Book Reviews

Turning Christmas Pages …

As promised, some lovely Christmas fiction. Now, sad as it may be, I love reading Christmas fiction at this time of year. It gets me in to the festive mood (although as I said in the previous post, these festivities are somewhat lacking this year) and there really is nothing nicer than curling up in front of the log burner, under a blanket, reading a book.

I know that Christmas fiction is not the epitome of intellect, but I don’t want intellect at Christmas – I want easy-to-read fluff: usually romantic, guaranteed happy ever after and more often than not, featuring snow (closest we’re going to get down here on the IOW!). Occasionally I deviate with a good old fashioned murder mystery, Agatha Christie style, but only if it is set in a remote, snowed-in, country house with a multitude of suspects. Yes, I love a cliche!

This pile of fiction I read last Christmas – I have a new pile for this festive season that I have just started last week, so I’ll update as and when I finish.


(no idea why it has turned the image – no idea how to turn it back!)

Last Christmas by Julia Williams – The first of three novels set in the village of Hope Christmas. I like village-based novels at Christmas: visions of Cotswold style houses and carols in the snow around a giant tree in the middle of the square… Anyway, this novel is where we first meet Cat, Gabriel, Noel and Marianne. Julia Williams is an excellent storyteller and the experiences of these characters are quite realistic – although obviously, happy ever afters do feature quite widely. I must have loved the book though, as I bought the two that followed! 5/5

A Merry Little Christmas by Julia Williams – We are still with Cat and Marianne – but now we also focus on Pippa too: all still residents of hope Christmas. This novel isn’t just set at Christmas, but tracks their lives during the whole year – culminating in Christmas, with all the trials and tribulations that usually come with most family Christmas’s. 5/5

Coming Home for Christmas by Julia Williams – The final installment of the Hope Christmas trilogy. This novel, obvoiously, feels a bit more final – things come to a conclusion by the end of the novel. There is a giant Christmas tree in the square and there is a load of snow too. Williams does have a knack of creating that picture perfect Christmas scene – and writing good old christmasy novels. 5/5 (NB: Williams has written a new Christmas novel for 2015, Make A Christmas Wish, and I automatically picked it up in Tesco without reading the back … Having now read the back cover, it is a bit whimsical for me (woman in limbo between living/dying and getting second chances to change stuff – not up my street) so I don’t know if I’m going to bother reading it)

Dead of Winter by Lee Weeks – Occasionally I deviate from the romantic fluff and read something a bit more brutal. This is another police procedural novel – the first by Weeks to feature DC Ebony Willis. It is set in the UK and has an engaging plot that kept me interested. It’s a bit gory in places but if you like Peter James/M J Arlidge, then you’ll love this. The only thing ‘christmasy’ about it is the snow! 5/5

Mystery in White by Joseph Jefferson Farjeon – A traditional, vintage classic murder mystery. Snow? Check. Old House? Check. List of suspects? Check. This could easily be a Christie plot – it’s just lacking a little but of Christie flair in places. It is part of the British Library Classics theme – ‘old’ stories, recovered in a 1920/30’s style for the 21st century. I was in Waterstones on Wednesday and it was full of them. Easy to read but engaging nonetheless – it kept me guessing until the end. 4/5

Just for Christmas by Scarlett Bailey – Any novel involving a dog is bound to be a winner right? This one is. The plot is a classic: girl who is heartbroken, escapes her life by moving to an isolated country cottage in Cornwall with a scruffy dog. I’m sure you know what happens – and so did I – but I still loved this book! Snow in abundance too. 5/5

The Night Before Christmas by Scarlett Bailey – Classic story: three men, which one to choose? Country house and snow are present, and a whole load of secrets and confessions. I like Scarlett Bailey at Christmas – I think she would be a bit too fluffy during the rest of the year! 4/5

(Not pictured because I think I’ve given them away)

All I Want for Christmas by Amy Silver – Your classic Christmas romance – this novel is really heartwarming though. I seem to recall that I cried at several parts whilst reading. I loved the setting, the characters and the plot. This was one of those ones that I stayed up until god-knows-what-time to finish. 5/5

 (image from Amazon)

The Perfect Present by Karen Swan – This is a really original, unique plot from Swan – a bit ‘less’ fluffy than others mentioned above. I’d read a few of her novels before (the weepy ones) and I think this is her best. Laura, the protagonist, was a really likable character who I wanted to have a happy ever after. There is an abundance of snow, mistletoe and snow. What else is needed?! I think this is perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes – that’s who it reminded me of. 5/5

 (image from Amazon)

Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any ‘christmasy’ novels that I might like. 🙂






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