I had this post drafted since April. April! Apparently recommending books is no easy task - especially when nowadays there are so few standalone novels. I have books in different genres - from fantasy to historical fiction, so hopefully there's something for everybody.
The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon (fantasy/romance)
This was my very first Amy Harmon book, but definitely not the last. Ever since I have discovered her I've been trying to read more books by her - because let me tell you, Amy Harmon can write!
Her words are absolute magic.
This book does have a companion, BUT it's not series and the story is totally wrapped up and done in this one.
The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.
My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.
But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?
The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson (fantasy)
I am a recent Brandon Sanderson fan, but I am already totally enamored with his books.
This one is a short novella, but is honestly better than most of the full sized fantasy books out there.
Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead.
Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that Shai’s forgery is as much artistry as it is deception.
Brimming with magic and political intrigue, this deftly woven fantasy delves into the essence of a living spirit
From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon (historical fiction)
Oh, look, another Amy Harmon book - and this is might beeves better than the previous one. I wish I could forget it so I can experience it for the first time again. So many emotions, tears and happiness in one book - I don't know how my soul didn't shatter.
As children, Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco were raised like family but divided by circumstance and religion. As the years go by, the two find themselves falling in love. But the church calls to Angelo and, despite his deep feelings for Eva, he chooses the priesthood.
Now, more than a decade later, Angelo is a Catholic priest and Eva is a woman with nowhere to turn. With the Gestapo closing in, Angelo hides Eva within the walls of a convent, where Eva discovers she is just one of many Jews being sheltered by the Catholic Church.
But Eva can’t quietly hide, waiting for deliverance, while Angelo risks everything to keep her safe. With the world at war and so many in need, Angelo and Eva face trial after trial, choice after agonizing choice, until fate and fortune finally collide, leaving them with the most difficult decision of all.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (women fiction)
A total surprise, a delight of a book. I didn't expect to love Eleanor so much, but I just couldn't help it! This book makes my top 5 all time favorites easily.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully time-tabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
Then everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living--and it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
And then there were none by Agatha Christie. (murder mystery)
An instant classic. A forever favorite . A masterpiece. Just few of the ways to describe this gem of a novel.
First, there were ten - a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they're unwilling to reveal - and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (historical fiction)
Bleak, sad and absolutely beautiful. Burial Rites tells a story of a convicted woman and prejudices she has to go against. It delivers many powerful messages - a must read.
A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.
Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.
Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.
Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (fantasy)
A magical journey for a cozy afternoon tea. It's lyrical, it's descriptive and lush - and it's deliciously slow burning.
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night...
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway - a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love - a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe by Benjamin Alice Saenz (YA contemporary)
Probably the most beautifully written contemporary I've ever read. It's sad and happy, it's heart breaking and healing. It's a journey of anger, confusion, love and family - and you should read it now.
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
Freelance BETA reader.