October’s Best New Fiction

Holiday season is upon us, so break out the Halloween candy and the eggnog (along with some great reads, of course)! Joe Hill and Leigh Bardugo’s new works provide the frights while Nancy Thayer and Karen White provide the yuletide cheer. Elizabeth Strout returns with a new short story collection about Olive Kitteridge, and Andre Aciman and W. Bruce Cameron will warm your heart with tales of love.

A Dog’s Promise, by W. Bruce Cameron
Can’t get enough of Bailey, the loyal and lovable dog from A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey (both of which were adapted into films)? Good news: he’s back, inhabiting the form of a new dog, and joined by a sweet canine named Lacey. The duo bring delight and comfort to the humans they’re intent on helping, and your heart will have grown three sizes by the end of the book.

Ninth House, by Leigh Bardugo
Just in time for Halloween, YA powerhouse author Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone; Six of Crows) gifts readers with her first adult fantasy, a tale of intrigue and supernatural horror set in the world of Ivy League secret societies. Galaxy “Alex” Stern has a past that would give anyone nightmares; as the only survivor of a multiple homicide, the 20-year-old is in desperate need of a fresh start. It arrives in the form of a full ride at Yale, with the caveat that she must report back to her strange benefactors with information concerning the occult activities taking place on campus. This B&N exclusive edition includes an annotated chapter with handwritten notes from Leigh Bardugo in the margins.

The Giver of Stars, by Jojo Moyes
The Me Before You author is back with a touching historical novel set in rural Kentucky during the Great Depression. When Alice Wright leaves her native England behind for marriage to American-born-and-bred Bennett Van Cleve, she’s unprepared for small-town life, especially with a difficult father-in-law in tow. When an opportunity presents itself to deliver books with four other women as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s traveling library, Alice leaps at the chance to bring the written word to those who’ve never experienced it. The job involves danger and drama, but it’s always worth the risk. Moyes’ latest is based on a true story.

Cilka’s Journey, by Heather Morris
With the international bestseller The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Morris proved her skill for heartbreaking and honest historical fiction that doesn’t shy away from the horror and beauty of life. In Cilka’s Journey, the title character learns that her good looks are a blessing and a curse. Taken prisoner in 1942, at the age of sixteen, her attractiveness “saves” her when a commandant at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp takes her for his lover. But once the war ends, she’s charged as a collaborator. Trading one prison for another, Cilka is sent to Siberia and trains under a female doctor to tend to the prison camp’s ailing prisoners. There, she helps to heals others and in doing so uncovers her own capacity for love.

Olive, Again, by Elizabeth Strout
These thirteen new, interconnected tales continue the story of the prickly yet secretly empathetic heroine Olive Kitteridge (whose first outing, Olive Kitteridge, earned Strout a Pulitzer Price). Now a septuagenarian being romanced by widowed Jack Kennison in Crosby, Maine, Olive will spend the next decade struggling with love, loss, unexpected friendships, and the pain of aging. Have a box of tissues handy; you’re going to need it.

Child’s Play, by Danielle Steel
Steel’s latest family drama introduces readers to widowed Kate Morgan, a senior partner at a coveted law firm in NYC who feels great relief at the way her grown children have turned out. Anthony, Tamara, and Claire all seem to be living their best lives and succeeding in their chosen fields, but the truth is much more complicated, and this summer, everyone’s secrets are about to come out. It’s high time Kate discovered who her children actually are, even if it turns her world upside down and forces Kate to acknowledge her own hidden truths.

What Happens in Paradise, by Elin Hilderbrand
Book one of the Paradise trilogy found magazine editor Irene horrified to learn that her affectionate, jet-setting husband Russ had been hiding a double life from her before his death. Driven to uncover the real story, Irene and her competitive adult sons, Baker and Dash, are now living in St. John’s at their late father’s villa, where romance and intrigue fill their days. As the mysteries from the first installment deepen, new answers lead to new questions that will have fans desperate to get their hands on book three.

Let it Snow, by Nancy Thayer
A Christmas Carol meets Nantucket at Christmas in this charming love story about a toy shop owner, Christina, and her attempts to keep her business up and running despite her Scrooge-like landlord Oscar’s insistence on raising the store’s rent sky high. Determined to stay afloat, and hoping to uncover a softer side to Oscar, Christina finds herself bonding with Wink, Oscar’s young granddaughter (a toy store aficionado, natch). Christina also receives some surprise assistance in her quest from an unexpected source: Wink’s handsome uncle, a kind and extremely eligible bachelor.

Full Throttle, by Joe Hill
In this sinister collection of thirteen shorts, including two new stories and one never before seen in print, acclaimed author Hill doesn’t merely thrill and terrify; he also dares readers to explore various reactions to grief. Tales of social media addiction, an afterlife bookmobile, and clever references to the pop culture that has informed and shaped Hill (look for imagery that recalls Ray Bradbury’s work) make for a winning and thought-provoking combination. Oh, and terrifying; did we mention terrifying?

Grand Union, by Zadie Smith 
Hard to believe, but this is Smith’s (White Teeth; On Beauty; Swing Time) first short story collection, and it features eleven previously unpublished stories, as well as reader favorites from The New Yorker. Most stories are set in the modern world, with one, “Kelso Deconstructed”, ruminating on a real-life hate crime from 1959, and another, “Meet the President!”, taking place in a virtual reality-soaked future. But whether she’s riffing on college life as one of very few Black students, school drop-off as a depressed parent, writer’s block, or familial estrangement (particularly between mothers and daughters), her fierce wit and talent shine through.                               

The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek, by Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal
In small-town North Carolina in the early 1990s, local teens worry incessantly that they’ll be sent to Bleak Creek’s infamous, death-tainted crown jewel: the Whitewood reformatory school, where wayward youths must conform to a straight-and-narrow life or die trying. When Rex and Leif, two high school freshman and aspiring filmmakers, get in trouble during a horror film shoot, their best friend, Alicia, becomes the latest student at Whitewood. The boys team up with a NYU film school graduate to bust her out, but their rescue mission leads to some hideous discoveries about the school founder. This looks to be perfect for fans of Stranger Things.

The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street, by Karen White
A grouchy ghost, a potential treasure trove of Revolutionary War artifacts, and a bustling Christmas season for Mellie, Jack, and their twin toddlers combine for a suspenseful and entertaining sixth outing in the Tradd Street series (alongside the requisite Charleston real estate envy). If that’s not enough, a previous rival makes his or her presence known, and local students descend on Melanie’s property, eager to participate in whatever historical discovery might be down the pike.

Find Me, by André Aciman
Whether you’re a fan of the book, the film adaptation, or both versions of Call Me by Your Name, you won’t want to miss this highly anticipated sequel. Set a decade after the events of the first book, Find Me centers on Elio’s kind father, Samuel, and the swift but genuine connection he makes with a younger woman, Miranda, while waiting for a train to Rome. Elio and Oliver’s romance gets an update as well. Now an accomplished pianist, Elio currently lives in Paris where he dates an older man named Michael. Meanwhile, Oliver has never forgotten his feelings for Elio, and he’s beginning to fear he never will, despite his new life as a family man and professor in New England. Will the two lovers ever reunite?

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