It’s time for the first Top Ten Tuesday of 2019, and I’m super pumped about this week’s topic, which lets me gush about all the brand new books that are being released in the first half of the year. Spoiler alert: I couldn’t pick just 10, so check out my honorable mentions at the bottom.
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh (Jan 8)
2019 looks like it’s going to be a year full of feminist dystopias (one of my favorite sub-genres) and luckily, the first one comes out today. I’m second on the waitlist at the library, and I’m crossing my fingers I get it soon!
The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Virgin Suicides in this dystopic feminist revenge fantasy about three sisters on an isolated island, raised to fear men.
A haunting, riveting debut about the capacity for violence and the potency of female desire, The Water Cure both devastates and astonishes as it reflects our own world back at us.
Sugar Run by Mesha Maren (Jan 8)
This is another debut that fits nicely within the Reading Women Challenge category of books set in Appalachia. I hope to get it from the library soon as well, as I’m already on the waitlist!
In 1989, Jodi McCarty is seventeen years old when she’s sentenced to life in prison for manslaughter. She’s released eighteen years later and finds herself at a Greyhound bus stop, reeling from the shock of unexpected freedom. Not yet able to return to her lost home in the Appalachian mountains, she goes searching for someone she left behind, but on the way, she meets and falls in love with Miranda, a troubled young mother. Together, they try to make a fresh start, but is that even possible in a town that refuses to change? Set within the charged insularity of rural West Virginia, Sugar Run is a searing and gritty debut about making a run for another life.
The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay (Jan 15)
I scooped this novel up as my December Book of the Month, not even realizing it wasn’t coming out until this year. Either way, I still haven’t gotten to it, but am looking forward to picking it up! It sounds amazing.
In the wake of her mother's death, Shalini, a privileged and restless young woman from Bangalore, sets out for a remote Himalayan village in the troubled northern region of Kashmir. Certain that the loss of her mother is somehow connected to the decade-old disappearance of Bashir Ahmed, a charming Kashmiri salesman who frequented her childhood home, she is determined to confront him. But upon her arrival, Shalini is brought face to face with Kashmir's politics, as well as the tangled history of the local family that takes her in. And when life in the village turns volatile and old hatreds threaten to erupt into violence, Shalini finds herself forced to make a series of choices that could hold dangerous repercussions for the very people she has come to love.
With rare acumen and evocative prose, in The Far Field Madhuri Vijay masterfully examines Indian politics, class prejudice, and sexuality through the lens of an outsider, offering a profound meditation on grief, guilt, and the limits of compassion.
99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne (Jan 29)
I thought Thorne’s novel The Hating Game was amusing and charming, and this one looks even more promising. Probably because it takes place among home renovation, which with the invention of HGTV, I feel like more of us fantasize about than we should. It promises to be light-hearted, enjoyable reading, if nothing else.
Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.
When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.
Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray (Feb 19)
I tried and failed to get a copy of this from the publisher on #bookstagram, so now I’m just sitting over here (im)patiently awaiting its release.
The Mothers meets An American Marriage in this dazzling debut novel about mothers and daughters, identity and family, and how the relationships that sustain you can also be the ones that consume you.
The Butler family has had their share of trials—as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest—but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important.
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (March 5)
After The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I’m looking forward to another TJR book. Again, I haven’t managed to snag a sneak peek from NetGalley (or elsewhere), so I’ll have to add myself to the library waitlist as soon as it’s available to do so.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies.
The DNA of You and Me by Andrea Rothman (March 12)
All of the book comparisons to this one lead me to believe I will enjoy this novel immensely. Plus, I love a good storyline that includes a woman in science. Here’s hoping!
A smart debut novel—a wonderfully engaging infusion of Lab Girl, The Assistants, and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine—that pits the ambition of scientific discovery against the siren call of love.
A sharp, relevant novel that speaks to the ambitions and desires of modern women, The DNA of You and Me explores the evergreen question of career versus family, the irrational sensibility of love, and whether one can be a loner without a diagnostic label.
Internment by Samira Ahmed (March 19)
This dystopia is definitely one of the ones I’m looking forward to most this year! It also works nicely for the Reading Women Challenge, in which I’ll be reading about a book featuring a religion different than my own (in this case, Islam). I’m sure this novel will be eye-opening.
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp's Director and his guards.
Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.
Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe by Evan James (March 26)
The pre-release reviews on this one are a bit mixed so far, but with all the dark dystopia and thought-provoking fiction I’m planning to read this year, I’m definitely going to need some books to lighten up the mood.
From a bright new voice in contemporary fiction comes a hilarious and sophisticated comedy of manners about a delightfully eccentric family and the absurd happenings that befall them during one frenzied summer at their home in the Pacific Northwest.
The inimitable—some might say incorrigible—Frank Widdicombe is suffering from a deep depression. Or so his wife, Carol, believes. But Carol is convinced that their new island home—Willowbrook Manor on the Puget Sound—is just the thing to cheer her husband up. And so begins a whirlwind summer as their house becomes the epicenter of multiple social dramas involving the family, their friends, and a host of new acquaintances.
The Widdicombes’ son, Christopher, is mourning a heartbreak after a year abroad in Italy. Their personal assistant, Michelle, begins a romance with preppy screenwriter Bradford, who also happens to be Frank’s tennis partner. Meanwhile, a local named Marvelous Matthews is hired to create a garden at the manor—and is elated to find Gracie Sloane, bewitching self-help author, in residence as well. When this alternately bumbling and clever cast of characters comes together, Willowbrook transforms into a circus of uncovered secrets, preposterous misunderstandings, and irrepressible passions.
Women Talking by Miriam Toews (April 2)
I really don’t have to wait for this one to come out to read it because I have a copy from NetGalley, but they requested that we don’t review it publicly until closer to publication, so I’m trying to hold off a bit. No doubt I will be diving into it sooner rather than later because it seems like it will be too good to resist much longer!
One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.
While the men of the colony are off in the city, attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists and bring them home, these women—all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their community and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in—have very little time to make a choice: Should they stay in the only world they’ve ever known or should they dare to escape?
Based on real events and told through the “minutes” of the women’s all-female symposium, Toews’s masterful novel uses wry, politically engaged humor to relate this tale of women claiming their own power to decide.
Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger (April 2)
I find this novel’s description fascinating (yay storylines about female friendship!) and am definitely hoping for some time travel elements. Too bad I have to wait for April to read it.
Helen Clapp is a physics professor. She doesn't believe in pseudo-science, or time travel and especially not in ghosts. So when she gets a missed call from Charlie, her closest friend from university with whom she hasn't spoken in over a year, Helen thinks there must be some mistake. Because Charlie died two days ago.
Then when her young son, Jack, claims to have seen Charlie in their house just the other day, Helen begins to have doubts.
Through the grief of the husband and daughter Charlie left behind, Helen is drawn into the orbit of Charlie's world, slotting in the missing pieces of her friend's past. And, as she delves into the web of their shared history, Helen finds herself entangled in the forgotten threads of her own life.
Lost and Wanted is a searing novel from one of America's most exciting writers about the sacred knottiness of female friendship, the forces which fuse us together and those which drive us apart.
Recursion by Blake Crouch (June 11)
For those of you who don’t know, I was a huge Dark Matter fan, and I have super high hopes for this novel too. (Though maybe I should temper them because high expectations always get me in the end..) Crouch’s latest seems similarly science-y and mind-blowing, and you better believe, I’m ready to take that leap again!
"My son has been erased." Those are the last words the woman tells Barry Sutton, before she leaps from the Manhattan rooftop.
Deeply unnerved, Barry begins to investigate her death, only to learn that this wasn't an isolated case. All across the country, people are waking up to lives different from the ones they fell asleep to. Are they suffering from False Memory Syndrome, a mysterious new disease that afflicts people with vivid memories of a life they never lived? Or is something far more sinister behind the fracturing of reality all around him?
Miles away, neuroscientist Helena Smith is developing a technology that allows us to preserve our most intense memories and relive them. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to reexperience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent.
Barry's search for the truth leads him on an impossible, astonishing journey as he discovers that Helena's work has yielded a terrifying gift--the ability not just to preserve memories but to remake them . . . at the risk of destroying what it means to be human.
At once a relentless thriller and an intricate science fiction puzzle box, Recursion is a deeply felt exploration of the flashbulb moments that define us--and who we are without them.
And, as promised, some Honorable Mentions that I also cannot wait for! I limited it to nine, but trust me, it was difficult.
An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma (Jan 8)
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (Feb 12)
In Another Time by Jillian Cantor (March 5)
Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: A Memoir by T Kira Madden (March 5)
Dig by A.S. King (March 26)
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (April 9)
The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West (May 28)
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn (June 4)
The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung (June 18)
Which books are you most looking forward to in the first half of 2019? Let me know in the comments, or share a link to your own list!
Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly blog meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish but is now hosted over at The Artsy Reader Girl. I participate about once a month, but each week there is a fun new bookish topic for bloggers to create literary lists about. If you’d like to know more about it, check it out here.
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