27 New Books to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

‘Tis the season for new holiday books to be released, from Christmas murder mysteries to hilarious holiday stories to snowy romances. If you’re looking for a great novel to get you in the holiday spirit, check out these Christmas books for adults below. Publishers’ descriptions included.

 

Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand

Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand

Raise one last glass with the Quinn Family at the Winter Street Inn.

It’s been too long since the entire Quinn family has been able to celebrate the holidays under the same roof, but that’s about to change. With Bart back safe and sound from Afghanistan, the Quinns are preparing for a holiday more joyous than any they’ve experienced in years. And Bart’s safe return isn’t the family’s only good news: Kevin is enjoying married life with Isabelle; Patrick is getting back on his feet after paying his debt to society; Ava thinks she’s finally found the love of her life; and Kelly is thrilled to see his family reunited at last. But it just wouldn’t be a Quinn family gathering if things went smoothly. A celebration of everything we love — and some of the things we endure — about the holidays, Winter Solstice is Elin Hilderbrand at her festive best.

 

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes — as everyone does — that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict — but how? — and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears — and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris — a cherished packet of letters in hand — determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

 

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber

Christmas is the season of the heart, and #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber is here to warm yours with a delightful holiday novel of first impressions and second chances.

Merry Knight is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her — minus her photo — and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.

Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects — or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.

 

 

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… and the perfect moment to escape to a charming English village! From the beloved author whose novels are “sheer indulgence from start to finish” (Sophie Kinsella) comes a delightful holiday story — funny, heartfelt, romantic and packed with recipes — perfect for the winter months.

In the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne, the Christmas season has arrived. It’s a joyous time for family, friends, and feasting, as decorations sparkle along the town’s winding streets and shop windows glow with festive displays. And in Polly’s Little Beach Street Bakery, the aroma of gingerbread cookies and other treats tempts people in from the cold.

Though Polly is busy keeping up with the demands of the season, she still makes time for her beekeeper boyfriend, Huckle. She’s especially happy to be celebrating the holiday this year with him, and can’t wait to cuddle up in front of the fireplace with a cup of eggnog on Christmas Eve.

But holiday bliss soon gives way to panic when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland. Now it will take all of the villagers to work together in order to ensure everyone has a happy holiday.

Full of heart and humor, Jenny Colgan’s latest novel is an instant Christmastime classic.

 

Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

From the author of the beloved #1 New York Times bestseller Wicked, the magical story of a toymaker, a nutcracker, and a legend remade…

Gregory Maguire returns with an inventive novel inspired by a timeless holiday legend, intertwining the story of the famous Nutcracker with the life of the mysterious toy maker named Drosselmeier who carves him.

Hiddensee: An island of white sandy beaches, salt marshes, steep cliffs, and pine forests north of Berlin in the Baltic Sea, an island that is an enchanting bohemian retreat and home to a large artists’ colony — a wellspring of inspiration for the Romantic imagination…

Having brought his legions of devoted readers to Oz in Wicked and to Wonderland in After Alice, Maguire now takes us to the realms of the Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffmann– the enchanted Black Forest of Bavaria and the salons of Munich. Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve. At the heart of Hoffmann’s mysterious tale hovers Godfather Drosselmeier — the ominous, canny, one-eyed toy maker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky’s fairy tale ballet– who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.

But Hiddensee is not just a retelling of a classic story. Maguire discovers in the flowering of German Romanticism ties to Hellenic mystery-cults — a fascination with death and the afterlife — and ponders a profound question: How can a person who is abused by life, shortchanged and challenged, nevertheless access secrets that benefit the disadvantaged and powerless? Ultimately, Hiddensee offers a message of hope. If the compromised Godfather Drosselmeier can bring an enchanted Nutcracker to a young girl in distress on a dark winter evening, perhaps everyone, however lonely or marginalized, has something precious to share.

 

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and Beartown delivers an insightful and poignant holiday novella about a man who sacrificed his family in the single-minded pursuit of success and the courageous little girl fighting for her life who crosses his path.

It all begins with a father telling a story to his son on Christmas Eve. But this isn’t your typical Christmas story. The father admits to his son that he’s taken a life but he won’t say whose — not yet.

One week earlier, in a hospital late at night, the man met a five-year-old girl with cancer. She’s a smart kid — smart enough to know that she won’t beat cancer by drawing with crayons all day, but it seems to make the adults happy, so she keeps doing it.

As the man tells his son about this plucky little girl, he slowly reveals more about himself: while he may be a successful businessman, idolized by the media and his peers, he knows he failed as a parent. Overwhelmed by the responsibility of fatherhood, he took the easy way out and left his wife and little boy twenty years ago to pursue professional success. Now he is left wondering if it’s too late to forge a relationship with his son, who seems to be his opposite in every way — prizing happiness over money, surrounded by loving friends in a cozy town where he feels right at home.

Face to face with the idea that something is missing, the man is given the unexpected chance to do something selfless that could change the destiny of the little girl in the hospital bed. But before he can make the deal of a lifetime, he needs to find out what his own life has actually been worth in the eyes of his son. And so, he seeks him out and tells him this story…

Written with Fredrik Backman’s signature humor, compassion, and “knack for weaving tales that are believable and fanciful” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), The Deal of a Lifetime reminds us that life is a fleeting gift, and our only legacy is how we share that gift with those we love.

 

Christmas in London by Anita Hughes

Christmas in London by Anita Hughes

Set during London’s most festive time of year and filled with delicious food Anita Hughes’ Christmas in London is about love and friendship, and the season’s most important lesson: learning how to ask for and give forgiveness.

It’s a week before Christmas and Louisa Graham is working twelve hour shifts at a bakery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. When a young cooking show assistant comes in from the rain and begs to buy all the cinnamon rolls on her tray, she doesn’t know what to do. Louisa is just the baker, and they aren’t hers to sell. But the show burned the rolls they were supposed to film that day; so she agrees.

The next morning, Louisa finds out that her cinnamon rolls were a hit, but the star of the show was allergic, and the whole crew is supposed to leave for London that afternoon. They want Louisa to step in for their annual Christmas Eve Dinner TV special at Claridge’s. It’s a great opportunity, and Digby Bunting, Louisa’s famous baking idol, will be there. Even if he does seem more interested in her than her food.

And then there’s Kate, the show’s beautiful producer. On their first day in London she runs into the skinny boy she jilted at St. Andrew’s in Scotland ten years ago. Now he’s a handsome, brilliant mathematician, and newly divorced. Their familiar spark is still there, but so is the scar of how they left things. Kate and Louisa are busy preparing for the show, but old and new flames are complicating their work.

 

Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva

Laced with humor, rich historical detail from Charles Dickens’ life, and clever winks to his work, Samantha Silva’s Mr. Dickens and His Carol is an irresistible new take on a cherished classic.

Charles Dickens is not feeling the Christmas spirit. His newest book is an utter flop, the critics have turned against him, relatives near and far hound him for money. While his wife plans a lavish holiday party for their ever-expanding family and circle of friends, Dickens has visions of the poor house. But when his publishers try to blackmail him into writing a Christmas book to save them all from financial ruin, he refuses. And a serious bout of writer’s block sets in.

Frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace in his great palace of thinking, the city of London itself. On one of his long night walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets the mysterious Eleanor Lovejoy, who might be just the muse he needs. As Dickens’ deadlines close in, Eleanor propels him on a Scrooge-like journey that tests everything he believes about generosity, friendship, ambition, and love. The story he writes will change Christmas forever.

 

A Christmas Return by Anne Perry

A Christmas Return by Anne Perry

’Tis the season of giving — and with this wonderful book, New York Times bestselling author Anne Perry shares a brand-new holiday mystery filled with bygone relationships and hidden secrets.

As Charlotte Pitt’s grandmother Mariah Ellison finds herself investigating a long-unsolved slaying, it becomes clear that grappling with intrigue and foul play runs in the family. A festive Christmas package left on Mariah’s doorstep contains an ominous present, sparking memories of a twenty-year-old murder that shattered her friendship with the victim’s widow. Though the gift is a bitter reminder of that tragic time, in the spirit of the season Mariah travels to Surrey in hopes of reconciling with her estranged friend and solving the crime that drove them apart.

On arrival, Mariah joins forces with the murdered man’s grandson, a sleuth in his own right who’s discovered promising evidence as well as a suspect. But Surrey’s picturesque hills conceal dark doings and shocking revelations that could make the holiday anything but calm and bright.

Decked with intrigue and trimmed with Yuletide spirit, A Christmas Return is a holiday treat wrapped in the glorious storytelling talents of the reigning master of Victorian mystery.

 

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe from New York Times bestselling author, Melissa de la Cruz, is a sweet, sexy and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling, set in contemporary America and featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.

Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones — one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her family.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32-years-old and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

 

A Snow Country Christmas by Linda Lael Miller

A Snow Country Christmas by Linda Lael Miller

It’s a Christmas affair to remember as a Hollywood mogul discovers his inner cowboy — and the woman of his dreams — amid the rugged beauty of Wyoming. 

Raine McCall would take snow-covered mountains over a star-studded premiere any day. But when hotshot movie executive Mick Branson arranges dinner on Christmas Eve to discuss a work opportunity, she’s intrigued–by the offer and the man. She’s a no-makeup, no-frills single mom, who’s happy with her quiet life. Sharing chili cheeseburgers and sizzling kisses with Mick is sure heating up her holiday, but country girl and power player don’t mix…

It’s not just work that’s brought Mick back to Mustang Creek. Since he first visited to oversee a documentary, free-spirited graphic designer Raine has been in his head. Her approach to life is as unconventional as her quirky holiday ornaments. Their attraction is undeniable — and so are their differences. Putting down roots in the Wild West wasn’t in the script. But there are some Christmas gifts you can’t walk away from, even when they turn your whole world upside down…

 

A Very Merry Princess by Susan Mallery

A Very Merry Princess by Susan Mallery

Celebrate the season with this warmhearted charmer from #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery.

When Princess Bethany’s father, the king, sells one of his best stallions, she insists the animal get the royal treatment. Disguised as Beth Archer, a mere stable hand, she takes him to Happily Inc, California, a quaint wedding destination that’s especially sparkly over the holidays.

Rich women have no place on Cade Saunders’s ranch. He wants a down-to-earth girl-next-door type — like Beth Archer. After a few cocoa-flavored kisses by the Christmas tree, Bethany begins to fall for her irresistibly handsome host. But will Cade still want her when he discovers she’s more familiar with a crown than a cowboy hat?

 

A Lot Like Christmas by Connie Willis

A Lot Like Christmas by Connie Willis

This new, expanded edition of Miracle and Other Christmas Stories features twelve brilliantly reimagined holiday tales, five of which are collected here for the first time.

Christmas comes but once a year, yet the stories in this dazzling collection are fun to read anytime. They put a speculative spin on the holiday, giving fans of acclaimed author Connie Willis a welcome gift and a dozen reasons to be of good cheer.

Brimming with Willis’s trademark insights and imagination, these heartwarming tales are full of humor, absurdity, human foibles, tragedy, joy, and hope. They both embrace and send up many of the best Christmas traditions, including the holiday newsletter, Secret Santas, office parties, holiday pageants, and Christmas dinners (both elaborate and spare). There are Rockettes, the best and worst Christmas movies, modern-day Magi, Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come — and the triumph of generosity over greed. Like all the timeless classics we return to year after year, these stories affirm our faith in love, magic, and the wonder of the season.

 

The Rancher’s Christmas Song by RaeAnne Thayne

The Rancher's Christmas Song by RaeAnne Thayne

Keep a song in your heart this holiday season…

Music teacher Ella Baker’s plate is already full. But when single dad Beckett McKinley’s wild twin boys need help preparing a Christmas song for their father, Ella agrees on one condition: they teach her to ride a horse. She’s hoping that’ll help mend her strained relationship with her rancher father; it certainly has nothing to do with the crush that’s lingered since her one and only date with Beck.

It isn’t disinterest spurring Beck to keep his distance — if anything, the spark is too strong, with Ella reminding him of his ex-wife. Soon what started as an innocent arrangement is beginning to feel a lot like family. But with the holidays approaching, Beck and Ella will have to overcome past hurts if they want to keep each other warm this Christmas

 

A Tiara Under the Tree by Carolyn Hector

A Tiara Under the Tree by Carolyn Hector

The ultimate prize this Christmas… 

Former beauty queen Waverly Leverve can barely show her face in public after an embarrassing meme goes viral. But now fate and a misdelivered pizza have brought her dreams back to life. Gorgeous bad boy turned business mogul Dominic Crowne wants to sponsor Waverly in a pageant scheduled for Christmas Eve. Waverly vows to keep their arrangement purely professional — but soon their arrangement quickly takes a sensual turn…

Dominic knows that his golden touch can fix almost anything — including Waverly’s tilted tiara. Against his own will, Dominic is mesmerized with his stunning new client. He’s falling for the pageant princess and the vulnerable yet sexy woman within. But when Waverly’s ultimate goal finally comes within reach, can he help her achieve professional redemption and find his Princess Charming under the mistletoe?

 

The Usual Santas by Various Authors

The Usual Santas by Peter Lovesey

Finally: the perfect stocking stuffer for the crime fiction lover in your life! With a foreword by CWA Diamond Award-winner Peter Lovesey, these 18 delightful holiday stories by your favorite Soho Crime authors contain laughs, murders, and plenty more.

This captivating collection, which features bestselling and award-winning authors, contains laughs aplenty, the most hardboiled of holiday noir, and heartwarming  reminders of the spirit of the season.

Nine mall Santas must find the imposter among them. An elderly lady seeks peace from her murderously loud neighbors at Christmastime. A young woman receives a mysterious invitation to Christmas dinner with a stranger. Niccolò Machiavelli sets out to save an Italian city. Sherlock Holmes’s one-time nemesis Irene Adler finds herself in an unexpected tangle in Paris while on a routine espionage assignment. Jane Austen searches for the Dowager Duchess of Wilborough’s stolen diamonds. These and other adventures in this delectable volume will whisk readers away to Christmases around the globe, from a Korean War POW camp to a Copenhagen refugee squat, from a palatial hotel in 1920s Bombay to a crumbling mansion in Havana.

 

Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis

Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis

Meet cute…

Run for the hills — temporarily. That’s Colbie Albright’s plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie’s so over it that she’s under it. She’s also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she’s pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won’t be a stranger for long.

Make merry…

Spence’s commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn’t have to worry about the powerful — okay, crazy hot — chemistry he’s got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself… just because she’s gorgeous and a great listener…just because she “gets” Spence immediately doesn’t mean he won’t be able to let Colbie go. Does it?

…and hope for a miracle.

Now the clock’s ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime.

 

The Ghost of Christmas Past by Rhys Bowen

The Ghost of Christmas Past by Rhys Bowen

From Rhys Bowen, the author of In Farleigh Field, comes the next Molly Murphy mystery: The Ghost of Christmas Past.

Semi-retired private detective Molly Murphy Sullivan is suffering from depression after a miscarriage following her adventure in San Francisco during the earthquake of 1906. She and her husband, Daniel, are invited for Christmas at a mansion on the Hudson, and they gratefully accept, expecting a peaceful and relaxing holiday season. Not long after they arrive, however, they start to feel the tension in the house’s atmosphere. Then they learn that the host couple’s young daughter wandered out into the snow 10 years ago and was never seen again. Molly can identify with the mother’s pain at never knowing what happened to her child and wants to help, but there is so little to go on. No ransom note. No body ever found. But Molly slowly begins to suspect that the occupants of the house know more than they are letting on. Then, on Christmas Eve, there is a knock at the door and a young girl stands there. “I’m Charlotte,” she says. “I’ve come home.”

 

 

A Chesapeake Shores Christmas by Sherryl Woods

A Chesapeake Shores Christmas by Sherryl Woods

After years apart, Mick and Megan O’Brien are finally ready to make it official… again. Most of their grown children couldn’t be happier about their rekindled love and impending marriage this holiday season. Only Connor is a holdout. Driven to become a divorce attorney after what he views as his mother’s abandonment of their family, Connor’s not about to give his blessing to this reunion romance.

The last thing Megan wants to do is hurt her family again. After all, is she really sure she and Mick can make it this time around? And when an unexpected delivery causes chaos, it seems only a miracle can reunite this family.

Of course, it is Christmas — the season of miracles.

 

Holly and Ivy by Fern Michaels

Holly and Ivy by Fern Michaels

In a heartwarming novel of secret wishes and family lost and found, acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Fern Michaels creates a timeless Christmas story to cherish…

The flames of memory always seem to glow a little brighter during the holidays. Perhaps that’s why this time of year is so difficult for airline heiress Ivy Macintosh, as she faces thoughts of yet another festive season alone. Since the plane crash that claimed the lives of her husband and two children eight years ago, she’s been submerged in grief.

When 11-year-old Holly Greenwood knocks on her door, lost and frightened after a forbidden visit to her singing teacher, Ivy’s self-imposed exile is shattered. Holly has an extraordinary voice, and wants nothing more than to perform in an upcoming Christmas musical. Holly’s father, Daniel, doesn’t allow music in their home, refusing to give a good reason why — just as he refuses to talk about Holly’s mother. Ivy has no idea how closely she and Daniel are linked by their tragic pasts, yet she’s drawn to the warmth she senses beneath his gruff exterior. And as Christmas nears, their shared concern for Holly begins to draw Ivy back into the world again… and toward a family who may need her just as much as she needs them…

 

We’ll Always Have Christmas by Jenny Hale

We'll Always Have Christmas by Jenny Hale

An enchanting story about the magic of Christmas, the importance of family, and the joy of falling in love during the most romantic season of the year…

Christmas has always been a special time for Noelle Parker. Winter evenings spent with family and friends, drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies at her family’s cozy bakery have shaped her love for all things festive. But this year everything is changing…

The beloved bakery is facing closure and Noelle needs a miracle to save Christmas.

Determined to raise funds for the family business, Noelle sets about revamping the bakery while juggling a surprise new job, caring for the elderly and cantankerous William Harrington in his luxurious, sprawling mansion.

As Noelle melts the frostiness of the house with cake baking, snowball fights and glittering decorations, she helps William to reconnect with a romance that has spanned decades and unexpectedly finds herself falling for his grandson — the gorgeous but mysterious Alexander Harrington…

In the countdown to Christmas, can Noelle save the bakery, reunite a family and create some magical memories of her own along the way?

 

Christmas in Icicle Falls by Sheila Roberts

Christmas in Icicle Falls by Sheila Roberts

Join USA Today bestselling author Sheila Roberts this Christmas as she returns for the final installment in her treasured Icicle Falls series.

When Muriel Sterling released her new book, A Guide to Happy Holidays, she felt like the queen of Christmas. She’s thrilled when the new tree she ordered online arrives and is eager to show it off — until she gets it out of the box and realizes it’s a mangy dud. But rather than give up on the ugly tree, Muriel decides to make a project out of it. As she pretties up her tree, she realizes there’s a lesson to be learned: everything and everyone has potential. Maybe even her old friend Arnie, who’s loved her for years. Except, she’s not the only one seeing Arnie’s potential…

Meanwhile, Muriel’s ugly-tree project has also inspired her friends. Sienna Moreno is trying to bring out the best in the grouchy man next door, who hates noise, hates kids and hates his new neighbors. And while Olivia Claussen would love to send her obnoxious new daughter-in-law packing, she’s adjusting her attitude and trying to discover what her son sees in the girl. If these women can learn to see the beauty in the “ugly trees” in their lives, perhaps this might turn out to be the happiest holiday yet.

 

Morna’s Magic & Mistletoe by Bethany Claire

Morna's Magic and Mistletoe by Bethany Claire

Kenna McMillan would do anything for her grandchildren. She would even accompany one of them hundreds of years into the future for a week of Christmas celebrations with the old witch, Morna, just to make him smile. But unexpected guests at the inn upend all of their holiday plans. As she learns more about her new acquaintance, she starts to wonder if her week away might take a romantic turn…

When a trip to Conall Castle with his granddaughter results in Malcolm Warren bumping into old friends, their quick trip out of Edinburgh quickly turns into days away from the city. While there, Malcolm meets the first woman in years to stir something long neglected inside his heart. When it comes time to return to the city, his granddaughter wants to remain behind with her new friends. He invites Kenna to come with him, promising her a tour of all of the best Christmas sights in the city.

Time together ignites their passion for one another, but the undeniable truth that they live worlds apart threatens their bond.

Kenna also holds a secret — can she trust Malcolm with the truth of Morna’s magic? If she does, will their new love for one another be enough to convince him to leave the life he’s always known?

 

A Scandal in Battersea by Mercedes Lackey

A Scandal in Battersea by Mercedes Lackey

The twelfth novel in Mercedes Lackey’s magical Elemental Masters series reimagines Sherlock Holmes in a richly-detailed alternate 20th-century England.

Christmas is a very special time of year. It is special for Psychic Nan Killian and Medium Sarah Lyon-White and their ward Suki, who are determined to celebrate it properly. It is special for their friends, Doctor John Watson, and his wife Mary, both Elemental Masters, who have found great delight in the season seeing it through young Suki’s eyes.

It is also special to others… for very different reasons.

For Christmas Eve is also hallowed to dark forces, powers older than mankind, powers that come awake on this, the Longest Night. Powers best left alone. Powers that could shake the foundations of London and beyond.

It begins slowly. Women disappearing in the dark of night, women only missed by those of their own kind. The whispers only begin when they start to reappear—because when they do, they are no longer sane. And when Nan and Sarah and the Watsons are called on to examine these victims, they discover that it was no ordinary horror of the streets that drove them mad.

But then, the shadows reach for other victims — girls of good, even exalted families, who vanish from concerts, lectures, and evening balls. And it will take the combined forces of Magic, Psychic Powers, and the world’s greatest detective to stop the darkness before it can conquer all.

 

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter — who is usually off saving the world — will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week… and so too should her family.

For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity — and even decent Wi-Fi — and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while Olivia deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems.

As Andrew sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent, Emma hides a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.

In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…

 

The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans

The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans

In this new holiday-themed novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Mistletoe Promise and The Walk, a man receives the best Christmas present he could ask for: the chance to re-write the past.

Bestselling romance author Jacob Churcher hasn’t been home for almost 20 years — not since his mentally ill mother kicked him out of the house when he was just sixteen. When a lawyer calls, days before Christmas, to inform him that his estranged mother has passed away and left her house to him, Jacob returns not just to settle the estate but to try and reconcile with the past and the pain and abuse he experienced as a child. Also, maybe cleaning out her house will be slightly less depressing than spending the holidays alone, watching re-runs of Christmas classics.

But as it turns out, the house holds more than just difficult memories, Jacob’s mother had become a hoarder and he must excavate through two decades worth of clutter. As Jacob digs through the detritus, like an archaeologist, he uncovers many puzzling items including a diary left by someone named Noel, a young woman he has no recollection of, who stayed with Jacob’s family during her pregnancy. That’s not the only echo from the past. Jacob has an unexpected visitor, Rachel, a woman looking for the mother who put her up for adoption thirty years before. United by their quest to make sense of the past and rewrite their futures, Jacob and Rachel begin a search for Noel. Along the way they find more than they possibly imagined, including grace, forgiveness and a chance at love.

 

Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Moonlight over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Sarah Morgan is back with more love and laughter in her acclaimed series, From Manhattan With Love, which Publishers Weekly calls a “sweep-you-off-your-feet romantic experience.”

Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family. But when dog walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list — dealing with Madi’s temporary dog sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.

Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi — how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple — he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide twenty-four-hour care. But there’s nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.

Ethan’s kisses make Harriet shine brighter than the stars over moonlit Manhattan. But when his dog-sitting duties are over and Harriet returns to her own home, will she dare to take the biggest challenge of all — letting Ethan know he has her heart for life, not just for Christmas?

 

 

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13 Book Dedications Guaranteed to Make You Laugh Out Loud

Maybe you skip over them and dive right into the meat of a book, but if you take the time to look, there are some pretty amazing book dedications. While most are sweet, sincere, or inspiring, the dedications we’ve rounded up below are laugh-out-loud funny.

  

10 Things Only People Who Read Ebooks Understand

I’m not here to get into the eBook vs. print books debate, but let’s face it: EBooks are incredibly convenient. There are so many great reasons to love them… but I’m the first to admit that people who read eBooks do have a very interesting set of new-age problems, starting with these hilarious situations below!

  

Book Review #329

34114362

Hardcover, Hardcover, 464 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Simon & Schuster
Original Title: What Happened
ISBN: 1501175564 (ISBN13: 9781501175565)
Edition Language: English
Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award for Memoir & Autobiography (2017)
***Disclaimer: I voted for Hillary Clinton in both of her presidential campaigns. So, yeah…obviously, this is not going to bash her.  We are all adults…I respect everybody no matter who you voted for, so please no hatful comments
I will say right away that I’ve always considered HRC to be a role model. A lot of the choices I have made in my career have been influenced by her, and I try to live up by the motto that she refers a lot to in this book, “Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.”
he book (obviously) deals with her run for president. It was an enthralling read. A bit bittersweet, melancholy, and desperately needed. When I finished reading it, I did feel like the country would eventually be okay. Though, now as I write this review watching the latest Trump-catastrophes that are airing on MSNBC that feeling is quickly disintegrating. I think what I liked best about this book was how relatable I found Hillary in the pages.

Hillary Clinton relatable? I know a lot of people are laughing at that. And I’ll probably get some flak for that remark, but as a professional woman reading about Hillary’s own struggles with misogyny I found myself nodding my head throughout the pages. It’s amazing that the struggles she faced at the beginning of her career are similar to struggles that I’ve experienced in my own. One of the many reasons, why she will always be a feminist icon.

The tone of the book has almost a blunt quality about it. And I loved it. She doesn’t waffle around subjects. She depicts the election for what it was. She takes blame for her own mistakes (think the comment on coal miners) but also states the very obvious that there were a lot of outside factors that contribute to her loss and the idiot we now have as president. Honestly, her tone reminds me a lot of my sister which is bonus points for her. It’s also interesting to note, that a lot of people don’t like my sister because she’s direct…funny, how being direct is considered a plus when you have a penis and not a vagina.

There is also an intimate quality to the book. Hillary talks about her personal life: Bill, Chelsea, the grandkids, her friends, even the dogs. We also learn what she likes to eat for breakfast and what’s on her DVR (though, if you read any of those stupid emails you’d know she watched The Good Wife, so it’s not really that big of a spoiler, but apparently Bill likes NCIS: LA). It also dives into some of the darker emotions that she experienced after the election, and the hope she has for the future. You also see her disdain for how the coverage was handled during the election and how Matt Laurer was pretty much an idiot (Hillary, girl, I agree).

As much as this book is about Hillary and about the fallout of the disastrous election in 2016, the book also touches on policy. Policy, oh lord, how I missed you.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned this to you guys, but I minored in political science during college, and that in part made watching the whole mess of an election really hard for me. Even during the primaries it seemed policy was overlooked (and yes, even the democratic primary).

Sure, St. Bernard promised the moon but he never explained how we were going to get there. Hillary clearly had a plan of how she wanted to enact policies, and how she thought we could feasibly get there. Her website was filled with them, and I always annoyed me how a certain idiotic morning news host with bad hair that used to be B.F.F.’s with Donald Trump until he insulted his fiancee said she had no message. Because her website was nothing but message after message.

But hey, ration was thrown away in this election. Especially the general election. In the later part of the book, there are sections of this book that almost feel like they’re written as an indictment against Russia, Wikileaks, the media and in part to Comey for what they did to unravel the momentum that she had. And it’s a damn it’s a beautiful written thing. Hate her all you want, but if it wasn’t for Comey’s interference the media would’ve been talking about that damn bus and it’s more likely than not that pervert wouldn’t be turning the White House not the Golden Showers House (God, I feel for whoever will be POTUS next, they’ll have to fumigate the place).

Yeah, crude. But I really don’t care. Again, this is my review and I’m just sick of having to be the adult while all the Trump, the Russian bots, trolls, Bernie supporters, etc. can act like the idiots they are.

Okay…back to the book. I think my overall thought when I closed this one is how much I missed Hillary and what could’ve been. Even if she never runs for office again, I hope her voice continues to resonate. It also makes me more energetic to keep on resisting, to fight the good fight.

**Disclaimer****

This is the first and only political book I will review

18 Novels Your Book Club Should Read Next

If your book club is in need of fresh selections, we’ve gathered some of the best book club books recommended by bookstores from all over the country. From historical fiction to thrillers, these novels are sure to spark discussion. Publishers’ descriptions included below.

 

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember — strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become — in the eyes of the law — a kidnapper himself.

Recommendation: Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA, chose Jiles’s novel as their September book club pick.

 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

little fires everywhere

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned — from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren — an enigmatic artist and single mother — who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town — and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood — and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

Recommendation: Cellar Door Books in Riverside, CA, chose this recent release for their December Feminist Book Club discussion.

 

Camino Island by John Grisham

Camino Island by John Grisham

A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for 25 million dollars.

Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.

Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.

But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.

Recommendation: Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, WA, chose Grisham’s latest novel for their November book club selection.

 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. And so, in the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.

Rosie Jarman is all these things. She also is strangely beguiling, fiery, and intelligent. And while Don quickly disqualifies her as a candidate for the Wife Project, as a DNA expert Don is particularly suited to help Rosie on her own quest: identifying her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on the Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie — and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.

Arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, Graeme Simsion’s distinctive debut will resonate with anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of great challenges. The Rosie Project is a rare find: a book that restores our optimism in the power of human connection.

RecommendationThe Rosie Project was a recent book group selection by The Bookstore in Glen Ellyn, IL.

 

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back 100 years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story.

1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true — didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.

One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?

Recommendation: A Likely Story Bookstore in Sykesville, MD, chose Gaynor’s novel for their November book club discussion.

 

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

Eleanor knows she’s a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won’t swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother’s company. It’s also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office — but not Eleanor — that he’s on vacation. Just when it seems like things can’t go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret.

Today Will Be Different is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.

Recommendation: Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, NH, is reading Today Will Be Different for their December book club meeting.

 

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

The New York Times bestselling author of the celebrated A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy returns with this eagerly awaited new novel, set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. The chronicle of an ordinary woman’s struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill, The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression and injustice, with the emotional power of Ron Rash’s Serena, Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day, and the unforgettable films Norma Rae and Silkwood.

Twelve times a week, 28-year-old Ella May Wiggins makes the two-mile trek to and from her job on the night shift at American Mill No. 2 in Bessemer City, North Carolina. The insular community considers the mill’s owners — the newly arrived Goldberg brothers — white but not American and expects them to pay Ella May and other workers less because they toil alongside African Americans like Violet, Ella May’s best friend. While the dirty, hazardous job at the mill earns Ella May a paltry nine dollars for seventy-two hours of work each week, it’s the only opportunity she has. Her no-good husband, John, has run off again, and she must keep her four young children alive with whatever work she can find.

When the union leaflets begin circulating, Ella May has a taste of hope, a yearning for the better life the organizers promise. But the mill owners, backed by other nefarious forces, claim the union is nothing but a front for the Bolshevik menace sweeping across Europe. To maintain their control, the owners will use every means in their power, including bloodshed, to prevent workers from banding together. On the night of the county’s biggest rally, Ella May, weighing the costs of her choice, makes up her mind to join the movement — a decision that will have lasting consequences for her children, her friends, her town — indeed all that she loves.

Seventy-five years later, Ella May’s daughter Lilly, now an elderly woman, tells her nephew about his grandmother and the events that transformed their family. Illuminating the most painful corners of their history, she reveals, for the first time, the tragedy that befell Ella May after that fateful union meeting in 1929.

Intertwining myriad voices, Wiley Cash brings to life the heartbreak and bravery of the now forgotten struggle of the labor movement in early 20t-century America — and pays tribute to the thousands of heroic women and men who risked their lives to win basic rights for all workers. Lyrical, heartbreaking, and haunting, this eloquent novel confirms Wiley Cash’s place among our nation’s finest writers.

Recommendation: Mary Grey at Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN, says: “The multi-layered story, based on actual events in 1929, is told from several viewpoints, but Ella remains the focal point of this dramatic account of one community in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina. Perfect for book clubs.”

 

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream — the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy.

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty — and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’s summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job — even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

Recommendation: Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC, chose Behold the Dreamers for their November book club pick.

 

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager — obsessed with music, food, and girls — but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier — a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of 18 to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

Fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.

Recommendation: Sundog Books in Seaside, FL, chose Sullivan’s read as their October book club pick.

 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The unforgettable New York Times bestseller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and 300 years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of 20th-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

Recommendation: Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, NC, discussed this for their September WILD (Women in Lively Discussion) book club meeting.

 

Revival by Stephen King

Revival by Stephen King

A dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs — including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of thirteen, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties — addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate — Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.

This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Recommendation: Bookstore & More in South Windsor, CT, chose Revival for their November Stephen King book group discussion.

 

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

The Mothers by Britt Bennett

Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.

“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, 17-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is 21, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance — and the subsequent cover-up — will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a “what if” can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.

Recommendation: Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma, CA, says, “Every page feels like a jewel: Put them all together, and it is almost too much. This book is blindingly good.

 

Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi

Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi

From the author of the “wonderfully ingenious” (Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review) novel After the Crash, a thrilling tale of a murder that takes place in Claude Monet’s garden and the mystery that surrounds it.

Giverny, France. During the day, the town is the home of the famous artist Claude Monet and the gardens where he painted his Water Lilies. But once the tourists have gone, there is a darker side to the peaceful French village.

This is the story of 13 days that begin with one murder and end with another. Jérôme Morval, a man whose passion for art was matched only by his passion for women, has been found dead in the stream that runs through the gardens. In his pocket is a postcard of Monet’s Water Lilies with the words: Eleven years old. Happy Birthday.

Entangled in the mystery are three women: a young painting prodigy, the seductive village schoolteacher, and an old widow who watches over the village from a mill by the stream. All three of them share a secret. But what do they know about the discovery of Jérôme Morval’s corpse? And what is the connection to the mysterious, rumored painting of Black Water Lilies?

Recommendation: Watermark Books & Café in Wichita, KS, chose Black Water Lilies for their December mystery book club meeting.

 

IQ by Joe Ide

IQ by Joe Ide

A resident of one of LA’s toughest neighborhoods uses his blistering intellect to solve the crimes the LAPD ignores.

East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood’s high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can’t or won’t touch.

They call him IQ. He’s a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he’s forced to take on clients that can pay.

This time, it’s a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes.

Recommendation: Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA, chose Ide’s novel for their November book club pick.

 

Going Dark by Monica McCarty

Going Dark by Monica McCarty

After walking into a trap on a covert op in Russia, the men from top secret SEAL Team Nine are presumed dead. Not knowing whom they can trust, and with war hanging in the balance, the survivors must go dark and scatter around the globe.

Marine ecologist Annie Henderson joins her new boyfriend on a trip to the Western Isles of Scotland to protest a hazardous offshore drilling venture. When she realizes that she may be swept up in something far more dangerous than she’d intended, there is only one man she can turn to….

She and the mysterious but sexy dive boat captain haven’t exactly gotten off to the best start, but something about his quiet confidence makes her think that he’s the kind of man she can depend on. Because he’s gruff and guarded, she can tell Dan Warren has secrets. But she could never imagine how high the stakes are for him to keep his cover, even as he risks everything to protect her….

Recommendation: Word Bookstores in Brooklyn, NY, chose Going Dark for their December romance book group discussion.

 

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

A magnificent new novel from one of America’s finest writers — a powerfully affecting story spanning the 20th century of a widow and her daughter and the nuns who serve their Irish-American community in Brooklyn.

On a dim winter afternoon, a young Irish immigrant opens a gas tap in his Brooklyn tenement. He is determined to prove — to the subway bosses who have recently fired him, to his badgering, pregnant wife — that “the hours of his life… belonged to himself alone.” In the aftermath of the fire that follows, Sister St. Saviour, an aging nun, a Little Nursing Sister of the Sick Poor, appears, unbidden, to direct the way forward for his widow and his unborn child.

In Catholic Brooklyn in the early part of the 20th century, decorum, superstition, and shame collude to erase the man’s brief existence, and yet his suicide, though never spoken of, reverberates through many lives — testing the limits and the demands of love and sacrifice, of forgiveness and forgetfulness, even through multiple generations. Rendered with remarkable delicacy, heart, and intelligence, Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour is a crowning achievement of one of the finest American writers at work today.

Recommendation: Bethany Beach Books in Bethany Beach, DE, read McDermott’s novel for their November Women & Wine book club discussion.

 

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Anna Kerrigan, nearly 12 years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

‎Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.

With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.

Recommendation: Books Inc. in Palo Alto, CA, read Egan’s recent release for their November book group discussion.

 

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things by Jodi PIcoult

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than 20 years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family — especially her teenage son — as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others — and themselves — might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion — and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

Recommendation: City Center Gallery & Books in Fayetteville, NC, chose Picoult’s book for their September book club discussion.

Book Review #328

32499

Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 25th 2006 by Delta (first published 1992)
Original Title
The Pelican Brief
ISBN
0385339704 (ISBN13: 9780385339704)
Edition Language
English
Characters: Darby Shaw
Setting: New Orleans, Louisiana (United States)
Literary Awards: Evergreen Teen Book Award (1995)
This book was a lot more suspenseful and entertaining than I thought it would be. I don’t know why I thought it would be so boring, since John Grisham is so popular. It was incredibly suspenseful at parts. It was the first book I’d read by Grisham, so I really didn’t know what was coming. I had three problems with it: 1) Although, like I said, the book as a whole was really suspenseful, I thought the end was a bit anticlimatic. 2) The environmentalism was a bit heavy handed. I’m all about preserving the environment, but I don’t like being hit over the head by it. Darby could get a bit preachy at times. 3) I didn’t think that Darby was a very good characterization. She didn’t feel real. Towards the end she said something like, “It’s not fair; we used my brains, looks, and legs, and you get all the glory.” Despite whatever Grisham’s fantasies may be, women do not talk like that, nor do they obsess over their legs and toenails as much as Darby did, and if they do, everyone hates them. But all in all it was a great book.