Saturday, October 10, 2009

New Christmas books for 2009 & recommendations of past Christmas reads

As promised, here are some new Christmas book releases out this year and some recommendations of my past Christmas reads.  You can use these to pick for your selections if you are participating in my Christmas Reading Challenge (click here for info and sign up for the challenge) or just to get some ideas for seasonal reading.

New Releases

Matchless--Gregory Maguire

A reinvention of the classic The Little Match Girl that is more about laughter than tears.

When the story was first translated from Danish and published in England in the mid-nineteenth century, the Little Match Girl's dying visions of lights and a grandmother in heaven were often interpreted as metaphors of religious salvation. In "Matchless", Maguire adds a different dimension to the story, intertwining the match girl's tale with that of a young boy, Frederik, whose own yearnings are the catalyst for a better future for himself and his family. Maguire uses his storytelling magic to rekindle Andersen's original intentions, and to suggest transcendence, the permanence of spirit, and the continuity that links the living and the dead. (releases November 2009)

Knit the Season--Kate Jacobs

I have some followers who are also knitters so I know this one will appeal to them.  I'm not a knitter (although I have dabbled), but I know I will enjoy this one as well.

Knit the Season is a loving, moving, laugh-out-loud celebration of special times with friends and family. The story begins a year after the end of Knit Two, with Dakota Walker's trip to spend the Christmas holidays with her Gran in Scotland-accompanied by her father, her grandparents, and her mother's best friend, Catherine. Together, they share a trove of happy memories about Christmases past with Dakota's mom, Georgia Walker-from Georgia's childhood to her blissful time as a doting new mom. From Thanksgiving through Hanukkah and Christmas to New Year's, Knit the Season is a novel about the richness of family bonds and the joys of friendship. (releases November 2009)

The Gift--Cecelia Ahern

From the author of P.S. I Love You, this one was published in the UK last year and is now set for a U.S. release.

New York Times bestselling author Cecelia Ahern spins a witty, warm, and wise modern-day fable of love, regret, hope, and second chances.

Extremely successful executive, Lou Suffern is always overstretched, immune to the holiday spirit that delights everyone around him. The classic workaholic who never has a moment to spare, he is always multitasking while shortchanging his devoted wife and their adorable children. And ever since he started competing for a big promotion, he has barely seen his family at all.

One frigid morning in an uncharacteristic burst of generosity, he buys a cup of coffee for Gabe, a homeless man huddled outside his office building. Inspired by his own unexpected act of kindness, Lou decides to prolong his charitable streak and contrives to get Gabe a job in his company's mailroom. But when Gabe begins to meddle in Lou's life, the helping hand appears to be a serious mistake. Gabe seems to know more about Lou than Lou does about himself, and, perhaps more disturbingly, Gabe always seems to be in two places at once.

With Lou's personal and professional fates at important crossroads and Christmas looming, Gabe resorts to some unorthodox methods to show his stubborn patron what truly matters and how precious the gift of time is. But can he help him fix what's broken before it's too late? (releases November 2009)

A Christmas Blizzard--Garrison Keillor

If you're a fan of Garrison Keillor's folksy voice, this North Dakota Chrismtas tale will be for you.

A short comic novel about a Hawaii-bound holiday traveler who ends up stranded in his North Dakota hometown during a blizzard.

A wealthy and depressed man (thanks to the economy he’s not quite rich enough to expand his cache of paintings by Vincent Van Guy, the famed Dutch realist) bound for Christmas in the tropics is abruptly summoned home to North Dakota to visit an ailing aunt. He arrives just in time to be trapped there by a blizzard. The electricity goes out, and when it does, figures from his childhood appear, and historical figures too, for a festive candlelit holiday. In his reverie, our man reaches an epiphany worthy of the season—he hears the harkening angels sing, he is awed by the silence of the night (dead quiet: not even TV) and when he is finally rescued, leaves North Dakota resolved to simplify his life. (releases October 2009)

The Christmas Dog--Melody Carlson

For dog lovers (and all animal lovers)...a heartwarming tale centered around a little brown dog.

Betty Kowalski isn't looking forward to the holidays. She just can't seem to find Christmas in her heart. There's church, of course. But who can she bake for these days? And who would care whether or not she pulled out the Christmas decorations? Her new neighbor just adds to the problem. He's doing home improvements that don't appear to be improving much of anything. These days when Betty looks out the window, she sees a beat-up truck, a pile of junk, lots of blue tarps, and--horror of horrors--an old pink toilet. But when a mangy dog appears at her doorstep, the stage is set for Betty to learn a very important lesson about what Christmas is all about. This contemporary Christmas story is a timely yet gentle reminder that God can work miracles through something as seemingly insignificant as a little brown dog. (releases October 2009)

The Unfinished Gift--Dan Walsh

Patrick Collins is seven years old, and on his Christmas list are only three items. He wants the army to find his father. He wants to leave his grandfather's house. And, for reasons even he doesn't understand, he wants the soldier that's tucked away in his grandfather's attic. Set at Christmastime in 1943, The Unfinished Gift tells in an engaging, simple style the story of a family, and reminds us of the surprising things that affect powerful change in our hearts--like a young boy's prayers, a shoebox full of love letters, and even an old wooden soldier, long forgotten. This nostalgic story of forgiveness will engage readers everywhere. (released in September 2009)

My Recommendations (past Christmas reads)

Charles Dickens Christmas Books--A Christmas Carol and others

My most favorite Christmas book of all time is A Christmas Carol.  The best holiday story, it is a tale of redemption and the human spirit and the importance of family at Christmas time and always.  I try to read this every year and I watch all the movies as well.  Also, we have a local community theater that does the play every year.  They stay very true to Dickens' original text and I never miss a performance.  This is the edition that I own.  It also contains Dickens' other great Christmas stories.

These five short novels, written for Christmas 1843 to 1848, demonstrate Dickens' most characteristic writing. The volume includes A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Haunted Man, The Cricket on the Hearth, and The Battle of Life. (from Amazon)

Christmas Jars--Jason F. Wright

I read this one last year and I loved it.  It is a relatively short read, but it is heartwarming and nostalgic...a perfect tale for Christmas.

Keep some tissues on hand for this holiday story that is sure to be a Christmas classic!

Where had it come from? Whose money was it? Was I to spend it? Save it? Pass it on to the someone more needy? Above all else, why was I chosen? Certainly there were others, countless others more needy than I...Her reporter's intuition insisted that a remarkable story was on the verge of the front page.

Rising newspaper reporter Hope Jensen uncovers the secret behind the "Christmas Jars" - glass jars filled with coins and bills anonymously given to people in need. But Hope discovers much more than she bargained for when some unexpected news sets off a chain reaction of kindness and brings above a Christmas Eve wish come true.

The Christmas Pearl--Dorothea Benton Frank

I loved this book about changing a family dynamic from material greed to a one that recognizes the true value of a traditional family Christmas.

Theodora is the matriarch of a family that has grown into a bunch of truculent knuckleheads. While she's finally gotten them all together in South Carolina to celebrate, this Christmas looks nothing like the extravagant, homey holidays of her childhood.

What happened to the days when Christmas meant tables groaning with home-cooked goodies, over-the-top decorations, and long chats in front of the fire with Pearl, her grandmother's beloved housekeeper and closest confidante?

Luckily for Theodora, a special someone who heard her plea for help arrives, with pockets full of enough Gullah magic and common sense to make Theodora's Christmas the love-filled miracle it's meant to be.

The Present--Johanna Lindsey

Actually the 6th book in Johanna Lindsey's Malory Family series, The Present is also a stand alone novel about a mysterious present and what it means to the history of the Malory family.

The Present finds the Malory clan gathered at their ancestral estate to celebrate the holidays. To add to the excitement, a beautifully wrapped gift has mysteriously appeared in the parlor. No one knows who placed it there and Jason Malory, the eldest and only permanent resident of Haverston, has no inkling that the intriguing package is about to change his life forever. What connection does the gaily wrapped gift have with the unmarked grave in the meadow? Was the great-great-grandmother of this generation of Malory's a Gypsy or a Russian Princess? Or both? How will the Malory clan accept the secrets revealed by this wonderful Christmas gift? The Present is a charming, warm, and amusing visit with the much-loved members of the fascinating Malory family. --Lois Faye Dyer

'Twas the Night Before--Jerry B. Jenkins

An entertaining tale about believers and non-believers in the miracles of Christmas.

When it comes to Christmas, there are two categories of people in the world: believers and non-believers. Although non-believers will probably never get around to reading this love story by Jerry Jenkins (bestselling co-author of Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days), believers will certainly relish this mystical story that delivers a doubting Thomas to the home of Kriss Kringle. Jenkins's usual use of high adventure and unpredictable love is at play in this story about Tom Douten, a gritty Chicago journalist, who isn't afraid to investigate the truth about life in the inner city, and his new lover, Noella, an optimistic writer who believes in Santa. When Jenkins flies to the Black Forest to investigate the "truth" about Santa and dispel Noella's belief, his plane crashes, killing the pilot and his fellow passenger. Jenkins keeps the story fast-moving in his terse, straightforward style. Nonetheless, he manages to plot an intricate enough course, so that the final revelations are surprising, and as satisfying as plum pudding at the end of a Christmas feast. --Gail Hudson

The Autobiography of Santa Claus--Jeff Guinn

This is the first book in Jeff Guinn's Christmas Chronicles.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book...a great read for lovers of historical fiction.

This enchanting Christmas classic returns for a new holiday season, combining historical fact with glorious legend as St. Nicholas himself reveals the definitive story of Santa Claus.

With seven centuries of holiday magic all rolled into twenty-four chapters-one for each cold December night leading up to Christmas-The Autobiography of Santa Claus is a great gift for the whole family!

(The second and third books of the Chronicles are How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas and The Great Santa Search)

The House Without a Christmas Tree--Gail Rock

I loved all of Gail Rock's Addie Mills books when I was a girl, but especially this one.  I still have the same book I had when I was a child and I probably read it at least every other year.  I also have the DVD of the classic TV movie and I watch it every year.  This is a good one for adults and kids alike!

In 1946 a ten-year-old girl tries to understand and overcome her stern father's objections to having a Christmas tree in the house.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever--Barbara Robinson

I first read this when I was a kid and I enjoyed it so much.  It is a heartwarmingly funny story that is great for kids and their parents.

The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant.

None of the Herdmans has ever heard the Christmas story before. Their interpretation of the tale -- the Wise Men are a bunch of dirty spies and Herod needs a good beating -- has a lot of people up in arms. But it will make this year's pageant the most unusual anyone has seen and, just possibly, the best one ever.

(Note:  all synopses obtained from Goodreads except for Dickens' Christmas stories)

Happy Holiday Reading!



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  1. What a tempting collection of holiday books! I love Cecelia Ahern's books, so I may have to have that one, which sounds intriguing.

  2. Thanks for the heads-up on the Gregory McGuire retelling of The Little Match Girl. I'll have to pick it up. I suggest Hogfather by Terry Pratchett. It has Death in it.

  3. A reinvention of The Little Match Girl? Errr....

    I like the Charles Dickens Christmas stories recommendation. That guy was obsessed with Christmas! Maybe if I became a famous author, I'd promote my favorite holiday, Valentine's Day. :)

  4. This is great for the Christmas Spirit..could you look at this new book

  5. If you read A Christmas Carol, it's a novella and will work for my November Novella Challenge!

  6. Wow, quite a list here. Charles Dickens is always a great read.

    I wanted to also let you know I have an award for you!

  7. hi, just visiting from Melissa @ My World. I love this post with all these christmas books - very festive.

  8. My favorite Christmas reads are Rest You Merry by Charlotte Macleod, Miracle & Other Stories by Connie Willis, and Christmastime (?) by Sandra Boynton. I'll probably reading the knitting one also, plus another recommended by Lesa Holstine, [ ]Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs.

  9. Looking for a great gift idea or stocking stuffers for co-workers and friends, the new fantasy novel, "Gateway to DreamWorld," released last month, has been receiving rave reviews.

    During the cold months ahead, they will curl up in a warm blanket or in front of the fireplace and enter a fantasy world filled with excitement and suspense.

    The book is listed on, Barnes&, and Powell’s

  10. A unique christmas gift in the form of a book of poetry, recipes, wine pairing and stories about a selection of the best loved French cheeses. One can nearly taste the difference savours of these remarkable products.

  11. Fanastic list of holiday books. I'm adding several to my TBR list and a few others to my gift list. There is a new book out called "Cancel Christmas" by Rocco Leonard Martino that I'm reading. It's a political satire about canceling Christmas due based upon big businesses self interest. I'm really enjoying the humor.

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