Ok, so I haven’t quite kept up with my reading challenge so far this year – I should be over 6 books down by now but I’ve only got through 4. In my defence this year I have also completed and passed my MPhil and got a new job so I think I’ll let myself off! The small number of books I’ve read this year have been quite varied, so I thought I’d say a few brief words about them…
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, by Joanna Cannon
My first read of 2017 was The Trouble With Goats and Sheep. I heard about the book at Guildford Readers’ Day in September when the author, Joanna Cannon, gave a talk about it. She was so interesting and spoke about her story with such passion that I had to buy it. I finally got around to reading it at the beginning of the year and I loved it!
The story is told from the perspective of Grace, a 10-year-old girl living on an estate in the UK during the heat wave of 1976. Mrs Creasy, one of her neighbours, goes missing and Grace and her best friend Tilly decide to spend the summer holidays investigating what has happened to her. After speaking to the local vicar, Grace gets it into her head that if she can find god then she can find Mrs Creasy, and so off Grace and Tilly go looking for god.
Through Grace’s eyes we get to know all of the neighbours and it seems to be that there is a shared secret on the estate. Mixed in with the present day are flashbacks to 9 years ago when the house of one of the neighbours, Walter Bishop, is burnt down. Mr Bishop is not liked on the estate, as people believe that he has done bad things to children in the past. The book explores the secrets and gossip of the estate in an entertaining and touching way.
I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for something to entertain them while sitting in the sun during their lunch break!
Dr Sleep (The Shining Book 2), by Stephen King
I was hesitant to read this as The Shining is so iconic and as we all know sequels never live up to the original. Unfortunately in this case it didn’t. Although a good read in itself, it felt extremely detached from The Shining and I think that I would have enjoyed it more if it didn’t have any association with its predecessor at all.
The basic storyline focuses around Dan Torrance, the son of Jack in the original book who has ‘the shining’ (the ability to see ghosts, read minds and more…) Dan is now grown up and dealing with alcoholism, like his father, as well as trying to live with the shining. Once sober, he comes across a young girl who also has the shining and is in danger from a group of supernatural travellers, called The True Knot. The True Knot feed off people with the shining which gives them the ability to live forever. Dan teams up with the girl to protect her and get rid of the True Knot once and for all.
There were a few links with The Shining in there, but I think that it would have been better as a story in its own right – the links to The Shining felt forced and only there for the sake of being able to attach this book to the original. That being said, I do love Stephen King so my expectations are always higher for his work than for anyone else!
Goodbye Columbus, by Philip Roth
I chose to read this because this author is a favourite of my ultimate fictional role model; Hannah Hovarth from Girls. Goodbye, Columbus is a story about the romance between Neil, a young working class Jewish man and Brenda, an upper class Jewish girl. The relationship takes place over a summer while Brenda is back at home with her parents during the break from college. The story focusses on the relationship between Neil and the rest of Brenda’s family, as much as with her.
To be honest, not a lot happens but it’s just a good read – I can’t really explain why! It’s followed by a few short stories, all of which are entertaining and can each be read over a cup of coffee, which is ideal I’d recommend this to keep in your handbag for a quick read when you find yourself with a spare 10 minutes.
About Last Night, by Adele Parks
Adele Parks came to host an event at my place of work for International Women’s Day this year, so I decided that I should read one of her books! I chose About Last Night as I was drawn in by the strap line: what would you do to save your best friend? Well, for the characters in Parks’ novel it turns out not much.
I don’t want to give too much away about this as it’s one of those books where the revelation at the end is integral to the enjoyability of it. In short, it focuses on two women who have been friends since childhood and they have an extremely strong bond. One of them, Pippa, relies on the other, Stephanie, for almost everything but the tables are turned when Stephanie asks Pippa to lie to the police about where she was one night. You slowly find out what actually happened that night and the events leading up to it.
This is the kind of book that would be perfect for a holiday read – nothing too intense but a bit of a page turner.
Hopefully I’ll get through a few more books a bit quicker to catch up with my reading challenge…!