Can you believe we are nearly at the end of another year? It doesn’t feel real does it? I expect your Christmas shopping is now in full swing – I know mine is – and you are wondering what to buy for your nearest and dearest this year. I am very lucky that I am an aunty to 11 nieces and nephews (5 nieces and 6 nephews) ranging from aged 22 down to 2 years old, and in 2021 I am going to become a ‘great-aunt’ for the first time. As a former English teacher, I love giving books as gifts to the children in my family – anything I can do to pass on the love of reading. Yet, when it comes to our adult relatives we don’t seem to do it. Is a book considered a boring present? Maybe for someone like me who currently has 130 unread books just on her Kindle, let alone a TBR pile of physical books (family, if you are reading this – please don’t buy me any books). But for other people, why not?
I am always asked by friends and family if I can recommend any good reads, or if I have any books I’ve finished that they can borrow. Despite this, when it comes to gift giving I tend to buy bottles of gin, perfume, chocolates, scarves etc. Let’s face it, for under £10 you can get a really good book and they will have a few hours of ‘me time’ – or you can buy a nice bottle of wine or box of chocolates that will be gone in a couple hours and they probably had to share them. I know I have often regretted finishing a bottle of wine in one sitting, or consuming a whole box of Lindor balls (I don’t share those), but I don’t think I’ve ever regretted reading a book. Well, maybe one….but I won’t go into that.
So, what is out this month? You will be unsurprised to hear that there are a fair few Christmas themed books out this month. Here’s a rundown of some of the new commercial fiction books coming out this month (note – some of these books may have previously been released in a different format):
How to belong – Sarah Franklin (12th November )
Jo grew up in the Forest of Dean, but she was always the one destined to leave for a bigger, brighter future. When her parents retire from their butcher’s shop, she returns to her beloved community to save the family legacy, hoping also to save herself. But things are more complex than the rose-tinted version of life which sustained Jo from afar.
Tessa is a farrier, shoeing horses two miles and half a generation away from Jo, further into the forest. Tessa’s experience of the community couldn’t be more different. Now she too has returned, in flight from a life she could have led, nursing a secret and a past filled with guilt and shame.
Compelled through circumstance to live together, these two women will be forced to confront their sense of identity, and reconsider the meaning of home.
The Snow Song – Sally Gardiner (12th November )
Perched on a mountain in a land of ancient forests is a village, rife with secrets. Cut off from the outside world it is run by the elders, men to whom tradition is all.
Edith lives alone with her alcoholic father who is forcing her to marry the village butcher. But she is in love with a shepherd who promised to return to her.
As the village becomes isolated in a sea of snow, Edith loses her power of speech. And it is this enchantment that will have far-reaching consequences, not only for Edith but for the whole village.
Forgive me – Susan Lewis (12th November)
This is Claudia Winters’s last chance for a fresh start. Changing her name and leaving her old life behind, she has fled to the small town of Kesterly with her mother and daughter. Here, she hopes they can be safe for the first time in years.
But the past can’t stay hidden forever. And even as Claudia makes new friends and builds a new life, she can’t help feeling it’s all about to catch up with her… Until one disastrous night changes everything forever.
The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside – Jessica Ryn (26th November)
Dawn Elisabeth Brightside has been running from her past for twenty-two years and two months, precisely.
So when she is offered a bed in St Jude’s Hostel for the Homeless, it means so much more than just a roof over her head.
But with St Jude’s threatened with closure, Dawn worries that everything is about to crumble around her all over again.
Perhaps, with a little help from her new friends, she can find a way to save this light in the darkness?
And maybe, just maybe, Dawn will finally have a place to call home….
The Life I was Meant to Live – Julien Sandrel (12th November)
Thirty-nine-year-old Romane is a doctor and hypochondriac. Her usually uneventful life changes when one of her patients insists that she saw her coming out of a hospital in Marseille, looking very ill. But Romane is perfectly healthy and has never stepped foot in Marseille. So who did her patient see?
Romane sets off for the south of France, determined to uncover the mystery of her lookalike. Her investigation leads her to Juliette, a bookseller in Avignon. When the two women meet it soon becomes clear they are twins. But how is it possible that neither of them knew of each other’s existence? What secrets have their families been keeping? On their search for the truth the two sisters embark on an astonishing journey filled with both pain and joy…
All That Glitters – Danielle Steel (17th November)
Nicole “Coco” Martin is destined to have it all. As the only child of doting and successful parents, she has been given every opportunity in life. Having inherited her mother’s stunning beauty and creativity, along with her father’s work ethic and diligence, she has the world at her feet. Her graduation from Columbia is fast approaching, and with it the summer job of her dreams working at a magazine. Between work, leisurely weekends at her family’s home in Southampton, and spending as much time as possible with her best friend, Sam, life couldn’t be better–until tragedy strikes. Coco’s beloved parents are killed in a terrorist attack while on vacation in France.
Now devastated and alone, Coco must find a way to move forward and make her way in the world without the family she loved. Determined to forge her own path and make her parents proud, Coco pursues her dreams, dazzled by exciting opportunities that come her way. Her goals are to think outside the box–and always play by her own rules. As she finds herself drawn to charismatic, fascinating men, each relationship will teach Coco new lessons, some delightful, some painful. She will come to realize what matters, and how strong she truly is–and in the end, she will discover herself.
Richly exploring one woman’s poignant journey through life, All That Glitters is a compelling tale of challenges, heartbreak, discovery, and triumph, a powerful reminder that all that glitters is not the essence of life. And what is truly worth having was right there in our hands all along.
A Surprise Christmas Wedding – Phillipa Ashley (26th November)
It’s been a year since Lottie’s fiancé walked out, leaving her heartbroken. But things start to look up when she lands her dream job at a beautiful Lake District estate, with a handsome groundskeeper for a neighbour.
So when Lottie is asked to organise a last minute Christmas wedding at Firholme, she can’t wait to get started. Until she meets the couple, and discovers that Connor, the man who broke her heart, is the groom-to-be.
As snow falls on the hills, can Lottie put aside her past to organise the perfect winter wedding? And will there be any festive magic left to bring Lottie the perfect Christmas she deserves?
The Flip Side – James Bailey (26th November)
It’s love . . . what could go wrong?
When Josh proposes in a pod on the London Eye at New Years’ Eve, he thinks it’s perfect.
Until she says no.
And they have to spend the next 29 excruciating minutes alone together.
Realising he can’t trust his own judgment, Josh decides from now on he will make every decision through the flip of a coin.
Maybe the coin will change his life forever.
Maybe it will find him find the girl of his dreams . . .
The Twelve Dates of Christmas – Jenny Bayliss (12th November)
Kate Turner is happily single – a bit too happily, in fact. Since returning to her hometown of Blexford, a sleepy village where everybody knows each other, and between catching up with her oldest friends Laura and Matt, a flourishing career as a fabric designer, and taking care of her beloved dad, love hasn’t really had a look in.
But Kate does love Christmas. So when Laura insists she signs up to the Twelve Dates of Christmas, a brand new dating app service, she doesn’t need too much persuading. Twelve perfect festive dates with the area’s most eligible men – who could say no?
Amongst the twinkling lights and over hot chocolates and glasses of red wine, romance is easy to find. But with each date, Kate learns more about the men, and even more about herself.
As the big day approaches, Kate’s left wondering – is it really the season for true love, or will this Christmas be the coldest yet?
Christmas on the Isle of Skye – Kirsty Ferry (28th November)
The Isle of Skye is a magical place, especially at Christmas, and there’s no place Zac Fallon would rather be. But whilst Zac has everything he needs on Skye, there’s still something missing – and that something is a somebody called Ivy McFarlane.
Ivy used to work with Zac but then spread her wings and moved to Glastonbury. He’s missed her ever since. Now it’s almost Christmas and Zac realises that the Ivy shaped hole in his life is too big to bear. So starts his festive mission to the mainland – but will he be back in time to spend Christmas in Skye? And, more importantly, will Ivy be with him?
A Season in the Snow – Isla Gordon (26th November)
Alice Bright has a great life. She has a job she adores, a devoted family and friends she’d lay down her life for. But when tragedy strikes, she finds her whole world turned upside down.
Enter, Bear, a fluffy, lovable – and rapidly growing! – puppy searching for a home. Bear may be exactly what Alice needs to rekindle her spark, but a London flat is no place for a mountain dog, and soon Alice and Bear find themselves on a journey to the snow-topped mountains of Switzerland in search of a new beginning.
Amidst the warming log fires, cosy cafes and stunning views, Alice finds her heart slowly beginning to heal. But will new friends and a charming next door neighbour be enough to help Alice fall in love with life once more?
Winging it – Anna Jefferson (12th November)
Emily is sure she’s getting this baby stuff all wrong. Why does everyone else look like they’re smashing motherhood when she’s barely made it out of her maternity leggings and out of the house?
Her other half tries to say all the right things (can’t he just keep making her toast?). Her mum is brilliant (but on the other side of the country). Her two new mum-friends seem to feel like misfits too – but there’s really just one person she wants to open up to . . . only Emily hasn’t spoken to her for fifteen years.
Lonely but not alone, Emily’s about to discover that when you’re starting a family, what you really need are your friends.
The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas – Cressida McLaughlin (12th November)
Hannah Swan is looking forward to Christmas for the first time in years. Her new job as an eco-consultant is taking her – and her geeky colleague, Noah – to the beautiful Cornish village of Porthgolow for the first time.
They’re are helping the Crystal Waters Hotel to ramp up its green credentials, though after a bumpy journey, Hannah can’t shake off the feeling that Porthgolow is strangely familiar. Never able to resist a mystery, her interest is piqued when the hotel’s staff and customers report odd noises and sightings, believing the hotel to be haunted.
When bad weather cuts off Porthgolow, Hannah and Noah are looking at a Cornish Christmas. It gives them plenty of time to work out what is really going on, but will their yuletide escape send shivers up their spines? Or will it be as warm and toasty as a glass of mulled wine?
Home for Christmas (in partnership with Battersea Dog’s home) – Florence McNicoll (26th November)
Kathy Brentwood is good at keeping it together – or so it seems to the people around her. But really, struggling with grief after the death of her husband, Kathy’s life has become small. Her days are organised, her house is neat, but she’s desperately lonely – and with her son starting to build a life of his own, she isn’t sure where she fits anymore.
On Christmas Day, a chance encounter with a man called Ben and a rescue dog leads Kathy to the door of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. She meets Milly, the shy greyhound in need of a loving home; Baxter, the friendly Staffie who brings everyone together and Archie the Jack Russell Terrier who is a true original and has a heart of gold
Through a year of ups and downs, new friends – both two and four-legged – and even the possibility of romance, a new life beckons for Kathy, if only she is brave enough. Because at Battersea Dogs And Cats Home, it is never too late for a second chance – especially at Christmas.
Christmas Wishes – Sue Moorcroft (12th November)
As soon as Hannah bumps into her brother Rob’s best friend Nico in Stockholm, the two rekindle a fast friendship. But Hannah has a boyfriend – and Nico has two children to look after.
When Hannah loses her beloved shop in Stockholm, though, she is forced to move back to the little village of Middledip – only to find Nico has just moved in too. Under the same snowy sky, can the childhood friends make a romance work – or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?
Just Between Friends – Rosie Nixon (12th November)
Aisha Moore is eight months pregnant. She’s thrilled, and a little scared. Not least because her husband Jason hasn’t quite wrapped his head around the fact.
Lucy is having her first child too. She has finally got her wish – although the circumstances aren’t quite what she had hoped. Oscar will be a great dad though, won’t he?
When the two women join the same baby group, they quickly become friends and before long they’re confiding in each other.
Only there’s one thing Lucy hasn’t told Aisha. And while a baby may turn your life upside-down, a secret this big will change everything.
Miracle on Christmas Street – Annie O’Neil (12th November)
When Jess Green arrives at her new home on Christmas Street, she quickly realises that this will be a December to remember! After the disaster of last year, she was hoping to curl up and avoid the festivities – but her new neighbours have other ideas…
Together, they’re creating something extraordinary: a real-life advent calendar. As each house opens its door for wreath-making, gingerbread icing or carol singing, Jess finds herself swept up in the holiday cheer. Every house, that is, except for No. 24, home to the cantakerous Mr Winters.
But when disaster strikes, can Jess pull off a festive miracle – and make her own Christmas wish come true?
A Winter Memory – LuLu Taylor (25th November )
Where is Sylla? Why will no one tell me where she is?
Helen is married to Angus, the younger of the Ballintyre brothers. They met as students and Helen fell in love, not just with Angus but with the romantic Ballintyre family and their beautiful house on the edge of a loch. But marriage to Angus has not proved happy.
Now, years later and with a family, Helen and Angus have been forced to move back to live at Ballintyre with his older brother, Charlie. Helen is surprised to find that Sylla, Charlie’s wife, has disappeared and no one seems to know where she is. Helen is worried, not least because Charlie and Sylla lost their teenage daughter, Rose, only a year before. Surely someone should be looking for her . . .
Sylla Ballintyre has spent her life ministering to her husband Charlie, and coping with the presence of his overbearing mother, Josephine, until the tragedy of losing Rose drained her happiness away. When she stumbles on the path to freedom, she knows she must take it, whatever the cost.
As Helen struggles with the fallout of recent events and its effect on her life, Ballintyre House becomes the setting for revelations of love, obsession and betrayal that have resonated beyond the present and into the past, affecting the lives of all those who have called it home.
Finding love at the Christmas Market – Jo Thomas (12th November)
Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she’s feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie’s residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market – with the promise she’ll take a mini-bus full of pensioners with her…
Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a check-list of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich’s rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer.
Will Connie’s wish for love this Christmas come true, and if so – with who?
Three Women and a Boat – Anne Youngson (12th November)
Meet Eve, who has departed from her thirty-year career to become a Free Spirit; Sally, who has waved goodbye to her indifferent husband and two grown-up children; and Anastasia: defiantly independent narrowboat-dweller, suddenly vulnerable as she awaits a life-saving operation.
Inexperienced and ill-equipped, Sally and Eve embark upon a journey through the canals of England, guided by the remote and unsympathetic Anastasia. As they glide gently – and not so gently – through the countryside, the eccentricities and challenges of canal boat life draw them inexorably together, and a tender and unforgettable story unfolds.
Disarmingly truthful and narrated with a rare, surprising wit, THREE WOMEN AND A BOAT is a journey over the glorious waterways of England and into the unfathomable depths of the human heart.
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