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Quick Reads for Busy Times

December 15, 2014

Most of the time I reach for big, thick books, the ones with lots of pages, complicated plots, lots of twists and turns, where I can lose myself and forget the rest of the world for hours. But there are times (like the present holiday season) when that just doesn’t work. I can’t afford to forget the rest of the world for hours. I’m lucky to squeeze in a few minutes of reading time. That’s when I appreciate writers who have mastered the art (and, believe me, it is an art) of the short and sweet. Short stories and novellas are perfect for busy times. If, like me, you need a short fix to get you through the season, here are a few suggestions:

DEATH KNELL V Death Knell V is a collection of short stories by members of the Delaware Valley Chapter of Sisters in Crime. There’s quite a variety here:  psychological suspense, historical mystery, paranormal, humor, horror. Longtime favorite novelists, like Charles Todd and Robin Hathaway, as well as those just beginning to make their mark–J.D. Shaw, Augustus Cileone, and Kathleen Heady, among others–but also, many fresh new voices, in print for the first time. The settings take you to three continents. Something to please every reader.

Leigh Verrill-Rhys has written a collection of short stories titled Nights Before. Each story stands alone, but all feature the same characters and, read together, they form a novel. The first one in the series is Twas the Night Before New Year – New Year’s Eve is a time for reflection and change. Jocelyn has more changes coming at her from all directions on this Portland, Maine winter day than she’s faced since her mother’s death. None of it bodes well for the junior editor’s fledgling career when her fiancé abandons her to spend this holiday alone.


Here’s a novella for mystery lovers by Jayne Ormerod: Behind the Blue Door – Can you have a future if you can’t remember the past?  When Skye Crenshaw Whitmore is shown a picture of a house with a blue door, she recalls living there as a young girl. At first the memories are of the warm and fuzzy variety; little moments spent gardening or reading with her mother. Upon learning that the house on Periwinkle Lane is where her mother died, darker memories bubble to the surface but fail to assemble into a complete picture. With more questions than answers, she sets off to find out what exactly happened in that house thirty years ago.

Another novella, this one’s a Christmas romance (especially for those of you who are not dreaming of a white Christmas): Hot Hawaiian Christmas by Victoria M. Johnson  – It’s Christmas in Hawaii, but Lindsay Clark’s Hawaiian-Christmasvacation turns out to be anything but relaxing. With her uncle absent, she finds herself managing the hotel—a task at which she’s normally very successful. However, Lindsay’s life is turned upside down by the unfamiliar environment, Christmas festivities, and a very tempting guest—Chandler Lewis. He’s the honorary Santa for the Kona Christmas parade and has a great life back home in California. Romance is the last thing on his mind. But when he meets Lindsay, he begins to wonder if life could be sweeter in Hawaii.

One more suggestion, if you’ll forgive a bit of BSP – EFairy Light-with fairyvery now and then, I take a  break from murder and mayhem and write a  short story or two.  Beyond the Fairy Light – is a trio of short shorts, one of which, All is Calm, is a holiday story. You’ll notice that I said holiday – without mentioning a specific holiday – for this is a story about a family with mixed, sometimes conflicting, traditions.

Hope all of you have a wonderful holiday, whatever holiday you celebrate – and if you don’t have a special day to celebrate – hope you’re healthy and happy.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 16, 2014 12:01 AM

    Oh I see many novellas to add to my iPad! I especially appreciate the short form at this time of year when I am so busy. Thanks for the great recommendations. Oh, and thank you so much for including my novella on your list 🙂

    • December 16, 2014 8:13 AM

      Thanks for stopping by, Victoria, and for taking time to leave a comment. Your novella had to be included; it’s the perfect read for now, when most of us are getting tired of heavy coats and cloudy skies.

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