Some author friends and I discovered some of our favorite reads in 2019! We may write romance and science fiction, but our recommendations prove that a true word-wielder, no matter the genre, can leave a lasting impression for days, weeks, and even months. So, here's a sneak peek at some of the best books of 2019, because we say so. :)
Lindsey Pogue recommends: Circe by Madeline Miller
"Enchanting prose and beautifully written. The audiobook was epic!"
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child--not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power--the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man's world.
Lindsey Pogue is a dyslexic adventure and romance author, taco addict, humanitarian, and cowgirl at heart. She loves sunsets and a nice cold gin lemonade on a warm summer night. Her stories span epic weather-ravaged landscapes and cozy small-towns, and at the helm of all of her stories are kickass heroines with heaps of heart. When she's not chatting with readers or dreaming up new, brooding characters, you can find her wrapped in blankets, watching her favorite action flicks with her own leading man. She lives in Northern California with her husband and their rescue cat, Beast. Learn more
Claire C. Riley recommends: The Quiet At The End Of The World by Lauren James
"This was an absolutely brilliant book!"
How far would you go to save those you love? Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking and looking for treasure until a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity s entire existence. Now Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice...
Claire C. Riley is a USA Today and International bestselling author. Claire writes post-apocalyptic, dystopian, horror, and romance, and lives in the United Kingdom with her husband and three daughters. She believes that cupcakes, rum, and rap battles are the solution to most of life’s problems. Learn more
M.A. Phipps recommends: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi Lee—Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.
Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
So Monty vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Witty, dazzling, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is an irresistible romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.
M.A. Phipps is an American author who resides near the ocean in picturesque Cornwall with her husband, daughter, and their Jack Russell, Milo. A lover of the written word, it has always been her dream to become a published author, and it is her hope to expand into multiple genres of fiction. Learn more
Tracey Ward recommends: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
"It's so good and suspenseful!"
A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
Tracey Ward is a bestselling Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Young Adult author who lives in Eugene, Oregon. "I don't write romances. I write relationships. One is pretty and perfect and all consuming. The other is real." Learn more
Lindsey Fairleigh recommends: Awaken Online: Catharsis by Travis Bagwell
Jason logs into Awaken Online fed-up with reality. He's in desperate need of an escape, and this game is his ticket to finally feeling the type of power and freedom that are so sorely lacking in his real life.
Awaken Online is a brand new virtual reality game that just hit the market, promising an unprecedented level of immersion. Yet Jason quickly finds himself pushed down a path he didn't expect. In this game, he isn't the hero. There are no damsels to save. There are no bad guys to vanquish.
In fact, he might just be the villain.
Lindsey Fairleigh is a bestselling Science Fiction and Fantasy author who lives her life with one foot in a book--as long as that book transports her to a magical world or bends the rules of science. Her novels, from Post-apocalyptic to Time Travel Romance, always offer up a hearty dose of unreality, along with plenty of history, mystery, adventure, and romance. Learn more
K. Webster recommends: Playboy Pilot by Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland
"This book was steamy, sweet, funny, and even pulled a few tears from me at the end.
Five LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS stars!"
Money or love? Which would you choose?
You probably just answered the question in your head thinking it's an easy decision.
For me, it's not. Did I mention it's a lot of money? A hell of a lot.
I needed to go far away to think it through.
As I embarked on an impulsive trip, I hit a detour when I met sexy Carter in the airport lounge. We struck up a heated conversation.
Then, he left. I thought I'd never see him again. But fate had other plans.
Surprise! He was the pilot of my flight.
The bigger surprise was the adventure that followed after the plane landed.
Carter was dangerous and always on the move.
Even though our connection was magnetic, I knew it was only temporary
He would give me tickets, and I would follow him around the world to exotic places.
A bevy of flight attendant exes and rumors about Carter's reputation were never far behind.
I didn't know what to believe.
But I was addicted. Nothing else mattered anymore. And I was going to get hurt. Because a part of me wanted to be the one to finally ground the playboy pilot.
At the very least, he was taking me on a thrilling ride.
All good things must come to an end, right
Except our ending was one I didn't see coming.
K. Webster is a USA Today Bestselling author. Her titles have claimed many bestseller tags in numerous categories, are translated in multiple languages, and have been adapted into audiobooks. She lives in "Tornado Alley" with her husband, two children, and her baby dog named Blue. When she's not writing, she's reading, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and researching aliens. Learn more
Kate L. Mary recommends: Toxic by Lydia Kang
Hana isn't supposed to exist. She's grown up hidden by her mother in a secret room of the bioship Cyclo until the day her mother is simply gone—along with the entire crew. Cyclo tells her she was abandoned, but she's certain her mother wouldn't leave her there to die. And Hana isn't ready to die yet. She's never really had a chance to live.
Fenn is supposed to die. He and a crew of hired mercenaries are there to monitor Cyclo as she expires, and the payment for the suicide mission will mean Fenn's sister is able to live. But when he meets Hana, he's not sure how to save them both.
As Cyclo grows sicker by the day, they unearth more secrets about the ship and the crew. But the more time they spend together, the more Hana and Fenn realize that falling for each other is what could ultimately kill them both.
Kate L. Mary is an award-winning author of Adult, New Adult, and Young Adult fiction, ranging from Post-apocalyptic tales of the undead to Speculative Fiction and Contemporary Romance. Kate is a military mom who loves zombies (especially The Walking Dead), Coffee, Wine, and Daryl Dixon. Learn more
J Bennett recommends: These is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine by Nancy Turner
"A truly captivating historical fiction novel about a spirited woman
surviving on the frontier."
A moving, exciting, and heartfelt American saga inspired by the author's own family memoirs, these words belong to Sarah Prine, a woman of spirit and fire who forges a full and remarkable existence in a harsh, unfamiliar frontier. Scrupulously recording her steps down the path Providence has set her upon—from child to determined young adult to loving mother—she shares the turbulent events, both joyous and tragic, that molded her, and recalls the enduring love with cavalry officer Captain Jack Elliot that gave her strength and purpose.
Rich in authentic everyday details and alive with truly unforgettable characters, These Is My Words brilliantly brings a vanished world to breathtaking life again.
J Bennett lives and writes in San Diego. Her writing partner is a bunny named Avalon who contributes to each manuscript by trying to eat it. His adorableness is his primary strength as a writer. J Bennett is a professional copywriter and an author who loves asking that oh-so-dangerous question - "What if?" Learn more
Alison Aimes recommends: The Mid Winter Mail-order Bride by Kati Wildes
"Just so sweet and wonderful. Loved the hero and the heroine."
Some might call Princess Anja of Ivermere brave for offering herself up as a bride to Kael the Conqueror, a barbarian warlord who’d won his crown by the bloodied edge of his sword. It was not courage that drove Anja from her magic-wielding family’s enchanted palace, however, but a desperate attempt to secure a kingdom of her own—even if she has to kill the Conqueror to do it. She expects pain beneath his brutal touch as she awaits her chance. She expects death if he discovers the truth of her intentions. She didn’t expect Kael to reject her and send her back to Ivermere. Raised in the ashes of the Dead Lands, Kael fears nothing—certainly not the beautiful sorceress who arrives at his mountain stronghold. But no matter how painful his need for her, Kael has no use for a bride who would only tolerate his kiss. Yet the more of Anja’s secrets he uncovers during their journey to return her home, the more determined he becomes to win the princess’s wary heart. And Kael the Conqueror has never been defeated…
Alison Aimes is the award-winning author of the sexy sci-fi romance series, Condemned, as well as the sizzling contemporary romance, Billionaire Bad Boys collection. A sci-fi fanatic with a PhD in Modern history, she’s an all-over-the-map kind of woman with a love for dramatic stories and great books, no matter the era. Now, she’s creating her own stories full of intrigue and passion, but always with a happy-ever-after ending. Learn more
Tarah Benner recommends: Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas
In this frank and witty memoir, Ken Ilgunas lays bare the existential terror of graduating from the University of Buffalo with $32,000 of student debt. Ilgunas set himself an ambitious mission: get out of debt as quickly as possible. Inspired by the frugality and philosophy of Henry David Thoreau, Ilgunas undertook a three-year transcontinental journey, working in Alaska as a tour guide, garbage picker, and night cook to pay off his student loans before hitchhiking home to New York.
Debt-free, Ilgunas then enrolled in a master’s program at Duke University, determined not to borrow against his future again. He used the last of his savings to buy himself a used Econoline van and outfitted it as his new dorm. The van, stationed in a campus parking lot, would be more than an adventure—it would be his very own “Walden on Wheels.”
Freezing winters, near-discovery by campus police, and the constant challenge of living in a confined space would test Ilgunas’s limits and resolve in the two years that followed. What had begun as a simple mission would become an enlightening and life-changing social experiment.
Walden on Wheels offers a spirited and pointed perspective on the dilemma faced by those who seek an education but who also want to, as Thoreau wrote, “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”
Tarah Benner is a fiction author, writing coach, and adventurer living in sunny Colorado.
She spends her days writing, rambling through the woods, and wrangling two wild dogs. She loves reading, hiking, traveling, martial arts, and rummaging through antique stores. Learn more
Sarah Lyons Fleming recommends: How To Be A Normal Person by TJ Klune
"It's about love and loss and taking chances. It's about being exactly who you are.
And it's really freaking funny. When you aren't wiping away tears of laughter,
you might be tearing up."
Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.
Gus is not normal. And he's fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.
Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie's Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.
But Gus isn't normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.
After all, what could possibly go wrong?
Sarah Lyons Fleming is a Laura Ingalls devotee, wannabe prepper and lover of anything pre-apocalyptic, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic—or anything in between. Besides an unhealthy obsession with home-canned food and Bug Out Bag equipment, she loves books, making artsy stuff and laughing her arse off. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, she now lives in Oregon with her family and, in her own opinion, not nearly enough supplies for the zombie apocalypse. But she's working on it. Learn more
Kyla Stone recommends: Tribe of Daughters by Kate L. Mary
"It was my favorite dystopian read since Hunger Games.
A thrill-ride of a story with deeply flawed, complex characters and intriguing themes on gender politics extremely relevant today."
In this village, women are not the weaker sex.
From an award-winning author comes a post-apocalyptic dystopian story about power, fear, and love…
Nearly a century after a plague ravaged civilization, a secluded matriarchal society thrives in the mountains. In this village there are no brothers, no fathers, no sons. In this village men exist only to serve the women, and boys have no mothers. In this village men do as they are told and defiance is severely punished.
This is the only life Wilderness has ever known, but when Jameson is brought in from the outside to be her husband, everything she thought she knew about strength and love is tested. As they struggle to find their place in the village, they suddenly find themselves face to face with outsiders who threaten to destroy everything they love, and it doesn’t take long to realize that they will have to work together, men and women alike, if they want to survive.
Tribe of Daughters is marvelous, unique, emotionally moving, amazing, and fascinating, reviewers enthuse, calling author Kate L. Mary a master of world-building. “Everything about this science fiction novel – the possibilities, the plot, the characters, the physical, mental, sexual and cultural concepts, and the writing style fired my imagination and compelled me to keep reading page after page until the book was finished,” says Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite.
Kyla Stone loves writing stories exploring how ordinary people cope with extraordinary circumstances, especially situations where the normal comforts, conveniences, and rules are stripped away. When she's not writing, you can find her practicing at the range with her Springfield XDS or shopping for cool new gear for her bugout bag. Learn more