With snow arriving it is well and truly beginning to look at lot like Christmas! there are few things as reliable as the Christmas magic that comes around every year without fail.
At Willoughby HQ we have been digging into our new secret santa reads and digging out old favourites to get us in that wintery mood!
Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
The year is 1937, and war looms in Europe. When Jack is offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition he jumps at the chance.
Tensions begin to mount as the short Arctic summer wanes, and incidents force expedition members to drop out one by one. Soon Jack is forced to decide whether to stay or leave- knowing that if he stays he will be completely cut off by sea ice and in perpetual darkness., with escape impossible.
And something walks, out there in the darkness…
You’ll find yourself pulling the curtains close as you read this, and being extremely grateful for electric lights as the chill of an Arctic storm and any thing it may contain fills your imagination.
Mr. Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo
Barrington- or ‘Barry’ to his friends- is an Antiguan born and bred, 74-year-old who has been living, laughing and drinking in Hackney since the sixties. He’s a husband, father, business owner, dandy, and an autodidact.
But he’s also been living with an enormous secret, one that has the potential to destroy his family. He’s been in a secret relationship with his best friend, Morris, for sixty years and he’s decided now is the right time to finally live openly with the man he loves. Funny, moving and absorbing, you’ll love Evaristo’s portrayal of Barry in all his rum-swigging, suit-wearing, Shakespeare-quoting glory!
56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard
To be honest, I did wonder how long it would be until someone published a book around the lockdown and this did make me have some reservations, but you can trust this author to write a fantastic story and you won’t disappointed. You forget how eerie those first few weeks of the lockdown were but in a weird way I actually enjoyed reading about it. Especially with how well Howard captured it.
It was a completely original storyline and with a great psychological edge while maintaining her usual detective story style. While it was a bit slow to get going it really picked up about half way through and captured you attention till the very last page. I liked how the chapters switch between time frames and I did not see the twist coming at all. I had to go back to the start of that chapter to make sure I’d read it right!
Definitely one of my favourite authors and one of those that you know you will enjoy before you even start reading.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
This is my second Sarah Waters book and it has been on my shelf a while. I won’t deny that the length of the books can sometimes be off-putting but as soon as you start reading this one Waters really sucks you into the story .
It’s London 1922. Frances’ brothers were killed in the war, her father died a few years ago and they have no money to pay for servants. Frances and her mother have a large house that they struggle to keep on top of so they decided to take on lodgers. They take on a young, modern couple Lilian and Leonard Barber but as friendships blossom and frustration mounts, this decision will have devastating consequences.
Waters almost creates her own genre; historical, romance, thriller and psychological all in one. It is clear she researches the time period thoroughly and expresses the social concerns of the time. I highly recommend this one.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls-Wilder
As a kid there was something so magical and about reading about people who lived so long ago. And yet even though 1871 may have been over a hundred years ago it is still such a relatable story for kids, you still fight with you siblings, you still get excited when the first snowflakes start to fall, you still would rather play rather than clean up.
In Little House in the Big woods you get to see Laura Ingalls last winter in Wisconsin before moving out west with Ma, Pa, Mary and baby Carrie. Through the eyes of little 5 year old Laura you experience the magic of Christmas with her cousins, the big “sugaring off” at grandma Ingalls farm and making maple snow taffy (something still high on my bucket list because of this book)
I highly recommend this book, both for fans of the the TV show wanting to experience a little of Laura Ingalls life before she arrived on the banks of plum creek, and for an whimsical east bedtime story in the run up to Christmas.