The Amber Keeper, Freda Lightfoot
The Christmas Village , Melissa Ann Goodwin
Etta and Otto and Russell and James , Emma Hooper
No Holly for Miss Quinn, Miss Read
The Christmas Child, Hesba Stretton
Twelve Days of Christmas , Trisha Ashley
Bunkle Brings it Off, M Pardoe
The Matryoshka Murders, Kay Williams and Eileen Wyman
A Christmas Carol , Charles Dickens
Christmas at Nettleford, Malcolm Saville
Curtain Call or The Distinguished Thing , Anthony Quinn
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust , Alan Bradley
The Amber Keeper by Freda Lightfoot was my free Amazon book of the month. I’d never heard of the author, but she’s apparently previously written ‘forty sagas’ and has a loyal fan base. Read more here. The Christmassy books I picked all took about five minutes each to read. I did enjoy No Holly for Miss Quinn, again, even though I found I remembered it very well. Hesba Stretton is known for her moral tales like Alone in London. The Christmas Child, is in the same vein but Stretton is one of those nineteenth century authors who sugared the pill very successfully. No need to say more about Christmas at Nettleford, as I re-read it every Christmas. It’s such an accurate account of life in the 1950s.
With such a great title, I was very disappointed by The Matryoshka Murders. For a start, the title is misleading; we’re half way through before the first acknowledged murder. The first part of the story is set in Russia in 1991, a time when the country was in flux. Kate, the heroine, is visiting for a film festival where her team’s film will be shown. Foolishly, she takes a lot of video footage of what she sees around her and unwittingly gets a shot of two men who don’t want to be seen together. Pretty soon, attempts are being made on her life; is it really just because of that film? I found this section far too long and Kate a naïve idiot who puts the lives of her new Russian friends in danger.
Things hot up in Part Two, when Kate is safely (she thinks) back in New York. It turns out that the real threat is back home and an exciting time is had by all as she fights for her life again. It was pretty easy to guess who was behind the plot, and so was not as thrilling as it should have been. The redeeming feature for many people would be the lesbian interest. Kate is horrified by the treatment of gays in Russia, only to find that things are nearly as bad in the States, with her own lover in danger of having a ‘cure’ imposed on her by her father. For me, that wasn’t enough and I felt the book needed a lot of tightening up. This book will be out next January and I read it courtesy of NetGalley.
I’m currently re-reading Five Children and It, in preparation for Five Children on the Western Front, which was a nice surprise Christmas present.
Last year I read
Dead tree books: 60
Kindle books: 51
Library books: 14
Total books read 125 plus a few re-reads not included in my lists. I will try to go to the library more often. ‘Use it or lose it’, as they say.
Everyone is listing their books of the year, something I find very hard to do. The best book I read was probably The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. I thought it was brilliant. I really enjoyed Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens and the very last Cazalet book, All Change.