Reading Readit: Mr Miracle and other good reads for Christmas! 43



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You might be surprised that my weekly column, Reading Readit, represents less than one-third of the books I read. In an average week, I read between two and four books completely, together with others I open and do not finish! The number often depends on how much real life interferes with my life “inside a book”.

There was a time when I thought not finishing a book was a major crime. But the older I get the more I realise the truth of the saying “Life is too short to read bad books”. Mind you, I acknowledge that my “bad” book may well be your “good” book.

So here is a brief synopsis of, and my opinion on, other books which crossed my path this year, which may give you some ideas for your holiday reading.


Mr Miracle by Debbie Macomber

Available for $11.80 via Booktopia

Synopsis: “Harry Mills is a guardian angel on a mission: help Addie Folsom to get her life back on track – and help her find love. Creating a happy ending for Addie and her neighbour Erich doesn’t seem like much of a challenge. But soon after arriving in the town of Tacoma, Harry realises he might need some guidance”.

Me: What a delightful read this is; Christmas themed and, as I have come to expect from Debbie Macomber, full of likeable people and angels. Poor angel Harry is having difficulty with being human and these difficulties add a delicious humour to the story. It is an easy light read, just right for the coming festive season. Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone for my ARC.


Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith

Available for $20.95 via Booktopia

Synopsis: “… Prepare to meet a young woman who thinks she knows everything. Fresh from university, Emma Woodhouse triumphantly arrives home in Norfolk ready to embark on adult life with a splash. Not only has her sister, Isabella, been whisked away on a motorcycle up to London, but her astute governess, Miss Taylor is at a loose end, abandoned in the giant family pile, Hartfield, alongside Emma’s anxiety-ridden father. Someone is needed to rule the roost and young Emma is more than happy to oblige. … You don’t have to be in London to go to parties, find amusement or make trouble. Not if you’re Emma, the very big fish in the rather small pond. … Emma is the busybody we all know and love, and a true modern delight”.

Me: I don’t believe I’m writing this – I thoroughly enjoyed a spin-off of a Jane Austen novel!

Although brought into present times, Alexander McCall Smith has retained the feel of the original and re-imagined how the same story would play out on a modern stage. I started with a free preview on my Kobo, thinking I would dislike this Austen Project novel as much as I disliked the Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope, but au contraire! I quickly bought the book and thoroughly enjoyed some delightful laughs over Mr Woodhouse worrying about everything, seeing the world through dark grey clouds.

I’m not a fan of Emma as portrayed by Jane Austen; I find her annoying. In this new version, she is still annoying, possibly the reason this adaptation works for me. Alexander McCall Smith has changed the setting, but not the essence of the characters and the story we love, or find annoying.


Where There’s Smoke by Jodi Picoult

Available for free via Amazon (Kindle only)

Synopsis: “Serenity Jones has it all – a chateau in France, Louboutin shoes, invitations to A-list parties and a wildly successful talk-show with a three year waiting list of people dying to come on. Which doesn’t include those who are already dead. Because Serenity also has a gift. She can see and hear people who have died, and this talent has taken her from living on Campbell’s soup to being the psychic to the stars. And even though she’s got a pyromaniac poltergeist following her around, and a Senator with a missing child, Serenity’s got her sights set on an Emmy. Be careful what you wish for…”

Me: I thoroughly enjoyed Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult that I reviewed a few weeks ago. One of the characters in Leaving Time is the delightful psychic, Serenity Jones. I promised I’d read more books by the author and this is my modest start – a prequel which tells us more about how Serenity went from being “rooster” to “feather duster” in one easy step. Again, Ms Picoult’s innate style shows through and although this short story/novella doesn’t take a huge investment of time, it is time well spent. Please note this book is only available for eReader.


Have any of you read any of these books? If so, please share I love to hear what other people are reading and enjoying, even if it adds length to my every expanding “To Read” list.

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Karen OBrien Hall

Karen O'Brien-Hall followed many careers in her life and loved each one! From accountancy to the hospitality industry, from managing an employment agency to Executive Assistant to the Chairman of a multi-national, when she retired Karen was in Public Relations. Whatever her career path at the time, Karen is a lifelong volunteer. Married to "the love of my life", John, her second love is community theatre where she enjoys acting and directing. Karen enjoys time in her garden and can always finds time to read, around 8 – 10 books a month. Her reviews appear on Starts at Sixty, Goodreads,The Reading Room and her own page

  1. On your recommendation, Karen, I read this latest version of Emma and enjoyed it. It’s a pleasant light read and cleverly updated. I don’t generally enjoy Austen spin offs but Mc Call Smith is a gifted writer.

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    • Thanks Vivienne, it is surprising. I’m thinking of reading Val MacDermid’s version of Northanger Abbey, on recommendation from a friend who enjoys her books.

  2. Have not read any of those books. Really loving Ken Follett novels right now.

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    • I keep promising to read a Ken Follett Yvonne, can you please suggest a starting title? Not my genre so I would appreciate your suggestion.

    • I have just finished reading The Pillars of the Earth. A brilliant book and we’ll worth reading. I want to get the sequel World Without End next. He does write long stories but they keep you totally interested for the whole story Karen..

    • Thanks Yvonne. I’m glad to know World without end i a sequel, hate starting to read something then find out it is book 2 or later.

    • Can recommend both his books. He is one of the best writers around. Also, try reading The Book Thief, not by Ken Follet but an excellent book. And Elliane by Judy Nunn is fabulous.

    • Read his trilogy and now on the ABC tonight but unfortunately I will be unable towatch the series so will have to buy the dvd Sue

    • I read several of Ken Follett’s spy thrillers years ago and thought that’s the only style he wrote. However my daughter lent me Pillars of the Earth, saying that she and her husband had both enjoyed reading it. I read the first few pages and was bored out of my mind, and put the book down. When I finally got around to returning the book I thought “I can’t hand this back, unread” so I started again and perservered past those first few pages. Well… I couldn’t put the book down. It was a terrific story and very easy to read. Who would have thought, hey? Then the mini-series came on TV and I really enjoyed that as well, even though I rarely watch movies of books I’ve read. Case in point .. Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds.

  3. Jodi Picoult is a very good writer. Not had the ebook, but have read lots of her other books. My Sister’s Keeper was one of the best; also Nineteen Minutes. I like her style of writing so recommend any books that she writes.
    Another excellent book is Elianne by Judy Nunn. And The Book Thief by Mark Zucker, I think.

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    • Agree with you about Elianne Christa and in fact I enjoy Judy Nunn’s writing. The Book Thief is on THAT list (to be read).

  4. My current favourite author is Kimberley Freeman. My all time favourites are Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and World Without End.

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    • I have a Kindle Paperwhite, Karen. Best purchase I’ve ever made. I just download any book I want. At a small cost of course. Her books are truly wonderful. I hope you get a chance to read them ☺️

    • That’s her latest one. I really liked it, but preferred Ember Island. I’m currently reading Duet. I hope you enjoy her books.

  5. I am a total Jodi Picoult fan and religiously buy each book at it is released! I started with My Sister’s Keeper but only because everyone said the movie was so good, and I’d rather read a book and be kept entertained for days than to sit through 2 and a half hours of a much abbreviated movie. I didn’t know it at the time but the ending was the opposite of the more expected ending in the movie … And better, in my opinion. Have just finished Leaving Time. I also enjoy Kim Kelly … thanks to you, Karen!

  6. I am a total Jodi Picoult fan and religiously buy each book at it is released! I started with My Sister’s Keeper but only because everyone said the movie was so good, and I’d rather read a book and be kept entertained for days than to sit through 2 and a half hours of a much abbreviated movie. I didn’t know it at the time but the ending was the opposite of the more expected ending in the movie … And the book was far better, in my opinion. Have just finished Leaving Time. I also enjoy Kim Kelly … thanks to you, Karen! (Mind you, “Keeping me entertained for days” was a bit of an exaggeration … I read the whole book in one setting! Can’t even remember stopping to eat … lol.)

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    • I’ve already shared it, Karen! After your review I found her and follow her, too. She lives not far from here. That blog message was beautiful, I thought.

    • Brave woman to give her husband a kidney; I agree with you about her blog message, it was so positive, inspiring. Have a great Christmas.

    • You too, Karen. And all the best for the New Year. Love your reviews, they point me in new directions and stop me getting bogged down with my few favourite authors … It’s always good to try something or someone new.

  7. Don’t bother about the TV series it isn’t nearly as good as the book and in many ways different. Not a lot apart from the names are in the book.

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