Friday 21 December 2012

Christmas Shorts

To finish off my Christmas reading, I've been reading some Christmas short stories.

The Christmas Bake Off by Abby Clements

Rachel doesn't think she's made much of her life. After falling pregnant at a young age, she has been a stay at home mum ever since. So while the village's Christmas bake off competition is a bit of fun, to Rachel it's her chance to prove herself.

Katie has recently moved to Skipley and opened up a cake shop, which she is building into a successful business. When she learns that the village's bake off will be judged by celebrity baker Joe Carmichael, Katie sees it as an opportunity to further her career.

John has never been interested in baking, other than eating the end results. But he has ulterior motives when he enters his cake into the bake off.

The Christmas Bake Off sees a return to Skipley after Abby Clements' Christmas novel, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. The Christmas Bake Off is a standalone story but it was nice to visit a few old friends as well as meeting a couple of new characters. The story is a fun little tale to get you into the festive spirit and even comes with a couple of recipes for Christmas bakes.

The Perfect Treat

The Perfect Treat is a short story collection by various authors:

Love, Loss and Coffee Cake by Miranda Dickinson

Mags has just started her first job at a car plant when she meets Dudley and though he asks her out on a date, Mags turns him down. They meet up years later after their lives haven't quite turned out how they'd planned.

It's A Wonderful Life by Claudia Carroll

It's New Year's Eve and Kate is turning 40. But what does she have to show for her life? Yes, she has a successful career but what about a successful relationship? Marriage even? Kate can't help but think back to when she was 21, when she gave up her first love for a job opportunity in London and when her birthday cake arrives, complete with 40 candles, Kate makes a wish that she could go back and take a different path this time.

Driving Home For Christmas

Angela is looking forward to spending her first Christmas with her new husband, Jack. But Jack's mother insists they spend the day with her, resulting in a row between the couple. Angela is disappointed in the way their first Christmas has turned out but an encounter with Frank, a patient of Angela's, reminds her what is important during the festive period.

Breaking the Spell by Liz Trenow

After being involved in a road accident, Bella has failed to regain consciousness and the doctors doubt she ever will. But Bella's mother refuses to give up hope and begins to look at fairy stories for the answer.

The Twelve Lies of Christmas a feature by Mhairi McFarlene

Rather than a short story, this is an amusing feature about the misconceptions of Christmas and the run up to the big day.

If you've read It Started With a Kiss by Miranda Dickinson, Love, Loss and Coffee Cake may be familiar as it is the story of Mags and Dudley, the aunt and uncle of Romily, the main character in It Started With a Kiss. I really enjoyed the story and although it isn't your typical feel-good festive tale, it does offer hope and inspiration.

One of my favourite stories from the collection was It's a Wonderful Life by Claudia Carroll. I love stories with alternative lives so this was great.

My other favourite was driving Home For Christmas by Julia Williams. I felt for Frank but was glad he told his story to Angela and made her realise how petty her row with Jack was.

I was also really enjoying Breaking the Spell by Liz Trenow but it ended rather abruptly for me and I wanted to find out what happened next (if anything at all).

After each story or feature there is a preview of the authors' latest novel so you can sample the first chapter or so of:

When I Fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson
A Very Accidental Love Story by Claudia Carroll
A Merry Little Christmas by Julia Williams
The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow &
You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlene

Six Geese-a-Laying by Sophie Kinsella

Ginny is thrilled (but not smug. Not even a little bit) when she's accepted to be part of Pearl Hormon's antenatal group. There are just five other ladies who have been handpicked by Pearl and all are due to give birth in December. But Pearl's group isn't an ordinary antenatal class and the six ladies are about to learn a valuable lesson.

Six Geese-a-Laying is a quick and fun festive read. I loved the character of Ginny, even though she was most definitely smug about being picked to join the exclusive antenatal group.

There is also the first chapter of Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella at the end.

Tinseltown by Victoria Fox

Dominic Judd is a British actor in an American sitcom. Months ago, before he became a household name in the US, Dominic agreed to take part in LA's Celebrity Christmas Parade, a decision he now regrets but can't get out of.

Lacey Allen has always had a fear of Christmas, a fear she can't explain but is very real. So she's horrified when she's roped into singing 'White Christmas' during the parade.

Clare isn't a celebrity but she's talked into taking part in the parade at the last minute when a replacement reindeer is needed.

Tinseltown is the longest of the Christmas short stories I've read this year and I was impressed by the three individual stories that come together at the parade. It's a fun read for when you have a bit of time to spare.

Winter Warmers by Carole Matthews

Winter Warmers is a collection of three short stories:

All I Want For Christmas is You

Maria isn't looking forward to being alone this Christmas but it seems she may not have to be when she starts to receive little gifts and poems, appearing anonymously on the windscreen of her car.

Cold Turkey

Tara is feeling pretty miserable on Christmas Day, due to her married lover's failure to turn up for lunch. She resigns herself to spending Christmas alone but, after a walk in the park, it seems she may have some company after all.

About Gardening

A very quick read about a married couple who are struggling to maintain their relationship after ten years.

The collection also includes the first three chapters of Carole Matthews' With Love at Christmas.

All I Want For Christmas is You was my favourite story out of Carole Matthews' collection as it was fun and festive and I love the idea of the mysterious admirer leaving lovely little gifts for Maria.

And that's it. My Christmas reading is done for this year. I hope you've all read some fabulous festive books too!

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