Christmas – what I’ve been reading.

Christmas books

I wonder what you have been reading over the festive season? Have you enjoyed it? Do pop a comment below to let me know, it’s always good to hear recommendations. Or, perhaps you have read some of the books, short stories I’m sharing with you below. If so, what did you think of them?

I’ll be sharing my thoughts in a quick comment at the end of each section. Except for those indicated as free I have purchased all of the books mentioned.


This is a beautiful small volume of classic Christmas stories and as it’s only 50 pages long it will make a perfect little stocking filler that’s suitable for all age groups.

Book blurb

We like to confound expectations at Fahrenheit and we’re very grateful that so far you’ve always come with us, and so this year we’re dropping all the cool as shit, noir punk edginess and going straight up, unashamedly schmaltzy.

The five stories contained within this lovely little stocking filler are all classics and have been chosen by us because they’re our very favourite Christmas stories. 

  • The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde
  • The Elves And The Shoemaker by The Brothers Grimm
  • The Adventure Of The Blue Carbuncle by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Little Matchgirl by Hans Christian Anderson
  • The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry

We think these stories are the closest you can get to a Christmas hug in book form.

My thoughts: I loved reading these stories many I read as a child and they are as good, if not better, this time around. A lovely anthology for individual or family reading at Christmas.

Buy: We’re releasing it in both Paperback & Hardback (the hardback version especially is truly a thing of beauty) and stocks of both will be very limited.

Free from author/publisher

There are quite a lot of free books/stories being offered over the festive season. Generally they are offered to those who subscribe to an authors newsletter such as Sarah Ward’s short story, some come as publisher’s gifts to customers like the Fahrenheit Press offering (they also offer an ebook copy when purchasing a physical book) and then there are authors such as Margot Kinberg whose blog is well worth a visit for stories and more. Cath Barton is an author who not only has two excellent novellas published but also post stories on line for free and not only on her own website. It’s well worth checking out your favourite authors for these offers. It’s also a way of checking out new-to-you authors to see if you like their writing and might want to explore their books. Here are three Christmas stories I read…

Reminders For Christmas by Paul Steven Stone from Publisher: Fahrenheit Press

The Hungry Ghost by Cath Barton

The Midwinter Ghost by Sarah Ward

My thoughts: These three are cracking stories. Very quick reads so great for when you only have a few minutes to yourself. Nevertheless, they transport you to another place for a while which is often just what is needed.

Afraid of the Christmas Lights


Book blurb

A Christmas dinner takes a murderous turn, a friendship group loses the festive spirit, and a young girl goes to extreme measures to keep a beloved dog.

Afraid Of The Christmas Lights is a collection of gripping, sometimes funny, and always festive short stories from a group of bestselling crime writers.

From the hilarious to the macabre, there’s something for everyone – whether you’re a Christmas convert or a bit of a Grinch. From a detective tracking down missing Christmas geese, to a cat lady who goes on a date in order to keep Santa Paws well fed, this anthology is the perfect gift to cosy up with this year.

Contributors: Afraid Of The Christmas Lights is brought to you by eighteen bestselling crime and thriller writers who between them have topped the Sunday Times and Amazon charts, been Richard and Judy bestsellers, won the Crime Novel of the Year Award, the Bath Novel Award and the UK National Book Awards, had their work made into major television series and been published in over 50 territories worldwide:

Underneath the Mistletoe Last Night Mark Billingham | The Breadwinner Sophie Hannah | Bad Guy Kate Simants | An Unexpected Present Phoebe Morgan | Just Kids S.R. Masters | Especially at Christmas Adam Southward | The Bedminster Bird Burglaries T.E. Kinsey | Fresh Meat Elle Croft | Heavenly Peace Heather Critchlow | The Switch James Delargy | Secret Santa Jo Furniss | A Dog is for Life, Not Just for Christmas Robert Scragg | Driving Home for Christmas Rachael Blok | Smithereens Dominic Nolan | Missteps N.J. Mackay |The Vigilante Clare Empson | Hunted Victoria Selman | Bloody Christmas Harriet Tyce

Forward by Val McDermid

Profits from Afraid Of The Christmas Lights will support two front-line charities:

ESDAS: Educates professionals, communities, victims and even perpetrators on the nature of domestic abuse. They offer practical measures, such as legal advice and transport, to enable survivors to find a safe place to live.

Rights of Women: Helps women understand their legal rights and access a range of support services to which they are entitled

Buy: AmazonSmileUK

My thoughts: A wonderful set of short stories which you can dip into as and when or sit and read until the end. I read them in a couple of sessions. A pretty good standard throughout and some new-to-me authors I’ll be checking out for their lengthier offerings. The book supports two good causes which allows the reader a small opportunity to do some good whilst enjoying a terrific set of short stories to read.

The Burglars Christmas

First published in 1896, The Burglar’s Christmas is a short story by the great American writer Willa Cather. Set in Chicago on a cold Christmas Eve, the down-and-out Crawford learns the value of forgiveness.

In a nutshell, Three Peas is a small charity supporting people who have had to flee war and/or persecution and who are seeking refuge and/or asylum in Europe. They are mostly active in Greece. They financially support a housing programme on Lesvos, a community centre in Sindos near Thessaloniki, a sports centre in Athens and NGOs’ emergency interventions in Thessaloniki, Lesvos and Samos. As well as the above they regularly support food and medical care providers.

Buy: Reynard Press | instead of a Christmas card, why not send a book? 25% of the RRP goes to Three Peas.

My thoughts: A rather lovely short story set in a very cold, wintry Chicago it’s the 24th December and a down-on-his-luck homeless man – Crawford – decides he has only one way of surviving this brutally cold night. However, when he decides to commit burglary he gets more than he bargained for! Just right for reading on a dark wintry evening.

A SURPRISE FOR CHRISTMAS: And Other Seasonal Mysteries (British Library Crime Classics)

‘After all,’ said our host, ‘it’s Christmas. Why not let the cat out of the bag?’

Book blurb

A Postman murdered while delivering cards on Christmas morning. A Christmas pine growing over a forgotten homicide. A Yuletide heist gone horribly wrong. When there’s as much murder as magic in the air and the facts seem to point to the impossible, it’s up to the detective’s trained eye to unwrap the clues and neatly tie together an explanation (preferably with a bow on top).

Martin Edwards has once again gathered the best of these seasonal stories into a stellar anthology brimming with rare tales, fresh as fallen snow, and classics from the likes of Julian Symons, Margery Allingham, Anthony Gilbert and Cyril Hare. A most welcome surprise indeed, and perfect to be shared between super-sleuths by the fire on a cold winter’s night.

Buy: British Library shop| Paperback – 10 Oct. 2020

My thoughts: A great opportunity to read authors whose books are not all readily available or are from a period of writing not usually read. There is a good range of stories to enjoy – which I did!


Book blurb

The Queen of Crime Val McDermid is a master of the dark and sinister story, and these powers are demonstrated in full force in Christmas is Murder, a festive collection of chilling tales.

From an irresponsible baron whose body is discovered beneath a silver birch tree, to an author who is haunted by the spiteful presence of a jealous writing partner, the characters McDermid conjures are enigmatic and dangerous, never above suspicion.

Follow Tony Hill and Carol Jordan as they track a deadly killer who is preparing to strike on Christmas Day, and lose yourself in a festive exclusive – a recently unearthed case for a classic detective duo, set as the lights are going out across Europe.

These evocative, atmospheric tales will shock and delight. This is the perfect book to curl up with as the frosty winter draws in and each night gets darker than the last, written by one of our greatest living crime writers.

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN: 9780751581775
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 380 g
Dimensions: 222 x 144 x 28 mm

Buy: Waterstones |currently on sale for £5.00!

My thoughts: Well what can I say? As a fan of McDermid’s work anyway I suppose it’s no surprise to say that I loved this short story collection. Starting with a Tony Hill/Carol Jordan short it had me immediately gripped. Val McDermid is as polished a writer in her short stories as in her wonderful books. It looks good (that’s one gorgeous cover) and, by golly, it is good!

2020 hasn’t been an easy year for anyone and for some it has been truly horrible. Reading has been for many a great solace helping them through the uncertainty and hardship of this difficult year. I have loved reading all my life. It was especially a great help when going through treatment a couple of years ago. I couldn’t always concentrate but just when I needed to take my mind away from what was going on there it was. Since then my love of reading has provided me with a world filled with terrific books, lovely book people and some direction, a purpose in a sense, with this blog. Being able to share my love of books and, even if it’s just one person, bring the love of reading to others. So, whilst it was no surprise to me that many more people turned to books this year, it was delightful to know that they too were being comforted by all the wonderful stories we have available to us. Long may that element of this year continue. Finally, let me just wish you all – for what remains of it! – a festive season filled with joy, love and laughter. May 2021 bring a better, brighter, kinder, safer, healthier and happier time.

4 Comments on “Christmas – what I’ve been reading.

  1. Thank you so much for the kind mention! I appreciate it very much! And I’m glad you like what you find on the blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, Margot, especially as I do enjoy your short stories (and other posts) on your blog. May I reciprocate with thanks for your kind support of my blog? It’s lovely of you, thanks, Janet x

      Liked by 2 people


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