Giving Books For Christmas – Part 3

Recommending a few of my favorite authors with series that keep on pleasing. Consider introducing your friends and family to them with a gift off this list. Settings are important and provide excellent arm chair travel.  Over time, as the characters develop and change, I wait patiently to find out what has happened to them between books. I only recommend a series if it holds up throughout these changes.  If you start with the Donna Leon books, why not pair them with your favorite Italian recipe. Have fun.

images-5Donna Leon is one of my favorite mystery writers, an American, who has written twenty-one books in a series set in Venice, Italy. The intelligent and capable police commissioner, Guido Brunetti, his family, and his home town of Venice have become some of my favorite characters/settings. I value my friendship with Brunetti. Each case is an opportunity for the author to reveal another aspect of Venetian life. Begin with Death at La Fenice (1992) During a performance of La Traviata at La Fenice opera house the distinguished German conductor is found dead. Death in a Strange Country (1993) The Anonymous Venetian (1994)


Still Alive, an award-winning first novel introduces an engaging hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces—and this series—with power, ingenuity, and charm. Author Louise Penny is a Canadian and this series is set in and around Quebec -Montreal. The mysteries are well done, the characters complex, the themes varied and interesting. I can’t say enough good things about these intelligent, witty, well written books. READ THEM IN ORDER for maximum enjoyment. Begin:  Still Life – A Fatal Grace – The Curliest Month

51LeP0LfWDL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Maisie Dobbs is the first novel in the series. She is a fictional character created by author Jacqueline Winspear. Born in Lambeth, south-east London at the end of the 1800’s, she rises from the position of a maid working in service. Dr. M. Blanche, accomplished detective and friend of her employer, recognizes her intelligence and intuitive gifts. She wins a place to study at Girton College, Cambridge, but cuts her education short in 1915 when she enlists for nursing service. The author creates Maisie to honor the spirit of that generation of women in Britain. Returning to London to work with Dr. Blanche as psychologist and investigator, she ultimately opens her own detective agency. The books can be read out of sequence, but start with Maisie Dobbs (2003) – Birds of a Feather (2004) Pardonable Lies (2005) With well drawn characters, this series is one of my favorites.


About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her:
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1 Response to Giving Books For Christmas – Part 3

  1. Diane Coto says:

    All great suggestions, Stepheny. 🙂
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal – Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews

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