Editor’s Note: Each holiday season, Syndicated Book Reviewer Terri Schlichenmeyer prepares a list of book suggestions for holiday gift-giving. The titles, which are listed in several categories and age groups, will be published over the next few weeks.

You knew this was coming.

You knew that you were going to have to finish your holiday shopping soon but it snuck up on you, didn't it? And even if you're close to being done, there are always those three or five people who are impossible to buy for, right? Remember this, though: books are easy to wrap and easy to give, and they last a while, too. So why not head to the bookstore with your Christmas List and look for these gifts...

 

Fiction

Is there a better book to give your BFF than "How to Kill Your Best Friend" by Lexie Elliott? I think not. This is a book about three friends who've been inseparable since college. Sadly, one of them, a strong swimmer, drowns under mysterious circumstances. Is there a murderer in their rapidly-shrinking friends' circle?

Fans of thrillers will absolutely want to unwrap "Bullet Train" by Kotaro Isaka, the story of five assassins who find out that their respective assignments have a little too much in common for comfort. Give this book for a gift, along with two movie tickets, since it's about to become a motion picture.

The person on your gift list who loves mythology will be very excited to see "Daughters of Sparta" by Claire Heywood beneath the tree. This is a story of two princesses of Sparta, of which little is expected but birthing an heir and looking beautiful. But when patriarchal society becomes too overbearing, the princesses must decide what to do. Far from your normal "princess" tale, this one has shades of feminism in ancient times.

The giftee who loves romantic happily-ever-after may enjoy an anti-HEA with "Rock Paper Scissors" by Alice Feeney, the story of a couple that's struggling with their marriage. It's nobody's fault: he has an affliction and can't recognize faces; she's tired of being ignored. When they win a vacation, it's a chance to make things better. Or not.

The Poe fan on your gift list will love unwrapping "Poe for Your Problems" by Catherine Baab-Miguira. Edgar Allen Poe as therapist? Who knew? Add "The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows" by John Koenig to the gift box. It's a book about words and feelings and how obscure language might help make things a little clearer.

Readers who particularly like stories with sugar will love "All the Lonely People" by Mike Gayle. It's a tale of a lonely man who lives far from his family – far enough away that he feels confident in embellishing his life to his daughter. That's fine, until she says she's coming to visit and he must make fantasy match reality. Wrap it up with "The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World" by Laura Imai Messina. It's a beautiful story of loss, hope, and how we keep memories alive when someone's gone.

Readers who love underdog tales will be so happy to unwrap "Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead" by Emily Austin. It's the story of Gilda, an atheist lesbian who lands a job as the receptionist at a Catholic church by mistake. When a friend of the former receptionist tries to contact the deceased former secretary, Gilda impersonates the woman. Problem is, the woman's dead and Gilda's acting suspicious... Pair it up with "The Mad Woman's Ball" by Victoria Mars, a novel set in France in 1885. The Salpêtriére asylum is full of "insane" women who may or may not really be insane. But then one patient, hospitalized because she claims to speak to the dead, hatches a plan to escape..

Historical novel fans will want to see "Island Queen" by Vanessa Riley beneath the tree this year, for sure. Based on a true story, it's about Dorothy Kirwan Thomas, who had been a slave. Once freed, she ultimately became one of the most powerful, most wealthy, and most influential women in the West Indies in the early 1800s.

The folk music lover who just happens to also enjoy novels will love "The Ballad of Laurel Springs" by Janet Beard. It's the story starts with ten-year-old Grace, who learns something shocking about her family's past and the event became a song. She's not the only one, though: songs and lyrics tell the rest of the tale, through generations of Tennessee folk music. Wrap it up with a promise of summer music festivals to come.

• Terri Schlichenmeyer of The Bookworm Sez is a self-syndicated book review columnist. Schlichenmeyer’s reviews include adult and children’s books of every genre. You may contact her at bookwormsez@yahoo.com

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