New Releases in Fiction - September 2019!

Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Sep 9, 2019

Hello and welcome to our look at some new releases this month at the Johnson County Library! Every month we look at five fiction titles making their debut that we think you absolutely need to know about. You might not find these books on the bestseller lists, but that's okay, as we love putting the spotlight on books you might not have heard about. Give one - or more - of these titles a chance to make it in your hold list. We hope you find something new!

A delightful historical romance set in 1879, BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE by Evie Dunmore is about a headstrong daughter of a local vicar who is among the first class of women admitted to Oxford University. A strong and vocal supporter of women’s suffrage, she looks for an ally to the cause, and targets a stern yet smoldering young Duke with connections to the Queen. Sparks fly, and the will-they-or-won’t-they tension is underscored by the very real consequences of a member of the extended royal family romancing a commoner - especially one with such outspoken views. This is one to watch out for not only because it's stuffed with strong characters and thick with witty banter, but this time period - Victorian England - is not the most popular of settings for a romance, so if you're looking for something fresh, this should absolutely be worth your time. This should appeal to fans of Mary Balogh and Tessa Dare and is a perfect novel to cuddle up with as the temperatures start to drop. 

A wonderful coming-of-age story set in the far-apart worlds of the Dominican Republic and New York City in the turbulent 1960s, DOMINICANA, a sparkling novel by Angie Cruz, focuses on Ana Cancion, a girl from a money-poor but land-rich Dominican family and is married off to a man, Juan, she doesn’t love. He sets her up in a New York City apartment and leaves her there, working long hours to support the family back home. Ana, who has no friends, doesn’t speak English, and is cooped up in her tiny apartment, must make her own way in the world, including sewing for the neighborhood and making lunches for local factory workers. And just as she begins to see a glimmer of financial hope, she gets to know Juan's younger, far more charming and handsome brother, and suddenly she is faced with some very difficult choices. This debut by Angie Cruz is a delight and wonderful for book groups, as young Ana is full of heart and determined to achieve some version of the American dream, surrounded in her isolated apartment by a NYC that’s brimming with hope and change. (Ana can look out her window and see a speech given by Malcolm X, even though she doesn't understand what he's saying.) For fans looking for the immigrant experience written by an own voices author that reflects on universal themes of joy and resilience, try this debut novel that deserves to be placed alongside authors like Etaf Rum, Tommy Orange, or Lisa See.

Turning from the immigrant experience to the refugee one, THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO by Christy Lefteri is about a married couple, Nuri and Afra, who must flee their native Syria in the wake of the civil war in the region, travel across Turkey and Greece, and eventually to the UK to seek asylum after losing their child in the conflict. Afra, an artist, has lost her eyesight and must rely on Nuri, the beekeeper of the title. Their journey will touch everyone who reads their story. This work of fiction is not merely a flight of fancy - the author, Christy Lefteri, has spent several months volunteering in the region as a representative of UNICEF. Her observations about the war-torn region come from her interviews and personal observations and weaves a truly unforgettable story. THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO is a powerful, thoughtful novel, ideal for book discussions, and will stick with you for long after the last page. 

After climate change melts the world’s polar ice caps in AFTER THE FLOOD, a literary dystopian novel by Kassandra Montag, only the highest of mountain ranges above sea level are left and humanity is threatened with near-extinction. But people adapt, scraping out a way of life using old tools from the previous world, and one determined woman, Myra, and her daughter, Pearl, embark on an epic Odyssey-like search that spans halfway around the globe when they receive word that her long-lost eldest daughter, Row, is still alive and held captive by raiders. Seeking a larger boat to survive the journey, Myra must rely on old friends and new ones as she faces the dangers of her travels and the truth that lies within herself. Sweeping, literary, and above all, insightful, this is a story of love and loss that should resonate with fans of novels about thoughtful apocalypses like those from Emily St. John Mandel, Peter Heller, and Karen Thompson Walker.

Portal fantasies are novels where a mysterious door opens between this world and another that usually brims with magic and adventure. (And yes, sometimes the door is more like a wardrobe.) Don’t think that this genre is limited to the children’s section of the library - authors like Seanan McGuire, V.E. Schwab, and Lev Grossman have all made their marks on the bestseller lists with portal fantasies with a more adult sensibility. With THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY, Alix E. Harrow submits one of 2019’s strongest entries in the genre. As a young woman in the early 1900s, January Scaller seeks magical doors after she ran across one as a child -  but she didn’t open it and has regretted the choice ever since. But years later she encounters something very close to it while working for a collector of relics - a particular book with the ability to take the reader to different places. With a few friends and a very special dog, January embarks on a quest that will leave readers charmed and enthralled. Harrow writes truly magical prose. (Apologies for the pun. No, on second thought, I’m totally not sorry.)

That's it for this month! Be sure to check back soon for another edition, and be sure to follow our staff on the blog, in the catalog, on the podcast, and on our website for more great books.

Reviewed by Gregg W.
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