by Anne Berkley
Photography by Thiago
Let's get you through this corona-tastrophe with some good reads! Below are stories about conquering the world, pushing through disparity and taking revenge.
1. Given by Nandi Taylor - An #ownvoices YA fantasy romance steeped in West-African and Caribbean traditions with a young black woman at the center who is both a capable warrior, and the object of romantic desire. Unable to watch her father waste away from a mysterious illness, fierce warrior Yenni, of the Yirba tribe, sets off for a distant empire. Determined to find a cure for her father, Yenni travels to Cresh, where she comes face to face with culture shock, prejudice, and a brazen shape-shifting dragon, Weysh. As her gods, the Sha, watch and judge, Yenni only has two options: succeed and save her father, or fail and face exile. To complicate her journey, Weysh believes that Yenni is his Given, his destiny—if only he knew that falling in love isn’t part of her plan.
2. The Opposite of Falling Apart by Micah Good - After losing his leg in a terrible car accident, Jonas Avery can’t wait to start over and go to college. Brennan Davis would like nothing more than to stay home and go to school, so she can keep her anxiety in check. When the two accidentally meet the summer before they move away, they’ll push each other to come to terms with what’s holding them back, even as they’re pulled closer to taking the biggest leap of all—falling in love. The Opposite of Falling Apart has more than 2.1 million reads on Wattpad.
3. Chasing Cleopatra: A Novel of Love, Betrayal and Suspense by Tina Sloan - Actress and former Guiding Light soap star Tina Sloan takes tales of devilish and dangerous romances off of the TV-screen and into the pages of her debut novel. Sloan’s scandalous and suspenseful writing style, mimicked from her film and soap-opera past, makes Chasing Cleopatra a must-have for book clubs as the guilty-pleasure read of the season. Chasing Cleopatra follows Cleopatra “Cleo” Gallier, a gorgeous local TV host in her mid-40s, who is no longer afraid to go after what she wants. This leads to a fast-paced and intimate affair with the much-younger Jake Regan. Jake and his family are staying on the same Hawaiian island for the holidays where Cleo lives, and she soon finds herself entangled with the whole family in order to stay close to Jake—including Jake’s controlling and adoring mother Miranda, his naïve and charming girlfriend Julia who is anxiously awaiting an engagement ring, and the mysterious Tripp, Jake’s father, whose work as a CIA agent could put his whole family in jeopardy.
4. Green Trees by Lisa K. Stephenson - When visited by a young stranger Vernette is asked to recall the most painful time in her life; the time she was convicted for first-degree murder. As the story unfolds, we learn that Vernette Robinson had been a benevolent and humble individual before she murders her sibling. Driven from the jealousy manifesting itself within her from the tender age of eleven in Harlem City, New York where she was born and raised.
But just as if it looks like her life will be overshadowed by her tempest sibling, Vernette learns that her emotions are not her own, rather that of an unseen force of evil. When her younger sister Veronica begins living the life Vernette had envisioned for herself, she grows to envy her. The woman hidden deep inside eclipsed by her free-spirited, pulchritudinous younger sister is prompted to action when she finds herself face to face with a malevolent spirit hidden deep in the depths of her home.
Combating a demonic possession that only she is privy to, Vernette begins coming to grips with it all, discovering at its core something far more insidious than she could have imagined: the generational curse she is forced to endure leads directly back to an ugly secret Vernette would have never wanted to know.
5. Verity by Colleen Hoover - Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish. Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity's notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn't expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity's recollection of the night their family was forever altered. Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen's feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife's words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her. Due to graphic scenes and mature content, this book is recommended for readers 18+.