Friday, January 24, 2020

Bookshelf, Winter 2020

Three months have passed since my last Bookshelf post, and the book deluge continues unabated. Here are a few selections from the huge pile that occupies various parts of my house (not counting my e-reader). A departing neighbor even left another bookcase for me, which I filled within twenty minutes. But at least the main bookcases in the hall are now only double-deep, not triple....

Michelle Cox, A Veil Removed (She Writes Press, 2019)
Back in 2016, I read the first two in this series about a young woman in 1930s Chicago who meets and eventually falls in love with a member of the local police force while she’s dodging criminals and dancing at a nightclub—a job that keeps her family in food but would scandalize them if they ever realized where she was getting the money. Henrietta and Inspector Howard have come a long way since then, and I’m looking forward to reading this fourth book. The fifth, A Child Lost, is due out in April, at which point I plan to interview the author again for New Books in Historical Fiction.

You can find my earlier interview with Michelle Cox on the New Books Network.

H. G. Parry, The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep 
(Redhook, 2020)
I’m just about to start this one, which I discovered through another New Books Network interview, this one conducted by Rob Wolf for New Books in Science Fiction and cross-listed on the Literary Hub, which is where I found it.

As for why I’m reading it, well, any book where literary characters can escape into the real world and interact with the likes of you and me is guaranteed to get my attention. I loved the Thursday Next novels by Jason Fforde; I created a virtual reality game where modern grad students channeled characters from a classic novel in The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel; this one’s a natural fit for me.


Maya Rodale, An Heiress to Remember (Avon, 2020)
I mentioned in a previous post, “Summer Romance,” being pleasantly surprised by the second in Maya Rodale’s Gilded Age Girls Club romances, Some Like It Scandalous, because it had such a fresh take and well-developed characters with real problems to which they produced intelligent responses. So I asked to interview her when the next book comes out, and this is it. I also plan to read her Duchess by Design (Gilded Age Girls Club 1) before talking to her at the end of February. Stay tuned for more information about that.


Lara Prescott, The Secrets We Kept (Knopf, 2019)
This one I discovered through the author’s interview with Scott Simon, a favorite of mine, on NPR. Despite several efforts, an interview didn’t come off for various reasons (timing, the racket on my deck while it was under repair, timing again). But Knopf did send me the book, and I have been enjoying reading about the early days of the CIA and its plans to subvert Soviet communism by publishing and distributing Boris Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago, which ultimately won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

That award was political too, but much as the politics fascinates me, what’s even more interesting is the portrayal of women trying to make their way and find their place in what is still largely a man’s world. In particular, the nascent love affair between Irina, a naturalized Russian raised in the United States, and Sally Forrester, a former OSS operative, is an interesting twist to an already fascinating story.

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