Reading During the Polar Vortex

Open book with a woman walking and a dog standing on its pages

This winter we endured the joy and delight of the polar vortex, when the temperature plummeted well below zero and made walking to the mailbox into a frigid hike. All that cold made winter sports unappealing, so I spent more time exploring the world of books.

Since I’m writing mostly fantasy, that’s what’s I’ve been reading. Here are the best I discovered, the ones that took me to another time and place and made their characters come alive:

The Paper Magician

I’d never heard of Charlie N. Holmberg and her Paper Magician series. I’d been missing out. In these delightful books, different materials have magical properties. Those gifted with magical abilities are trained in schools in their use. On graduating, the students must choose one and only one element to bond with.

The problem for Ceony, the heroine of the story, is that she’s forced into choosing paper, the least interesting and least powerful of the elements. But when she starts her apprenticeship with the quirky Magician Thane, she learns paper has its own powers—some very unexpected. An evil magician comes after Magician Thane, and Ceony ends up in a fight for her life in a fantastical journey through Magician Thane’s heart.

I so loved this series I read the next two books, which continued the story Ceony and Magician Thane’s romance, along with their thrilling struggle to defeat the evil magicians.

Just as I was finishing the series, I learned that a fourth book in the series had been released, The Plastic Magician. While we get a few glimpses of Ceony, the book has a new heroine, whose magical element is plastic. This latest installment is equally as charming and entertaining as the others. Unlike many other young adult, coming of age fantasy stories, the Paper Magician series is completely clean, making it appropriated for younger readers.


Invictus by Ryan Graudin is a fun story with a creative plot, taking the reader on a journey through time and space. The hero, Farway, is the son of a time traveler and an ancient Roman gladiator. He tried to join the government’s time travel program but failed the entrance exam. So, he ended up leading a group of time traveling pirates who steal valuable from the past.

During a heist on the Titanic, Farway meets a girl who thwarts his mission and seems to be one step ahead of him. He chases her through time and history, on a quest to prevent the end of time. This fun story stood out as inventive, engaging, and full of surprising twists.

Sky Raiders

Brandon Mull’s Five Kingdoms series starts off with Sky Raiders, where we meet Cole, and average middle school age kid. Cole wants to impress Jenna. They go to a spooky haunted house for Halloween, and end up in a completely different world, one where there is no way back. Cole’s adventures in trying to rescue Jenna and his other friends kept me turning the pages.

So that’s how I’ve been keeping myself entertained while the snow flies. What have you been reading this winter? Tell me about it in the comments!

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