Twelve Books for Christmas

The Cheshire Library has a lot of new books to help brighten your holiday. Here’s a sampler:

1. Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms (Romance)

A Christmas anthology. Each story features rugged cowboys, the women who’ve lassoed their hearts…and the Christmas miracles that bring them together. Whether it’s a lonely spinster finding passion at last…an infamous outlaw-turned-lawman reaffirming the love that keeps him whole…a lost and broken drifter discovering family in unlikely places…a Texas Ranger risking it all for one remarkable woman…two lovers bringing together a family ripped apart by prejudice…or reunited lovers given a second chance to correct past mistakes…a Christmas spent in a cowboy’s arms is full of hope, laughter, and―most of all―love.

2. Christmas with Southern Living 2017 (Cookbook)

For 2017, Christmas with Southern Living is completely new, with all of the menu and décor ideas that you’ve come to expect, along with more than 100 recipes especially created for holiday cooking, baking, entertaining, and gift giving. This year’s edition includes menus and decorating ideas for every corner of your home, as well as tips and tricks on surprising ways to use leftovers, serve dishes, and more!

3. The Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost (Mystery)

When Holly White’s fiancé cancels their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go, Holly heads home with a broken heart. Lucky for her, home in historic Mistletoe, Maine is magical during Christmastime — exactly what the doctor prescribed. However,  her plan to drown her troubles in peppermints and snickerdoodles is upended when local grouch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society Margaret Fenwick is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly’s family tree farm.

4. Home for Christmas by Holly Chamberlin (Fiction)

At first glance, Nell King’s cozy home in Yorktide, Maine, seems a step down from the impeccably decorated Boston house she shared with her husband. But in the six years since he abruptly left to marry another woman, Nell and her almost-grown daughters have found real happiness and comfort here. Now, faced with what may be their last Christmas together,  Nell is eager to make this holiday picture-perfect. But there’s a complication–and an opportunity . . . Nell’s first love, now a successful novelist, is in town for a book signing.

5. A Scandal in Battersea by Mercedes Lackey (Mystery)

Psychic Nan Killian and Medium Sarah Lyon-White and their ward Suki are celebrating Chritmas with their friends, Doctor John Watson, and his wife Mary, both Elemental Masters. However,  there are dark forces, powers older than mankind, powers that come awake on Christmas Eve. Women begin disappearing in the dark of night.  The whispers only begin when they start to reappear—because when they do, they are no longer sane.  And when Nan and Sarah and the Watsons are called on to examine these victims, they discover that it was no ordinary horror of the streets that drove them mad.

6. The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers (Mystery)

Nine mall Santas must find the imposter among them. An elderly lady seeks peace from her murderously loud neighbors at Christmastime. A young woman receives a mysterious invitation to Christmas dinner with a stranger. Niccolò Machiavelli sets out to save an Italian city. Sherlock Holmes’s one-time nemesis Irene Adler finds herself in an unexpected tangle in Paris while on an espionage assignment. Jane Austen searches for the Dowager Duchess of Wilborough’s stolen diamonds. These and other adventures  will whisk readers away to Christmases around the globe.

7. Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan (Fiction)

In the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne, the Christmas season has arrived. It’s a joyous time for family, friends, and feasting, as decorations sparkle along the town’s winding streets and shop windows glow with festive displays. And in Polly’s Little Beach Street Bakery, the aroma of gingerbread cookies and other treats tempts people in from the cold. But holiday bliss soon gives way to panic when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland. Now it will take all of the villagers to work together in order to ensure everyone has a happy holiday.

8. Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season by Elisabet der Nederlanden (Cookbook)

This instant holiday classic is packed with 50 recipes, each gorgeously photographed and meticulously tested, along with dozens of decorating and packaging ideas. Filled with reimagined favorites like Giant Molasses Spice Cookies and Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies; confections like Peppermint Bark, Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle, and Dark Chocolate–Hazelnut Fudge; and detailed instructions for gorgeous gingerbread houses, cookie place cards, and edible ornaments, this is a cookie book like no other.

9. The Ghost of Christmas Past by Rhys Brown (Mystery)

When private detective Molly Murphy Sullivan and her husband, Daniel, are invited for Christmas at a mansion on the Hudson, they gratefully accept, expecting a peaceful and relaxing holiday season. Not long after they arrive, however,  they learn that the host couple’s young daughter wandered out into the snow ten years ago and was never seen again.  No ransom note. No body ever found.  Then, on Christmas Eve, there is a knock at the door and a young girl stands there. ‘I’m Charlotte,’ she says. ‘I’ve come home.’

10. Mr. Dickens and His Carol: A Novel of Christmas Past by Samantha Silva (Fiction)

Charles Dickens is not feeling the Christmas spirit. His newest book is a  flop, the critics have turned against him, and relatives near and far hound him for money. While his wife plans a lavish holiday party for their ever-expanding family and circle of friends, Dickens has visions of the poor house. Frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace in his great palace of thinking, the city of London itself. On one of his long night walks he meets the mysterious Eleanor Lovejoy, who propels him on a Scrooge-like journey that tests everything he believes about generosity, friendship, ambition, and love.

11. Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire (Fiction)

Gregory Maguire returns with an inventive novel inspired by a timeless holiday legend, intertwining the story of the famous Nutcracker with the life of the mysterious toy maker named Drosselmeier. Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve. At the heart of this mysterious tale hovers Godfather Drosselmeier– the ominous, canny, one-eyed toy maker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky’s fairy tale ballet– who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.

12. The Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak (Fiction)

It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years Olivia,  Emma and Andrew Birch’s elder daughter, will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, has just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, and she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family. For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity.  In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…

Memories of Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book

Norman2I was sixteen years old when Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book was published. I was (and still am) a huge Rockwell fan and was delighted to discover this book under the tree on Christmas morning all those years ago.

I could write a book myself about how much I love this book, how I know every story in it by heart, how each of the 120 Rockwell illustrations are etched onto my brain. I still own it, and it’s a cherished part of my holiday.

I could never do justice to this book in a short blog post. Instead, I’ll let the world-famous authors whose works fill the pages speak for themselves.

The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallowed and so gracious is the time.
(Hamlet by William Shakespeare)

I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone.
(My Christmas Miracle by Taylor Caldwell)

No Santa Claus? Thank God he lives and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
(Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus by Francis P. Church)

My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
(Christmas Trees by Robert Frost)

“And so you see,” said Ursula, “I try to do a kindness in your name. And this is my Christmas present to you.” 
(A Gift of the Heart by Norman Vincent Peale)

She felt uplifted by a great surge of wonder and gratitude and compassion and love. And she knew what it was. It was the spirit of Christmas. And it was upon them all.
(The Miraculous Staircase by Arthur Gordon)

And a final message for peace on Earth and goodwill toward all:

God rest you merry, Innocents,
While innocence endures.
A sweeter Christmas than we to ours
May you bequeath to yours.
(A Carol for Children by Ogden Nash)

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – A Downloadable Audiobook Version

‘Twas the night before Christmas when everyone looks
For stories, and movies, and good holiday books.
Though the novels are placed on the shelves with care,
To help all the readers who are browsing there,
There are more than books all snug on their shelves,
For those seeking stories to entertain themselves.

Jacket.aspxVirtually speaking, there are audiobook delights
Such as A Christmas Blizzard, a lost man’s plight.
Or download a tale by author Brenda Novak,
The Heart of Christmas, where a woman looks back.
And the audio tale 12 Stories of Christmas,
Trust me, you won’t want to miss this.
Pastor Robert Morgan’s book, a collection of tales,
He shares with his church on Christmas Eve never fails.

Or if tradition is what makes you sing,
A Christmas Carol by Dickens may be just the thing.
Jacket.aspxFully dramatized by an incredible cast,
This downloadable book enlivens the past.
Or the classic story The Bishop’s Wife,
Where an angel arrives to smooth away strife.
And the Gift of the Magi, O. Henry’s short story
Will fill your spirit with love and with glory.

If it’s romance you seek at this time of the year
Try All is Bright, All is Calm for some holiday cheer.
And Finally Home about a woman named Casie
Has wild horses, wild hearts, and is a little bit sassy!
Or travel back in the past with By Winter’s Light
A Christmas celebration, magical and bright.

Jacket.aspxMany love mystery as the holidays near
And turn to Hamish Macbeth at this time of the year.
The Scottish constable in A Highland Christmas
Is a cozy tradition you won’t want to miss.
In The Nightingale Before Christmas by Donna Andrews
A holiday tour turns deadly, and there are no clues!
Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas is sure to delight
As Jane Austen follows the trail to bring the answer to light.

There are so many more, but my poem is too long
And I haven’t even mentioned eBooks, DVDs, or songs.
All are available from the library for holiday cheer
On a cold winter’s night at the end of the year.

So if your cheeks are like roses, and your nose like a cherry
From being so busy you have no time to tarry,
Let someone else read you a book while you work
And drive, cook, and do all the things you can’t shirk.
You may exclaim like St. Nick, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”