If the mark of a great author is not merely how much she incites the imaginations of readers but the extent to which she inspires fellow writers, then there can be no doubt that Jane Austen is the greatest author of them all. Just when you think the market for Austen spinoffs has reached capacity, a new book comes onto the scene that turns the genre on its head. Such is the case with First Impressions, Charlie Lovett’s delightful new novel.
Jason Mott’s second novel, The Wonder of All Things, is equal parts supernatural thriller and coming-of-age tale as 13-year-old Ava and her best friend, Wash, bravely attempt to navigate their small-town world in the wake of a public disaster. When a beloved local stunt pilot crashes his plane into a crowd of spectators at a festival, Wash is critically injured. When word travels that Ava’s simple act of placing her hands over her friend has healed his wounds, the once quiet town of Stone Temple is soon swarming with folks who are desperate to cure their own loved ones, or themselves.
As a longtime Picoult fan, I was anxious to devour her latest novel, Leaving Time. And she doesn’t disappoint: Once again, Picoult has masterfully woven what appear to be incongruous events and people together into one captivating and emotional story. This time around, the author’s extensive research on elephants and their surprisingly human emotions are a highlight. But wait, there’s more: She has also included a down-on-her-luck psychic, a spunky teen and a haunting murder.
In the vein of authors like Deborah Harkness and Katherine Howe, magic and reality are perfectly blended in bookseller Chrysler Szarlan’s debut novel, The Hawley Book of the Dead—the first installment in a planned quartet. Revelation “Reve” Dyer is a woman graced with a touch of magic, but plagued by a malicious spirit that seeks to destroy her.
Like all good scary stories, Rooms begins with a death. When Richard Walker passes away, his estranged family must return to the erstwhile family home to sift through a household—and lifetime—of memories and belongings. But Richard’s ex-wife Caroline and troubled children, Trenton and Minna, are not alone as they work to rid the house of the traces of the man who once lived there: Their actions and emotions are acutely observed by two former residents of the home, Alice and Sandra, each so different from the other, yet both bound to the house by dreadful tragedies.
Five years after retirement due to health, Father Tim Kavanagh is still reeling. What he sees at first as the "yawning indifference" of his church family is hurtful, but time has passed and an exciting trip to Ireland with his wife Cynthia has served to cushion the blow. Still, he finds the idea "to withdraw someplace for the sake of seclusion"—and to stay there—far too inviting.
Dan Kelly, the protagonist of Christos Tsiolkas’ latest novel, is not a likable character. He’s not likable in the novel’s first pages, when he’s a scholarship student at a posh boys’ school in Australia, and he remains unlikable at the end, when he’s a 30-something who doesn’t know what to do with his life. However, by the end of the book, we understand Dan, a little. This is why you will stay with Barracuda, why you will keep turning the pages even as you grit your teeth.
Australian author Liane Moriarty portrays elementary school drama in her latest page-turner, Big Little Lies, which comes on the heels of her first U.S. bestseller, The Husband’s Secret. At Pirriwee Public School, petty jealousies and rumors all come to the surface in one “perfect storm”—otherwise known as the annual trivia night.
Judith Frank’s second novel is a powerful tale of a family working its way through unthinkable tragedy. It opens as Matt Greene and his partner, Daniel Rosen, are flying to Tel Aviv—Daniel’s twin brother and his wife have just been killed by a suicide bomber. Ilana and Joel left behind two small children, 6-year-old Gall and baby Noam. A devastated Daniel knows that his brother and sister-in-law wanted Matt and Daniel to raise the children if anything ever happened to them.
In One Plus One, British novelist Jojo Moyes (Me Before You) once again introduces her readers to two mismatched lovers who have troubles of their own but find a safe haven in each other.