I loved this so much I included it in the 2018 Summer Reading Guide. Alice and her mom have spent 17 years on the run, trying to dodge the persistent bad luck mysteriously connected to an unnerving book of stories penned by Alice's estranged grandmother. When Alice's grandmother dies, her mother thinks they're free—until the day Alice comes home from school to discover Ella has been kidnapped, leaving behind a page torn from her grandmother's book and a note: Stay away from the Hazel Wood. But Alice has to save her mom, so she enters what she slowly begins to see is her grandmother's book of stories-come-to-life—and they suddenly look a lot more like horror than fantasy. This seriously twisted and sometimes bloody fairy tale reminds me of The Thirteenth Tale, with a dash of The Matrix.
- by Signe Pike
The "lost queen" is Languoreth, a real sixth century Scottish queen whose twin brother inspired the legend of Merlin. Ancient Scotland is the perfect setting for a fantasy novel. Ancient magic, complex politics, and clashing religions all conspire to create an intriguing story. Reminiscent of the Arthurian legends, this book is perfect for fans of Phillippa Gregory.
From the publisher: "An intimate, revelatory book exploring the ways we can care for and repair ourselves when life knocks us down. For May, her husband fell ill, her son stopped attending school, and her own medical issues led her to leave a demanding job. Wintering explores how she not only endured this painful time, but embraced the singular opportunities it offered. A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May's story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat. Illumination emerges from many sources: solstice celebrations and dormice hibernation, C.S. Lewis and Sylvia Plath, swimming in icy waters and sailing arctic seas. Ultimately Wintering invites us to change how we relate to our own fallow times. A secular mystic, May forms a guiding philosophy for transforming the hardships that arise before the ushering in of a new season."
Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew were stranded on the Antarctic ice for 20 months beginning in January 1915. Alexander's story (which is named for Shackleton's ship) is compiled largely from the journals of Shackleton's 27-man crew and contains jawdropping photos by the expedition's photographer. Spellbinding.
From the publisher: "From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, an exhilarating novel set at the glittering intersection of two seemingly disparate events--a massive Ponzi scheme collapse and the mysterious disappearance of a woman from a ship at sea. Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. On the night she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a hooded figure scrawls a message on the lobby's glass wall: Why don’t you swallow broken glass. High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis is running an international Ponzi scheme, moving imaginary sums of money through clients’ accounts. When the financial empire collapses, it obliterates countless fortunes and devastates lives. Vincent, who had been posing as Jonathan’s wife, walks away into the night. Years later, a victim of the fraud is hired to investigate a strange occurrence: a woman has seemingly vanished from the deck of a container ship between ports of call."
- by Leo Tolstoy
“Happy families are all alike;” begins this classic novel, “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” If you’ve never read Anna Karenina, a great time to find out why William Faulkner called this novel “the best ever written.” Whether or not you agree, you’ll be glad you read it.
- by Yaa Gyasi
Homegoing author Gyasi delivers another sweeping family story about grief, faith, and the power of human connection. Gifty studies neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine, with a focus on depression and addiction. It’s no coincidence that she’s chosen to study illnesses that impact those she loves most. Her brother, a gifted student and athlete, died of a heroin overdose after a devastating knee injury. Her mother stays in bed, battling depression and grief. As Gifty leans on her work to help her understand her family, she longs for understanding, and faith. Piercingly sad, but ultimately hopeful. Narrated by one of my favorites: Bahni Turpin.
- by Louise Penny
In the idyllic small town of Three Pines, Quebec, where people don’t even lock their doors, a beloved local woman is found in the woods with an arrow shot through her heart. The locals believe it must be a hunting accident, but the police inspector senses something is off. The story is constructed as a classic whodunit but it feels like anything but, with its deliberate pacing, dry wit, and lyrical writing. A stunningly good first novel. Still Life is the first in a series that keeps getting better. Great on audio.
Although it takes place in the summertime, this charming Japanese novel in translation makes for a charming, cozy winter listening experience. At a small Tokyo café, patrons sip coffee and travel through time. Yes, this is a time travel book—but not your typical action-packed science fiction. Heartwarming and quirky, the story follows four customers who enter the café in search of time travel. The most important rule they learn: your trip through time only lasts as long as your coffee stays warm. A quick listen, under 7 hours with delightful narration by Arina Ii.
Talk about big fat books: This time-travel romance series has 9 books to date, totaling 9,381 pages, 300+ hours on Audible, and incorporating time travel, the Scottish highlands, romance, drama, and history. As she tells it, Gabaldon intended to write a realistic historical novel, but a modern woman kept inserting herself into the story! She decided to leave her on the page for the time being—it's hard enough to write a novel, she'd edit her out later—but would YOU edit out Claire? I didn't think so. You could happily lose yourself in this series (but heads up for racy content and graphic torture scenes).
In this quiet novel (sometimes categorized as a romance, but don't let that scare you off), five individuals, each dealing with their own painful personal tragedy, are unexpectedly brought together during the Christmas season in the Scottish countryside—though they've decided not to celebrate the holiday; it's too painful this year. But redemption is found in surprising places, and in the midst of so much loss, love and redemption emerge.This book was a delightful surprise; I enjoyed it so much.
- by Eowyn Ivey
It's Alaska, 1920, the night of the first snowfall, which inspires a typically serious couple to indulge in a bit of silliness: they build a child out of snow, just for fun. In the morning, the snow child is gone, but, in a way that eerily mirrors a much-loved fairy tale, the couple spies a young girl they've never seen before running through the trees. I loved this magic-infused story about love, loss, and the wildness of nature.
- by N.K. Jemisin
These days writers with great taste are reading N.K. Jemisin. She's one of the best world-builders out there. SFF World calls this a powerful, epic novel of discovery, pain, and heartbreak.... It is a novel that demands much of its readers; it rewards them aplenty and is one of those novels that becomes more powerful after deep consideration and subsequent readings."