Monday, December 12, 2011

Lisa C.'s Advice To Handling Holiday Stress

I don’t know about you, but after rushing around, cooking for family, decorating – or in my case watching neighbors light up the block, there’s nothing better than settling down to a good book. The holidays can be stressful so here are a few authors you might enjoy.

Alan Bradley – writes the Flavia de Luce mysteries. If you haven’t read Sweetnessat the Bottom of the Pie – it was Flavia’s debut on the sleuth scene. In it, Flavia is 11, precocious and a passion for chemistry (i.e. poison). She lives with her three sisters and father at the Buckshaw Estate in England. In Sweetness, Flavia happens upon a dead bird with a stamp on his beak and soon after an almost dead man in the vegetable garden. From that point on, Flavia becomes Nancy Drew mixed with Ramona the Pest. Solving crimes becomes her business, much to the chagrin of local law enforcement.

After Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie come The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag and A Red Herring without Mustard – further developing both Flavia’s crime-solving skills and propensity to torture her sisters. In the newest one, I amHalf-Sick of Shadows, we join Flavia in her laboratory at Buckshaw where she’s cooking up something to catch St. Nicholas. This is soon put aside as a film crew comes to the estate to do a film and with them a star, followed by a murder. Nothing better on a cold night than having a cup of tea and a enjoying the escapades of Flavia de Luce.

Deborah Lawrenson has written several books and her newest, The Lantern is a wonderful tale set in France, between two different time periods in a rambling old estate called Les GenÉvriers. It’s a love story, a mystery, and a ghost story. Eve falls in love with Dom and they eventually move to the South of France. But Dom has secrets and is resistant to telling Eve about his mysterious first wife. Meanwhile, all the creaking and odd nooks and crannies of Les GenÉvriers cause Eve to think the house is haunted. The second part of the story is told by one of the house’s earlier inhabitants, BÉnÉdicte Lincel who had more than her share of tragedies. Soon the stories are drawn together through Eve’s attempts to find out about Dom’s past. What the reader is left with is a haunting story of long buried family secrets and love.

Another fun mystery series is by Deborah Coonts. Wanna Get Lucky, Lucky Stiff and in 2012 So Damned Lucky – all feature the unforgetable, Lucky O’Toole, a 6 ft., statuesque brunette who is the problem solver of the mega Babylon Casino in Las Vegas. Lucky’s father (unbeknownst to her until recently) is the big boss of the casino. Her mother, (quite a handful) owns a brothel outside of town. No wonder Lucky wears the glitz, glamour and ruthlessness of Las Vegas as a second skin. Trouble in the way of murder seems to find Lucky who has to save the name of the Casino, and usually a friend or family member who is up to their ears in trouble. With her razor wit and sharp tongue, it is easy for readers to wait impatiently for the next installment.

--Lisa C.

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