Today’s challenge from Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl is a freebie. In other words, open to featuring something festive for the holiday season as in, wintery reads, or snow on the cover, that kind of thing. So, guess what I’m going to go with? Christmas-themed covers and stories.
THE DEAL OF A LIFETIME by Fredrik Backman
A holiday novella from the New York Timesbest-selling author Fredrik Backman, The Deal of a Lifetime is a father’s story to his son, told over Christmas Eve. In it, a man finds he may be able to help a little girl dying from cancer in a hospital, but not before making amends with his own son first. It’s a story that manages to get to the heart of what the holiday means—sacrifice, forgiveness, and love—in less than a hundred pages.
THE USUAL SANTAS a collection of crime fiction stories
A group of crime-fiction writers, including Helene Tursten and Martin Limón, put pen to paper for a collection of short stories ranging from foreboding to heartwarming, but all centered on the immortal focal point of the holiday: Kris Kringle. The forward is written by British detective novelist Peter Lovesey, and each of the 16 globe-trotting caper tales take place somewhere else on the globe, be it Thailand, Copenhagen, or Korea. So when you need to get away, well, here you go.
MR. DICKENS AND HIS CAROL by Samantha Silva
Samantha Silva pens a comical and haunting offshoot tale based on the man who wrote A Christmas Carol. Not to be confused with The Man Who Invented Christmas (Les Standiford), Silva’s version of the story goes a little something like this: As writer’s block sets in, Dickens heads to London for some inspiration. There, he goes on long walks, each scattered with the details that would become his Carol. Which, when you look at it, is almost the same as, The Man Who Invented Christmas.
HIDDENSEE: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire
Having brought his legions of devoted readers to Oz in Wicked and to Wonderland in After Alice, Maguire now takes us to the realms of the Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffmann—the enchanted Black Forest of Bavaria and the salons of Munich. Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve.
HERCULE POIROT’S CHRISTMAS by Agatha Christie
No Christmas reading list can be complete without at least one Agatha Christie novel, and what better than Hercule Poirot’s Christmas to set the mood for murder. What starts with a family reunion and, of course, as with any Christie novel, always ends in murder. This one is the perfect antidote to all that good cheer of the holiday season. So why not jump in and solve a Christmas murder with that most famous of Belgian sleuths, Poirot, in this deviously devised whodunit.
A CUP OF HOLIDAY FEAR by Ellie Alexander
Ashland, Oregon, looks as pretty as a postcard this holiday season. The halls are decked, stockings hung, and eyes are all aglow-mostly thanks to the buttered rum. Jules Capshaw and her staff at Torte are busier than ever… still, even the town’s most in-demand bakers need to take a break. So Jules invites everyone to celebrate at the local Winchester Inn’s Dickens Feast, a six-course extravaganza with Yorkshire Pudding, Christmas goose, and all the trimmings. But as the weather outside becomes frightful, things inside turn less delightful when one of the guests ends up as dead as Scrooge’s doornail. Now it’s up to Jules and her helpers to make a list of suspects-and check it twice-to try to find out who’s naughty, who’s nice, and who’s guilty of murder.
A PAGE MARKED FOR MURDER by Lauren Elliott
January isn’t the season for the seaside, but the big Fire and Ice festival is keeping bookstore owner Addie busy. Amid the plans for a fireworks display and an ice-carving competition, she’s also dog sitting for a friend in the hospital. When Addie goes to her friend’s house to gather supplies, she notices an interesting item on the nightstand which belongs to her shop assistant, Paige: a very valuable copy of the beloved children’s book The Secret Garden. The next thing Addie knows, that first edition has gone missing. Is there a connection between the body and the treasured tome? If there is, it’s up to Addie to find a killer with a motive as hidden as Frances Hodgson Burnett’s famous garden.
19TH CHRISTMAS by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
As the holidays approach, Detective Lindsay Boxer and her friends in the Women”s Murder Club have much to celebrate. Crime is down. The medical examiner”s office is quiet. Even the courts are showing some Christmas spirit. And the news cycle is so slow that journalist Cindy Thomas is on assignment to tell a story about the true meaning of the season for San Francisco.
Then a fearsome criminal known only as “Loman” seizes control of the headlines. Solving crimes never happens on schedule, but as this criminal mastermind unleashes credible threats by the hour, the month of December is upended for the Women”s Murder Club. Avoiding tragedy is the only holiday miracle they seek.
MURDER UNDER THE CHRISTMAS TREE: A collection of classic crime fiction
A locked room mystery solved with a flourish on Boxing Day.
Blackmail on Christmas Eve.
A missing jewel discovered in a very festive hiding place.
A body slumped in a chair on Christmas morning, still listening to carols.
The midnight theft of a gift intended for a saint.
Crime doesn’t take a holiday, so these – and many more – are the puzzles that make up Murder under the Christmas Tree, a collection of festive mysteries featuring fictional sleuths from Lord Peter Wimsey to Sherlock Holmes, Cadfael to Father Brown. This is the very best of Christmas murder and mayhem—so settle into your armchair, put another log on the fire and take a bite of your mince pie. Just make sure it’s not poisoned.
12 SLAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Jacqueline Frost
When Holly White’s fiancé cancels their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go, Holly heads home with a broken heart. Lucky for her, home in historic Mistletoe, Maine is magical during Christmastime—exactly what the doctor ordered. Except her plan to drown her troubles in peppermints and snickerdoodles is upended when local grinch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society Margaret Fenwick is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly’s family tree farm.
When the murder weapon is revealed as one of the wooden stakes used to identify trees on the farm, Sheriff Evan Grey turns to Holly’s father, Bud, and the Reindeer Games staff. And it doesn’t help that Bud and the reindeer keeper were each seen arguing with Margaret just before her death. But Holly knows her father and is determined to exonerate him.The jingle bells are ringing, the clock is ticking, and if Holly doesn’t watch out, she’ll end up on Santa’s naughty list in Twelve Slays of Christmas, Jacqueline Frost’s jolly series debut.
And there you have it. Quite the eclectic mix of murder, mystery, and Christmas mayhem and, eh, maybe a little romance too—ten choices to choose from, to read over the holidays and keep you out of mischief. And you, dear reader, what made your Top Ten Tuesday today?