Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Books

When you hear the words "polar vortex," it doesn't make you want to go outside. The good news is that the recent spate of low temperatures are perfect for my favorite indoor activity: reading. Here are some wintery books to remind you how good you have it while you are curled up inside your warm house.

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
Cassie lives with her father, a scientist, at a research station in the Arctic.  When she meets a polar bear who tells her that her mother is not dead, as she had thought, but imprisoned at the end of the earth, Cassie desperately agrees to his price: marriage.  But life in the polar bear's ice castle is neither cold nor terrifying, and Cassie comes to care for her bear husband.  Until she makes a terrible mistake that sends her on a journey to save both her bear and her mother.

Sarah Beth Durst books are always lush, engrossing, and filled with pathos. This retelling of "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" effortlessly combines a coming-of-age story with romance and magic.

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
On his 11th birthday, and just before Christmas, Will Stanton finds out that he is the last of the Old Ones, an ancient race of light tasked with holding off the dark ones.  Although he is newly awakened, Will must brave the snow and cold, and the awful things that hide in the night, to collect the sigils of power that will help the light keep the dark from triumph.

Fun fact: this book, a personal favorite which I reread many a time in the library, had a hand in my marriage. On one of my first dates with my husband, he said "You like children's books. I wonder if you've ever read this one book.  It's called....."

And in the pause I thought The Dark is Rising, The Dark is Rising.

And then he said, "The Dark is Rising."


The Golden Compass by Phillip Pulllman
This book opens with a young girl, and her shape-shifting talking animal companion, overhearing a conversation about elementary particles called dust. From there, the story grows into an epic adventure featuring gypsies, witches, multiple worlds, theology, and polar bears. To say much more would be to deny first-time readers the pleasure of getting lost in an uncharted world. One note: if you have seen the movie, please don't hold it against the book!

Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2) by Richelle Mead
In this second Vampire Academy book, the vamps and their dhampir bodyguards spend winter break at a ski resort.  I'm a sucker for any book in a series that features a field trip.  It shakes things up when characters are out of their normal environments, creating endless possibilities for romantic entanglements and danger.  And snowball fights--don't forget those.

The Last Resort (Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys mystery #5) by Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon
The excitement of a field trip book, plus the fan-fiction-y tingle of having characters from separate series paired together. In The Last Resort, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys team up to solve a mystery at a ski resort. The mystery itself almost doesn't matter.  This book is notable for the steamy makeout session between Nancy and Frank when they are snowbound in a secluded cabin and think they are going to die.

The Shining by Stephen King
Perhaps the ultimate warning of the madness that comes in winter! (Was that dramatic enough?) The Shining charts a man's descent into psychotic rage and violence, as he is egged on by an evil hotel where he and his family are spending the season. The hotel is a full-fledged character, alternately tempting and terrifying the characters, reshaping their reality.

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