Friday, January 24, 2014

January is the month for MURDER

If there's one thing that can be relied upon with certain regularity, it's that January will find me curled up with murder. Since it's no secret that I love cozy mysteries, I suppose this isn't surprising. I read murder mysteries all year round. January in particular though, is my month of mysteries, specifically Christmas mysteries.

It's the same every year. Halloween passes, the nights get longer and colder, and by mid-November I'm in the mood for spooky stories for a winter night. But I'm also thinking about Christmas coming, and I think Christmas and scary stories go hand in hand, so I promptly go and check out a dozen Christmas capers from the library. Then December happens and I haven't got time to read any of them. With all the Christmas planning and celebrating, it's a wonder I have time for anything at all.

So by the time January rolls around and everybody's schedule returns to normal and the winter snow begins in earnest, I've got a stack of Christmas mysteries that I finally have time to read. It happens every year and it's heaven. There's something so comforting about reading about intrepid sleuths who solve crimes while trying to stay warm at the ski lodge, get their Christmas cookies baked, find the perfect outfit for the holiday party, and still get back in time to open the presents. It extends the season for me, but without the stress of having to do all those things myself. Well, except the solving crimes part. I never have to do that.

This year I've read quite a few Christmas cozies (so get ready for a lot of reviews that seem like they're a month late...sorry). I've also been wayyyy into cozy detective shows. The benefit of those is that I could watch them why doing the Christmas knitting or wrapping presents (or sitting in bed with white cheddar popcorn...don't judge). Maybe I should do a blog post about the twenty or more cozy murder shows I've been watching for the past three months. Then again, I'd never be as good as my current favourite blog on the internet, this episode-by-episode Murder, She Wrote blog (I'm serious. It's real. And it's SPECTACULAR!).

(One is called Amos and the other is Seth. #factsIjustmadeup)
I hope Briony at Murder, She Blogged doesn't mind me sharing this image from her blog. Honestly, I love it so much I feel like I could do a post-by-post recap blog of her blog. Okay, that would be weird. This is why people give me confused looks a lot.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Christmas Secret, by Anne Perry (UPDATE: Wait, Anne Perry is WHO?)

UPDATE: Oh. my. GAWD. Can't even deal with this.
A Christmas Secret
Author: Anne Perry
Series: The Christmas Stories
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: November 7, 2006
Source: local library
View on Amazon

This is the first Anne Perry book I've ever read and I was pleasantly surprised. I guess I've always avoided her because, despite the "mystery" label, her covers always look like they belong on romance novels (not my favourite genre). And with a plot description about a 19th century vicar's wife who accompanies her husband to a remote village at Christmastime to replace the regular pastor, well, I was afraid the only "secret" she'd be uncovering would be the "secret to a happy marriage" and maybe a new biscuit recipe. But I am happy to say I was wrong.

A Christmas Secret is an atmospheric novel, in that the setting itself goes a long way to establish the mood of the book. Dominic and Clarice Corde are in a snow-covered village in December, experiencing the long nights without benefit of electricity or motor vehicles. Their duty is to reach out to the people in the community while at the same time being received as intruders. And what exactly happened to the last vicar? They were told he went away suddenly on personal business, but no one seems to have seen him leave or even heard him say where he was going.

Could something more sinister be at play? Well of course it could, that's what makes it a mystery. But the moody atmosphere had me half-expecting that the couple could uncover something truly evil at any moment, even in the seemingly idyllic setting of a church parish near Christmas. It reminded me a little of The Taker series by Alma Katsu, except without the psycho-sexual overtones, the ill-fated love affairs or supernatural storylines. So not at all, I guess.

But it wasn't that evil was lurking around every corner, it's that it could be. That's what I liked so much about the book. It reminded me of winter itself (I'm Canadian, so winter can be serious business at times). It's beautiful and tranquil and contemplative, but a little sinister. Winter means the potential to be snowbound, cut off from power sources and means of communication, left hungry, freezing, and even dead. Winter can kill you. And I think Anne Perry's novel captured that mood perfectly. But of course it was a murder mystery, so it wasn't winter that did the killing...I won't reveal any more than that.

I think I'll put Anne Perry on my "read again" list after this.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I'm back from blogger oblivion (also known as holidays with kids and flu)


I almost forgot I had a blog! I think my last post was "Last chance to win a book" but then I'm not sure if I even announced who won. Oh dear. December was long and busy. Sorry guys!

First things first.

The winner of the last giveaway, Postcards From Space, was (checking records...trying to remember where "records" are Facebook page...):

Michelle Bennetts Heumann!

Congratulations, Michelle! Michelle has been contacted and, I believe, has already received her book (which was sent by the author, who was thankfully a little more organized than I was). I should go update the last post with all the answers to where everything was and stuff.

Okay, next thing.

It's a whole new year so that means I should probably consider taking up my failed Shakespeare challenge again. I crashed and burned last year but maybe 2014 is the year. Maybe? At least this year I'd have a head start since I've already read half the plays. Wahoo! Or maybe I should just do an episode-by-episode Murder She Wrote blog instead.

And finally...

BOOK REVIEWS! I'm very far behind with these. Not that I've read that many books over the holidays. I was busy knitting, being sick, and watching every episode EVER of Murder, She Wrote (including the four TV movies...I kid you not). But I'm sure there are some books that I read but did not yet review. I should get on that.