With the month of April comes spring cleaning and plenty of new books to add to the fresh space you’ve just cleared out—great work! We’ve rounded up those highly anticipated books coming out soon. Some of these we’ve managed to read early copies of and some books that we can’t wait to read ourselves. Whether we were attracted to a relatable premise, a promising tagline, or a beautiful cover, these eleven new April releases have us counting down until publication day!
Heather’s Pick #1: Even in virtual form, my book club’s monthly meetings have been one of the highlights of my year. They’re a chance to catch up, enjoy a glass of wine (or two), and chat about books with some of my closest friends. And I have to say, Tif Marcelo’s IN A BOOK CLUB FAR AWAY feels tailor-made to read and discuss with them. The novel welcomes us into the lives of three Army wives—Adelaide, Regina, and Sophie—who met in a book club and used to be best friends, until an abrupt falling out sent them in different directions. And yet, when Adelaide contacts Regina and Sophie out of the blue eight years later, they are unable to deny her request for help taking care of her young daughter while she undergoes emergency surgery. Is there a chance the three women can repair their friendship? Obviously, I must find out!
From the author of Once Upon a Sunset and The Key to Happily Ever After comes a heartwarming and moving novel following three Army wives—estranged friends—who must overcome their differences when one of them is desperate for help.
Regina Castro, Adelaide Wilson-Chang, and Sophie Walden used to be best friends. As Army wives at Fort East, they bonded during their book club and soon became inseparable. But when an unimaginable betrayal happened amongst the group, the friendship abruptly ended, and they haven’t spoken since.
That’s why, eight years later, Regina and Sophie are shocked when they get a call for help from Adelaide. Adelaide’s husband is stationed abroad, and without any friends or family near her new home of Alexandria, Virginia, she has no one to help take care of her young daughter when she has to undergo emergency surgery. For the sake of an innocent child, Regina and Sophie reluctantly put their differences aside to help an old friend.
As the three women reunite, they must overcome past hurts and see if there’s any future for their friendship. Featuring Tif Marcelo’s signature “enchanting prose” (Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake) and the books that brought them together in the first place, In a Book Club Far Away honors the immense power of female friendship and how love can defy time, distance, and all old wounds.
Heather’s Pick #2: Don’t we all long to be somewhere else, anywhere else, these days? To step out of our own tired routine and into a more stimulating scene? Luckily, we can do just that with Michaela Carter’s historical novel LEONORA IN THE MORNING LIGHT, which is inspired by the fascinating true story of twentieth-century painter Leonora Carrington. In 1937, a sheltered twenty-year-old Leonora meets a man who will forever change her life: Max Ernst, a German artist already renowned throughout Europe for pioneering Surrealism. Despite Max’s being older, and married, Leonora falls in love with him, and the two move to Paris, where they run in the same circles as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Leonora’s happy bubble bursts, however, when World War II breaks out and Max is arrested and imprisoned for being a “degenerate.” How does Leonora cope, and will the two ever meet again? I’m eager to find out.
One of O, The Oprah Magazine’s “Most Anticipated Historical Fiction Novels That Will Sweep You Away” and LitHub’s “Most Anticipated Books of 2021.”
For fans of Amy Bloom’s White Houses and Colm Tóibín’s The Master, a page-turning novel about Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington and the art, drama, and romance that defined her coming-of-age during World War II.
1940. A train carrying exiled German prisoners from a labor camp arrives in southern France. Within moments, word spreads that Nazi capture is imminent, and the men flee for the woods, desperate to disappear across the Spanish border. One stays behind, determined to ride the train until he reaches home, to find a woman he refers to simply as “her.”
1937. Leonora Carrington is a twenty-year-old British socialite and painter dreaming of independence when she meets Max Ernst, an older, married artist whose work has captivated Europe. She follows him to Paris, into the vibrant revolutionary world of studios and cafes where rising visionaries of the Surrealist movement like Andre Breton, Pablo Picasso, Lee Miller, Man Ray, and Salvador Dali are challenging conventional approaches to art and life. Inspired by their freedom, Leonora begins to experiment with her own work, translating vivid stories of her youth onto canvas and gaining recognition under her own name. It is a bright and glorious age of enlightenment—until the shadow of war looms over Europe and headlines emerge denouncing Max and his circle as “degenerates,” leading to his arrest and imprisonment. Left along as occupation spreads throughout the countryside, Leonora battles terrifying circumstances to survive, reawakening past demons that threaten to consume her.
As Leonora and Max embark on remarkable journeys together and apart, the full story of their tumultuous and passionate love affair unfolds, spanning time and borders as they seek to reunite and reclaim their creative power in a world shattered by war. When their paths cross with Peggy Guggenheim, an art collector and socialite working to help artists escape to America, nothing will be the same.
Based on true events and historical figures, Leonora in the Morning Light is an unforgettable story of love, art, and destiny that restores a twentieth-century heroine to her rightful place in our collective imagination.
Allie’s Pick: I love Genevieve Graham’s ability to highlight oft-forgotten moments of history. In THE FORGOTTEN HOME CHILD, she brought light to the British Home Children, who played a little-known (and heartbreaking) part in Canadian and American history. Now, in LETTERS ACROSS THE SEA, she turns her gaze to a chapter of WWII history that very few know about, depicting the experiences of Canadian soldiers and home-front civilians, and spanning from Toronto to Hong Kong. This is a powerful novel that shows how love can unite us, even when our divisions seem insurmountable.
Inspired by a little-known chapter of World War II history, a young Protestant girl and her Jewish neighbour are caught up in the terrible wave of hate sweeping the globe on the eve of war in this powerful love story that’s perfect for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
If you’re reading this letter, that means I’m dead. I had obviously hoped to see you again, to explain in person, but fate had other plans.
At eighteen years old, Molly Ryan dreams of becoming a journalist, but instead she spends her days working any job she can to help her family through the Depression crippling her city. The one bright spot in her life is watching baseball with her best friend, Hannah Dreyfus, and sneaking glances at Hannah’s handsome older brother, Max.
But as the summer unfolds, more and more of Hitler’s hateful ideas cross the sea and “Swastika Clubs” and “No Jews Allowed” signs spring up around Toronto, a city already simmering with mass unemployment, protests, and unrest. When tensions between the Irish and Jewish communities erupt in a riot one smouldering day in August, Molly and Max are caught in the middle, with devastating consequences for both their families.
Six years later, the Depression has eased and Molly is a reporter at her local paper. But a new war is on the horizon, putting everyone she cares about most in peril. As letters trickle in from overseas, Molly is forced to confront what happened all those years ago, but is it too late to make things right?
From the desperate streets of Toronto to the embattled shores of Hong Kong, Letters Across the Sea is a poignant novel about the enduring power of love to cross dangerous divides even in the darkest of times—from the #1 bestselling author of The Forgotten Home Child.
Emily’s Pick #1: A magical historical love story recommended for fans of Alice Hoffman and Neil Gaiman? Say no more! Inspired by Norwegian folklore and set in nineteenth-century Norway, this tale revolves around a loving family—the blue-skinned child of Pieter the fisherman and his mysterious wife, Maeva, whom he rescued from the sea long ago. Through the years, the family has managed to avoid diving into each other’s secrets and to ignore the prying eyes of suspicious townspeople, but little do they know, they’re also closely watched by a shapeshifter who is waiting for miraculous events to finally occur
An utterly gripping love story set in nineteenth-century Norway, about a woman rescued from the sea, the fisherman who marries her, their tiny and unusually gifted daughter, and the shapeshifter who follows their every move, perfect for fans of Alice Hoffman, Yangsze Choo, Eowyn Ivey, and Neil Gaiman.
The sky opens up... I hear them laugh.
They don’t feel the sadness in the air.
They don’t feel the danger coming, riding in on the wind.
In the hinterlands of old Norway, Leidah Pietersdatter is born blue-skinned, with webbed hands and feet. Upon every turn of season, her mother, Maeva, worries as her daughter’s peculiarities blossom—inside the root of the tiny child, a strange power is taking hold.
Maeva tries to hide the girl from the suspicious townsfolk of the austere village of Ørken, just as she conceals her own magical ancestry from her daughter. And Maeva’s adoring husband, Pieter, wants nothing more than for his new family to be accepted by all. But unlike Pieter, who is blinded by love, Maeva is aware that the villagers, who profess a rigid faith to the new God and claim to have abandoned the old ways, are watching for any sign of transgression—and are eager to pounce and punish.
Following both mother and daughter from the shadows and through time, an inquisitive shapeshifter waits for the Fates to spin their web, and for Maeva to finally reclaim who she once was. And as Maeva’s elusive past begins to beckon, she realizes that she must help her daughter navigate and control her own singular birthright if the child is to survive the human world.
But the protective love Pieter has for his family is threatening the secure life they have slowly built and increasingly becoming a tragic obstacle. Witnessing this, Maeva comes to a drastic conclusion: she must make Leidah promise to keep a secret from Pieter—a perilous one that may eventually free them all.
Sarah’s Pick: I can’t remember the last time I tore through a book this quickly. The generations of women whose voices were so distinctive and fears so tangible, whose mistakes and secrets felt alive and intrusive, paired perfectly with the atmospheric Sparrow Crest estate setting in this gothic thriller. Jax distanced herself from her older sister, Lexie; when Lexie drowns in a backyard pool, their year apart is a painful reminder of a reconciliation that can never happen. Jax finds herself back on her family’s long-held property, sorting through Lexie’s pictures and journals of her final days, depicting a terrifying discovery.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invited and The Winter People comes a chilling new novel about a woman who returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming pool…but she’s not the pool’s only victim.
Be careful what you wish for.
When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.
In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.
A haunting, twisty, and compulsively readable thrill ride from the author who Chris Bohjalian has dubbed the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson,” The Drowning Kind is a modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past, though sometimes forgotten, is never really far behind us.
Courtney’s Pick: I’m really looking forward to reading ASTRID SEES ALL. First, it takes place in 1980s New York City, which sounds amazing. Second, haven’t we all been in our early twenties, longing to escape to the Big Apple? No, just me? Well, I’m confident this book will transport me to the side of New York my teenage self could only dream of experiencing: the places where artists, It girls, and lost souls converge to make the city their own. Add in some self-destructive behavior, a nightclub fortune-teller, and taking revenge on an ex, and I’m hooked. Let’s see what we can find hiding in the shadows.
Most Anticipated: The Great First Half 2021 by The Millions
New York’s last bohemia—the glittering, decadent downtown club scene of the 1980s—is the setting for this brilliantly winning novel about a smart, vulnerable young woman taking a deep dive into her dark side, essential for fans of Sweetbitter, Fleabag, and books by Patti Smith.
New York, 1984: Twenty-two-year-old Phoebe Hayes is a young woman in search of excitement and adventure. But the recent death of her father has so devastated her that her mother wants her to remain home in Baltimore to recover. Phoebe wants to return to New York, not only to chase the glamorous life she so desperately craves but also to confront Ivan, the older man who painfully wronged her.
With her best friend Carmen, she escapes to the East Village, disappearing into an underworld haunted by artists, It Girls, and lost souls trying to party their pain away. Carmen juggles her junkie-poet boyfriend and a sexy painter while, as Astrid the Star Girl, Phoebe tells fortunes in a nightclub and plots her revenge on Ivan.
When the intoxicating brew of sex, drugs, and self-destruction leads Phoebe to betray her friend, Carmen disappears, and Phoebe begins an unstoppable descent into darkness. She may have a chance to save herself—and Carmen, if she can find her—but to do it she must face what’s hiding in the shadows she’s been running from—within her heart and in the dangerous midnight streets.
A love letter to gritty 1980s New York City, Astrid Sees All is an irresistible, original novel about female friendship, sex and romance, and what it’s like to be a young woman searching for an identity.
Sara’s Pick #1: Las Vegas is a city of vice and sin, where travelers come to indulge in bad habits and wild fantasies while the locals work the scene to get through another day. So what do four very different strangers converging in Sin City have to do with a bombing at one of the biggest hotel-casinos six months later? Dario Diofebi’s debut novel, PARADISE, NEVADA, follows their intertwining tales of backdoor deals, hands of poker, and the strange twists and turns of life in a town obsessed with money and power.
Jordyn’s Pick: I don’t know if there’s anything more tense than a book that is centered around an adoption that doesn’t go smoothly, as the baby who has already gone home with adopted parents is getting reclaimed by the child’s teenaged mother. Throughout OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN you root for both women, the one who wants a child so badly and is ready to welcome this one with open arms, and the teenager who doesn’t know if she can handle being a mother but is being influenced by her own mom. I love a good family drama, but even more than that I love how this book delivers on the nuances of what a good mother looks like, and what lengths the characters will go to in order to get the life they want. This is perfect for fans of THE PUSH or WOMAN ON THE EDGE.
A riveting debut novel about a couple whose dream of adopting a baby is shattered when the teenage mother reclaims her child.
What makes a family?
Gail and Jon Durbin moved to the Chicago suburbs to set up house as soon as Gail got pregnant. But then she miscarried—once, twice, three times. Determined to expand their family, the Durbins turn to adoption. When several adoptions fall through, Gail’s desire for a child overwhelms her.
Carli is a pregnant teenager from a blue-collar town nearby, with dreams of going to college and getting out of her mother’s home. When she makes the gut-wrenching decision to give her baby up for adoption, she chooses the Durbins. But Carli’s mother, Marla, has other plans for her grandbaby.
In Other People’s Children, three mothers make excruciating choices to protect their families and their dreams—choices that put them at decided odds against one another. You will root for each one of them and wonder just how far you’d go in the same situation. This riveting debut is a thoughtful exploration of love and family, and a heart-pounding page-turner you’ll find impossible to put down.
Emily’s Pick #2: Growing up, I loved pretending there were other worlds in my family’s unfinished basement, so I was super intrigued about Mirrorland, an imaginary universe that twin sisters dream up in the creepy pantry stairs of their Edinburgh house, and what happens when they reach adulthood, estranged from each other, with bizarre events pulling them back together and toward the past they long forgot. Mixing magical mystery elements with gripping psychological suspense, MIRRORLAND promises to be one spellbinding read.
“Dark and devious... Beautifully written and plotted with a watchmaker’s precision.” — Stephen King
“A dark, twisty, and richly atmospheric exploration of the power of imagination” —Ruth Ware, author of One by One and The Woman in Cabin 10
With the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is a thrilling work of psychological suspense about twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind.
Cat lives in Los Angeles, far away from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband Ross.
But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to 36 Westeryk Road, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. The grand old house is still full of shadowy corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues in almost every room: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, where she knows the truth lies crouched and waiting...
A twisty, dark, and brilliantly crafted thriller about love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom.
Saimah’s Pick: If you enjoy historical romances, you won’t want to miss this story from Martha Waters. Lady Diana Templeton and the Marquess of Willingham, Jeremy, are infamous among the high society of England. Their witty banter escalates during an argument at a ball, which then turns into a wager—Jeremy must marry within a year or he must pay Lady Diana a hefty sum of money. Shortly after, Jeremy appears at Diana’s home with a scandalous proposal to become his lover and give him an honest critique of his skills in the bedroom. The widowed Diana considers his proposition with the hopes that the gossip will signal to other gentlemen that she’s interested in taking a lover. Diana is confident that her relationship with Jeremy will also tip the scales in her favor to win their wager, but what she doesn’t anticipate are the fond feelings she experiences for the marquess.
The author of the “hilarious...joyful, elegant” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) To Have and to Hoax returns with an effervescent, charming, and swoon-worthy novel about a man and woman who never agree on anything—until they agree to a no-strings-attached affair in this Regency-era romp.
The widowed Diana, Lady Templeton and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham are infamous among English high society as much for their sharp-tongued bickering as their flirtation. One evening, an argument at a ball turns into a serious wager: Jeremy will marry within the year or Diana will forfeit one hundred pounds. So shortly after, just before a fortnight-long house party at Elderwild, Jeremy’s country estate, Diana is shocked when Jeremy appears at her home with a very different kind of proposition.
After his latest mistress unfavorably criticized his skills in the bedroom, Jeremy is looking for reassurance, so he has gone to the only woman he trusts to be totally truthful. He suggests that they embark on a brief affair while at the house party—Jeremy can receive an honest critique of his bedroom skills and widowed Diana can use the gossip to signal to other gentlemen that she is interested in taking a lover.
Diana thinks taking him up on his counter-proposal can only help her win her wager. With her in the bedroom and Jeremy’s marriage-minded grandmother, the formidable Dowager Marchioness of Willingham, helping to find suitable matches among the eligible ladies at Elderwild, Diana is confident her victory is assured. But while they’re focused on winning wagers, they stand to lose their own hearts.
With Martha Waters’s signature “cheeky charm and wonderfully wry wit” (Booklist, starred review), To Love and to Loathe is another clever and delightful historical rom-com that is perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Evie Dunmore.
Sara’s Pick #2: Small-town life comes with its own set of complications, a concept that has found a home in many great works. EVERYONE DIES FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN manages to craft a number of sweet and sour stories that could happen only in the closed-off worlds in these tiny metropoles. From tales of sibling bonds, well-timed revenge, and the tenuous ties of friends, these stories will keep you captivated and curious about what secrets your town might be hiding.
Photo credit: iStock / NataGolubnycha