‘A Ghost of Caribou’ by Alice Henderson is the third suspense novel about wildlife and our world

What do you get when you combine a wildlife researcher’s knowledge with a gripping plot and an admirable and likable protagonist? You get the books in this new series by Alice Henderson, the latest of which is “A Ghost of Caribou.” In each title, she cleverly uses the group noun for the animal that the main character, Alex Carter, is researching. In the first two books in the series, we read about “A Solitude of Wolverines” and “A Blizzard of Polar Bears” and now we learn about caribou in this novel. Personally, in addition to the fine writing and the characters I have come to care about, I love learning about the wildlife. Caribou? I had no idea that we had them in the US until I read this thrilling novel.

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‘Big Chicas Don’t Cry’ by Annette Chavez Macias is about family, forgiveness and following your path

“Big Chicas Don’t Cry” by Annette Chavez Macias is a sweet tale about four cousins who were once as close as sisters, but through life experiences, romantic relationships (or lack thereof), and professional pursuits have lost a bit of that closeness. One of them, Marisol, is not speaking to her cousins. Erica was just dumped by her boyfriend of two years (and right at Christmas!), Selena is frustrated by the blatant racism she encounters at work and wary of entering into a romantic relationship because of a past breakup, and Gracie would love a relationship but has no prospects.

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‘The Matchmaker’s Gift’ by Lynda Cohen Loigman transcends generations to share a lovely story about true love and fate

“The Matchmaker’s Gift” by Lynda Cohen Loigman is an engaging love story that isn’t a romance. It isn’t a thriller, it’s not an angsty romance with ups and downs in every chapter, and it’s certainly not a mystery with twists and turns jumping out to stymie readers. Yet I found myself so engaged with the characters, so charmed by the story, and so interested in which direction the plot would go that I read the book during every spare moment. I finished it in 24 hours, and was sorry. I didn’t want the story to end.

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Two pop-up books for children about animals and dinosaurs would make great holiday gifts

Almost all kids love pop-up books, and pop-up books about animals are sure to be a hit. “Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures” by Arnaud Roi and illustrated by Charlotte Molas and “The Pop-up Guide: Animals” by Maud Poulain and Peggy Nille are two picture books that entranced my six-year-old grandson, and he did think that his two-year-old sister would love the one about animals.

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For young mystery lovers: a picture book and beginning readers series for using clues to solve puzzles

When I was teaching, I loved using picture books as teaching materials. The students were so entertained by the stories that they didn’t realize I was sneaking in important concepts! With these mysteries for young readers, teachers can show students how to pay attention to details and how to use organized problem-solving methods to get answers to questions and to solve mysteries. And kids will have lots of fun while learning about these methods – I guarantee it!

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‘Bake’ and ‘Bliss on Toast’ will keep you baking the Great British Bake Off way this winter

Fans of The Great British Bake Off love Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith and their encyclopedic knowledge of all things baking, and with their new cookbooks, “Bake: My best ever recipes for the classics” by Paul Hollywood and “Bliss on Toast” by Prue Leith, we can join in on the baking and fill our homes with aromas of the delicious treats contained in the pages of these books.

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‘Bad Day Breaking’ by John Galligan is filled with nonstop action

“Bad Day Breaking” is author John Galligan’s latest entry in his popular Bad Axe County series. While the title of the novel is “Bad Day Breaking,” the novel actually covers several really bad days for the local county head of law enforcement, Sheriff Heidi Kick. She is a native of the area, and that means that most everyone knows her troubled background. But now she’s married with children and loves her job as sheriff, even if the county board in charge of the sheriff’s department has saddled her with a deputy sheriff who is, at best, incompetent, and at worst involved in some extremely unsavory business. As the novel opens, that person is manhandling the “prophet,” a person leading what locals are calling a cult. The House of Shalah, as they call themselves, and the man leading them, whom they all call “father,” all live on land they purchased; the prophet and his wife in a motor home, the followers in a storage facility on the property. There is no running water or heat.

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‘Overkill’ by Sandra Brown is about finding love when confronted with the worst of humanity

Overkill by Sandra Brown

We often read in the most salacious of news pieces that the scions of the ultra wealthy are prone to arrogance and delusions of grandeur. They act entitled, as if the laws and rules that apply to “normal” people don’t apply to them. And very often, they are correct. Those who fill our prisons aren’t necessarily those found guilty of criminal behavior but rather those who couldn’t afford top-notch legal representation to defend them in court. In “Overkill,” we see the result of being a criminal in a family so wealthy that they consider flying on their private jet the only way to travel. That criminal is Eban Clarke, the son in a filthy rich Atlanta family; and author Sandra Brown effectively contrasts him with the two main characters, Zach Bridger, a former pro football player who lives in a secluded home in the mountains of North Carolina, and Kate Lennon, an assistant state’s attorney on a mission. Zach and Kate, for reasons that will become clear, butt heads over the fact that Eban Clarke has been released precipitously from prison, and sparks ensue.

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‘One Woman’s War: A Novel of the Real Miss Moneypenny’ by Christine Wells is about a real WWII event and the women who participated

If you enjoy learning about real historical events through gripping fiction, read “One Woman’s War: A Novel of the Real Miss Moneypenny” by Christine Wells. It’s about the famous WWII espionage operation called Operation Mincemeat. I first read about it in a children’s nonfiction book about spy stuff, and Netflix has a new movie, Operation Mincemeat, about that same scheme. The premise seems so outlandish that it’s brilliant. Take a dead body, dress it in a military uniform with identity papers, and handcuff a briefcase filled with real-looking secret documents about the Allied plans to the corpse’s wrist. Make sure Spanish officials will find the body with the fake documents, and the Germans will be sure to be informed. (For more on German involvement in the Spanish Civil War see also “The Girl from Guernica.”)

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‘Furysong’ by Rosaria Munda is the conclusion of a brilliant fantasy trilogy

With her latest novel, “Furysong,” the last fantasy in the trilogy that began with “Fireborne” and continued with “Flamefall,” author Rosaria Munda has claimed her place as a first class writer who can plan, plot, and execute a series of books wherein each approaches 500 pages—not one page of which feels unnecessary. Yes, the novels are lengthy, but they are chockfull of fascinating characters with whom we empathize, nonstop action, unexpected twists, heartbreaking turns, and dragons who bond to their specific humans. Be forewarned that if you start with the first one, you will probably want to read all three books in a row, and this situation might affect your performance at work or school.

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‘Killers of a Certain Age’ by Deanna Raybourn is humorous, thrilling, and written for a woman like me

I love the concept of “Killers of a Certain Age,” perhaps because I am “of a certain age.” Deanna Raybourn certainly writes authentically about women in their 60s and these particular women who have been assassins for decades, working for an organization nicknamed “The Museum.” Their job has been killing bad guys, beginning with Nazi escapees; then when those were mostly dead either from natural causes or murder, assassinating drug overlords, crime bosses, and other really bad people. Now the four women, who trained together in their 20s, are taking the first steps toward enjoying a well-deserved retirement by embarking on an all-expense-paid cruise courtesy of their former employer. But what happens when they realize, on that very cruise, that instead of the cruise being the beginning of the rest of their lives, it’s intended to be the end of their lives?

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‘Santa’s Little Yelpers’ by David Rosenfelt is a mystery which provides plenty of suspects in addition to the plethora of puppies

True to form, “Santa’s Little Yelpers” features not only a myriad of doggie characters, but also David Rosenfelt’s favorite wants-to-be-retired lawyer, Andy Carpenter. This is the 26th mystery featuring that self-deprecating, wise-cracking, extremely dog-loving attorney who really doesn’t want to work anymore. Most of the mysteries in this series are more thriller than legal procedural, with a hefty dose of humor on the side, and in this novel we meet a former lawyer, Chris Myers, wrongly incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. Now he is being accused of another crime, a murder, that he also didn’t commit. And just as in many of the mysteries in this series, Andy Carpenter must begin the trial for this defendant with no idea of how he will prove his client is not guilty.

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