Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate

‘Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.
–Walter Scott

“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings

When I discovered libraries, it was like having Christmas every day.
— Jean Fritz

Merry-Christmas

My three kids are with us and I feel very lucky to have them here to celebrate our first Christmas in our new house.

I made cards this year and had lots of fun making them though I got a late start. I didn’t get my  cards sent out until this week, but I did get them sent out with a short note so that made me happy!

Christmas-cards

I haven’t posted much in December. It has been a very busy month plus I’ve had various computer problems most of the month. My son is here for Christmas and has solved the last of the computer problems…at least for now.

I plan to get back on schedule after Christmas. For now I hope you all have a wonderful day!

How are you spending your day?

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Waiting on Wednesday: Dec 14

I am participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.

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Cold Welcome

by Elizabeth Moon

Series: Vatta’s Peace  #1

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication date: April 13

Synopsis: After nearly a decade away, Nebula Award–winning author Elizabeth Moon makes a triumphant return to science fiction with this installment in a thrilling new series featuring the daring hero of her acclaimed Vatta’s War sequence.

Summoned to the home planet of her family’s business empire, space-fleet commander Kylara Vatta is told to expect a hero’s welcome. But instead she is thrown into danger unlike any other she has faced and finds herself isolated, unable to communicate with the outside world, commanding a motley group of unfamiliar troops, and struggling day by day to survive in a deadly environment with sabotaged gear. Only her undeniable talent for command can give her ragtag band a fighting chance.

Yet even as Ky leads her team from one crisis to another, her family and friends refuse to give up hope, endeavoring to mount a rescue from halfway around the planet—a task that is complicated as Ky and her supporters find secrets others will kill to protect: a conspiracy infecting both government and military that threatens not only her own group’s survival but her entire home planet.

.…………………………

The reasons this book appeals to me:
  • Elizabeth Moon is one of my favorite authors.
  • The Vatta’s War series is one of my favorite series.
  • I’m excited to see a new science fiction book by Elizabeth Moon.
  • I want to read this book!

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Waiting on Wednesday: Dec 7

I am participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.

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swiss-vendettaSwiss Vendetta

by Tracee de Hahn

Series: Agnes Luthi Mysteries #1

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Publication date: February 7

Synopsis: In Tracee de Hahn’s magnetic debut, Swiss police detective Agnes Luthi finds herself trapped in a chateau during the blizzard of the century when she’s called out on her first homicide.

Detective Agnes Luthi, a Swiss-American police officer in Lausanne, Switzerland, has just switched over to the Violent Crimes unit from Financial Crimes in an effort to shed all reminders of her old life after her husband’s death. Now, on the eve of the worst blizzard Lausanne has seen in centuries, Agnes has been called out on her very first homicide case. On the lawn of the grand Chateau Vallotton, along the edge of Lake Geneva, a young woman has been found stabbed to death. The woman worked for an art auction house in London, and had been taking inventory at the Chateau Vallotton, which is dripping in priceless works of art and historical treasures.

Agnes finds it difficult to draw answers out of anyone—the tight-lipped Swiss family living in the chateau, the servants who have been loyal to the family for generations, the aging WWII survivor who lives in the neighboring chateau, even the American history student studying at the Vallotton castle’s library. As the storm rages on, roads become impassible, the power goes out around Lake Geneva, and Agnes finds herself trapped in the candlelit halls of the chateau with all the players of the mystery, out of her depth in her first murder case and still struggling to stay afloat after the death of her husband.

.…………………………

The reasons this book appeals to me:
  • A new series and it takes place in Switzerland.
  • A very nice cover!
  • A police procedural–my favorite genre at the moment.

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My favorite new-to-me authors

Top Ten

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted at the Broke and the Bookish blog. Each week a different topic is introduced and it is fun to see what everyone writes each week. Check out their blog for more information.

This week I’m talking about My favorite new-to-me authors. I’ve read almost all mysteries this year and all my favorite new-to-me authors are mystery writers. That’s kind of amazing. Most of these books are also police procedurals.

I’ve added two honorable mention authors and though one of those books is a science fiction dystopia it’s also a police procedural!

…………………….murder-in-an-irish-village

Favorite new-to-me authors

Carlene O’Connor

  • Ms. O’Connor wrote one of my favorite books of the year–Murder in an Irish Village. I especially liked the characters and setting in this book.
  • I’m happy that a new book–Murder at an Irish Wedding–is coming in February.

in-the-shadow-of-the-glacier

Vicky Delany

  • I’ve read five books in Ms. Delany’s Constable Molly Smith series so far and it’s become one of my favorite series now.
  • Molly works in a small Canadian police department in the Kootenay Mountains of British Columbia. She’s ambitious and wants to become a detective.
  • However, she’s not sure she can stay in her small town where her parents named her Moonlight. Her mother still calls her that as do many of the older, long-term residents of Trafalgar, British Columbia!
  • So there is humor as well as mystery and we learn more about the personal lives of the characters in each book.killing-trail

 

 

Margaret Mizushima

  • I read the first book in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series early in the year. And I read the second book this fall. Both are very good books.
  • I really like the partnership between Officer Mattie Rush and her K-9 partner Robo. Ms. Mizushima’s husband is a veterinarian so I feel the information about animals in the books is correct.

the-royal-wulff-murders

Keith McCafferty

  • The Sean Stranahan series takes place in Montana and features Sean who is a private detective sometimes and also a fly fisherman and fishing guide. He often teams up with the local police department.
  • I’ve read two books in the series so far. One of the things which drew me to this series is that my dad was a fly fisherman so I really relate to these books. I also like the fact that Keith McCafferty lives in Montana and is a writer for outdoor magazines.

cold-in-the-earth

 

 

 

Aline Templeton

  • Ms. Templeton writes the DI Marjory Fleming series which takes place in Scotland.
  • I like the dichotomy of this series–Marjory is a Detective Inspector so she has risen quite far in the ranks of her department (especially as a woman), but she is also a farm wife.
  • Cold in the Earth (book one) presents terrible choices for Marjory when a devastating virus shows up among farm animals in England. I thought the book was especially good.

murder-on-bamboo-lane

Naomi Hirahara

  • I’ve read the two books in the Officer Ellie Rush Mystery series. I hope Ms.Hirahara writes more in this series, but she does have other books and series I need to explore.
  • Ellie Rush is a young bicycle officer for the LA Police Department. I like the mysteries and Ellie’s complicated personal life.
  • The first book–Murder on Bamboo Lane–introduces Ellie. She’s a rookie and the book shows that she makes mistakes and is often laughed at by her college friends (a police officer on a bicycle!) By the second book we see that Ellie and her college friends are growing further apart. I like it when a book shows the growth and changes that happen to all of us.

 

a-killing-at-cotton-hill

 

Terry Shames

  • The Samuel Craddock Mystery series takes place in a small town in Texas. Samuel is such a great character to read about. I really enjoy his voice and character. The first book–A Killing at Cotton Hill–immediately drew me in and I knew I’d read more books in the series.
  • I’ve read two books so far and  they are very good. I’ve bought at least one more book in the series. And the sixth book comes out in January–An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock.

kingdom-come-audioJane Jensen

  • A police procedural set in an Amish community. That seems odd, but there’s at least one other police procedural series set in an Amish Community (Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series. I tried the first book in that series, but couldn’t finish it because of the descriptions of dead children.)
  • However, I do really like the Elizabeth Harris series written by Jane Jensen. I’ve read both books–Kingdom Come and In the Land of Milk and Honey–in the series and hope more are written soon.
  • The mysteries are good and I like Elizabeth and like the both the professional and personal parts of her life.

 

the-crossing-places-audioElly Griffiths

  • I’ve read the first three books of the Ruth Galloway series. Such a good series! Ruth is a forensic archaeologist and she lives in a remote area called the Saltmarsh near Norfolk. The first book–The Crossing Places–takes place on the Saltmarsh.
  • Ruth is often asked by Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson to assist in cases when bones are found. I really like the archaeology settings and all the information about bones in these books!
  • And Ruth’s personal life is as interesting as her professional life!

blood-on-the-tracksBarbara Nickless

  • Blood in the Tracks is the first book in a new series published in October. It takes place in Denver and is about Special Agent Sydney Rose Parnell who is a railroad investigator. She has a K-9 partner, Clyde, and this was such a good book.
  • I have no idea if there are railroad officers like Sydney with the railroad, but it certainly reads as though it is true. Sydney and Clyde both suffer from PTSD (they were in Iraq) and that felt like it was portrayed accurately, too.

stripped-bare

Honorable Mentions

Shannon Baker

  • Another author published this last fall. Stripped Bare by Shannon Baker features Kate Fox. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. I think the series has lots of promise.
  • The book takes place in the Nebraska Sandhills which I hadn’t heard of before, but it sounds like a fascinating area.

after-atlasEmma Newman

  • I’m reading After Atlas by Emma Newman and really enjoying it. I think this will also be one of my favorite new-to-me authors.
  • The book is set in the Planetfall world, but I haven’t read that book. I believe Planetfall is set in space and this book is set on Earth. After Atlas is science fiction dystopia set in the future–and it’s also a police procedural!

 

Who are your favorite new authors?

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Sunday Post: December 4

Sunday-Post

This is a great meme to take part in every week and I thank Kimba for hosting it!

I like this meme because it gives me an opportunity to take a look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also like to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading.

Home and Blog

20161204_070339

We got a tiny bit of snow last night…just enough to cover the grass. Still it is pretty with the Christmas lights on one of our fir trees in the backyard. I saw a few snowflakes this week so that was our first sign of snow! I heard people talking about a snow event next week, but when I last checked our forecast snow isn’t mentioned for us–although it is supposed to be below freezing starting Wednesday I like snow if I don’t have to drive in it so a little bit would be nice.

On Wednesday (when the high temp is only supposed to be 24 degrees…brrrr) we’re having a new furnace and air conditioner put in. We knew when we bought the house we would replace them since they were original to our 25-year-old home. Our energy company is offering rebates this year so we decided to take advantage before the end of the year.

We also have doctor’s appointments a couple of days this week so it’s a busy week.

Christmas planning

I’m enjoying our first Christmas here in our new house!

We put up Christmas lights outside this week. Our daughter helped and also bought a huge blow up lighted Santa which we have by the front door! My husband loves lots of lights and other decorations. A couple of years ago our kids gave him a lighted abominable snowman figure!

The Christmas tree is going up today and we’ll do some other indoor decorating.

I’m also hoping to start making cookies this weekend and freezing some of them. Our kids are all coming for Christmas and I want to have some cookies to decorate once they get here.

I’m also still making Christmas cards to send–haven’t sent any yet. And I’m making a few Christmas gifts. And it’s only three weeks until Christmas. The main thing I want to do is enjoy these weeks–listen to Christmas music, enjoy the lights, make cookies, finish up my cards–and not get stressed about what doesn’t get done.

Television

We started watching The Great American Baking Show. This last week they aired two shows so we watched Cake Week and Cookie Week. Next week is Bread Week! The American and British versions of these shows are my favorite cooking shows.

Blogging

It’s a busy week so I’ll have to see how much I manage to do on my blog. I hope to have time for reading though.

Blog posts
Blog posts for next week
  • Top Ten Tuesday
  • Waiting on Wednesday
  • Book review
  • Sunday Post

My books

What I’m reading

After Atlas by Emma Newman

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

Envious Casca by Georgette Heyer

What I read recently

Death at the Fair by Catherine Lloyd

E-books & Audiobooks purchased (there were sales!)

e-books

Walk Into Silence by Susan McBride

Out on a Limb: A Smoky Mountain Mystery by Carolyn Jourdan

Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle by Mary J. MacLeod

Mercury Retrograde: A Dark Alchemy Novel by Laura Bickle

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

Fate of Perfection by K.F. Breene

audiobooks

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

The Highwayman by Craig Johnson

Death Without Company by Craig Johnson

Musselled Out by Barbara Ross

A Question of Inheritance by Elizabeth Edmondson

 

What did you do last week? What did you read? What books did you collect? What are you planning?

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Death Comes to the Fair by Catherine Lloyd

death-comes-to-the-fairDeath Comes to the Fair by Catherine Lloyd
Series: Kurland St. Mary Mysteries #4
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: Kurland St. Mary and Kurland St. Anne in England
Published by Kensington
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: November 29, 2016)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
304 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: It’s harvest time in the village of Kurland St. Mary as Lucy and Robert prepare to take their vows—but a murderer has taken an unseasonable vow of vengeance . . .

As Miss Lucy Harrington, daughter of the village rector, and Major Sir Robert Kurland plan their nuptials, the major is beginning to wonder if he’ll ever hear wedding bells. He’s seen complex military campaigns that involved less strategy, and he’s finding Lucy’s meddling family maddening.

When the body of Ezekiel Thurrock, the church verger, is discovered crushed by a stone gargoyle that has fallen from the bell tower, the tragic death strikes a somber note and the wedding is delayed. But the evidence suggests this was no accident, and Lucy wonders if bad blood at the village fair had anything to do with the man’s mysterious demise, since there was much bitterness over Ezekiel’s prizewinning vegetables.

As Lucy and Robert uncover long-standing village feuds, the town’s dark secrets begin to take their toll and the couple soon finds they too are in grave danger . . .

Initial impressions

  • Best book in the series so far. The mystery is more complex and the story is more than just the mystery.

Pluses

  • I like how the series moves the personal lives of the characters forward even as mysteries unfold. In this case Robert and Lucy are planning their wedding. They are frustrated that they must take into account many other people. They would like to keep things simple!
  • I like the regard and love Robert and Lucy show for each other. I also like how Robert has grown and changed throughout the series in his regard and respect for Lucy. Lucy has also come to respect Robert and realize what a good person he is.
  • I wasn’t sure how the mystery would be solved for quite some time!
  • During the fair Robert judges the area produce. He judges it without regard for who wins and loses even though Lucy tries to tell him it’s serious business to the area residents and can cause feuds. He doesn’t heed her warnings and awards most of the prizes to one person. He’s very surprised at the anger, grumbling and talk about a “rigged” system from those who didn’t win!
  • I like the different attitudes Robert and Lucy have. Robert is idealistic–he believes giving the prize to the best carrot or turnip is the right thing to do. Lucy is pragmatic–she understands the politics of the villages, that the villagers have long memories and that spreading the prizes among many people will give everyone something to brag about. Who is right?
  • The murders look like they could be accidents and no one seems to believe or care when Robert and Lucy think they could be murders. At first it’s hard to see why the murders took place.
  • The story shows the importance of knowing the history of the people and their region when those people live in an area for a long time–even when no one seems to know the origin of feuds and resentments.

Minuses

  • The book is named after the fair, but the fair is only in the first few pages of the book. However, what happens at the fair does seem to cause some of the events.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I hope there are more books in this series!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • (from Goodreads): “Catherine Lloyd was born just outside London, England, into a large family of dreamers, artists, and history lovers. She completed her education with a master’s degree in history at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and uses the skills she gained there to research and write her historical mysteries. Catherine currently lives in Hawaii with her husband and youngest daughter.. ”

Reading Challenges

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December books on my list

I don’t have too many books on my list this month. That’s good! Each month I list the books I think I would like to read.

books-on-my-listI don’t buy all the books (not during the month they’re released at least)–since I already have way too many books to read and some of the new books are expensive. I’m trying to stick to a budget…lol.

The list I make each month helps me remember the books. And I hope people reading my post may find some new books, too! I also hope they will point me toward books I missed.

December 1

dennys-lawDenny’s Law

by Elizabeth Gunn

Series: Sarah Burke

Published by Severn House Publishers

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

192 pages

Synopsis: A murder leads Sarah Burke to investigate a money-laundering ring with connections extending far beyond Tucson but does the key to solving the case lie closer to home than she realizes?

The murder of a man seen fighting in a house during a Fourth of July street parade plunges Sarah Burke’s whole household her fragile mother Aggie, shrewd and ever-helpful live-in boyfriend Will and even her hard-charging niece, Denny into her latest case.

The investigation leads to a money-laundering ring with international connections, and Sarah and her smart, hard-working crew of detectives must follow the puzzle, set against the backdrop of Tucson’s unique character an ancient, beautiful valley with a polyglot ethnic community and a bilingual, modern city without knowing where it might take them. Could the answers lie closer to home than she realizes?

December 6

out-of-boundsOut of Bounds

by Val McDermid

Series: Inspector Karen Pirie #4

Published by Atlantic Monthly Press

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

464 pages

Synopsis: When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car and ends up in a coma, a routine DNA test reveals a connection to an unsolved murder from twenty-two years before. Finding the answer to the cold case should be straightforward. But it’s as twisted as the DNA helix itself.

Meanwhile, Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another mystery that she has no business investigating, a mystery that has its roots in a terrorist bombing two decades ago. And again, she finds that nothing is as it seems.

An enthralling, twisty read, Out of Bounds reaffirms Val McDermid’s place as one of the most dependable professionals in the mystery and thriller business.

christmas-days-12-stories-and-12-feasts-for-12-daysChristmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days

by Jeanette Winterson

Series: None

Published by Grove Press

Genre: Holiday Short Stories, Christmas

240 pages

Synopsis: For years Jeanette Winterson has loved writing a new story at Christmas time and here she brings together twelve of her brilliantly imaginative, funny and bold tales. For the Twelve Days of Christmas—a time of celebration, sharing, and giving—she offers these twelve plus one: a personal story of her own Christmas memories. These tales give the reader a portal into the spirit of the season, where time slows down and magic starts to happen. From trees with mysterious powers to a tinsel baby that talks, philosophical fairies to flying dogs, a haunted house and a disappearing train, Winterson’s innovative stories encompass the childlike and spooky wonder of Christmas. Perfect for reading by the fire with loved ones, or while traveling home for the holidays. Enjoy the season of peace and goodwill, mystery, and a little bit of magic courtesy of one of our most fearless and accomplished writers.

December 13

forgotten-cityForgotten City

by Carrie Smith

Series: A Claire Cordella Mystery #2

Published by Crooked Lane Books

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

320 pages

Synopsis: NYPD Detective Claire Codella is chomping at the bit for a new case. Lieutenant McGowan is determined to keep her out of the news, but she’s about to be back in the public eye in a big way.

Broadway legend Lucy Merchant has tragically succumbed to early onset Alzheimer’s. At age fifty-six, she’s tucked away in the dementia care unit of the ultra-exclusive Manhattan care facility Park Manor. When she falls asleep and doesn’t wake up, her billionaire husband is ready for the funeral, but her daughter demands an investigation.

Only three months back on the job after cancer treatment, Codella finds herself at the center of a high profile case nearly everyone–especially her lieutenant–wants to shut down. But the forensic evidence raises alarming questions and Codella needs answers. To find them, she will have to crack the defenses of slippery administrators, frightened caregivers, and unobliging family members, all while unlocking some of her own dark memories.

Forgotten City, Carrie Smith’s gripping follow-up to Silent City, pits the unrelenting detective against a cast of diverse New Yorkers driven by their desires and ambitions and haunted by their pasts. But can she piece together the truth before the murderer kills again?

after-the-crownAfter the Crown

by K. B. Wager

Series: The Indranan War #2

Published by Orbit

Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera

416 pages

Synopsis: Former gunrunner-turned-Empress Hail Bristol was dragged back to her home planet to fill her rightful position in the palace. With her sisters and parents murdered, the Indranan empire is on the brink of war. Hail must quickly make alliances with nearby worlds if she has any hope of surviving her rule.

When peace talks turn violent and Hail realizes she’s been betrayed, she must rely on her old gunrunning ways to get out of trouble. With help from an old boss and some surprising new allies, she must risk everything to save her world.

December 20

one-fell-sweepOne Fell Sweep

by Ilona Andrews

Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #3

Free online serial (until published)

Published by Ilona Andrews

Genre: Fantasy

259 pages

Synopsis: Gertrude Hunt, the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, is glad to have you. We cater to particular kind of guests, the ones most people don’t know about. The older lady sipping her Mello Yello is called Caldenia, although she prefers Your Grace. She has a sizable bounty on her head, so if you hear kinetic or laser fire, try not to stand close to the target. Our chef is a Quillonian. The claws are a little unsettling, but he is a consummate professional and truly is the best chef in the Galaxy. If you see a dark shadow in the orchard late at night, don’t worry. Someone is patrolling the grounds. Do beware of our dog.

December 27

iced-underIced Under

by Barbara Ross

Series: A Maine Clambake Mystery #5

Published by Kensington

Genre: Mystery, Cozy

304 pages

Synopsis: The snow is deep in Maine’s Busman’s Harbor and the mighty rivers are covered in ice. Snowden Family Clambake Company proprietor Julia Snowden and her mother, Jacqueline, are hunkered down for the winter when a mysterious package arrives—heating up February with an unexpected case of murder . . .

Inside the mystery package is an enormous black diamond necklace that once belonged to Julia’s great-grandmother and disappeared in the 1920s. Who could have sent it—and why? Julia’s search for clues takes her on a perilous journey through her mother’s troubled family history, from a squabble over the family fortune in “frozen water” to the recent unexplained death of Jacqueline’s long-lost cousin Hugh—who’d been missing and presumed drowned for more than forty years. To protect her mother’s inheritance, Julia must fend off a small army of feuding relatives, solve the mystery surrounding Hugh’s demise, and get back home before the next blizzard buries them all . . .

What books are you excited about this month?

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