Something for almost everyone.
A few of my favorite recent reads…
We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss [2018 RELEASE]
Luke feels like he’s been looking after Toby his entire life. He patches Toby up when Toby’s father, a drunk and a petty criminal, beats on him, he gives him a place to stay, and he diffuses the situation at school when wise-cracking Toby inevitably gets into fights. Someday, Luke and Toby will leave this small town, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, and never look back.
But during their senior year, they begin to drift apart. Luke is dealing with his unreliable mother and her new boyfriend. And Toby unwittingly begins to get drawn into his father’s world, and falls for an older woman. All their long-held dreams seem to be unraveling. Tense and emotional, this heartbreaking novel explores family, abuse, sex, love, friendship, and the lengths a person will go to protect the people they love.
The friendship at the heart of this book is so poignant, so real, that it’s impossible to resist a full emotional investment in these characters and the supporting players who orbit their lives. Roughly 170 books into 2018 and I already know that this will be one of this year’s Top3 when all is said and done. A great, great book.
Blood of Assassins by R.J. Barker [2018 RELEASE]
The assassin Girton Club-foot and his master have returned to Maniyadoc in hope of finding sanctuary, but death, as always, dogs Girton’s heels. The place he knew no longer exists.
War rages across Maniyadoc, with three kings claiming the same crown – and one of them is Girton’s old friend Rufra. Girton finds himself hurrying to uncover a plot to murder Rufra on what should be the day of the king’s greatest victory. But while Girton deals with threats inside and outside Rufra’s war encampment, he can’t help wondering if his greatest enemy hides beneath his own skin.
The second book in R.J. Barker’s The Wounded Kingdom series and the follow-up to his phenomenal debut, The Age of Assassins, continues the story of assassin Girton Club-foot and his pivotal role at the heart of conflict that sees three kings vying for a single crown. It’s an engaging character-driven narrative studded with brutal battle scenes and an underlying whodunit mystery genuinely surprises.
The Bomb Maker by Thomas Perry [2018 RELEASE]
A threat is called into the LAPD Bomb Squad and when tragedy ensues, the fragmented unit turns to Dick Stahl, a former Bomb Squad commander who now operates his own private security company. Just returned from a tough job in Mexico, Stahl is at first reluctant to accept the offer, but his sense of duty to the technicians he trained is too strong to turn it down. On his first day back at the head of the squad, Stahl’s three-person team is dispatched to a suspected car bomb. And it quickly becomes clear to him that they are dealing with an unusual mastermind–one whose intended target seems to be the Bomb Squad itself.
The tension ratchets up to a full 10 within the first few pages and then maintains this relentless level of suspense throughout the books’ near 400 page run. Authorities seek to identify a serial who is targeting the LAPD’s bomb squad with increasingly elaborate explosive traps. Once you start reading, it’s near impossible to put down.
Police At The Station And They Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty
Belfast 1988: A man is found dead, killed with a bolt from a crossbow in front of his house. This is no hunting accident. But uncovering who is responsible for the murder will take Detective Sean Duffy down his most dangerous road yet, a road that leads to a lonely clearing on a high bog where three masked gunmen will force Duffy to dig his own grave.
Hunted by forces unknown, threatened by Internal Affairs, and with his relationship on the rocks, Duffy will need all his wits to get out of this investigation in one piece.
The crossbow murder of a small-time drug dealer in 1980’s Belfast sets Catholic Detective Sean Duffy on a perilous, conspiracy-laden investigation involving the IRA, long-buried secrets, twists, turns, and more than a few surprises. A crackerjack thriller with heart and humor. My only regret is not having discovered Adrian McKinty, and this series, sooner – an oversight I deem to rectify over the coming months.
The Queen of Crows by Myke Cole [2018 RELEASE]
In this epic fantasy sequel, Heloise stands tall against overwhelming odds–crippling injuries, religious tyrants–and continues her journey from obscurity to greateness with the help of alchemically-empowered armor and an unbreakable spirit.
No longer just a shell-shocked girl, she is now a figure of revolution whose cause grows ever stronger. But the time for hiding underground is over. Heloise must face the tyrannical Order and lay siege to the Imperial Palace itself.
The second book in Myke Cole’s The Sacred Throne series is a terrific follow-up to last year’s breakout fantasy debut, The Armored Saint, building on the world and its characters with an action-driven narrative that raises the stakes in epic fashion yet still manages to maintain the focus on its grounded and engaging young heroine. It’s a thrilling read, peppered with surprises and unexpectedly touching moments. No sophomore slump here. This second installment delivers in spades (and flails and swords and shields!), vaulting this fantasy series into my Top 5 of all time.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones [2018 RELEASE]
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
An exceptionally honest exploration of a relationship complicated by a twelve year prison sentence meted out to an innocent man. Well-written, character-driven drama full of anguish and humor and hope whose only misstep is an in-prison twist that feels unearned and all too convenient in stark contrast to this otherwise grounded book.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
An emotionally exhausting but incredibly rewarding read about a missionary family’s experience in late 1950’s Congo.