Looking to spice up your reading life? Here are three books that will have you turning the pages til you reach the very end. A combination of fantasy, love, and a new take on historical fiction, these books are everything you’re looking for (and probably more)! I had the pleasure of meeting one of the authors for this month’s book edit – Judith Teitelman – nearly a year ago at a work event for my husband. Teitelman wrote Guesthouse for Ganesha (you have to read the review below and go get the book)…
She told me about the book then and I was quite intrigued. So it’s no surprised I was ecstatic when it finally came out this month. It’s such a fun and interesting take on a fairly familiar story. Just trust me on this one. And then follow it up with a little romance and, of course, a little fantasy!
Guesthouse for Ganesha by Judith Teitelman
If you’re looking for something a little familiar and a little unexpected, get your hands on Teitelman’s first book: Guesthouse for Ganesha. Through the story of Esther Grünspan, we follow a tale of World War II in Central Europe. Esther is a Jewish woman, escaping her home and her past. Dramatically left at the altar, she seeks to rebuild her life, leaving behind her most of her identity.
What weaves this tale together is Esther’s innate capacity for tailoring perfection – a skill which helps her save money and save herself. She’s able to rebuild her livelihood in every new city to which she moves. Things get complicated when Esther marries a man she doesn’t love and births him three children. She then finds herself surrounded by members of the Jewish community who refuse to see what’s happening just outside their homes.
When Nazi Germany begins implementing limitations on Jewish life, Esther has to decide what to do next. How will she save herself? What will she do with the children?
An independent woman, she believe she’s making all decisions on her own. But little does she know that Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu God, is guiding her along the way. Ganesha acts as narrator, interspersing the story with beliefs about the destruction of spirituality, a love for cookies, and a great desire to covertly guide Esther through these trying and terrible times. And only through Ganesha can we truly understand Esther.
What makes Guesthouse for Ganesha so unique is that it blurs the lines between so many genres. Somehow European history combines with spirituality, which seamlessly mixes with feminism and self-discovery. Esther is no ordinary woman. Ganesha is no ordinary partner. Why are the two connected and will it be enough to pull Esther through WWII and to a life of happiness?
The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker
Do you love Jane Austen? Crumbling country houses? Hate (well, mild acrimony) love romances? Any or all of the above? If so, The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker is the romance for you.
Our heroine, Freddy Carlton, is the heir apparent of an old London acting family. Her father is pushing her to star in her grandmother’s – a famous playwright – masterpiece, a dark and dramatic character study of a manipulative woman. But she secretly yearns to go back to the theatre she loves – mainly, making people laugh. Our hero, James Ford-Griffin (Griff), is a sometimes theatre critic, sometimes tv presenter, sometimes curmudgeon barely keeping his once prosperous family’s holdings afloat.
After a few overly critical run ins between actress and critic, Freddy and Griff find themselves in close quarters. She’s cast in a choose-your-own-adventure style tv special featuring Austen’s greatest characters. Of course filming is on Griff’s family estate. Where, of course, her famous grandmother wrote her greatest work following a torrid affair with Griff’s grandfather.
It turns out all they need is proximity for the sparks to start flying, and the romance that develops between the two feels very real, despite the rather fantastical setting. This is a perfect comfort read, full of wit and Austen allusions.
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey (the writing duo of Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham) kicks off The Expanse series. I finally feel comfortable recommending this series as the end game is in sight. In fact, I reckon that if you start now you should finish up just in time for the ninth and last book to come out!
One of the best soap operas of the last decade, Leviathan Wakes introduces us to a near-future universe where humanity has colonised Mars and the asteroid belt. Now ruled by the UN and burdened by overpopulation and climate change, Earth is the aging power in the solar system.
Mars’ burgeoning population fuels a strong navy, and both are reliant on the extraction economy of the asteroid belt. The Belters live a precarious existence in subpar conditions, heavily exploited by the giant corporations of Earth. Relations between the three powers are strained nearly to the breaking point.
Against this backdrop, tensions between the three powers flare over what appear to be disconnected, simple events that also happen to bring our main characters together. Detective Miller on the asteroid settlement of Ceres, tracks the disappearance of the heiress Julie Mao. The eventual crew of the stolen spaceship, the Rocinante, flee the destruction of an ice freighter on a routine run. Leviathan Wakes takes the reader on quite the journey … but it’s really only the start. Who will rule the Solar System? And who – or what – came before humanity?