This past week I featured a selection of Holiday/Winter reads on my instagram channel. Here they are all rounded up in one spot, plus one bonus recommendation!
The Afterlife of Holly Chase
Written by Cynthia Hand
Published by Harperteen
An excellent Christmas Carol retelling! Holly is visited by the three ghosts on Christmas Eve who show her her selfishness etc etc but, (twist!), she doesn’t listen and dies. In her afterlife she starts work at a secret company Project Scrooge – dedicated to saving one “Scrooge” each Christmas Eve. As the years pass, can Holly learn? Is it too late to be saved? I read this two years ago and still think of it. Such a clever, enjoyable, and unexpected read. If you are a fan of not-so-happily ever after, you’ll appreciate this one.
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living
Written by Louise Miller
Published by Penguin
While this is a recent read, I loved it so much and it gave me such Holiday vibes. When Olivia, a pastry chef extraordinaire, accidentally lights the exclusive Boston club she works at on fire, she retreats to a cozy, small town in Vermont to recollect. With the help of her best friend she lands a job at the idyllic Sugar Maple Inn. As she navigates a cantankerous (but big hearted) inn owner, small town drama, small town charm, and new friends – Livvy begins to heal parts of herself she didn’t realize were broken. All combining over fabulous desserts and a cozy Vermont fall & Christmas – this novel just makes you curl up and smile. (The romance is pretty cute as well).
Full review HERE.
A Boy Called Christmas
Written by Matt Haig
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Basically this is Father Christmas’ origin story. Nikolas and his father, Joel, live in poverty. In an attempt to make money Joel leaves on an perilous expedition to prove the existence of elves. When his father fails to return Nikolas ventures out to find him. Along the way he discovers an injured reindeer that he helps and befriends. They journey together to find his father and the elf village … but elves aren’t the sparkly, friendly version we’ve come to know. Such a fun Christmas read with magic, friendship, peril, and heart. Enjoyed by a wide range of audiences (keep in mind a young audience might be put off by some hardships Nikolas faces).
The Crown’s Game
Written by Evelyn Skye
Published by Balzer + Bray
I loved this wintery, magical fantasy set in St Petersburg in 1825. Basically this is an elaborate wizards duel in which the current Tsar needs an Imperial Enchanter and the two possible candidates – Vika and Nikolai – are pitted against each other. For the winner, unlimited power. The loser, instant death. Of course as the contest escalates and their magical displays grow, so do some pesky feelings. Bit of love triangle at work here, but I was too enthralled by the magical, wintery wonderland Evelyn created to care. A perfect December/January read.
Astrid the Unstoppable
Written by Maria Parr
Published by Candlewick Press
I have never read a sweeter story in my life. Astrid lives in a remote Norwegian village where she reigns supreme as the only kid. Her best friend, a 74 year old cantankerous man named Gunvold, has been keeping a big secret from her … one that will test their friendship greatly. When a new family with children arrive in town, along with a mysterious woman, Astrid’s world gets turned upside down … this time not of her doing! Astrid is a combination of Heidi, Anne Shirley and Pippi Longstocking with just as much spunk, bravery and humour as all three. Truly a special story. Read it when it’s cold outside with hot chocolate.
The Christmas Sisters
Written by Sarah Morgan
Published by HQN
A small snowy town in the Scottish Highlands brings together the McBride family. Three adopted daughters – Hannah (workaholic who hasn’t been home in years), Beth (stay-at-home mom experiencing personal turmoil) and Posy (struggling to balance familial obligation to her mom with her desire for an adventure). While the “perfect” Christmas appears to be unravelling, this is also a Christmas none of them will forget. Full of heart, healing, believable obstacles and real life challenges – I really enjoyed this holiday read.
The Space Between
Written by Dete Meserve
Published by Lake Union
Like a cotton-headed ninny muggins (Any Elf fans?) I forgot to include this book in the picture above. This is a great pick for those looking for a holiday-light read as it centres around November/December but is actually a mystery-thriller. Dr. Sarah Mayfield is a brilliant astronomer who returns from a major presentation at NASA to find her husband missing.The action begins immediately as members of the wealthy couples legal team believe foul play. Soon Sarah herself is believed to behind the disappearance as she alone will inherit a massive life security payout. This is a super fast read, the action begins immediately and in my opinion is the right level of plot twists and thrills (ie, not gory). If you think Die Hard is a Christmas movie, this is the Holiday book for you.
The Bear and the Nightingale
Written by Katherine Arden
Published by Del Rey Books
This magical, adult fantasy is on the top of my winter reads list. Set in an ancient Russian village during the depths of a cold winter, this book screams to be read during these cold months ahead under a blanket. Vasilisa and her family love to share stories around the fire every night. Her favourite being that of Frost, a blue eyed demon that haunts the forests. When her mother dies and her father remarries, her new Stepmother banishes the stories … soon crops begin to fail, evil spirits creep nearer and misfortune plague the village. To save her people, Vasilisa must reveal a hidden power and defy those she loves.
Full review HERE.
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