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…

Three Holidays to Celebrate, Three Shows to Binge Watch

There are sparkly decorations everywhere, peppermint mochas are appearing at the coffee shop, and your mailbox is crammed with ads for door-buster sales. Yep, it’s the season for the gift-giving celebrations of Christmas and Hanukkah! But you don’t have to belong to any religion to have some fun this season. Here are a few cultural holidays that anyone can enjoy, along with television series to watch for hours on end while you’re off from work and school.

December 23

Festivus

Way back in December of 1997, millions of Seinfeld fans tuned in to watch the episode “The Strike” and were introduced to Festivus, a made-up holiday celebrated by Frank Costanza as a rebellion against the commercialism of Christmas. Fast forward to the present, and lots of people have taken to celebrating Festivus in their homes, dorms, and workplaces. The common rituals of Festivus are as follows:

1) Displaying the Festivus Pole – an unadorned aluminum pole. (You can actually buy these online!)
2) A celebratory Dinner – make anything you like, as long as it’s celebratory.
3) Airing of Grievances – this takes place immediately after dinner is served. Participants take turns complaining about how everyone has disappointed them in the past year.
4) Feats of Strength – after dinner, the head of the household selects a person to challenge to a wrestling match. Festivus officially ends when the head of the household is pinned.

Fun fact: Festivus actually goes back to 1966 when Seinfeld writer Dan O’Keefe’s father first instituted the tradition to celebrate an anniversary, and the family continued to celebrate it whenever Papa O’Keefe felt like it. Instead of an aluminum pole they had a clock in a bag, and they shared a Pepperidge Farm cake decorated with M&Ms

Binge Watch: Seinfeld. What else?

December 26

Boxing Day

Maybe you’ve seen Boxing Day on your wall calendar and had no idea what it was. Let’s Return Unwanted Gifts Day? A fisticuffs tournament over the last piece of pie? Nope! It’s a holiday in Great Britain and almost every place the British settled, except for the U.S. Nobody is sure where the name originated, though some believe it comes from the alms boxes set up in churches during the Advent season (which were then broken open and distributed on the 26th), or from the gift boxes presented to servants who had to work on Christmas but had the following day off.

Whatever purpose it once had, Boxing Day is now a relaxing day off to visit relatives, sit around and eat leftovers, and watch soccer. Among the wealthy, fox hunting used to be a popular Boxing Day activity before the practice was banned in 2004. Those with disposable income now hunt for bargains instead – it has become a huge shopping day, comparable to our Black Friday.

Binge Watch: If you’re not going to tune in to one of 10 Premier League games, pick up a Blu-Ray of The Paradise, a BBC series following a shop girl in Britain’s first department store.

December 26-January 1

Kwanzaa

Born out of the Black nationalist movement, Kwanzaa is a relatively young holiday, created in 1966 by Black Studies professor and activist Maulana Karenga as a way for African American to celebrate their heritage and connect to their community. It fuses elements from numerous African cultures – the term Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya Kwanza” or “first fruits of the harvest,” and draws from the harvest celebrations of the Ashanti, Yoruba, Ibo, and other West African tribes (from which most African Americans have descended). There’s feasting and singing, of course, but the most important part of Kwanzaa is celebration of the seven principles – things like creativity and self-determination – that are represented by lighting one candle each night of the holiday.

Kwanzaa reached its height in the 1980s and 1990s, and about 2% of the U.S. population celebrates the holiday today. However, Americans of any heritage can set out a kinara on the mantle and celebrate our country’s diverse history.

Binge Watch: Roots, Alex Haley’s award-winning exploration of his family’s background.

 

Which holidays are you celebrating this year?

Linda Reads: The Christmas He Loved Her by Juliana Stone

This is book two of the series The Bad Boys of Crystal Lake.  You can read about book one, The Summer He Came Home, here.

Jesse Edwards was killed in Afghanistan and his widow, Raine, is having a very difficult time coping with his death.  Having an equally hard time is Jesse’s fraternal twin, Jake, who served with Jesse and was there when Jesse was killed.  What complicates the situation even more, Jesse, Jake and Raine were best friends growing up together.  Raine loved both brothers in different ways, but chose Jesse to marry – leaving Jake heartbroken.   Because he can’t come to terms with Jesse’s death and he can’t face Raine, Jake stays away from Crystal Lake.  Eighteen months go by before he has the courage to come home for Christmas.

Raine Edwards is barely coping with her husband Jesse’s death.  She’s depressed and isolates herself from everyone.  Jake is her best friend and she can’t understand why he is avoiding coming home to help her through her grief.  When he finally does comes home, Raine is angry, hurt and confused.

This book is an emotional roller coaster that follows Jake and Raine from a childhood friendship to devastating grief and through every emotion imaginable until they find love.

The Christmas He Loved Her isn’t your typical Christmas story.  The grief and pain of these two characters tears at your heart.  Even though they are surrounded by family, friends and the whole town of Crystal Lake, their struggle is heart wrenching.  But love has amazing healing powers and their journey is a very enjoyable read!