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December Reads – 2020

Yes this is a picture of my December Reading Goal.

I would like to say I read all of the books on my to be read pile in December but I can’t. I also missed my goal of four books for the month. I did read three books from this pile. You can find my reviews of those books in posts during December. They were The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street by Karen White. I did enjoy that book and I would probably choose it as my favorite read for December. I also did see that she has the next book in that series done and it will be out in the fall 2021. I will be adding that to my list.

My second favorite for the month was Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva. That was an interesting holiday read and again, I would look for more from this author in the future.

The last book I completed for December was Murder in the First Edition by Lauren Elliott. It was a good cozy and the first by this author that I have read. I have another in this series that I hope to read in January. After I start that book, I will decide if I want to continue with that series. If I hadn’t purchased that second book, I may not have committed to another. It was a good book, if you are a cozy fan. It was well written but something didn’t pull me in to call it a favorite. I did like it well enough to finish the book so it may have been more about me and where I was at this month, than anything actually about the book. I wouldn’t discourage you from reading it, if you like cozies. We all have different tastes and this series may be something you will enjoy. And since I plan to read another one, I may change my mind later.

I had hoped to squeeze out at least one more read before the end of the month but it didn’t happen. If anything, I hope maybe I introduced you to a new author. Let me know if you have read any of these books and if you have any suggestions for me to check out in this new year.

I am thrilled to be starting a new year. I have probably spent too much time setting goals and that may be part of the reason my reading seems to be a little slow jumping out of the gate this month. I did decide what books to choose for my January picks but I found it difficult to choose which one to actually start reading.

I have started the new year out waffling between two books to read first but think I have finally settled on reading Midwinter Murders by Agatha Christie. I need to read Emma for sure this month because it is part of a Jane Austen reading thing from a Vlog I follow where the Vlogger invites other readers to discuss the book.

I hope to meet my minimum goal of four books this month. I will give it my best.

Have you set any reading goals? Is that something you even do?

While setting goals for this year, I decided my word for the year is Happiness. Not that I am not happy but 2020 has been difficult and I think I could be happier. This goal is set around a book – The Happiness Project. My next post will explain a little more about that project and my goal.

For now, happy reading and until next time…

Virginia

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

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The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street

Smoky silhouettes of church spires stamped against the bruised skies of a Charleston morning give testament to the reason why it’s called the Holy City. The steepled skyline at dawn is a familiar sight for early risers who enjoy a respite from the heat and humidity in summer, or appreciate the beauty of the sunrise through the Cooper River Bridge, or like hearing the chirps and calls of the thousands of birds and insects that populate our corner of the world.

Others, like me, awaken early only to shorten the night, to quiet the secret stirrings of the restless dead who wander during the darkest hours between sunset and sunrise. – An excerpt from Karen White’s The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street.

I bought this book a year ago in December 2019. Long before we knew what 2020 held for us. I chose to wait to read it this December because I needed to catch up with the books I hadn’t read in this series, so starting last summer I began the series from book one – The House on Tradd Street.

If I love a series, I will attempt to come back and finish them. I did love this series from the beginning. I read the first two books and didn’t realize that the series had continued for this long. In fact, this is book six in the series and seven will be out sometime in 2021. From a recent interview on YouTube with this author, book seven will be the last but Karen White says she has thought that before and her publisher has asked for more, so she ends her books with an epilogue in case her contract is extended.

This series of books is set in modern day Charleston and the main character, Melanie is an OCD Realtor who sees dead people and has to deal with houses that often have a few ghosts hanging around. The author says that some people say that Melanie has many of her own traits. She denies that Melanie is based on herself but does admit they have similarities and that she owns a labeling gun and knows how to use it.

Even though each book can be read alone, I would suggest reading the series from the beginning so that you can be introduced to the cast of supporting characters.

Melanie is compelled to deal with older homes, as a Realtor, but as the story begins, she actually hates them. She hates that most have a ghost or two lingering around the property that try to get her attention. She sings Abba songs to distract herself. If the ghosts weren’t enough, she also looks at the houses as money pits. As the series begins, she is not prepared when she inherits the house on Tradd Street. If not for her best friend Dr. Sophie Wallen-Arasi an archeologist who teaches at the local university and is a preservationist of old homes, Melanie probably would have sold the house at first sight.

During the series you meet more characters some good and some not so good, she adds a bit of romance, and always shows the importance of family.

Karen wrote the first book in this series in 2005 and it was published in 2008. She has written 19 other stand alone books besides this series plus a couple books that she has co-written with a couple other authors. Her stand alone books are more emotionally charged and she always looks forward to writing another in the Tradd Street series because she doesn’t have to start all over again with each book. She knows these characters and it feels like visiting old friends.

This series is infused with humor. The characters are well rounded and the plot lines are interesting. The ghost stories are not the kind that will keep you up at night by scaring you but the plot line may keep you up because of your need to finish the book.

I have a background in real estate and that may have been what initially drew me to these books. As a Realtor, I do know that most agents I worked with do have their own ghost stories. I did have one listing that made me a believer. I never actually saw a ghost and they didn’t talk to me but I definitely felt like someone was in the house with me when I knew I was alone.

Love this series and will be sad to see it come to an end. I know this author has other books for me to discover so that will hopefully ease any withdrawal pains. If you have not read this series and you like a mystery infused with a little bit of southern history centered around beautiful old homes that have ghosts, I highly recommend the Tradd Street Series. In case you’re interested – here is the order they go in:

The House on Tradd Street

The Girl on Legare Street

The Strangers on Montague Street

Return to Tradd Street

The Guests on South Battery

The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street.

I hope you are breezing through this holiday season and finding joy in each day. If I miss my Thursday post, it is because of the holidays and I have not finished my current read but I will be back next week with a new one.

Happy reading,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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December 2020 TBR

I am filling ( and feeling) my December 2020 to be read list with lots of holiday cheer. This is an ambitious list of books and doubt that I will make it through all but I will give it my best shot.

The first book that I have started is Karen White’s The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street. I actually bought this one last December and realized I needed to catch up with this series, so for the past year I started from the beginning and have now read everything in between. It is one of my favorite series, not only because it is a cozy mystery series but it also has a touch of paranormal with the old haunted houses in Charleston as the setting for these books. I will go into more detail when I actually finish this book and review later.

One is a Georgette Heyer – A Christmas Party – never read this author but I have heard good things and this was a gift from the past.

Of course I have to read a little Agatha Christie. Midwinter Murders contains short stories that would be good to read during the winter so if I don’t manage to finish this one in December it will definitely be on my January 2021 list.

The White Christmas Inn by Colleen Wright is actually a book I started last year but didn’t finish, so will hopefully finish this year.

Yuletide Homicide by Jennifer David Hesse is another series that I have yet to finish involving a character who practices Wicca secretly. Her books tend to be set around the Wiccan holidays.

The last two – A Merry Murder and Ringing in Murder by Kate Kingsbury are from a series that I have been reading for several years and is one of my yearly holiday favorites. They are cozy mysteries set pre-world war I in England at the Pennyfoot Hotel and the main character is Cecily Sinclair Baxter who always, against her husband’s, wishes gets involved with solving a murder.

I look forward to digging into these this month with something warm to drink, a blanket, and maybe the fireplace giving a warm glow to the room as I read.

I hope you are enjoying this holiday season, however you celebrate. Stay safe and read more.

Until next time,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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