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 – Celebrations At The Chateau By Jo Thomas @jo_thomas01 @TransworldBooks #Christmas #CelebrationsAtTheChateau

Celebrations At The Chateau
By Jo Thomas

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Celebrations at the Chateau is coming soon

A cosy feel good novel set in France, Celebrations At The Chateau is a book that entertains. Thanks to    Take a look at the blurb and then my full review below…

Celebrations at the Chateau

Blurb

'Another gem from Jo Thomas' Kate Fforde 2021A wonderfully romantic, feel-good new novel set in a French château over the most magical time of the year! From the bestselling author of Escape to the French Farmhouse.

When their grandfather dies, Fliss and her sisters are astonished to inherit a French château! Travelling to Normandy to visit the beautiful if faded house, they excitedly make plans over delicious crêpes and local cider in the town nearby.

But they soon discover the château needs major work, a huge tax bill is due . . . and there’s a sitting tenant, Madame Charlotte Cadieux, to whom they owe a monthly allowance!

Unable to sell but strapped for cash, Fliss determines to spruce up the elegant old rooms and open a B&B. But why are Jacques – Madame’s grandson and the mayor – and the other townsfolk so hostile? How did Fliss’ grandfather come to own the place anyway? And will Jacques and Fliss be able to put their differences aside to save the château?

It seems like nothing but trouble. But as the old year gives way to the new, it could be a new beginning for them all . . .

Inspired by Escape to the Chateau, this is a cosy and uplifting novel to curl up with, from the author of Escape to the French Farmhouse and Finding Love at the Christmas Market.

Review

There’s work to be done and a chateau to save in this feel-good book. Fliss and her sisters have a large task on their hands in France. They end up with a chateau that needs doing up. They also need to decide what to do about a sit-in tenant they were not expecting. It very much makes me think of channel 4 series – Escape to the Chateau in many ways in that it needs so many reparations. It’s such a huge undertaking to save it. It’s entertaining to see what unfolds, but hardship also hits them as a huge bill arrives. The locals are not pleasant and are far from welcoming to these new incomers. It shows how society can be towards new people, or at least, part of it. It’s a big undertaking and one that makes for a fun story to escape into.

It’s lovely reading about the renovations as they get underway and all the food and drinks that wash over the book, creating the cosy factor with interesting characters.

 

#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 #ChildrensBook – Always Together At Christmas By Sara Sargent #SaraSargent @wunderbooks @randomhousekids

Always Together At Christmas
By Sara Sargent
Rated: 5 stars *****

After reviewing Alone Together, this is an entirely different book in that it is for children and also focusing on something more upbeat, just what children need for Christmas. This is a book which children will see themselves reflected in how they’ve perhaps been living in these times and how Christmas can still be marvellous fun! It is pretty unique in its type and many children will find it reassuring.
It is available to buy now!
I thank Melissa and Elena at Wunderland PR for getting in contact with me to review  and for providing an e-book and so many fun pictures.

Please find the blurb, review and a bit about the author as you scroll down.

Always Together Christmas Tree

About the Author

Sara Sargent is a Senior Executive Editor at Random House Children’s Books. She received her BA from Swarthmore College and her Master of Science in Journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern University. Sara grew up in Buffalo, New York, and has also called Chicago and New York City home. She has held positions at HarperCollins Publishers, Simon & Schuster, Meet the Press, New York Magazine, Hyperion Books for Children, and WBEZ in Chicago. Sara collects Christmas ornaments from all over the world, from every city she visits—her favorite one is a hand-painted pink bauble from the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California. Sara lives in Brooklyn, and this is her first book.
      Always Together At Christmas Cover Pic                    Always Together Author Signing Book

Blurb

Christmas will always mean love.Even if love looks a little different this year. As families and communities come together—and stay apart—in creative ways this holiday season, bring comfort and joy to children with this story about a Christmas just as memorable as those in years past. ALWAYS TOGETHER AT CHRISTMAS is the only book of its kind this season which highlights different family traditions and the ways they’re changing in the pandemic: from Santa’s elves practicing social distancing to opening presents via Zoom on Christmas morning. It even includes ideas for new quarantine-appropriate Christmas traditions!Children everywhere will see themselves reflected in the pagesof this bookasitfeatures families of all types in locations that range from sandy beaches to snowy zones. With thesweet and cozy illustrations addingclassic touches, and the uplifting message of togetherness, love and joy, this book is the perfect gift to share with family and friends from across the miles.

Always Together Map Page

Review

The first thing that strikes me is the big, bold illustrations and the short sentence per page. This has curve appeal to young children. It is festive with snowy scenes. It is uplifting and caring and shares a way forward in the spirit of fun. Children will most certainly be able to relate to every scene in the book. It illustrates in an easy to follow map how things could feel different this year, before showing that it will all be okay in the end. Santa will still appear, there can still be a Christmas tree and gifts and new traditions forged.

Always Together Page

The book concludes with some lovely ideas for families to do from the virtual and physical worlds that are designed for some ‘safe’ fun.

This is a beautiful, quick and easy book that parents, teachers, children can all look at and read and relate to in a way that can reassure children who are concerned what Christmas will be like in 2020, in a calm and joyful, hopeful way.

Always Together Believe Page

#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.