Must-Have Reads To Add To Your Christmas List

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Looking for a new read or a bookish Christmas gift for a loved one? Here are 3 of our must-reads for 2019.

⬇️ Shop the books below and read the reviews.

THE INSTITUTE by Stephen King

The latest from the master of suspense, King’s new novel is a thrilling page-turner!

Deep in the woods of Maine, there is a dark state facility where kids, abducted from across the United States, are incarcerated. In the Institute they are subjected to a series of tests and procedures meant to combine their exceptional gifts – telepathy, telekinesis – for concentrated effect.

Luke Ellis is the latest recruit. He’s just a regular 12-year-old, except he’s not just smart, he’s super-smart. And he has another gift which the Institute wants to use…

the institute

I’m not going to go into too much detail because I will spoil the twists but just know, this book was everything I wanted it to be and more! As someone who loves a good Stephen King horror, I was ready to go on whatever twisted tale King had whipped up in The Institute. Needless to say, the man delivers a thrilling and suspenseful read that had me telling myself ‘just one more chapter’.

Like with the majority of Kings novels, we find ourselves in a battle of good vs. evil. In this case, the good guys are kids, kidnapped and taken to an institution, a place that acts as our bad guy. I’m not sure how he does it, but King somehow manages to pen these wise, witty and well-rounded childhood characters that seep their way into your soul and have you rooting for them from start to finish.

With some truly heartbreaking moments, a few edge of your seat thrills, the best character development I’ve read this year and those spine-tingling chills King is known for, The Institute is a nearly flawless read that provides a timely narrative on the changing political climate and has you captivated from start to end.

If you loved the suspense of The Outsider and the childhood camaraderie of IT, The Institute combines the best bits of both to create a stunning new novel that makes the perfect gift for any thriller lovers in your life – even if that’s yourself!

Add it to your Goodreads TBR and grab a copy.

THE FAMILY GIFT by Cathy Kelly

An absolutely joyous read from the author that bought us The Year That Changed Everything.

Freya Abalone has a big, messy, wonderful family, a fantastic career, and a new house. But that’s on the outside. On the inside, she’s got Mildred – the name she’s given to that nagging inner critic who tells us all we’re not good enough.

And now Freya’s beloved blended family is under threat. Dan’s first wife Elisa, the glamorous, manipulative woman who happily abandoned her daughter to Freya and Dan’s care and left the country, has elbowed her way back into their lives.

But Freya knows that when life gives you lemons, you throw them right back.

Can Freya put her family – and herself – back together? Find out in Cathy Kelly’s warmest, wisest and funniest book yet…

the family gift

Well wasn’t this delightful!

I’ll be honest, before I read The Year That Changed Everything, I’m not sure Cathy Kelly would’ve piqued my interest but boy am I glad I did because Kelly is a wonderful writer that pens complex female characters I would follow anywhere.

Our lead Freya is trying her best to do it all – be a wife, a mother to 3 kids, a daughter, a TV Chef and if that’s not enough, she is struggling to live a full life because of an incident that has left her fearful and hiding an array of emotions she’s not ready to deal with. When family drama arises, the story kicks into overdrive and we are taken along on what becomes an entertaining and emotional ride.

With well-rounded characters you quickly develop a fondness for, The Family Gift is a truly spectacular read that will have you laughing and reaching for the tissues.

Add it to your Goodreads TBR and grab a copy.


A truly captivating read that will have you up until the wee hours of the morning trying to squeeze in another page, Unfollow is an intriguing read for anyone who wants a behind the scenes look at one of the most famous churches in the world.

It was an upbringing in many ways normal. A loving home, shared with squabbling siblings, overseen by devoted parents. Yet in other ways it was the precise opposite: a revolving door of TV camera crews and documentary makers, a world of extreme discipline, of siblings vanishing in the night.

Megan Phelps-Roper was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church – the fire-and-brimstone religious sect at once aggressively homophobic and anti-Semitic, rejoiceful for AIDS and natural disasters, and notorious for its picketing the funerals of American soldiers. From her first public protest, aged five, to her instrumental role in spreading the church’s invective via social media, her formative years brought their difficulties. But being reviled was not one of them. She was preaching God’s truth. She was, in her words, ‘all in’.

In November 2012, at the age of twenty-six, she left the church, her family, and her life behind.


If you’re a lover of true crime podcasts or find yourself easily sucked in to all of those Bravo late night shows about cults and radical communities, then Unfollow is the book for you.

Hands down one of the best books I’ve read in 2019, I quickly found myself captivated by the authors raw account of her life in the Westboro Baptist Church, an organisation her family has had a starring role in since before her birth and whose harsh words she preached faithfully – as she says, she was “all in”.

Her journey from a child born into bigotry to a compassionate woman advocating for equality is a true testament to the human spirit.

Her inspirational story begins in her childhood where we find her picketing using words fed to her by her parents and continues through her teen years and into adulthood, all the while providing a jarring peek behind one of the most famous churches in the world. It’s an emotional read that riles you up and pulls on your heartstrings as Phelps-Roper details her family dynamics and the interactions with opposing minds that led her to leave the church and her family behind.

If there is one book you need to add to your bookshelf, it’s this one.

Add it to your Goodreads TBR and grab a copy.

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Written by Monique Renee

Usually barefoot and deep in wanderlust mode, Mon loves binging Netflix, cuddling babies and stalking through Instagram looking for boho decor inspo and hotties with man buns. You’ll usually find her on holiday, planning a holiday or thinking about holidays.

Favourite Instagram to follow: @hotdudesreading


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