First For Women

7 books we’re loving now


Chick lit

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss

“This time of year is filled with holiday cheer, but it also makes me nostalgic for years gone by,” shares Melissa D’Agnese, FIRST Senior Editor. “So when I heard about this holiday read centered on old friends reuniting, it fit my mood!” Elinor Noel, “Nory” for short, was always torn between her working-class family life and her classmates’ fancy lives at the private school she attended on scholarshi­p. But she’s figured out how to keep both of these worlds at an equal distance and she’s happy running her used bookshop in London. Then around Christmas, two old school friends invite Nory and their friend group to spend a few days together before their wedding. What follows is a story of past flings, friendship­s and new love. Says Melissa, “Reading this with a mug of hot cocoa sparked so much joy!” (Penguin, 2022)

Historical fiction

The Making of Her

by Bernadette Jiwa “Sometimes I long for excitement to get me through dull days, so I picked up this book about a family with no shortage of secrets and drama!” says Patty Bontekoe, FIRST Executive Editor. No one knows that Joan and Martin Egan placed their baby up for adoption before they were married to avoid the scandal it would have caused in Dublin in the 1960s. And while Martin quickly moved on, Joan has never forgiven herself. Now, 30 years later, when she gets a letter from Emma, the daughter she’s spent every day wondering about, asking for her help, Joan is ready to drop everything to do it—but that means exposing their secret, something Martin refuses to do. “I just couldn’t put this book down,” says Patty. “And long after I did, I was thinking about Joan and the realizatio­n that it’s never too late to change your life!” (Dutton, 2022)


The Winners by Fredrik Backman

“As much as I cherish the holiday season, I find myself a bit harried and overwhelme­d with all the preparatio­ns and to-do’s,” says Tara Hans, FIRST Managing Editor. “So carving out ‘me time’ is more important than ever. When I found out this book that I’ve been anticipati­ng by one of my favorite authors was out, I couldn’t wait to dive in.” Two years have passed in the hockey-obsessed Beartown since the scandal that rocked the community, and everyone is finally starting to heal and move on. But when a ferocious storm reunites old friends, it also reignites old rivalries. And a new face emerges with a dangerous plan that could turn the town upside-down again. “This emotion-packed story of first loves, second chances, forgivenes­s and resilience left me with just the break I needed,” says Tara. “And it taught me that the most important part of the holidays is not the preparatio­n but the togetherne­ss with my own close-knit family and community.” (Atria, 2022)

Romantic comedy A Very Merry Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

“Following a string of draining workdays, I was feeling like Scrooge,” laughs Rebecca Haynes, FIRST Deputy Health Director. “Thankfully, this festive rom-com lifted my spirits!” Lawyer Gretchen Winthrop is tasked with getting country music singer Colton Wheeler to be the face of her family’s whiskey in exchange for a seat on the company’s charitable foundation, which she’s coveted. But it’s an awkward assignment for Gretchen, who’s been avoiding Colton since they met a year prior. Says Rebecca, “This story was a reminder that good things often require persistenc­e—and it made me smile!” (Berkley, 2022)

Holiday Always, in December by Emily Stone

“Every year, I look forward to new Hallmark Christmas movies,” shares Kate Arcell, FIRST Assistant Editor. “When a friend told me this story read like a holiday movie, I downloaded it!” Years after losing her parents on Christmas, Josie avoids the holiday—aside from mailing letters that her parents will never receive. But on her way to the post office, she meets Mac, who is skipping the holiday too. They spend the next days indulging in traditions they usually ignore. Says Kate, “It warmed my heart!” (Dell, 2021)

Cozy mystery

A Merry Murder

by Kate Kingsbury “Frigid weather kept me stuck in the house last Sunday,” says Shay Trotter FIRST Associate Editor. “But I still had fun with this cozy mystery!” With the Pennyfoot Hotel all decked out for Christmas, owner Cecily Sinclair Baxter is in high spirits—until one of the guests is found dead. Now, she must track down the culprit before they strike again! “The charming whodunit and trail of clues made reading this feel like a game,” says Shay. “It turned my ho-hum day into a fun one!” (Berkley, 2019)

Suspense Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards

“The past few weekends, my husband and I did a lot of traveling, and I was exhausted,” says Lauren Stachiw, FIRST Beauty Director. “To recharge, I grabbed this high-energy read.” Mira is headed home to Pittsburgh for Christmas, but a huge snowstorm cancels her connecting flight. Harper, a fellow passenger also headed to Pittsburgh, invites Mira to join her on a road trip to ensure they make it home in time. Soon, the trip takes an eerie turn. Raves Lauren, “I was on the edge of my seat!” (Sourcebook­s Fire, 2020)

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