Friday 30 December 2016

Reviewing the Classics #7 A Christmas Carol

                                                                                  Goodreads Summary:

Ebenezer Scrooge is a lonely, miserly old man who hates Christmas, which he dismisses as "humbug". One Christmas Eve, however, he is visited by a series of ghosts who reveal to him the innocence he has lost, the wretchedness of his future and the poverty of the present; which he has so far ignored. This experience teaches Scrooge the true meaning of the holiday and leaves him a transformed man.

With its memorable cast of characters such as Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is the most heart-warming of seasonal tales, a timeless classic that continues to enchant readers around the world and a lesson in charity and hopefulness that is as powerful today as when it was first written in 1843 .                                        

So I have to admit that I am cheating slightly here, as I have read this months classic several times before, but as it is Christmas, I think I can be excused just this once! I have a Christmas tradition where every year, I read this book aloud to my dad. He doesn't really read himself, but he adores all of the A Christmas Carol movie adaptations, and the novel has now become his favourite book! As my copy was looking a little dog eared, I was delighted when the lovely Alma Books sent me a brand new copy with a gorgeous cover! I was happy to discover that the book also included other festive stories by Charles Dickens that I had never read before, but for the sake of the length of this review, I am going to stick to only reviewing A Christmas Carol.

A Christmas Carol is probably one of the most well known classics in the world. Everyone has heard of Scrooge, with the name often used to describe a cruel and selfish person. There are several movie adaptations, with my favourite being A Muppets Christmas Carol, but I do often wonder how many people have actually taken the time to read this festive classic. It is a short book that can easily be read in one sitting, and although I read multiple Christmas books every year, I always find myself coming back to this one. As we all know, the main theme that runs throughout this book is to treat others with kindness, and to spend with with friends and family over the holidays. I feel as if we tend to forget to do this in modern day life, and people are a lot more solitary than they used to be. We are all so focused on our own problems, that we have no time to be friendly to strangers, so I love how this book shows what a huge difference a random act of kindness can make.

Something that inevitably happens when reading a classic is coming across archaic language. Language is constantly changing, and there are many references that the average person living in 2016 wont understand. I loved how this edition took this into consideration, and in most cases where I didn't understand something, I could flick to the back of the book where it would be explained. I love when classic books do this, and I feel as if this should be done in all classics.

I have always adored the characters in this book, especially the Cratchet family. The love that this family has for each other is heart warming, and Dickens perfectly shows the grief that they feel over Tiny Tim's death.

I feel as if this book will remain a classic for many years to come, as even over one hundred years later, it remains relatable, and shows us the true meaning of Christmas. I will definitely be keeping up my annual tradition, and I look forward to rereading this book for years to come!

A Christmas Carol is now available to purchase!

 Alma Classics  | Amazon Book Depository 

Monday 26 December 2016

Review on What Light

For as long as she can remember, Sierra has lived a double life. For most of the year, Sierra lives at her parents Christmas tree farm in Oregon. However, every December they move to California, where they sell their trees. Although Sierra's friend Heather wants her to have a holiday romance, Sierra is determined not to get involved with anyone. That is until she meets Caleb, a boy who spends his money on buying Christmas trees for families who can't afford them. Sierra soon develops feelings for Caleb, and with the uncertainty of if she will return next year, Sierra must decide if getting involved in Caleb is the best decision.

I was excited to receive this book from the lovely people at MyKindaBook, and decided to wait until the festive period to read it! What Light follows Sierra, a girl who lives on a Christmas tree farm in Oregon, but has to move to California every year during December to help her families to sell the trees. I thought the plot seemed cute, and I love reading happy, lighthearted books at this time of year. Sierra soon meets Caleb,a boy who initially seems sweet, but has a dark past. Sierra hears a rumour that Caleb attacked his sister with a knife, but isn't sure how much of the rumour is true. I felt as if Sierra should have got to know Caleb a little more before trusting him enough to be alone with him. I felt as if Jeremiah, Caleb's best friend, had a more realistic reaction to him, as he initially kept a little distance between himself and Caleb.

Sadly I did not fall in love with these characters like I hoped I would. I found them to be a little dull and cliché, and we don't discover much about their personalities. We don't really learn anything about Sierra other than the fact that she lives on a Christmas tree farm, and although the book is quite short, I was hoping for characters with more individuality. I didn't care about Sierra enough to become invested in her story, and her relationship with Caleb just seemed like your average cliché YA romance. This is very much a love at first sight story, and as I've mentioned probably hundreds of times before, I hate instalove. As Sierra is only in town during the festive season, their relationship develops extremely quickly, and I felt like rolling my eyes at certain parts. Their relationship turned into a huge cliché, and as I had heard nothing but good things about Jay Asher, I was disappointed.

Sierra has a solid group of friends, which include Heather, her friend in California, and Elizabeth and Rachel, her friends back home in Oregon. I always adore strong friendships in YA contemporary novels, and it was clear that all of Sierra's friends had a strong bond with her. Because of this, I was annoyed when Sierra chose spending time with Caleb over going to see Rachel perform in a play. I felt bad for Rachel, as Sierra chose a boy she had only just met over her best friend. I often feel as if friendships are more permanent than romantic relationships, and as Sierra had known Caleb for such a short amount of time, I was overall annoyed that she chose Caleb over Rachel.

I felt as if Jeremiah, Caleb's best friend, had more potential as a character than what he was given. I was hoping that he would become a good friend to Sierra, and provided us with more backstory on Caleb, but unfortunately that never happened. To me it felt like Jeremiah was more of a plot device than a character, and I was hoping that he would become more central to the plot than he was.

My expectations for this book were pretty high, and sadly I have to say that it did not meet my expectations. This book was a cheesy, contemporary cliché romance, with forgettable characters, and the type of romance that has been done thousands of times. Although the idea of this book was cute, I felt as if it failed to deliver.

What Light is now available to purchase!

Friday 16 December 2016

Review on Mrs Miller-Christmas Killer

When Holly Glover transfers schools in December, she is surprised that she can't see a single Christmas decoration. However, it doesn't take long for her to discover the reason. Holly's head teacher, Mrs Miller, despises Christmas, and won't tolerate any festivity. When Mrs Miller leaves the school to attend a conference, Holly decides to give Mount Pleasant primary school the Christmas they have always wanted.

 When I got send a request to review this book, the title immediately caught my attention. However, one of the first things I do before reading the summary is look at the cover, and my first assumption was that it was going to be a sexy book! Although the cover does make sense in context, I felt as if no one would look at the cover and assume it was a children's book, so I felt as if it was a little misleading.

The book follows Holly, a girl in year six who has just changed schools. I loved the setting of this book, as I don't come across many books that are set in a school in Britain. Holly was a likeable protagonist, and although I found her dads antics with his tanning van funny, I also felt second hand embarrassment for Holly. Holly's days just keep getting worse, and the only thing she has to look forward to is her schools talent show. I loved how although everything was going wrong for her, Holly never gave up on her goals, and finally achieved what she wanted.

One thing that I loved about this book was Holly's family. Whenever we think about family, we usually picture a child living with their mum and dad. However, Holly's mother has died, and she lives with her gran and her dad. There are many children who have families similar to Holly's, so I loved that Holly's family was different to what we are used to. Families come in many different forms, no matter if it's a child being brought up by a single parent, or a child living with gay parents. I loved that this book helped to show that although Holly's family didn't involve a mother, her family still loved her and cared for her adequately.

Something that made me a little uncomfortable was the way Mrs Miller's Stop Christmas At Mount Pleasant (S.C.A.M.P) group were treated. Mrs Miller gives a task to three of the children to report back to her if they discover anyone celebrating Christmas. Once Mrs Miller leaves the school and the teachers start organising the talent show, they make sure that S.C.A.M.P are out of the way every day by giving them unpleasant chores to do, such as cleaning the bathroom and picking up litter, much to the delight of the rest of the students. There is no other word for what this was but bullying. From what I could see, these children had not volunteered themselves to be a part of S.C.A.M.P, and although Crystal was unpleasant, I could not see anything that the other two children had done to deserve such treatment. I felt as if this could potentially be harmful to young readers, and could lead them to believe that this behaviour is acceptable.

I was quite shocked by the ending of the book, as I didn't expect it to take such a dark turn. However, I did love how Mrs Miller had a genuine reason to hate Christmas, and she had a satisfactory redemption. However, I felt as if it was a little unnecessary and random for Mrs Miller to marry Holly's dad. I felt as if it was a little too far fetched, and made it seem as if Holly's family actually did need a mother figure after all. I was disappointed in this, as I felt as if it undermined the idea of a family being functional and happy without a mother figure.

Although I did have a few issues with this book, I did enjoy it overall and loved the positive character development. It felt a little similar to one of my favourite Christmas books, A Christmas Carol, and it was a quick and fun read that I easily managed to finish in a day.

Mrs Miller-Christmas Killer  is now available to purchase!