Monthly Archives: December 2016

Happy New Year, Everyone!


It’s the eve of a new year and judging from many of the wonderful blogs I have had the privilege to read in 2016 quite a number of us will greet it gladly with anticipation of some better times in 2017.

So, to everyone, I want to wish all the very best. Here’s to hard work, strong relationships and a little luck to help us along the way, in 2017!

Happy New Year!


Review – The Epic Santa Chase by Lee M Winter

img_1955This book finishes up my reviews for the year. A short story first or children 9-12 years and a contemporary take on the true meaning of Christmas.

The story is fun all the way. At the end of a Nativity Play, Angus, who was cast as Joesph, and Hamish his best friend who was playing a chicken, give chase to a thief who takes off with some food donations for the poor and a bag containing Angus’ iPad! It’s an unlikely scenario, especially as they are accompanied by a Nike-trainer–wearing nun.

When Angus finally catches up with the thief, who was wearing a Santa costume at the time he committed the crime, he finds a very different situation to the one he had expected.

I wasn’t quite sure about the ending; maybe that should have played out a little differently, but the message was clear and the reading was fun.


Review – The Reading Group:December by Della Parker

img_1954Continuing my hunt for some nice, short reads over Christmas, I came upon this story by Della Parker. It is apparently an opener to a series of books but this is just a brief tale to introduce the characters.

I immediately liked the idea. In this story the group of six friends meet to discuss the month’s reading choice A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Fiction mirrors life as I guess it will in all the books and in this one Grace is the Girl in trouble, with the prospect of her Christmas looking decidedly unrosy. Through the course of the short story, friends rally, worries are prioritised and blessings are counted.

This is a simple, very quick read but a sweet story that made me want to know more about The Reading Group.

Free at the time of writing this review.


Reviews to finish up the year

So, I am three reviews short of my Goodreads Challenge and, it has been an important part of ‘getting back on track’ for me this year, to complete it.

I knew I was running short of time. Although I have several great books that I am currently reading, Christmas has meant travel from Portugal to England and Scotland  to spend time with loved ones and all the hectic activities that go along with that. There is no prolonged period in the day to read chunky novels!

Therefore I downloaded three, free, children’s books with a Christmas theme to end the year. Here is the first review:-

Winter on the Farm by Beata Noemi Balint

img_1953This book seems to appear on Amazon as The Snowman but on Goodreads as Winter on the Farm. That was confusing when trying to tie up the two.

The story is very cute. The Snowman is created on a wintry day by children out to have fun in the snow but, all too soon, is forgotten when the time comes for father to chop down a tree for Christmas. The children’s attention is diverted and the Snowman is left alone, but not for long, soon all the creatures who had lived in the fallen tree are crowding around him asking where they can live now that their home is gone.

There are a lot of themes here; the impact of humans on the environment, the changing of the seasons, loss and renewal, the circle of life, but they are presented in a way that is fun, easily understandable and never preachy.

This really is a very lovely story but there are grammatical mistakes and it is in need of a thorough edit and polish up.


Review -The Snow Globe by Kristin Harmel

img_1951A poignant short story set in Paris in 1942. On Christmas Eve a young, Jewish boy meets a girl and it is love at first sight. They meet again and he gives her a snow globe; a precious family item passed on to him from his grandfather.

One year later the boy is in Auschwitz, surrounded by death and despair and  only the memory of his love and the possibility of seeing her again gives him hope.

This was a free download, a prequel to a novel, The Sweetness of Forgetting. It is beautifully and tenderly told.

It’s Almost Here!

img_1950Christmas, it’s almost here!

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to drop in and like or comment on my posts over the last few months. Every, single one is appreciated. Thank you also to those generous bloggers who take the time to write informative posts and share their experiences and expertise.

A break, a time to relax and enjoy the company of family and friends is very important, especially as writing is such a solitary task.

I have just a few, fun, Christmas books left to review now before the end of the year and so would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy holiday season and I look forward to sharing more, learning more and creating more in the writing year to come.

Best wishes!


Review – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

img_1948Every year, in the run up to Christmas, I always seem to manage to see some old, film version of this great Christmas story. It’s there in the background, the Bah Humbug! and the Bless us One and All, while I am wrapping gifts or preparing food.

This year has been a little different. Terrestrial TV has become almost a thing of the past for me so I was delighted when Audible offered a free version of the story starring Derek Jacobi and Miriam Margoyles, amongst others. No matter how many times I hear this story, I love it. It is as much a part of Christmas as Christmas pudding. This production is excellent, I have had my fix for this year and I see that this is still offered free on Amazon today!  Thank you, Audible!

Review – How Santa Changed by Karl Steam

img_1946What a delightful and different Christmas story this is. Illustrated in full colour and in a traditional style, How Santa Changed, tells the story of Santa as a young man, who loves to make toys for children. But as the years go by the burden of producing more and more toys takes its toll and the moose that pulls his sleigh can’t cope either!

Changes are needed if the annual task of delivering toys to children all over the world can be completed.

The story is told in rhyme in the style of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ – it’s a bright, cheerful and very seasonal read that I loved and I am sure children will love to find out how young Santa became the Jolly Old Elf that we all know.

There are a couple of clunky lines but otherwise the rhyming story worked really well. A lovely, quick read for Christmas!


Review -The Tales of Max Carrados by Ernest Bramah

img_1945These two short stories came to me as a freebie from Audible. Max Carrados is that most unlikely of people, a blind detective. Written in the early 1900’s this author was apparently a popular rival to Conan Doyle.

The stories presented are both about crimes involving coins, they are cleverly written (perhaps a little too clever) but rather uninteresting. I preferred the first story that introduces the detective.

The saving grace for me was the narrator, the great Stephen Fry, whose skill brought light and colour and humour to the stories.

Note – the cover displayed is one for a larger collection of eleven stories. The sample collection of two seems to be unavailable at the moment.

Review – Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

img_1944A young girl goes missing. At the beginning of the book we are privy to the girl’s thoughts; her gripes and grumbles about family life, her feelings of how unfair everyone is, the typical teenage problems. But then she is taken.
Margot Lewis a local woman who writes a column as ‘Dear Amy’ receives a letter from a missing girl, pleading for help. She is being held, is frightened and lonely and has no idea where she is. However, this missing girl is not the one who has just been taken. This girl, Bethan Avery, has been missing for two decades. As more letters arrive, Margot is determined to discover the whereabouts of the girl and in the process more is revealed about herself than she could ever have imagined.
I loved the premise of this story and the writing was strong but, for me, the truth was just a stretch too far. Without including spoilers I can only say that the author used a device that I have read in two other books this year but that doesn’t work for me. I couldn’t believe in Margot’s reaction to what had happened to her in the past and it’s relationship to the latest disapppearance. I felt that was a pity as the idea was a great one. But I will be looking out for what this author has to offer next as I felt that all the ingredients were there for a very strong story.