Winter is my favourite time to get stuck into a book.
There is nothing cosier than curling up in a comfy armchair, slippers on your feet, cup of tea at your elbow, snow falling outside, and an excellent book in your hand. It’s one of my all-time favourite activities.
Last year I wrote a post suggesting 8 books to read in winter, and I originally started this post as an update to that. However it’s now four months on, March has arrived, and (despite the Beast from the East) I’m pretty sure spring is also on it’s way.
So I guess this is less of a “what you should read this winter” post and more of a “what I read this winter” update.
These are the latest books to have made me laugh and cry and catch my breath. The books I’ve been recommending to friends and family, and the ones that made me ache inside when I turned the last page.
I hope you’ll find something you enjoy! :)
Set between before and during the second world war, All The Light tells the connecting stories of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl with a devoted father, and Werner, a German orphan with a passion for radio who gets sucked into the Hitler Youth.
The story is (obviously) heartbreaking and unsettling to read, but it’s the writing that really stood out for me on this one. The author writes from both children’s points of view, and somehow manages to capture their different stories perfectly.
His descriptions of Marie-Laure’s world through a blind lens are incredible, and I found myself going over certain passages from her sections again afterwards, just for the pure joy of reading the words.
Did you ever watch the BBC adaptation of this? It was really good, and I’m hoping they’ll re-play it again at some point this year because I’m dying to see it again now that I’ve read the novel.
Ten strangers are brought together on a mysterious island. A mysterious poem, ten little soldiers, and a terrifying gramophone record will set things in motion. This is Christie at her absolute, most mystifying best.
Clever, sassy, and excellent if you love twirly moustaches and a good old-fashioned murder mystery.
I didn’t know what to expect from Watchmaker, but oh this is BEAUTIFUL. I don’t really know what it would classify as. It’s not really historical, even though it’s set in the past. It’s not really fantasy, even though there’s a bit of “magic” in it. It’s just… beautiful.
Set in Victorian London, with side trips to Japan and Oxford University, the story follows Thaniel, a man who survives a WWII bombing London, thanks to a mysterious watch that appeared in his bedroom one day. He eventually tracks down the watchmaker: Mr Mori and soon they become friends, and then flatmates.
It’s intricate and mysterious, and honestly one of the best books I’ve read in recent years. (In fact, after writing that, I think I’m going start it all over again!)
I’m a huge Philip Pullman fan, but despite the hype, I really struggled to get stuck into La Belle Sauvage.
The Northern Lights trilogy is one of my all-time favourite series, and I re-read it at least once a year, but this was just… slow. So unbelieeeevably slow. There was a lot of setting up and introducing characters, but nothing actually happened for ages.
HOWEVER. I loved Matthew, the main character, and once I did get into it, I couldn’t stop! I raced through the last half of the book in one afternoon, and now I can’t wait to see what happens next.
I re-read this again recently and I’d forgotten how much I loved it the first time round.
Ursula Todd is born on a cold winter’s night in 1910. She dies 5 minutes later. Then’s she’s born again. And again. And again. It’s not reincarnation, but over time, she starts remembering bits about her previous lives. The sicknesses, the accidents, the assaults, the bombings… and over time she starts trying to change things.
It’s a very Marmite sort of book, in that everyone I’ve spoken to about it has either absolutely loved it or absolutely loathed it. But I think it’s fascinating and I love everything about it.
PS. There’s a semi-sequel called A God In Ruins, about Ursula’s brother Todd, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as this one.
One of the best children’s books I’ve read since Harry Potter. Seriously, I raced through this in just a couple of hours.
Morrigan Crow is doomed to die at midnight on her 11th birthday. She’s cursed, and blamed for all the misfortunes in her town, so she can’t quite believe her luck when she’s whisked away to Nevermoor by the (hilarious) Jupiter North. There she must take part in three trials, and compete against hundreds of specially talented children for a place in the Wondrous Society.
It is BRILLIANT. Magical, exciting, funny (I proper laughed out loud several times), and everything I could ask for in a fantasy novel. I loved the characters, I loved the writing, and I cannot wait for the next book!
This book is one of the sweetest things I’ve read in years. I can’t believe it’s taken me so many years to get round to reading it, and I don’t understand how this hasn’t been snapped up for a film adaptation yet.
Eleanor & Park is an 80s love story full of nostalgia and teen angst. The story starts on 16 year-old Eleanor’s first day at a new school, when she sits next to Park on the bus. What follows is a car-crash love story that’s heartfelt and brave and GOD IT’S JUST SO GOOD.
I honestly haven’t been this excited about teen fic since my Sarra Manning days. Loved Guitar Girl? You’ll love this.
I read this (along with several other books on this list!) on Sarah’s recommendation, and I honestly couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.
Mirabella, Katharine and Arsinoe are triplets, and equal heirs to the the throne of Fennbirn. They are powerful, magical women, with the ability to spark electricity, tame wild beasts, and survive the harshest of poisons.
But inheriting the queendom is no easy task. On the night of their 16th birthday, a battle will begin. Two will die. The last queen standing gets the crown.
This is the first book in a trilogy, and it’s very very good. It’s dark and thrilling, with fantasy edges and a lot of mystery. I’ve already finished the second book (One Dark Throne) and hopefully the last will be out later this year!
Soft and tender, this is a perfect Sunday book for when you’re feeling a bit sleepy and in need of something sweet.
Anthony has spent his life picking up and cataloguing lost things: everything from a plastic daisy hair tie to a biscuit tin full of ashes. When he bequeaths his collection to Laura (his newly divorced housekeeper), she begins the mammoth task of returning each item to its owner, with unexpected results.
This is a heartwarming read, one to slip into gently when your brain needs a rest. Beautiful writing, and if the plot is a bit predictable, I don’t even care, because it’s so lovely.
I bought this to read over the Christmas holidays, and it surprised the hell out of me. I don’t think I read the blurb properly, because whatever I was expecting, this is not it!
Lost Boy is a retelling of Peter Pan, from the “villain’s” point of view. One day, Jamie will grow up to become Captain Hook, but for now, he’s Peter’s first and best friend. He looks after the younger lost boys, and buries the ones who die. Because Neverland is dangerous, and some of the dangers are closer to home than you expect.
This is an intense and unsettling read, which dives deep into Peter’s psychotic tendencies. It’s brutal, harsh, violent and utterly brilliant. Someone on Goodreads described it as Lord of the Flies with a higher body count, and I think that’s pretty spot on to be honest!
I don’t know where to even start with this book. It’s been a long time since I read a novel that’s as original and unexpected as this one.
Makepeace is a young girl living in puritanical England during the height of the civil war. For years, her mother has made her sleep in the local graveyard, teaching her to protect herself from the spirits who seek to make a home in her body.
Danger follows her to her ancestors home, where Makepeace has to make peace with the beast living inside her or fall prey to an even worse fate…
The heavier supernatural elements of this were a nice change from my usual sparkly tastes, and I really loved the characters and writing. Fab if you want to try reading something a little bit different!
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