Great Holiday Reads

All your shopping and cooking is done, now it is time to wind down, sit in your comfiest chair and snuggle up with a good book. And there is no better way to celebrate the holiday season with an intriguing holiday read (besides The Christmas Carol). Some will warm your heart and others will chill you to the bone. Either way, these books will keep you entertained through the holiday season:

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A Christmas Party by Georgette Heyer

Previously titled Envious Casca

‘Tis the season to find whodunit …

It is no ordinary Christmas at Lexham Manor. 

Six holiday guests find themselves the suspects in a murder inquiry when the old Scrooge who owns the substantial estate is found stabbed in the back. 

Whilst the delicate matter of inheritance could be the key to this crime, the real conundrum is how any of the suspects could have entered the locked room where the victim was found, to commit this foul deed. 

For Inspector Hemingway of Scotland Yard, the investigation is also complicated by the fact that every guest at Lexham Manor is hiding something – casting suspicion far and wide…(Credit: Sourcebooks Landmark)

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An English Murder by Cyril Hare

The snow is thick, the phone line is down, and no one is getting in or out of Warbeck Hall. With friends and family gathered round the fire, all should be set for a perfect Christmas, but as the bells chime midnight, a mysterious murder takes place.

Who can be responsible? The scorned young lover? The lord’s passed-over cousin? The social climbing politician’s wife? The Czech history professor? The obsequious butler? And perhaps the real question is: can any of them survive long enough to tell the tale? (Credit: Faber Faber)

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Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak 

(I read this one recently. It is a nice quick read that explores the importance of family at this special time of the year.)

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…(Credit: Berkley)

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The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman 

(This one made me cry and gives readers a chance to examine the true meaning of this holiday season)

A father and a son are seeing each other for the first time in years. The father has a story to share before it’s too late. He tells his son about a courageous little girl lying in a hospital bed a few miles away. 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 he talks about this plucky little girl, the father also reveals more about himself: his triumphs in business, his failures as a parent, his past regrets, his hopes for the future.

Now, on a cold winter’s night, the father has been given an unexpected chance to do something remarkable that could change the destiny of a little girl he hardly knows. But before he can make the deal of a lifetime, he must find out what his own life has actually been worth, and only his son can reveal that answer.

With humor and compassion, Fredrik Backman’s The Deal of a Lifetime reminds us that life is a fleeting gift, and our legacy rests in how we share that gift with others. (Credit: Atria Books)

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A Jane Austen Christmas: Regency Christmas Traditions by Maria Grace

(A very interesting historical look at how Christmas traditions were done during Jane Austen’s time. A great read for Janeites.)

Many Christmas traditions and images of ‘old fashioned’ holidays are based on Victorian celebrations. Going back just a little further, to the beginning of the 19th century, the holiday Jane Austen knew would have looked distinctly odd to modern sensibilities. 

How odd? Families rarely decorated Christmas trees. Festivities centered on socializing instead of gift-giving. Festivities focused on adults, with children largely consigned to the nursery.  Holiday events, including balls, parties, dinners, and even weddings celebrations, started a week before Advent and extended all the way through to Twelfth Night in January.  

Take a step into history with Maria Grace as she explores the traditions, celebrations, games and foods that made up Christmastide in Jane Austen’s era. Packed with information and rich with detail from period authors, Maria Grace transports the reader to a longed-for old-fashioned Christmas. (Credit: White Soup Press)

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And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

(This short story may not take place during Christmas time. However, with its beautiful message and wonderful storytelling, this book is will help you understand loss and that it is okay to let go.)

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here comes an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go. (Credit: Atria Books)

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Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, the holidays are anything but merry when a family reunion is marred by murder–and the notoriously fastidious investigator is quickly on the case. The wealthy Simeon Lee has demanded that all four of his sons–one faithful, one prodigal, one impecunious, one sensitive–and their wives return home for Christmas. But a heartwarming family holiday is not exactly what he has in mind. He bedevils each of his sons with barbed insults and finally announces that he is cutting off their allowances and changing his will. Poirot is called in the aftermath of Simeon Lee’s announcement. (Credit: HarperCollins Publisher)

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The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie

Also under the title ,The Theft of the Royal Ruby

A priceless ruby is stolen from a Far Eastern prince while he is in England. The ruby is intended for the prince’s bride-to-be, and Hercule Poirot must find it before a scandal erupts.

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One Day in December by Josie Silver

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness. (Credit: Broadway Books)

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Miss Marley: The Untold Story of Jacob Marley’s Sister by Vanessa Lafaye

Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.

And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…

In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill and hope – a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol. (Credit: HQ)

What is your favorite book to read during the holiday season?

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