Throughout the year, I’ll dig deeper into the prompts of The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge 2022. I’ll talk about the music, the prompt and recommend about 5 books I think would go well with it. The prompt of the week: Connection.
I’ve known OneRepublic for ages, although outside of two songs – Apologize and Secrets – I never paid much attention to them, until recently. After I started using Spotify regularly, they somehow sneaked into my playing lists until I couldn’t ignore them anymore. What put them firmly on my radar was Connection, which I just love so damn much. As it’s a standalone single without an album, I decided to tell you about their last studio album, Humans, which I’ve listened to a good few times this past year. There is something uplifting in their music that always gives me a mood boost when needed.
Listen to the album
Listen to the Song
I decided to nominate Connection as the song of the year for myself, and when I worked on the new set of prompts, there was no question it had to get a part in it. This song cuts deep for me as I’m struggling with finding friends and connections and generally myself.
Real friends, good friends hard to find, let’s face it
Buy the perfect home and there’s a flood in the basement
Made a couple dollars now and I ain’t tryna chase it
Kids from Oklahoma, man we don’t waste it
I’m just tryna paint the picture for me
Something I could give a damn about in maybe 40
Years and I be ready and willing and able to edit the story
‘Cause there’s so many people here to be so damn lonely
Connection. Such a simple word and it can mean so much! I think I’ll use this prompt for a book that features some kind of bond between people. It can be found family, love, friendship. Or a book I feel especially connected to on an emotional level.
In my recommendations, I’m going to focus on different kinds of connections, except maybe familial, because there is a whole prompt focusing on family.
The Arctic Curry Club by Dani Redd
At first glance, this might be a strange choice, but The Arctic Curry Club, Dani Redd‘s debut novel in its heart is a story about May finding a connection to her origins through her mom’s old recipes. She also finds herself on the way.
‘For my whole life I had been looking for home. But why would that be in a place that I’d left? Perhaps I had to keep moving forward in order to find it…’
Soon after upending her life to accompany her boyfriend Ryan to the Arctic, Maya realises it’s not all Northern Lights and husky sleigh rides. Instead, she’s facing sub-zero temperatures, 24-hour darkness, crippling anxiety – and a distant boyfriend as a result.
In her loneliest moment, Maya opens her late mother’s recipe book and cooks Indian food for the first time. Through this, her confidence unexpectedly grows – she makes friends, secures a job as a chef, and life in the Arctic no longer freezes her with fear.
But there’s a cost: the aromatic cuisine rekindles memories of her enigmatic mother and her childhood in Bangalore. Can Maya face the past and forge a future for herself in this new town? After all, there’s now high demand for a Curry Club in the Arctic, and just one person with the know-how to run it…
A tender and uplifting story about family, community, and finding where you truly belong – guaranteed to warm your heart despite the icy setting!
The Bone Ship’s Wake by RJ Barker
I know I picked The Bone Ships, the first book in the Tide Child trilogy for How You Remind Me, but I just had to pick the third book, The Bone Ship’s Wake for Connection. Because by the end of the trilogy I couldn’t not connect with the characters. To the point where I actually felt devastated by the end and cried like a baby. And let me just say I very rarely cry, let alone because of a book. If that’s not an emotional connection, then I don’t know what is. Plus, there is a strong connection between the characters as well, especially between Joron and the Guillame. If you haven’t read this trilogy yet, I very strongly recommend you do!
The sea dragons are returning, and Joron Twiner’s dreams of freedom lie shattered. His Shipwife is gone and all he has left is revenge.
Leading the black fleet from the deck of Tide Child Joron takes every opportunity to strike at his enemies, but he knows his time is limited. His fleet is shrinking and the Keyshan’s Rot is running through his body. He runs from a prophecy that says he and the avian sorcerer, the Windseer, will end the entire world.
But the sea dragons have begun to return, and if you can have one miracle, who is to say that there cannot be another?
Where Oblivion Lives by T. Frohock
While I said I won’t pick a book revolving around familial bonds, I decided to include Where Oblivion Lives here for a number of reasons. While Diago and Miquel’s relationship is an important aspect of the Los Nefilim series, Where Oblivion Lives focuses on Diago’s connection to his lost violin which also connects to his past. Diago has a lot to deal with when it comes to his – literal – demons.
From acclaimed fantasy author T. Frohock comes a dark, lyrical historical thriller, set in 1930s Spain and Germany, that brings to life the world of angels and demons from the novellas collected in Los Nefilim: Spanish Nephilim battling daimons in a supernatural war to save humankind.
Born of daimon and angel, Diago Alvarez is a being unlike all others. The embodiment of dark and light, he has witnessed the good and the horror of this world and those beyond. In the supernatural war between angels and daimons that will determine humankind’s future, Diago has chosen Los Nefilim, the sons and daughters of angels who possess the power to harness music and light.
As the forces of evil gather, Diago must locate the Key, the special chord that will unite the nefilim’s voices, giving them the power to avert the coming civil war between the Republicans and Franco’s Nationalists. Finding the Key will save Spain from plunging into darkness.
And for Diago, it will resurrect the anguish caused by a tragedy he experienced in a past life.
But someone—or something—is determined to stop Diago in his quest and will use his history to destroy him and the nefilim. Hearing his stolen Stradivarius played through the night, Diago is tormented by nightmares about his past life. Each incarnation strengthens the ties shared by the nefilim, whether those bonds are of love or hate . . . or even betrayal.
To retrieve the violin, Diago must journey into enemy territory . . . and face an old nemesis and a fallen angel bent on revenge.
Beneath Cruel Fathoms by Anela Deen
When we talk about connections, we can’t ignore romance, so I picked a fantasy romance to be included for this prompt: Beneath Cruel Fathoms, which was one of our SPFBO 5 semi-finalists back in 2019. It’s the tale of how two “people” find a connection when they are both somewhat outcasts. It also made me grip the edge of my seat as I was reading and I impatiently wait for the sequel to come.
After a violent storm destroys her ship, Isaura Johansdottir knows better than to hope she’ll be rescued from Eisland’s vast Failock Sea. Adrift and alone, her plans to start over lost, it’s a tragic conclusion after the disastrous end of her marriage—until she’s saved by Leonel, one of the merfolk, a creature long believed extinct. In repayment for her life, Leonel enlists her help to investigate the Failock’s mysterious and deadly plague of squalls. But when Isaura discovers Eisland’s ruthless new Lord commands the storms, her life will be in more danger on land than it ever was at sea.
As guardian of the Fathoms, Leonel must find the cause of unnatural storms ravaging the tidal currents and destroying the sea life. There are rumors of dark magic stirring in the Orom Abyss, the resting place of old, vanquished gods who tried to submerge the land millennia ago. Yet without proof, no one in King Ægir’s court will listen to him. And if it’s discovered he broke the Blue Laws to save a shipwrecked landweller, he might not survive the consequences.
As storms spread, Leonel and Isaura uncover secrets as forbidden as the bond that grows between them. Betrayal lurks in the restless sea, and when ancient powers lay siege to Eisland’s coast, the truth may be drowned along with everything else.
Windcatcher by A.J. Norfield
A.J. Norfield‘s dark epic fantasy series, The Stone War Chronicles is close to my heart. And we can’t have this prompt without at least one recommendation where a human bonds with a creature, now can we? Raylan and his winged companion always will be one of my favorite pairs. And I just adore the hell out of Galirras. I know the cover is not exactly trust-inducing, but believe me, this book is great!
The Stone King rises and he wants his dragon!
Far away from home, under the command of his brother, Raylan and his squad must retrieve an ancient relic stolen from their kingdom’s trading partner—the Tiankong Empire.
Traveling deep into unknown enemy territory to complete their mission, Raylan learns that the ancient relic holds unexpected life; a creature buried in legends. But life is not always easy and neither is starting it, even if you are blessed with wings and claws.
Unable to fly and with their enemies closing in, the newly-hatched Galirras will have to put his trust in Raylan and his friends as they desperately search for a safe way home. Danger lurks around every corner: Warriors larger than any man, predators stalking them through the night and soldiers determined to hunt them down.
Their group has little choice, except to keep moving; strategically plotting and fighting their way back to those awaiting their return. But will they make it? After all, the Stone King is ruthless and he wants his dragon…