For the last installment of this year’s gift guides, I opted for lists of books. Whether you have fiction lovers, science fiction fanatics, or avid readers who need series, this is the list for you. Oh and an extensive list of great cookbooks to give everyone on your list – new couples, meal-preppers, craft beer lovers, and everyday cooks who just love cookbooks. This is the ultimate book gift guide!
BEST FICTION BOOKS TO GIVE
THE PARIS ARCHITECT by CHARLES BELFOURE:: Set in WWII occupied-Paris, Lucien Bernard is an architect who just hasn’t had his big break yet. He’s offered a great opportunity to show his skill and earn great money. The catch? He has to design a hiding place for Jews in a home where the SS and Gestapo won’t be able to find them. The pay is great; The risk of getting caught is greater. Read my full review here.
A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by AMOR TOWLES:: Confined to the walls of a historic, grand hotel in Moscow, Count Rostov makes the best of his friends, his encounters, and his jovial attitude. The story covers decades of Russian political history all while discussing the somehow exciting yet familiar happenings of the Count’s life in the hotel. You hate his enemies, love his friends (big and small), and feel as though you’ve moved into the hotel, understanding its outward appearance all while knowing the backways between rooms, restaurants, and relatively obscure hideaways! Every time I picked the book up, I didn’t want to put it down.
NINE COACHES WAITING by MARY STEWART :: Linda, a governess in a French château believes there is a plot against Philippe, her young charge’s life. Philippe’s uncle is charming yet dynamic and arrogant. He moves noiselessly in his wheelchair from room to room. An accident far into the woods nearly kills Philippe and she begins to wonder if someone has fatal plans.
THE TEA PLANTER’S WIFE by DINAH JEFFRIES :: An Englishwoman in the 1920s moves to Ceylon after marrying a rich tea planter. As she adjusts to her new life so far away from everything she knows, she becomes pregnant only to give birth to one white and one black child. Afraid of the consequences, she gives away the dark -skinned child for fear they both will lose their lives. As the story unfolds, she searches for the answer to her mystery while seeking to save her lost child’s life from the ruins of poverty. The ending will surprise you!
THE HISTORIAN by ELIZABETH KOSTOVA :: A young woman discovers letters and histories unfolding in her family’s records of Vlad the Impaler, inspiration for the Count of Dracula. The story crosses borders and time periods as she pieces together the truth, trying to figure out if this character really existed in history and if, by chance, his legacy continues into the modern world!
BEST SCIENCE FICTION BOOKS TO GIVE
SPINNING SILVER by NAOMI NOVIK :: A gorgeously written fantasy novel based in eastern European myths. Miryem seeks to save her family by earning the money they deserve. She’s successful and soon finds herself involved in a scheme intersecting royalty and civilian, human and non-human alike. Read this in the depths of winter.
PACKING FOR MARS by MARY ROACH :: Not exactly fictional, this read answers all those questions we have about space travel. What’s humanly possible? What does it take to survive in space? What happens to all your physical and emotional functions when you can’t use/do many of them for months or years at a time? Roach answers each of these questions in this fascinating tome of life outside of our atmosphere.
JADE CITY by FONDA LEE :: If you want a beautifully realised society that feels like it must be real, this is the book for you. Honorable warrior families mine jade to energize their powers to protect their beloved island. Changing times being different standards, different goals, and outsiders. Clan wars erupt and the fate of the island depends on the outcome. Mesmerising characters and a swiftly moving plot.
SPACE OPERA by CATHRYNNE VALENTE :: Eurovision in space pretty much says it all; this is a Science Fiction novel firmly in the tradition of Douglas Adams. A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart. It’s time for the great galactic civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix—think gladiatorial contest, beauty pageant, concert extravaganza, and a battle of the species. Species far and wide compete in feats of song, dance, and/or whatever they have to show. If you fail, you face extermination for your entire species. This year humankind gets involved. While they expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of aliens, they have instead found glitter, lipstick, and electric guitars. We’ll see who wins this new era of interglobal relations.
THE POPPY WAR by R.F. KUANG :: The first in a new series, Kuang draws on her background as a history graduate student to spin a new fantasy series based on early 20th century China. A young, servant somehow gets into the most elite military school. She leaves behind her life of servitude only to face bullying and a new kind of torment. She realizes she has shamanic powers just in time to discover that invasions are coming their way. This is a devastating page turner.
BEST BOOK SERIES TO GIVE
DOYLE & ACTON MYSTERIES by ANNE CLEELAND :: Doyle, a fiery Irish lass with a sixth sense to tell if people are lying, and Lord Acton, her seemingly perfect husband and the top detective in Scotland Yard, work through their seemingly mismatched love and marriage while solving murders in London. Doyle’s sure Acton is involved in the underground arms trade and wants to protect him while chiding his illegal behavior. Doyle’s trying to work her way up the ranks of the detectives in the department all while putting her foot in her mouth on the regular and unintentionally getting involved in crimes and heists seemingly pointed at her husband!
GASLIGHT MYSTERIES by VICTORIA THOMPSON :: Set in 1890s New York City, Sarah Brandt, a widowed midwife from one of the most prominent families of the city, crosses paths with Frank Malloy, a widowed, Irish policeman. With each mystery, Malloy seeks to earn his money and move up the ranks in the department to care for his son and mother. Much to his chagrin, however, he continues to need the assistance of Sarah. A mismatched pair by all social standards, the two walk a fine line between finding justice, saving lives, and unintentionally falling in love with one another.
THE EXPANSE by JAMES S.A. COREY – Humans have colonized the solar system. Two hundred years later, mankind is in turmoil. The story of a missing girl and finding the truth brings the solar system to the brink of civil war and exposes the greatest conspiracy in human history. Begin with Leviathan Wakes and you’ll have hours of enjoyment ahead of you – there will be nine novels in total, and seven have already been published, so it’s the right time to get started!