Holiday Book Haul
Now that the holidays are over, want to see my Holiday Book Haul?
I've actually never blogged about a book haul. Last year I focused on sharing the books I read in a blog devoted to that purpose at the end of each month, but that's not quite the same as a book haul.
Most of the book haul blogs I've seen are all about awesome deals the blogger scored on a recent outing. Unfortunately, I never seem to find the 25-cent hardbound editions of novels I've been wanting to read at the library's book sale, or a box of books with popular titles at a garage sale priced 10 for a dollar, or classics that are in good condition on the shelves at thrift stores. I'd love to, mind you! Alas, that has not been my fate.
What has been my fate is to have my birthday happily fall about a week before Christmas, so when I say holiday book haul, I am including all the delightful reads I received for both my birthday and during the Christmas season. This year that equaled an eclectic collection of titles amassed during December.
And all because of you! (Keep reading & I'll share why.)
If you love browsing through someone's bookshelves when you pop by for a visit or can't resist checking out titles when someone posts a shelfie, get your fingers ready to scroll and zoom as I give you full access to my 2022 Holiday Book Haul.
SHERLOCK HOLMES & THE TWELVE THEFTS OF CHRISTMAS by Tim Major
One of my sisters sent this treasure trove of Christmas mysteries to me for my birthday and this beautiful red dust-jacketed little gem is first on my holiday reading list for 2023.
Overview: "A thrilling chase as Sherlock Holmes is set a fiendish puzzle by Irene Adler over a snowy London Christmas, in this stunningly packaged mystery.
Sherlock Holmes’s discovery of a mysterious musical score initiates a devious Christmas challenge set by Irene Adler, with clues that are all variations on the theme of ‘theft without theft', such as a statue missing from a museum found hidden in the room it was taken from.
In the snowy London lead-up to Christmas, Holmes’s preoccupation with the 'Adler Variations' risks him neglecting the case of his new client, Norwegian arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen, who has received a series of threats in the form of animal carcasses left on his doorstep. Could they really be gifts from a strange spirit that has pursued Nansen since the completion of his expedition to cross Greenland? And might this case somehow be related to Irene Adler’s great game?"
A PRAYING LIFE by Paul E. Miller
I come across titles everywhere I look to add to my Amazon Wishlist. You, too? That is where my husband found this gem that is now topping my 2023 Nonfiction list. The subtitle was the selling factor for me to add it to Amazon: "Connecting with God in a distracting world." Sign me up for that.
Overview: "Prayer is hard. Often, unless circumstances demand it―such as an illness or saying grace before a meal―most of us simply do not pray. This kind of prayerlessness can leave us with a distressed spirit and practical unbelief characterized by fear, anxiety, joylessness, and spiritual depression.
A Praying Life has encouraged thousands of Christians to pursue a vibrant prayer life full of joy and power. A life of prayer invites you to a life of connection to God. When Jesus describes the intimacy that He seeks with us, He talks about joining us for dinner (Revelation 3:20). This book reminds readers that prayer is simply making conversation with God a rhythm of life.
Now with added chapters addressing prayers of lament and further guidance for using prayer cards, Paul Miller invites you to foster prayer that regularly hopes, trusts, and expects God to act. Learn to develop helpful habits and approaches to prayer that will enable you to return to a childlike faith and witness spiritual growth today!
'This book will be like having the breath of God at your back. Let it lift you to new hope.'”
THE LITTLE SHOP OF FOUND THINGS by Paula Brackston
I wish I could remember where I first saw this book rec (maybe one of the Monthly Book Club members?), but y'all, I was hooked from the beginning of the descriptions reference to Outlander.
Overview: "A new series about a young woman whose connection to antiques takes her on a magical adventure, reminiscent of Outlander.
New York Times bestselling author of The Witch's Daughter Paula Brackston returns to her trademark blend of magic and romance to launch a new series guaranteed to enchant her audience even more.
Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind for a fresh start, taking over an antique shop in the historic town of Marlborough. Xanthe has always had an affinity with some of the antiques she finds. When she touches them, she can sense something of the past they come from and the stories they hold. So when she has an intense connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine she has to know more.
It’s while she’s examining the chatelaine that she’s transported back to the seventeenth century. And shortly after, she's confronted by a ghost who reveals that this is where the antique has its origins. The ghost tasks Xanthe with putting right the injustice in its story to save an innocent girl’s life, or else it’ll cost her Flora’s.
While Xanthe fights to save her amid the turbulent days of 1605, she meets architect Samuel Appleby. He may be the person who can help her succeed. He may also be the reason she can’t bring herself to leave.
With its rich historical detail, strong mother-daughter relationship, and picturesque English village, The Little Shop of Found Things is poised to be a strong start to this new series."
ONCE UPON A WARDROBE by Patti Callahan
Who doesn't love Narnia? The moment Cathy mentioned this little gem in our Monthly Book Club, I added it to my Amazon list and was SO ELATED when my husband, Simon, gifted it to me over the holidays.
Overview: "From Patti Callahan, the bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis, comes another enchanting story that pulls back the curtain on the early life of C. S. Lewis.
'Where did Narnia come from?'
The answer will change everything.
Megs Devonshire is brilliant with numbers and equations, on a scholarship at Oxford, and dreams of solving the greatest mysteries of physics.
She prefers the dependability of facts—except for one: the younger brother she loves with all her heart doesn’t have long to live. When George becomes captivated by a copy of a brand-new book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and begs her to find out where Narnia came from, there’s no way she can refuse.
Despite her timidity about approaching the famous author, Megs soon finds herself taking tea with the Oxford don and his own brother, imploring them for answers. What she receives instead are more stories . . . stories of Jack Lewis’s life, which she takes home to George.
Why won’t Mr. Lewis just tell her plainly what George wants to know? The answer will reveal to Meg many truths that science and math cannot, and the gift she thought she was giving to her brother—the story behind Narnia—turns out to be his gift to her, instead: hope."
BOOKED: A TRAVELER'S GUIDE TO LITERARY LOCATIONS AROUND THE WORLD by Richard Kreitner
I saved this to my Wishlist a while ago, so long ago that I'm sure my husband had to scroll a pretty long time to get to it. I'm so glad he did because I have had the best time browsing through it during December, planning and plotting trips to literary destinations that will knock my socks off.
Overview: "A practical, armchair travel guide that explores eighty of the most iconic literary locations from all over the globe that you can actually visit.
A must-have for every fan of literature, Booked inspires readers to follow in their favorite characters footsteps by visiting the real-life locations portrayed in beloved novels including the Monroeville, Alabama courthouse in To Kill a Mockingbird, Chatsworth House, the inspiration for Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice, and the Kyoto Bridge from Memoirs of a Geisha. The full-color photographs throughout reveal the settings readers have imagined again and again in their favorite books.
Organized by regions all around the world, author Richard Kreitner explains the importance of each literary landmark including the connection to the author and novel, cultural significance, historical information, and little-known facts about the location. He also includes travel advice like addresses and must-see spots.
Booked features special sections on cities that inspired countless literary works like a round of locations in Brooklyn from Betty Smith's iconic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn and a look at the New Orleans of Tennessee Williams and Anne Rice.
Central Park, NYC (The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger)
Forks, Washington (Twilight, Stephanie Meyer)
Prince Edward Island, Canada (Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery)
Kingston Penitentiary, Ontario (Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood)
Holcomb, Kansas (In Cold Blood, Truman Capote)
London, England (White Teeth, Zadie Smith)
Paris, France (Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo)
Segovia, Spain, (For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway)
Umuofia, Nigeria (Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe)
Kyoto, Japan (Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden)
Cartagena, Colombia (One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez)"
THE WINNERS by Fredrik Backman
Ever since Ove, I have been a fan of Backman. And when I saw that he had a new book (the third in a series) coming out in time for Jolabokaflud, I began grooming my husband to gift this book to me on Christmas Eve. He didn't need to be told twice - well, yes, he did because he kept confusing it with Anxious People for some reason, but in the end he nailed it and I was the über grateful recipient of The Winners for Jolabokaflod 2022. (As a side note, I lived and breathed the first two in the series last Fall in prep for receiving and reading The Winners in December. You can read what I thought about the first in the series, Beartown, by clicking that link.)
Overview: "Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The residents continue to grapple with life’s big questions: What is a family? What is a community? And what, if anything, are we willing to sacrifice in order to protect them?
As the locals of Beartown struggle to overcome the past, great change is on the horizon. Someone is coming home after a long time away. Someone will be laid to rest. Someone will fall in love, someone will try to fix their marriage, and someone will do anything to save their children. Someone will submit to hate, someone will fight, and someone will grab a gun and walk towards the ice rink.
So what are the residents of Beartown willing to sacrifice for their home?"
BLOOMSBURY GIRLS by Natalie Jenner
First, I've got to give a shout-out to my friend, Ashley. Ashley and I were partnered together in the Monthly Book Club for Jolabokaflod last month and she sent the most awesomely delicious and thoughtful book box to me - including this new novel by Natalie Jenner. It was a completely new author & new title to me and I was excited to dive right in - but first, I felt like I needed to read The Jane Austen Society (which I recently finished - LOVED it!) and y'all, I am happy to say I am now primed and ready to take on the Bloomsbury Girls in early 2023.
Overview: "The internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world.
Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare book store that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager's unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:
Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiance was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances - most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.
Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she's been working to support the family following her husband's breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.
Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she's working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.
As they interact with various literary figures of the time - Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others - these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow."
HESTER by Laurie Lico Albanese
I was first drawn to Hester when Ashley (see above) recommended it on our Monthly Book Club's private Facebook page in September. I knew that we'd soon be reading Nathaniel Hawthorne in October and initially that is what drew me toward reading the story. Well, that and the fact that the cover is absolutely GORGEOUS! I'm really looking forward to reading this one because I'd love to reimagine The Scarlet Letter, look at it from a different angle, and explore a different perspective.
I've got really high hopes for this one. Thanks, Ashley.
Overview: "Isobel Gamble is a young seamstress carrying generations of secrets when she sets sail from Scotland in the early 1800s with her husband, Edward. An apothecary who has fallen under the spell of opium, his pile of debts have forced them to flee Edinburgh for a fresh start in the New World. But only days after they've arrived in Salem, Edward abruptly joins a departing ship as a medic––leaving Isobel penniless and alone in a strange country, forced to make her way by any means possible.
When she meets a young Nathaniel Hawthorne, the two are instantly drawn to each other: he is a man haunted by his ancestors, who sent innocent women to the gallows––while she is an unusually gifted needleworker, troubled by her own strange talents. As the weeks pass and Edward's safe return grows increasingly unlikely, Nathaniel and Isobel grow closer and closer. Together, they are a muse and a dark storyteller; the enchanter and the enchanted. But which is which?
In this sensuous and hypnotizing tale, a young immigrant woman grapples with our country's complicated past, and learns that America's ideas of freedom and liberty often fall short of their promise. Interwoven with Isobel and Nathaniel's story is a vivid interrogation of who gets to be a "real" American in the first half of the 19th century, a depiction of the early days of the Underground Railroad in New England, and atmospheric interstitials that capture the long history of "unusual" women being accused of witchcraft. Meticulously researched yet evocatively imagined, Hester is a timeless tale of art, ambition, and desire that examines the roots of female creative power and the men who try to shut it down.
A vivid reimagining of the woman who inspired Hester Prynne, the tragic heroine of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, and a journey into the enduring legacy of New England's witchcraft trials."
Which titles are in your Holiday Book Haul?
Did you get some new titles during the holiday season, too? I'd love to hear about your Holiday Book Haul, too! I hope you'll share yours in the comments.