c December 2018 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

December 2018 Book Reviews

December Book Reviews Book Blogger

It's the final of my book review posts for 2018, it includes a top Children's book, some festive reads, a gripping thriller audio book and a contemporary read. I've smashed my reading challenge of 20 books having finished 39 book I am currently reading number 40, The Affair by Lee Child which I hope to finish on New Year's eve.

First book up, why I am only just reading Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by JK Rowling. My niece who is now 12 years old felt she was ready to discover the world of Harry Potter, and so we formed our special Christmas family book club. My eldest sister, cousin, niece and me!  We've all finished the book by Christmas Eve, and I've since pulled together some questions or prompts for discussion at our book club meeting at the beginning of 2019 and there is even a little quiz for fun. We will then have popcorn at the ready as we will be settling down to watch the film too. See we have already been 'Harry Pottered'. 

On with the book reviews... 

I will never giveaway any spoilers in my reviews, just my honest opinion on how I found the book. So you can read my review with the confidence it will not ruin the story for you.
December Book Reviews Harry Potter Book family club

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Synopsis: When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he's the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord's curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts, a wizarding school brimming with ghosts and enchantments, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers which could be valuable, dangerous - or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

My Review: I loved JK Rowling's writing style, bringing the human (muggle) world together with the magical world of wizardry. The relation of Harry with his unloving aunt and uncle who adopted him when he was a baby, is told in a humorous way yet you can still feel Harry's sadness. Slowly Harry discovers he is not a muggle but possess magic, and what better place to learn magic than at the school of magic - Hogwarts. Here Harry meets new friends and discovers more about his true family. We are introduced to some great characters who I can not wait to discover more about them in the books to come.

A shorter book than I was expecting, I so wanted to explore more of Hogwarts, so much history, magic and fantasy. A wonderful read for both child and adult, well I guess a trillion book sales can't be wrong, I will be looking forward to following Harry's adventures.

Christmas book reads recommendations

Christmas Under the Stars by Karen Swan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Synopsis: In the snow-topped mountains of the Canadian Rockies, Meg and Mitch are living their dream. Just weeks away from their wedding, they work and play with Tuck and Lucy, their closest and oldest friends. Meg and Lucy are as close as sisters - much to Meg's sister's dismay - and Tuck and Mitch have successfully turned their passion for snowboarding into a booming business.
But when a polar storm hits, tragedy strikes. Alone in the tiny mountain log cabin she shares with Mitch, Meg desperately tries to radio for help - and it comes from the most unexpected quarter, a lone voice across the airwaves that sees what she cannot.
As the snow melts and they try to live with their loss, the friendship Meg thought was forever is buckled by tensions, rivalries and devastating secrets. Nothing is as she thought and only her radio contact understands what it is to be truly alone. As they share confidences in the dark, witnessed only by the stars, Meg feels her future begin to pull away from her past and is forced to consider a strange truth - is it her friends who are the strangers? And a stranger who really knows her best?
My Review:
This was to be my Christmas read of the year. But other than the word on the front cover there is nothing festive about this book, though there is lots of snow in the story!

A love story based in the town of Banff in the Canadian Rockies. There were two surprises within storyline, I really did not expect not to be able to predict the story. This was a very quick read. The big interest within the book for me was I have visited Banff and some of the surrounding areas mention, so that did keep me hooked in to the story, I possibly would not off finished it otherwise. I just enjoy a more meaty read with a more complex story and characters.

Christmas book reads recommendationsMurder on Christmas Eve: Classic Mysteries for the Festive Season by Cecily Gayford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Now this is more like a Christmas read. A nice collection of murder mystery short stories, mostly with a festive theme. Tricky to get any detail or suspense into a short story, so you are never going to be kept you on the edge of your seat for long.
This book is great way of being introduced to new authors, all of which were new to me. There was one of the short stories I did not particularly enjoy The Four Seasons by Michael Innes, odd because my sister who also read the book really enjoyed that particular story.

I particularly enjoyed the writing style and stories by Iain Rankin, Ellis Peters and Val McDermid.  A good book for the festive season, read it and then past on to a friend.

While I was sleeping book review uk book blogger

While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Synopsis: I don't remember what happened or what has changed. I can still hear your voices but you can't seem to hear me. I was about to be married and had everything to look forward to. Now I have to find a way back - to you, to our family, to us.
My Review: After a terrible accident Maddie is in a coma. She is trying to find a way to come back to Ryan and her family. But whilst Maddie has been sleeping the world and people around her have carried on living. Can Maddie adapt to this change, should she have to. I had strong views on two areas of the storyline, one involved a telling a big lie which had me seething. 

I struggled with Ryan, I wanted to like him, for all those endless visits to the hospital - how could I not like him, such utter loyalty. I thought Dani Atkins really captured how Maddie's parents must of felt and heavens knows how her Dad managed. Then there is Chloe, well Chloe didn't know Maddie until after the accident, when she would read to her. Yes I liked Chloe, though was surprised with a twist in her the storyline.

An enjoyable read, not a story I've read in a book previously, though I am sure there are others that have covered the topic.

Though I do want to shout about something and it is now that I am regretting not publishing any spoilers and giving away the storyline. I so wanted this book to end differently and to tell you how I wanted it to end!
audio book review book blogger

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenage golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her. And then she was gone. 
Now her mother, Laurel Mack, is trying to put her life back together. It's been 10 years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie's case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a cafe, she is surprised at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she's meeting Floyd's daughters - and his youngest, Poppy, takes her breath away. Looking at her is like looking at Ellie. And now the unanswered questions she has tried so hard to put to rest haunt her anew...as well as some new ones about Floyd and Poppy....

My Review:
It's always a sign that you have enjoyed a book when you find yourself picking up another book by the same author. That's just what I did when I had finished listening to Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell. A surprising novel that took me on a journey I did not expect. Often a kidnap story is told from the view of the victim, the kidnapper or the police searching for them. So it was different from the start to hear it from Laurel the mother of Ellie the missing 15 year old, and it also being set 10 years later.

Ellie has never been found, her disappearance destroyed her family, and ten years later the story begins. Very cleverly written, and very dark in places. There is one particular sentence, in an average story it would mean very little, an every day occurrence you would think nothing of, but in the context of this story - it sent a wave of horror through me. The story builds and with some subtle clues the reader discovers how 10 years later the truth of Ellis disappearance is unravelled. How quickly you find this out will depend entirely how quickly you pick up and decipher the story, some thing the author tells very well indeed.

Eventually, quite a way into the book, we are introduced to Ellie and and hear the story of her kidnapping from her perspective.

Lisa Jewell writing style was easy to read, allowing the story to develop at a steady pace, keeping the reader intrigued and bought into the story. An excellent read, my favourite of the month.

Other books read during 2018
Check out some of my previous book reviews here.

What's next on my bookshelf
Actually there is quite a lot of books left on my bookshelf, some that I have hesitated in reading, and some that are new, for some reason I keep adding more books!  So I have plans for 2019, all will be revealed very soon.
 ~ Leave me a comment if you have any book recommendations ~

You can keep up to date with my past and present reads by visiting my Goodreads page, see the link in the sidebar on the right hand side of your screen. Find out more about my Reading Challenge for 2018, I am making great progress.

Follow my Book Shelf & Reading Challenge Pinterest board
View Post

Book Review The Almanac A Seasonal Guide to 2019

Book Review The Almanac A Seasonal Guide 2019 Lia Leendertz

The Almanac - A Seasonal Guide to 2019 by Lia Leendertz, when I started to read this little book of loveliness I realised it was not a book you read and put down but one that stays with you through the year ahead. It contains more than just facts and information but provides inspiration, even a leading hand to helping the reader to see nature, the evening skies, and even your garden differently. This book will be by my side as the rain pours or the sun shines, as the days pass it will be my companion in the year ahead. 

The introduction of the book also helps you decide how the book can fit within your lifestyle, how much time, ability or even inclination you can spare.  Lia describes it as a toolkit for the reader to pick out the elements that suit them, so for me I can not always embrace the high energy suggestions due to my physical disability. But that does not mean I can not enjoy or learn from them.

The book has a section for each month of the year ahead and within each month you will find:-
  • Keys dates of the month
  • The naming of the month
  • Traditional tale for the month
  • Weather 
  • Sea 
  • Sky at Night 
  • Nature
  • The Garden
  • The Kitchen
  • Recipes
  • Seasonal Song 
Book Review The Almanac A Seasonal Guide 2019 Lia Leendertz

The weather expectations and key ranges for temperature, rain, sun and length of day. There is also a table of sunrise and sunset times.

The Sea
Listing average sea temperatures and spring and neap tides, along with a table of high and low tides.

Sky at Night
I was most interested by The Sky at Night section, detailing what phases of the moon will be seen during the month.  Which planets will be visible to the naked eye and where in the sky you will find them. I find it fascinating staring up into the evening sky, you will even find meteor showers listed. Now if only I could stay up long enough. 

The Kitchen
Fruit and vegetables you can find in season at your greengrocers  or ready for harvesting in your veg patch. You will also find cheese of the month in this section, along with a seasonal recipe or two. I am looking forward to making the Cherry Shandy suggested in August.

The Garden
Guidance for what to plant or harvest in accordance with the phase of the moon. Garden jobs of the month, glut of the months and flower of the month feature in this section.

What sights and sounds you can expect to experience, from birds to insects to the crops in the farmers fields. Learn more about natives leaves and plants. Whenever I am outside or enjoying the view from the comfort of my garden room I always have an eye out for the birds. Even as I type this review, laptop balanced on my knee in the garden room I have a Crows harrying a Sparrow Hawk in the Copper Beech tree. 

A special mention to the beautiful illustrations throughout this book and particularly on the book cover all by Celia Hart. They are just heart warmingly divine.

As I started to explore the contents of this most pleasing of books, I found myself jumping ahead to my birthday month just to see what my cheese of the month would be. Westcombe Ricotta, if you are as keen to know as I was, for cheese of the month is just one of interesting facts you will find in The Almanac. 

The Almanac - A Seasonal Guide to 2019 by Lia Leendertz is a hardback book priced £10 and is available from all good high street book shops and online.

I want to thank Octopus books for supplying me with this much thought of book for review. 

View Post
Next PostNewer Posts Previous PostOlder Posts Home

Follow Me