My pick for July's book of the month is Ithaka Rising by LJ Cohen, which blew away the competition so completely my bookcase should have blast marks all over it. This is the second novel in LJ's Halcyone Space series, and it was, in a word, brilliant.
Just as Derelict, the first book in the series, made my whole summer last year, Ithaka Rising was worth the wait. Usually I can point out one or two reasons why a novel wows me, too, but this one was just cover to cover awesome. Expect great characters, who actually grow and change and have to deal with new problems; a nail-biter of a plot, that manages to be both twisting and absorbing at the same time, settings that expand to take us to new and scary-thrilling places in this universe, and the kind of SF adventure you probably haven't read in a very, very long time (if at all.) I still miss the SF I used to read when I was younger, those stories that grabbed you and held onto you for the full ride, and this is that kind of story.
It's not for everyone, of course. If you're a homophobe or a racist this is definitely not the book for you (because there are gay characters in it. And characters who are not white. Several characters who are not white, in fact. I know, shocking.) Likewise those of you who don't think women writers can write great SF; this is absolutely not a novel that's going to make you feel real comfortable in your little pinhead zone. I also think it's not a read for the cynics, the nihilists and the self-appointed SF police out there. But: if you love to be swept off by a story, and you want to become emotionally invested in its characters, and you enjoy exploring a fully-developed future universe filled with intrigue, danger and surprises, this should be your next new book purchase.
Here's where you can get a copy:
Barnes & Noble