Light-hearted Christmas romance: Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair

I’m getting into the Christmas spirit early this year. Normally, I’m an absolute no-Christmas-activities-before-December type of person, but this year I felt in need of a bit of early Christmas cheer and, I have to admit, the cover of this book looked so irresistible that I couldn’t wait until December.

In this story, Anna actively avoids Christmas every year. It brings up so many negative memories for her that she seeks out jobs that will keep her busy, and away from anything festive, throughout December. When she takes on a job as an aide to Catherine (who is recovering from surgery) at Wynthorpe Hall she is convinced that this year will be no different, as the family plans a very peaceful, quiet, festivity-free Christmas.

However, things don’t quite go to plan, and the arrival of Catherine’s family soon changes those plans. Her youngest son, Jamie, is particularly determined to change Anna’s views on Christmas. They set each other a challenge: he will try to make her love Christmas again, and she will try to make him love his home again…

This was fun and quick to read, full of romance but also friendship and family and it made for a good festive story. Personally I’m not always a huge fan of ‘love-at-first-sight’ stories, but I really enjoyed this one and it made for a great Christmas story to unwind and relax with.

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The War of the Worlds

Every year I try to read at least one classic novel that I’ve not managed to get around to in the past. Even though I’d never read the novel The War of the Worlds before, I was fairly familiar with the storyline, as many people will be (I must have listened to the musical on tape several times in the car as a child).

One night, the narrator of the story notices a meteor crash landing nearby. The next day the whole town is buzzing with excitement that this is not in fact a meteor, but a martian ship that has crash landed on Earth. However, the excitement soon turns to fear as more martians arrive and construct giant machines that seem to have one intent: the destruction of mankind. The narrator begins a dreadful journey to escape these martian invaders, encountering on his way not only alien threats, but also the madness that can take over human beings under this sort of threat.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The War of the Worlds and honestly could not quite believe I’d left it so long to read this classic. For a book written in the 19th Century, it is actually surprisingly modern and relevant and made for a real page-turner. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to the narrator and his family; how would they survive such deadly killing machines? The ending really worked for me too, although some may find it disappointing. To me, it seemed utterly believable.

A fantastic classic, well worth reading.

The Mangle Street Murders

In 2017, I have mostly been reading crime novels and historical fiction, so what better story to choose next but a book that covers both of those genres.

 The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C Kasasian is set in the 19th Century and follows a young writer called March Middleton. She moves to London to live with her new guardian Sidney Grice, a famed private detective. He is hoping she might write about his investigations but March is not a woman to sit idly by and behave in the way men expect her to, and soon joins in with the investigations herself. When Grice is approached by Grace Dillinger about her son-in-law, who has been accused of murdering his wife, March convinces him to take on the case. William Ashby maintains he was innocent, yet Grice is convinced the right man has been convicted. March remains unconvinced, and wants to look into the case in more depth, if only to help Dillinger, who she feels a lot of sympathy for.

This was a fantastic book to read. The plot held together well and the murder mystery was convincing. Most importantly the characters were so well painted for the reader that they really came to life on the page.

I really enjoyed every part of this story  and even the infuriating characters were ‘fun’ to read. One I’d recommend for fans of Victorian crime stories (there’s even a reference to Conan Doyle dropped in).