The Mapmaker’s War by Ronlyn Domingue
I’d never heard of Ronlyn Domingue before The Mapmaker’s War came across my desk, but I’m always intrigued when authors who write “literary fiction”—or fiction coded as such—make the leap to “genre fiction”. Y’all know I have extremely little patience with that pair of terms, since they’re mostly used to privilege certain books above others, regardless of any objective means to tell one genre from another. And yet, speculative fiction, especially the schools of science fiction and fantasy, does need to be seen in context—it’s got a history to it. We don’t need more Tolkienesque fantasy, for instance, we’ve run that into the ground several times over. So what happens when an author from outside the genre and the community tries to tackle the stuff without that weight in the back of her mind? Obviously, they’re welcome to—genre is just genre at the end of the day. But it does help, as we’ll see in the case of The Mapmaker’s War.
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
I used to read a lot of Jodi Picoult in high school—so much so that, when I graduated, the library donated a Jodi Picoult book to the library in my name. (To be fair, they did this for every senior in the book club.) But after a while, I just started getting tired of them. You see, Picoult has a formula or, at the very least, several elements that she constantly uses. The story is usually ripped from the headlines, one of the characters is a woman in a legal profession who is focused on her career (to the detriment of her love life and/or family life), there’s a court case, and, in families containing a main character and more than one child, one child is valued above the other. At some point, it feels less like a story that needed to be told and more like going through the motions. Still, I’d always wanted to read Nineteen Minutes—as it’s about a school shooting, it wasn’t available at my high school library. So I picked it up to clear out my head after A Clash of Kings.
The Twentieth Wife
by Indu Sundaresan
I found this book recommended in Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust, because of its depiction of Mughal India, which I didn’t really know a lot about. I actually started reading this before I went to the British Isles, but didn’t finish it, so I immediately rented it again after I got back.