I love getting excited about upcoming new books so I can plan out my whole reading schedule months in advance. The second half of 2021 has some incredible new releases for us avid readers. Whether you’re fans of these authors or just looking for something new to sink your teeth into, it’s never too early to add these to your TBR list. Some of these I’ve been lucky enough to read already; others I KNOW will be good based on the author’s previous books. When these land on your doorstep on pub day, you’ll be thanking yourself and starting autumn off on the right foot.
I loved ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, and since then I have been anticipating Doerr’s next book. The best word I have for this novel is ‘magnificent.’ From the prose to the style to the heart of the story itself, I’m obsessed and in love all over again. Maybe it’s also the books I consumed as a kid, but I fundamentally believe that stories connect us all, and that is such a big part of CLOUD CUCKOO LAND. This story is told in three distinct time periods: Omeir and Anna find themselves on opposite sides of Constantinople’s city walls during the siege of 1453; Seymour is trapped in an attack on a library in present-day Idaho; and Konstance, a young girl, is aboard an interstellar spaceship in the distant future. All find themselves drawn to the story of Aethon, an ancient text about a young man who wishes to turn into a bird and fly to a paradise in the sky. Doerr weaves an incredible tale of perseverance and stewardship with a cast of dreamers that will whisk you away. Publication Date: September 28, 2021
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of All the Light We Cannot See, perhaps the most bestselling and beloved literary fiction of our time, comes a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring novel about children on the cusp of adulthood in a broken world, who find resilience, hope, and story.
The heroes of Cloud Cuckoo Land are trying to figure out the world around them: Anna and Omeir, on opposite sides of the formidable city walls during the 1453 siege of Constantinople; teenage idealist Seymour in an attack on a public library in present day Idaho; and Konstance, on an interstellar ship bound for an exoplanet, decades from now. Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders who find resourcefulness and hope in the midst of peril.
An ancient text—the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky—provides solace and mystery to these unforgettable characters. Doerr has created a tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness—with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us and those who will be here after we’re gone.
Dedicated to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come,” Cloud Cuckoo Land is a hauntingly beautiful and redemptive novel about stewardship—of the book, of the Earth, of the human heart.
THE BALLAD OF LAUREL SPRINGS is wonderfully unique and equally as heartbreaking. Beard weaves her story around a series of violent folk songs to illustrate the struggles of generations of a family of Tennessee women. Grace is enthralled to learn that a popular murder ballad folksong is about a great-great-great-great-grandfather of hers who stabbed his lover to death. But what comes with that realization is the lesson to be wary of men and their desires, something Grace’s family knows all too well. From there Beard tells the story of women in each generation of Grace’s family, their dark legacy, and what they’ll do to protect the people they love. Publication Date: October 25, 2021
From the internationally bestselling author of The Atomic City Girls, a provocative new novel about multiple generations of women in one East Tennessee family haunted by violence and redeemed by their rich inheritance of folk music.
Ten-year-old Grace is in search of a subject for her fifth-grade history project when she learns that her four times-great grandfather once stabbed his lover to death. His grisly act was memorialized in a murder ballad, her aunt tells her, so it must be true. But the lessons of that revelation—to be careful of men, and desire—are not just Grace’s to learn. Her family’s tangled past is part of a dark legacy in which the lives of generations of women are affected by the violence immortalized in folksongs like “Knoxville Girl” and “Pretty Polly” reminding them always to know their place—or risk the wages of sin.
Janet Beard’s stirring novel, informed by her love of these haunting ballads, vividly imagines these women, defined by the secrets they keep, the surprises they uncover, and the lurking sense of menace that follows them throughout their lives. With the same rich sense of place as Bloodroot or Serena, The Ballad of Laurel Springs is an unforgettable portrait of women fighting to make a safe place in the world for themselves and the people they love.
A historical fiction read about the little-known Marie de France combined with Groff's incredible prose? Absolutely. While not a lot is known about Marie de France, who was alive during the late twelfth century, Groff has created an incredible tapestry of strength, violence, faith, and passion. After being kicked out of the royal court, Marie is sent to an impoverished Abbey in England. The nuns there are unpredictable and face starvation and disease at every turn. Marie is shocked and horrified by her brutal new life, and yet she finds purpose and even love among her sisters. With conviction in her divine visions, Marie is determined to lead her sisters in a new direction. But the world is changing around them, and her strength and beliefs alone, might not be enough. Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Are you desperate for a new Lisa Jewell novel? Well, so am I! But luckily, the wait is almost over. People are already saying this is her best thriller yet, so you can bet I instantly put this on my pre-order list. A young couple mysteriously vanishes after a party at a friend’s estate in the English suburbs. A year later a writer moves into a cottage on the edge of the woods—the same woods that border the estate where the couple was last seen. It’s known as The Dark Place, and the writer loves to take long walks through the woods, until she finds a mysterious sign that reads “DIG HERE.” Intrigued, she does just that, potentially unearthing a clue to the couple’s disappearance from a year earlier. A slow-burn thriller told with all the twistiness of a Lisa Jewell novel, this is sure to be a new favorite. Publication Date: September 7, 2021
“I love all Lisa’s books, but The Night She Disappeared is her best thriller yet.” —Harlan Coben, New York Times bestselling author of Win
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and The Family Upstairs comes another riveting work of “gloriously twisted” (Marie Claire) psychological suspense about a web of people whose lives are forever changed in the wake of a young couple’s disappearance.
On a beautiful summer night in a charming English suburb, a young woman and her boyfriend disappear after partying at the massive country estate of a new college friend.
One year later, a writer moves into a cottage on the edge of the woods that border the same estate. Known locally as the Dark Place, the dense forest is the writer’s favorite area for long walks and it’s on one such walk that she stumbles upon a mysterious note that simply reads, “DIG HERE.”
Could this be a clue towards what has happened to the missing young couple? And what exactly is buried in this haunted ground?
With her signature “rich, dark, and intricately twisted” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Lisa Jewell has crafted a dazzling work of suspense that will keep on the edge of your seat until the final page.
I probably could talk about how much I adore both Alice Hoffman and Practical Magic all day. So it is both exciting and heartbreaking to know that this is the conclusion of the Owens family women. Alice Hoffman always manages to bring the ordinary and the extraordinary together in her utterly magical and deeply human stories of love and sacrifice. So of course, I can’t wait to read THE BOOK OF MAGIC. The Owens family has been cursed for over 300 years. So when Jet Owens hears the deathwatch beetle, she knows her time is up. But it’s not just Jet who is in danger; the curse has been set in motion yet again. Now three generations of Owens women must come together to save a young man’s life. Together they’ll travel to the English countryside where Maria first practiced her magic in hopes of breaking the curse. Kylie, Sally’s daughter, learns secrets about her own dark powers, Franny will sacrifice everything for her family, and Sally herself will do whatever it takes for love. Publication Date: October 5, 2021
Master storyteller Alice Hoffman brings us the conclusion of the Practical Magic series in a spellbinding and enchanting final Owens novel brimming with lyric beauty and vivid characters.
The Owens family has been cursed in matters of love for over three-hundred years but all of that is about to change. The novel begins in a library, the best place for a story to be conjured, when beloved aunt Jet Owens hears the deathwatch beetle and knows she has only seven days to live. Jet is not the only one in danger—the curse is already at work.
A frantic attempt to save a young man’s life spurs three generations of the Owens women, and one long-lost brother, to use their unusual gifts to break the curse as they travel from Paris to London to the English countryside where their ancestor Maria Owens first practiced the Unnamed Art. The younger generation discovers secrets that have been hidden from them in matters of both magic and love by Sally, their fiercely protective mother. As Kylie Owens uncovers the truth about who she is and what her own dark powers are, her aunt Franny comes to understand that she is ready to sacrifice everything for her family, and Sally Owens realizes that she is willing to give up everything for love.
The Book of Magic is a breathtaking conclusion that celebrates mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers, and anyone who has ever been in love.
This has been such a long-awaited sequel, I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for this book. The prose and the characters in ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE are so tender and beautiful, I couldn’t help but fall in love. And now we get to see Ari and Dante grow into their relationship even more while growing into themselves. Ari expected his senior year to be similar to his last three years in high school, but then he fell in love with Dante. And now he can’t go back. Ari finds himself speaking up and making new friends. The boys are determined to build a future together despite living in a world that doesn’t understand them. But when Ari is faced with tragedy, he has to fight like never before to find and build a life full of joy where he can be himself. Publication Date: October 12, 2021
The highly anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed, multiple award-winning novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is an achingly romantic, tender tale sure to captivate fans of Adam Silvera and Mary H.K. Choi.
In Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, two boys in a border town fell in love. Now, they must discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence.
Ari has spent all of high school burying who he really is, staying silent and invisible. He expected his senior year to be the same. But something in him cracked open when he fell in love with Dante, and he can’t go back. Suddenly he finds himself reaching out to new friends, standing up to bullies of all kinds, and making his voice heard. And, always, there is Dante, dreamy, witty Dante, who can get on Ari’s nerves and fill him with desire all at once.
The boys are determined to forge a path for themselves in a world that doesn’t understand them. But when Ari is faced with a shocking loss, he’ll have to fight like never before to create a life that is truthfully, joyfully his own.
NORMAL PEOPLE and CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS took the world by storm, so of course, Sally Rooney’s upcoming BEAUTIFUL WORLD, WHERE ARE YOU has been highly anticipated. Rooney writes such amazing dialogue, that her novels feel almost effortless, which is a feat unto itself. In this upcoming novel, Rooney splits the story between the action and emails exchanged by best friends Alice and Eileen. Alice meets Felix and asks if he wants to go to Rome with her. Meanwhile, Eileen is in Dublin trying to get over a breakup. In her attempt she begins flirting with Simon, a man she’s known since they were kids. All four of them still feel young, and yet are surrounded by the feeling that life is catching up with them. Like Rooney’s other works, it’s about people and the complex relationships between them. Desire, sex, denial, friendship, and the reality of the world they live in seem to be a constant worry for them all. And, of course, will they find a beautiful world to believe in? Publication Date: September 7, 2021
This story about a father and a son, and what we are doing for the generations following ours, is both beautiful and heartbreaking. Powers includes such incredible descriptions of nature and wilderness in this story that you will absolutely feel transported. Theo is an astrobiologist who discovered a way to search for life on planets lightyears away. He is also a single father to his emotionally troubled nine-year-old son, Robin, who loves animals and painting and wants to save the planet. After Robin receives repeated diagnoses, Theo refuses to give his son psychoactive drugs to treat his behavioral problems. When Robin asks why the world is in love with its destruction, Theo decides to take him to the other planets. Powers’s previous book, THE OVERSTORY, won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction, so this one is an eagerly awaited read! Publication Date: September 21, 2021
I am very excited for the political thriller from Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny. Not only do I enjoy political thrillers, but I’m looking forward to seeing the expertise that both women bring to the story for such a compelling narrative. When a green secretary of state joins the administration of her rival a series of terrorist attacks plunges the world into chaos. It is her job to form a team and unravel the conspiracy that was clearly designed to take advantage of a dangerously out-of-touch American government. Publication Date: October 12, 2021
From the #1 bestselling authors Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny comes a novel of unsurpassed thrills and incomparable insider expertise—State of Terror.
After a tumultuous period in American politics, a new administration has just been sworn in, and to everyone’s surprise the president chooses a political enemy for the vital position of secretary of state.
There is no love lost between the president of the United States and Ellen Adams, his new secretary of state. But it’s a canny move on the part of the president. With this appointment, he silences one of his harshest critics, since taking the job means Adams must step down as head of her multinational media conglomerate.
As the new president addresses Congress for the first time, with Secretary Adams in attendance, Anahita Dahir, a young foreign service officer (FSO) on the Pakistan desk at the State Department, receives a baffling text from an anonymous source.
Too late, she realizes the message was a hastily coded warning.
What begins as a series of apparent terrorist attacks is revealed to be the beginning of an international chess game involving the volatile and Byzantine politics of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran; the race to develop nuclear weapons in the region; the Russian mob; a burgeoning rogue terrorist organization; and an American government set back on its heels in the international arena.
As the horrifying scale of the threat becomes clear, Secretary Adams and her team realize it has been carefully planned to take advantage of four years of an American government out of touch with international affairs, out of practice with diplomacy, and out of power in the places where it counts the most.
To defeat such an intricate, carefully constructed conspiracy, it will take the skills of a unique team: a passionate young FSO; a dedicated journalist; and a smart, determined, but as yet untested new secretary of state.
State of Terror is a unique and utterly compelling international thriller cowritten by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 67th secretary of state, and Louise Penny, a multiple award-winning #1 New York Times bestselling novelist.
Stephen Graham Jones is another author whose latest work I’ve been eagerly waiting for. Jones created a powerful mix of folklore, horror, and Native identity in THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS. His latest book is an homage to the slasher genre that manages to turn it on its head. Jade, a half Indian girl with an abusive father and an absent mother, knows no one in Indian Lake who wants anything to do with her. She seeks solace and comfort in slasher movies, so when there is a murder in her small town, Jade knows exactly how everything is going to play out. Jade brings the reader deep into her story, revealing that behind her tough exterior of being a fan of blood and gore is a scared and traumatized girl wearing her own mask. Publication Date: August 31, 2021
In her quickly gentrifying rural lake town Jade sees recent events only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films could have prepared her for in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, New York Times bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones.
“Some girls just don’t know how to die…”
Shirley Jackson meets Friday the 13th in My Heart Is a Chainsaw, written by the author of The Only Good Indians Stephen Graham Jones, called “a literary master” by National Book Award winner Tananarive Due and “one of our most talented living writers” by Tommy Orange.
Alma Katsu calls My Heart Is a Chainsaw “a homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre.” On the surface is a story of murder in small-town America. But beneath is its beating heart: a biting critique of American colonialism, Indigenous displacement, and gentrification, and a heartbreaking portrait of a broken young girl who uses horror movies to cope with the horror of her own life.
Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold.
Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges…a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph.
Photo credit: iStock / diignat