100 books like Our Lady of the Islands

By Shannon Page, Jay Lake,

Here are 100 books that Our Lady of the Islands fans have personally recommended if you like Our Lady of the Islands. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Blade Itself

Ashton Macaulay Author Of Whiteout: A Nick Ventner Adventure

From my list on heroes you love to hate.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write about flawed characters as a reflex. I’m more interested in exploring the journey of an alcoholic monster hunter with literal and figurative demons than a white knight. Throughout my life, I’ve seen the effects of substance abuse up close, and while difficult, it helped me find the humanity in flaws. I choose to write about those flaws with a humorous bend, because life is far too long to go through without jokes. As a result, I gravitate towards pithy antiheroes and dark comedy. To feel a character’s pain is human, to laugh in the midst of their darkest moments is divine.

Ashton's book list on heroes you love to hate

Ashton Macaulay Why did Ashton love this book?

Here is yet another book where at first it seems as though there are no heroes.

Abercrombie writes a masterful world filled with magic, politics, swordfights, and bleak attitudes. One of the main POV characters is a torturer—I mean a full-on break your toes and laugh about it torturer—but even still, I found myself wanting more of his story. He’s certainly not a hero, but he was at one point, and that’s even more intriguing.

The characters drive this fantasy series, but the world is also a gorgeous setting that Abercrombie clearly spent many long nights thinking through. Every detail feels like it matters, and throughout this trilogy, the smallest specks of plot come back to matter.

On top of it all, I loved the audiobook narrator and his particular performances for each character brought the world to life.

By Joe Abercrombie,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Blade Itself as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire, is trapped in a twisted and broken body - not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers.

Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain, shallow, selfish and self-obsessed, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men.

And Logen Ninefingers, an infamous warrior…

Book cover of The Traitor Baru Cormorant

Hadeer Elsbai Author Of The Daughters of Izdihar

From my list on epic fantasies with "unlikable" female characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, many of the female characters in the media I engaged with were thin stereotypes (and some still are). Slowly, culture shifted towards the “strong female character, which quickly became a stereotype of its own. As culture shifts again to more nuanced female characters, many of them are slapped with the label of “unlikeable.” The label usually means that the character isn’t a tired stereotype and is complex, multifaceted, and interesting. Also, nearly all the time, the same traits admired in a male character are despised in a female character (think of Alicent Hightower, whose moral complexity would certainly be celebrated in a man). 

Hadeer's book list on epic fantasies with "unlikable" female characters

Hadeer Elsbai Why did Hadeer love this book?

It's difficult to discuss what might make Baru unlikable without delving into spoilers, but that's fine because you must see this book through to appreciate it fully.

Baru, an accountant, finds herself caught in the jaws of empire when her homeland is colonized and one of her fathers is killed. Cold and calculating, Baru desperately claws her way to power in an attempt to fight empire from within, and along the way, must reckon with how much of herself she is willing to sacrifice for her goals. I can’t emphasize how bleak this book is, and part of that comes from watching Baru eat herself alive and be awful to other people.

By Seth Dickinson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Traitor Baru Cormorant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

[Published as The Traitor Baru Cormorant in the US]

Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people - even her soul.

When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her Fathers, Baru vows to hide her hate, join the Empire's civil service, and claw her way up enough rungs of power to put a stop to the Emperor's influence and set her people free.

As a natural savant, she is sent as an imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn - a post she worries will never get her the…

Book cover of Ancillary Justice

Rachel Mundy Author Of Animal Musicalities: Birds, Beasts, and Evolutionary Listening

From my list on having a voice if you’re not (fully) human.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a doctoral student in historical musicology, I went to Paris to study postwar government budgets for music, but it was really boring. So I started hanging out listening to Parisian songbirds instead. The more I learned about birdsong, the more I realized it raised some really big questions, like why biologists and musicians have completely different standards of evidence. Those questions led me to write my book, which is about what it means to sing if you’re not considered fully human, and most of my work today is about how thinking about animals can help us understand what we value in those who are different.

Rachel's book list on having a voice if you’re not (fully) human

Rachel Mundy Why did Rachel love this book?

A friend gave me this when I was almost done writing my book.

I couldn’t figure out how to justify footnoting a science fiction novel written from the point of view of a one-thousand-year-old spaceship in my own book, which was mostly about theories of musical evolution, but I still wish I had. The spaceship-protagonist can’t tell genders apart and refers to every single character as “she,” and it loves (I mean loves) to sing.

The book tackles surprisingly relevant questions about the way power, gender, and difference circulate through a post-colonial society. It’s completely different from the kind of work I do as an academic, but I think it has something just as important to say about music, human identity, and modern science.

By Ann Leckie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Once, she was the Justice of Toren -- a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

Book cover of A Ragged Magic

Jak Koke Author Of Liferock

From my list on debut sci-fi and fantasy with immersive worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a book doctor and acquiring editor for almost twenty years. I've read hundreds of debut novels, both published and not. I've always been amazed and impressed when an author is able to create a unique and internally consistent universe for their story. I also know—as a writer of ten fantasy and science fiction novels—that building a vivid, alternate world is a very difficult thing to do well. In the best stories the fictional world defines the characters in it, shapes them, and gives their struggle meaning. It's why we relate to their journey and make their success our own. 

Jak's book list on debut sci-fi and fantasy with immersive worlds

Jak Koke Why did Jak love this book?

A Ragged Magic hooked me from the opening when Rhiannon watches while her family is falsely accused and then publicly executed.  Rhiannon herself is captured and undergoes a torturous ritual against her will – one which infuses and amplifies her burgeoning magical aptitude. The magic in The Runebound series is unique and fascinating. This book and its vulnerable main character drew me into her world.

By Lindsey S. Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Ragged Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rhiannon has the Sight - the ability to glimpse the hearts and minds of others. Her visions attract the attention of the powerful kirche, which has condemned all magic outside the holy orders. Thrust into intrigue and danger, Rhiannon must learn to control her growing power, and master ...


"Lindsey S. Johnson debuts strongly with her tale of betrayal, magic and political intrigue. She breaks our hearts open in the first chapter ... with her fast-paced, often poetic prose ... "
--KEN SCHOLES, award-winning author of The Psalms of Isaak

"Lindsey S. Johnson's strong, confident voice ...…

Book cover of Her

Sam Hepburn Author Of The Mistake I Made

From my list on troubled women struggling to hold it together.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up as the child of a damaged, resentful mother certainly took its emotional toll and led me to embark on some pretty destructive early relationships. After a series of painful personal losses I spent time as a single mum, struggling to parent, deal with grief and hold down a job as a TV producer. I tried self-help books, therapy, and nicotine to get by, but it was the support and humour of women who had survived their own ordeals which enabled me to come out the other side. But as a writer and a reader I'm intrigued by troubled women, the traumas that shape them, and the things they do to survive.

Sam's book list on troubled women struggling to hold it together

Sam Hepburn Why did Sam love this book?

In her character Emma, Lane paints a painfully relatable picture of a career woman trapped by the daily grind of motherhood.

Emma takes entry-level anti-depressants to get through the day (been there, done that) and yearns for a spark of intellectual and emotional stimulation to make herself feel validated. This makes her easy prey for glamorous, predatory artist, Nina. I was silently screaming at Emma to back away before it was too late while revelling in Lane’s exquisite descriptions of middle-class suburbia and the casual sleights inflicted by Emma’s thoughtless, selfish husband.

This is domestic noir at its darkest and most devastating best. 

By Harriet Lane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Her as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The ultimate frenemy thriller' [NOW MAGAZINE] The smash critical hit from the publishers that bought you GONE GIRL.

You don't remember her . . . but she remembers you.

Two women; two different worlds.
Emma is a struggling mother who has put everything on hold.
Nina is sophisticated and independent - entirely in control.

When the pair meet, Nina generously draws Emma into her life. But this isn't the first time the women's paths have crossed. Nina remembers Emma and she remembers what Emma did.

But what exactly does Nina want from her?
And how far will she go in…

Book cover of One Italian Summer

Tonya Penrose Author Of Venetian Rhapsody

From my list on featuring a time-travel romance or relationship.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been fascinated with time travel since I was young, and that's been a few moons. When the idea came to write books that play with time and space and cloak them in a romantic comedy, I got in my favorite writing chair to see who showed up with a story. I want to entice readers to take the journey, pondering suppose we could time travel? I think time is malleable, at least in my characters' hands. And they've done an excellent job of keeping me intrigued with their escapades in the past and present. I hope you enjoy the books I chose to recommend as much as I did. 

Tonya's book list on featuring a time-travel romance or relationship

Tonya Penrose Why did Tonya love this book?

I took a bit of a side trip away from romance in selecting, One Italian Summer, though love threads through this story.

The bond between mother and daughter can never be truly severed. From that premise, One Italian Summer throws open the door for a reader to experience a time slip where it's possible to reconnect with someone who has passed.

The author adds a magical twist and manipulates time to where the character, Katy, meets her deceased mom, then a younger woman in Italy. The author gifts the reader with a beautifully told, heartfelt story. 

By Rebecca Serle,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked One Italian Summer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


“[A] magical trip worth taking.” —Associated Press

“Rebecca Serle is a maestro of love in all its forms.” —Gabrielle Zevin, New York Times bestselling author

The New York Times bestselling author of In Five Years returns with a powerful novel about the transformational love between mothers and daughters set on the breathtaking Amalfi Coast.

When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse,…

Book cover of The Friend

MJ Werthman White Author Of An Invitation to the Party

From my list on aging, family, and relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, our public library in the basement of the Methodist church became my second home. However, I considered any visit a bitter disappointment that didn’t result in one or two dog stories in the stack I signed out. Big Red, Old Yeller, Lassie, Lad a Dog, Call of the Wild, White Fang (the occasional wolf was also okay), I loved them all. That experience has continued to affect the adult I’ve become. As I’ve turned to reading, and writing, stories of family, relationships, and, lately, of aging, it’s become clear to me that I’ve never found a story that wasn’t improved by the appearance of a good dog.

MJ's book list on aging, family, and relationships

MJ Werthman White Why did MJ love this book?

In Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend a terrible event (a dear friend and mentor’s suicide) results in the unnamed narrator’s acceptance, out of a sense of responsibility, of an unwanted burden (the heartbroken Great Dane, Apollo−the narrator admitting she is more of a cat person).

I love that by book’s end, that obligation turns out to be a precious gift that assuages both their griefs, serving to connect them to the departed one they both loved. Along the way we, lucky readers, get to eavesdrop on the literary discourse of an agile mind attempting to parse the unparsable as the narrator, a writer herself, addresses both the lost (her mentor) and the found (the dog).

Does the dog die? Don’t ask and I won’t tell.

By Sigrid Nunez,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Friend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog.


'A true delight: I genuinely fear I won't read a better novel this year' FINANCIAL TIMES

'Loved this. A funny, moving examination of love, grief, and the uniqueness of dogs' GRAHAM NORTON


When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has…

Book cover of Rules for Visiting

Genevieve Scott Author Of The Damages

From my list on featuring complex female friendships.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love to read and write about complex characters and particularly the “unlikeable” female character. Many readers connect with my characters because they are flawed—they don’t always think or do what we want them to, or what we think they should do, which is often (frustratingly) the case with the real-life people we love and care about. Real, complex people exist in real, complex relationships, including friendships that don’t always serve them—or that do serve them, but in unconventional or superficially unclear ways. I think that reading about contradictory, inconsistent, and confused characters in relationships helps us to be kinder and more empathetic people—and, quite possibly, better friends. 

Genevieve's book list on featuring complex female friendships

Genevieve Scott Why did Genevieve love this book?

Friendship takes work. These ongoing, necessary maintenance efforts are not the dramatic material of most friendship novels, but this book is all the more admirable for examining its realities.

This book tells the story of May, an independent, not unhappy but somewhat lonely woman on the brink of 40, who hasn’t made much effort with her far-flung friends—or any friends—in years. Presented with a 30-day leave from her job as a gardener at a university, she makes plans to visit four old friends for a few days each.

May is warmly welcomed, though the reunions are often stilted, sometimes awkward, and that’s what makes them honest: you can’t skip the hard parts when you’re learning a new rhythm, even with an old friend. Post-pandemic, this is an especially good book for people trying to find their way back to IRL friendships.

By Jessica Francis Kane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rules for Visiting 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: O Magazine * Good Housekeeping * Real Simple * Vulture * Chicago Tribune
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE SUMMER BY: “The Today Show” * “Good Morning America” * Wall Street Journal * San Francisco Chronicle * Southern Living

Shortlisted for the 2020 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize 
Long-listed for the 2020 Tournament of Books

"Fun, hilarious, and extremely touching."—NPR

A beautifully observed and deeply funny novel of May Attaway, a university gardener who sets out on an odyssey to reconnect with…

Book cover of Wahala

Lizzie Damilola Blackburn Author Of Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?

From my list on that pay homage to south London.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having grown up and gone to school in south London, it will always have a special place in my heart. Call me biased, but I think it’s the best place in the capital. Hands down. I love that it’s home to many Afro-Caribbean families and how its cultural presence can be felt by just walking down any street. From the bustling markets selling plantain, yams, and hard dough bread to the throng of aunties wearing brightly-coloured, patterned lace as they make their way to church. With south London being so atmospheric, I knew I had to include it as a setting in my novel. It will always be my first home.  

Lizzie's book list on that pay homage to south London

Lizzie Damilola Blackburn Why did Lizzie love this book?

I flew through Wahala. Pacy, suspenseful, and binge-able, this novel did not disappoint; it delivered in all areas. Zany, memorable characters – tick. Messy, complicated entanglements – tick. Tantalising, mouth-watering descriptions of Nigerian food served in south London restaurants – tick, tick. (The author kindly included a few recipes at the back of the book!) Wahala reminded me of how enjoyable reading can be when you find a widely-entertaining book that you can kick back and sink your teeth into. An engrossing, riveting read that explores the complexity of adult female friendships, I highly recommend it. 

By Nikki May,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wahala as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fabulous friendship novel with a killer edge for fans of BIG LITTLE LIES and EXPECTATION


'A journey of friendship, revenge and finding your true self. Gripping' STYLIST MAGAZINE

'I would definitely recommend this book to friends. I already have!' BBC RADIO 2 BOOK CLUB

'What makes this slow-burn story of friendship and vengeance refreshing and original is the exhilarating ease with which it portrays a London steeped in the colours and sounds of Lagos' THE TIMES, Best Popular Fiction Books of 2022


Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in…

Book cover of My Rock 'n' Roll Friend

Zoë Howe Author Of Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story

From my list on music biographies written by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a music biographer, and whenever I’ve hinted that the world of rock biography is a bit of a boys’ club, someone will bark names of famous female musicians who’ve written autobiographies at me. All brilliant, but biography is a different animal. It demands sensitivity, trust, intuition, empathy: the writer is presenting the story of another, wooing a publisher, balancing multiple perspectives, being a detective, asking strange questions, penetrating the skin, probing often forgotten places. Female music writers frequently face assumptions ranging from the dismissive to the salacious before being neatly sidelined, but this is changing – slowly.  I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate some rare queens of the art here.

Zoë's book list on music biographies written by women

Zoë Howe Why did Zoë love this book?

Musician and author Thorn places Go-Betweens drummer Lindy Morrison in the spotlight in this warm, often fiery book which, as a sometime drummer, I loved and related to very keenly. It is a love letter, as so many biographies are, albeit as much to a friendship as it is to an artist. But it is also a reflection on how women interact, how women navigate the music industry, how creative, clever women (like female biographers!) are often dismissed, trivialised, undermined, even silenced. Women will get great strength from My Rock ‘n’ Roll Friend, and as for men, well, the world would probably be a better place if more chaps connected with this book.

By Tracey Thorn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Rock 'n' Roll Friend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Entertaining, affectionate and righteous' Guardian
'Says so much about being a woman' Cosey Fanni Tutti


In 1983, backstage at the Lyceum in London, Tracey Thorn and Lindy Morrison first met. Tracey's music career was just beginning, while Lindy, drummer for The Go-Betweens, was ten years her senior. They became confidantes, comrades and best friends, a relationship cemented by gossip and feminism, books and gigs and rock 'n' roll love affairs.

Morrison - a headstrong heroine blazing her way through a male-dominated industry - came to be a kind of mentor to Thorn. They…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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