Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish blog, and now hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl.
This week’s topic is: Most Anticipated Book Releases For the Second Half of 2020
(You can see my Most Anticipated Book Releases For the First Half of 2020 here)
Before compiling this list, I didn’t think there were that many upcoming releases I was super excited to read in the latter half of this year. After all, the fall is supposedly supposed to be a slower publishing period here in the US because of :::whispers::: the election. Not to mention the fact that Covid has pushed back many release dates.
Turns out I was very wrong. There are a ton of exciting books set to come out in the second half of 2020. I couldn’t narrow my list down to ten, so here are the 15 upcoming releases I am most excited about at the moment:
[Note: There could be some delays in publication due to Covid, but I’ve listed the books in order of their current release date]
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Published June 30th
An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic artistocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .
From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico—“fans of classic novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca are in for a suspenseful treat” (PopSugar).
After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.
I’m always here for a great gothic novel, and this “glamorous 1950’s Mexico” setting sounds like the perfect twist on the genre. Practically counting down the days until my library hold comes in! I’ve also been wanting to read Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia for ages now, so hopefully both books will live up to my expectations.
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Expected Publication: July 21st
A thrilling departure: A short, piercing, deeply moving new novel from the acclaimed author of I Am, I Am, I Am, about the death of Shakespeare’s eleven-year-old son Hamnet–a name interchangeable with Hamlet in fifteenth-century Britain–and the years leading up to the production of his great play.
England, 1580. A young Latin tutor–penniless, bullied by a violent father–falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman: a wild creature who walks her family’s estate with a falcon on her shoulder and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer. Agnes understands plants and potions better than she does people, but once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose gifts as a writer are just beginning to awaken when his beloved young son succumbs to bubonic plague.
A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a hypnotic recreation of the story that inspired one of the greatest literary masterpieces of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing and seductive, an impossible-to-put-down novel from one of our most gifted writers.
Another library hold I’m anxiously awaiting. Since Hamnet has been out in the UK for months now, I’ve already read and heard so many excellent reviews. It seems like everyone loves this one and I fully expect to join the chorus of admirers.
The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
Expected Publication: July 21st
Dublin, 1918: three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. A small world of work, risk, death and unlooked-for love, by the bestselling author of The Wonder and ROOM.
In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders—Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.
In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.
In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.
I mean, can an historical fiction novel get any more timely than this?! Can’t wait to see how Emma Donoghue brings to life this all-to-relatable moment in history.
The Two Mrs. Carlyles by Suzanne Rindell
Expected Publication: July 28th
A suspenseful and page-turning descent into obsession, love, and murder in the wake of San Francisco’s most deadly earthquake – and Suzanne Rindell’s most haunting novel since her acclaimed debut The Other Typist
Not all secrets are willing to stay buried.
Violet may be one of three people in San Francisco grateful for the devastating destruction of the 1906 earthquake, which leaves her and her two best friends unexpectedly wealthy – assuming they can leave the horrifying secret that binds them together buried beneath the rubble. Fearing discovery, the women strike out on their own, and Violet finds herself in a new and fulfilling life of independence.
When a whirlwind romance with the city’s most eligible widower, Harry Carlyle, lands her in a luxurious mansion as the second Mrs. Carlyle, it seems like all of her dreams of happiness and love have come true. But all is not right in the Carlyle home, and Violet soon finds herself trapped by the lingering specter of the first Mrs. Carlyle, and by the inescapable secrets of her own violent history.
The Other Typist was such a fun and twisty read; it definitely made me want to pick up more of Suzanne Rindell’s work. I’ve always found the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to be a fascinating, horrific, and gripping event to read about as well.
Crossings by Alex Landragin
Expected Publication: July 28th
Crossings is an unforgettable and explosive genre-bending debut–a novel in three parts, designed to be read in two different directions, spanning a hundred and fifty years and seven lifetimes.
On the brink of the Nazi occupation of Paris, a German-Jewish bookbinder stumbles across a manuscript called Crossings. It has three narratives, each as unlikely as the next. And the narratives can be read one of two ways: either straight through or according to an alternate chapter sequence. The first story in Crossings is a never-before-seen ghost story by the poet Charles Baudelaire, penned for an illiterate girl. Next is a noir romance about an exiled man, modeled on Walter Benjamin, whose recurring nightmares are cured when he falls in love with a storyteller who draws him into a dangerous intrigue of rare manuscripts, police corruption, and literary societies. Finally, there are the fantastical memoirs of a woman-turned-monarch whose singular life has spanned seven generations. With each new chapter, the stunning connections between these seemingly disparate people grow clearer and more extraordinary. Crossings is an unforgettable adventure full of love, longing and empathy.
This novel’s unique structure has certainly piqued my interest. If I pick it up, I think I’ll read the narrative in the non-linear, alternate chapter sequence. Crossings is sure to be a highly memorable—if confusing—reading experience!
Luster by Raven Leilani
Expected Publication: August 4th
Sharp, comic, disruptive, tender, Raven Leilani’s debut novel, Luster, sees a young black woman fall into art and someone else’s open marriage
Edie is stumbling her way through her twenties—sharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in and out of her admin job, making a series of inappropriate sexual choices. She’s also, secretly, haltingly figuring her way into life as an artist. And then she meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriage—with rules. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscapes of contemporary sexual manners and racial politics weren’t hard enough, Edie finds herself unemployed and falling into Eric’s family life, his home. She becomes hesitant friend to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie is the only black woman young Akila may know.
Razor sharp, darkly comic, sexually charged, socially disruptive, Luster is a portrait of a young woman trying to make her sense of her life in a tumultuous era. It is also a haunting, aching description of how hard it is to believe in your own talent and the unexpected influences that bring us into ourselves along the way.
Luster sounds like a very intriguing debut by a Black female author. I’m especially drawn to its description as “razor sharp, darkly comic, sexually charged, [and] socially disruptive.” That’s exactly how I prefer my contemporary literary fiction.
Summer by Ali Smith
Expected Publication: August 6th
From the Man Booker short-listed author of Autumn,Winter,and Spring comes Summer, the highly anticipated fourth novel in her acclaimed Seasonal Quartet.
Here is the exciting culmination of Ali Smith’s celebrated Seasonal Quartet, a series of stand-alone novels, separate but interconnected (as the seasons are), wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories.
Summer is without a doubt my number one most anticipated book release for the second half of this year. In fact, I’ve already pre-ordered my copy. It will be bittersweet to finally read the last installment of Ali Smith’s phenomenal Seasonal Quartet.
Summerwater by Sarah Moss
Expected Publication: August 20th
On the longest day of the summer, twelve people sit cooped up with their families in a faded Scottish cabin park. The endless rain leaves them with little to do but watch the other residents.
A woman goes running up the Ben as if fleeing; a retired couple reminisce about neighbours long since moved on; a teenage boy braves the dark waters of the loch in his red kayak. Each person is wrapped in their own cares but increasingly alert to the makeshift community around them. One particular family, a mother and daughter without the right clothes or the right manners, starts to draw the attention of the others. Tensions rise and all watch on, unaware of the tragedy that lies ahead as night finally falls.
I pretty much want to read everything by Sarah Moss. Although I have most of her backlist to catch up on, Summerwater is currently at the top of my list. It sounds like the ideal book to devour on a late summer afternoon.
The Quickening by Rhiannon Ward
Expected Publication: August 20th
Feminist gothic fiction set between the late 19th century and the early 20th century – an era of burgeoning spiritualism and the suffragette movement – that couldn’t be more relevant today.
England, 1925. Louisa Drew lost her husband in the First World War and her six-year-old twin sons in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Newly re-married to a war-traumatised husband and seven months pregnant, Louisa is asked by her employer to travel to Clewer Hall in Sussex where she is to photograph the contents of the house for auction.
She learns Clewer Hall was host to an infamous séance in 1896, and that the lady of the house has asked those who gathered back then to come together once more to recreate the evening. When a mysterious child appears on the grounds, Louisa finds herself compelled to investigate and becomes embroiled in the strange happenings of the house. Gradually, she unravels the long-held secrets of the inhabitants and what really happened thirty years before… and discovers her own fate is entwined with that of Clewer Hall’s.
An exquisitely crafted and compelling mystery that invites the reader in to the crumbling Clewer Hall to help unlock its secrets alongside the unforgettable Louisa Drew.
For fans of The Silent Companions, The Little Stranger and The Familiars.
A feminist gothic novel featuring suffragettes, spiritualism, and the Spanish flu that’s being compared to The Little Stranger, The Familiars, and The Silent Companions?!??! Sign me up, I’m already in love. Insert high-pitched squealing here.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Expected Publication: September 8th
Yaa Gyasi’s stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national best seller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama.
Gifty is a fifth year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her.
But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family’s loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith, and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanain immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief–a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi’s phenomenal debut.
To be completely honest, it doesn’t even matter to me what the synopsis is, I’m simply ecstatic that Yaa Gyasi has written a second novel! Homegoing is one of my favorite reads from the last several years, and one that I still find myself thinking about often. I’ll gladly pick up anything that she writes next.
These Violent Delights by Micah Nemerever
Expected Publication: September 15th
The Secret History meets Call Me by Your Name in Micah Nemerever’s compulsively readable debut novel—a feverishly taut Hitchcockian story about two college students, each with his own troubled past, whose escalating obsession with one another leads to an act of unspeakable violence.
When Paul and Julian meet as university freshmen in early 1970s Pittsburgh, they are immediately drawn to one another. A talented artist, Paul is sensitive and agonizingly insecure, incomprehensible to his working-class family, and desolate with grief over his father’s recent death.
Paul sees the wealthy, effortlessly charming Julian as his sole intellectual equal—an ally against the conventional world he finds so suffocating. He idolizes his friend for his magnetic confidence. But as charismatic as he can choose to be, Julian is also volatile and capriciously cruel. And admiration isn’t the same as trust.
As their friendship spirals into an all-consuming intimacy, Paul is desperate to protect their precarious bond, even as it becomes clear that pressures from the outside world are nothing compared with the brutality they are capable of inflicting on one another. Separation is out of the question. But as their orbit compresses and their grip on one another tightens, they are drawn to an act of irrevocable violence that will force the young men to confront a shattering truth at the core of their relationship.
Exquisitely plotted, unfolding with a propulsive ferocity, These Violent Delights is a novel of escalating dread and an excavation of the unsettling depths of human desire.
“The Secret History meets Call Me By Your Name” is reason enough for me to add These Violent Delights to my TBR list. It sounds utterly gripping and seems to be garnering excellent reviews to boot.
The Talented Miss Farwell by Emily Gray Tedrowe
Expected Publication: September 29th
Catch Me If You Can meets Patricia Highsmith in this electrifying page-turner of greed and obsession, survival and self-invention that is a piercing character study of one unforgettable female con artist.
“Becky Farwell is one of the most wickedly compelling characters I’ve read in ages — a Machiavellian marvel, a modern Becky Sharp, a character to root for despite your better judgment — and her story, both topical and timeless, will knock you off your feet.” — Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers
At the end of the 1990s, with the art market finally recovered from its disastrous collapse, Miss Rebecca Farwell has made a killing at Christie’s in New York City, selling a portion of her extraordinary art collection for a rumored 900 percent profit. Dressed in couture YSL, drinking the finest champagne at trendy Balthazar, Reba, as she’s known, is the picture of a wealthy art collector. To some, the elusive Miss Farwell is a shark with outstanding business acumen. To others, she’s a heartless capitalist whose only interest in art is how much she can make.
But a thousand miles from the Big Apple, in the small town of Pierson, Illinois, Miss Farwell is someone else entirely—a quiet single woman known as Becky who still lives in her family’s farmhouse, wears sensible shoes, and works tirelessly as the town’s treasurer and controller.
No one understands the ins and outs of Pierson’s accounts better than Becky; she’s the last one in the office every night, crunching the numbers. Somehow, her neighbors marvel, she always finds a way to get the struggling town just a little more money. What Pierson doesn’t see—and can never discover—is that much of that money is shifted into a separate account that she controls, “borrowed” funds used to finance her art habit. Though she quietly repays Pierson when she can, the business of art is cutthroat and unpredictable.
But as Reba Farwell’s deals get bigger and bigger, Becky Farwell’s debt to Pierson spirals out of control. How long can the talented Miss Farwell continue to pull off her double life?
I really love books set in or featuring the art world, especially when they cover its dark/shady underworld elements. An unlikeable protagonist with a secret double life only adds to the appeal.
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
Expected Publication: October 6th
The breathtaking new novel from Stuart Turton, author of the The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, winner of the Costa Best First Novel Award.
A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.
It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent.
But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered.
And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel.
Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?
With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.
I really enjoyed The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and am super curious to see what direction Stuart Turton takes next. A seventeenth-century sea voyage is very enticing. I’m sure it will feature interesting characters, edge-of-your-seat suspense, and a masterful puzzle-like plot.
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
Expected Publication: October 13th
In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.
I am so here for suffragist witches. Since Alix E. Harrow’s Ten Thousand Doors of January was such a delightful and escapist read, I have high hopes for her latest. She seems to have a knack for creating charming characters and memorable magical worlds.
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
Expected Publication: October 20th
“Brimming from start to finish with sly humor and gothic mischief. Brilliant.” —SARAH WATERS
The award-winning author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post makes her adult debut with this highly imaginative and original horror-comedy centered around a cursed New England boarding school for girls—a wickedly whimsical celebration of the art of storytelling, sapphic love, and the rebellious female spirit.
Our story begins in 1902, at The Brookhants School for Girls. Flo and Clara, two impressionable students, are obsessed with each other and with a daring young writer named Mary MacLane, the author of a scandalous bestselling memoir. To show their devotion to Mary, the girls establish their own private club and call it The Plain Bad Heroine Society. They meet in secret in a nearby apple orchard, the setting of their wildest happiness and, ultimately, of their macabre deaths. This is where their bodies are later discovered with a copy of Mary’s book splayed beside them, the victims of a swarm of stinging, angry yellow jackets. Less than five years later, The Brookhants School for Girls closes its doors forever—but not before three more people mysteriously die on the property, each in a most troubling way.
Over a century later, the now abandoned and crumbling Brookhants is back in the news when wunderkind writer, Merritt Emmons, publishes a breakout book celebrating the queer, feminist history surrounding the “haunted and cursed” Gilded-Age institution. Her bestselling book inspires a controversial horror film adaptation starring celebrity actor and lesbian it girl Harper Harper playing the ill-fated heroine Flo, opposite B-list actress and former child star Audrey Wells as Clara. But as Brookhants opens its gates once again, and our three modern heroines arrive on set to begin filming, past and present become grimly entangled—or perhaps just grimly exploited—and soon it’s impossible to tell where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins.
A story within a story within a story and featuring black-and-white period illustrations, Plain Bad Heroines is a devilishly haunting, modern masterwork of metafiction that manages to combine the ghostly sensibility of Sarah Waters with the dark imagination of Marisha Pessl and the sharp humor and incisive social commentary of Curtis Sittenfeld into one laugh-out-loud funny, spellbinding, and wonderfully luxuriant read.
A book described as Sarah Waters crossed with Marisha Pessl is right up my alley. It’s practically my literary achilles heel. Add in the Gilded Age, Hollywood, LGBTQ+ representation, a boarding school, and a secret society and I am completely powerless to resist this one.
Are any of these on your most anticipated releases list? Which 2020 book(s) are you most looking forward to reading?