Books to Read This Month: December Edition

Instead of trying to get the best last minute holiday deals, why not make the 2020 holiday season a literary one? 2020 is a year that has been hard on all of us and one way to provide solace is curling up with a good book by the fireplace and December has brought us great new releases that will make this last month of the year more delightful:

Featured Book of the Month

Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen

Majella is happiest out of the spotlight, away from her neighbors’ stares and the gossips of the small town in Northern Ireland where she grew up just after the Troubles. She lives a quiet life caring for her alcoholic mother, working in the local chip shop, watching the regular customers come and go. She wears the same clothes each day (overalls, too small), has the same dinner each night (fish and chips, microwaved at home after her shift ends), and binge-watches old DVDs of the same show (Dallas, best show on TV) from the comfort of her bed. 

But underneath Majella’s seemingly ordinary life are the facts that she doesn’t know where her father is and that every person in her town has been changed by the lingering divide between Protestants and Catholics. When Majella’s predictable existence is upended by the death of her granny, she comes to realize there may be more to life than the gossips of Aghybogey, the pub, and the chip shop. In fact, there just may be a whole big world outside her small town. (Credit: Algonquin Books)


It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

Audrey is over romance. While dealing with her parents’ contentious divorce, a breakup of her own, and shifting friendship dynamics, she has every reason to feel cynical. But then she meets Harry, her fellow coworker at the local cinema. He’s brash, impulsive, and a major flirt. And even though Audrey tries to resist, she finds herself falling for his charms. But in this funny, insightful, and ultimately empowering novel, love—and life—isn’t what it’s like in the movies (Credit: HMH Books for Young Readers)

The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person by Frederick Joseph

Speaking directly to the reader, The Black Friend calls up race-related anecdotes from the author’s past, weaving in his thoughts on why they were hurtful and how he might handle things differently now. Each chapter includes the voice of at least one artist or activist, including Tarell Alvin McCraney, screenwriter of Moonlight; April Reign, creator of #OscarsSoWhite; Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give; and eleven others. Touching on everything from cultural appropriation to power dynamics, “reverse racism” to white privilege, microaggressions to the tragic results of overt racism, this book serves as conversation starter, tool kit, and invaluable window into the life of a former “token Black kid” who now presents himself as the friend many of us need. Back matter includes an encyclopedia of racism, providing details on relevant historical events, terminology, and more. (Credit: Candlewick Press)

Rest and Be Thankful by Emma Glass

Laura is a nurse in a paediatric unit. On long, quiet shifts, she and her colleagues, clad in their different shades of blue, care for sick babies, handling their exquisitely frangible bodies, carefully calibrating the mysterious machines that keep them alive.

Laura may be burned out. Her hands have been raw from washing as long as she can remember. When she sleeps, she dreams of water; when she wakes, she finds herself lying next to a man who doesn’t love her any more. And there is a strange figure dancing in the corner of her vision, always just beyond her reach. (Credit: Bloomsbury Circus)

How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole

When Shanti Mohapi weds the king of Njaza, her dream of becoming a queen finally comes true. But it’s nothing like she imagined. Shanti and her husband may share an immediate and powerful attraction, but her subjects see her as an outsider, and everything she was taught about being the perfect wife goes disastrously wrong.

A king must rule with an iron fist, and newly crowned King Sanyu was born perfectly fitted for the gauntlet, even if he wishes he weren’t. He agrees to take a wife as is required of him, though he doesn’t expect to actually fall in love. Even more vexing? His beguiling new queen seems to have the answers to his country’s problems—except no one will listen to her.

By day, they lead separate lives. By night, she wears the crown, and he bows to her demands in matters of politics and passion. When turmoil erupts in their kingdom and their marriage, Shanti goes on the run, and Sanyu must learn whether he has what it takes both to lead his people and to catch his queen. (Credit: Avon)

Finding My Voice by Marie Myung-Ok Lee

Seventeen-year-old Ellen Sung just wants to be like everyone else at her all-white school. But the racist bullies of Arkin, Minnesota, will never let her forget that she’s different—the youngest member of the only Korean-American family in town. At the start of senior year, Ellen finds herself falling for Tomper Sandel, a football player who is popular and blond and undeniably cute…and to her surprise, he falls for her, too. Now Ellen has a chance at life she never imagined, one that defies the expectations of hanging out with her core group of friends or pleasing her parents. But is her romance with Tomper strong enough to withstand hometown bigotry and her family’s disapproval? (Credit: Soho Teen)

The Mermaid From Jeju by Sumi Hahn

Expected Publication Date: December 8

In the aftermath of World War II, Goh Junja is a girl just coming into her own. She is the latest successful deep sea diver in a family of strong haenyeo. Confident she is a woman now, Junja urges her mother to allow her to make the Goh family’s annual trip to Mt. Halla, where they trade abalone and other sea delicacies for pork. Junja, a sea village girl, has never been to the mountains, where it smells like mushrooms and earth, and it is there she falls in love with a mountain boy Yang Suwol, who rescues her after a particularly harrowing journey. But when Junja returns one day later, it is just in time to see her mother take her last breath, beaten by the waves during a dive she was taking in Junja’s place.

Spiraling in grief, Junja sees her younger siblings sent to live with their estranged father, Suwol is gone, the ghost of her mother haunts their home–from the meticulously tended herb garden that has now begun to sprout weeds, to the field where their bed sheets are beaten. She has only her grandmother and herself. But the world moves on without Junja.

The political climate is perilous. Still reeling from Japan’s forced withdrawal from the peninsula, Korea is forced to accommodate the rapid establishment of US troops, and her grandmother, who lived through the Japanese invasion that led to Korea’s occupation understands the signs of danger all too well. When Suwol is arrested for working with and harboring communists, and the perils of post-WWII overtake her homelands, Junja must learn to navigate a tumultuous world unlike anything she’s ever known. (Credit: Crooked Lane Books)

Girl Gurl Grrrl: On Womanhood and Belonging in the Age of Black Girl Magic by Kenya Hunt

Expected Publication Date: December 8

Black women have never been more visible or more publicly celebrated than they are now. But for every new milestone, every magazine cover, every box office record smashed, every new face elected to public office, the reality of everyday life for black women remains a complex, conflicted, contradiction-laden experience.

 An American journalist who has been living and working in London for a decade, Kenya Hunt has made a career of distilling moments, movements, and cultural moods into words. Her work takes the difficult and the indefinable and makes it accessible; it is razor sharp cultural observation threaded through evocative and relatable stories. (Credit: Amistad)

Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

Expected Publication Date: December 8

Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a brilliant legal career. But her decisions came at a high cost, and now, battling her own demons, she has exchanged her high profile career for a job at a sexual assault center, helping victims who need her the most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.

When Jodie, a sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, accuses four boys in her class of an unthinkable crime, the community is torn apart. After all, these four teenage defendants are from hard-working immigrant families and they all have proven alibis. Even Jodie’s best friend doesn’t believe her.

But Zara does—and she is determined to fight for Jodie—to find the truth in the face of public outcry. And as issues of sex, race and social justice collide, the most explosive criminal trial of the year builds to a shocking conclusion. (Credit: St. Martin’s Press)

Remina by Junji Ito

Expected Publication Date: December 15

An unknown planet emerges from inside a wormhole, and its discoverer, Dr. Oguro, christens the celestial body “Remina” after his own daughter. His finding is met with great fanfare, and Remina herself rises to fame. However, the planet picks up speed as it moves along in its curious orbit, eliminating planets and stars one after another until finally Earth itself faces extinction… Is the girl Remina the true cause of the catastrophe? A masterwork of horror from Junji Ito, unfolding on a universal scale. (Credit: Viz Media)

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder by T.A. Willberg

Expected Publication Date: December 29

Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant for Miss Brickett’s named Michelle White receives a letter warning her that a heinous act is about to occur. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see—her death the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.

Almost unwillingly, Marion Lane, a first-year Inquirer-in-training, finds herself being drawn ever deeper into the investigation. When her friend and mentor is framed for the crime, to clear his name she must sort through the hidden alliances at Miss Brickett’s and secrets dating back to WWII. Masterful, clever and deliciously suspenseful, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is a fresh take on the Agatha Christie—style locked-room mystery with an exciting new heroine detective at the helm. (Credit: Park Row)

The Mystery Of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

Expected Publication Date: December 29

In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of a deep, gloomy pond, the only clues some tire tracks nearby and a fur coat left in the car—strange for a frigid night. Her husband and daughter have no knowledge of her whereabouts, and England unleashes an unprecedented manhunt to find the up-and-coming mystery author. Eleven days later, she reappears, just as mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming amnesia and providing no explanations for her time away.

The puzzle of those missing eleven days has persisted. With her trademark exploration into the shadows of history, acclaimed author Marie Benedict brings us into the world of Agatha Christie, imagining why such a brilliant woman would find herself at the center of such a murky story. (Credit: Sourcebooks Landmark)



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