Monday, January 5, 2015

The December Book Haul — and What We're Reading in 2015

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Happy 2015, everyone! 

If your home's anything like ours, books played a big part in the seasons festivities. My bookish presents included VINTAGE SPIRITS AND FORGOTTEN COCKTAILS: From the Alagazoozlom to the Zombie 100 Forgotten Recipes by Ted Haigh. 

It was from the Hubby, who knows how to give gifts that keep on giving — and one that also counts as research for more Maggie Hope novels!

The Hubby also received books, including THE ESSENTIAL SCRATCH AND SNIFF TO BECOMING A WINE EXPERT: Take a Whiff of That by Richard Betts and Wendy MacNaughton. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, that's why I had to get it.

As did the Kiddo, who got the Knopf Everyman's Library edition of Charles Dickens's classic A CHRISTMAS CAROLas well as the entire set of THE BOXCAR CHILDREN (which, er, just happens to be one of my favorite series, too, hmmm....)

One of the great things about being a Red is getting advanced copies of books. I nearly fainted away like a Victorian maiden when I opened the package containing Charles Todd's newest Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery: A FINE SUMMER'S DAY. Yes, it was an advance copy, but the book will be out soon — January 6, 2015, so not long to wait!

And I'm delighted to announce that Charles Todd (really the mother-and-son writing team of Caroline Todd and Charles Todd) will be guests here on Jungle Reds!  Join us here TOMORROW, Tuesday, January 6, to meet the illustrious Todds!

Reds, what new tomes are you most itching to get your hot little hands on in 2015? 

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Happy New Year! Susan,  I understand your swoon over the new Todd (s)! And how brilliant of them to... well, we can hear about it tomorrow.  Cannot WAIT to read. I am in love with Rutledge. 

Anyway,  I have been telling everyone about a book called WHAT IF, which I picked up by chance, hoping it was a compendium of mystery plots (:-))  but it turned out to be a completely fascinating and hilarious book of "real answers to ridiculous hypothetical questions" — like, what if everyone in the world showed up at the same place and the same time and jumped up and down? And — could you make a rocket ship if you had enough hair dryers?  I love it, I must say, I am enchanted and enthralled. 

We also got a wonderful book called A YEAR IN ART, which is a huge volume, with a date on each day, and each day has a  gorgeous color plate of a painting and info about the work.  So we wake up to looking at our painting of the day. Plus, it has the added benefit of letting me know what day it IS, for which I am grateful.

HALLIE EPHRON: Friends and family know better than to get me books because I get so many sent to me and then I have to agonize over what to get rid of since my office is tiny and shelf space limited. But this year I bought myself a book/present: THE WORLD OF RAYMOND CHANDLER: IN HIS OWN WORDS. It's a compendium of quotes from his novels, essays, letters strung together with connective tissue about his life by editor Barry Day. A cross between a biography and a memoir. 

It's so nice to have a book that doesn't have to be read, start to finish. Where the ending is pre-ordained (he dies.) I dip into it regularly for inspiration... and to remind myself what writing is all about. 

So right now I'm opening at random as I often do... and find this from THE BIG SLEEP: "Under the thinning fog the surf curled and creamed, almost without a sound, like a thought trying to form itself on the edge of consciousness."

DEBORAH CROMBIE: It wouldn't be Christmas without books, now, would it? My daughter gave me HUMANS OF NEW YORK, which I absolutely adore, and has been given pride of place on the coffee table. She also gave me the new Jamie Oliver cookbook, Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food, which I am less enamored with even though I asked for it.  I have most of Jamie's books, love them and use them regularly, but I think this one will not be a fave--too many things I would never cook, although it may come in handy for the feeding-lots-of-people recipes. (I gave my daughter Ottolenghi's Plenty, which I love so much I've now had to order a copy for myself...) And my friend Gigi gave me Cary Elwe's The Making of The Princess Bride, which is huge fun.

Hallie, I love the Chandler quote!  Shivers...

And Susan, I brought my daughter Enid Blyton books every time I went to England (the days before you could just order them) so she grew up with The Famous Five and The Secret Seven, as well as The Boxcar Children. Brilliant stuff!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Add me to the list of readers anxiously awaiting A FINE SUMMER DAY - which, btw, got an excellent review from Marilyn Stasio in the New York Times Sunday Book Review yesterday. For Christmas, I got  A BETTER WORLD, the second book in Marcus Sakey's BRILLIANCE series, and I have to say it was just as good as the first. Can't wait for the third book to be released! I also got FOXGLOVE SUMMER, the fourth in Ben Aaronovitch's RIVERS OF LONDON series, a marvelously conceived world where London's Metropolitan Police has a department of magic, and where ancient British nature gods are real. Debs, you might really enjoy these books.

For Ross, I found (at a used book store) almost the entire run of Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey/Maturin saga in a very nice trade paperback edition. He's happily reading THE COMMODORE as I write. Youngest got a book on the pre-revolutionary Russian royals (she's the only 14-year-old I know who has a thing about the Tsars) and all three of my kids were lucky enough to get generous Amazon gift cards from their Uncle Pat and Aunt Julia, so I'm sure more books will be forthcoming soon.

DEBS: Julia, I ran across the first Ben Aaronovitch, Rivers of London, quite by accident when I was staying in a flat in Covent Garden a few years ago. I saw it in the window at Waterstones, went in, bought it, then stayed up all night. (He used to work at that Waterstones.) You'll understand when I say I've never looked at Covent Garden in quite the same way again! I've since bought every book as soon as it came out--must have the UK editions, not even sure they're being published here now. I loved Foxglove Summer. Not quite as dark as the previous two books. I just wish Aaronovitch would write faster. Oh, where have we heard that???

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Lovely readers, what mysteries and thrillers did you get for the holidays and what titles are you itching to get your hands on in the new year? Tell is in the comment section!


  1. By the time the holiday arrives, I've already bought all the books written by the Jungle Red Writers ladies, so this year the Christmas books included Joseph J. Gabriele's "Dangerous Illusions" and Archer Mayor's "Proof Positive."
    Books I am really looking forward to reading in the new year: Julia's "Hid From Our Eyes," Hallie's "Night Night, Sleep Tight," Hank's "What You See" . . . .
    Other book on my list include
    Joel Gordonson's "That Boy From Nazareth," Emily Gray Tedrowe's "Blue Stars," Becky Masterman's "Fear the Darkness," Amanda Eyre Ward's "The Same Sky," Lisa Unger's "Crazy Love You."

  2. I'm still trying to catch up on 2014 reads (this despite reading the most books ever last year). Let's not talk about 2015 new books coming out yet. Please! (Says the guy who has reviews of two new 2015 books coming up on his blog on Monday and Tuesday.

  3. Thank you, Exalted Reds. This will be very useful I'm creating 2015 TBR list. In case I failed to thank you all before — Thank you for being such great blogging friends! Love you!

  4. Thank you Reine and Mark and Joan for being such faithful readers and entertaining blog book buddies!

    My entry got accidentally erased--my big haul was Dorie Greenspan's BAKING CHEZ MOI. can't wait to dive into this!!

    And I happen to know that FATAL RESERVATIONS will also be out in 2015 because I'm finishing it this week LOL

  5. Alright, Roberta! Will pre-order as soon as it posts!

  6. Happy New Year to you Reds and Red followers!

    Too many books to look forward to, so I am not going to mention any for fear of leaving out something else.

    Since A Fine Summer's Day has already been mentioned, I will say that anytime a new Charles Todd book is coming out, it's a good day! And I love when they stop by JRW, so I look forward to their post tomorrow.

  7. Thanks, Joan!
    Today I'm bringing piles of books to my library resale store to make way for new titles. Can't wait to see what the new year brings!

  8. Is anyone else thinking that 2015 might be the year to start keeping a book journal? I get so frustrated when I (A) hear about a book or read a review, then, when I'm at the library or bookstore, completely forget the title and author or (B) am asked for recommendations and wind up saying, "Oh I read a terrific book just last month! It's called...ummm...wait a sec...well, the cover is blue, I remember that."

  9. Two things: Scratch and sniff??? Really?

    And tell us about Marcus Sakey's books, okay?

    Oh, three things!We're taking books to the library today, too!

    Oh, four things. my new WHAT YOU SEE will be out in October. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about that, er, somewhere..

  10. Sadly, I only got one book for Christmas, from my SinC book exchange: Bel Canto. A little outside my normal reading, but I'm enjoying it.

    I'll be looking for Hallie's and Hank's books. Also Bridges Burned from Annette Dashofy.

    I'm sure there will be others.

  11. Hey you guys! Sorry to be late to the party — had a crazy bout of insomnia last night and so the hubby and kiddo let me sleep in. Debs, I'm so sorry I didn't get your bit — feel free to go in and edit! And yes, the Todds will be here tomorrow — I'm almost done with the newest and it's SO GOOD!

  12. Julia, I've been thinking the same thing lately. Especially after realizing I bought at least three duplicate books last year.

    But I've already read four books this year, so far, and I'll never remember what they were, so I'm already behind.

    My mother regifted me with a book I gave her last year, Adriana Trigiani's "The Supreme Macaroni Company", which I read in less than a day. Trigiani has two really good series, including this one centered around a family of custom shoemakers in Manhattan. I think this was the best in the series, so far.

  13. I was excited to get Miss Parloa's New Cook Book and Marketing Guide in the mail just now, published in 1908, but it's really an update from an earlier version published in 1880. There are sections titled "Kitchen Furnishings," "Food, Working Appliances, and Sanitation," "Marketing," and "Groceries" - all perfect for the time my historical series is set in! Followed by actual recipes, of course. I'd also like to read Atul Gawande's new book on aging and dying. And then there are all the mysteries to keep up with. I'll have two books out this year, too: Farmed and Dangerous in June, and Flipped for Murder in November!

  14. Books I'm looking forward to in the YEAR? I'm month to month, baby; there's always something I'm reading/ordering. This week (tomorrow) is the new Charles Todd, as mentioned. Also this week is a new historical mystery from Sam Thomas, THE WITCH HUNTER'S TALE, 3rd in series featuring Bridget Hodgson, a widowed midwife, and Martha Hawkins, her apprentice, in 1640s York, England. And on Kindle today is Estelle Ryan's newest, THE PUCELLE CONNECTION. This series features nonverbal communication expert, art insurance investigator, and high functioning autistic, Doctor Genevieve Lenard.

    I've got things pre-ordered through August already. :)

    No books for Christmas for me but for my birthday in November my husband gifted me with a very nice amount at

  15. Hey you guys, I'm curious as to how you find out about great new books. I read the NYTimes Book Review and the books section of Entertainment Weekly (don't judge!). And I also get great suggestions from Goodreads readers. Where do you find out about the latest and greatest?

  16. Yes, Julia, a book journal is a great idea. I have the same problem as you at bookstores and libraries.

    I have just finished reading the latest by Deb Crombie and by Lucy/Roberta and am now reading the latest by Hank. I am waiting, impatiently (!) for the next book by any of the Reds! Also, I look forward to receiving the book I won from Mette Ivie Harrison last week! Immediately after reading her guest blog, I reserved it at the library. Now I can cancel the reserve!

    And there are SO many books I need to buy or borrow from the library, plus other books I haven't gotten to yet that I already own. It's a good feeling to have good books waiting for me!

  17. I get a lot of suggestions right here.

  18. I also get a lot of ideas here at JRW.

    For the last 45 years I've tracked my expenses, and for the last 20 I've tracked what I spend on books. Last year I exceeded my book budget by enough to cover the next four years, so I'll have to cut back this year. So please stop recommending new authors, or I'll have to either step away from this blog, or I'll have to develop some stainless steel resolve.

    We'll see which happens first. Probably neither. On the other hand, if a Y2K-like shutdown occurs, I'm set for reading material. Hey, you never know, right?

  19. Rivers of London series? I'll have to look for it. That sounds good. I'm waiting for my copy of the latest Ian Rutledge to read; love that man. Also Barbara Cleverly's newest Joe Sandilands mystery.

  20. I have been on a tight budget and using the library more than buying, but I went almost a month without reading anything that truly engaged me. I broke down and bought the newest Louise Penny book and I am dragging it out as long as I can. I am looking forward also to the new Reds' books. Sadly, no one in my immediate life loves books as I do. I would have loved to find a book picked for me under the tree!

  21. I'm in the Hallie camp when it comes to receiving books--people don't tend to buy them for me, and I don't tend to buy them for others. Kind of strange, I know. (That Chandler quote--wow--"surf curled and creamed" is perfect.)

    I buy myself plenty of books though. I FINALLY read a Dorothy L. Sayers. Can you believe it? GAUDY NIGHT.

    Julia, a book journal is a great idea. I used to write down the books I read, but I haven't in a couple of years. That's it, I'm restarting this habit! First book of 2015 is THE SOLITARY HOUSE by Lynn Shepherd. Man, she's good. Highly recommended.

    Susan, the JRWs blog is very influential. I also discover new writers the good old-fashioned way: browsing bookstores and library shelves. Writing conferences and award nomination lists factor in, too.

  22. Susan, I remember seeing the scratch and sniff wine book and wondering about it. What a great whimsical gift! And, the complete set of The Box Car Children. Fantastic! Hallie and Hank, both of your books sound like great ones to read in spurts. I like that, too, Hallie. Sometimes just being able to read a book over a longer period of time. Debs, I keep looking at As You Wish online and at bookstores, thinking that it would be a fun read. Please let us know. Julia and Debs, I have The Rivers of London on my Amazon wish list, and now that I realize it's a series, I guess that's one more series to add to my never ending TBR list.

    Oh, my, I got myself a big bag of books for Christmas, and some of the titles are The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke (just finished!); The Demon Summer, a Max Tudor mystery by G.M. Malliet; Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel; Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes; The Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North; Broadchurch by Erin Kelly; The Republic of the Imagination by Azar Nafisi; The Christie Curse by Victoria Abbott; Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix; In the Blood by Lisa Unger; Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger; The Graveyard Book, Graphic Novel, Vols. 1 and 2 by Neil Gaiman; and Richard III, The Road to Leicester by Amy Licence.

    I have two ARCs that are up next for me--Runaway by Peter May and Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King. I've also read the Jungle Red Writers' books, except that my first series read this year is Susan's Maggie Hope, which I'm champing at the bit to get to. I should be doing so by the end of January. Alan Bradley's latest Flavia de Luce will be arriving in my mail this week. I just bought Tess Gerritsen's latest, too. I will, of course, be reading anything published by any of the Reds this year, always a guaranteed pleasure. I have Bouchercon reading to do this year, which means I will be crazy busy catching up on authors that I should have already read, like Ann Cleeves, Margaret Maron, the wonderful Charles Todd duo, S.J. Rozan, and more.

    (I have to post the rest in a second post.)

  23. Part Two of Post

    So many great books coming out this year, and sometimes I can't wait for the U.S. publication. I've already ordered from Book Depository and read Elly Griffith's The Zig Zag Girl, a new stand alone (separate from her fantastic Ruth Galloway series) and loved it. She also has a Ruth Galloway coming out this year. Peter May's newest, Runaway, will be out this month, which means I need to read it next and get a review up and feature on my blog. I was chosen as a Peter May super fan in a contest last fall, and I will be doing some promotion for Peter on my blog and elsewhere. I will also have some copies of Easter Island to give away on my blog this month. Sharon Bolton will have a new one out this summer. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins will be out this month, and has been much talked about. Anne Cleeland will have another Acton and Doyle out, Murder in Hindsight, in March, and I'm fortunate enough to be expecting an ARC for it. Jenn J. Danna and Ann Vanderlaan have their latest Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mystery coming out on Feb. 18th. I've already read it and it is great. The Edge of Dreams by Rhys and Night, Night, Sleep Tight by Hallie in March. Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante by Susan in the fall. Now, I need dates and titles for Debs, Hank, and Lucy. And, Julia, will there be a new Russ and Clare in 2015?

    Where do I find new titles? Where don't I? Hahaha! The Reds blog would be enough to keep me in supply, and I have been introduced to so many wonderful authors here. I also use Amazon, Goodreads, other blogs, my FB Bookaholics page, and generally searching out what is going on with my favorite authors. To plug a couple of people here who have blogs that I find really helpful, there is Kristopher's BOLO at and Mark's Carstairs Considers at . And, if you are so inclined, you can visit my blog, The Reading Room, at , where I'll be doing a look at 2015 and the Peter May feature this month.

    Julia, I used to keep a written book journal, but I have given in to technology and now do the Goodreads challenge every year. It keeps track of your books and your reviews are linked to it, which I find convenient. I plan on printing out the lists, with pictures of the books, to keep in a binder, as I know my children will want this precious item some far off day. Hehehe!

  24. Susan,

    Hopefully people are stopping BOLO Books to find out about the latest books. I do a post every Monday which lists 4-5 books coming out that week which I think people should check out. These are not reviews, but postings of the book covers, jacket copy, and ordering links. I try to include a variety of sub-genres in the post (but they are always crime related).
    If anyone hasn't visited, stop by

    While that was self-promotion (which I am not really very good at), really there are tons of blogs out there where readers can find great information.

    And Kathy, now I get to be jealous of you! I am waiting for my finished version of Runaway to arrive from The Book Depository. Can't wait to read it!

  25. Julia, have been thinking about a book journal. Every year I say I'm going to keep one and then I don't... Already had to think a minute to remember the first book I read this year, before I started the Cary Elwes. It was Mark Pryor's third, The Blood Promise. Duh. Maybe I should find the time to learn how to use Goodreads, Kathy Reel!

  26. Julia - I've kept a book journal since 1999. I also keep track via my blog and I'm trying to be good about posting them also on

    Susan, there are different ways to keep track of new mystery releases:

    The Blookstained Bookshelf at

    and I also use by going under the "book" department, upper left hand in the tool bar is "advanced search" and from there you can choose from categories like mysteries and the time frame among other criteria. For example, I can choose "hardcover", "new", "English" during "January 2015".

  27. I want to read everything! Seriously, it's almost that bad. I have a cute little spiral book with a cover that looks like a library card that I used to use as my book journal but I've given in to technology and now use Amazon's wish list. I can look it up on my phone wherever I am so know what I wanted to buy. I just have to be sure at gift-giving times to tell everyone those are books I have an interest in reading but might not want to own. Although receiving all the books on that list on once would be terrific!

    I also have a spreadsheet that (when I keep it current) tracks what I've read, if I own it, won it, reviewed it, blah blah blah. I use the library a lot but have to remind myself to exercise self-control when in the bookstore. I recommend Jungle Reds to everyone as a place to start - read all your books and you'll also get more recommendations than you can imagine.

    I have a good friend who gives fabulous gifts and always sneaks in a gift card to Barnes & Noble. I use that as my "crazy purchase" card and get something I have been talking myself out of because it's too expensive, too silly, I don't really need it . . . it's always special to me.

  28. As Mark Baker said earlier ^^, I'm still wading through a teetering 2014 TBR stack - stop with the great recommendations!

    But my darling kids did get me a book for Solstice: the hard-to-find, out-of-print UNHOLY TOLEDO, which I need for research on my WIP follow-up to FORTY & OUT. Who knew Toledo, Ohio, was so high on the gangster circuit?!

  29. Susan,
    The Cary Elwes book is on my TBR list.

    One of my favorite books that I received for Christmas several years ago were two books from the Maggie Hope series.

    This year I received a book about Downton Abbey written by Jessica Fellowes.

    Another book is new. It is not in the stores. I think it's an ARC? It is a feminist take off on Robinson Crusoe.

    a mystery fan from CA

  30. Checking in a little late on this topic but I had to share what I do... I'm totally technological these days and when I read a book I love, I take a picture of the cover!
    Then I have something to recommend to people who ask me for recommendations, which happens all the time, because I'm known in my tribe as a huge reader.

    Another good website is Fantastic Fiction. It's a UK website, but has many many of our books, and lists publications for 3-4 months prior to the pub date.

    I've been frantically taking pictures of these posts, so I have these books and names next time in a bookstore!! Looking forward to all these latest and greatest!