It’s February, and that means that it’s the month of love. Although I am not a massive fan of romance novels, I have included two books that have some romance within their pages. In my opinion, these are all essential reading for anyone, and I’m pretty sure you will enjoy them all.

Even if they are not your primary style or genre of reading, I highly suggest giving them a try because you might surprise yourself. So, without further ado, my picks for February are…

Tell Tale: Short Stories 

Jeffrey Archer

Genre: Fiction/Mystery

For Fans Of: Lisa Regan

What’s in the pages? In this collection of short stories, Jeffrey Archer gives us an insight into his travels and the people he has met along the way. Lose yourself in tales of the young hitchhiker who gets more than she bargained for when she hitches a lift from a mysterious stranger. Also, discover the ingenious parking scheme that made a couple extremely rich.

Each story is unique and exciting in its own right. However, the magic comes when the collection is viewed as a whole, creating an in-depth and complete look at the human condition and psyche.

Why should you read it? Jeffery Archer has an incredible gift when it comes to storytelling. Writing from his experiences through the years, this collection comes together as snapshots of how unexpected those seemingly mundane moments in life can actually be. 

I am not really a big fan of short story collections because they tend to differ in quality and style. However, in Tell Tale, every story stands on its own as a vital piece of narrative. Although they vary in length, even the shortest stories (which is only 100 words) is a complete story arc. 

If you’ve never read any Jeffery Archer before, I would recommend starting with this fantastic collection of prose. You won’t regret it!

Two Like Me and You 

Chad Alan Gibbs

Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Romance For Fans Of: John Green

What’s in the pages? Edwin Green’s ex-girlfriend is incredibly famous, and ever since she dumped Edwin one year ago, he’s spent those twelve months trying to become famous in the hope of winning her back. It hasn’t gone well.

Edwin’s whole life changes when an assignment introduces Parker Haddaway into his life. She, in turn, introduces him to a nursing-home-bound World War II veteran. 

They all escape to France to find the old man’s lost love, in the process, they become media heroes. But when they become targets for the French authorities on suspicion of kidnap, it’s a race against time to help an old man find his lost love.

Why should you read it? This is one of the best young adult books I have ever read. It’s a wild ride of adventure and learning with an unlikely trio, filled with laugh out loud moments of craziness and heart-wrenching character development. This novel is also absolutely unputdownable, I read it in a day!

I would even go so far as to call Chad Alan Gibbs the new John Green, and when this book inevitably becomes a film, it will be as big or bigger than The Fault in Our Stars.

Even if you are not a fan of young adult novels, I would highly recommend this novel to enrich your life, it will make you a better person for reading it.

A Wizard of Earthsea

Ursula K. Le Guin

Genre: Adventure/Fantasy/Classic     For Fans Of: Terry Pratchett

What’s in the pages? This is the story of Sparrowhawk, a reckless young boy with a hunger for power and knowledge. In his search for that power, he makes the mistake of tampering with dark forces and letting loose a terrible shadow on the world of Earthsea. This is the tale of how he mastered power, tamed an ancient beast and crossed the threshold of death to restore the balance and fight the shadow.

Why should you read it? At its core, A Wizard of Earthsea is a beautiful and magical coming of age story. However, it is not in the same vein as Harry Potter (even though they both contain a magic school and wizards). Rather than being a traditional fantasy adventure, this is an introspective book. Its exquisite narration carries it forward and leaves you wanting more at the end of it. 

Although it was written in the 1960s, this story has lasted the test of time and has endured into a cult classic among Fantasy novel aficionados. Although Harry Potter is the sensation, A Wizard of Earthsea is the predecessor and, in my opinion, the superior novel and story.

Le Guin takes what could’ve been a straightforward tale of good versus evil and turns into a lesson in self-discovery and acceptance of the duality of darkness and light that lives inside all of us. This is the perfect novel to introduce a middle grade (think 11 or 12 years old) to the fantasy genre, alongside Tolkien, Rowling and Pratchett.