Murder by Syllabub, fifth in the Ellen McKenzie series, is available in bookstores now. Purebred Dead, the first in the new Mary McGill series, was released in August 2015 and Curtains for Miss Plym will be out in April 2016.
The holiday season has once more come to a close. The tree is down, the ornaments are stored safely in the attic, the lights have been carefully wound around the empty gift wrap tubes in hopes that they’ll stay that way, and the poinsettias are on the curb awaiting the trash man. But the holiday season doesn’t start with Christmas. Halloween is the real beginning. It seems the stores start putting out costumes, plastic pumpkins, tons of candy, and cardboard black cats and witches hats in Sept. and before we actually get to the end of Oct, all that’s down and Christmas stuff is up. What happened to Thanksgiving? Only the grocery stores seem to know it fits in there somewhere, but they make up for the ignorance by other stores with displays of pumpkin pie filling, canned cranberries, stuffing mix and instant mashed potatoes. Before we get the turkey stuffed and in the oven, everything with turkey on it is gone, replaced with napkins with Santa’s face proximately displayed on them, pre-stuffed stockings, and candy canes We’ve hardly managed to get the dishes washed and the left overs in the refrigerator before its time to go shopping. Gifts are bought, wrapped and mailed, Christmas cards are addressed, the house, inside and out, is decorated and depending on how many cats you have, the ornaments are put on the tree only once. The great day arrives, and goes by in a flash, and it’s time to celebrate the New Year.
There are many ways to celebrate the season, and of course Hanukah comes to mind. No tree but everything else is much the same, the cooking, decorating, the ceremony, present buying, wrapping and opening every night, except you do it for eight days. You also light candles each night, play dreidels with the kids and try to keep the chocolate from all the gold covered candy from getting on the table cloth.
And then it’s over. You sink into your easy chair, look around at your back to normal house and sigh. What are you going to do now? READ.
So, in the spirit of ‘it was fun but it really is over and I can finally take a deep breath and relax’, I am going to mention a few of the books I’ve read this past year that I especially liked and you may as well. There were more, but I’ll only mention four. They are not in order of preference, just how I pulled them off the bookshelf.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. This time she takes us to Charleston in the early 19th century, and it is a wonderful book about slavery, the abolitionists, and the life of women of both races. Story telling at its best.
Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain A powerful novel set in North Carolina in the ‘60’s, when sterilizing the ‘unfit’ was an accepted practice. Sounds grim, but this is a wonderful tale again about two women, their interaction, their personal growth, and the lengths they go to do what they think is right. You won’t put it down.
The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline Trains ran from New York to the mid-west often in the early 1900’s, carrying children who had been orphaned or abandoned to new homes. They ranged from babies to teen agers, and there was no telling what kind of homes they would find. Some were lucky, most were not. This is the story of one girl and what happened to her. Heart wrenching, beautifully told, and certainly thought provoking.
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan It’s been awhile since we’ve had a new book by Amy Tan and this is another very good one. A mother/daughter relationship, courtesan life in China, passions, secrets, and treachery, it’s a masterful story.
You’ll have noticed there isn’t one mystery on this very short list, but some great ones have been released this year. Perhaps you’ve also noticed that not one of these features a dog. If you like mysteries, and dogs, may I suggest you also consider Purebred Dead? This new series features both, the solution to the mystery takes Mary McGill quite a bit of sleuthing to solve, the dog she acquires along the way, Millie, is adorable, and so are the children that are an important part of this story.
The second in the Mary McGill canine mysteries, Curtains for Miss Plym, has just been released in England and will be available in the US this April. Watch for it. Or learn more by visiting www.kathleendelaney.net