Wicked Good Late Winter Reads

We’re heading into March and February is over at last. What are you reading this week, this month, to get you through the end of winter (which in New England has been good old-fashioned cold and snowy)?FebBooks

Edith: I got four new cozies in the mail and have started with Julie Hyzy’s Home of the Braised in her fabulous White House Chef series. And can’t wait to read the other three, too!

Liz: I’m a little behind in my reading, but in addition to Lucy’s and Sheila’s mentioned above, looking forward to digging into Murder, She Barked by Krista Davis and Graveyard of Memories by Barry Eisler.

bertieplays the bluesBarb: I’m reading Bertie Plays the Blues by Alexander McCall Smith. I love his gentle optimism and laugh out loud humor. I’m a fan of all the series, No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, the Sunday Philosophy Club series, the Professor Von Igelfeld Entertainments, but most of all the 44 Scotland Street series and the adventures of poor Bertie, stuck with an overbearing mother. Perfect reading for the start of March. I’ve seen McCall Smith a couple of times, at the Boston Book Festival and the Key West Literary Seminar, and he cracks himself up, giggling at his own words as he reads. So charming.

Jessie: I just finished Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman and am now reading Stardust by Neil Gaiman and Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer.

Julie: I am so behind in my reading! Aside from the book I mentioned yesterday (Jab Jab Jab Right Hook), and the four books pictured above (all on my Kindle), I have downloaded A Tough Nut to Kill by Elizabeth Lee. This is a new series, and I noticed Facebook friends promoting it. I thought I’d give it a try–I love finding new series to love.

Readers: What’s up next on your bedside table or Kindle or i-thing?

Wicked Good Irish Reads

Yes, we’re still celebrating the release of Sheila Connolly’s Scandal in Skibbereen. What’s your favorite book by an Irish author, or one set in Ireland, at least? Any genre goes!

Edith: My neighbor Áine Greaney‘s 2011 novel Dance Lessons cover_dance_lessonshas to be my pick (other than Sheila’s series, of course, which I love). It’s a wonderful story of a young Irish-American Bostonian in Ireland looking for her roots, much like Sheila’s protagonist, Maura Donovan. Áine is a transplant from Ireland to Newburyport, Massachusetts. She won awards with her first novel, has a prize-winning book of short fiction out, and has also published a very useful non-fiction guide called Writer With a Day Job.  I highly recommend Dance Lessons.

Jessie: I love books by John Connolly. He is Irish but sets much of his work in Maine, both around Portland and up into the woods of the vast north. Some of his books are aimed at younger readers, like The Gates. I really enjoyed the spooky, whacky humor in that one!

Barb: I think I have to go with the novels of Dennis Lehane, particularly the Kenzie and Gennaro novels set in Dorchester, MA and The Given Day about a Boston Irish family and the police strike of 1919.

Liz: Jessie and Barb, I’m with you on John Connolly and Dennis Lehane – two of my all-time favorites. Lehane’s Live by Night was amazing too, kind of a sequel to The Given Day. I also love Tana French’s books: In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place. Her newest, Broken Harbor, is still in my TBR pile.

Julie: I love Irish playwrights. Eugene O’Neill. Roddy Doyle. Oscar Wilde. Not a huge Beckett fan, but he should be mentioned. And there are many Irish writers, including Maeve Binchy. As I said before, I love the tendency towards lyrical darkness mixed with humor.

Readers: Your favorite Irish-flavored read?

Wicked Good Reads: Ones I Always Meant to Read

What? You never read The Odyssey? Or David Copperfield? Or The Omnivore’s Dilemma? R U kidding me?

Yes, today’s topic is, The Book I Always Meant to Read But Haven’t Quite Gotten to Yet. Dear Wickeds, Dear Readers — tell us that book or books you’ve just been meaning to get around to. You know, when you get time?

jane-eyreLiz: I’ll confess – I never made it through Jane Eyre, despite many false starts and good intentions. I really want to read it and keep moving it around with my latest TBR pile – but it hasn’t happened yet. Eh, I know the story anyway!

warandpeaceJessie: I’ve never read Moby Dick or War and Peace. I feel a little low brow about that but apparently it doesn’t worry me enough to rectify the situation. After all, neither of them is in my TBR pile at the moment!

ivanhoeSherry: I tried reading War and Peace once, Jessie. I think I made it through ten pages and gave up. Ivanhoe stopped me too, although that was a long, long time ago. With so many wonderful mysteries and thrillers to read I have a hard time forcing myself to read something because I “should” or I think I should.

masterandmargaritaJulie: I have read Jane Eyre, but the other books are on my “tried but not yet” list. The Master and the Margarita is on my list. And Middlemarch. And there are a few more modern novels that I keep meaning to get to, but they go to the bottom of the list. PS, Liz, read the Eyre Affair. Will help you get through the original.

gg ourmaninhavanaBarb: Every writer I admire lists Graham Greene as a favorite author. So he’s on my list. Proust…I keep meaning to. Lolita. The list is so long.

omnivoreEdith: Sigh. Michale Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. That’s on my list. At least I read his Cooked, and loved it. I’m also the one who hasn’t read The Odyssey or David Copperfield. But when I have books like Julie Hyzy’s latest White House Chef mystery, Shelley Costa’s You Cannoli Die Once, and BB Oaks’ historical with Thoreau as the Concord Sherlock Holmes, how can I go wrong?

Readers: How about you? What have you always meant to read? One you still keep on the To Be Read pile? Or the one you just declared literary bankruptcy on?

Wicked Good Reads: What Santa Brought

What new book did you receive during the holidays? Wickeds share ours, and hope you’ll let us know what you’re reading, too.

Edith: I am deep into Michael Pollan’s Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. I never got around to reading his cooked-coverprevious books, but am loving this one. Wonderful writing about the four essential types of cooking: with fire (barbeque), water (stews, braises, soups), air (bread), and earth (fermented stuff). Being Pollan, he brings in the history of cooking, the politics of food, our current state of relying on prepared meals, his apprenticeships with these four kinds of food, and so much more, all written in a delightful voice.

Barb: When you finish it, Edith, you have to read The Botany of Desire. One of my favorite non-fiction books, evah.

Jessie: Alas, I received no books over the holidays. I greatballsofcheesgave a bunch as gifts however, and one was so cute I couldn’t help but leaf through it before wrapping it up. Great Balls of Cheese by Michelle Buffardi was a delight. Not only were the presentations creative and whimsical, the recipes sounded delicious and inventive. If you love cheese balls I highly recommend this read!

proheartLiz: I didn’t get any fiction for Christmas, but I got an amazing book by Julia Cameron, The Prosperous Heart: Creating a Life of “Enough.” If you’ve read Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, you’re familiar with her “digging deep” style of helping people overcome blocks to their creative self. The Prosperous Heart is similar – it offers activities and tasks to help people find their way to true prosperity in every area of their lives. Each week you tackle a new lesson. I’m looking forward to starting week two!

gift cardSherry: I didn’t get any books either. But I did get a lot of gift cards to book stores. I always ask for them and am so happy to use them during the year. I’m not sure what I’ll buy first because I have a huge stack of books in my to be read pile. Joy!

Barb: We have an extended family all-book Yankee swap. We started doing a CD swap about ten years ago, but then the younger generation starting asking what a CD was, so we gave it up. We tried DVDs, but somehow that didn’t work. People’s tastes were so different. The all book swap works. About twenty-one of us participate Books can be new or used. It’s a great way to find out what people are reading and go down new paths. As my daughter said, the online booksellers are always trying to sell you books just like the last one you bought, but a multi-generational book swap opens you up to new reading experiences.

1000whitewomenI got One Thousand White Women–the Journals of May Dodd, a fictional account of women who are sent in 1875 to inter-marry with the Cheyenne as a “civilizing influence.” It looks terrifc.

Readers: What new book did you receive or discover?

Wicked Good Gift Reads

Here are the reads the Wickeds are leaving under the tree this year for family and friends:

Liz: Through the Evil Days, Julia Spencer FlemingBillionaire Blend, Cleo Coyle; Excuses Begone, Dr. Wayne Dyer.

Sherry: Really? You want me to list what books I’m giving for Christmas? My mom reads this everyday. Shoot now she knows she’s going to get a book. However my husband doesn’t read this everyday so I’ll tell you what he’s getting. King and Maxwell by David Baldacci and The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly. I love both of these authors so it’s a win-win for me.

Edith: For the little kids in my life, The Magic Hat by Mem Fox and The Frog Wore Red Suspenders, a book of poems by Jack Prelutsky. Someone might get The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin. And I’m not sure what else!

Jessie: Since the people to whom I would give books have mentioned lately that they read this blog I think I’d be better off sharing books I’d like to receive! It may seem selfish but it will preserve the mystery and isn’t that what we’re all about here on the Wickeds? As an enthusiastic knitter I would adore a copy of both 150 Scandinavian Motifs by Mary Jane Mucklestone or Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges by Ann Budd. As a reader I would love to receive Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield.

Barb: Since I’m pretty sure my brother doesn’t read the blog, I’ll disclose that he’s getting The Doors Unhinged, by John Densmore. Ditto for my mother-in-law, who is getting The Aviator’s Wife, by Melanie Benjamin. If anyone out there happens to be shopping for me, I could go for No Man’s Nightingale by Ruth Rendell, The All Girl’s Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg, or Just One Evil Act, by Elizabeth George.

Readers: What are you giving? What’s on your list for Santa to get you?

Wicked Good Holiday Reads

We are talking about what we are reading for the holidays.

killercranberrySherry: I don’t usually seek out holiday books. But this year one sought out me and I’m so glad it did. Barb Goffman surprised me by using my name in her short story “Operation Knock Her Down a Peg”. Then I found out Sharon Daynard had a short story “Cheese It, The Cops” in the same anthology. So I’m reading The Killer Wore Cranberry: Room for Thirds a short story anthology with a Thanksgiving theme by Untreed Reads. Both stories are great! I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

reunionwithdeathEdith: I don’t think it has a holiday theme, except maybe summer vacation, but I’m reading Reunion With Death, Sheila Connolly’s standalone. And who doesn’t need a story about summer (in Italy) in December?

Jessie: I have a young family at home so most holiday reading is still centered around Christmas story books. We love A Jolly Christmas at the Patterprints by Vera and Helene Nyce and also The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza by David Shannon. Once the season is over I will do what I do almost every January and reread the Lucia books by E.F. Benson. They are one of my favorite ways to celebrate the new year.

Barb: Like Jessie, most of my holiday reads are children’s classics. My kids read them and now I’m putting them out hoping my granddaughter will eventually come to love them. We have Polar Express, of course, and so many versions of The Night Before Christmas. My new favorite is this spectacular pop up version. Family favorites include Raymond Briggs Father Christmas, a rather irreverent look at the old guy’s day, and Rumer Godden’s The Story of Holly and Ivy with illustrations by Barbara Cooney.

nightbeforechristmas

Julie:I love reading holiday themes in series I read. Agatha Christie had a few Christmas stories. Cleo Coyle’s Coffee Shop series has a few holiday entries. But my favorite holiday read? A Christmas Carol. My favorite story of all time.

Liz: I’m definitely going to read the holiday Coffee Shop books – they’ve been on my list for a while. But I think this year I’m going to pick up an old favorite – The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. And maybe ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Keeping it simple!

Readers: Do you like holiday reads? What are you reading?

Wicked Good Reads: Crime Bake Authors

We’re all headed to the New England Crime Bake tomorrow. Here are some of the books we’re planning to read by authors attending the conference. Tomorrow we’ll try to post live, and will do a report on Monday. Stay tuned!evil-days-new-lg

Edith: I plan to acquire, have signed, and read as soon as possible both Jessie’s Drizzled With Death, since I’m late on that one, and Julia Spencer-Fleming’s new Through The Evil Days. I love her series and can’t wait to dive in.

Liz: Me too, Edith! I finished Drizzled With Death on a recent business trip and loved it – now I just need Jessie’s signature. Love Julia Spencer-Fleming and the Clare/Russ series also. And, I have Daniel Palmer’s Stolen in my to-be-read pile also.

stoneColdcoverSherry: I’m looking forward to reading the Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold anthology by Level Best Books. It’s a book full of short stories set in New England. Perfect reading for those long winter nights! I am also looking forward to A Skeleton in the Family by Leigh Perry (aka Toni L.P. Kelner).

Barb: I need two, too. Katherine Hall Page’s The Body in the Piazza and Linda Barnes The Perfect Ghost. I’ll also be reading Through the Evil Days. I love that series.

Jessie: There are three that I am itching to acquire, complete with autographs: Lucy Burdette’s Topped Chef, Michael Nethercott’s The Seance Society and Hank Phillippi Ryan’s The Wrong Girl. It looks like a great season for reading!

Julie: I am moderating a panel on YA mysteries, and really enjoyed reading the books. They included Peter Abraham’s Echo Falls series (Down the Rabbit Hole is the first one), Kate Burak’s Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things, Beth Kanell’s Cold Midnight, and Kim Harrington’s The Dead and Buried.