of interest

Top Ten Tuesday — Most Anticipated Books of Early 2020

My goal for this year is to be less sporadic in my Top Ten Tuesday participation (as was the case last year). But, I’m starting out a little behind and choosing the topic from about a month ago… I was a little preoccupied with the new baby to get it together to blog, but I really want to share my Most Anticipated Releases of the First Half of 2020 with you! I had some trouble narrowing down to 10, so I’ve got an initial list for you, plus 5 honorable mentions. Honestly, though, they all sound amazing. 

Without further adieu…

A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen – Jan 14

I love a good dystopia, and The Book of M author seems to think this one is worth checking out. I need to get on the library waitlist stat! 

Six years after a global pandemic wiped out most of the planet’s population, the survivors are rebuilding the country, split between self-governing cities, hippie communes and wasteland gangs.In postapocalyptic San Francisco, former pop star Moira has created a new identity to finally escape her past―until her domineering father launches a sweeping public search to track her down. Desperate for a fresh start herself, jaded event planner Krista navigates the world on behalf of those too traumatized to go outside, determined to help everyone move on―even if they don’t want to. Rob survived the catastrophe with his daughter, Sunny, but lost his wife. When strict government rules threaten to separate parent and child, Rob needs to prove himself worthy in the city’s eyes by connecting with people again.Krista, Moira, Rob and Sunny are brought together by circumstance, and their lives begin to twine together. But when reports of another outbreak throw the fragile society into panic, the friends are forced to finally face everything that came before―and everything they still stand to lose. Because sometimes having one person is enough to keep the world going.

A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen

The Girl With the Louding Voice By Abi Daré – Feb 4

This was actually a Book of the Month this month, and I’m just waiting on it to arrive! So excited to dive into this novel about strong women seeking an all-important education.  

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. This, her mother has told her, is the only way to get a “louding voice”—the ability to speak for herself and decide her own future. But instead, Adunni’s father sells her to be the third wife of a local man who is eager for her to bear him a son and heir.

When Adunni runs away to the city, hoping to make a better life, she finds that the only other option before her is servitude to a wealthy family. As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless slave, Adunni is told, by words and deeds, that she is nothing.

But while misfortunes might muffle her voice for a time, they cannot mute it. And when she realizes that she must stand up not only for herself, but for other girls, for the ones who came before her and were lost, and for the next girls, who will inevitably follow; she finds the resolve to speak, however she can—in a whisper, in song, in broken English—until she is heard.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams – Feb 11

This reminds me a little bit of all the hype around The Water Cure (which I didn’t love), but I can’t resist a feminist novel, and I really did love Red Clocks. Leni Zumas called it “A brainy page-turner that’s gorgeous and frightening in equal measure.” 

At their newly founded school, Samuel Hood and his daughter Caroline promise a groundbreaking education for young women. But Caroline has grave misgivings. After all, her own unconventional education has left her unmarriageable and isolated, unsuited to the narrow roles afforded women in 19th century New England.

When a mysterious flock of red birds descends on the town, Caroline alone seems to find them unsettling. But it’s not long before the assembled students begin to manifest bizarre symptoms: Rashes, seizures, headaches, verbal tics, night wanderings. One by one, they sicken. Fearing ruin for the school, Samuel overrules Caroline’s pleas to inform the girls’ parents and turns instead to a noted physician, a man whose sinister ministrations–based on a shocking historic treatment–horrify Caroline. As the men around her continue to dictate, disastrously, all terms of the girls’ experience, Caroline’s body too begins to betray her. To save herself and her young charges, she will have to defy every rule that has governed her life, her mind, her body, and her world.

The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore – Feb 25

It’s always good to sprinkle in something a little lighter once in a while, and I hope this one fits the bill. The cover reminds me of Where’d You Go Bernadette, which wasn’t “light” per se but definitely had a lot of laughs.

It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order

Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met?

Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

Writers & Lovers by Lily King – March 3

I loved loved loved Lily King’s Euphoria, so when I saw she had a new novel coming out, there was no question I wanted to pick it up. 

Blindsided by her mother’s sudden death, and wrecked by a recent love affair, Casey Peabody has arrived in Massachusetts in the summer of 1997 without a plan. Her mail consists of wedding invitations and final notices from debt collectors. A former child golf prodigy, she now waits tables in Harvard Square and rents a tiny, moldy room at the side of a garage where she works on the novel she’s been writing for six years. At thirty-one, Casey is still clutching onto something nearly all her old friends have let go of: the determination to live a creative life. When she falls for two very different men at the same time, her world fractures even more. Casey’s fight to fulfill her creative ambitions and balance the conflicting demands of art and life is challenged in ways that push her to the brink.

Writers & Lovers follows Casey―a smart and achingly vulnerable protagonist―in the last days of a long youth, a time when every element of her life comes to a crisis. Written with King’s trademark humor, heart, and intelligence, Writers & Lovers is a transfixing novel that explores the terrifying and exhilarating leap between the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another.

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler – March 10

Jodi Picoult, author of one of my favorites Small Great Things gives this one a glowing blurb, and honestly the description sounds like one I would eat right up. I’ve assigned it to myself for my Long Distance Reading Challenge and I’m definitely looking forward to it! 

In Oak Knoll, a verdant, tight-knit North Carolina neighborhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son, Xavier, who’s headed to college in the fall. All is well until the Whitmans―a family with new money and a secretly troubled teenage daughter―raze the house and trees next door to build themselves a showplace.

With little in common except a property line, these two families quickly find themselves at odds: first, over an historic oak tree in Valerie’s yard, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers.

A Good Neighborhood asks big questions about life in America today―what does it mean to be a good neighbor? How do we live alongside each other when we don’t see eye to eye?―as it explores the effects of class, race, and heartrending love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel – March 24

I was a big fan of SJM’s writing in Station Eleven, which I re-read last year when it was a book club selection. Looking forward to her new one. 

Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. On the night she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a hooded figure scrawls a message on the lobby’s glass wall: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis is running an international Ponzi scheme, moving imaginary sums of money through clients’ accounts. When the financial empire collapses, it obliterates countless fortunes and devastates lives. Vincent, who had been posing as Jonathan’s wife, walks away into the night. Years later, a victim of the fraud is hired to investigate a strange occurrence: a woman has seemingly vanished from the deck of a container ship between ports of call.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Beauty of Your Face By Sahar Mustafah – April 7

This sounds vaguely like A Spark of Light, which follows a shooter at an abortion clinic. That one didn’t really deliver for me, but I’m hoping this one does. It’s getting a lot of buzz, and it certainly looks like a promising debut.  

A uniquely American story told in powerful, evocative prose, The Beauty of Your Face navigates a country growing ever more divided. Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter―radicalized by the online alt-right―attacks the school.

As Afaf listens to his terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories: the bigotry she faced as a child, her mother’s dreams of returning to Palestine, and the devastating disappearance of her older sister that tore her family apart. Still, there is the sweetness of the music from her father’s oud, and the hope and community Afaf finally finds in Islam.

The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah

The Book of Longings By Sue Monk Kidd – April 21

Who doesn’t love a good Sue Monk Kidd novel? This one sounds so different from what I’ve read by her previously (I adored The Secret Life of Bees) and is on a lot of people’s most anticipated lists. It sounds fascinating. 

Sue Monk Kidd takes an audacious approach to history and brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she is rebellious and ambitious, with a brilliant mind and a daring spirit. She engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes narratives about neglected and silenced women. Ana is expected to marry an older widower, a prospect that horrifies her. An encounter with eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything.

Their marriage evolves with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, and their mother, Mary. Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to Rome’s occupation of Israel, partially led by her brother, Judas. She is sustained by her fearless aunt Yaltha, who harbors a compelling secret. When Ana commits a brazen act that puts her in peril, she flees to Alexandria, where startling revelations and greater dangers unfold, and she finds refuge in unexpected surroundings. Ana determines her fate during a stunning convergence of events considered among the most impactful in human history.

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

Red Dress in Black and White by Elliot Ackerman – May 26

I haven’t heard of this author before (have you?), but his latest novel seems like it’ll be super interesting. 

Catherine has been married for many years to Murat, an influential Turkish real estate developer, and they have a young son together, William. But when she decides to leave her marriage and return home to the United States with William and her photographer lover, Murat determines to take a stand. He enlists the help of an American diplomat to prevent his wife and child from leaving the country–but, by inviting this scrutiny into their private lives, Murat becomes only further enmeshed in a web of deception and corruption. As the hidden architecture of these relationships is gradually exposed, we learn the true nature of a cast of struggling artists, wealthy businessmen, expats, spies, a child pulled in different directions by his parents, and, ultimately, a society in crisis.

Red Dress in Black and White by Elliot Ackerman

Honorable Mentions: 

In the Land of Men: A Memoir by Adrienne Miller – Feb 11

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver – March 3

Under the Rainbow by Celia Laskey – March 3

New Waves by Kevin Nguyen – March 10

How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang – April 7

Which books are you most looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments below!


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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  • Reply lydiaschoch February 4, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    The Illness Lesson sounds like such a great read.

    My TTT .

  • Reply eliotthecat February 5, 2020 at 8:34 am

    I might be most intrigued by Oona Out of Order but the blurb for Sue Monk Kidd’s latest reminds me of my current read of The DoveKeepers by Alice Hoffman (perhaps just for the Biblical references). Pinning this list!

    • Reply Megan February 5, 2020 at 9:07 am

      Ooo I haven’t read that one, but I do adore Alice Hoffman! Have you read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant? That also takes place in Biblical times but focuses on the females mentioned… I loved it.

  • Reply Rachel February 13, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    I read an early copy of The Glass Hotel and liked it a lot! Even more than Station Eleven!

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