Book Review

Book Chat: Christmas Fireside Stories.

When I saw lovely Pan MacMillan publicist Natasha tweeting about review copies of Christmas Fireside Stories being available I knew I needed to ask for a copy, it included short stories from some of my mom’s favourite authors. When it arrived I handed it straight over and now, on Christmas Eve, she’s here to share her thoughts about the book.

From the back cover:
imageSnuggle up by the fire with this festive collection of Christmas short stories from six bestselling authors.

Christmas at Briar Farm by Diane Allen
Christmas preparations are in full swing at Briar farm as the Bainbridge family get ready for a traditional 1960s Christmas – with all the trimmings.

Kate’s Miracle by Rita Bradshaw
It’s Christmas 1919 in the north of England and things are looking bleak for Kate and her two small children. That is until Kate discovers the strength of friendship and community at Christmas time . . .

The Gift by Margaret Dickinson
Christmas Eve, 1914. A moment of hope unites soldiers on both sides of the trenches as the spirit of Christmas reaches those divided by war, and an act of generosity changes one man’s life forever.

Christmas at Thalstead Halt by Annie Murray
The station master at Thalstead Halt has the unexpected task of sheltering snow bound passengers, in the run up to Christmas 1886. And that’s not the only unexpected occurrence at Thalstead Halt . . .

You’ll Never Know Just How Much I Love You by Pam Weaver
Christmas Eve, 1943. The post office at Goring-on-Sea is up against bitter winter weather but nothing can stop an emergency delivery, or the power of true love at Christmas time.

A Wounded Christmas by Mary Wood
Can friendship, humour and a Boxing Day party help to ease the heartaches of 1942? A heart-warming story featuring characters from the saga novel Proud of You.

This collection includes delicious Christmas recipes recommended by the authors.

Did you enjoy the book?
Yes I really enjoyed the stories, they covered a range of times and settings but they all shared a similar theme of that Christmas spirit. In between the stories each author has written a personal piece about Christmas, I found those really interesting to read.

Can you pick a favourite story from the six?
Christmas at Briar Farm because there was so much of it that reminded me of my own childhood Christmases. Lots of the things that happened brought back memories and I really related to the characters.

You mentioned when you finished reading that you were slightly disappointed with the book itself, can you explain why?
Only that I thought the stories and then the recipes were going to take up the whole book, instead it finished partway through and then had samples of the authors’ other books. A couple of them were extracts from books I’ve already read. It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the Christmas stories, I was just expecting them to be a little longer.

Did you like the inclusion of the recipes in the book?
Yes, though I would have liked to have seen them placed at the end of the festive stories rather than after the extracts. They all sound delicious and I’ll probably try a couple of them.

Were you familiar with all of the authors before you read this book?
No, I’d read books by all of the authors apart from Pam Weaver. Both Annie Murray and Margaret Dickinson are two of my long time favourite authors.

Will you now read more from the authors you weren’t so familiar with?
Yes, I’ll certainly look out for books from all of the authors who featured in this book. After loving Christmas at Briar Farm I’m particularly keen to read more by Diane Allen.

Christmas Fireside Stories is published by PanMacmillan in the UK. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review

Book Review : Truth & Dare edited by Liz Miles.

Edgy, raw, real and funny – stories about slipping on the stepping stones of life.

Girls and guys, straight or gay, striding or struggling – the characters in these tales will make you laugh and break your heart. Swinging between melting moments and dark disgrace, hilarity and tears, they bravely test life’s limits, search for big truths or simply seek that perfect kiss.

If you want to laugh and cry, then dip into these surprising, quirky and often hilarious tales of red-faced romancers, city stalkers, crazy parties, disappearing dads, mad aunts, embarrassing falls, shared secrets, mixed messages and, of course, yearning love.

It has been a long time since I’ve read any short stories so when I got the opportunity to read this anthology of edgy YA stories I couldn’t say no. There are a few authors involved that I was already familiar with but most of the names were new to me. There is certainly a range of stories, though with very few exceptions the protagonists are female and most of the stories deal with heterosexual relationships. There are funny stories, sweet and touching stories and stories with a cautionary tale.

The one thing that you always have to remember with any anthology is that you are unlikely to love every story and I have to say that was definitely the case with this book. There were some stories that I just felt I didn’t get and I ended up feeling a bit confused when I got to the end of them. There were also a few that were very good stories but I didn’t particularly enjoy them, for example Sherry Shahan’s “Iris and Jim”.

There were plenty of stories I liked and some that I downright loved, special mentions must go (in no order but the one they’re printed in) to “Never Have I Ever” by Courtney Gillette, “Abstinence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder” by Jennifer Knight, “Cool Cats and Melted Kisses” by Luisa Plaja and “Team Men” by Emma Donoghue. These four were my absolute favourites, but they’re all so different that I couldn’t possibly pick one overall favourite.

I enjoyed reading this anthology but for me there was probably a fairly even split between the stories that I enjoyed and the ones I didn’t care so much for. I think that the range of stories included in the book means that pretty much anybody will find stories to love, and I’m sure many readers will read and reread this book time and again.

Truth & Dare is published in paperback by Robinson in the UK priced £6.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.