Chances are, you’ve read it, read about it, or heard friends talking about this extraordinary story. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has been hailed by critics and embraced by readers, including RIFers! In addition to spending fifty-five weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has been selected for over 60 Best of the Year lists and has already won several awards. Soon to be made into an HBO movie by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball. Not to be missed.

When I began to write a book about these four men and the revolution in science they helped bring about, I saw it as a story of science and ideas. Soon, however, it became a story of friendship. These men were such fascinating intellects. Each was brilliant in more than one field – Babbage the inventor of the first computer, Herschel a great astronomer who also coinvented photography, and Jones an economist of note who influenced Karl Marx – and together they utterly transformed science. Yet they were also passionate, loving men, whose relationships with one another (as well as with the women in their lives) were intense. This was a true fellowship of minds and hearts, one which I still find inspiring.

When it comes to books, everyone has a hot-button issue for which they have no patience. For some people it’s books about animals. For other people it’s stories narrated by children. For me, it’s books with suspense (and suspense can mean a lot of things—often it’s emotional tension). Only, it’s not that I don’t read them, it’s that I read ahead, a behavior which, I know, makes people burn with disbelief and rage.

A few weeks ago, we asked RIFers to send in video reviews of their favorite Jean M. Auel book, and we were so excited when the videos started coming in! We’re thrilled that Jean M. Auel and her publisher have made advance copies of the highly anticipated sixth book in Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children® series available for the Read It Forward community. Before you enter for a chance to win a copy of The Land of Painted Caves, take a few minutes to watch our RIFer video book reviews. They’re personal and heartfelt and fun – and if you’re a fan of the Earth’s Children® series, you’ll love hearing other readers talk about how much Jean M. Auel’s books mean to them.

My third book, Ever By My Side, germinated from a desire to recognize and celebrate some of the unsung mentors of my life, both on two legs and on four. I’m talking about family – the one I grew up in and the one I have created – and all those animals along the way that I came to think of as my own pets. Ever By My Side is my attempt to share those moments in a lifetime in which the actions of a human or an animal changed my perspective and left me with a lesson I would never forget. In sharing their legacy, I’m really saying “thank you” for all the opportunities that have shaped my life.

I didn’t set out to create a world-class, kick-ass heroine, it sort of just happened. And it wasn’t until feedback started arriving from test readers that I even clued in to how strong – and perhaps unusual – Vanessa Michael Munroe is, or why it was that she is set to take her place within a small constellation of remarkable female characters. With the reviews have come the comparisons: Jason Bourne, Lara Croft, Lisbeth Salander, and Sidney Bristow.