Brick-and-mortar and e-bookstores are overflowing with a bounty of holiday-themed titles. If you’re looking for some stocking stuffers, you can start here. Let’s open with an out-of-the-box trio:
“A Gift From Bob” by James Bowen (Thomas Dunne, $23, 192 pages): In 2007, Bowen was a street musician when he adopted a ginger cat he credits with “saving my life,” as told in the true story “A Street Cat Named Bob.” The New York Times best-seller was followed by “The World According to Bob.” This third title continues the inspirational drama, which has moved into the holiday season.
In the nonfiction “The Santa Claus Man,” Alex Palmer recounts the amazing story of John Duval Gluck Jr., who created the Santa Claus Association in 1913, which had exclusive rights (via the U.S. Postal Service) to answer Santa’s mail from children. Though his heart was sort of in the right place, Palmer’s foundation was busted for “maladministration” – after 15 years of bizarre promotional schemes (Lyons, $26, 320 pages).
R.A. Cabral of Sacramento has published a three-disc audiobook of his novella, “The Miracle of the Christmas Wish Holder,” available at his website www.christmaswishholder.com, and at www.audible.com and www.amazon.com (Audible.com, $7). The holiday story is set in Sacramento, dramatized by local actors and reminiscent of the classic “Miracle on 34th Street.”
“The Secret Snowflake” by Teresa Easley of Rocklin (Friensen, $25 hardcover, $15 paperback; illustrations by Sasha Baines): A Secret Snowflake’s magical powers are waning, and it must find a child “pure of heart” to keep the magic of Christmas alive.
“The Mistletoe Inn” by Richard Paul Evans (Simon & Schuster, $20, 320 pages): When aspiring romance writer Kimberly Rossi signs up for a writers retreat in wintertime Vermont, she turns a new page in the romance chapter of her life – that is, if dark secrets don’t lead to an unhappy ending.
“The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge” by Charlie Lovett (Viking, $20, 128 pages): If you’ve wondered what became of Scrooge after he found Christmas in his heart at the end of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” here’s one imagining. Twenty years later, it seems that Mr. Scrooge needs to enlist the help of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future to rekindle the Christmas spirit in his fellow villagers.
“A Very Nantucket Christmas” by Nancy Thayer (Ballantine, $16, 432 pages): Here’s a gift – two novels for the price of one. In “A Nantucket Christmas,” Nicole Somerset has a new husband, and their life together on the Massachusetts island is especially ideal as Christmas approaches. Then Nicole’s stepdaughter comes for a visit, bringing with her a plan to undermine the holiday. In “An Island Christmas,” Felicia comes home to get married to Archie in an elaborate “dream” ceremony that’s more her mother’s idea than her own. Confusing the plans is handsome neighbor Steve. Oh, the complications!
“The Christmas Angel” by Jane Maas (St. Martin’s, $11, 192 pages): This short book with a large canvas follows a hand-carved wooden angel Christmas tree ornament from its creation in 1875 to its multiple “lives” through “five generations witnessing peace and war, triumphs and tragedies.”
“Dashing Through the Snow” by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine, $18, 256 pages): The reigning queen of women’s fiction will captivate fans with this unusual tale: Eager to get home to Seattle in time for Christmas, strangers Ashley and Dash find that all flights out of San Francisco are booked, so agree to rent a car and share the driving. What begins as function segues into form, as the couple takes an unexpectedly wild road trip that brings them together.
“A Shiloh Christmas” by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Atheneum, $18, 256 pages: for ages 8 to 13): Through the three previous Shiloh books, the Newbery Award-winning series has helped parents teach their children valuable life lessons. Now the beloved beagle must be there for his owners as they cope with a string of difficult scenarios.
“The Great Christmas Knit-Off” by Alexandria Brown (William Morrow, $15, 400 pages): Jilted bride Sybil takes her passion for knitting and her lonely self to a small town “out of a Hallmark greeting card” to spend Christmas alone. There, she gets a job offer from a boutique and meets a certain someone who just might mend her tattered life into a happily ever after.
“Christmas Bliss” by Mary Kay Andrews (St. Martiln’s, $13, 304 pages): Returning from Andrews’ three previous novels set in Savannah, Ga., are antiques dealer Weezie Foley and her best friend, BeBe Loudermilk. A wedding is in the air – possibly two – but the daunting duo bring their unique brand of humor and chaos onto the scene, and anything can happen.
“A Quilt For Christmas” by Sandra Dallas (St. Martin’s, $13, 272 pages): Since it appeared 20 years ago, fans of the best-selling author’s “The Persian Pickle Club” have clambered for her to write another quilting story. Here, Eliza and her Civil War-era quilting group face some hard choices while their husbands are off to war.
“A Christmas Bride in Pinecraft” by Shelley Shepard Gray (Avon, $13, 288 pages): They’re called “Amish inspirationals,” a well-established subgenre of romantic fiction. The template: Amish women and men find love in their closed communities, even though they’re conflicted by religious guidelines and moral challenges. In this one, Beverly and Eric try to find happiness together, even though they’re “from different worlds.”