By Konstantopoulou, Megan Cradock, Sam Chambers, Zalak Shah, and Ana Cecilia Matute
December is here, the holidays are fast approaching and a winter chill is in the air. The festive season is officially upon us – and for book lovers, there’s nothing better than finding a new book in your stocking at Christmas! In this issue, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite seasonal reads to get you into the holiday spirit!
The Pumpkin Spice Cafe by Laurie Gilmore
As part of the ‘One More Chapter’ imprint, Gilmore’s romance fiction is a magnet for readers searching for a quirky, funny read. At the same time, the pacy and mysterious plot makes one guiltily whisper one more chapter under their blankets at 2 am. The small maze that is the Dream Harbor city entails all kinds of people in its tiny community: childhood best friends, cafe owners, schoolteachers, bakers, pub owners and, of course, the mayor. Will the flannel-wearing, all too handsome protagonist, Logan, escape the curious eyes of the people he’s known since forever and date Jeanie, the newcomer who came to run the town’s most eligible cafe? Or will the flashback of the Christmas light incident be too strong and topple over their newfound love? Has the memory of being rejected by his future bride in the middle of the town’s most important Christmas lighting event corrupted Logan for eternity, or will he win that over and gain back Christmas from the stealing Grinch?
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
After a disastrous incident at a royal wedding involving one very large wedding cake, cameras and subsequent bad publicity, Alex Claremont-Diaz, first son of the US President and Prince Henry of England, are tasked with “damage control”. In other words, faking a friendship for the benefit of the press and to fix international relations. However, as pretence and reality begin to blur together, and their preconceptions about one another are challenged, the blossoming friendship between them soon becomes much more.
While not an overtly ‘Christmas’ themed book, arguably two of the book’s most important scenes occur over Christmas and New Year: Alex’s phone call to Henry on Christmas Eve and Henry and Alex’s first kiss at Alex’s New Year’s Eve party. With their festive magic, these scenes pave the way for the rest of the book and the love story that unfolds within it.
Ghost Stories by M. R. James
The tradition of Christmas ghost stories reminds us that it is during the longest nights of the year that the supernatural is most accessible. In modern times, M. R. James is the undisputed master of the genre; he can make even those who don’t believe afraid. His tales will take you into the places you might wish to avoid, hiding in the stalls of a pitch-black cathedral, desperately digging up a grave on a remote hillside and wandering through a thick mist as something stalks you on the beach. This yuletide, indulge the old urge to feel afraid and settle down (maybe with a glass of wassail) with one of our greatest storytellers, M. R. James.
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
As Oona Lockhart ushers in her 19th birthday on New Year’s Eve in 1982, little does she know that the next day, her life will change forever. She wakes up in 2015, age 51, not knowing where she is and what happened to her.
This is Oona’s life. Every year, as the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve, she wakes up in a different year of her life. As Oona shuttles through these various phases, we are taken on a journey of love, loss, happiness, betrayal and growing up. With only her mother Madeleine and her assistant Kenzie in on her secret, Oona learns that a fulfilling life need not follow a linear path – moments of joy and meaning can present themselves at any time as long as you are open to experiencing them.
Let Oona Out of Order inspire you to enter the New Year with wanting to slow down, hugging your loved ones for a minute longer and living each moment of your life to the fullest.
A New Year's Reunion by Li Qiong Yu, illustrated by Cheng Liang Zhu
Festivities allow many people to get together and feel the warmth of their loved ones. This wonderful book tells the story of Maomao, a little child who is preparing everything for the Lunar New Year celebration with her family, but especially she is waiting to see her dad. Throughout the year, she lives with her mother as her father works somewhere far away, and this season is the only time they can be together. A New Year’s Reunion is a picture book ideal for remembering closeness and how small details are even more unique if we see what is behind them.