Happy Monday Friends! How was your weekend? I put my Christmas tree up this weekend which means its now less than 3 weeks until I fly home! I’m so excited! Are there books that you read every Christmas without fail? Or do you buy new ones to get you through the holidays? I do both, and I thought I would share with you the books – both old and new – that I’ll be (re)reading this Christmas.
The Lake House by Kate Morton
“A missing child …June 1933, and the Edevane family’s country house, Loeanneth, is polished and gleaming, ready for the much-anticipated Midsummer Eve party. Alice Edevane, sixteen years old and a budding writer, is especially excited. Not only has she worked out the perfect twist for her novel, she’s also fallen helplessly in love with someone she shouldn’t have. But by the time midnight strikes and fireworks light up the night skies, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great that they leave Loeanneth forever.An abandoned house …Seventy years later, after a particularly troubling case, Sadie Sparrow is sent on an enforced break from her job with the Metropolitan Police. She retreats to her beloved grandfather’s cottage in Cornwall but soon finds herself at a loose end. Until one day, Sadie stumbles upon an abandoned house surrounded by overgrown gardens and dense woods, and learns the story of a baby boy who disappeared without a trace.An unsolved mystery …Meanwhile, in the attic writing room of her elegant Hampstead home, the formidable Alice Edevane, now an old lady, leads a life as neatly plotted as the bestselling detective novels she writes. Until a young police detective starts asking questions about her family’s past, seeking to resurrect the complex tangle of secrets Alice has spent her life trying to escape …”
This is top of my must-buy list for these holidays. I love a good mystery and I really want to know what happened at Loeanneth!
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Yes, perhaps not the best book to be reading at Christmas but I have a leather bound second edition that the pages are now almost falling out of. A few years back, I was on a mission to read every Dickens book (I still haven’t managed it!) and I got hooked on this one. Now it’s become a ritual to read it every year in the lead-up to Christmas.
See Me by Nicholas Sparks
“Colin Hancock is giving his second chance his best shot. With a history of violence and bad decisions behind him and the threat of prison dogging his every step, he’s determined to walk a straight line. To Colin, that means applying himself single-mindedly toward his teaching degree and avoiding everything that proved destructive in his earlier life. Reminding himself daily of his hard-earned lessons, the last thing he is looking for is a serious relationship.
Maria Sanchez, the hardworking daughter of Mexican immigrants, is the picture of conventional success: with a degree from Duke Law School and a job at a prestigious firm in Wilmington, she is a dark-haired beauty with a seemingly flawless professional track record. And yet Maria has a traumatic history of her own, one that compelled her to return to her home town and left her questioning so much of what she once believed.
A chance encounter on a rainswept road will alter the course of both Colin and Maria’s lives, challenging deeply held assumptions about each other and ultimately, themselves. As love unexpectedly takes hold between them, they dare to envision what a future together could possibly look like . . . until menacing reminders of events in Maria’s past begin to surface.
As a series of threatening incidents wreaks chaos in Maria’s life, Maria and Colin will be tested in increasingly terrifying ways. Will demons from their past destroy the tenuous relationship they’ve begun to build, or will their love protect them, even in the darkest hour?”
I’ll say it now. I love Nicholas Sparks. The Notebook is one of my favourite novels and films (yes, I read the novel first). I know many regard his books as chick lit/trash but he’s a NYT best-selling author many times over for a reason. If you haven’t read any of his, start with the Notebook and also read Safe Haven.
Humans of New York Stories by Brandon Stanton
“Ever since Brandon began interviewing people on the streets of NY, the dialogue he’s had with them has increasingly become as in-depth, intriguing and moving as the photos themselves. Humans of New York: Stories presents a whole new group of humans, complete with stories that delve deeper and surprise with greater candor. Let Brandon Stanton and the people he’s photographed astonish you.”
If you love the HONY Facebook page, you will love this! It’s heartwarming, gut-wrenching and will have you smiling, laughing and crying.
P.S I Love You by Cecilia Ahern
“Holly couldn’t live without her husband Gerry, until the day she had to. They were the kind of young couple who could finish each other’s sentences. When Gerry succumbs to a terminal illness and dies, 30-year-old Holly is set adrift, unable to pick up the pieces. But with the help of a series of letters her husband left her before he died and a little nudging from an eccentric assortment of family and friends, she learns to laugh, overcome her fears, and discover a world she never knew existed.”
If you’ve seen the film without reading the book (shame on you!), don’t expect them to be the same. The book is not set in New York, it’s an Irish love story and it’s worth every tear you will shed. Have tissues at the ready – I’ve been reading this since it was first published in 2005 and I still cry every time.
The Lost Tudor Princess by Alison Weir
“Royal Tudor blood ran in her veins. Her mother was a queen, her father an earl, and she herself was the granddaughter, niece, cousin and grandmother of monarchs. Some thought she should be queen of England. She ranked high at the court of her uncle, Henry VIII, and was lady of honour to five of his wives. Beautiful and tempestuous, she created scandal, not just once, but twice, by falling in love with unsuitable men. Fortunately, the marriage arranged for her turned into a love match.
Throughout her life her dynastic ties to two crowns proved hazardous. A born political intriguer, she was imprisoned in the Tower of London on three occasions, once under sentence of death. She helped to bring about one of the most notorious royal marriages of the sixteenth century, but it brought her only tragedy. Her son and her husband were brutally murdered, and there were rumours that she herself was poisoned. She warred with two queens, Mary of Scotland and Elizabeth of England. A brave survivor, she was instrumental in securing the Stuart succession to the throne of England for her grandson.”
If you like historical fiction, Alison Weir is one for you. This book is on my wanted list this year and you can be sure I’ll be buying it in January if Father Christmas doesn’t get there first!
The MacGregor Brides: Christmas Fairytales by Nora Roberts
“Daniel MacGregor is at it again. At age ninety, there is nothing the powerful patriarch of the MacGregor clan would like more than to see his three eldest granddaughters happily married. So Daniel MacGregor has handpicked three unsuspecting candidates he believes would make perfect husbands. But this might be his biggest matchmaking challenge yet; his granddaughters are so focused on their careers that marriage is the last thing on their minds. It’s a good thing Daniel has a few tricks left up his sleeve….”
Oh Nora, I love you. I’ve read this book every year for the past three or four years and it never gets old! Perfect for travelling, but be warned, you might get a little wrapped up so try not to miss your flight!
The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory
“Why would a woman marry a serial killer? Because she cannot refuse… Kateryn Parr, a thirty-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives – King Henry VIII – commands her to marry him. Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted sixteen months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride and Kateryn’s trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as regent. But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and a published author, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry’s dangerous gaze turns on her. The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy – the punishment is death by fire and the king’s name is on the warrant…”
I think I’ve read every Philippa Gregory book at this point so there’s no way I’m missing out on this one. Expect this to be in my bag for my flight home!
Jewels by Danielle Steel
“On Sarah Whitfield’s seventy-fifth birthday, memories take her back to New York in the 1930s. To a marriage that ends after a year, leaving Sarah shattered. A trip to Europe with her parents does little to raise her spirits, until she meets William, Duke of Whitfield. In time, despite her qualms, William insists on giving up his distant right to the British throne to make Sarah his duchess and his wife.
On their honeymoon, the newlyweds buy an old French chateau, but not long after, the war begins. William joins the allied forces, leaving Sarah, their first child, an infant, and their second child on the way, in France. After the Nazi forces take over the chateau, Sarah continues to survive the terror and deprivation of the Occupation, unwavering in her belief that her missing-in-action husband is still alive.
After the war, as a gesture of goodwill, the Whitfields start buying jewels offered for sale by impoverished war survivors. With Sarah’s style and keen eye, the collection becomes the prestigious Whitfield’s jewelry store in Paris. Eventually, their jewelry business expands to London and Rome, as their family grows. Phillip, their firstborn, is stubborn and proud; Julian, their second son, is charming and generous and warm; Isabelle is rebellious and willful; and Xavier, unusual and untamed, is the final unexpected gift of their love. They each find their own way, but will be drawn to the great house of gems their parents built.”
I have been reading this book since I was 14. That’s 14 years. And I still read it at least once a year. a story that spans five decades, it will be make you laugh, cry and cheer as you join Sarah on a trip down memory lane.
Have you read any of these? What books will you be reading these holidays? I’d love to hear – I’m always on the hunt for new authors! I’ll be back on Wednesday, until then…