How easily do you find the kind of books you like to read?
I love character driven stories—heroines and heroes with clear, strong goals. I like romantic elements but I want an engaging external plot as well as true love. I prefer historical, paranormal or fantastic settings. Adventures and quests are good. And there must be a happy ending.
Over the last year, though, more than anything I’ve wanted the cozy. Warm, feelgood stories with lightness, humor and no painful grimdark, written for adults.
I don’t think I’m the only one, because lately I’ve found a number of new-to-me fantasy authors who really hit the spot. I feel as though I’m on a great reading discovery streak and I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. The only thing is—and I find this really weird—these stories have so much in common, but there seems to be no convenient category grouping for them. No accepted term. On Amazon—usually super-smart about these things—they’re mostly dotted around the sci-fi and fantasy sections.
If I search ‘low fantasy,’ I get mostly role-playing products. If I search “cozy fantasy” I get mysteries or magic series with smiley cartoon cats, witches, or haunted houses on the cover. They look fun, but they’re not what I’m after.
A few titles from my kindle that I’d say all share a niche are shelved on Amazon as follows:
T. Kingfisher, Paladin’s Grace: fantasy romance, romantic fantasy, fantasy & futuristic romance;
Gail Carriger, Soulless: steampunk fiction, steampunk science fiction, historical fantasy;
Olivia Atwater, Half a Soul: teen & young adult historical fantasy;
Charlotte E English, Wyrde and Wicked: Gaslamp fantasy;
Ilona Andrews, Innkeeper series: paranormal & urban fantasy;
AJ Lancaster, Stariel series: Gaslamp fantasy, fairy tales;
Kate Stradling, The Legendary Inge: Fairy Tale Fantasy, Mythology & folk tales;
I’m really happy to have so many fun reads to hand, but amazed that I have to scout around to find them. And no wonder I find it difficult to select a better description than “historical fantasy” for my own books.
How about you? Do you read in a specific niche or two? How easily can you track down the kind of book you prefer to read?
I don’t know if I recommended Genevieve Cogman? She writes a wonderful series, featuring Irene, a Librarian (kick-ass heroine a bit like a female James Bond, with magic), Fae (chaos lovers) and Dragons (order lovers).
The writing is witty and nodding to the literature classics – she’s looking for ‘alternative’ versions of books so they can be catalogued; she’s landed with Kai, a royal Dragon as an apprentice, whose temper leads her into problems that her normal suave diplomacy hasn’t faced before.
Highly recommended – and there is a love story running through the series, just to add! 🙂
Genevieve Cogman… sounds familiar–I think you may have recommended her before. I haven’t read her, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t check out the books and decide against them, so life must have intervened. This series sounds just like my cup of tea. I just read a new release I was looking forward to and didn’t enjoy half as much as I expected, so this week would be a great time to try a new adventure with a kick-ass librarian and a temperamental dragon prince 🙂
And to answer your question – I stumble across these, usually part of ‘also-boughts’ and rely on people to recommend!
Totally agree about also-boughts. If I find an author I really like, I’ll mine those titles for all they’re worth. Word of mouth recommendations are great if you can find someone whose preferences are a good match, or someone who knows your tastes really well. (Like, say, someone who knows librarians, fae, dragons, and romantic elements would be totally my thing!)
Darynda Jones, K.F. Breene and several others have begun writing midlife women’s paranormal, but so far Amazon hasn’t created a separate category for them. I wonder if there’s a mechanism for communicating that need, or if they wait for the search input to recommend a new category?
My reading tastes are pretty eclectic. Over the past couple of years I’ve been concentrating on paranormal romance to get a better handle on the expectations of that genre. Not that I’ve had much success in changing what I write to meet expectations…
I expect Amazon waits until the search input suggests a new category would be worthwhile. I didn’t try “women’s paranormal,” but I might give it a try just to see whether it’s popular. I’m not confident that searching for “women’s fantasy” would return the kind of books I’m looking for!
I like the sound of the K.F. Breene series (Midlife Magic?). That’s on my list, too. I love that there seems to be such a rich selection of reading choices available right now. It’s a great antidote to the corona-lockdown blues.
I’ve always preferred stories that aren’t straight-up romance, but are more something else with a romantic thread. I’m leaning more so this way in the last year or so, maybe because I’m not finding the romantic in me during a pandemic, I’m not sure. I’ve always liked mysteries, and I’ll try anything there, but romances—I rely on recommendations and the book description and early pages to sway me. Still, I’m often wrong. I “finished” a romance last night that I’d been looking forward to, but I skipped about a third of it.
I agree, though, that the books you’ve listed seem to fall into a category of their own. I enjoy T Kingfisher a lot—have you read “The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking”? I picked that up when I was in a bread-baking binge and loved it.
I have read “The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking.” I thought it was excellent. I like pretty much anything T Kingfisher writes, but I hope she’ll write a sequel or two to Paladin’s Grace and/or Swordheart. That would make me very happy.
Incidentally, speaking of offbeat bread-baking tales, have you read Robin Sloan’s Sourdough? Magic, science, technology, baking, and secret food markets. According to the author’s website:
This book is about Lois Clary, a talented young programmer from Michigan who follows a job to California, only to be drawn into the weird world of food that waits there. It’s about work and eating, robots and microbes, independence and ambition, and I believe it is the first novel in English to feature, as a key supporting character, a possibly-sentient sourdough starter.
I checked out “Sourdough,” and as I did, I saw that Robin Sloan has also written “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,” which I thought was a lot of fun. Didn’t make the connection until I went to Amazon, though. Thank you!
I’ll be interested to know what you think. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I suspect you may get an extra kick out of the setting and all kinds of small details that whooshed over my head.
I thought The Wizard’s Guide was tremendous.