Alice McDermott
Bloomsbury, A$27.99
This is a gentle novel that follows the life of Irish-American Marie as a six-year-old on the stoop of her home in Brooklyn in 1920s all the way to her twilight years in a care home. The narration is episodic and unchronological. Although it centres on the quotidian realities of an unremarkable woman, its themes are universal. Eventful but slow-paced, the book is crammed with details of the family and neighbourhood of Marie as she transitions through the stages of her life. There is beauty and grace in the pages.

Women of Letters
Penguin A$29.99
Women of Letters
originally started off as a literary salon where noteworthy women were invited to read out letters they had composed about various topics. This book gathers a fair selection of them and, despite the gender-specific title, it also includes a good number of men. Letters are divided into different categories such as ''To My Biggest Sacrifice'', ''To My Petty Crimes and ''To My Biggest Fright''. The contributors include Tracey Spicer, Annabel Crabb, William McInnes and Andy Griffiths. The confessional tone is both cathartic and intimate.

Nicki Greenberg
Allen & Unwin A$15.99
It's again that time of year when children are anticipating reindeer in the sky. This book has Rudolph crook in bed (his red nose symptomatic of a cold) and so his sister Ruby is asked to pull the sled in his stead. But although she tries to be good and obedient, she pulls rank and creates havoc while doing the necessary deliveries. This is a fun and bright picture book and a reminder that even the naughty creatures deserve compassion.