Brad Taylor is the pen behind the New York Times bestselling Pike Logan series. Now spanning fourteen installments, Taylor’s high-octane thrillers center around “the Taskforce” – a highly trained covert ops team answerable only to a select few at the highest rungs of government. Protagonist Pike Logan first burst onto the scene in 2011’s One Rough Man, which earned Taylor glowing comparisons to established heavyweights like Vince Flynn, Tom Clancy, and Brad Thor. Reviewers praised the believability of Taylor’s storylines and settings; and that authenticity has been hard won. Taylor served more than two decades in the U.S. Army, in both the Infantry and Special Forces divisions, including a stint with the clandestine Delta Force. His talents are on full display in Hunter Killer. Logan’s latest adventure finds the elite Taskforce, often the hunters, in the unfamiliar role of the hunted. Kirkus Reviews calls it “a surefire hit for those who like contemporary foreign affairs spiced heavily with page-turning action.”
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Gish Jen is a second generation Chinese American, and a thoughtful chronicler of emigration, assimilation, and multiculturalism as they relate to the modern American experience. The Los Angeles Times said of her 1991 debut, Typical American: “Jen has done much more than tell an immigrant story… She has done it in some ways better than it has ever been done before.” Jen’s shrewd insights and sensitive prose are not confined to novels. Her fiction has appeared an impressive four times in the competitive Best American Short Stories anthology. Jen’s forays into nonfiction include The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Exploring the East-West Culture Gap and Tiger Writing, a semi-autobiographical examination of “self” in different cultural contexts. Jen’s eighth and latest book, The Resisters, offers something of a departure; it is set in a dystopian future ravaged by climate change. In a deeply divided society, baseball prodigy Gwen is plucked from the slums to represent North America in the newly reconstituted Olympic games. Gwen and this most innocuous of sports become an unexpected rallying point for disenfranchised social justice warriors.
Lara Prescott belongs to the small, exclusive club of authors who have had their work optioned for film. While this is an impressive accomplishment on the face of it, still fewer writers can claim to have reached this milestone before their first book even hit shelves! Prescott’s highly anticipated literary debut, The Secrets We Kept, premieres September 3. It tells the true story behind the writing and incendiary publication of the Cold War era novel Doctor Zhivago. Now a mainstay of the Russia’s literary canon, Doctor Zhivago is a tale of life and love set during the Russian Revolution. Penned by controversial Soviet national Boris Pasternak, the manuscript was smuggled to Italy in the 1950s. Prescott’s retelling is already receiving rave reviews. In a starred review, Booklist opined: “Spy stories offer high reader appeal, but Prescott’s debut far surpasses the typical genre fare…Through extensive research, Prescott artfully illuminates the CIA’s role in helping disseminate the Soviet-banned masterwork.” The Secrets We Kept will debut in a staggering 28 languages. A film treatment, helmed by Oscar-nominated producer of La La Land and Bridge of Spies, is now in the works.
National Book Award finalist Brandon Hobson is the author of four novels, including the critically acclaimed Where the Dead Sit Talking. Hobson’s layered coming-of-age story focuses around a Cherokee boy named Sequoyah. After a tumultuous childhood marked by abuse and neglect, sensitive Sequoyah is thrown into the foster system. While living with the eccentric Troutt family in Oklahoma, he meets and develops feelings for a wayward young artist who shares his Native heritage and checkered family history. Hobson himself is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and “is in total control of his material… in this masterly tale of life and death” (Kirkus Reviews). Where the Dead Sit Talking garnered a host of literary honors, and came within striking distance of the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction. In addition to his career as a novelist, Hobson is a short fiction writer, essayist, and educator. He is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at New Mexico State University, and a Writing Mentor at the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Columbian-born Ingrid Rojas Contreras is author of Fruit of the Drunken Tree, one of 2018’s breakout fiction debuts. Based in part on the author’s own experiences growing up in factious Bogotá, Contreras’s story is set against the backdrop of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar’s shadow reign over Columbia. This turmoil is explored through the eyes of Chula, a seven-year-old from a well-to-do family living safely in a gated community. When her mother hires Petrona, a young woman from the Bogotá slums, as the family’s maid, Chula is forced to challenge assumptions and change her worldview. Entertainment Weekly commends Fruit of the Drunken Tree as “simultaneously propulsive and poetic, with something powerful to say.” It was rereleased in paperback in summer 2019. In addition to her fiction, Contreras’s has contributed essays and thought pieces to publications as varied as USA Today, Architectural Digest, and Buzzfeed.
Nicola Yoon is one of the best known – and bestselling – authors writing today in the realm of YA fiction. Her debut, Everything, Everything, catapulted her to the top of the charts in 2015. Told through diary entries, text messages, and even illustrations, the story focuses around a teenage protagonist who suffers from a rare immune disease often called “bubble boy syndrome” – but refuses to let this debilitating condition define her. Warner Brothers adapted Everything, Everything into an award-winning 2017 feature film starring Amandla Stenberg. The New York Times lauded Yoon’s 2016 follow-up, teen romance The Sun Is Also A Star, as “a deep dive into love and chance and self-determination – and the many ways humans affect one another, often without knowing it.” Like its predecessor, The Sun Is Also A Star dominated bestseller lists for the better part of a year, and received its own Hollywood treatment. It also garnered Yoon a finalist nod for the National Book Award, and a host of other high honors besides.
Dacre Stoker is the great grand-nephew of renowned Irish novelist Bram Stoker, the mind behind the genre-defining classic Dracula. He is also manager of his famous ancestor’s estate, and an internationally recognized expert on all things Dracula. In 2009, Dacre turned his eye to fiction, and a sequel more than 110 years in the making. Aptly titled Dracula: The Undead, this continuation of the original story is built upon Bram Stoker’s own handwritten notes. More than twenty publishers around the world optioned this unique work of fiction, which Publisher’s Weekly lauded as “a well-needed shot of fresh blood for the Dracula mythos.” In the same vein – pun intended – Dacre plumbed his great grand-uncle’s personal notes and life story to craft a 2017 prequel to the 1897 masterpiece. Dracul, co-authored with J.D. Barker, features none other than Bram Stoker himself as the central protagonist. Library Journal praised Dracul as “a strong pick for fans of classic gothic tales, but also good for anyone who appreciates gripping historical novels.” The prequel will be released in paperback in October 2019.
Mystery phenom J.A. Jance is the mind behind not one, but four blockbuster series. Her corpus, stretching back to 1985, includes nearly 70 novels to date. Jance’s popular and compelling protagonists include news anchor-turned-sleuth Ali Reynolds, trailblazing sheriff Joanna Brady, and Arizona’s colorful Walker Family. Each has a devoted following, but none has been solving crimes for as long – or can boast as many installments – as retired Seattle police detective J. P. Beaumont. First introduced nearly 35 years ago in Until Proven Guilty, Beaumont has been the focus of 24 books (and several well received novellas, besides). Two in this series, Without Due Process (1992) and Failure to Appear (1993), have won Jance the prestigious American Mystery Award. Beaumont’s latest adventure, Sins of the Fathers, hit shelves in September. In his most personal and suspenseful case to date, the detective is coaxed out of retirement by an old acquaintance to solve a missing person case – one that dredges up unwelcome memories.
Over the past decade, Thrity Umrigar has emerged as a leading, cherished voice in Indian American literature. Her fiction, usually set in urban India, showcases the wealth of diversity found within the world’s second largest country. Umrigar first gained a wide audience with her sophomore work The Space Between Us (2006), which hinges on “the intimacy, and the irreconcilable class divide, between a well-to-do woman and her downtrodden servant in contemporary Bombay.” Umrigar – who grew up in Mumbai’s minority Parsi community – knows her subject matter intimately. She even chronicled her own stories in a 2008 memoir, First Darling of the Morning. For her most recent project, Umrigar returned to her unforgettable The Space Between Us protagonist Bhima for a sequel twelve years in the making. Publishers Weekly praised The Secrets Between Us as “a splendid tale that should appeal to all readers with open hearts – regardless of their familiarity with the previous work or the culture of Mumbai.”
In the span of six short weeks in 2014, Nora McInerny had a miscarriage, buried her father, and lost her husband Aaron to an aggressive brain tumor. Devastated but undeterred, she spoke openly about her tragedies and parlayed that year into a platform to help others through grief. That platform now straddles many media. Her blog, originally called “My Husband’s Tumor,” rapidly hit and passed the 200,000 mark for readership. McInerny also launched “Terrible, Thanks for Asking,” a popular yet intimate podcast which The Atlantic praised for “continuously, unapologetically, ferociously plowing into subjects most people are too uncomfortable to touch.” McInerny’s first book, It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too) (2016), candidly chronicles her courtship, marriage, and mourning. Two 2019 follow-ups, No Happy Endings and The Hot Young Widows Club, pick up the theme by exploring how to move forward, even when an overwhelming loss prevents one from truly moving on.