13 Books To Escape the Winter Blues

For those living in a post-holiday winter wonderland, daily life can be a drag: Cold weather. Reduced daylight hours. Impending blizzards. Reading at the beach or the park is out, but the good news is you can curl up with a hot water bottle, some hot chocolate, and a book, and chase those winter blues away.

Take a trip to Yosemite with a girl gang of rock climbers in Sarah Nicole Lemon’s gorgeous sophomore novel, Valley Girls. Chill in the Texas heat with a pair of enemies-to-friends in Julie Murphy’s Puddin’. Have a love affair with sultry sea creatures for a fantasy break. Set a kingdom ablaze in Heidi Heilig’s intense new series. Travel to near-future waters with Pacifica by Kristen Simmons. Or go find yourself in Lauren Spieller’s Your Destination is on the Left. From contemporary to fantasy, warm up with these recent novels.

The Resolutions, by Mia Garcia
Have you been keeping your 2019 resolutions? This contemporary novel set in Colorado is about four friends who make a pact, to make resolutions for each other. Who better to get you out of your own rut than your crew? But as the months go by, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep those promises. I mean, how many people keep the goals they set before the ball drops at midnight? This one is inspiring and heartwarming, but be warned: one of the main characters bakes. Be sure to have snacks on hand because you will be hungry.

Puddin’, by Julie Murphy
Everything’s bigger in Texas. And also hotter. Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ hit Netflix last month, so you should be ready to brush up on the companion novel now. This summer, instead of going to fat camp like she has every year since she was a kid, Millie Michalchuk is going to chase after her dreams, which include being a newscaster and kissing a very cute boy. Callie Reyes, on the other hand, has plans of her own. She’s the dance team captain and everyone loves her—but nobody really likes her. When Millie and Callie are forced to spend time together, they discover they might actually be meant to be friends. Best friends.

A Conspiracy of Stars, by Olivia A. Cole
For something to take you far, far away from these cold winter evenings, pick up this debut sci-fi novel. Octavia dreams of working with the prestigious N’Terra scientists, studying the wonders of the planet among their ranks. But along the way she’ll uncover dark secrets and meet an impossibly charismatic new leader of the N’Terra ruling council. The truths Olivia discovers could lead to war in this duology starter, perfect for fans of Red Rising and Illuminae.

For a Muse of Fire, by Heidi Heilig
Heidi Heilig is back with a brand new trilogy about Jetta, a girl with a unique magical power. She can imbue the puppets of her family’s shadowplayer troupe with the souls of the dead. This is necromancy like you’ve never seen before. But since an army colonized her country, the old ways have been outlawed. Jetta must be careful about how she uses her powers, and in order to find a cure for her “malheur,” she sets off on a journey with a handsome young smuggler. A mashup of French and Asian worlds, the destruction of colonization, and a girl with fierce and fiery magic make this fantasy a must.

Valley Girls, by Sarah Nicole Lemon
If you’re an outdoors junkie, this is the book for you. Seventeen-year-old Rilla just moved in with her park ranger sister in Yosemite National Park. But within twenty-four hours, she’s busted for partying and screws up royally. Then, she joins a group of climbers, setting her sights on summiting El Capitan. The twisting trails and switchbacks of Yosemite are a once in a lifetime experience for Rilla, allowing her to get herself back on track and have her first climb, first fall, first love. Sometimes you have to climb a mountain and come back again to discover who you are.

To Kill a Kingdom, by Alexandra Christo
While the bottom of the sea is icy cold, the tension between this siren and pirate prince is all kinds of hot. Lyra is known as Prince’s Bane, daughter of the Sea Queen, with a collection of the hearts she ripped out of every prince she has drowned. She’s poised to inherit the throne, but when she angers her mother, she’s instead turned into the thing she hates most: human. Elian is a prince meant to be a king. For years, he has been sailing the one hundred kingdoms killing sirens with a ragtag crew. He’s thisclose to destroying Prince’s Bane…then he finds a drowning girl. Lyra and Elian hate each other from the second he rescues her, but they journey to a neighboring kingdom with a shared goal—to kill the sea queen. This is not the Little Mermaid you remember, and it’s one of the best books of 2018.

Your Destination is on the Left, by Lauren Spieller
Dessa Rhodes has only ever called her RV and caravan of modern-day nomads home. But part of her wants stability, even if that would mean saying goodbye to her family and the boy she has loved forever. Still, she dreams of going to art school and starting a new life. The hitch? She hasn’t exactly been accepted to any of the colleges she’s applied to. When she gets the opportunity to intern for an artist in Santa Fe, she jumps at it. And when her family needs her, she’s torn between the world she’s known and the future she wants. This novel about self-discovery will give you all the feels.

Pacifica, by Kristen Simmons
In a near-future world, everything has changed. The have-nots go hungry, while the wealthy class lives on islands. Pirates rule the seas, including Marin, descended from a fierce line of sailors. Ross, coming from a privileged island class, makes a bet that not even his father could rescue him from, and beautiful pirate girl Marin is his only ticket out. Though they come from different worlds, Marin and Ross discover there’s more to life than running. This is a standalone from critically acclaimed author of Article 5 and Metaltown.

A Map For Wrecked Girls, by Jessica Taylor
In this twisted, deserted island-set mystery, two marooned sisters fight for survival. Grab hold to the edge of your seat as you follow Emma and Henri and a mysterious boy named Alex. The three of them travel the beautiful, strange island trying to figure out how to get home. Emma is loyal and has always followed in her sister’s footsteps. But as they grow further apart, it might not he Henri who calls the shots. Dangerous and mysterious, this tropical read is perfect to chase away the cold.

Amber and Dusk, by Lyra Selene
Fall into a lush, glittering debut fantasy in a world where the sun never sets. Sylvie is from the Dusklands, a place of perpetual twilight. Aided by the power of mirage, Sylvie journeys to the Amber City, always in the sun. Her plan? To take what is hers—power. When the empress invites Sylvie into a world of cruel games, she must find if this world of light is worth the price she would have to pay.

Epic Love Story, by Kheryn Callender
If you loved Love, Simon and are craving something similarly feelsy and sweet, this story is literally epic. Callender’s YA debut is about broken hearts and second chances. Nathan doesn’t believe in happy endings; he has time for movies and his budding future as a screenwriter, but that’s it. Then his childhood best friend comes back into his life. A huge misunderstanding kept them apart, but what if it’s time to clear things up? What if Nate is due for his happily ever after?


The Poet Xby Elizabeth Acevedo
If you haven’t read this incredible novel in verse, winner of the National Book Award for Children’s Literature, what have you been waiting for? Xiomara lives in Harlem, with a religious mami and a crush she can never talk about. All her frustrations and feelings go into her writing. And then, even knowing she shouldn’t, she joins her school’s slam poetry club. Xiomara is done being silent, and when she speaks, everyone is captivated by her words. Perfect for fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Jayson Reynolds.

The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton
Escape to the intoxicating world of Orléans in Clayton’s solo debut. Inspired by the dazzling luxury of Marie Antoinette’s court, The Belles drops you into a world that is not what it appears to be. The people of Orléans have been cursed by the Goddess of Beauty. Everyone is born gray and sickly, and only the Belles have the power to change them down to their bones. Follow Camellia Beauregard and her court of magical girls and uncover a world of lies, opulence, and unexpected darkness.

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