I’m pretty sure it’s always a good season for book reading, but cooler temps and th January vibe seem ideal for cozying up with a good book. This month’s top picks are a fun mix of mystery, history, and fantasy. I can’t wait to see what grabs your eye most!
Love and Ruin by Paula McLain Review
Love and Ruin tells the story of Martha Gellhorn – one of the great war correspondents of the 20th century and Ernest Hemingway’s third wife. You read of her rocky beginnings with love – primarily with married men – and learn to love her passion for the frontlines.
Her first book is beat down and he is determined to write again. Meeting Ernest Hemingway on a family vacation, she’s invited to visit Spain during the Spanish Civil War. She goes from a life of luxury to a life of sparse provisions and constant bomb raids. What steals her heart is the stories of young children and mothers living on the frontlines, soldiers fighting against all odds, and everyday people with a passion for their cause.
The stories turns into the love story between Gellhorn and Hemingway – their escape to the Caribbean while he’s still married to his second wife. I felt as though I was continuingly trying to understand Hemingway and Gellhorn’s love for him. But the book isn’t about Hemingway. It’s about a strong woman finding her own path and pushing to satisfy her own soul even in the daunting shadows of one of the most famous men of her time! Now available in paperback!
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black Review
The Cruel Prince was hard to avoid when it first came out last year if you like young adult or fantasy novels. The start of a trilogy, it more than lives up to the promise.
Black writes a story of Faerie as they are in the old stories – impossibly beautiful, bloodthirsty, unable to lie, and amoral. Twins Jude and Taryn are brutally thrust into this world when their parents are murdered and the Fae who killed them takes them home to Elfhame to raise as his. Despite this, they long to become part of the glittering world.
Jude, our heroine (or perhaps that might be anti-heroine), plans to secure her place by becoming a knight in service to one of the Fae lords. She becomes drawn into the sordid underbelly of shifting politics, and she captures the attention of Prince Cardan, the youngest prince of the realm. He lives to torment her, and she defies him at every step.
With this strong start, Black weaves a captivating tale. Nothing is as it seems, and trying to guess where it will all end up from a mere plot summary is a fool’s game. The second book of the trilogy just came out, so this is an excellent time to pick it up!
Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch Review
The first in a wonderful series, The Rivers of London, Midnight Riot introduces you to a London that is ours, but inhabited by those who aren’t exactly … human. Aaronovitch has done a deep dive into the long history of London to craft a novel that is somehow utterly believable, even as it introduces one Peter Grant, constable in the London Metropolitan Police, into a shadow world none of us know exists. Peter’s dry wit, geeky asides, and deep love of the city make him the perfect narrator.
A mash-up between classic urban fantasy and a proper police procedural, Midnight Riot kicks off when Grant happens across a truly unusual murder. From there he learns of a London ruled by its rivers, be they the mighty Thames or the now fully contained Tyburn, stalked by ghosts and spirits lingering since Roman rule, and kept in line by one Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, Britain’s last official wizard.
With the Lord of Misrule stalking Covent Garden, Peter and his partner, Lesley, find themselves in the midst of an unruly plot to unleash madness in the city. While the immediate story does wrap up in this book, the narrative arc continues in the following books. If you love London – or just dream of visiting some day – this is the series for you.