The Trouble With Goats And Sheep by Joanna Cannon

The Trouble with Goats and SheepThe Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s the middle of heat wave in 1976 and woman has disappeared in the avenue. Everyone is on edge. With this as the backdrop, Grace and Tilly (aged 10, ish) decide to go searching for God, just to be sure that he’s in the avenue, keeping everyone safe.

This is a story about small communities and groups judging people because they are different. It’s a bit like Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, because the outcast is judged guilty by everyone, but everyone has their own reasons for acting the way they do.

This is a lovely immersive story. It took me a little while to get into it because I kept being distracted by the almost lyrical language. The characters were very well drawn and I kept thinking about them after I’d finished the book, which always a good thing.

I really enjoyed reading it. It evoked the 1970s spookily well.

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Goodreads Book Review: Wedding Bells by the Creek by Janet Gover

Wedding Bells By The Creek: A Coorah Creek NovellaWedding Bells By The Creek: A Coorah Creek Novella by Janet Gover

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the Coorah Creek series (nearly all of them have made me cry – in a ‘good book cry’ kind of way) so, when I heard there was going to be a new novella – with a wedding in it, no less, I asked the author if I could have a review copy.

In this book we meet up with Ed Collins again (grumpy old bugger from Coorah Creek Christmas) who is a significantly happier man now that he’s reunited with his estranged son. We also meet Helen (mum to Tia from Little Girl Lost) who is searching for reconciliation. If anyone can understand just how hard it is to heal old rifts, it’s Ed.

I liked that Helen and Ed are a little older. I also liked the connections with the town. I feel like it’s a real place.
Oh, and did I mention the puppies? There are puppies.

The ending was lovely, but it was bittersweet because it felt like the end of the series.

Usual disclaimer- Janet and I write for the same publisher. I asked for a free copy so that I could read it early. This is an honest review.

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Goodreads Book Review: The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman

eThe Summer of Impossible ThingsThe Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m a sucker for a time travel novel and this one’s a good ‘un.
While visiting her late mother’s home town, Luna starts experiencing these weird episodes where she’s transported back to the 1970s at a crucial point in her mother’s life. She could save her mother from a terrible event in the past (which in turn could save her mother’s life in the present). However, in doing so, she would erase herself from existence.

The writing is brilliantly evocative of the a hot Brooklyn summer and, in places, incredibly poignant. The story was incredibly compelling. The bits about Saturday Night Fever were really fun.
The only niggle was the ending where all that had changed about the narrator was her eye colour (not terribly likely, but then again, the book is about impossibly things, I guess).

All in all a compelling and immersive read.

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Goodreads Book Review: Generation Decks by Titus Chalk

Generation Decks: The Unofficial History of Gaming Phenomenon Magic the GatheringGeneration Decks: The Unofficial History of Gaming Phenomenon Magic the Gathering by Titus Chalk

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I saw this on Netgalley and picked it up because I used to play Magic back when I was at uni (in the mid 1990s) – not at any professional level, just sitting on the floor of my friends’ rooms. So when I saw a history of the game, I was intrigued.

The book is part chronicle of the journey of Wizards of The Coast from start up to global behemoth, part memoir/love letter to the game that changed the author’s life.

I hadn’t appreciated just how popular the game was/is. It was fascinating reading about the ragtag beginning of it and the various commercial decisions that made it stand out from the rest of the roleplaying/table top games available at the time. The evolution of Magic:The Gathering and the evolution of the internet seem to have coincided and helped each other out.

I was particularly interested in the section about how women playing the game are treated (and how WOTC is trying to fix the gender balance at professional level). I only ever played with friends (mostly male, all of them nice), so I never really had to face the misogyny described. On the other hand, I have had the odd ‘a girl in the comic book shop’ moment. It’s a shame that a game that embraces outcasts has created outcasts of its own.

This is an interesting book if you know about the game already. If not, it’s still an interesting book about a business.

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Book Review: The Little Teashop of Horrors by Jane Lovering

Little Teashop of HorrorsLittle Teashop of Horrors by Jane Lovering

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a fan of Jane’s books – I like the mixture of comedy and darkness. I wasn’t expecting a teashop book from her, to be honest. Anyway, we have a book about a tea shop. In Yorkshire. So there are scones and fairy cakes and raspberry crunch. There are also birds of prey. Owls! Hooray!

The heroine, Amy, had grown up being told that she’s nothing much to look at and not terribly good for anything. She has a pretty best friend, who isn’t very nice to her, and a grandmother who has old fashioned views about, well, everything. In reality, Amy is clever and capable and very, very kind, but she’s been taken advantage of so often, she’s pretty much come to expect it.

The hero, Josh, is oh, so broken. He’s very sweet (and good looking, although he does his best to hide it). He’s in love with Amy right from the start, but too messed up to do anything about it. As you know, I love a beta hero. I thought Josh was wonderful.

Amy runs the cafe in Monkpark Hall – a stately home that is open to the public. I loved the view of a stately home from behind the scenes. The staff (many of whom come from generations of people who worked at the Hall) feel that the house somehow belongs to them as much as they belong to it – something the new administrator who comes in fails to recognise until it’s too late.

I really enjoyed reading about Amy and Josh (and Skrillex). I especially liked the fact that, by the end of the book, they were healing each other, but the problems had not miraculously gone away (because deep seated problems rarely do that!). All that talk of cake has made me hungry now. I shall have to go and hunt me down some pudding.
The usual note – Jane is a friend and we both write for the same publisher. I was a fan of her writing before I even met her. I got a review copy of this book from Netgalley, in return for an honest review.

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nest review.

Book review: One Dark Lie by Clare Chase

One Dark Lie

One Dark Lie by Clare Chase

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a spate of reading fantasy novels I was in the mood for something darker. This is a murder mystery with a hint of gang violence thrown in to up the level of menace.

Ruby writes books about real people. When she is offered the chance to write the life story of murdered academic Diana Patrick-John and she can’t help but drawn into the mystery of who killed Diana.
Nate is trying to trap his sister’s killer. He’s playing a dangerous game whilst trying desperately to keep the people he loves – including Rudy – safe.

This is a tense and atmospheric book. It’s worth mentioning the Other Place city of Cambridge, which is almost a character in itself. Beautiful. I also loved the way Ruby found academic rivalry and a low level of sniping in the academic community.

I hadn’t read the previous book in the series, but that didn’t really stand in the way of my enjoying this one. It’s a good old fashioned murder mystery – not too dark, but tense and gripping.

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This review is part of a blog tour that Clare is doing to promote One Dark Lie.

One Dark Lie - high resYou can buy One Dark Lie now. You can find out more about Clare on her website or catch up with her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Goodreads Book Review: Light On Snow by Anita Shreve

Light on SnowLight on Snow by Anita Shreve

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a lovely, atmospheric book. Told from the point of view of a grown woman looking back at her 12 year old self, it’s a story about a father and daughter who find a baby in the snow. Ostensibly the story is about what happens to the baby and her mother, but it’s really about the bond of grief and love that links Nikcy to her father.
It’s a quiet study of emotion. Highly recommended.

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Goodreads Book Review: The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister, #0.5)The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a novella. I’m reading my way through this series and this one is probably my favourite so far. Serena is sitting outside the Duke of Clermont’s residence, not speaking, but not leaving either. Hugo is the Duke’s man and it’s his job to get rid of her. Hugo can be ruthless if he needs to be.

I loved the characters in this book and the respect that grows between them. I’m a sucker for good dialogue and character driven humour and this book has definitely got those. It’s nice to see a romance between two intelligent, well rounded character who both grow by the end of the book.

I read this book in an afternoon and went straight on to read the next in the series. Brilliant.

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Goodreads Book Review: A Man with One of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell

A Man With One of Those FacesA Man With One of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I chose this book based on the title and the cover, both of which are great. The blurb is about how Paul has one of those nondescript faces which means that people tend to mistake him for someone else quite a lot. It starts off with him offering a service where he visits elderly patients in hospitals and hospices and pretends to be a nephew or a grandson – the patient is happy because they’ve had someone visit and Paul gets to do the charity work that is the prerequisite for him getting his allowance.

This is a crime novel with a twist of comedy running through it. I thought that was quite a refreshing thing to see. The humour is quite dark. The crime side is good too. There’s a decent mystery and a good twist at the end.

Paul’s nondescript-ness doesn’t really play much part in the story after chapter one. Paul is meant to be really intelligent, but you only know that because people tell you so. He doesn’t seem any cleverer than your average chap. Nurse Brigit is much more on the ball. I liked her a lot.
I liked Bunny too. He was interesting and realistic. I probably wouldn’t want to meet him in real life.

There were a lot of secondary character gangsters and crooked cops, whom I tended to lose track of after a while (I read fast and am easily confused, so this might just be me).

All in all, a good fun read, especially if you like combination of crime and dark humour.

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