1. I'll Be Home For Christmas (Various, published by Stripes) - Stunning collection (I'm halfway through, but there's already enough wonderful stories to recommend it strongly) of stories on the theme of home from an amazing line-up of authors - including Non Pratt, Holly Bourne and Juno Dawson! I'm super-excited to have tickets for the YA Salon celebrating this book next week (Wednesday Dec 7th at Waterstones Gower Street if anyone wants to join us!) Also, the book is supporting homelessness charity Crisis so you can feel extra good about yourself when asking for it.
2. Winter Magic (Various, curated by Abi Elphinstone and published by Simon & Schuster) - Another brilliant collection - again I've only read some stories as I'm savouring it, but the combination of great ones I've read (Amy Alward's Potion Diaries spin-off rocks!) and awesome authors to look forward to (including Abi and Katherine Woodfine!) make me really happy to recommend it.
3. The Good Immigrant (Various, edited by Nikesh Shukla, published by Unbound) - Yet another that I'm midway through, but I adore what I've read - especially my friend Wei Ming Kam's piece - and it's being celebrated by EVERYONE I know who's read it as a stunning collection of essays from BAME writers. Plus, if you somehow missed it, it won the Reader's Choice award at last week's Books Are My Bag Awards - a huge sign of quality!
4. The Snow Spider (Jenny Nimmo, published by Egmont) - I love Egmont's gorgeous new edition of one of my favourite childhood reads. This winter story works beautifully as an adventure, but also (I have to admit I didn't pick up on this as a child) as an incredible study of a family's grief after their daughter's disappearance.
5. The Dark Is Rising (Susan Cooper, published by Red Fox) - You should absolutely buy the entire stunning 5 book series - another classic childhood favourite of mine - but the title book (strangely the second in the sequence) DEMANDS to be read at Christmas as Midwinter's Eve plays such an important part in the book. (It also CAN be read before book 1, Over Sea Under Stone, without any spoilers.)
6. The Last Of The Spirits (Chris Priestley, published by Bloomsbury) - I think nearly everyone is familiar with A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, but this outstanding twist on the story - showing the trials of two homeless children who beg Scrooge for charity and are turned down - is a brilliantly layered companion read.
7. The Lie Tree (Frances Hardinge, illustrated by Chris Riddell, published by Macmillan) - Like The Good Immigrant, not Christmas themed but still a perfect gift. The Costa-winning The Lie Tree was already one of my favourite books of the last few years - a feminist classic of historical fantasy, showing an outstanding heroine as she tries to solve the mystery of her father's death. Adding illustrations from the phenomenal Chris Riddell makes it even more of a must-buy.
8. Mistletoe and Murder (Robin Stevens, published by Puffin) - As with The Dark Is Rising, this is a must-read series - the Detective Society of Daisy Wells and narrator Hazel Wong are one of my favourite crime-solving teams! I actually wouldn't recommend reading out of order because seeing the two girls' friendship develop is a big part of what makes the series so special, but they are the type of cozy mysteries that would be perfect for binge-reading, so why not just ask for all 5 and devour them as quickly as possible?
9. And A Happy New Year...? (Holly Bourne, published by Usborne) - Like Robin Stevens, Holly Bourne has created a group of friends - in her case a trio - who will go down as one of my all-time favourite sets of fictional characters. Also like Robin Stevens's series, this novella really does depend on you having read the previous 3 books to have the full emotional impact - it left me crying - but if you haven't already you DEFINITELY should, because they're an outstanding series which tackle tough issues like OCD and people's reactions to vocal feminism with great warmth and heart (as well as justifiable anger!)
10. Unboxed (Non Pratt, published by Barrington Stoke) - My third non-holiday related pick, but again there's a good reason. For me Christmas is about family, friends, and remembering people you miss. After initially expecting to have to wait until 2017 for a new Non Pratt book, I was exceptionally excited to hear we were getting her first Barrington Stoke book this year and it surpassed my high expectations. The story of four former friends meeting together to open up a memory box they'd hidden five years ago - along with a fifth friend who has recently passed away - brought me to tears; Non can pack more emotion and character development into a relatively short book than many authors can into a much longer novel. Read it, call someone you miss, and tell them how you feel.