‘a book for everyone you know’- 2021 christmas gift guide

hey everyone and welcome to this years christmas gift guide!

I’ll keep the intro brief, but you can find the categories included in order below as well as previous gift guides here: https://molsbymoonlight.wordpress.com/category/gift-guides/

I really hope you find this list useful, I’ve tried to include a wide variety of books so there’s hopefully something for everyone!

M x

Order of categories:

1. Food and drink

2. Short story collections

3. Dark fiction & horror

4. Poetry

5. Myths, folklore & fairytales

6. Historical fiction

7. Nature and landscape

8. Indie published

9. Middle grade

10. YA

11. Adult

12. Non fiction

13. Translated fiction

14. Short reads

15. Pre orders

⭐️ 1. GRAND DISHES by Anastasia Miari and Iska Lupton: There is no food like a grandmother’s. Inspired by their own grandmothers, Miari and Lupton embarked on a mission: from Corfu to Cuba, Moscow to New Orleans, they set out to capture cooking methods, regional recipes and timeless wisdom from grandmothers around the world. Rich with the insight that age brings, elegant portraits, diverse recipes, and techniques unique to a region, a grandmother and her family, this is a book to pass down through generations.

🎄 2. THE SWEET ROASTING TIN by Rukmini Iyer: From crave-worthy cakes and brownies to moreish muffins and loaves, simply pop your ingredients in a tin and let the oven (or for minimum-effort bakes, the fridge!) do the work. Keeping with her ethos of ‘minimum effort, maximum flavour’, Rukmini Iyer’s one-tin bakes are simple to prep, but still offer great-tasting results. From easy bakes to showstopping sensations, this book is for anyone who wants to bake using everyday ingredients and store cupboard staples.

⭐️ 3. TODAY’S SPECIAL: Here, 20 of the globe’s leading chef-curators have each selected five emerging chefs from around the world, showcasing a variety of styles of food, restaurants, and personalities. Each of the 100 selected chefs is profiled, with recipes, photographs, and menus, plus original commissioned essays that shed light on what makes a standout star in today’s culinary realm.

⭐️ 1. MY MONTICELLO by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson: A debut collection of short stories and a novella. A young woman descended from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings driven from her neighborhood by a white militia. A university professor studying racism by conducting a secret social experiment on his own son. A single mother desperate to buy her first home even as the world hurtles toward catastrophe. Each fighting to survive in America…

🎄 2. THE PUMP by Sydney Warner Brooman: A Gothic collection of stories featuring carnivorous beavers, art-eaters, and family intrigue. The small southern Ontario town known as The Pump lies at the crossroads of this world’s violence. In these interconnected stories, no one is immune to The Pump’s sacrificial games. Lighthouse dwellers, Boy Scouts, queer church camp leaders, love-sick and sick-sick writers, nine-year-old hunters, art-eaters, each must navigate the swamp of their own morality while living on land that is always slowly (and sometimes very quickly) killing them.

⭐️ 3. SARAHLAND by Sam Cohen: In one story, a Jewish college Sarah passively consents to a form-life in pursuit of an MRS degree and is swept into a culture of normalized sexual violence. Another reveals a version of Sarah finding pleasure, and a new set of problems, by playing dead for a wealthy necrophiliac. A Buffy-loving Sarah uses fan fiction to work through romantic obsession. As the collection progresses, readers witness as the ever-evolving “Sarah” gets recast: as a bible-era trans woman, an aging lesbian literally growing roots, a being who transcends the earth as we know it. While Cohen presents a world that will clearly someday end, “Sarah” will continue.

⭐️ 1. THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE by Eric LaRocca: A whirlpool of darkness churns at the heart of a macabre ballet between two lonely young women in an internet chat room in the early 2000s – a darkness that threatens to forever transform them once they finally succumb to their most horrific desires. What have you done today to deserve your eyes?

🎄 2. WYRD AND OTHER DERELICTIONS by Adam Nevill: Something is missing from the silent places and worlds inside these stories. Something has been removed, taken flight, or been destroyed. Us. Derelictions are weird tales that tell of aftermaths and of new and liminal places. Each location has witnessed catastrophe, infernal visitations, or unearthly transformations. But across these landscapes of murder, genocide and invasion, crucial evidence remains. And it is the task of the reader to sift through ruin and ponder the residual enigma, to behold and wonder at the full horror that was visited upon mankind.

⭐️ 3. A CERTAIN HUNGER by Chelsea G Summers: Food critic Dorothy loves what she does. A master of the culinary arts, and lover of sex and travel, she has struggled to find a long-term partner. But there is something within Dorothy, and having suppressed it long enough, she starts to embrace what makes her uniquely, terrifyingly herself. Recounting her life from a seemingly idyllic farm-to-table childhood, the heights of her career, to the moment she plunges an ice pick into a man’s neck on Fire Island, Dorothy show us what happens when a woman finally embraces her superiority.

⭐️ 1. PHANTOMPAINS by Therese Estacion : Therese survived a rare infection that nearly killed her, but not without losing both her legs below the knees, several fingers, and reproductive organs. Phantompains is a visceral, imaginative collection exploring disability, grief and life by interweaving stark memories with dreamlike surrealism.

🎄 2. WHAT GIRLS DO IN THE DARK by Rosie Garland: Rooted in the realm of gothic imagination, mythology and the uncanny, these poems contain magnitudes and magic, feminist fables starstruck with science and astronomy. Like comets, these dazzling poems explore containment and liberation, asking what it means to dismantle expectations, escape the drag of gravity and blaze your own path with strangeness that makes you strong.

⭐️ 3. THE WISHBONE DRESS by Cassandra J Bruner: An ode for (un)intentionally-hunted, antlered doe. Elegies voiced by a woman with eight eyes and web glands. The last confessions of a bound witch, waiting for the torch to drop. In THE WISHBONE DRESS, these personas and others careen into, and cycle around, another larger narrative: a young femme’s transition and her splintered path through wildernesses, both exterior and interior. Bruner’s debut navigates gender, faith, illness, law, and loss, serving both an invitation and a declaration that, when reimagined, the body learns its shape.

⭐️ 1. THE SISTER WHO ATE HER BROTHERS AND OTHER GRUESOME TALES by Jen Campbell: Campbell’s collection of gruesome tales lends a modern edge to fairy tale collections for young readers. These stories undo the censoring, gender stereotyping and twee endings of more modern children’s fairy tales from around the globe, to return both classic and little-known stories to their grim versions, whilst celebrating a diverse range of characters. Illustrated by Canadian comic artist Adam de Souza.

🎄 2. THE MEMORY THEATER by Karin Tidbeck: In a world just parallel to ours exists a mystical realm known only as the Gardens. It’s a place where feasts never end, games of croquet have devastating consequences, and teenagers are punished for growing up. For a select group of masters, it’s a decadent paradise where time stands still. But for those who serve them, it’s a slow torture where their lives can be ended in a blink. In a bid to escape before their youth betrays them, Dora and Thistle set out on a remarkable journey through time and space. Traveling between their world and ours, they hunt for the one person who can grant them freedom. Along the way, they encounter a mysterious traveler who trades in favors and never forgets debts, a crossroads at the center of the universe, our own world on the brink of war, and a traveling troupe of actors with the ability to unlock the fabric of reality.

⭐️ 3. TALES OF THE MIST by Laura Suarez: A small village in northern Spain in the 1930s, where light had not yet reached the roads. Timeless legends in which pre-war realism and the paranormal would come face-to-face. A way to make sense of the darkness, death and mist of a demanding land. The tales of the mist are those you were told as a child, time and time again, on rainy afternoons and winter nights. They were told to you by your grandmother, your mother or even a neighbor, so that you would behave. You don’t know if you believe them, but they are told in your village, in the neighboring one and the whole region… so, they must be true, right?

⭐️ 1. LUCKENBOOTH by Jenni Fagan: Over nine decades, No. 10 Luckenbooth Close bears witness to emblems of a changing world outside its walls. An infamous madam, a spy, a famous Beat poet, a coal miner who fears daylight, a psychic: these are some of the residents whose lives are plagued by the building’s troubled history in disparate, sometimes chilling ways. The curse creeps up the nine floors and an enraged spirit world swells to the surface, desperate for the true horror of the building’s longest kept secret to be heard.

🎄 2. BUILD YOUR HOUSE AROUND MY BODY by Violet Kupersmith: 1986: The teenage daughter of a wealthy Vietnamese family gets lost in an abandoned rubber plantation while fleeing her angry father, and is forever changed by the experience. 2011: 25 years later, a young, unhappy Vietnamese-American named Winnie disappears from her new home in Saigon without a trace. The fates of both women are inescapably linked, bound together by past generations, by ghosts and ancestors, by the history of possessed bodies and possessed lands. Barrelling through the sweaty nightclubs of Saigon to ramshackle zoos, colonial mansions and haunted forests, Kupersmith’s heart-pounding fever dream of a novel combines Vietnamese history and folklore to create an immersive, playful, unforgettable debut.

⭐️ 3. THE OPHELIA GIRLS by Jane Healey: In the summer of 1973, Ruth and her friends are obsessed with pre-Raphaelite paintings. They spend summer days in the river pretending to be the drowning Ophelia. But by the end of the summer, real tragedy has found them. 24 years later, Ruth moves her family into her childhood home and her 17 year-old daughter, Maeve, is officially in remission and has been discharged from hospital. It’s just the five of them until Stuart comes to stay. And there’s something about him that makes Maeve feel more alive than all of her life-saving treatments put together. As the heat of the summer burns, how long can the family go before long-held secrets threaten to burst their banks and drown them all?

⭐️ 1. SITE FIDELITY by Claire Boyles: Rooted in the modern American West, this collection follows women and families who feel the instinctual, inexplicable pull of a home they must work to protect from the effects of economic inequity and climate catastrophe. A 74 year-old nun turns to eco-sabotage to stop a fracking project. A woman delivers her own baby in a Nevada ghost town. A young farmer hides her chicken flock from the government during a bird-flu epidemic. An ornithologist returns home to care for her rancher father and gets caught up trying to protect a breeding group of endangered Gunnison sage grouse. These stories span decades from the 1970s to a plausible near future.

🎄 2. ALL THE LITTLE PLACES by Sophie Shilito: All The Little Places takes a train ride from the rural village, through the dark and mysterious wood, past the ancient chalk pit and the dead lying in the cemetery, over the salty river and into the city. Curious scraps are stitched together in a poetic-prose tapestry of hints and glimpses into all these little places seen through the window. A shuffled carousel of vignettes is described with haunting imagery; secrets hidden in the passing landscape are revealed in exquisite detail; and strangeness is captivatingly woven through these fairytale fragments which are alive with spirit of place.

⭐️ 3. MODERN NATURE by Derek Jarman: In 1986 Derek Jarman discovered he was HIV positive and decided to make a garden at his cottage on the barren coast of Dungeness. Facing an uncertain future, he found solace in nature, growing all manner of plants. Modern Nature is both a diary of the garden and a meditation by Jarman on his own life: his childhood, his time as a young gay man in the 1960s, his renowned career as an artist, writer and film-maker. It is at once a lament for a lost generation, an unabashed celebration of gay sexuality, and a devotion to all that is living.

⭐️ 1. SUTURE by Nic Brewer: To make her films, Eva must take out her eyes and use them as batteries. To make her art, Finn must cut open her chest and remove her lungs and heart. To write her novels, Grace must use her blood to power the word processor. Suture shares three interweaving stories of artists tearing themselves open to make art. The result is a hyper-real exploration of the cruelties we commit and forgive in ourselves and others. Brewer brings a unique perspective to mental illness while exploring how support systems in relationships—spousal, parental, familial—can be both helpful and damaging.

🎄 2. TELL ME I’M WORTHLESS by Alison Rumfitt: Three years ago, Alice spent one night in an abandoned house with her friends Ila and Hannah. Since then, things have not been going well- she hasn’t spoken to Ila since they went, and hasn’t seen Hannah either. Memories of that night torment her mind and flesh, but when Ila asks her to return to the House, she knows she must go. Together Alice and Ila must face the horrifying occurrences that happened there, must pull themselves apart from the inside out, put their differences aside, and try to rescue Hannah, who the House has chosen to make its own. 

⭐️ 3. ILL FEELINGS by Alice Hattrick: In 1995 Alice’s mother collapsed with pneumonia. She never fully recovered and was eventually diagnosed with ME. Then Alice got ill. Their symptoms mirrored their mother’s and appeared to have no physical cause; they received the same diagnosis a few years later. Ill Feelings blends memoir, medical history, biography and literary non-fiction to uncover both of their case histories, and branches out into the records of ill health that women have written about in diaries and letters, including Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, and the nurse Florence Nightingale. Hattrick’s genre-bending debut is a moving and defiant exploration of life with a medically unexplained illness.

⭐️ 1. THIS IS OUR RAINBOW, 16 stories of Her, Him, Them, and Us edited by Katherine Locke: The first LGBTQA+ anthology for middle-graders featuring stories for every letter of the acronym, including realistic, fantasy, and sci-fi stories. A boyband fandom becomes a conduit to coming out. A former bully becomes a first-kiss prospect. One nonbinary kid searches for an inclusive athletic community after quitting gymnastics. Another nonbinary kid, who happens to be a pirate, makes a wish that comes true- but not how they thought it would. A tween girl navigates a crush on her friend’s mom. A young witch turns herself into a puppy to win over a new neighbor. A trans girl empowers her online bestie to come out.

🎄 2. ANCESTOR APPROVED, Intertribal stories for kids edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith: A collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers that bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride. Native families from Nations across the continent gather at the Dance for Mother Earth Powwow in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In a high school gym full of color and song, people dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. Young protagonists will meet relatives from faraway, mysterious strangers, and sometimes one another (plus one scrappy rez dog). They are the heroes of their own stories.

⭐️ 3. HOW TO BECOME A PLANET by nicole melleby: This summer, none of Pluto’s favourite activities feel possible. A month before the end of the school year, Pluto’s frightened mom broke down Pluto’s bedroom door. What came next were doctor’s appointments, a diagnosis of depression, and a big black hole that still sits on Pluto’s chest, making it too hard to do anything. And it isn’t until Pluto’s dad threatens to make her move with him to the city that Pluto becomes desperate enough to do whatever it takes to be the old Pluto again. She develops a plan and a checklist: If she takes her medication, if she goes to the planetarium with her mom for her birthday, if she successfully finishes her summer school work with her tutor, if she goes to Meredith’s birthday party . . . if she does all the things that “normal” Pluto would do, she can stay with her mom in Jersey. But it takes a new therapist, a new tutor, and a new (and cute) friend with a checklist and plan of her own for Pluto to learn that there is no old and new Pluto. There’s just her.

⭐️ 1. BABY TEETH by Meg Grehan: The blood feeds the hunger that threatens everything. It starts when Claudia offers her a yellow rose. Immy has been in love before – many times, across many lifetimes. But never as deeply and intensely as this. Claudia has never been this in love before either. But then, this is her first time with a vampire. The forbidden thirst for blood runs deep in Immy. And within her mind clamour the voices, of all the others she has been, their desires, and their wrongs.

🎄 2. BLACKOUT: When a heatwave plunges New York City into darkness, sparks fly for thirteen teenagers caught up in the blackout. When the lights go out, people reveal hidden truths, love blossoms, friendship transforms and new possibilities take flight. Six of today’s biggest stars of the YA world, Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon, bring all the electricity of love to a collection of charming, hilarious and heartbreaking tales that shine the brightest light through the dark.

⭐️ 3. MAY THE BEST MAN WIN by ZR Ellor: Jeremy, cheer captain and student body president, won’t let coming out as transgender ruin his senior year. Instead of bowing to the bigots and school administration, Jeremy decides to make some noise- and how better than by challenging his all-star ex-boyfriend, Lukas for the title of Homecoming King? But when Jeremy threatens to break his heart and steal his crown, Lukas kick starts a plot to sabotage Jeremy’s campaign. When both boys take their rivalry too far, the dance is on the verge of being canceled. To save Homecoming, they’ll have to face the hurt they’re both hiding- and the lingering butterflies they can’t deny.

⭐️ 1. NIGHTBITCH by Rachel Yoder: At home full-time with her two-year-old son, an artist finds she is struggling, lonely and exhausted. Her husband, always travelling for his work, calls her from faraway hotel rooms. One more toddler bedtime, and she fears she might lose her mind. Instead, quite suddenly, she starts gaining things, surprising things that happen one night when her child will not sleep. Sharper canines. Strange new patches of hair. New appetites, new instincts. And from deep within herself, a new voice…

🎄 2. UNSETTLED GROUND by Claire Fuller: At 51 years old, twins Jeanie and Julius still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Inside the walls of their old cottage they make music, and in the garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance. But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. Jeanie and Julius would do anything to preserve their small sanctuary against the perils of the outside world, even as their mother’s secrets begin to unravel, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake.

⭐️ 3. BROTHER SISTER MOTHER EXPLORER by Jamie Figueroa: In the tourist town of Ciudad de Tres Hermanas, in the aftermath of their mother’s passing, two siblings spend a final weekend together in their childhood home. Seeing her brother, Rafa, careening toward a place of no return, Rufina devises a bet: if they can make enough money performing for privileged tourists in the plaza over the course of the weekend to afford a plane ticket out, Rafa must commit to living. If not, Rufina will make her peace with Rafa’s own plan for the future, however terrifying it may be. As the siblings reckon with generational and ancestral trauma, set against the indignities of present-day prejudice, other strange hauntings begin to stalk these pages: their mother’s ghost kicks her heels against the walls; Rufina’s vanished child creeps into her arms at night; and above all this, watching over the siblings, a genderless, flea-bitten angel remains hell-bent on saving what can be saved.

⭐️ 1. FOUR HUNDRED SOULS edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain: A unique one-volume “community” history of African Americans. The editors have assembled 90 brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics, and approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold stories of ordinary people; through places, laws, and objects. This collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith—instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness.

🎄 2. SMALL BODIES OF WATER by Nina Mingya Powles: This lyrical collection of interconnected essays explores the bodies of water that separate and connect us, as well as everything from migration, food, family, earthquakes and the ancient lunisolar calendar to butterflies. In powerful prose, Small Bodies of Water weaves together personal memories, dreams and nature writing. It reflects on a girlhood spent growing up between two cultures, and explores what it means to belong.

⭐️ 3. GORY DETAILS by Erika Engelhaupt: Filled to the brim with far-out facts, this wacky and informative narrative takes us on a fascinating journey through the astonishing world of science. From the biologist who endured countless honeybee stings to test which spot was the most painful, to the dollhouse-sized replicas of crime scenes built to analyze blood splatter, this book explores oft-ignored but alluring facets of biology, anatomy, space exploration, nature, and more. Featuring top-notch reporting, interviews with leading researchers in the field, and a healthy dose of wit.

⭐️ 1. AMORA by Natalia Borges Polesso, translated by : These 33 short stories and poems capture the candid, private moments of women in love. Together, these stories and the women who inhabit them reveal an illuminating portrait of the sacred female romance, with all its nuances, complexities, burdens, and triumphs revealed. Violence, sickness, chaos, tenderness, beauty, and freedom adorn these pages in a mosaic of unforgettable moments, including a lesbian granddaughter discovering unexpected commonalities with her grandmother, a teenager’s tryst with her friend after disenchanting sex with a boy, and an old couple’s dreamy Sunday-morning ritual.

🎄 2. GIRLS AGAINST GOD by Jenny Hval, translated by Marjam Idriss: Welcome to 1990s Norway. White picket fences run in neat rows and Christian conservatism runs deep. But as the Artist considers her past, her practice and her hatred, things start stirring themselves up around her. In a corner of Oslo, a coven of witches begin cooking up some curses. A time-travelling Edvard Munch arrives in town to join a black metal band, closely pursued by the teenaged subject of his painting Puberty, who has murder on her mind. Meanwhile, out deep in the forest, a group of school girls get very lost and things get very strange. Hval’s latest novel is a radical fusion of feminist theory and experimental horror, and a unique treatise on magic, gender and art.

⭐️ 3. HEAVEN by Mieko Kawakami, translated by : A 14-year old boy is tormented for having a lazy eye. Instead of resisting, he chooses to suffer in silence. The only person who understands what he is going through is a female classmate, Kojima, who experiences similar treatment at the hands of her bullies. Providing each other with immeasurable consolation at a time in their lives when they need it most, the two young friends grow closer than ever. But what, ultimately, is the nature of a friendship when your shared bond is terror?

⭐️ 1. THE APPENDIX by Liam Konemann: In 2019, Konemann began collating what he called ‘The Appendix’, a simple record of ongoing transphobia in the UK that he came across in day-to-day life. When the list began to take its toll on his mental health, he changed tack by asking different questions: how is beauty in transmasculinity found? And how is it maintained in a transphobic world? Here, we travel back in time through Liam’s life and experiences on both sides of the globe, and examine the wider hostile climate that trans people face today. In response, focus shifts to celebrate trans joy, the complexities of finding it and, crucially, holding on to it.

🎄 2. ASSEMBLY by Natasha Brown: The narrator of Assembly is a Black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart? A story about the stories we live within – those of race and class, safety and freedom, winners and losers- and one woman daring to take control of her own story, even at the cost of her life.

⭐️ 3. EAT THE MOUTH THAT FEEDS YOU by Carribean Fragoza: Fragoza’s debut collection of stories reside in the domestic surreal, featuring an unusual gathering of Latinx and Chicanx voices from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border, and universes beyond. A young woman returns home from college, only to pick up where she left off. A mother reflects on the pain and pleasures of being consumed by her small daughter, whose penchant for ingesting grandma’s letters has extended to taking bites of her actual flesh. A brother and sister watch anxiously as their distraught mother takes an ax to their old furniture, and then to the backyard fence, until finally she attacks the family’s beloved lime tree.

⭐️ 1. MANHUNT by Gretchen Felker Martin: An explosive post-apocalyptic novel that follows trans women and men on a grotesque journey of survival. Beth and Fran spend their days traveling the ravaged New England coast, hunting feral men and harvesting their organs in a gruesome effort to ensure they’ll never face the same fate. Robbie lives by his gun and one hard-learned motto: other people aren’t safe. After a brutal accident entwines the three of them, this found family of survivors must navigate murderous TERFs, a sociopathic billionaire bunker brat, and awkward relationship dynamics—all while outrunning packs of feral men, and their own demons.

🎄 2. OUR WIVES UNDER THE SEA by Julia Armfield: Miri thinks she has her wife back, when Leah finally returns after a deep sea mission that ended in catastrophe. It soon becomes clear, though, that Leah may have come back wrong. Whatever happened in that vessel, whatever it was they were supposed to be studying before they were stranded on the ocean floor, Leah has carried part of it with her, onto dry land and into their home…

⭐️ 3. WHEN I SING MOUNTAINS DANCE by Irene Sola: Near a village high in the Pyrenees, Domènec wanders, fancying himself more a poet than a farmer, gathering black chanterelles and attending to a troubled cow. And then storm clouds swell, releasing their bolts of lightning, one of which strikes and kills Domènec. The ghosts of 17th-century witches gather around him, taking up the chanterelles he’d harvested before going on their way. So begins this novel that is as much about the mountains and the mushrooms as it is about the human dramas that unfold in their midst.


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