The temperatures are dropping below freezing and the sun sets early, making it the perfect time of year to curl up with a good book. Whether you like thrillers, swoon-worthy romance, or an escape from reality, there’s a book here to warm you up.
This is also a great list for a seasonal book display that can incorporate many genres and appeal to a wide range of readers.
Thrillers and Mysteries for Cold Winter Nights
If you’re in the mood for an adrenaline rush, these books are sure to get your heart pounding. These mysteries and thrillers will chill you to the bone!
After his mother’s death, Danny moves with his father to a remote Canadian town next to a frozen lake with a terrifying legend that haunts it.
Trapped by Michael Northrup
Seven teens are waiting to be picked up from school when a killer snowstorm hits. Can they survive? This is a good bed for readers who want a thriller without paranormal elements.
As White as Snow by Salla Simukka
Atmospheric Nordic crime thrillers have been popular with adult readers, and this trilogy brings the blood (and cold) to YA and adds a fairy tale twist.
Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujiwinski
When the season turns, more than severe weather threatens an isolated island and residents flee. When a group of teenagers are left behind, they must fight to survive. With hints of supernatural threats in addition to the terror of the elements, this is a spooky thriller for middle school readers.
The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley
This has all the elements of a classic ghost story: an orphan is sent to live in an isolated house in the woods, where he finds a spirits and a mysterious secrets. Fans of staples in this genre, like Poe or Gorey, will delight in this homage to Victorian ghost stories.
The Edge by Roland Smith
The follow up to Peak, this story revolves around a mountain-climbing and documentary film expedition that turns sinister when the director is murdered and other climbers are taken hostage.
Romance for Cold Winter Nights
There are countless summer romances in YA fiction, but sometimes it feels like the winter-themed stories are limited to holiday collections. These novels take place in the winter months.
I am a huge fan of mysteries, especially during the summer! I love a good page-turner that keeps me guessing until the very last page. A great thing about mysteries are that they also work well when they are blended with other genres. One of my newest favorite genre blends are historical fiction and mysteries! If you are also a fan, or have yet to explore this genre blend, check out some of the titles below to get you started!
Set in the summer of 1868, fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes is sent to live with his aunt and uncle where he uncovers two mysterious deaths that appear to be plague victims. However, Sherlock suspects that these deaths are not what they seem so he sets out to investigate and uncover the truth.
Based on the true story of the 1906 Gilette murder case, Maggie is working the summer at a nearby inn, when one of the guests drowns. Mysterious circumstances surround the death, including Maggie’s own involvement and interactions with the victim.
In Victorian London, Mary is saved from the gallows at the last minute and sent to a school where she is secretly trained to be a spy. She is eventually selected to work a case where she is undercover as a lady’s companion to investigate a wealthy merchant’s shady business dealings.
As many of my posts here at The Hub illustrate, I am a longtime fan of genre fiction. My teenage reading habits primarily focused on several kinds of genre fiction including historical fiction, fantasy, and mysteries & thrillers. I have a particular fondness for that final category as it is also one of my father’s favorite genres and we continue to trade off book recommendations to this day. Accordingly, I’m always on the look out for new titles to read and to recommend to my equally suspense-addicted students.
As I expressed in my post about the particular appeal of Veronica Mars last spring, I especially enjoy genre fiction that takes advantage of its particular structure and characteristics to tackle larger topics and issues and tell complex stories in a fresh way. So I’ve been thrilled to see an especially rich crop of recent young adult novels that capitalize on specific qualities of the thriller subgenre to tell stories about the complicated intersections between gender, class, race, sexual orientation, mental health, sexuality, violence, innocence, guilt, and justice. These novels take advantage of careful pacing to build suspense and hook readers from their opening lines. Each features narrators hiding secrets from other characters, from the reader, and from themselves. These novels will not only keep you on the edge of your seat; they will also leave your mind spinning and buzzing for days afterwards.
Far From You – Tess Sharpe
Sophie is a survivor. She survived a nasty car accident when she was fourteen and the brutal prescription drug addiction that followed. Then when Sophie and her best friend Mina were attacked by a masked man in the woods, Sophie survived–and Mina didn’t. To make everything worse, everyone believes that it’s Sophie’s fault that Mina is dead; the police decided that the attack was a drug deal gone wrong and accordingly all fingers pointed towards Sophie. So even though she’d been clean for months before the murder, Sophie was shipped off to rehab and told be glad it wasn’t juvie. But now Sophie’s back and she determined to find out the truth behind Mina’s murder.
Complicit – Stephanie Kuehn
It’s been two years since Jamie saw his magnetic and frightening sister Cate and that’s precisely the way he’d like the situation to remain. But then his parents tell him that Cate has been released from jail where she’s been serving time for her role in a local barn fire that killed several horses and left another girl severely burned. Now it seems that Cate wants to see him and Jamie is beyond freaked out. Even after years of therapy, Jamie hasn’t been able to shake his strange bouts of amnesia and the occasional & unpredictable loss of sensation in his hands and the specter of Cate’s return only exacerbates his symptoms. Determined to gain some control, Jamie begins to dig deep into his past and his memories with possibly devastating consequences.
Pointe – Brandy Colbert
Theo is finally starting to get her life in order again. Her ballet instructor has singled her out as one of her top students and told her to seriously consider auditioning for specialized summer programs. It’s looking like her dreams of becoming one of the few African American professional ballet dancers might be in reach. She’s eating again, she’s got some great friends, and she might be on the verge of something special with an almost appropriate guy. Then Donovan Pratt returns. Before he disappeared a few years ago, Donovan was Theo’s best friend. And now Theo has all sorts of long buried memories bubbling up–including memories of her first boyfriend, a much older guy who disappeared around the same time as Donovan.
The Walls Around Us – Nova Ren Suma
Amber and Violet live in separate universes. As a longtime inmate at Aurora Hills Secure Juvenile Detention Center, Amber understands its rules and the subtle social dynamics. She treasures the brief moments of freedom in their strictly controlled lives–like the night when all the doors opened. Meanwhile, Violet thrives on the very different but equally rigid routine of intense ballet training. She’s counting the days until she can be free of the ugly events of a few years ago and make her escape to Juilliard. But while their lives seem worlds apart, Amber and Violet’s stories are inexorably intertwined by twisty web of secrets, broken friendships, murder, guilt, and innocence–all centered on Ori, Violet’s best friend and Amber’s cellmate at Aurora Hills. As she has with her earlier novels, Nova Ren Suma infuses this fascinating narrative with carefully orchestrated elements of magical realism.
Happily, this trend doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. Lauren Oliver’s newest novel, Vanishing Girls, explores a complicated relationship between estranged sisters through the lens of a page-turning mystery. Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton (May 2015) uses the high stakes competition and personal drama of an intense New York City ballet school as the setting for an adrenaline-fueled exploration of three different girls’ quests for dancing stardom. In June, The Devil You Know by Trish Doller andDelicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn both burst onto the scene and promise to bring mind-bending thrills and thought-provoking chills along with them.
-Kelly Dickinson, currently reading The Sweetheart by Angelina Mirabella and The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson
Happy December, Hubbers! I am, unfortunately, sick, but that won’t stop me from bringing you a post on something that I’m pretty excited about, and I know a lot of you are, too. So, show of hands – who likes the podcast, Serial? I’m betting a lot of you have your hands raised and wildly waving in the air right now, as do I! Serial is Apple’s #1 downloaded podcast of the moment and has provided many hours of discussion amongst coworkers, family and friends around the country (even though neither my husband nor any of my coworkers listen to it, so I just have to have these discussions in my head).
For those of you who don’t listen, and I’m serious when I say that you really should, the podcast is an episodic telling of a murder case from 15 years ago. Adnan Syed was tried and convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, while they were both students at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County. Sarah Koenig, the narrator and co-creator of Serial, leads listeners on a journey each week through ignored evidence, trial transcripts and interviews with Adnan and others involved to create an engaging, well-told story that has intrigued and captivated readers for 10 episodes so far (episodes are released every Thursday morning, which has made Thursday morning the easiest day for me to get out of bed on time).
Since Serial is so popular with teens and adults alike, I thought I’d make a list of books that might interest someone who is obsessed with Serial. I’ve included not only murder mysteries, but true crime stories and books where you’re not exactly sure how to feel about the narrator. I’ve heard that the first season of Serial will be done after 12 episodes, which we are getting mighty close to, so hopefully, this list of books will give those of us addicted to the show a way to get through those Serial-less Thursdays until the new season starts again. Here we go – let’s start with one of my very favorite books from this year…
We Were Liars by E.Lockhart: I never knew what to think about Cadence, the narrator and star of E. Lockhart’s unbelievably great and haunting book, We Were Liars. The story of Cadence and her time with her cousins and great love Gat on her family’s private island off of Cape Cod is a story of love, friendship and the joy of being young. Then, a terrible accident occurs, and neither readers nor Cadence understand just what happened to make her cousins and Gat desert her in her time of greatest need. With her memory spotty, her pain tremendous, and her need to know what happened two years ago that made everything change, Cadence tells her story through a series of flashbacks to her magical fifteenth summer to the current day, where she is alone and confused. E. Lockhart tells an engaging story that will keep readers guessing and on the edge of their seats until the end when all is revealed. Cadence is a character that readers will feel sorry for, but also never exactly trust as she is the epitome of an unreliable narrator. You just don’t ever know what’s going to happen in the story, and that’s what’s makes you want to keep reading until the bitter end. Continue reading For Those Who Love Serial (And If You Don’t What Are You Waiting For?)