A few months ago, I gave you a bunch of info on 2020’s best fiction books as of then, as voted on by tens of thousands of Goodreads readers. In that same vein, let me tell you about a few more good fiction books that were recently published or will publish soon in 2021. Again, I scoured the internet, looking for best deals for you. Hope you have fun reading them!
Bright and Dangerous Objects by Anneliese Mackintosh
GoodReads’ description and rating:
Commercial deep-sea diver Solvig has a secret. She wants to be one of the first human beings to colonize Mars, and she’s one of a hundred people shortlisted by the Mars Project to do just that. But to fulfil her ambition, she’ll have to leave behind everything she’s ever known—for the rest of her life.
As the prospect of heading to space becomes more real, thirty-seven-year-old Solvig is forced to define who she really is. Will she come clean to James, her partner, about her plans? Or will she turn her back on the project, and commit to her life on Earth? Maybe even try for a baby, like James is hoping.
While 89% of Goodreads readers liked it, most of them gave it a 3 out of 5 stars.
While this book’s premise seemed to offer a dilemma I could relate to–having to decide between career and family–its plot was ultimately mired in too much internal monologue to make it compelling enough for me.
But…so you can decide for yourself if this is good fiction or not, here’s some more information to help you decide:
Once Again by Catherine Wallace Hope
Isolated in the aftermath of tragedy, Erin Fullarton has felt barely alive since the loss of her young daughter, Korrie. She tries to mark the milestones her therapist suggests–like today, the 500th day without Korri–but moving through grief is like swimming against a dark current.
Her estranged husband, Zac, a brilliant astrophysicist, seems to be coping better. Lost in his work, he’s perfecting his model of a stunning cosmological phenomenon, one he predicts will occur today–an event so rare, it keeps him from being able to acknowledge Erin’s coinciding milestone.
But when Erin receives a phone call from her daughter’s school, the same call she received five hundred days earlier when Korrie was still alive, Erin realizes something is happening. Or happening again. Struggling to understand the sudden shifts in time, she pieces together that the phenomenon Zac is tracking may have presented her with the gift of a lifetime: the chance to save her daughter.
Unable to reach Zac or convince the authorities of what is happening, Erin is forced to find the answer on her own, Erin must battle to keep the past from repeating–or risk losing her daughter for good.
I asked for this book from NetGalley because of the sci-fi-esque concept of a mother getting a second chance to save her young daughter, who was killed. It wasn’t until I began reading it and other reviews of the book that I realized that it also has thriller-like aspects, in that the story is even told from the perspective of the person who abducted and killed Erin’s daughter at one point. For some reason, I’m triggered by stories like this, even though I have no history of abuse and two very-much-alive kids. I’m still traumatized by a made-for-tv movie I saw more than 10 years ago starring Sally Field and Keifer Sutherland, in which Keifer plays a sadistic serial killer and Sally the mother of one of his victims. I had to leave the theater right in the middle of the movie The Shack because the story of the murdered daughter and her grief-racked parent was too much for me; I sobbed all the way home. So if stories like that trigger you, don’t read this book.
However, if you enjoy absorbing stories, you’ll enjoy this one. It is, at its heart, a suspenseful contemporary-genre book best understood by mothers or fathers and all those who like good, clean writing.
Since this book just came out, the best deal you’re going to find on it is $12.99 for a Kindle version on Amazon.
A Question Mark is Half a Heart by Sofia Lundberg
From Google Books:
Elin has the perfect life. A successful photographer, she lives in New York with her husband Sam and their seventeen-year-old daughter, Alice.
But something has always been missing…
When Elin receives a letter from her childhood friend Fredrik on the Swedish island of Gotland, memories come flooding back: of a past she has tried to forget, and a terrible secret she has shared with nobody – a secret that made her flee the island, and never return.
Torn between past and present and afraid the truth will destroy her family, Elin sets out on a journey to another continent, but also to another time and another life.
Elin was a hard character for me to connect to, unlike Samantha in What You Wish For by Katherine Center and Eleanor in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, characters who’d also experienced trauma of some kind. She started out very apathetic, which was perhaps not surprising given what you learn about her, but she had no redeeming quirks, wry sense of humor, or even friends, really.
Too, the style is plain, which fits the foreboding feel of the story, but the words seem to focus on details I didn’t really care about. Even if they were a distraction for Elin, they didn’t give much insight into her as a character, although they did paint scenes pretty well.
This book comes out in March 2021, so there are no deals yet.
The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult
As I mentioned on Instagram, this book wasn’t my favorite either, also in part because it ended in what I would call a cliffhanger. To me, cliffhangers are clickbait. That being said, most readers on Goodreads gave it 4 stars.
Because this book just came out, the best deal you’re going to find on it is $12.99 from BetterWorldBooks.com.
Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi
Kabul, 1978: The daughter of a prominent family, Sitara Zamani lives a privileged life in Afghanistan’s thriving cosmopolitan capital. The 1970s are a time of remarkable promise under the leadership of people like Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president, and Sitara’s beloved father, his right-hand man. But the ten-year-old Sitara’s world is shattered when communists stage a coup, assassinating the president and Sitara’s entire family. Only she survives.
Smuggled out of the palace by a guard named Shair, Sitara finds her way to the home of a female American diplomat, who adopts her and raises her in America. In her new country, Sitara takes on a new name—Aryana Shepherd—and throws herself into her studies, eventually becoming a renowned surgeon. A survivor, Aryana has refused to look back, choosing instead to bury the trauma and devastating loss she endured.
New York, 2008: Forty years after that fatal night in Kabul, Aryana’s world is rocked again when an elderly patient appears in her examination room—a man she never expected to see again. It is Shair, the soldier who saved her, yet may have murdered her entire family. Seeing him awakens Aryana’s fury and desire for answers—and, perhaps, revenge. Realizing that she cannot go on without finding the truth, Aryana embarks on a quest that takes her back to Kabul—a battleground between the corrupt government and the fundamentalist Taliban—and through shadowy memories of the world she loved and lost.
The strength of books that are part, if not all, historical fiction is often how well they span they ages and how well they depict the world of the past. On those counts, Sparks Like Stars deserves full credit. Though it moved too slowly for my adrenaline-junkie tastes, its pacing seemed appropriate for the story.
Because this book won’t be released until March of 2021, there are no deals yet, but there is a Goodreads giveaway going on until January 17th!