The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna  Cannon
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: 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.

‘What’s he up to?’ My father nodded at the lace in the kitchen window. Mr Creasy was wandering the pavement in his shirt sleeves. Every few minutes he stopped wandering and stood quite still, peering around his Hillman Hunter and leaning into the air as though he were listening for something.

‘He’s lost his wife.’ I took another slice of toast, because everyone was distracted. ‘Although she’s probably finally just buggered off.’

‘Grace Elizabeth!’ My mother turned from the stove so quickly that flecks of porridge turned with her and escaped onto the floor.

‘I’m only quoting Mr Forbes,’ I said. ‘Margaret Creasy never came home last night. Perhaps she’s finally buggered off. ‘

ABOUT THIS BOOK: England, 1976.

Mrs. Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.

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

MY THOUGHTS: The summer of 1976 is hot, and a lot of things are blamed on the heat. No one is acting normally, and the disappearance of Margaret Creasy only serves to exacerbate the strangeness.

It was the title that attracted me, ‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’. It is a very clever title, just as this is a very clever book. Cannon is an author who can take the ordinary, the mundane, and transform them into something more than a little magical.

Whoever would have thought that the story of two little girls, taking something that the Vicar says quite literally and spending their summer looking for God (because God is everywhere), would turn into such a charming book? If you are looking for something light, heartwarming and charming, this will more than fit the bill.

Don’t expect everything to be tied up, nice and neatly, at the end, because it isn’t. The author left me with just as many questions as she answered, but she also left me smiling, satisfied and wanting to read more of her books.

4.5 very smiley stars for The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon, narrated by Paula Wilcox, published by Simon and Schuster Audio, which I listened to via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my page


Bitter by Francesca Jakobi

Bitter by Francesca Jakobi
by Francesca Jakobi (Goodreads Author)
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: It’s been two whole weeks since they came back from honeymoon. Three weeks now, since the wedding. When I call he’s out or busy and he never calls me back. Perhaps I’ve been ringing too often but I don’t know what else I can do. Alice says she’s sorry I ‘ve missed him. I’m starting to wonder if that’s true. She’s always just a little too cheerful; her apology a little too pat.

It feels like they’ve shut the world out, those two. They only need each other. But I ‘m his mother, shouldn’t they let me in?

ABOUT THIS BOOK: It’s 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he’ll never forgive her.

When Reuben marries a petite blonde gentile, Gilda takes it as the ultimate rejection. Her cold, distant son seems transformed by love – a love she’s craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t? And how far will she go to find out? It’s an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .

Bitter is a beautiful and devastating novel about the decisions that define our lives, the fragility of love and the bond between mother and son.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved this read and resented every moment I had to put it down. Jakobi has written a gentle story with a palpable air of menace, a sinister undertone.

Written over two timelines, we have Gilda in the now (1969), anxiously observing her son and his new wife, and the backstory of Gilda growing up, marrying, bearing her son, and finally falling in love.

There is so much more to Gilda’s story than the publicity blurb indicates, and so much more to Gilda herself than we first realise. I don’t know a mother anywhere who won’t be able to relate to Gilda on some level, who hasn’t at some point experienced some guilt or regret over the raising of their child, and who only wants to make it better.

Bitter is a touching and poignant story, written with a deep understanding of human emotions. It shows that the face we present to the world is not always our real face, that underneath we may be someone totally different.

Highly recommended. This is a book that I will read again.

Thank you to Hachette Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Bitter by Francesca Jakobi for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my page

Sandy’s Sunday Summary

Has anyone noticed how fast the weeks are flashing by again? For me, time slowed somewhat in January, but once we hit February it has been insidiously increasing pace,  so that now it is just galloping by. And here we are at Sunday again, and time, once again, to take a look at what I’m currently reading, what I am planning on reading in the coming week, and what ARCS I have been approved for from NetGalley this week.

I am about to start reading

The Fortunate Brother (Sylvanus Now #3)

And about to start listening to

A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #4)

I love Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series.

So these two reads set me very firmly in Canada this week! I enjoy traveling via books.

This week I am planning on reading  –

The Murder List (Detective Zac Boateng #1)

The lifeless body sat, hands bound, silver tape over his mouth. Patches of blood had soaked into the cheap carpet around him. Zac had spent years gaining scientific insight into the mind: human motivation and behaviour. And this scene wasn’t right…

It’s been five years since Detective Zac Boateng’s daughter was murdered and her killer was never found. Now Zac is back working for the Metropolitan Police and is more determined than ever to bring the city’s killers to justice.

When a man is found brutally murdered in a rundown south London shop, all fingers point to the highly intelligent and manipulative Darian Wallace. Two years ago, the victim helped send him to prison. And he’s just been released.

Still grieving, Zac knows it will take everything he’s got to catch this dangerously clever killer. But just as he feels he’s getting closer, he realises all is not quite as it seems and he makes a devastating personal discovery.

Zac has a choice to make – risk letting this killer escape or watch his daughter’s murderer get away again…

The Friend

On a train with her husband, miles from home and their four-year-old son, Ben, Sophie receives a chilling phone call. Two boys are in hospital after a tragic accident. One of them is Ben.

She thought she could trust Emma, her new friend, to look after her little boy. After all, Emma’s a kindred spirit—someone Sophie was sure she could bare her soul to, despite the village rumours. But Sophie can’t shake the feeling that she’s made an unforgivable mistake and now her whole family is in danger.

Because how well does she know Emma, really? Should she have trusted her at all?

Time is running out. Powerless to help her child, still hours from home, Sophie is about to discover the truth. And her life will never be the same.

Anything For Her

You’d do anything for the one that got away . . . wouldn’t you?

When Billy Orr returns home to spend time with his dying sister, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend Aimi, the love of his life. He might not have seen her in eleven years, but Billy’s never forgotten her. He’d do anything for her then, and he’d do anything for her now.

When Aimi tells him that she wants to escape her abusive husband, Billy agrees to help her fake her own death. But is she still the Aimi that Billy remembers from all those years ago?

Once Aimi disappears, Billy has to face the possibility that perhaps she had different reasons for disappearing – reasons that might be more dangerous than she’s led him to believe . . .

Sometimes trusting the one you love is the wrong thing to do.

And now to my Netgalley haul for the week. .. I was, once again, full of good intentions, but still managed to get approved for three ARCs.

Don't Believe It

The Girl With No Name (Detective Josie Quinn, #2)


The Key to Death's Door

That’s my week all mapped out. What is yours looking like? Have you read any of the books I have lined up for the week? Have you requested any ARCs that you think I would enjoy?

Have a wonderful reading week my friends.






Cold Heart by Stephen Edger

Cold Heart by Stephen Edger
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: Kate forced her eyes open, already anticipating the scene before her, but nothing could have prepared her for what she saw: bright red sprays of blood covered every wall; all around her thick, sticky, crimson puddles of blood had dried on the plastic sheeting which covered every inch of the carpet; overhead, the ceiling was covered with a poppy field of dangling rose and strawberry scented fresheners. The gymnasium had been horrific, but here the blood covered every possible surface, as if less care had been taken, as if the blood had been fresher.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: It has been a week since anyone last saw fifteen-year-old Daisy, after she left her best friend’s house and started her short walk home. Detective Kate Matthews and her team have been looking for her ever since.

When a tip-off leads Kate to a disused gymnasium at Daisy’s school, she is shocked to find evidence linking to the murder of a different girl.

Working the two cases side by side, Kate’s blood runs cold when a gift-wrapped box containing a human heart is delivered to her at the station. The heart belongs to yet another unknown victim, but the message is clear: there will be more, and Daisy could be one of them.

When activity on Daisy’s Facebook account indicates she is still alive, the race is on for Kate and her team. Will Daisy be the killer’s next victim? Is Kate prepared to risk everything to stop another innocent life from being taken?

MY THOUGHTS: This series, of which Cold Heart is the third book, is developing into a ‘must read’. Edger kept me on my toes for the whole read. My brain felt like the pinball in one of those machines, but instead it was bouncing off ideas and possible different outcomes.

Although I guessed who was behind the killings, I sure didn’t get the why, or the who was an accessory. Close to the end my jaw was literally hanging open (a great look in a busy cafe at lunch time!), and I am sure I was making ‘oh, no!’ noises as I read through the final pages.

We actually learn little more about Kate as a person in this book, which is not a criticism, but I would suggest that if this series is to continue, then perhaps we could be privy to a little more of her private life, when she has time for one that is.

Although this is a series, each book that I have read is easily able to be read as a stand-alone. I still haven’t read the first in the series, Dead to Me, although it is high on my list of priorities. I hope Stephen Edger is busy writing the next in the series. I will be at the front of the long line of eager fans awaiting its publication.

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Cold Heart by Stephen Edger for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my page

Friday Favorite – Miracles and Conundrums of the Secondary Planets by Jacob M. Appel

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog will know that I love the writing of Jacob M. Appel, an incredibly gifted and talented man with many strings to his bow. I treasure each and every one of his books which have their very own shelf in my library. I have left plenty of room for all the books that are going to flow from his pen in the future. This was only the second book from Appel that I had read.

Miracles and Conundrums of the Secondary Planets by Jacob M. Appel
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: We’re sitting on one of the cast iron benches that line the footpath between Red Brick Cottage II and Red Brick Cottage III. Abbington Manor feels more like a university campus than a psychiatric facility: waves of jonquils rising through beds of red woodchips, a Gothic revival chapel where bells peal on the hour. Ten weeks have passed since my mother tried to drown herself – long enough for the ice sheath to melt off Long Island Sound. The firemen who rescued her are now battling brush fires along the interstate. Jay Bergman, the veterinary student responsible for my positive pregnancy test, is dating a city planner. My mother has already worked her way up to ‘level three privileges’, meaning she may explore the grounds without supervision. The tranquility is killing her slowly. – taken from The Grand Concourse

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A visitor from a distant planet opens a Latvian restaurant next to an abortion clinic; a magician learns that true love will cost him a kidney; a blind barber cuts hair for tourists in a gentrifying Harlem…. Enter the mad, moving university of Jacob M. Appel’s short fiction.

MY THOUGHTS: There was not one story in this collection that did not bring a smile to my face or a tear to my eye – often it was both!

Each story is a tragedy in it’s own right, yet each one demonstrates the resilience, kindness and honour of mankind (and once – an alien!). But don’t expect to be depressed by this collection – to the contrary – all are in some way uplifting. This collection has the common theme of relocation running through it.

This book is a keeper for me…..I know I am going to get just as much pleasure out of it in the future as I just did.

Jacob M Appel appears to be an extraordinary man…..he is a physician (which explains the medical aspect to many of these stories), attorney and bioethicist; he currently teaches at Gotham Writers Workshop and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine; he is also the author of over 200 published short stories and winner of many awards.

If you haven’t yet sampled any of Jacob’s work, I strongly urge you to do so. This is the second of his collections I have read and thoroughly enjoyed.

Thank you Jacob for the gift of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my page

22 Dead Little Bodies by Stuart MacBride

22 Dead Little Bodies by Stuart MacBride
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: Why couldn’t jumpers leap off bungalows? Why did the selfish sods always threaten to throw themselves off bloody huge buildings?

Logan edged closer to the man standing at the far edge of the roof. ‘You. . .’ he cleared his throat but it didn’t shift the taste. ‘You don’t have to do this.’

The man didn’t look around. One hand gripped the railing beside him, the skin stained dark red. Blood. It spread up his sleeve – turning the grey suit jacket almost black.

His other hand was just as bad. The sticky scarlet fingers were curled around a carving knife, the blade glinting against the pale grey sky. Black handle, eight inch blade, the handle streaked with more red.


Because what was the point of slitting your wrists in the privacy of your own home when you could do it on top of a dirty big building in the east end of Aberdeen instead? With a nice big audience to watch you jump.

And it was a long way down.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A short novel from the number one best selling author of CLOSE TO THE BONE and A SONG FOR THE DYING, featuring his most popular characters, Acting DI Logan McRae and DCI Robert Steel.

CID isn’t what it used to be.

It’s been a bad week for Acting Detective Inspector Logan McRae. Every time his unit turns up anything interesting, DCI Steel’s Major Investigation Team waltzes in and takes over, leaving CID with all the dull and horrible jobs.

Like dealing with Mrs Black – who hates her neighbour, the police, and everyone else. Or identifying the homeless man who drank himself to death behind some bins. Or tracking down the wife and kids of someone who has just committed suicide.

But when the dead bodies start turning up, one thing’s certain – Logan’s week is about to get a whole lot worse.

MY THOUGHTS: I love Stuart MacBride’s books, but wasn’t sure how a novella by this author featuring the mismatched duo of McRae and Steel would fare. Shouldn’t have given it a second thought. 22 Dead Little Bodies is written with the same humour and attention to detail as his full length novels. It may only be short, but it still packs a punch!

MacBride’s writing leaves nothing to the imagination. His characters are gritty and realistic. And yet he is always able to inject a little wry or dark humour into a bleak situation. There is a depth to his writing that draws the reader in, and keeps the pages turning late into the night.

This is a great little addition to the Logan and McRae series. If you haven’t yet read anything from this series, it pays to start from the beginning as this is not a series that will work well when read out of order. If you are already a reader of this series, you will find this a tasty little snack between meals.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my page

Aunt Bessie Believes by Diana Xarissa

Aunt Bessie Believes by Diana Xarissa
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: Bessie never minded not having children of her own. Instead she had happily taken on the role of honorary maiden aunt to just about every child in Laxey. Once those children reached school age, parents could count on every one of them running away to ‘Aunt Bessie’s’ at least once in a while. Bessie usually had biscuits, frequently had cake and usually had a sympathetic ear for children who felt misunderstood or under-appreciated at home.

In all her years of opening her door to the neighborhood children, there had only ever been one child that she had ever asked to leave. Disagreeable and difficult even as a teen, Moirrey Teare had never forgiven Bessie for the slight, a fact that bothered Bessie not even the tiniest bit.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Aunt Bessie believes that Moirrey Teare is just about the most disagreeable woman she’s ever had the misfortune to meet.

Elizabeth Cubbon, (Aunt Bessie to nearly everyone), is somewhere past sixty, and old enough to ignore the rude woman that does her best to ruin the first session of the beginning Manx language class they are both taking. Moirrey’s sudden death is harder to ignore.

Aunt Bessie believes that Moirrey’s death was the result of the heart condition that Moirrey always complained about.

The police investigation, however, suggests that someone switched some of the dead woman’s essential medications for something far more deadly.

Aunt Bessie believes that she and her friends can find the killer.

But with Doona suspended from work and spending all of her time with the dead woman’s long-lost brother, Hugh caught up in a brand new romance and Inspector Rockwell chasing after a man that might not even exist, Bessie finds herself believing that someone might just get away with murder.

MY THOUGHTS: I discovered Aunt Bessie last year when I needed an author whose surname began with an X for an Author’s Alphabet Challenge. I purchased Aunt Bessie Assumes, and enjoyed it so much that I went straight on to read the second book in the series, Aunt Bessie Believes.

I love the characters of Aunt Bessie and Doona. They are good friends who spend a great deal of time together, but still live their separate lives. They have an insatiable curiosity, great senses of humour and a wonderful appreciation of food. Plus they ascribe to my belief that chocolate makes everything better!

I had the solution to this mystery figured out early on, but only because I thought ‘If I was the author, who would I make guilty and how?’ I was not always convinced that I was right. . .

3.5 stars. This was actually a 4-star read, but I deducted 0.5 of a star for a technical error. I will be reading more of this delightful series suitable for fans of M. C. Beaton and Christie’s Miss Marple.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my page