Tara Fowler
September 08, 2012 AT 01:00 PM EDT

It’s hard work to find a good book. A book requires more commitment than either a movie or TV show and picking out the right one takes time. Well, I’d like to do my best to ease that burden. In this new weekly column, I’ll recommend a reading pick based on popular movies, TV shows, or best-selling books. Some of the recommendations will be old, some new, and some in between, but all will be good. I promise!

The choice: Moonshine by Alaya Dawn Johnson

You’ll like this if: You’re a fan of True Blood.

What it’s about: First published in 2010, Moonshine follows Zephyr Hollis, a social activist and part-time speakeasy singer living in New York City in the 1920s. Sounds straightforward, right? But this isn’t your regular ol’ 1920s because Zephyr lives in a past where vampires are out of the coffin and part of everyday (or rather every night) life. When she’s not fighting for vampire rights, Zephyr works as a teacher for the disadvantaged inhabitants of the Lower East Side. Unsurprisingly, being a champion for social justice doesn’t pay well, and when the mysterious Amir offers to pay her to help him locate a vampire mobster, she is unable to turn him down. (The proverbial offer she can’t refuse — that’s right, Moonshine‘s also for fans of The Godfather.)

Why you should read it: Okay, I can hear the screeching of the brakes in your heads, naysayers, but hear me out. Moonshine strays pretty far from the traditional vampire story. There’s no brooding vampire love interest and no love triangle. In fact, vampires are more a part of the book’s backdrop — they supplement the story, but they don’t suck the life out of it (bad pun, I know). Moreover, they’re not the all-powerful creatures you often find in modern supernatural fiction. In Moonshine, vampires are vulnerable. They need people, human people, to fight for their rights. And Zephyr, the singing vampire suffragette, is at the heart of this fight. If you’re looking for a badass protagonist, she’s the girl for you. With the right blend of humor, romance, and a Roaring ’20s setting, Moonshine is a great read. And when you’re done, give the sequel Wicked City a try.

Check out the first chapter at Johnson’s website and let me know what you think in the comments below. If you have any of your own recommendations or a book you’d like me to consider, add those as well. Happy reading!


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