Tag Archives: Christmas

We Read Some Holiday Books…

The Twelve Clues of Christmas

by Rhys Bowen

“She may be thirty-fifth in line for the throne, but Lady Georgiana Rannoch cannot wait to ring in the new year—before a Christmas killer wrings another neck…

‘On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—well, actually, my true love, Darcy O’Mara, is spending a feliz navidad tramping around South America. Meanwhile, Mummy is holed up in a tiny village called Tiddleton-under-Lovey with that droll Noel Coward! And I’m snowed in at Castle Rannoch with my bumbling brother, Binky, and sourpuss sister-in-law, Fig.

So it’s a miracle when I contrive to land a position as hostess to a posh holiday party in Tiddleton. The village is like something out ofA Christmas Carol! But no sooner have I arrived than a neighborhood nuisance, a fellow named Freddie falls out of a tree, dead…. Dickensian, indeed!:” -from the publisher

Brenda, Reference Librarian says,  “What fun! This book has an engaging heroine, a quirky supporting cast and a clever plot. The love interest between Lady Georgiana Rannoch and Darcy O’Mara is sweet. I would be happy to visit the village of Tiddleton-under-Lovey, Devonshire if it existed! I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of reading this cozy mystery.’ “

How the Finch Stole Christmas

by Donna Andrews

“Meg Langslow’s husband has decided to escalate his one-man show of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol into a full-scale production with a large cast including their sons Jamie and Josh as Tiny Tim and young Scrooge and Meg helping as stage manager.

The show must go on, even if the famous―though slightly over-the-hill―actor who’s come to town to play the starring role of Scrooge has brought a sleigh-load of baggage and enemies with him. And why is Caerphilly suddenly overrun with a surplus of beautiful caged finches?” -from the publisher

Sonia, Health Reference Librarian says, “I have always wanted to try a book in this cozy mystery series .  The murder did not happen until fully halfway through the novel. Until then the reader gets to know Meg, her extended family and friends as well as the town Caerphilly at Christmastime with sometimes over the top detail.  I liked the book much better after the body appeared rather than before but I don’t think I’ll be returning to Caerphilly anytime soon.”

Have you read any books set around the winter holidays? Tell us about them in the comments.

Read about other holiday books in past posts, here or here.

-posted by Sonia, Reference Services

 

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A Little Christmas in my Mystery, Please! #4

christmas mystery giftEvery year I promise myself to read some books that have a Christmas theme well before the holiday season so I can write about them in this blog.  And every year I manage to read one …maybe two.  This year I actually remembered to start reading early enough to write this series of  blog posts.  I chose to stick to my favorite genre which is mystery and read books by authors I had always wanted to try but never did. I’ve read four books so far, so there will be at least four posts, maybe more if there’s time.

The nice thing about holiday books is that they are usually short and always have happy, feel good endings. Some bad/sad things might happen along the way to the characters we grow to care about while reading (especially in the case of mysteries), but there are plenty of “warm fuzzies” to go around at the end.

Spirit of Steamboat by Craig Johnson

First lines: It was Tuesday, the day before Christmas, and I wasn’t expecting visitors. I stared at my archnemesis, the little red light on my phone that connected my via the intercom to my dispatcher Ruby, in the other room.

spirit of steamboatSummary: “Sheriff Walt Longmire is reading A Christmas Carol in his office on December 24th when he’s interrupted by the ghost of Christmas past: a young woman with a hairline scar across her forehead and more than a few questions about Walt’s predecessor, Lucian Connally. Walt doesn’t recognize the mystery woman, but she seems to know him and claims to have something she must return to Connally. With his daughter, Cady, and his undersheriff Vic Moretti in Philadelphia for the holidays, Walt is at loose ends, and despite the woman’s reticence to reveal her identity, he agrees to help her. At the Durant Home for Assisted Living Lucian Connally is several tumblers into his Pappy Van Winkle’s and swears he’s never clapped eyes on the woman before. Disappointed, she whispers “Steamboat” and begins a story that takes them all back to Christmas Eve 1988, when three people died in a terrible crash and a young girl had the slimmest chance of survival . . .” (from the publisher)

My take: I’d been hearing a lot about Johnson lately on the book blogs I read and because of the TV show Longmire that is based on the his series’ main character, so I was pleased when I found Spirit of Steamboat on the new mystery shelf.  I liked this book.  Some of the situations that Longmire confronts are a little far fetched and the reader will have to suspend belief at times. Yet the characters drew me in and the book tugged at my heartstrings just as a Christmas novel should do. I will definitely be going back to the first in the series mainly because I want to meet the Lucian Connally character again, as well as Longmire and the others.  Readers of J. A. Jance and C. J. Box might enjoy Craig Johnson’s Longmire series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars

-posted by Sonia, Readers’ Services

A Little Christmas in my Mystery, Please! #3

christmas mystery giftEvery year I promise myself to read some books that have a Christmas theme well before the holiday season so I can write about them in this blog.  And every year I manage to read one …maybe two.  This year I actually remembered to start reading early enough to write this series of  blog posts.  I chose to stick to my favorite genre which is mystery and read books by authors I had always wanted to try but never did. I’ve read four books so far, so there will be at least four posts, maybe more if there’s time.

The nice thing about holiday books is that they are usually short and always have happy, feel good endings. Some bad/sad things might happen along the way to the characters we grow to care about while reading (especially in the case of mysteries), but there are plenty of “warm fuzzies” to go around at the end.

Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson

First Lines: The rear door to St. Anthony’s Church had been left open. Exactly as I had been promised.

merry christmas alex crossSummary:  “It’s Christmas Eve and Detective Alex Cross has been called out to catch someone who’s robbing his church’s poor box. That mission behind him, Alex returns home to celebrate with Bree, Nana, and his children. The tree decorating is barely underway before his phone rings again–a horrific hostage situation is quickly spiraling out of control. Away from his own family on the most precious of days, Alex calls upon every ounce of his training, creativity, and daring to save another family. Alex risks everything–and he may not make it back alive on this most sacred of family days.” (from the publisher)

My take: I have read three of Patterson’s books before. One in print and the others in audio form and enjoyed audiobooks much better, so I listened to Merry Christmas, Alex Cross and liked it. The story in this book involves Cross in two separate cases over Christmas Eve and Day which might have been overkill but overall the book was good.  I liked the characters, especially Cross’ grandmother, NanaMama. There were three different readers used which was also a plus and I will probably listen to more of Patterson’s books. Readers of James Patterson might not need any readalike recommendations because he’ s publishes enough books to keep them busy but they might try the books of Jeffery Deaver or Jonathan Kellerman.

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars.

– posted by Sonia, Readers’ Services

A Little Christmas in my Mystery, Please! #2

christmas mystery giftEvery year I promise myself to read some books that have a Christmas theme well before the holiday season so I can write about them in this blog.  And every year I manage to read one …maybe two.  This year I actually remembered to start reading early enough to write this series of  blog posts.  I chose to stick to my favorite genre which is mystery and read books by authors I had always wanted to try but never did. I’ve read four books so far, so there will be at least four posts, maybe more if there’s time.

The nice thing about holiday books is that they are usually short and always have happy, feel good endings. Some bad/sad things might happen along the way to the characters we grow to care about while reading (especially in the case of mysteries), but there are plenty of “warm fuzzies” to go around at the end.

Silent Night by Robert B. Parker with Nancy Brann

First lines: Susan and I walked from my place up to Newbury Street on a sunny Saturday morning.  The snow from the night before had stopped falling.

silent nightSummary: “It’s December in Boston, and Spenser is busy planning the menu for Christmas dinner when he’s confronted in his office by a young boy named Slide. Homeless and alone, Slide has found refuge with an organization named Street Business, which gives shelter and seeks job opportunities for the homeless and lost. Slide’s mentor, Jackie Alvarez, is being threatened, and Street Business is in danger of losing its tenuous foothold in the community, turning Slide and many others like him back on the street. But it’s not a simple case of intimidation – Spenser, aided by Hawk, finds a trail that leads to a dangerous drug kingpin, whose hold on the at-risk community Street Business serves threatens not just the boys’ safety and security, but their lives as well.” (from the publisher)

My take:  It’s not a good idea to choose as your first read of a series one of the last books the author wrote, but I snagged a copy on the first day that it came out and picked it for my second holiday book.  Silent Night was an unfinished manuscript left behind by the late Robert B. Parker and completed by his longtime agent Nancy Brann.  I had put off reading any of the Spenser novels for fear that they would not live up to their reputation and my fear was realized in this case.  The book was just OK.  The plot made sense and it was interesting and entertaining enough to finish but I was left wondering, “What’s the big deal?” I’ve since gone back to the first Spenser novel, The Godwulf Manuscript and now understand a bit better and will be reading more in the series eventually.  Silent Night will surely satisfy Spenser fans eager for more.  Those readers looking for more books like Parker’s would do well to seek out Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series or the books of Elmore Leonard.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars.

– posted by Sonia, Readers’ Services

A Little Christmas in my Mystery, Please! #1

christmas mystery giftEvery year I promise myself to read some books that have a Christmas theme well before the holiday season so I can write about them in this blog.  And every year I manage to read one …maybe two.  This year I actually remembered to start reading early enough to write this series of  blog posts.  I chose to stick to my favorite genre which is mystery and read books by authors I had always wanted to try but never did. I’ve read four books so far, so there will be at least four posts, maybe more if there’s time.

The nice thing about holiday books is that they are usually short and always have happy, feel good endings. Some bad/sad things might happen along the way to the characters we grow to care about while reading (especially in the case of mysteries), but there are plenty of “warm fuzzies” to go around at the end.

Mistletoe Murder by Leslie Meier

First Lines: “Do you have any sharp knives?” asked the tremulous voice.  “Something that will cut through bone and gristle?” Lucy Stone stifled a yawn, adjusted her headset,and typed the code for “knives” on the computer keyboard in front of her.

mistletoe murderSummary: “As if baking holiday cookies, knitting a sweater for her husband’s gift, and making her daughter’s angel costume for the church pageant weren’t enough things for Lucy Stone’s busy Christmas schedule, she’s also working nights at the famous mail-order company Country Cousins. But when she discovers Sam Miller, its very wealthy founder, dead in his car from an apparent suicide, the sleuth in her knows something just doesn’t smell right.” (from the publisher)

My take: Since I usually try to read the first book in a mystery series, when I saw that Meier’s first Lucy Stone was a Christmas mystery, well, that made my first choice easy.  I read this book on long train ride and it was just the thing.  Lucy Stone is the typical character you will find in a cozy mystery who manages to take care of her family and job as well as get involved with solving a murder.  She and the rest of the characters were likeable and more importantly: believable.  The plot was intriguing enough and the solution made sense.  Fans of Diane Mott Davidson or Joanna Fluke might want to try this series.

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars.

Next: Silent Night by Robert B. Parker with Nancy Brann

– posted by Sonia, Readers’ Services


Get into the spirit…

As each year draws to an end and the holidays get closer, new books with Christmas themes start to appear at Syosset Public Library.  And every year I promise myself to read a few, but things become so hectic that, somehow, I’ve never gotten around to reading any.  But this year is different!   I’ve already managed to read some of the new titles and so have some of my colleagues.  Here are a few that we liked:

Merry, Merry Ghost by Carolyn Hart ~ A heart-warming, cozy, “who-dun-it” mystery, featuring enjoyable characters, a lovable ghost, a deserted orphan and several possible murder suspects.  Author Carolyn Hart had me quickly turning the next page to discover the identity of the true murderer.  A great holiday read! ~ Jackie

A Rumpole Christmas by John Mortimer ~  Just the thing for fans of that wonderful curmudgeon, Horace Rumpole, London barrister.  Although Sir John Mortimer, the author of the Rumpole mysteries passed away earlier this year, we have this book of Christmas themed stories that have never appeared in book form before.  I laughed out loud many times while reading these delightful stories, so pour yourself a glass of “Chateau Thames Embankment”, settle yourself in an easy chair and enjoy! ~ Sonia

Wishin’ and Hopin’ : A Christmas Story by Wally Lamb ~ I really enjoyed this little gem of a book.  Having read Wally Lamb’s other novels, this was a refreshing change from the serious tone and subject matter of his other books.  Funny and full of 1960’s nostalgia.  Having attended parochial school in my youth, this book bought back lots of memories.  I would definitely recommend this book. ~ Lisa J.

A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck ~  This book  marks the return of the redoubtable Mrs. Dowdel, from Mr. Peck’s earlier juvenile fiction titles:  “A Year Down Yonder” (Newbery Medal winner) and “A Long Way From Chicago”.  It’s over twenty years later and Mrs. D is still as irascible and independent as ever.  A preacher and his young family have moved in next door and this book follows them as they get to know their older neighbor through some quite interesting developments that occur during their first year of residence, including Christmastime.  This book is very entertaining and I recommend it to readers of all ages. ~ Sonia

The Gift by Cecelia Ahern ~ Lou is a selfish, power-hungry executive fighting to climb the corporate ladder while cheating on his wife and ignoring his family. And Gabe is a homeless young man sitting outside Gabe’s Dublin office day after day. In an uncharacteristic burst of generosity, Lou buys Gabe a cup of coffee and Lou’s life begins to change. Gabe magically is able to be two places at once and Lou realizes how useful this would be in his career and personal life. The more powerful gift Gabe (is it a coincidence that his name is similar to a certain powerful angel) brings, is an appreciation of the truly important things in life and a realization that time is precious. ~ Brenda

Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke ~ Readers looking to pick up some new cookie recipes for Christmas along with a cozy mystery, Minnesota style, need search no further.  The characters in this book are so darn nice, and this, coupled with the fact that they all seem to be able to eat sweets all the time without gaining weight made me wish I could live in Lake Eden myself. ~ Sonia

The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber ~ A cute, fun, spirited, light-hearted Christmas romance.  An enjoyable read involving best-friends and the search for their perfect husbands with the assistance of Simon, the $30,000 match-maker.  Likeable characters inspire a great Christmas read, with a warm-hearted, although too predictable plot ~ Jackie

If you would like to read any of these books, just one click of the mouse on the bookcover will bring you to its listing in Syosset library’s catalog, where you can place a hold on it.  Enjoy!!

– posted by Sonia, along with Jackie, Lisa J.(all Readers’ Services) and Brenda (Reference Services)