That’s a Wrap!

Well it is the last day of 2018! So what bookish things have I done in a year?

I set up this blog and have now been blogging for just over two months and I love it! I’m reading more books and blogs and discovering so many new books I would never have dreamed of reading before. Plus I’m talking about books on a daily basis, what is not to like?

I have read more books in a year than I have ever read before, 74 in total and I have enjoyed it immensely.

I have smashed my Goodreads reading challenge, my aim was only 60! Still undecided what 2019’s should be.

I have discovered some new authors I have never read before but definitely want to read more of:-

Neil Gaiman

Rosamunde Pilcher

Veronica Henry

Jeffrey Archer

Peter May

Mary Higgins Clark

 

My favourite books that I read in 2018:-

Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Watermelon Snow by William A Liggett

The Blackhouse by Peter May

My worst books of 2018:-

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

The Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov

 

Newly discovered genres:-

Climate fiction

Favourite Poem:-

The Tyger by William Blake

Favourite Quote:-

“A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”

Italo Calvino

 

I believe that is a wrap.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year’s Eve whether it is partying, reading, sleeping or whatever you prefer.

See you in 2019.

Lady Book Dragon.

 

 

 

 

Review 19: Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

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About the author

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Veronica Henry went to eight different schools due to having a parent in the army. Henry studied Classics at Bristol University and a bi-lingual secretarial course. One of her first jobs was working as a Production Secretary on The Archers at Pebble Mill in Birmingham; it used to take her two and a half hours to type up the script on a typewriter. From there Henry became a script writer for Central Television. Henry has worked on Crossroads, Boon, Heartbeat, and Holby City. In 2000 Henry got her first book published and has never looked back, she has now written 19 novels and is working on her 20th.

Blurb

Everyone loves Christmas…

Especially Lizzy Kingham. But this year, she is feeling unloved and under appreciated by her family. The present-buying, decorating and food shopping have all been left to her. So she wonders…what would happen if she ran away and left them to it?

Lizzy heads to her favourite place: a beach hut on the golden sands of Everdene. There she meets an unlikely collection of new friends, all running away from something. But the spirit of Christmas gets under Lizzy’s skin: soon the fairy lights are twinkling and the scent of mulled wine mingles with the sea air.

Back at Pepperpot Cottage, her family are desperate to find her. For Christmas isn’t Christmas without Lizzy. Can they track her down in time and convince her she means the world to them, every day of the year?

Review

This is another of my Christmas reads and so far my favourite. I recently read a short story by Henry and really enjoyed it so I was pleased to find she had written a Christmas book. I must admit it put me through a great deal of emotions, it made me smile, giggle, cry and much more. It was a wonderful read and I have bought a copy for my best friend to read over Christmas and I am lending my copy to my mom to read and I think they will both really enjoy the book.

The book is centred around Lizzy Kingham who is a wife and mother of two teenagers, she has also recently taken voluntary redundancy from her job at a hotel as wedding and events planner. Life has suddenly got overwhelming for poor Lizzy, she has no job and all the jobs she has applied for have fallen through, she is worried about her children going off to university and no longer needing her anymore. She suddenly feels like she is not needed by her family and that they do not care about her. The last straw is when none of them come home to decorate the tree with her, the one family tradition that means the world to her and so she leaves for Christmas on her own.

As the story unfolds we meet other characters who also need to escape Christmas. First we meet Harley, a teenage boy who is about the same age as Lizzy’s twins, his father is in prison and his mother is in a relationship with a bully of a man who likes to provoke and make Harley’s life a misery, so Harley leaves the house to stay at one of the beach huts he looks after as a part time job. This beach hut is also the same one Lizzy is staying at, they instantly become friends and help each other to have a good Christmas. The next characters to enter the scene are Jack, his son Nat and Clouseau the French bulldog. Jack and Nat have a very sad history and the memories of Christmas have all got a bit much for Jack so he decides to escape the memories and history and stay at a client’s beach hut over Christmas. This beach hut is right next door to Lizzy’s and Harley’s. We also eventually meet Leanne, Harley’s mother and River, Harley’s little brother.

Left at Pepperpot Cottage is Simon, Lizzy’s husband and Hattie and Luke the twins. Eventually we also meet Cynthia, Simon’s mother and also find out why Lizzy finds it so hard to be around Cynthia. I really enjoyed how they all realised suddenly what they had put Lizzy through, they had all been wrapped up in their own lives and just taking Lizzy for granted. The sudden realisation they might have lost her for good to me was justice for their lack of care and asking Lizzy if she is ok and doing what she asks. She never asks for much and does not nag, she is always there with a smile, a listening ear and whatever they need but they have not been there for her or noticed she is not coping.

There are a lot of characters in this book and I really enjoyed how Henry made all their lives entwine and made the most unlikely group of people the best of friends. I also enjoyed the little snapshots of their past, Henry did not go crazy into detail but gave just enough for the reader to understand. Jack’s memories brought me to tears, I found them really hard to read about and very moving. Lizzy’s memories of how she met Simon were very romantic but at the same time believable. I think the main thing I enjoyed about this book was how all the characters were realistic and relatable. Everything about the book feels like they are drawn from real life.

I adored the ending of this book and it really put me in a festive mood. This book is a feel good read and I could not recommend it more to people, especially if what they are looking for is an easy light hearted read to make them smile. I have rated this book 5 stars out of 5 and I can not wait to read another book by Veronica Henry.

Lady Book Dragon

Christmas Reading List

Happy Advent! Today is the first day of Advent and so the Christmas reading has begun.

And here it is! My Christmas reading list.

I am very excited and I can not wait for tomorrow. I will see how my reading goes as I might add to the list as December goes on. The Christmas reading list runs from 1st December to 6th January when the Christmas decorations come down.

Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

I chose this one because I read a short story by Venronica Henry recently and really enjoyed it, so I thought I would try one of her Christmas books.

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Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien

My best friend bought me this book for my birthday present and I have been saving it for my Christmas read. I am really excited about this as I absolutely adore Tolkien.

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Five at the Office Christmas Party by Bruno Vincent (based on the characters created by Enid Blyton)

These books are my guilty pleasure, I think I have read them all apart from this one, as again I have been saving it for Christmas.

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Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

Not really a Christmas book I know but I could not resist. This book is so beautiful and special I just thought it was ideal for Christmas reading. Also the new Mary Poppins film Mary Poppins Returns is out soon and one of my saxophone students plays one of the children in the film, so I thought I had better read the book.

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Coming Home by Michael Morpurgo

I am a bit of a Morpurgo fan and when I saw this book I had to have it. I do love children’s books they always make me smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I found this book by complete accident as I was looking online for another book called Coming Home and this came up in the search. Hopefully it will be a lucky find.

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Mog’s Christmas by Judith Kerr

This was chosen quite simply because I have very fond memories of reading Mog stories to my neice and nephews. I have missed Mog so much I decided to buy this as a little treat to myself.

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The Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffmann

Here is the big finale! As I have mentioned in a previous post I always read a new version of The Nutchracker on the run up to Christmas and here is my new copy. Another pretty book, I do love pretty books.

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I would love to hear if anybody else has a Christmas reading list. Please feel free to post a link to your blog in the comments.

Happy Advent and Happy Reading.

Lady Book Dragon

 

One Month Blogging!

So today marks exactly one month from when I started this blog.

I must admit I think I am hooked. I have got another blog, which I must admit is rather abandoned which is about lots of things really, but to be honest I lost heart with it after a while. This blog, however I have no intention of abounding as I have found what I enjoy and that is reading and talking about books.

I hope my readers so far are enjoying my posts and all the likes and follows are extremely appreciated. I’ve also discovered some new blogs to follow as well through my blogging journey.

A quick Christmas reading list update: Two new books have arrived for my Christmas reading list. I am getting very excited for the 1st December. I am so tempted to start now but I must resist.

The new books are:-

Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

Coming Home by Michael Morpurgo

Anyway, a big thank you to all my readers and thank you for your support so far on my blogging journey.

Happy reading and blogging everyone.

Lady Book Dragon.

Review 5: The Apple Orchard by Veronica Henry

Thank you for all the post likes, follows and support so far. This is my first short story or novella review. Hope you enjoy it.

The Apple Orchard by Veronica Henry

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About the author

Veronica Henry went to eight different schools due to having a parent in the army. Henry studied Classics at Bristol University and a bi-lingual secretarial course. One of her first jobs was working as a Production Secretary on The Archers at Pebble Mill in Birmingham; it used to take her two and a half hours to type up the script on a typewriter. From there Henry became a script writer for Central Television. Henry has worked on Crossroads, Boon, Heartbeat, and Holby City. In 2000 Henry got her first book published and has never looked back, she has now written 19 novels and is working on her 20th.

Blurb

In the charming town of Peasebrook, there’s a place for everyone. War vet Joe has made new friends and a new home for himself here, overlooking a beautiful apple orchard. But when tragedy strikes and Joe is left out in the cold, it will bring them all together in entirely unexpected ways . . .

Review

This little novella I read during my breakfast, I do occasionally dig out the neglected Kindle and read something off it and for some reason I always choose breakfast to do this. In my defence I bought the Kindle for holidays as I still prefer a real book to read from. Anyway enough about my neglected Kindle!

I have never read any books by Veronica Henry but was made by my parents to listen to The Archers for many years, so I am familiar with her work as Peaches the barmaid. All I can say is after reading The Apple Orchard I will definitely be buying some of her books and reading them in the near future. I hope her full novels have the same relatable characters and situations as this novella has.

This little novella is Henry’s first venture into writing novellas and I downloaded it for free on to my kindle, sadly what I was not expecting was that a large chunk of it was actually a sample of her latest book. I would have really liked a longer novella instead, as the story was excellent but just too short in my opinion.

The story is focused on Joe who is a very troubled man but who has made a new life for himself after leaving everything he had before behind. His new life is very simple but a happy contented one with his little dog Digby and his music that he uses to make an income busking.

This story shows how villagers can pull together and make a big difference to people’s lives and in doing so their own lives. It also briefly reflects how war veterans need help and fall through the system, which inevitably means their lives change irrevocably. 

I found this a very moving read and now I reflect on it, I can not quite believe how many subjects are touched upon in such a short story. There is homelessness, PTSD, alcoholism, hostels that still refuse dogs even though a great deal of homeless people would rather sleep on the streets than abandon their dogs, kindness, love, regrets, and so much more. Henry writes about real life situations and characters and that makes it a relatable and enjoyable read.

The main issue I had was the story was just too short and I wanted the characters to be fleshed out a little and to learn more about them. I also did not appreciate how it came with a massive sample of her new book, in fact only 30% of the book was the short story advertised and the rest was the sample. I really hate it when books do this, but that could be just me.

I highly recommend this short story, it will not take you long to read and it is free on amazon kindle, so make a cup of tea or coffee, get a piece of cake and curl up and have a good read.

5 out of 5 stars from me.

Lady Book Dragon.