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Each month, Amazon’s editors do fellow bookworms the favor of highlighting the latest and greatest reads. And March’s list is especially packed with diverse, dynamic titles.
Delve into the highly anticipated fictional story of an indie rocker who accompanies her estranged father on an Alaskan cruise, or jump into a thriller “as propulsive as a bullet train yet as airy as a soufflé.” Disappear into an absorbing memoir that’s an “absorbing exercise in empathy” and makes readers nostalgic for New York childhoods they didn’t have. Read the true, unsent letters to patients that an ER doctor penned to cope with the pandemic, capturing not just a moment in time, but “the health of America.”
Learn more about how Insider Reviews reviews and researches books.
Descriptions are provided by Amazon and lightly edited for clarity.
“The Unsinkable Greta James”, from $12.99, available on Amazon and Bookshop
A pitch-perfect novel of loss, love, and connection that has all the feels — think a mix of “Where’d You Go Bernadette” and “Daisy Jones & The Six.” Greta James is an indie rock star, but after the death of her mother and a terrible performance on stage, she retreats from her very public life and agrees to join her estranged father on an Alaskan cruise. Will the week-long vacation give Greta a shot at making things right with her dad, with her career, and maybe even with her love life?
Greta is a character you root for: she’s relatable, flawed, hurting, and misses her mom so much that it’s impossible not to cry on her behalf. “The Unsinkable Greta James” is not only entertaining but heart expanding, and seems destined for book clubs and the big screen. — Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
“All My Rage”, from $10.99, available on Amazon and Bookshop
Dreams take a toll on the dreamer, and so it is for Misbah, Toufiq, and their teenage son Salahudin. “All My Rage” flips between past and present, beginning with a young Pakistani couple, looking for a fresh start, who move to a small California town and buy a hotel.
Fast forward to present day, and their son, Sal, is struggling to hold it all together. The hotel which once held so much promise is now an albatross around their necks, and his parents’ lives are unraveling at the seams. Tahir’s characters are pulled this way and that, caught up in relationships that burn white-hot with the intensity of love and anger, but still have room for forgiveness and redemption. This brilliant novel is raw, real, and unstoppable. — Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor
“Never Simple: A Memoir”, from $13.99, available on Amazon and Bookshop
“Never Simple” is a puzzle box of a book. There are questions to be answered: who was Liz Scheier’s mother, really, and what became of her father? How will this little girl possibly grow up and survive her mother’s abuse to be a funny, talented, healthy adult with children and a husband of her own? Scheier has a talent for setting the stage and placing you alongside her while she lays out the important and often gut-wrenching details of her life. Things happen in doorways and parks and other people’s apartments, and you can see — and feel — it all happening even if your upbringing was far less dramatic and painful.
I understood how good a writer Liz Scheier was as soon as I realized she was making me feel nostalgic for the New York of my childhood — even though I didn’t grow up in New York. I really loved this book, and it deserves a big audience. It’s an absorbing exercise in empathy. And it’s a great read. — Chris Schluep, Amazon Books Editor
“Disorientation”, from $14.99, available on Amazon and Bookshop
Giddy with satire and the hilarious consequences of deadline-dodging, Chou’s uproarious boondoggle of a campus whodunit packs a punch. It’s wry and sardonic, a story that takes unexpected twists and turns and, in so doing, reveals a world of academia and racism that is far more biting than it may initially seem. Ingrid Yang is a Ph.D. student who procrastinates writing her dissertation — so much so that she becomes convinced that the dead Chinese poet she’s writing about is actually alive, and someone else entirely.
The next thing you know, Yang and her friend have transformed into amateur sleuths: going on stake-outs, breaking into houses, the works. As Yang stumbles upon the truth, which may be far more groundbreaking and terrifying than she could have ever imagined, Chou also slyly illuminates the countless microaggressions Yang incurs as a young, smart, beautiful Asian American woman. Full of quirky comedy and laser-sharp observations, “Disorientation” will make you laugh hard and make your brain whirr with questions about cultural identity and the ugly truth of tokenism and racism. — Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
“The Chase”, from $14.99, available on Amazon and Bookshop
It says a lot about Candice Fox’s flair for high octane plots that her latest, “The Chase,” begins with a prison break and goes on from there to get truly exciting. With 600 inmates busy scattering across Nevada, a man-hunt is quickly underway. Death Row supervisor Celine Osbourne — who knows just how terrifying these men are — is laser-focused on catching one of her charges: mass murderer John Kradle. Trinity Parker, meanwhile, is a tough-as-nails US Marshal who may be more lethal than the men she’s hunting down.
Fox’s storyline becomes the most agonizingly suspenseful relay race ever, as a deadly agenda emerges, and the narrative baton passes from Celine, to Kradle, to Trinity (and others), and the clock ticks down to mayhem. Impressively, Fox takes all of these moving parts and whips them up into a plot as propulsive as a bullet train yet as airy as a soufflé. — Vannessa Cronin, Amazon Editor
“In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss”, from $13.99, available on Amazon and Bookshop
How far would you go for someone you love? Would you help them die? Maybe that sounds a bit melodramatic, and this memoir could have easily been that. I mean, it’s about a husband being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and asking his adoring wife to help him end his life on his own terms rather than be ravaged by this unrelenting disease.
But the wife in question happens to be lauded author Amy Bloom, and she has pulled off the impossible: Conveying the profound pain of this emotionally and practically complex situation in a way that’s palatable, and in a way that doesn’t raise the hackles of those who would make a different choice than they did. With candor and compassion, “In Love” will challenge the way you think about this controversial and heart-wrenching dilemma that many have no choice but to confront. — Erin Kodicek, Amazon Editor
“The Atlas Six”, from $7.99, available on Amazon and Bookshop
Only once every 10 years, six exceptional magicians are recruited for the secret Alexandrian Society and this year’s candidates possess some of the most powerful magical specialties known to exist. Entrance into the Society promises all they ever dreamed of, and more, but of the six, only five will go on, and in order to do so a great sacrifice must be made. The only question is who has the will, the desire, and the skill to make it, because once bonds are formed, reality is blurred, and moral high ground starts to erode.
Magic saturates the pages of “The Atlas Six” and Blake’s world rises above her words to engulf you, as you furiously read page after page wanting — and not wanting — to see how this electrifying whirlwind of a fantasy will end. — Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor
“The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago ER”, from $13.99, available on Amazon and Bookshop
This is an up-close and personal story of the terror, the horror, and the focus demanded of doctors during the pandemic. As an ER doctor, Thomas Fisher only spends a few minutes with each patient he sees. As a way to cope with the intensity and brevity of these experiences, he begins to craft letters to his patients — assuaging their concerns, and sharing more about himself and the inequity of the healthcare system, which he knows intimately as a Black man.
Of course, he doesn’t send these letters, but they become the bedrock of this incredibly moving and remarkable portrait of a lifesaver. I am changed by Fisher’s recollections — of the fear that dominated the early days of the pandemic and the way healthcare is not set up to save everyone. Fisher does more than capture a moment in time, he captures the health of America. — Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
“Mecca”, from $14.99, available on Amazon and Bookshop
There’s something unexpected and quietly sinister about Susan Straight’s new novel, which not only makes it impossible to put down but also gives it the feel of a fever dream. Set in the canyons and highways of California, “Mecca” follows the intertwined lives of Californians who navigate wildfires, racism, ICE raids, death, love, and “la corona.”
There’s so much to think about when reading this book and Straight does a magnificent job building out her characters in a way that engenders deep and expansive empathy and wry, guttural laughter. Conjuring the vibes of Joan Didion, Denis Johnson, and Rachel Kushner, “Mecca” is a rush of fresh air from the Santa Ana winds and a love letter to all the people that call California home. — Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
“The Kaiju Preservation Society”, from $13.99, available on Amazon and Bookshop
An alternate world of giant monsters where the heroes have to watch Godzilla to get in? Yes, please. In “The Kaiju Preservation Society,” John Scalzi returns to modern times after “The Last Emperox“, the capper of his far-future set — and also excellent!— Interdependency series. The novel kicks off in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic but doesn’t dwell long on the general devastation of 2020 before escaping into Kaiju Earth, where terrifying beasts and pop culture comedy are both in ready supply.
Jamie Gray is the perfect reader insert, a sci-fi fan (they wrote their master’s thesis on “Frankenstein” and the “Murderbot Diaries“) who, after being fired from a food delivery company, gets swept up in the effort to protect the Kaiju. Jamie’s delight in this new world and tendency to ask the same questions readers will have— just how does a creature that large exist in real life? — make for a compelling protagonist who is easy to root for. I flew through the pages of this one like a winged Kaiju searching for a human-sized snack. — Marcus Mann, Managing Editor
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