The best books where science gets twisted into stories that thrill the reader’s soul

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the reasons I started writing is because I wanted to create stories where I got to learn. I’m a scientist by trade—a molecular biologist and genetic engineer. All those years of concentrated schooling into a very narrow niche left little time to explore other corners of education—history, archeology, anthropology, art… Creating and writing stories allows me to build thrilling fiction using my scientific background and weaving in whatever feeds my soul and unlocks my imagination. I have never had so much fun and felt so fulfilled, and I highly recommend it.


I wrote...

Signs: A De-Extinct Zoo Mystery

By Carol Potenza,

Book cover of Signs: A De-Extinct Zoo Mystery

What is my book about?

Science never stops questioning, never stops asking why and what if? So when I found out that the scientists behind the Mammoth Project had the tools to genetically engineer a mammoth, my what-ifs exploded. That led to my series of novellas mixing genetically engineered necrofauna (great word) with mystery fiction and a protagonist who has a secret she doesn’t know about until it’s peeled away during a series of murders she’s tasked to solve.

Signs is the second book of the De-Extinct Zoo series with Gigantopithecus blacki as its focus megafauna—and the apes are the only witnesses to murder.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Relic

Carol Potenza Why did I love this book?

Relic was the story that compelled and inspired me to write my mysteries and thrillers because I wanted to write like this—books with intricate intelligent plots, smart memorable characters, and suspense that pulls nerves to the breaking point. I loved that real science twisted to science fiction drives the story.

The premise is simple. The DNA humans consume in food doesn’t change our genomes—we just digest it. But what if the DNA of something we ate integrated into our chromosomes and changed our genotype?

What if it turned humans into monsters who kill to survive? And what if that genetically altered monster lurked deep in the bowels of the New York Museum of Natural History stalking those who would stop it? Delicious!

By Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Relic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Museum of Natural History is built over a subterranean labyrinth of neglected specimen vaults, unmapped drainage tunnels and long-forgotten catacombs.

And there's something down there.

When the mutilated bodies of two young boys are discovered deep within the museum's bowels, Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta of the NYPD fears a homicidal maniac may be at large. FBI agent Aloysius X.L. Pendergast believes they may be facing something much worse.

As the death toll mounts, and with the opening of the museum's new 'Superstition' exhibition just days away, the two men must work together to prevent a massacre.

'Sit back,…


Book cover of In the Heart of the Fire

Carol Potenza Why did I love this book?

A great book’s superpower is a story that sticks with the reader for a long time, as the Nameless collection did with me.

Dean Koontz is a master of creating deep anguish in his characters that propel their actions. Mix this emotion with science involving the brain and selective memory and you get the main character, Nameless, who doesn’t know who he is or remember his history.

Why? He willingly participates in targeted assassinations to eradicate evil from this world. Why? The quest for answers keeps the pages turning, allowing tantalizing glimpses of Nameless’s past life. When the answers are finally bared by a devastating revelation in the final story, we understand why Nameless chose his fate—because sometimes wish we could do the same.

By Dean Koontz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Heart of the Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bloodthirsty sheriff is terrorizing a small Texas town where justice has been buried with his victims. Until Nameless arrives—a vigilante whose past is a mystery and whose future is written in blood.

Anyone who crosses Sheriff Russell Soakes is dead, missing, or warned. One of them is a single mother trying to protect her children but bracing herself for the worst. Nameless fears the outcome. He’s seen it in his visions. Now it’s time to teach the depraved Soakes a lesson in fear. But in turning predators into prey, will Nameless unearth a few secrets of his own?

From…


Book cover of Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction

Carol Potenza Why did I love this book?

The earth is in an another extinction period, and humans blame ourselves.

So we have the motive (guilt) to de-extinct what were once living organisms, like the passenger pigeon, Tasmanian tigers, and dodo bird. It turns out we also have the means: selective breeding, cellular cloning, CRISPR/Fanzor for specific genetic modifications.

All we needed was opportunity, and we have that now, too, in well-funded labs that can justify spending huge amounts of money on cloning a mammoth. But wiser men than I have raised an important question. What are the risks? This is why Britt Wray’s Rise of the Necrofauna is a must read for anyone planning a future vacation to a de-extinct zoo—like me.

By Britt Wray,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Rise of the Necrofauna as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR by The New Yorker and Science News

What happens when you try to recreate a woolly mammoth-fascinating science, or conservation catastrophe? Jurassic Park meets The Sixth Extinction in Rise of the Necrofauna, a provocative look at de-extinction from acclaimed documentarist and science writer Britt Wray, PhD.

In Rise of the Necrofauna, Wray takes us deep into the minds and labs of some of the world's most progressive thinkers to find out. She introduces us to renowned futurists like Stewart Brand and scientists like George Church, who are harnessing the powers of…


Book cover of Watchers

Carol Potenza Why did I love this book?

I have been a Dean Koontz fan since I picked up Watchers.

It was truly the first book I’d read that integrated science so seamlessly into the story. It also made me wish for a genetically altered Golden Retriever that could communicate with wooden ABC blocks. And the emotions Koontz evoked in the reader for the engineered monster were deep—fear and anger layered with pity and sadness.

This book taught me that sometimes villains do horrible things for good reasons. And sometimes those reasons are completely understandable and relatable.

By Dean Koontz,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Watchers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The No.1 bestselling classic from Dean Koontz, the master of chilling suspense, that will thrill fans of Stephen King and the Odd Thomas series.

They escape from a secret government project: two mutant creatures, both changed utterly from the animals they once were. And no one who encounters them will ever be the same again.

A lonely widower, a ruthless assassin, a beautiful woman, a government agent.

Drawn together in a deadly hunt, all four are inexorably propelled towards a confrontation with an evil beyond human imagining.


Book cover of Jurassic Park

Carol Potenza Why did I love this book?

Remember how irritating the mathematician character was in the Jurassic Park movie?

He’s way worse in this book. And that little girl who gets stuck in the park with Alan Grant? In the book, you want her to get eaten by a dinosaur. But neither of those annoyances diminish the power and prescience of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, because we have seen and experienced these types of “gain of function” projects, some with unexpected results.

One of the most famous quotes in the book is “Scientists are actually preoccupied with accomplishment. So they are focused on whether they can do something. They never stop to ask if they should do something.” Words to live by.

By Michael Crichton,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Jurassic Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Crichton's most compulsive novel' Sunday Telegraph
'Crichton's dinosaurs are genuinely frightening' Chicago Sun-Times
'Breathtaking adventure. . . a book that is as hard to put down as it is to forget' Time Out

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The international bestseller that inspired the Jurassic Park film franchise.

On a remote jungle island, genetic engineers have created a dinosaur game park.

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now one of mankind's most thrilling fantasies has come true and the first dinosaurs that the Earth has seen in the time of man emerge.

But, as always, there is a…


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Rip Current

By Sharon Ward,

Book cover of Rip Current

Sharon Ward Author Of In Deep

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the underwater world, so as an adult, I learned to scuba dive. I took to it like a fish to water, and my husband and I spent the next several years traveling to tropical islands to experience the local dive conditions whenever possible. I loved learning how every island had a different culture and a different undersea environment. Since I love tropical islands, scuba diving, mysteries, and adventure stories, these books really hit my sweet spot.

Sharon's book list on mysteries set on a tropical island

What is my book about?

Unsettled weather has caused life-threatening rip currents to sprout up seemingly at random in the usually tranquil sea around Grand Cayman. Despite posted warnings to stay out of the surf, several women lose their life when caught in the turbulent waters. Fin attempts some dangerous rescues, and nearly loses her own life in the process.

Meanwhile, Fin and the team at RIO are struggling to find more sources of funding for the Institute’s important research, and danger arises from an unexpected source while Fin and hot movie star Rafe Cummings are filming an upcoming documentary. When a young internet influencer…

Rip Current

By Sharon Ward,

What is this book about?

Unsettled weather has caused life-threatening rip currents to sprout up seemingly at random in the usually tranquil sea around Grand Cayman. Despite posted warnings to stay out of the surf, several women lose their life when caught in the turbulent waters. Fin attempts some dangerous rescues, and nearly loses her own life in the process.
Meanwhile, Fin and the team at RIO are struggling to find more sources of funding for the Institute’s important research, and danger arises from an unexpected source while Fin and hot movie star Rafe Cummings are filming an upcoming documentary.
Soon after a young internet…


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