Murder at Christmas

December already . . .  And so many wonderfully seasonal books out there to keep you cozy on a frosty winter’s night. For example, one of literature’s most beloved detectives stars in Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, which I haven’t even read yet (gasp)! But I will be starting it shortly – I just have to wrap up Crimson Snow, first.
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I read a lot of mixed reviews for Crimson Snow (which is a collection of stories), so I really hemmed and hawed about adding it to my collection. But I am so glad I picked up a copy, because the stories are everything I hoped they would be. They are all set in the past, which makes them interesting from a historical perspective, and because they are short stories, you can sit down and read one from start to finish in a relatively short sitting. And in the Christmas season, where there is so much to do and so much going on, you might only have a few minutes at a time to sit down with a book.
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All the stories in Crimson Snow are murder mysteries, but with protagonists who are not as well known as Albert Campion, Hercule Poirot or Lord Peter Wimsey, for example. Nevertheless, the stories are quaint and enjoyable, with neat and tidy endings. Also, Martin Edwards’  introduction to each story is full of interesting tidbits about the author or the history of the particular story – so it’s educational, too!

Another great Christmas read is Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon. This is a full-length novel, also set is the past, having been originally published in 1937. It’s actually quite creepy at times, with all the loose ends tied up nicely at the end, and there are multiple murders to keep you guessing throughout.
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I’m sure you all have your Christmas reading well in hand at this point. But just in case anyone out there needs some additional ideas, I hope these have helped. Merry Christmas!

Christmas Books at Christmas time

Do you have books on your wish list? I sure do, and some of them are Christmas-themed, so I thought I would share them with you on this very special day, Christmas Eve.

First, Dear Santa published by Chronicle Books. ‘Children’s Christmas Letters and Wish Lists, 1870-1920’ how cool does that sound? Amazon’s link to the book shows a couple of sample pages with letters from 1896 and 1907, and they are adorable. It looks like the perfect addition to any Christmas enthusiast’s book collection:
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Next, A Christmas Carol: A Pop-Up Book by Chuck Fischer. Reviewers rave about the amazing detail and intricacies of the pop-ups, and frankly, I am desperately hoping to add this to my collection soon! It looks absolutely beautiful and also deserves a place in the Christmas Book aficionado’s library:
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*both images from the same link

Another version of Dickens‘ A Christmas Carol that I have on my wish list is the one illustrated by P.J. Lynch. The illustrations are lovely, and really bring the story to life. This book is could easily become a family heirloom.
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I wish all of you a happy, blessed Christmas! And may you read all the books you hope to in the New Year 😉

Broke & Bookish Secret Santa

Happy November, everyone! I have to apologize for not posting in over a month. Truth be told, I’ve been uninspired lately. BUT, I just found The Broke and the Bookish‘s Secret Santa and I’m so excited that I wanted to share it with you. There’s not much time left, though, so sign up now if you’re interested!

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http://www.brokeandbookish.com/2015/10/6th-annual-broke-bookish-secret-santa.html

This is such a great idea! Send in your address and a list of books you’ve got on your TBR list (you can even send a link to your wish list), along with some other details, and you’re in. I just signed up and I’m really looking forward to it. Enjoy, good luck, and Merry Christmas!

All I Want for Christmas…

Is there one book that really stands out as a gift that made a lasting impression? There is one book that immediately comes to my mind that I received when I was 8 years old. It’s called, My Big Christmas Book by Hayden McAllister and my dad gave it to me for Christmas. I poured over it that year and continued to read and re-read it for years after. It has many short stories, as well as songs and recipes, all interspersed between 24 installments of “Muffit, the little angel,” and it’s a whopping 327 pages!

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The illustrations are charming, and the stories are heart-warming. It was a wonderful gift, and I’ve treasured it all these years.

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Is there a special book (it doesn’t have to be about Christmas) in your collection that someone gave you? What makes it special?

Book Art for Christmas

To some of us, books are sacred objects, and should be left in their natural state. To others, however, re-inventing or up-cycling a book can bring new life to one that would otherwise have sat unused and unread, gathering dust and providing no new joys or insights to its owner. With that in mind, I found some delightful tutorials on how to make festive holiday decorations using old books. May your books be merry and bright!

1. How to Make a Holiday Tree Using a Paperback Book by Jeannie Nadja

2. Recycled Book Wreath Tutorial by MadeByMarzipan

3. Christmas Crafts: Hand Made Christmas Tree Ornaments by Heather Minnow (2 out of the 3 ornaments use books)

Coffee Table Books for the Christmas Season

Sometimes it doesn’t really feel like Christmas until your books are Christmas too. If your coffee table hasn’t embraced the holiday season, maybe some of these titles will help make your space a truly festive one.

The Little Book of Snowflakes by Kenneth Libretto

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This book is on the small side, measuring about six inches square. But don’t let its size fool you. Full of astounding photographs of magnified snowflakes, many people have expressed their wonder and disbelief thumbing through this one. It’s a definite conversation-starter! Click here for more info.

The Christmas Tree Book – A Collection of Fantasy Trees by Sharon Hays

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This book is beautifully done, filled with full-page photos of celebrity Christmas trees and trees from landmark places like Biltmore and Graceland. It was published in 1998, so it is now out of print, but click here for some used copies. Well worth every penny, this is a lovely book to spruce up any table. (8×10″)

A Fairy Tale Christmas by Karen Anderson. Decorations by R. A. Pesce

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Set in Lyndhurst, in New York state, each of the 15 rooms is themed after a different fairy tale and viewed through a Christmas lens. There’s an Alice in Wonderland tree, a Sleeping Beauty tree, Princess and the Pea, Peter Pan, and many more. Vibrant, full-page photographs are beautiful and captivating. Click here for more info. (8×10″)

Christopher Radko’s Heart of Christmas by Olivia Bell Buehl

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If you are at all familiar with the art of Christopher Radko’s Christmas ornaments, you will want to make sure this book is part of your collection. Excellent photography depicting spectacular trees and beautiful decorations, this book will add some holiday cheer to any room when it’s on display. Printed in 2001, it is still easy to find. (8×10)

And Lastly, even if you’re all grown up, there are always those classic children’s Christmas books that we never get too old for. One of them is unquestionably, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.

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This book makes people’s hearts smile, and I guarantee your guests will start flipping through it just to see those familiar illustrations one more time. We all know this classic: it brings to life every child’s dream of meeting Santa. For that reason, I recommend adding it to your Christmas décor. Young or old, we all love it!

Great Detective Fiction

As winter approaches, time spent indoors with a good book and a cup of something hot becomes more and more appealing. Something to aim for at the end of the day, even. But maybe you don’t know what to read. Perhaps you’ve read all the books from your Amazon wish list and those hours on the couch under a blanket are making you anxious because you don’t have any books waiting (unlikely for a book lover, I know).

Well, be anxious no more! I have just the thing for a chilly winter’s eve: great detective novels from the early 20th century. Do you enjoy Agatha Christie? Then you will surely like the works by these award-winning mystery writers.

John Dickson Carr – Master of the “locked room mystery” where the detective solves an impossible-seeming crime, his books are easy and delightful to read. Dr. Fell is the main detective in the books he wrote under this name, although there are a few other titles with a different detective figure. Carr is perhaps best known for The Hollow Man, published in 1935 (US title- The Three Coffins).  Carter Dickson was a pseudonym, and books under this name have Sir Henry Merrivale as the detective. Carr was prolific, and his work The Crooked Hinge (1938) is often cited as a classic of great detective fiction.

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Ngaio Marsh – More murder, mystery and detection from the 1930s make these books a fun way to spend an evening. Marsh’s first novel was published in 1934, and Death in a White Tie (1938) is one of my favorites. She wrote eight books in the 1930s, but went on writing until the early 1980s. The main detective figure in Marsh’s mysteries is British CID detective Roderick Alleyn.

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Dorothy L. Sayers – As with the others listed in this post, books by Dorothy Sayers are pure entertainment, with interesting historical aspects for the history-lover as well. Whose Body? was one of her most popular, released in 1923, although the bulk of her mysteries were written in the ’30s.  (Five Red Herrings- 1931, Have His Carcase- 1932, The Nine Tailors- 1934 and several others). Lord Peter Wimsey is her main detective figure; she and Ngaio Marsh were both “Queens of Crime” along with Agatha Christie.

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Favourite Christmas Books

For our neighbours to the south, the day after Thanksgiving marks the official start of the Christmas season. So in honour of our American friends, I thought I would do a post about Christmas memories. And since this blog focuses on books… You know where this is going.

One book that makes me pause and leaf through it every time I see it, is The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. I’m always a little sad at the end, but can’t help but get lost in the story again and again.

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Another one that recalls my earliest Christmas memories is The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden. This book is so heart-warming, that I guarantee you will enjoy it if you haven’t read it. And if you have already read it, I know you will agree.

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And so, with that nod to the start of the Christmas Season, once again I put the question to you, my readers. What are your favorite Christmas books? They don’t have to be children’s books, like the ones I just listed, but please do share whatever they are!