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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Last Reviews of the Year

We celebrate Christmas at the camp.  The kids came on Tuesday, Christmas Eve.  Erin and her crew left on Friday.  Amelia and her crew were back on Saturday.  It was a long and merry week, and after the final clean-up detail some good memories remain.  And a few extra pounds.

Guess who the Boomers are!
And I don't consider it a criticism, Mila.  :)
There is no WiFi at the camp and spotty cell reception, and I get home to find more iffy computer problems.  I'm still a little tired from the post-Christmas stuff (cleaning, clearing, etc.), but that is part of the process.  High energy, too much good food, fun and games with the kids--followed by the slow settling back into a normal routine.  The whole celebration takes about five days before everyone heads home, and I'm slowly becoming ready for the final chore here at our house--packing up the Christmas decorations.  

2019 Books read and scheduled (or not even reviewed yet):

Westering Women by Sandra Dallas
The Janes by Louisa Luna
Into the Fire by Greg Hurwitz
Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
The Museum of Desire by Jonathan Kellerman
The Perfect Kill by Helen Fields
Sword of Shadows by Jeri Westerson
The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan
 Who Speaks for the Damned  by C.S. Harris
The New Husband by D. J. Palmer
 The Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gleason

I wasn't especially taken with the first book in the Stillhouse Lake series and didn't follow up with the next two books.  However, after reading Bitter Falls, I kind of regret that... because I did enjoy this one.

Gwen Proctor attempts to lead a normal-as-possible life despite her horrific background as the wife of a serial killer-- stalked by those who hated her husband and by those who admired him.  Her kids, Lanny and Connor, are her priority, but she knows she can't fully protect them from even the every day problems of life, much less from the bullies and trolls concerning her husband.  

Although Gwen, her partner Sam, and the kids have found some security in Stillhouse Lake, things have changed and  are at best uncomfortable and at worst dangerous.  

When Gwen gets a new missing persons cold case--that of a young man missing for three years--she focuses on it, turning up new and disturbing information that will result in a terrifying situation for Gwen, her partner Sam, and the kids.

Characters from previous novels play their roles in this one.  Some characters I recognized from the first book, others were new to me.  It didn't matter that I skipped books 2 and 3 in the series; Bitter Falls didn't cause any confusion.  Rachel Caine's skillful recap fills in all you need to know to enjoy the plot.

I may go back and pick up the books I missed--or not--but I will be looking for the next one.

NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer
Mystery/Thriller.  Jan. 21, 2020.  Print length: 336 pages.

Journaled to Death by Heather Redmond is entertaining enough for a couple of hours.  

from description:  
Journaling vlogger Mandy Meadows strives to preserve her hyper-organised life while searching for her cousin's killer in this twisty mystery: first in a brand-new series.

A light cozy mystery.

Read in October.  Review scheduled for  

NetGalley/Severn House
Cozy Mystery.  Feb. 4, 2020.  Print length:  224 pages.

The Crossing is the first in a new series featuring Detective Louise Blackwell by Matt Brolly.   The Crossing begins with the brutal murder of a pensioner, an older, retired woman with no known enemies.  Among other injuries are two puncture wounds in her wrists.  Then an elderly Catholic priest is also found murdered in a grisly manner.  Are the murders random or selected for a personal reason?

Shocked at the murder of two elderly and seemingly good people, Louise struggles to find the connection.  Louise is also being harassed by a former partner who seems determined to see her fail.  (I despised him!)

Since it is the first in a new series, some of the characters are being introduced and will probably be developed further in successive books.

 NetGalley/Amazon Publishing
British Detectives.  Feb. 15, 2020.   

 And one of my favorites of the year:

Erik Larson's The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz is sharply focused on the man, his family, and friends from May 10, 1940 when Churchill took office until America finally enters the war.

The book is meticulously researched and still personal and relatable.  Churchill is presented in all his glory and all of his eccentricities.  Letters and diaries from friends and family fill in life during the period from Hitler's invasion of the Low Countries and the rapid fall of France, the crucial evacuation  at Dunkirk, the fear of occupation, and the devastation of the Blitz.

One thing I was not aware of was that in 1937 the Mass Observation Diary Project was formed.  The Archives provide primary source material of the everyday lives of the 500 volunteers.  An excellent source at any time, but during those years preceding and during the war--an amazing resource.  
A pioneering social research organisation, Mass Observation was founded in 1937 by anthropologist Tom Harrisson, film-maker Humphrey Jennings and poet Charles Madge. Their aim was to create an 'anthropology of ourselves', and by recruiting a team of observers and a panel of volunteer writers they studied the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain. This landmark digital project opens up revolutionary access to the archive. (Source:  the above link)
 The Splendid and the Vile ranks among my favorite nonfiction books this year (or ever), an absolutely engrossing account of disasters, courage, and defiance; of great leaders, elegant language, and of ordinary people.

Read in November.

NetGalley/Crown Publishing
History/Nonfiction.  Feb. 25, 2020.  Print length:  464 pages.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays!  And now we await the New Year and hope for peace, compassion, courtesy, and kindness in 2020.


  1. What a great picture...looks like lots of good sports in your family. :-)

    Wow, I really missed that Erik Larson book. I am a big fan of his writing, so I'm not sure how that one slipped under my radar. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Happy New Year, to you and yours.

    1. Thanks, Sam! It took a lot of persuading to get Fee to a) put on the pajamas, and 2) pose for a pic in them. :)

      I loved the Erik Larson book. So many personal details about the family, friends, the way people responded to the blitz and fear of invasion.

  2. My husband is reading the Larson book and says it's very good. I hope to get to it when he finishes!

    I hope you have a wonderful year of reading in 2020. I may not comment very often, but I do enjoy your reviews. Happy New Year!

    1. The Larson book was both entertaining (for me) and informative. It goes in my top ten WWII nonfiction. Hope your husband enjoys it as much as I did! Thanks for taking the time to comment, Les.

  3. I love that picture you guys! So fun! Take your time and relax. Sounds like you've had some good reading. Wishing you and yours a very happy new year! Take care!

    1. Thanks, Kay--I like that Erin had a tripod, we could all be in the same pic this year. :) And off we all go into a new year and a new decade!

  4. Happy New Year!
    Thank you for such a lovely blog

    1. Thanks! Because I have two blogs (reading and crafting), I love seeing a crossover comment!

  5. I love the matching PJs! What a fun time! I think I am going to wait for the weekend before taking down the Christmas decorations. We will probably leave the tree up for awhile. I like having it up with the lights on in the evenings.

    I am glad you enjoyed Bitter Falls, and it is nice to know you can jump in there. I may end up doing that . . . Journaled to Death is another one I've been curious about. I am glad it was a fun read for you.

    I will have to look for The Splendid and the Vile. I think I might like that. I am hoping to read more nonfiction this year, but we'll see.

    I hope you have a Happy New Year, Jenclair!

    1. For years, Amelia has given the little (well, not so little any more) ones matching Christmas pjs. This year we all got pajamas! I was thrilled--I love pajamas.

      Hope Mouse had a wonderful Christmas! And you and your husband, too. :)

  6. That's a great pic! Looks like everyone had a fun time! And it seems like you'd had a great reading year, too! Hope you've a wonderful year ahead, Jenclair!

    1. Thanks, Melody! And thanks for the Christmas Card! Hope we all have good books in 2020. :)

  7. Oh I need to read Journaled to Death -- it sounds fun! Especially as I do journal!

    1. And OMG, that is the cutest photo!

    2. It was kind of interesting to think about those "vloggers" or influencers and there routines. Of course, it helped that there was a murder!

      Thanks to Erin, we have a picture of the whole family together. :) In the pajamas Amelia gave us for Christmas--I'm a great fan of pajamas!

  8. What a wonderful picture. Beautiful family!!!!

    1. Thanks, Penne! Usually, only the kids get matching pajamas, I was so excited that Amelia gave all the adults pajamas this year. Hope your Christmas was warm and wonderful!

  9. Happy New Year! What a wonderful family photo! Now I think you need some time to relax with some books :) Wishing you a great year ahead and thank you for the reviews - I need to check out some of these.

    1. Oh, yes--books equal recovery in our world! :)

  10. I'm really looking forward to Larson's book!

    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Cathy!

  11. Fun pic, beautiful family (including your pooches!)

    I love a good mystery series so I'm going to do more research on The Crossing. I did read Rachel Caine's first and second in this series, DNF'd the third... but now am curious about picking up this one. It had just started to get too depressing and repetitive, but I'm always open to try these books again.

    And Larson-- I have the one about the Worlds Fair and the one about the Lusitania on my husband's kindle, not sure why I'm hesitating as I love nonfiction. Have you read those by him yet?

    Enjoy your beginning of new year!

    1. Thanks, Cleo. I love that we had the whole family in one pic this year. :) You are right that there is a repetitive feeling about the Rachel Caine books--and I've only read the first and fourth!

      No, I haven't read anything else by Larson, but I am planning to now. I chose this one because I like WWII nonfiction, and it was so good that I plan to pick up his previous books.