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review 2019-12-28 08:53
Christmas Past
Christmas Past: A Chronicles of St Mary's Short Story - Jodi Taylor,Zara Ramm,Audible Studios

It has become something of a Christmas tradition, a short story from St Mary's, usually involving some bad advised time travel, uhm, investigation of historical events in contemporary time, of course.

This one was very cute. It features Max and Matthew as they travel to 19th century London to bring a little bit of joy. Very much Charles Dickens. I enjoyed it a lot.

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review 2019-12-11 15:04
ARC REVIEW I See You by Mary Burton and bonus novella Christmas Past
 

I See You (Criminal Profiler, #2)Criminal Profiler #2, Part of a series but can be read as a standalone like with most of Mary Burton books.  Burton's writing is engaging and thrilling and always keeps me on my toes, Written in third person the POV goes from protagonist to side characters and switches to first person POV for the antagonist, still keeping the identity of the baddie a secret 'til the end.

FBI Special Agent Zoe Spencer started of life as a dancer but due to an unfortunate accident she had to stop dancing which lead her to art and then to the FBI. Although she is a criminal profiler she also gets pulled onto cases requiring her artist talent and does forensic sketches or sculptures independently from her team. Most recently she was given a charred skull that was discovered by a reporter who was given a tip. A tip from the very person who put the body in there in the first place who was looking for some recognition after all this time.

Discovering who the skull belonged to puts her smack in the middle of the cold case investigation working side by side with her occasional lover Homicide Detective William Vaughn. The more questions they ask the more the killer gets nervous and soon the cold case is hot again with another murder, and another. Working together Vaughn and Zoe try to figure out what happened all those years ago and why the killer started up again, unless he never stopped.

Vaughn and Zoe keep it professional for the most part but soon realize what they have is not casual anymore but Zoe isn't sure she's ready to move on from the death of her husband with someone new someone with the same occupation. This case bring them closer than ever but catching this killer is going to make them both realize something big. Overall it's a really good read it keeps you going from start to finish. Mary Burton is one of my go to authors for romantic suspense and this one did not disappoint.





Christmas PastOriginally published on 2012 in an anthology (Silver Bells) and is part of her Richmond Virginia series. It is a standalone novella but the only bad thing about this one is that it feels like it should be part of a full length novel. It feels like it's a follow-up to another story. Photographer and new mom Nicole Piper survived her manipulative and abusive husband but even from the grave he torments her. A letter written to her before his death that explains he wasn't the one who killed her friend but the identity is in a safe deposit box. Along with with Homicide Detective David Ayden, who was there the first time around her husband tormented her and helped safe her life, Nicole goes to find out the truth. David hasn't felt this way about a woman for a while after the death of his wife he never thought he could but now that the case is over he's free to pursue a relationship with her, that's if she's interested. David isn't about to let her go off and handle this on her own who knows what her psychotic, late husband set up for her and Nicole hesitant but accepts his help. Nicole feels the same as David but is afraid of her own judgement even though she's seen proof he's a good person. This Christmas is going to change her life but will it be for better or worse. Overall, despite the feeling like I was missing a whole other story it was a good read. It was intense and it's short enough you can just breeze right through it. 

 





 

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review 2018-01-14 22:03
Christmas Past by Robert Brenner
Christmas Past: A Collectors' Guide to Its History and Decorations - Robert Brenner

I have to admit something to you all: I'm crazy about Christmas. I don't have a tree up all year or sing carols or anything, but as soon as Thanksgiving is over, IT'S ON! The Christmas albums come out, the lights get put up and our collection of ornaments get hung on the trees.*

My husband and I have family ornaments ranging from a few fragile German pieces from just after WWI to mid-century Shiny Brites to a piece of purple foil glued on cardstock marked 'MyLes' in pencil.** We also like finding eclectic antique and vintage ornaments in cotton or paper or glass. The problem is that while we've picked up a thing or two, we never had a comprehensive reference on how to identify or date ornaments. As 'crackers' as we are about the ornaments, there's a real limit to how much we'll spend on a piece of fragile glass or a disintegrating candy container. So we hunt for bargains that aren't going to be researched and labeled. That's where Robert Brenner and his books come in.

This Christmas we received three of his books on the history of ornaments. This one is his earliest and is a valuable reference tool, but it does suffer from some issues. The book is divided into sections based on the materials an ornament is made of - dough, cloth, metal, paper, wax, cotton, glass, composition and plastics - with some grey areas addressed. Oh, and lighting. The book is furnished with some excellent photos of early ornaments of most types discussed.

A big revelation was how many ornaments and styles kept on for decades after we thought they would have fallen out of fashion. We were aware of many modern reproductions, but certain styles of ornaments we thought were exclusively Victorian it turns out were made well up into the early 1930s - these include the large wire wrapped glass figurals and the abstract tinsel ornaments made built around tissue-thin glass spheres. "Feather trees", artificial trees made of wire and wrapped in dyed goose feathers, and the miniature ornaments to match, were also made right up until WWII. Brenner offers some advice on what to look for: a rule of thumb is that more elaborate construction and "true" lifelike colors in glass and paper indicate an earlier date. But there are exceptions. And, while there are hundreds of color images in the book, Brenner rarely, if ever, puts examples side by side. For example, if Japanese honeycomb tissue ornaments were 'less dense' then their German counterparts what does that mean exactly if there isn't a single picture of a German or a Japanese item?

The book is a great place to start, and there is a later edition of this book (still twenty years old...), but I'm hoping the others provide some more concrete examples and insight. I'm hoping to be a little more educated next time we come across promising ornaments.

*We had two. Maybe a third next year. Only one is real though! Does that make it better?

**I've always disliked arts and crafts, so I tended to phone it in even then.

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review 2018-01-14 18:28
A second chance with a little help.
A Texas Christmas Past (Whiskey River Christmas Book 1) - Julia Justiss

This story is about second chances at love with a little help from the spirit world. My heart hurt for both Audra and Drew as they dealt with their PTSD in their own ways, in a time when the idea of PTSD was unheard of. Audra had the strength to recognize her weakness and worked toward a future of healing herself and others. Drew felt a need to keep it to himself, and I felt sorry for him as he struggled with loneliness, anger, and shame. When they decide that the other is more important, I had tears in my eyes. The story moved me and entertained me. I look forward to reading the other Whiskey River Christmas stories.

This is my unsolicited review.

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review 2018-01-12 12:59
Had a tear in my eye, not lying.
Christmas Past: A Chronicles of St Mary's Short Story - Jodi Taylor,Zara Ramm,Audible Studios

This was a really nice short read, for fans of the series.

 

It was all in the story - a bit of heartbreak for the realism in the christmas past.

 

And a bit of a christmas miracle :)

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