Festive Spirits by Kate Atkinson (Review)

Festive Spirits by Kate Atkinson

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About the author

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Kate Atkinson was born in 1951 and is an English writer of novels, plays and short stories. She is the creator of the Jackson Brodie detective novels. She has won the Whitbread Book of the Year in 1995 and in 2013 and 2015 she won the Costa Book Awards.

Blurb

Three Festive Stories

Review

This was a nice short read of only 68 pages and although I read it in one sitting it can easily be dipped into.

The first story is called Lucy’s Day and it is all based on Lucy a mother of four who has given up her top career job to look after her family and in a way look after her elderly cleaner who doesn’t do much cleaning anymore and really just needs company. This is just one day in the hectic life of Lucy and out of all the chaos it shows the Christmas spirit coming through and that no matter how busy you are over Christmas you can still take time to appreciate the magic of it all.

The second story Festive Spirit was my least favourite of the three. I really hated the ending of this story, I found it disappointing and frustrating. I was hoping for so much more from this story and it just felt like a major cop out at the end.

The third story was my favourite. It showed that, for some, Christmas can be a lonely affair and also a time of bad news. However, it also showed that Christmas can be the time of contemplation and planning new beginnings. My favourite part was when Gerald was walking Dog and came along to the church; it really warmed my heart. This story was truly beautiful and it brought a little tear to my eye.

I gave this book 3 out of 5 Dragons because I just did not enjoy the second story. However, the first and third story make this book a well worth read and I highly recommend it.

Purchase Links

Book Depository

Waterstones

 

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A Very Country Christmas by Zara Stoneley (Review)

A Very Country Christmas by Zara Stoneley

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About the author

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Zara Stoneley is the USA Today bestselling author of The Wedding Date.

Born in a small village in the UK, she wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when she grew up. After many (many) years, and many different jobs, her dream of writing a bestseller came true.

She writes about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hopes that her tales make you laugh a lot, cry a little, and occasionally say ‘ahhh’.

Zara now lives in a Cheshire village with her family

Blurb

A short Christmas story of three courses.

Love is in the air in Tippermere as Lottie dreams of a white Christmas with no trimmings – other than her hot and hunky eventer, Rory. But things are never quite that simple on the Tipping House Estate.

Festive fervour takes over and it isn’t all seasonal peace and goodwill as expectations rise and it soon escalates from cosy dinner for two, to all the trimmings for ten!

With missing turkeys, loose horses, troublesome terriers and randy huntsmen, Lottie is hard pushed to find time for a kiss under the mistletoe, let alone find the opportunity to woo Rory with her sexy Santa costume.

But there is only one thing Lottie really wants for Christmas, and only one man can deliver it…

Review

This was a lovely little freebie off Apple Books and I read it in a day so it was a nice quick read.

The first thing I liked about this story was the setting, immediately it seemed to me to be the idyllic Christmas setting. There was a mansion, a stable yard and a cosy little flat overlooking a stables, oh and a country pub you can walk to. Sounds perfect to me!

The main character in the story was Lottie and I must admit she is very brave inviting so many to Christmas Dinner and offering to cook it all. Her partner Rory is obviously a very patient man because he does not bat an eyelid when he finds out how many people she has invited when it was meant to be just the two of them. However, Lottie is very trusting in my opinion, considering the texts Rory gets from young beautiful women!

There are funny bits in this story, romantic moments and drama and it will definitely make you giggle. The only thing that spoilt it for me and the reason it did not get the full 5 Dragons was the use of the bad language which I found unnecessary and a character description at the beginning. I really do not like character descriptions, I like to discover the characters for myself.

This is a real feel good book and perfect for the festive season. I will definitely be looking at the other Tippermere books because I really want to read about the characters a bit more.

 

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Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay (Review)

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

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About the author

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Adam Kay is an award-winning comedian and author of the million-copy bestseller This is Going to Hurt. He previously worked as a junior doctor and currently lives in London.

Blurb

Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas is the hilarious, poignant and entertaining story of the life of a junior doctor at the most challenging time of the year. With twenty-five tales of intriguing, shocking and incredible Christmas incidents, the British public will finally appreciate the sacrifices made and the challenges faced by the unsung heroes of the NHS.

Review

This was a book I got on my Christmas shopping expedition to Birmingham where I went slightly wild buying Christmas books. I have not read Adam Kay’s previous book This is Going to Hurt but my best friend has and highly recommended the book to me but I started with his Christmas book instead and hope to read his first soon.

I did enjoy this book and loved the stories and it really does show how hard the NHS work and what they have to sacrifice in their lives. The other element that I liked was that Kay gave warnings about particularly harrowing stories and gave you the option to skip to the next story. I was brave and read these stories and I must admit the one nearly made me cry, I really did not realise even such a procedure existed.

This book really was an eye opener and really made me think about everyone who works for the NHS and what they have to put up with on a daily basis let alone over the holiday period. I really did feel sorry for Kay, that he had to work so many Christmas days over the years. I really think that something as special as Christmas Day should be taken in turns with staff.

The main issue I had with the book was that the comedy just felt forced and too much for me at times. I could have done with a little less comedy in the book and overall I think I would have enjoyed it a bit more. The stories in themselves were amusing and unbelievable in most cases they did not need Kay’s extra layer of comedy on the top.

I did enjoy the book and recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about working in the NHS and what an employee in NHS has to put up with. The book is only short and will not take long to read and you can easily dip in and out of it. I rate this book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

Waterstones

Book Depository

 

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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.

Purchase Links

Book Depository

Waterstones

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Learning new words

Aloha!

I just thought I would share with you something that has really brought a smile to my face whilst being in Maui.

Everyday when our room is done the housekeeper leaves a card with a Hawaiian word on it and its meaning. I have loved learning the new words each day and have been collecting them in my Kindle case. I was quite upset when the one day we had a double because it meant I did not learn a new word!

So because this blog is essentially about a love of words I thought I would share the words I have learnt with you all.

Ho’okipa (hoe-oh-kee-pah)

To entertain and welcome with gracious hospitality, a spirit of generosity and Aloha.

Kapa (kah-pah)

Traditional cloth made from Wauke or Mamaki bark, and decorated with patterns or watermarks.

Mahalo (mah-ha-low)

Thanks, gratitude, and to have appreciation.

Ho’omau (Ho-oh-maow)

To continue, persist, renew, perpetuate and persevere.

Nalu (nah-loo)

Waves or surf, wavy; as in wood grain.

‘Ohana (OH-hah-nah)

Family, relative, extended family.

There we have our new words. I would have loved to have known how many cards there were to collect in all. So many new words to learn.

Also the dragons made a new friend today, her name is Maui.

Happy reading.

Mini update

Hello my fellow book dragons.

I just thought I would do a little update on what I have read so far whilst on my holibobs.

Some are on the summer reading challenge list some are not.

Awaken the Darkness by Dianne Duvall

I read this on the plane and really enjoyed it.

Jaws by Peter Benchley

Loved this so much!

Fireside Gothic by Andrew Taylor

This one I borrowed off Lord Book Dragon and it was a nice discovery. I definitely plan on reading more by Andrew Taylor

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Hmm still not sure on this one. Just could not get on with Henry James’ writing style.

I’m about to start reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

Reviews will follow next week when I’m home and back to my laptop.

Happy Reading.