Santa Claus

365 Challenge: Day 287 – Christmas (LIST: Holiday)

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Christmas: A Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas evolved over two millennia into a worldwide religious and secular celebration, incorporating many pre-Christian, pagan traditions into the festivities along the way. Today, Christmas is a time for family and friends to get together and exchange gifts, celebrating all that Santa Claus brings each year

christmas

Sundays are LIST days and today is no different. For this group of 5 Sundays, I chose holidays and now we’re in our fourth week: I’ve gone with Christmas because that’s the holiday happening tomorrow, it’s one of my favorite ones and there’s so much to say about it. Let’s explore why I love this holiday:

  • M – Making cookies
  • E – Eggnog
  • R – Ripping open presents
  • R – Random acts of kindness
  • Y – Yuletide fun
  • C – Celebrate with friends and family
  • H – Happiness
  • R – Religious components and traditions
  • I – I can decorate the house and not look weird
  • S – Smells of evergreen and peppermint
  • T – Trimming the Tree
  • M – Many children learning to love the holiday and about blessings
  • A – A time to be thankful for all we have in our lives
  • S – Santa Claus

Those were just a few small examples of why I love the holiday, in a fun little list using the first letter in the message today: MERRY CHRISTMAS — Not everyone celebrates Christmas, so tomorrow’s post will be something about the holidays from Ryder. There are so many different ways to celebrate this time of year. How do you feel about Christmas? Do you celebrate in any special way?

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Last Year’s Tree

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Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, often organized by groups of five (5) focused on interesting things about my life. I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me. Past weeks included:

  • Weeks 1 – 5: Primary ethnicity groups and nationalities
  • Weeks 6 – 10: A to Z Favorites
  • Weeks 11 – 15: Colors with an important meaning
  • Weeks 16 – 20: Cities I’ve lived
  • Weeks 21 – 25: Jobs I’ve held
  • Weeks 26 – 30: Top 10 entertainment options
  • Week 31: How to follow or contact me across all social media platforms
  • Week 32: How to help an artist with promotion
  • Week 33 – 37: Favorite Book Genres
  • Week 38 – 42: Holidays
  • Week 43 – 47: TBD
  • Week 48 – 52: TBD

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks.

 

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Review: We Wish You a Murderous Christmas

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We Wish You a Murderous Christmas
We Wish You a Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delany

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4+ stars to Vicki Delany‘s We Wish You a Murderous Christmas, her second novel in the “Year-Round Christmas Mystery” cozy series. Whether it’s Christmastime or not, you need to unwrap this gift and dive into the great fun packaged into this holiday treat.


Story

Rudolph, New York, also known as America’s Christmas Town, is home to the famous Yuletide Inn which has been a staple of this adorable village for years. When one of the owners has a heart attack, his son Gord moves back home to help take care of his father and the Inn until he recuperates. Unfortunately, Gord hasn’t changed since he was a kid growing up in Rudolph and still has a ruthless, money-hungry attitude which leads to one of his enemies stabbing him with a knife from the Yuletide Inn. Gord was secretly looking for ways to cut costs and make the Yuletide appear even more profitable for a potential buyer.

Merry Wilkinson, daughter of Rudolph’s previous mayor, also moved home recently but she came back full of Christmas spirit hoping to help revive the town and grow their tourist industry. When her father (also known as the town’s Santa Claus) is suspected of murdering Gord in support of his long-time friend who had a heart attack, Merry is on the case. She conducts her own “off the books” investigation working closely with her friends and family to try to uncover as much about Gord’s life back in California before he moved home to Rudolph.

With a cast of at least 6 to 8 suspects, including a rival town that hopes to sink Rudolph so they can be the tourist capital of upstate NY, Merry has her hands full trying to figure out who is telling the truth and who lacks all Christmas spirit. Add a few side stories (blossoming romance with 2 suitors, a hunky new chef who’s lusting after her best friend, a Santa Claus being fired from his job due to being the primary suspect and the on-going battles with the current mayor and a rival shop owner) and you’ve got quite a mystery to solve.

In the end, Merry of course solves the case with her friends and family’s help, but it ends in a risky unexpected confrontation where someone pulls a weapon with intent to harm Merry and her family. She survives, helps the local police capture the criminal and also walks right into the next mystery about to unfold in the third book to launch in this enjoyable series.


Strengths

1. The cast of characters is dynamic and complex. Sometimes an author will create too few characters or cast too wide a net such that you can’t keep track of all the options. Even with 6 to 8 potential suspects in this story, each person is well-described, has distinct motives and pops up throughout the stories in all the right places. It’s easy to keep track of everyone which also makes it very easy to figure out who you like and who you don’t like.

2. Who doesn’t love Christmas? Ok, so if you don’t, then why are you reading this book? Nevertheless… it’s the perfect balance of story and backdrop setting: you can enjoy the story without realizing it’s all about Christmas or you can totally immerse yourself in the drama and mystique of the holiday. The settings and descriptions really add to the story and help you believe in a town that thinks about Christmas all year long. You want to run out now to visit it even though it’s Halloween (OK, it is for me when I just read the book)… but you also want to meet the people and see the village store windows.

3. The story is complex. It winds around in all the right places. And it drops tons of red herrings not only in this book, but back in book 1. (If you haven’t read book 1 in this series, you MUST read that one first and then read this one – you’ll enjoy it even more knowing what you missed previously).


Suggestions

1. The character of Jackie… I’m a little uncertain of how I feel about her. In the first book, I liked her even when she occasionally rubbed me the wrong way in how she treated Merry, her boss. I blamed it on her boyfriend’s (Kyle) influence; however, in this book, Jackie supported Kyle too much over the whole replacement Santa storyline. I am not sure if I’m supposed to like her or dislike her – and I’d like to figure that out sooner rather than later. Perhaps she’s being saved for a future book, which would be fine – but I’d like to see a different balance here — either good or bad. There are already a few other women who are part love / part hate (Betty, Sue-Anne, etc.)

2. I want more of Merry’s siblings! We hear about the three of them but never see them. Get them to Rudolph soon please…..


Final Thoughts

As far as cozies go, this one is very good. You can immerse yourself in the entire book and really feel as if you are part of the story and the setting. If I had to pick a cozy series that would help get more readers to the genre, this could be an option. Readers would have to be good with a “Christmas” theme, but as far as characters, plot, setting, romance, fun, et al, this is at the top. If you read book 1 and were on the fence, you must check out book 2. If you haven’t read this series, start with book 1 (Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen) and then read this one. It’ll take a few hours for each book and it’s well worth it.

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Review: Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen

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Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen
Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicki Delany

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3 1/2 stars (rounded up to a 4) to Vicki Delany‘s Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen, her debut novel in the “A Year-Round Christmas Mystery” series. Some people love Christmas so much that they need an entire book series dedicated to it; and if you’re one of those people, you’ll enjoy this one even if you’re reading it at Halloween!


Story

Rudolph, New York, a small town on the southern shores of Lake Ontario near the Canadian border, was named for someone who turned out to be not-so-name-worthy in the end. The town mayor, Noel Wilkinson, suggests telling everyone it was named after the famous reindeer and thus, Christmastown is born — except, there are a few of these towns across the country and the neighboring towns aren’t always thrilled when their town is suddenly considered second rate. When a semi-famous writer stops in Rudolph to publish a piece in a widely-read magazine about all the wonders of the Christmas village, he quickly sets the town a buzz… but when he turns up dead after eating at a local restaurant, Rudolph gets a bad reputation. Was it a neighboring town hoping to steal the glory? Was it a current resident with a unknown grudge? Or was it a personal vendetta from some outsider that just happened to occur in Rudolph?

Merry Wilkinson and her family and friends of Christmas-loving lore are on the case so they can protect their income and their town from utter disaster. Along the way, we meet her opera-loving mother, Santa Clause double dad, best friend who is accused of the murder, two eligible bachelors for Merry to choose from, a former frenemy police officer, the newly transported Chicago detective, a quirky mayor, a bitter neighboring store owner, a rival-politician and the fun-loving staff of Merry’s high-end Christmas decor shop. With a few side-stories about each of the main character’s personal lives, a new series all about the wonderful world of Christmas is born. In the end, Merry solves the case and makes friends with the police so she’s ready to solve another one in the future.


Strengths

For a debut novel, it gives a really well-rounded summary of the town and characters. For readers new to the cozy mystery genre, it will be the perfect intro. Characters and setting are clear and vivid. Multiple suspects for the whodunit. Several backstories dropped with different angles to continue on in the future. And if you’re a fan of holidays, this one will make you smile. I was slightly worred that the Christmas theme could be annoying (I love Christmas but an entire book series?); however, Delany offers a good balance of story and setting so you can tune out or in as much of the descriptions as you want.


Suggestions

There are a few holes in the story or pieces of the plot that should have been more tightly addressed. Merry doesn’t quite seem like someone who would give up her life in NYC and come back home just because of a situation with her boyfriend and job. I would have expected her to try to find other jobs in NYC but this whole area is covered a bit too quickly. When she does come back home, it seems like everyone just forgets she left Rudolph and everything picks back up again. I understand small town atmosphere, but I think a little more focus could have been added here.


Final Thoughts

There are a lot of mystery fiction books and authors to choose from, and once you settle into the cozy sub-genre, you still have a lot that could spark your interest. This one has a very clear theme that will either hook the audience or it will not. If you are a fan of holidays or Christmas or anything that comes with it, then you’ve got a good series to get started with. The author has just published the second in the series and I will be reading it later this week. Definitely worth continuining on…

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