Tag Archives: Book review

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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Diana’s Autumn Book Review (7) ‘The Island of Missing Trees’ by Elif Shafak

Why did you choose this book?

I was browsing in Waterstones and was drawn firstly by the title, which was intriguing and also mentioned an island; pertinent following my recent series of Islands of Inspiration. Secondly I loved the cover and finally, when I turned the novel over, I read David Mitchel’s review:

“A wise novel of love and grief, roots and branches, displacement and home, faith and belief. The Island of Missing Trees is balm for our bruised times.”

Wow, I thought. I already felt in tune with the author and the themes of the novel, even before I’d opened the first chapter. They were themes akin to my own writing, leading to immediate empathy before I had a chance to absorb myself in the magic of this book; one which is truly remarkable.

Did I feel empathy to any particular character?

I’d often thought of trees as special; the way they oversee happenings in their sturdy, solid form; patient and ancient. To have a fig tree as a character bowled me away. I was hooked!

Yes, I loved the love story of two teenagers from different backgrounds; Turk and Greek. The tension of forbidden friendship, let alone passion and so I felt so in tune with Daphne as she sneaked out of her home to meet Kostas in war torn Cyprus, the love of her life.

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

So many that it is hard to describe them without being a spoiler.

There’s the fig tree of course, whose thoughts transcend cultural divide and prejudices. Its survival, against the odds, whose story I will not elaborate on here. I want you to be as delighted as I was as you read.

There was tragedy and loss and yet an overriding dream that love will prevail, however hopeless it may seem.

There are very few books which you are reluctant to leave behind you as you turn the final pages. As you close the novel for the last time a sense of loss overwhelms you; You are truly bereft ~ ‘The Island of the Missing Trees’ is one of those books.

Brilliantly written, evocative of the times depicted therein.

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