The Last Two Books of June

June was a hard month for me, I had to work a lot and so for the last 2 weeks of June I didn’t allow myself to pick up a book or I would have fallen behind my deadline. Now, all you fellow bookworms know how hard that is and the pain I was in from not being able to delve into my current read (Startdust by Neil Gaiman – it’s my favourite film).

Aside from that June did have some perks; I went to the RSC once again with one of my good friend’s to watch Titus Andronicus. I studied it in university and was interested to see how it would be performed, needless to say it lived up to its gruesome reputation.

And now, on to my final two reads of June, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed for different reasons and both were awarded a 5* rating from me.


Title: The Raqqa Diaries

Author: Samer

Publisher: Hutchinson

Publication Date: March 2017

Synopsis: The Raqqa Diaries began as a series of short broadcasts on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ Programme. Now one of the most isolated and fear ridden cities on earth, no-one is allowed to speak to western journalists or leave Raqqa, without IS’s permission. Those caught breaking the rules face death by beheading.

Despite this, Mike Thomson, with the help of BBC’s Arabic Service, found a young man who is willing to risk his life to tell the world what is happening in his city. Part of a small anti-IS activist group, the diaries were written, encrypted and sent to a third country before being translated.

The diarist’s father is killed and mother badly injured during an air strike, he is sentenced to 40 lashes for speaking out against a beheading, he sees a woman stoned to death. They show how every aspect of life is impacted – from the spiralling costs of food to dictating the acceptable length of trousers.

At one point, the sale of televisions is banned. As Samer says, ‘it seems it’s not enough to stop us talking to the outside world, now we can’t even look at it.’ Having seen friends and relatives butchered, his community’s life shattered and the local economy ruined by these hate-fuelled extremists, Samer believes he’s fighting back by telling the world what is happening to his beloved city.

Rating: 5/5

Review: I have read a few factual, hard-hitting book before, such as the Forgotten Voices of the Holocaust and the Forgotten Voice of the Somme, but this was a completely different experience. This work isn’t speaking from over 50 years ago, it is happening in our world right now and that’s what makes this read even harder. This is, undoubtedly,  one of the most important works of this decade. I’m never one to impress a book onto other readers but everyone needs to read this.
I’m heartbroken and apologetic and shocked that this is happening in our world. That people took no heed of the Nazi regime and Daesh are doing exactly the same thing. This book is heartbreaking and waves of shock and helplessness just keep hitting you when you realise this book is not a work of fiction and it is happening just on the other side of the world today, in our day and age when we should know better. It made me feel so angry, especially when people associate IS with Islam and being Muslims. These depraved human beings are NOT true muslims and do NOT follow the Islamic religion. What they follow are twisted laws that they have forged themselves.

This book is going to remain with me for the rest of my life. I will always wonder about Samer and if he is still alive.

What made this experience so incredibly is that the day after I picked up the book, the Americans liberated Raqqa. This information, ashamedly, would have meant nothing to me before but gave me so much joy when I heard it after reading The Raqqa Diaries. I hope Samer is reunited with his family back in the city he loves.


Title: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Author: Agatha Christie

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication Date: September 2013

Synopsis: Poor Roger Ackroyd. He knew that the woman he loved had been harbouring a guilty secret – she poisoned her first husband. And yesterday she killed herself.

But guilty secrets rarely stay secret. Who had been blackmailing her before her death? Had it really driven her to suicide? And would it all be revealed in the letter that arrived in the evening post? Sadly Roger Ackroyd wasn’t going to live long enough to find out…

Rating: 5/5

Review: Another brilliant Christie book. I absolutely adore this woman, she is, quite simply, a genius and her writing is timeless.

This book annoyed me so much, I actually got quite angry so, why the 5* rating? Let me explain. You think you know the killer, you think you have pieced together all of the clues that have been laid out for you and slotted them to find the culprit. You pat yourself on the back, feeling quite smug that you’re on the same level as Hercule Poirot and the Christie pulls the rug right out from underneath you! This book was brilliant although, I will admit I did use a few choice words against my favourite author when the truth was revealed because I felt completely duped, deflated and cheated. But don’t worry, all is forgiven now.

The deflation didn’t last long; I was expecting a grand, shock reveal and, when the killer was unveiled, I didn’t have that heart-stopping moment that I received on my last two Christie reads. However, this one grows on you, it makes you retrace your steps until the entire picture is so clear and so obvious you’re left in complete awe. That is why this book received 5* from me, well after my little strop it did anyway.

If you’re a fan of mystery and puzzles, this has to be your next purchase.

So that’s my June sum up. July promises to be a lot more book-filled!

Have a great month friends!


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