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Booklist: Genre Reads for Cold Winter Nights

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!

young adult thrillers for cold winter nights

Bonechiller by Graham McNamee (2009 Best Books for Young Adults)

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.

YA romance for cold winter nights

 

Genre Blend: Historical Fiction and Mysteries

"Postcards and magnifying glass" by Anna - Flickr: records. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Postcards_and_magnifying_glass.jpg#/media/File:Postcards_and_magnifying_glass.jpg
“Postcards and magnifying glass” by Anna – Flickr: records. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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!

 

 

 

Death CloudDeath Cloud by Andrew Lane (2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

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.

 

 

 

 

 

northern light donnelly printzA  Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (2004 Printz Honor Book, 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2004 Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults, 2004 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults)

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.

 

 

 

 

A Spy in the House by Y.S. LeeA Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

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.

 

 

 

For Those Who Love Serial (And If You Don’t What Are You Waiting For?)

Serial PodcastHappy 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.

Is This Just Fantasy?: A Magical Mystery Tour

Just Fantasy icon magical mystery tourYes, I went there–I titled my reoccurring feature on fantasy fiction with a lyric from Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  But, I swear I have a reason beyond a personal enjoyment of seemingly random pop culture references.  Allow me to explain.  I love fantasy fiction; it’s one of the few genres I’ve faithfully read from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood.  Since my first journey into Narnia guided by my mother’s expressive reading voice, I have consumed fantasy fiction of practically every type, style, and sub-genre.  I have dressed up as Hermione Granger, nearly hyperventilated upon meeting Tamora Pierce, Susan Cooper, and Kristin Cashore, and disappeared for hours at a time into a faraway fictional world, only to emerge simultaneously invigorated and exhausted.  And that’s all just the last five years.

However, my deep affection and passion for this genre is not shared by everyone.  Last week,  I co-wrote a post with brilliant fellow fantasy fan Chelsea Condren in response to British novelist Joanna Trollope’s disparaging comments about fantasy fiction.  While we worked to counter Trollope’s specific arguments, rushing to the defense of fantasy is sadly not a new personal experience.  This genre–and its many offshoots–is all too often viewed as ‘merely escapist,’ ‘unconnected to the real world,’ or ‘lacking in substance.’  But as Chelsea and I tried to express, the depth and complexity present in fantasy fiction cannot be so easily dismissed.

Mystery Reads for Summer

PoolsideI don’t know what it is about reading mysteries in the summertime, but it just seems right to me. I have always enjoyed sitting on a deck chair, poolside, and grabbing a good mystery out of my bag. I can smell the sun tan lotion and chlorine now…

One pleasant surprise, though, is when I crack the spine of my paperback and realize that the mystery I am reading is also set in the summer. It just makes it all the more enjoyable. If you’re looking for a good mystery set in the summertime for your poolside reading, check out these titles:

A Mystery for Every Reader

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? I know I do … but what makes a great mystery? I think that every reader finds that something just a little different goes into their perfect mystery. When I started wondering why mysteries can differ so much, I came up with a pretty interesting fact: Did you know that there are more than eighteen different mystery sub-genres? Eighteen! (For more specified sub-genre definitions, check out the Writer’s Digest sub-genre descriptions.)

So. What makes your perfect mystery? An ace murder detective? A startling disappearance? A hard-boiled private eye? A chef having to prove their innocence after a poisoning? There seems to be a mystery style out there for every reader. With such a wide variety of mystery sub-genres, narrowing down which mysteries are right for you can be a real challenge.