Winter is fast approaching, and since we have a while to go in lockdown before enjoying a Christmas break enjoying mince pies, mulled wine and turkey, it means plenty of downtime to settle in with some reading. Whether you love fiction, cooking or challenging yourself by learning something new, we have you covered with our top picks...
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Top fiction to try
The Duke and I - Julia Quinn
Bridgerton is the much-anticipated period drama due to be released on Netflix on Christmas Day, so why not try out the much-loved book series first?
The Thursday Murder Club - Richard Osman
Richard Osman's bestselling murder mystery novel is a charming adventure as a group of OAPs get together to get to the bottom of a cold case, and we can already see it being adapted for a Christmas special come 2021. Watch this space!
Hamnet - Maggie O'Farrell
Hamnet is a retelling of the tragic death of William Shakespeare's only son as a child - and the repercussions that follow after he died from the plague. Perfect for any Shakespeare fan but be sure to have some tissues at the ready.
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
Love a Greek myth? This brilliant novel focuses on the women of Greek tragedies, from the women of Troy forced into slavery after the Greeks destroyed their city, to the goddesses who played a part in devastating thousands of mortal lives.
Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz
A genius mystery within a mystery which is perfect for any book lovers and murder mystery fans. Susan Ryeland returns to investigate yet another mystery where the truth appears to lie in an Atticus Pund novel, which she once used to edit.
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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Fancy a modern gothic novel? This brilliant 2020 novel follows a woman who visits her cousin after receiving a letter from her claiming that her husband is trying to murder her.
Firewatching - Russ Thomas
After an 'incident', Detective Sergeant Adam Tyler needs to have a successful case. So when a body is found and he realises that he has a connection to the case that compromises him, he pushes it to one side to get to the bottom of the crime.
Pine - Francine Toon
The synopsis for this bestselling crime thriller begins: "Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she's gone." So whatever happened to her? There's only one way to find out...
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Olive by Emma Gannon
This brilliant story follows Olive, a woman who begins to question her life choices as her friends' begin to tie the knot and start having children. A tale of navigating being an adult while facing major milestone decisions, it is a must-read!
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Nora Seed decides to change her life after finding herself in the Midnight Library. But while she redos old regrets, things don't quite work out the way that she'd imagined. This is just the sort of magical and touching sort of novel you'd expect from the genius that is Matt, and the perfect pressie for any book lover this Christmas.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
If you haven't read Delia Owens' bestseller, Where the Crawdads Sing, you need to get on it! The novel, set in the sixties, revolves around sensitive and intelligent Kya Clark, or 'Marsh Girl' as the locals of her nearest North Carolina town disparagingly call her. Kya keeps to herself and lives alone in the marshes, making friends with her fellow natural inhabitants. But as she grows up, the time comes when two local men become intrigued by her beauty and behaviour. She opens her heart to young love, but when one of her lovers is found dead, Kya becomes the prime suspect. The book is being turned into a movie, starring none other than Normal People's Daisy Edgar Jones as Kya, and will be produced by Reese Witherspoon. Filming has yet to commence, but we literally cannot wait for its release!
Non-fiction books that everyone is talking about right now
Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other - Sam Heughan, Graham McTavish
Sam and Graham really took their roles in Outlander and ran with them! The pair have developed a fascination for Scotland and the Highland culture, and take an epic road trip around their homeland which is told in this travel tale perfect for any history (or Outlander) lover.
Women Don't Owe You Pretty - Florence Given
Florence's brilliant book looks at the feminist conversation and is called an "accessible leap into feminism" for anyone who wants to know more. The synopsis reads: "In a world that tells women we're either not enough or too much, it's time we stop directing our anger and insecurities onto ourselves, and start fighting back to re-shape the toxic structures of our patriarchal society."
Top cookbooks for foodie fanatics
Dishoom: From Bombay with Love
Dishoom is the ultimate cookbook based on the famous restaurant, giving you the chance to create some gorgeous restaurant-worthy Indian dishes from your very own kitchen.
SIP: 100 Gin Cocktails with Only 3 Ingredients
This one is for Gin lovers! SIP features 100 simple cocktails each using just three ingredients, showing that with a bottle of Sipsmith London Dry Gin, cocktails don't need to be complicated to taste uncompromisingly delicious. The book also includes an array of tips and techniques from the skilled and passionate Sipsmith team to make Christmas cocktail making simple and enable gin lovers to be the best hosts at home this Christmas.
The Roasting Tin: Around the World - Rukmini Iyer
Want nutritious, varied dishes but hate cooking? This popular instalment of the Roasting Tin series plenty of meals that are not only super easy to make, but also hail from popular recipes around the world, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Russia, and India. So long as you have a roasting tin, you will be able to take away some top dinner ideas!
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