I love my Audible membership and there’s nothing better than listening to a great winter’s tale every December when I’m out at work around the frosty streets of Glasgow. Here’s some of the ones I’ve listened to, and a couple my daughter enjoyed too!

Hogfather: Discworld, Book 20

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I originally read this in paperback but it didn’t really grab me, just as the SKY TV version didn’t. I bought the Audible version last year though and I have to say Nigel Planer’s narration is fantastic and had me laughing out loud a few times. It doesn’t really have a “Christmas” feel to it but it’s still worth listening to this, and every, December. The plot involves Death taking on the role of the Hogfather (Discworld’s version of Santa Claus) and, although it’s not particularly tightly plotted, Pratchett’s genius shines through in dozens of little one-liners.

Not quite a Christmas Classic, but certainly worth a monthly credit, despite the poor sound quality.  4/5

A Christmas Carol

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Everyone knows this one, right? I must have seen half-a-dozen different versions of it on TV or at the cinema (the Patrick Stewart version is my favourite, what’s yours?). This is a brilliantly read and acted addition to the canon that had me close to tears at times. Poor Tiny Tim!

I must admit I had conflicting feelings about the story and its motivations that I’ve never really felt before – it’s basically telling us the real meaning of Christmas is money. That’s the upshot, as Scrooge is taken to task by the spirits for not sharing his wealth with poor people. I’m not sure if it’s this version of the story that brought out those ideas in my head, or my own growth as a writer that has me questioning every paragraph more than I used to?

It did seem like the joy of Scrooge’s change wasn’t as pronounced here as it is in the better TV adaptations but maybe it’s just my frame of mind in 2017, or perhaps it’s just because seeing a joyful Scrooge playing in the snow with Tiny Tim is a great final image that’s missing in this audiobook for some reason.

Whatever, it’s a good story and this production is really well done. I’m not sure how much it costs because Audible gave it away for FREE last year but it’s worth a tenner or so and a perfect audiobook for the run up to Xmas. 4/5

 

Jacob T. Marley

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I really liked the premise of this book but, honestly, it was a disappointment. We all know Scrooge’s story, but what about his business partner, Jacob Marley, the very first spirit to appear to Scrooge in A Christmas Carol? Well, this audiobook promised to tell Marley’s tale, and with Simon Vance narrating I thought it would be the ideal listen.

My biggest issue with it is the fact it’s not really got a Christmas or even winter atmosphere at all. It might as well be set in the middle of summer – there is nothing whatsoever that places this in our favourite time of the year and that renders the whole thing pretty pointless because the storyline isn’t strong enough to carry it without that snowy novelty factor. Furthermore, much of the word count is spent in simply re-telling Dickens’ tale word for word in the dialogue! This is billed as a companion piece to A Christmas Carol but it’s essentially the same story only not as well writtten and without Dickens’ magic touch. Also, from a writer’s point of view, there’s a few places where you can really feel the author laying it on thick to try and squeeze a tear or two from the audience and it comes across as poor writing and/or simply cynical.

I’m afraid I wouldn’t recommend this, at least not as a “classic” Christmas tale, although to be fair the reviews I read before I bought it were all hugely positive so maybe I was just in a “Bah, humbug!” mood when I listened.  3/5

A Boy Called Christmas

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The Girl Who Saved Christmas

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My 10-year-old daughter really enjoyed these when she listened to them last year and highly recommends them for kids wanting fun Xmas stories for bedtime this December!

Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil

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I won’t review my own book, I’ll let someone else do that. Here’s Scottish author Stuart S. Laing’s thoughts, which he posted on Amazon UK:

I was lucky enough to read this wonderful story while the first storm of the winter roared around the house. The wind howling in the eaves and rain lashing against the windows was the perfect soundtrack for a tale set deep in the frozen winter of 1323.
The village of Brandesburton is under nightly attack from mysterious, horned demons leaving the poor villagers terrified. The only evidence is cloven footprints in the mud and snow. It is up to our redoubtable hero, Friar Tuck, to save the day. Armed only with his trusty quarter-staff, and a less than heroic hound, he must venture deep into the snow bound forest in search of the truth. What he will find there will provide him with his deadliest enemy so far.
It seems that Satan’s demons are hungry for a holy man’s blood!
Steven A. McKay is to be congratulated for, once again, delivering a tremendous read. This is a proper, old-fashioned winters tale that wouldn’t be out of place in a Victorian drawing room where it is read to delight, and terrify, the gathered family. So pull up a comfortable chair, fill your glass with brandy (or ale), throw another log on the fire and be transported to a frozen Northern England to discover the truth for yourself.

Buy it here: getBook.at/FTXD

 

Let me know if you have any favourite winter audiobooks you can recommend for us, and….

Merry Christmas one and all!

 

 

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