Chrerringham: Death Trap ~ by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards

Cute – I actually bought a second in this series – another Christmas book reviewed now but read earlier. In this one a man is found dead after a snowed-in Christmas party. It’s very short but enjoyable enough in a simple and escapist sort of way.

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Don't Be Home for Christmas ~ by Richard Witcliffe

It was this or a James Patterson does Christmas and this sounded preferable. It’s an odd book – a serious crime is about to be committed and the perpetrators have set it up to look like the protagonist is going to do it. So there’s a massive manhunt.

That’s the start – The setting is New York City between a day before Christmas to New Year’s Eve. The tension is good and skillfully built, but it’s a bit light because this is Christmas, after all. There are lots of deaths though. And it’s pretty fun overall.

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Cherringham: Secret Santa ~ by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards

Another cute goodie in this series – they’re all really short and even advertised as being great for commuters. From what I’ve read they’re not totally fluffy or romances. Good narrator.

*******
Cherringham: Secret Santa
by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards
read by Neil Dudgeon 2h 55m
rating: B+ / crime short story – fun
*******

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Evil Eye ~ by Madhuri Shekar

This is so short it’s almost like a short story, but it’s sold separately, and it’s rather expensive for under 2 hours, so I’ll give it its own review because it is quite good and well done. I listened to the sample and my interest was piqued. It’s also very very funny but twists into something else. Suspenseful and spooky but my limit of horror.

*******
Evil Eye
by Madhuri Shekar
read by small cast
1hr 38m
rating – 9 (although quite short)
*******

The thing is it’s an “Only on Audible production so there are lots of sound effects. I don’t usually like those but here it worked .

The story starts out with phone calls mostly between an Indian mother and her 29-year old daughter, Palavi, although there are a couple other characters. Mom is in India and the Palavi is in L.A. Mom wants her daughter to get married, and in short order but when she finds someone it’s not “right.”

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A Lot Like Christmas: Stories ~ by Connie Willis

If you’re looking for a light Christmas read and can tolerate short stories with a nice mix of romance and speculative fiction, along with a splash of religion and great humor, then I found a goodie by a favorite author.

At over 500 pages it’s kind of long, but with about a dozen or so stories of generally about 40-50 pages each it’s perfect. And I like Connie Willis for both her science fiction novels and short stories. She’s really a master.

*******
A Lot Like Christmas
by Connie Willis
2017 / 519 pp
read by Eliza Foss – 22h 16m
rating: 9.25
*******

Willis is a Christian of the Congregationalist variety so one of these stories zone in on the religious aspect of the holiday thank others. None go overboard though and the humor or light romance is maintained along with soft sci-fi. There are only a few less than stellar stories in the batch.

This may be one of those books I read annually because it readily does capturer the Christmas spirit.

A really good review at Elitist Books:
https://elitistbookreviews.com/2017/11/16/a-lot-like-christmas/

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Mr Dickens and His Carol ~ by Samantha Silva

*******
Mr Dickens and His Carol
by Samantha Silva
2017 / 288 pp
read by Euan Mortan- 8h 9m
rating 6 (liked parts) historical fiction
*******

I was disappointed but apparently a lot of folks loved it so take my view with a grain of salt. I was put off by a rather unlikeable man who seemed to be almost stalking his muse, a gorgeous young thing.

I’m familiar enough with Dickens’ life to know that he did do some womanizing and wounded his wife (and 10 children) terribly. I’m not fond of the man, but I enjoy his writing and he had nice liberal ideas with some exceptions.

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The Uninhabitable Earth ~ by David Wallace-Wells

If there was one book I’d give to my entire gift list for Christmas this year (coming up in 10 days) this would be the one. Climate change in my correct opinion is the number one issue facing the world today. Hands down. That said, this book is almost rather extreme I think, as do countless reviewers. Wallace-Wells calls himself an “alarmist” so what would one expect reading a book by him? It’s not for sissies.

*******
The Uninhabitable Earth:
Life After Warming
by David Wallace-Wells
2019 / 299 pp
read by author 8h 33m
rating – 9.75 / nonfiction
*******

At just under 300 pages, it’s not a long book but it attempts to do what other books on the subject have somehow avoided – comprehensively outline the overall effects of global warming and climate change on people. What will it look like and how will we survive?

The rather hyperbolic-seeming Introduction is not kidding. The bulk of the narrative gets right down to the nitty gritty with facts and figures and specific information using the worst evidence he could find I think, but because the scope is wide, the depth is never too complex for the layman.

The author has taken pains to organize the material carefully for relatively ease of understanding. It covers everything from heat, water, fire and hunger to economics, technology and politics as well as a kind of aftermath in places. But Wallace-Wells tells us he is not a pessimist; there may be a way out.

Yeah? After the last chapters I’m not so sure he really believes that.

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A Christmas Gathering by Anne Perry

I think I read one of Perry’s Christmas tales years ago and was unimpressed. I still am. The book is slow and pretentious. I suppose the main plot was okay and I did finish but … I’ll pass on any future opportunities. Perry seems to have a whole series of short Christmas mysteries.

A Christmas Gathering by Anne Perry
read by Jennifer Stirling
4h 44m
Rating- C/cozy historical mystery

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Murder at Melrose Court ~ by Karen Menuhin

Well it’s that time again and I’m reading Christmas books for the holidays. They’re usually rather fluffy mysteries but there are other thrown in. I can do anthologies.

*******
Murder at Melrose Court
by Karen Menuhin
2018 /
read by Sam Dewhurst-Phillips
rating: B / mystery
*******

Murder at Melrose Court is a cozy mystery in which the holidays play a light role. It’s along the lines of Agatha Christie but with an amateur detective and it’s a wee bit updated. It gets pretty interesting in the second half.

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Water Like a Stone ~ by Deborah Crombie

This story takes place mostly right at the week of Christmas so I saw that and decided to read it now. I like Crombie well enough – I read her Thanksgiving book – but she’s not anywhere near a favorite. Her series is about a detective team who go through their own relationship and is largely procedural but also authentic mystery, who-done-it. This one features friends and family so it’s even less procedural.

Water Like a Stone
by Deborah Crombie
2009 / 532 pages

read by Michael Deehy
rating – B / mystery

The writing is adequate, there are lots of characters and the plot is twisty and compelling. It’s a good book to cozy up with on a holiday evening .

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A Redbird Christmas ~ by Fannie Flagg

I sometimes save Christmasy books back through the year as I come across them. I did that with A Redbird Christmas.

A Redbird Christmas
by Fannie Flagg
read by Fannie Flagg
rating 7 (fun)/ fiction

A combination of human interest threads, humor, middle-age romance, a little girl. It’s a good Christmas yarn, but probably a tad smarmy otherwise.

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The Long Take ~ by Robin Robertson

The Long Take: A Noir Narrative

by Robin Robertson
2018 / 238 pages
read by Kerry Shale – 5h 26m
rating: 9.25/ historical fiction
*******

Innovative and excellent historical novel which includes a few pictures along with source notes. The era is the post-WWII years and the setting is mostly Los Angeles.

Our hero is Walker, a Nova Scotian veteran of the European battles who travels through New York to get to Los Angels and makes a brief stay in San Francisco.

Working as a reporter he sees and writes about the other vets, many homeless, who are trying to eke out a living on the streets of these places. Meanwhile he has his own problems and terrors.

Robertson is usually a highly regarded and honored poet and it definitely shows. The narrative looks like a long poem and includes different fonts for different aspects. I might like to read this again except that it’s pretty heavy hitting so I might not.

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