By Terri Schlichenmeyer
Last January, you loaded up.
You loaded up on all the left-over, on-sale, clearance-priced Christmas wrapping paper you could lay your hands on. You bought Hanukkah bags, Santa wrap, gifty things with poinsettias and reindeer and holly and you put it all away because you knew darn well that you’d use it in due time.
Well, now’s the time.
You got the paper out. You just need to find things to use it with.
But sometimes, it’s hard to find just the right thing for everybody on your list, isn’t it? There’s always somebody who’s impossible to buy for… and that’s when you should head to the bookstore to look for these great reads….
Set in Minnesota as the last century began, “The Lighthouse Road” by Peter Geye is a book about homesickness, love, survival, and life the way our ancestors lived. This novel is set in the winter, and is so evocative that you’ll want an extra blanket when you take it by the fireplace. And speaking of snow, here’s another cold-weather novel to give: “The Vanishing Act” by Mette Jakobsen. It’s the story of a father and daughter who live on a snow-covered island. When a dead boy washes up on the shore one day, the young girl tries to learn the truth about him and about her mother’s death.
So your giftee loves his (or her) cell phone above all else? Then wrap up “Hidden Things” by Doyce Testerman. When a mysterious text message arrives from her best friend, a woman wonders what he’s talking about… and then the police arrive. Her BFF is dead. So how did he leave her a message an hour before he died? (I’m not telling. Give the book). Another book about friendship and dastardly secrets is “The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.” by Nichole Bernier. It’s the story of a journal found when a woman dies, and the realization of the woman’s best friend that she never knew the woman at all…
Novel lovers will be so happy when they unwrap “Motherland” by Amy Sohn! This is a book about five mothers and fathers in various places around New York City, and how they deal with modern marriage and relationships. This book is perfect when teamed with a new mug and a box of hot cocoa… Another book novel lovers will eat up is “One Last Thing Before I Go” by Jonathan Tropper, which is the story of one man’s last days and his attempt to fix what’s broken before he’s gone.
Is someone on your list bereft because there’s no new Twilight book this season? Fear not, and wrap up “Dark Frost” by Jennifer Estep. This book – the next in the Mythos Academy series – is dark, mysterious, and romantic, and it’s just the thing for your favorite undead novel-lover. Another book to try is “The Taken” by Vicki Pettersson. That’s a mystery set between mortal and immortal worlds, where whodunit might be more like WHATdunit.
What would your giftee do if she knew the future? Would she know that you wrapped up “The Lost Prince” by Selden Edwards for her? This is the story of a woman who believes that she knows every historical event that will happen for the rest of her life. So will she let things happen, or will she try to change the way events unfold?
You know how much your friends love to read. So why not wrap up “Heft” by Liz Moore? This is a novel about an unlikely friendship between a 550-pound man and a 17-year-old kid who is living a life he never expected. Give it to your friend – then borrow it back. Another book about a friendship – this one, not what it seems – is “Man in the Blue Moon” by Michael Morris. It’s the story of a single mother who befriends a banker who offers to help, but he’s no help at all…
Somewhere on your list is a person who loves street lit. That’s the person who wants to see“Murderville: The Epidemic” by Ashley & JaQuavis beneath the tree. This is a shoot-em-up thriller about gangstas, girls, and grit but beware: this ain’t Grandma’s murder mystery! Another book to try is “You Get What You Play For” by Jeff Farley. That’s the story of a Brooklyn girl with dreams, and what happens when she gives them up for the love of a boy who’s wrong for her.
If your giftee can’t get enough of the Undead, then you can’t go wrong with “Zombie: A Novel” by J.R. Angelella. It’s the story of a boy who’s obsessed with zombies, watching as many of those kinds of movies as he can. It serves him well when something mysteriously happens to his father. Wrap it up with a nightlight.
Your giftee has seen “The Godfather” so many times, you lost count. So this year, wrap up “The Family Corleone” by Ed Falco, based on a screenplay by Mario Puzo. This prequel to “The Godfather” doesn’t sleep with the fishes. It’s really something they can’t refuse (sorry. I couldn’t resist). Another family-type novel, this one of a different kind of edgy, is “The Lola Quartet” by Emily St. John Mandel. This is the story of a man who tries to find the child he recently learned he had, for himself and to save her life.
Definitely for a grown-up to unwrap, “The Water Children” by Anne Berry is the story of four children, each touched by tragedy and water, and how they come together to survive and heal. I also liked “Austin and Emily” by Frank Turner Hollon, the story of a 347-pound man, his stripper girlfriend, a car filled with cats, and their cross-country trip together in search of happiness.
You already know your giftee is a mystery fan. You know you want to wrap up a mystery for her to wrap up. So why not give “Someone Bad and Something Blue” by Miranda Parker? The main character in this novel is a gritty single mom / bail recovery agent / PI sleuth, which pretty much tells you that this is a good gift, doesn’t it? Another mysterious read I think your giftee will like is “Accelerated” by Bronwen Hruska. It’s the story of a father, a son, and the boy’s not-quite-right private school that should have his best interests in mind – or not?
Romance readers will love the Civil War novel “Blue Asylum” by Kathy Hepinstall. It’s the story of a Virginia plantation wife who’s committed to an asylum and falls in love there. She has a chance to escape… but will she go without her beloved? Another romance to try is “Heaven Should Fall” by Rebecca Coleman. It’s the story of love and tragedy, an unexpected baby and a woman’s sacrifice. Another book for the Civil War fan is “Wilderness” by Lance Weller. It’s the story of an elderly man who moved to the wilderness after the Civil War, but at the end of his life, must undertake a journey that won’t be easy…
Another historical novel to give is “Illuminations” by Mary Sharratt. Based on the life of Hildegard von Bingen, this novel-based-on-fact will delight anyone who’s a fan of this Medieval healer.
If you’re looking for something small, perhaps for a stocking-stuffer, then look for “Big Ray” by Michael Kimball. It’s a skinny novel about a man’s love for his dead father, despite that the father was less-than-loving when the man was younger. Yes, this is a small novel but it’s big on emotion.
No doubt your giftee is someone who takes his (or her!) reading seriously, so how about some seriously great books? Look for “Creole Belle” by James Lee Burke, for instance. It’s the latest in the Dave Robicheaux series but this time, Dave is laying in the hospital. When he’s visited by a woman who supposedly disappeared weeks ago, it’s another mystery for him to solve… if he can. You might also want to wrap up “Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures” by Emma Straub, a debut novel about a small-town girl who makes it big in the Big City. But fame isn’t cheap, and it isn’t free – it comes with a price, which may mean losing her very identity.
If your giftee loves great big novels, both in page count and in story line, then you’ll want to give her “Televenge” by Pamela King Cable. This is a novel about a woman who was a victim of the times in which she was raised, and what she does when her dreams are snatched away from her.
So there you are. A bunch of ideas for everybody whose name on your gift list makes you groan. What will you buy? Now you know.
Keep in mind that availability isn’t guaranteed, titles may have changed, and some books might have to be ordered. But if these ideas aren’t good enough, then ask your friendly bookseller for hints, tips, and favorites. They love to talk books – it’s why they get paid the big bucks, you know.
So go. Get outta here. Go shopping.
And Season’s Readings!