We recorded an episode of the Amazon Book Review podcast today and my colleague, Vannessa Cronin, read a bit of Jess Kidd’s Things in Jars. So compelling was Kidd’s prose, and Ms. Cronin’s oration, that for any of us who haven’t already read it, it’s at the top of our to-read piles this weekend. In addition, Adrian is checking out famed fantasy writer Christopher Paolini’s first foray into science fiction, Al is digging further into what is becoming her favorite book of 2020 so far, Vannessa is reading a heart-wrenching debut about a very flawed father, and more.
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
I somehow missed reading Eragon and the rest of the Inheritance Cycle when Paolini’s books catapulted fantasy readers into a world of dragons and dragon riders. But I won’t miss To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, Paolini’s sci-fi adventure geared toward adults (September 15). Xenobiologist Kira Navárez discovers alien artifacts while surveying a new planet in advance of human settlement. They are only the second alien signs ever discovered, and the standard protocol is to lock down the planet and cut off communications so that the aliens—if still around—cannot discover where humanity now lives. But when a strange dust infects Navárez and another teammate, the standard protocols might not be enough to keep anyone safe. I’m looking forward to returning to this fast-paced space thriller while hanging out with my dog on my back porch this weekend. —Adrian Liang
Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
I am reading this book for one reason—because my colleague Vannessa Cronin has championed it so strongly. The description of Jess Kidd’s novel makes it sound like a supernatural police procedural with a little romance and maybe some fairy tale thrown in. That’s quite the hybrid. But Vannessa says it works, and that the writing is wonderful. So I’m in for something a little different, and a little wonderful, this weekend. —Chris Schluep
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
I’m just going to say it: this is quickly becoming one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. Migrations is about a woman who goes to the ends of the earth in search of herself and what just might be the last migration of a bird species. It’s also a story of love, adventure, climate change, and what happens when a person simultaneously runs away from her past and runs straight towards it. Like another favorite of the year, Deacon King Kong, Migrations gets richer with every scene as you learn more about Franny Stone—why she boards a boat full of fisherman, why birds call to her, how she fell in love with her husband, and how death stalks her at every turn. The novel’s pacing is phenomenal—and the candor, veracity, and clarity with which it’s written make it feel like a memoir. And, I mean that in the best way. Migrations is confessional, intimate, and life-changing. —Al Woodworth
Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West
I've had my eye on this book for months, partly because I loved the jacket, and partly because I kept forgetting that it was fiction, not mystery. It's an easy mistake to make, since the murder of Ruby King's mother Alice is what sets in motion the events of the book. But this is no fast-paced thriller. Instead it's an unhurried, layered, unflinching look at the intersection of racism, domestic violence, and patriarchy. It doesn't promise to be an easy read, but I'm fifty pages in and something tells me I'm going to love what's between the end-papers as much as I love the jacket. —Vannessa Cronin
Girls of Summer by Nancy Thayer
Last year at this time I was on Nantucket, a trip I planned a year in advance and had dreamed about for even longer. So on the eve of this summer’s vacation—or really, “staycation,” as I’ll just be in my backyard—I’m trying to recapture some of the magic of the island. I’ve been saving Nancy Thayer’s latest, Girls of Summer, for this very purpose. Thayer is a Nantucket-based author who writes beachy women’s fiction set on… Nantucket. Girls of Summer is about a single mother and her two grown children, all of whom develop new love interests. While I wish I were reading this book at a picnic table at Something Natural eating an avocado, cheddar, and chutney sandwich and drinking a Nantucket Nectar, this summer I’ll rely on Thayer to transport me back to this magical place. —Sarah Gelman
Final Cut by S. J. Watson
S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep is still one of my favorite psychological thrillers to recommend and I’m excited to finish her new one, Final Cut. Flipping back and forth in time and perspectives: from a young woman who finds herself in the hospital with no memory of who she is or how she got there, and a documentary filmmaker named Alex in present day, who is working on a new project in a town where at least two young women have disappeared in recent years. The documentary is ostensibly going to be about small town life, but there’s also an undercurrent of darkness and suspicion in the town, and a definite unease for Alex about her own memories of Blackwood Bay. Watson is great at giving readers an exciting reveal, so I can’t wait to see how this ends.—Seira Wilson
Adrian is checking out famed fantasy writer Christopher Paolini’s first foray into science fiction, Al is digging further into what is becoming her favorite book of 2020 so far, Vannessa is reading a heart-wrenching debut about a very flawed father, and more.