Top 20 Books to read this Winter

January 11, 2020

Christmas may be over, but we're still in the depths of winter, so there's plenty of time to curl up with a good book whilst it's freezing outside. 


Whatever genre you prefer, there's something for everyone on this list. Keep scrolling for the top thrillers, fantasy, historical fiction and romance books to read this winter. 



Long Bright River - Liz Moore 



In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don't speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.

Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey's district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit--and her sister--before it's too late.

Alternating its present-day mystery with the story of the sisters' childhood and adolescence, Long Bright River is at once heart-pounding and heart-wrenching: a gripping suspense novel that is also a moving story of sisters, addiction, and the formidable ties that persist between place, family, and fate.

My personal favourite genre to read during the winter time is definitely thriller/mystery - nothing beats the contrast between the excitement of what's going on in the book vs. my completely sedentary position...




The Wives - Tarryn Fisher 




Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.What follows is one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read.You’ll have to grab a copy to find out why.
I am so unbelievably excited to finally getting around to reading this book this month! It sounds incredible

Update: I received an ARC copy of this from the publishers for review and I am HOOKED.

Seriously, this is so good so far. I can't wait to see where the story goes. 


The Majesties - Tiffany Tsao 




Gwendolyn and Estella have always been as close as sisters can be. Growing up in a wealthy, powerful, and sometimes deceitful family, they’ve relied on each other for support and confidence. But now, Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the sole survivor of Estella’s poisoning of their whole family.

As she struggles to regain consciousness, Gwendolyn desperately retraces her memories, trying to uncover the moment that led to this shocking and brutal act. Was it their aunt’s mysterious death at sea? Estella’s unhappy marriage to a dangerously brutish man? Or were the shifting loyalties and unspoken resentments at the heart of the opulent world they inhabit finally too much to bear? Can Gwendolyn finally confront the truth about who she and her sister really are, and the secrets in their family’s past?

This book has been described as 'Crazy Rich Asians meets Gillian Flynn', and there is no description which would make me want to read it more than that!

My hopes are super high for this one so I'm hoping it doesn't disappoint.


Such a Fun Age - Kiley Reid




Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

This one is supposed to be a fun, light read, but with deeper underlying social commentary - it sounds like a perfect one to fall into on a day spent reading. 




American Dirt - Jeanine Cummins 




Lydia Quixano Perez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they'll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with four books he would like to buy--two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia's husband's tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

This book is supposed to be life-changing, so much so that it has been hailed as the 'Grapes of Wrath' of our modern age - it's certainly not one to miss (release date January 21st). 

Having just finished A Little Life, I'm not sure I'm ready for another heavy book, but I will be making a note of this one for the forthcoming months.

The sense of achievement you get after finishing books like this is like no other. 





Topics of Conversation - Miranda Popkey 




Miranda Popkey's first novel is about desire, disgust, motherhood, loneliness, art, pain, feminism, anger, envy, guilt--written in language that sizzles with intelligence and eroticism. The novel is composed almost exclusively of conversations between women--the stories they tell each other, and the stories they tell themselves, about shame and love, infidelity and self-sabotage--and careens through twenty years in the life of an unnamed narrator hungry for experience and bent on upending her life. Edgy, wry, shot through with rage and despair, Topics of Conversation introduces an audacious and immensely gifted new novelist.

Reading this book is like being in the middle of a conversation - it's deeply immersive in the best way possible. 

Dialogue is my personal favourite part of books, so this is definitely one for me to pick up. 



The Northern Lights - Philip Pullman 


When Lyra's friend Roger disappears, she and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him.

The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies - and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about.

Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her - something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights... 

This is such a magical story, and jam packed with lots of adventure through snow scenes, if that's what you're looking for in a good winter read. 

With the new BBC adaptation having just come out, I am really excited to fall back into these books all over again. 



The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis 



There are a thousand stories in the land of Narnia, and the first is about to be told in an extraordinary motion picture, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, from Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media.

In the never-ending war between good and evil, The Chronicles of Narnia set the stage for battles of epic proportions. Some take place in vast fields, where the forces of light and darkness clash. But other battles occur within the small chambers of the heart and are equally decisive.

Journeys to the ends of the world, fantastic creatures, betrayals, heroic deeds and friendships won and lost -- all come together in an unforgettable world of magic. So join the battle to end all battles.

If such a thing as a winter classic exists, surely this must be it!

It's been such a long time since I've read/seen any of the Narnia books/adaptations. I'm hoping to make some time for them soon!



Winter Siege - Ariana Franklin and Samantha Norman 


1141. England is engulfed in war as King Stephen and his cousin, the Empress Matilda, vie for the crown. In this dangerous world, not even Emma, an eleven-year-old peasant, is safe. A depraved monk obsessed with redheads kidnaps the ginger-haired girl from her village and leaves her for dead. When an archer for hire named Gwyl finds her, she has no memory of her previous life. Unable to abandon her, Gwyl takes the girl with him, dressing her as a boy, giving her a new name—Penda—and teaching her to use a bow. But Gwyn knows that the man who hurt Penda roams free, and that a scrap of evidence she possesses could be very valuable.

Gwyl and Penda make their way to Kenilworth, a small but strategically important fortress that belongs to fifteen-year-old Maud. Newly wedded to a boorish and much older husband after her father’s death, the fierce and determined young chatelaine tempts fate and Stephen’s murderous wrath when she gives shelter to the empress.

Aided by a garrison of mercenaries, including Gwyl and his odd red-headed apprentice, Maud will stave off Stephen’s siege for a long, brutal winter that will bring a host of visitors to Kenilworth—kings, soldiers . . . and a sinister monk with deadly business to finish.

Historical fiction is a lot of people's preferred genre for the colder months - and this one is particularly atmospheric! (side note - I studied this period of history in the first year of my degree and really enjoyed it, despite my low expectations - so I would 100% recommend picking it up). 

I'm definitely keen to pick this one up and return to the period of my degree - this will definitely make for more pleasant reading than my essay work did, though. 


The Glittering Hour - Iona Grey 


Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying on just the right side of scandal, all while running from the life her parents would choose for her.

Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who stumbles into Selina's orbit one night and can never let her go even while knowing someone of her stature could never end up with someone of his. Except Selina falls hard for Lawrence, envisioning a life of true happiness. But when tragedy strikes, Selina finds herself choosing what's safe over what's right.

An epic love story spanning two decades in a rapidly changing Britain, this one is for fans of romance and historical fiction. 

I think this sounds so good - I can't wait to pick it up and share my thoughts. 



The Mirror & the Light - Hilary Mantel 



England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen before Jane dies giving birth to the male heir he most craves.

Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to the breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him?

Continuing with the historical fiction theme, this fantastic conclusion to Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell trilogy is set to be published on March 10th, so just in time for winter (at least if you live in the UK...)





Midwinter - Fiona Melrose 


Father and Son, Landyn and Vale Midwinter, are men of the land. Suffolk farmers. Times are hard and they struggle to sustain their property, their livelihood and their heritage in the face of competition from big business.

But an even bigger, more brutal fight is brewing: a fight between each other, about the horrible death of Cecelia, beloved wife and mother, in Zambia ten years earlier. A past they have both refused to confront until now.

Over the course of a particularly mauling Suffolk winter, Landyn and Vale grapple with their memories and their pain, raking over what remains of their fragile family unit, constantly at odds and under threat of falling apart forever. While Vale makes increasingly desperate decisions, Landyn retreats, finding solace in the land, his animals - and a fox who haunts the farm and seems to bring with her both comfort and protection.

If you want to read a book set in winter during winter, this heartwarming book about love and the meaning of home will be right up your street. 

It's been a few years since I've seen proper snow in England so I'll be using reading as a way to help conjure up the perfect winter setting.




Wilder Girls - Rory Power 


It's been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty's life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don't dare wander outside the school's fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there's more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

I'm currently reading this one, and it is so good so far! If a unique taste on Lord of the Flies sounds like your kind of thing, make sure to add this to your list. 

Update: I have to admit that I have put this one to the side at the moment. I've 50% of the way through and it is unfortunately not as gripping as I would have imagined!


Uncanny Valley - Anna Wiener 



In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wiener—stuck, broke, and looking for meaning in her work, like any good millennial--left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She moved from New York to San Francisco, where she landed at a big-data startup in the heart of the Silicon Valley bubble: a world of surreal extravagance, dubious success, and fresh-faced entrepreneurs hell-bent on domination, glory, and, of course, progress.

Anna arrived amidst a massive cultural shift, as the tech industry rapidly transformed into a locus of wealth and power rivaling Wall Street. But amid the company ski vacations and in-office speakeasies, boyish camaraderie and ride-or-die corporate fealty, a new Silicon Valley began to emerge: one in far over its head, one that enriched itself at the expense of the idyllic future it claimed to be building.

This book is everywhere at the moment, so if you're looking for a highly powerful read about an industry on the verge of massive change, make sure to check it out. 

This sounds to me like a book version of an episode of Black Mirror. So if you enjoyed the show, maybe give this a go!



A Beautiful Crime - Christopher Bollen 






When Nick Brink and his boyfriend Clay Guillory meet up on the Grand Canal in Venice, they have a plan in mind—and it doesn’t involve a vacation. Nick and Clay are running away from their turbulent lives in New York City, each desperate for a happier, freer future someplace else. Their method of escape? Selling a collection of counterfeit antiques to a brash, unsuspecting American living out his retirement years in a grand palazzo. With Clay’s smarts and Nick’s charm, their scheme is sure to succeed.

As it turns out, tricking a millionaire out of money isn’t as easy as it seems, especially when Clay and Nick let greed get the best of them. As Nick falls under the spell of the city’s decrepit magic, Clay comes to terms with personal loss and the price of letting go of the past. Their future awaits, but it is built on disastrous deceits, and more than one life stands in the way of their dreams.

This book is a thriller with unusually deep themes of love, class and race running throughout. 

It doesn't sound a like a light read but it's certainly one to suck you in on a cold winter's day...




Dear Edward - Ann Napolitano 





One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward's story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery--one that will lead him to the answers of some of life's most profound questions: When you've lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

If you are a fan of character-driven narratives, this complex coming of age novel is one you don't want to miss. 

I personally love character driven stories - they have such depth to them that I think it's a great talent to be able to put them together. 



Dreamland - Nancy Bilyeau 


The invitation to the luxurious Oriental Hotel a mile from Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.

But soon it transpires that the hedonism of nearby Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.

Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamour of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything…even murder.

Historical fiction meets murder mystery meets unforgettable romance? Yes please. This one is shooting right to the top of my list!

I can't believe I haven't heard more about this one, but sometimes the books which fly under the radar are the best. 



The Turn of the Key - Ruth Ware 


When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.
It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

If you're looking for a book which is chilling - both in its Scottish setting and in content - look no further than Ruth Ware's latest novel, which is a modern day retelling of The Turn of the Screw. Click here to read my full review of this highly suspenseful thriller.

Spoiler on my thoughts - this book has been all over bookstagram and best-seller lists everywhere, and there's definitely a good reason why.  



The Bear and the Nightingale - Katherine Arden 


At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa's mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa's new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa's stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse's most frightening tales.

Again, if you're looking for an atmospheric winter setting to make your reading nook feel all the more cosy, this is one to add to your list!

I've heard so much about this on bookstagram so I'm very intrigued to pick it up and see how it is.

I often avoid hyped books because I'm worried they'll be a let down - but sometimes they really are worth it. 



The Priory of the Orange Tree - Samantha Shannon




A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep. 

If immersing yourself in an epic fantasy for entire days at a time sounds like what you have in mind for this winter, then look no further than Samantha Shannon's newest novel, which is over 800 pages long!

I must admit that although I have started to read this multiple times, the size of it puts me off continuing (I'd definitely struggle to get this one on the tube!).

However, if you are a fan of epic fantasy/long books - this is definitely for you. 


So there you have it! 10 amazing books to add to your 2020 Winter TBR. As always, let me know your thoughts on any of these books by adding me on Goodreads or Instagram


1 comment:

  1. I suggest THE HEADSPACE by Shaylin Klassen (https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08GLCGR6W)

    ReplyDelete

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