The Mince Pie Mix-Up by Jennifer Joyce. Published by Carina UK

How often do we argue with our spouses about who works harder, who does more? As Christmas approaches, Calvin and Judy are having plenty of skirmishes over just that topic. Judy would dearly love a break from school runs, housework and getting ready for Christmas. Calvin would like nothing more than to tell his boss where to stick it. After a little mince pie one evening the couple wakes to find things are…different. Let’s just say that Calvin and Judy are going to get a first hand look at how hard daily life is for their partner. Think Freaky Friday with a sly twist. A light-hearted poke at marital spats


The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin. Published by Random House

As a member of New York high society in the 1950 and 1960’s, Babe Paley appeared to have it all. She was wealthy, beautiful, charming, married to a handsome man and adored by all her knew her. Even with all her trappings of wealth, Babe wanted something more, wanted to do something important with her life. She kept those feelings hidden until she met a man named Truman Capote or True Heart, as Babe came to call him. She trusted Capote with all her secrets and he repaid her by betraying that confidence. Based on the actual events between Capote and Paley, this is a story about human sharks and what they will do to climb to the top of the heap. Truman Capote comes off as a very poor example of a human being. One wonders what happened to the boy who was best friends with Harper Lee. Compelling and sad.

Deadly Jewels by Jeanette de Beauvois. Published by St. Martins

Martine LeDuc, director of public relations for Montreal returns for a second outing. This time Martine is called in when an archaeological dig proves a 70 year old rumor to be true. Under the city, proof has been found that the British crown jewels were hidden under Montreal during the Second World War. Martine is excited to be in on the dig until she uncovers the remains of a man with some of the crown jewels in what was once his stomach cavity, a bullet in his head. Who was the man, and why did he have the jewels in his stomach. And how will the city explain that some the the British crown jewels on display are really forgeries? I love this series, while not as dark as the first book, this story is full of creepy caverns, lost artifacts and some dark and disturbing secrets. Highly recommended


In Another Life by Julia Christine Johnson. Published by Sourcebooks

After her husband’s death, historian Lia Carrer returns to France to grieve and hopefully, to heal. Instead, she’s whisked off her feet by the enigmatic Raoul, a man she falls headlong in love with. Raoul has a a story to tell Lia, a story about a long ago murder and a past that she can’t possibly have been a part of. So, then why does she feel as if she was a part of it? Everything she thought she know about her husband, about love, life and death is challenged. Does she believe Raoul? Is the past really much closer than any of us know? This is a beautiful and time bending story of love for readers of Barbara Erskine and Susanna Kearsley


Dimestore by Lee Smith. Published by Algonquin

For years I have read and loved Lee Smith’s books about the South. Now, she has written her own story, told in 15 different essays, about the life she lived and how it shaped her into the writer she is today. Smith grew up in the town of Grundy, Virginia. Grundy was a coal town and there were plenty of kids whose father’s worked beneath the earth each day, risking life and limb to eke out a living. Smith’s family was not as poor as those miners, but they weren’t rich either. Still, Smith’s mother worked hard to ensure her children spoke proper English, were clean and as well dressed as possible and aspired to something more in life. At the dimestore her father owned, Smith would listen to the customers talk about their lives and she would make up stories about the dolls at the store, about the lives they led before coming to Grundy. It was these early stories that shaped Smith’s life and sent her into writing. If you loved the Glass Castle or Half Broke Horses, or just want to read a story about the South, you will love this book. Highly recommended


Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan. Published by Algonquin

On his 18th birthday, Jonah Williams flees the South Carolina plantation where he was born. The year is 1851, and he risks everything to get to freedom, using nothing but the North star to guide him to freedom. The journey is fraught with peril, slave hunters, vicious dogs, snakes and an unforgiving landscape. Jonah manages to outwit them all, but he cannot shake a young slave girl from North Carolina. Angel will not leave Jonah, nor will she let him leave her; she is convinced he is her salvation, that he and he alone will lead her to freedom. This is a story so rich in atmosphere that I felt like I was there. Morgan captures the sheer terror and the undying hope for freedom. A remarkable story that must not be missed


Every Heart Has a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. Published by Tor

Children – they are so small, so easily overlooked. Is it any wonder that they disappear so easily? Down an old well, behind a bed, under a set of cellar stairs. Nancy tumbled into another world, the Halls of the Dead, where she posed as a statue to please the Lord and Lady there. When she somehow ended up back at home, her parents didn’t know what to do with her. To say she was not the same child as before would be putting it to lightly. Luckily, Miss Eleanor West has a home for children like Nancy, and there are a lot of children like her. When Nancy arrives at the Home, she is like all the other children, she wants to find her way back “home” the magical place where she served as a statue, but these magical lands do not want the children back. When a terrible tragedy strikes the home, Nancy and the others must uncover the truth about the Home, the Magic Lands and where the children really belong. Quite unlike anything I have ever read, this was a delightful journey down the rabbit hole and had me looking as some of my own childhood memories with a new eye