What's the perfect companion for February's dreary weather? An amazing new literary release, of course. Here are ten of the most popular, well-reviewed novels that hit the shelves over the past few weeks. Be warned: once you pick up one of these, you won't be able to put it down.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Set in 1974 in the harsh, untamed landscape of Alaska, this novel follows a family on the brink of change. A former prisoner of war comes home from Vietnam, and he's not the man he once was. In hopes of healing his family and starting a new life, he takes his wife and daughter to the last true frontier in America. They find themselves in a community of fiercely strong men and women, and things seem to be getting better... until they aren't. Fraught with tension and drama, this story will have you just as hooked as Hannah's other beloved tales.
"Hannah turns the written word into wonderful prose... Times are difficult for so many in this novel and Hannah captures their suffering with sensitivity. The author expertly shows how love, death and birth run the full circle of life." - RT Book Reviews
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
If you're looking for a read that's creepy, haunting, and downright magical, then this is the book for you. Seventeen-year-old Alice's grandmother wrote a book full of dark fairytales back in the 1960s, but she's never met her. Ever since she was young, Alice's mother has kept her daughter far away from her grandmother's wealth and stories, but when someone kidnaps Alice's mom, Alice must venture into the one mystical place she's been warned to avoid: The Hazel Wood. Can Alice take charge of her own story, or will she be swept into yet another grim fairytale?
”Highly literary, occasionally surreal, and grounded by Alice’s clipped, matter-of-fact voice, The Hazel Wood is a dark story that readers will have trouble leaving behind. The buzz for this debut is deafening, and the fact that the film adaption is already in the works doesn’t hurt.” - ALA Booklist, starred review
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Celestial and Roy are your classic newlyweds. Roy's a young executive, and Celestial's a successful artist on the rise, and they're wonderfully in love. Everything seems to be going swimmingly, until Roy is arrested and sentenced to prison for twelve years for a crime his wife knows he didn't commit. In his absence, Celestial finds herself taking comfort in her husband's best friend, Andre. However, when her husband is unexpectedly released from prison early, Celestial realizes that things can't just go back to normal.
“Brilliant, timely... heartbreaking... With spare and shimmering prose that can strike with the shock of a shiv, Jones captures the life-altering losses Roy and Celestial endure in this unforgettable American marriage.” - USA Today
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
Tom Hazard may look like a regular 41-year-old, but in reality, he's been alive for centuries. He's done hundreds of incredible things, from performing with Shakespeare to sailing the seas with pirates, but now, he's ready for a normal life. When he moves back to London, he meets a French teacher who seems fascinated by him. Is it possible that a woman can save him from a life out of time, even if he's always forbidden himself from falling in love?
"A wry, intriguing meditation on time and an eternal human challenge: how to relinquish the past and live fully in the present.” - People
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
In Orléans, beauty is traded a commodity. If you have beauty, then you have power, and the Belles are the most powerful of all because they can bestow their beauty upon others. When the royal family takes an interest in the talents of a certain Belle, Camellia, she moves to court and finds out that beauty can be dangerous. In fact, she'll have to risk her life to save those she loves the most.
"Told in gorgeous prose, Dhonielle Clayton's novel sweeps readers away into an alluring and dangerous fantasy world that shrewdly examines our obsession with beauty... Don't miss out." - Bookish.com
As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
When the Spanish flu invaded the streets of America in 1918, thousands were killed. Pauline Bright and her husband, had hoped to find a better life in Philadelphia, but they are soon terrified of a disease sweeping the area. Amidst the numerous death, a child is orphaned, and the couple decides to take the baby in. Full of heart and spirit, this story follows a mother who must battle a harsh world in order to protect her children.
“A fascinating historical novel and a beautifully written story of love, loss, and family. A gorgeous, unforgettable book.” - Jillian Cantor, author of Margot and The Lost Letter
Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
The first book in Pierce's newest series, Tempests and Slaughter, follows a young man named Arram Draper. He's got a gift, and many think he will become the most powerful mage in the realm. Follow his story as he learns where to place his loyalties, how to channel his powers, and where his future will take him. As always, Pierce's writing is packed with fantasy and adventure, so you won't be disappointed.
"Tamora Pierce didn't just blaze a trail. Her heroines cut a swath through the fantasy world with wit, strength, and savvy. Her stories still lead the vanguard today. Pierce is the real lioness, and we're all just running to keep pace."- Leigh Bardugo, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
As a young child raised on an isolated compound in Idaho, Westover was unlike children in many ways. Her family members were devoutly Mormon, they lived in a secluded area, and most significantly, none of the children went to school. She learned about things like midwifery and survival techniques, and she never really questioned the lifestyle she was raised in. That is until her brother went away to college, then returned with stories of a world outside the compound. Lyrical and inspiring, Westover's story of self-preservation and discovery is incredible.
“One of the best, most absorbing memoirs I’ve ever read.”- Sylist
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death by Maggie O'Farrell
As you might expect, this memoir takes seventeen in-depth looks at Maggie O'Farrell's life and her many brushes with death. Emotional and illuminating, the book details her experiences with childhood illness, worldly dangers, and her worries as a mother. Somehow, her close calls with death have brought O'Farrell closer to life, and her words will leave you breathless.
“Gripping… this breathtaking memoir weaves together the author's near-death experiences to create a fully realized picture of what it means to fully live a life… O'Farrell's memoir contemplates not just the frailty of life, but the fortitude of the human spirit in the face of it all.” - Bustle
Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth
In many ways, this novel is a classic Western. It takes place on the Australian frontier and contains plenty of wilderness and tough men. However, Howarth makes the adventurous tale even more impressive by weaving in themes of race, faith, guilt, family, and morality. Follow two young men as they survive in the harsh environment of 19th-century-Queensland and highlight one of the country's most shameful periods of racism.
"Howarth manages to infuse the old tropes with a depth of emotion and moral complication that will stay with readers long after closing the book." - BookPage