A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft – Full of life, it is a perfect book for Christmas @SueMoorcroft @AvonBooksUK @HarperCollinsUK #NewBook #Review #Readers #Christmas #music #bands #theatre

A Christmas Gift
by Sue Moorcroft
Rating: 5 Stars *****


About the Author

Sue Moorcroft A Christmas GiftSue Moorcroft writes award-winning contemporary fiction of life and love. The Little Village Christmas was a Sunday Times Bestseller and The Christmas Promise went to #1 in the Kindle chart. Her latest release, The Christmas Gift has also become The Sunday Times Bestseller this year (2018). She also writes short stories, serials, articles, columns, courses and writing “how to” guides.

An army child, Sue was born in Germany, then lived in Cyprus, Malta and the UK, and still loves to travel. Her other loves include writing (the best job in the world), reading and hanging out with friends, dancing, yoga, wine and chocolate.

 

Links to Sue Moorcroft’s website and social media

Website: http://www.suemoorcroft.com 

Blurb

One Christmas can change everything…
Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.

To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there me more to him than meets the eye?

Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?

A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft

Review

A Christmas Gift will put you into that festive spirit and give you that desire to stay warm and cosy with a good book. The cover deserves a mention here too. It’s bright, colourful, cosy and really draws the eye in. It is an excellent gift to give to someone, or indeed, treat yourself to. It’s warm and uplifting. Perfect for this time of year!

Just a few pages in and this book had already captured my attention. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a flimsy, syrupy book because of the title. This book is about life, right down to its deepest, darkest pockets, which is cleverly coupled with a lot of lightness throughout with Christmas joy and happiness. It has a lot of substance packed into what is an average sized, good paced book. It is emotive and with characters to really care about.
Sue Moorcroft has written a very enjoyable, entertaining, well-observed book that actually contains a lot of excellent, modern content; and yet all flows with consummate ease. There are twists and turns throughout with family relations, an ex-partner, bailiffs, a student theatre production, a band, a romance and of course a heartwarming Christmas atmosphere.

There are many characters due to the nature of the story, but don’t let that put you off, they are described well and you will get a good feel of their personalities very quickly and are easy for any reader to follow. They make the story more realistic due to the life and premise that weaves throughout this book so well. 

Georgine France is the Events Director at Acting Instrumental – a performing arts college in Middledip. The college is putting together a musical theatre piece to showcase the student’s work. There’s clearly been a good amount of research as it is all realistically written with the different attitudes of people and what it takes to put on a show, which as this book shows, it takes a lot to pull a show off, even if it is a student production. I can see the detail that’s put into this work as I, myself get involved in amateur theatre, albeit front of house or backstage, but I’ve seen a fair bit. So, the way Sue Moorcroft has handled the piece was joyous. It is a bit like being able to take a peek of what goes on behind the scenes, but whether you’re involved or an audience member ot just like reading about life, there’s something for everyone here that will be found to be relatable to.

Sue Moorcroft has even thought of the audience for the show. I love that a Girlguiding group gets a mention. Being a former Girlguiding leader myself I can definitely say that it is so typical to do a fun outing of seeing a live show at Christmas with the girls. The fact they are even briefly written about, shows the thought and attention to detail that has gone into creating this book.

Georgine thought, when she successfully gained the Events Director position, all would be different. Little did she think she would be having financial issues to deal with and having to support her family.
This is a great premise and is set in so much reality for many with the great sounding job, but with the backdrop of other things happening in people’s private lives. It immediately drew me into wanting to know more about her life. It also shows very well, that no matter what the job title is, people are still people and have very real life issues to deal with, just the same as anyone with say, a lesser title. I find this keeps the main protagonist grounded in a way that makes her very likeable and relatable to.

Norman Ogden (Oggie) is the head/Principle of Acting Instrumental and an instantly likeable character with his very nice sounding personality and drive for wanting people to do well. Like all the characters,  the impression of the type of man Oggie is understood very quickly.

One of the other main characters is Joe Blackthorn who is the new colleague at the college. He isn’t all who he first seems and as you read on, you will find out there’s much more to him. He leads a fascinating life, part of it is being part of a band, which readers will be treated to a very believable insight into. I enjoyed getting to know more about him, his life behind his work and his interactions with others. He wants a quieter life, but will he get it? He has a lot to contend with from the past to his present, including the very topical issues of the press, selfies and autographs. There is a small paragraph, which is thought-provoking and basically makes the point of seeking permission before taking a selfie with any celebrity and not to assume you will receive an autograph. It is a very current topic within this world. 

There’s a beautiful love story that also develops between two characters (I won’t say who because that would spoil the intrigue). Let’s just say, it is written so tenderly and beautifully but also realistically, that it becomes part of the story that any reader would want to see if it develops further. I also like the portrayal that basically other aspects of life happens, some good, others almost heartbreaking, even when you’re caught up in the romance of a particular moment. I ended up really rooting for these characters to get it together and wanted to read more to see what happens and hoping they would.

I was left more than satisfied by how this meticulous, well-crafted, uplifting festive book concluded and how it had many twists and turns along the way.
It is also worth reading the acknowledgements because they are so interesting. Whether you have read her books before or not, then I highly recommend giving this one a try and finding out more about the characters living in Middledip.

*With thanks to Sue Moorcroft for providing a profile photo and for kindly allowing me to review her latest book, as well as contacting her publisher. I also thank her publisher – Avon Books UK (division of Harper Collins) for sending me a copy of her book.

*Please note: this is an impartial review.

___________________________________________________

Title: A Christmas Gift
Author: Sue Moorcroft
Publisher: Avon Books UK (Division of Harper Collins)

Pages: 370 pages
Main Purchase Points:  Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith, Foyles,
                                         Libraries to name but a few.
ISBN: 978–0-00926007-1
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My Christmas Go To Books – A small collection that will inspire you to get into the mood for Christmas.

Quick Reviews of:
A Christmas Carol 

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World
An Almost Perfect Christmas
Fill My Stocking

Xmas Reads

There are always Christmas books around, old and new. New ones can be fun and exciting to see what is inside their warm or jazzy covers. Older ones can be comforting and have that lovely well-read feel.

I have what I will call my “Go to Books for Christmas”. I know some of them better than others, due to age, but nevertheless, they are well-read. One in fact, I only received last year and it was a delight and one I just know I shall be returning to slip in-between the pages again this year.
Today on the blog, I present you quick reviews of 4 excellent books for Christmas.

A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
Rating 5 stars *****

 

Christmas Carol

It’s a well-known film, remade many times with many different actors in many different styles straight versions, a musical version and even a version with muppets. Some tv versions and films that are very modernised with really just the themes being left in. There’s much to choose from, but how many of you have actually read the book, I wonder? Now, it’s not actually anywhere near as thick as the book I have shown here. That book is actually 4 books in one. At only between 50 and a little over 100 (depending on the size of the pages of the copy of your book, it is a fairly quick read, but it will set you up nicely for Christmas. There’s the comfort within it that the story is well-known and yet it is one of those stories that can be read over again. After all Christmas only comes once a year. It is also very interesting to see what they miss out and what they include in the various films.
A man who lives by his name of Ebenezer Scrooge, ghosts that come to visit him in the night to try to change him and an epic ending. What’s not to like? So, if you’ve never given this a try, then it is worth every minute of time on it.

I will add here that you can buy the book The Christmas Carol on its own. For those of you who are interested. The particular book in the picture happens to contain: Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Hard Times. All, also worth reading.

 

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World
by Simon Callow
Rating 4 Stars ****

 

Charles Dickens


It is highly interesting and entertaining read of who is possibly the first ‘celebrity author’, who is/was Charles Dickens. The book takes readers on a fascinating, immersive journey from his early years to being not only the author he became, but also his obsession with the stage and having that need to connect with his audience. Simon Callow has brought a great and unique insight into Charles Dickens and the era of the world he once inhabited. Like his performances, the book oozes charisma and a passion for the subject. You will discover so much more about Dickens. The style of writing immerses you easily into Charles Dickens’ world as it is written in almost story narrative form. Even if you’re not so into Non-fiction books, I would still recommend you give this a go.

This was also actually a one-man play. Yes, one-man with Simon Callow, playing several parts of the works of Charles Dickens. You do not have to have seen this play to read the book by the way. It’s a book that has a great narrative about who Charles Dickens was and his work. Now you might be thinking it’s a bit high-brow, especially at Christmas. It’s not at all. It’s not fact after fact or a long list of things. It’s written in a more thoughtful manner than that with enough lightness to see any reader through until Christmas and beyond. In a way, it is almost like you were watching the play, but not in play format. All in non-fiction, book format. It’s easy-going and an incredibly interesting book, which is very well-written. Simon Callow (this is when I often get who? And a sort of blank look. For those who cannot picture him, I will bet most, if not all of you have seen the film Four Wedding’s and a Funeral. He plays the Scotsman in the film. The one who dies. Sorry if that’s now a spoiler!).
I will also add that I highly recommend Simon Callow’s one-man plays. He does them at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in London and possibly other places too. Each time they are something different. He knows his subjects and he plays everyone in such a way that audiences are in awe of.

This isn’t the only book written by Simon Callow, there are several others, including one about Wagner, which was published just last year.

 

An Almost Perfect Christmas
by Nina Stibbe
Rating 5 Stars *****

An Almost Perfect Christmas

Nina Stibbe has written a few books now, but is quite possibly best known for writing Love, Nina, which was also televised as a BBC drama.
This is an entertaining book, for which I am sure there are many readers out there who can relate to. It’s about having to face Christmas, or rather her mother having to. It takes readers on an entertaining journey through from the turkey to shopping to decorating to a present for the teacher to the Christmas pudding and much more. It’s about drying out the turkey, which has been left out to defrost in the downstairs toilet for 48 hours. Put it this way, as it says on the blurb, it soon becomes clear that her mother is no foodie. Gifting and re-gifting, the insane rush to get ready for what is the most wonderful time of the year.
I received this book from a good friend of mine one Christmas and it makes for a great read near Christmas Day. It is packed full of humour, joy and a bit of poignancy. If you read this, you absolutely have to read the glossary at the back too. It’s not as it first appears to be. It too is just so joyously fun!

I also recommend reading Love,Nina and Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe. They are a delight to read.

 

Fill My Stocking
by Alan Titchmarsh
Rating 4 stars ****

Fill my Stocking

One year I found this book in my Christmas parcel pile and it’s brilliant! It is packed full of wit and sheer Christmassy joy on every page. It is an anthology really of well-known short plays (sometimes with a twist), poems and excerpts of books all on the theme of Christmas. This has been wonderfully thought out and put together by Alan Titchmarsh. There’s a world to be discovered. There are poems by the likes of John Betjeman, Noel Coward, GK Chesterton to name but a few. There are twists of plays: written for pantomimes (for those who don’t know what a pantomime is. It is a British custom to see a well-known fairytale like Aladdin, Cinderella etc at Christmas time to be acted out, except with a lot of comedy added to them). So, there is Peterpain and Windy, Aladdin and the Wonderful Limp amongst others. There are excerpts from Wind in the Willows, Cider with Rosie, The Nativity, The Pickwick Papers, to name but a few. There is also a play in one-act of Pride and Prejudice.
There are beautiful illustrations throughout the book as well as some written works by Alan Titchmarsh himself.


So why not, this Christmas time, take a look at these book, either yourself or buy them as a festive gift for someone special in your lives. They are found on Amazon and other bookshops will also be able to assist. I hope that you all enjoy this little selection of books.

Xmas Reads