Do you enjoy browsing new book releases lists? I do. Here each month I’m going to highlight the new books (predominantly fiction) I have not yet had a chance to read, but have been window shopping online and instore. Read on for what is new in fiction in September 2020, and previous June, July & August 2020 releases, that have caught my attention. And then, as I find time to read them, I’ll of course, come back and link up my reviews!
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September 2020 New Book Releases
I often find myself drawn to fiction based on real events, and those that inspired C D Major’s new historical thriller The Other Girl sound particularly compelling. 1942, New Zealand. Edith’s been locked away for a long time. She was just five years old when she was sent to Seacliff Lunatic Asylum. Fifteen years later, when she survives a devastating fire that destroys her ward, Edith is questioned by the police and a young doctor, Declan Harris. Intrigued by his beautiful patient, Declan begins to doubt the official reasons for her incarceration. Is she truly mad—or could the impossible stories she told as a child actually be true? Find out more >>
Another September 2020 historical fiction novel I am looking forward to is The Burning Island by Jock Serong. Set in the Sydney colony in its infancy, Eliza Grayling is too tall, too stern—too old, now—for marriage, so she cares for her elderly, blind and drunkard father with a shady past. When he becomes fixated on the chance for a reckoning with his nemesis, a sea voyage with an uncertain, probably violent, outcome, and Eliza is unable to dissuade him, she realises she may be forced to join him on his quest. Find out more >>
UPDATE: Read my review of The Burning Island.
Keeping this theme of strong, real-world female leads going, I have added Soho Crime’s new English translation of Ilaria Tuti’s The Sleeping Nymph to my reading list. This is actually the second title (#1 Flowers Over the Inferno) in her critically acclaimed series starring Superintendent Teresa Battaglia, a gruff criminal profiler with four decades of experience on the Italian police force. She’s assigned a chilling cold case, a decades-old murder investigation. New DNA analysis has revealed that a painting from the final days of World War II contains matter from a human heart. Find out more >>
The House of Correction by masters of suspense Nicci French (husband and wife writing team) is released in the UK and ANZ in September; US release in October. A woman in jail awaiting trial for murder is trying to prove her innocence. But, she can’t remember what happened. There is something she is missing, something important… She only knows one thing. She is not capable of murder. This chunky novel described as part ingenious locked-room mystery, part you’ve-got-the-wrong-person nightmare drama, part intricate memory game, sounds like a great one to sink my teeth into. Find out more >>
Now, for a complete change of pace, my pick of the September romance releases. In Juliet, Naked (2009) Nick Hornby nailed understated and authentic mid-life drama/romance. His new novel Just Like You: A Novel is about Lucy, a 41-year-old nearly-divorced mother of two sons and school teacher who finds a much younger, and unlikely, love interest. Described as “a warm, wise, highly entertaining twenty-first-century love story” this sounds like the perfect weekend read for those of us old enough to have fond memories of watching movies like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill at the cinemas. Find out more >>
I rarely read young-adult fiction, but this new YA fantasy novel from Garth Nix, The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, just sounds like so much fun. Eighteen-year-old Susan arrives in London in search of her father. But before she can question crime boss Frank Thringley, he’s turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive Merlin. Merlin is one of the youngest members of a secret society of booksellers with magical powers who police the mythic Old World wherever it impinges on the New World. Merlin also has a quest of his own: to find the Old World entity who arranged the murder of his mother. Find out more >>
More September 2020 book releases by notable authors:
- Jo Nesbo is releasing a new standalone thriller, The Kingdom, a story of twisted brotherly love set in a small Norwegian town filled with secrets.
- Jane Harper’s new novel The Survivors is being released in the UK and ANZ; the US release scheduled for February 2021.
- Louise Penny is releasing her 16th Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novel, All The Devils Are Here.
- Kate Atkinson, Cheryl Strayed, Caroline Kepnes, Roxane Gay, Emma Donoghue et al have contributed to a new Amazon Original Stories collection “Out of Line” goes live 1st September – What happens when women step out of line and take control of their own stories? Big fears, small frustrations, and the power of hope collide as seven award-winning authors explore the possibilities. From demanding equal pay to resisting a genetically engineered future, this collection offers up visions that are grimly funny, deeply touching, and chillingly conceivable.
August 2020 Eye-Catching Fiction Releases
How far you would you go for love? Franny Stone is determined to go to the end of the earth, following the last of the Arctic terns on what may be their final migration to Antarctica. As animal populations plummet and commercial fishing faces prohibition, Franny talks her way onto one of the few remaining boats heading south. But as she and the eccentric crew travel further from shore and safety, the dark secrets of Franny’s life begin to unspool. A daughter’s yearning search for her mother. An impulsive, passionate marriage. A shocking crime. Haunted by love and violence, Franny must confront what she is really running towards – and from. Find out more >>
Invisible Girl, bestselling author Lisa Jewell’s latest offering, is about Saffyre Maddox, a woman scarred from childhood trauma that’s gone missing and a watchful recluse Owen Pick who’s never had a friend let alone a girlfriend. Nobody sees him. Nobody cares. Until they start accusing him of being involved in her disappearance. Being described as a “haunting, atmospheric, stay-up-way-too-late read” (Megan Miranda) and exploring “how we look in the wrong places for bad people while the real predators walk among us in plain sight”, made this one a standout amongst several thriller releases in August 2020. Find out more >>
Alex Pavesi’s debut novel, literary thriller The Eighth Detective. A wildly inventive nesting doll of a mystery, in which a young editor travels to a remote village in the Mediterranean in the hopes of convincing a reclusive writer to republish his collection of detective stories, only to realize that there are greater mysteries beyond the pages of books. Described as “a love letter to classic detective stories with a modern twist, where nothing is as it seems” and comparisons being made to Stuart Turton’s The Seven Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle, this August 2020 release sounds like a fictional puzzle right up my alley. Find out more >>
In nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis’s latest historical novel, The Lions of Fifth Avenue, a series of book thefts roils the iconic New York Public Library, leaving two generations of strong-willed women to pick up the pieces. A book about a mystery involving books, in an iconic setting, featuring the narratives of headstrong leading ladies, passionate trailblazer and journalist Laura Lyons (in 1913) and her granddaughter, library curator Sadie (in 1993)… what more could this booklover want! Find out more >>
In The Doctor of Aleppo by Dan Mayland, author of the bestselling Mark Sava spy novel series, American Hannah Johnson and her Swedish lover Oskar are drawn into the mounting turbulence of the impending Syrian civil war (and humanitarian activities of Dr Hasan) while working in the ancient Silk Road city of Aleppo. Both “intimate and sweeping in scope”, this novel lends insight into how the most brutal, devastating (but least well understood) war of the twenty-first century. Find out more >>
UPDATE: Read my review of The Doctor of Aleppo.
The Midnight Library is the latest quirky adult fiction offering from bestselling author Matt Haig (How to Stop Time, The Humans). ‘Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices… Would you have done anything different if you had the chance to undo your regrets?’ Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. She must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place. Find out more >>
More noteworthy August 2020 US book releases I have already reviewed:
- I loved Beth O’Leary’s debut novel The Flatshare – it was truly something special. So I had no idea how she would even come close to conjuring up that same magic mix of story/characters/heart in her second novel, The Switch. But she pretty much has. Enjoy!
- The Weekend by Charlotte Wood is a quietly confronting read. A female friendship character study brimming with symbolism, compelling & cathartic.
- The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-eun (translated by Lizzie Buehler) is slim but impactful Korean literature… gristly food for thought for those planning post-pandemic travel itineraries or those wanting to getting involved in Women In Translation Month (each August).
July 2020 Book Releases Catching My Attention
Whenever people find out I’m an avid reader, the inevitable question is: What is your favourite book? The answer I give is David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas because it was the title that really sparked my love of literary fiction. Utopia Avenue is only the third fiction from Mitchell in the last decade, after The Bone Clocks (2014) and Slade House (2015). In addition smooth prose and skilled characterisations, I particularly enjoy Mitchell’s pop culture references (and cameos) and with Utopia Avenue set in the 1960s London music scene, it sounds like a literary treasure trove awaits. Find out more >>
Anna Downes’ debut novel The Safe Place is one of the most hotly anticipated psychological thrillers of July 2020. Its subtitle ‘No phones. No Outsiders. No escape.’ pulls no punches, and with comparisons being made to Ruth Ware, Lisa Jewell and the gothic menace of Hitchcock’s Rebecca, this story about an out-of-work actress who accepts a summer job as a housekeeper on a beautiful remote French estate and gets caught up in the lives of its owners, sounds like an absolute page-turner. Notably, this debut has earned high-praise from the authors of two of my recent favourites in this genre, Christian White (The Wife and the Widow) and Chris Hammer (Silver) . Find out more >>
UPDATE: Read my review of The Safe Place
Bestselling author Gillian McAllister’s How to Disappear is another of the new psychological thrillers I am looking forward to. You can run, you can hide, but can you disappear for good? Lauren’s daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara’s identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back. The only choice is to disappear. Looks like How to Disappear will be available to most readers in ebook format in July, with some region’s paperback release in September. However, I have my eye on the audiobook narrated by Nicola Walker, one of my favourite British actresses.
Now for a complete change of pace, Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis. Described as a ‘charming and poignant novel‘ about a teenage girl who releases a balloon with her email address and a big secret into the sky and falls in love with the French boy that finds it, only to find 14 years later, her hopes dashed and life plans up in the air (again?). With comparisons being made to Evie Drake Starts Over and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (big call!) this one just sounds too cute-sweet to miss. Tissues may be required. Find out more >>
Another lovely blue cover! This time Kristin Harmel’s The Book of Lost Names, WWII historical fiction told in reflection, inspired by the true story of a young woman with a talent for forgery that helped hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis. A book about a book featuring a mature female librarian lead – sounds just made for book lovers! Featured in many of this season’s highly anticipated book lists, it has been described as ‘heartstopping’ and ‘sweeping and magnificent’. Sounds like a must-read. Find out more >>
My curiosity is often piqued by literature on the quirkier side, and this new standalone novel from Jasper Fforde (Early Riser, The Eyre Affair) certainly fits that bill. The Constant Rabbit (July ANZ & UK, September US & CA) is about human-size rabbits living in the UK in 2022. They can walk, talk, drive cars, and they like to read Voltaire, but when a family of them move into a cozy little village in Middle England the villagers turn against them. All except their neighbours Peter and Pippa, who begin to question everything they had ever thought about their friends, their nation, and their species. Kirkus Reviews are calling this book release ‘an astonishingly well-crafted work of social and political satire’. Find out more >>
What Was New in Fiction in June 2020
Having been thoroughly entertained by Rich People Problems and looking forward to more of Kevin Kwan’s brand of humour, it great to see his new release Sex and Vanity will be hitting the shelves at month-end. Just as in the past, he’s certainly owning the subject matter with that title. Described as “a daring homage to A Room with a View, and a brilliantly funny comedy of manners” this sounds like a modern luxe outing of the ‘enemies-to-lovers’ trope and fabulously fun weekend read. Find out more >>
While I’ve not yet read Brit Bennett’s bestselling debut The Mothers, you would have to have been living under a rock not to be aware of the high praise and accolades it received. Unsurprisingly, her new novel The Vanishing Half has long been one of the most highly anticipated releases of June 2020. But now, given recent events, its subject matter “identical twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white” seems even more topical. Find out more >>
Honestly, it was Mexican Gothic‘s evocative cover art that first grabbed my attention. Then learning Silvia Moreno-Garcia (who’s Gods of Jade and Shadows I’d read high praise for) was its author had me investigating further. “An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .” Both PopSugar and Kirkus Reviews have made comparisons to Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca (one of my personal favourites), although the latter warns of its heavy horror content. So perhaps best not read on a dark stormy night! Find out more >>
I’ve long been attracted to historical fiction set in cities hosting World Fairs. The atmosphere surrounding them sounded electric. While not comparable to that in the late 19th and early 20th century, I still fondly recall the buzz when my city hosted the 1988 World Expo. Oops, I’m really showing my age. So Susie Orman Schnall’s new novel We Came Here to Shine, set in an around the World Fair in 1939 New York City “featuring two bold and ambitious women who navigate a world of possibility and find out what they’re truly made of during a glorious summer of spectacle and potential” sounds right up my alley. Find out more >>
The Guest List by Lucy Foley (The Hunting Party, The Book of Lost & Found, The Invitation) is on all the must-read book release lists. With comparisons being made to the queen of locked-room mysteries, Agatha Christie, and a fantastic premise — a wedding celebration fueled with alcohol and petty resentments come murder mystery set on a remote island off the coast of Ireland — The Guest List sounds like an absolute page-turner. Find out more >>
Who doesn’t love a female sleuth? And if she’s a jaded down-on-her-luck ex-CIA agent (read, ‘lots of baggage and skeletons in the closet’), that sounds even better to me. Rosalie Knecht’s Vera Kelly is not a Mystery, is apparently the second title in a series. How did I miss the first, aptly titled Who is Vera Kelly?. Knecht’s writing style has been described as “evocative and spare, stylish and brooding” (Booklist) and Vera “a woman of sparkling wit, deep moral fiber, and martini-dry humor who knows how to follow a case even as she struggles to follow her heart.” Find out more >>