Celebrating A.A. Milne and National Winnie the Pooh day

Jan 18 is a day designated to celebrate Pooh and all the wisdom he imparted. Such a touching, entertaining and wise character. I’m glad Pooh’s timelessness makes him still popular.

A black bear named Winnie who lived at the London Zoo during World War I was the inspiration for the honey colored story bear we all love. The bear that guided us through Hundred Acre Woods, offering snippets that helped us set a whimsical, positive course through life.

I used to think Pooh originated in the 1960s, fathered by Walt Disney. But the books have been around since the late 1920s. They now appear in over 50 languages. The original stuffed Pooh lives at the New York Public Library.

Book Review of The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osmun

What can I say. It’s the best of books, it’s the worst of books. The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman. I want to love this story, but something about the structure and the writing fails to keep me reading.

My experience as a staff member of a multi-level senior facility makes me smile at the cliches of the personal habits of seniors and happenings at the facility. The resourcefulness of the residents in attempting to solve a real murder, not just the cases they’ve attempted to resolve in the past, in their Thursday meetings, is commendable.

But there’s just something about the slow-moving plot and confusion of characters that keeps this book from becoming a favorite. I must admit, I scanned the last few chapters, eager to get on with reading the latest Agatha Raisin mystery, Down the Hatch. I did order Richard Osman’s second novel, The Man Who Died Twice, however. I’m willing to give it a try. The man is definitely a supremely talented author. I think I’m just not in the mood for the style of The Thursday Murder Club right now.

Book Review of Murder She Edited by Kaitlyn Dunnett

Mikki Lincoln, main character of Murder She Edited, by Kaitlyn Dunnett, recently moved back to her home town of Lenape Falls, New York. As this story opens, she mysteriously inherits an old house and accompanying farm buildings and land.

Well, she’s almost inherited them. There is a stipulation. She must find and edit the diaries of the former resident(s) and post them online. That should be an easy task, as her retirement job is freelancing as an editor of manuscripts. The catch is, the house hasn’t been lived in for many years, and Mikki has no idea where the diarie(s) are located, and why the farm’s deceased owner wants them publicized.

The series is already a favorite and I really enjoyed this story. I read it during the time my husband was away on a trip. My solo existence somewhat resembled that of Mickie’s as I freelance as a content writer, Mikki as an editor. Mikki and I also share a love for vintage style and culture.

We both have cellphones but much prefer speaking with others on landline telephones. They have such style and were an important part of an earlier, more relaxed culture.

But back to Murder She Edited. Mikki nearly meets with death while staying at the farm to search for the journals she must edit to inherit. She had stumbled across evidence of suspicious activity in the barn at the farmstead, and apparently those responsible were determined to silence her.

In the end, she unravels a complex plot regarding the history of an earlier death that occurred at the house, a longtime local unsolved mystery.

I won’t mention whether the diaries are discovered, or otherwise spoil the ending for those who wish to read this fun tale for those who enjoy small town stories, old houses, and captivating mystery plots.

A Great Last Minute Christmas Gift for the Book Lover on Your List

The Dilemma of Last Minute Book Shopping

The hours are ticking quickly toward Christmas. Only one shopping day left, and many stores close early tomorrow. If you’re heading to the closest Barnes and Noble or independent bookstore on Christmas Eve morning, how can you select a book that makes a memorable last minute Christmas gift?

If you know what genre your friend or relative loves best, you’re way ahead of the game. Perhaps you even remember them mentioning a favorite author, or story from a series.

Books Suitable for Everyone Make Great Last Minute Gifts

But what if you haven’t a clue what kind of book they’d like best? One good tip is to consider their hobbies and favorite activities. Choose a non-fiction book on that topic, or find a work of fiction with a theme relating to something the person you’re shopping for enjoys.

Some books can work for most anyone, like books addressing how to solve problems we all face, or how to relieve stress.

Offer a Select-your-own Option

If you’re really uncertain what type of book to give as a gift, choose what your instincts tell you is best, but tuck the receipt inside the jacket so the “giftee” can exchange it for another if they really don’t care for it. Or, wrap up your Christmas shopping quickly by purchasing a gift certificate.

Give the Gift of a Cherished Second-hand Book

Don’t want to run to a store on the day before Christmas? Check your own library for something appropriate. Gifts of used books whether from a shop or your own collection can be even more welcome than a fresh off the shelf tome.

I would love to receive a book selected from the shelves of a like-minded friend. Similar to the comfort that comes from entering a house that’s been lived in and cherished, opening a book that’s been enjoyed by someone who cares for us can bring a sense of comfort. Especially if a note with a message is tucked inside it.

Merry Christmas to all of my followers and visitors. May Christmas find a new mystery, or whatever type of book you’re dreaming about beneath your tree.

Book Review of ‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas by Jacqueline Frost

If you love cozies, this one’s as cozy as can be. The town in which the story is set is called Mistletoe Maine. Really? I thought, as I began to read. Main character Holly has moved back home to help manage her parents’ Christmas tree farm/theme park (my impression) that’s buzzing with special Christmasy and wintry activities. They’re also planning to build an inn, so next year’s guests can have a 24 hour Christmas themed experience.

A ridiculously happy holiday seems imminent.

But then a local man is found stabbed to death, inside a giant bowl of red and white peppermint candy, during the town Christmas tree lighting. Yes, you read that correctly. So Holly ends up looking after her friend Caroline, of Caroline’s Cupcakes, the suspect whose knife was found to be the murder weapon.

I don’t mean to be critical. The writing is excellent, the story intriguing. The characters face challenges. It’s just that the Christmas theme seems a bit over the top, like the name of Holly’s cat “Cindy Lou Who”.

If you’re longing for a really fun and fantastic Christmas mystery story, you can’t go wrong with Twas the Knife Before Christmas by Jacqueline Frost.

The author, whose name is suspiciously suited to the tale, lives in rural Ohio. She loves kids and pets, and her stated goal is to make people smile. I must admit, this story brought me a bit of much needed amusement during this somewhat troubling Christmas season.

This is a sequel to Jacqueline Frost’s The Twelve Slays of Christmas. Maybe I’ll read that one next year. I’ve never felt it was essential to read books in order. I’m always discovering series’ I’ve overlooked until they’ve been around awhile.

Penny Mason’s Favorite Christmas Cozy Mysteries Set in Maine

Cozy mysteries set in Maine are great reads in any season. And, there’s perhaps no better state in which to set a Christmas story than Maine.

Here’s a mention of some favorite cozy Christmas season reads whose plots take place in the Vacationland state.

Leslie Meier – The Queen of Maine-Based Christmas Mystery Books

The Queen of holiday-themed cozy murder mysteries, Leslie Meier, has released a number of Christmas-based full-length stories, as well as anthologies, sometimes featuring the stories of other authors who love to write about our most northeastern state. Here’s a list sourced from the Cozy Mystery List blog.

Mistletoe Murder by Leslie Meier

A young mother in a small coastal Maine town prepares for Christmas with her husband and children, works as an operator at a mail order company, and investigates a murder. An early Lucy Stone cozy.

Another Lucy Stone Tinker’s Cove Maine Mystery. Who besides Leslie Meier could dream up a tale of murder based on a small town Christmas cookie exchange? Could someone be so protective of a secret Christmas cookie recipe that they would kill its suspected thief?

Christmas Carol Murder by Leslie Meier

When a real life miser is murdered, Lucy Stone, small town Maine mother and Tinker’s Cove newspaper staff member must solve the case while also acting in the town’s rendition of A Christmas Carol.

Christmas Anthologies by Leslie Meier and Other Authors:

Referenced From: Cozy Mystery List Blog

Christmas Sweets   ’19

Yule Log Murder  ’18 (Christmas anthology w/ Lee Hollis – the Hayley Powell Mystery Series) &‎ Barbara Ross – the Maine Clambake Mystery Series.)

Egg Nog Murder    ’16 (Christmas anthology with Lee Hollis & Barbara Ross)

A Winter Wonderland    ’12  (Christmas anthology w/ Fern Michaels, Holly Chamberlin, & Kristina McMorris) published chronologically after English Tea Murder (Christmas)

Gingerbread Cookie Murder   ’10 (Christmas anthology w/ Joanne Fluke & Laura Levine) published chronologically after Wicked Witch Murder in ’10

Candy Cane Murder     ’07 (Christmas anthology w/Joanne Fluke & Laura Levine) published chronologically after Bake Sale Murder in ’06  (Christmas)

Holiday Murder    ’17 – contains Mistletoe Murder (book #1) & Christmas Cookie Murder (book #6) (Christmas)

Shadows on a Maine Christmas by Lea Waite

I loved Lea Waite’s “Shadows” series focused on the antique print business. Maggie Summer returns to Maine in Shadows on a Maine Christmas. Will she and Will Brewer be frequently standing beneath the mistletoe, or will there be a distracting problem and possible danger that draws their attention to other concerns?

Secrets from the earlier life of a friend of Maggie’s elderly aunt threaten to disrupt the peace of the holidays in coastal Maine. It’s been quite some time since I enjoyed this one, but I wanted to include it as Lea Waite was one of my favorite authors. Sadly, she passed away recently.

A Pair of Christmas Tales by Kaitlyn Dunnett – another favorite author who excels in capturing the spirit of Maine during the holidays.

A Wee Christmas Homicide by Kaitlyn Dunnett

Romance and suspense mix in this story centered around Christmas toy frenzy and slow business for ski and shopping based Maine tourist businesses.

Ho Ho Homicide by Kaitlyn Dunnett

What promises to be a winter getaway becomes a dangerous adventure for Liss MacCrimmon the book’s heroine and husband Dan.

Any of these stories would make a great Christmastime read or the perfect gift for a mystery-loving friend. Thanks again to Cozy Mystery List Blog for the helpful reference in composing this post.