Thursday, December 31, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
From Park Row Books:
"The letter was short. A name, a time, a place.
Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.
Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant at Miss Brickett’s receives a letter of warning, detailing a name, a time, and a place. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see—her death the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.
Marion Lane, a first-year Inquirer-in-training, finds herself drawn ever deeper into the investigation. When her friend and colleague is framed for the crime, to clear his name she must sort through the hidden alliances at Miss Brickett’s and secrets dating back to WWII. Masterful, clever and deliciously suspenseful, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is a fresh take on the Agatha Christie-style locked-room murder mystery, with an exciting new heroine detective."
I loved the description of Willberg's debut novel! What's not to love - a hidden detective agency below the streets of London, wondrous, magical gadgets to aid in investigations, a spunky female apprentice - and that last descriptor - Agatha-Christie-style-locked-room murder mystery.
Initially on starting to read, I thought of Platform 9 ¾. And our lead protagonist reminded me a bit of Nancy Drew. That should give you an idea about the feel of Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder. I just knew I was going to love it.
Marion is a wonderful lead - clever, curious, dogged and determined to become a full fledged Inquirer. But she has to wend her way through what is truth, what are lies and what is reality to find the perpetrator. There are many, many choices for whodunit. There are numerous characters in the book and it did take me a few chapters to remember who was who.
The setting is so detailed! I could picture myself climbing down the trapdoor stairs to find a whole 'nother world. Willberg's imaginings are fantastical. The changing paths, the gadgets, the training and so much more. The name of the agency, Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries, conjures up time and place and a bygone method of crime solving. The 1958 time period is perfect. This book wouldn't work for me in a current time.
The plot is fairly involved and will keep the reader on their toes.
Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder was a unique, wonderfully imaginative, delightfully fun read that took me away from the worries of today. I had great fun walking in Marion's footsteps as pursued the mysteries of Miss Brickett's - and the name of the murderer. And that last page.....I'm hoping there's more in store for Marion Lane.
See for yourself - here's an excerpt of Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder.
Monday, December 21, 2020
Friday, December 18, 2020
Thursday, December 17, 2020
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Monday, December 14, 2020
Friday, December 11, 2020
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Monday, December 7, 2020
Friday, December 4, 2020
Thursday, December 3, 2020
The Cousins has all the right elements - three teens who are related, but haven't seen each other since they were young. Their parents don't speak to each other either and everyone has been estranged from the family matriarch for twenty five years. Her choice. She made it clear with a "You know what you did' letter to her four children. So, Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are quite surprised to be invited to Gull Cove Island to work for their grandmother's resort. The three are excited and hope to meet her. But things don't go quite as imagined...
The three leads are great - all with different personalities, strengths and weaknesses. Their interactions ring true with believable dialogue. I think Aubrey was my favorite character - she grows as the book progresses. They are each given a voice with their own chapters. Also given a historical voice are the parents - from when they were teens on the island. This gives the reader a chance to have a different perspective, knowing more about the why and the what of that ' You know what you did' letter.
The setting is well imagined and easy to picture. (I want to be on the beach!) But it is the mystery of what happened all those years ago that drives the book forward. The three are slowly putting things together....and then BAM....McManus throws in a twist, a revelation and promptly turns things in a different direction. I love being caught off guard and kept on my toes. And the last page provides one last gotcha.
The book moves along at a good clip with those twists. There's a romantic subplot that is well done and doesn't overshadow the mystery. There are some truths woven into the book as well - family relationships are complicated and messy sometimes.....
The Cousins was a fun, lazy Sunday read for me. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of The Cousins.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
From Tarcher Perigee:
"An inspiring guide to saying thank you, one heartfelt note at a time.
We all know that gratitude is good for us–but the real magic comes when we express it. Writer Gina Hamadey learned this life-changing lesson firsthand when a case of burnout and too many hours on social media left her feeling depleted and disconnected. In this engaging book, she chronicles how twelve months spent writing 365 thank-you notes to strangers, neighbors, family members, and friends shifted her perspective. Her journey shows that developing a lasting active gratitude practice can make you a happier person, heal complicated relationships, and reconnect you with the people you love–all with just a little bit of bravery at the mailbox."
How can we turn an often-dreaded task into a rewarding act of self-care that makes us feel more present, joyful, and connected? Whether we’re writing to a long-lost friend, a helpful neighbor, or a child’s teacher, this inspiring book helps us reflect on meaningful memories and shared experiences and express ourselves with authenticity, vulnerability, and heart. Informed by Hamadey’s year of discovery as well as interviews with experts on relationships, gratitude, and more, this deceptively simple guide offers a powerful way to jump-start your joy.
Hamadey found herself thanking not only family members and friends, but less expected people in her sphere, including local shopkeepers, physical therapists, long-ago career mentors, favorite authors, and more. Once you get going, you might find yourself cultivating an active gratitude practice, too–one heartfelt note of thanks at a time."
(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)