Author Archives: Current Picks

Firstlife by Gena Showalter (2016)

firstlifeImagine if our lives right now weren’t our only lives, that if after we die, there’s another life. But there’s one caveat, we have to choose a side: Myriad or Troika. One, a world of eternal darkness but luxury beyond your deepest desires. The other, a world of eternal light and joy. If you die before choosing, you’re stuck in the Land of Many Ways: a place where you're rumored to be terrorized for all eternity before eventually experiencing your second and final death. Troika and Myriad are rivals trapped in a bitter, never-ending war, looking to recruit the most souls. Both afterlives are in a race to recruit Tenley Lockwood, but how does she know which is the right choice? This is the afterlife, after all. Once you decide, there’s no going back. Check out Firstlife by Gena Showalter.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan (2017)

scarletskyIf you enjoyed The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, then I think you’ll really enjoy this book by Mark T. Sullivan. Beneath a Scarlet Sky takes place in Italy during WWII. Although I was a bit leery about reading “another WWII novel,” I’m so happy that I did. It’s the incredible story of Pino Lella, a courageous and inspirational hero who saved many lives while experiencing much tragedy and devastation. What makes it truly remarkable is that it is based on a true story. I learned much about Italy’s involvement in WWII—and the struggles between the Fascists, the Nazis, and the bravery of the Resistance. A powerful and unforgettable account of a young man's experience of the war, his first love, and his relationship with a cast of fascinating characters, based on many interviews with Pino Lella. Highly recommend! Want more WWII fiction? Check out our lists of WWII novels and WWII fiction featuring women in the resistance.

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman (2015)

neurotribesSteve Silberman has taken on a large task, trying to cover the whole history of autism and neurodiversity in a single book, but NeuroTribes brings us about as close as we can get. Despite some news articles, autism is by no means a new thing; it’s just gone by other names in the past. Silberman looks at the major players who “discovered” the neurological differences at roughly the same time in multiple corners of the world, works through the research of the last 70 years, and dispels rumors related to disability and vaccines. Throughout, he shares personal stories from the families and doctors of, and especially the autistic people themselves. Reading this book will give you a new appreciation for how brain chemistry and sensory abilities have changed over time and see that often, autism can act not as a bug, but as a feature.

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole (2017)

extraordinaryunionSet during the American Civil War, An Extraordinary Union features spies working on behalf of the Union. Alyssa Cole’s historical romance features adventure, intrigue, period details, and memorable characters. Born into slavery, Elle Burns is now a free woman. In 1862, she goes undercover, working as a slave in the household of a Confederate senator in Richmond, Virginia. She meets Pinkerton Secret Service Agent Malcolm McCall, a Scottish immigrant, and the pair form an uneasy alliance. As their relationship (both professional and personal) grows, Elle and Malcolm must navigate the uneasy world of race, politics, and war. For other historical romances featuring spies, try Lauren Willig’s The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Beverly JenkinsThe Winds of the Storm, or Joanna Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady.

Killer Choice by Tom Hunt (2018)

killerchoiceWhat would you do to protect the one you love? When Gary Foster finds out his pregnant wife Beth is diagnosed with a brain tumor and that a clinical trial in Germany might help her, he feels powerless, because there is no way they can afford the $200,000 cost. When a local criminal anonymously approaches Gary, offering to give him the money if Gary kills someone for him, Gary agrees--but complications arise both with the deal and in his personal life. In Killer Choice, Tom Hunt has written a fast-paced read that's hard to put down, as long as you can buy into the premise. Great for readers of Harlan Coben, Linwood Barclay, and David Rosenfelt's standalone novels.

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (2018)

widowsofmalabarhillPerveen Mistry, Bombay’s first female lawyer, is investigating a suspicious will on behalf of three Muslim widows living in strict seclusion when the case to turns to murder. Perveen notices that all three wives have signed away their full inheritances to charity, leaving nothing for them to live on. She is skeptical and puts herself in great danger trying to help the widows, but she is clever and determined to do what is right. The Widows of Malabar Hill, set in 1920s India, kicks off a new historical mystery series by Sujata Massey.

How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe by Thomas Cahill (1995)

irishsavedIf you enjoy history, you will want to pick up this engaging title. In How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill relates the philosophy, culture, and history from the decline of the Roman Empire to medieval Europe. In a mere 246 pages, this narrative is told through the lives of individuals—including the remarkable figure of St. Patrick. As the Dark Ages descended, Irish monks preserved Western civilization through transcriptions of Greek and Latin manuscripts. In so doing, the Irish put their unique imprint on medieval society, and Ireland became known as the “isle of saints and scholars.”

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (2015)

simon-vs-agenda-homo-sapiensSimon Spier has a crush on a guy he's never met, his friend group is undergoing major changes, and he's being blackmailed. Junior year is way more complicated than he thought it would be. I absolutely adore this book. I listened to the audiobook version of this early last year and it remains one of my favorite reads of 2017. Becky Albertalli balances humor, teen angst, and romance to create a fabulous first novel. And if you like Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, there's another book in the Simonverse: The Upside of Unrequited. (A third book, Leah on the Offbeat, comes out later this year.) And—Simon is being made into a movie! It was renamed Love, Simon and hit theaters last week. Now's your chance to read the book before you see the movie.  

Artemis by Andy Weir (2017)

artemisJazz Bashara, a 26 year-old Saudi-Arabian woman, has spent the last two decades living in Artemis, the only city on the moon. Even off-Earth, life is still a struggle, and Jazz survives by smuggling contraband to anyone who will pay. When one of her wealthiest clients offers her a chance to escape her poverty, she can’t say no, even to a little covert sabotage. Things do not go well, leading to a series of events that put Jazz—and the whole city of Artemis—in mortal danger. Andy Weir brings to Artemis everything that made his previous book, The Martian, a breakaway hit. He’s given us yet another suspenseful adventure tale with excellent pacing, quick-thinking MacGyver-like escapes, and scientific know-how. Unlike The Martian’s Mark Watney, however, Jazz is not alone on her world and by the end, she’s assembled a ragtag crew to pull off a heist that could save—or end—their lives.

The Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard (2018)

womanleftbehindLinda Howard again successfully balances humor and romantic suspense (a la Mr. Perfect). Tech expert Jina starts a G. I. Jane-like quest to join a special ops group in the field. Her determination to conquer physical and mental challenges is inspiring. As leader, Levi ensures the team is at top preparedness—and because of his guidance, sparks fly between the pair. Jina’s interactions with her teammates are hilarious. But it all takes a serious turn when a mission goes haywire. With immensely likeable characters, strong relationships, and a compelling story, The Woman Left Behind will grab your attention—just hang on for an exhilarating ride.