It’s summer, it’s hot out, and my brain is melting. I’m a bit late with the book recommendations, but here are some books I enjoyed reading over the last few months!
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri (Fantasy)
This book is so well written. It is brutal at times, and does not shy away from death or abuse, but the story is still packed with beauty. Suri has a way of humanizing her characters and making you understand their complexity. I particularly appreciated how Suri portrays a culture that doesn’t allow for rebellion, yet the main character asserts her autonomy while respecting cultural expectations. This book is packed with South Asian influenced world building, but this is fantasy, not a historical. There is magic, there is romance, and there are monsters (some good and some not).
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (Contemporary Romance)
The follow up to The Kiss Quotient does not disappoint. It follows Khai and Esme, a woman his mother has brought to America from Vietnam in the hopes he will marry. This novel is gently humorous, but also full of compassion for two people trying to understand one another as they deal with cultural differences and Khai’s autism. Family is big and messy, and Esme’s immigrant story is just as important as the romance. I finished reading it with a smile on my face.
The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad (YA Fantasy)
Another gorgeously written book. There is so much love and caring in this book, for Fatima’s found family (she is an orphan), and between other family groups. Even when characters struggled and had their differences, there was still an undercurrent of caring between characters. It never slid into “girl competition” even when two of them were crushing on the same boy, and all of the female characters evolved over the course of the story.
Noor, the city where it takes place is a character all on its own, and I liked how it was a diverse silk road city, even when it was dominated by a certain segment of the population. There is violence in this book, but it’s not a book about violence, but more about recovering from trauma. This story was far more quiet than I expected, but in a good way.
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (YA Fantasy)
I have a soft spot for faerie stories, and this novel hit me squarely in my favourite tropes. There’s magic, and a trip to faerie, but while beautiful, the world is also super creepy. There’s not just beauty, but rot and monsters ( Faeries included). The main character, Isobel, is an artist through whom you get the perspective of the world, one that feels like a painting and indulges the senses. She is not a fighter, but she still ends up saving the day with her art, and quick thinking.
An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole (Historical Romance)
I will read just about anything Cole writes, but I particularly enjoy her historical fiction. This is the third book in the Loyal League series and takes place during the American Civil War, but you don’t need to read the other books to read this one. The two main characters here have learned the truth about the world in different ways, both initially coming from more privileged backgrounds, and then being thrown into the war. I’m a sucker for a grumpy hero, and Daniel is just that, a foil to Janeta’s warmth and naivete. As always, Cold treats her subject matter with care, and the romance is deliciously hot.