Friends, 2019 was such a great year for books. I’m not sure if I just didn’t pay attention hard enough all the years before, but wow! So many knock out books were published in 2019, and so many of the ones I was anticipating at the start of the year ended up being amazing!
Most of what I rated last year was in the high star area (4s and 5s), which is a wonderful way to spend the year!
2020 is looking to be just as good, judging by the upcoming releases I’ve been able to track down. I asked for suggestions for what to keep an eye out for on Instagram and Twitter recently, and wow, my friends DELIVERED! Some of these were already on my radar, but a lot weren’t, so thank you to the pals who took the time to comment & help a fellow bookworm out! I appreciate it!
1) SURVIVOR SONG by Paul Tremblay (Release Date: July 7, 2020)
In a matter of weeks, Massachusetts has been overrun by an insidious rabies-like virus that is spread by saliva. But unlike rabies, the disease has a terrifyingly short incubation period of an hour or less. Those infected quickly lose their minds and are driven to bite and infect as many others as they can before they inevitably succumb. Hospitals are inundated with the sick and dying, and hysteria has taken hold. To try to limit its spread, the commonwealth is under quarantine and curfew. But society is breaking down and the government’s emergency protocols are faltering.
Dr. Ramola “Rams” Sherman, a soft-spoken pediatrician in her mid-thirties, receives a frantic phone call from Natalie, a friend who is eight months pregnant. Natalie’s husband has been killed―viciously attacked by an infected neighbor―and in a failed attempt to save him, Natalie, too, was bitten. Natalie’s only chance of survival is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible to receive a rabies vaccine. The clock is ticking for her and for her unborn child.
Natalie’s fight for life becomes a desperate odyssey as she and Rams make their way through a hostile landscape filled with dangers beyond their worst nightmares―terrifying, strange, and sometimes deadly challenges that push them to the brink.
I’ve loved everything that I’ve ever read from Paul Tremblay, and I’m SO EXCITED for his newest book! I need to grab it (and Growing Things, still!) in the UK editions to finish my collection, which was started during my visit to England last year. Time for a book hunt!! If you’re new to Tremblay and want to whet your appetite before July, check out A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS – it’s one of my favorite books!
2) IF IT BLEEDS by Stephen King (Release Date: May 5, 2020)
From #1 New York Times bestselling author, legendary storyteller, and master of short fiction Stephen King comes an extraordinary collection of four new and compelling novellas—Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life of Chuck, Rat, and the title story If It Bleeds—each pulling you into intriguing and frightening places.
The novella is a form King has returned to over and over again in the course of his amazing career, and many have been made into iconic films, including “The Body” (Stand By Me) and “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” (Shawshank Redemption). Like Four Past Midnight, Different Seasons, and most recently Full Dark, No Stars, If It Bleeds is a uniquely satisfying collection of longer short fiction by an incomparably gifted writer.
New King? Duh, I’m here for it. I didn’t like ELEVATION and own-but-haven’t-read THE INSTITUTE, but I’m still looking forward to this one. I love novellas, and King’s short fiction is usually pretty on point for me (except that damned Elevation…)
3) THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB’S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES by Grady Hendrix (Release Date: April 7, 2020)
Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this horror novel set in 1990s suburban Charleston
Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt smaller. Her ambitious husband is too busy to kiss her good-bye in the morning, her kids are wrapped up in their own lives, and she’s always a step behind on thank-you notes and endless chores. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime and suspenseful fiction.
This predictable pattern is upended when Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor’s handsome relative, James Harris, into her life. Sensitive and well-read, James makes Patricia feel things she hasn’t felt in twenty years. But there’s something…off…and then Patricia’s senile mother-in-law insists she knew him back when she was a girl.
When local children go missing, Patricia has reason to believe that James may be more Bundy than Beatnik. But once she and the book club members investigate further, the true monster emerges—and he’s far more terrifying than any serial killer they’ve ever read about.
Grady Hendrix is another author who could publish a collection of to-do lists, and I’d buy / read it. Everything Hendrix puts out is amazing, and I have no doubt this will be as well!
4) CLOWN IN A CORNFIELD by Adam Cesare (Release Date: August 25, 2020)
Quinn Maybrook just wants to make it until graduation. She might not make it to morning.
Quinn and her father moved to tiny, boring Kettle Springs to find a fresh start. But ever since the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory shut down, Kettle Springs has cracked in half. On one side are the adults, who are desperate to make Kettle Springs great again, and on the other are the kids, who want to have fun, make prank videos, and get out of Kettle Springs as quick as they can.
Kettle Springs is caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress. It’s a fight that looks like it will destroy the town. Until Frendo, the Baypen mascot, a creepy clown in a pork-pie hat, goes homicidal and decides that the only way for Kettle Springs to grow back is to cull the rotten crop of kids who live there now.
I’ve got a few of Adam’s previous books / novellas on my Kindle, but plan to grab some of them in physical copies in the new year so that I can review & post them here and on social media ’cause I’ve enjoyed it all, and can’t wait for this one! I’ve seen a few friends posting about it and so far, everyone seems to really be loving it. Plus, how cool is it that a horror author is being picked up by a big publisher for a teen horror book?! I’M VERY EXCITED.
5) THE DEEP by Alma Katsu (Release Date: March 10, 2020)
From the acclaimed and award-winning author of The Hunger comes an eerie, psychological twist on one of the world’s most renowned tragedies, the sinking of the Titanic and the ill-fated sail of its sister ship, the Britannic.
Someone, or something, is haunting the ship. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the Titanic from the moment they set sail. The Titanic‘s passengers expected to enjoy an experience befitting the much-heralded ship’s maiden voyage, but instead, amid mysterious disappearances and sudden deaths, find themselves in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone. While some of the guests and crew shrug off strange occurrences, several–including maid Annie Hebbley, guest Mark Fletcher, and millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim–are convinced there’s something more sinister going on. And then disaster strikes.
Years later, Annie, having survived that fateful night, has attempted to put her life back together by going to work as a nurse on the sixth sailing of the Britannic, newly refitted as a hospital ship to support British forces fighting World War I. When she happens across an unconscious Mark, now a soldier, she is at first thrilled and relieved to learn that he too survived the tragic night four years earlier. But soon his presence awakens deep-buried feelings and secrets, forcing her to reckon with the demons of her past–as they both discover that the terror may not yet be over.
Featuring an ensemble cast of characters and effortlessly combining the supernatural with the height of historical disaster, The Deep is an exploration of love and destiny, desire and innocence, and, above all, a quest to understand how our choices can lead us inexorably toward our doom.
I’ve been weirdly and wildly obsessed with the Titanic for my whole life to the point where my mom has commented that I “probably died on that damn ship in a past life”, so when I heard that the author of THE HUNGER was coming out with a Titanic influenced horror book, I was psyched! I have a digital ARC of this one, and plan to preorder the physical copy once it releases – I would’ve read it already but I’m trying super hard to wait for January so I can include it in my actual 2020 Reading Wrap-Up next year! SO IMPATIENT!
6) THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS by Stephen Graham Jones (Release Date: May 19, 2020)
Peter Straub’s Ghost Story meets Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies in this American Indian horror story of revenge on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
Four American Indian men from the Blackfeet Nation, who were childhood friends, find themselves in a desperate struggle for their lives, against an entity that wants to exact revenge upon them for what they did during an elk hunt ten years earlier by killing them, their families, and friends.
Another one that I have an ARC of but am desperately trying to wait until it’s actually 2020 to read – much to my dismay, ’cause Jones is an INCREDIBLE writer and I just know this one is going to be fantastic. I read his MAPPING THE INTERIOR novella earlier this year and absolutely loved it; I can’t wait for more by him!
7) WONDERLAND by Zoje Stage (Release Date: June 16, 2020)
A mother must become a protector when unnatural forces threaten her family’s new and improved life in a rural farmhouse.
The Bennett family — artist parents and two precocious children — leave their familiar urban surroundings for a new home in far upstate New York. They’re an hour from the nearest city, a mile from the nearest house, and everyone has their own room for the very first time. Shaw, the father, even gets his own painting studio, now that he and his wife Orla, a retired dancer, have agreed that it’s his turn to pursue his passion.
But none of the Bennetts expect what lies waiting in the lovely woods, where secrets run dark and deep. Orla must finally find a way to communicate with — not just resist — this unknown entity that is coming to her family, calling to them from the land, in the earth, beneath the trees … and in their minds.
BABY TEETH was one I planned to read in 2019, but ended up not quite getting around to. I’m reading it with a buddy next month as a part of the #ladiesfirst20 challenge from the Ladies of Horror Fiction folks, and I’m really excited ’cause I’ve heard great things – which also makes me really look forward to WONDERLAND coming out in the summer!
8) MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Release Date: June 30, 2020)
He is trying to poison me. You must come for me, Noemí. You have to save me.
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.
This one was recommended by my friend Tracy, and it sounds so good. So many amazing summer books – who else is gonna spend the whole thing indoors, safely tucked in from the heat, with books & sunscreen heavily applied (just in case!)? Plus, the cover for this one is GORGEOUS.
9) THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES by Suzanne Collins (Release Date: May 19, 2020)
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will revisit the world of Panem sixty-four years before the events of The Hunger Games, starting on the morning of the reaping of the Tenth Hunger Games.
I am a HUNGER GAMES fangirl, what do you want from me? YA fiction holds a large portion of my bookloving heart, maybe second most after horror, and I gobbled this entire series when it was originally released. I’m excited for this new pre-revisiting!
10) THE BOATMAN’S DAUGHTER by Andy Davidson (Release Date: February 11, 2020)
A “lush nightmare” (Paul Tremblay) of a supernatural thriller about a young woman facing down ancient forces in the depths of the bayou
Ever since her father was killed when she was just a child, Miranda Crabtree has kept her head down and her eyes up, ferrying contraband for a mad preacher and his declining band of followers to make ends meet and to protect an old witch and a secret child from harm.
But dark forces are at work in the bayou, both human and supernatural, conspiring to disrupt the rhythms of Miranda’s peculiar and precarious life. And when the preacher makes an unthinkable demand, it sets Miranda on a desperate, dangerous path, forcing her to consider what she is willing to sacrifice to keep her loved ones safe.
With the heady mythmaking of Neil Gaiman and the heartrending pacing of Joe Hill, Andy Davidson spins a thrilling tale of love and duty, of loss and discovery. The Boatman’s Daughter is a gorgeous, horrifying novel, a journey into the dark corners of human nature, drawing our worst fears and temptations out into the light.
I love everything about the synopsis – Tremblay’s recommendation, the bayou aspect/location, the comparison to Gaiman (and all the rest). It sounds like one that may be spooky, but with more flower-y prose, which would be a wonderful way to start Spring 2020!
11) BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER VOL. 2 by Jordie Bellaire (Release Date: February 25, 2020)
Buffy Summers—the Slayer, the Chosen One meant to save the world from the literal evil forces of hell—must choose between saving her friend Xander before he completes his transformation into a vampire, and stopping the forces of Drusilla & Spike from opening the Hellmouth!
Buffy Summers—the Slayer, the Chosen One meant to save the world from the literal evil forces of hell—must save her friend Xander before he dies… …and returns as a vampire. As Giles and Willow each take drastic measures to find a cure, Buffy must face the hardest choice of her already not-so-easy life: save her friend or stop her new enemies, Drusilla (AKA The Mistress) and Spike from opening the Hellmouth. But where does the mysterious vampire with a soul named Angel fit into this mess? And what secret is he hiding that will forever change the war between the Slayer and the Mistress?
Eisner Award-nominated writer Jordie Bellaire (Redlands) and artist David López (Captain Marvel) present the next chapter of the fearless pop culture reimagining that generated headlines worldwide.
The first volume of this Buffy modern-day retelling was so good. I’m so excited for this second volume!
12) THE CHOSEN ONES by Veronica Roth (Release Date: April 7, 2020)
Fifteen years ago, five ordinary teenagers were singled out by a prophecy to take down an impossibly powerful entity wreaking havoc across North America. He was known as the Dark One, and his weapon of choice—catastrophic events known as Drains—leveled cities and claimed thousands of lives. Chosen Ones, as the teens were known, gave everything they had to defeat him.
After the Dark One fell, the world went back to normal . . . for everyone but them. After all, what do you do when you’re the most famous people on Earth, your only education was in magical destruction, and your purpose in life is now fulfilled?
Of the five, Sloane has had the hardest time adjusting. Everyone else blames the PTSD—and her huge attitude problem—but really, she’s hiding secrets from them . . . secrets that keep her tied to the past and alienate her from the only four people in the world who understand her.
On the tenth anniversary of the Dark One’s defeat, something unthinkable happens: one of the Chosen Ones dies. When the others gather for the funeral, they discover the Dark One’s ultimate goal was much bigger than they, the government, or even prophecy could have foretold—bigger than the world itself.
And this time, fighting back might take more than Sloane has to give.
13) BONE HARVEST by James Brogden (Release Date: May 12, 2020)
Struggling with the effects of early-onset Alzheimer’s, Dennie Keeling leads a quiet life. Her husband is dead, her children are grown, and her best friend, Sarah, was convicted of murdering her abusive husband. All Dennie wants now is to be left to work her allotment in peace.
But when three strangers take the allotment next to hers, Dennie starts to notice strange things. Plants are flowering well before their time, shadowy figures prowl at night, and she hears strange noises coming from the newcomers’ shed. Dennie soon realises that she is face to face with an ancient evil – but with her Alzheimer’s steadily getting worse, who is going to believe her?
14) HALLOWEEN SEASON by Lucy A. Snyder (Release Date: Fall 2020)
No official full synopsis that I could find, but Lucy wrote, “Some of the stories are fundamentally about Halloween; others are horror or fantasy tales that take place in autumn near the holiday.
It’s being published by RDSP (Raw Dog Screaming Press), which I’m very excited about ’cause I love all the books I’ve gotten with their logo on them. Some of my favorite books that I recommend constantly are put out by RDSP, and I’ve also loved Lucy’s writing in other things – so I have very high hopes!
15) AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins (Release Date: January 21, 2020) Synopsis: También de este lado hay sueños. Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable. Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy―two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same. Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia―trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to? American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times. Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope. My Thoughts: This one is a little outside my normal genre comfort zone, but I’m excited for it nonetheless!
Updated on 1/24: I didn’t realize this tale of immigration wasn’t an own voices novel, and won’t be reading it now that I know that. No thanks!
16) DARLING ROSE GOLD by Stephanie Wrobel (Release Date: March 17, 2020)
In her compulsive, sharply-drawn debut, Stephanie Wrobel peels back the layers of the most complicated of mother-daughter relationships.
For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.
Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.
After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.
Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.
Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…
And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.
Another one I’m sitting on an ARC of, and am so excited for! I’m imagining this to be heavily influenced by Hulu’s THE ACT and the real life Gypsy Rose scandal, which I obviously gobbled the facts up of on the news like every other person with a TV or internet connection. The book cover is beautiful, too!
17) HOME BEFORE DARK by Riley Sager (Release Date: July 7, 2020)
What was it like? Living in that house.
Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.
Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.
Alternating between Maggie’s uneasy homecoming and chapters from her father’s book, Home Before Dark is the story of a house with long-buried secrets and a woman’s quest to uncover them—even if the truth is far more terrifying than any haunting.
Riley Sager is an amazing thriller writer, and I’ve dutifully purchased every single book published in the last few years – either from stores, or as my Book of the Month pick! I’m definitely looking forward to adding to my growing Sager collection.
18) VELOCITIES by Kathe Koja (Release Date: April 21, 2020)
From the award-winning author of The Cipher and Buddha Boy, comes Velocities, Kathe Koja’s second electrifying collection of short fiction. Thirteen stories, two never before published, all flying at the speed of strange.
Kathe Koja is one of those authors that many bookstagrammers talk about, but I’ve struggled to find physical book copies from – even at the library! I’m hoping this one will be a bit easier to snag since it’s a more recent release.
19) MY DARK VANESSA by Kate Elizabeth Russell (Release Date: January 23, 2020)
Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.
2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.
2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?
Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.
I don’t know why I love these creepy little books about inappropriate relationships or SVU-esque storylines, but they’re so addicting! I’ll be scooping this one up as soon as it releases for sure.
20) WITCHES OF ASH & RUIN by E. Latimer (Release Date: March 3, 2020)
Modern witchcraft blends with ancient Celtic mythology in an epic clash of witches and gods, perfect for fans of V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy and CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA.
Recommended by one of my most trusted bookish pals, I looked into this one and am so intrigued! I haven’t read anything else by the author, but the cover is gorgeous & the synopsis sounds very promising!
What are you most looking forward to in 2020? Did you add any of these to your upcoming TBR? Tell me in the comments!
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