The Nutcracker

It’s nearly Christmas!!!

Last night I finally started The Nutcracker. I must admit I usually start this a lot earlier in December but due to being ill for a week and catching up with work and Christmas decorating, my reading has fallen a big behind but I hope I will be back on track soon.

Yesterday I had a lovely day spent with my husband and parents. It began with my husband and I performing a recital for a Christmas Tree Festival at the church my husband plays organ at. Then we came home for a quick breather, I even managed to do a bit of reading. I finished one book and read another very short book. Then we picked my parents up and went to see the new Mary Poppins film, followed by dinner out. The film was fantastic and it was wonderful to spend time with my husband and parents and not be having to rush off somewhere. It was a chance to relax, smile and share a laugh.

I have two reviews waiting to be written but I promise they will be up soon. I decided to watch Father Ted last night instead of writing reviews. Apologies but it was the first ever episode and I had never seen it before.

I hope you all have a wonderful day and are all ready for Christmas.

Lady Book Dragon.

Review 20: The Snowman by Michael Morpurgo

The Snowman (A new story inspired by the original tale by Raymond Briggs) by Michael Morpurgo and illustarted by Robin Shaw

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About the author

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Michael Morpurgo has written over 130 books, many of them award winning. His best known work is War Horse which has also been turned into a stage play and a film. In 2003 he was made Children’s Laureate. He set up a charity with his wife called Farms for City Children and in 1999 he was awarded an MBE for his charitable work. In 2017 he was awarded a Knighthood for his charitable work and literature.

About the illustrator

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Robin Shaw is an award winning animator and illustrator, he is also a director of animated commercials. He has worked closely with Raymond Briggs in the past and was part of the directing team of The Snowman and the Snowdog. In 2017 he designed a series of animated sequences for Paddington 2.

Blurb

When James wakes to see snow falling one December morning, he rushes outside to make a snowman. With coal eyes, an old green hat and scarf, and a tangerine nose, the snowman is perfect. James can hardly bear to inside that evening and leave him. But in the middle of the night, he wakes and creeps out to see his snowman again- and to his amazement, the snowman comes to life…

Review

Firstly, I have a confession, I have never read The Snowman by Raymond Briggs but I have watched it on television many, many times. I have only seen The Snowman and the Snowdog once and it almost destroyed me emotionally so I have never seen it again. So when I saw this book sat on the supermarket shelf I immediately picked it up. I was a little worried as I always fear rewrites as most of the time they are never as good as the original, but then I saw it was done by Michael Morpurgo and realised I should have no fears because the man is a genius.

I was so pleased I trusted my instincts, as the story was wonderful, another triumph by Morpurgo. The story is based around James a little boy who suffers with a stammer and who is desperate to have a friend. James lives with his parents on a farm and for Christmas his grandma is staying with them at the farm. Grandma’s favourite story to read James at bedtime is The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.

During the night James’ wish is answered and it snows and so he builds a snowman, a giant of a snowman who towers above everyone wearing a green scarf and hat with a big tangerine nose. James loves this snowman and wants to spend all day with him, he is also really proud of his new friend and is desperate for his family to meet the snowman. Finally at nighttime he leaves the snowman but then in the night something magical happens, and James is not the only one to witness the magic of the snowman.

The story is very similar to the original but with a few subtle differences but this is what makes it a different tale to stand on its own. The story is full of magic and is very respectful of the original, this is just like a sequel to the original in fact. I also loved that when Morpurgo was approached to write this story he was worried and so approached Raymond Briggs who thankfully gave his blessing. The respect that Morpurgo has for Raymond Briggs’ story is humbling and comes through in his version of The Snowman.

I loved the character of James, I felt sorry for him, happy for him and he just made me smile and think aww. I also really liked Grandma, she is a Grandma who still believes in magic. I think this is a fantastic book for children and adults and a perfect read for around Christmas. The illustrations were also beautiful and really added to the story. I hope it gets turned into an animated film, as I think it would be perfect. I gave this book 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Plus I loved the extras at the end of the story, the Christmas traditions from other countries and the perfect method for making the best snowman.

Lady Book Dragon

Friday Poetry

As we near Christmas I have gone for a poem by Thomas Hardy. I love the work of Thomas Hardy, I have read many of his books and a few of his poems in the past. I think in 2019 I will try and read a bit more of his poetry as I rather enjoy it. Maybe my challenge is working and I am starting to enjoy reading poetry.

The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.

“Now they are all on their knees,”

An elder said as we sat in a flock

By the embers in the hearthside ease.

 

We Pictured the meek mild creatures where

They dwelt in their starwy pen,

Nor did it occur to one of us there

To doubt they were kneeling then.

 

So fair a fancy few would weave

In these years! Yet, I feel,

If someone said on Christmas Eve,

“Come, see the oxen kneel,”

 

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb

Our childhood used to know,”

I should go with him in the gloom,

Hoping it might be so.

 

 

Thomas Hardy

 

P.S I know the picture is of sheep but sadly I did not have any pictures of Oxen but sheep were there at the stable so I thought I could get away with it.

Lady Book Dragon.

Review 19: Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

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About the author

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Veronica Henry went to eight different schools due to having a parent in the army. Henry studied Classics at Bristol University and a bi-lingual secretarial course. One of her first jobs was working as a Production Secretary on The Archers at Pebble Mill in Birmingham; it used to take her two and a half hours to type up the script on a typewriter. From there Henry became a script writer for Central Television. Henry has worked on Crossroads, Boon, Heartbeat, and Holby City. In 2000 Henry got her first book published and has never looked back, she has now written 19 novels and is working on her 20th.

Blurb

Everyone loves Christmas…

Especially Lizzy Kingham. But this year, she is feeling unloved and under appreciated by her family. The present-buying, decorating and food shopping have all been left to her. So she wonders…what would happen if she ran away and left them to it?

Lizzy heads to her favourite place: a beach hut on the golden sands of Everdene. There she meets an unlikely collection of new friends, all running away from something. But the spirit of Christmas gets under Lizzy’s skin: soon the fairy lights are twinkling and the scent of mulled wine mingles with the sea air.

Back at Pepperpot Cottage, her family are desperate to find her. For Christmas isn’t Christmas without Lizzy. Can they track her down in time and convince her she means the world to them, every day of the year?

Review

This is another of my Christmas reads and so far my favourite. I recently read a short story by Henry and really enjoyed it so I was pleased to find she had written a Christmas book. I must admit it put me through a great deal of emotions, it made me smile, giggle, cry and much more. It was a wonderful read and I have bought a copy for my best friend to read over Christmas and I am lending my copy to my mom to read and I think they will both really enjoy the book.

The book is centred around Lizzy Kingham who is a wife and mother of two teenagers, she has also recently taken voluntary redundancy from her job at a hotel as wedding and events planner. Life has suddenly got overwhelming for poor Lizzy, she has no job and all the jobs she has applied for have fallen through, she is worried about her children going off to university and no longer needing her anymore. She suddenly feels like she is not needed by her family and that they do not care about her. The last straw is when none of them come home to decorate the tree with her, the one family tradition that means the world to her and so she leaves for Christmas on her own.

As the story unfolds we meet other characters who also need to escape Christmas. First we meet Harley, a teenage boy who is about the same age as Lizzy’s twins, his father is in prison and his mother is in a relationship with a bully of a man who likes to provoke and make Harley’s life a misery, so Harley leaves the house to stay at one of the beach huts he looks after as a part time job. This beach hut is also the same one Lizzy is staying at, they instantly become friends and help each other to have a good Christmas. The next characters to enter the scene are Jack, his son Nat and Clouseau the French bulldog. Jack and Nat have a very sad history and the memories of Christmas have all got a bit much for Jack so he decides to escape the memories and history and stay at a client’s beach hut over Christmas. This beach hut is right next door to Lizzy’s and Harley’s. We also eventually meet Leanne, Harley’s mother and River, Harley’s little brother.

Left at Pepperpot Cottage is Simon, Lizzy’s husband and Hattie and Luke the twins. Eventually we also meet Cynthia, Simon’s mother and also find out why Lizzy finds it so hard to be around Cynthia. I really enjoyed how they all realised suddenly what they had put Lizzy through, they had all been wrapped up in their own lives and just taking Lizzy for granted. The sudden realisation they might have lost her for good to me was justice for their lack of care and asking Lizzy if she is ok and doing what she asks. She never asks for much and does not nag, she is always there with a smile, a listening ear and whatever they need but they have not been there for her or noticed she is not coping.

There are a lot of characters in this book and I really enjoyed how Henry made all their lives entwine and made the most unlikely group of people the best of friends. I also enjoyed the little snapshots of their past, Henry did not go crazy into detail but gave just enough for the reader to understand. Jack’s memories brought me to tears, I found them really hard to read about and very moving. Lizzy’s memories of how she met Simon were very romantic but at the same time believable. I think the main thing I enjoyed about this book was how all the characters were realistic and relatable. Everything about the book feels like they are drawn from real life.

I adored the ending of this book and it really put me in a festive mood. This book is a feel good read and I could not recommend it more to people, especially if what they are looking for is an easy light hearted read to make them smile. I have rated this book 5 stars out of 5 and I can not wait to read another book by Veronica Henry.

Lady Book Dragon

New Books!

Hello my wonderful readers.

So yesterday I made a real effort and read quite a lot of my current Christmas read but then I got distracted by teaching, Christmas lights, Costa and decorating our Christmas tree. I have almost finished Christmas at the Beach Hut though and so far I adore it. I love it so much, I bought my best friend a copy to read over the Christmas period and my mom is going to borrow mine when I am finished. I really hope the ending is good now, otherwise I will be disappointed and so will the people I have recommended it to. In hindsight I should have waited till I finished the book before I went around telling people to read it but I am so excited about it that I just could not help myself. Does anybody else get this feeling about a book?

I have finally finished my Christmas present buying and have bought quite a lot of books for people. However, I also have a confession, I also bought myself some new books. I just could not stop myself. I only bought two purely because my bank balance could not cope with anymore hits. So here are my new books:-

Fire and Blood by George R. R. Martin

Firestorm is very excited about this book as you can see in the picture below. I must admit I agree with him. I have read all of the A Song of Ice and Fire series so far and I am extremely impatient for the next book The Winds of Winter. I am also slightly annoyed with this new book Fire and Blood because I can not help but think Martin, could have spent his time finishing The Winds of Winter but I will not let that put me off from reading and hopefully enjoying Fire and Blood.

I’ll Keep you Safe by Peter May

Is the second book I bought. I read The Blackhouse by Peter May this year, it was a free book with Apple Books and I read it on my phone. It was shortly after reading a whole book on my iPhone that I decided a Kindle was probably a good idea, mainly for my poor eyes. I loved his style of writing and was instantly hooked, so when I saw this book for half price on the Waterstones I put it in my basket.

So here are my new books, all ready for me to start reading in 2019. It is certainly looking like a good year for reading.

I would love to hear what you think of my new books or even if you have any book plans for 2019.

Lady Book Dragon.

Christmas Distractions

So dear readers I have a confession. Sadly my Christmas reading has slowed down and I am rather worried I will not get through my Christmas reading list!

Basically there are a few reasons for this. Firstly work has started to get hectic and has taken over somewhat. I am a professional musician and Christmas is the busiest time of year for me, days off become quite scarce and any spare time I have, I have been using for Christmas prep or sleep.

The second reason is I have got distracted by a non-Christmas book which I started reading on my Kindle in November. Now I only read my Kindle in the mornings and in any gaps I have between work but the Kindle has taken over somewhat because the book is so good. I just cannot put it down. The book is Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher. I watched the TV series they did of it quite a few years ago starring Joanna Lumley and I loved it so was thrilled to start reading the book, although I was not expecting it to be quite so long. However I do not mind as big books are always my favourite types of books to read.

Thirdly, I do a lot of my reading before bed and sadly because I am so tired I keep dozing off.

Hopefully I will get back on track with the reading, as I would be really upset not to get all my Christmas books read.

I hope everyone’s Christmas reading and prep is going well.

Lady Book Dragon.