Christmas vacation. Does the phrase make you think of cozy and quiet nights by a fire or loud, chaotic family gatherings? No matter how you’ll be spending your holiday vacation, we have a book for you. Check out our suggestions below, complete with publishers’ descriptions.
If You Can’t Stand the Cold
A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe
A wounded warrior and his younger brother discover the true meaning of Christmas in this timeless story of family bonds.
As far as 10-year-old Miller McClellan is concerned, it’s the worst Christmas ever. His father’s shrimp boat is docked, his mother is working two jobs, and with finances strained, Miller is told they can’t afford the dog he desperately wants. “Your brother’s return from war is our family’s gift,” his parents tell him. But when Taylor returns with PTSD, family strains darken the holidays.
Then Taylor’s service dog arrives — a large black Labrador/Great Dane named Thor. His brother even got the dog! When Miller goes out on Christmas Eve with his father’s axe, determined to get his family the tree they can’t afford, he takes the dog for company — but accidentally winds up lost in the wild forest. The splintered family must come together to rediscover their strengths, family bond, and the true meaning of Christmas.
Why we recommend it: Mary Alice Monroe’s writing is cozy and inviting, and the balmy South Carolina setting doesn’t hurt.
If You Love a Wintry Wonderland
Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand
Some of the stormy weather of the past few seasons seems to have finally lifted for the Quinns. After a year apart, and an ill-fated affair with the Winter Street Inn’s old Santa Claus, Mitzi has returned to rule the roost; Patrick is about to be released from prison; Kevin has a successful new business and is finally ready to tie the knot with Isabelle; and best of all, there’s hopeful news about Bart, who has been captured by enemy forces in Afghanistan.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few dark clouds on the horizon. Kelley has recently survived a health scare; Jennifer can’t quite shake her addiction to the drugs she used as a crutch while Patrick was in jail; and Ava still can’t decide between the two lovers that she’s been juggling with limited success. However, if there’s one holiday that brings the Quinn family together to give thanks for the good times, it’s Christmas. And this year promises to be a celebration unlike any other as the Quinns prepare to host Kevin and Isabelle’s wedding at the inn. But as the special day approaches, a historic once-in-a-century blizzard bears down on Nantucket, threatening to keep the Quinns away from the place — and the people — they love most. Before the snow clears, the Quinns will have to survive enough upheavals to send anyone running for the spiked eggnog, in this touching novel that proves that when the holidays roll around, you can always go home again.
Why we recommend it: The conclusion of Elin Hilderbrand’s Winter Street trilogy, Winter Storms, is everything you love about the season packaged in one heartwarming novel.
If Winter Gives You Cabin Fever
Stranded by Bracken MacLeod
Badly battered by an apocalyptic storm, the crew of the Arctic Promise find themselves in increasingly dire circumstances as they sail blindly into unfamiliar waters and an ominously thickening fog. Without functioning navigation or communication equipment, they are lost and completely alone. One by one, the men fall prey to a mysterious illness. Deckhand Noah Cabot is the only person unaffected by the strange force plaguing the ship and her crew, which does little to ease their growing distrust of him.
Dismissing Noah’s warnings of worsening conditions, the captain of the ship presses on until the sea freezes into ice and they can go no farther. When the men are ordered overboard in an attempt to break the ship free by hand, the fog clears, revealing a faint shape in the distance that may or may not be their destination. Noah leads the last of the able-bodied crew on a journey across the ice and into an uncertain future where they must fight for their lives against the elements, the ghosts of the past and, ultimately, themselves.
Why we recommend it: Bracken MacLeod’s terrifying arctic thriller will sure make you glad for the warmth and comfort of home!
If You’ll Be Relaxing on the Couch
The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti
Zoe Whittaker is living a charmed life. She is the beautiful young wife to handsome, charming Wall Street tycoon Henry Whittaker. She is a member of Manhattan’s social elite. She is on the board of one of the city’s most prestigious philanthropic organizations. She has a perfect Tribeca penthouse in the city and a gorgeous lake house in the country. The finest wine, the most up-to-date fashion, and the most luxurious vacations are all at her fingertips.
What no one knows is that five years ago, Zoe’s life was in danger. Back then, Zoe wasn’t Zoe at all. Now her secrets are coming back to haunt her.
As the past and present collide, Zoe must decide who she can trust before she — whoever she is — vanishes completely.
A “dark, twisty, edge-of-your-seat suspense” (Karen Robards), The Vanishing Year combines the classic sophistication of Ruth Rendell and A.S.A. Harrison with the thoroughly modern flair of Jessica Knoll. Told from the point-of-view of a heroine who is as relatable as she is enigmatic, The Vanishing Year is an unforgettable new novel by a rising star of the genre.
Why we recommend it: If you’re looking for a Christmas treat, curl up with a blanket and immerse yourself in this deliciously dark thriller.
If You Need a Break from Your Family
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.
Why we recommend it: Today Will Be Different is the perfect laugh-out-loud antidote for a crowded house and the chaos of family.
If You Need a Head Start on Your Resolutions
The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein
In her latest book, The Universe Has Your Back, New York Times best-selling author Gabrielle Bernstein teaches readers how to transform their fear into faith in order to live a divinely guided life. Each story and lesson in the book guides readers to release the blocks to what they most long for: happiness, security, and clear direction. The lessons help readers relinquish the need to control so they can relax into a sense of certainty and freedom. Readers will learn to stop chasing life and truly live.
Making the shift from fear to faith will give readers a sense of power in a world that all too often makes them feel utterly powerless. When the tragedies of the world seem overwhelming, this book will help guide them back to their true power.
Why we recommend it: With a transformative message, this motivating guide is a perfect way to end the year and start the new one fresh.
If You’ll Be Traveling
The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
In the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. Poe, The Other Einstein offers us a window into a brilliant, fascinating woman whose light was lost in Einstein’s enormous shadow. It is the story of Einstein’s wife, a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the special theory of relativity is hotly debated and may have been inspired by her own profound and very personal insight.
Mitza Maric has always been a little different from other girls. Most 20-year-olds are wives by now, not studying physics at an elite Zurich university with only male students trying to outdo her clever calculations. But Mitza is smart enough to know that, for her, math is an easier path than marriage. And then fellow student Albert Einstein takes an interest in her, and the world turns sideways. Theirs becomes a partnership of the mind and of the heart, but there might not be room for more than one genius in a marriage.
Why we recommend it: A great choice for a plane or train ride, this fast-paced and fascinating historical fiction will make holiday travel a lot more enjoyable.
If You Wish You Were Traveling
Christmas in Paris by Anita Hughes
Anita Hughes’s Christmas in Paris is a moving and heartwarming story about love, trust, and self-discovery. Set during the most magical week of the year, the glorious foods and fashions of the most romantic city in the world are sure to take your breath away.
Isabel Lawson is standing on the balcony of her suite at the Hotel de Crillon as she gazes at the twinkling lights of the Champs-Élysées and wonders if she’s made a terrible mistake. She was supposed to be visiting the Christmas tree in the Place de la Concorde, and eating escargots and macaroons with her new husband on their honeymoon. But a week before the wedding, she called it off. Isabel is an ambitious Philadelphia finance woman, and Neil suddenly decided to take over his grandparents’ farm. Isabel wasn’t ready to trade her briefcase for a pair of rubber boots and a saddle.
When Neil suggested she use their honeymoon tickets for herself, she thought it would give her a chance to clear her head. That is until she locks herself out on the balcony in the middle of winter. Thankfully her neighbor Alec, a French children’s illustrator, comes to her rescue. He too is nursing a broken heart at the Crillon for the holidays. With a new friend by her side, Isabel is determined to use her time in the “city of lights” wisely. After a chance encounter with a fortune teller, and a close call with a taxi, she starts to question everything she thought was important.
Why we recommend it: Anita Hughes’s emotionally compelling novel will immerse you in the beauty and charm of the City of Lights.
If You Have Many Interruptions from Children
Bridget Jones’s Baby by Helen Fielding
8:45 p.m. Realize there have been so many times in my life when have fantasized about going to a scan with Mark or Daniel: just not both at the same time.
Before motherhood, before marriage, Bridget with biological clock ticking very, very loudly, finds herself unexpectedly pregnant at the 11th hour: a joyful pregnancy which is dominated, however, by a crucial but terribly awkward question — who is the father? Mark Darcy: honorable, decent, notable human rights lawyer? Or Daniel Cleaver: charming, witty, notable fuckwit?
9:45 PM It’s like they’re two halves of the perfect man, who’ll spend the rest of their lives each wanting to outdo the other one. And now it’s all enacting itself in my stomach.
In this gloriously funny, touching story of baby-deadline panic, maternal bliss, and social, professional, technological, culinary, and childbirth chaos, Bridget Jones — global phenomenon and the world’s favorite Singleton — is back with a bump.
Why we recommend it: You can’t prevent the constant interruptions, but you can spend whatever spare reading time you have revisiting an old friend and indulging in her madcap life — new baby included!
What will you be reading on your Christmas vacation? Share in the comments!
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