Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles: The Driftwood Inn by Phillipa Ashley

Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles: The Driftwood Inn by Phillipa Ashley

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About the author

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Born in 1971 in Lichfield, Phillipa Ashley is an award winning author of 17 novels under 3 different pen names.

Blurb

For Maisie Samson, this Christmas is going to be different. After years working in a busy Cornish pub, she’s moved back to quiet Gull Island where she grew up, to help her parents run the family inn.

But even though she can’t wait for the festive season to arrive, Maisie cannot shake the memories of what happened to her last Christmas – the day she lost everything. She keeps herself busy, setting up the tree and hanging mistletoe ready for her first proper family Christmas in years.

Until a new arrival to the island walks into her bar and changes everything. Australian backpacker Patrick is looking for a job for the low season. When Maisie takes him on, she doesn’t expect him to last the week, but to her surprise Patrick is the perfect fit. Charming and handsome, could Maisie allow herself to hope that she and Patrick could be more than just colleagues?

As Christmas approaches, Maisie finds herself dreading the spring, when Patrick is due to leave. With the help of a little Christmas magic, can Maisie get the happily ever after she always dreamed of?

Review

This was a beautiful book that I randomly chose because it was on offer and I thought looked like a feel good read for December. I’m so glad I chose it because it really was a nice comfortable read.

The first thing I loved about this book was the setting. The setting is so tranquil but also wild and rugged and takes a certain type of person to live there. The islanders are a unique type of people to live there.

Maisie is one of these islanders who was born on the island and after spending time away has returned home and she is happy to be home. She swims in the freezing sea and enjoys running her parents’ pub but most of all she loves where she lives and the people who also live there and doesn’t want that to change. Maisie is a character who will always fight and that is what I loved about her.

Patrick is an excellent guy who appears too good to be true but he does have a past and is open with Maisie about that past but not entirely. He is a good man with a slight cleaning fetish but mainly he just wants to do the right thing.

My favourite character in the book is actually Basil the dog. He is so unruly and wild but just loves people and wants to do exactly the opposite of what his owner Hugo says.

This book has a wonderful storyline and is just a general feel good story that puts you in the festive spirit. I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants a festive read and the only reason I gave this book 4 Dragons instead of 5 was because the storyline was a little bit too predictable for me.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton (Book Review)

The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton

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About the author

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Tim Burton was born in August 1958 and is an American filmmaker, artist, writer and animator. He is famous for his dark, gothic and eccentric horror and fantasy films. He often works with Johnny Depp and Danny Elfman.

Blurb

In all the world, there is no place like Halloweenland, and Jack Skellington is Halloween’s most important figure. It’s Jack who devises the holiday’s most macabre tricks and frights, and he’s delightfully done it year after year. But this year, something isn’t quite right: Jack has grown bored with the usual Halloween pranks, and the joy of seeing shock and horror on people’s faces has faded.

Then one night, while out for a walk in the woods, Jack sees something he’s never seen before – a strange door carved into a tree. Stepping through the door Jack stumbles into a world unlike any he’s ever known. He finds himself in a bright, colorful place called Christmas Town. Jack has finally found what he’s been looking for, and knows right away what needs to be done. He will bring Christmas to Halloween – with Jack starring in Santa’s role!

The beautifully designed commemorative edition celebrates the twentieth anniversary of this classic book’s initial publication and features meticulously reproduced original artwork from the incomparable visionary Tim Burton.

Review

I was so excited when I saw this book and I immediately bought it. I love the movie and I have watched it so many times, so when I saw the book I was overjoyed.

The illustrations in this book are stunning and completely right and the book is the perfect size so the illustrations work really well. There was one problem though, it was missing most of the story! Where was Sally? Where was Oogie Boogie? My two favourite characters were not in the book!

I can understand that Burton thinned the story down to its bare minimum to make this a children’s book that wouldn’t scare children like maybe the film would but I just missed my favourite characters and somehow not having at least Sally in the story meant that it just did not feel complete and left holes in the story for me that made no sense. However maybe a child would not see these holes.

I know I have probably looked far too much into this as a children’s book and realise that most children will love the book but for me it just did not feel right. The illustrations were amazing but due to my favourite characters being missing I only gave the book 3 out of 5 Dragons. Sorry Mr Burton but for me the movie is far better.

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One Day in Winter by Shari Low (Book Review)

One Day in Winter by Shari Low

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About the author

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Shari Low is a No. 1 bestselling author who has written over 20 novels and currently lives in Glasgow.

Blurb

One morning in December, Caro set off on a quest to find out if her relationship with her father had been based on a lifetime of lies. Lila decided to tell her lover’s wife of their secret affair. Cammy was on the way to pick up the ring for the surprise proposal to the woman he loved. And Bernadette vowed to walk away from her controlling husband of 30 years and never look back. In one day, four lives will change forever.

Review

This book was another freebie on Apple Books and a very enjoyable read if a little predictable.

The first thing that I enjoyed was that the book is very cleverly spread over one day with each chapter focusing on a certain character. The characters it focuses on are Caro, Lila, Bernadette and Cammy and how these four lives are separate but also linked.

I loved the character of Caro and felt so sorry for her, I do not think I would have coped like she did if I was in her situation. She was down to earth, kind and a decent caring person. Lila however is a complete contrast, she is selfish, uncaring, vain to the core and absolutely obsessed with the media, I really loathed her.

Cammy is a good man if a little vain but he basically wants to settle down and have a good life. Cammy I also felt sorry for because he is also boyishly naive and this leads to him not seeing the cold hard facts.

I must admit this book didn’t move me as much as I thought it would and I think Lila deserved to have had a much more just ending, she did not deserve her ending at all in my opinion and that is why I only gave it 3 out of 5 Dragons.

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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.

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Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare (Review)

Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare

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About the author

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William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet, playwright and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in English history. He wrote 39 plays, 154 sonnets and other verses.

Blurb

Venus and Adonis is Shakespeare’s narrative poem about the love of the goddess Venus for the mortal youth Adonis, dedicated partly to his patron, the Earl of Southampton (thought by some to be the beautiful youth to which many of the Sonnets are addressed). The poem recounts Venus’ attempts to woo Adonis, their passionate coupling, and Adonis’ rejection of the goddess, to which she responds with jealousy, with tragic results.

Review

I decided after reading Twelfth Night that I wanted to read more Shakespeare and so reading through his list of works I thought I would go for something that I have never heard of before from Shakespeare and this is what I chose. Sadly I was rather disappointed.

I will be honest it started off well, I soon got into the flow of the poem and was enjoying it, but then it just kept going. It seemed to go on forever and I will be honest before the end I kept checking to see how much more I had left to read and even contemplated giving it up.

This really was not for me and I think it was mainly due to length, I just felt that it could have been shorter and although the language was beautiful and a lot of innuendos were clearly in the text it just seemed to be a bit waffly for my tastes.

All in all this was not my cup of tea and I think I will stick with Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets in the future. Only 2 out 5 Dragons from me this time.

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The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths (Review)

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths

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About the author

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Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family and the cat Gus.

Blurb

Forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway is called in to advise when builders, demolishing a Victorian house in Norwich, uncover the skeleton of a child – minus the skull. Is it some ritual sacrifice or just plain murder?

The house was once a children’s home. DCI Harry Nelson meets the priest who used to run it, who tells him two children did go missing forty years before – a boy and a girl. They were never found.

But someone is trying hard to put both Ruth and Nelson off the scent – and a seemingly forgotten crime becomes terrifyingly real, with deadly consequences.

Review

Firstly, Elly Griffiths is fast becoming an absolute favourite of mine, every book of hers I read I can not put down and look forward to reading the next one.

I loved this story and loved the connections with Roman history and the God Janus. When I was younger I absolutely loved the history of the Roman Gods and Janus was a personal favourite, I became obsessed with closing gates so I didn’t anger him.

It was really nice to be reading about Dr Ruth Galloway again, she is such a wonderful character, she is down to earth, intelligent and not glamorous or hung up on her appearance. DCI Nelson is rough around the edges and does not pull his punches and quite funny.

The character that I really enjoyed in this book is Cathbad, he is so free and funny and really does not care what people think of him. I wish he would feature more in the stories to be honest.

The book was fast paced and kept me hooked from the beginning. I must admit I did work out the culprit but it did not ruin the story for me and it was a nice surprise that the story did not go down the predictable line I thought it was looking like.

The other element I loved was the personal dramas of the characters unfolding and I enjoyed that as much as the actual crime investigation unfolding. Overall I loved this book and have given it 5 out 5 Dragons. I highly recommend it to everyone but especially people who love a good crime drama.

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The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs (Review)

The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs

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About the author

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John Belliars (1938-1991) was an award-winning American author of many gothic mystery novels for children and young adults.

Blurb

When orphaned Lewis Barnavelt comes to live with his Uncle Jonathan, he is amazed to find out there is a wizard in his family.

Lewis experiments with Uncle Jonathan’s spells and uncovers the mystery behind the ticking that he can hear throughout the house, sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. It’s an evil clock and it could destroy humankind.

It is up to the Barnavelt’s to find where the clock is hidden in the walls – and stop it.

Review

I bought this book ages ago and it has just been sat in a pile gathering dust but I spotted it the other day and thought that looks like a fun quick read and thankfully I was correct. As I have mentioned previously I do enjoy reading children’s books and especially enjoy reading them when I’m very busy or stressed. I can truthfully say I loved this book and could not put it down.

The three main characters Lewis, Uncle Jonathan and Mrs Zimmermann were fantastic. I especially loved the character of Mrs Zimmermann who isn’t afraid of anything and speaks her mind and has an unhealthy obsession with the colour purple. She just seems to be the ultimate cool aunt figure.

Uncle Jonathan is the ultimate cool uncle, teaching Lewis to play poker and letting him stay up late and basically doing what he likes within reason. Lewis is the typical child who doesn’t quite fit in at school but has found his happy place living with his Uncle because as the story develops you can see that Uncle and nephew are rather alike.

Overall I loved the storyline and it kept me hooked from the start, the idea of magic being in a house and its walls was fantastic and in places it was rather spooky although that part was rather rushed through but that was probably because it is a children’s book. The only issue I had with the story was the lack of story about the actual clock, considering the book is about the clock in the walls it hardly features and it just feels like a very rushed ending.

I give this book 4 out of 5 dragons because of the lack of clock in the story. I highly recommend it to children and adults alike. A really good read that keeps you hooked from beginning to end.

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