When it comes to reading, I’m in no hurry. I love that new book smell as much as the next guy, but I can wait. The book I’m happily immersed in now was published 164 years ago -- I’m sailing aboard the Pequod, keeping company with mad Captain Ahab, on his mission of vengeance to destroy Moby Dick, the whale that devoured his leg. For those of you who like to stay ahead of the curve in your reading, here are some books hot off the presses. This post’s for you, brave explorers of the uncharted seas of the written word! As I write this, the books I've featured below haven't been released in Canada yet -- some will be released very soon, some within the next month or so. But you can reserve them – or, as we say in the library, place a hold on them. I've reserved several, including Mona Awad's debut novel, 13 ways of looking at a fat girl, which takes aim at our culture's obsession with appearance. Bonus: Lizzie, the main character, grows up in "Misery Saga" aka Mississauga. So step right up, folks, get ‘em while they’re hot!
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad. Release date: February 23.
In her brilliant, hilarious, and at times shocking debut, Mona Awad simultaneously skewers the body image-obsessed culture that tells women they have no value outside of their physical appearance, and delivers a tender and moving depiction of a lovably difficult young woman whose life is hijacked by her struggle to conform. As caustically funny as it is heartbreaking, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl introduces a vital new voice in fiction. The Globe and Mail described it as "...horrific and funny, bleak and uplifting – grapples with ideas of self-worth, friendship, sexuality, and the lengths we will go to find beauty in the mirror".
A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin. Release date: February 16.
Milo Andret is born with an unusual mind. A lonely child growing up in the woods of northern Michigan in the 1950s, he gives little thought to his own talent. But with his acceptance at U.C. Berkeley he realizes the extent, and the risks, of his singular gifts. California in the seventies is a seduction, opening Milo's eyes to the allure of both ambition and indulgence. The research he begins there will make him a legend; the woman he meets there--and the rival he meets alongside her--will haunt him for the rest of his life.
A Girl's Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber. Release date: February 23.
A mother and her daughter-in-law bravely leave their troubled marriages and face the challenge of starting over. Leaning on each other, Nichole and Leanne discover that their inner strength and capacity for love are greater than they ever imagined. An inspiring novel of friendship, reinvention, and hope.
At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier. Release date: March 15.
A riveting drama of a pioneer family on the American frontier. James and Sadie Goodenough have settled where their wagon got stuck - in the muddy, stagnant swamps of northwest Ohio. They and their five children work relentlessly to tame their patch of land, buying saplings so they can cultivate the 50 apple trees required to stake their claim on the property. But the orchard they plant sows the seeds of a long battle. James loves the apples, reminders of an easier life back in Connecticut; while Sadie prefers the applejack they make, an alcoholic refuge from brutal frontier life.
Cometh the Hour by Jeffrey Archer. Release date: February 16.
Cometh the Hour opens with the reading of a suicide note, which has devastating consequences for Harry and Emma Clifton, Giles Barrington and Lady Virginia. This is the penultimate book in the Clifton Chronicles and, like the five previous novels, showcases Jeffrey Archer's extraordinary storytelling with his trademark twists.
The Assistants by Camille Perri. Release date: May 3.
A wry and astute debut about a young Manhattanite whose embezzlement scam turns her into an unlikely advocate for the leagues of overeducated and underpaid assistants across the city. The Assistants speaks directly to a new generation of women who feel stuck and unable to get ahead playing by the rules. It will appeal to all of those who have ever asked themselves, "How is it that after all these years, we are still assistants?"
The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan. Release date: March 22.
When brothers Tushar and Nakul Khurana, two Delhi schoolboys, pick up their family's television set at a repair shop with their friend Mansoor Ahmed one day in 1996, disaster strikes without warning. A bomb--one of the many "small" bombs that go off seemingly unheralded across the world--detonates in the Delhi marketplace, instantly claiming the lives of the Khurana boys, to the devastation of their parents. Mansoor survives, bearing the physical and psychological effects of the bomb.
The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle. Release date: February 2.
Veteran con artist Roy is a born liar—and when he meets wealthy widow Betty online, he knows she’s an easy mark. In no time at all, he’s spinning his web of duplicity and betrayal around her, even moving into her lovely cottage. He’s sure his scheme will be a success. He’s done this before. A stunning and suspenseful feat of storytelling, The Good Liar unravels the past of a man who lives to deceive.
The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel. Release date: February 2.
With this highly anticipated new novel, the author of the Life of Pi returns to the storytelling power and luminous wisdom of his master novel. The High Mountains of Portugal is a suspenseful, mesmerizing story of a great quest for meaning, told in three intersecting narratives touching the lives of three different people and their families, and taking us on an extraordinary journey through the last century.
The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery. Release date: February 9.
Seven years after the publication of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery returns with a lyrical novel about the quest for enchantment in a world that seems to have forgotten such a thing ever existed. Maria lives in a remote village in Burgundy, where she learns that she has a gift for communicating with nature. Hundreds of miles away in Italy, Clara discovers that she possesses a stunning musical genius and is sent from the countryside to Rome to develop her preternatural abilities. The Life of Elves tells the story of two children whose extraordinary talents will bring them into contact with magical worlds and malevolent forces.
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney. Release date: March 22.
Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a 19-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs’ joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are but months away from finally receiving.
The North Water by Ian McGuire. Release date: March 15.
A 19-century whaling ship sets sail for the Arctic with a killer aboard in this dark, sharp, and highly original tale that grips like a thriller. "A fast-paced, gripping story set in a world of gruesome violence and perversity, where 'why?' is not a question and murder happens on a whim: but where a very faint ray of grace and hope lights up the landscape of salt and blood and ice. A tour de force of narrative tension and a masterful reconstruction of a lost world that seems to exist at the limits of the human imagination." --Hilary Mantel
What is Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi. Release date: March 8.
From the award-winning author of Boy, Snow, Bird and Mr. Fox comes an enchanting and thought-provoking collection of intertwined stories. Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret--Oyeyemi's keys not only unlock elements of her characters' lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side.
What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera. Release date: February 16.
In the idyllic hill country of Sri Lanka, a young girl grows up with her loving family; but even in the midst of this paradise, terror lurks in the shadows. When tragedy strikes, she and her mother must seek safety by immigrating to America. There the girl reinvents herself as an American teenager to survive, with the help of her cousin; but even as she assimilates and thrives, the secrets and scars of her past follow her into adulthood.
Why We Came to the City by Kristopher Jansma. Release date: February 16.
Five years after their college graduation, the fiercely devoted friends at the heart of this richly absorbing novel remain as inseparable as ever: editor and social butterfly Sara Sherman, her troubled astronomer boyfriend George Murphy, loudmouth poet Jacob Blaumann, classics major turned investment banker William Cho, and Irene Richmond, an enchanting artist with an inscrutable past. A warm, funny, and heartfelt novel about a tight-knit group of twentysomethings in New York whose lives are upended by tragedy.
Wreck and Order by Hannah Tennant-Moore. Release date: February 9.
Decisively aimless, self-destructive, and impulsively in and out of love, Elsie is a young woman who feels stuck. She has a tumultuous relationship with an abusive boyfriend, a dead-end job at a newspaper, and a sharp intelligence that's constantly at odds with her many bad decisions. An autodidact who prefers the education of travel to college, Elsie uses an inheritance to support herself as she travels to Paris and Sri Lanka, hoping to accumulate experiences, create connections, and discover a new way to live.