Calendar Girls is hosted by bloggers, Flavia the Bibliophile and Melanie Noell Bernard – both have amazing blogs full of fun, bookish posts. Calendar Girls is a brand new monthly blog event inspired by Neil Sedaka’s 1961 song Calendar Girl. Just like in the song, we decided to use a specific theme for each month and choose a book based on these themes! The event is meant to incite discussions with other bloggers about books we’ve read and loved, is meant to help bloggers meet other bloggers, and also for bloggers and readers to find out about blogs which they normally may not have come across! Want to know more? Click on the links above! And it’s not too late to jump on the Calendar Girl train! Join now!
Best Contemporary Fiction Novel
When Flavia and Melanie announced that this was the category for September my first instinct was to groan, the first thing that always comes to mind with contemporary fiction is literary fiction, which is the one genre that I do not read. So I asked Flavia, did it have to be straight contemporary or could it be genre contemporary? Blessedly she informed me that genre fiction was 100% okay which got a woohoo out of me, and maybe a fist pump. I'm sure if you've been reading my blog at all you've realised that genre fiction is my bag, but I've never really tracked or paid much attention to the time periods that the non-historical fiction things that I read are set in. Now obviously I could have very easily chosen a Harry Potter book for this category because being sent in the 90s they are definitely contemporary, they are my favourite books, and arguably also the best. But if I didn't stop myself I would vote for Harry for almost every calendar girls category and then it would get very boring for you all to read. One of my goals with these posts is to try and pick books that I think will be new to a lot of you. That's my inner library professional coming out. I love doping readers' advisory, which is not a service we offer at the academic library...but I'd love it if we did.
So which contemporary novel did I chose as the best one then? Let's see:
Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson
As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ's boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.I just finished up my Summer Reading Challenge this afternoon, I finished the last book at about 1:30ish. One of the categories from the challenge was to read a book set in a vacation destination. I started off with A.G. Howard's Roseblood as my trick for that, but that got DNF'd because the dusty rose font it was printed in was driving me insane and Melanie's review of it made me realise it was not going to be worth putting up with my font issues. If my local public library ever gets an audiobook copy of it, maybe I'll try it again. After tossing that one aside I needed to pick a new book, and as I am also trying to read my way through my massive (250+ item) physical TBR pile I wanted to choose a book that would help with that...and also Royal Street has just been calling my name for months now. So I caved to my desires and added it to the challenge because New Orleans is definitely a vacation destination, it's somewhere I have wanted to go since I was like 8.
Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters.
While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover.
To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo.
-- via Goodreads
This was a re-read for me, and it was just as good this time around. According to Goodreads, it was almost exactly 7 years to the day between my readings. I needed to reread it therefore before I could move onto the next 4 books in the series which I bought at some point in 2016 after Flavia introduced me to booktoutlet.ca. I love absolutely everything about this novel. From the setting to the premise, to the characters. DJ is a fantastic character and the twists are really well done, I definitely didn't see them coming. I do have to say though that I think Gandalf might be my favourite and I'm not saying anything else on that for fear of spoilers.
The reason I think this is the best contemporary novel though is because of its treatment of contemporary news making events. It's set slightly before, during, and directly after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which as we all know absolutely devastated the city of New Orleans. Johnson uses paranormal urban fantasy tropes to give the reader a very compassionate glimpse of what the people in New Orleans had to deal with because of Katrina. Those that had to stay behind, those that came back quickly after the fact into the still flooded city. She paints a very vivid picture of the damage in the city and of how eerie it was for the citizens of the city while tying in their local legends and traditions. I kind of felt guilty about my time line for reading it though, I finished this book up about a day before Hurricane Harvey started pummeling Texas.
Have you ever read a novel set around a contemporary natural disaster?