The festive holidays are the perfect time to escape the cold, cosy up with a hot drink and lose yourself in a new book. Especially during that strange time between Christmas and New Year, where you never really know what day it is.
This is precisely why we believe that books make the perfect Christmas gift (or, indeed, a thoughtful gift for any occasion) for the special people in your life.
Our dedicated independent team have very kindly curated a list of the best books to gift in 2023, in this epic book lovers gift guide. From romance to fantasy fiction, historical to thrilling mysteries - read on to discover which books our readers, subscribers and our own team have devoured recently, and that your loved ones will enjoy too.
Goldsboro’s Guide: Best Books To Gift In 2023
What to get someone who likes..mysteries?
The Unmaking of June Farrow by Adrienne Young
A daring woman jeopardises everything to break her family's age-old curse, unravel the mystery of her mother's disappearance, and discover love. Crafted by the New York Times bestselling author of "Spells for Forgetting," this mesmerising novel seamlessly blends light fantasy with the allure of a mystery thriller.
Navigating the delicate balance between fantasy and suspense, this book is a perfect introduction for those looking to dip their toes into the fantasy genre. Described as complex and unpredictable, the book offers a mind-bending time travel story that keeps readers guessing until the very end.
Ideal for readers who appreciate a blend of mystery, magic, and a dash of romance, The Unmaking of June Farrow promises an engaging journey into the unknown, and if a firm favourite of 2023.
What to get someone who likes.. romance novels?
The Shadows and Crowns series by S.M. Gaither
Romance readers will fall in love with the Shadows & Crowns series.
Follow the journey of Casia Greythorne as she confronts gods and monsters in her quest to reclaim the all-powerful crown of the Kethran empire, determined to banish the darkest god from her realm. This enemies-to-lovers tale unfolds with epic battles, rich world-building, and intricate storylines, guiding Casia through seemingly impossible challenges to secure her future.
The final conclusion to the series "The Queen of The Dawn," delivers an emotionally charged, fast-paced narrative filled with unexpected twists and turns. Devoted fans have hailed the series-ending as deeply satisfying, marking it as a standout conclusion.
A word of caution: if you choose to gift this series, brace yourself for the possibility of your recipient vanishing throughout the Christmas season. This is a tale that grips the heart and refuses to let go.
Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons
In this captivating retelling of the much-loved Romeo and Juliet story, we see Romeo presented in a different light (or perhaps, in the way Shakespear originally intended.). The story is presented from Rosaline's viewpoint, a headstrong and self-reliant young woman who’s negotiating with her father to avoid a convent-bound fate. Things begin to take a new direction when she meets Romeo Montague, who promises her everything she’s always wanted.
However when Rosaline begins to doubt Romeo’s intentions, she breaks off the match, only to witness Romeo's affections shift towards her thirteen-year-old cousin, Juliet. The realisation dawns on Rosaline that it's not just Juliet's reputation hanging in the balance, but her very life.
Brimming with intriguing characters, "Fair Rosaline" unfolds as a unique, feminist retelling of a beloved tale, shattering all we thought we knew about Romeo and Juliet.
What to get someone who likes.. crime fiction?
We have an entire gift guide dedicated to all things crime fiction, but here are a few more page-turners we’ve loved this year.
Geneva by Richard Armitage
An intense thriller and the debut novel from renowned actor Richard Armitage.
Geneva follows the story of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Sarah Collier, and her neuroscientist husband Daniel, as she battles with the tell-tale signs of Alzheimer's disease. After Sarah reluctantly accepts a guest of honour invitation at a prestigious conference, things soon spiral out of control and she begins to trust no one - including herself.
A chilling but highly enjoyable read, Richard’s debut novel unfolds as a rollercoaster of suspense and excitement, making it an unmissable addition to your festive reading list.
Last Stop on the Murder Express by C.J. Farrington
One of the more recently released books in our guide, Last Stop on the Murder Express is an intriguing but charming murder mystery.
In the remote Siberian village of Roslazny, Olga Pushkin, a Railway Engineer, juggles maintaining railway tracks and supporting her household. When her self-help manual for hard-working women gains literary attention, her life takes unexpected turns. Budget cuts threaten her village, and her beloved sergeant of police, Vassily Marushkin, is reunited with his long lost wife, Rozalina, so is considering moving away.
Forced to babysit a Romanov-themed murder mystery train, Olga stumbles upon a real murder. Despite being barred from the investigation, she unravels deeper mysteries. As chaos ensues, Olga must navigate murders, literary rivalry, and uncover Rozalina's secrets to save her career and relationship with Vassily.
What to get someone who likes.. historical fiction?
The Fraud by Zadie Smith
Based on real historical events, "The Fraud" stands out as a captivating novel that delves into the challenges of discerning truth in a world marked by hypocrisy and self-deception.
It’s the 1860s, and a mysterious butcher with a dubious past claims that he is Sir Roger Tichborne, the presumed-dead son of Lady Tichborne and the heir to a vast fortune.
We meet Mrs Touchet, a woman of diverse interests, who harbours suspicions about her cousin's lack of talent, perceives Mr. Charles Dickens, his successful friend, as both a bully and a moralist, and England of being a land of facades.
Meanwhile, Andrew Bogle's upbringing on the enslaved Hope Plantation in Jamaica has instilled in him a keen awareness of the human cost behind every lump of sugar. He understands the rich deceive the poor, and that people are more easily manipulated than they realise. As Bogle becomes a star witness in a renowned case of imposture in London, he recognizes that his future hinges on telling the right story.
The 'Tichborne Trial' grips not only Mrs. Touchet but the entire nation. Is Sir Roger Tichborne genuinely who he claims to be, or is he an elaborate fraud?
"The Fraud," a masterfully crafted work by bestselling author Zadie Smith, unfolds as a smart, funny, and politically charged narrative that captivates readers with its intriguing exploration of truth, deception, and the intricacies of human nature.
Disobedient by Elizabeth Fremantle
From the creative mind behind the 'Queen's Gambit' comes "Disobedient," a compelling feminist reimagining of a seventeenth-century heroine, one of the most accomplished artists of her time, who forges her own path.
At the heart of the story is Artemisia Gentileschi, an aspiring artist with dreams of greatness. Raised amidst a family of male painters and lacking a mother's guidance, Artemisia recognises her superior talent compared to her brothers. However, the societal constraints of her era deny her the autonomy to shape her destiny. Yearning for worldly experiences, she finds herself bound to her father's will and, eventually, to a future husband.
As Artemisia refines her art, she secretly creates paintings that reflect the women who inspire her, hidden from her father's watchful gaze.
Enter Tassi, a mysterious tutor whose charismatic presence momentarily embodies the promise of a liberated life. Handsome and worldly, he introduces Artemisia to a world beyond her confined existence. Yet, the narrative takes an unexpected turn, shattering her aspirations.
Time becomes irrelevant as you immerse yourself in this narrative, discovering the intricacies of its characters and becoming enamoured with their journey.
What to get someone who likes... fantasy books?
Herc by Phoenicia Rogerson
"Herc" offers a fresh perspective on the legendary Hercules, presenting him in an entirely new light through the eyes of his family, friends, wives, and even enemies.
This isn't the tale of his twelve labours or endless adventures; rather, it delves into the repercussions of Hercules's actions on those in his orbit. Narrated from various viewpoints, but never his own, "Herc" unveils the man beyond the heroic façade.
This bold and inventive queer, feminist retelling not only breathes new life into the classic narrative but also infuses it with humour that will have readers laughing out loud. Brace yourself for a story so compelling that you'll find yourself wishing it would never end. A word of caution: be prepared for the intense and visceral elements, as this book does not shy away from its deeply violent aspects.
Ravensong by T.J. Klune
Embark on a journey with "Ravensong" by T.J. Klune, where lessons are etched into the very skin of Gordo Livingstone. Abandoned by a pack that betrayed him, Gordo sought refuge in the solitude of his mountain town garage, vowing to steer clear of wolf affairs. However, tranquillity was shattered when the wolves returned, bringing with them Mark Bennett. Together, they confronted their biggest enemy and emerged victorious.
Now, a year later, Gordo finds himself entangled once more with the Bennett pack, grappling with the persistent call between him and Mark, set against the backdrop of a settled Green Creek. Yet, time is not on their side. A looming threat emerges, crawling from within.
Klune's "Ravensong" is a masterfully crafted tale, weaving a narrative that seamlessly blends love, family, heartbreak, and humour. The characters form a spectacular ensemble, making this an action-packed and thoroughly engaging read. Gripping, magical, and tense, the story takes you on an emotional rollercoaster—evoking laughter one moment and tears the next.
The Words of Kings and Prophets by Shauna Lawless
Journey into Ireland's past with "The Words of Kings and Prophets" by Shauna Lawless, the eagerly anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed "The Children of Gods and Fighting Men."
Set in 1000 AD, the tale unfolds in a land steeped in history and myth. Gormflaith, wedded to Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, grapples with the constraints of her regal status and the burning desire to unearth and obliterate her sworn enemies—the Descendants. As an immortal Fomorian gifted with secret magic, Gormflaith discovers depths of power within herself but wrestles with the looming question of control over her newfound abilities.
In parallel, Fódla, the Descendants' healer, navigates the challenges of mourning her banished sister while protecting her young nephew, burdened with secrets that could jeopardise everything. The plot thickens when a mysterious figure, Tomas, arrives at King Brian's court, casting a shadow of potential disaster or salvation over both Gormflaith and Fódla, as well as the destiny of Ireland itself.
Rooted in Irish history, folklore, and mythology, Lawless weaves a tale of convincing characters, riveting dialogue, heart-stopping battles, and passionate romance. Mortals and immortals converge in a bitter conflict that could shape the future of Ireland and its people, creating an epic narrative that effortlessly blends the realms of fantasy and history.
Sisters of Sword and Shadow by Laura Bates
Sisters of the Sword and Shadow offers a refreshing twist on the Nights Of the Round Table, providing a feminist retelling where fierce women challenge toxic masculinity and female violence.
Follow Cass as she is introduced to the Sisterhood of Silk Knights, a group of women training for combat and dedicated to righting the wrongs committed by men. In this world of ancient feuds, epic battles, and deadly intrigue, Cass discovers a power within herself that holds the potential to alter the destiny of her sisterhood.
Bates delivers a captivating and empowering Arthurian adventure—a delightful feminist romp filled with heart. It's an uncomplicated, female-driven YA fantasy that celebrates the themes of found family, friendship, and female empowerment. The book seamlessly blends fun and depth, providing a unique and compelling take on a legendary tale.
What to get someone who loves.. Sci-fi?
Here are some of the best books to gift sci-fi lovers.
Star Wars: The Eye of Darkness by George Mann
Star Wars: The Eye of Darkness is set one year after the tragic events of The Fallen Star. In the aftermath, the Jedi are locked in a desperate struggle to break free from the Nihil's iron grip on the galaxy.
The once-unified galaxy now stands divided, scarred by the shocking destruction of Starlight Beacon. Behind the new impenetrable barrier known as the Stormwall in the Outer Rim, Marchion Ro reigns supreme, orchestrating chaos with his followers, the Nihil. Jedi, including the formidable Avar Kriss, find themselves trapped behind enemy lines, battling to aid the worlds ravaged by the Nihil's whilst evading the relentless marauders and their mysterious Nameless terrors.
This book is a testament to the superior quality and emotional depth that The High Republic consistently delivers. Brace yourself for a masterful narrative, an unrelenting cascade of action, and a tension that never lets up.
The Immortality Thief by Taran Hunt.
This fast-paced tale unfolds with treasure hunts, traps, deadly enemies, betrayal, secrets, mysterious aliens, and an abundance of adventure and action, hurtling towards the discovery of the elusive secret to immortality.
Venture far beyond the boundaries of human existence to a forgotten ship by a dying star, lost for a millennium. Within its silent chambers lie secrets that could alter the course of humanity. The allure of this hidden vessel becomes undeniable, and someone, someday, will come searching…
From the opening chapter, this book grabs your attention and refuses to let go. It offers a unique blend of space opera with spine-chilling horror. The narrative is a poignant exploration, pulling at the heartstrings with unexpected alliances blossoming into profound friendships, interwoven with moments of heartbreak and laughter that resonate throughout the story.
For science fiction fans, "The Immortality Thief" is an essential read.
Find the best book gifts at Goldsboro Books
If you’re still looking for gift inspiration, or simply want to find something special for yourself, then head over to our Exclusives & Special Editions collection to find some truly unique reads.