I am taking part in Monthly Recommendations, a group started by Kayla Rayne and Trina, both of whom I know of from their booktube channels. Please find the links below:
Kayla Rayne’s channel, “Kayla Rayne“
Trina’s channel, “Between Chapters“
For this month, as an alternative to romantic Valentine’s love stories, Monthly Recs is looking at books that don’t have romance or love stories in them. I am a big fantasy reader, so most (ok, all) of my books are fantasy adventures. I think that fantasy adventure offers a lot for non-romance based stories that are interesting and engaging. Why focus on the romance if there are dragons and magical houses and eccentric characters and amazing worlds to explore?
I have arranged my list starting with books that are appropriate for younger readers up through adult fantasy.
Alright, let’s just lay things out here: this series will come up OVER AND OVER AND OVER on this blog because it was one of the first books I read that really grabbed me a refused to let go. My mom’s friend loaned them to her when I was 6 and after some judging by the cover, I totally fell in love with these books. It is the one that was a defining point in my reading life, putting me on the path of dragons and princesses and fairy tales and fantasy.
Dealing with Dragons is the story of Cimorene, who does not like to do princessy things, but instead learns sword fighting, Latin, and cooking. She runs away from marriage to a boring prince, and takes up work as a dragon’s princess, cooking, cleaning, and organizing the books and treasure. She finds herself taking sides in a battle between the wizards and the dragons, encountering all sort of fractured fairy tale characters along the way.
No romance in the first one, aside from Cimorene dodging an arranged marriage, and though the second book, Searching for Dragons, ends with a wedding, it’s not a particularly romantic book. Frankly, both characters are specifically not looking to get married when they meet. Too busy being awesome!
This is one of the companion books to Howl’s Moving Castle, though it follows Charmain Baker as she housesits for an elderly wizard who is away, gets a job, gets some common sense, solves a mystery, saves a kingdom, and makes some friends. There’s a boy, but it seems that they are consider too young/disinterested in romance, and are both learning to get along with each other anyway. This is my second favorite of the Howl books (maybe my first favorite?) Jenny Sterlin does the audio and is GREAT. Read it.
And I always think of Charmain when I wash dishes and get down to the silverware. 😉
I feel like I am flogging this series on this blog. 🙂 But, it’s got a lot going for it and I likes it! As a middle grade book, it tends to go big in the imagination and adventure, with small but important self-discoveries in the protagonist.
Sophia lives in 1890’s Boston in a world which experienced The Great Disruption, where parts of the world spun out of time. And perhaps out of different worlds? Most of Sophia’s focus is on finding her family. Her parents were explorers who disappeared, and she lives with her uncle, who is a famous cartologer, until he gets kidnapped. The beginning is slow, but once Sophia starts adventuring into other Times, things get awesome. Grove is so imaginative and I can never predict where things will go next.
As far as romance, Sophia has a friend, Theo, but they seem well settled into friendship thus far!
The lack of romance in these books are actually a talking point. The story follows R.F. Jackaby and his new assistant Abigail Rook as they investigate crimes relating to supernatural creatures and characters.
A lot of people seem to think that Abigail and Jackaby will end up together, but I feel like that’s more because of their genders than anything to do with character or implied In fact, Ritter has said no romance between them. Abigail causes some blushes in a sweet constable, but aside from that, there is not romance. There is however, murder, silliness, supernatural creatures, the droppings of supernatural creatures, a ghost, and a really ugly hat.
Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent is a woman of science and not an airy-fairy romantic. She does get married in the first book, which is why I haven’t listed it here, but it is not a dreamy romance. She’s far too practical for that! In this book, Isabella struggles with leaving her son behind at home, going on her first scientific exploration as an outright scientist, political intrigue, war, and two different ethnic groups in a country, and that everyone expects that she’s going to be swept off her feet by her fellow research (actually this is a minor point in the book, but I liked that she specifically does NOT have a romance). All while keeping her eyes on the research findings!
If you like natural science, anthropology, fantasy, dragons, and Victorian-ish memoirs, this book should swallow you whole!