What I'm Reading Now: 12 July 23

Bloodroot- Susan Wittig Albert
Broken Harbour- Tana French
Stories behind the best-loved songs of Christmas- Ace Collins
More stories behind the best-loved songs of Christmas- Ace Collins

Ghosts complicate everything, almost as much as family ties do. China Bayles thought she'd left both behind, but her until-recently-estranged mother calls her back to the family plantation in the South to help cope with Aunt Tullie, and China feels she has no option. She welcomes some renewed relationships, but Aunt Tullie's health seems to be a smokescreen for some deeper and more disturbing issues. And the ghosts? they haven't gone away at all... In Bloodroot, Albert does a wonderful job of weaving hauntings and history into present-day, leaving just enough paranormal ends untied while still answering all the questions about the missing deed and the missing man. Bloodroot is somewhere in the middle of Albert's China Bayles series, and while it stands alone quite adequately, I'm also intrigued by the characters and want to find out more about them.

Tana French has once again pulled together an old mystery, a new one, and the gradual breakdown of an Irish cop, all to make a haunting story that I had to finish. Kennedy values control and order above all- it's what makes him the stellar cop he is. This case, a family murdered in a ghost estate on the remains of a vacation spot called Broken Harbour, threatens to undo all his ideas of order. The evidence is equivocal, and there may not be a reason for these killings that anyone can discover. Kennedy's own history at Broken Harbour, and the wild card in his life, are breaking down his control, and both his family and his career are suddenly at risk. The book was beautifully written, and the plot twists were gut-wrenchingly unexpected. The story is intense, gripping... and highly recommended. It's not a fun read, but it is very very good.

I've been slowly getting into planning for Christmas. No, I'm not rushing things - if there will be a choir program this year, we need to have music ready by mid-October at the very latest, which means deciding on it at least two weeks before that (a month would be preferable), and because ready-made programs don't always work out that well for our situation, we have to allow time for tailoring an existing program or writing an entirely new one. So... yes, I'm reading two books by Ace Collins on the background of Christmas songs. Collins gives the story behind the writing or recording of an assortment of Christmas classics ranging from "Good Christian Men, Rejoice" to "Blue Christmas." Collins presents some interesting facts and side notes, and I found the stories behind the traditional carols quite intriguing.