Addition: E-book and audiobook
Genre: Classics
Rating: 5 out of 5
Synopsis:

Ebenezer Scrooge has always hated Christmas, but in this particular Eve, he’s given another reason to be wary of the holiday: the ghost of Jacob Marley comes to visit! Clad in heavy chains and burdensome weights, Marley’s ghost warns Scrooge that three spirits will visit him over the next three nights, each with a ghastly storyto share. Will Scrooge’s ghoulish experience teach him to embrace the spirit of Christmas, or will he say “bah humbug” to the holidays for the last time?

This isn’t the first time I have read this classic, but I’m sad to say, it is one of the few novels by Charles Dickens I have read. You can read my review of this novel from 2008 here. My thoughts about this book haven’t really changed. I am still giving this book top marks. It is a classic Christmas read that I highly recommend.

This is probably a story that you already know – Scrooge is an angry man who hates Christmas, good will, family etc. He has an unexpected visitor who warns him that he will be visited by three spirits during the night of Christmas Eve. These ghosts show Scrooge the past, the present and a possible future. Will these visits soften Scrooge, or will be end up like Jacob Marley – a ghost weighed down by heavy chains due to the decisions he made in life?

In 2008, my favourite character was Fred, Scrooge’s nephew. This time it was Scrooge who was my favourite. I enjoyed reading about his transformation; seeing the man behind the grumpy mask. His memories were sweet and how he started to care was just lovely. I did like Fred too though!

There isn’t much more to say about this novel, as I have already written a review. This is a classic for a reason – it is a great story that is beautifully written. I was there on the journey with Scrooge, transported to another world by Dickens. The book isn’t long, but an excellent read. It is easy to give this top marks. Now, the question is…what is your favourite adaptation? I quite the Muppets one myself…

This book can also be found on Rory Gilmore’s Reading Challenge.

I part read this book, part listened to it. Whilst I was listening to it, I was knitting a cardigan for my daughter. If you would like to see my progress on the cardigan, please visit Katie Creates.

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Addition: Free e-book from Amazon

Genre: Short stories, chick-lit

Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

In Six Geese a-Laying, Christmas is approaching, and Ginny is looking forward to the birth of her first baby. It’s a pity her partner Dan is so useless, and she has to keep reminding him where he’s going wrong. Luckily she’s enrolled into the most exclusive antenatal class going – all the highest achieving, smartest mothers-to-be aspire to be taught by the legendary Petal Harmon. Like the other five women in the class, Ginny already knows exactly what she wants, and how she’s going to handle motherhood.But when they turn up for the final class it isn’t quite what they expect. As Ginny discovers what parenthood is really going to be like, she begins to realize the things that really matter…

I do enjoy Sophie Kinsella, and I like Christmas books – so this is a great combination! I’m not a huge fan of short stories, although I do like reading them quickly and adding them to my Read List!

This is an interesting read – a twist on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Ginny is one of a selective few chosen to attend Petal Harmon’s antinatal classes. There are 5 others in the class, and although she claims she doesn’t gloat – she does! There is someone in the group, Grace, who she can’t work out why is in the group as she is young and scared. In their final class they have an extraordinary experience – the Ghost of the Pregnancy Future. The Ghost teaches them a lot about themselves, with great outcomes.

It is hard to judge characters in short stories as the book isn’t long enough for their characters to form, but to be honest the only person I liked was Grace! She didn’t seem full of herself, didn’t have any plans and although scared, probably the wisest person in the room! I found Ginny annoying – she was arrogant about being in that class and always criticising her husband, which I didn’t like.

This is a nice Christmas story. It was a light, very quick, easy read. I liked the outcome of the story and although this is short – I enjoyed reading it!

 

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Synopsis from Amazon.com:

The second of Dickens’ Christmas Books, The Chimes recounts the tale of a poor day laborer, Toby Veck. Like Scrooge, Toby is guided by a specter through the scenes that refocus his views of Victorian London with all its “stern realities.”

This is not as well known as A Christmas Carol, and not as popular either back when Dickens was writing. I can see why, and actually I preferred A Christmas Carol too – however, that is not to say this is a bad book. It is not by far. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It is another short story, one which I read in a day. In this story we meet Toby Veck. For the first half of the book he is looking for work and listening to those in wealth speak and seeing just a glimpse of their life. In the second half, he sleep walks up to the Great Bells, where their chiming guides him through a life where is dead and has left his daughter Meg to struggle through.

This book would act as a good historical source because Dickens is not scared to write London as the poor see it. He is explicit in the hardships he portrays – things such as death, drunkenness and of course, poverty. It was heart wrenching to read of these horrendous lifestyles, but that was how it was in Victorian London if you were on the lower end of the wealth spectrum.

Dickens writes in a magnificent way. He is descriptive and captivating. The words flew off the page at me and I was sucked in to what he was writing. I was gripped. I did think that Dickens spent too long on the introduction of Toby’s life however.

He writes lovely characters too. I loved Toby. He was an old man struggling for work, and when he saw the hardships Meg had to endure his heart broke – and I really felt his anguish. And I loved Meg. She was bubbly and caring – and their relationship was very loving.

Although not as famous as A Christmas Carol, this is a very enjoyable Dickens novel. It is short, fast-paced and gripping.

8/10

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skipping christmas

Waterstones Synopsis

Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded shops, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on the street without a rooftop Frosty the snowman; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences – and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined. A classic tale for modern times, Skipping Christmas offers a hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that has become part of our holiday tradition.

I have only read a couple of John Grisham books, which I have enjoyed, and even though this is not his ‘classic’ work, I really enjoyed this book too. In Skipping Christmas Grisham looks at the madness that Christmas has become – throwing huge parties, drunkenness, spending heaps of money, and the ridiculous decorations. He looks at the idea of just not participating in this game, and the reactions people have to that idea. And he did it so well.

This book is very funny. From a practical sense I can see why someone would be tempted to miss out the celebration – especially in the case of the Krank’s, when they were paying over $6000 on the holiday. I think Grisham is writing a brave book here because people do spend a large amount of money and he seems to be questioning if that is OK. I think he did it very well – although as lovely as the ending is I think he wimped out a bit. That said – parts of the ending were just hilarious, especially the incident with Frosty…

I liked the Krank’s, I found them very likable and enjoyable to read. I found myself feeling very sorry for them when they were seemingly victimised, especially by their neighbours. I also laughed along with them, and panicked when the phone call from their daughter came. I really connected them, and that made the book even more enjoyable.

This book is 200 pages long, and I read 150 pages in one sitting. It is quick, funny and hugely enjoyable. This is a really good Christmas novel. With a slightly different ending this would get tops marks.

8/10

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Synopsis from Amazon:

Ebenezer Scrooge, whose name is now synonymous with greed and parsimony, believes Christmas to be ‘humbug’. Refusing to donate any of his fortune to the poor, he comforts himself by saying, ‘I don’t make merry myself at Christmas, and I can’t afford to make idle people merry.’ But then the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley, returns from the grave to haunt him. Dragging a long and heavy chain, representing his mant sins, Marley sends down the three spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future to warn scrooge against a similar fate…

This is an extremely well known story, and there have been many adaptations of the book, however, I would heartily recommend people read the book. It is a thoroughly enjoyable book, which I loved right from the beginning. Dickens is engaging, and writes in such a descriptive way I felt like I was there with Scrooge on his journey. Dickens looks at family, Christmas, community, poverty, wealth and personality, but in a light-hearted and engaging way. However, a message is conveyed throughout the book – don’t be miserable, selfish, rude and tight-fisted towards those in need.

My favourite character was probably Fred, Scrooge’s nephew. He was full of life, able to stand up to Scrooge, and embraced him as a family member even though Scrooge did not want to be accepted.

There is so much that can be said of this book, many issues raised, a whole life looked at and of course Dickens as a writer. I think he tactfully looks at poverty vs. the rich, and makes a point that people with money should be sharing, and that life would be better for those in need, and those in ill-health if charity was given. My favourite period in Scrooge’s life was probably when he was a young man, an apprentice, full of life and fun. Had he kept on that road, his life would have been full of family, community and happiness. And as for Dickens, he is wonderful writer and I can find no faults with this book, I loved it.

10/10

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