A Very Murderous Christmas: Ten Classic Crime Stories for the Festive Season by Various Authors (Review)

A Very Murderous Christmas: Ten Classic Crime Stories for the Festive Season by Various Authors and edited by Cecily Gayford

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Blurb

The Christmas season is one of comfort and joy, sparkling lights and steam rising from cups of mulled wine at frosty carol services. A season of goodwill to all men, as families and friends come together to forget their differences and celebrate the year together.

Unless, of course, you happen to be harbouring a grudge. Or hiding a guilty secret. Or you want something so much you just have to have it – whatever the cost. In A Very Murderous Christmas, ten of the best classic crime writers come together to unleash festive havoc, with murder, mayhem and twists aplenty.

Following Murder on Christmas Eve and Murder under the Christmas Tree, this is the perfect accompaniment to a mince pie and a roaring fire. Just make sure you’re really, truly alone …

Review

I bought this book last year just after Christmas so I never read it and thought I would save if for Christmas 2019. I’ve been desperate to start my Christmas reading and so kicked it off by reading this book. I read a short story a night and loved it.

The book has a range of short stories but sadly they are not all murder mysteries and some are just merely mysteries. My favourite story was Camberwell Crackers by Anthony Horowitz, it really made me giggle.

The first story in the book The Man with the Sack by Margery Allingham set the scene of a wonderful Christmas in the old days where the village children would come and visit the big house and someone would dress as Father Christmas and give out presents. I really enjoyed the beginning of this story but must admit I found the ending rather a disappointment and it was all a bit too predictable for me.

The Adventure of the Red Widow by Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr was very amusing and it was a nice Sherlock Holmes mystery and I enjoyed the murder mystery immensely but I must admit I found the ending rather sad, not something I wanted from a Christmas book, even a murder mystery Christmas book.

Camberwell Crackers by Anthony Horowitz my absolute favourite of the book and made me giggle. A proper little Christmas story.

The Flying Stars by G. K. Chesterton I must admit I found this story rather annoying in places and rather predictable. Just could not get on with characters in this story and rather pleased it was only short.

A Problem in White by Nicholas Blake this story I did enjoy and loved how it unfurled, a real mystery and set on a train with snow. A perfect Christmas tale with more than one crime to solve.

Loopy by Ruth Rendell now this story I found disturbing and rather worrying. The main character had clearly been over protected by his mother his entire life and also did not live in the real world or cope well when made to deal with it.

Morse’s Greatest Mystery by Colin Dexter. Oh I love a Morse story and this one was excellent. Morse is so eccentric in this story and his usual grumpy self, it did make me laugh.

The Jar of Ginger by Gladys Mitchell. An odd Christmas story and I’m not entirely sure I would have included it in a Christmas book if I had been choosing the stories but the plot was good and overall an interesting concept.

Rumpole and the Old Familiar Faces by John Mortimer. This is another wonderful story that I thoroughly enjoyed. It had all the Christmas requirements: a pantomime, snow, a cold vicarage, Christmas parties and festive spirit. A perfect little Christmas story.

The Problem of Santa’s Lighthouse by Edward Hook. The last story of the book was a great mystery and rather Johnathan Creek in style and not just because of the windmill!

Overall I loved this book and would highly recommend it, especially as you can just dip into it over the festive season. The only reason it didn’t get the full 5/5 Dragons and only 4 was because it did not have a full set of murder mystery stories and because The Flying Stars just annoyed me.

Purchase links;-

Waterstones

Book Depository

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Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge: Reflection

Summer is officially over so I thought it high time to reflect on my Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge. Sadly I did not complete it but I did learn a few things. Here is the result.

Good as gold:- The Casual Vacancy by J. K Rowling

The Book is Better:- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

On the bandwagon:- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood

Short and sweet:- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Actually want to read:- Jaws by Peter Benchley

Not from around here:- Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

In a friend zone:- The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Wheel of format:- Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Past love:- Matilda by Roald Dahl

Armchair Traveler:- A Room with a View by E. M. Forster

 

First of all I spent way too much time on a book I really regret reading which was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, I really wish I had just stopped reading it because I did not enjoy it and wasted a great deal of my free time reading a book I found tiresome. This is a lesson I keep telling myself to learn from but sadly I don’t, maybe this time I will.

The second thing I learned was I hated having a reading list! I want to read these books eventually and I had options but I found myself regretting the choices and wanting to read other books which I did and so did not complete the challenge in the allotted time. I think from now on I will avoid challenges and just choose whatever I want to read when I want because I really did not enjoy the challenge. I loved choosing the books but not feeling like I had to read them.

However, doing the challenge has taken a few books off my enormous TBR list, so it wasn’t all bad.

 

What does everyone think of reading challenges? Yes or No? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Happy reading.

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Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge: Update 3

Hello my fellow Book Dragons!

Well as I’m accelerating towards my deadline of 21st September it is looking less and less likely that I will complete the challenge in the time limit. However, I do intend on finishing all the books on the list this year because it will make my TBR list smaller as they have been sat on the list for a very long time. If I had not been so distracted by other books I might have got further.

So here is the list so far. As usual the crossed out books are also links to the reviews.

Good as gold:- The Casual Vacancy by J. K Rowling

The Book is Better:- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

On the bandwagon:- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood

Short and sweet:- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Actually want to read:- Jaws by Peter Benchley

Not from around here:- Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

In a friend zone:- The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Wheel of format:- Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Past love:- Matilda by Roald Dahl

Armchair Traveler:- A Room with a View by E. M. Forster

 

Anyway, I will keep trying to get a few more ticked off before the deadline.

Happy reading.

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Review)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

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About the author

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Donna Tartt is an American writer who received critical acclaim for her first two novels, The Secret History and The Little Friend. Tartt was the 2003 winner of the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend. Her novel The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014.

Blurb

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

Review

I must admit I was excited to read this book to begin with but sadly that excitement did not last. Several times I almost gave up on the book and went for days when I did not read it but I kept coming back to it because I wanted to get to the end and see what happens.

Theo is a very troubled young man who really needs help, even at the end of the book he still in my opinion needs help and I just hope he gets some. I also found him to be terribly frustrating at times and wanted to shake him.

I did not like Kitsey at all in the book whether as a child or an adult, she was simply spoiled and rotten to the core. Boris however has a very troubled life and at times acts very disturbingly but he has a good heart and tries to help his friend Theo.

My favourite character and the reason I kept reading was probably Hobie, he was such a sweet kind hearted man who only wants what is best for the people he knows. Hobie teaches everything he knows to Theo and gives Theo amazing opportunities to better himself and give him a fantastic career but Theo takes advantage.

In my personal opinion I think the book could have been a lot shorter as there was a lot of waffle which just made the book drag on. It was like the author did not know how to stop or edit her work. I really do think that if it had been shorter and more to the point it would have been a good book but I was just losing the will to live and the ending was a massive disappointment to me. I even had to switch off the percentage on my Kindle because the lack of movement just depressed me.

Overall I did not enjoy this book at all but because I finished it I gave it 2 out of 5 dragons. I do not think I will read it again and I am not sure I will try Tartt’s other novels. However, this is only my opinion and I know a lot of people would not agree.

Purchase links

Waterstones

Book Depository

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Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge: Update 2

Another update and as you will see still not much progress made. However, over the last few weeks I have been busy writing my first assignment for my Diet and Nutrition Level 3 Diploma and this evening I am pleased to report that I have passed! Now to complete the second and final assignment. Fingers crossed it goes well.

I am still reading The Goldfinch and I am enjoying it but I do find it very long winded at times and frustrating, I am looking forward to seeing how it ends.

So here is the list, the crossed out books are also links to take you to the reviews.

 

Good as gold:- The Casual Vacancy by J. K Rowling

The Book is Better:- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

On the bandwagon:- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood

Short and sweet:- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Actually want to read:- Jaws by Peter Benchley

Not from around here:- Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

In a friend zone:- The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Wheel of format:- Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Past love:- Matilda by Roald Dahl

Armchair Traveler:- A Room with a View by E. M. Forster

 

I hope everyone who is also doing challenges is getting on better than myself.

Happy Reading.

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Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge: Update

I thought it was high time for an update on the reading challenge, and all I can say is Oh dear!

I am very far behind and it is not because I haven’t been reading, it is because I have been distracted by other books! I must be more focused!

So here is the list with the books I have read crossed out, if you click on the crossed out book it will take you to the book review.

Good as gold:- The Casual Vacancy by J. K Rowling

The Book is Better:- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

On the bandwagon:- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood

Short and sweet:- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Actually want to read:- Jaws by Peter Benchley

Not from around here:- Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

In a friend zone:- The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Wheel of format:- Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Past love:- Matilda by Roald Dahl

Armchair Traveler:- A Room with a View by E. M. Forster

 

As you can see only two down so far, I am currently trying to finish The Goldfinch.

Wish me luck! If anybody has any advice on how to complete a reading challenge and not get completely distracted by other books please feel free to drop me a comment.

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Jaws by Peter Benchley (Review)

Jaws by Peter Benchley

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About the author

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Peter Bradford Benchley was an American author best known for writing the novel Jaws and co-writing the screenplay for its highly successful film adaptation. The success of the book led to many publishers commissioning books about mutant rats, rabid dogs and the like threatening communities. The subsequent film directed by Steven Spielberg and co-written by Benchley is generally acknowledged as the first summer blockbuster. Benchley also wrote The Deep and The Island which were also adapted into films.

Blurb

The classic, blockbuster thriller of man-eating terror that inspired the Steven Spielberg movie and made millions of beachgoers afraid to go into the water. Experience the thrill of helpless horror again—or for the first time!

Review

This is a book that has been sat on my TBR list for way too long and because I was going to be swimming in the ocean and sat on the beach a lot I thought I had better read a book about a man-eating shark.

I have always loved the film adaptation of this book and the book did not disappoint me. From the very beginning of this book I was hooked. I think the main thing that immediately caught my attention was the fact that Benchley has written the shark’s perspective in the book and he has not done it in a corny manner but in a realistic way that a shark would think.

The character I did not like was Ellen, she was in my humble opinion a vile woman who did not deserve the life she had. She did not appreciate her husband or the life he is working so hard for. She was never happy and made her long suffering husband unhappy as well. All Chief Brody wants is to make his wife and children happy and his kids ignore him and watch TV and his wife takes sleeping pills rather than talk to him.

Chief Brody is a typical town chief trying to keep his town safe and happy but never in his life expecting to deal with something like a man-eating shark. I really liked the character of Brody because he was down to earth and just a generally likeable guy.

Hooper is another character I am not keen on, he is cocky and arrogant and a clear trouble maker. I could have happily lived without him in the book. However the character of Quint more than made up for Hooper. Quint was a real character and quite disturbing at times but this just added to his character. He was a man that has lived on the sea hunting for the biggest catch and the biggest payday and that is all he cares about. Quint made me laugh quite a few times in this book.

I must admit I did find the book a bit tummy turning at times and certain parts of the book I had to skim through, maybe I am too squeamish for these things. I really enjoyed this book and did not take me long to read. I would happily read it again and recommend it to friends and family. I gave this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. DUUUUU NUN DUUUUN NUN DUN DUN DUN DUN.

Details of the edition I read:

Format: Kindle

Pages: 340

Published: 2012

 

Links to purchase

Waterstones

Book Depository

 

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