ShortBookandScribes Reading for the 2023 Festive Season #FestiveReads #ChristmasReads

Christmas is now only one week away (what?!). I don’t always manage to find slots for festive reads but this year I’m hoping to read a few. I thought I’d share some of my options with you.

One December Day by Rachel Marks


Luke loves Christmas. He loves the woolly scarves, the mulled wine, the music, the snow. But he’s beginning to ask: what good is it, if you have no one to share it with?

Laura doesn’t think there’s anything magical about December. She’d never normally be seen dead with a man in a Christmas jumper. But, at a crowded gig this winter’s evening, has she found her soulmate in handsome, funny frontman, Luke?

Under the lights, something magical begins. But will Luke and Laura still feel the same on this day next December? And the one after that?

Finding love at Christmas is special. But is staying in love – year after year, through the joy and heartbreak – the real miracle?

Luke and Laura are about to find out. One December day at a time…

I’m a big fan of this author so reading this book was a must. I enjoyed the story which follows a couple and where they are in their relationship on the same day each year over the course of fifteen years.


It Always Snows on Mistletoe Square by Ali McNamara


Wanted: experienced writer to record the history of one house and its family.
Bed and board provided, the successful applicant must love Christmas.

Elle is rudderless, jobless and she’s soon to be homeless. When she spies an advert that looks like it could answer all her problems, she’s devastated to see one huge catch: Elle definitely does not love Christmas.

On Mistletoe Square, an eccentric elderly woman and her unconventional housekeeper have an enormous Christmas tree and a box of delicate decorations collected over what must be centuries. With each decoration comes a story and with each story a breath-taking glimpse of a Christmas past.

One Christmas at a time, the house’s history is brought vividly to life for Elle. But the more she sees of the family’s past, the more she wonders where and how their story might end. And what of her own story? Is it possible that what felt like an ending might have been leading her here . . . to a new beginning? 

Bestselling author and reader favourite, Ali McNamara, is giving her readers just what’s on their Christmas list. The perfect read for fans of Heidi Swain, Philippa Ashley and Sarah Morgan.

Curl up with this magical winter warmer . . .

I’m reading this one at the moment and it’s so lovely. I just could not resist a story about a writer recording the history of one house and its family.


A Recipe for Happiness and Other Stories by Jo Thomas

Curl up with this delicious collection of bite-sized treats from the queen of feel-good fiction!

 Recipe for Happiness takes you through a year with No.1 bestselling author Jo Thomas and includes seven heartwarming short stories, tons of mouth-watering new recipes and some personal family memories for an insight into Jo’s life and loves, along with an extract of her most recent novel. It’s perfect for fans old and new!

I’m dipping into this collection of short stories and food memories at the moment and it’s a delight, full of everything I love about this author’s full length books.


A Winter in New York by Josie Silver

Where better to start again than New York?

Iris arrives in the city of dreams, intent on restarting her culinary career, and leaving her recent heartache behind.

Wandering the streets at a famous food festival, Iris feels like she’s living in a movie. Then she stumbles upon a gelateria that looks strangely familiar. Inside, she meets Gio: a perfect leading man with an irresistible smile – and a crisis of his own.

As fate would have it, Iris is the one person with the answer to his problem. She just can’t tell him that . . .

So, can Iris finally let go of the past – and let herself fall in love?

A sumptuously cosy seasonal love story set in sparkling New York, from the queen of the ‘what if?’ romance Josie Silver.

Billed as a wintery romance, this love story featuring a gelateria sounds like perfection.


That Festive Feeling by Heidi Swain

Holly has the place to herself this Christmas. It’s not her place, though – she is house-sitting for friends who live on Nightingale Square – just there to keep the place warm and cosy and only for long enough for her to sort her life out. Newly single and finding herself unsure about next steps for her career, she plans to hunker down and make some life decisions.

To clear her mind, she sets off on early morning walks around a nearby lake and bumps into May, an older lady who is also new to the area, and her dapper Dachshund Monty. Quickly, a firm friendship blossoms. Then when Holly meets Bear, a rather large and rather attractive man, at the local pub, and his rescue dog Queenie, her stay at Nightingale Square suddenly feels even more appealing.

As the community comes together for the season’s festivities, Holly must start thinking about where her life will take her next. Some big decisions need to be made, but distractions close to home make thinking about the future more tricky than ever…

Will she get that festive feeling this Christmas…?

I’m relatively new to this author but I’ve loved her last two books and feel sure I will love all her others. This one returns to Nightingale Square and has a really appealing sense of community spirit to the storyline.


A Midwinter’s Tail by Lili Hayward

A town in need.
An extraordinary cat.
A season for miracles…

It’s nearly Christmas and committed Londoner, Mina Kestle, is close to signing a deal that will make her career and give her everything she’s ever wanted. And then she receives a mysterious letter in the post along with an ancient key, sent by her long-estranged godfather . . .

Davy Penhallow is an artist who lives on the tiny Cornish island of Morgelyn with only his pet cat, Murr, for company. Mina hasn’t seen or heard from him in decades, but now it seems he wants her to look after his cottage – and his cat – while he recovers from a stroke in hospital. Mina doesn’t know why Davy has written after all these years, but she intends to do what’s right: sort out the cottage and the cat and then get back to London in time for her career-saving meeting, before everything she’s built comes crashing down around her.

But the more time Mina spends in the cottage, looking after Murr and remembering the magic of Cornish folklore, the harder it becomes for her to tear herself away. And when she discovers that a set of ruthless property developers are coming for Morgelyn, she realises she might be the only one who can stand in their way to save the island, Davy’s cottage and Murr’s home.

As Christmas draws ever closer and echoes of the past – her own and the island’s – wash up in her memory, Mina begins to unravel a generation of secrets… and discover what it is she has truly always wanted . . .

The perfect magical read to cosy up with on chilly winter nights…

Lili Hayward is also known as Laura Madeleine, whose book, An Echo of Scandal I read and loved in 2019. A Midwinter’s Tail sounds beautiful and magical.


Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson

Everybody loves a Christmas story. The tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas is a tradition of celebration, sharing and giving. And what better way to do that than with a story?

Read these stories by the fire, in the snow, travelling home for the holidays. Give them to friends, wrap them up for someone you love, read them aloud, read them alone, read them together. Enjoy the season of peace and goodwill, mystery, and a little bit of magic.

There are ghosts here and jovial spirits. Chances at love and tricks with time.

There is frost and icicles, mistletoe and sledges. There’s a cat and a dog and a solid silver frog. There’s a Christmas cracker with a surprising gift inside.

There’s a haunted house and a SnowMama. There are Yuletides and holly wreaths. Three Kings. And a merry little Christmas time.

And for the icing on the Christmas cake, there are twelve festive recipes from Yuletides past and present. Red cabbage, gravlax, turkey biryani, sherry trifle, Mrs Winterson’s mince pies and more.

I read this one back in 2016 and found it utterly delightful. It’s a combination of short stories and festive recipes, and is a gorgeous read.


And So This is Christmas: 51 Seasonally Adjusted Poems by Brian Bilston

It’s that time of year again . . .

With his signature wit, Brian Bilston returns with And So This is Christmas, fifty-one poems in celebration of the festive season: from bizarre family traditions to the office Christmas party; from voting day for turkeys to the impossible art of gift-giving.

So hang your stockings, grab your mistletoe and curl up with this heart-warming collection of Christmas crackers.

I’m sure most people have come across Brian Bilston’s witty and clever poems. They never fail to make me smile and I’ll be dipping into this collection over the next week.


Lanterns Across the Snow by Susan Hill

An account of a country childhood in Wessex a hundred years ago. Evoking the delights and surprises of Christmas and the mood of the countryside in the bleak mid-winter, this is a nostalgic and lyrical story.

I bought this clothbound, slipcase edition of the book about fifteen years ago and I’m sure I would have read it then, but I came across it a few weeks ago and earmarked it for another read this Christmas. It’s a short read and as the sections are divided into Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day, I’m going to read each section on the corresponding day.


I’ve also read three other Christmassy books, all of which I loved:

Countdown to Christmas by Jo Thomas

Winter’s Wishfall by Ceri Houlbrook

The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett


What will you be reading over the festive season? I’d love to know.


Please leave a comment - I love to read them!

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