Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Reading on a Theme: Winter Reads

As I write this it is snowing outside. There is almost nothing I love more than a good seasonally appropriate read, especially when it's a winter read. Something about the cold and the snow make me want to curl up with a book that is equally snowy. If you are in one of those very cold regions of the country today, settling down to a wintery read may be just the thing.

Ghostly Winter: 
Sorrow's Knot is a tale of an indigenous people living in a ghost-filled land. The scariest ghosts of all are the White Hands, ghosts of dead people. To survive the community depends on its magic, especially the magic of the binder. Erin Bow sure can write, and her beautiful writing adds so much to the story. The book is so many things--a terrifying ghost story, a tribute to friends, an examination of traditions, a coming-of-age for the three friends, an exploration of the power of story. When I read a ghost story I want it to have a lot of atmosphere, and just thinking about the book takes me back to Otter's cold, cold wintery forest. Review copy from NetGalley.

Fairytale Retelling: 
Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child is a retelling of a Russian fairytale about an old, childless couple who build a girl out of snow that comes to life. Ivey sets her story in 1920s Alaska. Mabel and Jack, our older couple, are new homesteaders in this harsh wilderness. The Snow Child is a novel about family, life and death, loss and love. The book is a lovely piece of magical realism. Ivey does a fantastic job adapting this tale. One never quite knows if Faina, the snow child, is real or not. And, with a title like The Snow Child, you know you are going to get a lot of the fluffy white stuff.

Historical Fantasy:  
After a job goes awry sneak-thief Digger must masquerade as a lady's maid. Isolated by distance and confined in their home by an avalanche all winter, what seems like an innocent party of friends is anything but. Secrets abound. I love this series, and I would love to see more people reading it. Elizabeth Bunce's Star Crossed is on par with some of the great fantasy novels. The world building is as intricate as that of Tamora Pierce. The court intrigue is just as fabulous as that of Megan Whalen Turner. The atmosphere of the book is as layered as that of Kristin Cashore. 
Wolves in the Winter:
Grace lives near the woods in Minnesota. Every winter she watches the wolves out her back window, one wolf in particular. Every summer the wolves are gone. Sam spends his summers in town doing odd jobs. In the winter he pines for Grace through wolf's eyes. When the two finally meet they have to figure out how to stay together. I can hardly imagine a more wintery book than Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver. Each short chapter begins with a temperature subtitle, so you will never forget just how cold it is.

Victorian Mystery:
In the second Lady Julia novel Lady Julia returns to England from Italy just in time for Christmas. Unbeknownst to her, Brisbane is one of the Christmas house-guests. When someone is found murdered in the March family chapel, Brisbane and Lady Julia are forced once again to take up their discordant partnership. This book was so much fun. I love the crazy March family. I love how Julia is just feisty enough to be a match for Brisbane. I love what Deanna Raybourn did with the old literary troupe: British house party, everyone's snowed in, someone is murdered, throw a ghost in there for good measure and let the games begins.


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