What I’m Reading This December

Ah December. The final month of the year. It’s also the perfect most month to kick start a season of cozy reading sessions. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my own reading habits, it’s that I cannot stand Christmastime novels. The only one I do enjoy is THE CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens. I haven’t found any that aren’t “fluffy” or too movie-like. If you have any Christmastime stories you enjoy – Victorian set or more modern – please feel free to share your recommendations! For now, here are the books I will read this December

Author: Ron Schwab
Publication Date: August 23, 2022
Length: 302 Pages
Genre: Western, Western Fiction, Frontier & Pioneer Western Fiction

“Ron Schwab is the author of the popular Western series, The Law Wranglers, The Coyote Saga, and The Lockes, as well as several standalone novels, including Grit, a winner of the Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award for Best Western Novel, and Cut Nose, a finalist for the Western Writers of America Best Western Historical Novel. He is a member of the Western Writers of America, Western Fictioneers, and Mystery Writers of America.”

Hoping to escape his past and find creative inspiration, Western dime novelist Grant Coolidge heads west, landing in Lockwood, a burgeoning railroad town in Wyoming Territory. Struck by the beauty of the neighboring mountains and ranch lands and intrigued by the town’s inhabitants, he quickly settles into his new life west of the Mississippi.

But when the Lockwood sheriff is hospitalized, happenstance forces Grant to take up the badge. Plunged into the middle of a murder investigation, Grant must also juggle a budding romance and the townspeople’s continuing curiosity about their new sheriff . . . who also happens to be the author of some of their favorite novels.

I don’t normally go for Westerns, be them film, television or books. But for some reason this one didn’t seem so…cliche. Of course, I am basing this assumption on the synopsis alone. I’ll just have to see, won’t I?

Author: Gemma Jackson
Publication Date: March 1, 2018
Length: 418 pages
Genre: Historical European, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

“Gemma Jackson describes herself as an Irish Nomad. She has been around the world several times. Both backpacking and in great style. Gemma has danced with movie stars, met royalty and enjoyed the best cup of coffee of her life with the homeless in Denver, Colorado.

Life has kicked Gemma in the teeth and kissed her, through it all she grins and gets on with it. From her purple hair to her fat feet Gemma believes in enjoying life.”

In 1898 three young girls leave a Dublin orphanage to enter a life of domestic service. They are placed in the home of Captain Charles Whitmore but soon discover that the household is in turmoil. Charles, hoping to amass a fortune, is preparing to set off on a long sea voyage, deliberately leaving his wife Georgina almost penniless to fend for herself and the servants.

Georgina, who has been desperate to break free from a life of violent marital abuse, is relieved that he will be gone for some years, but nevertheless the future is frightening.

Then help comes from an unexpected quarter. An organisation that helps women escape lives of abuse or genteel poverty makes Georgina an offer. They propose that her house should become a school designed to train such women to seek employment in the American West. The very idea is at once shocking and appealing. Can Georgina step into the unknown and lead the women under her care into the future?

This book’s synopsis reminded me of A LITTLE PRINCESS by Frances Hodgson Burnett, written in 1905. Dad leaves for a long trip (or war), Of course the stories aren’t the same, but I loved the movie based on the book as a kid, and that’s partly why this book intrigued me. Not only that, but this book is set in 1898, just a few years before A LITTLE PRINCESS would’ve been published. And I love ironies like that!

Author: Leanne Kale Sparks
Publication Date: February 7, 2023
Length: 272 Pages
Genre: Crime, Thriller, Women Sleuths

“After a short career in law, Leanne Kale Sparks is returning to her first love—writing about murder, mayhem, and crime. Currently, she is an author with Crooked Lane Books and is working on a new series featuring an FBI agent hunting down her best friend’s murderer. The backdrop is the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the playground of her youth, and the place that will always be home. She currently resides in Texas with her husband and German Shepherd, Zoe.”

The stunning landscape of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains are among our greatest natural treasures. But there are deadly secrets lurking in the craggy heights, and FBI Special Agent Kendall Beck and Denver Homicide Detective Adam Taylor team up to investigate a kidnapping. When Taylor’s niece, Frankie, suddenly vanishes at a local hockey rink, it’s clear that there’s a predator on the loose—and now, the case has turned personal.
One discovery after another leads Beck and Taylor closer to the truth, as they close in on the devastating truth about the fates of the missing girls—and the many who came before them. Will they be able to find Frankie before it’s too late? In this thrilling story,  Leanne Kale Sparks weaves the threads of this harrowing drama and builds the intensity to a fever pitch.

I received a copy of this book for a pre-publication review on NetGalley. As always, this will not influence my thoughts about the story. It’s not a usual choice, so I am looking forward to seeing how this one will turn out.

Author: Jess Lourey
Publication Date: November 1, 2022
Length: 332 Pages
Genre: Crime and Domestic Thriller, Coming of Age

“Jess Lourey teaches, travels, and writes about secrets. She’s the Amazon Charts bestselling Edgar, Agatha, and Lefty-nominated, ITW Thriller award and Anthony award-winning author of nonfiction, children’s books, YA adventure, magical realism, and crime fiction. She’s a retired professor of writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft’s Excellence in Teaching fellowship, a TEDx presenter (check out her TEDx Talk to discover the surprising inspiration behind MAY DAY, her first published novel), and a leader of writing retreats for women and online creative writing classes for all.

She lives in Minneapolis with a rotating batch of foster kittens (and occasional foster puppies, but man are those goobers a lot of work). Drop by jessicalourey.com to find out more.”

Minnesota, 1977. For the teens of one close-knit community, summer means late-night swimming parties at the quarry, the county fair, and venturing into the tunnels beneath the city. But for two best friends, it’s not all fun and games.

Heather and Brenda have a secret. Something they saw in the dark. Something they can’t forget. They’ve decided to never tell a soul. But their vow is tested when their friend disappears—the second girl to vanish in a week. And yet the authorities are reluctant to investigate.

Heather is terrified that the missing girls are connected to what she and Brenda stumbled upon that night. Desperately searching for answers on her own, she learns that no one in her community is who they seem to be. Not the police, not the boys she met at the quarry, not even her parents. But she can’t stop digging because she knows those girls are in danger.

She also knows she’s next.

And suddenly I am into thrillers. Maybe this is the genre I never knew I needed. Action with a certain kind of pacing always seems to be missing in the Victorian era novels I choose. Is there such a thing as a Victorian Thriller? For now, I’ll stick with THE QUARRY GIRLS for a winter’s night read!

1 Comment

  1. Nice picks ❤️

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Budding #historian. Writer of #adventures and #sciencefantasy. Lover of mushrooms and libraries. Fan of #chocolate, #books and Pennsylvania history.

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