Week one back in the real world! How is everyone holding up after the holidays? Once again, I had a quiet time of it which was welcome considering what lies ahead in 2019. Nothing bad, just change. What hasn’t changed is that I’m ready to get back to review reading. I enjoyed my time off in December when I read backlist books from the library (it was divine!), but now it’s time for all the new winter releases.
*If you want more than my brief blurb about each book, title links go to Goodreads book synopsis
The Go-To Authors
The Current by Time Johnston (release date January 22nd): I read Johnston’s debut, Descent, last year then re-read it to review this year. It was that good. So I have very high hopes for this new new thriller about a small Minnesota town and a recent murder with links to one from a decade ago.
I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella (release date February 5th): If you don’t know why this is on this list then this is your first time visiting my blog. Welcome! Everyone else knows that, for me, Kinsella is the undisputed queen of chick-lit. Yes, she’s faltered with a few of her books, but I am still a huge fan and will always read what she writes. OK, not always. Three bad books in a row and you’re out.
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See (release date March 19th): See’s ability to immerse me in the varied lives of women living throughout Asia means my interest is piqued by this story of two young girls living on a Korean island and working as divers.
The Other Americans by Laila Lalami (release date March 26th): Lalami’s debut, The Moor’s Account, was a favorite of mine for its atmospheric telling of one slave’s journey to America with the Spanish in the 1500s. I’m hoping she shows the same talent for capturing time and place with clarity in a contemporary setting. This novel is about a Moroccan family living in California.
Location, Location, Location
It’s true in real estate and it’s true in fiction. At least for me, there are places that are always alluring and knowing a book is set in one of them means it’s likely I’ll read it.
Talk to Me by John Kenney (release date January 15th): It’s almost too easy: NYC. If a book is set in the Big Apple, I’m going to give it a go. In this case, I’ve already read Talk to Me and it is a great statement novel about the incendiary nature of social media in capturing mistakes and bad behavior amongst the powerful.
Elsewhere, Home by Leila Aboulela (release date February 12th): This novel is not just one location, but by taking place in London, Scotland, and Sudan, is more emblematic of the realities of emigration in the modern world. Given the constant barrage of anti-immigration rhetoric in America right now I find myself appreciating fiction about people facing the difficulties of a homeland.
The Chef’s Secret by Crystal King (release date February 12th): This is another double duty novel because it could also count as a go-to author. I adored King’s debut, The Feast of Sorrow, so am thrilled to see that this novel stays in the world of historical chefs. Instead of ancient Rome, she come forward to the 1500s to write about a man known as the world’s first celebrity chef. I’m hungry for this one.
If, Then by Kate Hope Day (release date March 12th): I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m always partial to novels set in places I live or love. This is another debut, set in Oregon, a state I hope to return to after our stint in Michigan. It’s about a community that begins to have visions about alternate realities and how that impacts their real lives.
You’ve probably already detected my weakness for new authors by the fact that I included two in the Locations section. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about reading new voices that works for me more often than not. I’m especially interested in these four.
Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal (release date January 22nd): I love novels set in Southeast Asia. The tone and style used by authors in these countries is one that works for me better than another geographical location. Even better—this is a debut and it’s a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. But set in Pakistan! Yes, I’m excited, but I realize if it’s not done well it could be a disaster. Fingers crossed that it will be just the brightness I need in January to counteract the Seattle grey.
Northern Lights by Raymond Strom (release date February 12th): A coming-of-age debut set in rural Minnesota as one boy tries to come to grips with his violent family history, the mother who abandoned him, and his own sexuality.
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum (release date March 5th): Along the lines of immigration and the culture wars that are engulfing countries everywhere I’m really looking forward to this novel about the lives of conservative Muslim women living in America. A perspective far from my own, one of the things I enjoy in my literary fiction.
A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian (release date March 19th): I was hit hard by Katherine Boo’s searing nonfiction Behind the Beautiful Forevers, about the gulf between India’s wealthy and it’s indescribable poverty. This debut novel is about a group of friends living in a slum called Heaven; a place filled almost completely with women. I’m hoping it will be like Thrity Umrigar because I love her stories about India.