Expand Your Holiday Reading With These 3 New Releases

From a Christmas murder mystery to rom-com excellence with LGBTQ+ representation, these three new releases are perfect to diversify your holiday TBR.

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‘Tis the season for hot cocoa, cozy sweaters, and Hallmark movies. As much as I appreciate a wholesome holiday Hallmark flick, they can be a little copy-and-paste in terms of the plot and characters.

If you’re looking for some more diverse holiday stories that deviate from Hallmark channel tradition, this week’s Three to Read has the perfect line-up for you. To officially inaugurate the holiday season, we have a winter rom-com with a twist, a thrilling murder mystery, and a moving tale about navigating love and grief during the holidays. In other words, a little something for everyone to enjoy while bundled up by the fire.

Hot Pick

How to Excavate a Heart

by Jake Maia Arlow

holiday rom-com
Image via Amazon


Shani’s new paleoichthyology internship was supposed to be her much-needed distraction after being dumped right before winter break. However, her studious plans come to a screeching halt when she nearly runs over May with her mom’s Subaru. Then, a new dog-walking gig sets her on May’s path yet again. Forced to come to terms with her recent breakup and snowed in for the holidays, will Shani and May’s bond lead to more than a winter fling?


This new release puts a sapphic Jewish twist on a holiday rom-com, utilizing the beloved enemies-to-lovers trope. By balancing lighthearted, cutesy banter with a moving coming-of-age arc, Arlow gives readers a new LGBTQ+ holiday classic. It’s cozy, witty, and sure to melt your heart.

Coffee Shop Read

A Murder at Balmoral

by Chris McGeorge

holiday murder mystery
Image via Amazon


For Christmas, the royal family is gathered at their Scottish retreat. All is set for a holiday of tradition, luxury, and one big announcement. The King is to name his successor at dinner – a glass raised high in commemoration. That is, until he inexplicably drops dead on a major cliffhanger. Turns out, the King has been poisoned, and the snowed-in royal party has to sort out who among them is responsible for the murder at Balmoral Castle.


Described as “the Crown meets Clue,” this holiday-themed read is perfect for murder mystery fans looking for a Christmas classic with a dark side. It’s the perfect edge-of-your-seat read to devour in one sitting while snowed in like the royal guests. Who said a whodunnit mystery isn’t holiday-appropriate? Certainly not me!

Dark Horse

The Bluest Christmas

by Deja Elisa

holiday romance story
Image via Amazon


Christmas is a tough time of year for police officer Lynn Harris. She lives a quiet and guarded life, distanced from her small circle of friends and family. This season, her life takes a turn when she is tasked with evicting a young mother from their home. The woman, Nola, is in hiding from an abusive husband, leading Lynn to step in on a whim. She invites Nola and her baby into her home, which vastly changes the course of her holiday and, incidentally, her life.


Author Deja Elise specializes in stories that feature queer or bi-curious women of color. Her 2022 release, The Bluest Christmas, is sure to tug on readers’ heartstrings with an emotionally-rich tale that recognizes that the holiday season is not always an easy time in life. Lynn and Nola’s relationship is a great example of the Grumpy/Sunshine trope brought to life with masterful storytelling.

For more Three to Read line-ups, click here.