Now that the holiday season has come and gone, the only things to look forward to are “why-did-I-get-out-of-bed-this-morning” temperatures, long nights and gloomy mornings that vary in shade from dreary grey to busted-TV blue. And of course, the snow. Now, as a child, snow days were the equivalent of fate giving your school the finger— trading in a day cooped up in a classroom for a day spent having fun? Heck yeah— but as an adult, snow is cold and wet, and it tends to cancel out the fun, after-work plans you made, but not work itself (bummer). So, if that post-work girls’ night at your favourite bar was cancelled because of Jack Frost throwing a temper tantrum, covering the roads in snow and ice, we propose you grab a hot beverage, your favourite blanket, and a little something to read. Here are five great books to read when the weather outside is frightful:
5) Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie
A YA fantasy, Kathryn Purdie’s debut novel follows Sonya, an untrained Auraseer— she feels and takes on the emotions of others around her. It sounds harmless, but is actually terrifying when other people’s base impulses can leave her feral and murderous. Following a (totally preventable) accident caused by her unchecked powers, Sonya is taken from the convent where she lived in anonymity, forced to protect the emotionally-volatile Emperor Valko from would-be assassins, poisoners, and the like. But for Sonya, sifting through emotions— hers and everyone else’s, whether they want to stab the king or canoodle with their sweetheart. Sometimes both— is the least of her problems. A revolution is brewing, one which will pit the emperor Valko against his younger brother, the crown prince Anton, leaving Sonya to figure out whose side she should take, if she takes one at all. Purdie weaves a rich tapestry throughout the Russian-infused world of Riaznin, building up a credible world and a simple, streamlined magic system. Albeit Sonya’s not the next Katniss Everdeen, she is her own character rather than a popular genre trope, and that’s refreshing to see. The sequel, Crystal Blade, hits store shelves on August 15th, 2017.
4) Unteachable by Leah Raedar
While “new adult,” is only a few years old as a recognizable, marketable book genre, it’s created big waves among the book community. It’s brought about opportunities for authors and readers alike. NA fiction features characters between the age range of 18-30, and includes more mature, explicit themes than would typically be written about in YA fiction. It’s for people who feel they’ve graduated the realm of YA, but aren’t all that “wowed,” by the stuff the adult literary world has to offer. Leah Raedar’s USA Today best-selling novel is one of those books. Unteachable explores the taboo relationship between hard-bitten student Maise O’Malley and her earnest film teacher Evan Wilke. However, unlike Pretty Little Liars’ Ezria, Maise is 18 when she and Evan cross paths for the first time, so the relationship isn’t squicky in the questionable-age-of-consent way. Rather, it becomes a question of power dynamics between two people who barely love themselves, but can and do fight to love the other person for all they are worth. What follows is a superbly-written romance that will leave you dizzy as it bounces from one emotional extreme to the next, prying at Maise’s shrivelled heart-strings one at a time, until she has no choice but to accept falling in love, and all that comes with it.
3) The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Veteran storyteller Ed Brubaker’s name is practically synonymous with noir in comics, and The Fade Out makes it particularly easy to see why. Set in the late 1940s, The Fade Out follows alcoholic screenwriter, Charlie Parish, who wakes up to find a dead starlet in his house, but no memory of what happened the night before. So follows a quest to piece together his liquor-soaked memories in a bid to find out what happened to his friend— and if he killed her. Brubaker’s deft writing and Phillips’ masterful art slants the frame of Hollywood’s Golden Age, stripping away the intoxicating glamour of the era and leaving the soberingly gritty reality behind. Charlie, at his core, is an entirely unlikeable man with cowardly tendencies on his best days; a cog in Tinsel Town’s thankless machine, he ends up uncovering (and even participating in) little injustices that serve as the building blocks to much bigger atrocities. Once you pick this book up, you won’t be able to put it down until you’ve read it cover to cover. It can outlast even the fiercest snowstorm, though we do suggest wearing your comfiest pyjamas while you read.
2) Trick by Natalia Jaster
Marked as “mature YA” by author Natalia Jaster, Trick is hands down one of the best books to come out in recent memory. Trick is told from the dual perspectives of Briar, an emotionally-defunct princess and Poet, a court jester with a silver tongue and a dark secret. At first, Briar is infuriated by Poet’s devil-may-care attitude, and Poet views her as entertainment: a hot-head who takes herself too seriously, and needs to be knocked down a peg. Briar is determined to win at Poet’s never-ending game, not realizing that he’s covering up a life-or-death situation beyond the glittering court walls. Jaster’s second novel is addictive; the perfect blend of sweet, sour and smart, it makes big promises and delivers on each one. It’s the best kind of book to curl up with on a cold winter’s night.
1) Top 10 by Alan Moore
Alan Moore is a legend, of that, there is no doubt. He’s known for works like V For Vendetta, Watchmen, and The Killing Joke. Strangely, Top 10, Moore’s sci-fi/superhero mashup centering around a super-powered police precinct— nicknamed the Top 10— doesn’t get half the acclaim it deserves. Top 10, illustrated by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon, is a meticulous work of love, from the fake interview that starts the story to its jaw-dropping conclusion. Everything about Top 10, its characters and the world of Neopolis, is laid out in excruciating detail; Moore even goes so far as to showcase billboards around the city, and songs playing on car radios. It’s a visual smorgasbord. But more than that, the story is excellently-crafted, the kind of comic that should inspire other comics. At this point, it’s difficult to describe just how mind-blowingly amazing Top 10 really is without sounding like a blathering fool. But if you like TV shows like Chicago PD and The Flash: do yourself a favour and grab a copy. You might start it during a snowstorm, but we can guarantee, you’ll be rereading it all-year-round.