Blog, Wrap Ups

December Wrap Up

Well it seems like all I did in December was read and eat festive food. I read 22 books in December (and ate about 220 candy canes).

At the start of December I checked my Goodreads 2021 challenge for the first time in ages and saw that if I read 20 books in December, I could end the year on 200 books. I liked the idea of that so decided to set myself a little goal of reading 20 books in December. This was a pretty big feat since I didn’t start my Christmas break until the afternoon of Christmas Eve.

I managed to read 22 books in December which is just as big a shock to me as it is to anyone else. One of my books was only 36 pages but it was a super festive book and I’m still counting it.

It was impossible to hold all of my December reads without looking pained

I had a really good reading month, not just in terms of quantity, the quality was super high! In December I do like to reread my Christmas favourites so The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding, A Christmas Carol, and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas were guaranteed 5 star reads for me. I was so happy to find that I had more 5 star reads in December too!

For the rest of my reads, my ratings were as follows:

5 Stars

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
The 13 Yule Lads of Iceland by Brian Pilkington
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley*

4 Stars

Away With the Penguins by Hazel Prior
The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan
The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork
Equal Rights by Terry Pratchett
Snow-Kissed Proposals by Jenni Fletcher and Elisabeth Hobbes
# FollowMe for Murder – Sarah E Burr *

3 Stars

Christmas at the Beach Hut- Veronica Henry
Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery- Jenny Colgan
Midnight in Everwood- M.A. Kuzniar

2 Stars

The Chalet – Catherine Cooper
A Christmas to Remember- Anton du Beke
Clara at Christmas- Lacey London
Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar- Olga Wojtas
Stalker- Lisa Stone

1 Star

Twelve Slays of Christmas- Jacqueline Frost
A Merry Little Christmas- Julia Williams

My Book Recommendation of the month aka #caleysbookrecommendationofthemonththatnobodyaskedfor was Hogfather as this book was just utterly magical and whimsical and I think it’s going to be a new annual festive reread!

December’s Book of the Month

* These books were ARCS received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Scottish Reads, Vlogs

Reading Scottish- December Wrap Up

I can’t believe another month is almost at an end and now it’s almost 2022! It still feels like it should be 2019 but here we are.

This month I read four books by Scottish authors, I didn’t aim to have the same number as November but four seems like a good amount. Four books would usually allow for quite a selection of genres and themes but I really wanted to read Christmassy/festive reads. However, after three of these books, plus my other reads for the month which were very festively themed, I felt a bit Christmassed out. So one of my reads wasn’t a Christmas read, it was set in Russia and featured snow so I’m counting that as being wintery. I worried that I’d broken the rules then remembered that this was a challenge that I’d set for myself and that the only rule was that the books should be by Scottish authors.

Reading Scottish December Wrap Up

In this video I round up my December Scottish Reads which include:

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan
Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
Snow Kissed Proposals – The Christmas Runaway by Jenni Fletcher

This month I learned that I really shouldn’t focus on reading just one genre of book for an entire month because that got old really quickly. Next month I aim to read more of a variety of Scottish reads- two of my Bookclub books are Scottish Reads and are very different (one is a reread so will be nice to see how I get on with it second time around).

If you have any recommendations for Scottish Reads, I’d love if you shared them!

Blog, Reviews

A Tale of Two Nutcrackers

So I know that Christmas is technically over but I think it’s ok to talk about a Christmas book (in this case, 2 Christmas books) during that weird time between Christmas and New Year. If the Christmas tree is still up, it’s ok

My two Nutcracker inspired reads, perfect December reading!

I love The Nutcracker! In the before times, I had an annual tradition of going to a viewing of the ballet at one of my local cinemas. I listen to the soundtrack from November onwards. It’s safe to say that I’m a big fan of The Nutcracker! So when I saw that there was a new book, inspired by The Nutcracker, I decided to read it. While buying it, I also found another book inspired by The Nutcracker so I decided to read both for double the festive fun!

Clara Stahlbaum has her future perfectly planned: to marry the handsome pianist, Johann Kahler (ah!) and settle down to a life full of music. But all that changes on Christmas Eve, when Clara receives a mysterious and magical nutcracker.

Whisked away to his world—an enchanted empire of beautiful palaces, fickle fairies, enormous rats, and a prince—Clara must face a magician who uses music as spells…and the future she thought she wanted.

The Enchanted Sonata a retelling of The Nutcracker Ballet wit a dash of The Pied Piper. Will captivate readers of all ages.

I absolutely loved this retelling. It followed the plot of the original ballet pretty closely; after receiving a nutcracker, a young girl found herself whisked away to a magical world where she had to fight the rats to save the kingdom.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book. Clara, while rather young, was a disciplined musician and was very independent. I really enjoyed them being involved in finding a solution to the problem at hand. Clara was utterly obsessed with a fellow pianist, despite barely speaking to them, I felt that this really helped me as a reader to remember that she was young as her character was pretty mature. I’m fairly certain that 15 year old me was convinced that Benji Madden (of Good Charlotte fame) was going to be my future husband despite never meeting them and being a lot younger. I thought that both Clara and Prince Nikolai had a huge amount of character growth during this book.

In addition to the two main characters, so many of the secondary characters were so fun to read about. I was so invested in Pyotr, who was the Tiny Tim of this book. I absolutely loved him and just wanted good things for him. I also loved Zizi who worked at the bakery/sweet shop, she was so cool and smart. The nuns in this book were basically an army who were ready to protect the orphans and their church, no matter how many laws they had to break and they weren’t afraid to shout at their Prince. It really felt like all of the characters in this book were described fully.

The big bad in this book was like The Pied Piper and I felt that his backstory did a great job at making sense of why he was terrorising the kingdom in such a way. I’m not saying it was rational but super villains rarely are, but you could see why they took the path they did.

The world building in this book was wonderful, the author really captured the magic of The Land of Sweets, all i want is to eat those peppermints! The forest was also described really well, i almost felt cold reading this, despite being tucked up with a hot water bottle.

I enjoyed the unpredictable fairies, there was method to their madness.I liked that the characters knew that they couldn’t rely on the fairies to save them and that they had to work together.

The ending of this book was completely unique to this book as it was not related to the ballet and I thought that it was perfect. I didn’t think it was going to happen, I wanted it to happen but I didn’t see it coming.

I thoroughly enjoyed this retelling and gave this book 4 stars and I will definitely be reading this again.

There’s nothing Marietta Stelle loves more than ballet, but after Christmas, her dreams will be over as she is obligated to take her place in Edwardian society. While she is chafing against such suffocating traditions, a mysterious man purchases the neighbouring townhouse. Dr Drosselmeier is a charming but calculating figure who wins over the rest of the Stelle family with his enchanting toys and wondrous mechanisms.

When Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate set for Marietta’s final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. On the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, she is transported to a snowy forest, where she encounters danger at every turn: ice giants, shadow goblins and the shrieking mist all lurk amidst the firs and frozen waterfalls and ice cliffs. After being rescued by the butterscotch-eyed captain of the king’s guard, she is escorted to the frozen sugar palace. At once, Marietta is enchanted by this glittering world of glamorous gowns, gingerbread houses, miniature reindeer and the most delicious confectionary.

But all is not as it seems and Marietta is soon trapped in the sumptuous palace by the sadistic King Gelum, who claims her as his own. She is confined to a gilded prison with his other pets; Dellara, whose words are as sharp as her teeth, and Pirlipata, a princess from another land. Marietta must forge an alliance with the two women to carve a way free from this sugar-coated but treacherous world and back home to follow her dreams. Yet in a hedonistic world brimming with rebellion and a forbidden romance that risks everything, such a path will never be easy.

Unlike The Enchanted Sonata, this book was classified as Adult Fiction. This book was not a retelling of The Nutcracker, it was more…very loosely inspired by the Nutcracker which did make me feel a little disappointed but also a little cheated. This book kept the theme of ballet and the Land of Sweets but that was about it.

The book started with an introduction to Marietta, a 20 year old dancer, daughter of a wealthy family. Marietta dreamed of being a dancer but her father wouldn’t hear of her dancing after her 21st birthday and was ready to marry her off. Their new neighbour, inventor Drosselmeier (in this book he was not her godfather, like in the ballet) seemed like a good candidate, Marietta was not keen and after some events, they ended up in a snowy forest near to a Land of Sweets where a large castle was visible.

I found Marietta to be one of the most irritating characters that I have read about in recent history. She was entitled and rude and very childish. I kept forgetting that she was 20 because her actions would have suited a 12 year old protagonist far better. For example, after being repeatedly warned to stay away from the King, she crashed a ball and did ballet around the dance floor which drew the attention of the King, she then agreed to a request that obviously was going to lead to a bad time. She then had the audacity to blame other people for not protecting her.

The additional characters in this book were most interesting- a stolen princess and a…demon? An immortal being who was referred to as being a fairy but said that demon was a better description. I would have loved to have read a book about these characters instead.

It really felt like all of the relationships in this book were forced. The three prisoners suddenly became the best of friends, like sisters, despite there being nothing to show why they bonded so quickly. The assumption was that people locked up together with a common enemy would bond but none of the bonding was included. The romantic relationship also felt like it came out of nowhere and I didn’t buy it.

I enjoyed the big bad in this book, it was a nice twist. It didn’t feel like the reason behind his super villain status was really explained and I enjoy knowing how a character became a baddie. Maybe I just love an origin story.

I absolutely loved the forestry landscapes in this book. They sounded so vast, cold, and full of danger. The caste sounded so grand and absolutely massive!

I felt tht this book went too far with the sugary sweet descriptions. Perhaps due to the Land of Sweets. Every meal was sugar based and so sweet, everything smelled sickly sweet too. They even dusted their bodies with sugar. This book had me craving some celery in order to offset the sweetness.

The grand finale of this book was very short. The whole final event happened over just a few pages and just felt like there was a long build up to a sharp, short full stop.

I am a huge fan of ballet but often in this book, Marietta tried to solve things with the power of dance…which wasn’t something I enjoyed. It just felt forced. I suppose she was using her strengths but it just didn’t do it for me.

I didn’t enjoy this book anywhere near as much as I’d hoped. From the blurb and the gorgeous cover, I expected to love this book but it fell short for me. I needed up giving it 3 stars, rounded up from 2.5. I think that a lot of my disappointment was due to the immature main character and one dimensional characters because the plot was really interesting. The ending of the book was ambiguous as if leaving space for a sequel, I don’t think I’d be picking that up though.

Of the two The Nutcracker inspired books that I read this month, The Enchanted Sonata was my favourite.

Reviews

A Boy Called Christmas

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.

Are you still reading?

Good.

Then let us begin . . .

This book was just the most perfect Christmas Eve read! It was short but utterly heartwarming and magical! This was my fourth Matt Haig read and, like the previous three, it was a 5 star read. I could not fault this book at all, not that I’d want to.

I read the audiobook which was narrated by Stephen Fry and that felt like the perfect choice. It also meant that I could do boring things like wrapping presents, my most hated festive activity, while listening to a darling story.

The entire book was told in such a beautiful way. With an all seeing narrator which i felt worked really well in this book.

I am such a sucker for a Santa origin story and this is among my favourites. Nikolas was such a lovely child and I really liked him as a main character. He loved his family, was kind to animals, and was grateful for what he had-he wasn’t greedy. I also really enjoyed the Truth Pixie, who I think has their own book as part of this Christmas series. I loved how mischievous and blood thirsty she was. I thought this was a wonderful addition to the story! I also absolutely adored the reindeer because I love an origin story.

This book was just such a magical and atmospheric story. The world building was beautiful. The forests sounded so dreamy and lush and the Elf Village sounded absolutely glorious. I too would have loved to be there. I know it was about Father Christmas so it is probably obvious but the atmosphere felt so wintery.

This was a children’s book so I didn’t expect it to include any tough moments but there were some pretty emotional parts in this book. Not in a bad way but in a character development way. Obviously I cried reading this book because that’s who I am. If a book is heartwarming, I will cry.

This book reminded me so much of Roald Dahl, who will always be one of my favourite authors so I mean this as a massive compliment. I fully intend to read the other books in this series because it was a wonderful adventure of a book. I didn’t really have many expectations going into this book, I enjoy Matt Haig’s writing but I wasn’t sue how I’d feel with it being a children’s book but I loved it! I will happily read a children’s book but do acknowledge that since I’m not the target audience, sometimes it might just not do it or me.

I thought that this book was absolutely perfect and gave me everything I wanted from a Christmassy read- excellent characters, wintery setting, and a heartwarming story. I was so sad when it ended as I just wanted more, not that it was incomplete. I just was greedy and wanted to read more about Nikolas and his friends. I think I’m going to be adding this to my Christmas re-read pile as I definitely want to read this book again.

Reviews, Scottish Reads

Snow-Kissed Proposals

In The Christmas Runaway by Jenni Fletcher, willful, independent heiress Fiona MacKay impulsively runs away to a remote Scottish tower, where she’s trapped in the snow with equally headstrong, deliciously disheveled Angus Drummond.

In Their Snowbound Reunion by Elisabeth Hobbes, Amy Munroe and Anthony Matthews were cruelly parted fifteen years ago, and each blames the other. When Amy becomes Anthony’s new housekeeper, their passion is reawakened!

I pre-ordered this book as Jenni Fletcher, the author of the first story, is Scottish and I thought that this could be a fun addition to my “Reading Scottish” challenge. This was a Mills & Boon Historical Romance and while I have read a decent amount of both Romance and Historical novels, I had never read a Mills & Boon.

I must admit that prior to reading this book, my only knowledge of Mills & Boon came from my experience working in a shop where very elderly women would pick the shelves clean every time a new selection was added. So I thought that as a 35 year old lady (95 at heart sometimes!) these books weren’t for me. How wrong I was because I really enjoyed each of the stories in this book.

The Christmas Runaway was a fun romance set reasonably close to where I live which gave me an extra level of enjoyment. I always enjoy reading books set in places that are familiar to me. This book was very short so I got my bearings very quickly.

Of the two books, I actually preferred Their Snowbound Reunion as the book was less predictable. I saw the twist coming from the start but the responsible party was one of two people. So I got an extra little something out of this book because of that.

The characters in each of these books were very classic-the grumpy rich guy, the outspoken yet childish rich woman, the proud man, the cold woman…there was nothing new in the characters but they were enjoyable to read about.

The sorties were completely predictable from start to finish. I suppose in historical fiction, there is always going to be a certain type of ending which coincidentally is my least favourite kind of ending. However, based on conversations that I’ve had regarding Mills & Boon books, this seems to be the traditional ending of this collection of books. I do sometimes wonder if I’m too free with my ratings in December, I gave this book 4 stars as I enjoyed it more than the books that I’d rated 3 stars…I don’t know whether I’d have rated so highly had this been read in any other month.

While these books didn’t give me anything new, they did give me cute romances that developed over the length of the story with each character denying their feelings. I wanted to read an easy romance with low stakes and preferably no nasty meddling characters. If you want a quick and easy romance, I’d recommend giving these stories a whirl! If you want some spice from your romance, these books will not deliver.

I actually really did enjoy reading this book! I didn’t know what to expect from a Mills & Boon but I was pleasantly surprised and may pick up another from this collection one day.

Book Recommendation of the Month, Reviews

Hogfather

Susan had never hung up a stocking . She’d never put a tooth under her pillow in the serious expectation that a dentally inclined fairy would turn up. It wasn’t that her parents didn’t believe in such things. They didn’t need to believe in them. They know they existed. They just wished they didn’t.

There are those who believe and those who don’t. Through the ages, superstition has had its uses. Nowhere more so than in the Discworld where it’s helped to maintain the status quo. Anything that undermines superstition has to be viewed with some caution. There may be consequences, particularly on the last night of the year when the time is turning. When those consequences turn out to be the end of the world, you need to be prepared. You might even want more standing between you and oblivion than a mere slip of a girl – even if she has looked Death in the face on numerous occasions…

This was my first Terry Pratchett and it won’t be my last. This book gave me all the festive whimsy that I was looking for and I gave it 5 stars.

I totally appreciate that it may seem weird to choose the 20th book as my starting block but I was reliably informed that I could jump in at any point in the series and find my way. I did find myself wishing that I’d read another of the death books first as I did find myself to be a little disoriented at first but that may just be due to being new to the entire Discworld…world. This disorientation didn’t last long though.

This book was a wild ride from start to finish! It really read like an epic journey.

There were so many characters and each felt well rounded and interesting in their own way. My introduction to Susan was as a nanny wielding a crowbar, definitely a character I wanted to continue reading about. Death was definitely my favourite character! He was an absolute scamp and just wanted everyone to believe in the Hogfather. I do enjoy a festive read that encourages people to believe in magic and good things. I kept laughing every time Death said ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’.

The world building of this book was just magnificent! My knowledge of the Discworld prior to reading this book was literally based off of a one time play of the Discworld board game (7/8 years ago!). This book really did a great job at explaining the world and I was initially worried that I’d be lost but that wasn’t the case. I really did enjoy Death’s homestead.

This book really did have so many pieces of humour and I laughed so much during this read.

As weird as it sounds, this book really filled me with Christmas warm and fuzzies. It was such a heartwarming and entertaining read. I really enjoyed Death filling in for the Hogfather as the whole concept of a death figure posing as Santa sounded hilarious and it was. This book was surprisingly deep too as I honestly was’t sure what I was getting myself into.

I read a physical copy of this book with the audiobook accompanying me. I felt like that was the perfect way for me to enjoy this book as the narration was just perfect.

I already plan to read this book again, next December as I feel that I’ll get even more out of it in future reads. This book may make it onto my list of books that I reread every December! I’m very excited to find more Terry Pratchett books to read, especially the books with Death and Susan!

Reviews, Scottish Reads

The Christmas Bookshop

When the department store she works in closes for good, Carmen has perilously little cash and few options. She doesn’t want to move in with her perfect sister Sofia, in Sofia’s perfect house with her perfect children and her perfectly ordered Edinburgh life.

Frankly, Sofia doesn’t exactly want Carmen there either. Her sister has always been sarcastic and difficult. But Sofia has yet another baby on the way, a mother desperate to see her daughters get along, and a client who needs a retail assistant for his ailing bookshop, so welcoming Carmen might still have some benefits for everyone.

At Sofia’s behest, Carmen is thrown into the daily workings of old Mr. McCredie’s ancient bookshop on the streets of the old dark city. Can she use her design skills to revamp the store and bring it back to popularity in time to benefit from Christmas shopping traffic? Can she choose between bad boy literary rock star Blair and quiet Quaker student Oke? And will she heal the rift with the most important people of all: her family?

This was my second Jenny Colgan read and this was definitely my favourite of the two. I gave this book 4 stars, it was full of Christmassy magic and was enjoyable right from the start. I listened to the audiobook which I think enhanced the whole experience as the narrator, Eilidh Beaton, was just excellent!

This book started with Carmen feeling like a bit of a failure, career wise which I found so relatable! I do enjoy reading about characters who don’t have their dream careers and feel a little bit lost about what to do.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book. Like in the last Jenny Colgan book I read, I didn’t find myself liking any of the main characters. Carmen was immature. Sophia was pretentious. Yet, I really enjoyed reading about them! I lost my sister back in 2013 so there’s something about stories with sisters that hits me in the feels. I really enjoyed reading about their relationship growth. I really enjoyed that the characters were flawed!

My favourite characters were actually the bookshop owner and Sophia’s kids. The kids almost held up a mirror to Sophia and Carmen and they were so funny. The narrator did some really good voices for the kids. Mr McCredie was an adorable old man and I would 100% have visited his shop. He was just the sort of man I’d love as a grandfather, he was whimsical!

This books as set in Edinburgh during the festive season. I grew up in the Scottish Borders, only 30 miles from Edinburgh so have many fond memories of getting the bus to Edinburgh to go to the Christmas fair and then do some Christmas shopping. I felt that the author perfectly captured the magical feeling of Edinburgh in December. This book also captured the reality of Edinburgh which involves a lot of hills and steps! Edinburgh in December is always pretty amazing but the book didn’t try to romanticise Edinburgh at all.

I really enjoyed the side story my Mr McCredie and his coming to terms with his past. This was unexpectedly serious for a festive read. I didn’t expect a difficult topic to be included in this book but it was very interesting to read about really helped to explain a bit more about the character.

I didn’t really care too much about the romantic relationships in this book as it was pretty obvious what was going to happen. This is something I usually hate but in a Christmas themed book, this is what I want.

This book gave me everything I wanted from it. This book was a really fun Christmassy read that had some heartwarming parts that made me cry. The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars was due to the main characters being pretty annoying. I think I said that about my last Jenny Colgan read. I will definitely be reading more books by this author and this book may make it into future festive reading rotations.

Reviews, Scottish Reads

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery

It’s Christmas in the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne – a time for family, friends and feasting.

Polly Waterford loves running the Little Beach Street Bakery. She’s at her happiest when she’s creating delicious treats and the festive season always inspires her to bake and knead something extra special for the village residents. In fact, the only thing she loves more than her bakery is curling up with her gorgeous boyfriend, Huckle. She’s determined that this Christmas is going to be their best one yet, but life doesn’t always work out as planned…

When Polly’s best friend Kerensa turns up with a secret that threatens the life Polly and Huckle have built together, the future begins to look uncertain. And then a face from Polly’s past reappears and things become even more complicated. Polly can usually find solace in baking but she has a feeling that’s not going to be enough this time. Can she get things back on track so that everyone has a merry Christmas?

I was absolutely delighted to find that Jenny Colgan is Scottish and has a huge collection of cosy sounding Christmas books. I have two of their books and this was my first introduction to Jenny Colgan and it was an enjoyable read, I gave this a respectable 3 star rating.

This book was part 3 in a series but all of the reviews that I read told me that I would be fine jumping in at book 3, some reviews suggested that this was perhaps a good thing.

In December I enjoy reading some light and magical festive reads. The sort of book that could be a Hallmark movie. I want to have my heart warmed. This book included a puffin called Neil. The puffin had his own little character and joined in with conversations. There was a puffin sanctuary but Neil had no desire to live there. I absolutely love puffins! The addition of these puffins made me so utterly happy. Every time that Neil was featured, I just smiled.

Of the human characters, I didn’t really like any of them. Polly, the main character was a bad friend and a bit of a doormat. One of the key rules of friendship is, keep your friend’s secret (obviously unless it puts someone in danger). Polly tells her fiancé a secret that was not hers to tell and this really put me off of her. Bad friend. Polly’s fiancé Huckle was so dull. He also told Polly to share her friend’s secret and seems to think that just because you’re engaged, you share other people’s secrets. Other than that, I just found him to be boring. Reuben was annoying! He threw money at everyone so that he could get his way. Polly wanted a day off for Christmas but he just throws money to convince her not to have 1 sole day off. Kerensa was probably my favourite character as she had some strength of character and stood up for herself. I was very surprised to enjoy this book despite not liking any of the main characters. A puffin really can make up for a lot of dull, annoying characters.

The blurb of this book said that a secret threatened the life that Polly and Huckle had built together. That wasn’t really the case though.

So many parts of this book were completely unrealistic and, were this not a festive book, I’d have found that to be so irritating. But in a festive read, this is expected and I really enjoyed it.

I didn’t expect the book to be so emotional though. There were some very emotional parts with family relationships and I must admit that i shed a wee tear. Just a wee one though.

The ending of this book was laughably unrealistic and i absolutely loved it! I got what I wanted from this book. I wanted a light, quick Christmassy read. This book gave me that. Yes it was pretty unrealistic but I’ve read enough festive fiction that i expect and embrace this. I didn’t like the characters but i loved that silly little puffin.

This book was fine. I will most likely be reading another Jenny Colgan this month. I don’t know how much I would have enjoyed this book at any other time of the year. I was very happy to read a Christmas story written by a Scottish author though, i look forward to the next one.

Reviews

Christmas at the Beach Hut

Everyone adores Christmas . . . 

Especially Lizzy Kingham. But this year, she is feeling unloved and under-appreciated by her family. The present-buying, decorating and food shopping have all been left to her. So she wonders … what would happen if she ran away and left them to it?

Lizzy heads to her favourite place: a beach hut on the golden sands of Everdene. There she meets an unlikely collection of new friends, all running away from something. But the spirit of Christmas gets under Lizzy’s skin: soon the fairy lights are twinkling and the scent of mulled wine mingles with the sea air.

Back at Pepperpot Cottage, her family are desperate to find her. For Christmas isn’t Christmas without Lizzy. Can they track her down in time and convince her she means the world to them, every day of the year?

I really enjoyed this book and I think I will give it to my mum to read as I think that she’ll enjoy it too. This book was a 3.5 star read for me which I rounded to a 3 star rating. This book reminded me so much of Christmas episodes of soaps or dramas where there’s a stressed mum who threatens to leave their ungrateful family, and let them sort out themselves for Christmas, but never does. Well, Lizzy did just that.

I live in Aberdeen and it’s been really cold, I cannot imagine going to the beach at this time of year. This book made staying at a beach hut in December sound pleasant! The bits with the beach walks sounded so lovely, despite knowing it would be so cold and windy that it would burn. This gave me a fun beach experience but I have no plans to go to the beach myself for a few months.

I completely supported Lizzy and her decision to leave her family to put up their own tree and make their meal-with the food she’d ordered. The poor woman asked for just one ritual to be upheld but was let down by every member of her immediate family. This was so sad, especially since she’d been having a very tough time which her family knew about.

Lizzy’s family were really ungrateful and inept. Her children were 17 yet incapable of setting an alarm…didn’t we all master the art of getting up back in primary school? Lizzy was obsessed with having the perfect Christmas yet seemed to be dealing with this all by herself. Her husband failed to tell her that his mother would be joining them on Christmas Day. Lizzy very fairly pointed out that this was a lot of work as she’d need to ensure that the mother in law had a Christmas stocking, the guest room made up, other food may be required…this was pretty rubbish of her husband who probably should have a. Told his wife and b. Sorted everything out for his mum because it was last minute.

I thought Lizzy’s character development was really enjoyable. At the start of the book she was just. Little downtrodden while pleasant, by the end she was so strong and determined. It was delightful to read about her taking time for herself and growing during this time. Despite taking time for herself, she used this time to help two other families by just being a good friend. I thought the Harley was a sweet kid, forced to grow up too soon though. I really enjoyed his relationship with his mum and brother. Jack and Nat seemed to just come out of nowhere but this tied into my whole ‘I like Christmas books that are basically Hallmark films’ thing.

This book gave me found family vibes which I love in a book. I actually really wanted this found family to just go on together and forget about the husband and kids…but this would have probably made for a rubbish Christmassy book.

This book threw in some totally unrealistic romances but this was ok because this was a festive book. Unrealistic romances don’t annoy me in a festive read as they feel right. I think I’d have been disappointed had this book not included any festive romance.

If you want a story about a mum who tells her family to do it themselves, then goes off to have an absolutely lovely Christmas time, then i recommend this book. It was sweet and fun and very quick to read. I probably won’t read it again but I will drop it off at the charity shop and pick up another festive read for next year.

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Christmas Rereading

‘Tis the season to do rereads
Fa la la la la
La la la la

I am a fan of rereading books that I have previously enjoyed but in December I really am all about the rereads. Are you a fan of rereading books that you’ve already adored?

I have some festive favourites that I like to read every December. In the most recent years, I have enjoyed 3 festive rereads- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas and Adventures of the Christmas Pudding both by Agatha Christie.

For me, it doesn’t feel like December until I’ve read at least one of these three beauties. My favourite way to enjoy these comforting rereads is to read the physical book while listening to them on audiobook. Like a book on tape!

A Christmas Carol is just the perfect read for Christmas! Part ghost story, part cautionary tale and ultimately heartwarming. I love Tiny Tim! I’m actually going to be reading the parallel text version of A Christmas Carol this year, I’m practicing my French reading skills (which are mediocre at best but I try). Also, this book is the reason why we have A Muppet Christmas Carol which pleases my soul.

It wouldn’t be a festive season without an Agatha Christie! I did toy with the idea of buying the Midwinter Murder short story collection but my mum had previously asked whether it was something I’d enjoy as a gift so I didn’t by it just in case. So I’m rereading the two most Christmassy Agatha Christie books; The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas.

I always tell myself that I don’t enjoy short story collections but The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding is one of the exceptions to this rule (there’s an ever growing list of exceptions to this rule!). This is such a quick read and I find it perfect for December bedtime reading. There are only 5 stories and they’re all pretty short, yet most excellent.

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is one of my favourite ever Agatha Christie books, it’s definitely in my top 5. This book is just so full of wintery vibes and really makes me feel festive, despite this book being about murder… there’s still some warm bits about family plus Poirot hating the cold is always amusing.

My December reading is all about the festive rereads but I also favour a heartwarming winter read. This year I have a lot of winter reads, so many that I wonder if I will get through them all. If I run out of time, I will just move them to my TBR pile for December 2022 and feel accomplished at planning so far ahead.

This year I found a new book that I’d like to add to future Yuletide rereading. This year I read Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik which I found to be a really lovely winter wonderland of a novel. I read it in August which was poor planning on my part but does mean that I really don’t fancy a reread of it so soon.

Do you have a favourite Christmas read?