Book Review: Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye

Christmas is not Christmas without reading or watching A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The Muppets version starring Michael Caine is traditionally watched on Christmas Eve by the whole family but other versions are watched too throughout the month. On 1st December, I take my illustrated version of the tale off my forever shelf for its annual read. This well-known story is perfect for Christmas with its cruel villain, lessons on love and redemption as well as its powerful festive imagery. So I jumped with glee when I was offered the chance to read the prequel Miss Marley: A Christmas Ghost Story – a prequel to A Christmas Carol.

Miss Marley

Miss Marley: A Christmas Ghost Story – a prequel to A Christmas Carol

Title: Miss Marley: A Christmas Ghost Story – a prequel to A Christmas Carol

Author: Vanessa Lafaye

Genre: Festive, general fiction

Publisher: HQ

Release date: 1st Nov 2018

Blurb

Before A Christmas Carol there was… Miss Marley

A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill

Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.

And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…

In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill and hope – a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol.

My Thoughts

The beautiful red cover with gold lettering is attractive and oozes Christmas spirit. It was a joy to hold it in my hands adding to my excitement to reading it. I was concerned it would not live up to my expectations after all it is aspiring to be like to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol but I did not need to have worried this book is a wonderful delight. It captures the soul of the original, the language and grittiness of Dickensian life. Her words provoke powerful, colourful imagery as the original did; I was immersed in the stench of poverty at times and in heaven with the aroma of fresh loose leaf tea in their chests. I could hear the swish of the women’s long skirts and would be happy to gaze in the toy shop window for hours. The characters are vivid and I could not help connect with the strong, smart and caring Miss Clara Belle Marley as she tells the story of her life with her protective brother, Jacob and her meeting with Ebeneezer Scrooge.

It is emotional, and I never expected I would hate another fictional villain as much as Scrooge but I do now.

Talented Rebecca Mascull completed the manuscript after Vanessa Lafaye’s death and it is a seamless blend of writing. Unless I had read the postscript, I would never have known. It was written after a conversation about the setting up of A Christmas Carol Appreciation Society. If it ever exists, I like many would love to join -please.

This small novella is on my forever shelf and will become part of my Christmas tradition to read every Advent along with the A Christmas Carol. It gives a warm feeling in my heart with its timeless magic. The only way it could be improved is a glorious illustrated version to be enjoyed and sit with my illustrated A Christmas Carol.

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Thank you Harper Collins Publishers for my copy so I could give my honest, unbiased opinion. I will treasure it.

If you are only reading one Christmas book read this. If I could, I would become a book fairy and bundle it in a festive bow and leave in unexpected places to spread the Christmas cheer.

Do you have a book you turn to every year? Let me know in the comments below.

Merry Christmas! Happy reading

Love

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Hello December – Christmas, News, Offers, and Charity

Hello December! I love December especially the first day of the month; it time to open advent calendars — have you got yours yet? If not there are some lovely none chocolate options here. It is also the day to put the tree up and decorate. I always wake up with an excited feeling.

Now is the time for writing Christmas cards. Flamingo Paperie has many to choose from single ones and packs. This is one of my favourites.

Donkey card

Donkey in the Snow

And now they have released some new products to make people smile

New Releases

Pop up cards

Peek Show cards

These are special cards based on the Victorian Peep shows, they look wonderful and as soon as I get one I will show you but why not take a peek here?

Cards for Charity

The Flamingo Paperie Christmas cards raise money for the The Phoenix International Charity which is supporting Together for Short Lives, Macmillan Cancer Support and Alzheimer’s Society but this year I am also fundraising for Dystonia Society UK. This charity works hard to support people with the neurological condition, dystonia. 10% of sales made via cardsfromundertheduvet.co.uk over the festive season (ends 1st to 31st Dec) will be donated. This covers all products not just the Christmas stock. So why not have a browse and make a small charity smile?

Which brings me to tell you about the special offers.

Offers

Free postage

Postage is currently free no matter how small an order is which is ideal for last minute gift wrap or cards.  If you need a game for the dinner table, why not grab a chatterbox? Or if you need to keep guests young and old calm and busy a metre high colouring poster is perfect to harness the relaxation of colouring.

The Customer Club is now  open

Join the customer club today and you will receive updates on new products, special offers and free gifts.

For any orders 17th December is the last date for the delivery in time for Christmas.

Finally, here is Flo the Flamingo. Who needs an elf on a shelf when you have to get up to mischief. Follow her adventures on our Instagram page with #Flo_the_Flamingo

Introducing Flo the Flamingo

Time to get out of the duvet and help decorate the Christmas tree.

Time for the Christmas tree

Merry Christmas!

Love

More book reviews for Christmas

It is Christmas Eve! How did that arrive so quickly?  There is just enough time to squeeze in  a quick collection of reviews of other books I have read this Christmas.

Romance

Christmas stockingTitle The Christmas stocking and other stories

Author Katie Fforde

This is a gentle, delightful collection of stories for the festive period by a popular author.  They are perfect length to read with a cup of tea when you can snatch a few moments.
I enjoyed them especially A Dream Christmas but prefer the author’s longer work where you can connect to the characters more.

 

Mistletoe coveTitle Christmas at Mistletoe Cove

Author Holly Martin

Holly Martin has written a festive romance that made me make wish wishes did come true. The characters are relatable and I had my fingers crossed throughout that life would be perfect and nothing bad would happen to the fun loving pair. It has the funniest smouldering sex scene I have ever read. It is worth reading purely for that.

 

Christmas WishTitle   A Christmas Wish

Author  Erin Green

A Christmas Wish is a treat to curl up with on a cold day, in your snuggly socks and drinking hot chocolate.
On Christmas Eve Flora finds herself staring at the steps of a house where she was abandoned as a baby in 1984. Unsettled in her life she decides she needs to discover her history and her links to the village. With the help of policeman, Joel who literally crashes into her life, she delves into the secrets and rumours of Pooley.
The festive air, charming characters and possibility of romance along with the mystery of her parentage makes you read just one more chapter.
I look forward to reading more books by Erin Green.

 

Non-fiction Books

HarkTitle Hark! The Biography of Christmas

Author Paul Kerensa

This a well presented and written non-fiction book about the history of Christmas throughout the ages. It is easy to read and it’s gentle humour makes it a joy.

It is ideal for Christmas fanatics like me to have in their stocking.

 

 

 

Chistmas flandersTitle Christmas: a biography

Author Judith Flanders

As a lover of Christmas, I thought I knew what this time of year was about and the origins of our traditions but this book opened my eyes to how little I really knew. This is an in-depth exploration of Christmas and takes you through the evolution of Christmas including religion, festivities, books, gifts and decorations.  It is a perfect read for those who get excited at the first sign of decorations in the shop or are always on the look out for more knowledge to impress friends and family especially over the Christmas dinner.

It is a book, I long to have a physical copy of on my bookcase to dip into every year.

 

What festive books have you been reading?

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and many books arrive in your stockings.

Merry Christmas and happy reading!

 

 

 

 

 

Book review: We will always have Christmas by Jenny Hale

We will always have Christmas

Title We will always have Christmas
Author Jenny Hale

Blurb

An enchanting story about the magic of Christmas, the importance of family, and the joy of falling in love during the most romantic season of the year…

Christmas has always been a special time for Noelle Parker. Winter evenings spent with family and friends, drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies at her family’s cozy bakery have shaped her love for all things festive. But this year everything is changing…

The beloved bakery is facing closure and Noelle needs a miracle to save Christmas.

Determined to raise funds for the family business, Noelle sets about revamping the bakery while juggling a surprise new job, caring for the elderly and cantankerous William Harrington in his luxurious, sprawling mansion.

As Noelle melts the frostiness of the house with cake baking, snowball fights and glittering decorations, she helps William to reconnect with a romance that has spanned decades and unexpectedly finds herself falling for his grandson – the gorgeous but mysterious Alexander Harrington…

In the countdown to Christmas, can Noelle save the bakery, reunite a family and create some magical memories of her own along the way?
This is a delightful read and is perfect to help you get in the mood for the Big Day or relax with when you need to take a break from the chaotic preparations.

Jenny Hale has captured Christmas in the pages of this book with her descriptive festive scenes and taste bud tingling food.  By the end of the story I longed to be in the kitchen of the bakery eating cake and drinking hot chocolate.

This is book that can happily be reread next year when you need a festive fix.

Thank you NetGalley for sending me an ARC to review.

 

Happy reading!

Festive book review: The Return of the Magi

How fast is December going? Christmas book reviews need sharing so today’s book review is for P.J Tracy’s Return of the Magi.

Return of the Magi cover

Title The Return of the Magi

Author: P.J Tracy

Publisher Penguin UK – Joseph Michael

Blurb

Warm your heart this Christmas with this wonderful festive tale from bestselling author P.J. Tracy – perfect for fans of It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street. Emil Rice has a silver tongue and sticky fingers, the only problem is that his charm always gets him into trouble and he’s never been very good at not getting arrested. Twenty-two times he’s been caught and twenty-two times he’s sworn never to steal again, but it’s on his twenty-third arrest when Emil realises he may have picked up more than he bargained for. Sentenced to community service at a secure mental health facility, Emil is unwillingly befriended by two elderly female patients who believe he is the final part of a big cosmic plan that will change their lives forever… This heartwarming Christmas tale of kindness, friendship and redemption will be perfect for the cold winter nights!

I was recently introduced to PJ Tracy’s books by reading her crime novel Nothing stays Buried so  I was unsure what to expect from this Christmas short story. It was as different as chalk and cheese. Emil Rice is a smooth talking, small time crook who is facing more time in prison when he is given an alternative option – work in a secure mental institution for a year. He is soon stalked by two sisters who believe he is the third king from the Christmas story – the one they have been eagerly waiting for a long time. This is the beginning of the humorous and surreal mayhem. The   unique and loveable characters form a quirky, enjoyable read different to any I have read before. It is refreshing to read a festive story without a romantic slant. There isn’t a cosy kitchen oozing warmth and comfort in sight.

With its descriptions of the vibrant colours of the magi costumes against the institutional grey settings, light-hearted nature and seasonal plot it is easy to imagine it being adapted successfully to the screen. It could easily become a classic to be enjoyed annually as part of the Christmas tradition.

This book is on my list to be read again next year to prepare for the festive celebrations.

Thank you NetGally and Michael Joseph for the opportunity to read an advanced copy.

Happy reading x

 

#Christmasbooks #bookblogger

The Christmas countdown means festive book reviews

The countdown to the big day has begun in earnest with the arrival of decorations and Christmas music so it must be time for festive book reviews. There is nothing like a seasonal book to get you into the spirit of things with their tales of romance, family, disasters or humour. There are so many to choose from and I love seeing them line the shelves stores enticing readers with their vibrant, welcoming covers. I find them impossible to resist so my festive TBR is always overflowing and will keep me going until next year. Over the next few weeks I will share some of the ones I have read.

These include

You can catch up with the festive reads I have already posted here

Share your favourite or worst festive reads below. I can always squeeze some more on my TBR pile or maybe your suggestions will help me decide what to read next.

Happy reading!

 

 

Book review: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle

Time is creeping on; in a few weeks people will be getting into the festive spirit and will start to indulge in some of the Christmas reads that are appearing on the shop shelves. I have a stash I have been lucky to be given in exchange for an honest review (so watch this space in the coming weeks) including this one , A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle by Kiltie Jackson.

A Rock'n'Roll Lovestyle ebook hi-quality-1.jpg

Title: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle

Author: Kiltie Jackson

This was a refreshing, festive read with depth and soul not seen in many Christmas romances I have read recently. Sukie is a strong, independent character who has a successful career and  2 men she can rely on, Tony and Adam – her cats. Her feisty, down to earth and fun personality carries the book forward to make it a pleasure to read with a few chuckles along the way. She jumps at the chance to go to Austria, her dream destination, not knowing it will be a trip that will change her life when her path crosses with the now reluctant rock star, Pete Wallace.

I became emotionally attached to all the characters as their present and back stories unfolded so when the malice which is threaded throughout the book increased, my heart was in my mouth as I turned each page in trepidation.

This  well written debut is described as a 21st-century love story but it is more than that. It is also about friendship, fun, life and revenge.

If you are a fan of Karen Swan and Jill Mansell this book is well worth reading while snuggled under the duvet and indulging in a mug of hot chocolate.

I am looking forward to reading more from Kiltie Jackson and excited to hear she has a new book in progress.

A Rock ‘n’ Roll style is available through Amazon

You can find out more about the author Kiltie Jackson on

www.kiltiejackson.com

www.facebook.com/kiltiejackson

kiltiejackson@gmail.com

 

Thank you Kiltie for sharing this book with me.

Happy Reading!

 

 

Twas the days before Christmas

The tree is dressed in its best baubles and the lights are twinkling. Stockings are hung in anticipation they will be filled with our favourite things – books!

This time of year, books are great to curl up with to escape the overwhelming and hectic preparations, gather spoons or indulge in festive stories that flood the book shelves in the shops. What have you been reading?

christmas-parcel

Are you hoping to find a particular read under the tree?

It is also the time for reading old festive favourites or following family traditions. We particularly love the Swedish tradition of  jólabókaflóð and believe it should be adopted worldwide. Imagine how many happy bookworms there would be and new book lovers created everywhere.

We are pleased to release our themes for 2017 including the one we are all excited about – Harry Potter month in honour of the 20th anniversary of the release of the first installment, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. Yes – it really has been out that long. We are also looking forward to the discussions on books vs movies in January. This will conjure up lots of discussions.

Watch this space for exciting book club news in the New Year!

Have a lovely Christmas and hope it is filled with lots of books, spoons and happiness.

Happy reading!

reading blanket free stocksnap

 

Do you love books and have a chronic illness, disability or class yourself as a Spoonie – we would love to welcome you in our warm friendly group.