If you just looked at this title and didn't read my post, you'd be sure to think that this is a Christmas book. After all, outside of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" you would not hear much about twelve drummers drumming. However, this is NOT a Christmas book in the traditional sense. It IS a book about Father Christmas, Father Tom Christmas, that is, who is the new vicar of St. Nicholas' Church in the small village of Thornford Regis. For obvious reasons he prefers to be called "Mr.", or Vicar, or Tom.
Tom and his nine-year-old daughter Miranda have come to Thornford Regis to find peace after the violent death of wife and mother Lisbeth. But he soon discovers that a gossipy little village can harbor the same dangers as the inner-city when he is drawn into the mystery of his missing predecessor and the murder of a teenage girl. Colorful suspects abound, and in true Agatha Christie/Miss Marple fashion, Tom plows through red herrings and false trails to eventually arrive at the truth.
C. C. Benison has created a character and place that is mystery at its finest. Good lives right next door to evil, black and white merge with shades of gray and things aren't always as they appear. Lucky for us Benison has followed up Twelve Drummers Drumming with Eleven Pipers Piping, and is working on Ten Lords A-Leaping. All of a sudden I have a hankering to listen to that song...
One of my favorite recent reads was Miss Bunkle's Book by D. E. Stevenson. She published Miss Bunkle in 1936, but this was not her first book. Mrs. Tim of the Regiment was introduced in 1934, but what makes Mrs. Tim so interesting is that she is based on Dorothy Emily Stevenson herself.
Dorothy Stevenson married a British Army officer in 1916. Throughout her married life she kept a diary of their adventures as a family in the military, so when a good friend's daughter was set to marry an officer in the Highland Regiment and wanted to know what it would be like, she lent her the diary to read. Well, her friend howled over her exploits and begged her to publish it as a book. Thus Mrs. Tim was born.
The first part of this book is an absolute riot! Mrs. Tim (Stevenson) has a wicked wit and a terrific sense of humor, which she must put to use when dealing with her husband, children and army life in general. It is published just as a diary would be, with daily installments that were taken straight from Stevenson's jottings. I LOVED it! The second part of the book is a little different. In order to expand the story of Mrs. Tim, Stevenson gave her a vacation in Scotland, an unwanted suitor and a friend's family dilemma to solve. All very sweet, but obviously NOT original diary material. I liked the first part better.
Mrs. Tim of the Regiment was a great success and was soon followed by Mrs. Tim Carries On, Mrs. TimGets a Job and Mrs. Tim Flies Home. They are filled with Stevenson's own experiences as a British Army wife during WWII. I'm putting them on my "to read" list.
“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.” ― Erma Bombeck
“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual…O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.” ― Henry David Thoreau
Are you feeling a little bruised? Are you ready for an escape? Especially from reality? Would you like to meet some people who have bigger problems than you do, as in the-world-as-we-know-it-might-come-to-a-nasty-end kind of problems? Well, thrown in some world class romance while saving humanity and you have Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince, both by Cassandra Clare.
Clockwork Angel begins with the story of orphan Tessa Gray, who is crossing the Atlantic to Victoria's England to reunite with her brother Nate. Upon arrival at Southampton she is kidnapped by the horrid Dark Sisters and thrust into a world of darkness and vile magic she never knew existed: London's Downworld. Unwillingly discovering that she herself is a Downworlder with incredible powers, Tessa is rescued from the clutches of evil by Jem and Will, half angel, half human Shadowhunters. Confused yet? Don't be! For thus begins a classic romantic love triangle between the beautiful Tessa, the tortured but gorgeous Will, and the fragile and handsome Jem. Clockwork Prince continues this story of good vs. evil, vampire vs. werewolf, and demons vs. angels, but it's a story like you've never read before.
My daughter BEGGED me to read these books, and I must say I am glad that I did. Part gothic romance, part fantasy and part science fiction, they have something for everyone. I understand that the third book in this series will be out next year. I will be buying it for my daughter, but we may be fighting over who gets to read it first!
(Oops! I don't know how to fix this once it's on my blog!!)
Footnote: Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince belong to a series called The Infernal Devices. This series is a prequel to the Mortal Instruments Series, of which my daughter has been raving about for several years. All are by Cassandra Clare.