The new year usually brings lists and mentalities of things to do, places, to go, and plans to make. I’m not sure our new year plans are much different than normal, but I’m guessing most of them are a little more open to the fact that a year’s path may not always going according to plan.
Inspired by a friend recently, I came up with a phrase for 2021 – “good for the soul,” meaning that I will try to make more decisions about how I spend my time based on what will bring me happiness and peace. I should note that my work here on LM brings my soul a lot of happiness, so it may not always be exactly what you think.
Additionally, I probably will spend a bit more time reading – not just before I go to sleep at night, leaving my book on my nightstand all day and all weekend! And with these eco-friendlier book reading ideas in mind, I can go to town without leaving too much of a mark!
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
Olivia Dade has become one of my favourite authors in the last year, and this book truly cements that status. Spoiler Alert stars Marcus Caster-Rupp, an actor in the Game of Thrones-esque Gods of the Gates with several rather large secrets, and April Whittier, a geologist who just happens to be heavily involved in the fandom around the Gods of the Gates show and books.
Marcus’s secret number 1? He’s not actually nearly as endearingly dumb as he pretends to be in interviews; he just is uncomfortable with the limelight. Secret number 2? He spends his evenings writing fanfic of his own show, and he just happens to be good friends with April’s online alter ego.
Their online friendship collides with real life when April goes viral on Twitter after sharing a photo of herself dressed as one of the characters from the show. Marcus, not knowing that this is his friend, asks her out on a very public date after seeing some of the trolling comments on her post.
Very shortly, Marcus finds himself in an impossible situation. He knows who April is, but fears revealing his true identity – how would it look to the show runners if they found out he’d been secretly writing highly critical comments on the show online? Not to mention, how does he suddenly reveal his true self? Meanwhile. April is wondering what in the world she has signed up to by agreeing to the date.
An impossible situation, but given that this is a romance novel, we of course get to watch the resolution of this spin out in an incredibly satisfying way. This is a great choice for anyone interested in fandom, but will appeal to anyone craving a good romcom.
American Spy by Lauren Wilkerson
While this has been marketed as a spy novel, American Spy is quite a bit more than just that. Our narrator is Marie Mitchell and it is written as a letter to her young sons. In her memories, we move from the heart of the novel – the American involvement in the Communist revolution in Burkina Faso, to her own childhood growing up in NYC, to mid-90s Martinique, where Marie has fled, seeking sanctuary with her mother.
The Cold War is still raging in 1986, and Marie Mitchell finds herself side-lined from her job as an FBI agent and drawn into a plot to unseat the fiery leader Thomas Sankara, ostensibly led by the CIA.
She has a personal interest in this as well. Taking the job will allow her to get closer to a CIA agent who had dated her sister before she died in a car accident. At the time, Marie was estranged from Helene, and she is still seeking answers about Helene’s life before her untimely death.
Marie accepts an initial assignment of observing Sankara while he’s in New York for a meeting at the UN and is immediately drawn to the charismatic man. Mitchell is an acute observer, and she quickly begins to suspect that the official American lines about Sankara and his government are not exactly the truth.
There is so much to dig into with this book, but one of the of the biggest questions it asks is what it means to be a black American, especially a black woman in law enforcement.
Throughout, Marie is asking herself what she owes to a country where she is first black, and then American. This contrasts her experience in Africa, where she is first an American, and then black. Highly recommended if you’re want a Cold War story with a twist.
A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday
Christmas may have passed, but A Princess for Christmas is perfect for extending that winter spirit just a little longer. Jenny Holiday set out to write a story infused with the spirit of a Christmas Hallmark film, and definitely hit the ball out of the park with this one.
Leo Ricci has his hands full raising his sister, Gabby, after his parents untimely death. He drives a cab (as well as working as an apartment super) in the Bronx. On one fateful day out in Manhattan, Gabby convinces him to stop for a young woman trying to hail their out of service cab.
This is a romance novel about a princess, so of course this is Princess Marie of Eldovia -one of those tiny European countries, this one famous for luxury watches and chocolate.
After this fateful meeting, Marie hires Leo to serve as her driver for the next week – which draws them closer and closer. It leads us to one isolated but scorching kiss the day she is to leave…..which may or may not be behind Marie’s invitation for Leo and Gabby to come and spend Christmas in the winter wonderland of Eldovia.
This is the book for you if you love Christmas or simply need a dose of holiday love in your life.