lindapanzo's mini-holiday challenge

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lindapanzo's mini-holiday challenge

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Editado: Dic 23, 2011, 11:30am

Now that I've finished my 11 in 11 category challenge, I need to fill in my reading time from now til I start my 12 in 12 challenge on 12/12.

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

Editado: Dic 20, 2011, 2:40pm

Possible holiday books I'm considering include:

--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

Nov 10, 2011, 1:38pm

Hi Linda, congratulations on completing your 11 in 11 Challenge. Looking forward to both following this Holiday Thread and your 12 in 12 Challenge.

Nov 10, 2011, 1:41pm

I've read a whole bunch of Christmas-themed mysteries over the years. If anyone needs ideas, here's a good source:

Nov 10, 2011, 9:58pm

My Flavia ER book just arrived so I have a good excuse to read my first Christmas mystery soon. I do want to read the book I have checked out of the library first, but it's up next on my fiction reads after that one. I do have several non-fiction books in progress at the moment.

Nov 11, 2011, 11:27am

Are you starting your 1212 challenge on 12/12 or 1/1/12?

Nov 11, 2011, 11:53am

#6 Starting on 12/12. With 144 books to read, I need all the headstart I can get.

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.

Nov 11, 2011, 3:40pm

Yeah, 144 is more than I want to "force" my self to read - that's why I'm allowing myself 20+12 overlaps so that 112 is my minimum goal. If I read more than that, it's okay but I'll be out of the gate fast in January because I'll count all my books in the overlap categories as well. Once I read 112, then I'll try to remove some of the Overlaps.

Nov 11, 2011, 3:46pm

#8 Depending on how it goes, I might allow myself 12 overlaps.

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.

Nov 11, 2011, 3:47pm

#5 Lori, forgot to mention that I haven't read that series yet. There's a Christmas one?

Maybe I'll get into the series and save that for next year's mini-holiday challenge.

Nov 11, 2011, 5:49pm

>10 lindapanzo: Lori and I both snagged the 4th book in the Flavia series from the October batch. It has a Christmas theme/setting.

Nov 11, 2011, 7:23pm

>10 lindapanzo: Interestingly enough, about the Christmas one, they sent an ARC even though the book is already out. (As #11 says, it's the latest one and has a Christmas setting. I won't know how Christmas-y the book actually is until I begin reading it.)

Nov 12, 2011, 11:26am

I won that one too, though haven't seen it yet. I should probably move my butt along and read books 2 and 3 tout sweet, hey?!?

Nov 13, 2011, 12:28pm

I like the idea of allowing overlaps. I don't think I can do 144 books next year, especially to get them all to fit into categories. And I always have some books that will fit in more than one place.

Nov 13, 2011, 2:41pm

A Killer's Christmas in Wales by Elizabeth J. Duncan

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.

Nov 17, 2011, 6:18pm

The Gingerbread Bump-Off by Livia J. Washburn

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.

Nov 17, 2011, 6:19pm

As for this Washburn mystery, Phyllis and her cooking arch-rival both enter a newspaper's cookie baking contest. As usual, there's a lot of talk about food, particularly baking, in these books. Recipes, too.

Nov 17, 2011, 8:49pm

It's a shame that the mysteries by Washburn are so ho-hum, because I remember her characters being somewhat likeable as you said. I just haven't been motivated to pick up another one because the mystery fell so short of my expectations.

Nov 18, 2011, 11:59am

I started reading the first in a new cozy series. I thought it was a Christmas mystery. It's pretty good but it's not a Christmas book.

It's called Twelve Drummers Drumming by C.C. Benison. The reason for the title: the sleuth is a vicar named Tom Christmas.

Nov 20, 2011, 11:58pm

Twelve Drummers Drumming by C.C. Benison

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.

Nov 21, 2011, 6:49am

>21 cbl_tn: My public library has that one so I think I'll add it to my library TBR list. The premise sounds interesting, but since you have reservations about continuing the series, I'd rather borrow than buy it.

Nov 21, 2011, 11:34am

I'm curious since you read a lot of Christmas books and series, if you need to be familiar with the series before you try a Christmas book in a series? I've got a couple but haven't started the series yet and didn't know if I should wait or not.

Nov 21, 2011, 11:40am

>20 lindapanzo: Sounds interesting to me, too. But since you're hesitant, and I have such a long list of series to start, I think I'll wait to see if you decide to continue and what Carrie thinks of it.

Nov 21, 2011, 1:25pm

Murder Trims the Tree by Deb Baker

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.

Nov 21, 2011, 1:30pm

#21 Carrie, I really did like it. It's just that there are several different mysteries, years apart. Between that and the many characters, it took awhile to keep it all straight. Once I got to halfway, though, the second half sailed through.

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.

Nov 21, 2011, 1:45pm

>25 lindapanzo: Okay, I wrote it down! But I think I already have several decades worth of series books to get to. It's fun, though, when I'm ready to start a new series to choose which one to try... so many possibilities!

Nov 21, 2011, 1:50pm

Ivy, this Deb Baker is a good intro to her, too. I like both her series written under her name. I don't think I've read anything written by her under Hannah Reed. Buzz Off is the first one there.

I had to laugh at the line that the official dog of the U.P. is the beagle. We are beagle fans.

Nov 21, 2011, 4:57pm

>25 lindapanzo: Thanks for the additional info, Linda. I think I'll tentatively plan to read this one in January around my father's birthday. The sleuth sounds a lot like my dad, who was an ordained minister and a very talented amateur magician. (Thankfully, the similarities stop there. My mother was not murdered!)

Nov 21, 2011, 8:29pm

>28 cbl_tn: I was thinking the same thing about your dad when I read the description.

Nov 23, 2011, 5:44pm

Thanks for the info - I'm thinking about trying some Christmas ones but not sure if I can manage it this year. I think Nook has a couple of inexpensive ones I'll look into.

Nov 26, 2011, 3:50pm

I'm about halfway through Margaret Maron's excellent Judge Deborah Knott mystery, Christmas Mourning. It's a bit less cozy than what I'm used to but I like it.

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.

Nov 27, 2011, 1:24am

Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron

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!!

Dic 5, 2011, 12:03pm

A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

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.

Dic 7, 2011, 8:19am

32 Hi, Linda! I read one from the middle of that series a while back and liked it. I, too, want to go back and start it from the beginning. (Along with a zillion other series . . .)

Dic 7, 2011, 1:41pm

I've got to get started on that Duncan series!

Dic 7, 2011, 1:52pm

I had all sorts of plans to read a whole lot of Christmas books.

Now I'm aiming to read a book in every TIOLI challenge this month so a slight change in plans.

Dic 7, 2011, 8:23pm

Good luck with your TIOLI plans, Linda. I am adding A Child's Christmas In Wales to my Christmas book list, and will probably get to it next year.

Dic 11, 2011, 12:38am

The Battle for Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum

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.

Dic 12, 2011, 3:46pm

I'm reading another Christmas-related book now, about Christmas in 1941.

I doubt that I'll reach 12 Christmas books in all. Maybe 8?

Dic 13, 2011, 12:47pm

Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941 by Stanley Weintraub
3.5 stars

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.

Dic 15, 2011, 4:23am

Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb

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.

Dic 15, 2011, 8:49am

That sounds like a good Christmas book. Onto the wishlist it goes!

Dic 15, 2011, 11:40am

I just finished reading Wishin and Hopin also, it was very entertaining, but you're right, there's not much about Christmas except for the hilarious pagaent.

Now I'm trying to remember if I read anything else of his, it may have been pre-LT, and I don't remember.

Dic 18, 2011, 2:57pm

I think I will end up at 10 Christmas books this year. I'm about one-third through the excellent, though not very Christmasy of course, Stanley Weintraub book, General Sherman's Christmas. I also hope to get through The Man Who Invented Christmas, about how Charles Dickens and his book, A Christmas Carol "invented" our Christmas. It doesn't look too long so it might be doable.

Dic 20, 2011, 2:40pm

General Sherman's Christmas by Stanley Weintraub

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.

Dic 23, 2011, 11:29am

The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford

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.

Highly recommended!!

Editado: Dic 26, 2011, 3:03pm

>46 lindapanzo: Onto my list for next Christmas! I thought the information about Dickens in the introductions to A Christmas Carol last year and The Chimes this year was really interesting, and want to know more. I'm not a Dickens fan (too long-winded for my taste), but the stories are great, the characters memorable, and his influence on literature (and Christmas!) can't be denied.