Melissa Ratcliff’s February 2017 TBR: Indu Sundaresan, Genevieve Cogman and More

This month I am exploring new twists on my favorite genres: fantasy and romance.

melissa ratcliff february 2017 tbr list haruki murakami kafka on the shore

Last month ended up being a really productive reading month. I read three short story collections, two novels, and a memoir. In addition to finishing up the final book on last month’s TBR, I am exploring a bunch of new book club reads for the month of February.

Many of the books on this month’s TBR are from Felicia Day’s fantasy romance book club, Vaginal Fantasy. In the past, I have taken many recommendations from this book club, which focuses on romance novels that have a strong female lead. Now that I am reading regularly again, I am going to be catching up past books, starting with December. My hope is that by the end of this month, I will be caught up and be able to read and participate in monthly Vaginal Fantasy discussions.

In addition to the focus on the fantasy romance genre, I will also be taking a look at an e-book that I won in a recent Goodreads giveaway, as well as taking a look at a well-known novel written by one of my favorite authors!

From new twists on my favorite genres to giveaways and more, here’s my TBR list for February:

A Promise of Fire, Amanda Bouchet

melissa ratcliff february 2017 tbr list
Sourcebooks Casablanca/ Richard Beban

Synopsis: Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

Thoughts: A Promise of Fire, like many other books in this month’s TBR, was a Vaginal Fantasy book club recommendation. In my attempt to catch up on the monthly books, I am starting with picks from December and working my way through them.

To start, I am very interested in Cat’s powers as a clairvoyant. Although she has no interest in them, the synopsis leads me to believe they will be revealed at some point, and, as such, I want to know about her powers, as well as her role as a “Kingmaker”.

As this novel falls under the fantasy romance category, I want to know how the relationship develops. While it’s not too uncommon in the romance genre to see a girl fall in love with a villain or captor, it will be interesting to see how the relationship between Griffin and Cat develops. Especially when Griffin is “ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.“ How does that even work?!

The Twentieth Wife, Indu Sundaresan

melissa ratcliff february 2017 tbr list
Atria Books/ Indu Sundaresan

Synopsis: An enchanting seventeenth-century epic of grand passion and adventure, this debut novel tells the captivating story of one of India’s most legendary and controversial empresses—a woman whose brilliance and determination trumped myriad obstacles, and whose love shaped the course of the Mughal empire.

She came into the world in the year 1577, to the howling accompaniment of a ferocious winter storm. As the daughter of starving refugees fleeing violent persecution in Persia, her fateful birth in a roadside tent sparked a miraculous reversal of family fortune, culminating in her father’s introduction to the court of Emperor Akbar. She is called Mehrunnisa, the Sun of Women. This is her story.

Growing up on the fringes of Emperor Akbar’s opulent palace grounds, Mehrunnisa blossoms into a sapphire-eyed child blessed with a precocious intelligence, luminous beauty, and a powerful ambition far surpassing the bounds of her family’s station. Mehrunnisa first encounters young Prince Salim on his wedding day. In that instant, even as a royal gala swirls around her in celebration of the future emperor’s first marriage, Mehrunnisa foresees the path of her own destiny. One day, she decides with uncompromising surety, she too will become Salim’s wife. She is all of eight years old—and wholly unaware of the great price she and her family will pay for this dream.

Thoughts: Thanks to Vaginal Fantasy, this will be my first look at historical romance fiction. As someone that is deeply interested in the culture, traditions, and customs of other cultures, I am really excited to read this novel.

At first glance, I love the name of the main character, Mehrunnisa, who is deemed the Sun of Women. Furthermore, this novel seems to incorporate elements of history, fantasy, and romance that will hopefully transform the story into something wondrous and amazing. If the description for The Twentieth Wife is any indication, this novel will have everything that I have ever hoped for in a novel – beautiful description, lengthy detail, fantasy, and romance, with deep cultural undertones that provoke new thought and learning about places that I have never experienced before.

A Curious Beginning, Deanna Raybourn

melissa ratcliff february 2017 tbr list
Titan Books/ YouTube

Synopsis: In her thrilling new series, Deanna Raybourn, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England…and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell.

London, 1887. After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

Thoughts: A romance novel set in Victorian England? Yes, please! Rounding off my attempt to catch up on book club picks, reading A Curious Beginning will have me caught up in February, as it was Vaginal Fantasy’s pick for January.

I love the cover for this book! It’s beautiful but retains a Victorian feel about it. The plot for this book sounds interesting, and I’m really excited to delve into the world of a mysterious Victorian romance. Veronica sounds like an interesting and cultured character and I can’t wait to learn more about her and the mystery that surrounds her life.

The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman

melissa ratcliff february 2017 tbr list
Tor UK/ Deborah Drake

Synopsis: The first installment of an adventure featuring stolen books, secret agents, and forbidden societies – think Doctor Who with librarian spies!

Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

Thoughts: This book is Vaginal Fantasy’s pick for February and it sounds amazing! It’s a book that revolves around books! How awesome is that? If the idea behind this book wasn’t enough to pull me in, there’s also magic!

The Devil’s Daughter, Katee Robert

melissa ratcliff february 2017 tbr list
Montlake Romance/ Katee Robert

Synopsis: Growing up in a small town isn’t easy, especially when you’re the daughter of a local cult leader. Ten years ago, Eden Collins left Clear Springs, Montana, and never once looked back. But when the bodies of murdered young women surface, their corpses violated and marked with tattoos worn by her mother’s followers, Eden, now an FBI agent, can’t turn a blind eye. To catch the killer, she’s going to have to return to the fold.

Sheriff Zach Owens isn’t comfortable putting Eden in danger, even if she is an elite agent. And he certainly wasn’t expecting to be so attracted to her. As calm and cool as she appears, he knows this can’t be a happy homecoming. Zach wants to protect her—from her mother, the cult, and the evil that lurks behind its locked gates. But Eden is his only key to the tight-lipped group, and she may just be closer to the killer than either one of them suspects…

Thoughts: In an attempt to branch out from my normal reading habits, which usually fall within the fantasy, romance or Japanese categories, I started signing up for a ton of Goodreads giveaways. If there was anything that sounded somewhat interesting, I signed up for it.

The Devil’s Daughter happens to be the only giveaway book that I have actually received (so far) as it was for the Kindle. While I have read a lot of romance novels in the past, none of them have been romantic suspense, so this is something completely new for me.

Aside from a chance at romance (which is something that will immediately draw me into a book), I was intrigued by the idea that everything is tied together. I found it particularly interesting that a tattoo ties murder victims to the main character, Eden’s mother. I honestly don’t know what to expect from this book, but I am excited to read it and explore something new.

Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami

melissa ratcliff february 2017 tbr list
Vintage/ Garnet Nagato

Synopsis: Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom.

As their paths converge, and the reasons for that convergence become clear, Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder. Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world’s great storytellers at the peak of his powers.

Thoughts: Out of all of this month’s books, I am the most excited for this one. Murakami is one of my favorite authors, and I plan on reading the remainder of his novels (that I haven’t already read) this year. There is something about Murakami that is just wonderful. I absolutely love his style. Furthermore, Murakami’s novels are a great way to explore Japanese culture.

Kafka on the Shore seems to be a favorite amongst fans of Murakami, so this month I will be reading it so see if it lives up to his other works.

Have you read any of the books on this list?!

Tell us which books you’re most looking forward to reading in the comments below!
Be sure to keep up with the Paperback Paris Team’s monthly TBRs!


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Written by Melissa Ratcliff

Reader, Writer & Translator. Cats, books and video games are my life.