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Crossing Boundaries: Literary Fiction, Jan. 2020, Pt. 3 | Prepub Alert

Historicals, Fantasy, Women's Fiction, and the Last of the Thrillers: Pop Fiction, Jan. 2020, Pt. 3 | Prepub Alert

PREMIUM

Spellbound

Despite its fantasy elements, this remains a romance at heart, revolving around Rory’s and Ace’s growing feelings for each other. Rory’s personality shifts drastically toward the end, creating a noticeable character inconsistency, but an exciting plot paired with fascinating magic makes this a solid and enjoyable start to the series.

Well-Wived | Fiction, July 2019

All Manner of Things

This a must-have for historical fiction fans and book clubs. Finkbeiner joins authors Valerie Fraser Luesse and Lauren K. Denton in tackling tough topics with realistic characters and a gentle touch.

PREMIUM

All the Forgivenesses

This emotional story of deep hardship is told in Bertie’s distinct voice and is recommended for readers who enjoyed Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell and Jane Hamilton’s The Book of Ruth.

The Killing Tide

Pettrey (“Alaskan Courage” series) delivers another outstanding novel filled with romance, mystery, and suspense. Fans of DiAnn Mills, Lynette Eason, and Dee Henderson will be drawn to this book.

PREMIUM

Stay and Fight

In her debut novel, short story writer ffitch (Valparaiso, Round the Horn) dazzles with this irresistible take on a part of modern society largely hidden from view. The unpredictability of her characters and plotlines are deliciously compelling
PREMIUM

Things You Save in a Fire

Center (How To Walk Away) crafts a heartfelt story of growth and the redemptive power of love perfect for fans of women’s fiction, especially works by Jodi Picoult and Elin Hilderbrand.

PREMIUM

The Swallows

Lutz’s many fans will enjoy this, as will those who devour boarding-school novels such as Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep or #metoo revenge stories. [See Prepub Alert, 3/11/19.]
PREMIUM

The Ventriloquists

The narrative is periodically interspersed with an interview in the present between Eliza (Scrivener) and Helene, who was Gamin. Athough readers may occasionally find this complex tale tricky to follow because the development is presented from different perspectives of the principal characters, their persistence will be rewarded. Highly recommended for readers who appreciate fine fiction grounded in history. [See Prepub Alert, 2/4/19.]
PREMIUM

Stars of Alabama

Dietrich is a Southern Garrison Keillor. Fans of the latter and former will be pleased.

The Last Widow

Another strong novel by Slaughter, with complex characters to root for and an antagonist you hope gets what he deserves. With a well-written, intriguing plot and an edge-of-the-seat ending, this is sure to keep readers up late into the night. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/19.]

Historical, Topical, Bloody: Mystery Previews, Jan. 2020, Pt. 2 | Prepub Alert

Don't Call It a Comeback

1

Wicked Good Reads | Genre Spotlight on Horror

2

Vanished Children, International Crime: Thriller Previews, Jan. 2020, Pt. 2 | Prepub Alert

PREMIUM

Blood of an Exile

Strongly recommended for devoted fantasy readers and a great gateway book for those new to the genre.

Bivald, Jen, Krivak, & More: Top Fiction Previews, January/February 2020 | Prepub Alert

PREMIUM

The Furies

Drugs, sex, magic, and murder infuse this quick-paced read that will entertain teen and adult readers alike, weaving multiple layers of deception. While the characters are not quite fully developed, the relationship dynamics help form a solid story.
PREMIUM

A Pilgrimage of Swords

This grim, succinct tale should find an eager audience among fans of sword-and-sorcery fare and short stories.
PREMIUM

American Magic

This urban fantasy/spy thriller employs magic as just another superweapon, and brings all of the usual suspects to bear in order to stop it, complete with secret societies, evil government officials, and rogue agents accomplishing the mission from the outside. It all makes for a heady, page-turning mix.
PREMIUM

The Reckoning

The action is intense, fast-paced, ever-present, and bloody in this apocalyptic fantasy, and the characters allude to a wide spectrum of peoples and cultures, ranging from ancient Mesopotamia to medieval times. Fans of the first two books in the series will likely enjoy this closer.
PREMIUM

Claiming T-Mo

In writing this story, Bacon (Borderline) employs elegant and poetic language that pulls readers into each different world and experience as felt by the three leading women. Recommended reading for those with an interest in sf, expressive language, and stories that focus on women’s relationships and perspectives.
PREMIUM

Our War

Presenting a dark alternate reality that touches the seams of current events and a possible future, DiLouie (One of Us) offers an uncompromising view of child soldiers and patriotism in conflict. [See Prepub Alert, 2/18/19.]
PREMIUM

When the Plums Are Ripe

A Stony Brook literature professor and an award-winning poet, Nganang is a political force whose experiences in Cameroon inform every page of this novel. Some will find it long on screed and short on plot. But for those who appreciate how fiction illuminates history, this book will be an eye-opener. [See Prepub Alert, 2/4/19.]
PREMIUM

A Particular Kind of Black Man

Rhodes scholar and Caine Prize winner Folarin enriches our understanding of cultural identity and race within the caustic malaise that is modern American culture, with shifting memory, shared tradition, and the ineffable foundation of family arising as antidotes. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/19.]
PREMIUM

An Unorthodox Match

Fans of character-driven novels or book clubs ready for thoughtful discussion of any number of topics, including community vs. individual needs, should check out this title. [See Prepub Alert, 3/17/19.]

The Wolf Wants In

McHugh, whose debut, The Weight of Blood, won an International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel, delivers a disturbing story of an entire dysfunctional community affected by opioids. Fans of Julia Keller’s “Bell Elkins” books will appreciate this sobering, hard-hitting mystery. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/19.]
PREMIUM

Knife

Dark, gritty, and clever, this is quintessential Nesbø, a powerhouse of a storyteller. Familiarity with the characters is beneficial, but not required, to appreciate this well-plotted mystery. Series fans will either love or hate this, but either way it’s a must-read. [See Prepub Alert, 1/14/19.]
PREMIUM

Stolen Things

With the current social climate as backdrop, this novel touches on race, homosexuality, police brutality, teenage love, rape, and murder, all within an intense read. Perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter or Lisa Scottoline. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/19.]
PREMIUM

Bark of Night

Fans of the series will enjoy this latest installment, and newcomers won’t be put off since not too much prior information is required to jump in. One shortcoming of the book is that Truman, the catalyst for the whole plot, is whisked offstage to the Tara Foundation, Carpenters’ dog-rescue center, until his happy ending. [See Prepub Alert, 1/7/19.]
PREMIUM

The Man Who Wouldn’t Die

Jewell is the pseudonym for a Pulitzer Prize–winning technology reporter who throws all his knowledge into a funny if sometimes confusing detective novel. Fitch fits the mold of every hard-bitten, world-weary detective who happens to be gay, with a loving six-foot-two husband at home.
PREMIUM

Lady in the Lake

While short of the adrenaline-fueled suspense of other Lippman stand-alones (Sunburn), this work captures a time and place as it mixes fact with its fiction, plus a protagonist who challenges norms. With its well-drawn characters and lucid prose, this newspaper novel shines. [See Prepub Alert, 1/23/19.]
PREMIUM

Smokescreen

A thriller with underlying political themes, this novel is sure to appeal to Eve Duncan enthusiasts as well as new readers of the series. [See Prepub Alert, 1/23/19.]
PREMIUM

Twisted at the Root

Hart crafts a satisfying conclusion in her sequel to A Whisper of Bones; it’s obvious why Mystery Writers of America named her a Grand Master. Fans of unreliable narrator mysteries may want to try this one, which has an entire cast of dodgy suspects. [See Prepub Alert, 2/4/19.]
PREMIUM

Speaking of Summer

Readers looking for contemporary suspense with a social justice twist will appreciate the storytelling.
PREMIUM

A Night’s Tail

From the opening scene in this follow-up to The Cats Come Back, there are too many characters to keep straight. This cozy has the requisite number of likable characters, but the large cast means that it’s really directed at fans of librarian Kathleen and her magical cats that disappear and walk through walls.
PREMIUM

Black Sun

Fans of Jason Matthews’s “Red Sparrow” series and Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44 will relish this incendiary take on nuclear weapons and the people who made them.
PREMIUM

Heaven, My Home

Edgar Award winner Locke is definitely worth following, here presenting a well-crafted mystery that evokes a steamy east Texas and the racial tensions inherent in small Southern towns.
PREMIUM

Careful What You Wish For

With smooth dialog and a title that is a good representation of the story line, Ephron offers a great “murder swap” mystery reminiscent of the 1951 Hitchcock classic Strangers on a Train. Recommended for those who love puzzling, unpredictable mysteries with a little lesson in professional organizing on the side. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/19.]
PREMIUM

The Whisperer

Those who like Scandinavian mysteries and the subtle buildup of psychological thrillers will enjoy this book. An essential purchase, even if Fossum’s previous works are not in the collection. [See Prepub Alert, 2/4/19.]
PREMIUM

A Conspiracy of Wolves

Robb easily conveys the intricacies of court politics and intrigue, allowing narrative space for relationships and humorous exchanges between characters to develop. It is not necessary to have read previous books in the series to appreciate this entry, as ample historical and character background are provided. Recommended for fans of other historical writers such as C.J. Sandsome, Ellis Peters, and Sharon Kay Penman.
PREMIUM

The Last Good Guy

Three-time Edgar Award winner and New York Times best-selling Parker delivers another exceptional noir with the third installment of the series (The Room of White Fire, Swift Vengeance). Readers of C.J. Box will enjoy the strong character development, fans of James Patterson will delight in the twists and turns, while T.C. Boyle fans will appreciate the atmospheric California setting. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/19.]

The Monster of Elendhaven

Elendhaven is as fully formed as Mervyn Peake’s “Gormenghast” series with truly repellent characters who don’t possess a shred of moral fiber. Yet the right readers will still love them, as newcomer Giesbrecht is a fantasy writer to watch with a sure command of her world.

The Dragon Republic

This stunning sequel to The Poppy War is an epic journey of vengeance, friendship, and power wrapped in the folds of gods and monsters. Kuang has created a young woman torn by her connections to friends and family, searching for love and belonging, and given power beyond her imagining. Her story is unforgettable. [See Prepub Alert, 2/18/19.]

Gamechanger

Beckett’s debut is richly imagined, fast-paced climate change fiction. The predictions for our future feel shockingly real but still make one wish the virtual reality technology and the prosocial ideologies were available now. Readers will delight in the nonbinary characters, LBGTQ relationships and identities, and the land acknowledgment statement at the end of the book. Highly recommended.

A Hero Born

Newly translated into English, the “Legends of the Condor Heroes” series is an epic, fantastical tale filled with betrayal, brotherhood, and kung fu energy. The first in the series shows the depth of Jin Yong’s writing, and the sobriquet of “China’s Tolkien” is well deserved. [See Prepub Alert, 3/17/19.]

The Future of Another Timeline

In her sophomore work, Newitz (Autonomous) comes back to an Earth that highlights the truths of our past and possibilities of our future. The fantastical elements do not hide the all-too-real horrors women could face, but intelligence and hope are woven into every level. Shrewd commentary and a host of sources highlight Newitz’s strength in prose.

A Choir of Lies

A story of discovery and growth, interspersed with other short fables and creative footnote commentary that unfolds into a superbly crafted world of intriguing characters and lush setting, Rowland’s follow-up to A Conspiracy of Truths reveals the author’s stunning prose, beautiful worldbuilding, and emotional detail. Highly recommended.
PREMIUM

Carnegie Hill

An excellent read for those seeking an exploration of marriage in all of its various stages.

The Hotel Neversink

Told by a cast of family members that spans generations, this is a family saga with a mystery at its heart and a Doctorow-like take on the rise and fall of a particular era of American life and the American dream. Price (The Grand Tour) has written a compelling chronicle of grand dreams and dark secrets.

Tidelands

This book will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series. Fans of Gregory’s works and of historicals in general will delight in this page-turning tale. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/19.]
PREMIUM

That’s What Frenemies Are For

An excellent choice for fans of Lauren Weisberger.

PREMIUM

The Undertaker’s Assistant

Effie’s community of freedmen and Creoles in Reconstruction New Orleans is unforgettable. Skenandore’s second novel (after Between Earth and Sky) is recommended for readers who enjoy medical historical fiction reminiscent of Diane McKinney-Whetstone’s Lazaretto, and historical fiction with interpersonal drama.

We Came Here To Forget

Equal parts psychological suspense and family drama, this engrossing page-turner should top summer reading lists.

PREMIUM

The World That We Knew

One of America’s most brilliant novelists since her debut, Property Of (1977), Hoffman uses her signature element of magical realism to tackle an intolerably painful chapter in history. Readers know going in that their hearts will be broken, but they will be unable to let go until the last page. [See Prepub Alert, 2/24/19.]
PREMIUM

The Floating Feldmans

Friedland’s well-executed and smartly structured novel features chapters from each character’s point of view. The simple but clever premise lets the author explore the complicated tensions of family relationships in a compressed and directed way. Narcissistic and sometimes unlikable protagonists can be hard to sympathize with, but there is dry humor and a certain sweetness as well.

Inland

National Book Award finalist Obreht (The Tiger’s Wife) suspensefully reimagines an extraordinary American West filled with larger-than-life characters, imaginary marauding beasts, and ghosts who commune with the living. [See Prepub Alert, 2/4/19.]

Milady

This is truly entertaining historical fiction, an imaginative retelling of a classic from a new viewpoint. Readers will identify with Milady’s struggle to find her place in the world, to find happiness and love. Fanciers of adventurous historical fiction will love her story.

PREMIUM

Life and Other Inconveniences

Slowly revealing secrets from the past and adding a mysterious disappearance and people who need love but can’t express it properly, Higgins (Good Luck with That) hits it out of the park with her trademark depth, emotion, and dash of humor. Her fans will love this book, which will attract a wide new readership of family fiction. 

The Vexations

Horrocks turns what could have been a maudlin retelling into a heartbreakingly beautiful novel about the sacrifices people make for what they hold dear. Readers need not be familiar with composer Erik Satie (1866–1925) to appreciate his story, but many will feel compelled to seek out recordings of his music after reading this book. [See Prepub Alert, 12/3/18.]
PREMIUM

Devotion

Ella has an awkward encounter with a drunken Carlow after she finally parts from Lonnie. He seems desperate and sad, a good description of all four characters, who can’t find their way to adulthood in this morose novel.

We Are All Good People Here

This latest from White (A Place at the Table) is highly recommended for its absorbing characterization and engrossing plot that perfectly capture the zeitgeist of the 1960s. For readers who enjoyed Emma Cline’s The Girls or Caroline Leavitt’s Cruel Beautiful World. [See Prepub Alert, 12/3/18.]
PREMIUM

Read Me

For hardened veteran fans of this subgenre.

PREMIUM

The Gifted School

A thoughtful, engaging examination of a subject torn from the headlines: how parents succumb to a kind of temporary insanity as they jockey for position, status, and prestige
PREMIUM

Ellie and the Harpmaker

With the air of a fairy tale, this debut novel by a professional harpist transcends its contemporary setting and feels timeless. For fans of quirky romance à la Helen Hoang.

PREMIUM

Doxology

Here, Zink (Mislaid) seems to follow her characters where they want to go rather than imposing an orchestrated plot on them. Thus, what starts as a gritty “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” novel turns into a family drama about generational conflict, then a story about our current sociopolitical moment. For these engaging characters, the attempt to find meaning and purpose is often detoured when the universe has other plans. [See Prepub Alert, 2/18/19/.]

Steel Crow Saga

Krueger’s sophomore novel (after Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge) is a heady look at postcolonial emotions, Asian cultures, and anime influences. His main characters are by turns endearing and maddening, living in a well-built magical world of warring factions. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/19.]

Never Have I Ever

Best-selling Jackson (The Almost Sisters) successfully trades her usual quirky Southern lit for darker psychological suspense in this latest highly recommended novel. Her prowess at writing affecting, character-driven fiction is on full display, and readers will devour the twisty, consuming story. [See Prepub Alert, 1/23/19.]

Kopp Sisters on the March

A thrilling mix of history and feminism, this new “Kopp” story contains the same captivating storytelling as the first one, with plenty of nuggets for series fans. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/19.]

The Long Call

Fans of Cleeves lamenting the end of the “Shetland” series will find much to love in her new characters and setting. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/19.]
PREMIUM

The Summer Country

Not always a comfortable read, but a compelling one, this book is appropriate for readers who like complex family dramas in exotic locations. [See Prepub Alert, 12/17/18.]
PREMIUM

City of Windows

A fast-paced, topical thriller that checks the boxes in the genre, perhaps a little automatically. Will appeal to fans of John Sandford, Lee Child, and Brian Freeman. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/19.]

PREMIUM

Bite Club

Fans of the series will enjoy this outing, and newcomers will find a satisfying mystery and plenty of canine content, including behind-the-scenes secrets of dog shows, which will make them seek further volumes about Melanie and her pack of poodles.

Mass Appeal | Graphic Novels Spotlight 2019

2

A Conversation with Lisa Grunwald, author of Time After Time

The Work of Art

In her sixth historical romance, Matthews (The Pug Who Bit Napoleon; A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty) weaves suspense and mystery within an absorbing love story. Readers will be hard put to set this one down before the end. Highly recommended to historical romance and/or mystery buffs and especially animal lovers.
PREMIUM

Meet Me in Monaco: A Novel of Grace Kelly’s Royal Wedding

A sparkling tale that will delight Francophiles and fans of historical fiction alike. These characters are engaging and expertly drawn, and their story is as evocative as the lingering traces of a fine eau de parfum. [See Prepub Alert, 1/7/19.]

A Conversation with Jo Baker, author of The Body Lies

1

The Promise of Endless Variety | Romance, July 2019

PREMIUM

The Cruel Stars

Continual space battle action, despicable enemies, tight corners, and plucky heroines enliven the story, though one-dimensional characters, improbable last-minute saves, and familiar tropes weaken it. For larger collections; space opera lovers will enjoy a fast and reasonably exciting read.
PREMIUM

Darkdawn

Readers who enjoyed the first two books will not be disappointed by this dark, addictive story that contains coarse language and plenty of sexual content. [See Prepub Alert, 3/17/19.]

Lock Every Door

Likable characters, great writing, just enough twists, and a Rosemary’s Baby vibe will make this a summer hit. Purchase for Stephen King and Gillian Flynn fans. [See Prepub Alert, 1/23/19.]
PREMIUM

Betrayal in Time

Despite some awkward use of 21st-century jargon, this is an entertaining mystery with considerable period detail and a touch of romance. Fans of historical mysteries with strong female characters, such as Rhys Bowen’s “Molly Murphy” series or Laurie King’s “Mary Russell” books will enjoy.
PREMIUM

A Love Like Yours

Readers who appreciate seeing their couples struggle to grow up and grab their HEA while overcoming difficult circumstances will need tissues as Sam and Lucy fight their way back to each other.
PREMIUM

Butterfly in Frost

Fans of Day’s “Crossfire” series will relish this subtle and emotional companion piece and its unflinching look at depression and loss. However, the novella’s abrupt twist of an ending and point-of-view shift feels a little out of left field and might leave some readers wishing that this story could have been fleshed out more in a full-length novel.
PREMIUM

Nothing But Trouble

With a charming secondary romance for Wade’s brother Wyatt, contemporary echoes of Western mail-order-bride schemes, and a small farming community filled with quirky characters, this series opener will appeal to fans of small-town romance and anyone who enjoys a “falling for the boss” story.
PREMIUM

Just One of the Groomsmen

While the opening views on gender may be problematic to some, the way Addison reclaims herself will have readers rooting for the sassy heroine and charming ex-lawyer. The small-town atmosphere will make readers feel like coming home.

Searching for Sylvie Lee

Kwok’s tightly woven novel is an emotional and thrilling page-turner that also provides insight into her Asian culture. A major change of pace for Kwok; readers who enjoyed the work of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl should appreciate. [See Prepub Alert, 12/16/18.]

PREMIUM

Where We Come From

Cásares, a Brownsville native and University of Texas associate professor of creative writing, delivers this third book (after the story collection Brownsville and novel Amigoland), a timely and sensitive examination of U.S.–Mexico border issues as illuminated by the backstories of major and minor characters.

Home Remedies: Stories

Wang’s stories are funny, generous, and surprising as they introduce a youthful demographic that is growing worldwide. Highly recommended for all fiction collections.

The Last Book Party

Part coming of age, part gossipy peek into the enclave of writers, editors, poets, and artists who annually escaped the heat of Boston and New York to talk, drink, and work on Cape Cod, this seminostalgic debut is the ideal summer read for book people. [See Prepub Alert, 1/23/19.]
PREMIUM

The Capital

The tension between a supranational European vision and a rising tide of nationalism is at the center of this trenchant political satire. Given that increasing nationalism is not a strictly European phenomenon, this German Book Prize winner may well find an audience on this side of the Atlantic. [See Prepub Alert, 12/3/18.]
PREMIUM

Rabbits for Food

Kirshenbaum has excelled at capturing one woman’s disturbing mental illness and the daily struggles to cope with survival even in a setting that supposedly offers support and rehabilitation. Drawing parallels to Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest comes easily because of the similar setting and a cast of characters supporting the main character. Recommended.

PREMIUM

The Safe House

The lengthy setup in this second installment of “The Black Market” series may have readers yawning until Swinson’s trademark violence finally explodes.

PREMIUM

Breathe In, Cash Out

While the heavy use of business and yoga jargon slows things down, the wit that pervades Allegra’s search for #bliss and the requisite quirky supporting cast make this a fab read for chick lit fans. [See Prepub Alert, 1/7/19.]
PREMIUM

The Marriage Clock

This charming and humorous novel will appeal to a wide audience and should be an excellent fit for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, 1/7/19.]
PREMIUM

Cygnet

Brimming with powerful and sometimes raw emotions, occasional glimmers of hope, and solid descriptive writing and character development, Butler’s debut intertwines multiple themes to create a thoughtful coming-of-age story and a young adult’s pursuit for adventure in a new locale and the eventual face-to-face dance with mortality, not just the elderly. Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 12/3/18.]
PREMIUM

The Trouble with Cowboys

James (Christmas with the Sheriff) has delivered a delightful cast of small-town characters who will have readers wanting to visit Wishing River again. This charming title is for fans of hot cowboys and sweet romances.
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