Category Archives: Book reviews

Diana’s Christmas Book Review (9) ~ The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan

Why did you choose this book?

I hardly ever buy Christmas books, expecting a possible light romance type read. I might be wrong of course. Anyway, I picked Jenny Colgan’s book up in Waterstones and needed a lighter read having just recovered from Covid. It was about a bookshop too. The setting was in Edinburgh at Christmas and since Edinburgh has become our adopted city since moving to Fife, what more could I want?

Did I feel empathy to any particular character?

Carmen reminded me of myself in several ways. Her lack of confidence; her ability to get on with all manner of folks; her way of throwing herself into a challenge with all her energy and enthusiasm, which doesn’t always work, but in this case worked its magic beautifully.

Is there a lasting thought or memory from the book which remains with you long after the novel is finished?

So many! What a perfect time to read it.

  • Jenny C’s Thomas Hardy-esque way of naming her characters. Oke reminded me of Gabrielle Oak; Blair ~ the flashy one who rarely showed his genuine side; Skylar ~ well, she’s up in the clouds; and of course Carmen ~ good Karma and all of that.
  • I digress. I am left with magical descriptions of Edinburgh at Christmas, with its fairytale castle on the hill, its lights and higgledy piggledy oldy worlde shops, with their glowing decorated windows for the festive season.
  • The Ormiston Oak. Yes, this is the picture remaining in my mind, but I won’t spoil the book for you by telling you why!

I couldn’t get to sleep on Christmas Day eve, having switched the light off just before the last few pages (and probably over indulged in the alcoholic beverages which is unlike me) and so when I got up in the middle of the night to have a mint tea I read the end, but then read it again on Boxing Day!

If you are looking for a ‘feel good’ factor in your reading and a fairly light read, then I highly recommend The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan!

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Diana’s Winter Book Review (8) ~ The Lost Storyteller by Amanda Block

Click cover for Waterstones

Why did you choose this book?

The title caught my eye, as did the blurb on the back; a mystery linked to fairy tales intrigued me. I did not, however, like the cover. I think the current fashion of a few little pictures embossed on a dark background, floating in the air, could have put me off and seemed a bit childish. ‘Buy one get one half price’ in Waterstones helped too! (searching on line for a photo, I preferred the original blue cover)

Did I feel empathy to any particular character?

I was drawn to Rebecca. She was brought up by her Mum, a single parent, but started thinking about her father, especially when a journalist came asking her questions. The more family tried to dissuade from investigating her Dad’s disappearance, the more determined she was to find out what happened to him. A stubborn, but spirited young lady.

Is there a lasting thought or memory from the book which remains with you long after the novel is finished?

When you are on a mission, searching for something precious, it rarely turns out to meet your expectations, dreams and imaginings. Rebecca could just forget it and walk away, … but she didn’t.

I really enjoyed ‘The Lost Storyteller‘. It absorbed me from the start. Amanda Block is a great storyteller herself, and the plot was unusual, albeit a touch contrived in places; but novels often are. Great book!

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Flower of the Forest by Zena Meyler

To continue the coincidences of my poignant last post. (and that wasn’t a pun) just before the Armistice Service in Kinghorn, we were away down in Yorkshire, staying at a lovely BnB near Pickering called Lowther House.

We ate some fish and chips before strolling around the quaint streets of Pickering, where we found a second hand bookshop. Unable to walk past I got into a conversation with the owner about how difficult it must be to categorize books, when he asked us where we were staying.

‘Ah,’ he said. ‘There was an author living at Lowther House at one time. Just a minute,’ and he went off searching along the numerous shelves of books and found:

The copy was a bit battered and so I brought it home to read, aware a week later that the book in my hand was a reflection of the service at the War Memorial a week later when ‘Flowers of the Forest’ was played so beautifully on the bagpipes.

The following morning we went down to breakfast and were astounded to be faced with walls of prints by Jack Vettriano. We asked the lady why this was and she replied,’

‘I was in the forces based up at Inverkeithing, Fife and we both fell in love with his work.’

The oddest additional coincidence was that only two week’s before Roger and I had visited the popular Jack Vettriano exhibition in Kirkcaldy Galleries, the place where JV was first stirred with inspiration to teach himself to paint. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Singing Butler by Jack Vetrianno

The above print can be bought here on his official website.

This amazing artist was self taught, was rejected by the main stream art world but has made millions!

What a story.

As far as the book, it was a great read once you got over several moments which were not very PC in today’s world. It was a good book of its time and evocative of the traumas of life during WW1.

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Filed under Book reviews, Book Shops, Fife, Inspiration, WW1