Blogmas 2018, Day 13: My Favourite Christmas Book and Advent Calendars!

On the left is a brightly coloured Christmas tree with Santa and bauble decorationsIn the Funko Pop advent calendar today I added one of the twins to the Weasley clan, I do like how the family is building up. The Holland and Barrett beauty advent calendar is helping increase my essential oils with a base product to add them to. I feel like I need to do some research into this, find out the best combinations, but until then I’ll have fun playing around!

How are we over half way to Christmas in advent? I started wrapping presents today and may have got a bit carried away with it. I always think that Instagram worthy presents look amazing but it would be a waste to buy all the ribbons and things, but then I remembered all of the ribbons I have from various Lush gifts over the years and now my floor may be a mess of ribbons, paper and tape. Also, would it be too much to add spare mini baubles? Asking for a friend 😉

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Book Review: The Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter

Despite having grown up watching the Inspector Morse TV series with John Thaw and Kevin Whately I realised I’ve never actually read any of the books. As it’s actually hot enough in the UK to feel like a proper summer it tends to mean I end up reading more and nine times out of ten it’s a detective novel so it felt like a good time to see how the books compare. My parents ave the complete set so I decided to start at the beginning and so read The Last Bus to Woodstock, which was first published in 1975.

I’m not sure how popular the Inspector Morse series is outside of the UK, or even in the UK, any more as there hasn’t been a new episode in over 15 years and it’s pretty much only shown on the digital ITV channels as repeats, though it is available on the ITV player if you live in the UK and want to watch some. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a detective series based on these books by Colin Dexter. It’s based in Oxford and the main characters, Morse and sergeant Lewis, tend to end up with the more unusual murders. The kind that need some different ideas and only really make sense when explained at the end. They’re fairly quiet, as far as murder mysteries can be, and there’s lots of visits to pubs and conversations rather than fast paced action sequences and violence.

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Book Review: Death Knocks Twice (A Death in Paradise Novel) By Robert Thorogood

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I’ve already reviewed the first two Death in Paradise books based on the characters from the BBC TV series and by the show’s creator Robert Thorogood. This third book, Death Knocks Twice, was published last year and I’ve been meaning to read it but not quite got round to it until recently.

If you haven’t heard of the TV series this is based on it’s a similar style to Agatha Christie stories in that there’s a murder that seems impossible, often a locked room is involved, and a group of detectives in Saint Marie police station, a fictional Caribbean island, have to work out how it happened. The lead is a British detective in Richard Poole who has some unusual ways to solve the case. This time it’s a murder that looks like a suicide with no obvious motive. As the story unfolds pretty much every member of the family that lives in the estate where the murder happened becomes the main suspect so it keeps you guessing to the end.

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Book Review: Gently At A Gallop by Alan Hunter

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I’m not sure how popular George Gently as a TV series has been outside the UK but it was a fairly popular series that finished last year. It’s a detective show set in the 60s which revolves around Inspector George Gently (played by Martin Shaw) and his sergeant Bacchus (who isn’t in the books). I’ve loved the show and didn’t realise it was even based on a series of books until recently and, when I saw one in the library, I had to read one and see how it compared.

It seems like a lot of TV shows are based on books and it’s very rare for me to actually like both versions. There are often so many differences that one or the other stands out as better to me, whether it was the first version I saw or not. The main difference here, that I can see from one book anyway, is the lack of Bacchus (played by Lee Ingleby). I had read before finding this book that the character of George Gently himself was very different but I found that I could imagine the TV version when reading this. Maybe because this book is around the twentieth book in the series of forty six (if I’m remembering that number correctly) so he may have mellowed compared to what I’ve read on the character.

This review is about the book, I just thought that it would be worth doing a bit of an introduction including the TV show as that’s how I found the book in the first place and I think it may be the more well known incarnation.

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Mini ASOS Haul

This is just a small haul, I did buy more but I was extra organised and actually started on my Christmas shopping, and I did end up missing out on the advent calendar I meant to buy as it sold out but I’m happy with the few things I did get. Earlier this week ASOS had a site wide 20% off sale so I decided to get some things in it, including the first advent calendar of the year. Or sort of advent calendar. I have a question for any of you who get these twelve days of Christmas style advent calendars; do you open them in the lead up to Christmas or on the actual twelve days of Christmas which actually starts on Christmas Day? I’m undecided on when I’ll do mine but there’s plenty of time to decide and I just wondered what any of you guys do.

As I left this order a bit late in the day I did forget exactly what I’d bought so it was a bit like Christmas opening it and not sure what I’d got besides the advent calendar. Do you guys do that too? Make man order late at night or when you’re only half awake and forget what was in it? I should really stop but I did save nearly £10 on the advent calendar which made it even better value.
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Book Review: The Killing of Polly Carter (A Death in Paradise Novel) by Robert Thorogood

Title: The Killing of Polly Carter

Author: Robert Thorogood

Publisher, date published: Harlequin Mira, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-848-45443-9

The Killing of Polly Carter is the second book by Robert Thorogood and the second of the series of books based on the BBC detective series Death in Paradise. If you’ve seen the Tv show before you’ll be familiar with the characters, it’s based on the original group, and the setting in the Caribbean with the fictional island of St Marie. If you haven’t it has the feel of a modern day Agatha Christie set in a hot country with the same gentle style and unexpected twists in the story before the murderer is exposed at the end in a very Poirot-esque way by gathering all of the suspects together and going through them one by one. 

It does have some light comedy and the TV series is a light one that most of the family can enjoy, maybe not the youngest members as they may either not understand or not like the actual murders or genre, but I’d say teens and up would be able to enjoy it depending on what they like. This book definitely goes for the same audience, fans of Agatha Christie style detective stories of all ages.
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Book Review: Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? by Agatha Christie

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Title: Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?

Author: Agatha Christie

Year Written: 1934

Publisher, Year Published: Fontana, 1984

ISBN: 0-00-616606-7

My detective book summer has continued with another crime novel from Agatha Christie, though this time not a Poirot mystery. Why Didn’t they Ask Evans? Is about Bobby Jones, who witnesses someone die, though he is unaware at the time it’s a murder as he thinks he fell off a cliff, but as it’s an Agatha Christie it couldn’t be that simple. It is set in the early twentieth century, I can’t remember a date being mentioned but as it was originally written in 1934 I would assume around then, and is a quiet country setting as with a lot of her books, that hides a story of murder with twists and turns.

This book has been sat in my parents bookshelf so I thought, having enjoyed the other Agatha Christies I’ve read recently, I’d give it a go. It was adapted into a Miss Marple story fairly recently for TV so it may be familiar if you watch the ITV dramas but it’s not originally one of that series. I have to say I didn’t remember the storyline from the TV series so it was like reading it without any previous knowledge which was a bit of a change from the others.

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Book Review: A Meditation on Murder (A Death in Paradise Novel) by Robert Thorogood

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Title: A Meditation on Murder

Author: Robert Thorogood

Publisher, Date: Harlequin MIRA, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-848-45371-5

Until a recent trip to the library I didn’t even know that there were books based on the Death in Paradise TV show from the BBC. As it’s one I love and I’m on a bit of a detective novels kick at the moment I thought I’d give it a go. It’s also the perfect book for the recent heat here in the UK, with its setting of Saint-Marie, a fictional island in the Caribbean. After a bit of a look online it turns out A Meditation on Murder was the first Death in Paradise novel so it’s a great one to start with.

I was interested, going into this, to see how close it comes to the actual TV series and characters, also which of the characters it was written about as there have been a few combinations over the series. Being written by the creator of the show, Robert Thorogood, I was hoping it would be close and, to me, it doesn’t disappoint.

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Book Review: The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie

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Another Agatha Christie book, this is from a series of ten that Penguin published that she chose herself as favourites. I already reviewed Death on the Nile, another from this series, and this has the same green cover that the Penguin Crime books do. It’s The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie, a book of twelve short stories about Hercule Poirot. Each one is inspired by one of the Labours of Hercules, the classic book about the Greek myths of Hercules.

This edition was published in 1955 (it’s the reprint, he original Penguin was in 1953) but as it’s one of the more well known Agatha Christie books and part of the Poirot series it has been published many times over the years. Hercule Poirot is one of Agatha Christie’s more famous characters and there are TV adaptations of all of the stories, though I don’t remember all of these being made. Each of the stories is short, ranging from around 15 to 30 pages, and covers a wide range of mysteries from dog kidnapping to murder.

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Book Review: Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie

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I don’t know why but in the past when I’ve tried to read Agatha Christie books I haven’t got on with then, despite loving the TV and movie adaptations I’d seen, or maybe because of them. However, I started reading some of the ones my parents have last summer and have loved reading them so I thought I’d try one of the ones I know better from TV now that the weather has improved and is better for sitting outside reading.

Hallowe’en Party is a Poirot story, I think he’s probably the most well known of Agatha Christie’s characters though I don’t know how well known her books are outside of the UK. It also has another recurring main character from the Poirot series in Ariadne Oliver, a crime novelist who comes up with unlikely answers to solve the crimes and is pretty much the opposite of the quiet, methodical Poirot when it comes to questioning. The book revolves around the murder of a young girl at a Halloween party whete Ariadne is a guest and so she brings Poirot in.

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