What’s New …in Debut Fiction!

There’s nothing more satisfying than being the first reader to discover a fabulous new author or series, right?! (If this sounds strange to you? You may be free of one of the most vexing book nerd problems -lucky you!) These are the titles, authors, and/or series we discovered -and- shared at our last genre discussion:

Maureen: In her debut novel What She Knew, Gilly Macmillan’s character Rachel makes the snap judgement to allow her beloved 8-year-old son Ben to run ahead on a late day walk in the English woods. What happens next, she could never imagine…Ben goes missing and she becomes the prime suspect and therefore, the most hated woman in her village. A twisted tale of relationships, how they go wrong, and how people cope with what life has thrown at them. Tons of suspense, a few red herrings and a great detective character make this a gripping read.

Carol: In Angela Flournoy’s debut novel The Turner House, an aging Viola Turner moves into her eldest son Cha-Cha’s house, and her thirteen children must consider selling the family’s practically worthless Detroit, Michigan home. In alternating chapters and flashbacks, readers glimpse into the lives of the Turners, focusing primarily on the struggles of normally level-headed Cha-Cha’s ghostly visions, and the youngest Turner daughter Lelah’s gambling addiction. This powerful novel about family and love kept me up late reading. I’ll be looking forward to Flournoy’s next offering.

Chris: Gilded Age by Claire McMillan tells the story of Eleanor Hart who after living, working, marrying and divorcing in New York returns to her hometown, Cleveland, Ohio. She gets in touch with all of her old friends and tries to make a new life for herself. But keeping her independence and finding love isn’t as easy as she expected. McMillan presents a modern day Edith Wharton heroine, much like Lily Bart in House of Mirth. Enjoyed that, too, and look forward to McMillan’s next one.

Steve: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline finds teen Wade Watts in the not too distant, but very bleak future, in the year 2044. Wade, like most teens, spends almost all of his time in the virtual world known as the OASIS. Wade is on the hunt to find and solve the puzzles hidden within the OASIS by the deceased billionaire creator, who has left instructions in his will to give his massive fortune to whoever can solve the riddles. Readers will love the 80’s pop culture references that run throughout the book.

Beth: In R. J. Palacio’s debut novel, Wonder, she explores the challenges of middle school from a new perspective. August Pullman was born with a facial abnormality and his parents have decided that after years of homeschooling him, it’s time for him to go to a real middle school. Wonder explores what it feels like to be different from others, as well as what it takes to accept those who are different from ourselves. This compelling story is an excellent resource for fostering empathy to people of all ages.

Lauren: Ausma Zehanat Khan’s The Unquiet Dead introduces the detective team of Rachel Getty and her boss Esa Khattak of Canada’s Community Policing Section, designated to handle minority-sensitive cases. A Muslim himself, Khattak is called to investigate the suspicious death of a man who was possibly tied to war crimes during the Bosnian War, specifically the massacre of 8,000 Muslim Bosnians at Srebrenica in 1995. Told partially through flashback, Khan weaves a complex story and cast of characters, each haunted by their past.

Dori: In Julia Claiborne Johnson’s Be Frank with Me, reclusive literary legend “Mimi” Banning is writing a new book for the first time in decades. Alice, her assistant, becomes a companion to Mimi’s 9-year-old son Frank, a boy with the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders. Johnson’s debut is both funny and poignant – and you’ll be rooting for her characters, especially charming, precocious Frank.

Emma: Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Swedish author Katerina Bivald, is a heartwarming story for book lovers. Sara Lindqvist from Hannige, Sweden travels to Broken Wheel, Iowa to visit her book loving American pen pal Amy Harris. Unfortunately the ladies never meet. Sara arrives on the day of Amy’s funeral. The townspeople adopt Sara and insist that she stay in Amy’s house. Sara wants to give back to the community, so she opens a free bookstore using Amy’s vast collection of books. With Sara’s tourist visa about to expire, the townspeople conspire to allow her to stay.

Stacey: Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly was one of those rare books that combines actual, laugh-out-loud moments with characters you care about from the moment the first page is turned. Zoe and her Mom moved to a upstate New York suburb after the divorce; the first person she meets is Digby or, as Zoe soon realizes, aka Trouble. Digby drags a semi-reluctant Zoe into the mystery he’s determined to solve and the two find themselves in every kind of wacky situation possible, but mostly with positive results. A great choice for anyone wanting a humorous book full of pop culture references.

Next time? We’ll be feeling all the feels with -Romance! If you want to keep reading with us, you’ll want to find a book that appeals to the emotions and offers at least one misunderstanding that must be overcome in order to reach the Happily Ever After ending.


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