1) Helen Wrecker – The Golem and the Jinni
This is the debut novel many authors dream of writing. It is clever, beautifully written, enthralling, and unique. It brings fantasy to a realistic level without removing its magic, and creates a portrait of a famous time and city in a new way.
2) Suzanne Rindell – The Other Typist
How stable are you in your ways? Are you crazy? Are you really who you think you are? Are you sure? Rindell makes readers wonder all this in her novel about the roaring 20s, snazzy parties, and prohibition from the center of a police station.
3) Ann Hood – The Obituary Writer
This novel is lovely in its melancholy and loss. The writing is strong and evoking, and the other-woman character is a sympathetic heroine. A good book to curl up to with a soothing cup of tea, and maybe some toast.
4) Matthew Dicks – Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend
Imaginary friends are real, and following one while his autistic boy is kidnapped is both engaging and oddly harrowing. Readers may even be compelled to resurrect their imaginary friends just to say hi and see them again.
5) Mason Radkoff – The Heart of June
This book is Pittsburgh from a working man’s perspective. Emotional, intellectual, hand’s-on, with in-depth descriptions of Pittsburgh and what it is to be from there. It’s easy to fall into this story and care for the characters, as if they’re real neighbors.
6) Anthony Marra – A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
The writing in this novel is so strong and it’ll keep readers enthralled. Although the events are depressing, the book’s overall impression is strangely bright.
7) Rysa Walker – Timebound
Here is time travel that is complex but sound. Events happen in tangents, and readers get a glimpse of one timeline that has been altered but still exists, is altered and doesn’t exist, and is fixed and exists…among many other possibilities. The story is on the older range of young adult titles, and the characters and situations are intriguing.
8) Therese Ann Fowler – Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
If you think you know something about F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway, think again. The novel explores the concept of being mentally unstable, and the perceptions of independence and insanity.
9) Gail Carriger – Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School)
This young adult steampunk novel occurs a handful of decades before Carriger’s paranormal romance series, The Parasol Protectorate. A girl, unsuitable for common society, is sent to a finishing school that turns out to train girls in the art of social etiquette and secret espionage. It is so much fun and incredibly adventurous, and it’s great to learn where familiar characters from the later series started.
10) Michael J. Sullivan – The Crown Tower (Riyria Chronicles)
The series explains the beginning of a partnership between a well-meaning, likable mercenary, a hardened assassin, and a woman who helps them. This partnership, rocky at first, is highly entertaining and a wonderful explanation for the Riyria Revelations, which is later in their timeline but the first series to be published. Anyone looking for high fantasy from an non-magical perspective should read this series.