There is something magical about a present. The way the wrapping paper hugs the curves of the object it conceals, and the concisely orchestrated bow hides a groove that could possibly reveal too much. It’s very similar to how the jacket of a book only hints at the art that lurks inside. Stories are the most timeless, filling gift I know. They offer instant gratification, a free vacation to an unchartered destination, and a gaggle of new friends to celebrate.
This year, the top five stories I hope will make their way into your home this holiday season are:
- OF LOVE AND EVIL by Anne Rice. Rice brings readers a flawed, honest protagonist, and a novel that expertly explores the themes of fellowship, faith and becoming more than we were. Toby O’Dare proves that it’s never too late to tap into the person we strive to be, and become that person. In a richly painted world of angelic destiny and interplay, O’Dare travels back in time, taps into his renegade side of being a former servant of the Right Man and uncovers that truth is as ancient and mystical as all the other virtues combined. Knowledge may be what we seek, but we find is often something else entirely. A slender novel that packs a delicious punch, OF LOVE AND EVIL sets the stage for all things possible, and reminds readers why Anne Rice remains the Queen of her genre. With breathtaking imagery and details that flourish off the page, this is a novel that offers creation and beauty in a package worthy of hullabaloo and celebration. (Note: ANGEL TIME, the first of the Seraphim series, is equally magnetizing and thought provoking.)
- JANE SLAYRE by Sherri Browning Erwin. Move over Jane Eyre – the timeless classic has been re-vamped, adding layers of delight and enhancing the original. With apparent care, Erwin set out to transform Bronte’s original masterpiece, paying tribute while providing a captivating metamorphosis. Jane Slayre treads lightly in Jane Eyre’s footsteps, but her moxy is aimed at the destruction of her vampiric family, a school of zombies and the wolves that track the object of her desire. Erwin keeps the vernacular delectable, and engages the reader through every fascinating twist of the tale.
- THE QUEEN OF PALMYRA by Minrose Gwin. Gwin allows readers to eavesdrop not only into the soul of her protagonist, but also that of the town, Millwood, Mississippi during the civil-rights storm of 1963 – when below the Mason-Dixon line lay a world of skeletons and secrets chained in the South. For Florence, some of the hidden truths were quaint, picturesque snapshots of iced lemonade on hot summer days, fresh out of the oven caramel pie and heavenly mimosa trees in bloom. But mostly, beneath the idealized images lurked racism, self-worship and moments full of dark, sinister, hatred. THE QUEEN OF PALMYRA takes readers into the mind of eleven-year-old Florence who slips back and forth between two worlds as they begin to bleed into a universal brutality. THE QUEEN OF PALMYRA is impossible to put down and will leave readers pondering while they celebrate Gwin’s poignantly written world.
- ORIGINAL SIN by Allison Brennan. ORIGINAL SIN, the first in Allison Brennan’s Seven Deadly Sins series is seductive, suspenseful and exquisitely written. Brennan manages to bring the occult to life; building suspense with such ease and energy, readers will wonder what spell Brennan’s words have woven around them. The characters are authentic, relatable and delightfully wicked. Romance blossoms with quiet charm between Moira and Rafe, while the mother-daughter relationship between her and Fiona strikes an emotional chord. (Note: CARNAL SIN, the second in the series, is as juicy a read as the first.)
- UNDER SURGE UNDER SIEGE by Ellis Anderson. The only non-fiction in the picks, this book reads like a fiction novel, and unfolds better than any Oscar-winning film. Flawless prose and authentically captured moments take readers inside the world of Bay St. Louis as tragedy strikes and desecrates. UNDER SURGE UNDER SIEGE is Ellis Anderson’s honest account – her true story of life in the Gulf; and what Katrina stole, attempted to take and could never touch before, during and after destruction tore the town apart. A moving, uplifting, champion of a story, Anderson takes readers there and back, and leaves them with a touch of grace and open empathy.
‘Tis a time of celebration and redemption. A time to embrace life, family and friends, and find strength in the moments we share together. The holidays are a time to treat yourself, and those around you. What better treat can one provide, than a timeless tale that is perfect for revisiting again and again? Let the world of story take you away, and bring you home to the far off places where dreams stir and bloom.