With every new month, a bunch of must read books are published. If there's ever been a good time to pick up a good book and lose yourself in great story or a totally different world, it's now. From the first installment in an exciting new space opera trilogy to an almost 1,000 page long biography on Andy Warhol, here are all the must read books coming out this month.
1) Godshot by Chelsea Bieker (March 31)
Jacket copy: Drought has settled on the town of Peaches, California. The area of the Central Valley where fourteen-year-old Lacey May and her alcoholic mother live was once an agricultural paradise. Now it’s an environmental disaster, a place of cracked earth and barren raisin farms. In their desperation, residents have turned to a cult leader named Pastor Vern for guidance. He promises, through secret “assignments,” to bring the rain everybody is praying for.
Lacey has no reason to doubt the pastor. But then her life explodes in a single unimaginable act of abandonment: her mother, exiled from the community for her sins, leaves Lacey and runs off with a man she barely knows. Abandoned and distraught, Lacey May moves in with her widowed grandma, Cherry, who is more concerned with her taxidermy mice collection than her own granddaughter. As Lacey May endures the increasingly appalling acts of men who want to write all the rules, and begins to uncover the full extent of Pastor Vern’s shocking plan to bring fertility back to the land, she decides she must go on a quest to find her mother, no matter what it takes. With her only guidance coming from the romance novels she reads and the unlikely companionship of the women who knew her mother, she must find her own way through unthinkable circumstances.
Possessed of an unstoppable plot and a brilliantly soulful voice,Godshotis a book of grit and humor and heart, a debut novel about female friendship and resilience, mother-loss and motherhood, and seeking salvation in unexpected places. It introduces a writer who gives Flannery O’Connor’s Gothic parables a Californian twist and who emerges with a miracle that is all her own.
2) Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie (April 7)
Jacket Copy: A young pilot risks everything to save his best friend--the man he trusts most and might even love--only to learn that he's secretly the heir to a brutal galactic empire.
Ettian Nassun's life was shattered when the merciless Umber Empire invaded. He's spent seven years putting himself back together under its rule, joining an Umber military academy and becoming the best pilot in his class. Even better, he's met Gal Veres--his exasperating and infuriatingly enticing roommate who's made the Academy feel like a new home.
But when dozens of classmates spring an assassination plot on Gal, a devastating secret comes to light: Gal is the heir to the Umber Empire. Ettian barely manages to save his best friend and flee the compromised Academy unscathed, rattled both that Gal stands to inherit the empire that broke him and that there are still people willing to fight back against Umber rule. As they piece together a way to deliver Gal safely to his throne, Ettian finds himself torn in half by an impossible choice. Does he save the man who's won his heart and trust that Gal's goodness could transform the empire? Or does he throw his lot in with the brewing rebellion and fight to take back what's rightfully theirs?
3) Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth (April 7)
Jacket Copy: The first novel written for an adult audience by the mega-selling author of the Divergent franchise: five twenty-something heroes famous for saving the world when they were teenagers must face even greater demons--and reconsider what it means to be a hero . . . by destiny or by choice.
A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.
Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.
4) Conjure Women by Afia Atakora (April 7)
Jacket Copy: A mother and daughter with a shared talent for healing--and for the conjuring of curses--are at the heart of this dazzling first novel.
Conjure Women is a sweeping story that brings the world of the South before and after the Civil War vividly to life. Spanning eras and generations, it tells of the lives of three unforgettable women: Miss May Belle, a wise healing woman; her precocious and observant daughter Rue, who is reluctant to follow in her mother's footsteps as a midwife; and their master's daughter Varina. The secrets and bonds among these women and their community come to a head at the beginning of a war and at the birth of an accursed child, who sets the townspeople alight with fear and a spreading superstition that threatens their newly won, tenuous freedom.
Magnificently written, brilliantly researched, richly imagined, Conjure Women moves back and forth in time to tell the haunting story of Rue, Varina, and May Belle, their passions and friendships, and the lengths they will go to save themselves and those they love.
5) You and I, As Mothers by Laura Prepon (April 7)
Jacket Copy: When Laura Prepon first became a mother, she felt blindsided. Between skyrocketing stress levels, sleepless nights, and the complete rearrangement of her priorities, Prepon barely recognized her new maternal self. She sought out resources to help navigate this huge life transition, but found only books about childcare and almost nothing on the shelves about momcare. So she decided to write the book she was looking for.
You and I, as Mothers: A Feel-Good, Live-Well Guide for Moms is a practical handbook for mothers of any age, at any stage of motherhood. At once deeply personal and universal, the book includes topics such as self-care, stress reduction techniques, protecting one’s partnership, asking for help, and getting a global perspective on maternity, as well as a selection of easy and delicious recipes, among many other things.
Laura shares humbling moments and anecdotes from her own journey as a mother, interweaving insights from her Mom Squad: an eclectic group of mothers, including a world-renowned survival expert, a top neuroscientist, creator of Orange Is the New Black Jenji Kohan, actress Mila Kunis, author and activist Amber Tamblyn, and chef Daphne Oz, among other inspiring moms. Laura encourages readers to acknowledge their challenges, embrace their strengths, and celebrate their victories as we navigate the greatest adventure of all . . . Motherhood.
6) Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould (April 14)
Jacket Copy: It’s the early days of the new millennium, and Laura has arrived in New York City’s East Village with the hopes of recording her first album. A songwriter with a one-of-a-kind talent, she’s just beginning to book gigs when she falls hard for Dylan, a troubled but magnetic musician whose star is on the rise. Their time together is stormy and short-lived—Dylan dies a few months into their relationship—but will reverberate for the rest of Laura’s life.
Flash forward fourteen years: Laura’s daughter, Marie, is asking questions about the father she never knew, questions that Laura does not want to answer. Laura has built a quiet life that bears little resemblance to the one she envisioned when she left Ohio all those years ago, and she’s taken pains to close the door on what was and what might have been. But Marie won’t let her, and when she attempts to track down Dylan’s family, both mother and daughter are forced to confront the heartbreak at the root of their relationship.
Funny, wise, and utterly immersive, Perfect Tunes explores the fault lines between parents and children, and asks whether dreams deferred can ever be reclaimed.
7) Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder
Jacket Copy: Part poignant cancer memoir and part humorous reflection on a motherless life, this debut graphic novel is extraordinarily comforting and engaging.
From before her mother's first oncology appointment through the stages of her cancer to the funeral, sitting shiva, and afterward, when she must try to make sense of her life as a motherless daughter, Tyler Feder tells her story in this graphic novel that is full of piercing—but also often funny—details. She shares the important post-death firsts, such as celebrating holidays without her mom, the utter despair of cleaning out her mom's closet, ending old traditions and starting new ones, and the sting of having the "I've got to tell Mom about this" instinct and not being able to act on it. This memoir, bracingly candid and sweetly humorous, is for anyone struggling with loss who just wants someone to get it.
8) I'm Your Huckleberry by Val Kilmer (April 21)
Jacket Copy: Val Kilmer has played many iconic roles over his nearly four-decade film career. A table-dancing Cold War agent in Top Secret! A troublemaking science prodigy inReal Genius. A brash fighter pilot inTop Gun. A swashbuckling knight inWillow. A lovelorn bank robber inHeat. A charming master of disguise in The Saint. A wise-cracking detective inKiss Kiss Bang Bang. Of course, Batman, Jim Morrison and the sharp-shooting Doc Holliday.
But who is the real Val Kilmer? WithI’m Your Huckleberry—published ahead of next summer’s highly anticipated sequelTop Gun: Maverick, in which Kilmer returns to the big screen as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky—the enigmatic actor at last steps out of character and reveals his true self.
In this uniquely assembled memoir—featuring vivid prose, snippets of poetry and rarely-seen photos—Kilmer reflects on his acclaimed career, including becoming the youngest actor ever admitted to the Juilliard School’s famed drama department, determinedly campaigning to win the lead part in The Doors, and realizing a years-long dream of performing a one-man show as his hero Mark Twain. He shares candid stories of working with screen legends Marlon Brando, Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr. and Robert De Niro, and recounts high-profile romances with Cher, Cindy Crawford, Daryl Hannah, and former wife Joanne Whalley. He chronicles his spiritual journey and lifelong belief in Christian Science, and describes travels to far-flung locales such as a scarcely inhabited island in the Indian Ocean where he suffered from delirium and was cared for by the resident tribe. And he reveals details of his recent throat cancer diagnosis and recovery—about which he has disclosed little until now.
While containing plenty of tantalizing celebrity anecdotes,I’m Your Huckleberry—taken from the famous line Kilmer delivers as Holliday inTombstone—is ultimately a singularly written and deeply moving reflection on mortality and the mysteries of life.
9) If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha (April 21)
Jacket Copy: Kyuri is a heartbreakingly beautiful woman with a hard-won job at a "room salon," an exclusive bar where she entertains businessmen while they drink. Though she prides herself on her cold, clear-eyed approach to life, an impulsive mistake with a client may come to threaten her livelihood.
Her roomate, Miho, is a talented artist who grew up in an orphanage but won a scholarship to study art in New York. Returning to Korea after college, she finds herself in a precarious relationship with the super-wealthy heir to one of Korea's biggest companies.
Down the hall in their apartment building lives Ara, a hair stylist for whom two preoccupations sustain her: obsession with a boy-band pop star, and a best friend who is saving up for the extreme plastic surgery that is commonplace.
And Wonna, one floor below, is a newlywed trying to get pregnant with a child that she and her husband have no idea how they can afford to raise and educate in the cutthroat economy.
Together, their stories tell a gripping tale that's seemingly unfamiliar, yet unmistakably universal in the way that their tentative friendships may have to be their saving grace.
10) If It Bleeds by Stephen King (April 28)
Jacket Copy: From #1New York Times bestselling author, legendary storyteller, and master of short fiction Stephen King comes an extraordinary collection of four new and compelling novellas—Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life of Chuck, Rat, and the title stor yIf It Bleeds—each pulling you into intriguing and frightening places.
11) The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe (April 28)
Jacket Copy: A dazzling and darkly comic novel of love, violence, and friendship in the California suburbs. Bunny Lampert is the princess of North Shore—beautiful, tall, blond, with a rich real-estate-developer father and a swimming pool in her backyard. Michael—with a ponytail down his back and a septum piercing—lives with his aunt in the cramped stucco cottage next door. When Bunny catches Michael smoking in her yard, he discovers that her life is not as perfect as it seems. At six foot three, Bunny towers over their classmates. Even as she dreams of standing out and competing in the Olympics, she is desperate to fit in, to seem normal, and to get a boyfriend, all while hiding her father’s escalating alcoholism. Michael has secrets of his own. At home and at school Michael pretends to be straight, but at night he tries to understand himself by meeting men online for anonymous encounters that both thrill and scare him. When Michael falls in love for the first time, a vicious strain of gossip circulates and a terrible, brutal act becomes the defining feature of both his and Bunny’s futures—and of their friendship. With storytelling as intoxicating as it is intelligent, Rufi Thorpe has created a tragic and unflinching portrait of identity, a fascinating examination of our struggles to exist in our bodies, and an excruciatingly beautiful story of two humans aching for connection.
12) Take Me Apart by Sara Sligar (April 28)
Jacket Copy: A young archivist's obsession with her subject's mysterious death threatens to destroy her fragile grasp on sanity, in a riveting debut novel of psychological suspense.
When the famed photographer Miranda Brand died mysteriously at the height of her career, it sent shock waves through Callinas, California. Decades later, old wounds are reopened when her son, Theo, hires ex-journalist Kate Aitken to create an archive of his mother's work.
From Miranda's vast maze of personal effects, Kate pieces together a portrait of a vibrant artist buckling under the pressures of ambition, motherhood, and marriage. As the summer progresses, Kate navigates vicious local rumors and her growing attraction to the enigmatic Theo, all while unearthing the shocking details of Miranda's private life. But Kate has secrets of her own, and when she stumbles across a diary that may finally resolve the mystery of Miranda's death, her curiosity starts to spiral into a dangerous obsession.
With breathtaking and haunting imagery, Take Me Apart paints a vivid picture of two magnetic young women, separated by years, but bonded by shared struggles. Sara Sligar draws readers into a web of secrets and lies, alternating between the present and the past and revealing the truth about Miranda's death through the objects she left behind.
13) Warhol by Blake Gopnik (April 28)
Jacket Copy: The definitive biography of a fascinating and paradoxical figure, one of the most influential artists of his—or any—age.
To this day, mention the name “Andy Warhol” to almost anyone and you’ll hear about his famous images of soup cans and Marilyn Monroe. But though Pop Art became synonymous with Warhol’s name and dominated the public’s image of him, his life and work are infinitely more complex and multi-faceted than that.
InWarhol, esteemed art critic Blake Gopnik takes on Andy Warhol in all his depth and dimensions. “The meanings of his art depend on the way he lived and who he was,” as Gopnik writes. “That’s why the details of his biography matter more than for almost any cultural figure,” from his working-class Pittsburgh upbringing as the child of immigrants to his early career in commercial art to his total immersion in the “performance” of being an artist, accompanied by global fame and stardom—and his attempted assassination.
The extent and range of Warhol’s success, and his deliberate attempts to thwart his biographers, means that it hasn’t been easy to put together an accurate or complete image of him. But in this biography, unprecedented in its scope and detail as well as in its access to Warhol’s archives, Gopnik brings to life a figure who continues to fascinate because of his contradictions—he was known as sweet and caring to his loved ones but also a coldhearted manipulator; a deep-thinking avant-gardist but also a true lover of schlock and kitsch; a faithful churchgoer but also an eager sinner, skeptic, and cynic.
Wide-ranging and immersive, Warhol gives us the most robust and intricate picture to date of a man and an artist who consistently defied easy categorization and whose life and work continue to profoundly affect our culture and society today.
For those worried about how to purchase books in states and cities following shelter in place guidelines, there are multiple ways to safely buy one of these books (or any others that catch your fancy) while staying home. If you want to support your local independent bookstore, you can order a book for delivery via IndieBound. If you don't have a local bookstore near you, but still want to support independent businesses during the shut down, use Bookshop. Barnes and Noble will deliver or provide curbside pickup for online orders, depending on local guidelines. Amazon will continue to deliver books, as well, though they are prioritizing other types of orders at this time.
Photo: Penguin Random House/Harper Collins/Curtis Brown/Simon and Schuster/Catapult