, , , , ,

Every time a bad Christmas carol plays, an angel throws up in her mouth a little bit. [Image credit: Crank it Up, Ashley Tisdale]

Barb’s guide to surviving Christmahannukwanzadan Solstice….You’re welcome

#6: The Office Party. (here)

#5: Waiting in lines.  (here)

#4: Visiting Santa(here)

#3: Mall Christmas Music

[image credit: musicradar]

Christmas Hell: you’re trapped in a checkout line so long you’re only taking it on faith that there’s an actual cashier at the end. But you can’t leave because you’ve just snagged the very last Beats headphones that your mother-in-law wants more than life itself and you know you might be on sofa-sentry until next Christmas if you come home without them. From tinny speakers, the mall muzak demons blast that level of audio hell even Dante shuddered to document—the Christmas playlist.

It’s not that you don’t like holiday music. You sing along in the shower like everyone else (sounding damn good actually), and you tear up when the carollers come around. But by the third time you’ve heard Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, followed by the Chipmunks, you are seriously wondering just how bad the sofa could really be.

My theory is that mall Christmas music is actually an act of passive aggression perpetrated by retail managers who know they will be stuck there every day of the nightmare before Christmas and figure they shouldn’t have to suffer alone. The resultant playlists are an endless compilation of three basic evils:

  1. Songs that involve animal noises of any sort. For some reason, this is an irresistible combination that attracts new entries every year, from the venerable Dominick the Donkey to the Jingle Cats to dogs barking Jingle Bells. There simply isn’t a good explanation for any of this.
  2. Rock stars singing what they really, really shouldn’t. And yes, before you get started, I’m the first to admit that there are some awesome rocker covers of Christmas classics. But it only takes Bob Dylan’s version of Must Be Santa (which sounds like a police bulletin about a particularly creepy holiday stalker), or  Twisted Sister singing I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus to make you realize how some poor kids are now scarred for life.
  3. Just plain disturbing. All you can do is moan “Whyyyyy?” Did someone wake up one morning and say, “What Christmas needs is more songs about pathetic little children who go out alone at night, talk to strange men, and ask them for money so they can buy Christmas shoes for their soon to be dead mother?” Or John Denver’s plea to Please Daddy Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas? Or the even more terminally creepy date rape anthem, Baby it’s Cold Outside?

I know what you’re going to say. For each bad song category, there is always a Christmas song (or many) that are perfectly awesome. Like The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl’s collaboration, Fairytale of New York (possibly the finest Punk Celtic Christmas song ever).

And you’re right. There are lovely, fabulous Christmas songs out there, too many to mention. The fact that none of them appear on retail store’s playlists just proves my point that someone is out to get us. I’m not alone in this theory, by the way. Recent studies confirm that retail holiday music can drive you crazy.

What can you do about it? Fight back with a playlist of your favorites, and a great new book on your Kindle. I’d recommend A Mayfair Christmas, the charming new Christmas-themed novella in Kassandra Lamb’s Marcia Banks and Buddy Mysteries series.

What is your most annoying Christmas song? How about your very favorite one?

[NOTE FROM BARB: Please come back over the next few days for the other reasons that the holiday season sucks. Ho Ho.]


BLURB:  A Mayfair Christmas Carol: A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery Novella (The Marcia Banks and Buddy Cozy Mysteries Book 4) by Kassandra Lamb

A Christmas extravaganza in Mayfair, Florida, complete with an ice skating rink. What could go wrong?

When excavation for the skating rink uncovers a decades-old skeleton, its secrets threaten more than the town’s Christmas plans. Worried about her friends in her adopted town and feeling responsible since the let’s-attract-more-tourists idea was hers initially, dog trainer Marcia Banks is determined to help her police detective boyfriend solve the mystery—whether he wants her help or not. Perhaps she can wheedle more out of the townspeople than he can.

But will she and her Black Lab, Buddy, be able to keep the ghost of Christmas past from destroying what is left of Mayfair’s founding family, or will her meddling make matters worse?

My Review: 5 out of 5 stars for A Mayfair Christmas Carol: A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery Novella (The Marcia Banks and Buddy Cozy Mysteries Book 4) by Kassandra Lamb

Kassandra Lamb is a retired psychotherapist/college professor turned
mystery writer. She spends most of her time with her characters in an
alternate universe, the magic portal to which (i.e., her computer) is
located in Florida, where her husband and dog catch occasional glimpses of her.
She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, The Kate on
Vacation novellas, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, plus a guidebook for novice writers, Someday Is Here! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing and Publishing Your First Book. You can read more about Kassandra and her books at http://kassandralamb.com.

Here’s the problem. If I was reviewing this charming novella as a standalone, I might not give it five stars. But I now know the backstory—Marcia’s background, the challenges she has overcome, and those she still faces. I’ve seen how a Yankee could find herself in rural Florida, that most idiosyncratic of Southern venues. And most of all, even though his role in this novella isn’t a big one, I’d know the relationship between Marcia and the most important man in her life: her dog, Buddy.

Because like every series that goes from good to excellent, in this one it’s the ever-developing web of ties between Marcia and the people around her that turns these stories from good amateur detective yarns to an addicting chance to visit with old friends and meet new ones.

Despite her neighbors’ initial suspicions, Marcia Banks has managed to make a home in tiny rural Mayfair for herself and her fledgling business of training service dogs, usually for veterans. Along the way, she’s won over her neighbors, the town matriarchs, and won the heart of Will, now the town’s newest police detective. Marcia suggests forming a Chamber of Commerce charged with attracting tourists to Mayfair, which has been slowly fading since the town’s only attraction, the alligator farm, closed down. But she’s completely unprepared when her formerly suspicious neighbors not only embrace the idea, but decide the perfect solution is an ice rink. In central Florida.

Enthusiasm is high, building permits instant, and construction soon starts. But all comes to a halt when a skeleton is discovered. As Will investigates the thirty-year-old murder, Marcia’s neighbors share jigsaw pieces  of their history that begin to take shocking shape.

Like every good cozy mystery writer, Kassandra Lamb plays fair with her readers. We have all the clues as soon as Marcia does, giving us the chance to solve the mystery along with her. But the extra element that Kassandra brings to her books— her background as a practicing psychotherapist—is, I believe, what turns Marcia and her friends from characters into quirky, three-dimensional people. Because in this little novella, what Marcia is really putting together is the lifetime of connections between her neighbors. With those in place, Marcia and Will hope to reunite a shattered family in time for a traditional Christmas. Well, as traditional as it gets in on a former alligator farm in the middle of Florida, anyway.

A Mayfair Christmas is a quick sweet read with everything you could ask for while waiting in long holiday lines or wrapped in a quilt by the fire. Old friends, new mysteries, alligators, ice tea sweet enough to remove several layers of tooth enamel, eccentric neighbors, lots of humor, and a terrific dog—all wait to welcome you to a Florida style Christmas.

**I received this book from the publisher or author to facilitate an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Purchase link:

Amazon (Click on link for previews, reviews, and buy links)

Please join us on Tuesday when Kassandra Lamb visits as a special holiday guest blogger with her tips on how to survive Christmas stress.