The Boy Who Lived in Pudding Lane [Sarah Addington]

The Boy Who Lived In Pudding Lane – -Being a true account, if only you believe it, of the life and ways of Santa, oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Claus- first appeared in the American magazine, Ladies Home Journal, for Christmas in 1921 and was published as a hardcover the following year. Author Sarah Addington’s charming story of the boyhood life of dear Santa Claus became an instant classic, and is lovingly reproduced in a facsimile edition for the first time here, including the original size, page format, and layout.

The story follows Santa as he grows up in Pudding Lane, eventually to become the famed gift-giver who flies around the world – and would spawn a line of books about the Lane and it cast of characters released by Addington and Kay throughout the 1920s.

My thoughts on the book: Fancy reading a Christmas story in May? At first, the lovely Christmassy cover really caught my eye. Then, I found out that it was a classic tale first published in 1922. I was quite keen on reading more.

Overall, it is a lovely Christmas story about Santa Claus’s childhood and how he became this much-loved high-profile red-cladded figure.

It is very interesting that the author introduced so many references to other classical tales or nursery rhymes (Old King Cole, Jack and Jill, Little Bo Beep, among many others).

Although I thought it was a nice story, I wasn’t really that moved by the book. I thought it lacked some magic. Maybe, if I try reading it once again during the Christmas season I’ll have a different perspective?!

My score: ♥ ♥ (= I liked it)

If You Could See Me Now [Cecelia Ahern]

1150655Elizabeth Egan’s life runs on order: Both her home and her emotions are arranged just so, with little room for spontaneity. It’s how she counteracts the chaos of her family — an alcoholic mother who left when she was young, an emotionally distant father, and a free-spirited sister, who seems to be following in their mother’s footsteps, leaving her own six-year-old son, Luke, in Elizabeth’s care. When Ivan, Luke’s mysterious new grown-up friend, enters the picture, Elizabeth doesn’t know quite what to make of him. With his penchant for adventure and colorful take on things large and small, Ivan opens Elizabeth’s eyes to a whole new way of living. But is it for real? Is Ivan for real?

My thoughts on the novel: For many years, I have been a huge fan of Cecelia Ahern’s books. They’re always full of hope and love, all wrapped up with some magical pixie dust. In this regard, the novel “If you could see me now” is in keeping with the author’s signature writing style.

However, I must admit that it took me a long while to really take to this story. There were some lengthy passages that made it difficult to remain focused and interested.

I thought it took a bit too long to set out the context, the characters and their personalities.

To be fair, the core plot/storyline is quite interesting. It’s about the role of imaginary friends in the life of children… and adults! Out of the blue, Ivan becomes visible to an adult Elizabeth whose life is rather deprived of magic and enchantment. She’s been through quite a family ordeal from a mother walking out on her, her troubled sister who keeps storming in and out of their lives, and her complex father.

It was witty to introduce a character like Ivan into Elizabeth’s life to help her put her move on and strive for real happiness.

I thought the style was true to Ahern’s most famous books. I actually really enjoyed the final chapters that I found poetic and lovely.

Although this novel isn’t one of my favourite from Ahern, it’s still worth reading it because of the message it conveys about hope, friendship and happiness.

My Score : ♥ ♥ (= I liked it)

 

Disney Beauty and the Beast Volume 2 [Mallory Reaves]

In Disney’s live-action film “Beauty and the Beast,” Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince inside.

This manga explores the Beast’s struggle as he tries to move on from his past and learn what it is to love.

My thoughts on the book: Contrary to the first volume which was very difficult to read due to the odd disposition of the pages in the PDF version, I must admit that this volume 2 was far easier and more pleasant to read because it was displayed one page at a time. It made the reading experience less frustrating.

Overall, the illustrations are as good as the first book — very elaborate and neat. However, I didn’t find the Beast very convincing. I think the face looks too human. Anyway, that’s quite minor flaw in the bigger picture of this manga. Speaking of which, I’m not really a manga reader (not at all actually), but given the theme, I was really looking forward to discovering this version of the classic tale.

Based on the Beast’s perspective, this second volume offers a different, interesting angle. The drawings and sketches are expressive and vibrant. I do prefer the first volume because it’s more girly, but this one is worth having a look as well even though it’s more masculine and rough around the edges since you have direct access to the tortured soul and stream of thought of the Beast.

My Score: ♥ ♥ ♥ (= I liked it a lot)

 

Disney Beauty and the Beast Volume 1 [Mallory Reaves]

In Disney’s live-action film “Beauty and the Beast,” Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince inside. This manga explores Belle’s innermost thoughts as she learns that true beauty comes from within.

My thoughts on the book: In this manga art concept, you’ll discover a beautifully rendered version of the story of Beauty and the Beast. It closely follows the script from the live-action film. If you have already seen it, you won’t have any trouble recognising all the fabulous scenes. The illustrations are very nice and sleek. It really matches the magic of the film.

The only downside of reading a manga in a PDF version is the fact that it’s a real hassle to read from bottom to top (yeah, manga must be read the opposite way). It was really a nuisance to read in that format. But as it is a free copy from NetGalley, it was a necessary evil. I can only recommend you to get the paper-based manga. It really does justice to the film.

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥ (= I liked it a lot)

The Little Mermaid [Metaphrog]

The Little Mermaid is Hans Christian Andersen’s most celebrated tale and is beautifully adapted here as a graphic novel by the Eisner award nominated duo Metaphrog (Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers), winners of the Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards Best Visual Artist 2016, and authors of the acclaimed The Red Shoes and Other Tales.

The Little Mermaid lives deep under the ocean and longs to see the world above. When at last she is allowed to rise to the surface at age fifteen, she falls in love with a young prince. In order to become a human and to be with him, she makes a dangerous pact with the Sea Witch.

My thoughts on the book: The Little Mermaid is one of my favourite tale from growing up. And I must admit that when I first read the “real” story written by Andersen, I was sad that the mermaid didn’t get a happy ending like she does in the Disney version. But, if you really think about it, the fact that most of the original versions of fairy tales are actually very dark is far more interesting. It gives more food for thought on some level, even though you keep thinking that they deserve to be happy, and it’s quite unfair and frustrating.

That’s why I really liked this new edition of the famous story. It is based on the original storyline. It’s a gripping story boasting beautiful illustrations.

I really enjoyed it, except for one little fact — I was really disappointed with the way the Prince looked. He has very feminine, almost androgynous facial traits. He didn’t strike me as attractive at all. But that’s very biased one might argue.

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥

The Tenth Kingdom [Kathryn Wesley]

308039Do You Believe In Magic?

The Tenth Kingdom is a contemporary drama, set in a world where fairy tales, folklore and traditional myths come to life.

The story follows the fortune of Virginia, a New York waitress, who unwittingly finds herself in the fantasy world of the Nine Kingdoms, where she must save a prince from the clutches of his evil stepmother, and restore him to the throne.

This is a modern, epic tale of good versus evil that will grip the imagination and leave you spellbound.

My thoughts on the novel: The Tenth Kingdom is one of my favourite fantasy books. It’s based on a successful Hallmark mini-series. Famous fairytales, myths and legends are revisited in this captivating story where magic and reality merge beautifully.
The characters are very endearing, the intrigue is action-packed, and carefully sprinkled with a lovely sense of humour. Will Virginia and her father manage to find the traveling mirror to return to New York? Can they defeat the Evil Queen and help Wendell take his throne back?

It is an emotional journey from down-to-earth Manhattan to the incredible, multifaceted lands of this magical realm where you’ll meet trolls, fairies, princes and princesses, among many other fascinating creatures.

It will appeal to both the young and the young at heart.

My Score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The Little Christmas Kitchen [Jenny Oliver]

The Little Christmas Kitchen par [Oliver, Jenny]Christmas at the Davenports’ house was always about one thing: food!
But when sisters Ella and Maddy were split up, Ella to live in London with their Dad, and Maddy staying in Greece with their Mum, mince pies lost their magic.
Now, a cheating husband has thrown Ella a curved snowball…and for the first time in years, all she wants is her mum. So she heads back to Greece, where her family’s taverna holds all the promise of home. Meanwhile, waitress Maddy’s dreams of a white Christmas lead her back to London…and her Dad.
But a big fat festive life-swap isn’t as easy as it sounds! And as the sisters trade one kitchen for another, it suddenly seems that among the cinnamon, cranberries and icing sugar, their recipes for a perfect Christmas might be missing a crucial ingredient: each other.

My thoughts on the novel: From England to Greece, the author embarks the reader on a lovely Christmas adventure where two sisters must come to terms with their difficult past marked by their parents’ divorce and a childhood spent apart from one parent.

On top of that, Ella and Maddy have personal issues of their own to resolve, whether a marriage on the rocks or dreams of a big career in the music industry. Will they be able to find the answers they’re looking for? Both characters are endearing and touching. The plot is well-paced and entertaining. It was particularly fun to read about the creation of a girls’ band. It will give food for thought about the concept of fame!

This festive book is about knowing oneself and learning to forgive and move on. To make it all sweeter, the novel is filled with great baking ideas and Greek specialties.

This heartwarming novel will make your mouth water and your heart melt.

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥