Book Review: ‘Midnight Lasagne and Other Stories’ by Maria R. Riegger

‘Midnight Lasagne’ is a very enjoyable collection of varied and original Christmas-themed stories that make relaxing reading for the holiday season. 

Each story offers a different perspective or experience of Christmas, from that of a single mother to a ten-year old kid whose first love is video games. 

These stories are perfect for filling in quiet moments in the busy lead-up to Christmas.

Book Review: 'Tied to Deceit' by Neena H Brar

This is a really good mystery set in India in the 1970s. The cultural insights add a fascinating layer of  interest to the story and further complicate the mystery at the core of the novel. 

The characters are diverse and colourful, each of them with something to hide and many of them with a motive for the crime.

The story is well crafted and keeps the reader guessing throughout. It’s easy to read, and the glossary at the back proves very helpful in understanding the Indian words used for cultural items such as clothing and food. The settings are easy to visualise, and the colours, textures and flavours of India are evoked by the author’s provision of wonderful sensory detail. 

Overall, this is an excellent piece of murder mystery fiction. 

Book Review: ‘The Holly and The Ivy’ by J.A. Clement

A delightful fantasy tale that follows on from ‘A Sprig Of Holly’. The characters are warm and engaging, their interactions reflecting quite realistically both the tenderness of a close-knit family and the tensions that quickly develop when a child starts to misbehave. 

The story is very enjoyable, and even though it is part of a series, it stands alone very well and makes complete sense without having read the first book. 

This short book is a great read for individuals or families in the lead-up to the December solstice and Christmas. 

Audiobook Review: ‘Good Omens’ by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Dark, witty and ironic, ‘Good Omens’ is a brilliant read. This should come as no surprise, given that its  authors are both creative geniuses. 

This audiobook recording is brilliant. The casting is fabulous and the performances are outstanding, making this an excellent listening experience which is entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time. 

’Good Omens’ ticks all the boxes for the perfect dark comic fantasy. 

Book Review: 'Winter's Curse' by April L Wood

‘Winter’s Curse’ is a very original and engaging YA paranormal romance novel in which Winter must overcome not just one, but two curses, that stand between her and future happiness. 

The story is well crafted, with some intriguing twists and turns and a few surprises along the way. Winter and her friends are likeable characters, while those who work against her are clearly intended to be disliked. The magical clans, their qualities and the social structures and rules by which they live are original and interesting, which adds another layer of complexity to the story and helps to drive the complications of the plot. 

This is a book that reminds the reader that real friendship and true love transcend the boundaries of class, heritage or alliance that people try to put on them, and that it’s more important to choose what is right than to settle for what others might decide or impose. 

Book Review: ‘Murder and Mistletoe’ by AR DeClerck

‘Murder and Mistletoe’ is a very good cozy mystery set in 1936, first on the Paris-Bordeaux train and then in Bordeaux itself. The very confident and classy Franny Calico is a seasoned amateur sleuth who finds herself investigating a mystery that threatens not only her own safety, but that of others near and dear to her. 

The story is well crafted and develops at a good pace, keeping both Franny and the reader intrigued. The characters are engaging and interesting, and there are sufficient touches of late 1930s styling and glamour to make the settings and plot believable. 

Easily read in less than 90 minutes, this novella delivers most enjoyable reading, ideal for readers busy with preparations for Christmas and end of year celebrations. 

Book Review: 'The Christmas Angel: A Tale of Redemption' by S. Tilghman Hawthorne

This is a beautiful short story that reminds us all that Christmas can be really challenging for those who have lost loved ones and miss them terribly. By sharing Julie’s thoughts and feelings, the author positions the reader to empathise with her and forces them to consider the power that grief and loss can have at Christmas, especially when other people are so cheerful. 

Even stronger, though, are the power and the warmth of the love and the words that bring healing to Julie’s heart. 

Full of love and Christmas spirit, this is a story that would suit both individuals and families at any time of year, but especially during December.