This is the third in my thrilling winter book series. There are just that many. You can check part 1 and part 2 if you missed them. I’m covering all genres, just making sure I give you books that’ll have you turning pages. So don’t click away just because you don’t like mysteries or adventure books.
The first memoir on the list, Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood by Leah Vincent. Vincent was brought up in a fundamentalist Jewish community, the daughter of a rabbi where perfection was expected at every turn. More than perfection, superhuman restraint. Vincent’s whole life is thrown off course when she commits a sin: exchanging letters with a boy. Not sexy letters. Not even love letters. But having contact with men outside her family was forbidden, and with that one sin Vincent finds herself slowly getting more distanced from her family, especially when her father sends her away to reform her. As she detaches from her faith and discovers her capacity for sexuality and self-destruction, you’ll find her story is unlike any other you’ve read.
I’ve never read any Dean Koontz before now, but I got a copy of his new release, Innocence. Part mystery, part fantasy, it follows a strange young man whose face is apparently so terrible that if he goes out in daylight he’ll be killed. An unusual premise, for sure, and the thrills start piling up when he finds himself wrapped up with a girl who’s on the run from a mysterious enemy. He’s completely naive, she’s world-weary, they make an interesting pair and from the moment they meet this book doesn’t stop moving.
And now for a couple of books that weren’t released this winter, but that came out last year and just got on my reading list.
Long Division by Kiese Laymon would’ve definitely been on my Top Books of 2013 list if I’d read it when it was released. I just can’t say enough about it. It’s got televised breakdowns going viral, time travel, stories within stories, missing teens, high school rivalries, racial violence, and much much more. And it’s all set in small town Mississippi where black teenager City is in hiding at his grandmother’s house after he becomes an internet celebrity (not the good kind) reading a copy of a strange book called Long Division that also happens to be about a teenager named City in the same town 30 years earlier. I read it in a day and I am absolutely going to read it again. It was a mind trip of a book, which is a huge compliment.
“Epic” is not exactly a word I look for when I’m trying to find a book to read. Neither is “Western.” But after months and months of seeing people read and love The Son by Philipp Meyer, I finally bit the bullet (appropriate in a book full of bullets) and read this 576-page beast. And I adored it. The reason I don’t usually love “epic,” is that I like books that give me a close look at characters and stories and epic tends to be all big picture. But The Son doesn’t work that way. Sure, it spans over 100 years of a family’s history, but it does so with three of their individual stories, told in great detail. The McDonough family is one of the oldest and wealthiest in Texas by the time we get to the story of J. A. McDonough, the woman who’s the unlikely inheritor of her family’s business and who’s successfully made a name for herself in the oil industry. She reflects on her life and her family, including the legacy left by her grandfather Peter, the family’s black sheep, who dislikes the way his family exerting power to push out Mexicans in their community. Peter’s father, Eli McDonough, also known as “The Colonel,” is the backbone of the book. A legend who lived well into old age, who shaped history, he is viewed by Peter and J. A., but also tells his own story, including the murder of his mother and siblings by Comanche who kidnap him and take him as a member of their tribe for years. Getting to see what Eli’s left behind while you watch his own character shaped is a really fascinating experience. It’s a book that sticks in your head and keeps you coming back to it every single night until you’re done.