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Body Horror: Squirmy Scares | Reader’s Shelf


The Almost Queen

A first-tier purchase for libraries where romantic fantasies are popular, especially ones with crossover appeal for older teens.

Five Decembers

This is hardboiled fiction at its best: an exceptional tale, filled with emotion, plenty of surprises, and enough violence to satisfy the most bloodthirsty reader.

The Death of Jane Lawrence

Starling’s (The Luminous Dead) gothic horror is an immersive delight that will be adored by fans of alternate histories, the film Crimson Peak, ghost stories, magical experiments gone wrong, and stories about women becoming aware of their own power.

Blood & Bone: An Anthology of Body Horror by Women and Non-Binary Writers

An important addition to any horror collection but especially for libraries looking to diversify. Recommend to readers of Ellen Datlow’s collection Body Shocks, and Trigger Warning: Body Horror edited by Desiree Baltisberger.

Duke, Actually

This smashing sequel is packed with delightful characters, snappy dialogue, and a fairy-tale European setting. A top pick for every holiday romance reading list.

Death at Greenway

This is an intriguing mystery with well-developed characters and fascinating historical details. For fans of Charles Todd and Jacqueline Winspear.

Interstellar Angel

Navarre’s sci-fi romance is fast-paced, erotic, and brutal. Book one ends on a cliffhanger, so be prepared to order books two and three to meet reader demand.

The First Christmas: A Story of New Beginnings

Readers don’t need a religious background to be entertained and educated by this account of the first Christmas.


White takes our collective pandemic anxieties and weaves them into a wonderfully weird and unexpected horror tale. Don’t overlook this gem.

The Christmas Wish

Libraries owning the other “Blessings, Georgia” books will need to buy copies; and fans of Debbie Macomber, Diana Palmer, and Robyn Carr might enjoy picking up this interconnected series by Sala.

The Bachelor’s Valet

Recommended for library patrons who would enjoy a cozy, queer romance with sparkling prose, fade-to-black love scenes, and light magic.

Professor Charlatan Bardot’s Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) Haunted Buildings in the Weird, Wild World

An ambitious and beautifully constructed anthology that fans of the genre won’t want to miss; a necessary addition to any library.

Hard To Love

Sure to be a favorite for sports romance fans.

Christmas in Full Bloom

The Christmas charm runs high while the romantic stakes remain low, which will appeal to readers looking for a stress-free holiday romance.

Confessions of His Christmas Housekeeper

Readers won’t be able to put down this Christmas romance until all of the secrets of Giacomo and Louise’s relationship are revealed. This title will please those who love to see a couple reunite and overcome their dark past with an inspiring, emotional journey.

Echoes of the Dead

The series has through lines, but each book can be read as a stand-alone; this installment is great for readers looking for a Stephen King–like scare.

Foolish Hearts

Williams’s novel doesn’t shy away from family dysfunction, and sometimes there are no easy answers, keeping readers guessing until the end. Recommended for all public libraries.

A Prime’s Passion

Recommended for libraries where Walker’s books are popular or paranormals are in demand.

Jingle Bell Wolf

This feel-good holiday read has a few subplots that fizzle out (someone Gabrielle dated briefly pursues her intensely, then is dropped without explanation, and her friends solve a mystery with no real suspense; plus, Gabrielle’s fear of snow and ice is glossed over) but Spear’s many fans will be waiting to read about the Wolffs, so libraries should purchase accordingly.

Holly Jolly Cowboy

Some may find the enemies-to-lovers transformation takes too long, but those who love the idea of winning over an irritable cowboy might appreciate Holly’s efforts to put Adam in his place. Readers looking for a cowboy fix should start with the earlier titles in the “Painted Barrel” series, particularly the Christmas-themed ones.

Double Take

Recommended for libraries where the first book circulated well or for die-hard PI fans.

The Christmas Bookshop

Get ready to root for these charming characters as they bungle their way toward a merry Christmas

A Season for Second Chances

Bayliss’s fans and readers who enjoy laugh-out-loud rom-coms will want to spend a cozy winter evening by the fire with Annie and the residents of Willow Bay.

The Holiday Swap

Knox serves up a delicious romantic comedy à la Christina Lauren or Emily Henry.

A Winter’s Earl: A Regency Christmas Romance

The red-hot love scenes, tender emotions, and Two Men and a Baby–style comedy will leave readers eager for Greene’s next romance.

Her Wolf in the Wild

Gray twists paranormal tropes into a steamy take on fated mates. Recommended for all public libraries seeking more paranormal romance.

The Last Season

An undistinguished historical romance whose predictable plot is made worse by the pacing. Readers won’t be satisfied by the lackluster conclusion.

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The Explorer Baroness

Readers will enjoy the novel’s adventure as well its romance.

Colton 911: Desperate Ransom

Fans of the series will undoubtedly have this one on their list, but new readers might be frustrated by the fact that the kidnapper’s identity isn’t revealed here.

Strictly Confidential

Though the leads have plenty of chemistry, the romance gets a bit lost, with a few too many subplots and characters for a novel of this length.

Pregnant After One Forbidden Night

Readers will love the descriptions of the extravagant beauty of the island setting. The hot passion and sweet romance between Sebastian and Jenna will have them holding on until the very end for the couple’s happily-ever-after.

A Nun for the Viking Warrior

A stunning, steamy romance with deliciously flawed protagonists.

The Wedding Planner’s Christmas Wish

A first-tier purchase for libraries where emotional contemporary romances are popular.

Secrets, Vegas Style

This well-drawn conflict elevates the second half of the book and builds to a very satisfying though somewhat abrupt conclusion, though readers looking for an emotional ending might be let down.

The Greek’s Cinderella Deal

This novel transports readers to a luxurious island resort where they’ll breeze through the pages. Hand this to anyone who enjoys a fairy tale–inspired romance with a heroine who won’t compromise when it comes to her happy ending.

The Bride He Stole for Christmas

Give this to readers who love a hero who believes he’s cold and unfeeling until he falls for a woman unlike any other and must break down the barriers around his heart so that they can be together.

The Stakes of Faking It

A delight for readers looking for a quick read with maximum emotional content.

Uncovering Colton’s Family Secret

A lackluster, unrealistic plot and awkward dialogue make this installment one to skip. Readers who insist on reading every book of a series may be able to soldier through.

Unwrapped by Her Italian Boss

Start the holiday season off right with Merry and Giovanni’s cheeky banter and fierce attraction, as well as the quirks of fate that keep pushing them together.

Find Me

Miles (“Christmas at the Carlisles” series) has written a solid novel that touches on some societal issues facing vulnerable populations. Some of the plot’s secrets may not be that much of a surprise when revealed to readers, and some of its action scenes are a bit over the top, but many will find this to be a strong addition to the Harlequin Intrigue line.

Just for the Holidays…

Readers looking for holiday joy are sure to find it here, with winning characters and an emotional reunion perfect for the Christmas setting.

Lord Tresham’s Tempting Rival

An enemies-to-lovers plot that ticks all the boxes.

Rogue Christmas Operation

It will likely be popular among fans of military and spy romances.

Bound by Her Shocking Secret

This novel moves among luxurious international settings from deluxe apartments in Paris and New York City to the tropical beauty of a beach house in Costa Rica. The slow burn between Mia and Daniel will have readers hungrily turning pages to the sweet and sexy ending.

The Billionaire’s Island Reunion

A solid purchase where contemporary romance is popular.

An Heir of His Own

More of a happy-for-now than a happily-ever-after, the book concludes with major plot points still unresolved.

Operation Whistleblower

Readers who are already invested in the Cutter’s Crew gang will undoubtedly want to read this installment as well, though it’s not the most engaging novel in the series. The mystery itself is decent, but Parker’s personal issues will likely seem a lot less daunting to the reader than they seem to him.

K-9 Patrol

Tending towards the melodramatic and a little too much telling versus showing, the book is highly reminiscent of the CSI TV shows. Fans of mutual pining and crime TV would enjoy this.

Regency Christmas Liaisons

These three Christmas tales set in Regency England are sure to keep readers warm this winter.

Deadly Days of Christmas

Hallmark fans with just a passing interest in mystery will enjoy Cassidy’s (Stalker in the Shadows) story more than avid mystery fans, particularly as the murders have a theme that many readers will pick up on much more quickly than the characters.

Ways To Win an Ex

The chemistry is strong, and the willingness of characters to set and respect boundaries makes the book even better.

The Single Dad’s Christmas Proposal

A first-tier purchase for contemporary romance collections.

Under the Rancher’s Protection

Readers who have been following the story of the Reynolds siblings won’t want to miss this one. For those unfamiliar with the series, this is standard romantic suspense series fare: heroine in danger turning to an old flame for assistance. It is both readable and comforting in its relative predictability.

Her Name Is Knight

Angoe deftly balances action, interpersonal relationships, issues of trauma, and profound human questions in an unforgettable novel.

The Pickwick Murders

Fans of mysteries with historical backgrounds, especially the popular Victorian period, will enjoy this latest installment.

Count to Three

Thriller fans won’t find anything fresh in Ragan’s creepy story of a man who killed his mother and is looking for a teenage bride.

These Silent Woods

Grant’s evocative prose, nuanced characters, and undercurrent of quiet tension will appeal to a variety of readers.

The Santa Suit

Readers who enjoy a sassy, sentimental holiday story with magical Christmas surprises should pick up Andrews’s latest without delay.

Christmas Past: An Anthology of Seasonal Stories from Nineteenth-Century America

Perfect for readers who want to slow down and think more deeply about the evolution of American Christmases; with charming illustrations to boot.

The Wish Book Christmas

There’s no putting down this nostalgic, appealing read that conveys the feeling of a child’s wonder and the building of a caring community.

The House of Rust

Inspired by African folktales, Bajaber imagined a magical realist world that earned her the first Graywolf Press Africa prize for her manuscript long before it was published. With its spunky protagonist, foreboding atmosphere, and supernatural elements, this novel would appeal to readers of Karen Russell’s genre-defying Swamplandia and would also be a perfect selection for young adults eager to broaden their literary horizons.

The Viscount’s Christmas Proposal

Arens’s (To Wed a Wallflower) hot and heavy story is certain to keep readers engaged from cover to cover this winter.

Texas Stalker

The most dedicated series fans will appreciate this most, while casual readers may put it down.

The Billionaire’s Proposition in Paris

The fiery ardor of Katie and Conall’s story is perfect for readers who enjoy enigmatic heroes with strong family ties to his family, endearing heroines, and glamorous locations.

His Majesty’s Hidden Heir

Readers will fall for Prince Konstantin as he admires Emma for her strength as a single mom and works to repair his past mistakes. This novel provides the royal experience with an emphasis on the importance of family relationships and rebuilding trust.

Stay Hidden

While the intrigue here lies more in the “how to catch ’em” storyline than the more traditional “whodunnit,” it’s a worthy addition to any Harlequin collection and a highlight for the month.

Mistletoe Kiss with the Millionaire

A solid purchase where contemporary romance is popular.

The Penniless Debutante

An emotional, sensual view into the life of a woman on the edge of British society.

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These Toxic Things

Hall’s latest is a tech-savvy juggernaut of fear and paranoia, rendered quirky and original by the colloquial voice of its millennial protagonist. Some good advice before reading: Make sure the doors are locked.

A Surprise for Christmas and Other Seasonal Mysteries

With perfectly sized stories for stolen moments during a busy season, there’s something for everyone in this well-curated anthology.

Final Table

This is a great purchase for all collections as it tackles some relevant political issues, the Me Too movement, and the growing incredibility of popular social platforms.

Hooked on a Feline

Fans of cat mysteries and cozies will lap up the adventures of librarian Kathleen and her supernatural kitty sidekicks and beg for more of the budding romance between Kathleen and Marcus and the antics of Mayville’s other quirky, charming residents.

Better Off Dead

The writing is more seamless than in the Child brothers’ previous collaboration, but the action is often perfunctorily described, and the supporting cast is thinly written. There’s less humor than in previous entries, though Reacher’s notorious Luddism is played for a few laughs. Fans of the series will enjoy.

Sophie Valroux’s Paris Stars

Readers will root for the feisty and determined but vulnerable chef to succeed in her pursuit of professional and personal success and happiness. For foodies who like strong heroines and romance.

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed

In spite of her penchant for using murder to solve her problems, elderly Maud is incredibly clever and oddly charming. Readers may find themselves rooting for her to get away with it all and will also appreciate the bonus gingerbread recipe.

The Scholars of Night

Highly recommended for readers looking for classic spy stories such as those by John le Carré and Len Deighton, because this work stands up to the best of the genre.

Wolf Point

An intriguing sequel, though it could do without some of the details of Chicago and golf; fans of Stephen Mack Jones’s “August Snow” mysteries will enjoy.

I Am Not Who You Think I Am

Rickstad ratchets up the suspense, filling Wayland’s investigations with misdirection, shadowy characters, and gothic elements. There’s a sense of dread throughout the book, but the final plot twist is a jaw-dropper. Recommended for readers who like their thrillers dark and twisted.

In the Company of Witches

Wallace’s wonderful Connecticut setting and quirky characters make this a fun new cozy mystery series.


Hausmann’s ominous psychological suspense tale masterfully uses restraint, inserting a continual flow of small but significant clues to create tension and a heavy tone. The multidimensional characters will keep readers questioning what they know. For fans of Fiona Barton and Gillian Flynn.

The Apollo Murders

Hadfield draws on his expertise as an astronaut to add authenticity and realism to his debut thriller. Fans of Clive Cussler and Andy Weir will enjoy this genre-bender combining military fiction, the detective novel, and techno-thriller.

Last Girl Ghosted

Unger keeps readers guessing, with revelations that will make them stop and question what they thought they knew. She might also make them think twice about online dating. Recommended for those who like psychological thrillers with women protagonists, such as Andrea Bartz’s We Were Never Here.

Death in a Desert Garden

For fans of cozy mysteries in Southwestern settings.


A tense debut thriller with excellent characters and a timely, satisfying plot; knowledge of recent Argentinian history would help readers contextualize the violence Díaz depicts. For fans of Philip Kerr’s “Bernie Gunther” novels.

The Savage Kind

Copenhaver’s latest is jam-packed with noir themes and plot twists. Sure to please fans of queer fiction and twisty mysteries.

Miss Moriarty, I Presume

Existing fans will appreciate the romantic plot developments, while new readers could treat this as a standalone but would be better served by starting with book one, A Study in Scarlet Women. Suitable for those who enjoy Deanna Raybourn’s “Veronica Speedwell” mysteries.

A Line To Kill

Horowitz’s latest reveals vulnerability in the condescending Daniel. Fans of the series or and Agatha Christie will relish character-driven mystery set on an isolated island.

Under Color of Law

Clark’s ripped-from-the-headlines police procedural should make readers uncomfortable. It’s a frightening, tragic tale.

Nanny Dearest

Mercifully avoiding the sexual clichés of many other domestic thrillers, Collins’s debut illustrates the sometimes obsessive and terrifying nature of love and the shattering consequences of its betrayal. Nanny services across the country may see a dip in demand when this intensely emotional psychological roller coaster is released.

The Cure for What Ales You

Fans of Kate Carlisle and Ellery Adams will love Alexander’s latest Sloan Krause cozy mystery; enjoy with a cold beer.

Betrayal on the Bowery

An action-packed historical mystery with a strong female protagonist and hints of future romance.

As the Wicked Watch

Hall’s decades of field experience lend a lot of credibility to the story and provide a strong footing for an intriguing new crime series.

Hold Me Down

A mystery that explores character motivations rather than the murder itself. For fans of Alexander McCall Smith and Janet Evanovich.

Mango, Mambo, and Murder

The character-driven debut introduces a fresh protagonist, a Cuban American woman trying to maintain her culinary heritage and Spanish language while attempting to find friends and a killer.

Dark Tarot

Feehan’s 31st entry in the “Dark” series (after Dark Song) is simultaneously a jumping-in point for new readers since it sets up a new story line, and a place for long time fans to enjoy a new couple and revisit old favorites. Required for libraries where Feehan is popular.

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