Diving for Starfish by Cherie Burns. Published by St. Martins

Can you really write an entire book about a piece of jewelry and make it interesting? Yes! Burns tells the true story of French jewelry designer Juliette Moutard and the fabulous starfish brooch she created in the 1930s Burns saw the pin in jewelry store and Manhattan and was immediately struck by its beauty and whimsy. Thus began her obsession, tracking down information on its creator and the women who owned it. From its creation in Paris to its homes in Hollywood, New York and London, Burns leaves no stone unturned in her bid to find answers. Readers are left with a fascinating tale of both the brooch and the women who called it their own. Highly recommended

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Our House by Louis Cavendish. Published by Berkley

Fiona Lawson and her husband Bram, tried to make things easier on their children when they divorced by agreeing to let the boys stay at the family home. Fiona and her husband would be the ones coming and going, taking turns living at the house and caring for the children. This works (kind of) until the day Fiona comes home to find total strangers moving into the house. What the hell is going on? Bram and the boys have disappeared and it appears he has kidnapped the children, leaving no clue behind as to their whereabouts. But Fiona will not sit idly by and let her children be stolen from her, she has a few secrets of her own. This book scared me! I can’t imagine a more nightmarish scenario than this, it’s like living a waking nightmare. Cavendish is skilled at knowing what scares her readers

The Darkling Bride by Laura Andersen. Published by Ballantine

This Gothic tale had me rapt. In modern-day Ireland, Carragh has been hired to catalog the contents of the library at Deeprath Castle before the Gallagher family turn their home over to the National Trust. Aidan, the current Viscount Gallagher makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the ancestral home where both his parents met suspicious ends when he was just a child. Carragh is interested in learning what happened to Aidan’s ancestor, a writer whose wife also died suspiciously not long after they were married. After his wife’s death, he never wrote another word. And what of the legend of the Darkling Bride, a spirit said to haunt the castle, who may have driven others to their deaths? Told in both present day and the late 19th century, this story is the kind I like to cuddle up with on a chilly autumn night. The kind of story that has me glancing out the window, afraid to see who or what might be looking back at me. Highly recommended

Our Native Bees by Paige Embry. Published by Timber

I love bees! I love the sound they make in my honeysuckle bush, the fact that they are the harbingers of warm weather after an endless winter, and that they graciously provide me with all the fruits and vegetables I care to eat. There has been a lot of attention to the colony collapse of honey bees, a frightening and sobering fact to be sure, but what about those fuzzy little guys who don’t get their pictures on the front of magazines and newspapers? Embry explore the world of native North American bees (and there are lots of them). I was fascinated with all the types and last night I found myself looking a lot more carefully at the bees in my garden. A thoughtful, entertaining and informative read

Weligama by Emily Dobbs. Published by Orion

This is an absolutely gorgeous cook book with recipes and photographs from Sri Lanka (Ceylon). I have long thought that Sri Lanka must be one of the most beautiful and romantic places in the world, despite its political turmoil. Here, I had a chance to experience the country through its cuisine, which looks as delicious and evocative as I would have expected. Dobbs has made me want to pack my bags and take the next flight out, but, I’ll settle for trying some of her scrumptious  recipes.

The Best Little Christmas Shop by Maxine Morey. Published by HQ Digital

Home is the place where they have to take you in, or so the saying goes, and Lexi has retreated back to her family after her engagement goes down in flames. Yes, she’ll help out at the family Christmas shop,even if she’s far from feeling the Christmas spirit. But seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child, specifically a five-year old little boy with a single father, awakens feelings Lexi thought were buried years ago. The last thing she planned on was a new relationship, but maybe some things are just meant to be. A charming, warm Christmas story about second chances

Journey Back to Christmas by Leigh Duncan. Published by Crown Media

This story is based on a movie that aired on the Hallmark Channel (one I did not see). Nurse Hanna is grieving the loss of her husband, who didn’t come home from the fighting in World War II. She pours all her pent up emotion into her work at the hospital. A rare celestial event and a snowstorm lead to an accident where Hanna gets knocked out, only to wake up in the present day. Think “It’s a Wonderful Life”, no surprises, but sweet and warm