I appreciate the way genre designations can make books easier to find, but I confess that I love the bleeding edges where books shade from one genre into another; my current bailiwick is historical fantasy. I find that it brings the best elements of historical fiction – a strong sense of time, place, and culture – and melds it with the fantastical elements that make anything possible. Here are a few recent titles that I’ve been thrilled to find.
The Bird Kingby G. Willow Wilson – In 1491, Granada, the last remaining vestige of Muslim Spain, has been surrounded and besieged by the Catholic Spanish forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. When a delegation comes inside the walled city to negotiate, young concubine Fatima is charged with welcoming the female delegates, including a member of the Spanish Inquisition. After Fatima accidentally reveals that her friend Hassan, the court’s mapmaker, can draw places he’s never seen and reshape reality, she realizes she has put him in danger. Aided by jinn, Fatima and Hassan flee the city. Continue reading “Historical fantasy – the best of both worlds!”
Coordinated by the American Library Association, each year a group of librarians from across the country form The Reading List Council with the goal to identify the year’s best books across eight genres. Here are the 2019 winners (for books published in 2018) in Adrenaline, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, and Women’s Fiction, plus the short list of runners up in each category. Find new titles in the genre you love, or branch out and find something new to try. You can also find this full list in our library catalog.
Safe Houses by Dan Fesperman
Managing CIA safe houses in 1979 West Berlin, Helen overhears a secret conversation that sends her on the run. Thirty-five years later, a tragedy leads Helen’s daughter to dig into her mother’s secret past, unaware that her mother’s old enemies are still watching. Continue reading “The best of genre reading in 2018”
Still trying to fill that “history” square on your Book Bingo card? If you are like me, you learn a lot of your history from historical fiction. So the historical details and events that provide such a rich background for these novels had better be accurate!
Following are some of my favorite titles that incorporate meticulously researched history into their compelling stories:
Chances are some of you haven’t heard of ALA’s Reading List Council, but trust me on this one: Their annual list of top books in several genres is a book lover’s gem. They pick the best in eight genres — including mystery, science fiction, and adrenaline (read: suspense/heart-thumping-page-turner) for adult readers. Librarians love that the Reading List is selected by readers advisory librarians who offer suggestions for similar titles. Readers love getting a list of genre favorites that includes winners and finalists.
To get you started with your holds, here are the 2018 winners (for books published in 2017). And be sure to check the full Reading List where you’ll find sixty-four (64!) reading recommendations.
Fierce Kingdomby Gin Phillips
Joan and her four-year-old son, Lincoln, are enjoying an afternoon outing at the zoo when the unthinkable happens–a mass shooting. Trapped and in tremendous danger, Joan must rely on her bravery and survival instincts to make it out alive. This terrifyingly plausible thriller unfolds in real time.
For Women’s History Month this year, I’d like to highlight the way fiction can take a real person’s life and help fill in the gaps about what we historically know, using imagination in order to bring that person’s story back. In particular, since the historical register generally focuses on men, women’s full lives were often elided or ignored in the historical record, and thus in history class and history books. Here, then, is a small sampling of novels by women writers bringing back to full, bright life women from history.
Jubilee by Margaret Walker
Grounded in decades of research, Walker tells the story of her great-grandmother Vyry, the child of a white plantation owner and an enslaved woman on his plantation. Through Vyry’s experiences the reader sees life in pre-Civil War Georgia, wartime deprivation, and the promise and hard reality of Reconstruction. Continue reading “Bringing Women’s Stories to Life”