs Creasy is missing.

The avenue is alive with whispers, as the heat mingles with the swirling dust of rumours and long-buried secrets, bringing old resentments to the surface.

For ten-year-old Grace and her best friend Tilly the mystery is a welcome distraction from the usual round of summer holiday boredom and as the summer shimmers endlessly on, they decide to take matters into their own hands.

Yet as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…’

 

Thoughts

This book started off brilliantly. The writing style was fun, the setting was a quaint British village, the characters were interesting, and the plot was intriguing. About a third of the way through the novel things started going downhill. The plot lost direction. Things were mentioned and never addressed or explained again and the ending! Don’t get me started on the ending!

I don’t want this to be an all-negative review because like said, this book started off really well. I found Cannon’s writing style really endearing and I loved the characters Grace and Tilly who were undoubtedly the books saviours. There is something just lovely and innocent to me about an adult book being told from a child’s perspective. In this book, it added humour, insight and a moral compass but unfortunately, Cannon did not stick with just Grace’s perspective. She switched randomly between different characters which took away from the novel in my opinion.

I cannot in good conscience recommend that you read this book because the ending left me so annoyed that I wouldn’t want to put any of you through it. I honestly considered for a moment that I’d missed a chapter or that some of the pages had fallen out.

The story did not come to a conclusion and for a book that markets itself as a quirky mystery, this is a HUGE flaw. I even had to go on the GoodReads comments page just to check if I was crazy or if everyone felt the same and there did seem to be a general consensus about the ending. One user even commented that they threw the book across the room after finishing it because they were so unhappy with the ending!

(Maybe this book had a higher/intellectual meaning to its ending and if it did, I’m sorry Joanne but that went completely over my head.)

It is a shame that this book lost direction because it had so much potential. I adored the writing style and I love a novel told from the perspective of a child but unfortunately, this book just fell at the last hurdle for me. That being said, I don’t think it would put me off reading any more of Cannon’s work in the future, but I will make sure I read some reviews first this time!

 

Thanks for reading! Have you read this book? What did you think of the ending? Let me know in the comments below!

My July Mini Book Haul

My July Mini Book Haul

Another first for me on my blogging journey and this time it’s my first mini book haul post!

let me set the scene for you all. It was a lovely day outside and I was having a tough week, so I thought I would go for a walk during my lunch break on Wednesday and pop into Waterstones to pick up a new book. One hour and £30 later, I was rushing back to my office with 4 new books and an even a longer TBR.

(Side note, how do people go into bookshops and only buy one book? Is that even a possible? If so, please share your secret with me!)

I am honestly so excited to read each of these novels and they were all inspired purchases based on reviews I’d read on here so thanks, everyone!

I really hope they all give up to the hype!

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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‘Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.’

I know. I know. How have I not read this yet? This was the ‘one’ book I was heading in to buy so this is right at the top of my TBR. I have read so many amazing review posts that have inspired me to buy this book (check out the most recent one I read on The Food and Book Life’s page!)

 

 

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

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‘Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.’

I can’t remember where I first saw this book reviewed or who’s page it was on but it sounded interesting and I love the cover so I couldn’t resist.

 

 

A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood

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‘Growing up in her sleepy Cornish village dreaming of being a writer, sixteen-year-old Lou has always wondered about the grand Cardew house which has stood empty for years. And when the owners arrive for the summer – a handsome, dashing brother and sister – Lou is quite swept off her feet and into a world of moonlit cocktail parties and glamour beyond her wildest dreams.

But, as she grows closer to the Cardews, is she abandoning her own ambitions… And is there something darker lurking at the heart of the Cardew family?’

This purchase was inspired by The Book Moo’s recent post on this insanely beautiful book. LOOK AT THAT COVER!  

 

Floored by Eleanor Wood, Holly Bourne, Lisa Williamson, Melinda Salisbury, Non Pratt, Sara Barnard, and Tanya Byrne

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‘When they got in the lift, they were strangers (though didn’t that guy used to be on TV?): Sasha, who is desperately trying to deliver a parcel; Hugo, who knows he’s the best-looking guy in the lift and is eyeing up Velvet, who knows what that look means when you hear her name and it doesn’t match the way she looks, or the way she talks; Dawson, who was on TV, but isn’t as good-looking as he was a few years ago and is desperately hoping no one recognizes him; Kaitlyn, who’s losing her sight but won’t admit it, and who used to have a poster of Dawson on her bedroom wall, and Joe, who shouldn’t be here at all, but who wants to be here the most.

And one more person, who will bring them together again on the same day every year.’

I first heard about this novel on Twitter during a Q&A with the authors of this novel and then I just happened to stumble across it in Waterstones one my way to the till. I love books from different characters perspectives and this one has 7 different perspectives all written by different authors! It sounds amazing and I can’t wait to read it!  

 

Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them? Let me know in the comments below!  

REVIEW: The Woman in The Window by A. J. Finn

REVIEW: The Woman in The Window by A. J. Finn

‘Her husband’s almost home. He’ll catch her this time…

I myself am very interested. Not in her body – the pale ridge of her spine, her shoulder blades like stunted wings, the baby blue bra clasping her breasts: whenever these loom within my lens, any of them, I look away – but in the life she leads. The lives. Two more than I’ve got.

What did she see?

A chronic agoraphobic, Anna Jones hasn’t left her home in ten months. Spending her days and nights cocooned within the safety of her house, Anna retreats into the safety of the black and white films she binge-watches in the company of her cat and one-too-many bottles of wine. A former child psychologist, she used to have a busy life, a husband, a daughter. Now her husband has left her, taking their daughter with him, and Anna is left haunting the rooms of their house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Her one constant lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But friendless, isolated and under suspicion from those she wishes to help, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?’

 

I need to stop reading this type of book because every time I do I am left with the same feeling. Disappointment.

This is not to say that The Woman in the Window is not a good book, it absolutely is. It is a captivating page-turner that has all the elements of a good thriller. That being said, it didn’t feel like anything new.

My mum recommended this to me as she’d just read it and she was singing its praises. Halfway through she asked me what I thought, and I aired some grievances that she didn’t necessarily agree with, so I’ll see what all of you lovely readers think.

My problem with this genre is that they always centre around some unstable woman who has a drinking problem or mental health problem or has been through something traumatic. I have honestly lost count of the books I have read that follow this general theme and it is starting to bother me. I know this is a brilliant tool that writers use to add suspense and layers to the plot as it creates an unreliable witness who no one believes, but it just feels tired to me.

I think near-enough everyone would agree that the best thrillers are the ones that are unique. The ones that stand out from the crowd and have a really interesting and different storyline from anything you’ve read before. I know that this is difficult as there are so many different crime and thriller books out there now, but shouldn’t we still be trying?

The ending or big reveal didn’t leave me ‘OMG’ shocked and maybe that’s just my problem with the genre in general.

To end this short review on a positive note, I did think Finn’s writing was brilliant, and I this book devoured it in one sitting so if you are into this genre then this is definitely the book for you!

Thanks for reading? Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below! 

Ramblings: where should we buy our books?

Ramblings: where should we buy our books?

This is the first post I’ve done that isn’t a review or about particular books and it’s about a topic that I’m currently struggling with: where should we buy our books?

This post was inspired by this tweet that I saw recently:

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This absolutely broke my heart and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days afterward.

I’m always buying books, but I will admit I rarely buy them from independent/local bookshops. I’m a frequent Amazon customer and I do love a charity shop book bargain but after seeing this tweet I have made myself a promise that I will make sure I more of my books from independent/local bookshops from now on.

I love nothing more than getting lost in a bookshop for an hour or two and if these amazing places started disappearing, I know I would definitely miss them. Shopping online for a book will never give you the same magical feeling that walking into a cute bookshop does.

I do love buying books from charity shops though as the money does go towards helping people and amazing organisations there’s something lovely about a pre-owned book. I know some people are put off by a book if it’s not new, but I like that someone else has read it and that the book has a story of its own. I recently bought a copy of I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith from a charity shop which had this on the inside and the cover:

 

How perfect is this? I had never heard of World Book Night before this and I think it’s a lovely idea. This book had a life before I bought it. It has a unique story and someone else has enjoyed reading this and passed it on. This really made my heart feel full.

I’d be really interested to know what are your thoughts on where we should buy books? Do you ever feel bad buying from Amazon and not supporting independent bookshops?                                                                                  

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

REVIEW: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

REVIEW: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

‘I tattooed a number on her arm. She tattooed her name on my heart.

In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust.

Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, did, too.

So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous, unforgettable and human stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz.’

 

To say I loved this book wouldn’t be the right words as its hard to love such a heart-breaking story but it was definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. The story was inspiring but devastating and I would recommend reading this with a pack of tissues at the ready.

I have only read a handful of historical fiction books on the Holocaust, but I have been to the Holocaust museum in Berlin, I have walked through the memorial and read the stories. I have seen films and read articles and yet every time I revisit this, I am horrified and shocked at what happened all over again. It will never be an easy thing to read about and that is important. It is essential that Morris made sure that this book was difficult to read in parts even though it was a love story because that is Lale and Gita’s truth.

In Morris’ own words after the novel was published:

‘Lale repeatedly told everyone he met how he wanted his story to be told and spread far and wide, so that a Holocaust would never happen again. Through his, and other testimonies, we would learn and live by the words he said to himself everyday — if you woke up in the morning, it is a good day. He would say to me: as long as you try to live the best life you can, you are a winner.’

Lale was an exceptional character and from the research I’ve done since reading the novel, he was also an exceptional man. This is the most heart-breaking yet beautiful love story I have ever read. How these two people could live through and survive the horror that was the Auschwitz’s, and still be able to have hope for a better future is awe-inspiring.

One thing that really stood out to me in this novel was how limited the mention of Hitler by name was. Morris makes sure that the focus is on Lale and Gita and their story. We all know who Hitler is and what he did, but this is not about him, it is about two people finding love in the most desolate and hopeless of places. It is a story of resilience, loss, life and death.

Morris has captured this true story beautifully and I think she has done Lale and Gita’s story justice. I think this is an important read and although it was difficult at times, it is inspirational. Please read this story. You will not regret it.

Thanks for reading! Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below! 

Top 5 Tuesdays: Top 5 Books I Want to Re-Read

Top 5 Tuesdays: Top 5 Books I Want to Re-Read

If you aren’t familiar with Top 5 Tuesday, it is a group here on WordPress now currently run by Shanah over at BionicBookWorm, where each week they give you a topic and you talk about 5 books that fit that category.

This week’s topic is Top 5 Books I want to Re-read.

It took me less than 2 minutes to decide on my top 5. I tried to pick books that have had a big impact on me or are beautifully written or just amazing stories. I have already read some of these more than once and I would happily do so again.

I’m excited to share my top 5 and to read all of yours so please leave a link in the comments if you are also participating. Let’s get started!

 

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

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Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.’

What better way to kick of this list than with a classic? I think this book probably divides opinion, but I am a huge fan. I love the Bronte sisters and their work. I have been to visit their family home in Howarth, Yorkshire at least 5 times. As an English Literature graduate, I have had to study this book more than once and that can sometimes ruin a book for me if I have to dissect and analyse it but with Wuthering Heights, this made me love it more. I feel like I was able to fully appreciate how brilliant and powerful this book is and how engaging Emily was as a writer. I have read this book more than once I and don’t doubt that I will read it again in the future.

 

Why We Broke Up – Daniel Handler

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‘Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.’

This book just resonated with me. It was different from anything I had read before because it wasn’t a typical YA love story with dramatic break-ups and make-ups, you already know that the couple have broken up from the title, so you know what to expect. What Handler does is take you on the journey of ‘why’. We see when and how this relationship died. It was a one of the most realistic portrayals of a relationship that I have ever read in a YA books. There was no fairy tale romance get together, but an honest account of a breakup and heartache. I thought it was beautiful and I loved the illustrations by Maira Kalman that went along with it. I have already re-read this book once, but I would love to read it again!

 

The Hobbit – J R. R. Tolkien

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‘Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an unexpected journey `there and back again’. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon…’

This is an obvious but vital choice. I adore Tolkien’s writing. There is nothing better than escaping into the world of a fantasy novel and The Hobbit is my favourite go-to for this. This book is so magical and powerful that it draws me in every time. I love all of the characters and the sheer volume of characters that weave in and out of the story. The songs are a delightful addition to the story and I genuinely find myself singing them inside my head as I read (to my own made up tune obviously!) This book is just brilliant, and I am so glad it was written.

 

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

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‘Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. The Hunger Games is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present. Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever…’

I don’t dare admit how many times I have already re-read this book (and the others in the series) but I would gladly read it again. This book was pivotal for me age 13-17. I absolutely adored The Hunger Games and I was definitely what you would class as a ‘fan-girl’. My love for twilight had started to disappear, my Team Jacob posters went away and then my brother suggested I read this book that our grandma got him for Christmas and just like that, my world is changed. I devoured the first book in one night and then had an agonising wait for the second one (and then the third) during which I re-read the series religiously. I don’t know what it was that I loved so much about it, potentially the captivating story or Collins’s writing. I’m still not sure but this book will always be one of my favourites so thanks to my big brother for suggesting I read it.

 

The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey

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‘Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?’

This is one of the most beautiful and magical books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I think this is the perfect book for re-reading as it has so much to offer and I think you could take away something different each time. I don’t have the words to describe how precious and perfect this story is, so I will leave it at this, read this book. Read it slowly, take in each sentence and description and picture each scene or snowflake. It is most definitely worth it.

 

 

Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these books? What books are on your re-read list? Let me know in the comments below!

REVIEW: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

REVIEW: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

‘Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles.

Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfil his destiny.

Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear’

 

This is one of those rare books that actually lives up to the hype! I loved absolutely everything about it from the writing style to the characters. I could not put it down.

Although I am definitely very late to the hype, I am so glad I finally got around to reading this book because it was brilliant. Miller brings to life ancient Greece and reinvigorates the story of Achilles that people know so well. I think that Greek Mythology is fascinating and I will admit, Hercules is one of my favourite Disney films, so The Song of Achilles was an absolute treat for me.

“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”

I really enjoyed the way that Miller focused on Achilles relationships rather than just the ‘hero’ story. I loved watching his relationship with Patroclus grow and my heart broke for them both several times throughout the book, particularly at the end. After reading this book it made me want to find out more about Achilles as I knew his story but not in much detail and I ended up in a click-hole (we’ve all been there) of information about the nature of his relationships with Patroclus, who I had not actually hear of until reading this book. It was all really interesting and I like that this book made me want to learn more. It made me excited about history which is always a good thing!

What Miller did particularly well was make Achilles’ relationship with his Goddess mother also one of the main themes in the book. The character of Thetis was brilliant in her own right and although she is some what of the villain in this story, she was one of my favourites as she was so well written and developed. Millers descriptions of her were so detailed that I could picture her through all of her changing appearances.  Her complicated relationship with her son (who I think she half despised because of his ‘human’ descendance) added a dimension to this novel that made it more than just a love story or war story.

I don’t want to give too much else away as going into this book somewhat blind (as I did) makes it such a wonderful and surprising journey. Miller is an exceptional writer and story teller and I can’t wait to read more from her!

Thanks for reading! Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!