In the first in an alternate history two-book series set in 1950s America, our heroine, Elma York, has a PhD in physics. She also has a pilot’s license and hours of flight under her belt as a WASP during WWII. She and her husband (an engineer) both work at a NASA-precursor, NACA. After a catastrophic meteor strike, Elma does the math and realizes that humans need to find a way off Earth, and fast, if they’re going to survive the drastic climate change coming their way. The space program kicks into high gear in 1952. NACA begins training astronauts, while continuing to use women as ‘computers’ to solve the many equations necessary to get humans into space.
Kowal’s meticulous research means that this book feels extraordinarily vivid. It’s packed full of great alternate-reality historical details (Dewey Defeats Truman…for real!) and physics. Moreover, she’s very attuned to the racial and gendered politics of the period, highlighting the barriers to becoming part of NACA for women and people of color. In short, this book has it all – an eye towards representation in fiction, great writing, a cracking plot, and strong characters.
Bottom line: you’ll like this book if you loved the film Hidden Figures. Still not sure? Try her (free!) novelette, The Lady Astronaut of Mars. The second half of the story, The Fated Sky, is available TODAY!
For many people who fall on one side of the aisle or another, the name James Comey creates certain feelings. Because of that, you absolutely must read this one with an open mind. If that seems impossible, you’ll still enjoy the book and learn something, but you’ll only have your own biases reinforced. The book touches on everything from Comey’s youthful encounter and near death experience at the hands of a serial killer to the now infamous Hillary Clinton emails investigation…
Along the way you get a peek into the life of a federal servant. This includes the political shell games they are forced to protect against by politicians of both parties. The book touches on several members of the Bush cabinet trying to take advantage of a bed-bound and ailing attorney general in an effort to renew the Patriot Act against Department of Justice advisement. It conveys the unenviable position of conducting an investigation and keeping it untainted while your boss has secret meetings with the spouse of the person you are investigating.
All in all it was a riveting read. It sheds light on how high levels of the US government have functioned under three presidents. You may not agree with the decisions as Comey presents them, but when read with an open mind, you’ll see the difficult circumstances cast on a rather unassuming man.
Set in WWII occupied-Paris, Lucien Bernard is an architect who just hasn’t had his big break yet. He follows the rules of occupation and is always a bit stunned as he sees the inhumane treatment of Jews. He’s heard about surprise roundups in the middle of the night and forced emigrations to the Drancy Internment Camp of Jews and their abetters, but that’s not his problem, is it?
That is, until the wealthy construction company owner, Auguste Manet, calls for him by name. Manet offers him great a opportunity. Capitalizing on his skill for detail, the proposition provides him a dream project that will help him finally make a name for himself. The catch? He has to design a hiding place for Jews in a home where the SS and Gestapo can’t find them. He’ll also get the grand commission of designing a factory for the German army. The pay is great; The risk of getting caught is even higher.
Lucien accepts the job but just the one time. And then another. And another. Pretty soon he’s playing both sides and doing well for himself. That is until his wife leaves him and he’s put in charge of hiding a Jewish boy. Oh and the French Resistance kidnaps him. All this while members of the German Army get closer to discovering his secret with each hiding spot uncovered. Will the French Resistance end his life? Will his new German friends and foes discover his secret? Find out in The Paris Architect…