Northern Lights by Nora Roberts
I tend not to enjoy the month of January. After the excitement of Christmas, twinkly lights and all the chocolate I can eat, I tend to get a bit depressed when the decorations come down and we have 2 months of dark nights. Well no longer! I've had a bit of an epiphany and it is all thanks to the delightful Claudia Winkleman.
Claudia's first radio show of the year involved her discussing the month of January with Sally Traffic and various guests and listeners. Claudia astonished us all by saying that she LOVES January. Cue sharp intakes of breath and astonished looks. But, her guests countered, it's dark, depressing and you have no money and the food is all lettuce leaves and All-Bran.
Claudia went on to explain, that after the madness of Christmas where she spends all her time in the kitchen, buying presents, wrapping presents and cleaning up after the Christmas tree, she relishes the approach of January. A month where she can take it easy, nestle in on an evening, read, sew, knit, or binge-watch the latest TV series. It is a time of recovery, when she can be quiet and be ready for the arrival of Spring. She also refuses to diet and in her own words says she walks around with a block of butter in her hand, taking a bite when she fancies.
Read my review of Wintering by Katherine May
I love this sentiment and was also forced into this position when we tested positive for Covid. I read a classic I hadn't read in years (review coming soon!), watched old black and white movies, slept and literally did nothing, because I was poorly. We ate up our Christmas food, veggies, and meat, the bread I had baked and had cosy soups. I found a tin of After Eights and we enjoyed our Christmas chocolates. Illness aside, I now 'get' January. I sometimes feel pressured into making New Years resolutions, I didn't this year and it was brilliant.
So, if like Claudia, you need some cosy reads, then read on! I've got a real wintery page turner here for you.
Lunacy, Alaska - Population 506 - is Nate Burke's last chance. As a Baltimore cop he had watched his partner die - and the guilt still haunts him. Maybe serving as Chief of Police in this tiny, remote town, where darkness by mid-afternoon and temperatures fall to zero, will bring some kind of solace. Nate's first few weeks on the job are relatively quiet....However when 2 climbers find a corpse on the mountain, Nate discovers that Lunacy isn't quite the sleepy little backwater he imagined.
I've actually read this book before years ago, and really wanted to read it again. Thankfully there was a kindle deal to be had. Rather than bombing through it, I decided to take my time and read it over a week and a half and it was great!
You may remember I have a bit of a thing for Alaska, and it all started with this book. Nora Roberts has done a fab job in conveying the brutality of Alaska. It is glorious - the beautiful Northern Lights but with the cruelty of nature, especially if it is not respected. We witness what it is like to live in such a region. But we also see this lovely small town look after itself. It reminded me of Stars Hollow from TV's Gilmore Girls - the pub is full every night, there is ALWAYS donuts and coffee and the town residents help each other.
However there has been a murder and it's brutal. I didn't work out who the murderer was (despite having read it before) and Nora certainly keeps the suspense high. Nate is a good character, honest, gentle and full of integrity and his love interest Meg is a strong, female lead.
All in all, if you are looking to hunker down in January with a wintry novel, then this is great. It's enjoyable, a read page turner and I very much enjoyed my week in Lunacy, Alaska.
I'll be back with a couple of books I read at Twixmas, the first of many Christmas reads I have.