Father Christmas’s Fake Beard by Terry Pratchett

Father Christmas’s  Fake Beard by Terry Pratchett

Have you ever wanted Christmas to be different?

Turkey and carols, presents and crackers – they all start to feel a bit . . . samey.

How about a huge exploding mince pie, a pet abominable snowman, or a very helpful partridge in a pear tree? What if Father Christmas went to work at a zoo, or caused chaos in a toy store or, was even, arrested for burglary!?

Dive into the fantastically funny world of Terry Pratchett, for a festive treat like no other. These ten stories will have you laughing, gasping and crying (with laughter) – you’ll never see Christmas in the same way again.

I purchased a copy of this book for my personal reading. 

As an avid fan of the works of Sir Terry Pratchett this book was a must order just as soon as I saw it come up for preorder. And because I am a sucker for a special edition, I went for the special version of this, complete with a nice red slipcase adorned with a gold-leaf effect design on it.
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Enough of that, though, on to the book. My main exposure to the works of Pratchett are his immense Discworld series, a personal favourite of mine. I love the fantasy elements, the humour and the slightly adult jokes and innuendo so subtly placed throughout. So how would I fare with my first try of Pratchett’s work predominantly for children.

Well personally I loved the book. It is filled with lots of fun, humorous short stories littered with Pratchett’s particular style of weaving magic and jokes together so well. This collection of tales is fantastic, ranging anywhere from the woes of a last-minute stand in shopping centre Santa, to a wannabe Arctic explorer making the most of the ice-melting milder weather.

The stories are well written, with a distinctly British flavour to them. Whether it be the style of the writing or the parodying of stereotypical English villages and small towns. Father Christmas’s Fake Beard is a wonderful collection of short stories, my only small gripe being that some of the stories aren’t Christmas themed, which you would easily be forgiven for expecting given the title. But don’t let that stop you reading this book either to your little ones or for yourself.

My rating:
goodread

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Murder in Little Shendon by A.H. Richardson

Murder in Little Shendon by A.H. Richardson

Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens – not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with delightful twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper. Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From the murdered man’s housekeeper to Lady Armstrong, her staff and her nephew. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his ladyfriend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion. Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village. A.H. Richardson, noted author, places in your trembling hands a mystery murder that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, his friend Sir Victor Hazlitt and the famed Shakespearean actor Beresford Brandon. Scratch your head with them over the strange clues that turn up. Follow them as they tread carefully among the landmines that appear innocent as they lie hidden beneath the surface of mystery. Something evil skulks in this tiny country village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community? You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead – it’s the journey that proves the most enticing.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

What a fantastic book to read in the run up to Christmas! Not in that it is particularly festive, but just because it is a warm, cozy read just like enjoying a mug of hot chocolate with your favourite dressing gown and slippers on a cold winter’s night. I know this will sound very British, but that is intentional.
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Murder in Little Shendon is a murder mystery that meanders around the crime, piecing together the clues that ultimately lead us to the ne’er-do-well guilty of the crime. A.H. Richardson has crafted a comfortable read with a classic whodunit style. Here in England, it will put many readers in mind of Midsomer Murders or the old David Suchet Hercule Poirot TV adaptations. The village of Little Shendon is quintessentially English, a stereotypically chocolate-box type of place where everyone knows everyone, and very few secrets stay secret for long.

When the proprietor of a shop selling trinkets and antiquities is found dead, bludgeoned to death by a heavy candlestick, the inevitable investigation ensues. The only predictable element of this whodunit is the fact that everybody in this unassuming little village has motive. It turns out the deceased is a less than wholesome character and has, in myriad ways, managed to cross everyone at some point in time. And that includes the butler!

The story weaves its way around the village, talking to potential suspects and gathering evidence, piecing clues together without ever hinting at the identity of the culprit. In true Poirot fashion, Richardson collects all of the core characters together at the end, setting up the investigators for the most dramatic of reveals as to the identity of the killer. Murder in Little Shendon keeps the reader guessing all the way through to the end of the book and deals with dark deeds with plenty of fun and stereotypical Englishness to boot. One of the more fun reads I have had the pleasure of enjoying this year.

My rating:
goodread

Friday Face-Off – 7th July 2017

Friday Face-Off – 7th July 2017

Friday Face-Off is an idea originally thought up by Books By Proxy which I stole from the fantastic The Tattooed Book Geek. The idea originally was to compare UK and US covers based on an assigned theme each week and choose the winning cover. I will be twisting it slightly: not specifically US and UK covers, just different editions.

This week’s theme is a cover featuring a planet: “Any planet is ‘Earth’ to those who live on it”.

I’ve gone with a personal favourite comedy of mine – Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Cover A:

planet1

Cover B:

planet2

Cover C:

planet3

Cover D:

planet4

Cover E:

planet5

Cover F:

planet6

Cover G:

planet7

Cover H:

planet8

Cover I:

planet9

And the winner is… cover D!

I love this book, it’s one of my favourites. Cover D was my clear winner this week – it captures the zany, wacky mind of Douglas Adams, and the crazy elements of this fantastic, if silly story.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week I will be looking for a cover featuring the undead: “This is the way the world ends; not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.”

Friday Face-Off – 26th May 2017

Friday Face-Off – 26th May 2017

Friday Face-Off is an idea originally thought up by Books By Proxy which I stole from the fantastic The Tattooed Book Geek. The idea originally was to compare UK and US covers based on an assigned theme each week and choose the winning cover. I will be twisting it slightly: not specifically US and UK covers, just different editions.

This week’s theme is a cover featuring a mouse: “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘it might have been’…”.

I’ve taken a stroll down Memory Lane this week. I always remember having a box set of the Beatrix Potter books, so I picked The Tailor of Gloucester for my Friday Face-Off.

Cover A:

mice1

Cover B:

mice2

Cover C:

mice3

Cover D:

mice4

Cover E:

mice5

And the winner is… COVER A!

This cover easily wins it for me. It reminds me of the set of books I had as a child.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week I will be looking for a cover featuring a moon: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”.

Friday Face-Off – 19th May 2017

Friday Face-Off – 19th May 2017

Friday Face-Off is an idea originally thought up by Books By Proxy which I stole from the fantastic The Tattooed Book Geek. The idea originally was to compare UK and US covers based on an assigned theme each week and choose the winning cover. I will be twisting it slightly: not specifically US and UK covers, just different editions.

This week’s theme is a cover featuring a plane: “When everything seem to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it ….”.

This week I have cheated a little bit. I found a book I liked the sound of, Storming by K.M. Weiland. The author ran a poll on their website for fans to vote for their favourite cover. These are the options posted.

Cover A:

plane1

Cover B:

plane2

Cover C:

plane3

Cover D:

plane4

Cover E:

plane5

Cover F:

plane6

And the winner is… COVER C!

Storming is described as being a dieselpunk novel, which is a branch of steampunk. I felt cover C really brings this vibe across, especially with all the little cogs and gears surrounding the main image.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week I will be looking for a cover featuring a mouse: “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘it might have been’…”

Friday Face-Off – 12th May 2017

Friday Face-Off – 12th May 2017

Friday Face-Off is an idea originally thought up by Books By Proxy which I stole from the fantastic The Tattooed Book Geek. The idea originally was to compare UK and US covers based on an assigned theme each week and choose the winning cover. I will be twisting it slightly: not specifically US and UK covers, just different editions.

This week’s theme is a cover featuring a phone: “Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it”.

I have gone with Stephen King’s Cell.

Cover A:

phone1

Cover B:

phone2

Cover C:

phone3

Cover D:

phone4

Cover E:

phone5

Cover F:

phone6

Cover G:

phone7

Cover H:

phone8

Cover I:

phone9

And the winner is… IT’S A DRAW!

For me covers D and I win it for me. The copy of this book that I own is cover D and I always loved the look of this one-the metaphorical burning of the world and the phone that caused it. Cover I is simple, but at the same time very ominous, a fantastic cover.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week I will be looking for a cover featuring a plane: “When everything seem to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it ….”

To Retribution by F J Curlew

To Retribution by F J Curlew

There has been a surge to the far right across Europe, followed by political instability and financial insecurity. In Britain this has led to riots, racial tension, repatriations and clamp downs, culminating in a take over by the military and a coup.

The military is in control. Tight control. Media is censored, movement restricted. There are re-education camps for trouble makers, repatriation camps for non-nationals. Jake, Brian and Suze, three idealistic young journalists, are used to hiding as they try to keep their online news channel open. They publish the truth about the repatriations, the corruption and the deceit.

New Dawn, the feared security force, is closing in yet again. The trio run, yet again. This time, however, they are pursued with a relentlessness, a brutality which seems far too extreme for their ‘crimes.’

A trail of death is left in their wake as they try to escape New Dawn and find out what is really behind this hunt. They are drawn into a web of human trafficking, child abuse and murder. Only it’s closer than they think. Much closer.

Who would you trust?

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

To Retribution is a dark tale set in a dystopian version of the United Kingdom. With a sudden anti-immigration surge sweeping the country, foreigners are being rounded up, placed in internment camps or extradited back to their home nations. The government is plagued by corruption, and it uses its own special forces, New Dawn, to run roughshod over scared, nervous people, herding them to hate those who are different to themselves.
To-RetributionWith current events around the world at the moment, To Retribution struck me as a very relevant, timely novel while also being a dark, terrifying portent of things that may yet be to come. Throughout the story, we follow Jake and Suze as they try to expose corrupt politicians and celebrities and the awful acts they commit through a secretive website.

Constantly on the move, New Dawn seem to be getting closer to them, leading to them fleeing their latest bolt hole, and ultimately leaving London. Their situation becomes dire when someone in a position of power sets out to defame the young pair, and ultimately remove them from the situation, thus ridding themselves of a significant nuisance.

Attempts to silence the pair by killing those closest to them, and forcing their hand fail until a chance accident leads to Suze being captured and interred in a reeducation camp. But before long, she finds herself free, and working to uncover the shady dealings going on. To Retribution brings happiness and heartbreak in equal measure with a pacey, well developed narrative and plenty of twists and turns. Dark revelations, and vengeful acts lead to a fantastic ending that doesn’t fully answer all questions, but at the same time finishes the story nicely.

My rating:
goodread