By Guest Blogger Ellen Bryant Lloyd 

After this busy (and, let’s face it, quite unusual) holiday season, moms deserve to sit back and really relax. One of my favorite ways to relax, especially after the holidays, is to curl up under a fuzzy-soft blanket with a cup of hot tea or cocoa (being by a fire is an added bonus!) and escape for several hours in a good book. This time of year I especially love books that have more winter-like themes, both recently published and those from a few years ago. Here are great reads that will help you unwind and take some much needed time, just for yourself. Enjoy!

Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah
This seasonal title by bestselling author, Kristin Hannah, features a theme that many harried and hurried moms can relate to — a desire to escape. Although the main character’s escape is prompted by a challenging life change, it still brings to mind the idea of shifting gears and embarking on a soul-searching journey. Dubbed as a modern day fairy tale, the essence of the story is summed up in this reviewer’s comment, “On a magical Christmas Eve, a night of impossible dreams and unexpected chances, Joy must find the courage to believe in a love—and a family—that can’t possibly exist, and go in search of what she wants . . . and the new life only she can find.”

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella
Sophie Kinsella is an author who never fails to deliver some great laughs. This recently released title is perfect to enjoy while hunkering down in your cozy spot. In this story, two people meet on a romantic Italian retreat, but return to “real life” and the realization that all is not rosy in a different environment. This is a lighthearted, fun read that is sure to be enjoyed.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
This novel, set in 1920s London, features a widow and her daughter who take in a young couple during a tense time in history. This book is a love story as well as a crime thriller. Needless to say, the new tenants shake up life for the woman and her daughter in unexpected ways. Fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy this title, but note that themes are much more intense. It is important to mention that Walters has been thrice short-listed for the prestigious Man Booker Prize and is considered one of the greatest writers of historical fiction.

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
This novel has received rave reviews and hearty recommendations by many media outlets. This is a story about Reuben, a young, asthmatic boy who believes in miracles. He teams up with his sister and father to search for his brother who is “at large” and controversially charged with murder. Serendipity, the kindness of strangers, love and faith fill the pages of this wonderful book. Marta Salij of the Detroit Free Press says this novel is a “perfect book for an anxious time … of great literary merit that nonetheless restores readers’ faith in the kindness of stories.”

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
This historical novel features Carrie McClelland, a writer who travels to Scotland in hopes of writing a bestselling book about the Jacobite Rebellion of 1708. She ends up finding out more about her ancestral connection to that historic event and is soon surprised to realize that her fiction writing really belongs more in the nonfiction genre, although all happened so long ago. Diana Gabaldon, bestselling author of Outlander, says, “I’ve loved every one of Susanna’s books! She has bedrock research and a butterfly’s delicate touch with characters—sure recipe for historical fiction that sucks you in and won’t let go!”

Winter Siege by Ariana Franklin and Samantha Norman
Historical fiction fans will love being transported back to England in the year 1141. This story features war, royalty, peasants, monks, soldiers, mercenaries, amnesia, a kidnapping and much more. The setting during a long, brutal winter will make everything feel even more real as you find yourself pulled into a time long, long ago.

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis
This winter-themed novel is perfect for a lighter read. In this story, Jess has recently fulfilled a long-held dream of living in the city after moving to London. When she and her new roommates share Christmas dinner in their Notting Hill house, Jess soon realizes that she has eyes for Alex, a man who also lives on her floor. This interest creates an inconvenient love triangle as they all grow closer during the winter holiday. Pick it up to find out what happens!

Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman
Phillip Pullman fans will enjoy this magical story that features plenty of adventure and snow scenes. A quest ensues after Lyra’s friend Roger disappears. Their trek leads them to the North where ice and witch-queens breeze across frozen skies and scientists work in the lab on experiments that are too horrifying to mention. There is a new BBC adaptation of this story — check it out!

Ellen Bryant Lloyd is the author of FRECKLES and FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue. Please visit and to learn more about Freckles. Ellen writes a blog about her perspectives on life and parenting at and tweets at @EllenBLloyd. She lives in Greensboro with her husband and two children.

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