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

Blurb

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.

Review

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. 

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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.

Etsy

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (Review)

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Blurb

Meet Shaun Bythell, bookshop owner, bibliophile, and misanthrope extraordinaire. He lives and works in The Bookshop, Wigtown, whose crooked shelves contain anything from a sixteenth-century Bible to a first-edition Agatha Christie. A booklover’s paradise? Well, almost…

In Shaun’s honest and wryly hilarious diaries, he reveals the highs and lows of life in the book trade, as he contends with eccentric customers, bin-foraging employees, and a perennially empty till. Along the way, he’ll take you on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommend lost classics – and introduce you to the thrill of the unexpected find.

Review

I will be honest I have always rather fancied owning and running a bookshop, even though I know it would be hard work and I would probably be constantly worried about finances. However, I would be very happy to be surrounded by books all day. 

I must admit I was rather surprised by this book. I picked it up at my church which has many second hand books for sale and thought it looked good fun. What I wasn’t expecting was the wit, humour and sometimes sadness within this book. 

Bythell’s diary of his book shop adventures for one year was a real eye opener and very funny. Bythell’s shop seems to attract some very weird employees with the most eccentric being Nicky. I’m not entirely sure why Bythell put up with Nicky as she seemed more of hindrance to business rather than a help. I would not have had the patience Bythell has with Nicky or in fact half of his staff. Bythell at times seems to be the only sane one at the shop and that is saying something. 

One of the things I really liked with the diary entries was the daily updates of takings and customers. It was really interesting to see how the time of year affected the amount of customers and takings. I also really enjoyed seeing how there are certain returning customers who are clearly returning regularly and ordering random books because they are loyal to the shop and don’t want to see it go under. 

As the diary entries go on we see what a witty and humorous character Bythell is and how he clearly uses humour as his coping mechanism because without it he would clearly either cry or completely lose it with certain members of public. The element I found sad was seeing how the book trade had changed so much over the years and the damage Amazon was having on the second hand book shops. It was sad to see how the life of the second hand book shop was having to adapt to survive and even that adapting might not save it. 

Wigtown has been on my list of places to go since I was a teenager and I very nearly went with my parents but ill health had to shorten our trip sadly so Wigtown was saved for another day. After reading this book I want to go even more and will be pestering my husband for a holiday there very soon. I will definitely be reading more of Bythell’s book and I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.orgFoyles | 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.)

About the author 

Shaun Bythell is the owner of The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town, and also one of the organisers of the Wigtown Festival.

When not working amongst The Bookshop’s mile of shelving, Shaun’s hobbies include eavesdropping on customers, uploading book-themed re-workings of Sugarhill Gang songs to YouTube and shooting Amazon Kindles in the wild.

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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (Review)

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Blurb

Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves

A female cop with her first big case

A brutal murder

Welcome to…

The Thursday Murder Club

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. 

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late? 

Review

I am always a bit dubious about reading books by celebrities because sometimes I find that they have only been published because they are already famous but I heard so many good things about this book I decided to give it a go and I am pleased I did.

I started this book and I was immediately hooked. The introduction is so intriguing you can’t help but be hooked. One old lady asking another old lady her opinion on whether someone with multiple stab wounds could have been saved and how long it would take for them to bleed out if left untreated can’t help but intrigue the reader. These two characters are Joyce and Elizabeth. Joyce is a dear lady who is a retired nurse who just wants everyone to like her. She is also clearly rather lonely and loves her new found friends in the Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth clearly has an interesting past and is an interesting character but she also has her problems but she is very good at hiding them from the outside world.

The other two members of the club are Ron and Ibrahim. Ibrahim is a retired psychiatrist and knows how to read people. Ron, who was my favourite character, is very good at speaking out against any injustice and made a name for himself when he was younger. Ron is a real character, who is clearly a tough guy but who also has a heart of gold and is always the man to give a consoling hug. 

The two official investigators are Donna and Chris. They become members of the Thursday Murder Club. I do feel sorry for Chris and Donna. They are trying to do their jobs but are also trying to control four elderly people who insist on interfering. 

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book but I will be honest I got a little bored in the middle and lost interest but thankfully I kept reading and it picked back up towards the end. I was also rather pleased that I had worked out who the murderer of Tony Curran was although I struggled to work out who the killer of Ian Ventham was. 

This book was humorous, well written with some wonderful characters that I would happily read about again. I give this book 3 out 5 Dragons just because I lost interest in the middle.

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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.)

About the author

Richard Osman (1970) is an English television presenter, producer, comedian and writer best known for being the creator and co-presenter of the television show Pointless. 

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

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (Review)

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Blurb

Imagine a year without Christmas.

No crowded shops, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether.

Theirs will be the only house on the street without a rooftop Frosty the snowman; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences – and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined. 

Review

The first Christmas movie I watched this year was Christmas with the Kranks and I loved it! Then my best friend told me that it was based on the book Skipping Christmas so I immediately went on to Waterstones and ordered myself a copy. Thankfully I was not disappointed.

The first thing I noticed was how faithful the movie is to the book and that was really good as I always hate it when the movie is so far from the book. Luther and Nora are husband and wife who are about to spend their first Christmas without their daughter but Luther wants to celebrate Christmas differently this year. When Luther thinks of Christmas he just sees expense and mobs of people so he decides this year Nora and himself will skip Christmas and go for a cruise instead.

Nora loves Christmas. She loves the decorations, the parties, the present buying absolutely everything but Luther persuades her this year they will go on a cruise and through the book you can see how Nora is affected by the lack of Christmas traditions in her life. Nora is a typical housewife who spends all her time dashing from one charity thing to the next, who is always helping the needy and making sure everything at home is just right.

Luther however is always counting the money and to be honest is a really selfish character and he really got on my nerves at times and I must admit this does come across in the film but the film had more of a comic element to offset the selfish behaviour. I really felt sorry for Nora having to deal with Luther through all of this but I was pleased he got his comeuppance and everyone was happy.

The other characters who were my favourites were Spike and Ned Frohmeyer. Spike was a real character and Ned was the typical nosy neighbour but there for anybody in need and always trying to bring the street together to be the best they can be.

At just under 200 pages this book took no time at all to read and was a good light-hearted quick read that made me laugh. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons and highly recommend it to anybody who wants a funny read over the festive period.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | 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.)

About the author

John Grisham (1955) is an American novelist, attorney, politician and activist. He is best known for his legal thrillers.

Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime (Review)

Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime by Oscar Wilde

Blurb

Wilde’s supremely witty tale of dandies, anarchists and a murderous prophecy in London high society.

Review

I picked this up the other day as I fancied a quick read that I knew would put a smile on my face. Oscar Wilde always makes me laugh and I just love his subtle humour.

The story begins at a party and involves a palm reader who sets a series of events into motion. Lord Arthur I will admit is rather a silly character who totally believes in the power of fate and will do anything to make sure it goes to plan. Wilde is most definitely having a little fun subtly mocking the English aristocracy with the characters of the party and Lord Arthur.

The thing I love most about this is just how ridiculous this story is. Lord Arthur does some very suspicious things like purchasing poison and meeting with bomb makers but nobody bats an eye lid.

I really enjoyed this short story and read it with a nice mug of tea as it is only 50 pages long. An amusing version of a murder mystery that I give 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

AmazonWaterstonesFoylesWordery

About the author

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. He was a playwright, poet, novelist and short story writer.

The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett (Review)

The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett

About the author

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Sir Terence David John Pratchett OBE (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015) was an English humorist, satirist, and author of fantasy novels, especially comical works. He is best known for his Discworld series of 41 novels.

Blurb

In the beginning, there was nothing but endless flatness. Then came the Carpet…

That’s the old story everyone knows and loves (even if they don’t really believe it). But now the Carpet is home to many different tribes and peoples and there’s a new story in the making. The story of Fray, sweeping a trail of destruction across the Carpet. The story of power-hungry mouls – and of two Munrung brothers, who set out on an adventure to end all adventures when their village is flattened.

It’s a story that will come to a terrible end – if someone doesn’t do something about it. If everyone doesn’t do something about it…

Review

It was so good to read a Pratchett book again as it has been way too long. During the lockdown to read a book by one of my favourite authors was like a warm comfort blanket wrapped around me. The Carpet People was written by a 17 year old Pratchett but this edition is the one that he republished after going through and making a few changes.

I really enjoyed reading this book as it was full of the typical humour of Pratchett and although it was not as refined as his Discworld novels it was still a joy to read. I loved how this book made my imagination run wild, it reminded me of the Borrowers, a race of people that live in the carpet.

The fascinating world of the carpet is brilliant with all the different tribes, kingdoms and an empire. I loved how the individuality of the people came through. I also loved how the women decided to do battle and fight for women’s rights at the end.

I have seen some pretty bad reviews about this book and it really surprises me as I know this book has a few flaws with characters randomly disappearing but since this was one of Pratchett’s first books it is bound to have some flaws as Pratchett was starting to find his feet as an author. Obviously if you compare it to the Discworld books it is lacking slightly but it is still a highly enjoyable story to read which will give you a good giggle.

I highly recommend this book to all fantasy and comedy lovers, it is a quick read that will make you laugh. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

Purchase Links

Book Depository

Waterstones

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A P. G. Wodehouse Pick-Me-Up! by P. G. Wodehouse (Review)

A P. G. Wodehouse Pick-Me-Up! Goodbye to All Cats by P. G. Wodehouse

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About the author

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Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse wrote more than ninety novels and some three hundred short stories over 73 years. He is widely recognised as the greatest 20th- century writer of humour in the English Language. In 1936 he awarded the Mark Twain Prize for ‘having made an outstanding and lasting contribution to the happiness of the world’. He was made a Doctor of Letters by Oxford University in 1939 and in 1975, aged 93, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. He died shortly afterwards, on St Valentine’s Day.

Blurb

A Wodehouse pick-me-up that’ll lift your spirits, whatever your mood.

Review

I picked up this book when I was last in Bath. I picked it up at the counter. I must admit a lot of bookshops tend to sell me an extra book at the counter.

This is a very quick read but a very fun read that contains three short stories.

Goodbye to All Cats

This story is the first in the book and I must admit my favourite and made me laugh out loud a lot! This story is all about Freddie’s experience with cats that made him dislike all cats in general for the foreseeable future.

The story is hilarious but at the same time I did feel sorry for Freddie who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ukridge’s Dog College

I was surprised by this story as I had just presumed all the stories would be cat related. I was so pleased to see this assumption was wrong because I love dog stories. This story focuses on the eccentric Ukridge, who will do anything to make a quick fortune that doesn’t involve hard work. A fantastic little read for dog lovers.

Ukridge’s Accident Syndicate

This is an interesting story but for me lacked the humour of the other two stories. I just found the story dragged a little. The basic concept is a group of friends who pool all their money to buy insurance for their friend and wait for the friend to have an accident. Oh and it does involve a dog, which is always good.

All in all I loved the book and think I will purchase the other three books in the series as they are quick fun reads that you can read in one sitting or one story a day. I highly recommend the book especially for animal lovers and anybody who just wants to read a light hearted fun book. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons! Pan loves the book as well.

Purchase Links

Book Depository

Waterstones

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Star Trek The Next Generation Cats by Jenny Parks (Review)

Star Trek The Next Generation Cats by Jenny Parks

About the author

Jenny Parks is a scientific illustrator that also happens to be a shameless nerd, with a penchant for drawing animals, dinosaurs, imaginary creatures… and occasionally, people as cats. Somehow, she found herself with a bit of internet fame with the illustration ‘Doctor Mew’, and has been baffled ever since. With a BFA in illustration from the California College of the Arts, and a graduate degree in Science Illustration from UC Santa Cruz, she now resides in Denver, CO as a freelance illustrator, fulfilling her destiny to make a living drawing cute, fuzzy things.

Blurb

The cats are back in their continuing mission: to boldly go where no one has gone before. This companion to the bestselling Star Trek Cats brings the many adventures of Star Trek: The Next Generation to life in a faithfully feline homage to the hit series. From encounters with the Borg to adventures on the holodeck, Captain Picard and the rest of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D crew are reimagined as cats with lovingly detailed and eyebrow-raising scenes from throughout the award-winning series, perfect for Star Trek fans across the Galaxy.

Review

I was so excited to see there was a sequel to the Star Trek Cats and that this book was just as good as the previous one. The first thing I loved was the choice of cats for the characters especially the choice of cat for Captain Picard.

The book is like the previous book where it does not follow a story but instead has snapshots from different episodes. I have some favourite scenes which include Relics where the cats are kittens. My ultimate favourite is where the cats are playing poker and I must admit I would love to have it as a picture on my wall. However, I must admit the Borg cats are a little bit scary.

I love this book and I highly recommend it to other Star Trek and cat fans. I give this book a big 5 out of 5 Dragons and I thoroughly hope Jenny Parks does Star Trek Voyager soon!

Lyra loves the book as well!

Purchase Links

Waterstones

Book Depository

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Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks (Review)

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

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About the author

Jenny Parks is a scientific illustrator that also happens to be a shameless nerd, with a penchant for drawing animals, dinosaurs, imaginary creatures… and occasionally, people as cats. Somehow, she found herself with a bit of internet fame with the illustration ‘Doctor Mew’, and has been baffled ever since. With a BFA in illustration from the California College of the Arts, and a graduate degree in Science Illustration from UC Santa Cruz, she now resides in Denver, CO as a freelance illustrator, fulfilling her destiny to make a living drawing cute, fuzzy things.

Blurb

Captain’s log: We have entered a galaxy where beloved illustrator Jenny Parks has conjured an astonishingly vivid homage to the original Star Trek series with an unexpected twist: a cast of cats. Featuring a hilarious new take on iconic characters and scenes—from Kirk in the Captain’s chair to Spock offering his Vulcan wisdom—this eye-opening adventure stays true to the tone of the classic TV show. Playful, loving, and from a strange new world, Star Trek Cats is the perfect gift for fans of, well, Star Trek and cats.

Review

I could not believe my eyes when I accidentally discovered this book and I immediately bought it for my husband for Valentine’s Day, obviously I had to read it myself. I love Star Trek and I have seen every episode of the original series and I am now working my way through the films so I was overjoyed to read this book.

The book doesn’t follow a story and is instead snapshots from different well known episodes of the series. The book doesn’t have a lot to read as it is mainly the amazing illustrations but that does not matter as the book is a joy to behold. Every scene is brilliantly done but a few are my favourites. One is Scotty holding his bottle of Scotch Milk and the other is a scene from the episode The Trouble with Tribbles.

This book is brilliant for Star Trek fans and cat fans alike. The illustrations are amazing and very cleverly done as the cats have been chosen to reflect the Star Trek characters perfectly. I will never see Scotty the same way again after seeing his cat version. I highly recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a giggle and a quick read to brighten up their day. I give this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

P.s. Lyra my cat likes the book as well.

Purchase Links

Waterstones

Book Depository

 

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The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde (Review)

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

9781911547709

About the author

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Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. He was a playwright, poet, novelist and short story writer.

Blurb

Everybody in the county knows that the great manor of Canterville Chase has been haunted for 300 years. But when the American minister Mr Otis moves in with his wife and  family, they refuse to be frightened by something as Old World as a ghost.

The Canterville Ghost vows to have his revenge and terrify them all to death with his most despicable deeds. But after the minister offers practical solutions such as Pinkerton’s Champion Stain Remover for the bloodstain in the sitting room, and the twin boys torture him by pelleting him with their peashooters, it’s the poor ghost who is left severely spooked.

Can he possibly rescue his reputation, or will the family offer him a chance to finally lay his – detachable – head down forever?

Review

I was very excited to find this book whilst looking for Christmas presents at Waterstones. I love the film of this story where the ghost is played by Patrick Stewart.

This is a super little short story where you can not help but feel sorry for the poor ghost. He has spent all his ghostly life haunting and terrifying the residents of the manor and now all of a sudden he has a family he can not scare and who delight in scaring him instead. He tries all his tricks but to no avail and slowly it starts to affect his health. That’s if ghosts actually do have ill health?

The Otis family are stereotypically American and a real good laugh. They take everything in their stride and are not fazed by anything. Thankfully one member of this family can also be the ghost’s biggest aid.

I love this little story, I find it sweet and funny and just generally a fun read. I highly recommend this book to everyone and give it a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

Waterstones

Book Depository

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