Book Review: The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories by P.D James

What’s it about?

P. D. James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a short story for Christmas, and four of the best have been drawn from the archives and published here together for the first time. From the title story about a strained country-house Christmas party, to another about an illicit affair that ends in murder, plus two cases for detective Adam Dalgliesh, these are masterfully atmospheric stories by the acknowledged ‘Queen of Crime’. 





My thoughts

This was our book club pick for December and one which we’ll be discussing next week.  I couldn’t wait till then to post my thoughts on my first PD James experience so here we are.

There are four short stories in this book ranging from about 30 – 40 pages.  The first two in the book, The Mistletoe Murder and A Very Commonplace Murder, I thought were brilliant.  Given they were roughly 30 ish pages each they both left me feeling as satisfied as if I’d read a full size novel in the plot, characters and reveal.  I should have seen it coming…of course I should but regular readers know I never do.  Although I have suspicions, I do tend to accept everything at face value and  don’t question EVERYTHING I read – hey ho!  This is why I thought these 2 stories were excellent, to be able to get all the info you need, create the suspense and deception in such a short amount of pages – bravo! (Reminded me of Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected).

However, I wasn’t as enamoured with the second half of the book, the Detective Adam Dalgliesh mysteries.  There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the mysteries, I just didn’t really gel with him.  It was all a little too neat and wrapped up too quickly.  I’d definitely read more of James’ work but wouldn’t make a point of reading the Dalgliesh books unless someone could convince me otherwise.  Of course, I’m assuming she has written other things beside Dalgliesh because I don’t actually know.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book just for the first 2 stories and at the time of writing I paid about £3.50 so worth it.  As a side note this edition is quite stunning.  It has a gorgeous lino print by Angela Harding to the cover and overall a very rustic feel and texture which I really liked.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Author link: Biography 

Small print for info
Source: Purchased
No of pages: 136
Publisher: Faber & Faber

Book Review: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

What’s it about?

I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.

At the urge of her lucky-in-love brother, sixteen-year-old Lily has left a red notebook full of dares on her favourite bookshop shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept. Curious, snarky Dash isn’t one to back down from a challenge – and the Book of Dares is the perfect distraction he’s been looking for.

As they send each other on a scavenger hunt across Manhattan, they’re falling for each other on paper. But finding out if their real selves share their on-page chemistry could be their biggest dare yet….



My thoughts

This was my last read of 2017 and one which I purchased just before Christmas.  I bought it based on another book bloggers review (thanks Ali at I Wuv Books) and it was such the loveliest Christmas read.

I loved the setting of New York at Christmas, the descriptions are just like those from a movie.  In fact, this would make a great movie.  I liked Dash and Lily but definitely had a soft spot for Boomer and Grandpa and all the secondary characters helping Dash and Lily along their way – let’s face it , they know some cool people!

I liked that the chapters switched between Dash and Lily’s perspectives, getting to know them better through their thoughts in the red notebook and their insecurities and hopes.

Having said all that, I didn’t award 5* because of the way these pair speak.  I mean these are the most eloquent couple of teenagers you’ll come across, just like the two from The Fault in our Stars.  Words and phrases that I can’t ever imagine using in my forties let alone young adults.  I don’t quite get why the authors have them speak like this, I know that they’re intelligent and bookish but have them speak like they’re from their own generation.

Overall a highly enjoyable read that reminded me of You’ve Got Mail and Serendipity which pose the question can the real thing ever be as good as the expectation?

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links:  Website

Small print for info
Source: Purchased
No of pages:  274
Publisher:  MIRA Ink

Book Review: A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

a-boy-called-christmasWhat’s it about?

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.

It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.

A Boy Called Christmas is a tale of adventure, snow, kidnapping, elves, more snow, and a boy called Nikolas, who isn’t afraid to believe in magic.



My thoughts

Well I finished this delightful little book last night and even though I’m terribly behind on my reviews, I had to push this to the top of the to do list.  So here I am, sat in bed with my Christmas cold tapping out my thoughts before 2017 lands!

“Impossible – An old elf swear word”

So here we have an alternative Father Christmas story and in my opinion one that makes perfect sense.  By his own admission the author tells us readers that if you are not a believer in magical occurrences then put the book down…

“But 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.”

Well I’m not one for magical realism but that little sentence was really just a challenge….go on I dare you to read it!  So I did and I found it to be rather lovely and just what I needed to be reading this week.  From the first few pages I enjoyed the humour, the one-liners and later the cheesy elf jokes, they can’t help but put a smile upon your face!

Nikolas is such a brave, sweet character that I was rooting for him from the very beginning, he has to make some difficult choices for someone so young and deal with some exceptionally hard tasks that are not without sacrifice which will have you willing him on all the more.  I suppose you could say it’s a cross between a fairy story and a moral as strains of the story are about doing the right thing even if it means losing something or someone that you love.

A feel-good book that is for children and adults to read alone or share and one that is crying out to be made into an animated movie a la Arthur Christmas! (and the glittery sparkly cover is an added bonus!).

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author Links: Twitter | Website

Small print for info
Source: Borrowed
No of pages: 266
Publisher: Canongate

Book Review: A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

A Redbird Christmas What’s it about?

Oswald T. Campbell, aged fifty-two, down-and-out in a Chicago winter, is given only months to live unless he moves South… He finds himself in the small town of Lost River, Alabama, where the residents are friendly if feud-prone and eccentric to a fault.

One of them, Roy, keeps a red cardinal, a once wounded bird called Jack. Patsy, a sad, sweet little kid with a crippled leg, from the trailer park up in the woods, takes to dropping by the store – and falls in love with Jack.


My thoughts

This was our book club choice for December and while I normally keep my book club reads till closer to the next meeting, I thought I should like to read this one over the Christmas holiday rather than mid-January.

It’s a sweet tale of small town America that has a modern day fairy tale feel to it; full of hope, compassion, and a general willingness to help others for no other reason than you can.

Very simply written but beautifully effective; the sentiment and emotion is conveyed perfectly without the use of long fancy over-descriptive words.

It’s not necessary to read at Christmas time as the story progesses over the year, it just happens to start and finish at Christmas.

If you liked The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend you’ll enjoy this book too.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

 Learn more about the author – visit her website or  Facebook

Book Review: Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson

Bella's Christmas Bake OffWhat’s it about?

Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking – a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter ‘Silver Fox’ Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials.

But this year things are going to be different.

For Amy Lane, Bella’s best friend from school, life hasn’t held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy’s husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever.

Amy has watched Bella’s rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella’s latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy’s mother’s recipes, the gloves are off…

My thoughts

I think there’s just time to fit in a quick Christmas book review and as it’s quite an easy read you can squeeze it in before the holidays are over

It took me a while to get into the story as it wasn’t quite what I expected and found the opening few chapters a tadge slow but it does pick up pace and with some nice character development.

I think fans of The Great British Bake Off would enjoy this as it comes with some interesting insights into tv programmes and so comes as no surprise that the the author worked in the TV industry. You’ll also enjoy this if you like books with copious amounts of lovely foody descriptions and festive goodness that’ll make you feel a little bit warm inside (I even found myself unexpectedly filling up towards the end during one particular poignant scene, quite unusual for me).

No real plot surprises for me but I enjoyed the writing and the humour and so I don’t think it’ll be my last Sue Watson novel.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Connect with the author Sue Watson

Website | Twitter