Check out the reviews below and my Instagram account @glossinbossin for gift suggestions. If you need more for that special someone, feel free to reach out. My favorite spot to grab books is over the West Fourth Street bridge at More Than Words (@mtwyouth) in the South End – plus, they also have a booth at Snowport. However, I also need to check out Porter Square Books & East End Books (Seaport Editions).
Book 1: The Connellys of County Down By Tracey Lange
Grab The Connellys of County Down if you find yourself wanting to be submerged in a family drama – whether to escape your own or because your family is just a bit too boring. The main character, Tara Connelly, is released from prison in the first chapter, and the book follows her as she navigates rebuilding relationships with her family. The realness that comes from each separate interaction – with her sister who’s taken on a mothering role in the middle of dealing with mental illness, with her brother who is working through a brain injury and providing for his family, and her nephew who is drawn to her like a magnet, while his birth mother struggles with addiction issues – is what makes you feel for Tara. Not only is she navigating those relationships, she’s also trying to figure out why the police still have her under surveillance, if she can win over her parole officer, and how she can hold down a job with a boss who isn’t trying to take advantage of her. There were heart-warming parts and spots where I wanted to yell at her through the page. Overall, I thought it was a quick read that highlights family, loyalty, and love in the most unlikely places. Hot tip: I also loved her first novel, We Are the Brennans, another dramatic family novel. They’d be a perfect set of books to gift!
Book 2: The Last Love Note By Emma Grey
Grab The Last Love Note if you’re a fan of rom-coms, cringey scenes, and laughing out loud (or crying your eyes out?) while you’re on the MBTA. It’s also moved to one of my favorite reads – and you know that I’m not a big romance reader. The way the author wrote this really puts you in the character’s shoes – dealing with loss as well as finding yourself in new love. Another big plus for me was the setting being in Australia which I know absolutely nothing about but find myself picturing it being a dream full of men that look like the Hemsworth brothers.
In the novel, Kate loses her husband, Cam, from early onset dementia – and we find ourselves flipping between their initial love story to seeing her walking blindly through life dressed in penguin Snuggies every morning. Can you even imagine? She moves from work, caring for her son, and back to her couch daily – not knowing how she will make it from one day to the next. She has the support system of a caring best friend, a mother who checks in, and colleagues who gather to do what they can with what they’ve been told. You feel for this character – wanting more for her, desperate for her to continue with her life – but understanding the depth of her pain and why she can’t.
Along the way, Kate finds herself on a business trip – stuck alongside her stuffy boss on a shaky plane and falls right into a detour in a beachside town. So many good things start to happen, but similar to Kate, you don’t want to get too excited only to be disappointed again. This book is a collection of highs and lows, cozy places, and lovely characters. It’s one I might not put in the “give away” pile just yet as I think I’ll need a re-read sometime!
Hot tip: This book just came out at the end of November, and the author (@emmagreyauthor) loves interacting with her readers!
If you got this far, thank you! Let us know what you books you’re giving for the holidays via the comments on @caughtinsouthie or catch me at @glossinbossin / @josiegl on Instagram.