31 December 2021

Books Read Since December 1

Remember the rule: all books read during the Christmas season are Christmas books, and all the reviews are in Holiday Harbour. Just click on the links!

book icon  A Berkshire Christmas, compiled by David Green

book icon  Season's Greetings from the White House, Mary Evans Seeley

book icon  A Cheshire Christmas, compiled by Alan Brack

book icon  Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings, Liz Ireland

book icon  Rivers of London: Monday, Monday, Ben Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel, illustrated by Jose Maria Beroy and Jordi Escuin Llorach
Yes, every once in a while I break my "only Christmas books during the holidays" rule—anything "Rivers of London" will make me do it.

"Monday, Monday" is the sweet, sometimes silly, and adventurous story of a robbery taskforce operation, headed by hardass Miriam Stephanopolous, that has one weird quirk: an operative who caught a teen boy who snatches purses suddenly can't remember anything, but mumbles something about a werewolf. Of course "Falcon" (the Met code for Peter Grant, Thomas Nightingale, and the rest of the "weird lot") is called in, something Stephanopolous hates. Each part has an individual thread (part 1 shows Stephanopolous' world, including her home life, part 2 has flashbacks about Nightingale's "Hogwarts" training and later WWII experiences, part 3 shows Peter as an adjusting dad—and a concerned son, and part 4 has a "caper" story with Abigail and Foxglove), but all four parts intertwine in a cleverly told story with a rather joyful ending. All the individual stories, even Stephanopolous's, give you more insight into the characters; Abigail's fox friends reappear, as does Foxglove, and also Peter's parents; and we also get a look at Peter and Beverley's new twin daughters. A fun romp with food for thought.

Seriously, if you are not a person who reads "comic books," you need to read these. They fill in lots of characterization gaps and are great fun and sometimes touching.

book icon  A Lancashire Christmas, compiled by John Hudson

book icon  Here Comes Santa Paws, Laurien Berenson

book icon  Christmas Crackers: Tom Smith's Magical Invention, Peter Kimpton

book icon  Ideals Christmas 2021, from the editors of "Ideals"

book icon  A Derbyshire Christmas, compiled by Robert Innes-Smith

book icon  The Blessings of Christmas, Amy Newmark

My List of Dozen Best Books Read in 2021

book icon  The Sound of the Sea, Cynthia Barnett (the story of seashells, their use in commerce and in adornment, their place in the ecosystem, and their future with global warming)

book icon  The Seine, Elaine Scioline (it's not just the river that runs through Paris; the Seine in social, geological, and historical perspective)

book icon  Beyond (The Founding of Valdemar, Book 1), Mercedes Lackey (Lackey's finally back on track with this story of how Baron Valdemar escapes a ruthless regime with his people)

book icon  The Enigma Game, Elizabeth Wein (a biracial girl in World War II Britain looks for a place to serve; features a wonderful lead in Louisa and also Jamie Beaufort-Stuart from Code Name Verity)

book icon  Northland, Porter Fox (Fox canoes, rides aboard ship, and travels along the US/Canadian border)

book icon  The Secret History of Home Economics, Danielle Drellinger (not just for girls, but a fascinating book about how home economics studies led to women's freedom)

book icon  A Valiant Deceit, Stephanie Graves (book two in the Olive Bright, Pigeoneer, series, and even better than the first)

book icon  Uncle Tungsten, Oliver Sacks (Sacks' "chemical upbringing" in a decidedly non-stereotypical British family)

book icon  The Vanished Bride, Bella Ellis (the first of Ellis' Bront—Ď sisters mysteries, where Charlotte, Emily, and Anne manage to keep their characters and virtues while playing detective)

book icon  Birder on Berry Lane, Robert Tougias (a year in the life of birder Tougias in just exploring the countryside around his home)

book icon  This Hill, This Valley, Hal Borland (excerpts from Borland's long-running nature column in the "New York Times"; Gladys Taber suggested that everyone should have this book at their bedside)

book icon  Bryant & May: Oranges and Lemons, Christopher Fowler (the penultimate in Fowler's delightful mystery series, with the elderly pair and their gang of misfits investigating a mystery that involves a nursery rhyme)

Honorable mentions to:

book icon  The Consequences of Fear, Jacqueline Winspear (next in the Maisie Dobbs series, so always good)

book icon  The Mitford Murders, Jessica Fellows (governess to the famous Mitford sisters helps solve a murder)

book icon  The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places, Neil Oliver (British place hopping always good!)

book icon  Once Upon a Wardrobe, Patti Callihan (a little boy with a heart condition and his older, maths-obsessed sister seek to find out "where Narnia came from")