Both our semesters having wrapped up, Mark and I took off for New England on December 22nd for a short trip to visit family and see some literary and historical venues. We made our first photo stop at my favorite used bookstore, the Niantic Book Barn along the Connecticut coastline.
They have three stores, two annexes in downtown Niantic and the main store about a mile west of town. The latter is comprised of a number of barns and outbuildings full of reasonably priced books.
If you're anywhere in the area, make your way to this store, pronto, and bring your wish lists because they have about 500,000 books in stock at any given time. A good deal of the fiction is either outdoors under awnings or in unheated (or unevenly heated) barns, so I wore my winter coat and gloves. Definitely worth it, though.
They must have some locals who trade in recent purchases or review copies regularly, because this is what I ended up with, below. (The top two are actually UK sagas about WWII given to me by my father, but they made it in the picture too, along with my photogenic orange kitty, Oliver. My 4-ft TBR pile(s) at far left.)
Nearly all of these are historical mysteries with the exception of Mackenzie Ford's Gifts of War, which is a romance of sorts set during WWI. Coincidentally I found the newly published sequel to Miss Dimple Disappears, which I reviewed not long ago. Mignon Ballard's Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause is another WWII cozy mystery set in Georgia.
To Tom's unpleasant surprise, he finds himself a suspect in the canon's murder, and that mystery intertwines with archaeological discoveries from the region and odd goings-on among the townspeople. Although he's somewhat colorless in contrast to the eccentrics he meets, his sarcastic sense of humor is visible to those who read carefully, and his lively girlfriend, a would-be sensation novelist on the lookout for new material, keeps the amusement level high. It's a good choice for those who enjoy mysteries of the traditional British sort, and I do.
After more family visits, it was off to Boston's North Shore, where we stopped in Salem for two nights. This is one of the best examples of a historic New England town common I've seen.
This enormous park sits in the center of the city, and a number of houses and stores face it from all directions. Lots of pastels in alternating hues. I bet you need special permission to paint your house a new color here.
Next we have a statue of Roger Conant, Salem's founder (and my 10th great-grandfather). He stands across from Salem Common, looking dour and Puritan-like in his cloak.
Because of Conant's proximity to the building below, many tourists believe he had something to do with the witch trials, but he died over a decade before that.
Ah, the Salem Witch Museum. It was 40 degrees the day we spent in Salem, which meant we didn't see many tourists on the streets even though the hotel was busy. Later we found out why. They were all at this prime attraction at the same time we were. We should have read the Yelp reviews beforehand, because the presentation we saw was pretty hokey. Mood lighting, life-size dioramas, and an over-the-top (but well-researched) soundtrack dramatize the events of the Salem witch trials. Kids might like it, but we didn't think it was worth $9 apiece.
Next was a historic house I wish we'd taken a tour of - we'd hoped to get to one of the evening lantern tours, but I read the schedule incorrectly, and by the time I figured that out, it was too late. This is the House of the Seven Gables made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne in his novel of the same name.
By all accounts, it's well worth a visit, so I hope we'll be able to come back here next time we're in the area. I put a copy of the novel in my B&N cart, too.
To all of my readers: Thanks for visiting and commenting - I appreciate your taking the time to stop by here. Hope you have a wonderful New Year, with plenty of good historical reading for 2012!