Sunday, December 18, 2016

Catriona McPherson's Christmas Memory (and a giveaway, too)

Anyone who knows Catriona McPherson has fallen under her spell of Scottish charm and wit.  She is the person who immediately lights up a room and is the friend all want to spend time with.  Of course, her writing isn't too shabby either, as she has one of the wonderfully quirkiest minds an author could wish for.  Catriona's standalones are works of creative genius and her Dandy Gilver series is as delightful as it is thrilling.  That mind of Catriona's is a space of many stories, quite beyond the easily imaginable, and we readers are indeed fortunate that she chooses to use that imagination and talent for good (hehehe).  I have a treat for you from Catriona at the end of my chatter.   

In my enthusiasm for Catriona's latest creation, The Reek of Red Herrings, I pre-ordered it twice, and, thus, I now have an extra copy on hand.  I could send it back, but where's the fun in that.  So, what I've decided to do is a Christmas giveaway.  After all, the story takes place at Christmas.  

Here's how to enter.  For all of those commenting on the blog, I will put one entry into a hat for you (a Santa hat, of course) to win this latest book in the Dandy Gilver series.  At the end of the post is a gray box that contains either the words "no comments," if there aren't any yet, or it will read "2 comments," or however many comments there are so far.  Click on that to comment.   For those who are already followers of the blog or who become followers with this post, I will add an extra entry for you.  For those who share the post on FB, you get an extra entry, too.  So, you can have up to three entries to win.  Unfortunately, I will have to limit it to the United States this time, as I'm trying to get the book to you by Christmas.  You have until tomorrow at noon my time, Central Time, to enter.

Now, for the absolute best part of this post today.  Catriona has graciously written about a treasured Christmas memory, exclusively for this blog, and you readers will get to go back in time to Scotland when a fourteen-month-old Catriona was having a particularly memorable Christmas.  Well, she might remember more about it as an adult.  Oh, and it's full of all that wonderful Catriona/Scottish wording. 

             A Christmas Treasure by Catriona McPherson

On Christmas Eve 1966, when I was 14 months old and my sisters were 9, 6 and 3 years old, my dad hid a big old reel-to-reel tape recorder under the telly (the size of a sarcophagus in those pre-flatscreen days).

As usual, we got up at the crack of dawn, waited bursting with excitement for my mum to get a cup of tea and then lined up outside the living room door while my dad went to to see if Santa had been (i.e. turn on the Christmas-tree lights). He flipped the switch on the tape machine.

So it was that we got a tape of the four of us opening our Christmas presents. (Weve all got copies of it on discs now.) I dont contribute much beyond a bit of gurgling and some ear-splitting squeals. My mum occasionally says Look what Babys got and the other girls all pause and say Awwww! before going back to ripping paper off their own swag.

Sheila, the oldest, is most chuffed with her books Barchester Towers! she cries with apparent delight. Jane Eyre! I do wonder what a nine-year-old would make of Anthony Trollope for Christmas now.

Audrey got a talking doll Rosebud who says things like Can I have a biscuit? in cut-glass tones (think Julie Andrews), which cracks us all up on the tape.

Wendys credit column has plenty presents in it (she got a toy Post Office among other things) but her debit column has the fact that at one point I crawl over and sink my tiny teeth into some of her stocking fruit. She was never a grumpy wee girl. All she says is You know what? Shes eating my pear.

These days, every second of childhood is videoed (harrumph, bah humbug, get off my lawn) but all we had was that one snapshot of one Christmas morning. Its all the more precious for it.
Im not complaining about modern technology, though. Im a long way from them all this year and Skype will make my Christmas Day.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Favorite Reads of 2016 (So Far)

The reason that I labeled this post "My Favorite Reads of 2016 (So Far)" is because due to unforeseen circumstances I lost a couple of months reading time in 2016, and there are some books published in 2016 that I know I would have put on this list if the year hadn't run out before I read them.  I think that this year is going to require an addendum sometime early in 2017, after I've managed to read those 2016 books that got caught in the year-end crunch.  However, I did enjoy a great reading year with the books I did read.  So, here are sixteen books from 2016 that I absolutely loved from beginning to end, heavy with series' books, but some spectacular stand-alones, too.  

I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh 

       The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake by Terry Shames

                                                          Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye 

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King                        


 The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths      

                                           Walleye Junction by Karin Salvalaggi 

 Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson 

    Heart of Stone by James Ziskin

                                                 Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen 

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny 

                                Coffin Road by Peter May 

                                   The Queen's Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal 

Murder in Containment by Anne Cleeland 

                              Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths 

                                                     Say No More by Hank Phillippi Ryan 

Darktown by Thomas Mullen 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

What's in My Christmas Bag of Books This Year? Lots!

One present I've looked forward to the past decade is my Christmas Bag of Books that I give myself.  Even though I buy the books and put them in the Christmas-themed bag and put it under the tree, I still get excited knowing they are waiting for me on Christmas morning.  Playing Santa to myself is quite rewarding, especially with all the books I have coming for this year's bag.  Sixteen books!  I promise I've been a good girl.

Crosstalk by Connie Willis  (Connie Willis' Historical Time Travelers Books are some of my most favorite books, so I thought I'd give this new book of hers a try.)

Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver (Introduced to Mary Oliver by author and friend Kaye Wilkinson Barley, I think I've found a new poet and essayist in which to indulge.)

Shell Shocked Britain: The First World War's Legacy for Britain's Mental Health by Suzi Grogan  (This nonfiction book was in the bookstore of the WWI Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, and since I was planning on reading more of Charles Todd's Ian Rutledge series this winter, I thought it would be a good companion read.)

The Last Days of Night: A Novel by Graham Moore  (Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla, George Westinghouse, and J.P. Morgan all figure in the race to power the country when electric lights were
making their arrival.  I've long been interested in this particular piece of history, and a novel about it by Graham Moore is a no-brainer for me.)

Disappearance at Devil's Rock: A Novel by Paul Tremblay  (About Tremblay's novel A Headful of Ghosts, Stephen King said, “A Head Full of Ghosts scared the living hell out of me, and I’m pretty hard to scare.”  I've been wanting to read a Paul Tremblay novel since reading that quote, and I decided to start with this one.)

Out of Bounds by Val McDermid  (Available in the U.S on December 6th, I've ordered it from Book Depository instead because I like the UK cover better.  Val McDermid is a sure bet for a Christmas treat.  And, Erin Mitchel, who knows great books like nobody's business, says it is one of the best books she's read in 2016.)

Silent Nights: A British Library Crime Classic, edited by Martin Edwards  (I met Martin at Bouchercon New Orleans and was immediately smitten with his British accent and gentlemanly ways.  I know Martin has done lots of work with the series of British Library Crime Classics, and I'm sure I'll read more he's edited, as well as other edited ones.  I'm also interested in Martin's Lake District Mysteries and finally getting to his award-winning nonfiction book, The Golden Age of Murder )

Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes  (This title is available in the U.S. in ebook, but I wanted the paperback, so I once again turned to Book Depository to order that.  Elizabeth is an author I've wanted to get to for some time, so I made her a Christmas Bag purchase to ensure I get to her sooner rather than later.  Elizabeth is a former police intelligence analyst who lives in Norfolk.  That hooked me.  Also, it's another recommendation from Erin Mitchell, my book guru, as one of her favorite 2016 reads.)

The Blood Card: Stephens and Mephisto #3 by Elly Griffiths  (Ordering this from the British Book Depository is a matter of impatience for me, as it doesn't come out until 2017 in the U.S., and I want to get to it even before I receive an ARC of it for the U.S. edition.  Besides, I try to collect both U.S. and U.K. editions of Elly Griffiths', a.k.a. Domenica de Rosa's, books, both the Magic Men series and my beloved Ruth Galloway series.)

Commonwealth: A Novel by Ann Patchett  (I love everything Ann Patchett writes, and I haven't read this latest one published in September of this year, so it must go into the Christmas Bag of Books.) 

 Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover, edited by Paul Buckley  (I am fascinated by book covers, from complex to simple, from textured to flat.  I often want different editions of books just for their covers.  Penguin is a long-time favorite publisher of mine where covers are concerned.  I have several different Penguin editions for certain books.  One of the latest cover types for Penguin was the Graphic Novel cover, and I purchased several of the classics in these covers.  And, this Classic Penguin has a foreward by Audrey Niffenegger.)

Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan  (You had me at bookshop.  Also, recommended to me by friend Lesa Holstine, a librarian and blogger extraordinaire.)

The Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson (Even though I need to catch up in this series, I couldn't resist buying this latest one in the Dandy Gilver series, as there's a wedding and people are snowed in, and, of course, it's set in Scotland.)

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon  (I love YA/Teen fiction and don't get to read nearly enough these days, as I'm so heavy into mystery and crime.  I couldn't pass up this one for my Christmas Bag of Books after a hearty endorsement by fellow YA/Teen reader, fellow mystery/crime reader, and kick-butt blogger and friend Kristopher Zgorski.) 

Under the Harrow  by Flynn Berry  (I'd had my eye on this one for a while, and with the great reviews and placement of it on many best lists, I know it will be a great addition to my bag.)

Plaid and Plagiarism by Molly MacRae  (This book is the first in the Highland Bookshop Mystery series, and I have a giant Scottish reading fetish, so I'm really looking foward to getting in on the ground floor of this mystery series set in Scotland.  Of course, it also helps that Dru Ann Love, an amazing blogger and book enthusiast and friend, just recommended this book on her blog.)