One Amazing Thing, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Divakaruni is my favorite writer of contemporary fiction; I just love her books. (So thanks, Monica, for hooking me on her!) This new novel uses the old form that Boccaccio and Chaucer used of a gathering of different people, each of whom tells a story. Here, the characters are in San Francisco, applying for visas to India, when an earthquake hits and traps them in the basement visa office. In order to bear the difficulties of waiting for rescue, they tell personal stories that explain much of their lives and why they are where they are.
It's not a long book, but it's absorbing and well-written. I loved it.
Mendoza in Hollywood, by Kage Baker
The first Company novel, In the Garden of Iden, told the story of Mendoza, a Spanish girl rescued from the Inquisition's dungeons and sent on her first mission to Mary I's England. In this third installment of the series, Mendoza is again the narrator, now living in Los Angeles in 1862. Well, actually at a stagecoach stop in what will someday be Hollywood; one of the residents is a cinema fanatic who knows every inch of the future city, so there's plenty of film detail even though none of it exists yet.
As the books progress, the overarching plot starts to take shape and the Dr. Zeus Company starts to look more and more sinister. I'm really interested in how this series is going to develop.