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Old 08-31-2013, 03:47 PM   #1
Grace Elliot
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Challenge my comfort zone! Books other than historical romance!

Hi there,
I'm looking to challenge my reading comfort zone!
I read to relax and for escapism. My ideal book is one that's well written with believable characters and an absorbing plot. My go to genre is historical romance, but I recently read 'the Dead Virgins' - which is more of a thriller, and loved it.
Can you lovely people recommend some properly absorbing reads in genres other than historical romance - so that I can broaden my reading horizons.
I await your suggestions eagerly...
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Old 08-31-2013, 04:43 PM   #2
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How about Lois McMaster Mujold's "Curse of Chalion?"

Fantasy book with great characters and a strong romance theme as well.
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Old 08-31-2013, 04:56 PM   #3
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I recently read Travel Auction by Mark Thomas - current freebie on Amazon uk and Kobo it was fab
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Old 08-31-2013, 07:57 PM   #4
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A couple of time travel books that straddle a few genres and include a romance element that I'd recommend are The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and 22/11/63 by Stephen King.
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Old 08-31-2013, 08:33 PM   #5
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I'll recommend a couple of Science Fiction series that also often have romantic elements.


Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

This is actually two books, Shards of Honor and Barrayar, and if you liked it would get you started on the path of the Miles Vorkosigan series.
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In her first trial by fire, Cordelia Naismith captained a throwaway ship of the Betan Expeditionary Force on a mission to destroy an enemy armada. Discovering deception within deception, treachery within treachery, she was forced into a separate peace with her chief opponent, Lord Aral Vorkosigan —he who was called "The Butcher of Komarr"—and would consequently become an outcast on her own planet and the Lady Vorkosigan on his.

Sick of combat and betrayal, she was ready to settle down to a quiet life, interrupted only by the occasion ceremonial appearances required of the Lady Vorkosigan. But when the Emperor died, Aral became guardian of the infant heir to the imperial throne of Barrayar —and the target of high-tech assassins in a dynastic civil war that was reminiscent of Earth's Middle Ages, but fought with up-to-the minute biowar technology. Neither Aral nor Cordelia guessed the part that their cell-damaged unborn would play in Barrayar's bloody legacy.

The Dragon Variation by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

This is actually three books and if you liked it would get you started on the Liaden Universe.
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Local Custom—Master Trader Er Thom yos'Galan knows that Liaden custom is to be matched with a proper bride and provide his clan, Korval, with an heir. Yet his heart is immersed in another universe, influenced by another culture, and lost to a woman not of his world. And to take a Terran wife such as scholar Anne Davis is to risk both his honor and reputation—not to mention the lives of loved ones.

Scout's Progress—Aelliana Caylon is a brilliant mathematician, revered by pilots for the life-saving revisions she brought to the ven'Tura Piloting Tables. Despite this, her home life is terrifying, as the target of her elder brother's spite and her mother's indifference. Convinced that she has no recourse, Aelliana endures, until, on a dare, she plays a game of chance and wins a spaceship. Suddenly she has a way to escape her drab life—if she can qualify as a pilot, and survive her brother's abuse.

Conflict of Honors—Declared legally dead by a High Priestess of the Goddess and abandoned by her mother, Priscilla Delacroix has roamed the galaxy for ten years, surviving and becoming a woman of extraordinary skills. Now, she's been betrayed and abandoned once again, left on a distant planet by the Liaden starship on which she had been an important officer. But she's not alone: starship captain Shan yos'Galan has his own score to settle with the same enemy and is about to offer her an
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Old 09-01-2013, 01:36 AM   #6
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Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance is the train wreck of tragedy that I couldn't stop reading.

John Steinbeck's Cannery Row is just a great little read.

Catherynne M. Valente's The Orphan's Tales is thick with imagery, allusion, fable, myth, and folklore. Just a lush read to savour.

James Dickey's Deliverance was my best read so far this year.
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Old 09-01-2013, 02:32 AM   #7
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Great suggestions by HomeInMyShoes! I'd like to add:


Cathedral of the Sea
by Ildefonso Falcones

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

The Lions of Al-Rassan, Tigana, A Song for Arbonne and The Sarantine Mosaic by Guy Gavriel Kay

Helliconia by Brian Aldiss (the link is to an omnibus edition of what are otherwise three volumes: Spring, Summer and Winter)

Faerie Tale
by Raymond E. Feist

Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock (and if you like it, the remainder of the Mythago Cycle: Lavondyss, The Hollowing and Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn)
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Old 09-01-2013, 03:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Synamon View Post
A couple of time travel books that straddle a few genres and include a romance element that I'd recommend are The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and 22/11/63 by Stephen King.
I heartily second that recommendation for The Time Traveler's Wife. Such a great read. Also, made into a very enjoyable movie. I do recommend you read the book first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Istvan diVega View Post
...
Faerie Tale by Raymond E. Feist
If you think you will like Raymond E. Feist, might I recommend his various Riftwar series which I got into with the second series, beginning with Magician: Apprentice. There is a Magician series, the Apprentice series, and riftwar saga and more. I still remember that first one I read fondly.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ebusinesstutor View Post
...
Fantasy book with great characters and a strong romance theme as well.
Getting out of historical fiction into fantasy with an interesting romance element, you could try the Apprentice Adept series by Piers Anthony.

Or, you could try going more towards science fiction. An all-time favorite author of mine is Robert A. Heinlein. All of his books skew strange with the romantic elements but that strangeness can be thought provoking and mighty interesting. A good example of this would be one of his standalone novels, Friday

Or, going for classics (also free at projectgutenberg.org and elsewhere) are Jane Austen's novels, all of which are good but my 3 recs for where to start if you haven't read her books yet are, in my preference order:
1. Pride & Prejudice
2. Emma
3. Sense & Sensibility

They have of course been adapted to tv and film a million bajillion times, but none of these can replace the reading of Austen's own words.

Last edited by Merischino; 09-01-2013 at 03:10 AM. Reason: added classics
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Old 09-01-2013, 06:29 AM   #9
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Ha! Before I scrolled down, I thought "Ooh! I'll rec Shards of Honour/Barrayar (Cordelia's Honour)! So there it is. I'll also rec:
* Code Name Verity (historical - WWII - but the core is an amazing friendship between two young women)
* Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamourist Histories series (Is this still technically historical romance? Oh well)
* Fairytales for Wilde Girls (fairytalish/gothic/some romance)
* Dark Horse (thriller)
* The Midnight Dress (just beautiful. Queensland temperate rainforest setting, a touch fairytalish but contemporary/realistic for the most part)
* Rebecca if you haven't read it yet but you probably have
* Paper Chains (contemporary "women's fiction", I suppose, a great read)
* The Book of Rachael (historical, but not a romance). In a similar vein, The Red Tent
* Year of Wonders (see Rebecca)
* Graceling/Fire/Bitterblue (fantasy, romantic elements)
* Sea Hearts aka The Brides of Rollrock Island (if you only get one book as well as Cordelia's Honour, this should be the one)
* Persepolis, Fun Home, and Blankets (graphic novels)
* Wings of Fear aka Border Watch/Shattered Sky/Burning Lies (romantic suspense)

Enjoy!
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Old 09-01-2013, 02:55 PM   #10
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* Rebecca if you haven't read it yet but you probably have
Heartily seconded. A really fabulous read.
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Old 09-01-2013, 07:38 PM   #11
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Thirding the recommendation for Bujold! Both "The Curse of Chalion" and "Cordelia's Honor" ("Shards of Honor"/"Barrayar") are wonderful.

Ooh, how about some Anne McCaffrey? I'd recommend "To Ride Pegasus" or "Dragonflight".
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Old 09-01-2013, 08:51 PM   #12
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I'm going to go off in another direction and suggest historical mysteries--Anne Perry's William Monk series and Thomas Pitt series, Victoria Thompson's Gaslight series, Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy series.
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Old 09-01-2013, 09:07 PM   #13
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You can't go wrong with the previous suggestions. How can broadening ones horizons be wrong.
I would like to suggest
Bryant and May series. Mystery with a more than a tinge of history.
Harlen Coben - Myron Bolitar series, thriller/mystery with more than a splash of romance.
Nancy Springer - Enola Holmes (Sherlock's younger sister) charming and easy reading set in Victorian times. In a way reminiscent of Georgette Heyer IMO but more mystery.
Then there are the incomparable mystery books by Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham and Rex Stout. History, Romance and Mystery

I could go on for days. So many wonderful books in the world.

Helen
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:36 AM   #14
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How about joining the bookclub? My tastes have broadened significantly since joining.
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Old 09-02-2013, 02:00 PM   #15
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How far afield do you wish to go?

Earlier this year I read Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley and enjoyed it very much. I wrote about it here on MobileRead so my review should be archived somewhere. It has elements of romance and mystery, and involves time travel too, set in modern times and also in the 1700s. The characters act very believably. If you are not averse to time travel as a plot device, this would be very easy to get into but perhaps not far removed from your normal reads.

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