June Seal of Excellence

June 2010's RT Seal of Excellence was awarded to Tess Gerritsen for her newest Rizzoli and Isles novel, Ice Cold. Here are some comments from the editors on why Ice Cold won the honor.


"I knew that I wanted Gerritsen's book to be the Seal winner when halfway through it, I had about 25 people in mind that I wanted to pass the story on to. And if possible, the ending was even better than the beginning. I'm going to have to have the bookstore ship me Ice Cold in bulk so I can send them out as Christmas presents this year." - RT Web Editor Morgan Doremus

"I'm so glad this is our SOE winner. It was riveting and terrifying and I really could not put it down till the end. And I confess: I usually read the ends of books — yes, even (and especially) mysteries and suspenses. Gerritsen had me so on the hook that I didn't do that this time, it was worth the wait." - RT Managing Editor Liz French

"I read Ice Cold in one sitting! Gerritsen does a phenomenal job of making the reader feel like she’s in the woods along with the characters — even though I knew I was in my living room in Brooklyn, I still caught myself looking over my shoulder as I read. Readers who fear jumping into a series mid-stream needn’t worry — this was my first Gerritsen, but it won’t be my last. I bought the first few books in the series as soon as I closed the cover." - RT Senior Editor Stephanie Klose

Listen to RT's interview with the author >>


So what other books were contenders for the June Seal of Excellence? Here is a look at the titles the RT editors considered.


Adena Halpern’s mainstream novel 29 was not on the original short list for the Seal of Excellence. At first, it seems more flirty fun than deeply resonant novel. However, after the editors finished the book, we couldn’t stop talking about it. There is so much more to this book than just an elderly widow getting a second chance at being young again. This is a story all about living life to the fullest. It is about taking responsibility for our choices, both big and small, because it is these decisions that end up making us the people we are.


Read the Author's Guest Blog Entry >>



Questioning the quality of e-books? Look no further than The Midnight Effect by Pamela Fryer, from Samhain Publishing. This exceptionally good read has all of the elements of a great romance — a damaged hero, a heroine stronger than even she knows and a crazy villain set on keeping them apart. Yet Fryer’s novel never gets bogged down in clichés. The story starts with a bang — literally — and never slows down.

What the editors found most refreshing was when the characters take time apart to reflect on their relationship and the changes within themselves. So often in an action-heavy romance, the characters (or readers) don’t have any breathing room to step back and take stock. Not so here. Fryer finds a way to keep up the story’s action without becoming too dramatic or giving readers sensory overload. Fryer writes about fully realized characters with real emotions. Yet while the story was incredibly well written, at a short 208 pages, the editors did not feel that the author had enough space to create a truly epic tale, so, in the end, it could not be given the Seal.

Read an Excerpt >>

Read the Message From the Author >>



The editors really enjoyed Katherine Allred's Close Contact, the second in Allred’s Alien Affairs series. We had fun watching city girl Echo’s world turn upside down after learning that she is not only genetically engineered but she now must become a spy. The story moves quickly and the supporting characters are hilarious. One detail that makes this story feel so real is the way that unlike many action heroines, Echo stays interested in her clothes throughout — just a small quirk but it shows a lot about her personality. This is definitely a novel that science fiction fans will love, but if you don’t like the genre you might get confused by Allred’s extensive worldbuilding and how much of Close Contact builds on the knowledge readers learn in the first book of the series, Close Encounters.

Read an Excerpt >>

Read the Message From the Author >>



Truly a one-of-a-kind book, Nnedi Okorafor's Africa-set post-apocalyptic story Who Fears Death twists sci-fi tropes at every turn. The heroine, Onyesonwu ("who fears death") resides in a future Africa that is awe-inspiring and horrifying all at once.

Okorafor does an excellent job of weaving past and present, new and old, real and imagined, into this almost-anthropological story, and her narrator is an angry and powerful girl-child. But she's often unsympathetic — maybe being a child of rape has something to do with it — and overbearing. That's not such a bad thing, especially in the science fiction/fantasy world, but Okorafor also uses Onyesonwu as a stand-in for everywoman in Africa, instead of a living, breathing character. Add the rape scene and a gruesome female circumcision rite, both pretty early in the narrative, and you have the quintessential "not for everyone" read. But Okorafor's boundless imagination and worldbuilding skills will amaze readers wiling get through some of the rougher stuff.

Read the Message From the Author >>



Ryan Brown's debut Play Dead contains two of the editors' favorite (fictional) things: zombies and high school. On the plus side here is that his tale isn't a zippy, funny, tongue-in-cheek YA (not that there's anything wrong with that). Instead Brown strikes a dark and creepy tone, creating a sinister vibe in his small, football-obsessed Texas town.

Alas, there is a plot hole that is, oh, a football field wide, that we struggled to get past. Nevertheless, we enjoyed this title and can't wait to see what the author does next. We'd definitely make Brown a horror genre MVP for Play Dead.

Read an Excerpt >>

Read the Message From the Author >>


Other books the RT editors considered were:

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Silent Scream by Karen Rose

Mystery Lover by Lisa Childs

The Ranger by Rhonda Nelson

Never Wave Goodbye by Doug Magee