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Every year thousands and thousands of books are published. As much as I want to, I can’t read them all!
Here are just a few of the books I was most excited about in 2019 and 2020!
Author: Christina Baker Kline
Release Date: August 25, 2020
Seduced by her employer’s son, Evangeline, a naïve young governess in early nineteenth-century London, is discharged when her pregnancy is discovered and sent to the notorious Newgate Prison. After months in the fetid, overcrowded jail, she learns she is sentenced to “the land beyond the seas,” Van Diemen’s Land, a penal colony in Australia. Though uncertain of what awaits, Evangeline knows one thing: the child she carries will be born on the months-long voyage to this distant land.
During the journey on a repurposed slave ship, the Medea, Evangeline strikes up a friendship with Hazel, a girl little older than her former pupils who was sentenced to seven years transport for stealing a silver spoon. Canny where Evangeline is guileless, Hazel—a skilled midwife and herbalist—is soon offering home remedies to both prisoners and sailors in return for a variety of favors.
Though Australia has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 50,000 years, the British government in the 1840s considers its fledgling colony uninhabited and unsettled, and views the natives as an unpleasant nuisance. By the time the Medea arrives, many of them have been forcibly relocated, their land seized by white colonists. One of these relocated people is Mathinna, the orphaned daughter of the Chief of the Lowreenne tribe, who has been adopted by the new governor of Van Diemen’s Land.
The Night Swim
Author: Megan Goldin
Release Date: August 04, 2020
Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name—and the last hope for people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.
The new season of Rachel’s podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season 3 a success, Rachel throws herself into her investigation—but the mysterious letters keep coming. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insist she was murdered—and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody in town wants to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases—and a revelation that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.
Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?
The Last of the Moon Girls
Author: Barbara Davis
Release Date: August 01, 2020
Lizzy Moon never wanted Moon Girl Farm. Eight years ago, she left the land that nine generations of gifted healers had tended, determined to distance herself from the whispers about her family’s strange legacy. But when her beloved grandmother Althea dies, Lizzy must return and face the tragedy still hanging over the farm’s withered lavender fields: the unsolved murders of two young girls, and the cruel accusations that followed Althea to her grave.
Lizzy wants nothing more than to sell the farm and return to her life in New York, until she discovers a journal Althea left for her—a Book of Remembrances meant to help Lizzy embrace her own special gifts. When she reconnects with Andrew Greyson, one of the few in town who believed in Althea’s innocence, she resolves to clear her grandmother’s name.
But to do so, she’ll have to decide if she can accept her legacy and whether to follow in the footsteps of all the Moon women who came before her.
Author: Kathleen Jennings
Release Date: July 28, 2020
In a small Western Queensland town, a reserved young woman receives a note from one of her vanished brothers―a note that makes her question memories of their disappearance and her father’s departure.
A beguiling story that proves that gothic delights and uncanny family horror can live―and even thrive―under a burning sun, Flyaway introduces readers to Bettina Scott, whose search for the truth throws her into tales of eerie dogs, vanished schools, cursed monsters, and enchanted bottles. Flyaway enchants you with the sly, beautiful darkness of Karen Russell and a world utterly its own.
Author: David Mitchell
Release Date: July 14, 2020
Utopia Avenue is the strangest British band you’ve never heard of. Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967, and fronted by folk singer Elf Holloway, blues bassist Dean Moss and guitar virtuoso Jasper de Zoet, Utopia Avenue embarked on a meteoric journey from the seedy clubs of Soho, a TV debut on Top of the Pops, the cusp of chart success, glory in Amsterdam, prison in Rome, and a fateful American sojourn in the Chelsea Hotel, Laurel Canyon, and San Francisco during the autumn of ’68.
David Mitchell’s kaleidoscopic novel tells the unexpurgated story of Utopia Avenue’s turbulent life and times; of fame’s Faustian pact and stardom’s wobbly ladder; of the families we choose and the ones we don’t; of voices in the head, and the truths and lies they whisper; of music, madness, and idealism. Can we really change the world, or does the world change us?
The Storyteller’s Daughter
Author: Victoria McCombs
Release Date: July 07, 2020
For as long as anyone can remember, every child in Westfallen has been born with a Gift, and these Gifts defined them.
Then Cosette is born, Giftless.
An attempt to hide her misfortune brings her before the King, who entraps her to use her Gift as a pawn in his war.
Caught in a lie, Cosette desperately searches for a power strong enough to free her. Intrigued by whispers of an old king and a dark curse, she calls upon Rumpelstiltskin and finds him trapped in a magic deeper than she bargained for.
Seasons of the Storm
Author: Elle Cosimano
Release Date: June 23, 2020
One cold, crisp night, Jack Sommers was faced with a choice—live forever according to the ancient, magical rules of Gaia, or die.
Jack chose to live, and in exchange, he became a Winter—an immortal physical embodiment of the season on Earth. Every year, he must hunt the Season who comes before him. Summer kills Spring. Autumn kills Summer. Winter kills Autumn. And Spring kills Winter.
Jack and Fleur, a Winter and a Spring, fall for each other against all odds. To be together, they’ll have to escape the cycle that’s been forcing them apart. But their creator won’t let them go without a fight.
Author: Jean Kyoung Frazier
Release Date: June 09, 2020
Eighteen years old, pregnant, and working as a pizza delivery girl in suburban Los Angeles, our charmingly dysfunctional heroine is deeply lost and in complete denial about it all. She’s grieving the death of her father (whom she has more in common with than she’d like to admit), avoiding her supportive mom and loving boyfriend, and flagrantly ignoring her future.
Her world is further upended when she becomes obsessed with Jenny, a stay-at-home mother new to the neighborhood, who comes to depend on weekly deliveries of pickled-covered pizzas for her son’s happiness. As one woman looks toward motherhood and the other toward middle age, the relationship between the two begins to blur in strange, complicated, and ultimately heartbreaking ways.
The Guest List
Author: Lucy Foley
Release Date: June 02, 2020
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.
And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?
THE BOOK OF LONGINGS
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Release Date: April 21, 2020
Raised in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee, Ana is rebellious and ambitious, with a brilliant mind and a daring spirit. She engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes narratives about neglected and silenced women. Ana is expected to marry an older widower, a prospect that horrifies her. An encounter with eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything.
Their marriage evolves with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, and their mother, Mary. Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to Rome’s occupation of Israel, partially led by her brother, Judas. She is sustained by her fearless aunt Yaltha, who harbors a compelling secret. When Ana commits a brazen act that puts her in peril, she flees to Alexandria, where startling revelations and greater dangers unfold, and she finds refuge in unexpected surroundings. Ana determines her fate during a stunning convergence of events considered among the most impactful in human history.
KIM JIYOUNG, BORN 1982
Author: Cho Nam-Joo
Release Date: April 14, 2020
In a small, tidy apartment on the outskirts of the frenzied metropolis of Seoul lives Kim Jiyoung. A thirtysomething-year-old “millennial everywoman,” she has recently left her white-collar desk job—in order to care for her newborn daughter full-time—as so many Korean women are expected to do. But she quickly begins to exhibit strange symptoms that alarm her husband, parents, and in-laws: Jiyoung impersonates the voices of other women—alive and even dead, both known and unknown to her. As she plunges deeper into this psychosis, her discomfited husband sends her to a male psychiatrist.
Author: Veronica Roth
Release Date: April 07, 2020
Fifteen years ago, five ordinary teenagers were singled out by a prophecy to take down an impossibly powerful entity wreaking havoc across North America. After the Dark One fell, the world went back to normal . . . for everyone but them.
On the tenth anniversary of the Dark One’s defeat, something unthinkable happens: one of the Chosen Ones dies. When the others gather for the funeral, they discover the Dark One’s ultimate goal was much bigger than they, the government, or even prophecy could have foretold—bigger than the world itself.
THE GLASS HOTEL
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Release Date: March 27, 2020
Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. On the night she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a hooded figure scrawls a message on the lobby’s glass wall: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis is running an international Ponzi scheme, moving imaginary sums of money through clients’ accounts. When the financial empire collapses, it obliterates countless fortunes and devastates lives. Vincent, who had been posing as Jonathan’s wife, walks away into the night. Years later, a victim of the fraud is hired to investigate a strange occurrence: a woman has seemingly vanished from the deck of a container ship between ports of call.
My Dark Vanessa
Author: Kate Elizabeth Russell
Release Date: March 10, 2020
2000. 15-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.
2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past.
House of Earth and Blood
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: March 03, 2020
Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life-working hard all day and partying all night-until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.
Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose-to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.
As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion-one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.
Author: April Davila
Release Date: February 25, 2020
When Tallulah Jones was thirteen, her grandmother plucked her from the dank Oakland apartment she shared with her unreliable mom and brought her to the family ostrich ranch in the Mojave Desert. When Grandma Helen dies under strange circumstances, Tallulah inherits
everything—just days before the birds inexplicably stop laying eggs.
Tallulah must pull her head out of the sand and face the fifty-year legacy of a family in turmoil: the reality of her grandmother’s death, her mother’s alcoholism, her uncle’s covetous anger, and the 142 ostriches whose lives are in her hands.
THE SUN DOWN MOTEL
Author: Simone St. James
Release Date: February 18, 2020
Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.
Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.
ALICE BY HEART
Author: Steven Sater
Release Date: February 04, 2020
London, 1940. Fifteen-year-old Alice Spencer and her best friend, Alfred, are forced to take shelter in an underground tube station where Alice turns to their favorite pastime: recalling the book that bonded them, and telling the story that she knows by heart–the story of Alice in Wonderland.
But then the lines between these two worlds begin to blur. Is that a militant Red Cross Nurse demanding that Alice get BACK. TO. HER. BED!, or is it the infamous Queen of Hearts saying…something about her head? Soon, Alice must decide whether to stay in Wonderland forever, or embrace the pain of reality if that’s what it means to grow up.
Author: Jeanine Cummins
Release Date: January 21, 2020
Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.
When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier, the jefe of the newest drug cartel, is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.
As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?
BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Release Date: January 14, 2020
North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher is serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts.
North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts.
What happened to Anna Dale? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?
WE USED TO BE FRIENDS
Author: Amy Spalding
Release Date: January 07, 2020
At the start of their senior year in high school, James and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends.
James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open.
Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce.
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Release Date: December 30, 2019
Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.
But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.
THE KILL CLUB
Author: Wendy Heard
Release Date: December 17, 2019
Jazz will stop at nothing to save her brother.
Their foster mother, Carol, takes a dangerous turn that threatens thirteen-year-old Joaquin’s life. Over and over, child services fails to intervene, and Joaquin is running out of time.
Then Jazz gets a blocked call from someone from an underground network of “helpers.” If Jazz joins them, they’ll take care of Carol for good. All she has to do is kill a stranger.
CHILDREN OF VIRTUE AND VENGEANCE
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Release Date: December 03, 2019
Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha.
Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are.
EIGHT WILL FALL
Author: Sarah Harian
Release Date: November 26, 2019
In a world where magic is illegal, eight criminals led by rebellious Larkin are sent on a mission to rid their realm of an ancient evil lurking beneath the surface.
As the beasts grow in number and they’re picked off one by one, Larkin is forced to confront a terrible truth: They were never meant to return.
THE STARLESS SEA
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Release Date: November 05, 2019
Zachary Ezra Rawlins discovers a mysterious book that leads him to a curious place. It is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead.
There he meets Mirabel and Dorian. Together they travel the magical world where Zachary must discover his purpose—in both the mysterious book and in his own life.
TELL ME EVERYTHING
Author: Amy Hatvany
Release Date: November 05, 2019
Jessica and Jake Snyder love each other, and their life together.
As so often happens in marriage, their romantic life falls casualty to busy schedules and repetitive routine, until they begin exploring a realm neither of them knew existed.
Until Jessica has a tryst that threatens to destroy their world.
Author: Elizabeth Strout
Release Date: October 15, 2019
Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine.
Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire moments of transcendent grace.
THE GRACE YEAR
Author: Kim Liggett
Release Date: October 08, 2019
No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.
In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year.
Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear.
Their greatest threat may very well be each other.
THE DRESSMAKER’S GIFT
Author: Fiona Valpy
Release Date: October 01, 2019
It’s Nazi-occupied Paris in 1940. Mireille, Claire, and Vivienne are three young seamstresses who go about their normal lives as best they can.
But all three are hiding secrets that put them in grave danger.
Two generations later, Claire’s English granddaughter Harriet arrives in Paris, rootless and adrift, desperate to find a connection with her past.
RED AT THE BONE
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Two families from different social classes are joined together by an unexpected pregnancy and the child that it produces.
Moving forward and backward in time, with the power of poetry and the emotional richness of a narrative ten times its length, Jacqueline Woodson’s extraordinary new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of this child.
Author: Jenni Hendriks & Ted Caplan
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Seventeen-year-old Veronica Clarke considers a decision she never imagined she’d have to make: an abortion.
There’s just one catch—the closest place to get one is over nine hundred miles away.
With conservative parents, a less-than-optimal boyfriend, and no car, Veronica turns to the only person who won’t judge her: Bailey Butler, a legendary misfit at Jefferson High—and Veronica’s ex-best friend.
Author: Margaret Atwood
Release Date: September 10, 2019
When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her—freedom, prison or death.
With The Testaments, the wait is over.
Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.
Author: Nell Zink
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Pam, Daniel, and Joe might be the worst punk band on the Lower East Side.
Struggling to scrape together enough cash and musical talent to make it, they are waylaid by surprising arrivals—a daughter for Pam and Daniel, a solo hit single for Joe.
As the ‘90s wane, the three friends share in one another’s successes, working together to elevate Joe’s superstardom and raise baby Flora.
On September 11, 2001, the city’s unfathomable devastation coincides with a shattering personal loss for the trio.
And when the country faces an astonishing new threat, Flora’s family will have no choice but to look to the past—both to examine wounds that have never healed, and to rediscover strengths they have long forgotten.
DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD
Author: Olga Tokarczuk
Release Date: August 13, 2019
In a remote Polish village, Janina devotes the dark winter days to studying astrology, translating the poetry of William Blake, and taking care of the summer homes of wealthy Warsaw residents.
Her reputation as a crank and a recluse is amplified by her not-so-secret preference for the company of animals over humans.
Then a neighbor, Big Foot, turns up dead. Soon other bodies are discovered, in increasingly strange circumstances.
As suspicions mount, Janina inserts herself into the investigation, certain that she knows whodunit. If only anyone would pay her mind . . .
ZIGGY, STARDUST AND ME
Author: James Brandon
Release Date: August 06, 2019
The year is 1973 and sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins is completely alone.
To cope, Jonathan escapes to the safe haven of his imagination, where his hero David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and dead relatives, including his mother, guide him through the rough terrain of his life.
Then, Web stumbles into his life. Web is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.
THE NICKEL BOYS
Author: Colson Whitehead
Release Date: July 16, 2019
Elwood Curtis is about to enroll in the local black college when he’s sentenced to a juvenile reformatory center.
The Nickel Academy mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.”
In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.”
A PRAYER FOR TRAVELERS
Author: Ruchika Tomar
Release Date: July 09, 2019
Cale Lambert was raised by her grandfather in a loving, if codependent, household, but as soon as she’s left high school his health begins an agonizing decline.
Set adrift for the first time, Cale starts waitressing at the local diner, where she reconnects with Penélope Reyes, a charismatic former classmate running mysterious side-hustles to fund her dreams.
When Penny vanishes without a trace, Cale must set off on a dangerous quest across the desert to find her friend, and discover herself.
WE CAME HERE TO FORGET
Author: Andrea Dunlop
Release Date: July 02, 2019
Katie Cleary wanted to be the best skier in the world. As the upward trajectory of Katie’s elite skiing career nears its zenith, a terrifying truth about her sister becomes impossible to ignore.
With her life shattered and nothing left to lose, Katie flees the snowy mountainsides of home for Buenos Aires. There, she reinvents herself as Liz Sullivan, but can she really outrun her demons?
An Incomplete List
There are so many more books that were published this year. Let me know what ones you’re most excited about in the comments!
Looking for more? Check out the Analysis of Modern Fiction Books used as examples across Herded Words
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