All posts tagged: debut

Debut literary thriller about a family man grappling with his sense of self, a downward spiral, plus true-crime inspiration, character development and so much more in A GOOD MAN

By Leslie Lindsay  Debut thriller about a man grappling with his sense of self after his life spirals out of control.  ~WEEKEND READING|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Ani Katz will have readers on edge the entire time they are immersed in her riveting debut, A GOOD MAN (Penguin Books Original, January 14 2020). Katz plays with the dysfunctional family dynamic, an unstable/unreliable male narrator, and the picture-perfect family. Thomas Martin is a devoted family man with a beautiful wife, a sweet daughter at a private school, a home on Long Island, a job as an ad man. He has an eccentric family of origin he’s running from–but sheltering–at the same time. In a sense, A GOOD MAN is a fairy tale, complete with flittering glimmers of dysfunction. Thomas Martin is a devoted family man with an enviable life: a beautiful wife and daughter, a well-appointed home on Long Island, a job at a prestigious Manhattan advertising firm. He’s also a devoted brother and son, yet this family of origin is disturbingly sheltered. What happens when Thomas’s life—and ego—are rocked to …

Emma Sloley talks about how it’s difficult for humans to escape their own nature, how Margaret Atwood influences, plus pastoral ideas and more in DISASTER’S CHILDREN

By Leslie Lindsay The deterioration of the natural world and a coming-of-age story set in the very near not-so-distant future.  In her prescient debut, DISASTER’S CHILDREN (Little A; November 5, 2019),  Emma Sloley seamlessly weaves together an apocalyptic novel with cultural commentary to producing a memorable narrative both searing and tender. Raised in a privileged community of ultra-wealthy survivalists on an idyllic, self-sustaining Oregon ranch, Marlo has always been insulated. The outside world, which the ranchers nickname “The Disaster,” is ravaged by environmental suffering and situated precariously on the brink of global catastrophe. There are stunning modern homes, clear skies and abundant flora. Everyone’s happy because they have a shared agreement to disengage from news and politics, abstaining from information and the internet, instead investing in the development of their own exclusive society. Can it outlast impending destruction in the world beyond? But Marlo has long been intrigued by the chaos and opportunity beyond the confines of her picturesque community,  fueled by occasional trips to major cities and correspondence with her two childhood best friends, who have …

Debut author Lauren North talks about her early inklings for THE PERFECT SON (hint: isolation), how her background in psychology helps with writing, the house that inspired Tess’s and more

By Leslie Lindsay  Grief and despair wrapped under the guise of a psychological thriller fraught with emotions, disbelief, and empathy.  When Tess Clarke wakes in a hospital room she knows three things: 1) She’s been stabbed 2) Her husband is dead 3) Her son is missing. But the rest of it is buried under the fog of Tess’s mind.  THE PERFECT SON (Berkley August 13) starts with Tess in the hospital and sort of works backward in time, allowing readers to piece together their own theories. I am so impressed that this is a debut for author Lauren North. A bit about the plot: After Tess’s husband, Mark dies suddenly in a tragic accident, a few months earlier, the only thing keeping her together is their son, Jamie. And now he’s missing. To save him, Tess must piece together what happened between Mark’s death and Jamie’s disappearance. Plus, there are some ‘shady’ characters with ulterior motives Tess must grapple with. The structure of the story is what I found especially compelling. There’s a bit of a countdown to Tess’s …

Debut author Martine Fournier-Watson talks about how our lives are magical, how it comes from within, her hopes and worries; how to query agents and so much more in THE DREAM PEDDLER

By Leslie Lindsay  Gorgeously and lyrically told debut from Martine Fournier Watson about desires and hopes, grief and love set against the backdrop of a small town in the early 1900s. How could I *not* pick up a book entitled, THE DREAM PEDDLER (Penguin, April 2019)? I love small towns and dreams…so this was exactly my kind of read. The premise here is that a traveling salesman comes to town with the promise of being able whip up a potion for you to have a very delightful dream, money back guarantee if you don’t. So would you purchase a dream potion? Maybe you’d like the chance to reconnect with a lost loved one, have some superpower, a passionate fantasy, or some other personal triumph. Robert Owens comes into a small farming town pulling a buggy of potions behind him on the very day a young boy, Ben, goes missing. Parents and townspeople search for the boy and Robert quietly sets up shop. Before long, townsfolk begin seeking out Mr. Owens to request a dream for …

Sara Collins talks about her sublime debut, how history is a form of collective memory, black women in history, how writing is a form of exorcism, and so much more, in THE CONFESSIONS OF FRANNIE LANGTON

By Leslie Lindsay  The Mulatta Murderess–Dusky Fran–Ebony Fran—Frannie Langton is former slave on a Jamaican sugar plantation now locked in Old Bailey awaiting her sentencing–but did she do it?!  It’s circa 1820-1826 in Georgian London and Frannie Langdon has been indicted for the double-murder of her master and mistress, George and Marguerite (Meg) Benham. She couldn’t have possibly done it because she cared so deeply for them. Frannie is at once a fierce, powerful, and intelligent character–yet, she’s been accused of so many things–a whore, a seductress, a witch, a manipulator, a liar. THE CONFESSIONS OF FRANNIE LANGTON (Harper, June 18 2019) is such a multifaceted tale, I found it ambitious but also ambiguous, paying tribute to British Gothic literature with a philosophical slant. The writing is clear, concise, and sparkling on every page. But there’s a lot going on. We start with Frannie in Old Bailey, where she is awaiting trial and sentencing of the alleged murders. Frannie is whip-smart, articulate and tells her story retrospectively in first person as if writing in a diary. As readers, we are right …

Fear, isolation, and the shame of not being ‘good enough,’ plus what she did ‘right,’ in this deeply moving and authentic debut, by Melanie Golding steeped in fairy tales & new motherhood

By Leslie Lindsay Highly disturbing, emotionally challenging read about one woman’s descent into madness, motherhood, and more–gorgeously written and it’s a debut!  May is maternal mental health month LITTLE DARLINGS (Crooked Lane Books, April 30 2019) is one of those delightfully sinister psychological thrillers with a good dose of magical realism, fantasy, myth tossed in. It’s about pain, hope, loss, psychosis, motherhood, and uncertainty. And the writing is quite gorgeous. Come away, o human child to the waters and the wild.  –W.B. Yeats  Lauren Tranter is a new mother to twin boys. All is right–except she is exhausted, and rightly so. LITTLE DARLINGS starts off in the hospital, just after giving birth. Lauren can’t get comfortable. She isn’t sure she’s nursing the babies properly, her husband, Patrick must leave to go home…and is she ever able to get any rest?! There’s a distinct feeling of unease, right off the bat. Lauren can’t seem to shake the notion that someone came into the hospital and switched out her babies. Someone–something–sinister. With an odor of fish and mud. But everyone says it’s impossible. It’s a very secure …

Dave Patterson talks about his sublime coming-of-age, which reads like a memoir, his wavering faith, brotherhood, and so much more in SOON THE LIGHT WILL BE PERFECT

By Leslie Lindsay Two brothers struggle to survive a traumatic summer in rural Vermont is as haunting as poignant.  Buzzfeed included Soon the Light Will be Perfect on their list of 37 Amazing New Books this Spring SOON THE LIGHT WILL BE PERFECT (Hanover Square Press/HarperCollins, April 2 2019) is one of those books that’s just so gorgeous and authentic, you forget you’re reading–and then you question if it’s truly fiction because the author does such a fantastic job of pulling the reader right into the story with tiny observations that feel very accurate. Our unnamed narrator is a 12-year old boy on the cusp of young adulthood. He lives with his family in a poverty-stricken area in Vermont. But the family has done well enough that they are able to move away from the trailer park. His mother is a homemaker and his father works at a weapons manufacturing plant. The date is never specified, but we glean the story is set in the late 1980s or early 1990s because 1) it’s a coming-of-age novel and 2) The Gulf War is just beginning. …

Deliciously dark domestic debut from Samantha Downing will have you reading at break-neck speed and looking at your neighbors differently

By Leslie Lindsay  5 juicy stars to this tautly paced, all-encompassing deliciously dark domestic suspense, MY LOVELY WIFE (Berkley, March 26 2019) will capture and ensnare and have you looking twice at your neighbors.  Truly stunning, jaw-dropping, and so engrossing, you simply cannot look away. That’s what debut author, Samantha Downing, is so skilled at in her debut–this is a debut, people!–and you absolutely have to read it. Here’s the thing: it’s dark. It’s twisted, but on the surface, it’s oh-so-saccharine. Married for 15 years, Millicent and her unnamed husband, the protagonist/narrator have found themselves in a slightly boring marriage. They have two kids, a boy and a girl who are on the cusp of adolescence. It’s a nice life in a nice suburban area of Florida where everyone goes to work and then home for a pre-planned dinner. There’s soccer and tennis lessons and Millicent sells real estate. But MY LOVELY WIFE (Berkley, March 26) is a powerhouse of a novel. It’s about drama, a marriage, kids out of control, and the news media; it’s also about the folks next door, …

Famous French-Canadian Quintuplets becomes roadside attraction in the Great Depression. Debut author Shelley Wood talks about THE QUINTLAND SISTERS

By Leslie Lindsay  Historical debut about the famous French-Canadian quintuplets born during the Great Depression, THE QUINTLAND SISTERS (William Morrow, March 5 2019) is about love, heartache, and resilience. I am stunned and amazed that I never knew so much as a peep about the first surviving identical quintuplets. Journalist and debut author, Shelley Wood, tackles the vast amount of research in bringing these tiny miracles to life. Born in 1934 to French farmers in a hardscrabble area of Northern Ontario, readers will experience firsthand the harrowing birth, the precarious first days, and then the scandals-–how the babies are removed from the parents’ custody, put on display (for profit), and more. The writing is largely first person, told from the POV of young Emma Trimpany, who is 17 in 1934, and a reluctant midwife to the babies. She has no training but is there the evening Mrs. Dionne goes into to labor. This beginning was absolutely gripping and had the ring of the BBC show, “Call the Midwife.”  Emma stays with the Dionne family and helps raise these …

Menacing, Melancholic debut from Emma Rous, THE AU PAIR, captures the English countryside, identity, and family secrets sublimely

By Leslie Lindsay Entrancing, melancholic and atmospheric narrative alternating between two female perspectives about identity, family, and secrets.  Dark family secrets prevail in this debut from Emma Rous (Berkley Trade Paperback original, January 8 2019). There’s scandal, infidelity, a seaside estate, a nanny, and suicide. Plus, what about those mysterious twins? I fell in love with the setting–the Summerbourne Estate captured my heart because I absolutely adore homes in general. And what stories those walls may tell–or in this case, the nanny. It’s 1991/92 and The Mayes family have hired Laura Silveira to help care for young Edwin, opening their lives up to some scrutiny. Laura is eighteen and needing a bit of respite from her failed A levels, taking a gap year to ‘sort herself out.’ Alternating perspectives dive into Seraphine’s present-day story in which she is struggling with the after-effects of her father’s recent death. When Seraphine–a twin–discovers an old photograph of her mother just after her birth, holding just one baby–who or where is the other twin? And why did her mother jump to her death just …