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If the idea of a drunk guy passing out on his face in the midst of an important confession on his wedding night and then surprising his new bride in the morning by turning into a horse in the middle of their bedchamber sounds hilarious to you, you will probably like My Lady Jane.

The story is loosely--very loosely--based on English history, but deviates so immediately and thoroughly from historical fact that you don’t need to know anything about what really happened to have a great time reading it. The skinny is, Edward the king is dying and he names his cousin Jane as heir to the throne--somewhat controversially, it turns out, as Edward’s older sister Mary is vying for the crown, and the man Edward has married Jane off to has an embarrassing, ahem, equine habit.

I listened to the audio version, and I loved every goofy, silly, over-the-top ridiculous moment. I loved the sweet, occasionally slapstick romance, the magical and fantastical elements (people turning into animals!), and most of all the general sense of lighthearted goodwill that persists throughout. I mean, the most conniving, power-hungry character is literally transformed into an ass in the end. What could be more satisfying?

A feel-good romp from start to finish, and a great pick-me-up if you find yourself in need of one.

Find it at your library!

The world of this book is so warm and inviting I want to curl up in it with a blankie and never come out. Science fiction isn’t necessarily my first-thought genre for “books with a lot of heart,” but that’s exactly what The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is. It’s about a diverse, somewhat misfit group of travelers aboard a ship whose job is to drill wormholes in space. The crew of the Wayfarer may be a ragtag bunch, but (deep down at least) they’re all good people who care about and respect each other. It’s the kind of ship where you can be your own brand of weird and accepted unconditionally.

I loved every single one of the characters, but my favorite was Kizzy, who reminded me of Abby from NCIS (who I also love—who doesn’t?). She’s a mechanic and knows how to fix just about everything on the ship, and her outlook on life is simultaneously cheerful and wacky. I tend more towards the Debbie Downer end of the spectrum, but I would love to cultivate some of that happy-go-lucky Kizzy mentality. She’s also really brave when it comes to protecting her crewmates, which is another thing I wish I were better at. (Because in a confrontation, you know I’ll be running away with my coat over my head for protection and leaving you for dead faster than you can say, “Back me up, girl!”)

Another element I’m not usually expecting when it comes to sci-fi is romance, but there are several relationships aboard the ship, all of them unique and stereotype-defying. Inter-species romance can be really hot! Who knew?

I need to find more books like this, where the conflict comes from outside and the main characters work together against it. There’s something so comforting about that, when everybody’s on the same side. I read plenty of books where people who are supposed to be united (spouses, parents and children, coworkers, etc.) end up hurting each other. It’s really refreshing to read about people (and other sentient beings!) who aren’t consumed with tearing each other down.