**Book Review** Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair

Sleigh rides and silver bells at the Christmas Fair by Heidi Swain

I am on a roll with books and the minute. I have this book in real life and on audible so it was a mix of reading and listening for this one, which was a journey I tell you.

When Anna takes on the role of companion to the owner of Wynthorpe Hall, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, she has no idea that her life is set to change beyond all recognition.

A confirmed ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to Christmas, Anna is amazed to find herself quickly immersed in the eccentric household, and when youngest son Jamie unexpectedly arrives home it soon becomes obvious that her personal feelings are going all out to compromise her professional persona.

Jamie, struggling to come to terms with life back in the Fens, makes a pact with Anna – she has to teach him to fall back in love with Wynthorpe Hall, while he helps her fall back in love with Christmas. But will it all prove too much for Anna, or can the family of Wynthorpe Hall warm her heart once and for all…?

I love a Christmas story, you know I do! I especially love one when I am feeling a little down or sad as I remember to carry Christmas spirit with me always, and to funnel my energy into making people smile, positive energy and being kind and considerate to others. I remember these things and it reminds me how lucky I am and I start feeling a little better. So a Christmas story will always be welcome on my books shelf.

Heidi Swain is one of my favourite authors, I have read her other books and I have truly enjoyed them. This book was no exception, I liked reading about Wynthorpe Hall and all the excitement of Christmas. I didn’t fall in love with the main characters Anna and Jamie like I usually would. I am not sure why, I guess I didn’t connect them. I think maybe I didn’t fully engage with their stories or history. Jamies character felt somewhat flat, without any spoilers there is a section of the story where I really didn’t like him very much at all. Which is unusual for me with a male lead. I am usually very forgiving. I didn’t really fall for the love story either, it seemed a little forced and somewhat pretentious. The relationships between the main characters and the secondary characters were much more interesting and exciting than the romance story. However, the secondary characters made this book oh so worth it. I loved all the characters from Angus’ larger than life, loveable father figure to the local villages Anna meets on her travels around the village.

Heidis description of Wynthorpe did make me fall in love with the fictional hall and village and it made me long for our family visits to National Trusts. The warmth and love she described was adorable and I absolutely would recommend this to anyone who needs a little festive cheer up.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️★ 4/5 stars I would definitely recommend.

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**Book Review** Murder at the Smithsonian

Murder at the Smithsonian by Margaret Truman

Hi Everyone!

So I managed to find time to read an actual real life book. It made me so happy to hold a book in my hand and smell its pages. I am loving audible and the freedom it is giving me to hear a story and continue with other stuff, but there isn’t anything quite like holding a real life book and immersing yourself on a reading adventure. However, my excitement may have peaked with just holding this book as I can’t say it will become one of my favourites.

Murder at the Smithsonian isn’t a bad book, it just didn’t keep my interest all the way through. I feel like a book needs to have dips, twists and turns and a healthy dose of “normal” descriptive writing to keep the story going, and I feel like this book maybe fell a little short.

Dr. Lewis Tunney, a brilliant historian who had stumbled onto an international art scandal, was brutally murdered in front of two hundred guests at an elegant party at the Smithsonian. When his fiancee, Heather McBea, flies in from Scotland to learn more, Mac Hanrahan, the captain in charge of the case, takes a heated interest in her. And when two more murders are committed, Hanrahan has reason to worry about Heather’s sleuthing. But Heather is stubborn and insists on going her own way–right into the arms of a killer….

From this blurb, the story itself sounds like it was going to be right up my street, an engaging tale of murder, mystery and intrigue. What I got was a soft version of a hard-boiled egg tale of murder and not a lot of mystery!

I feel like maybe I am being too harsh, the story itself could have been amazing, it had so much potential. But I feel like the story dragged when it should have galloped and came to a screeching halt just as it started to get good. If a story is like a heart monitor, you want the dips and mountains to come evenly and throughout the book to keep your interest, not peak at the beginning, then nothing for a while with the odd potential for a good plot point to come to nothing, and then everything happen all at once at the end which made the rest of the book a little bit pointless.

I guessed early on who the culprits were, and I even pretty much had how and why down too, which in my opinion isn’t necessarily always a good thing. Sometimes you want the reader to have some ideas, but then with red herrings and the rest of the story developing, you still want them to question their own minds. In this case, I did not. I had pretty much guessed and confirmed a few chapters in.

It was a good book to pass an afternoon, it wasn’t great but I am glad I read it, I just think it had so much potential to be a great book. The characters were easily the second best part of this book for me. The leading characters didn’t draw me in as much as a book usually would, but the secondary characters were incredible. It was still fairly predictable guessing every ones motives and storylines, but they were at least enjoyable to read about.

My favourite part of the story was the scenery and exploring the varying museums. I have yet to travel to America, so for me discovering places in books is my favourite part of reading. I love hearing about the different museums and parts of Washington.

Overall, it was a good afternoon read and was enjoyable to a point. My mum read it after me, and she enjoyed it much more than I did. So, it just goes to show every book is a special journey but different for all of us. I would recommend it and I am going to find another of Margaret Trumans books to try.

⭐️⭐️★★★ 2/5 stars

*Book Review* Six Degrees of Assassination (audible version)

Six Degrees of Assassination by M.J. Arlidge

Evening folks! Long time no see guys! Sorry I haven’t written in a while. I lost my Blog mojo but I am hoping to jump right back in with my first review in a while.

I haven’t had chance to read much lately, between working from home, home-schooling and just general life; finding time to pick up a book has not been the top of my priorities. I love a real life book, the smell, the touch and just reading one I slip into my imagination… but as I say its not always easy pick one up and concentrate, enter audible. And what a life saver, now if I’m cleaning, cooking or writing reports, I can listen to a book to my hearts content.

So onto my review of the Audible Original Six Degrees of Assassination by M.J.Arlidge. A five hour political thriller written specifically for audible starring Andrew Scott, Freema Agyeman and Hermione Norris.

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From the blurb “On a sullen, cloudy July day ten years after 7/7, the happy, confident and optimistic British Prime Minister is visiting a charity in East London. Just two months after the general election which saw his government returned to power with a clear majority, the economy is on the mend and the coalition is fast becoming a bad memory.
Suddenly, a man appears out of the crowd and shoots him three times in the chest. Step forward Alex Cartwright, MI5 Chief Counter Terrorism Officer (Andrew Scott) who must find out the truth. But it’s easier said than done, as he discovers that whoever ordered the assassination has covered their tracks very well indeed…”

Excitement from the get go, the action is intense, exciting and fast paced from the start. This is much more than a book, it was a drama for your ears. I love an action packed, political thriller and the voice actors and sound effects really had the imagination whirling on this one.

The plot was possibly a tad over the top but isn’t that the point of an action story, to take you on a journey from real life to larger to than life. With twists and turns, a talented cast and a radio like drama story being told, what more could I ask for from an audible original? Granted it might have been a little predictable but aren’t all dramas.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot wait to sink my teeth into my next thriller.

Overall, this was a good listen and I would probably have enjoyed it just as much in a book format, however the sound effects and voice actors really did give the story something extra, so on the whole I really enjoyed it and would recommend it for any one who enjoys a good action packed thriller.

4 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️★

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