My reading and blogging have gone downhill at the moment. This has a lot to do with the fact that I'm away from home, so I'm parted from the books I should like to be reading, and partly to do with some bad choices. When I tell you that one of them was the much praised The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon, you may dismiss me as an idiot. But for some reason the book just didn't do it for me. It wasn't that I thought it was a bad book -- it is extremely well, sometimes beautifully written with plenty of quotable purple passages, it's cleverly conceived, and the research on the period in which it's set (mostly 1976 with a few flashbacks) is impeccable. But the feeling I had with it was rather like what I sometimes feel when watching Meryl Streep -- she brilliant, but somehow you can see she's acting. This probably sounds ridiculously churlish, and certainly I'll be in the minority here. So don't take any notice of me. Read this Guardian review or Simon Savidge's rave on Savidge Reads or Eric's excellent review on Lonesome Reader -- all of the have some excellent points to make and I can't really argue with them. Why did it annoy me so much, then? Maybe I was just in the wrong mood.
The next choice I made was worse. I'm not going to tell you the title of this book because I honestly don't have anything positive to say about it. It was a crime novel, and I read a good review of it on some blog or other and then spotted it on Kindle for £1.99. So I started reading it and my goodness there was so much to criticise. The first thing was that this novel was in desperate need of a proof reader. There were many homophones -- if you don't know what they are, this means a word that sounds the same but is spelled differently. Two/too/to, prey/pray, their/they're/there are some common examples. I started highlighting them but got tired of doing it. Then there's the fact that it read like a text that had been subjected to some advice from a tutor or other such person, to the effect that 'you need some descriptive adjectives'. So you got things like 'I picked up the grey, ceramic mug in my pale, thin hand, and drank the brown, sweet liquid with my thin, red lips'. I exaggerate, but only a bit. Wasn't keen on the use of commas, either. As for the plot, well it had some clever twists but it stretched my credulity and rather disgusted me. I didn't finish it properly or rather skimmed a lot and read the ending. Luckily others have, and will, love this novel, and I wish the author well (though I hope they don't read this).
Grouch grouch grumble grumble. Never mind. I'm going home on Friday and looking forward to plunging into something a bit more to my taste.