lindapanzo's mini-holiday challenge
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Besides reading whatever I feel like and getting caught up on ER books/net galleys, I also aim to read a whole bunch of holiday-related books, both fiction and nonfiction, during the rest of 2011. I'm aiming for a dozen but it might end up being more than that.
I suspect that most will be Christmas-themed mysteries but I've got some others in mind, too.
1. A Killer's Christmas in Wales by Elizabeth J. Duncan
2. The Gingerbread Bump-Off by Livia J. Washburn
3. Murder Trims the Tree by Deb Baker
4. Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron
5. A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
6. The Battle for Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum
7. Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941 by Stanley Weintraub
8. Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb
9. General Sherman's Christmas by Stanley Weintraub
10. The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford
--Silent Night by Stanley Weintraub
--The Man Who Invented Christmas by Lee Standiford
--Tinsel: A Search for America's Christmas Present by Hank Stuever
--A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor
--The Fat Man: A Tale of North Pole Noir by Ken Harmon
--Mistletoe and Mayhem by Kate Kingsbury
--Christmas at Timberwoods by Fern Michaels
--Christmas Wishes by Debbie Macomber
--Glad Tidings by Debbie Macomber
Of course, my first up mystery is not even a holiday book. Very good though--the second Elizabeth J. Duncan mystery in a small Welsh town. The third one is the Christmas one but, of course, I must read them in order.
Not of the cozy mystery/next in the series variety, though.
I usually end up at about 150 books per year these days and rarely read anything outside of my norm so 144 is potentially do-able, especially with those extra 3 weeks.
I just finished the second Elizabeth J. Duncan cozy and am now eager to start her third one, a Christmas cozy.
Maybe I'll get into the series and save that for next year's mini-holiday challenge.
This is the third, and newly released, book in the Penny Brannigan series set in Wales. The focus is on an American who talks from older, well-to-do women into giving money to him to invest. It starts slowly but then really picks up.
Lots of Christmas goings-on in Wales, too. Makes me want to read A Child's Christmas in Wales.
I like how characters evolve in this series. I wish Duncan would write more, asap.
This is the most recent book, and a Christmas one, to boot, in the fresh-baked series featuring a retired schoolteacher in Texas. Interestingly, this murder takes place, chronologically, about 3 weeks after the previous, Thanksgiving book (which I read a couple of weeks ago).
As usual, I liked all the characters but the plot was only so-so, I thought. The murder took place during the local Jingle Bell Tour of Homes and it took place right at Phyllis, the sleuth's, front door.
Not bad but not my favorite one in the series.
It's called Twelve Drummers Drumming by C.C. Benison. The reason for the title: the sleuth is a vicar named Tom Christmas.
I thought this first in a new cozy series would be a Christmas mystery. It isn't. It features a vicar in a British village. The Christmas-sounding title is due to the fact that the vicar's name is Tom Christmas.
Anyway, it's not bad. It's got some interesting characters including Tom Christmas, a former professional magician, who moves to the village, along with his 9-year old daughter, after his wife was murdered.
Christmas tries to solve several village crimes at one time, making the plot somewhat interesting.
The book does go on, though. I think a good editing would've been helpful. Perhaps a quarter of the book could've been cut.
I think, but am not positive, that I liked it well enough to continue with this series.
I had an almost two hour wait at the doctor's office this morning, which was morning than enough time to read this entertaining Christmas novella by Deb Baker. It features the lovable characters in her Yooper series, including Gertie Johnson.
In this one, Gertie, her mother in law, and her usual buddies were ordered by a court to do community service and they agree to do it at an assisted living facility. In an Upper Peninsula snowstorm. At Christmas.
One has an unofficial therapy dog. One is a not-very-good beautician. One has taken a legal course or two.
Very entertaining and fun. I love the Gertie Johnson series.
Part of it, I think, is the who knew what and when angle.
#22 Betty, many times, the Christmas book is just the next in the series. However, I often use the Christmas book in the series as a way to give the series a try. Some series absolutely must be read in order, such as the Louise Penny mysteries. Most of the time, though, I think you're ok reading them out of order.
#23 Ivy, I think you'd enjoy it. Though it's a cozy, it's a bit more than that, too.
I had to laugh at the line that the official dog of the U.P. is the beagle. We are beagle fans.
One minor gripe is that there are so many family members/characters to keep track of. I've read maybe 3 of her books in all and now feel the need to start at the beginning with this series.
Deborah and her nieces bake Christmas cookies and there are all sorts of other Christmas goings-on.
This book is well into the Judge Deborah Knott series set in North Carolina. A popular cheerleader is killed in a car accident shortly before Christmas. Not longer after, two young men, basically "from the wrong side of the tracks" type guys are found murdered. Deborah and her husband, Dwight, both work, in their own ways, to get to the bottom of these mysteries.
While I had a hard type keeping track of Deborah's large family, once I could do so, I really started to enjoy this book, particularly all their down-home family Christmas traditions. Baking cookies with her nieces and the like.
Now I want to go back to the beginning of his series and see what I've missed. Highly recommended!!
I enjoyed this delightful poem which evokes Christmas and childhood.
Last month, I read the Elizabeth J. Duncan mystery called A Killer's Christmas in Wales and, in that book, the town comes out for a production of this poem.
I suspect that re-reading this charming poem each Christmas will become a holiday tradition for me.
Now I'm aiming to read a book in every TIOLI challenge this month so a slight change in plans.
This scholarly look at the development of Christmas, particularly in the 19th century, has its moments but, for me, this was not an especially readable book. Interesting moments, certainly, as the author talks about the rowdy vs the religious and how the holiday unfolded in the 1820s and 1830s. Of particular interest, the final chapter talked about Christmas among the slaves before the Civil War.
This could've been a home run but the author's dry writing style puts it at a single. Not bad but it could've been so much better.
I doubt that I'll reach 12 Christmas books in all. Maybe 8?
To me, the topic of this book, the Christmas season right after Pearl Harbor sounded wonderful. While the book was somewhat interesting, it wasn't quite what I was expecting and so I was a bit disappointing.
I expected lots about the homefront and how people were rallying around after the Pearl Harbor attacks. Instead, the book was a day by day account, from December 21, 1941 (when Winston Churchill arrived in the U.S.) through the end of the year. Hmm, actually, through New Year's Day.
Because it was a chronological account, it seemed terribly disjointed. Lots of information about the talks between FDR and the prime minister and their respective staffs. Plenty of discussion of the war and those initial losses but, oddly enough, almost nothing about Pearl Harbor itself.
Unfortunately, outside of an occasional reference to how blackouts weren't really in effect on the East Coast yet, how rationing would begin, and about the lighting of the national Christmas tree, there was very little on the homefront, to my disappointment.
Adding to the feel of bouncing around so much, with every topic covered seemingly every day, there's also the issue of the international date line.
To sum up, interesting book that could've been a whole lot better.
This is a fun novel set at a Connecticut parochial school in 1964, featuring Felix Funicello, a distant cousin of Annette. I started parochial school a few years after 1964 so I could definitely relate to the nuns, students, characters, and events in this enjoyable book. Loved the cultural references, too--Wishin' and Hopin' is the name of a Dusty Springfield song of that era.
Though it's subtitled "A Christmas Story" I think that's a bit of an exaggeration because, outside of a Christmas pageant, which was hilarious, by the way, there's not that much Christmas in this.
After reading this, I'm tempted to look for more by Wally Lamb.
Now I'm trying to remember if I read anything else of his, it may have been pre-LT, and I don't remember.
Here's another on Weintraub's niche books, the interaction between war and Christmas. In this case, General Sherman's march to the sea in Nov/Dec of 1864.
Somewhat interesting and I think I liked it just a touch more than his Pearl Harbor Christmas-related book I read recently. Even so, he seems to have a very matter of fact writing style, one that seems to take a really interesting topic and make it sort of everyday, and not in a good way.
I still want to read his book, Silent Night, about the World War 1 Christmas truce but will probably save that for another year.
I think this is probably the best Christmas book I've read this holiday season!!
Obviously, Charles Dickens didn't "invent" Christmas as this book's title would indicate. He is not the reason for the season, after all. However, he did reinvent the holiday and much of how we celebrate is due to his book, A Christmas Carol.
This outstanding book is split between an examination of his interesting life (note to self, read a longer bio of Dickens), particularly as to how his popularity was flagging and his finances were dismal before A Christmas Carol, and a fascinating look at 19th century book publishing/booksellling. For most of Dickens' books, books were produced in the usual way. However, A Christmas Carol was published by Dickens himself in what today would be called self-published or vanity publishing. A third focus of this wonderful book is a look at the book himself, along with how/why its popularity has soared over the years.