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Having a bad week: Help me find some escapist fiction?

Jenny in Florida

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Things have been tense around here this week (mostly between my husband and son) at the same time as I'm starting my new job (yay!), which requires juggling the schedule with the old job(s) until I can revise my availabity and get into a regular routine. I'm feeling really tired and emotionally bruised and just want to be able to escape into some warm, cosy books until I recuperate. 


I'm not normally a "chick lit" person. When I'm feeling beaten down, the last thing I want is superficially funny or sappily romantic books. I have no personal interest in shopping or clothes or most of the typical "girly" topics. 


I also need books that are reasonably well written (the curse of being a former English major who has spent most of her life editing and/or teaching writing), because I find errors distracting.


I love historical fiction, but am not able to concentrate on working too hard at the moment. 


I cannot handle storylines in which bad things happen to children or animals.


I like a little magic/fantasy, but I no longer enjoy straight-up SF or high fantasy novels. My favorite genre is probably urban fantasy/magical realism, but with a very light touch on the supernatural elements. (I've already read all of Sarah Addison Allen's stuff.)


At the moment, I'm not willing to start reading any book unless I know it will have a reasonably happy ending.


I'm not snobby about reading YA. Some of my favorite books over the last few years have been shelved in that section.


Romantic elements are fine, but I'm not really interested in reading anything that might be considered a "romance novel."


I'm always attracted to books with storlines about school and academics. I also like things about theatre and ballet.


Things I've enjoyed recently:


Amy Snow (Tracy Rees)

Forbidden Orchid (Sharon Biggs Waller)

Mad, Wicked Folly (Sharon Biggs Waller)

The True Memoirs of Little K (Adrienne Sharp)

Forgotten Garden (Kate Morton)

Finishing School Series: Etiquette and Espionage, Curtsies and Conspiracies, etc. (Gail Carriger)

All the rest of Gail Carriger's books

Newt's Emerald, Garth Nix


I'm on a kick lately (for obvious reasons) for books that concern middle-aged women returning to work. In that vein, I've recently read:


A Window Opens, Elizabeth Egan

How to Be a Grown Up, Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

The Ten-Year Nap, Meg Wolitzer


So, what says the Hive? What gems have I missed that would be just the thing to get me through this bout of yuckiness?

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Patricia Wrede - Frontier Magic trilogy

S. E. Grove - the Mapmaker's trilogy (only 2 are out, though)

Scott Westerfeld - the Leviathon trilogy


All these have fun historical elements mixed with fantasy. All have young protagonists, who undergo trials but come out alright in the end. For my own reasons, I don't read books that end sadly. All of the above "end well" (and I'm reasonably sure the unfinished series will as well, based on pattern).

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the Mrs. Pollifax series. I read them, then passed them on to Mr. Ellie who read them all, then he passed them on to both my dds who read them all. :-)


Slight fantasy: the Damar books by Robin McKinley: The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown.

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Anything by Cecelia Ahern.  Some of her books have a tiny bit of magic in them.  In one I read recently, a girl checks a book out of the library and when she reads it, it tells her what happens to her the next day: it tells her her own future--but only one day at a time. 


Some of her books don't have a magical element to them, but I like the ones that do.


Here's a website with descriptions of all the books.  Her books are easy to read. They are not primarily romance novels, though someone might find love by the end of the book.  I read them when I don't want to work at reading at all; pure escape.


(And I'm pretty sure they're all happy endings.  I think P.S. I love you was a little sad throughout because the premise was about a widow whose husband wrote her notes to be opened after he died.  The notes were designed to help her get on with her life.)



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The Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne

Translation is a Love Affair by Jacques Poulin

Sweet Dreams by Michael Frayn

The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye by A.S. Byatt

Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

The Painted Alphabet by Diana Darling

Mink River by Brian Doyle

Pink Boots and a Machete by Mireya Mayor

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim



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.... E. M. Foner's union station series is one that I have enjoyed recently, i would describe it as human interest Sci Fi, a bit of fun escapism.


I see that the first volume happens to be currently free to Kindle readers, so thank you for mentioning this; it sounds appealing.


Date Night on Union Station (EarthCent Ambassador Book 1)  by E. M. Foner




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I also need books that are reasonably well written (the curse of being a former English major who has spent most of her life editing and/or teaching writing), because I find errors distracting.



From one English major to another -


have you read Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series?  The first is called The Eyre Affair.  They are great fun, especially for English majors!


ETA: P.S. Sorry you had a rough week.  I hope this one is better, and good luck with the new job!

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