Tag Archives: Christmas Books

You Better Not Cry – Augusten Burroughs

I had completely forgotten about ‘You Better Not Cry’ until I was delving through some of my books, currently residing in a lovely garage, for my new book groups next choice and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to read it. I will admit the cover made me snigger and that was what definitely sold it to me, you want a good laugh at Christmas don’t you, especially when things start to get a little fraught over turkey’s or charades! Well if you ever think that your Christmases get stressful or strange then really you need to read this collection of tales by Augusten Burroughs to put everything into perspective.

‘You Better Not Cry’ is like a festive special of some of the memoriesof Augusten Burroughs at various points in his life. From his childhood, which you may have already read about in the brilliant ‘Running with Scissors’ – if you haven’t read it then do, to his adulthood we get a glimpse of some of the most vivid and often rather hilarious but tragic Christmas moments. Stories like when his Grandmother had to point out the difference between Santa and Jesus as a younger Augusten thought they were one and the same person (which had caused some rather confused childhood moments), to waking up during his drink filled years to find a Santa suit and a naked Santa look-a-like in his bed (which had me laughing a lot) and to the year he realised he hadn’t celebrated Christmas for a decade, well not properly.

I really enjoyed this collection it has to be said, and started to rather annoy my family members as I was croakily giggling between chocolates on the sofa during this Christmas. I loved hearing more about his drug addled mother and alcoholic father and how they tried to make Christmas perfect… and failed slightly. In some ways the fact this book was over his lifetime so far at different points made it all the more interesting, it was less concentrated that some of his other books which whilst funny can really get to you at the same point.

Most of the stories are very funny though there is always a slight tinge of sadness around each of the tales in this collection, it’s not all ‘look at how hilarious and crazy my life has been and oh how we laughed’ it has a sensitive and often poignant side too reminding you what Christmas is all about… family and loved ones, no matter how much they can sometimes be a burden. There is also one utterly heartbreaking tale which I will admit had me on the verge of tears, yet left me thinking just how lucky I am this Christmas too! 8.5/10

So if you are after a final festive read this Christmas time, or after something to savour until next Christmas then I would highly recommend you give this a whirl. I really enjoyed it and it’s another ideal pick up and put down book between the merriment and mayhem of the season. It’s also reminded me I must pick up more of Burroughs books in the New Year; I don’t know why I have left it so long.

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Filed under Atlantic Books, Augusten Burroughs, Review

Agatha Raisin & The Busy Body – M.C. Beaton

(Oops this should have gone live earlier but for some reason didn’t!) I don’t know about you but the ideal Christmas themed read for me (not Christmas time read full stop – I am debating a few giant books for that coveted role) is something that I can escape into, pick up and put down every so often when last minute shopping or potato peeling is required and then step straight back into. It needs to make me laugh, have me hooked and be a good excuse to remove myself from the family now and again (apologies if they are reading – but it’s true). So this year I plumped for the latest Agatha Raisin novel ‘Agatha Raisin & The Busy Body’, and broken my ‘ must read a series in order rule’ just as I did last year with ‘Agatha Raisin and Kissing Christmas Goodbye’. I had high hopes I was in for a treat and was proved right!

Agatha has only been away a few days, on a very unsuccessful trip to Corsica to avoid Christmas only she realises she misses it, and in that time John Sunday a new resident in Carsley has been driving everyone in the village and the villages nearby mad with his health and safety rules and regulations. John Sunday is one of those terrible jobs worthy types who takes everything too far and makes everyone’s life a misery. He bans the Christmas Tree from the roof of the church as it may fall on someone, original Victorian wooden shelves from the local shop for fear of splinters, candles in church as they may burn people… the list goes on. So when he is killed in front of Agatha’s very eyes not only is everyone very relieved they are also all suspects and so while the police take on finding his murderer so of course doe Agatha.

I of course can’t tell you ‘whodunit’ as that would ruin the book for you. I can tell you that in getting to the cosy yet thrilling dénouement  Agatha gets herself in trouble, a muddle and a little bit of danger – so business as normal then. Only I always forget about the business and I can’t work out if I like it or not. Sorry, slight tangent diversion there but in the latest books  Agatha has her own detective agency and as I am reading further back in the series when she goes it alone a lot more I am unsure of how much I like this because I haven’t seen it naturally emerge yet. Not that this means you cant read Agatha Raisin at any point as a standalone novel, but why would you want to when there are 20+ books in the series and they are all so lovely (in a slightly murderous fashion).

I think out of all the Agatha Raisin books that I have read so far this might be the quickest one in which we get thrown instantly into the story and taken on a whirlwind of secrets and twists and turns as the tale unfolds in all its directions. If you want some fun and thrills over Christmas from the comfort of your own chair, and we all know how that feels after one too many mince pies, then I would suggest you give this book a whirl. I thoroughly enjoyed it! 8.5/10

Anyone else giving Agatha a Christmas airing at all? What Christmas reading have you got stuck into so far, any with festive themes?

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Filed under Agatha Raisin, Constable & Robinson Publishing, M.C. Beaton, Review

The Prose Practice – Cracking Christmas Reads

I was actually rather thrilled when I received an email from Philippa earlier this week with a rather timely reading conundrum for Christmas which I am sure you can all help her with. I was going to add that this is the season of good will after all but you are always so helpful anyway, so without further ado I shall hand you over to Philippa and her prose problem…

Dear Simon,
I know that it’s a little late in the day as Christmas will be here in less than a week, but there are still some shopping days left, yet I was wondering if you and your lovely readers could come up with some fantastic Christmas reads for me to make my way through over the festive period. I don’t have children and this year it’s actually just me, my sister and my Mum and we are all planning on reading lots by the fire. We all have very eclectic tastes and wondered what you could suggest that are the perfect Christmas themed reads, we want Christmas to be the main feature really, apart from the obvious Dickens ‘Christmas Carroll’. We love all types of books but something thrilling and comic amongst the more literary suggestions would be wonderful. We look forward to your suggestions as we will be swapping what we read with each other over this period.
Many thanks,
Philippa

Well my response has to be a Christmas themed cosy crime novel or two, and in fact you will be hearing about one I have just recently read on Christmas eve, you all well know how much I love the ‘Agatha Raisin’ mysteries and M.C. Beaton has started to write seasonal specials which I love curling up with to escape in a quiet corner. There are also some Christmas specials from the wonderful Queen of Crime Agatha Christie which I would look out for too. But what else is there, I am stuck and can actually only think of the Dickens ‘Christmas Carroll’ (which I haven’t read, sssshhhh don’t tell anyone) as another option so I would quite like your recommendations/suggestions too! I think I want to read something HUGE but am stuck between wanting to read a mammoth classic or a modern epic… hmmm!

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Filed under Book Thoughts, The Prose Practise