Everyone say hi to the ever awesome, Caren Rich! She’s blogging today as I recover from my daughter’s party last night. She has a new book out, Tales of Christmas in the South. Check it out!
Thank you, Gloria, for letting me guest post today. I have been a Christmas freak since birth. I usually start decorating the day after Halloween and every surface is covered. My poor husband. I’ve even trained my children to help convince him that lights on the house are a necessity. At last count we had at least 30 strings of lights on the house, trees, shrubs, and Nativity. You could land a plane in my yard. It’s only natural that Christmas has invaded my writing as well as my reading.
Most of my favorite Christmas books are children’s books. They’re fun and make me happy. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss is brilliant. Who doesn’t like a story where the villain becomes a hero? I’ve had a copy of When Joy Came: The Story of the First Christmas, by Pauline Palmer Meek, since I was old enough to beg my parents to read it to me. I still read it. If I come across a book with a hint of Christmas, I will read it. Genre is irrelevant. If it’s a picture book, I can’t part with my money soon enough.
In an adult fiction book with a Christmas theme, I like a mystery. I sat down to think which three were my favorites– it took a while. It felt like trying to pick favorites among friends. Each one had something to offer and is special in its own way. Even the bad ones are good. After much thought and chocolate I picked the ones that left an imprint on me personally. Whether it exposed me to something different or I fell in love with the characters, I was better for reading it. This is what I settled on:
1. Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop, an anthology edited by Otto Penzler. This is a great collection of Christmas themed mysteries by some of the best mystery writers. Stories range from the dark, I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus, by Ed McBain to the light-hearted, What’s in a Name?, by Mary Higgins Clark. I’ve never been to the Mysterious Bookshop (New York), but I need to go. It’s on my bucket list. The shop is real even if the stories are fiction. It’s just great fun. Over a dozen short stories all centered around Christmas and a book store!
2. Blue Christmas, by Mary Kay Andrews. It’s Mary Kay! It’s Southern and funny. One of my all-time favorites. This is a short read centered around one of my favorite characters, Weezie Foley. Only in the South can a grown woman be named Weezie. She owns an antique shop in Savannah and wants to win the window display contest. Things get ugly when someone sabotages her display. It’s a fun quirky ride through Christmas in Savannah.
3. The Spy Who Came For Christmas, by David Morrell. This breaks my happy rule, but it is a great suspense read from the guy who gave us Rambo. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s Christmas Eve and a desperate man seeks refuge with a tiny infant. It’s full of suspense, action, and intrigue. I could not put it down.
Now, it is October and a holiday list would not be complete without mention of a great Halloween book. I will admit, I haven’t read a Halloween-themed book that I love. If I’m going to read a scary book, I’m going to the Queen. Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire is the best contemporary fiction book on vampires. I read it in high school and fell in love. I’m positive if my mother knew what I was reading, she’d have taken it away. It was brilliant. Rich, complex characters in amazing cities with a story that spanned decades. I read most of the series between high school and college. Loved every one of them. I still think of vampires when I visit New Orleans.
Caren Rich grew up in a small town in coastal Alabama. The swamps and bayous have fueled her imagination and inspired her writing. Her short stories may cross genres, but they are rooted in the history and culture of the South. She lives on the coast with her husband and two daughters. All three are a constant source of inspiration. Her new release, Tales of Christmas is the South, is currently available at Amazon.