Article by: Cher Collins, Contributing Writer
September begins the Autumn’s big push for publishers and book distributors. While the holidays are still months away, the book sellers and librarians are excited for the diverse volume of titles coming our way! Here is a sneak peek of a few September releases that caught this reader’s attention before they even hit the shelves. A side benefit of the job, for sure!
New to the fiction side of things, is author Amy Chua. Chua is well-known for her 2011 best-selling memoir entitled Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Coming to the shelves on September 19th is Chua’s first novel, Golden Gate, a historical mystery set in 1940’s California. A high-profile crime is skillfully combined with family history, war-time social issues and a paranormal element as the intricate story unfolds. Detective Al Sullivan is on the case after Presidential candidate William Wilkerson is found dead at the fancy Claremont hotel in Berkeley, California. Witnesses to the murder report that two women were seen near Wilkerson’s room before his murder-an Asian woman and possibly one of the wealthy Bainbridge heiresses. Cousins Izzy Stafford and Nicole and Cassie Bainbridge are among the wealthy class and their secrets are revealed through their grandmother’s telling, but unreliable deposition during the investigation. Ten years earlier, Izzy’s sister Iris was murdered under mysterious circumstances in the very same room Wilkerson was found dead. It is rumored that Iris’s ghost still haunts the hotel to this day.
Real-life historical figures like Madame Chiang Kai-Shek and first female Chinese physician, Margaret Chung help build suspense in this well-written, exquisitely detailed mystery. Even Detective Sullivan’s experiences with prejudice contributes to the atmosphere of social and racial unrest at an uneasy time in California’s history. Chua succeeds in setting a tense tone and unpacking a complex, yet rewarding mystery. Only exceptional authors can “trick” readers into learning about history while providing a wildly entertaining story. Looking forward to more fiction from Chua!
Lauren Groff is no stranger to the best-seller list and her latest, The Vaster Wilds, is likely to earn Groff her fourth National Book Award Finalist nomination. A fragile survival and adventure story at its core, The Vaster Wilds brings us back to the desolation of 1609 Jamestown. A teenage servant girl escapes the starving settlement and must survive the winter. Amidst the grub-eating and sleeping in caves, the girl reveals her ultimate destination as French Canada – a place that merely exists on a map. But the journey is not just a physical one. Her imagination, dreams and introspection create an almost magical quality as she questions life, nature, faith and her very existence. By the end, we learn the twisted circumstances of the girl’s arrival in the new world. The reader should not expect a hard-driven plot. The beauty of Groff’s work is in her sparing, yet beautiful use of language to depict this stark and dangerous time. We are immersed in this world and invested in the difficult journey. Groff’s gift for storytelling is featured here and first-time readers will be compelled to pick up some of her earlier works.
Celebrity watchers-take note! New books by some familiar names are forthcoming this September. Marvel fans will be amused by Look Out for the Little Guy by Scott Lang. Lang, of course, is the alter-ego of superhero Ant Man, played in the films by actor Paul Rudd. Lang gives his fans an inside view into his life as an Avenger and normal, everyday little guy. Fans will appreciate the entertaining media tie-in beginning September 5. Stretching her wings into the world of writing, actress Millie Bobby Brown from the wildly popular series Stranger Things, releases Nineteen Steps in mid-September. Drawing on her family’s own history during World War II, Brown creates a warm story of a lesser-known event during wartime England. Anderson Cooper releases another glimpse into the riches and luxuries of the Gilded Age families that defined the age. Astor: the Rise and Fall of an American Fortune follows his first book about his own family, the Vanderbilts. Cooper pairs with novelist Katherine Howe to provide a detailed and intriguing look into one of the most influential families of the early 20th century. Elton John’s long-time songwriter and partner, Bernie Taupin releases his biography Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton and Me. Rich in gossip and anecdotes from his life, Taupin tells his own story as a brilliant lyricist. Rounding out September notables is another book in the successful Killing series from Bill O’Reilly. Killing the Witches: the Horror of Salem, Massachusetts hits shelves later this month-just in time for the witches, ghosts and goblins that will dominate the October reviews.