Tag Archives: historical fiction

Recommended Books: THE WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY by Katherine Arden


THE WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY
Katherine Arden

The Winternight Trilogy, which includes The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower, and The Winter of the Witch, is one of those rare beasts where each installment is as glorious as the last.

The story revolves around Vasilisa, or Vasya, who is born as the youngest child of a lord in Russia during a time when the old traditions of honoring the spirits have begun to fade in favor of Christianity. Yet, she is one who can still see the spirits, who understands the need to continue offerings to them in order to retain their protection and support in times of strife.

The Bear and the Nightingale is told in a beautiful, sedate style, traveling through Vasya’s youth, her encounters with the spirits and her struggles with a newly-come priest who begins to hear a voice that he thinks of as the voice of God. She is also introduced to Morozko, the demon of Frost and Death, who has unknown goals of his own for interacting with her, and threatened by the coming of the Bear, another of the great demon spirits who thrives in chaos and life. Continue reading

Recommended Book: THE KINGDOM OF BACK by Marie Lu


THE KINGDOM OF BACK
Marie Lu

This is the story of the other Mozart, the sister of the famed musician who was a talented and impressive musician herself.

Nannerl Mozart, desiring to be remembered and not to fall into the heavy shadow of her younger brother, seeks out that chance within a parallel fantasy world that the two of them call the Kingdom of Back, a fairy-tale-like place of dreams and music with a young man there who needs their help to take back his world. And who, in return, would grant Nannerl’s wish.

The story spans Nannerl and Wolfgang’s childhood, their tour across the European landscape in order to perform for the higher classes, and Nannerl’s realization of both her father and the public’s disinterest in her over her brother. This is contrasted with her being the focal within the Kingdom of Back, where she must perform tasks in order to achieve her dreams.

But those dreams will come at a cost, and the further Nannerl goes along this path, the more she questions what she sees and what she’s been told and even what she truly desires above all else.

This story has a clear feminist bent, shedding some attention and light on the amazing and talented historical women who are often forgotten, shadowed by their male counterparts. I recommend this book to anyone, especially young women, who have questioned their own dreams at some point, weighing the costs, but also, to those who feel as if they are the ones who have stood in the shadows behind someone else, despite being just as talented or skilled. And, of course, for those who adore music in their fiction and all the ways that music can stir the soul.


 

March 2019 Recommended Books

I haven’t had much action going on in the submission/publication department, but even with this dearth, I’ve been keeping busy the past few years with reading, writing and general lifey-type things. Since I’ve begun (again) the ever-consistent process of submitting, I thought I would at least keep better track of what I’ve been reading. And then, since I’ve been keeping track, I can now look back over and consider which books I’d recommend to friends (or at least to friends who enjoy similar genres XD)

So, here are my favorite books that I read in March!

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
(Dark/High Fantasy)

This was a delicious blend of the macabre and the fanciful that I wasn’t quite expecting when I began, but absolutely adored by the end! The spirits in this story are disturbing, strange and carry all of the wrath of old fae-type legends and makes for a scary undertone in an otherwise beautiful setting. Incredibly quick-paced, even during its comparatively slower portions during the lead’s training sections. I loved that there was a welcoming inclusion of female friendships (the women more often working together despite the competitive nature of their chosen path in the world) that didn’t overshadow the rest of the adventure and action. Recommend to anyone who isn’t afraid of a little death and dismemberment ;)

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
(Science-fiction)

Finally picked these four books up, though I don’t know why it took me so long considering I’m a big fan of Wells’ Raksura books. All Systems Red has been on my list since it came out and I just kept adding to it with each subsequent publication. A part of me is glad I waited though, because I got to read them back to back without much break between to forget details of the stories. They’re each a fun romp with an interesting lead who is constantly balancing its own secrets with its desire to protect the humans around it. Each story revolves around a new (or newish) conflict, goal and enemy, with the lovable rogue SecUnit at its core. They’re softer sci-fi, more focused on the character of Murderbot and its introspection and humanization, though they don’t delve too far into what it means to be human, keeping instead to the adventure and character development of Murderbot itself. I think I liked that best about the story overall, because it was a beautiful story about someone who didn’t want to be anything but itself in a world that expected it to want to be something it wasn’t.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
(YA Historical Fantasy)

I hadn’t tried Chokshi before so this book was a fun surprise. The Forging abilities were not only fresh and interesting in a magical design sense, but they were also embedded in every scene, on every page, in both the history of the world and in the details of the everyday. At its core, the story is a heist, with puzzles and math and specialized characters each with their own unique views and skills. It is YA, but it’s most definitely open to a wider audience. Even if you don’t generally enjoy historical settings, I think you’ll like this one because it’s put together beautifully.

Ship of Smoke And Steel by Django Wexler
(YA Fantasy)

This was another author I had not tried before; I had a few of them this month hoping to find some new fun adventures for my bookshelf. This one made me pick it up because…ghost ship! And the ship was just as intriguing in the reading as it was before I opened the book, and a whole lot bigger. You could call the Solitan a labyrinth it’s so huge. There are strange creatures and ghostly mysteries, not all of which are solved by the end of the book, but enough to leave you satisfied. I’d say, that although the genre is considered YA, the novel feels geared toward an older YA to adult audience given some of the more gritty representation and blunt, experienced characters.

Space Unicorn Blues by T J Berry
(Science Fantasy)

Another one with an interesting ship concept, this time in space. I admit, the Jaggery, a living ship where the bulk of this story takes place, is part of why I enjoyed this novel as much as I did. (It has a lake and a secret network of tiny tunnels for all its dwarves!) That, and the interesting blend of sci-fi and fantasy that often had a comical undertone to it despite the dark situations. As for the characters, there’s a half-unicorn, a disabled ex-military, a trans ‘business-woman’, and a grizzled older pilot, all of whom have lost and suffered because of choices they’ve made in the past. The fact that these characters had to deal with actual loss because of past (and later current) choices, made this story more layered than just what seems to be on the surface.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~     ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~     ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I did read more science-fiction novels in March, but unfortunately they weren’t quite for me. Maybe next month! I also read a couple of older books, including a few Agatha Christie. I started a quest to read her work a few years ago and I don’t think I’m even half-way through yet, but I’m three books closer :) They’re nice, calming stories that are good to read as almost a reset button if I’ve struggled to enjoy the last few books.