I can hardly believe that the last month of the year is already upon us! As always, I’m here with a list of all the books publishing this month that I am most excited for. There’s a great collection of romance, thriller, and nonfiction books to choose from this month. I always feel a little bad for December releases because it seems like they get the least promotion, being kept out of most of the award lists which lock in November, so I want to take a minute today to celebrate all of these authors and the works of art which they created!

The Light Pirate

Author: Lily Brooks-Dalton

Release Date: December 6th, 2022

Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopian

Goodreads Summary: Florida is slipping away. As devastating weather patterns and rising sea levels gradually wreak havoc on the state’s infrastructure, a powerful hurricane approaches a small town on the southeastern coast. Kirby Lowe, an electrical line worker; his pregnant wife, Frida; and their two sons, Flip and Lucas, prepare for the worst. When the boys go missing just before the hurricane hits, Kirby heads out into the high winds to search for them. Left alone, Frida goes into premature labor and gives birth to an unusual child, Wanda, whom she names after the catastrophic storm that ushers her into a society closer to collapse than ever before.

As Florida continues to unravel, Wanda grows. Moving from childhood to adulthood, adapting not only to the changing landscape, but also to the people who stayed behind in a place abandoned by civilization, Wanda loses family, gains community, and ultimately, seeks adventure, love, and purpose in a place remade by nature.

Told in four parts—power, water, light, and time—The Light Pirate mirrors the rhythms of the elements and the sometimes quick, sometimes slow dissolution of the world as we know it. It is a meditation on the changes we would rather not see, the future we would rather not greet, and a call back to the beauty and violence of an untamable wilderness.

Thoughts: The slow unravelling of Florida doesn’t seem quite as much a dystopia as a reality, but nonetheless this book sounds like it will be an emotional rollercoaster.

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Witcha Gonna Do

Author: Avery Flynn

Release Date: December 6th, 2022

Genre: Romance / Fantasy

Goodreads Summary: An unlucky witch and her know-it-all nemesis must team up in the first of a new, hot romantic comedy series from USA Today bestselling author Avery Flynn.

Could it possibly get any worse than having absolutely no magical abilities when you’re a member of the most powerful family of witches ever? It used to be that I’d say no, but then I keep getting set up on dates with Gil Connolly whose hotness is only matched by his ego. Seriously. I can’t stand him. Even if I also can’t stop thinking about him (specifically kissing him) but we’re going to pretend I never told you that part.

So yeah, my life isn’t the greatest right now, but then it goes straight to the absolute worst hell when I accidentally make my sister’s spell glitch and curse my whole family. And the only person who can help non-magical me break the spell? You guessed it. Gil the super hot jerk.

Now we have to work together to save my family and outmaneuver some evil-minded nefarious forces bent on world domination. Oh yeah, and we have to do all that while fighting against the attraction building between us because I may not be magical, but what’s happening between Gil and I sure feels like it.

Thoughts: This is the start of a new romance series, which is very exciting for everyone who enjoys investing time and energy into specific characters! Plus, it’s not just romance— there’s fantasy and evil forces to defeat along the way. This book looks very adorable and I can’t wait to read it.

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The Key to My Heart

Author: Lia Louis

Release Date: December 6th, 2022

Genre: Christmas Romance

Goodreads Summary: A heartwarming novel about hope after loss as a young widow receives mysterious messages of love from the “must-buy author” (Jodi Picoult) of Eight Perfect Hours.

Sparkly and charming Natalie Fincher has it all—a handsome new husband, a fixer-upper cottage of her dreams, and the opportunity to tour with the musical she’s spent years writing. But when her husband suddenly dies, all her hopes and dreams instantly disappear.

Two and a half years later, Natalie is still lost. She works, sleeps (well, as much as the sexually frustrated village foxes will allow), and sees friends just often enough to allay their worries, but her life is empty. And she can only bring herself to play music at a London train station’s public piano where she can be anonymous. She’s lost motivation, faith in love, in happiness…in everything.

But when someone begins to mysteriously leave the sheet music for her husband’s favorite songs at the station’s piano, Natalie begins to feel a sense of hope and excitement for the first time. As she investigates just who could be doing this, Natalie finds herself on an unexpected journey toward newfound love for herself, for life, and maybe, for a special someone.

Thoughts: Merry Christmas! This book is coming out just in time for the holidays, and is the perfect gift for the person in your life that loves to be uplifted at this time of year. The cover art is absolutely adorable and I cannot wait to read it.

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The Ingenue

Author: Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Release Date: December 6th, 2022

Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Goodreads Summary: My Dark Vanessa meets The Queen’s Gambit in this new novel of suspense about the bonds of family, the limits of talent, the risks of ambition, and the rewards of revenge.

When former piano prodigy Saskia Kreis returns home to Milwaukee after her mother’s unexpected death, she expects to inherit the family estate, the Elf House. But with the discovery that her mother’s will bequeathed the Elf House to a man that Saskia shares a complicated history with, she is forced to reexamine her own past–and the romantic relationship that changed the course of her life–for answers. Can she find a way to claim her heritage while keeping her secrets buried, or will the fallout from digging too deep destroy her?

Set against a post #MeToo landscape, The Ingenue delves into mother-daughter relationships, the expectations of talent, the stories we tell ourselves, and what happens when the things that once made you special are taken from you. Moving between Saskia’s childhood and the present day, this dark, contemporary fairy tale pulses with desire, longing, and uncertainty, as it builds to its spectacular, shocking climax.

Thoughts: The need to specify that this book takes place in a “post #MeToo landscape” terrifies me. We don’t need more thrillers where the central conflict is sexual violence against women. It does not make a compelling story and too often seems to be written to prompt outrage culture. That being said, this book is written by a woman and sounds extraordinarily compelling, so I am willing to give it a shot on the assumption that it will be done well.

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To Get to the Other Side

Author: Kelly Ohlert

Release Date: December 6th, 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Summary: Trixie isn’t exactly sure what she was thinking when she stopped her car in the middle of downtown Chicago, scooped up a chicken struggling to cross the road, and drove off… but she does know that she has to find a new home for herself and her new feathered friend. The landlord at her apartment doesn’t allow pets and has caught Trixie in one too many pet-smuggling attempts in the past.

Bear likes his quiet life with his close-knit family, who own a flower business, but he’s in for a rude awakening when his meddlesome sisters post an ad to rent the spare room in his simple home, without asking his permission. Still, when Trixie responds to the ad, he agrees to let her move in, despite immediate worries about keeping things platonic.

Determined to keep her new room, befriend Bear, and give her rescue chicken the care she deserves, Trixie fights to keep her walls up and resist her romantic feelings for Bear. However, it’s not long before the pair’s proximity and chicken parenting ignite flames that have Trixie and Bear testing the boundaries of their platonic ground rules. They have to figure out how to save a family business, pay for mounting vet bills, and navigate their own emotional baggage if they want to find the love that they all deserve.

Thoughts: We all need some silly little romance books in our lives, and that’s exactly what this looks like. Ohlert wrote a Hallmark-movie come to text in an adorable story where the protagonist, Trixie, falls in love with Bear at a chicken rescue. Name a better meet-cute! Bonus points for the fact that this takes place in Chicago, my future home.

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The Tudors in Love: Passion and Politics in the Age of England’s Most Famous Dynasty

Author: Sarah Gristwood

Release Date: December 13th, 2022

Genre: Nonfiction History

Goodreads Summary: Sarah Gristwood’s The Tudors in Love offers a brilliant history of the Tudor dynasty, showing how the rules of romantic courtly love irrevocably shaped the politics and international diplomacy of the period.

Why did Henry VIII marry six times? Why did Anne Boleyn have to die? Why did Elizabeth I’s courtiers hail her as a goddess come to earth?

The dramas of courtly love have captivated centuries of readers and dreamers. Yet too often they’re dismissed as something existing only in books and song–those old legends of King Arthur and chivalric fantasy.

Not so. In this ground-breaking history, Sarah Gristwood reveals the way courtly love made and marred the Tudor dynasty. From Henry VIII declaring himself as the ‘loyal and most assured servant’ of Anne Boleyn to the poems lavished on Elizabeth I by her suitors, the Tudors re-enacted the roles of the devoted lovers and capricious mistresses first laid out in the romances of medieval literature. TheTudors in Love dissects the codes of love, desire and power, unveiling romantic obsessions that have shaped the history of the world.

Thoughts: One of my favorite eras of history ever is the Tudor Court, and I’ve read more than my fair share of fiction books from this time period. I have, however, neglected to read much nonfiction on the period, preferring to revel in the overdramatic love stories which Philippa Gregory is so great at. This book seems like a great chance to learn more from a factual standpoint while still hearing all of the gossip that I covet.

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Ace Voices: What it Means to Be Asexual, Aromantic, Demi or Grey-Ace

Author: Eris Young

Release Date: December 21st 2022

Genre: Nonfiction

Goodreads Summary: How do we experience attraction?
What does love mean to us?
When did you realise you were ace?

This is the ace community in their own words.
Drawing upon interviews with a wide range of people across the asexual spectrum, Eris Young is here to take you on an empowering, enriching journey through the rich multitudes of asexual life.

With chapters spanning everything from dating, relationships and sex, to mental and emotional health, family, community and joy, the inspirational stories and personal experiences within these pages speak to aces living and loving in unique ways. Find support amongst the diverse narratives of aces sex-repulsed and sex-favourable, alongside voices exploring what it means to be black and ace, to be queer and ace, or ace and multi-partnered – and use it as a springboard for your own ace growth.

Do you see a story like your own?

Thoughts: I was lucky enough to receive an e-ARC of this book and have reviewed it in full already. I’m impressed by how many unique voices from different parts of the community Young found, and the care they handled each of these stories with. If you think you might be a-spec and are missing a sense of community, this book is an absolute must read.

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The Lipstick Bureau

Author: Michelle Gable

Release Date: December 27th, 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction

Goodreads Summary: Inspired by a real-life female spy, a WWII-set novel about a woman challenging convention and boundaries to help win a war, no matter the cost.

“A gripping, fascinating read.” —Kelly Rimmer, New York Times bestselling author of The Warsaw Orphan

1944, Rome. Newlywed Niki Novotná is recruited by a new American spy agency to establish a secret branch in Italy’s capital. One of the OSS’s few female operatives abroad and multilingual, she’s tasked with crafting fake stories and distributing propaganda to lower the morale of enemy soldiers.

Despite limited resources, Niki and a scrappy team of artists, forgers and others—now nicknamed The Lipstick Bureau—find success, forming a bond amid the cobblestoned streets and storied villas of the newly liberated city. But her work is also a way to escape devastating truths about the family she left behind in Czechoslovakia and a future with her controlling American husband.

As the war drags on and the pressure intensifies, Niki begins to question the rules she’s been instructed to follow, and a colleague unexpectedly captures her heart. But one step out of line, one mistake, could mean life or death…

Thoughts: I used to have a small obsession with WWII spy novels after reading Code Name Verity back in high school. I’m very excited to plunge back into the spy world with this adult-version of the book I once loved.

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All the Dark Places

Author: Terri Parlato

Release Date: December 27th, 2022

Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Goodreads Summary: A dark new thriller perfect for fans of Megan Miranda and Shari Lapena where murder exposes the dark secrets at the center of a group of friends and sets two women – one with a traumatic past, the other a Boston police detective – on a hunt for truth.

Snow falls softly outside Molly Bradley’s home on a frigid January night. Inside, half a dozen close friends are gathered to celebrate the fortieth birthday of Molly’s psychologist husband, Jay. Candlelight gleams against dark wood, wine flows, and the house rings with laughter. Everybody loves Jay, Molly most of all. Yet next morning, Molly discovers Jay dead on the floor of his office, his throat brutally slashed.

After decades working with the Boston PD, Detective Rita Myers has grown accustomed to the banality of evil—the murders that make no sense beyond bad luck or a tragic brush with the worst of humanity. But Jay Bradley’s murder isn’t random, or a mere crime of opportunity. Rita is convinced that someone in the couple’s small circle killed him. Someone who was celebrating with them that night.

Devastated, Molly tries to make sense of her husband’s death. Jay was her rock, the only person who really understood the nightmare she lived through long ago. He knew the horrors she’s kept hidden even from her friends. But shocking revelations are making her question if Jay was all he seemed to be—and whether someone else knows her past too. And until Molly figures out who she can really trust, she won’t be able to stop herself becoming the next target . . .

Thoughts: I’m honestly pretty sick of books that feature cops (or ex-cops) but it seems like this is all too common among mysteries and thrillers as of late. I’m including this book on the list because murder mysteries where solving it makes you the target are some of my favorites, despite the Boston PD reference in the summary.

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