Review – A Christmas Celebration by Sophie Duffy, Cathie Hartigan and Margaret James

By | September 26, 2015

All the members of the CreativeWritingMatters team – Sophie Duffy, Cathie Hartigan and Margaret James – are looking forward to Christmas, and we’d love to share some heart-warming Christmas stories, brain-teasing puzzles and festive quizzes with you. 

The stories will make you smile. The puzzles will sharpen your wits and the quizzes will make you think – but don’t worry, all the answers are at the back of the book!

Something a little different today. Margaret James asked if I’d like to read and review the new Christmas offering from the CreativeWritingMatters team, and sent me an e-copy to take a look at. Now, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of short stories, but I do love Christmas reading, so I decided I’d really like to give it a try. 

A Christmas Celebration was published in August (they must be really looking forward to Christmas!) and is available in paperback and for Kindle. It’s only just over 160 pages long, so the words “stocking filler” immediately came to mind. 

Do you remember those thick magazines people like Woman and Woman’s Own used to put out for the summer holidays? Maybe they still do? They were full of short stories, quizzes and puzzles, and great to pop into your suitcase for those moments when you didn’t want to tackle a whole book, just pick something up for a short while then put it down again. I do hope I’m not being in any way unkind if I say this is something similar for the Christmas season – something you can pick up and enjoy between wrapping parcels or if you’re getting a bit fed up preparing the sprouts. 

Some of the short stories were really excellent – my personal favourites were Margaret’s The Last Muffin, Cathie’s St Paul’s (nicely done, with the very authentic voice of a modern young teen) and Now You See Me, Now You Don’t by Sophie Duffy. Actually, I very much liked that last one – I’ve never read anything by Sophie before – I loved both story and characters, and I’d really like to have stayed with them a little longer. You see, that’s my problem with short stories – just as you’re getting interested, they end, and always leave me feeling a teeny bit flat. The puzzles were excellent – some of the questions brought a smile to my face, and some of the word searches (finding names or words within short stories) were quite a challenge (for me, anyway!).

As a stocking filler, or something to fill those moments of Christmas boredom, I thought this book was quite lovely. I have to say that looking at answers in the back of a kindle book isn’t the easiest thing to do, and if that’s what attracts you I think it might be easier in the paper version. It’s always the stories for me though, and this was a lovely taster of the lighter and shorter work of three excellent writers.

And while the CreativeWritingMatters team are in the spotlight, it’d be particularly rude of me not to mention that you’ll soon be having the opportunity to read a couple of new full length novels by two of the writers. 

Cathie Hartigan’s Secret Of The Song, with its beautiful cover by Berni Stevens, will be published for Kindle on 6th October (paperback to follow). I’ve already added it to my wish list, and you might want to do the same (or maybe pre-order?).

When a song by the mad composer, Carlo Gesualdo, is discovered in Exeter Museum, trouble descends on the group asked to sing it. Lisa is full of enthusiasm at first, but she soon becomes convinced the song is cursed. Can Lisa find out what mystery lies behind the discordant harmonies? Will she solve the song’s secret before her relationship with Jon breaks for good and harm befalls them all? 

In Renaissance Naples, young Silvia Albana is seamstress and close confidant of Don Gesualdo’s wife. When Donna Maria begins an affair, Silvia knows that death is the only outcome. But who exactly will die? And where is Silvia’s own lover? Why is he not there to help her? 

Doesn’t that sound lovely? And Sophie Duffy’s new novel, Bright Stars, comes out on 1st October for Kindle and in paperback via Legend Press. I’d really like to read more of Sophie’s work after this taster, and very much like the look of this one:

Cameron Spark’s life is falling apart. He is separated from his wife, and awaiting a disciplinary following an incident in the underground vaults of Edinburgh where he works as a Ghost Tour guide. On the day he moves back home to live with his widowed dad, he receives a letter from Canada. It is from Christie.

Twenty-five years earlier, Cameron attends Lancaster University and despite his crippling shyness, makes three unlikely friends: Christie, the rich Canadian, Tommo, the wannabe rock star and Bex, the Feminist activist who has his heart. In a whirlwind of alcohol, music and late night fox raids, Cameron feels as though he’s finally living. Until a horrific accident shatters their friendship and alters their futures forever.

Christie’s letter offers them a reunion after all these years. But has enough time passed to recover from the lies, the guilt and the mistakes made on that tragic night? Or is this one ghost too many for Cameron?

Two books I’ll be reviewing on Being Anne before too long, I hope.

My thanks to Margaret James for my e-copy of A Christmas Celebration. I’m sure most of my followers are already familiar with her lovely books – I can’t tell you about her new one yet (she’s still editing…) but I can point you towards my review of her last, the lovely Magic Sometimes Happens, and the lovely chat we had! 

The team has an excellent website, with links to more information about the authors and their books.

3 thoughts on “Review – A Christmas Celebration by Sophie Duffy, Cathie Hartigan and Margaret James

  1. janice rosser

    An excellent blogpost Anne. Three books on my to buy Christmas list! I can highly recommend Magic Sometimes Happens! Looking forward to reading the others. All excellent authors, so I know they will be great reads.

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