Tiny Beautiful Things

I came across this book of letters written to “Dear Sugar” and her advice regarding their problems. Cheryl Strayed took over the column in The Rumpus in 2010, and she answers the letters in such a way that the writers must surely feel validated and cared for. She interjects situations from her own life to connect with the letter writer, and offers “unconditional positive regard” a phrase coined by her in one of her stories. It is a powerful book; Strayed uses frank language and many expletives which may offend some readers, but it really is an eye opener. I personally think it’s well worth the read.

A Murder at Balmoral

Chris McGeorge has penned a novel on the premise of what would have happened to the English royal family had King Edward VIII not abdicated the throne in 1936, and given that his bride would have been chosen for him. As the book begins, the premise that this is part of a film is suggested, which will make sense once one finishes reading it in its entirety. The mystery will deepern as one reads further on. In the opening scene, King Eric appears to be poisoned and dies while at a Christmas dinner he had planned in advance. He had wanted only his immediate family, one chef, and one security guard to be present, in order to encourage a family bonding. So eight members of the royal family are gathered in an isolated castle, one being a dead King, and a raging blizzard all around them, so no one can leave. All their cellphones had been collected by the security guard, and taken to the guard shed at the gates of the property. This was done so that no one could leak on social media the fact that they were all alone with only one guard to defend the king. Then another murder occurs, which further complicates this “whodunit”. I did very much enjoy this novel; if your taste includes reading about the shenanigans of royal families, and a “locked room” mystery, this one’s for you.

Christmas Spirit

Having read mysteries nonstop for a while now, I decided that I needed the winter equivalent of a beach read. So I found this slim novel, and it was perfect. It begins simply: a grandmother is relating a story to her grandchildren, about two men who decide to switch jobs for a few days, just before Christmas. Pete is a pastor of a town church, and his friend Hank owns and manages a bar in another town. Each man thinks the other’s job has to be easier than their own, thus the switch. The plot will capture your interest if you are looking for a light, heartwarming read about human nature in small towns, with some romance and humor added in.

The Girls Who Disappeared

Jenna Halliday is a journalist who is investigating the twentieth anniversary of three girls who vanished from a car wreck in southwest England.. Olivia Rutherford was driving her friends home one rainy night when a figure suddenly appeared in the middle of the road. As Olivia swerved to miss the person, the car skidded up the bank and flipped over, pinning Olivia’s leg. When she came to, her three friends were missing and never found up to the present day.. But someone doesn’t want Jenna to stir up old wounds, and leaves her threatening notes to stop interviewing the locals. Will she find out the truth before it’s too late? I enjoyed this mystery; the ending was a surprise.