A lot of the advance copies I have waiting for me on the kindle now are Christmas books. As ever I’m planning on getting the Christmas reading suggestion post done early this year. And also as ever I suspect it will never happen. But what I do want are your recommendations for your favourite Christmas-set books. Not new ones, the old favourites you return to year on year. Please and thank you!
It’s only a few days to go before Christmas now, and so it’s time for my annual Christmas reading post, which as is traditional coming slightly later than I had hoped!
Build Your Own Christmas Movie Romance by Riane Konc
Lets start with something utterly cheesy and frivolous! Remember the old choose your own adventure books that we all used to read, well this is one of those but for Christmas movies and written by some one with a sharp eye on the tropes and stereotypes of the Hallmark Movie genre. Depending on how evil you are depends on how long the story is and where you end up, although there is an overarching story. I got this for Christmas last year and it would make a great gift for the person in your life who’s been watching Christmas movies since the day after Halloween!
In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
For years Maelyn Jones has spent Christmas in a cabin Utah with a big group of her family’s closest friends. But this year it’s all gone horribly wrong, and even worst it could be the last Christmas at the cabin too. On her way back to the airport, Mae asks the universe to show her what will make her happy. Then tyres screech, metal collides… and she wakes up on the plane on the way to Utah before the holiday has even started. And what happens next is basically Groundhog Day with a romance and Christmas twist, as Mae tries to make her way through the holiday all over again – fixing what went wrong each time to try and break the loop and find her true love. This funny and sweet and it really worked for me – despite the fact that I don’t usually like time travel. I’ve written about Christina Lauren before (most recently about the Honey-Don’t list) and when they work for me, they really work. This is on the right side of the pranks and embarrassment scale for me, as well as being lovely and escapist in what’s been an awful year. The isolated nature of the cabin also means that you don’t really think about how different life in reality at the moment compared to what you’re seeing in the books. Wonderfully escapist.
The Gift of the Magpie by Donna Andrews
I mean honestly it wouldn’t be a Christmas post without a mention of Meg Langslow. Donna Andrews has been on a two book a year schedule with this series for a while, but for the last few years the second book has been a Christmas one. This is the 28th book in the series and sees Meg’s already busy life complicated with the Helping Hands project – matching volunteers up to people who need help with jobs. There’s some one who needs a ramp building for wheelchair access, someone else has a quilt that needs finishing – and then there Harvey the Hoarder who is in danger of losing his home. Meg’s helped him before, so she’s sent in to work her magic again, but after some initial success, he’s found dead in his garage. But who killed him? One of his relatives hoping there’s something valuable in his junk or one of his neighbours who got fed up of living next door to his mess? After last year’s snowed-in murder, this is back in town and has some of the series’ Christmas traditions back in evidence. The mystery is good and I love spending time with the characters. And I think it would just about work for someone who’s never read the series before.
The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis
Willa Davis knew Keane Winters at high school, but when he comes into her pet shop needing someone to look after his aunt’s cranky cat while he’s at work, he doesn’t even remember her. Despite this inauspicious start, the sparks between the two of them just keep flying. But both of them have issues in their childhoods that make them think that relationships are not at thing that will work for them so they’ll have to work together to build trust and break down each others barriers to get to their happy ending. Now I know this doesn’t sound that Christmassy, but the backdrop to all this is the run up to Christmas and the festivities going on in Willa’s shop, so it totally counts and it has mistletoe in the title of course. This is the second book in Shalvis’s Heartbreaker Bay, and although you don’t have to read them in order, you will spot stuff from the other books in the series cropping up or being cued up in it. Perfect reading material for the sofa in the cold weather.
Christmas on 4th Street by Susan Mallery
This book 12.5 in Mallery’s long-runing Fools Gold series (which feels like it has more in between titles than it does “proper” titles) and is actually closer to a novel in length than to a novella. Our heroine is Noelle, who moved to town to open a festive-themed store The Christmas Attic. Army doctor Gabriel is in town to recuperate after an injury and to visit his brother Gideon. Their parents are in town for the holidays too – and both men, but especially Gabriel, have a difficult relationship with their father – a literal drill sergeant. Gabriel doesn’t believe in happily ever afters, but when he ends up spending more time with Noelle to get away from his dad, he starts to reconsider. As an added bonus here, Gideon is the hero of book 11, and so if you’ve read that, this gives you a sort of extended epilogue opportunity with some old friends too.
The Naughty List by Ellie-Mae MacGregor
A bit of a wildcard here. This is a steamy Christmas novella with a single mum who wakes up on her sofa on Christmas night to find Santa is in her house. Santa – aka Nikolai – is lonely and horny and so is Kate. Thus high jinx and sauciness ensue. It’s not long, but it is fun. Don’t read it on the train though, it might make you blush!
How Love Actually Ruined Christmas by Gary Raymond*
And finally – the one I haven’t finished yet: this is Gary Raymond’s response to all the people who think that Love Actually is a perfect Christmas movie. I loved Love Actually when it came out, but as time has gone on, I’m more fond of some of the characters than I am about the whole thing, and there are definitely elements that have not aged well to say the least. Whether I’ll come out of this a convert to the Church of Hating Love Actually I don’t know, but I’m a third of the way through and it’s definitely making me laugh as well as think.
If you want more recommendations, for Christmas books, you can check out my previous posts: New Christmas books 2019, Old Christmas books 2019, Christmas 2018, Christmas 2017, More Christmas 2017, Christmas 2016 and finally Christmas 2015.
Happy reading – and Happy Christmas!
*as usual an asterisk means a book came from Netgalley. Unless otherwise noted, everything else I’ve either purchased or borrowed from the library.
Hot on the heels of the new Christmas books post, here’s my annual look at some older Christmas books that I’ve read recently and liked. I don’t mind reading a Christmas book out of season – I’d rather stick to the reading order of a series than avoid a Christmas book – so some of them are things that I’ve read in mid summer… And you never know, they might be available at a discount this festive season.
A Very Merry Princess by Susan Mallery
Don’t be put off by the word princess in the title. Bethany’s step-dad is a Middle Eastern prince who has am extensive stable. When one of the horses is sold to a rancher in California, Bethany accompanies him to his new home, but using an assumed name. While there she falls for the rancher, but will their fledgling relationship survive when he finds out who she really is? This is a novella in the Happily Inc series which apparently ties in to an even earlier category romance that Mallery wrote nearly twenty years ago. Cade, the hero is the brother of one of the heroines from earlier in the series, and they all feature in subsequent novels. It’s Christmassy and Thanksgiving-y and quite a lot of fun – and a California Christmas makes a change from all the snowed-in for the holidays novellas!
A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan
Jonas Grantham is in love with Lydia Chingford. The problem is she can’t stand him – because the new doctor is one of the few people who could expose a secret from her past which would cause a huge scandal for her. He’s sarcastic and funny – but he hides the truth in his barbs. She’s guarded and anxious and doesn’t trust anyone anymore. This is Christmassy but also so romantic that various parts of the resolution made me teary-eyed. Of course it may have just been that I was overtired, but I don’t think it was because a hero who tells a heroine he loves her, all of her, is just wonderful in any circumstances. Swoonworthily wonderful in fact.
Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths
This is the second in the Stephens and Mephisto series featuring a magician and a police detective in the early 1950s. Max and Edgar worked together during the war and this story sees them trying to solve a child disappearance during panto season in Brighton. This has gloom of a seaside resort in winter and the glamour of end-of-the-pier theatre. It’s not all Christmas trees and mince pies – after all rationing is still in effect – but it’s definitely a Christmas novel for all that. I was a bit mixed on the first in this series when I read it a few years back, but I liked this a lot more. I’ve got book three (not a Christmas novel!) on my library hold list at the moment.
Once again, I’m sorry it’s a bit late – but I started writing this post in October but it’s taken a while to come to fruition. All of the recommendations were either bought or came from the library (although a couple of the also read list came from NetGalley) – you should be able to get them from all the usual sources. If you still want mores festive-themed reading there are posts from 2018, 2017 new and old, 2016, 2015 and 2014. Blimey I’ve been doing this a while….
Also read (you can find reviews of all of these over on my Goodreads profile should you be so inclined): Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan, A Christmas to Remember by Joanna Shupe et al, All I Want For Christmas by Jennifer Gracen, 25 Days til Christmas by Poppy Alexander
As mentioned in various other posts, I have read *a lot* of Christmas books for this post. More than I was expecting because it turned out that I didn’t like a bunch of them enough to recommend them – even from authors who I usually find reliable. So that was disappointing. But here we have it at last – a shorter list than I was hoping for – but Christmas recommendations from this year’s festive-themed new releases.
Wrapped Up In You by Jill Shalvis
Ivy is a food truck owner who’s never known stability and doesn’t trust anyone. Kel is a rancher and a sheriff with trust issues on visting San Francisco after his life exploded. They start a fling, but when it seems set to turn into more, will their histories get in the way of a future together? This is the eighth Heartbreaker Bay novel – and if you’ve read the series, there are familiar friends here as well as it being the story of someone you’ve been getting to know as a side character in the other novels. I really liked it – it’s got a great mix of reasons why the characters don’t think they can be together, and although some of it could be solved by having a conversation, you completely understand why that conversation isn’t happening!
It Happened on Christmas Eve by Kirsty Greenwood
Fun and fast Christmas-themed romantic comedy short. Phoebe is a bit of a grinch about Christmas – after she broke up with her boyfriend last Christmas Day. In fact, she’s not the most happy go lucky person in general. So when she has to spend Christmas Eve with her boss’s son, she’s not exactly overjoyed – especially when he turns out to be the most charismatic person in the world and a bit of a flirt. But is this going to turn out to be more fun than she expected? I know Kirsty in real life and she’s as funny in person as her writing is.
Hither, Page by Cat Sebastian
This was a BotW pick, so I’ve already told you about it, but it bears repeating – this is a really fun tangentially Christmas-y story. It’s a murder mystery romance, with a country doctor and a very secret squirrel operative who met in shady circumstances in WW2. You know that I’m a big fan of Cat Sebastian‘s historical romances already – and she’s just as good at this more crime-y stuff too.
So there you are. I’m sorry it’s a bit late – but I started writing this post in October – that’s how hard it’s been to find stuff that I liked enough to recommend. All of the recommendations were either bought or came from the library (although a couple of the also read list came from NetGalley) – you should be able to get them from all the usual sources. Coming up next is the Christmas books not from this year – where I have seen more success thank goodness.
Also read (you can find reviews of all of these over on my Goodreads profile should you be so inclined): A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan; A Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory; Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeleine Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries and Mary Jo Putney; The Christmas Invitation by Trisha Ashley; Christmas Calamity at the Vicarage by Emily Organ; 25 Days ’til Christmas by Poppy Alexander
It’s that time of year again. Well actually it’s a bit late (again) but what’s new. This year at least I have the cast iron excuse of the Washington trip to explain my tardiness. Anyway, here’s my annual look at which books I’d like to find under the Christmas tree this year.
I mentioned Nick Offerman and Megan Mullaly’s book in yesterday’s gift suggestion post – but another Parks and Rec alum has a book out that I want to read too. I tried to get Retta’s So Close To Being The Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know from the library while I was in the US without any joy at all and I still *really* want to read it. It’s her autobiography, and a lot of the reviews that I’ve seen are variations of “I chose it because I loved her in Parks and Rec but didn’t know much more about her than that, and it turns out she’s just as smart and funny as you’d hope.
Another book that I didn’t have any luck getting hold of while I was in America is Beck Dorey-Stine’s From the Corner of the Oval, which his her memoir of how she ended up as a stenographer in the Obama White House after answering an ad on Craigslist. As you may remember, I read a lot of books on US politics before I went to DC, but my favourite ones – that left me wanting more – were the more personal memoirs rather than the more serious “proper” analysis, so this looks right up my street.
On the history front, there have been a lot of great new books out this year. Fern Riddell’s Death in Ten Minutes, about the suffragette Kitty Marion has been sitting in my online shopping cart since it came out waiting for me to get the to-read list down a bit, as has Agnès Poirier’s Left Bank: Art, Passion and the Rebirth of Paris, 1940-1950. I also love reading about Old Hollywood, and one of my podcast discoveries of this year has been You Must Remember This (which has been going for ages, I’m just late to the party) and Karina Longworth, who writes and presents it, has a new book, Seduction: Sex Lies and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood, out this Christmas which I also really want to read.
Regular readers here know that I love a good group biography and often use them as jumping off points to find new topics and people to find out more about. There are two that I’ve got my eye on this Christmas: firstly there’s Michelle Dean’s Sharp, which is about women writers with opinions, from Dorothy Parker through Nora Ephron. Slightly older is Outsiders: Five Women Writers Who Changed The World by Lydall Gordon, which came out last autumn and so is now in out in paperback.
Even older still is Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, which has been on my radar for ages as a classic about the space race that I should really read but which jumped up my list earlier this year after he died and then again after I did the Air and Space Museum and the Air and Space Museum annexe while I was in Washington. It still boggles my mind that that we explored space back when we had so much less technology than we do now and the people who were prepared to strap themselves to a giant rocket absolutely fascinate me.
The non-fiction part of this list is always the easier one for me to write – because there are so many hardback books that I really want to read, but can’t justify buying, whereas so much of my fiction reading starts off in paperback or is available from the library. And most of my kindle purchases tend to be fiction (they seem to get better discounts than non-fiction) as well so things just don’t hang around on my to-buy list as long. That said, there are a few novels that I’ve got my eye on.
I’ve been quite lucky with reading new romances as they came out this year, but the the lists of best of the year are out now, and Alexa Martin’s Intercepted is the one that keeps popping up on all the lists that I haven’t read. I didn’t get a chance to buy it while I was in the US (and had no suitcase room for it anyway) so maybe if I’m really good Santa will bring it for me on the 25th.
On the crime front, I quite fancy reading A Talent For Murder, by Andrew Wilson, which is a mystery with Agatha Christie as the detective. I have a somewhat mixed record with books like this – including a slightly love-hate relationship with the Josephine Tey series – hence why I haven’t bought it for myself yet (because it’s in hardback and expensive for something I don’t know if I’m going to like) but if someone were to buy it for me that would be different…
Curtis Sittenfeld had a collection of short stories out this year – You Think It, I’ll Say it – which I would love to read. I’ve really enjoyed her novels (Eligible was one of my top picks of the year a couple of years ago) I’ve also had Lucia Berlin’s short story collection A Manuel for Cleaning Women in the shopping basket for ages . I don’t often buy short story collections for myself so either of these would be a real treat.
I’ve been hearing about Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ for years now and haven’t got around to reading it, but the movie version is out on Netflix now so perhaps there might be a tie-in edition that someone could buy me for Christmas? Also not new is Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan, the last of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. I’ve read the first two books and I still haven’t seen the film (it came out in the UK after I went to the US and had already left cinemas in the US when I arrived) and a dose of the insanity of the superrich is exactly what I’m usually in the mood for in the lull between Christmas and New Year!
Also sitting in the shopping cart, hoping that one day I’ll be able to justify buying them is Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp and a selection of my favourite Terry Pratchett novels in the beautiful cloth-bound hardback editions. I don’t currently have copies of many (any?) Pratchetts – as my dad has the family set – but I would love Going Postal, Making Money, Mort and Monstrous Regiment. The trouble is that I know as soon as I get one, I’ll want the whole set…
Let me know which books you’re hoping to get for Christmas in the comments, and Happy Reading.
It’s nearly Christmas, so here are some Festive books that are new for your delectation as you settle on the sofa ahead of the big day. I’m working on Christmas Day this year, so raise a glass to me if you’re at home – as I’ll be raising a glass to all the people who are working and doing much more vital and lifesaving things than just sitting in a newsroom.
Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis
This is the Christmas novella in the Heartbreaker Bay series. I enjoyed it – but I think I would have benefited from having read more than just one other book in the series. This is a Christmas-set story that isn’t too massively into the Festive details as well – which I always enjoy.
How the Finch Stole Christmas by Donna Andrews
The things I do for this blog. Because I read this for this post, I’m now up to date in the Meg Langslow series, which means I’m going to have to wait for the next ones like everyone else. This sees Michael putting on A Christmas Carol with a full cast – including the twins. the trouble is that the leading man is somewhat difficult and it’s all they can do to get him to turn up to the theatre on time. This is as fun and Christmassy as you could wish for. I think it would work stand alone, but if you’ve read some Meg already so much the better.
A Maigret Christmas by Georges Simenon
I got this through NetGalley, and although my proof only had one of the three stories I’m still going to recommend it, because although the story was a little melancholy, it was very good and very readable. If like me you haven’t read a lot of Maigret, now is an ideal time to start – especially as he’s back on TV this Christmas with Maigret in Montmatre. Plus what’s not to like about 1950s Paris.
Christmas at the Grange by TE Kinsey
I’ve written about the Lady Hardcastle series before, but there’s a Kindle Short out for Christmas and it’s a lot of fun. I can’t say why without giving too much away, but Emily and Florence are invited to spend Christmas with their neighbours and a mystery ensues.
I still have a few Christmas books waiting to be read – including Heidi Swain’s Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair and Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles by Philippa Ashley. If you’re a Chronicles of St Mary’s fan, there’s a new novella out on Christmas Day (and there’s a string of previous Christmas short stories too). If you’re not a St Mary’s fan, the first book is 99p on Kindle just don’t expect it to be Christmasy!
Also worth considering this Christmas, even if it’s not a Christmas book is Hester Browne’s The Little Lady Agency – which is only 99p on Kindle at time of writing. I’m on the record as having some issues with the last book in this triology, but if all you read is the first one, you can’t go wrong.
It’s all been a bit hectic here for various real life reasons and even this list is shorter than I was hoping it would be, but I think this is my lot for Christmas reading recommendations. But never fear, Week in Books continues as usual and if you’re all really good, there might be a bonus post or two between now and New Year too. But no promises.
Happy Christmas everyone and Happy Reading!
No Book of the Week this week, instead I have some Christmas-themed books for you to read that are not new. Some of these may come up on offers as ebooks in the run up to the big day – so if they take your fancy it might be worth adding them to your watch list.
Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
The sixth book in the Royal Spyness series (yes I still hate the name) sees Georgie acting as a paid hostess (not like that you filthy minded people) at a Christmas house party to escape from her own relations in Scotland. But when there’s a spate of seemingly unconnected deaths in the village, Georgie is convinced that something more sinister is going on and starts investigating. It would probably work best if you’ve already read some of the other books, but if you haven’t, Georgie is 30-somethingth in line to the throne, daughter of a newly impoverished Scottish Earldom and trying her best not to be married off to a chinless foreign prince by her royal relations. In order to avoid this, she needs to find a way of earning some money of her own or find someone rich to marry herself. Trouble is she’s fallen in love with the equally impoverished and somewhat secretive heir to an Irish title and there’s not a lot of jobs suitable for an almost royal, especially an almost royal with a scandalous actress turned socialite for a mother. Enjoy!
One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis
A short but sweet seasonal novella about to ex-schoolmates sharing a ride back to their hometown for Christmas. She’s always had a crush on him but he has reasons why she’s the last person he’d want to be with. But being stuck in a blizzard with only his dog as a buffer between them sees secrets come out and a new way forward emerging. This is part of Shalvis’s Heartbreaker Bay series, but I hadn’t read any of the other books when I read this and I enjoyed it just fine. If you haven’t read any Shalvis before, my version had lots of first chapter (or two) previews for other books of hers two if you like it and want to dip your toe in and try more.
A Christmas Surprise by Jenny Colgan
Jenny Colgan has a Christmas novel pretty much every year – although I’m running a few behind (it’s only a three years since I mentioned trying not to buy this…)- usually a sequel to one of her previous novels. They work best if you’ve already read the first one – or in this case two – books in the series, but they’re better if you have. This is the third book about Rosie Hopkins and her sweetshop in the wilds of Derbyshire. Helpfully it has a story-so-far catchup section at the start for newbies. Despite the title, it’s not all festive cheer – and covers a difficult, but ultimately rewarding year in Rosie’s life. I had a little sniffle at a couple of points – and although I had a problem with the portrayal of one character (the social worker), it was ultimately an enjoyably Christmassy experience.
I’ve already mentioned a lot of Sarah Morgan books this year – and in the last few months – but her Christmas romances are rotating through offers at the moment – so here is my review of Moonlight over Manhattan – but the Snow Crystal Christmas books and the Puffin Island Christmas book are also very good.
What else could I pick for a Christmas book this week except for a book set at Christmas-time? Exactly. It has to be a Christmas book in Christmas week. And I’ve read a lot of Christmas books this year – don’t believe me? Check out my Christmas books post.
So my Christmas book of choice this week is the third in Sarah Morgan’s Puffin Island series, Christmas Ever after, which has Christmas twice – once in the UK and once on the island – and an enemies to lovers sort of plot where artistic Skylar’s politician boyfriend hijacks her big exhibition and then runs out on her, leaving unwilling acquaintance Alec to come to her rescue. She ends up meeting his family – who think she’s his first girlfriend since his disastrous marriage, and well, it goes from there. There’s lots of sparky dialogue, sexy times, snow, sexy times, discussions about how relationships would bring out the best in you and not stifle you and romantic times.
This was so much fun. I like fractious relationships with romantic undertones – or ‘I hate you, I hate you, I can’t stop touching your hair’ as Sarah Wendell at Smart Bitches puts it – so this is right up my street and it was the perfect book for me to read on Christmas Eve. It was warm and festive and if my new fireplace had actually been installed (don’t ask) I would have read it tucked up in front of a roaring fire and it would have been perfect. I’ve read the Puffin Island series slightly out of order, but I don’t think it’s been a problem at all – because for me the fun of a romance isn’t who people are going to end up with, but how they get there so I don’t mind knowing in advance who is going to end up with whom because I haven’t read the books in order.
So, in short, lovely Christmas romance, perfect for reading in front of the fire on your Christmas days off (like today if you have a bank holiday too) or on New Year’s Eve if you’re not all Christmassed out by then (or by now!) – or just put it on your list for next December.
The schools have broken up, offices are starting to wind down and although I’m only midway through my run of nights, it really is starting to feel a lot like Christmas. So if you’re already in full-on festive mode, here are some Christmassy reading suggestions for you. All my links in this are to the Kindle editions – partly because there are so many e-specials in here, but also because it’s so close to Christmas now you’re probably not going to be able to get the actual book in the post in time.
As with every year there is a healthy crop of new festive novellas about. In the main, I think they mostly work for people who are already fans, rather than people who are new to the author, but if you’re a fan of Katie Fforde, you can check in with some old friends in Candlelight at Christmas, or with the characters from Cathy Bramley‘s Plumberry School of Comfort Food in Comfort and Joy. Alex Brown returns to Tindledale to write a emotional story about finding a new love in Not Just for Christmas. Liz Fenwick has written a Christmas Carol-inspired novella, A Cornish Christmas Carol, for those of you who want to see a Scrooge converted. And there are short stories from Jennifer Crusie, Donna Alward and Mandy Baxter in It Must Be Christmas – I liked the Crusie the best, but be warned it’s been previously published (I discovered I’d already read it) and I think it’s a little expensive (over a fiver at time of writing) for what it is as I thought the other two stories each had a problem or two with them.
I reviewed Sarah Morgan‘s Christmas novel Miracle on Fifth Avenue for Novelicious – it’s wonderfully Christmassy even if it’s not quite grovelly enough in the resolution for me. Morgan writes excellent Christmas stories – I read the first book in her Snow Crystal trilogy, Sleigh Bells in the Snow, a couple of weeks back and that’s great as well. I’m currently trying to resist the urge to buy the other two in the series. It’s not new, but I read Tessa Dare‘s Spindle Cove fill in Once Upon A Winter’s Eve this year – and whilst I took an early dislike of the hero and didn’t think it was long enough for him to be able to redeem himself fully, I know that other people have loved it. I’ve also read the last in Sabrina Jeffries‘s Hellions of Halstead Hall series this year, ‘Twas the Night after Christmas, which is actually mostly set in the run up to Christmas. I found the characters a bit stubborn and the central plot device is a bit melodramatic and overblown, but other people ha
There’s also no shortage of Christmas books in the series that I follow and I’ve read quite a few of them this year. The latest in Robin Stevens‘ Wells and Wong series , Mistletoe and Murder is a Christmas one – as I’ve already mentioned in a BotW post and you’d be fine starting the series there if you really wanted to. And I think Donna Andrew‘s Duck the Halls would be fine for someone to read if they haven’t read the other 15 Meg Langslow books – although you’d be missing the background to Meg’s eccentric extended family so she might come across as barking mad. I’m behind in the series (because I collect them in papberback but wait for the secondhand prices to come down because of the backlog) so there’s another Christmas-y Meg after this one, The Nightingale Before Christmas as well as an earlier festive one, Six Geese Are Slaying. Alan Bradley‘s fourth Flavia de Luce novel is set at Christmastime. In I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, Flavia is cooking up a trap for St Nick but a film crew is snowed in at Buckshaw and a murder is committed. The fifth in Kerry Greenwood‘s Corinna Chapman series, Forbidden Fruit, is a Christmas book – but it’s Christmas in Australia which makes a lovely change from snow scenes and roaring fires. It also has recipes at the back, which is always a bonus – and one of things I like about Trisha Ashley‘s books. I’ve mentioned her a fair bit here before – but she has some fabulous Christmas books – particularly my favourite A Winter’s Tale, which I usually re-read at this time of year.
Some of the series have Christmas fill-in novellas too – in Jodi Taylor‘s Chronicles of St Mary’s series When A Child is Born sees Max and the gang in England for Christmas 1066 and all does not go as planned (but then when does it ever?) and A Christmas Present had me in tears twice as Max goes back in time to avert a double tragedy. this year I’ve also enjoyed Silent Night and Twelth Night, the two Christmas fill-ins in Deanna Raybourn‘s Lady Julia Grey series but much as I love her, I really do think you need to have read the other books to be able to get the best out of them.
This is a real monster list (much longer than I thought it would be when I started writing it) and I hope this has provided plenty of Christmas-y reading for you – but if this is still not enough, here’s last year’s Christmas-themed reading post with some more suggestions.
Yes, it’s that time of year again, where I tell you what’s been sitting in my Amazon Shopping basket for months as I try to justify buying more books in the guise of offering recommendations for people who like what I like but actually offer last minute hints to my loved ones who read the blog and anyone else who wants to buy me something. In writing this I went back over last year’s version of this post and was cheered over how many of my 2015 wishes I’ve got and have read – and there are a couple more on my Kindle too that I bought myself!
The non fiction section of this list always seems to be bigger than the fiction one – I think because non-fiction books are often more expensive or come out in hardback first so I’m less likely to buy them myself and it takes longer for them to drop down in price secondhand.
A new addition to the list is Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Mock, Hate and Fear by Sady Doyle, which Sarah MacLean recommended in her Christmas mailing list. It’s a look at troubled women in the public eye through history – from Mary Wollstonecraft through Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse – examining what makes a “trainwreck” and why we’re so fascinated by them. I’ve had my eye on The End of the Perfect 10 by Dvora Meyers since the Olympics in the summer, but haven’t been able to justify shelling out for it when I have so much waiting on the to-read shelf. And then there’s Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me which I’ve just heard so much about but haven’t got around to reading yet.
There’s a few memoirs that I’m interested on – I keep hearing good things about Tara Clancy’s The Clancy’s of Queens about her childhood growing up in different parts of New York. Then there’s Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime about growing up in South Africa when his parents’ marriage (between a white Swiss man and a black Xhosa woman) was illegal. Noah is almost exactly my age and it’s crazy to me that this was still happening in my lifetime, to my contemporaries.
In history terms, I’d like First Women by Kate Anderson Brower about modern First Ladies of the US, I want to read Barbara Leaming’s Kick Kennedy because I already have Paula Byrne’s Kick waiting on the shelf and I wouldn’t mind Rosemary by Kate Larson (although I fear it may make me sad and angry) because most of my knowledge about the other Kennedys comes from Laurie Graham’s novel The Importance of Being Kennedy and Robert Dalek’s biography John F Kennedy: An Unfinished Life.
I’m not one for science books in the main – although I’d also like to read several of the Mary Roach books I recommended yesterday – but I’d really like Emily Nagoski’s Come As You Are which is an exploration of female sexuality and sex, but I’m not sure there’s anyone I know well enough that I can ask them to buy it for me! Perhaps I’ll treat myself to it in the New Year!
The fiction section this year breaks down into authors I want to try or books I keep hearing about and series/authors I collect. I’ll start with the former, because if you’ve been here a while the latter may seem a bit familiar to you…
Last year I was asking for the last of Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation books – this year I’m asking for her first collaboration with Beatriz Williams (who I also really like) and Karen White, The Forgotten Room, which is a timeslip novel covering three generations of a family in New York. And incidentally I still haven’t managed to read Willig’s other novel from last year That Summer, where a woman inherits a house and discovers a painting and a mystery.
I’m always wanting non-Christmassy books to read in January – particularly because that’s when my birthday is and I’m sick of tinsel and mistletoe by New Year’s Day – which conincidentally is when Sherlock is back on TV, so Brittany Holmes A Study in Charlotte (female Holmes descendant at a US boarding school) or Sherry Thomas’s A Study in Scarlet Women (historical romance with female Sherlock) which I’ve been coveting for ages might well suit my mood early in 2017.
On the collection front, Virago reissued three more Angela Thirkells recently that I have not yet read or added to my collection (I wasn’t allowed to buy myself when Foyles were doing 20% off online, apparently 1 book as a present and 1 book for me was not an acceptable purchase ratio…) Miss Bunting, The Headmistress and Marling Hall. There’s also a few more of Virago’s Designer Hardbacks that I’d quite like to add to the shelf – notably the two Daphne Du Maurier short story collections – Don’t Look Now and Other Stories and The Birds and Other Stories and Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on the Train.
And in more boring every day reading so to speak, I really want to read the new Aurora Teagarden Mystery by Charlaine Harris, All the Little Liars, partly because I like the series but also because the idea of an author coming back to a series after nearly 15 years fascinates me. I still don’t have the latest Julia Quinn (Because of Miss Bridgerton) or Sarah MacLean (A Scot in the Dark) so I’m falling behind in my historical romance reading as well as the rest of the backlog.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve already bought myself another year of Fahrenheit Press books and a couple more years of Literary Review, and I have Vanity Fair as well. I did investigate a membership of the London Library, but I don’t know anyone who would spend nearly £500 on a library membership for me – especially with the massive backlog I have at the moment (and I can get a *lot* of books for £500 – that’s probably more than I’ve spend on books for myself this year anyway!).
I do fancy a new Kindle e-reader though – my first generation Kindle Touch has given me faithful service for more than 4 years, but it’s now struggling a little bit (it keeps stalling, possibly because of the amount of stuff on it) and the paint is scratching off it. It’d also be nice to have two so that Him Indoors could use one on the beach on holiday (he ended up using mine for a fair bit of our last one). My pick (I think) is the Voyage – because I want the backlight but I’m also getting lazy in my old age and liked the page turning squeezing thing when I tried it at the airport.
So there you are, more books than you can shake a stick at that I want for Christmas, despite the piles I already have. It’s like an addiction except that I learn things and it’s not illegal.