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Chapter 2 - The Beachside Christmas

San Juan, PR

We just came back from a wonderful Christmas cruise - warm weather, tropical places, and plenty of time to read onboard ship. A day at sea, Grand Turks, San Juan, St Thomas, and more sea days made for a warm and pleasant Christmas season. Back in North Myrtle Beach, we arrived home to the coldest weather we have seen in winter in a long time. Add to it a small snow/ice fall which closed down our city for two days and all thoughts of vacation and warm weather sailed from our minds.

I know it sounds like a "bus man's holiday" but one of the places I visited in San Juan was Libreria Laberinto, a beautiful little bookstore on the Calle de la Cruz. There, a very kind and knowledgeable clerk introduced me to Mayra Montero, a Latina writer. While I have not read the recommended book as yet, it is on my TBR (to be read) pile and I am very excited to have found a new-to-me author.

Here is what I did read while enjoying the beautiful weather and time away.

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern - Ahern's debut novel, PS I Love You, became a best seller as well as a popular movie. This book, about a teenage girl who, due to some unfortunate circumstances, finds out family secrets, was a very good one. There was enough of a good mix of dysfunction, mystery and magic to make it seem like a southern novel although it takes place in Ireland.

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa -

The story is about a young Jewish German girl who leaves Berlin in 1939 to immigrate to Cuba before going on to the United States. Unfortunately, she and her family end up on the St Louis, a ship that was denied entry into Cuba. The girl, Hannah, chronicles her life from Berlin to Cuba and Correa parallels her story with that of Anna, her great niece whose father died in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. This has been a popular bookclub book this past year.

Burying the Honeysuckle Girls by Emily Carpenter - Southern ghosts, magic, insanity, coupled with mountain people, klansmen, drug addicts and family secrets - what's not to like in this novel about a truly dysfunctional Southern family? Althea returns home after spending a year in rehab. Her prominent father is dying and her brother is working to get into politics. They both have her convinced that she will have a schizophrenic breakdown when she turns 30. Racing against the clock she tries to unearth her family's secrets before they bury her.

Sacred and Profane by Faye Kellerman - This is the second in the Decker/Lazarus series. Pete Decker has met and fallen in love with an Orthodox Jewish woman. As he is working to learn about Orthodoxy, he is also investigating crimes which lead him to question the existence of God at all. A good thriller by Kellerman who never disappoints.

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb - Two things I love - Christmas and Paris - mixed with a story about World War I, what could be a better read? Written in the form of letters between Evelyn Elliott (Evie) and her brother Will, friend Tom Harding, and friend Alice, the story is about the hopes they have to spend Christmas in Paris until World War I breaks out Sadly the war takes them all to places they'd rather never have know existed.

What books did you read over the holidays or are reading now? Let me know! I am always looking for good recommendations!

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