Next week brings three debuts to watch – about the Korean immigrant experience, an Alaskan couple longing for a child in 1920, and a Romanian Jewish village in 1939 – plus two well-reviewed thrillers by authors steadily building their audiences, Daniel Palmer and William Landay. Usual suspects include Robert Harris, Kristin Hannah and Shannon Hale – while Elizabeth George delivers a Christian devotional for moms.
Debuts to Watch
Drifting House by Krys Lee (Penguin/Viking; Thorndike Large Print) is a debut novel portraying the Korean immigrant experience from the postwar era to contemporary times. Library Journal says, “Readers in search of exquisite short fiction beyond their comfort zone—groupies of Jhumpa Lahiri (Unaccustomed Earth) and Yoko Tawada (Where Europe Begins) — will thrill to discover Lee’s work.”
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (Hachette/Little,Brown/Reagan Arthur; Thorndike Large Print) is a debut novel about a couple struggling in their marriage, who arrive in Alaska in 1920. Longing for children, they build a child out of snow that’s gone the next morning, though they glimpse a small girl running through the trees. Kirkus calls it “a fine first novel,” saying “the book’s tone throughout has a lovely push and pull–Alaska’s punishing landscape and rough-hewn residents pitted against Faina’s charmed appearances–and the ending is both surprising and earned.”
No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel (Penguin/Riverhead) is set in a remote Jewish village in Romania in 1939, as war closes in. At the suggestion of an 11-year-old girl and a mysterious stranger, the villagers decide to reinvent the world: deny any relationship with the known and start over from scratch. Library Journal says “debut novelist Ausubel has written a riveting, otherworldly story about an all-too-real war and the transformative power of community.”
Helpless by Daniel Palmer (Kensington; Brilliance Audio) is the followup to the author’s acclaimed debut Delirious, the story of an award-winning coach accused of murder. (Palmer, by the way, is the son of bestselling author Michael Palmer.) LJ says, “Palmer scores again with a terrific thriller that has it all—murder, drugs, kidnapping, techno-mayhem, romance, manly ex-Navy SEAL exploits, and a burgeoning father-daughter relationship.”
Defending Jacob by William Landay (RH/Delacorte; Blackstone Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is the latest from the author of The Strangler and the award-winning Mission Flats. It features Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber, who is shocked to find his 14 year-old son Jacob charged with the murder of a fellow student. Library Journal raves, “this brilliant novel … is equal parts legal thriller and dysfunctional family saga, culminating in a shocking ending. Skillful plotting and finely drawn characters result in a haunting story reminiscent of Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent.”
The Fear Index by Robert Harris (RH/Knopf; Random House Audio). Author Harris has successfully moved from alternate history to ancient history to WWII thrillers and contemporary stories and now a techno-thriller about an artificial intelligence project with a mind of its own. Library Journal says this “outstanding thriller… will kindle readers’ minds from the first page. Get ready to enjoy a brilliant integration of fascinating research, compelling themes, and vivid characterization.” It will be in the media next week, including a feature on NPRs “Morning Edition.” A movie is in the works, directed by Paul Greengrass, with Harris writing the screenplay.
Home Front by Kristin Hannah (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Center Point Large Print; Macmillan Audio) is the story of a couple whose growing distance is twisted by the wife’s unexpected deployment to Iraq. Publishers Weekly says “by reversing traditional expectations, Hannah calls attention to the modern female soldier and offers a compassionate, poignant look at the impact of war on family.”
Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale (Bloomsbury) is a sequel to the bestselling Austenland (2007), in which another contemporary American plays Regency heroine at Pembrook Park. PW says, “though a tacked-on romance and some flimsy plot twists strain credibility… Hale provides a welcome, witty glimpse of a side of Austen rarely explored in the many contemporary riffs on her work.” A movie of the first title wrapped filming this summer, with Stephenie Meyer (Twilight Saga) producing.
A Mom After God’s Own Heart Devotional by Elizabeth George (Harvest House Publishers) draws from the author’s bestselling books, radio spots and podcasts, along with scripture, to provide devotionals to guide mothers in parenting.