Christmas Is Coming: Traditions from Around the World by Monika Utnik-Strugala (Review)

Christmas Is Coming: Traditions from Around the World by Monika Utnik-Strugala

Blurb

The perfect book for long wintery evenings—not just under the Christmas tree!

Why do we decorate Christmas trees? Do all children receive gifts on the same day?

Come find out as Monika Utnik-Strugala captures the smells, tastes, and unforgettable traditions about the most popular, exciting, contemplative, and unqiue Christmas customs and legends from around the world. Find out why celebrate Christmas on December 25th, who invented the first glass ornament, why people build nativity scenes, and more!

A truly international collection of legends and traditions are included in the volume such as –  Glögg, Kutia, Lutefisk, Jansson’s Temptation, Julskinka, Bûche de Noël, Hallaca, Kourabiedes, Christmas Pudding, Panettone, Christmas carols, talking animals, and The Nutcracker!

With the atmospheric illustrations by Ewa Poklewska-Koziello, this is an ideal companion for the Christmas season.

Review

I bought this book December 2021 but I didn’t manage to read it before the end of December so I decided to save it for this year instead. I usually start my Christmas books on the 1st December but today I couldn’t resist starting my Christmas reading list. Turns out I also couldn’t put this book down and read it in one day!

The thing that attracted me to this book was the gorgeous illustrations by Ewa Poklewska-Koziello. Every page contains beautiful illustrations which really help make the book come alive. 

The book starts at the start of Advent and ends with Epiphany on 6th January. The book explains the traditions that different countries follow on the run up to Christmas, during Christmas and after Christmas. 

I will be honest but I found that certain countries had a lot more attention than others. Considering the book is meant to be from around the world a lot of the traditions mentioned are from Poland and Russia which I suppose is because of the author’s background. 

I think this is a great book for children and adults but the occasional errors in the text did put me off and the repeated sentence was an error that really should have been picked up. In all honesty what made this book for me was the gorgeous illustrations and without the illustrations I would be giving this book a much lower rating. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

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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

Monika Utnik-Strugala studied romance studies at the University of Warsaw in Poland and is a lifestyle and design journalist. She made her debut with a children’s book about Italian culture. In Italy she likes to spend her free time in her beloved country house. 

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The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie 

Blurb

‘I want a change. To be in the midst of things – exciting things – even if I’m only the looker-on. You know, things don’t happen in St Mary Mead.’

When the luxurious Blue Train arrives at Nice, a guard attempts to wake Ruth Kettering from her slumbers. But she will never wake again – for a heavy blow has killed her, disfiguring her features almost beyond recognition. What is more, her precious rubies are missing.

The prime suspect is Ruth’s estranged husband, Derek. Yet Poirot is not convinced, so he stages an eerie re-enactment of the journey, complete with the murderer on board…

Review

I read quite a lot of this book sat on a very fancy train and yes I chose to read this book because I knew I would be sat on said train.

I must be honest I remembered seeing this one on TV but the TV version is nowhere near as good as the book. The TV versions just never get Poirot right or should I say Papa Poirot! 

Christie starts to set the scene with Van Aldin getting the renowned rubies and giving them to his daughter Ruth Kettering. Once Ruth gets on to the Blue train things soon take a sinister turn. Ruth is found dead in her cabin with her head so badly smashed in she is unrecognisable and the rubies are gone. Then Poirot appears on the scene to help the French police solve the crime because as he happily tells people he is possibly the greatest detective in the world. 

As the story progresses there are a lot of red herrings that the reader and Poirot have to work through and with this story Poirot doesn’t have his usual Hastings to rely on and bounce ideas off. However, Poirot does find a new sidekick to help him solve the crime. Miss Grey has been a companion most of her adult life and now she has come into a fortune she is free and wants her life to start so she leaves the quiet little village of St Mary Mead and goes on the Blue Train to start her first adventure. Poirot befriends Miss Grey and they work together to get the answers they need. 

I really enjoyed how this story developed and how Poirot worked through all the clues and also used some careful guesswork to get the answers he needed. All this builds up to the very dramatic ending which has you sitting at the edge of your seat. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Miss Grey as I really liked her character but I really enjoyed how she and Poirot interacted. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and could not put it down so I give it the full 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | 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

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.

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Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy (Review)

Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy 

Blurb

Under the Greenwood Tree is Hardy’s most bright, confident and optimistic novel. This delightful portrayal of a picturesque rural society, tinged with gentle humour and quiet irony, established Hardy as a writer.

However, the novel is not merely a charming rural idyll. The double-plot, in which the love story of Dick Dewey and Fancy Day is inter-related with a tragic chapter in the history of Mellstock Choir, hints at the poignant disappearance of a long-lived and highly-valued traditional way of life.

Review

Thomas Hardy is one of my favourite authors and I am hoping to one day manage to read all of his novels. This book had been sat on my TBR pile for way too long so I decided it was high time to read this book. 

To start with I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. I think what drew me into this book so much was the church musicians. As a church organist and a musician myself I found the church musicians fascinating and I also found it sad as the church traditions were slowly being eroded away by a forward thinking vicar who is not quite so considerate of his congregation but is very happy to blame the church wardens for his decisions. Having recently read Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot I found quite a few parallels between the two books. 

I also loved how the church band are very anti clarinets and clarinet players. As a reluctant clarinet player myself I found this hilarious! I also loved how they use Dumbledore as an insult, turns out Dumbledore doesn’t just mean bumblebee. 

The other plot in this book is the love story of Dick and Fancy. Dick is a hard working lad who falls instantly head over heels for Fancy and in that moment decides to make himself worthy of her. In all honesty Fancy is not worthy of Dick, she is clearly very spoiled and quite frankly vain and shallow. Dick on the other hand will walk for miles in the rain to be a pallbearer for a friend’s funeral, Dick will go out of his way to help people and is honest and kind hearted. 

I struggled after a while with this book. I disliked Fancy’s character which didn’t help because I really wanted people to see her true character. I also struggled with the local dialect. Having to constantly read the local dialect slowed things down for me and made reading a bit of a hard slog. Overall, I liked the plot line of the church musicians, although I did find it sad but the storyline of Dick and Fancy I could have happily done without. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | 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

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot. He was highly critical of much in Victorian society, especially on the declining status of rural people in Britain.

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The Big Four by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Big Four by Agatha Christie

Blurb

A ruthless international cartel seeks world domination…

Framed in the doorway of Poirot’s bedroom stood an uninvited guest, coated from head to foot in dust. The man’s gaunt face stared for a moment, then he swayed and fell.

Who was he? Was he suffering from shock or just exhaustion? Above all, what was the significance of the figure 4, scribbled over and over again on a sheet of paper? Poirot finds himself plunged into a world of international intrigue, risking his life to uncover the truth about `Number Four’.

Review

I haven’t read many Agatha Christie novels this year which is bad because I am trying to read all of her novels in order of publication so this one has been on my TBR pile for a very long time. 

My first impression of this book was wow what a lot of characters! Christie is a master of juggling many plot lines and lots of characters but this book is overflowing with characters. I know Christie liked to include a lot of characters because this was perfect for creating red herrings but it seemed like every chapter there were another new load of characters to get to grips with. To be honest I struggled at times to keep up with all the characters in this book but I think I managed it. 

In this story Hastings has returned which I am very pleased about because he always makes me laugh. He is always convinced he knows more than Poirot but of course he has no idea at all. It is also very clear that Poirot has been missing his good friend Hastings. 

The story begins with a strange man somehow turning up in Poirot’s bedroom and collapsing but not before giving Poirot a vital clue which will set the scene for the rest of the book. As the story continues Poirot finds just how far the Big Four are willing to go to take control of the world. The story sees Poirot travelling all over the place and encountering any number of characters from Professors to Government officials, from Criminals to Nobility. 

The one thing I did find with this story was it didn’t flow like Christie’s usual books and it felt at times like it was pieced together. After some research I found out that this book was actually made up of 12 short stories that Christie had written and published in a magazine. This made a lot of sense for me because once I knew I realised that this was why I struggled with the pace of the book and sheer amount of characters. 

Although I felt the amount of characters was overkill and struggled with the lack of fluency with the story I still thoroughly enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down. Poirot was on his usual fine form and Hastings was still his bumbling self and I loved every minute of it. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | 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

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.

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Remember Me by Mary Higgins Clark (Review)

Remember Me by Mary Higgins Clark

Blurb

Unable to forgive herself for the death of her two-year-old son Bobby in a car accident, Menley Nichols’ marriage to Adam starts to fall apart – until the birth of their daughter Hannah. Determined to rebuild a life together around their precious baby, Menley and Adam decide to rent a house on Cape Cod for a month, confidant that the tranquility of the place will be ideal for Menley and little Hannah. But the peace they crave is disturbed when strange things start to happen – incidents which make Menley relive the horror of the accident in which she lost Bobby… incidents which make her fear for Hannah. And step by step, Menley and Adam are drawn into a dark and sinister web of events which threatens their marriage, their child and ultimately Menley’s sanity.

Review

I read my first Mary Higgins Clark book about four years ago and at the time I didn’t realise it was also her first published novel but I really enjoyed it and she turned into an author I always keep an eye out for her books. Just recently at my church someone has obviously had a clear out of Mary Higgins Clark books, leaving them at the back with the other second hand books, so I have been snapping them up whenever I see one I haven’t read. This is where Remember Me came from.

This is definitely my favourite Mary Higgins Clark book so far. I couldn’t put it down and it had me hooked with no idea what was going on or what would happen next. Menley and Adam have rented out Remember House on Cape Cod for a month where they hope to get the much needed rest together and time to relax as a family together with their baby daughter Hannah. 

Menley plans to work on her next book during this month away and so delves into research and work which is where she is happiest. It also gives her a chance to escape the past where Bobby her two year old son was killed in a car accident. However, this planned month of family bliss is not quite as quiet as they planned because Adam keeps being called away to work. This means Menley is left alone with the baby and strange things start to happen at night that start to make Menley question her sanity and fear for baby Hannah’s safety. 

There are a lot of strange events that happen in this book and I never had a clue of what to expect next. However, there were certain aspects of the story that were clearly not right and alarm bells were going off in my head that circumstances were not quite right but I couldn’t work out how these things were happening or who was responsible. I had quite a shock when it was all revealed at the end. I also loved the very last paragraph of the book and thought it linked everything up with the Remember House and Menley’s research. 

This book is very cleverly written by Clark because it keeps the reader hooked but doesn’t give much away. I also loved Clark’s descriptions especially of Remember House because I could easily picture the house in my mind. I could not put this book down and give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org

(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

Mary Higgins Clark (1927-2020) was an American author of suspense novels. She published 51 books and each one was a United States best seller.

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The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker (Review)

The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker

Blurb

This complete collection of Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies features a brand-new enchanting cover.

Perfect for fans of all ages, this wonderful collection includes all the original Flower Fairy poems and illustrations by Cicely Mary Barker from the classic books.

Since the publication of Cicely Mary Barker’s first book in 1923, the Flower Fairies have been ethereal companions to generations of readers around the world. Her charming poetry and delicate illustrations have sparked the imaginations of children for over ninety years and continue to inspire a life-long love for fairies and all things magical.

Review

This beautiful book was my birthday present off my parents and a book that has been on my wishlist for ages. I was so excited I started reading it straight away.

This fantastic book is just stunning as the illustrations are beautiful. Each fairy is unique and all match the flower or plant that they are with perfectly matched with. Barker was clearly a very talented artist because the flowers and plants are so well drawn I could easily recognise all the plants (well the ones I am familiar with). I can imagine Barker studying each plant in detail to get the very best illustration. 

Each fairy is accompanied by a beautifully written poem by Barker which is also associated with each plant and clearly shows that Barker really knew her plants. I also loved how certain poems had little facts attached to them about the plants, for example whether the plant was poisonous or known by another name. I really learned a lot from these attached facts and discovered that plants I know are also known by other names. 

I had so many favourite illustrations and poems but my absolute favourite was the Christmas Tree fairy and I plan on rereading this poem when it is closer to Christmas. I would also love some prints of certain illustrations because they would look stunning on display rather than hidden in a book. 

Barker in my opinion was an extremely talented artist and really knowledgable about plants. I loved this book and fully intend to dip into this book from time to time and remind myself of these beautiful illustrations and poems throughout the year. I give this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | 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

Cicely Mary Barker (1895-1973) was the illustrator who created the famous Flower Fairies; those ethereal smiling children with butterfly wings. As a child she was influenced by the works of the illustrator Kate Greenaway, whom she assiduously copied in her formative years. Her principal influence, however, was the artwork of the Pre-Raphaelites.

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The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski (Review)

The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski

Blurb

Tells the story of a young married woman who lies down on a chaise-longue and wakes to find herself imprisoned in the body of her alter ego ninety years before.

Review

A couple of days ago I went book shopping at one of my favourite bookshops Persephone Books in Bath and I came away with quite a few books. When I saw this book in the shop it really intrigued me so as soon as I got back to the hotel I started reading it and I was hooked. 

Melanie is a young wife and recent mother in the 1950’s but sadly she is confined to her bed with TB. She has a rather patronising doctor and an equally patronising husband who both treat her like a small child. Her husband thinks she is silly and even tells her this and because she is petted and spoiled and told she is silly she acts like an over privileged spoiled brat. 

Things soon turn rather sinister for Melanie after she dozes off on the chaise-longue. Melanie wakes up in a different room and the only constant is the chaise-longue, even her clothes and body are different but she is Melanie inside, on the outside however she is somebody else who is called Milly and Milly is from the Victorian period.

As the story develops it soon becomes clear that Milly is also a very sick woman but because of the lack of medical knowledge in the Victorian period Milly is not doing as well as Melanie was. It also becomes clear that Milly has a dark secret and something sinister happened in her past. 

The trapped Melanie soon realises that this new world she finds herself in is the polar opposite to the one she comes from. Melanie is used to comforts, to being petted and spoiled and never hearing a harsh word. Milly is not used to comforts and is harshly treated and spoken to. Milly’s world is coarse to Melanie’s soft. 

I loved the contrasts in this book and how Melanie tries to work out how to escape this body she finds herself in. The book explores themes of mental health, physical health and developments in medical treatments. It also looks at the roles of women in the 1950’s and 1860’s. As the reader I desperately wanted to know more about Milly’s past and find out her story because we get hints of it and some of those hints are rather worrying and scary. 

This book is rather creepy and a perfect read for the month of October. I flew through the book and could have happily read it in one sitting if I wasn’t having so much fun on my holiday. I know the not knowing added to the atmosphere of the story but it did leave me frustrated and it is because of this I only give the book 4 out of 5 Dragons. I will definitely be reading more by Marghanita Laski though.

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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

Marghanita Laski (1915-1988) was an English journalist, radio panellist and novelist. She also wrote literary biography, plays and short stories, and contributed about 250,000 additions to the Oxford English Dictionary. 

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Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot (Review)

Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot

Blurb

George Eliot’s first published work consisted of three short novellas: ‘The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton’, ‘Mr Gilfil’s Love-Story’, and ‘Janet’s Repentance’. Their depiction of the lives of ordinary men and women in a provincial Midlands town initiated a new era of nineteenth-century literary realism. The tales concern rural members of the clergy and the gossip and factions that a small town generates around them. Amos Barton only realizes how much he depends upon his wife’s selfless love when she dies prematurely; Mr Gilfil’s devotion to a girl who loves another is only fleetingly rewarded; and Janet Dempster suffers years of domestic abuse before the influence of an Evangelical minister turns her life around. 

Review

One of my all time favourite books is Silas Marner so I hoped that Scenes of Clerical Life would be just as good and thankfully I was not disappointed. I truly loved reading this book and could not put it down. 

The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton

One of the first things I noticed about this short story was how church hasn’t really changed from when Eliot wrote this story to the present day. As a church organist who has regularly attended church for many years I couldn’t believe how close the past and present are. The Rev Barton is almost in constant battle with his congregation because the congregation think they know better and there are always disagreements about the music. 

The Rev Barton always tries to do his best and always tries to help those in need as much as possible even if this means his family suffers because of his generosity and the one who suffers the most is his poor wife. Mrs Barton never complains and spends all her time trying to provide for her ever growing family. Even when she goes to bed she continues with mending the children’s clothes. However, Mrs Barton’s efforts go mainly unnoticed by her husband but when Mrs Barton dies the poor Rev Barton realises just what a treasure he had in his wife.

I loved this little story and it is the shortest out of the three stories in the book. You can tell this is Eliot’s first story but you can see the promise of the amazing author she is going to become. I found the story funny, sad, frustrating and beautiful. 

Mr Gilfil’s Love-Story

This is another sad tale from Eliot but a beautifully written one and one where you can see a more polished author. The story is a romance of unrequited love, of a room preserved through time and rarely opened, a room which holds painful memories for Mr Gilfil. 

I love how this story shows how the parishioners all gossip around the village. How the ladies who were born and bred in the village look down their noses at the newcomers to the village especially if they are from town and not country people. We soon see all the different characters of the parish who Mr Gilfil, the vicar, watches over and they over him. 

In this story we meet Mr Gilfil as an old man living in the vicarage and we learn his sad past by being transported back in time to when Mr Gilfil was a young man with his whole future ahead of him. 

This was another story I couldn’t put down and one I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Janet’s Repentance

This is the longest story in the book and I must admit I did find that it dragged at times but I still really enjoyed the story. 

Janet starts off as a sad character who has a horrible home life but to everyone in the village she is nothing but sweetness and kindness. Janet helps out where she can and always has a smile for people but at home she is a the victim of domestic abuse. Her husband is positively cruel to poor Janet and she lives in fear of him. Her mother in law who lives with them refuses to see any fault with her son and blames everything on poor Janet because she sees her as a bad wife. The only person Janet can confide in is her own mother.

Eventually it all comes to a head and Janet seeks help and she finds it in the form of a dear friend and the Methodist Minister Mr Tryan. Mr Tryan is making waves in the village and because of this there is a divide between the people who follow Mr Tryan and the people who go to the village church. The main supporter of the anti Mr Tryan club is Janet’s husband. 

This story shows the love and support people can show to those in need and how people can rally around to help. However, the story also shows the darker side of humanity where people turn a blind eye to what they can clearly see. Janet has lived as the victim of domestic abuse for many years and people have chosen to not see this fact. 

I really enjoyed this book and found it beautifully written. I also found many similarities with the modern world in it because people have really not changed much. Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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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

Mary Ann Evans, known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She was born in 1819 at a farmstead in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, where her father was estate manager. Mary Ann, the youngest child and a favourite of her father’s, received a good education for a young woman of her day. Influenced by a favourite governess, she became a religious evangelical as an adolescent. 

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A Secret Affair by Barbara Taylor Bradford (Review)

A Secret Affair by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Blurb

Seeking some much-needed rest and relaxation after a long stint as a TV-news war correspondent in Bosnia, 33-year-old Bill Fitzgerald travels to Venice. There he is struck by the dark beauty of a young American woman, Vanessa Stewart, a 27-year-old glass designer from New York. Unhappily married, she welcomes a no-strings friendship with Bill. Soon they embark on an illicit affair and find themselves desperately in love. They vow to see each other whenever and wherever they can. But on their third meeting, one of them does not show up.

Review

I do like Barbara Taylor Bradford but I will be honest I haven’t read any of her books since I was a teenager so when I saw this book at a National Trust second hand bookshop I knew I had to have it and get reading her books again. 

This book is considerably smaller than her books from the Emma Harte series so it didn’t take me long to read. However, sadly it wasn’t quality over quantity with this book. There was no real story to this book and when a story really started to come through the book was over which I found very disappointing. 

Bill is a war reporter who has clearly led an interesting life but it is also a life which has at times been quite sad. I would have loved to have learned a bit more about Bill and his history but sadly we only get a small snippet of his life in this book. I also found it interesting that after months and months living in a war zone he chooses to go to Venice rather than going home to spend time with his family but maybe that is just me. 

Vanessa is another interesting character in this book who I found quite fascinating but yet again I found the background and history of this character lacking. Vanessa is in an unhappy marriage and so meeting Bill is like a breath of fresh air in her life. Meeting Bill also makes her face up to some things in her life and make some hard decisions. 

I will be honest in my opinion this book was not up to Barbara Taylor Bradford’s usual standard. Her characters fell flat for me and the storyline just went from event to another without any real padding. It was like she had made an outline of the story with a timeline of events but had forgotten to add in the extra bits that give her books the usual flare. I really debated my rating of this book and have changed my mind more than once on what I wanted to rate this book as. I finally decided 3 out of 5 Dragons because although this book was lacking a few things for me I still enjoyed it. 

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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

Barbara Taylor Bradford is the author of 30 bestselling novels, including The Cavendon Women, Cavendon Hall, and The Ravenscar Dynasty. She was born in Leeds, England, and from an early age, she was a voracious reader: at age 12, she had already read all of Dickens and the Brontë sisters. By the age of twenty, she was an editor and columnist on Fleet Street. She published her first novel, A Woman of Substance, in 1979, and it has become an enduring bestseller.

Barbara Taylor Bradford’s books are published in over 90 countries in 40 languages, with sales figures in excess of 88 million. Ten of her novels have been adapted into television mini-series starring actors including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Liam Neeson, Deborah Kerr and Elizabeth Hurley. She has been inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame of America, and in June of 2007, Barbara was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to Literature.

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The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse (Review)

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse

Blurb

World War I robbed England and France of an entire generation of friends, lovers and futures. In Freddie Watson’s case, the battlefields took his beloved brother and, at times, his peace of mind. 

In the winter of 1928, still seeking some kind of resolution, Freddie is travelling through the beautiful but forbidding French Pyrenees. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. Freezing and dazed, he stumbles through the woods, emerging in a tiny village, where he finds an inn to wait out the blizzard. There he meets Fabrissa, a lovely young woman also mourning a lost generation. 

Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories. By the time dawn breaks, Freddie will have unearthed a tragic mystery that goes back through the centuries, and discovered his own role in the life of this old remote town.

Review

After reading my first Mosse book a few weeks ago I knew I had to read more of her books. Thankfully, my TBR trolley had a Mosse book sat on it which I am ashamed to say has been sat on there for over a year. I really wish I had started reading Mosse’s books earlier as I could not put this book down. 

Freddie is a lost soul. The death of Freddie’s brother has affected him deeply and instead of getting better his grief has slowly got worse. This has left him wandering around Europe trying to find some way to cope with his loss. This ends up with Freddie losing control of his car whilst in a snowstorm in France and ending up in a tiny village called Nulle which is very strange. 

The village is isolated and the hotel Freddie finds currently has no guests because it is not the season but the landlady airs the room and tries everything she can to make Freddie feel comfortable, including inviting him to a village get together. At this get together Freddie meets the stunning Fabrissa. Fabrissa is another lost soul and she decides to tell her story to Freddie. 

As Freddie and Fabrissa exchange their stories you begin to feel the emotion of both stories but as Fabrissa starts to tell her story you realise that it is a lot darker and that something is not quite right. 

The story is beautifully written and I absolutely loved the descriptions. It is written in first person and Mosse has done a brilliant job of getting the personality and character of Freddie across. This would have been a fantastic read for the spooky season but I am pleased that I read it this month as Autumn arrives as it felt like the perfect book for the season change. I can’t wait to read my next Mosse book and I give this brilliant book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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About the author

Kate Mosse is an international bestselling author with sales of more than five million copies in 42 languages. Her fiction includes the novels Labyrinth (2005), Sepulchre (2007), The Winter Ghosts (2009), and Citadel (2012), as well as an acclaimed collection of short stories, The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales (2013). Kate’s new novel, The Taxidermist’s Daughter is out now.

Kate is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (previously the Orange Prize) and in June 2013, was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to literature. She lives in Sussex.

Etsy

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