A Christmas Carol – By Charles Dickens Adapted By Dave McCluskey, Narrated By Liam Scott- @demccluskey1 #Audible Version #Christmas #AChristmasCarol #ChristmasReads #Classics #ChristmasClassics

A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens
Adapted By Dave McCluskey
Narrated By Liam Scott

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Today I have a review of the audio version (available on Audible) of a re-telling of A Christmas Carol. Thanks to Dave McCluskey for gifting me a free code to access this for honest review purposes. To listen to this for yourselves, I have a link after the review…

a Christmas Carol By Dave McCluskey pic

Blurb

A classic Christmas tale, lovingly recreated in this beautiful audio book.

The reviled Scrooge is visited by three spirits who teach him the real meaning of life. 

The tale has been turned into rhyme, making this a delightful new twist to the story you know so well. Could it be a new addition to your Christmas traditions? 

Review

There are many re-tellings of A Christmas Carol and I am sure you know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the 3 spirits visiting him, but this has been done differently. It is in rhyme.
Each time a new version is produced, I admit, I have reservations, but listen, even though with an air of trepidation and hope that whatever is produced is done well and does the original text by Charles Dickens justice. This one is surprisingly done well. At just over an hour long (bearing in mind the book itself is actually surprisingly short), this is easy to fit into anyone’s day for some family entertainment for Christmas.

The piano music in the beginning sets the atmosphere and is pitch perfect. It has been adapted well by Dave McCluskey, who has clearly paid attention well to the original as it is all very recognisable. This is re-written in quite a bit of rhyme to it and is easy to listen to and makes this accessible to many ages, which brings me onto the narrator. Liam Scott narrates all the parts well, bringing atmosphere and all the characters to life with some good voice acting. From his opening lines and then throughout, he has a good, strong rhythm, heard with all the pronouncing of the words, sometimes emphasising certain words. The rhythm that is set brings good pace and interestingly sounds between being Shakespearean in some places and Pantomime in others places.
Throughout the story, Liam Scott reads this iconic Christmas tale with conviction. Each character is brought to life by Liam Scott by the different voices he does, Ebenezer Scrooge sounds his age and the ghosts sound haunting enough. There is also some humour in this tale of ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Still to Come.

This is overall a pretty good adaptation and may become part of people’s ways of listening to this well-known story and for those who have not yet read or listened to the original text, then this may encourage people to do that too.

To listen click on the link that will take you to Audible – Amazon – A Christmas Carol

#BookReview By Lou – Every Day In December By Kitty Wilson @KittyWilson23 @0neMoreChapter_ #ChristmasRead #Christmas #December #EveryDayInDecember #Fiction #ContemporaryFiction #RomanceFiction

Every Day In December
By Kitty Wilson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Follow two lives, each with their ups and downs within them each day in December. A poignant romance for Christmas. Check out the blurb and the rest of my review below.

Every Day In December

Blurb

Every Day In DecemberTwo people. One month to fall in love.

Belle Wilde loves December. Yes, she’s just lost her job and Christmas is not a good time to find yourself ‘financially challenged’. And yes, her parents are still going on about the fact that she really should have it all together by now. But Belle believes that in December, magic can happen.

Rory Walters hates December. Whilst it looks like his life is together, he’s still reeling from a winter’s night five years ago when his life changed forever. Now back at home, he’s certain that this will be yet another Christmas to endure rather than enjoy.

But as midnight on December 31st draws closer, Belle and Rory’s time together is coming to an end. With a little help from a Christmas miracle could Belle find the one thing she really wants underneath the mistletoe?

Review

Each chapter leads readers into each day in December and into the main characters – Belle and Rory’s lives. Belle has fallen on hard times, which leads her into a different path in life. This is only the surface of her life. Going deeper in, she has had rough upbringing. She has far, far got her life sorted.
Rory’s life is also not going so well either and he has a lot going on, yet he seems destined to be with Belle, even if it is a slow-burner of a romance.

Belle shows that she has a passion for Shakespeare in inspires others as she talks about him to students and shows just how very relevant he still is, through the themes that he wrote about, which are still universal today.

There is also the equation of Belle’s God-daughter whom she has a close relationship with  and this brings a lighter dynamic to the story.

The book is also poignant about December and how the closer you get to Christmas holidays, the harder it can feel in if something bad has happened in your life. There are ups and downs that the main characters have to overcome.

There is some Christmas cheer to be found amongst the poignancy of Every Day in December.

#BookReview By Lou – Underneath the Christmas Tree By Heidi Swain @Heidi_Swain @harriett_col @simonschusterUK @BookMinxSJV @TeamBATC #UnderneathTheChristmasTree #ChristmasRead #Fiction #RomanticFiction #ContemporaryFiction #BlogTour

Underneath the Christmas Tree
By Heidi Swain

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Halloween is now over, so now is the time that is ripe for thinking about Christmas. I am pleased to be on the blog tour for Underneath the Christmas Tree for some festive cheer. I thank Simon and Schuster for the book and for the other gifts too (please note my review is not influenced by this). Please find more in the blurb and then head down to my review.

Underneath The Christmas Tree pic

Blurb

***The sparkling new Christmas novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Heidi Swain!***

Underneath the Christmas TreeWynter’s Trees is the home of Christmas. For the people of Wynmouth it’s where they get their family Christmas tree, and where Christmas truly comes to life.

But for Liza Wynter, it’s a millstone around her neck. It was her father’s pride and joy but now he’s gone, she can’t have anything to do with it. Until her father’s business partner decides to retire and she must go back to handle the transition to his son Ned.

When Liza arrives, she discovers a much-loved business that’s flourishing under Ned’s stewardship. And she’s happy to stay and help for the Christmas season, but then she has other plans. But will the place where she grew up make her change her mind? And can it weave its Christmas cheer around her heart…?

Underneath the Christmas Tree is the perfect festive read, promising snowfall, warm fires and breath-taking seasonal romance. Perfect for fans of Milly Johnson, Carole Matthews and Cathy Bramley.

Review

It’s a joy to return to Wynmouth, on the Norfolk coast, and this book has so much warmth to it that makes it great for cosying up with thick cosy jumpers, doors locked and a nice drink and snacks so not much moving is required, until the end. Underneath the Christmas Tree is heartwarming in the colder weather, with life decisions to be made and a good dollop of Christmas cheer to brighten the darker days.

Things aren’t always easy or comfortable for Heidi Swain’s characters and this time it is Liza Wynter who has choices to make, especially about the Christmas Tree business – Wynter’s Trees that was once her dad’s. The business is full of Christmas cheer within its grounds and there’s a sense of heritage, of preserving what went before, which I like and appreciate and think is important, except this isn’t without its issues within the business itself as Liza wants to give up her shares in Wynter Trees, which she has with David and Edward (Ned). There’s the decision how to tell the public to be made, but there is also a feeling of gumption as she tries to do what she feels is right for her in deciding whether forging a new path, knowing the business could still be in good hands, is for her or not. There are sad an bittersweet moments with memories for Liza about her dad.

There is also Maya and a some jealousy emerges from Liza, even though Liza herself is more popular amongst the customers than she thinks. Tangled up in this is Ned and there comes a bit of a love story.

As with most books by Heidi Swain, there is some lovely sounding food and drinks to also get your appetite going.

This is a book that I thoroughly recommend to get you in the festive Christmas mood.

Underneath the Christmas Tree Blog Tour

#BookReview by Lou of Christmas With The Bobby Girls @JoBellAuthor @HodderBooks #ChristmasReads #ChristmasGifts

Christmas With The Bobby Girls
By Johanna Bell
Rated: 5 stars *****

An emotional, warm, fabulous page-turner that takes readers into the run up to Christmas and Christmas Day itself. The Bobby Girls Christmas is book 3 in this series and it is a joy to catch up with The Bobby Girls lives again.

What a surprise and sheer delight to be invited by Hodder and Staughton to review The Bobby Girls Christmas. Thank you to Hodder and Staughton and Johanna Bell for this opportunity and for providing an e-book.

Please follow through to find out more about the author, the blurb and my review.

The Bobby Girls Christmas

Blurb

In the midst of war, can they find a reason to celebrate?

1915. 
Patrolling is the last thing on the minds of Women’s Police Service recruits Annie, Maggie and Poppy right now, because Annie and her fiancé Richard are about to get married. She’s been waiting for this day her whole life, but when it finally comes it brings only heartache and Annie doesn’t know if she can go on.

The influx of soldiers to the capital means that the WPS’s work is more important than ever, though, and Annie’s country needs her. She and the girls are posted to the bustling heart of the city and she hopes the new job will distract her from her sorrow.

It certainly does that. Soon the biggest bombing raid of the war causes chaos on their patch. On top of that, Annie suspects that a group of men are forcing European refugees into prostitution and resolves to stop them by Christmas. But by the time she realises just how high up the scandal goes, she might be in too deep to get out . . .

The Bobby Girls Series is perfect for fans of Dilly Court, Daisy Styles and Call the Midwife

The Bobby Girls Vid

Review

Such a delight to be back in 1915 with Annie, Maggie, Poppy and Irene, who are The Bobby Girls. Readers will first find them in London in a train station. It shows that some things never change with people hurrying out of the station without much of a care, but Maggie, Poppy and Annie are observant as they come across a soldier displaying some distress from the effects of war that could end up with a devastating result. In amongst the action and potentially dangerous situations, the blossoming friendship is still depicted with heartwarming joy and there is a wedding to still finish planning for one of the girls. There is high emotion that depicts the effects of war very well between Annie and Richard. It’s powerful and meaningful and feels real.

The build up to the wedding is one of excitement and beauty until something so utterly devastating happens. The mix of emotions is there and because there’s so much to like about the girls, readers will be pulled into this too. The emotion and love is shown in a letter by Richard that is beautifully and realistically composed and emotions of sheer grief and shock are there in abundance and are natural. The support they give each other is strong and meaningful and heartwarming. Instead of it all being nostalgic, there’s something in this that society could take the goodness from and apply to today’s times. Resilience is also shown and even when the worst possible things happen and emotions run high with grief, The Bobby Girls still manage a certain professionalism and tackle situtations as they arise, in a way that is believable

There is a lovely and very interesting look back at some of the rivalries and the history of the WPV – Women Voluntary Patrol that fits in well with the plot, that then also explores The Foundling Hospital and its purpose. Moving around London shows some great places and then in the calm, Zepplins appear in the sky and the girls have to summon up all their courage to stay calm and to direct people to places of safety as the turmoil, confusion and casualties unfolds. There’s also a mention of a battle that was also going on between Serbia and Bulgaria.

The book may be set during World War 1, but shows that certain things, perhaps, for now, never change as it highlights human trafficking and the girls want them behind bars before Christmas. It puts a different slant on a run-up to Christmas story with dangerous men and then the prostitutes who are needed to be allies; so whilst most people think about presents and decorations etc, The Bobby Girls are hard at it at work. The atmosphere all becomes tense and it’s quite the page-turner. There is a touch of sadness that turns into some hope where Poppy is concerned about perceptions on life.

It all culminates in a Christmas Day that many people will be able to empathise with and relate to, which creates yet another fabulous book about The Bobby Girls that easily holds attention, even in the most challenging of times.

The Bobby Girls Vid

Praise for The Bobby Girls:

‘Filled with richly drawn characters that leap from the page, and a plot that’s so well researched and well written you will believe you are in the thick of wartime policing, The Bobby Girls is a must-read for all saga fans.’

– Fiona Ford, bestselling author of Christmas at Liberty’s

‘I really enjoyed reading about Britain’s first female police officers. A lot of research has gone into this book and it’s all the richer and more readable for it. An exciting new voice in women’s fiction.’

– Kate Thompson, bestselling author of Secrets of the Singer Girls

‘I really did enjoy The Bobby Girls. It has a lovely warm feeling about it and is excellently written.’

– Maureen Lee, RNA award-winning author of Dancing in the Dark

‘Written with warmth and compassion, the novel gives fascinating insights into the lives of three courageous young women.’

– Margaret Kaine, RNA award-winning author of Ring of Clay

‘Johanna Bell has hit the jackpot with this striking WW1 crime story. The author places the focus firmly on the girls’ growth into independent members of society in a rapidly changing world. It’s a heartening central message conveyed with verve and empathy and remains relevant to today’s readers, both young and old.’

– Jenny Holmes, author of The Spitfire Girls

#Bookreview by Lou of the charming – Christmas Wishes by Sue Moorcroft @SueMoorcroft @ElliePilcher95 @AvonBooksUK

Christmas Wishes
By Sue Moorcroft
Rated: 5 stars *****

A lovely, charming book for those longer, wintry nights.
See full blurb and review below.
Thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Avon Books for accepting my request to review.

Christmas Wishes

Blurb

A sparkling Christmas read from the Sunday Times bestseller – perfect to snuggle up with this winter!

Hannah and Nico are meant to be together.

But fate is keeping them apart…

When Hannah bumps into her brother Rob’s best friend Nico in Stockholm, the two rekindle a fast friendship. But Hannah has a boyfriend – and Nico has two children to look after. When Hannah loses her beloved shop in Stockholm, though, she is forced to move back to the little village of Middledip – only to find Nico has just moved in too. Under the same snowy sky, can the childhood friends make a romance work – or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?

A heartwarming story of love, friendship, and Christmas magic, perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley and Jill Mansell.

Christmas Wishes

Review

This is a charming story that takes readers into the brother and sister relationship of Rob and Hannah. Hannah runs a shop and within it one day, is reunited with Nico, originally from Sweden, whom she had met in their teenage years in Cambridge, nearly 20 years ago with quite the high achieving family, yet time has perhaps not been so kind to him. Rob is getting married and so Nico found Hannah on Rob’s request as Hannah is having boyfriend troubles with her partner – Albin. There’s an interesting tension and romance that emerges between Hannah, Albin and Nico in this book that is set between Scandanavian countries and the UK, including to Middledip.

There are health issues that Loren is medicated for and life seems complicated between her, Josie and Maria and life isn’t always easy and there are decisions to be made. This, however is still a book that readers can still easily relax into and while away the time and forget the outside world for a bit. There’s the happy, excitement to the build-up to Christmas and secreting presents away from potential prying eyes. There’s the humour of Hannah’s 90 year old nan thinking other people are the old folk. I find it particularly humorous anyway, as an old relative of mine used to think like this. There’s the lightness, warmth, traditions and buzz around getting prepared for Christmas as well as that bit of bite about the complexities of life and its emotions and it  all sits rather well together in this rather delightful Christmas story.

Great books from 2019 – Happy New Year and Happy Reading #HappyNewYear #2019books #2019wrapup #MyYearinBooks #BestBooks #MustReads #amreading #readingforpleasure #books #CrimeFiction #Thriller #FamilySaga #Saga #Historical #Kidslit #YA #NonFiction #Fiction #Fantasy #UpLit #Bookish

Great Books to check out and read from 2019

I have read and reviewed so many books this year. I have decided to follow the trend of compiling an end of year list of what I would consider “The Must Read or Top 2019 Books. The list will be in no particular order, but will be broken down into genre. Here you will find great Children’s Books and Young Adult books, followed by all types of crime fiction; followed by general fictional books; followed by family saga/historical fiction; followed by fantasy; followed by non-fiction/autobiographical/biographical.
Firstly, I would like to say a few thanks:

I am incredibly grateful to everyone however who contacts me through my blog or Twitter, interacts with me, sends me books to review, either personally or through publishing houses. I am grateful for the generosity of authors, publishers and bloggers for sharing my reviews on their social media platforms and websites. I thank publishers and authors for considering me and for giving me the responsibility of reviewing their books. Reviewing someone’s work is something I don’t do lightly. A lot of thought goes into it all and also I am so conscious that what is in my hands at that moment is someone’s hard work and, whether I’ve met the person/people face to face or not, I am always aware of them being human too. I must say that I do love writing my blog and I appreciate every opportunity I have ever had that has come with writing it.

I also thank those authors, publishers and bloggers who have been kind and generous in other ways too, such as help with the community library I currently lead. You know who you are and I am eternally grateful.

Now onto the lists. I hope people find something new, some inspiration or are perhaps reminded that they want to check out a book. The books on the list are all on my blog, so feel free to check out the full reviews. The books can be borrowed from libraries, bought from bookshops and are also e-books on the various e-book platforms.

Children and Young Adult Fiction


Princess Poppy – Please, Please Save the Bees by Janey Louise Jones
Timothy Mean and the Time Machine by William A.E. Ford
The Hangry Hamster by Grace McCluskey
Leo and the Lightning Dragons by Gill White
Toletis by Rafa Ruiz
The Age of Akra by Vacen Taylor

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty
10 Things to do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keefe (YA)

Crime Fiction , including Thrillers and Political Thrillers

Absolution by Adam Croft
Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver
In the Absence of Miracles by Michael J. Malone

Nothing to Hide by James Oswald
The Poisoned Rock by Robert Daws
Death at the Plague Museum by Lesley Kelly
The Killing Rock by Robert Daws
In Plain Sight by Adam Croft
Sealed with a Death by James Sylvester
Hands Up by Stephen Clark
The Silence of Severance by Wes Markin
A Friend In Deed by G.D. Harper

General Fiction

 


The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris
Birthday Girl by Haruki Murakami
A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft
Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls
Let it Snow by Sue Moorcroft
Summer at the Kindness Café by Victoria Walters
Secret Things and Highland Flings by Tracy Corbett
Sunshine and Secrets – The Paradise Cookery School by Daisy James

Family Saga/Historical Fiction

Bobby Girls coverHeady HeightsTime will tell book

Bobby Girls by Johanna Bell
Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F.Frost

Time Will Tell by Eva Jordan

Fantasy

The Blue Salt Road Joanne HarrisThe Old Dragon's Head Coveer

The Blue Salt Road by Joanne M. Harris (YA and Adult)
The Old Dragon’s Head by Justin Newland

The Longest Farewell by Nula Suchet
Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew
First in the Fight 20 Women Who Made Manchester by Helen Antrobus
The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler

I have some books to review already and working on them for 2020.
I’ve plenty of exciting things to be blogging about in 2020 and hopefully many more exciting opportunities will crop up in the future. I will also be publishing brief resumes of great theatre shows from 2018 and 2019, most of which are still running, going to tour nationally in the UK and some of which come back every so often, so could be ones to look out for in the future.
For now, I hope you enjoy what I have for my 2019 resumes and all else that is on my blog. I hope you all had a great Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best for 2020. Thank you too for following and reading my blog, without such, it wouldn’t exist. I love writing my blog and always grateful to those who give me opportunities to review and to write and to talk to people and to those who read what I write. Thank you!!!!

As I didn’t do this in 2018, here is a quick run down of the best books I read then. 
Fiction – Stealth by Hugh Fraser, Antiques and Alibis by Wendy H. Jones, The Wrong Direction by Liz Treacher, A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft.
Non -Fiction – An Almost Perfect Christmas by Nina Stibbe, Charles Dickens by Simon Callow, Fill my Stocking by Alan Titchmarsh.
Young Adult – Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian by J.M. Smith
Children’s books – The Treasure At the Top of The World by Clive Mantle.
Reviews can be found on my blog. Please note the Christmas books are reviewed within one blog post with quick reviews.

Happy New Year 2020

 

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