“Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder and the Battle

for Modern New Orleans”

by Gary Krist. Crown, 2014. $26.

New Orleans history is rich ground for authors. Not only is it lengthy, but there’s things like Storyville, jazz and lurid murders speckled throughout.

Gary Krist delves into a dark alley of New Orleans history and drags out a fantastically engaging story that, even though it’s 100 years old, still rings out today.

He centers his story on the life of Tom Anderson, the mayor of w, but surrounds him with tales about the origin of jazz, politicians, flamboyant prostitutes and, pulling it all along, the story of an ax-wielding serial killer.

The book covers 30 years in a little more than 300 pages, using a story that makes it seem like 30 minutes. A masterful bit of writing.

— Beth Colvin, bcolvin@theadvocate.com

“Better When He’s Bad”

by Jay Crownover. William Morrow, 2014. $13.99.

Shane “Bax” Baxter is a true bad boy who has fought to survive in The Point. After serving five years in prison, Bax gets out and tries to return to his life.

Part of getting his life back is also trying to figure out what happened to his best friend, Race. He comes across Race’s sister, Dovie.

Dovie is plain and innocent, not his type, and while they don’t immediately get along, their chemistry is present. Bax and Dovie are thrown together to find Race.

There is a lot going on in this story, with the mystery of where Race is and what really happened the night Bax was caught. However, with each new piece of the mystery revealed, Bax has to re-evaluate his relationship with his best friend and his growing feelings for Dovie.

A great read for anyone who loves a bad boy.

— Anna Guerra, Denham Springs

“Thursdays With the Crown”

by Jessica Day George. Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2014. $16.99.

The third book in the Castle Glower series picks up right where “Wednesdays in the Tower” left off.

Celie, Rolf, Lilah, Pogue and Lulath along with Rufus the Griffin find themselves in the land where Castle Glower originated. Together the children uncover the origins of the castle from two mysterious and dangerous wizards. But will they figure out how to get back home to heal the castle and save the Griffins too? Recommended for children and adults alike.

— Elizabeth Dequeant, Baton Rouge