Barbara’s Picks (Brooks, Moore, Mosse, & Straub, Plus Fiction Newcomers Burns and Serritella), with Historicals, Beach Reads, and Love/Family/Friends: Pop Fiction Previews, May 2020, Pt. 4 | Prepub Alert

Max Brooks revisits Bigfoot, Christopher Moore revisits A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Kate Mosse revisits early France in religious turmoil, and Emma Straub revisits contemporary parent-child tensions. Amy Jo Burns follows her memoir Cinderland with the story of a teenager facing the world from which she’s been locked away, and Francesca Serritella detours from essay writing with mother Lisa Scottoline to encounter the Ghosts of Harvard. Plus historicals (e.g., Alison Weir), beach-based reads (e.g., Barbara Delinksy), and tales of love, family, and friendship (sometimes with suspense). 

Pop Fiction Picks

Brooks, Max. Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre. Del Rey: Ballantine. May 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781984826787. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781984826794. lrg. prnt. cover of Brooks's DevolutionDownloadable. HORROR
Say you’re Max Brooks, and you’ve run across a news item titled “Bigfoot Destroys Town,” which mentions journals detailing a terrible rampage in an upbeat-techie Pacific Northwest town after the eruption of Mt. Rainier shutters it from the world. Say there’s intimations of a two-footed beast storming about, scaring even the wildlife. Say the ranger who found the bloody remains of the town’s citizens is persuaded. Now you know the premise of mega-best-selling World War Z author Brooks’s fact-and-fiction mashup reinventing the Bigfoot legend. 

Burns, Amy Jo. Shiner. Riverhead. May 2020. 272p. ISBN 9780525533641. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780525533665. Downloadable. WOMEN’S
What’s it like for 15-year-old Wren Bird to live in a West Virginia mountaintop cabin with no car and no visitors but her mother’s best friend, even as her father lords it over the family and spends Sunday spouting sermons in an empty gas station and handling snakes? A tough life indeed, and it gets worse when a supposed miracle performed by Wren’s father instead leads to tragedy, compelling her to examine her family history. A debut echoing Burns’s LJ-starred memoir, Cinderland. 

Moore, Christopher. Shakespeare for Squirrels. Morrow. May 2020. 288p. ISBN 9780062434029. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062434067. lrg. prnt. FANTASY/HUMOR
Remember Pocket of Dog Snogging, last seen in outrageously funny, New York Times best-selling author Moore’s The Serpent of Venice? Cast off by his pirate crew, Pocket washes ashore in Greece and is promptly condemned to death for suggesting that a duke’s ordering Hermia to marry Lysander or she will be executed is just plain crazy. Luckily, fairy king Oberon will rescue Pocket—if he can figure out who murdered that troublemaker Puck. Just in time for a midsummer’s night read; with a 200,000-copy first cover of Mosse's The City of Tearsprinting. 

Mosse, Kate. The City of Tears. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. May 2020. 480p. ISBN 9781250202185. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250202192. HISTORICAL
No one does French-set historicals laced with religious upheaval like international best seller Mosse (The Burning Chambers), and she’s at it again, sending Minou Joubert to Paris with her family to attend a royal wedding meant to knit together the Catholic Crown and the Huguenot King of Navarre. But an ancient enemy of the family is in town looking for a relic that will change the world (another Mosse touch), and it’s August 1572—which means the St. Bartholomew Day’s Massacre will soon be upon them all. 

Serritella, Francesca. Ghosts of Harvard. Random. May 2020. 464p. ISBN 9780525510369. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780525510376. Downloadable. LITERARY THRILLER
After a nine-book, New York Times best-selling series of essay collections cowritten with her mother, thriller queen Lisa Scottoline, Serritella offers debut fiction starring Harvard frosh Cadence Archer, trying to understand her brilliant, schizophrenic older brother’s suicide on campus and noting sinister doings—including ghosts from different eras—as she beings to investigate. Then she starts hearing voices cover of Straub's All Adults Hereherself. 

Straub, Emma. All Adults Here. Riverhead. May 2020. 368p. ISBN 9781594634697. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698407985. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable. FAMILY LIFE
Witnessing a school bus accident prompts Astrid Strick to think about how she raised her own children, and she decides she wasn’t quite the mother she had thought. Now, her older son sets himself impossibly high standards, her pregnant daughter can’t shake off adolescence, and her younger son is flubbing life and parenting himself. Which mistakes were just human, what apologies are owed? Expect Straub’s light, witty take on a deeper subject. 


Riley, Lucinda. The Sun Sister. Atria. May 2020. 528p. ISBN 9781982110642. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781982110666. HISTORICAL

Shaara, Jeff. To Wake the Giant: A Novel of Pearl Harbor. Ballantine. May 2020. 480p. ISBN cover of Riley's The Sun Sister9780593129623. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780593129630. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable. HISTORICAL

Weir, Alison. Katheryn Howard, The Scandalous Queen. Ballantine. May 2020. 496p. ISBN 9781101966600. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101966617. HISTORICAL

In The Sun Sister, next in Riley’s LJ-starred “Seven Sisters” series, about-to-crack supermodel Electra d’Aplièse uncovers the story of her grandmother, Cecily Huntley-Morgan, lost and then found in debauched 1940s colonial Kenya (40,000-copy first printing). Moving to the other side of the world, New York Times best-selling author Shaara reconstructs the bombing of Pearl Harbor in To Wake the Giant, having conducted fresh research and prepared original maps. In the fifth book in her “Six Tudor Queens” series, popular historian/novelist Weir takes on Katheryn Howard, The Scandalous Queen, showing us a besotted Henry VIII and Katheryn finally returning that love—while hiding a tricky past. 

At the Beach

Andrews, Mary Kay. Hello, Summer. St. Martin’s. May 2020. 432p. ISBN 9781250256928. $28.99; ebk. cover of Andrews's Hello, SummerISBN 9781250256898. CD. WOMEN’S

Brenner, Jamie. Summer Longing. Little, Brown. May 2020. 384p. ISBN 9780316476850. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316476836. Downloadable. WOMEN’S

Delinsky, Barbara. A Week at the Shore. St. Martin’s. May 2020. 416p. ISBN 9781250119513. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250119506. CD. WOMEN’S

Kletter, Kerry. East Coast Girls. Mira: Harlequin. May 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780778309499. pap. $17.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488055485. FRIENDSHIP

Monroe, Mary Alice. On Ocean Boulevard. Gallery: S. & S. May 2020. 368p. ISBN 9781982146948. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781982146955. CD. WOMEN’S

In the latest from Beach Reads Queen Andrews, hotshot city reporter Conley Hawkins, suddenly jobless, reluctantly says Hello, Summer to her beachside hometown and her family’s local newspaper, then gets wrapped up in cracking the suspicious past of a war hero killed in a car accident. In Brenner’s Summer Longing, newly retired Ruth Cooperman rents a waterfront cottage for the summer and wakens one day to find a baby girl on her doorstep (75,000-copy first printing). During A Week at the Shore, the latest from perennial best seller Delinsky, real estate photographer Mallory Aldiss returns home to bond with the sisters from whom she has been estranged since their parents’ marriage crashed in scandal. In East Coast Girls, an adult debut from Kletter (The First Time She Drowned), four young women return to Montauk, Long Island, where they happily vacationed as children, to confront the past (100,000-copy first printing). And Monroe’s On Ocean Boulevard is next in the New York Times best-selling “Beach House” series (125,000-copy first printing).

Love/Family/Friends with Suspense

Duffy, Lisa. My Kind of People. Atria. May 2020. 240p. ISBN 9781982137151. $16; ebk. ISBN cover of Jackson's Real Men Knit9781982137175. FAMILY LIFE

Jackson, Kwana. Real Men Knit. Berkley. May 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781984806505. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781984806512. Downloadable. ROMANCE

Lenhardt, Melissa. The Secret of You and Me. Graydon House: Harlequin. May 2020. 384p. ISBN 9781525832208. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488053689. ROMANCE

Weiner, Jennifer. Big Summer. Atria. May 2020. 416p. ISBN 9781501133510. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781501133534. CD. WOMEN'S

Yates, Maisey. Secrets from a Happy Marriage. HQN. May 2020. 384p. ISBN 9781335666468. $28.99; pap. ISBN 9781335014924. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488056659. FAMILY

Set on an island off the Massachusetts coast, Duffy’s My Kind of People features Leo, getting community support as he balances life with his husband and his new responsibility as guardian to ten-year-old Skye, adoptive daughter of his recently deceased best friends (40,000-copy first printing). In Real Men Knit, from #WeNeedDiverseRomance advocate Jackson, part-time shop employee Kerry helps four foster-turned-adoptive brothers keep their deceased mother’s Harlem knitting shop open, even as she crushes on brother Jesse. Lenhardt detours from her historical and mystery series for The Secret of You and Me, a queer love story featuring Sophie and Nora, torn apart by their small Texas town’s prejudice when they are young but given a second chance at love two decades later (25,000-copy first printing). No plot details, but Weiner’s Big Summer is getting a big 350,000-copy first printing. And in Secrets from a Happy Marriage, New York Times best-selling Yates transitions from small-town romance to broader-based pop fiction (and from mass market to trade paperback) with three very different women, all associated with the Lighthouse Inn, needing to face life anew (100,000-copy paperback and 10,000-copy hardcover first printing). 


Meyerson, Amy. The Imperfects. Park Row: Harlequin. May 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780778305071. $27.99; cover of Roberts's Hideawayebk. ISBN 9781488057243. FAMILY LIFE
Moore, Meg Mitchell. Two Truths and a Lie. Morrow. May 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780062840097. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062840110. lrg. prnt. FAMILY LIFE
Quick, Amanda. Close Up. Berkley. May 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781984806840. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781984806871. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Roberts, Nora. Hideaway. St. Martin’s. May 2020. 464p. ISBN 9781250207104. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250207128. CD. WOMEN’S
Santos, Marisa de los. I’d Give Anything. Morrow. May 2020. 272p. ISBN 9780062844484. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062844514. lrg. prnt. WOMEN’S
St. John, Katherine. The Lion’s Den. Grand Central. May 2020. 368p. ISBN 9781538733639. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781538733646. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781538702840. WOMEN'S
In Meyerson’s The Imperfects (following The Bookshop of Yesterdays), the fortunes of three down-and-out siblings and their unhappy-in-love mom may change when they find the Florentine Diamond, a 137-carat gem that actually went missing a century ago, among the possessions of recently deceased matriarch Helen (100,000-copy first printing). In Islanders author Moore’s suspense-edged Two Truths and a Lie, Sherri Griffin and daughter Katie are welcomed by local Rebecca Coleman to beachside Newburyport, MA, but they’re running from the past, and Rebecca has her own secrets (100,000-copy first printing). In Close Up, Quick returns us to that 1930s hiding place, Burning Cove, CA, where photographer Vivian Brazier teams up with vision-visited (and hence people-shy) investigator Nick Sundridge to find a serial killer whose clues Vivian has picked up from various shots. In Roberts’s Hideaway, a former child star finally returns to Los Angeles after having been abducted at age ten, hoping to act again while finding both love and vengeance. Two decades after a blaze at her high school’s auditorium killed her best friend’s father, Ginny Beale returns home to confront the consequences of the tragedy in Santos’s I’d Give Anything (75,000-copy first printing). And in TV writer St. John’s fiction debut, The Lion’s Den, Belle gratefully jumps aboard when friend Summer invites her to tour the Mediterranean on her billionaire boyfriend’s yacht, but Belle starts getting nervous about her sinisterly controlling host and her own dark secret (200,000-copy first printing). 

Author Image
Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Book Review; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

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