If you ask me, the winter season is the perfect time of the year to get cosy and comfortable, pick up a good book and escape reality for a few moments.
There’s nothing I love more than an afternoon sat beside a roaring fire, a cup of tea nearby and a book to devour. With so many wonderful books on offer, choosing just one has become quite difficult.
That’s why we’ve put together this top 10 list of the very best books, which you absolutely must pick up this winter.
It's That Time of Year by Roisin Meaney
It's the day before the wedding …
Three strangers arrive home to Ireland to the house that gave each of them refuge when they needed it most. They are there to celebrate the winter wedding of their beloved Annie, the woman who fostered them in their childhoods.
Now Julia is a world-famous singer living in luxury in Paris and Eddie is a chef in London, while Steph spends her days on a remote Greek island, running a writers' retreat with her older lover.
All three have moved on from the past, but as the wedding celebrations get underway, certain truths come to light. It turns out that some hurts last longer than others…
Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics By Dolly Parton
For over six decades, fans around the world have looked to Dolly’s songs for entertainment, inspiration, and comfort. Now, in Songteller, they can discover the personal stories behind the lyrics – in her own words – along with never-before-seen photographs and memorabilia, bringing Dolly’s fans closer to her work than ever before.
The Godmothers by Monica McInerney
Eliza Miller grew up in Australia as the only daughter of a troubled young mother, but with the constant support of her two watchful godmothers, Olivia and Maxie. Despite her tricky childhood, she always felt loved and secure. Until, just before her eighteenth birthday, a tragic event changed her life.
Thirteen years on, Eliza is deliberately living as safely as possible, avoiding close relationships and devoting herself to her job. Out of the blue, an enticing invitation from her godmothers, now both based in the UK, prompts a leap into the unknown.
Within a fortnight, Eliza has swapped her predictable routine in Melbourne, for life in the middle of a complicated family in Edinburgh. There's no such thing as an ordinary day any more. Yet, amidst the chaos, Eliza begins to blossom. She finds herself not only hopeful about the future, but ready to explore her past.
Her godmothers have long been waiting for her to ask about her mother's mysterious life – and about the identity of the father she has never known. But even they are taken by surprise with all that Eliza discovers.
The Long, Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper
Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time . . .
It's the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. At some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney, wife, mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind two terrified children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor.
While the Haney's neighbours get busy organising search parties, it is Ruby Wright, the family's 'help', who may hold the key to this unsettling mystery. Ruby knows more about the secrets behind Sunnylakes' starched curtains than anyone, and it isn't long before the detective in charge of the case wants her help. But what might it cost her to get involved? In these long hot summer afternoons, simmering with lies, mistrust and prejudice, it could only take one spark for this whole 'perfect' world to set alight . . .
A beguiling, deeply atmospheric debut novel from the cracked heart of the American Dream, The Long, Long Afternoon is at once a page-turning mystery and an intoxicating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are diminished, silenced and ultimately under-estimated.
The Stranger Times by C.K. McDonnell
A weekly newspaper dedicated to the weird and the wonderful (but mostly the weird), it is the go-to publication for the unexplained and inexplicable.
At least that's their pitch. The reality is rather less auspicious. Their editor is a drunken, foul-tempered and foul-mouthed husk of a man who thinks little of the publication he edits. His staff are a ragtag group of misfits. And as for the assistant editor . . . well, that job is a revolving door – and it has just revolved to reveal Hannah Willis, who's got problems of her own.
When tragedy strikes in her first week on the job The Stranger Times is forced to do some serious investigating. What they discover leads to a shocking realisation: some of the stories they'd previously dismissed as nonsense are in fact terrifyingly real. Soon they come face-to-face with darker forces than they could ever have imagined.
Speak Your Truth: Connecting with your inner truth and learning to find your voice by Fearne Cotton
Fearne Cotton's voice is familiar to millions, whether that's through television, radio or on her hugely successful Happy Place podcast. Her voice is her career, her livelihood and the way she communicates with her audience and her loved ones.
So, when Fearne's doctor told her she was at risk of needing a throat operation followed by two weeks of being unable to speak, she found herself facing a period of unexpected contemplation. As she considered what silence would mean, Fearne began to think about other times her voice had gone unheard – as a young woman, as 'just the talent', as the foil to louder, more dominant figures.
She found herself wondering, at what point do we internalise this message, and start silencing ourselves? When do we swallow down our authentic words to become pleasers and compromisers at the cost of our own happiness or wellbeing?
Speak Your Truth dives into all the ways we learn to stay quiet for the wrong reasons, and explores how to find your voice, assert yourself and speak out with confidence.
Rescue Me by Sarra Manning
After their first meeting at the rescue centre, both Margot and Will want to adopt Blossom so reluctantly agree to share custody. But Will's obsession for micro-managing and clear-cut boundaries and Margot's need to smother Blossom with affection, means that soon they have a very confused and badly behaved dog on their hands. Can they put their differences aside to become successful "co-pawrents" and maybe even friends? And meanwhile, does Blossom have plans of her own?
White Ivy by Susie Yang
Ivy Lin, a Chinese immigrant growing up in a low-income apartment complex outside Boston, is desperate to assimilate with her American peers. Her parents disapprove, berating her for her mediocre grades and what they see as her lazy, entitled attitude. But Ivy has a secret weapon, her grandmother Meifeng, from whom she learns to shoplift to get the things she needs to fit in. Ivy develops a taste for winning and for wealth.
As an adult, she reconnects with the blond-haired golden boy of a prominent political family, and thinks it's fate. But just as Ivy is about to have everything she's ever wanted, a ghost from her past resurfaces, threatening the almost-perfect life she's worked so hard to build.
Filled with surprising twists, and offering sharp insights into the immigrant experience, White Ivy is both a love triangle and a coming-of-age story — as well as a dark glimpse at what can happen when we yearn for success at any cost.
Shiver by Allie Reynolds
When Milla is invited to a reunion in the French Alps resort that saw the peak of her snowboarding career, she drops everything to go. While she would rather forget the events of that winter, the invitation comes from Curtis, the one person she can't seem to let go. The five friends haven't seen each other for ten years, since the disappearance of the beautiful and enigmatic Saskia.
But when an icebreaker game turns menacing, they realise they don't know who has really gathered them there and how far they will go to find the truth. In a deserted lodge high up a mountain, the secrets of the past are about to come to light.
Cook, eat, repeat: Ingredients, recipes and stories by Nigella Lawson
Cook, Eat, Repeat is a delicious and delightful combination of recipes intertwined with narrative essays about food, all written in Nigella's engaging and insightful prose. Whether asking 'What is a Recipe?' or declaring death to the Guilty Pleasure, Nigella's wisdom about food and life comes to the fore, with tasty new recipes that readers will want to return to again and again.
'The recipes I write come from my life, my home', says Nigella, and in this book she shares the rhythms and rituals of her kitchen through over 150 new recipes that make the most of her favourite ingredients. Dedicated chapters include 'A is for Anchovy' (a celebration of the bacon of the sea), 'Rhubarb', 'A Loving Defence of Brown Food', a suitably expansive chapter devoted to family dinners, plus inspiration for vegan feasts, solo suppers and new ideas for Christmas.