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  • Writer's pictureTammy Pasterick


"Silently like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall, each one a gem."

—William Hamilton Gibson

The snow is falling softly, the fire is crackling, and I've got a book in one hand and a glass of red wine in the other. I'm wearing my red flannel pajamas, a microwaveable neck wrap, and thick wool socks covered with moose. Winter has come, and I couldn't be happier! This is my favorite time of year for so many reasons. As much as I love the holidays, it is such a relief when January arrives, and my schedule slows down dramatically. It's a time to be still, savor the quiet, and think about what I'd like to accomplish in the coming year. I go into a hibernation of sorts, preferring to spend my free time snuggled under the covers with a good book or in front of the TV with a seventy-pound Labrador on my lap.

The winter months have always been my time to rest and recharge, but I need these tranquil months more than ever now that my kids are teenagers. Their school and sports schedules are demanding, and it's no small feat getting them where they need to go. Our calendar is always crammed with too many commitments—especially in the fall and spring—but thankfully, January and February are relatively calm. Consequently, my mind is less cluttered, the muscles in my neck and shoulders are more relaxed, and I feel very peaceful. It makes me wonder why the rest of the year has to be so insanely busy. Although I'm sure I'll miss my crazy schedule when my kids go off to college and wish I had a soccer or baseball game to go to.

Winter evokes many different thoughts and emotions in people. For some, it triggers pleasant childhood memories of sled riding, skiing, ice skating, and snowball fights. Others will think of the warm, hearty meals like chicken pot pie and beef stroganoff that their mother or grandmother used to make. Some will remember the many afternoons by the fire drinking hot chocolate and doing puzzles with a loved one. For me, winter evokes all of these images. But my very favorite wintertime memories are of skiing down a mountain with my kids, giggling whenever one of us crashed into a snowbank, and eating chocolate covered waffles afterward. Winter is simply magical. It's a time when the air is crisper, the sky is bluer, the night stars shine brighter, and the world looks a little softer and kinder with all that fluffy, white snow.

I realize that most people don't love winter as much as I do. My husband is the only other person I know who fantasizes about retiring in the Rocky Mountains and having only moose and grizzly bears as neighbors. Some people just can't stand the cold. But that doesn't mean you can't experience the beauty of a snowstorm or the brutal cold of a Russian wind. All you have to do is pick up a book to indulge your senses in the sights and sounds of winter. Luckily, I have four fantastic recommendations that will soon have you traversing a blizzard, outrunning an avalanche, racing through a snowy forest on horseback, and riding a sleigh through the icy streets of Moscow. And you won't even have to leave your spot by the fire!

Mesmerizing from the first page to the last, Kristin Hannah's Winter Garden is one woman’s sweeping, heartbreaking story of love, loss, and redemption. At once an epic love story set in World War II Russia and an intimate portrait of contemporary mothers and daughters poised at the crossroads of their lives, it explores the heartbreak of war, the cost of survival and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. It is a novel that will haunt the reader long after the last page is turned.

1941. Leningrad, a once magical city besieged by war, cut off from aid, buried in snow. A city full of women desperate to save their children and themselves…

2000. Loss and old age have taken a terrible toll on Anya Whitson. At last, she will reach out to her estranged daughters. In a halting, uncertain voice, she begins to weave a fable about a beautiful Russian girl who lived in Leningrad a lifetime ago…

Nina and Meredith sit spellbound at their mother’s bedside, listening to a story that spans more than sixty years and moves from the terrors of war-torn Leningrad under siege to modern-day Alaska.

In a quest to uncover the truth behind the story, Nina and Meredith discover a secret so shocking, so impossible to believe, it shakes the foundation of their family and changes who they believe they are.

Six teens, one dog, a ski trip gone wrong . . .

Sam is dreading senior ski weekend and having to watch after her brother and his best friend, Gavin, to make sure they don’t do anything stupid. Again. Gavin may be gorgeous, but he and Sam have never gotten along. Now they’re crammed into an SUV with three other classmates and Gavin’s dog, heading on a road trip that can’t go by fast enough.

Then their SUV crashes into a snowbank, and Sam and her friends find themselves stranded in the mountains with cell phone coverage long gone and temperatures dropping. When the group gets sick of waiting for rescue, they venture outside to find help—only to have a wilderness accident leave Sam’s brother with a smashed leg and, soon, a raging fever. While the hours turn to days, Sam’s brother gets sicker and sicker, and their food and supplies dwindle until there isn’t enough for everyone. As the winter elements begin to claim members of the group one by one, Sam vows to keep her brother alive.

No matter what.

Filled with twists, secrets, and life-changing moments, Ski Weekend is a snow-packed survival thriller featuring a diverse cast of teens that will appeal to fans of One of Us is Lying and I Am Still Alive.

Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.

Then Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya’s stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village.

But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed—to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

First published in Italy in 1957 amid international controversy, Doctor Zhivago is the story of the life and loves of a poet/physician during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Taking his family from Moscow to what he hopes will be shelter in the Ural Mountains, Zhivago finds himself instead embroiled in the battle between the Whites and the Reds. Set against this backdrop of cruelty and strife is Zhivago's love for the tender and beautiful Lara, the very embodiment of the pain and chaos of those cataclysmic times. Pevear and Volokhonsky masterfully restore the spirit of Pasternak's original—his style, rhythms, voicings, and tone—in this beautiful translation of a classic of world literature.


A native of Western Pennsylvania, Tammy Pasterick grew up in a family of steelworkers, coal miners, and Eastern European immigrants. Her debut novel, Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash, was released by She Writes Press in September 2021. Visit to learn more.

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