Most Anticipated Books July-December 2019

Most Anticipated Books July-December 2019

The books I’m most excited to read, published in the second half of the year. Click “Show More” for links. xx

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On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon

How it Was by Janet Ellis
Podcast with Janet

Black Light by Kimberly Kim Parsons

The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

Forward Book of Poetry 2020

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Franklin and Luna and the Book of Fairy Tales by Jen Campbell

The Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

The Music of Time of John Burnside

Things We Say in the Dark by Kirsty Logan

The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern


Hello, my name’s Jen. I’m an award-winning poet and short story writer. My debut short story collection ‘The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night’ is published by Two Roads, and my children’s books ‘Franklin’s Flying Bookshop,’ ‘Franklin and Luna Go To The Moon’ and ‘Franklin and Luna and the Book of Fairy Tales’ are published by Thames and Hudson. I’m also the author of the Sunday Times bestselling ‘Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops’ series, ‘The Bookshop Book,’ ‘The Hungry Ghost Festival’ and ‘The Girl Aquarium.’

I run writing workshops, give talks at universities & book festivals on a variety of topics, judge literary prizes, and take on freelance writing and editing. If you would like to speak with me about the possibility of working together, please get in touch via email: [email protected] x

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hi everyone I'm here today to talk to you about my most anticipated book releases for the second half of 2019 there are 16 books I would like to talk to you about today as always I'll link all of them in the description box down below I have proof copies of a few of them and I have pre-ordered some of them so let's dive in first off is a book that is actually already out but it only just came out so I wanted to mention it and that is on earth we're briefly gorgeous by ocean Vong this is oceans first novel I adored his poetry collection night sky with exit wounds I believe that they share similar themes and that both of those draw massively from ocean's own life so in this this is a series of letters the narrator is writing to his mother a mother who cannot read an ocean has spoken about in interviews how his family couldn't read either and he himself didn't learn to read properly until he was about 16 his writing is so lyrical and beautiful and I'm sure this is going to be absolutely poetic so I look forward to reading that and as I said that has just come out next on my list and I'm gonna read from my phone because I don't have a copy of this one is speaking of summer by kaliesha but canon which has this amazing cover and the blurb says on a cold December evening autumn Spencer's twin sister summer walks to the roof of their shared Harlem brownstone and is never seen again the door to the roof is locked and the snow holds only one set of footprints faced with authorities indifferent to another missing black woman autumn must pursue the search for her sister all on her own so this is a novel that's focused on her trying to find her sister but in doing so she's commenting on the fact that authorities do not help out as much when a black person goes missing that book is coming out on the 30th of July then on the 8th of August we have this which is how it was by Janet Ellis I just got it in the post I didn't meet how big it was going to be I'm so excited I started reading this last night when I got it and I'm about 30 pages in and I am obsessed I've been feeling for a while that even though I've been enjoying a lot of books I've been reading I just haven't sunk my teeth into something that I've really wanted to race through and I'm hoping that this is going to be that I love Janet's first book which was the butcher's hook I recorded a podcast with Janet when that came out which I'll link down below if you like to go and listen to I was surprised when I heard the premise of this one because the butcher's hook was set in the 1700s in London this is set in the 1970s but as delightful as Janet is her work is always dark and twisted and I believe that this one is also going to be dark and twisted so I'm excited we open with a mother who is and a wife who's talking about her husband who is dying in a hospital and then she's sinking back over the past few decades she's going through photographs she's talking about her daughter Sarah who she seems to really not like and Sarah seems to really hate everybody and their son as well and she's talking about one summer when she found Sarah's diary in her drawer and started to read it I will report back on this one soon because I'm sure that I am gonna get through it very quickly on the 13th of August as a new short story collection coming out which I'm excited to get to I'll insert the cover here because I don't have a copy of it yet it's called black light by Kim Lee King Parsons the blurb is quite nonspecific but I'm still drawn to it so it says Parsons illuminates the ache of first love the banality of self-loathing the scourge of addiction the myth of marriage and the magic and inevitable disillusionment of childhood her stories expose desires darkest hollows those hidden places where most of us are afraid to look so yes I would like to check that one out on the 13th of August and memoir called the Yellow House is being published and that's by Sarah M Broome I'll insert a picture of the cover here it sounds really experimental and interesting Sarah's writing about her mother ivory Mae who bought a house in the 1960s in New Orleans and then had 12 children and she says that the house became her unruly thirteenth child so whilst this book is a memoir of her family it is really a memoir of the house and everything that went on in New Orleans in the 1960s it says it actually covers a hundred years of their family up to an including Hurricane Katrina when their house was wiped off the map so I think this one sounds really intriguing then on the 15th of August as a new novel by Yoko Ogawa coming out which is translated from the Japanese by Stephen Schneider and it's called the memory police Allen set picture of that here this seems almost like a reversal her book the housekeeper and the professor because this is about an island where the people on it forget everything the island itself forgets that it exists and the memory police are there to make sure that people always forget what's going on except one man is not forgetting what is going on and I believe that a novelist wants to write down all of his memories that they can collectively remember but the memory police are after him I've had a bit of hit miss record with Yoko Ogawa I loved revenge I enjoyed the housekeeper and the professor I detested hotel iris so we'll see how I get on with her latest one but I really like the sound of the premise on the 5th of September the forward book of poetry 2020 is being published I'm gonna hold this up as a placeholder this is the one that was published last year I was one of the judges of the foreword Prize last year so I helped edit and compile this book this year I'm obviously not one of the judges so I'm not part of that process but this is my favorite poetry anthology which comes out every year the foreword prize is the most prestigious poetry prize in the UK there is the Phoenix tennis prize for best first collection the forward prize for Best Overall collection and then there is a prize for best individual poem as well and then the judges put together out of all of the hundreds of books that they have read submitted to the prize and our mythology with their favorite poems from all of the shortlisted authors and then highly commended poems as well so it's it's a great example of all the amazing poetry that has been published in the past twelve months so it's always one that I'm keen to pick up and this year is no exception on the 5th of September Tracy Chevalier is new novel is being published I don't know too much about it but I do have a copy and I will be reading it soon because I'm reviewing it for toast so the blurb of this one says if she was to make a mark on the world she would have to do it in another way for the so called surplus women post-world War one the fight for independence is far from one but violet Speedwell is about to discover that there are cunning ways and means to build a life of one's own after all any act of resilience takes courage and courage can be found in the unlikeliest of places I think that this one is set in Winchester and involves a lot of sewing so I'm excited for that one then what is next on my list the Testaments by Margaret Atwood this is coming out on the 10th of September I definitely won't get a review copy of this before that point because it is very highly embargoed as you might expect this book I am tentatively excited for because I adore The Handmaid's Tale it has a special place in my heart because I think it was probably the first dystopian book I ever read when I was 16 17 it was very formative in my reading I think I didn't enjoy the television series I think mainly because it's a it's a bit much so that's not really criticism of the show it was just couldn't deal this as a sequel I hope I will love but it's one of those ones that's so highly anticipated there I'm trying to keep my you know my expectations quite low in the hope that I will be pleasantly surprised and absolutely love it I think it's set quite a bit after The Handmaid's Tale and it's three women who are recording their experiences of gilead so yeah we'll have to wait and see on the 19th of September Franklin and Luna and the book of fairytales is published I'm allowed to have one of my own books as a most anticipated book right I'm definitely anticipating it so this is the third book in my Franklin and Loonette series which is illustrated by katie harnock and is published by Thames and Hudson the first one is Franklin's flying bookshop the second one is Franklin and noona go to the moon and this one is Franklin and Luna and the book of fairytales in this it's Franklin's birthday he's turning 606 he thinks his friends have all forgotten they haven't sent him any gifts batchly everyone is planning a surprise party for him and luna to distract him takes him to a book shop out of town where her pet tortoise neil armstrong opens a book he's not supposed to open an ancient book of fairy tales and get sucked inside franklin and Rina have to dive into the book to try and save him and on their way they beasts meet a host of fairy tale characters not all of whom are friendly this book is all about the joys and wonders of getting lost inside a good book this is for children aged three to eight and anyone who likes dragons and books which is all of us isn't it so I will link it below if you would like to go and find out more then on the first of October is a hugely anticipated book by lots and lots of people this is the imaginary friend by Stephen Chbosky now if Janet Ellis's book was big this one is a monster it is over 800 page now I like it's over 700 pages but it has tiny writing so much so that I think this besides that the font may be a bit of an issue for me but I hope not Stephen Chbosky is the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower which was published 20 years ago how old are we 20 years ago so this is his second book and it's been 20 years and this sounds very very different from the Perks of Being a Wallflower like what the hell most tell the Perks of Being a Wallflower was really formative for me at that time I read it as a teenager it was important to me if I read it now I'm not sure I would love it as much but at the time it was great so this one very different this is a horror and people are comparing it to Stephen King and this is about a young boy called Christopher who has been moved to a new town with his mum Cate and his mum Cate says it's okay we'll be safe here in this village they've moved around a lot I'm not sure why they have moved around a lot but then one day Christopher wanders into the woods he's following a face that he's seen in a cloud 50 years ago a young boy from the same town who did the same thing and never came back Christopher however does come back but he is completely changed and so is the town the town is changing too and no one can work out why all Christopher knows is that he has to get back to those words and build the treehouse that he has seen in his head a voice tells him that after that everything will be revealed so I believe that Christopher has an imaginary friend yes eventually they would ask Christopher how he knew everything and he only had one truthful answer because my imaginary friend told me so I really hope that this is going to be great I don't read too much horror I don't read too much crime either but when I'm really in the mood for those genres I I'm very much in the mood for them so I hope that when I'm in the mood to pick this up which hopefully will be I think you know when it starts to get darker when it starts to get a bit creepier outside then I will I will give it a go the reason that I don't tend to gravitate towards horror so much is it falls so much into this disfigurement evil Torah trope so I have distanced myself from the genre as a whole but here's to hoping that this book is one of those that that doesn't fall into that and I will report back once I have got to it let me know if it's one of your most anticipated books because I know so many people are so excited about it slightly different but coming out on the 3rd of October it's the music of time by John Burnside I love John Burnside his poetry is great his novels are great this is nonfiction though this is a study and apparently the only published study of 20th century poetry in its entirety I think it's a bit of a beast I think it's about 500 pages long so yeah but I want to include that because I'm excited to read his literary criticism about 20th century poetry and how authors were writing about the times that they were going through I think that that sounds really interesting also on the 3rd of October vintage are publishing Kirsty Logan's new short story collection this is things that we say in the dark the final cover will be inverted so it's a black cover with white writing this is a collection of queer feminist horror stories I have actually already read it I read it this month so I will be speaking about it in my wrap up but definitely want to keep an eye out for also on the 3rd of October is I think my most anticipated book release of the even though when I think about it I get quite weepy and anxious but hopefully it's gonna be brilliant and we're all gonna love it and it's gonna be fine so this is the secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman it's the second in the book of dust trilogy the first book in the book of dust trilogy came out I don't think was last year was it the year before 2 years ago yes I guess it was two years ago and it was set pre His Dark Materials which is my favorite they stopped which he was my favorite books of all time if you weren't aware so that was set pre His Dark Materials was about a young boy called Malcolm who was helping to rescue a baby Lyra and transport her to the University of Oxford where she was to grow up but so is set after his start materials and I wasn't I'll be honest I wasn't hugely sure about the book of dust and I thought it was magical but I really wanted to be reunited with the characters that I know and love very selfish so that's why I'm most excited about this one which is set nearly ten years after his dark materials and we meet Lyra when she's 20 with Panteleimon and they are going on a perilous adventure to a world that they didn't know existed which is haunted by demons I believe that Malcolm is in this book too and as I said a feeling weepy want to think about it let's move on before I just stop crying on the 5th of November camera Marie Ann Machado's memoir is being published which is called in the Dreamhouse she wrote it was still short story collection her body and other parties which actually haven't yet read in its entirety I've read a couple of short stories from it and in this memoir she's exploring psychological abuse as well as many other things the blurb says that it's the structure that gives the book its original touch each chapter is driven by its own narrative trope the haunted house erotica the bildungsroman true witch Machado holds up the events to the light and examines them from different angles she looks back her religious adolescence unpacked the stereotype of lesbian relationships are safe and utopian and while interview with se esta explorations of the history and reality of abuse in queer relationships so that is definitely one that I will be adding to my list and then finally when is this one coming out also the 5th of November we have this book here which I know is also highly anticipated by many people this is the starless T by Erin Morgenstern who wrote the Night Circus the finished cover for this book is stunning so I'll insert a picture of it here so you can see this book is also a bit of a beast as well I don't know too much about it I don't want to know too much about it but I do know that it's about someone called Zachary who goes to a library and starts reading a book and he reads in this book a story from his own childhood and he is perplexed because he doesn't know how he has been written about and cataloged then he discovers a secret key and other things as well what's a key Abbie and a sword and those things lead him to a subterranean library with lots of other worlds and he goes on this huge adventure so I think that that sounds pretty pretty intriguing so those are all the books but I wanted to tell you about today as I said they're all linked down below and you'd like to go to find out more or pre-order them I have certainly pre-ordered the ones that I don't already have copies of let me know what books you are excited about that are coming out later this year if there are other titles that I haven't spoken about here I hope they all having a great week and I will speak to you very soon lots of big stuff


  1. I have The Memory Police ordered from the Library for a month now but I will probably grab me a copy soon as it comes out. I can't wait to grab me a copy of this.

  2. I was lucky enough to be able to read the ARC of ‘The Starless Sea’ and all I will say is that it gave me all the feels I got when reading ‘The Night Circus.’ 😊. I hope you love it!! Thanks for a great video 😁💖📚

  3. Jen, I love your videos so much! Every book recommendation of yours quickly turns out to be a favourite of mine.. This video got me really excited for a few books I didn’t know were coming, the memory police and the music of time especially… I was also wondering, where do you get your recommendations?

  4. I cannot wait until you read The Memory Police! I absolutely loved it and found it so thought provoking. I also cannot wait for Carmen Maria Machado's memoir as well. I think it is going to be amazing. She is a great and fantastic writer.

  5. I adored The Night Circus! I even have a pendant of a miniature of the book. I did not know Erin Morgenstern had a new book coming out, so hers is the one I'm most excited about.

  6. I'm so here for On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, it's top, top of my list <3
    Similarly cautious for The Testaments, I feel like the more recent MA I've read has been a bit hit and miss as well…..fingers crossed for it though lol xx

  7. I'm so iffy about The Secret Commonwealth because I thought La Belle Sauvage didn't really give us anything to sink our teeth into, it felt pretty mundane and unimportant, more like a low-budget fan play about the characters we know than anything worthy of the title "The Book of Dust"… and likewise am more scared than excited about Atwood's, Chbosky's and Morgenstern's new releases since so many highly anticipated things have recently been somewhat of a letdown. So I'm only sure about getting Ocean Vuong's book (hopefully in HC cuz it's beautiful) and Stephen King's new release.

  8. I hadn't heard of Buckhanon's novel or Logan's new story collection – thanks for the tips. Love the covers!
    And, of course, I'm looking forward to Ellis' new novel too. Keen on Ogawa's novel as well since I really liked the Housekeeper & the Professor (but it's her only book I've read.) x

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