Awards: top pick

Top Picks are 5-star books that exceed expectations and push boundaries. Reviewers can nominate any 5-star book they reviewed as a Top Pick, but the editorial staff has the final say on assigning this award. More about awards

Two cousins are leaving the protection of their underground bunker, after a cataclysmic war and unrelenting disease ravaged the earth. On the other side of North America, a young survivalist is leaving the seclusion of his cabin in the woods.

I would highly recommend this gripping post-apocalyptic thriller to anyone who has a thirst for the genre, and to anyone who wants to read an action-packed, thought-provoking book. The first part of the book builds the tension up superbly, like a horror film, tipping you to the edge of your seat, whilst also dipping back into the past to explain what has brought the world to this point. The second half of the story is almost sad in its gory inevitability. Humans have not had enough violence or death, and the war continues. I was fully involved with the characters and rooting for them to come through. Very much looking forward to reading the next installment.

Review by Chantelle Atkins


A phone call in the small hours after midnight lands Dallas PI Ed Earl Burch in a lethal game where nobody can be trusted and everybody wants him dead. That includes the caller, an old flame with a violent temper and a terminal knack for larceny and betrayal.

The Right Wrong Number is filled with the latest and greatest of Nesbitt’s Quentin-Tarantino wit mixed with everything gory, despicable, irreverent, and plenty of sex. Indeed, a great combination of mystery and a plain laugh-out-loud read—guaranteed to be a favorite for noir enthusiasts.

Review by The Right Wrong Number


“this strikes me as a finely crafted story…I rate it as a superior novel and recommend it to anyone who appreciates the challenge of an unflinching mystery. Certainly I was repeatedly surprised.” —Multiple NYT bestseller Piers Anthony

Whether you’re a fan of sci-fi fan, hard-boiled detective stories, or mysteries, this book will appeal to you. Yes, it crosses genre lines, but in such a seamless manner and with such elegant prose, even purists of any one of those genres will be satisfied. But, don’t grab this if you’re looking for a cozy mystery. The violence isn’t gratuitous but some of it is graphic. The superb writing and editing (the few errors stand out because of their paucity), and complex plotting of The Last Detective make it a great read for anyone who enjoys an exciting who-done-it.

Review by The Last Detective


Frankie Mourning kills the killers. But when something supernatural opens up old wounds in her hometown, she has to turn to a detective on the run for help.

If you’re looking for a book that will make you squirm as you read, look no further. MONSTROUS is haunting and suspenseful; equal parts gore and heart. With a foul-mouthed heroine who has more of a conscience than she would like to admit, and a cast of dubiously moral characters, MONSTROUS is not for the faint of heart or the easily spooked. And beware: once you start reading you will be cast under the author’s spell, and will likely find yourself possessed with the need to continue the series.

Review by Monstrous


Gary is writing what he is convinced will be a best-selling self-help book, despite his own conspicuous lack of success.

Hilarious in its complete embrace of faith-over-substance approach to success and wealth, Gary’s Guide to Life will have readers cringing and laughing at this witty sendup of the Self-Help aisle. If you’re a fan of Dr. Phil types and take your self-help gurus seriously, you might not appreciate this rollicking satire. For everyone else, you’ll want to step in and give Gary a good shake for being so very blind to what’s blatantly obvious to the reader, but you’ll also root for him to succeed at being successful because he is so endearingly naive.

Review by Lynne Hinkey


Aurora, a holiday maker, and David, a globetrotting sushi chef, meet-cute on a skydive, literally falling head over heels for each other. However, after a few days of bliss reality rears its ugly head and they have to part again. Three months later Aurora has rearranged her life to be with David. When she returns to Mallorca their love remains strong. Only, nobody reckoned with the human baggage Aurora unwittingly brings to the island. Two professional hitmen with nothing but murder on their minds. The chase is on

Stanke’s wildly thrilling period piece captures not just the groovy vibe of post-Franco Spain in 1977, but also the feel, the look, the smell, of Mallorca just as tourism was starting to really make inroads into the formerly pristine island.

His unusual and ambitious jumps in point of view wouldn’t have worked in the hands of a less skilled author, but here you’re in good hands. David and Aurora’s whirlwind courtship is over almost before it began, and then, upon her return to him three months later (surprise! With a child in tow) the breathless chase through the pine forests and over the mountains unwinds skillfully. David and his young charge flee for their lives from hit men, and then murderous cops. Then Stanke rewinds and adds another perspective, layering on a new level of understanding for the reader. And again he backs up and goes over the same ground again but in the head of yet another character. By the end, when the whole heart-squeezing narrative has unfolded, the reader knows everything and is satisfied. It’s not an entirely happy ending, you know that going in—but it’s a just one, and a thrill right to the last scene.

I wholeheartedly recommend Falling in Death and Love, for anyone who enjoys and appreciates intricate plotting, who has an affinity for Spain, or who needs a reason to stay up late. Once you start this novel, you won’t want to stop.

Review by Kim Kash


These stories are about the cliff—the tipping point—the instant we must roll the dice or succumb to the status quo. Burch’s characters face life with courage and humor in a tenacious search for meaning and fulfillment.

A Book of Revelations delivers the voyeuristic aspects of social media sans FOMO (fear of missing out) thanks to Burch’s stellar ability to place a reader inside the characters he’s created. His short stories have an epic feel because of his exquisite use of language and penchant for deftly wielding details. (Prepare to be compelled to reread  details like “her right blinking flashing as she turned left” multiple times.)

Lately, there’s been no shortage of research on the benefits of reading floating around in the “soundbite-osphere,” everything from reduced stress levels and higher happiness quotients to better sleep and elevated empathy. (This inc.com feature rounds up nine of them.) As for the latter, being immersed in the worlds masterfully created by Burch may result in an almost immediate boost in understanding.

The eavesdropping sensation they induce is mesmerizing, and the stream of unexpected revelations are, too.

 

LINK FOR ARTICLE ABOVEL  http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/9-ways-reading-fiction-can-make-you-happier-and-more-creative.html

 

Review by Yvonne Lieblein


The Last Great American Magic reimagines the legend of Tecumseh, a physically gifted warrior, and his twin brother Rattle, a wickedly smart but lazy prophet. Growing up, the boys are rivals, but in adulthood they reconcile to form a confederacy of Native American tribes and fight the advance of settlers.

THE LAST GREAT AMERICAN MAGIC is a worthy read and holds broad appeal for any who enjoy historical or literary fiction, romance and even fantasy. It is a beautifully written, quality novel and worthy of the title TOP PICK.

Review by A post with the ID $staff does not exist.


She lost everything. Everything but the memories of a past she refused to let go of. Now it will take a herd of wild horses to drag her back to life where she’ll learn a valuable lesson from a very unlikely hero.

A timely must read by all! Once you open it, you won’t be able to put it down. Heart wrenching and eye opening, it will make you angry and hopeful at the same time.

Review by Anita Lock


When the worlds of Johnny and Jamaal collide, the catastrophic clash ignites racial conflict not seen since Ferguson. The incident tests the fledgling love of Johnny’s best friend Lucas and his African-American girlfriend Chantal, setting them on a quest for truth and justice in the perverse racial landscape of 2016.

A disturbing yet highly recommended must-read, especially during current troubling times.

Review by Anita Lock