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Book Reviews: December 2023

December 1st, 2023
Options for some 'me time' reading...
The Winter Spirits, Ghostly Tales for Frosty Nights
£16.99, Sphere, hardback

A spine-tingling collection of twelve new ghostly stories by celebrated gothic & historical fiction authors including Jess Kidd, Stuart Turton, Bridget Collins, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, and Natasha Pulley. Every story is set around Christmas or the Advent, with atmospheric settings including a haunted Tuscan villa, a remote Scottish island with a dark secret, and an accursed play…Light the fire, pull a blanket over your knees, and prepare to be chilled to the bone!

The Future by Naomi Alderman
Fourth Estate £20 hardback

The new novel from the Women's Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Power - if you liked The Power, you’ll LOVE this one! A compelling, well-written thriller in which tech billionaires hole up in their bunkers as the world crumbles... and the resistance movement in the form of feisty Chinese lesbian survivalist Lai Zhen & her cohorts try to avert catastrophe. Twisty, plausible and prescient cli-fi.

And So This Is Christmas, 51 Seasonally-Adjusted Poems by Brian Bilston
Macmillan £12.99, hardback

Yes! A new collection of poems for the festive season from the warmly witty Brian Bilston, a firm favourite at the Steyning Bookshop. From bizarre family traditions to the office Christmas party, from voting day for turkeys to the agonising art of gift-giving, no element of Christmas is left unobserved. Pithy and hilarious!

Roast Figs & Sugar Snow by Diana Henry
Octopus, £22 hardback
I’m obsessed by food writer Diana Henry’s recipes - she truly is the heart and soul of oven-based, winter cooking! A welcome return to print for this cookery classic, revised and refreshed with 8 new recipes and a foreword by Nigel Slater. Full of comforting dishes from the world’s colder climates, celebrating seasonal ingredients like pumpkins, game, smoked fish, and warming spices, this is an essential tome for every kitchen and a wonderful gift for any keen cook!

How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? By Mac Barnett
Walker Books hardback £12.99

The award-winning duo of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen tackle a perennial question: how does Santa go down the chimney? When Santa arrives at a child's house on Christmas Eve, does he go down the chimney feetfirst or headfirst? What if he gets stuck? What if there's no chimney? Maybe he slides under the door, as thin as a piece of paper? Or is it possible he pours himself through the tap? What happens once he's inside? Deadpan humour with hilarious illustrations.

Santa’s Marvellous Mechanical Workshop by Vashti Hardy
Scholastic Books, paperback £7.99

We LOVE local author Vashti Hardy’s inventive fantasy novels, most famously the Brightstorm Chronicles, which are full of steam-punky gadgets and feisty female explorers and engineers. This festive story is her picture book debut, deliciously illustrated by Katie Cottle. Budding engineer Lily is missing her old house, it doesn’t feel like Christmas, being surrounded by boxes ... but then she is whisked away to Santa’s Marvellous Mechanical Workshop to help the elfbots repurpose old toys into new... A celebration of creativity and upcycling! Come and meet Vashti and get a signed copy on Sunday 3rd December!

Tis the season: A Lift-the-Flap Advent Calendar Full of Christmas Poems by Richard Jones
Nosy Crow Books, £19.99

A really cute idea, this concertina-style pull-out book acts as an advent calendar, with a festive poem and a flap to peek under for every day of Advent, culminating in a big Christmas Tree flap at the end! Peek inside the windows of the house to find a family wrapping presents, take a look behind a holly bush to find a little mouse and see what's happening in the town behind a glittering Christmas tree! Includes well-loved poems by Ogden Nash, Nikki Giovanni, John Agard and Christina Rossetti. A lovely family gift!
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