We’re launching our fall most anticipated list a bit early this year because we just can’t WAIT to start reading and gushing about these books. Filled with long-awaited follow-ups to bestsellers, authors experimenting with different genres, and some amazing debuts, this is a top-tier, most anticipated roundup. And, even though this summer’s going by incredibly fast, we’ve started counting down the days until we can be cozy by the fireplace with these fall reads in hand!
Shauneice’s Pick #1: Of all the books coming out this fall, THE CLOISTERS by Katy Hays is the one I absolutely can’t wait to read. The story follows Ann Stillwell, a curatorial associate to The Cloisters Museum in NYC, who uncovers 15th-century tarot cards that seem to have some fortune-telling powers—and are therefore highly coveted by sinister divination scholars.
I’m a fan of The Cloisters, so I’m especially excited to get a behind-the-scenes perspective of the gothic architecture, the artifacts within, and the surrounding gardens. Plus, the magical plot element of the tarot cards adds an extra level of intrigue to an already mysterious place with a lot of grand history (did I also mention the plot involves a murder?). THE CLOISTERS has such an element of familiarity for me, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.
The Secret History meets Ninth House in this sinister, atmospheric novel following a circle of researchers as they uncover a mysterious deck of tarot cards and shocking secrets in New York’s famed Met Cloisters.
When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.
Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.
A haunting and magical blend of genres, The Cloisters is a gripping debut that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Shauneice’s Pick #2: Having grown up in a matriarchal-dominated family, I can’t wait to read THE FORTUNES OF JADED WOMEN by Carolyn Huynh this fall. The premise follows a female-led Vietnamese family long ago cursed to give birth to females only—until a prophecy predicts a son, beginning a phase of reuniting and healing for many generations. Just reading the plot of this novel brings me back to my childhood memories of my own family, with not only the generational differences between myself and my grandmother foremost, but also the similarities in our attitudes and mannerisms. I never thought that having a grandmother as matriarch could be a curse, and I have a feeling this book will give me a different perspective on having just such a family line.
For fans of Jonathan Tropper, KJ Dell’Antonia, and Kevin Kwan, this “sharp, smart, and gloriously extra” (Nancy Jooyoun Kim, The Last Story of Mina Lee) debut follows a family of estranged Vietnamese women—cursed to never know love or happiness—as they reunite when a psychic makes a startling prediction.
Everyone in Orange County’s Little Saigon knew that the Duong sisters were cursed.
It started with their ancestor, Oanh, who dared to leave her marriage for true love—so a fearsome Vietnamese witch cursed Oanh and her descendants so that they would never find love or happiness, and the Duong women would give birth to daughters, never sons.
Oanh’s current descendant Mai Nguyen knows this curse well. She’s divorced, and after an explosive disagreement a decade ago, she’s estranged from her younger sisters, Minh Pham (the middle and the mediator) and Khuyen Lam (the youngest who swears she just runs humble coffee shops and nail salons, not Little Saigon’s underground). Though Mai’s three adult daughters, Priscilla, Thuy, and Thao, are successful in their careers (one of them is John Cho’s dermatologist!), the same can’t be said for their love lives. Mai is convinced they might drive her to an early grave.
Desperate for guidance, she consults Auntie Hua, her trusted psychic in Hawaii, who delivers an unexpected prediction: this year, her family will witness a marriage, a funeral, and the birth of a son. This prophecy will reunite estranged mothers, daughters, aunts, and cousins—for better or for worse.
A multi-narrative novel brimming with levity and candor, The Fortunes of Jaded Women is about mourning, meddling, celebrating, and healing together as a family. It shows how Vietnamese women emerge victorious, even if the world is against them.
Aimee’s Pick: As a Constant Reader, there’s nothing more exciting for me than knowing a new Stephen King book is coming! FAIRY TALE is all of the things I love about Stephen King—special nod to Dark Tower fans! But if you haven’t read the master storyteller before (or in a while), I envy you. This is a magical place to start or pick back up. And speaking of magic, what could be more fantastic than a boy, his dog, and a parallel world—where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours. A starred review from Kirkus calls it, “A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.” In this new work full of suspense and mystery, let Stephen King take you into the depths of his imagination. You may not want to leave his conjured world, and you may never look at the moon, or a shed, the same way again. Book lovers—you just cannot miss this one!
Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours.
Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. When Charlie is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and her aging master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it.
Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world.
King’s storytelling in Fairy Tale soars. This is a magnificent and terrifying tale in which good is pitted against overwhelming evil, and a heroic boy—and his dog—must lead the battle.
Early in the Pandemic, King asked himself: “What could you write that would make you happy?”
“As if my imagination had been waiting for the question to be asked, I saw a vast deserted city—deserted but alive. I saw the empty streets, the haunted buildings, a gargoyle head lying overturned in the street. I saw smashed statues (of what I didn’t know, but I eventually found out). I saw a huge, sprawling palace with glass towers so high their tips pierced the clouds. Those images released the story I wanted to tell.”
Holly’s Pick #1: Fredrik Backman fans, including myself, have been anticipating this long-awaited conclusion to the Beartown series. THE WINNERS, which publishes in late September, brings readers back to the arena of the small-town hockey team we have grown to know and love. Two years have passed since the tragedies that struck the characters of this town. While everyone has attempted to move on, something still weighs on the small forest community. And when a storm hits, reigniting the rivalry between Beartown and its neighbor, Hed, tension is kicked back into the air. Readers will be thrilled to revisit Fredrik Backman’s signature world and the brilliant ways in which he captures the complexities of life, loss, and friendship. This book brims with emotion as characters learn what it means to forgive.
The long-awaited conclusion to the beloved New York Times bestselling and “engrossing” (People) Beartown series—which inspired an HBO series of the same name—follows the small hockey town’s residents as they grapple with change, pain, hope, and redemption.
It starts with a storm, a death, and two funerals on the same day.
One person’s life is being celebrated by all of Beartown.
One person’s life is being forgotten.
Maya Andersson and Benji Ovich, two young people who left in search of a life far from the forest town, come home and joyfully reunite with their closest childhood friends. They can see how much Beartown has changed. There is a sense of optimism and purpose in the town, embodied in the impressive new ice rink that has been built down by the lake.
Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The destruction caused by a ferocious late-summer storm reignites the old rivalry between Beartown and the neighboring town of Hed, a rivalry which has always been fought through their ice hockey teams. Maya’s parents, Peter and Kira, are caught up in an investigation of the hockey club’s murky finances, and Amat—once the star of the Beartown team—has lost his way after an injury and a failed attempt to get drafted into the NHL. Simmering tensions between the two towns turn into acts of intimidation and then violence. All the while, a fourteen-year-old boy grows increasingly alienated from this hockey-obsessed community and is determined to take revenge on the people he holds responsible for his beloved sister’s death. He has a pistol and a plan that will leave Beartown with a loss that is almost more that it can stand.
As it beautifully captures all the complexities of daily life and explores questions of friendship, loyalty, loss, and identity, this emotion-packed novel asks us to reconsider what it means to win, what it means to lose, and what it means to forgive.
Holly’s Pick #2: Jess Kidd has become one of my favorite authors. She has a knack for immersive storytelling and draws readers into her gothic, historical settings. That’s why I am eagerly awaiting the publication of her newest novel, THE NIGHT SHIP. This story, which toggles between two time periods, is based off a true historical event. Back in 1628, an orphaned girl is bound for the Dutch East Indies by boat. Throughout her journey, she spends her time searching for the mythical monsters that are thought to roam the ship. Flash-forward more than three hundred years later, where a lonely boy named Gil is sent to live in the islands off Western Australian with his grandfather. While he is there building a new life, Gil discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck, the Batavia. As the lives of these characters parallel and entwine, a thrilling, twisted, and beautiful tale of friendship and sacrifice unfold. Prepare to be spellbound by another Jess Kidd masterwork.
Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.
1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.
1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…
With her trademark “thrilling, mysterious, twisted, but more than anything, beautifully written” (Graham Norton, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling, Jess Kidd weaves a unputdownable and charming tale of friendship and sacrifice, brutality and forgiveness.
Heather’s Pick #1: Fake dating is one of my favorite romance-fiction tropes, so I thoroughly enjoyed Elena Armas’s THE SPANISH LOVE DECEPTION (pubbed late last year). If there’s a trope I adore even more, though, it’s when characters with obvious chemistry find themselves forced to live together as roommates, like in Armas’s forthcoming sequel, THE AMERICAN ROOMMATE EXPERIMENT. Consider me psyched! Her new novel centers on romance writer Rosie Graham, who happens to be best friends with Lina, the heroine of THE SPANISH LOVE DECEPTION. When Rosie accepts Lina’s generous offer to crash at her New York City apartment while her own is undergoing renovations from a collapsed ceiling, she has no idea that Lina’s cousin, Lucas, is also planning to stay there while visiting from Spain. And given how expensive housing is in NYC, can you blame them for deciding to stick out the next six weeks as temporary roommates? Not me! Of course, those six weeks will give them ample opportunity to fall in love, and I can’t wait to see how their rom-com unfolds.
From the author of the Goodreads Choice Award winner The Spanish Love Deception, the eagerly anticipated follow-up featuring Rosie Graham and Lucas Martín, who are forced to share a New York apartment.
Rosie Graham has a problem. A few, actually. She just quit her well paid job to focus on her secret career as a romance writer. She hasn’t told her family and now has terrible writer’s block. Then, the ceiling of her New York apartment literally crumbles on her. Luckily she has her best friend Lina’s spare key while she’s out of town. But Rosie doesn’t know that Lina has already lent her apartment to her cousin Lucas, who Rosie has been stalking—for lack of a better word—on Instagram for the last few months. Lucas seems intent on coming to her rescue like a Spanish knight in shining armor. Only this one strolls around the place in a towel, has a distracting grin, and an irresistible accent. Oh, and he cooks.
Lucas offers to let Rosie stay with him, at least until she can find some affordable temporary housing. And then he proposes an outrageous experiment to bring back her literary muse and meet her deadline: He’ll take her on a series of experimental dates meant to jump-start her romantic inspiration. Rosie has nothing to lose. Her silly, online crush is totally under control—but Lucas’s time in New York has an expiration date, and six weeks may not be enough, for either her or her deadline.
Heather’s Pick #2: Candice Carty-Williams’ debut novel, QUEENIE, stuck with me long after I finished it because of how authentically it portrayed a twenty-something still figuring out life. And while her latest novel features a whole new cast of characters, I have a feeling it’s going to be another highly relatable story. PEOPLE PERSON will introduce us to thirty-year-old Dimple Pennington, who’s always had a distant relationship with her half-siblings Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie, and Prynce. Always, that is, until Dimple makes a call for help that brings the family together, including their father, a man who didn’t make an effort to truly get to know any of them as they were growing up. Can the five Pennington kids finally form a bond and find a way to accept the dad they have, even if he wasn’t the one they deserved?
The author of the “brazenly hilarious, tell-it-like-it-is first novel” (Oprah Daily) Queenie returns with another witty and insightful novel about the power of family—even when they seem like strangers.
If you could choose your family...you wouldn’t choose the Penningtons.
Dimple Pennington knows of her half siblings, but she doesn’t really know them. Five people who don’t have anything in common except for faint memories of being driven through Brixton in their dad’s gold jeep, and some pretty complex abandonment issues. Dimple has bigger things to think about.
She’s thirty, and her life isn’t really going anywhere. An aspiring lifestyle influencer with a terrible and wayward boyfriend, Dimple’s life has shrunk to the size of a phone screen. And despite a small but loyal following, she’s never felt more alone in her life. That is, until a dramatic event brings her half siblings Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie, and Prynce crashing back into her life. And when they’re all forced to reconnect with Cyril Pennington, the absent father they never really knew, things get even more complicated.
From an author with “a flair for storytelling that appears effortlessly authentic” (Time), People Person is a vibrant and charming celebration of discovering family as an adult.
Emily’s Pick #1: It always surprises friends when I tell them that John Irving is one of my favorite authors—probably because I’m such a big fan of epic fantasy. But there’s something about Irving’s writing—dark, quirky, compassionate—that makes the characters feel surreal. THE LAST CHAIRLIFT—his first novel in seven years—starts off by introducing us to a pregnant skier, known as Little Ray, who comes to raise her son, Adam, in a small New England town without his biological father in the picture but with a whole cast of eccentric characters guiding him through the nuances of growing up. Years later, when Adam goes to look for answers about his father at a hotel in Aspen, he meets ghosts, and carries the ghosts of those he’s known with him as well. This plot, which blends the magical and the real, is making me think this one might join THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP as one of my favorite John Irving books!
John Irving, one of the world’s greatest novelists, returns with his first novel in seven years—a ghost story, a love story, and a lifetime of sexual politics.
In Aspen, Colorado, in 1941, Rachel Brewster is a slalom skier at the National Downhill and Slalom Championships. Little Ray, as she is called, finishes nowhere near the podium, but she manages to get pregnant. Back home, in New England, Little Ray becomes a ski instructor.
Her son, Adam, grows up in a family that defies conventions and evades questions concerning the eventful past. Years later, looking for answers, Adam will go to Aspen. In the Hotel Jerome, where he was conceived, Adam will meet some ghosts; in The Last Chairlift, they aren’t the first or the last ghosts he sees.
John Irving has written some of the most acclaimed books of our time—among them, The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules. A visionary voice on the subject of sexual tolerance, Irving is a bard of alternative families. In The Last Chairlift, readers will once more be in his thrall.
Emily’s Pick #2: I’m a big fan of IT ENDS WITH US—along with the entirety of BookTok, it seems—so I can’t wait for this book from the perspective of both Lily and Atlas, picking up right after that emotional epilogue of the first book. Lily has had some time to reorient her life after separating from Ryle, and they’ve figured out a workable coparenting routine—which is why Atlas and Lily are FINALLY able to go on a date (AHH!!). But of course, with the volatile Ryle still in the picture, there’s bound to be conflict to come. I just hope that Atlas and Lily get to have the beautiful love they both deserve. October can’t come soon enough!
Before It Ends with Us, it started with Atlas. Colleen Hoover tells fan favorite Atlas’s side of the story and shares what comes next in this long-anticipated sequel to the “glorious and touching” (USA TODAY) #1 New York Times bestseller It Ends with Us.
Emily’s Pick #3: I mean, what can I say? I will read anything Michelle Obama writes. I will listen to anything she says. I will buy anything she sells. Her follow-up to BECOMING sounds like just what I need right now: an antidote to all the poison spewing out in the news these days. In THE LIGHT WE CARRY, she shares her wisdom and practical solutions for surrounding ourselves with community and hope, drawing upon both her professional experiences as First Lady and also her personal stories with friends and family. I hope we get some more of the adorable, honest stories of her and Barack falling in love and navigating the uncertainties of their marriage and careers together.
*spoilers ahead for Legendborn*
Nicole’s Pick: When we last left Bree Matthews, she was reeling from the knowledge that she, not Nick Davis, was Arthur’s Scion and the one the Order was waiting on to lead them into and through Camlann. With their entire worldview shaken, several of their comrades fallen, and the survival of the Lines at stake, the Legendborn Order was never more fractured. Nick has been kidnapped, and the centuries long war between the demons and the Order rages on.
LEGENDBORN remains one of the best books I have ever read. Tracy Deonn crafts a world with her words that leaps off the page and buries itself in your soul. All Bree wanted was to discover the truth behind her mother’s death, but instead she discovered the truth about herself—she is a Medium, a Bloodcrafter, and a Scion. In BLOODMARKED, the sequel, Bree’s story continues as she and her friends attempt to save Nick and shine a light on the war the Regents seem intent on hiding. I am so excited to see if and how Bree learns to control her powers and how the struggle between root and aether affects her ability to save herself and her friends. Will she and Sel, the mage sworn to protect Nick, get even closer in Nick’s absence? I need answers!!
The powerful sequel to the instant New York Times bestselling and award-winning Legendborn—perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Margaret Rogerson!
The shadows have risen, and the line is law.
All Bree wanted was to uncover the truth behind her mother’s death. So she infiltrated the Legendborn Order, a secret society descended from King Arthur’s knights—only to discover her own ancestral power. Now, Bree has become someone new:
A Medium. A Bloodcrafter. A Scion.
But the ancient war between demons and the Order is rising to a deadly peak. And Nick, the Legendborn boy Bree fell in love with, has been kidnapped.
Bree wants to fight, but the Regents who rule the Order won’t let her. To them, she is an unknown girl with unheard-of power, and as the living anchor for the spell that preserves the Legendborn cycle, she must be protected.
When the Regents reveal they will do whatever it takes to hide the war, Bree and her friends must go on the run to rescue Nick themselves. But enemies are everywhere, Bree’s powers are unpredictable and dangerous, and she can’t escape her growing attraction to Selwyn, the mage sworn to protect Nick until death.
If Bree has any hope of saving herself and the people she loves, she must learn to control her powers from the ancestors who wielded them first—without losing herself in the process.
Lauren’s Pick: The bestselling author of THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS and MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW, Stephen Graham Jones, is back with a mind-bending haunted house tale this August, THE BABYSITTER LIVES. This novel is available exclusively as an audiobook and warning: you’ll want to listen with the lights on! With all the twists and turns, I found myself saying “ten more minutes” until I had devoured the audiobook in one day. The story centers around high school senior Charlotte, who agrees to babysit the Wilbanks twins. She plans to put the six-year-olds to bed early and spend a quiet night studying for the SATs, but it’s the night before Halloween— the twins are eager to show off their costumes and excitement is in the air. What starts out as a normal night quickly turns dark as Charlotte realizes that things are not quite what they seem and finds herself in every babysitter’s worst nightmare: they’re not alone in the house. Fans of Jordan Peele will love this twisty story, which will keep you guessing until the very end.
Only on Audio! A new horror novel from the bestselling author of The Only Good Indians and My Heart is a Chainsaw.
A mother carries her six-year-old daughter into the tiled bathroom where the bathtub is already running, is still running, is overflowing, and for a moment the girl calms, seeing her little brother floating facedown in the water, his hair a golden halo around him, but then this mother is guiding her face-first down into that water, that, as it turns out, isn’t just water but scalding water, and eleven years later her scream is the drawer screeching out of the counter by the sink.
When high school senior Charlotte agrees to babysit the Wilbanks twins, she plans to put the six-year-olds to bed early and spend a quiet night studying: the SATs are tomorrow, and checking the Native American/Alaskan Native box on all the forms doesn’t mean jack if you choke on test day.
But tomorrow is also Halloween, and the twins are eager to show off their costumes—Ron is a nurse, in an old-fashioned white skirt-uniform, and Desi has an Authentic Squaw costume, complete with buckskin and feathered headdress. Excitement is in the air.
Charlotte’s last babysitting gig almost ended in tragedy, when her young charge sleepwalked unnoticed into the middle of the street, only to be found unharmed by Charlotte’s mother. Charlotte vows to be extra careful this time. But the house is filled with mysterious noises and secrets that only the twins understand, echoes of horrors that Charlotte gradually realizes took place in the house eleven years ago. Soon Charlotte has to admit that every babysitter’s worst nightmare has come true: they’re not alone in the house.
The Babysitter Lives is a mind-bending haunted house tale from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.
Featuring a note from the author.
Sharon’s Pick #1: I’m always looking for an impactful memoir, and one of my top choices for the fall season is ONE HUNDRED SATURDAYS. This memoir shares the story of Stella Levi, a nonagenarian from Juderia, the Jewish neighborhood on the Greek island of Rhodes. Through her conversations with author Michael Frank over six years, she shares her experience of growing up in Juderia, as well as the destruction of her community when Nazis rounded up all the neighborhood’s inhabitants and deported them to Auschwitz. This important book allows readers to bear witness to not just the tragedy suffered by Stella Levi and her fellow Jews during the Holocaust, but to the richness of her life in Juderia and to how she constructed her life again after her community was destroyed.
Recipient of the Jewish Book Council’s Natan Notable Book Award
The remarkable story of ninety-nine-year-old Stella Levi whose conversations with the writer Michael Frank over the course of six years bring to life the vibrant world of Jewish Rhodes, the deportation to Auschwitz that extinguished ninety percent of her community, and the resilience and wisdom of the woman who lived to tell the tale.
With nearly a century of life behind her, Stella Levi had never before spoken in detail about her past. Then she met Michael Frank. He came to her Greenwich Village apartment one Saturday afternoon to ask her a question about the Juderia, the neighborhood in Rhodes where she’d grown up in a Jewish community that had thrived there for half a millennium.
Neither of them could know this was the first of one hundred Saturdays that they would spend in each other’s company as Stella traveled back in time to conjure what it felt like to come of age on this luminous, legendary island in the eastern Aegean, which the Italians began governing as an official possession in 1923 and transformed over the next two decades until the Germans seized control and deported the entire Juderia to Auschwitz.
Probing and courageous, candid and sly, Stella is a magical modern-day Scheherazade whose stories reveal what it was like to grow up in an extraordinary place in an extraordinary time—and to construct a life after that place has vanished. One Hundred Saturdays is a portrait of one of the last survivors drawn at nearly the last possible moment, as well as an account of a tender and transformative friendship that develops between storyteller and listener as they explore the fundamental mystery of what it means to collect, share, and interpret the deepest truths of a life deeply lived.
Sharon’s Pick #2: One of the most surprising reads I picked up last year was Lydia Millet’s A CHILDREN’S BIBLE. I had a sense going into the book that I would enjoy it, but Millet’s crafting of a touching story between sister and brother in the midst of a gloomy climate-related apocalypse ensured that I was going to be picking up more books by her in the future.
Lucky for me, Millet has a new release coming in October. As with A CHILDREN’S BIBLE, her new novel, DINOSAURS, promises to explore community and finding hope in a time of emergency. DINOSAURS follows Gil, a man who has recently experienced heartbreak, as he walks from New York to Arizona, to regain his sense of self. After Gil arrives, neighbors move into the glass-walled house next door, and soon their lives begin to mesh in unforeseen ways.
Molly’s Pick #1: The debut novel THE FREDERICK SISTERS ARE LIVING THE DREAM has been likened to ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE, EARLY MORNING RISER, and WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE: three books I love and have repeatedly recommended to others. That’s enough to make me add it to my TBR, but what makes it one of my most anticipated books of the year is its intriguing plot and stellar reviews. The novel centers around two sisters: Maggie, a recently separated mom of two, and Ginny, a sugar-loving diabetic with intellectual disabilities. After Ginny OD’s on strawberry Jell-O, Maggie insists that Ginny moves in with her and takes on the role of caretaker. Publishers Weekly calls this novel a “powerful debut,” and says, “This admirable story offers an excellent view into the struggles of family caregiving.” I love books that focus on the intricacies of family relationships, particularly between sisters, and I can’t wait to get to know these characters.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine meets Early Morning Riser with a dash of Where’d You Go, Bernadette in this very funny, occasionally romantic, and surprisingly moving novel about how one woman’s life is turned upside down when she becomes caregiver to her sister with special needs.
Every family has its fault lines, and when Maggie gets a call from the ER in Maryland where her older sister lives, the cracks start to appear. Ginny, her sugar-loving and diabetic older sister with intellectual disabilities, has overdosed on strawberry Jell-O.
Maggie knows Ginny really can’t live on her own, so she brings her sister and her occasionally vicious dog to live near her in upstate New York. Their other sister, Betsy, is against the idea but as a professional surfer, she is conveniently thousands of miles away.
Thus, Maggie’s life as a caretaker begins. It will take all of her dark humor and patience, already spread thin after a separation, raising two boys, freelancing, and starting a dating life, to deal with Ginny’s diapers, sugar addiction, porn habit, and refusal to cooperate. Add two devoted but feuding immigrant aides and a soon-to-be ex-husband who just won’t go away, and you’ve got a story that will leave you laughing through your tears as you wonder who is actually taking care of whom.
Kerry’s Pick: I have a soft spot for true crime and dark tales of the rich and powerful—so Truman Capote has long been a favorite author and society wit of mine. Though I’ve long heard of his infamous falling out with his New York City high society swans (Lee Radziwill, Slim Keith, Babe Paley, etc.), DELIBERATE CRUELTY is the full, decadent, catty, and ultimately tragic story. Transporting us to the glamorous, snobby, and sordid worlds of mid-century Manhattan high society and of book publishing, this is the ultimate read for anyone who loves true crime, literary history, and good old-fashioned gossip.
This scintillating and glittery look at the darkly intertwined fates of infamous socialite Ann Woodward and literary icon Truman Capote sweeps us to the upper echelons of Manhattan’s high society—where even the richest cannot escape murder and infamy.
When Ann Woodward shot her husband, banking heir Billy Woodward, in the middle of the night in 1955, her life changed forever. Though she claimed she thought he was a prowler, few believed the woman who had risen from charismatic showgirl to popular socialite. Everyone had something to say about the scorching scandal afflicting one of the most rich and famous families of New York City, but no one was more obsessed with the tale than Truman Capote.
Acclaimed for his bestselling nonfiction book In Cold Blood, Capote was looking for new material and followed the scandal from beginning to end. Like Ann, he too had ascended from nobody to toast of the town, but he always felt like an outsider, even among the exclusive coterie of high society women who adored him. He decided the story of Ann’s turbulent marriage would be the basis of his masterpiece—a novel about the dysfunction and sordid secrets revealed to him by his high society “swans”—never thinking that it would eventually lead to Ann’s suicide and his own scandalous downfall.
Page-turning and deliciously fascinating, Deliberate Cruelty is a haunting cross between true crime and literary history that is perfect for fans of Furious Hours, Empty Mansions, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Heather’s Pick #3: Bridgerton made quite the entrance when it debuted on Netflix in December 2020, winning millions of hearts with its dazzling array of beautiful people in sumptuous period costumes twirling around glitzy ballrooms, in between romantic declarations and steamy love scenes. Adapted from a popular series of novels by Julia Quinn, the show appealed to existing historical romance fans and newcomers to the genre alike, and all of us want to know: How did it get made? INSIDE BRIDGERTON, the official behind-the-scenes book from show creators Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers, promises the answer to that question and much more, including glossy photos and exclusive insights from the cast and crew. It’s the perfect gift for the Bridgerton devotee in your life, and/or for yourself, because self-care is important!
The stunning, full-color, behind-the-scenes look at Shondaland’s hit series on Netflix.
Inside Bridgerton is the intimate behind-the-scenes story of the hit Shondaland series on Netflix. Shondaland executive producers Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers offer exclusive insights, and introduce you to the series writers, producers, directors, cast, crew, and talented creatives who brought Julia Quinn’s beloved novels to the screen. Full-color and beautifully designed, Inside Bridgerton is the official book about the show, and includes never-before-seen photographs, firsthand accounts on casting, insight into the decisions behind the costumes and sets, directors’ accounts on filming your favorite scenes, and more from the creative minds that launched a cultural phenomenon.
From the Introduction to Inside Bridgerton:
SHONDA: Shall we take everyone back to the beginning? Not to the 1800s, but to 2017 and that hotel room where I was sick, and needed something to read, and there happened to be a copy of The Duke & I by Julia Quinn, the first of the Bridgerton novels. I’m not someone who was into romance novels—I really didn’t even know much about the genre. But I picked it up, couldn’t put it down, and then immediately got my hands on the rest of them because they were a fabulous read. And then I passed them to you.
BETSY: I thought you were high. Or that you had hit your head in that hotel room while you had the flu. Romance novels? But you insisted that they would be a fabulous show and you have excellent taste. I was deeply skeptical because I hadn’t read a romance novel since I was a teen—I’d certainly never read a period romance novel.
SHONDA: Totally—you read the ones of the 1980s, when everyone wore huge shoulder pads and diamonds.
BETSY: Right. So there’s some continuity here because these guys were wearing diamonds, too.
SHONDA: Fair—but as far as a period romance, I mean, if it wasn’t Jane Austen, I didn’t really know about it. I’m not going to diss Jane Austen because I’m not an idiot…
BETSY: She might get upset.
SHONDA: She might roll over in her grave. But Julia Quinn’s novels were just so much juicier than Austen, and they’re written by someone who was far less confined and less proper. After all, Julia is a modern woman, not stuck in the constraints of the age.
BETSY: Without a doubt. And I never knew that the ton existed: Austen wrote about a pastoral society where everyone is in relatively drab clothes and spent a lot of time in chapels and churches.
SHONDA: Totally. And they recycled their dresses more.
BETSY: Meanwhile, this was an amazing world of luxury and excess. And she had this crazy device of a gossip columnist, pulling the strings, which was such a cool concept. Julia Quinn created an entirely new, glamorous, bright world that you had actually never seen before.
Molly's Pick #2: Kate Atkinson is one of my favorite historical fiction novelists. She is so skilled at combining genres, imbuing elements of thrillers, detective fiction, and family drama throughout her books. I was blown away by LIFE AFTER LIFE and its follow-up A GOD IN RUINS and am eagerly anticipating SHRINES OF GAIETY. Set in 1926 London, SHRINES OF GAIETY follows Nellie Coker, queen of the Soho club scene. As Nellie’s empire grows and she works to advance her family’s stature, she must confront the dark underbelly that lurks behind the glittery facade. I am still holding out a modicum of hope for this century’s Roaring Twenties, but until that happens I am happy to sip on a French 75 and let Kate Atkinson transport me to this world.
Photo credit: iStock / Anastasiia Stiahailo