Thank HEAVENS for audiobooks! Not only have they spared me endless hours of listening to news too dreadful to contemplate while driving, but also they make it possible for me to read several more books per year! In 2018 I read 48 books. In 2019 I read 73. My pleasure in reading has gotten a tremendous boost.
So, taking up from June, 2019, here are some of my favorite books from the past six months.
Pleasantville by Attica Locke. Locke is a significant new voice for me, and a welcome one. Her book is set in an African-American subdivision in the Houston area. The community was founded post WWII and is getting a bit threadbare; however, a lot is going on in the neighborhood, including the disappearance of a teenage girl who was working on the mayoral campaign for one of Pleasantville’s most prominent citizens. Murder, political intrigue, and the odyssey of attorney Jay Porter, a man trying to return to life and raise his two teenagers after the death of his wife. I’ve begun hoarding Locke novels on my e-reader. She tells a great tale!
The Janes by Luisa Luna.
I was introduced to author Louisa Luna with her first Alice Vega/Max Caplan thriller Two Girls Down–wherein private investigator Alice Vega arrived in Pennsylvania from San Diego to help locate two girls abducted from their car, coerced former police detective Max Caplan into joining her search, and instantly became my favorite superhero.
Vega is unforgettable. In The Janes she’s approached by the San Diego police and the FBI to help identify two Jane Does in the county morgue, and to discover any links to other missing girls. Again, Vega appeals to Caplan (Cap) to join her in the project. Once in California, Cap (who has the most godawful crush on Vega) finds his partner roaming the streets with oversized boltcutters! This is not, as it turns out, your average missing persons case, and as Vega and Cap dig deeper they find there are people who want to shut them up–by any means necessary. When it comes to abductions of young females, Vega won’t rest. She’s smart, she’s intuitive, and she’s dangerous. She’s a walking thrill ride, and you will enjoy every minute. Many thanks to Penguin Random House/Netgalley for a review copy of this novel.
A Woman of No Importance, The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II, by Sonia Purnell. This non-fiction thriller tells the story of Virginia Hall, the Baltimore socialite who left her comfortable life behind to go under cover for the British Special Operations in France during WWII. Hall spoke many languages, became an expert at outrunning the Nazis, despite her prosthetic leg, and led many guerilla operations in her role as a spy behind enemy lines. After the war, she worked for the CIA, which proved tame after what she experienced in Vichy France. Heroism on a grand scale.
What Rose Forgot by Nevada Barr. Rose Dennis wakes up in a field clad only in a hospital gown. This is not life as she remembers it, but then she remembers very little. Aided by two young teenage boys (who were probably scarred for life!) she is given water, picked up by the police, and returned to her Memory Care Unit in a fancy-schmancy care center. When she overhears someone in the hall say, “…she won’t last a week…”, Rose, who is only 68, takes exception and stirs herself from her comatose state. Game On becomes World War III when Rose escapes the care center and partners with her granddaughter Melanie to find out what is going on, and more important, why. Although Rose’s predicament is not funny, the book has hilarious moments amid the scary. Let it be a lesson to anyone who think women of a certain age don’t have what it takes to be superheroes. I loved it! Thanks to Minotaur/Netgalley for an advanced review copy.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. There are delicious aspects to this story of Vivian, a young, upper-crust woman who in 1940 flunks out of Vassar, does not wish to live at home with her parents, and so departs for New York City to live with her Aunt Peg and a company of vaudevillian ne’er-do-wells in the crumbling Lily Playhouse. It is quite a collection of characters. Before too long, Vivian discovers her abilities as a costume mistress, falls in with showgirl Celia Ray, and loses her virginity. It’s a coming of age that takes a while. Vivian’s and Celia’s wild ways make the Summer of Love look like Amateur Night–until there are consequences. It’s a rollicking tale of iconic times in one of the world’s greatest cities, and about what it means to be a human navigating life’s challenges. It’s an entertaining saga of American life.
Other favorite reads during the past six months:
A Better Man by Louise Penny
Bloody Genius by John Sandford
Vanishing Season by Joanna Schauffhausen
Bad Axe County by John Galligan
A Grave Talent and The Bones of Paris by Laurie R. King
The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley
Happy reading, dear friends!