While there's plenty of the standard best-selling fare on tap for January, there are also a number of novels that I felt deserved some special mention. You never know when you might find a new favorite!
The Girl Before, by J.P. Delaney. This international bestseller is slated to be made into a movie with Ron Howard attached to direct. So if you're in the habit of reading the book before seeing the movie, there's no time like the present. In the tradition of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Silent Wife, The Girl Before is the tale of two unlikely people joined by a twist of fate. Emma needs to find a new living arrangement following a traumatic breakup. Jane needs a fresh start after a personal tragedy. Both of them find themselves drawn in by the allure of One Folgate Street, where the space and its rules guarantee a transformative experience...for good or ill. Also available in Large Print.
The Fifth Petal, by Brunonia Barry. I adored Barry's 2006 debut, The Lace Reader, which followed a woman back to her hometown of Salem, Mass. for rest and relaxation, only to have her life upended by the sudden, mysterious death of her aunt. The Fifth Petal returns readers to that world. When a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween night, Salem's chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem’s most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed "The Goddess Murders," in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?Make sure you read The Lace Reader first, and if you're a fan of authors like Deborah Harkness, I'd highly recommend Barry's work.
Also available in Large Print.
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth, by Lindsey Lee Johnson. With echoes of Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep, Johnson's debut takes readers to the wealthy enclaves north of San Francisco, which are not the paradise they appear to be. Nobody knows this better than the students of a local high school. Despite being raised with all the opportunities money can buy, these vulnerable kids are navigating a treacherous adolescence in which every action, every rumor, every feeling, is potentially postable, shareable, viral. Into this complicated web, an idealistic young English teacher arrives from a poorer, scruffier part of California. Molly Nicoll strives to connect with her students—without understanding the middle school tragedy that played out online and has continued to reverberate in different ways for all of them. I think this is a book which will lead to great discussions and is a natural pick for book clubs.