Winter Reading

Thirteenth Tale
This 2006 mystery, set firmly in the tradition of Gothic greats like Jane Eyre, kept me guessing from start to finish. The premise is intriguing (and you may find yourself a little bit envious of the narrator's bookish existence). A little dark and deliciously creepy, perfect for curling up with on a cold winter's day. Take note: a few unsettling scenes if you're a sensitive sort. (I am.)
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An MMD 2017 Winter Book Club selection. This was one of my favorite books of 2014, although it was published back in 2001. A gorgeous novel that takes you on a journey across the frozen Badlands of the Dakotas in the heart of the frozen winter. Read it for yourself and see why so many readers call this their favorite book ever written. A tragedy, a romance, a coming of age story.
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This novel told in letters is sweet and sunny, even though it's set during a dark period of history. The action unfolds on the British island of Guernsey (and you'll want to book your trip immediately). A testament to the power of literature, but a love story at heart. (Hot tip: the audiobook is fantastic.)
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It's Christmas vacation at the smuggler's inn Greenglass House, and Milo finds himself with a mystery to unravel. While I couldn't help but wonder if the author was tipping her hat to The Phantom Tollbooth, the story reminded me of The Mysterious Benedict Society. An engaging read for kids and adults alike, and a perfect choice for cozy winter evenings.
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When a deadly dust storm cuts their mission short, astronaut Mark Watney’s crew makes an agonizing decision to return to earth without him. They saw his biosigns go flat: they believe they’re leaving his body behind. But Watney is very much alive, and now he must find a way to survive on Mars, in a damaged station, with limited food and no communication. Next step: to cobble together a rescue plan. Think Cast Away, in outer space. Funny, thrilling, and surprisingly plausible.
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This is on my nightstand, because a wide variety of readers keep telling me it's un-put-down-able. From Kirkus: "Set in the future and reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, this novel dramatizes a story of vengeance, warfare and the quest for power."
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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.
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This is a story about Lincoln, America's 16th president—kind of. The "bardo" of the title is a Tibetan concept: it's a spiritual landscape—a kind of in-between place—where we are sent between physical lives. When Lincoln's son Willie was 11, he died of typhoid, plunging Lincoln into deep grief. Saunders uses this real event as a jumping-off point to explore the near-unbearable grief of an individual, linking it to the disarray of the country he leads, at the height of its Civil War, and imagines how Lincoln's despair changed the outcome of the war. I just finished this book, and whoa, was it strange. Interesting and experimental, but definitely strange. Pro tip: if you want to read it, do so on paper, not on Kindle.
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"You lied. Luke lied. Be at the funeral." Federal Agent Aaron Falk is summoned home with these words after his best friend Luke dies in a heartbreaking murder-suicide, turning the gun on himself after killing his wife and 6-year-old son. Falk obeys—but he can't believe his best friend could have done such a thing, and so he starts digging, dragging long-buried secrets back to the surface. The setting is the drought-ravaged Australian Outback, and the brittleness and heat are almost palpable. Imagine an Australian Tana French, and you've got this stellar debut about right. (Psst—we're talking with the author in the MMD Book Club this summer.) Publication date: January 10.
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Doerr's characters in this World War II novel are fascinating and altogether unexpected. The book’s setting couldn’t be lovelier: much of the action takes place in Saint-Malo, France, a unique walled port city on the English Channel. Haunting story, beautiful prose, and entirely deserving of its place on 2014's best-of-the-year lists.
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