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A&E Book Club: Three books to inspire a whimsical state of mind this April

Spring into spring with these three cozy fantasy novels

<p>If you find yourself in need of a mental break this April, these three novels are the perfect mix of comforting and compelling.</p>

If you find yourself in need of a mental break this April, these three novels are the perfect mix of comforting and compelling.

Flowers are blooming. Bees are buzzing. It seems that the world is alight with color, awakening from its three-month-long slumber and warming our skin and spirits alike. What better way to feel the warmth of the season than reading a whimsical story in the sunlight? 

Gather your picnic blankets, venture outside and grab a cozy fantasy book on your way out. These three books are quintessential picks from the cozy fantasy sub-genre — a type of book that contains all the magic and wonder of high fantasy with none of the stress, instead focusing on comfort, community and the friends made along the way.

“Legends and Lattes” by Travis Baldtree

Perhaps one of the most famous books of the sub-genre, Baldtree’s heart-warming fantasy is described as “a novel of high fantasy and low stakes,” perfectly encapsulating the central themes of a typical cozy fantasy novel. 

“Legends & Lattes” is a story of newm beginnings. Viv, an orc — a large monstrous creature bred for war — is ready to retire from her life of bounty hunting and bloodshed. She decides to settle down in the small city of Thune, an idyllic place where no one has ever heard of coffee. With the town’s ignorance of the delicious drink, Viv dares to open the very first coffee shop. Challenges ensue and new adversaries emerge, but with the help of new friends — and an ancient magical relic — Viv may just be able to beat all the odds and establish herself and her coffee shop in this magical community. 

Travis Baldree is an American author, audiobook narrator and game developer. Published in early 2022, “Legends & Lattes” was nominated for a 2023 Nebula Award for Best Novel and since has garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews from readers and literary critics alike. “Legends and Lattes” is shelved as the first installment in its series, however the next book, titled “Bookshops and Bonedust,” is a prequel, and the two could be read and enjoyed in any order. Both books feature high fantasy, tight-knit communities and LGBTQ+ romance. 

“A Psalm for the Wild-Built” by Becky Chambers

In the distant future, robots and artificial intelligence have revolted. Having had enough of the industrialized society of humans, robots flee to the wilderness, never to be seen again. That is, until a human named Dex meets Splendid Speckled Mosscap — the first robot to be seen by humans since their departure.  

Within those centuries of the robots’ absence, humans seem to have learned their lesson about the dangers of an over-industrialized society, developing an environmentally friendly agrarian utopia where people can live and work as they please. Splendid Speckled Mosscap is also on a mission to find out how humans are doing since they last met, seeking to answer the question “What do people need?” Feeling unfulfilled by their current life, Dex would very much like to answer that question themself, and the two of them form an unlikely friendship to find out just that. 

Written with an optimistic future in mind, “A Psalm for the Wild-Built” is a perfect read for anyone trying to balance finding peace and purpose. The author, Becky Chambers, primarily writes science fiction and fantasy stories, many of which have similar tones of comfort as “A Psalm for the Wild-Built.” Chambers has won two Hugo awards as well as nominations for Nebula Awards, both accolades granted exclusively to science fiction and fantasy novels. 

“A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking” by T. Kingfisher 

Mona’s only quest was to be the best baker she could be. Working early mornings in her aunt’s bakery, teenage Mona is nearly an expert at all things bread-related — including bread magic. Unlike other wizards in the city, who can make lightning crash from the skies or raise horses from the dead, Mona’s powers are limited to bread. She can make gingerbread cookies dance, sourdough starter pounce and rolls rise to perfection. When a mysterious murder occurs in the bakery though, Mona is thrown into a world of trouble as she uncovers the terrible plot of an assassin attempting to rid the city of its wizards. Mona’s magic may not be as intimidating on the battlefield as the other wizards’, but she might be the only hope the city has left to defend it from the rising internal and external threats. 

While “A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking” contains more action and has a darker undertone than many other cozy fantasy books, it maintains a whimsical view of the world — something essential to the genre — because it is told through the eyes of a young girl. T. Kingfisher is the pseudonym of Ursula Vernon, who is a Hugo and Nebula award-winning author known for writing horror, fantasy and children’s books.

If you find yourself in need of a mental break this April, these three novels are the perfect mix of comforting and compelling. Whether you settle down in the shade of a big tree or under the blankets at the coziest spot in your room, reach for one of these books.

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