Well, it’s been a year. 2020 has given us a lot. It hasn’t all been bad, but it has definitely been a ride. The good news is the year is almost over and it is Christmas Time! Everything is better with carols playing in the background. One potentially stressful holiday activity is the selection of thoughtful gifts. It shouldn’t surprise you that I’m in favor of giving books to all the people you love most. Finding just the right book can be a tricky, but I’m here to help. Here are some suggestions for the fiction readers in your life. I’ll follow it up later with a list of nonfiction.
For the ROMANTIC on your list:
Regency romance is very popular right now and if you are looking for a new title to gift, Sarah Eden’s new book may fit the bill. The plot can be summed up as two childhood friends who have grown apart marry thanks to an arrangement by their parents. But true love can only be won through the rebuilding of their relationship and the establishment of a new foundation of trust. This is book one in a series though it ties in as a prequel series to Eden’s popular Jonquil series.
I love introducing people to Sophie Kinsella’s charming brand of romcom novels. I OWE YOU ONE is now available in paperback and tells the story of Fixie Farr whose good deed earns her an IOU from a (single and handsome) stranger. You will never guess what happens. Just kidding. You will totally guess what is going to happen, but getting there is so much fun.
For the THINKER on your list:
If you are looking for a more literary book, try Yaa Gyasi’s TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM or her previous novel HOMEGOING (both are wonderful). Gifty, a PhD student studying neuroscience narrates this novel which tells of her family’s move to the United States from Ghana and her drive to do the research she has dedicated her life to. Gyasi write beautifully and I loved Gifty’s voice and story. This novel provides plenty for the reader to ponder while enjoying storytelling at its best.
First of all, Choo’s novel has a simply beautiful cover. Fortunately, the cover is not deceptive and the story within is perfectly matched. Here, a young woman living in 1930s Malaysia accidentally acquires a detached finger with unknown origin. At the same time an orphaned houseboy embarks on a mission to fulfill his master’s dying wish that the finger he lost years earlier be located and buried with him. It sounds a bit gruesome but the story is lyrical, moves quickly, and is entirely entertaining.
For the FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION FAN on your list:
I already knew I liked Naomi Novik as an author. Her SPINNING SILVER and UPROOTED are two previous examples of her amazing talent. But I absolutely loved DEADLY EDUCATION. El is a student at the Scholomance, a school designed to educate witches and wizards to be. But this is no Hogwarts. There are no teachers, no supervision, no escape before graduation. Requirements to graduate are simple: survive. I can’t praise this book enough!
How did I not know Earnest Cline was working on a sequel to READY PLAYER ONE? The truth is that I am only about one quarter the way through this novel as I type and I am loving it. I can’t make any guarantees, but it appears Wade Watts’ next adventure will be as fun as his first and just as filled with delightful 80’s pop culture.
Nora Seed finds herself in a magical library that exists in the moments between life and death. Here she has access to books that contain all the possibilities her life contained and she is free to explore the ‘could haves’ and ‘should haves’ that haunt her. Her story is fairly simple but Haig’s storytelling makes the reader ask what they would do with endless opportunities to make different choices and undo any regrets. What life would you choose if all paths were open?
For the SUPER SLUETH on your list:
Ruth Ware is my new favorite mystery writer. Think a wonderful collaboration of Liane Moriarty and Agatha Christie. This release from last year is now available in paperback and is the suspenseful story of Rowan, who is writing a request to a lawyer hoping to convince him to represent her in court because “I did not kill that child.” THE TURN OF THE KEY is creepy, mysterious and keeps the read on the edge of his or her seat until the very last page!
If you need to find something that goes a little beyond creepy and edges on the horrific, try MEXICAN GOTHIC. Noem’ has been sent by her father to check in on her cousin who lives in an isolated mansion with her new husband’s mysterious family. It takes very little time for her visit to turn from strange to deadly and Noem’ must fight unseen forces to keep herself and her cousin from a fate worse than death. A really wonderfully terrifying novel.
For the HISTORIAN on your list:
By Christina Baker Kline
Evangeline, a governess in early nineteenth century London, is falsely accused of theft and sent to prison and is eventually place on a boat headed to a penal colony in Australia. If you know someone that loves historical fiction, Evangeline’s story is sure to be a hit. This is a lesser known period and place and Kline has a gift for telling the story of women fighting to survive in a world overwhelmingly designed to destroy them.
The author of THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY recently released this new novel that follows the story of Margery Benson, a spinster schoolteacher. At the end of a particularly trying day at school, Miss Benson snaps to such a degree that she abandons her job and decides to pursue her childhood dream of finding the golden beetle of New Caledonia. As you would expect, her life is never the same and her adventures are many. A heartwarming quest by two endearing heroines.