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

A science fiction noir that wraps the razor wit of Raymond Chandler around the extraordinary vision of Philip K Dick – Nineveh Editions.

This is a dystopian thriller about the power of words and the worlds they can create. While a company has found a way to reduce formulaic text into a power source, the laws have evolved to ensure that anyone who harbors old literature or creates new material is put down. Non-conformity is a risk, and asking questions may cost you your life, as Billy Stringer learns. The story moves at a blistering pace and provides many surprising twists along the way, as well as some delicious prose of its own. Captivating and timely, with a perfect bittersweet ending.

Review by Sandra Ruttan


When an act of mischief goes terribly wrong, Sky is thrown from the Island into a strange and terrifying new world. Hunted for reasons she doesn’t understand, she is forced to use every bit of her wit and cunning to survive. But will it be enough as her murderous pursuers close in?

Those who like fantasies full of unusual creatures and heroes who must grow up in order to face their challenges, will enjoy this middle-grade novel. The main conflict of the story does not start until a few chapters in. The author has a way of starting a scene with a new place and new characters and then backtracking to fill in who the characters are and where they are, which some may find a bit confusing. However, the reader will soon understand what is happening and will be able to jump right back into Sky’s adventure.

Review by Melody Delgado


Attracted to the exotic mystery of Warlord Era China? Relish forbidden love in the midst of revolution? Adore political intrigue and heroes/heroines overcoming impossible odds to survive only to be betrayed by someone close and trusted? Then you’ll love The Dragon Of Hidden Treasures, Book 1!

Those who read romantic stories full of adventure and intrigue will enjoy this story. The reader is immediately pulled in from the very first page. Excellent writing, with attention to details, that makes the characters and setting leap off the page. The characters are vivid and unique and the story feels original also. The story is also full of twists, turns and betrayals.
 
There were a few spots that could have used a few editing brush strokes to make the women more believable in their actions at the beginning. At times, Kathryn and her mother figure, or Amah, seemed a bit too accommodating, even for the times, and perhaps could have  protested the actions of the male figures more. But this did serve to show the reality of the times and location, where women had little say in anything, including their own lives. At other times, the pace was so fast, the main characters had to solve problem after problem.

Fans of fast-paced romantic suspense, adventure stories, war dramas and the works of Amy Tan will enjoy this novel. There are disturbing images as well as scenes of graphic violence. This is also book 1 in a series, so the ending is not resolved.

Review by Melody Delgado


Suspicious of the real reason for her mother’s disappearance Esme Silver goes searching for clues in the enchanted world of Aeolia. In her quest for answers she learns much about herself and the value of friendship and family.

For fans of “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “Harry Potter”, you will find something enjoyable to read in this book. But with more focus on the protagonist’s personal growth, her family and an emphasis on her introduction to the enchanting world of Aeolia, this is a more heartwarming and whimsical story young fantasy readers will surely love.

Review by Kate Ashley


Paul Tomenko knows about the improbable. A sweepstakes winner and renowned counterculture writer by age 19, he’s traveling to God’s library to preserve eternity. If that wasn’t hard enough, his two lovers must become involved as well. But the trio discovers the job can turn someone’s soul inside out. Literally.

Readers who enjoy science fiction with a humorous and slightly irreverent bent will enjoy this fun tale with a unique take on metaphysics, cosmology, and religion. The universe and characters Felyk has created are thought- and laugh-provoking. The sometimes convoluted and unevenly paced plot might hinder those looking for a fast, easy read.

Review by Lynne Hinkey


Love the eighties? Love romantic adventures? How often have you looked back on your high school experiences and just thought . . . WOW. Last Exit to Montauk will take you there . . . and more.

LAST EXIT TO MONTAUK delivers a roller-coaster of a ride with some surprises. A Romantic-Comedy with some touching, heart-felt, thought-provoking and heart-breaking, yet relatable, moments.

The story is extremely well-written, full of humor, heart, and a vulnerability that pulls the reader in from the very first page. Words that describe the story would be: Poignant. Deep. Moving. Heart-felt. Funny. Universal.

Fans of John Green, Nick Hornby and romantic coming of age stories, will enjoy this look at the joys and pitfalls of first love.

Review by Last Exit To Montauk


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