Winter Reads – Curl up with a Good Book

As Spring fast approaches and the promise of an end to Lockdown draws near, we thought we would share some of our favourite reads so far this year with you. Let’s face it, most of us have finished Netflix at this point so looking for new and engaging ways to help us relax is becoming a bit of a priority!

In our fast-moving, digital world, it’s often a quick fix to turn on the telly as a way to let our brains relax after a hard day’s work. However studies have found that just 30 minutes of reading can lower blood pressure, heart rate and stress.

Reading also improves your brain connectivity, increases your vocabulary and prevents the cognitive decline that comes with ageing. So when you open a book and dive into an imaginary world, you’re not only decreasing your stress levels, you’re improving your mind as well!

Reading is good for you. So without further ado, let us share some of our favourite 2021 reads with you:-

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Quite possibly the most beautiful book I have read for quite some time, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a fairy tale for grown-ups, very much in the same vein as some of Neil Gaiman’s work. The story begins with a young French girl living in 18th century France. She’s unhappy with her lot in life, living in a small village with no aspirations laid out for her beyond getting married, having children and never travelling much further than the nearest town. Adie longs for more; she wants to see the world and she wants her life to mean something before her time runs out.

On the night of her wedding to a man she does not love and a life she does not want, Adie flees into the deep, dark woods, only to make a deal with an Old God that will change the course of her existence. The deal? To live forever. The catch? No one will remember her. The catch proves all too real as Adie soon discovers when she finds that if she’s out of sight from a person for longer than a few minutes, they instantly forget her.

We travel through the centuries with Adie as she negotiates her way through this complex existence with only the Old God’s occasional visits and taunts for company. She’s unable to make any mark on the world, she can only experience it. Until one day, in 21st Century New York where Adie is shocked to discover that a young man remembers her and he wants to hear her story…. Part fantasy, part love story, The Invisible Life of Adie LaRue is an unforgettable tale that will stay with you and we can’t recommend it enough!

Calm the F**k Down by Sarah Knight

We love Sarah Knight’s collection of ‘self-help’ books, mostly because she never fails to tell it like it is. With the stress and anxiety of lockdown, we decided to pick up one of her more recent publications. Reading Calm the F**k Down really helped me to put things into perspective.

With her trademark wit and warmth, Sarah sets out sensible solutions to the questions that continually seem to plague us like, ‘Why am I worrying about things I can’t control?’ and ‘How do I calm the fuck down?’ Like everything in life, her suggestions do take some practice but I guarantee that this book will make you smile and you’ll pick up a few gems of life wisdom along the way.

A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill

I picked up a copy of A Cosmology of Monsters after reading a review by Stephen King. When one of the most successful authors of our time heaps praise on a book, you tend to think that it might be worth a look. I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed.

At it’s heart, A Cosmology of Monsters is a story about family and the legacy that we pass down through generations. It tells the story of the Turner family and the monsters that haunt them throughout their lives, both psychologically and in reality. There’s Harry, who is acting peculiarly and is suddenly inspired out of the blue to build the ultimate immersive horror experience and ropes in his whole family to help him. His wife Margaret is struggling to keep the family together but feels a presence haunting her home and sees things she can’t explain.

Then there’s their children; Sydney, who worships her father and won’t admit to seeing anything and her sister Eunice who stays awake all night writing and sees monsters at her window. Then along comes their younger brother Noah who opens his window one night and makes friends with a disturbing new playmate.

The novel follows the trials and tribulations of the family and their encounters with the supernatural over the course of their lives. There’s disappearances, murder and death galore and the novel has some wonderful Lovecraftian overtones. Will the Turner family conquer their demons and overcome their issues? Pick up a copy to find out!

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

We loved Stuart Turton’s last book, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, so picking up a copy of his new novel was an absolute no-brainer. This time around, Turton introduces us to a 17th century, murder mystery on the high seas as a merchant ship sails from Batavia to Amsterdam carrying prisoners, passengers, mysterious inventions and possibly even a curse.

One of these prisoners is Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, who has been clapped in irons and awaits judgement when the boat reaches it’s destination. Accompanying him, is his trusty ‘Watson’, Arent who sees himself as very much the brawn to Samuel’s brains. When mysterious events begin to plague the voyage after a burning leper issues a dire warning, it’s up to Arent and the feisty Governor -General’s wife, Sara, to separate fact from fiction and discover the truth before more passengers meet their grisly ends.

If you love a good mystery then this book is definitely for you. Turton’s characterisations are utterly compelling and he really does weave an intriguingly twisty tale.

Louisiana Longshot by Jana Deleon

There are certain book series’ that I could see translating effortlessly into a wonderful TV show and the ‘Miss Fortune Mysteries’ by Jana Deleon definitely belong on that list. I discovered this series whilst idly browsing through Amazon recommendations and I’m so glad I did. The first book, Louisiana Longshot, introduces us to a CIA agent in trouble. Fortune Redding’s cover has been blown and a very nasty terrorist has put a price on her head. She needs a place to lay low and fast. Luckily enough her boss’ niece has just inherited a house from her aunt in a remote Louisiana town called ‘Sinful’.

Cue a ‘Miss Congeniality’ style makeover and our tomboy agent is turned into a blond extension, heel-wearing former beauty queen turned librarian. Now all she needs to do is hide out and keep out of trouble, only it’s not so easy when she has two of her ‘aunt’s’ old friends, the ‘Sinful ladies’ to keep her company. Gertie and Ida Mae have a history of hi-jinks and when Fortune discovers some body parts in her backyard, her new sidekicks insist on investigating.

Throw in a hunky Sheriff and more than a few comic situations and you have an absolute treat of a book. For a great escape and a story that will keep you smiling, we urge you to get acquainted with this engaging mystery series.


We hope that you have enjoyed our Winter book reviews and we’ve helped you find a good read or two to curl up with until Spring arrives. Remember, just 30 minutes of reading a day will improve your health and give your brain a boost. Give the telly a rest this weekend, relax with a good book and dive into a new adventure.

SJB

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