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Chill Out: 8 Books with Settings So Cold You’ll Forget About the Summer Heat

It appears we’ve reached that point in the summer when the heatwave lasts for weeks and the only reprieve from the scorching 90+ degree weather is a measly desk fan blowing straight into our sweating faces. Trust me, I too am feeling the pain. But luckily my vivid imagination is easily won over by good literature. So, when the heat becomes too much to bear, I like to sit down with a captivating story that will transport my mind to chilly, desolate, and dare I say, frozen lands. If you’re also suffering from the sluggish summer sun, cool down with one of these arctic reads.


Beartown
by Fredrik Backman

Sweden:  Beartown, a small community nestled deep within the woods, is slowly losing any semblance of a town. Its only redeeming factor is the ice rink that was built generations ago in its center, bringing a spark of happiness and excitement to the townspeople. Beartown’s junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national championships, which they have a fair shot at winning. But when the semifinal match is the catalyst for a violent act, accusations flood through the town. 

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Beartown
Fredrik Backman

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The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah

Alaska:  After returning from the Vietnam War and struggling to hold down a job, Ernt Allbright makes the impulsive decision to move his family to Alaska to live off the grid. Like her father, thirteen-year-old Leni is desperate for a new start. At first Alaska seems to fulfill all the Allbright’s hopes. That is until winter comes along and the family realizes how ill-prepared they are for the desolate life they have succumbed to. The Allbrights must face the terrible truth: they are entirely alone.  

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The Great Alone
Kristin Hannah

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Manitou Canyon
by William Kent Krueger

Minnesota:  Due to a traumatic string of events that occur within one November, Cork has deemed that autumnal month cursed. Yet despite his warnings, his daughter insists on having her wedding in that infernal monthWhen a man camping in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness goes missing, Cork is asked to work on the case. But days away from his daughter’s wedding, Cork’s family finds no sign of him. The only indication that he was ever in the surrounding woods is a large amount of blood on his campsite. The family struggles to resolve this mystery, but time is not on their side.  

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Manitou Canyon
William Kent Krueger

In the extraordinary new Cork O’Connor thriller from New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award–winning author William Kent Krueger, the lives of hundreds of innocent people are at stake when Cork vanishes just days before his daughter’s wedding.

Since the violent deaths of his wife, father, and best friend all occurred in previous Novembers, Cork O’Connor has always considered it to be the cruelest of months. Yet, his daughter has chosen this dismal time of year in which to marry, and Cork is understandably uneasy.

His concern comes to a head when a man camping in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness goes missing. As the official search ends with no recovery in sight, Cork is asked by the man’s family to stay on the case. Although the wedding is fast approaching and the weather looks threatening, he accepts and returns to that vast wilderness.

As the sky darkens and the days pass, Cork’s family anxiously awaits his return. Finally certain that something has gone terribly wrong, they fly by floatplane to the lake where the missing man was last seen. Locating Cork’s campsite, they find no sign of him. They do find blood, however. A lot of it.

With an early winter storm on the horizon, it’s a race against time as Cork’s family struggles to uncover the mystery behind these disappearances. Little do they know, not only is Cork’s life on the line, but so are the lives of hundreds of others.

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The Shipping News
by Annie Proulx

Newfoundland:  The only good thing to come out of Quoyle’s dreadful marriage with his unfaithful wife were his two daughters. Fortunately, an aunt convinces Quoyle to return to the beautiful coastline of Newfoundland with his kids to escape his previously distressful life. Newfoundland is known for serving up cod cheeks and insists residents travel by boat or snowmobile. As his family confronts inner demons and wades through catastrophe, readers are taken on a descriptive journey of local culture matched by a frigidharsh climate.  

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The Shipping News
Annie Proulx

Awarded the prize in 1994, THE SHIPPING NEWS is an enchanting look at the contemporary American family. When a third-rate newspaper hack’s cheating wife dies, he and his daughters move to Newfoundland, where they must face their personal demons as a long winter closes in.

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The Winter Sea
by Susanna Kearsley

Scotland:  Settling herself into the ancient lands of Scotland, Carrie begins to write a novel that has been brewing in her minda book based on one of her own ancestors and the invasion of the French and Scottish in the Jacobite fleet. But as the story flows out of her, Carrie begins to realize that there is much more fact than fiction to her book. Could these words be repressed ancestral memories attempting to resurface the truth?  

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The Winter Sea
Susanna Kearsley

Contemporary and eighteenth-century Scotland are interwoven in this gothic and romantic novel. A writer is startled to learn that a story she thinks has sprung from her imagination is actually a factual account of her ancestors during the Jacobite rebellion. Complex Scottish history with a hint of time travel and gorgeous simmering romance? Check!

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At the Mountain's Edge
by Genevieve Graham

Yukon:  In 1897, the discovery of gold in the Yukon sets the world into a frenzy of excitement. Liza Peterson’s family hopes to take advantage of this rush by moving their general store closer to the bustling city. Ben Turner, a recent recruit of the North-West Mounted Police, is also attempting to relocate over the mountain with the promise of new opportunitiesBut as Liza’s family nears the mountains peak, a disastrous catastrophe occurs. Alone, desperate, and wracked with guilt, Ben attempts to make things right, but just as love begins to bloom, new dangers are on the horizon.  

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At the Mountain's Edge
Genevieve Graham

From bestselling author Genevieve Graham comes a sweeping new historical novel of love, tragedy, and redemption set during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush.

In 1897, the discovery of gold in the desolate reaches of the Yukon has the world abuzz with excitement, and thousands of prospectors swarm to the north seeking riches the likes of which have never been seen before.

For Liza Peterson and her family, the gold rush is a chance for them to make a fortune by moving their general store business from Vancouver to Dawson City, the only established town in the Yukon. For Constable Ben Turner, a recent recruit of the North-West Mounted Police, upholding the law in a place overrun with guns, liquor, prostitutes, and thieves is an opportunity to escape a dark past and become the man of integrity he has always wanted to be. But the long, difficult journey over icy mountain passes and whitewater rapids is much more treacherous than Liza or Ben imagined, and neither is completely prepared for the forbidding north.

As Liza’s family nears the mountain’s peak, a catastrophe strikes with fatal consequences, and not even the NWMP can help. Alone and desperate, Liza finally reaches Dawson City, only to find herself in a different kind of peril. Meanwhile, Ben, wracked with guilt over the accident on the trail, sees the chance to make things right. But just as love begins to grow, new dangers arise, threatening to separate the couple forever.

Inspired by history as rich as the Klondike’s gold, At the Mountain’s Edge is an epic tale of romance and adventure about two people who must let go of the past not only to be together, but also to survive.

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Disappearing Earth
by Julia Phillips

Siberian peninsula:  After two sisters are abducted on the northeastern edge of Russia, police find no clues to their whereabouts. This loss is felt deeply among the girls’ community. The descriptive setting of this story is a character in itself. Across dense, rugged beauty and expansive tundras, readers learn about the social and ethical tensions brought upon by this crime. Outsiders are the first to be accused as familial and communal bonds are intricately bound. DISAPPEARING EARTH paints a portrait of Russia unlike one we have ever seen before.  

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Disappearing Earth
Julia Phillips

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The Siberian Dilemma
by Martin Cruz Smith

Siberia:  Iconic Moscow investigator Arkady Renko has not seen his part-time lover, Tatiana Petrovna, since she left on an assignment more than a month ago. With a gut feeling that something has gone wrong, Renko departs on a journey to find herRenko discovers that Tatiana has been profiling the rise of political dissident Mikhail Kuznetsov, the first to pose a true threat to Putin’s rule in more than a decade. Though this product of modern oil wealth seems like the perfect candidate to take on the corruption in Russian politics, his reputation becomes clouded when Boris Benz, his business partner and best friend, turns up dead. Brutally cold nights and lurking enemies makes for an intense trip for Renko, who is just hoping to get Tatiana back home alive.  

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The Siberian Dilemma
Martin Cruz Smith

From the award-winning, bestselling author of Gorky Park and Tatiana comes a breathtaking new novel about investigator Arkady Renko—“one of the most compelling figures in modern fiction” (USA TODAY)—who travels deep into Siberia to find missing journalist Tatiana Petrovna.

Journalist Tatiana Petrovna is on the move. Arkady Renko, iconic Moscow investigator and Tatiana’s part-time lover, hasn’t seen her since she left on assignment over a month ago. When she doesn’t arrive on her scheduled train, he’s positive something is wrong. No one else thinks Renko should be worried—Tatiana is known to disappear during deep assignments—but he knows her enemies all too well and the criminal lengths they’ll go to keep her quiet.

Renko embarks on a dangerous journey to find Tatiana and bring her back. From the banks of Lake Baikal to rundown Chita, Renko slowly learns that Tatiana has been profiling the rise of political dissident Mikhail Kuznetsov, a golden boy of modern oil wealth and the first to pose a true threat to Putin’s rule in over a decade. Though Kuznetsov seems like the perfect candidate to take on the corruption in Russian politics, his reputation becomes clouded when Boris Benz, his business partner and best friend, turns up dead. In a land of shamans and brutally cold nights, oligarchs wealthy on northern oil, and sea monsters that are said to prowl the deepest lake in the world, Renko needs all his wits about him to get Tatiana out alive.

The Washington Post has said “Martin Cruz Smith is that rare phenomenon: a popular and well-regarded crime novelist who is also a writer of real distinction.” In the latest continuation of his unforgettable series, he brings us to the inside world of shadowy political figures and big wig oil oligarchs providing us with an authentic view of contemporary Russia, infused with his trademark wit.

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Photo Credit: beralinka/iStock

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