Saturday, December 22, 2018

Wrapping up Holiday Reading

First, Happy Solstice everyone--I am thrilled that we've turned the corner and the days will start getting longer again. I crave the sun.

I can hardly believe I haven't posted since December 1, but work has been crazy busy, prepping for Christmas takes time, and what's left goes into reading to keep me sane.

Here's what I read for the holidays this year:

The Twelve Clues of Christmas, by Rhys Bowen - my friend Rae gave it 4 stars on Goodreads and she is very sparing with her stars. It was a fun bit of English Christmas set in the 1930s and featuring an impoverished young lady, 32nd in the line of succession. Nothing deep or meaningful, but I liked the premise, a serial murderer who planned the murders around the Twelve Days of Christmas song.

The Nutcracker, by E.T.A. Hoffmann - read with the Goodreads True Book Talk group. This was my second encounter with the story that provided the inspiration for Tchaikovsky's incomparable ballet (I listened to Christopher Plummer read a version of this years ago), but I still think the ballet is better than the story. The best thing about the book, and I'm not disparaging it, were the illustrations by Maurice Sendak. I would love to see a production of the ballet that uses his set design. The introduction that he wrote about his work on the production was quite good.

Winter Solstice, by Elin Hilderbrand - the fourth in the Winter Street series about the Quinn family, set on Nantucket, Boston, and New York. I love this series and am sorry that this is the last book--I enjoy the food, the clothes, the traditions, the restaurants. I find myself looking up places for the next time I go to NYC, and now Nantucket is on my bucket list of places to visit...though not in summer, I think! Hilderbrand has scads of summer novels, but they don't appeal to me. I like the winter setting. When is Hallmark going to adapt these? They would be perfect.

The Holly-Tree Inn, by Charles Dickens - the complete 1855 Christmas number of Dickens' periodical Household Words. This is the first Dickens’ Christmas number that I have read that had multiple authors, and the editor provided an excellent introduction as well as terrific notes and good biographical notes on the various authors. The stories themselves were mostly grim, with the exception of Dickens’ The Boots, but the whole was very satisfying. This is a terrific addition to my Dickens collection and well worth reading--short but not all the Christmasy, actually.

The Ghost of Christmas Past, by Rhy Bowen - I stumbled upon this title in someone's blog (sorry, I don't remember where) and it appealed to me. Another easy mystery, this time featuring Molly Murphy, and set in NYC in 1906. I love novels set in NYC, and easy is good right now! Just started it today.

Happy Holidays...Happy Reading!


  1. The Twelve Clues of Christmas sounds awesome, as does The Ghost of Christmas Past. If I don't get to them this December, I'm putting them on my list for next year. Have a very Merry Christmas!! :)

  2. I so dearly loved the experience of reading The Twelve Clues of Christmas! (Reminds me I'll need to do a re-read in a few years, because I read it at least 5 years ago.)
    And Elin Hilderbrand's Quinn Family Christmas Series! Loved each and every book and was so happy when she was persuaded to write the fourth and final novel. A good send-off for the Quinns.
    Hilderbrand has started a new series with her novel Winter in Paradise, which is set in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the author resides in winter. (Even after the devastating hurricane damage that occurred in two hurricanes in 2017).

    1. Thanks for eating me know about Winter in Paradise. I will definitely check that one out.

  3. I did not know that The Nutcracker Ballet was based on this story. It is so interesting that you thioght that the ballet was better, I really should give this s read myself. I would really like to at least spend some time looking at Maurice Sendak's illustrations.

  4. I love your seasonally themed reading! So cool that you are actually reading Household Words! As a Dickens fan-girl I have shamefully never read ANY of his Christmas stories. I really need to remedy that.

    Seasons Greetings and a Happy New Year!

  5. Some wonderful seasonal reading! I received a review copy of The Nutcracker a few years ago and found that the ballet was much more to my liking, too.

    Will add Rhys Bowen's Twelve Clues to my list for next year since I really enjoyed Her Royal Spyness (the first in the series)... and then continue with the series.

    Winter Solstice was my Christmas read last year and I'm sorry there won't be another visit with the Quinn family this season. Hallmark should definitely adapt this series! I read Winter in Paradise this week while I was sick. It's set in the US Virgin Islands. I rolled my eyes a bit at the premise, but it is an enjoyable story. I'll look for the second installment next year.

    Hope you and your family enjoy the holidays!

  6. Hmmm...Holly Tree Inn sounds very interesting, but I'm a bit unclear. Is it a collection Dickens compiled by real authors, or is it a fiction...where the narrator recounts tales of other guests at the Holly Tree Inn?

    1. Yes, the way Dickens set up this one, is that he wrote the first story that frames the whole collection--a man who is emigrating to America after being jilted by his fiance is snowed up in an inn on the way to Liverpool. The premise is that gathered around the fire, the other guests tell stories, which are authored by Wilkie Collins, William Howitt, Adelaide Anne Procter, Harriet Parr, and Dickens, who contributes a total of two stories plus the final chapter. He also wrote passages linking the stories together, and edited everything. In October 1855, Dickens solicited contributions to this collection, spelling out very loosely what he was after.

  7. Jane, I have that version of the Nutcracker; it's wonderful.

    Merry Christmas; hope it's special.