winter reading recommendations.

In the winter, I want beautiful, atmospheric, dramatic, magical books that emulate the weather. Books that chill me to the bone and make me feel like I’m outside in a blizzard even when I’m curled up safe and sound (and warm) on the couch.

Some of the books on this list are my all time favorites so I hope you will give them a go!

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

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Inspired by a Russian fairytale, The Snow Child is the tale of a disenchanted, childless couple living on the Alaskan frontier. They make a snow girl together one evening only to wake the next morning seeing a young, wild girl running among the trees. Moody, magical, and haunting, this book left me in tears.

AMAZON LINK

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

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Another Alaskan tear-jerker, The Great Alone is a beautiful, gripping, intense historical fiction about a mother and daughter who move to the state, lead by their war-veteran father who suffers from untreated PTSD. While they struggle to adjust to their new life, the question soon becomes what is more dangerous? The Alaskan wilds or the man they live with?

AMAZON LINK

1984 by George Orwell

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Is there anything more chilling than this book? Especially in today’s day and age? I think not. The acclaimed dystopian, this story is both frightening and inspiring.

AMAZON LINK

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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Hands down the most atmospheric book I have ever read, The Bear and the Nightingale weaves history with mythology seamlessly in the story of Vasya, a young Russian girl with the gift of seeing the Slavic spirits around her father’s land who must defend her home from the evil lurking around the village.

AMAZON LINK

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

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I blame this book for my teenage angst. Ruined by all societal standards, Tess of the D’Urbervilles meets the man of her dreams and must choose whether to disclose her past to him or not. This might sound boring, but trust me, if you haven’t read this, pick it up. This is a great book with a lot of literary meat. Moody, tragic, complex, this is what my dreams are made of.

AMAZON LINK

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

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Thought-provoking, witty, surprising, and definitely perfect for curling up, this book tells the tale of Count Rostov, who is confined to the Metropol hotel indefinitely after the Bolshevik Revolution. Towles writing is impeccable and I just wanted to savor every word.

AMAZON LINK

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

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Winter is coming. Need I say more? Seriously, if you haven’t read this book yet then you should remedy that. This one will go down with the fantasy greats!

AMAZON LINK

 

happy reading!

 

 

 

 

 

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winternight playlist.

his voice was like snow at midnight

If I could describe the Winternight Trilogy in three words, it would be atmospheric, lush, and adventurous. Because I love this series so much, I had to curate a playlist for it that I felt was equally beautiful! I have chosen a mix of songs both soft and harsh like the winter snow. Happy listening!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

a message / coldplay ukulele cover

Week 2/8 Music Challenge

We watched Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams documentary last night, and it was so inspiring! I was lucky enough to see them live on their Head Full of Dreams tour, and it was one of the most amazing, exhilarating experiences of my life. They’ve been one of my favorite bands for 17 years (that’s over half my life), and this song just makes me happy.

the winter of the witch by katherine arden

Боже мой! Despite being utterly exhausted, I stayed up late last night to finish The Winter of the Witch. Because this trilogy is that good, people.

The Winter of the Witch picks up right where The Girl in the Tower finishes. In the wake of the burning of Moscow, Vasya finds herself in mortal danger and needing to flee the city, caught in the middle of two wars, one mortal and one supernatural.

Full disclosure. I have a hard time with finales in books. I usually dislike them immensely. What tends to happen is that the book gets too plot based or the pacing gets off or writers suddenly become unwilling to take a risk or scared of killing their darlings so the feeling of peril is completely suspended for. Yes, I don’t like finale books.

But while this is my least favorite in the trilogy, The Winter of the Witch is the closest I’ve gotten to a perfect conclusion. A lovely and satisfying end to such a transportive and beautiful trilogy. It’s a 4.5 stars for me.

My one big gripe was during the final fourth or so of the book, Vasya felt a little overpowered. She doesn’t have any more room to grow so the suspense is basically over despite the number of pages left. However, Arden more than makes up for it with the rest of the book. This is definitely the most magical and fantastical of all the books, weaving in new folklore and taking the characters to different realms. There’s almost not enough time to explore all the new magic we see, but it was enough to leave me happy.

The ending is still concluding will leaving it open-ended enough that perhaps we might see more of Vasya’s world someday? Maybe? Please?

If you haven’t read The Winternight Trilogy yet, you are missing out and I highly encourage you to remedy your situation at once! Based in medieval Russia weaving history and Slavic mythology together, these glorious books are perfect for the winter season!

hummingbird, an original song

I’ve been dying to learn and write music again, especially since I haven’t done a musical in a couple months. So I decided this weekend, I needed to bite the bullet and just do it (as Nike says). The next eight weeks, I’m challenging myself physically and creatively to upload and share a song at least once a week, whether it’s an original, a new cover, or an updated/improved version of a song I’ve recorded before.

I’m starting out with an original song, Hummingbird, which I wrote a few years ago but never recorded. It’s about that flutter you get in your chest when you see someone you’re attracted to and being drawn to them

a weary world rejoices

Yesterday I received a package of a present that I bought for myself this year. I ran inside and opened the box, and the first thing I saw was this beautiful card with words from O Holy Night. I tenderly picked it up and the melody instantly came to my mind and eventually out of my mouth, tears forming as I sang this beautiful hymn. Those simple lyrics sunk deep into my heart and got me thinking about Christmas, and God, and what it all means to me.

To be honest, I’m not sure where I’m at with any specific religion. I still stick to many of the teachings of the church I grew up in and while I believe in much of the theology, I have some reservations about organized religion. But I do believe there is a God, that he loves us and communicates with us, and wants us to love and worship him in some way. I believe Christ set the example for how we should live our lives and treat our fellow men. And ultimately, I believe that we will be judged in the next life less on what specific doctrines we believed in and more on how we treated ourselves, others, and the planet and how we spent our precious time on this earth.

And to me, that what’s Christmas is really about too. Beyond the presents and the beautiful lights and all the other delightful exteriors, the spirit of Christmas represents all that is good and pure and loving in this world. It’s a time to remember the sacrifices people have made on our behalf, to spend time with our families and loved ones, to spread love and joy in the world, to worship God in whatever shape he takes for you, and to prepare to live more lovingly and fully in the year to come. 

If it’s not too personal, I would love to hear what you believe in religiously, your thoughts on Christmas, God, or anything else. Feel free to share in the comments.

Merry Christmas!