Waving farewell for 2017

It’s December 15, my dears, which means it’s our 27th wedding anniversary at Chez Raybourn as well as the due date for Veronica Speedwell #4! I plucked the date out of thin air for my deadline with the thought that I could well and truly celebrate once the book was turned in. And celebrate we will–we’re headed to DC next week for a little pre-holiday merriment and together time since we’ve both been working like Spartans for months now and are in dire need of relaxation.

This means I have mere days to indulge in a getaway with my husband, wrap Christmas presents, and binge on all my favorite holiday treats–films, music, and even a fiddly bit of crafting–before gearing up for January’s release of A TREACHEROUS CURSE and the book tour to come. So, I am unplugging for the duration of 2017. I will still tweet and post pics on Instagram, but this is our last blog entry for the year. I am wishing each and every one of you a joyous and peaceful holiday season, and I hope to see you back here bright and early in the new year!

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Holiday viewing!

We’ve done holiday reads, so it only seems fair to follow up with some of my favorite holiday viewing. This list is highly idiosyncratic.

*HOLIDAY. Not the Kate Winslet/Cameron Diaz/Jude Law thing but the utterly fabulous Katharine Hepburn/Cary Grant film. Worth watching for Hepburn’s affinity for a stuffed giraffe alone. It’s not as sweet as you’d think; it’s like my favorite chocolate cookies which are spiced with cayenne–it has an edge that makes the sweetness all the tastier.

*CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT. The original with Barbara Stanwyck. Enchanting in so very many ways. It even has a COW.

*THE LION IN WINTER. I’ve mentioned before that this is my go-to film when I’m wrapping presents. I start with Eleanor of Aquitaine’s arrival at the Christmas court and wrap all the way through the climactic dungeon scene. Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn are unspeakably glorious in this, and whatever your family difficulties, hey, at least y’all aren’t trying to stab each other, right?

*THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL. The definitive version, in my opinion. No one else will give you singing cabbages, of which I think Dickens himself would have heartily approved.

*BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: THE ENCHANTED CHRISTMAS. I raised a Disney child, so I make no apologies for this. But the songs are hideously catchy–you’ll be humming them through Epiphany.

*TUNA CHRISTMAS. Never shown on TV, available only through a spendy DVD, this is the follow-up to GREATER TUNA, a tale of small-town life in rural Texas. This is the filmed stage show, and the gimmick is that two actors play all of the parts, to tremendous and hilarious effect. I never watch it without a pang of homesickness for all things Texan.

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Holiday reads!

Oh, I do love seasonal reads, don’t you? Here are some of my favorites:

*NIGELLA CHRISTMAS. The definitive holiday cookbook with options for every possible kind of feast. Worth buying for the snappy prose and utterly perfect roast potato recipe alone.

*MARTHA STEWART’S CHRISTMAS. A throwback to be sure, but I love flipping through the pages to remind myself exactly how much labor I’m saving by NOT making my own potpourri and wrapping paper.

*WHITE CHRISTMAS. I love color too much to ever be able to pull off a white Christmas myself, but Tricia Foley does it in elegant style.

*JANE AUSTEN’S CHRISTMAS. Full of charming Georgian traditions and snippets from Austen novels. A lovely gift for an Austen devotee as well.

*THE SANTA KLAUS MURDER. A snow-bound country house, a dead body during the holiday celebrations. What more could you want?

*COMFORT & JOY. Contemporary and stylish family upheaval. Just the ticket if you like playing Peeping Tom on other people’s chaos.

*CHRISTMAS AT COLD COMFORT FARM. NOT to be attempted unless you are a diehard Gibbons fan and have read CCF at least three times. It’s not her best, but it does still have charm.

*EVERYMAN’S LIBRARY CHRISTMAS POEMS. Perfect for dipping in and out of during the season and absolutely essential if you end up stuck with people who demand you sing for your supper. Whip this out of your pocket and recite something seasonally appropriate.

*JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. This has become my compulsory annual re-read and the season hasn’t properly started for me until I’ve plunged into Jane Austen’s world and the delights of a corpse at Christmas.

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A digital gift for you!

Have you pre-ordered A TREACHEROUS CURSE? If you do, we have a free digital gift pack waiting as a thank-you! Click HERE for details.

Note: I’ve had some questions from readers who pre-ordered months ago so just to clarify, YES, this gift pack is for you! Just click on the link, fill in the info, and collect your pack. Happy reading!

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Hangover Soup

So I’ve scoured the archives and can’t find my recipe for Hangover Soup–that means it’s time to make it up all over again since I never wrote it down anywhere. Oops! Hangover Soup is my cure-all for overindulgence of every sort. It is perfect when you’ve had a glass of seasonal merriment too many, but it’s even better when you’ve stuffed yourself like a Thanksgiving turkey and think you might actually die if you ever see another carb.

This soup is extremely flexible, but the one item you must have is Thai red curry paste. You can buy a small jar to keep in the fridge and a box of chicken or vegetable stock for the pantry. After that, everything else is up to you. First, whisk a healthy spoonful of Thai red curry paste into a cup or so of your favorite broth. The amount of paste will determine the heat level of the soup, so tread carefully, but I will say that the sinus-clearing properties of a substantial amount of this red stuff is the bulk of its charm. It will BLAST the fuzz right out of your head if you let it. Start with two teaspoons and add more if you can take it.

Put the broth/paste mixture onto the heat and get it simmering. If you’re a meat-eater, throw in some leftover chopped roasted chicken or turkey. Some very thinly-sliced roast beef might be yum, but I haven’t personally tried it. Now it’s time for the veg. I’ve used broccoli, asparagus, green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, cabbage or bok choy in any combination. The only caveat is that the vegetables must be diced quite small. The soup must be quick to cook and effortless to eat. The bok choy and cabbage should be shredded very fine, with the bok choy added just before eating. A few bean sprouts would be delectable in this.

When the soup is PIPING hot, ladle it into a mug or bowl and add a squeeze of lime juice to perk everything up. The juice may come from one of those green plastic limes from the grocery store, or you may have an extra wedge or two left from the gin and tonics. In any event, it’s the lime that brings everything together. The final product is salty, spicy, and slightly sour–all the things you need to cut through a carb and alcohol-induced fog. Recommended for Black Friday, Boxing Day, and January 1.

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Book tour!

I am SO happy to announce the book tour information for the January release of A TREACHEROUS CURSE! We have a brand new city this year–Hello, Nashville!–and some repeat favorites. And I’m even more excited to be sharing some of the events with Tasha Alexander, Lauren Willig, and Ariel Lawhon! Mark your calendars now and come see us. Can’t wait!

January 14, The Poisoned Pen (Scottsdale AZ) with Lauren Willig and Tasha Alexander

January 16, Parnassus Books (Nashville, TN) with Ariel Lawhon

January 17, Murder by the Book (Houston, TX) with Lauren Willig

January 20, The Fountain Bookstore (Richmond, VA)

February 16, Moveable Feast with Litchfield Books (Pawleys Island, SC)*

 

*ticketed event

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Reminders!

Don’t forget that TOMORROW–November 14–is the last day to enter the FB giveaway for a chance to win an ARC of A TREACHEROUS CURSE! Want another opportunity? No problem. Today I just opened another Instagram giveaway! Just click the social media buttons on the bottom of this page to head over and get all the details. Good luck!

And don’t go far–later this week I’ll be posting book tour information for January with an exciting new city where I HAVE NEVER SIGNED BEFORE!

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A reading nook…

I’ve tucked a reading nook into one of the upstairs dormers. The perfect bookish retreat!

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The queen of all giveaways!

You have GOT to check out this 15 BOOK GIVEAWAY that Penguin is offering! All featuring mysteries with kickass heroines–enter now!

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Off to Canada!

I’m heading to Bouchercon in Toronto this week–if you’re in the area, don’t miss the panel discussion and signing on Thursday at 1pm! Details on the Appearances page of the site. Also, we’ve still got TWO awesome giveaways with chances to win an ARC of A TREACHEROUS CURSE–one on Goodreads and one on Instagram!

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