It’s here! Christmas is almost upon us and that means you’re packing, wrapping, traveling, cooking and generally going holiday-crazy doing whatever must be done before the big day arrives. However, the holiday break also offers us some much-needed relaxation time off from work or school. There’s no better way to chill than cozying up to a great book and diving in. So, whether you’re cuddled up with a blanket near the tree in between gift-wrapping sessions, or riding in the passenger seat on your way to Grandma’s house, we have five hot new reads perfect for all of your holiday escapism needs.

Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of A Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator, Homer Hickam (William Morrow; October 2015)

carrying-albert-home-homer-hickamThermometers“Must-read… A funny yet tragic tale of a husband and wife’s car journey across the US with Albert the alligator in tow. Yes, really.” Marie Claire (UK)

Heat Index: The story follows Homer Hickam, father of the author (best known for his New York Times no. 1 bestseller Rocket Boys), and his wife, Elsie Lavender. The two were high school sweethearts in West Virginia, but Elsie fled to Orlando following Hickam’s proposal. There she met and fell for future actor Buddy Ebsen (!) who had other life plans. So Elsie retreated to West Virginia and married Hickam. When her wedding gift from Ebsen arrived — the alligator she raised named Albert — Hickam told Elsie, “Me or that alligator!” Adorably lovely with twists, turns and romance, you’ll want to join Elsie and Homer on their road trip as they carry Albert home.

Temperature: 89°

The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel, Nina George (Crown; June 2015)

the-little-paris-bookshop-nina-georgeThermometers“If you’re looking to be charmed right out of your own life for a few hours, sit down with this wise and winsome novel…Everything happens just as you want it to… from poignant moments to crystalline insights in exactly the right measure.”

Heat Index: Monsieur Perdu is healing broken hearts one book at a time. Working out of a floating bookstore on the Seine, he always knows exactly what every person who walks into his store needs, but he can’t seem to do that for himself in the years following the disappearance of the love of his life. When he finally opens the letter from her that he could never bring himself to read, its stunning contents propels the Perdu to steer his bookshop, with a crew consisting of an Italian chef and an author with writer’s block, on a journey along the Seine. Can he find the answers he’s looking for and heal his own heart while sharing his love of books with the people he meets? Charming, uplifting and exciting. For anyone who loves books and romance.

Temperature: 91°

See How They Run: An Embassy Row Novel, Ally Carter (Scholastic; December 22, 2015)

see-how-they-run-ally-carterThermometersCarter’s sophomore addition to her Embassy Row series is a fantastic thriller, well worth the wait.With murder, betrayal and secrets, this is definitely a must-read!” —RT Book Reviews

Heat Index: Embassy Row will make or break you. Grace Blakely is teetering on the edge as she continues to question everything concerning her mother’s murder — even after uncovering the truth. While she thought learning the truth meant moving on, Grace realizes she must expose important secrets in order to move past the last three years. But doing so will put her life and all she holds dear in real jeopardy. Can she do it? Exciting and gripping, Carter has another winner on her hands in her second installment in the Embassy Row series.

Temperature: 93°

Their Fractured Light: A Starbound Novel, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (Disney-Hyperion; December 1, 2015)

their-fractured-light-amie-kaufman-meagan-spoonerThermometers“…The plot kept me on the edge of my seat with many unexpected twists and turns along the way. Every bit of the story got wrapped up beautifully, leaving the reader with a sense of satisfaction.

Heat Index: Can powerful corruption be defeated in the galaxy? The final installment in the Starbound Trilogy, Their Fractured Light, follows Flynn, Jubilee, Tarver and Lilac on the planet of Corinth. When the foursome crosses paths with Gideon Marchant and Sofia Quinn, they realize that they all must work together if they have any hope at taking down LaRoux Industries. With each player having high personal stakes in the fall of the company, trust is at an all-time low. And in order to get to the bottom of LaRoux’s secrets, they have to decide whether or not it’s worth risking everything. As a fan of Kaufman and Spooner’s Starbound series, I can promise you don’t want to miss this epic conclusion!

Temperature: 96°

Drawing Blood, Molly Crabapple (Harper Collins; December 1, 2015)

drawing-blood-molly-crabappleThermometersCrabapple is also one of America’s best, most original artists. Her memoir tells the story of her remarkable life, from her days modeling for Suicide Girls to her groundbreaking Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School and her work with Occupy Wall Street.” —Men’s Journal

Heat Index: From her childhood on Long Island to her move to Europe, Molly Crabapple has always had a sketchbook nearby to draw what she saw. Following 9/11 Crabapple moved back to New York to study art and model. When protest movements became international, including demonstrations in London and Wall Street, Molly realized her drawings could be used for something bigger. Reporting from all over the world, her drawings would become a form of witness journalism. Thanks to Drawing Blood, we learn firsthand how she became the Molly Crabapple we know today and what led to her own transformation. She brings us one of the best memoirs I’ve read this year. Beautiful language and illustrations that are a feast for the eyes set this book apart.

Temperature: 98°