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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

October and November Engagements

I have several projects ongoing. One is a genealogical project--Pushing and endlessly researching the origins of a number of my Irish immigrant ancestors,  mostly on my father's side of the family.  Researching ancestors in Ireland is much, much more difficult than researching English ancestors, and the former requires a completely different skill set.

Fortunately loads of people have done all of this before me, so there are lots of books and articles and websites to point the way. During the month of October I have learned so much that I am amazed. (Note: I have been researching these relatives since the late 1980s, but due to great advances in digitized records, I've been able to move forward this past month by leaps and bounds.)

My other project is novel writing. I'm taking another novel-writing class which will take me through December 11th. I love the pressure and camaraderie of good online writing classes. It keeps me from frittering my writing time going nowhere.

Sandy is my other project. She's been  needing to walk 3 to 4 miles a day, which takes  a while because she needs to sniff everything and listen to the wildlife--those saucy chipmunks, pesky red  squirrels, and  leaping deer! I grant her the permission to do this because all that sniffing tires her out!! (Thank goodness!)While she sniffs, I meander in my mind about my novel, for example.

OKAY--So as you can imagine I've been devouring books of more recent historiography about the Great Famine in Ireland, AND I've been reading Christmas novels.
I am more at peace moving forward with Nancy Thayer's Nantucket Island Christmas novel, Let It Snow.  And I will be finishing it in a day or two. It picked up the pace, but you know what the real problem is with this book?  Christina the  protagonist is a gutsy, yet  lovely person, but her romantic partner is a ZERO. He is so shallowly portrayed. He has no faults!!  A huge flaw in this type of book.  Yet I am enjoying Christina's relationship with young Wink, a nine-year-old girl who helps Christina in her toy shop.

I need some Christmas mysteries. Do you know of any good ones, or any new ones appearing on the scene? Do tell!


14 comments:

  1. Here's a link to my 'Christmas' shelf on Goodreads.

    https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/167537-cath-russell?shelf=christmas

    There are only 14 books on it I'm afraid, but several of them are mysteries that I've enjoyed. Planning to read The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories by P.D. James in December and possibly Portrait of a Murderer.

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    1. Thanks so much for the link! I have read and own The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories. Read them about 3 years ago and can't remember a thing about them, so I guess I should reread. And the Sarah Morgan--I have really liked several of her Christmas novels, so I'll try that, thank you. And I am saving the link when I need more.

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  2. Now I remember that you asked what Christmas books I might be reading, and I did not come back to answer you. Work has been so bad lately I am too tired to do anything when I get home.

    I don't know about any new Christmas mysteries. I liked two Christmas mysteries by Jane Haddaam, Not a Creature Was Stirring and A Stillness in Bethlehem. But I have already read those. I have one by Henry Kisor, Season’s Revenge, but I don't know much about it. I recently bought The Black-Headed Pins by Constance and Gwenyth Little, which is a vintage mystery.

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    1. Oh, Tracy, you must be counting the days until you can put your work life behind you. (Is it before Christmas or New Year's?) I'm happy for you that it will be soon.
      I'll look up the Jane Haddaam books, and will check out The Black-Headed Pins. Thank you!! And best wishes

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  3. It sounds as if you are very busy. Genealogy related research sounds so fascinating. My mother in law conducted some years ago. Like so many things, I can imagine how the advances in digitalization are revolutionary. Have fun with Sandy and happy reading.

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    1. Genealogy research is fascinating and, as you might have guessed, is extremely pain-staking and time-consuming, but very much worth the effort. Now to write up and share with relatives.
      Sandy is so much fun, it's getting so I hate to leave home! Can't wait for snow.

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  4. You do have your hands full with projects, but they all sound interesting and exciting! I'm pretty sure the only real Christmas books I've read is Elin Hilderbrand's recent series. If I remember correctly, you read them all, too. I didn't expect to enjoy them as much as I did, so will make note of any other suggestions you receive. Adding Let it Snow it my holiday reading list in the meantime.

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    1. Hi JoAnn,
      I don't know that I would recommend Let it Snow, really. There are so many other, much better, Christmas novels.
      If you have time to read only one, the very, very best and you can't go wrong with Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. It is so incredibly good. I know people who read it every Christmas season, and I have read it twice. It's set primarily in Scotland, though it starts out in Cornwall. Simply not to be missed! 6 stars out of 5.

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    2. Excellent suggestion, Judith! Thanks. I remember loving The Shell Seekers decades ago. Went on to read a couple of Pilcher's other novels, but not Winter Solstice.

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    3. JoAnn,
      So glad you like the idea of reading it this holiday season. It is so much fun. Maybe I'll go and read it again--it's just that good. Happy reading!

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  5. If you like Agatha Christie, you could try Hercule Poirot's Christmas, though there is little about the actual holiday in it. Better for that is the short story The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding.

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    1. Hi Ruthiella,
      Thanks for the suggestions! I have not read the short story and will hunt for that. I think it's in one of my Christmas mystery omnibuses, or should I say omnibi?

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  6. My grandmother raved about The Great Hunger: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/284962/the-great-hunger-by-cecil-woodham-smith/ Have you taken a look at that one? She once lent her copy to the son of a neighbor and most embarrassingly made me write to him to get it back, although I offered to buy her another copy. She wanted *her* copy!

    I missed seeing you had read Avalon! I just finished it a week or so ago. Compelling but dark and bleak, don't you think?

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    1. So sorry I haven't replied sooner--I think this got past me, but thank you.
      Yes, I have read Cecil Woodham Smith's history. He also discusses it in great detail in his work The Charge of the Light Brigade. I believe scholars still value his use of primary documents to inform his work. It was published in 1962, and as you can imagine, since that time Irish historians specializing in 19th century Irish history have collected and analyzed and scrutinized data that historians in Smith's time had not done. But--the number of deaths has not changed. It's still one million deaths and 1 million emigrated 1845-1852.
      And Avalon!! Oh gosh, how did I ever persist through that book? It wasn't that I didn't like it per se, it was so long and in various sections tediously so. Still, I am glad I read it. I really liked the Greenland portion.

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