June 2017: Seal of Excellence
Each month the RT editors select one book that is not only compelling, but pushes the boundaries of genre fiction. This book stands out from all the others reviewed that month. June 2017's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden.
Fans of Nnedi Okorafor, Lauren Beukes and Neil Gaiman better add The Prey of Gods to their reading lists! This addicting new novel combines all the best elements of science fiction and fantasy, from vengeful demigoddesses to awakening god-powers to a growing AI uprising. The apocalypse seems nigh, but on a micro level Drayden's characters all have stupendous personal journeys, like dealing with LGBT issues, the weight of family expectations and feelings of self worth. There's a character for everyone to identify with, but I have a feeling you'll love every one. — Emily Walton
I was so sucked into Nicky Drayden's debut novel, I missed my subway stop on two separate occasions — that's how deep I was! While The Prey of Gods all takes place in South Africa, each chapter jumps to a different perspective: from a gay teenage boy, to an ancient demigoddess and a newly minted one, to a robot learning it's purpose, all the way to a transgender politician and a pop superstar with MS. This might seem like a lot, but Drayden masterfully crafts each character's story and got me invested in each one. Then, as you're reading the loose threads of beginnings for each character, Drayden weaves them together into a story that is sure to stick with you for a long time. — Alyssa Duspiva
Drayden's worldbuilding and character construction are awesomely intense, dragging you right into her story as you try to begin to realize the amazing scale and ingenuity of the setting and plot. From the first page to the last, I was totally hooked, as I watched the strange effects of godsend take its hold on the characters and their world. A mind-bending winner, for sure. — Elissa Petruzzi
And the other nominees are …
I have not read a book that has changed me as much as An Uninterrupted View of the Sky has in a very, very long time. While Crowder's book is labeled as a young adult historical fiction, I'd like to define it as an emotional journey that will reach the core of your very being in 279 pages. The plot follows Francisco Vargas, a 17 year old in Bolivia, 1999 as he is about to graduate high school, at the precipice of the rest of his life, when his father is wrongfully imprisoned on drug charges. His family is forced to move into the prison, paying for a bed and protection, as Francisco watches his mother leave and his tender-hearted father break down. Crowder did an insane amount of research on the area, the effect of the War on Drugs and the impact on the lives of young people (you can read more about it in our interview with her). This is a coming-of-age story that will make you think of the choices that define you, and the challenges that have shaped you, and I couldn't recommend it more. — Alyssa Duspiva
A year prior to meeting Tristan—her Dom, her love, and later, her professor— Isabelle was trapped in an abusive relationship. After summoning all of her inner strength, Isabelle pushed her abuser from her life ... only to be forcibly taken by him mere days later. Fortunate to have survived the dangerous ordeal, Isabelle focuses on rebuilding her life and working towards a new goal: a business degree from the prestigious Edison University. But first she has to reclaim her confidence ... and her ability to trust.
Domestic abuse is not a sexy topic, but it's an important one that demands our attention. Shelly Bell does an excellent job of portraying a woman who may have been a victim, but will never be victimized. In addition to intensive therapy sessions, Isabelle attends BDSM workshops in order to work through her fear of bondage (she was restrained during her kidnapping) and regain her ability to cede control. That's where Tristan comes into play. Love, support and respect mingle with hard limits and safe words to forge a beautiful relationship that soothes both of their aching souls. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Isabelle take control of her life, claim her love and banish the darkness that is her ex-boyfriend. — Kristin Stec
Things are being shaken up in the Psy-Changeling universe! The first book in the new Psy-Changeling Trinity series is addicting, and readers will love Valentin the "gentleman bear" and his crazy, lovable clan of bear shifters. His chemistry with Silver Mercant is off the charts, even when she's bound to the Psy practice of Silence. After an attempt on her life, Silver hides out with the bears for her safety, and the fish-out-of-water trope has never been so much fun. This is a must-read for fans, and for soon-to-be-fans, this is a great time to jump in. — Emily Walton
When I first started Charles's Sins of the Cities series, I thought it couldn't get better than An Unseen Attraction — boy, was I wrong! An Unnatural Vice takes place about the same time as the first book, showing what Nathaniel Roy is up to between trying to solve an attempted murder: namely, trying to expose the lies of supposed psychic Justin Lazarus. The tension between Nathaniel and Justin is palpable, their rivalry high as Nathaniel attempts to learn his secrets and Justin continues to thwart him. That tension leads to one of the best enemies-to-lovers romance I've read in a while, their animosity leading to a playful and competitive relationship. Tied in with the overarching plot of the Sins of the Cities books along with its own story, An Unnatural Vice hits every target of an amazing historical romance. — Alyssa Duspiva
Congratulations to the winner and all of the nominees! You can find all of our Seal of Excellence winners here.
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