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Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14, 2015

All you lovers out there, rejoice! And by rejoice I mean curl up with a good book. In the spirit of Saint Valentine, here’s two good book recommendations.

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel’s Dart—Penned by the brilliant Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel’s Dart is the first in Kushiel’s Legacy series. Set in an alternate, fantastical Renaissance Europe, Legacy is separated into two trilogies, the first following Phèdre, a courtesan and spy as she grows and unravels plots and intrigue for the throne. The prose is sensuous and elegant, and Carey lovingly details her mystical world of gods and chosen. As if the promise of political manipulations and BDSM wasn’t enough, the novels globe trot the world, from the upper reaches of Scotland and the southern tip of Africa to kissing Spain and the farther deserts of the Dead Sea. With the travel, there’s A+ diversity with characters of color and LGBT present, important, and fully fleshed out (Phèdre herself is mixed race and pansexual). These books blew my mind. Seriously. It took be two days to re-adjust to this reality after I finished the third one.

The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

The Hundred Secret Senses—Okay, after this book, I officially love Amy Tan. For those loving themselves this Valentine’s, I definitely recommend The Hundred Secret Senses. The story follows Olivia, a Chinese-American who struggles to reconcile her American rationalism with her half-sister Kwan’s stories of ghosts aka “yin people.” It’s a fantastic exploration of heritage and inheritance, what we ought to take from the past, what we ought to leave behind, and what we end up carrying with us anyway. I was definitely on Team Kwan through it all, to the point of sometimes disliking Olivia, but I was always ready for the next page, the next chapter, and the next debate. The plot is rather amorphous to start with, rather like following Olivia’s train of thought as she shows and tells us about her sister, but the reader grasps it quickly. I also heartily recommend the audiobook—Tan reads the story herself and she has an amazing voice.

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