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text 2019-11-29 22:00
My yearly festive short story extravaganza
Crimson Snow: Winter Mysteries - Various Authors,Martin Edwards
The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries - Otto Penzler
The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories - Sir Walter Scott, Arthur Conan Doyle,Tara Moore
Christmas Stalkings: Tales of Yuletide Murder - Reginald Hill,Elizabeth Peters,Medora Sale,John Malcolm,Dorothy Cannell,Bill Crider,Patricia Moyes,Evelyn E. Smith,Eric Wright,Mickey Friedman,Robert Barnard,Margaret Maron
Christmas Most Foul - Nicholas Blake,Michael Innes,Margery Allingham

Every year for the past two or three years, I've downloaded or pulled out, depending on format, a few short story anthologies that were specifically released for Christmas.

 

The Valancourt anthology of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories was just far too tempting for me not to buy, and the Christmas Stalkings compilation is also new to me. I've owned The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries and Crimson Snow for a couple of years, but still haven't finished all of the stories even once.

 

Christmas Most Foul is available through the KU library, and I've read three out of the four stories included. Two are Albert Campion shorts by Margery Allingham that are just okay, and then there are two full-length novels: Thou Shell of Death by Nicholas Blake, which I really liked when I read it last year, and There Came Both Mist And Snow by Michael Innes, which I've not yet read and which is the reason that I borrowed the book again this year.

 

I usually read ten or fifteen Christmas shorts throughout the season. 

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review 2019-07-26 00:54
Review: The Yuletide Bride by Michelle Ule
The Yuletide Bride - Michelle Reid

Title: The Yuletide Bride
Author: Michelle Ule
Series: The 12 Bride of Christmas, 5
Format: ebook, bind-up
Length: N/A
Rating: 2 stars

 

Synopsis: Ewan Murray and Kate McDougall hold a mutual appreciation for music—and each other. But as she comes of age, Ewan realizes he must do something to prove his worth to her banker father. Will a refurbished heirloom and a sudden snowstorm be the key to earning permission to marry?

 

Favourite character: N/A
Least favourite character: Kate's "fiancée"

 

Mini-review: I wasn't a fan of this. I don't like books that have parents who don't care about what their kid's wishes are. Also, books where the author misuses words or a character who is supposed to be humble or kind and acts like a spoiled brat for no real reason.

 

Fan Cast:

Ewan Murray - Liam Aiken

Kate McDougall - Madelaine Petsch 

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review 2018-12-27 22:58
24 Festive Tasks: Door 18 - Winter Solstice / Yuletide, Task 2 (Neverending Book)
Murder at the Old Vicarage: A Christmas Mystery - Jill McGown

I'm going with the book I read yesterday for this: Mind you, this is by no means a bad book (I gave it 3 1/2 stars); the characters are well-developed, the story gets going fairly quickly, and while it does, it's an engaging read -- even if I didn't like all the characters I was supposed to like quite as much as the author probably hoped.  Also, if you haven't made up your mind early on about the "who" (and the probable "why"), and if you like an author twisting your tail round and round until you get to the solution, you'll certainly get your fill here.  Alas, the latter wasn't true for me in this instance, though; and as a result, from a certain point onwards the story's twists and turns felt a bit like the manipulations of one of those "three caps and a pea" shell game operators, but one where you've twigged the main sleight of hand early on and are just half-heartedly following the motions and waiting for the big reveal.  As a result, the final 100 or so pages of the book took me about twice as long as they would have if I had still been fully engaged at that point -- and in a 230 page book, that equates to almost half the contents.

 

Side note: While PanMacmillan's (and it always seems to be them) insistence on republishing mysteries set during or even only in the vicinity of Christmas with a new title (and matching cover) shouting "Christmas mystery", "cozy", and "Golden Age tradition" is seriously getting on my nerves at this point, here they've actually hit the bull's eye in a sense -- which will become clear very fast to any reader who's also read the book after which this mystery's title is obviously fashioned, and to which it pays hommage to a certain extent; i.e., Agatha Christie's first Miss Marple mystery.  Unfortunately, the new title indirectly also shines a light on precisely those clues and constructive elements of the book that, to me, made it clear fairly early on where we were headed ... and of course now I'll never know whether, if I had read the book under its original title (Redemption), those clues would have stood out to me quite as much as they actually did.

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text 2018-12-18 20:38
24 Festive Tasks: Door 18 - Winter Solstice / Yuletide, Task 1 (Bibliomancy)
The Complete Novels of Jane Austen - Jane Austen
The Complete Works (Oxford Shakespeare) - William Shakespeare,John Jowett,Gary Taylor

I was just going to do an "Ask Auntie Jane (Austen, not Marple)" ... but as BT pointed out, you can never really ask Will Shakespeare for his comment too often, so I've decided to call upon him for a second opinion.  Not that I mistrust Miss Austen of course, but these are serious questions, after all, so it seems justified to make doubly sure.

 

So, here we go:

 

  • A.   Will I read all the books on my TBR?  (page 378, line 29)

Jane Austen's response (from Pride and Prejudice):

"... their vice.  He was fond of the country and of books, and from these tastes ..."

William Shakespeare's response (from Romeo and Juliet):

"Prodigious birth of love it is to me"

Umm.  This is seriously spooky.  You guys can't possibly mean my entire TBR --  or if you do, you've both answered this one completely blindly.  So I'm going to interpret this as meaning I'll at least read all the books on any TBR I might create for a special purpose in 2019 (e.g., for my new spin on the Women Writers challenge).

 

 

B.   Will any of my 2019 reads be 5 stars? (page 227, line 31)

Jane Austen's response (from Sense and Sensibility):

"... judged it wisest, from the experience of the past, to submit -- and therefore, ..."

 

William Shakespeare's response (from Venus and Adonis):

"At this Adonis smiles as in disdain"

What?!  I'm supposedly going to finish off my TBR, but not a single book is going to be a 5-star read?  You've got to be kidding me!  That's some motivation to keep on reading ...

 
 

C.   Will I discover a new favorite book / author / series? (page 309, line 23)

Jane Austen's response (from Pride and Prejudice):

"... be soon down again and soon dining at Longbourn, and the conclusion of ..."

William Shakespeare's response (from Love's Labours Lost):

"Suscribe to your deep oaths, and keep it, too."

That sounds like another "no" from both of you -- both answers are along the lines of "stick to what you already know."  You're really not explaining very well how this "finishing off my TBR" thing is supposed to work, you know?  Again, not really a tremendous amount of motivation you're giving me ... unless you mean I'll finish off that TBR because I'll DNF a whole lot of books.  I'll have you know that I typically don't count DNFs towards a reading challenge, though ... Oh well.  Moving on:

 

 

D.   Will I discover that a major twist (hopefully, for the [even] better) has occurred in one of my favorite series? (page 459, line 16)

Jane Austen's response (from Pride and Prejudice):

"'I can easily believe it.  You thought me then devoid of every proper ..."

William Shakespeare's response (from The Merchant of Venice):

"Content, in faith.  I'll seal to such a bond"

Aha!  This makes more sense.  A new twist, especially one for the even better, is surely going to keep me reading, because I'll want to know how it ultimately plays out.  Seems now we're (finally) getting somewhere.

 

 

E.   Will I finish all of my reading challenges in 2019? (page 69, line 7)

Jane Austen's response (from Sense and Sensibility):

"... regret that they were only eight altogether."

William Shakespeare's response (from Henry VI, Part II):

"... holden at Bury the first of this next month."

Err ... and by that you mean ... what, Will?  I can see that Miss Austen thinks I'll embark on eight reading challenges (no "only" about it, though, I can assure you, Jane!) and I'll easily make mincemeat of them.  But what's the reference to Bury St. Edmunds supposed to mean, Will?  Or do you mean I'll "bury" those challenges?  It doesn't really make sense since you're clearly referencing the place and not the verb, but I think I'm just going to write this one off as one of your lesser known (and, um, I'm sorry to say, less succesful) witticisms.

 

 

F.   Will I stay within my book budget in 2019? (page 98, line 5)

Jane Austen's response (from Sense and Sensibility):

"... pleasure at seeing them in London, making the usual enquiries about their ..."

William Shakespeare's response (from Henry VI, Part III):

"And were I strong, I would not shun their fury."

Uh, oh.  I think this doesn't bode well for my book budget.  Miss Austen has me touring my usual London book haunts (which invariably ends up disastrously as far as any budgetary plans are concerned).  And Will Shakespeare thinks I'm just going to cave in to pressure ... which, I'm afraid, just may turn out a rather astute assessment, when faced with shelves and shelves of shiny, sparkling new books in a favorite store ... or on the website of an online seller.  OK, I guess I had better rethink the size of that book buying allowance ...
 
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review 2018-11-20 13:28
24 Festive Tasks: Door 18 - Winter Solstice / Yuletide, Book
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
The Thirteenth Tale - Juliet Stevenson,Diane Setterfield

Somewhat too self-involved for my taste, though in a first novel dealing with identity and the autobiographies we create for ourselves that probably shouldn't have come as a total surprise ... and I'll grant Setterfield that it doesn't exactly have "first novel" written right across its forehead.  The story's central underpinning is one of my absolute no-go tropes, however

(a secret baby)

(spoiler show)

-- and I'm sorry, but the days when I would have found the two (!) generations of Angelfield / March children's upbringing and childhood, or the household as such for that matter, anything even approaching romantic, wild or desirable are long gone. 

 

Far and away the best scene is the one summed up in isanythingopen's 70% mark status update -- a doctor's prescription of Sherlock Holmes as a cure for a cold and for getting overly romantically caught up in an identification with 19th century women's literature.  (Writer, heed thy own words, I'm bound to add.)

 

3 1/2 stars because I'm feeling generous and the writing actually is quite atmospheric whenever it isn't trying too hard.

 

The framework narrative mostly takes place in December, so I'm counting this book towards the Winter Solstice / Yuletide square of 24 Festive Tasks.

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