Politically Correct Holiday Stories For an Enlightened Yuletide Season by James Finn Garner (Review)

Politically Correct Holiday Stories For an Enlightened Yuletide Season by James Finn Garner


Holiday tales have long delighted and entertained us, but until now they’ve always been burdened with society’s skewed values and mores. Stories that reinforce the stifling class system (Dickens’s A Christmas Carol), legitimise the stereotype of a merry, over-weight patriarchal oppressor (Santa Claus in The Night Before Christmas), and justify the domestication and subjugation of wild animals (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) abound in the literature and lore of this season. Now James Finn Garner has stepped in to revise and improve these familiar tales to free our social consciousness from the ghost of prejudice past. From the newly revised “Nutcracker” to “Frosty the Persun of Snow”, these stories rekindle the true holiday spirit and redefine the idea of “good will to all men” to include womyn, pre-adults, and companion animals as well.


I picked this up from a National Trust second hand bookshop. When I saw the book I immediately picked it up because I thought it looked like quite a fun read. The book was clearly brand new as well which also added to the appeal. 

At only 99 pages I thought this would be quite a quick read for me but it turned out that it took me a while to read rather than flying through it like I normally would. This is probably because I didn’t really gel with this book and wasn’t so keen to pick it up and read it.

I can understand the appeal of this book because it is political correctness in overdrive and it kind of has a funny appeal to it but after a while it just started to get on my nerves. My favourite story was the retelling of A Christmas Carol. This was because of Scrooge’s fantastic reactions to the spirits that visit him especially the last spirit. In fact I was a little disappointed with the ending because I really wanted Scrooge to act on his new philosophy. 

Rudolph the Nasally Empowered Reindeer was probably my least favourite story as Rudolph was just too irritating. 

Overall, I did enjoy this book but it didn’t really hook me in and didn’t have me as gripped as I expected. This is definitely a book that I could take or leave and I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 


About the author

James Finn Garner is an American writer and satirist based in Chicago. He is the author of Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, Tea Party Fairy Tales, and Honk Honk, My Darling.



Christmas Reading List 2022


I have started compiling my Christmas reading list for this year. I always start reading my Christmas books on December 1st but I might start slightly earlier this year as I am struggling to resist. I love compiling and planning my Christmas reads. December is the only time I really ever plan my reading as I am a mood reader generally.

My list so far is mainly made up of books left over from my Christmas TBR 2021 but I will most likely add some more in December.

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling – I have been reading the illustrated Harry Potter books after Christmas Day but before New Year so this will be the next one.
  • Snowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin – This is a new author for me but the storyline looks really good.
  • One Family Christmas by Bella Osborn – Another new author for me.
  • One More for Christmas by Sarah Morgan – reading a Sarah Morgan Christmas book has become a bit of a Christmas tradition for me so I have to one one on my TBR.
  • A Surprise Christmas Wedding by Phillipa Ashley – Another Christmas tradition author for me.
  • Christmas Poems by Wendy Cope – Picked this up in Bath last month and really looking forward to reading it.
  • Christmas is Coming by Monika Utnik-Strugała – This is the book I might start before December as I would like to read about the traditions before they happen.
  • Murder on a Winter’s Night by Various authors – I love this series of books and always buy the latest ones to read over December. My dad also really enjoys them so he also borrows them as well.

So there is my Christmas reading list so far. If you would like to recommend any Christmas books to me then please do as I love finding new Christmas books.

Happy Reading


A Scandinavian Christmas: Festive Tales for a Nordic Noel by Various authors (Review)

A Scandinavian Christmas: Festive Tales for a Nordic Noel by Various authors


Have yourself a very hygge Christmas with some of the best Christmas stories from across Scandinavia – old and new 

This collection brings together the best Scandinavian Christmas stories including classics by Hans Christian Andersen of Denmark, Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlof, as well as the popular contemporary Karl Ove Knausgard. These Nordic tales convey a festive and contemplative spirit laden with lingonberries, elks, gnomes, Sami trolls, candles, church spires, gingerbread and aquavit in abundance. 

A smorgasbord of unexpected literary gifts which make up a vibrant, elegant hardcover volume sure to provide plenty of pleasure and hygge, that specifically Scandinavian blend of cosiness and contentment.


As regular readers of my blog you will probably have noticed I love a Christmas book. So when I saw this book, I bought it for my Christmas 2021 reading (the review is rather late, apologies) because it looked like a good read. The book is made up of short stories which I thought would be perfect for dipping into over the Christmas period.

I will be honest this book was rather surprising to me and at times I almost gave up with it. The reason for this was because at times the stories could be quite depressing and not something I really wanted to read about over Christmas. Yes, I know it is Scandinavian and sometimes their work can be on the depressing side. I have read a lot of Hans Christian Andersen and know that he can be on the bleak side at times but I wasn’t expecting so much bleakness in this Christmas book. The other reason I almost gave up was because certain stories didn’t make much sense to me and felt incomplete or because they didn’t have anything to do with Christmas. 

My favourite stories were the ones by Hans Christian Andersen but I didn’t enjoy the more modern stories. Overall, for me the most Christmassy thing about the book is the beautiful cover. I had high hopes for this book and hoped the stories would have a bit of flare but overall I found the book rather flat and disappointing. I give this book 3 out 5 Dragons because there were a few stories I did enjoy. 


Product Links

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Murder in Midwinter by Various Authors (Review)

Murder in Midwinter: Ten Classic Crime Stories for Christmas by Various. 


Midwinter. As snow falls softly outside and frost sparkles on tree branches, it’s time to curl up before a roaring fire, wrap your hands around a steaming mug of mulled wine, and forget your worries for now.

But as the temperature drops outside, malice is sharpening its claws … and murder walks abroad. In these classic stories of mystery and mayhem, let ten of the great crime writers in history surprise and delight you with twists and turns as shocking as an icicle in the heart.

Featuring stories by Dorothy L. Sayers, Cyril Hare, Anthony Berkeley, Ruth Rendell, Margery Allingham, Ellis Peters … and more.


I love the books from the Murderous Christmas Stories series and tend to read one every December to help put me in the festive spirit. Although I was surprised to find that this book only actually had 3 stories set at Christmas and the rest were set in the Autumn or Winter months, but I suppose it is called Murder in Midwinter rather than Murder at Christmas.

I enjoyed all but one of the stories but my favourites were The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet by Arthur Conan Doyle and Rumpole and the Health Farm Murder by John Mortimer. Rumpole was a brilliant character and made me laugh a great deal, he is set in his ways and no matter how much his wife tries he will not change. Sherlock was up to his usual fantastic deductions in The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet. 

There was only one story in the book that I was not keen on which was the first one in the book The Queen’s Square by Sayers. I really did not get into it and found the relentless costume descriptions rather boring. However, thankfully I did not let the story put me off the rest of the book because the rest of the stories were excellent. 

Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons because to be honest Rumpole and the Health Farm deserves 5 Dragons all to itself because I enjoyed it so much. 


Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Christmas with the Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest (Review)

Christmas with the Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest


It is late 1940 and the war feels closer to home than ever for Rose Neville and her staff at the Lyon’s Teashop in Margate. The worry of rationing hangs overhead as the Nippies do their best to provide a happy smile and a hot cup of tea for their customers. When a heavy bombing raid targets the Kent coastline, Lyon’s is badly hit, throwing the future of the cafe into jeopardy.

The light in Rose’s life is her dashing fiancé Capt. Ben Hargreaves and planning their Christmas Eve wedding. But she must also plan to take two new step-daughters into her life and get on the right side of her wealthy mother-in-law, Lady Diana. Is Rose ready to become a mother so soon?

When Rose’s half-sister Eileen makes contact, it seems that Rose’s dreams of having a sibling are coming true at long last. But her friends begin to suspect that something is not right between Eileen and her husband: just what are they hiding?

As the Christmas Eve wedding draws near, the bombings intensify in Kent and London, putting everything and everyone Rose loves in danger. Only one thing is for sure: it will be a Christmas she never forgets . . .


I read a Christmas book by Elaine Everest last year and really enjoyed it so I thought I would read another one this year as well. 

The story centres around Rose Neville who is the manageress of the Margate Lyon’s Teashop. However, Rose is trying to manage the teashop in the middle of the Second World War, with the constant threat of bombs landing and rationing making it ever harder to keep the teashop well stocked. But she also has her wonderful mom Flora to help her keep her spirits up and all her wonderful family as well as the love and support of her fiancé Ben. 

The story opens with rather a dramatic scene that left me desperately wanting to know more and I must admit that meant I could not put the book down until I had all the answers. As the story progresses we get to meet Rose’s future mother in law and the new family she will be joining. But at the same time Eileen, Rose’s half sister makes an appearance and things start to look a bit suspicious to Rose’s friends.  

My favourite character of the book is Mildred. Mildred stands no messing whatsoever and spends her time at sea on her fishing boat. She helps Rose, Lily and Katie and treats them as if they were her own daughters. She will fight for justice and will stand up to any man. I just couldn’t help but like her. My second favourite character was Anya who is also stubborn, determined and has a fiery temper. She also comes out with some fantastic lines. 

I really enjoyed this book and definitely plan on reading more books by Everest in the New Year. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 


Purchase Links

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Elaine Everest was born and brought up in northwest Kent and has written widely – both short stories and features – for women’s magazines. When she isn’t writing, Everest runs The Write Place creative writing school in Dartford Kent, and the blog for Romantic Novelists’ Association. 

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Midwinter Murder by Agatha Christie (Review)

Midwinter Murder by Agatha Christie


There’s a chill in the air and the days are growing shorter… It’s the perfect time to curl up in front of a crackling fireplace with this winter-themed collection from legendary mystery writer Agatha Christie. But beware of deadly snowdrifts and dangerous gifts, poisoned meals and mysterious guests. This compendium of short stories, some featuring beloved detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, is an essential omnibus for Christie fans and the perfect gift for mystery lovers.


– The Chocolate Box

– A Christmas Tragedy

– The Coming of Mr Quin

– The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest

– The Clergyman’s Daughter

– The Plymouth Express

– Problem at Pollensa Bay

– Sanctuary

– The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge

– The World’s End

– The Manhood of Edward Robinson

– Christmas Adventure


I chose this book as one of my Christmas reads and I was so pleased I did because I thoroughly enjoyed this book. 

I absolutely love Poirot and Miss Marple so it was wonderful to read some short stories that include them. Poirot always makes me laugh as he really is such a big head but never seems to see it. Miss Marple on the other hand always comes across as an interfering old woman but of course she is also a genius who can work out any mystery. 

My favourite stories from the book were Sanctuary, Christmas Adventure and The Clergyman’s Daughter. These stories were wonderful reads and really shone out for me from the other stories.

I loved this series of short stories and they really put me in the mood for Christmas and went particularly well with a nice mug of hot chocolate. I highly recommend this book to either dip into or read in one go and give the book 5 out of 5 Dragons.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. She also wrote the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap. She also wrote 6 novels under the name Mary Westmacott.

Christmas at Highclere by The Countess of Carnarvon (Review)

Christmas at Highclere by The Countess of Carnavon


Highclere Castle, known as ‘the real Downton Abbey’, bustles with activity at the best of times, but it is never more alive than at Christmas. Christmas at Highclere is a look behind the scenes at the routines and rituals that make the castle the most magical place to be throughout the festive season.

Lady Carnarvon will guide you through Advent, Christmas preparations and Christmas Eve all the way through to the day itself, and beyond. Learn how the castle and grounds are transformed by decorations, including the raising of a twenty-foot tree in the saloon, the gathering of holly and mistletoe from the grounds. All the intricacies of the perfect traditional Christmas are here: from crackers and carol singers. The festive feeling is carried through to Highclere’s Boxing Day traditions, the restorative middle days and the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

This book also tells the story of historic Christmases at Highclere – of distinguished guests warming themselves by the fire after a long journeys home through the snow, unexpected knocks on the door, and, always, the joy of bringing family – and staff – together after a busy year.

As well as telling the stories of Highclere Christmases past and present, Lady Carnarvon provides recipes, tips and inspiration from her kitchen so that readers can bring a quintessentially British festive spirit to their own home. Lady Carnarvon divulges the secret to perfectly flakey mince pies, the proper way to wrap presents so that you and your guests are guaranteed a Christmas to remember.

Lavish, celebratory and utterly enchanting, Christmas at Highclere is celebration of one of the UK’s most beloved historic houses and is the perfect gift for any Downton Abbey fan.


My husband and myself are massive fans of Downton Abbey and so I bought this last year for my husband’s Christmas present and it has been on the recipe book shelf waiting for Christmas to arrive. 

I picked this book up to look up some Christmas recipes as I wanted some new challenges for the Christmas season and quickly decided that I would be making the Yule log for Christmas. However, I then decided to start reading the book from the beginning and all of a sudden I was hooked and could not put it down.

I love the Countess’ writing style, she is very skilled and brings everything to life beautifully. The Countess starts with the season of Advent and how the castle prepares for the Christmas period by decorating for opening and also what preparations they make for family and friends who will be visiting over the period. The Countess then continues through the festive season until Epiphany.

This book has family history and traditions, personal anecdotes about the family’s past Christmases and then recipes peppered throughout the book all linked to the different stages of the festive period. The accompanying pictures are absolutely stunning and they really show how stunning the castle is, although my favourite pictures are of the family’s many dogs.

I absolutely loved this book and I have several recipes that I will be trying out on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I highly recommend this book and definitely give it 5 out of 5 Dragons. I have also added the other books the Countess of Carnarvon has written to my wish list as I really want to read more of her work.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

A former auditor for Coopers & Lybrand, Lady Carnarvon is the wife of George Herbert, 8th Earl of Carnarvon. Today, she manages affairs at Highclere Castle, home of the worldwide television drama Downton Abbey, including overseeing its grounds and gardens and many special events such as the Egyptian Exhibition in the cellars of the Castle.

Fascinated by Highclere’s history, Lady Carnarvon has written four books. The first two are about the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb with Howard Carter in 1922. Her latest are New York Times Bestseller Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere, and Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey.

Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews (Review)

Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews


Fay and Danny are madly in love and it’s all Fay’s ever dreamed of. But she left everything – including the delightful cake shop she used to run – to be with Danny on his cosy canal boat The Dreamcatcher. And as she soon finds out, making delicious cakes on the water isn’t always smooth sailing!

Then Fay gets a call from her friends, a call that sends her back to her friends and the Cake Shop in the Garden. It will be hard being away from Danny but their relationship is strong enough to survive . . . isn’t it?

Fay soon falls happily back in love with her passion for baking – especially now she’s on dry land again! – and starts to wonder if she ever should have left. With Christmas around the corner, Fay is determined that her friends will have a very merry time, but does that mean even more time away from Danny? Can Fay really get everything she ever wanted in Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights.


I actually bought this book last year but I didn’t get around to reading it so I dug it out for my Christmas reading list this year and I am so pleased I did.

This is the first book I have read by Matthews and it won’t be my last, I also didn’t realise that this book is a sequel so I will be buying the first book in the New Year as I really want to read about how these characters came together.

Fay and Danny are a lovely couple and I will be honest Danny has the patience and kindness of a saint and will do anything to please Fay, which includes looking after her friends and putting up with her sister. Fay is a very caring character who almost feels too much for everyone and at times I do wish she would perhaps say no.

My absolute favourite character is Lija. Lija is grumpy and prickly but she really does have a heart of gold and her swearing is very funny at times. Rainbow is also a lovely character but she can be extremely annoying at times.

Then there is Stan and Stan is a character that you can’t help but adore. He really is a perfect gentleman.

Fay rushes back to her friends Lija and Stan when Stan becomes ill and Danny follows shortly afterwards with their canalboat and there is where the story begins. Fay now helps Lija run the cake shop and helps Stan to get better all with Danny helping and supporting where he can.

I truly loved this story but I will be honest I was expecting a bit more baking involved as most of the story is set in the kitchen of the cake shop. I can’t wait to read more about Fay and Danny and give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Carole Matthews born 1960 is a British author. Matthews has published 34 novels and currently lives in Milton Keynes with her husband.

Christmas Reading List 2020 Update


I thought it was time for a Christmas reading list update. I am really racing through my Christmas books and I am thoroughly enjoying them and I have also added some extra ones into the mix as well.

I am currently reading Midwinter Murders by Agatha Christie and Christmas at Highclere by The Countess of Carnarvon.

Here are the books I have read so far…

Christmas is Murder by Val McDermid

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

The Lion Book of Christmas Poems by Sophie Piper

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

A Perfect Cornish Christmas by Phillipa Ashley

A Midwinter Promise by Lulu Taylor

Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest

Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews

So the Christmas books I have left over are…

The Christmas reading is going really well and I can’t quite believe how quickly I am finishing books at the moment. Christmas at Highclere wasn’t originally on the reading list but I started browsing through it yesterday and I just got hooked.

Please drop me a comment with your Christmas reads as I would love to see what everyone is reading or planning to read over the festive period.

WWW Wednesday: 16/12/2020

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The rules are answer the questions below and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you will read next?


I can’t believe we are back to Wednesday again, time seem to be flying by at the moment. I hope this post finds you all well and not to stressed as the festive season approaches.

So here is what I have been up to with my reading.

What I am Currently Reading

Literally just started it so not much to say so far.

What I have Recently Finished Reading

Just finished Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights yesterday and couldn’t put it down, review will follow shortly.

Christmas is Murder by Val McDermid review here.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling review here.

What I think I will Read Next

The Christmas reading list is going down and I am really surprised just how quickly I am getting through my Christmas books.

Please drop me a comment for a bookish chat and of course please leave your WWW Wednesday link and I will head over for a visit.

Happy Reading.