Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Feb. 204, Pt. 1: Sarah Addison Allen, Isabel Allende, Wiley Cash, Joyce Carol Oates

Allen, Sarah Addison. Lost Lake. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781250019806. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250019813. POP FICTION
Allen offers her own brand of magic in books like Garden Spells and The Peach Keepers and always gets on the New York Times best sellers list. Here she sends newly widowed Kate to Lost Lake Cottages in Suley, GA, looking for some magic for herself and young daughter Devin. Kate once spent a lovely summer at Lost Lake and thinks that returning may give her a chance to heal, but at first it seems that time has marched on. The past, however, manages to emerge  in unexpected and joyous ways. Big promotion, big interest, and the in-house opinion that this book is stellar.

Allende, Isabel. Ripper. Harper. Feb. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780062291400. $28.99. lrg. prnt. CD: HarperAudio. LITERARY
With 2013’s Maya’s Notebook, Allende departed for somewhat darker territory, also shifting her focus to an adolescent heroine. That book may have surprised fans, but it was still a No. 1 San Francisco Chronicle best seller and made the New York Times and Boston Globe lists as well. Here she continues in the same vein. Amanda Jackson doesn’t so much identify with her mother, good-hearted holistic healer Indiana, as with her father, who’s divorced from her mother and serves as the SFPD’s deputy chief of Homicide. A fan of crime fiction and the online mystery game Ripper, MIT-bound Amanda indulges in a little investigating of her own when murder starts breaking out all over town. Then her mother disappears. Look for a seven-city tour to New York, San Francisco, Boston, Denver, Columbus, Miami, and Portland.

Cash, Wiley. This Dark Road to Mercy. Morrow. Feb. 2014.Feb. 2014. 496p. ISBN 9780062088253. $25.99. lrg. prnt. LITERARY
Cash left the gate grandly last year with A Land More Kind Than Home, which was a New York Times and an Indie Next best seller, a Discover Great New Writers pick, winner of the John Creasey Dagger for Best New Author, and an LJ Best Book. His second novel promises the same at-the-edge emotional involvement. When their mother dies, 12-year-old Easter and her little sister, Ruby, end up in North Carolina’s foster care system. Their long-vanished father, Wade, suddenly reappears and promptly disappears with them; having signed away his legal rights as a parent, he sees kidnapping as his only option. Soon he’s being pursued by both the girls’ legal guardian and a shady figure out for vengeance. With a 100,000-copy first printing and an eight-city author tour to Boston, Chicago, Denver, New York, Savannah, Seattle, St. Francisville, and St. Louis, plus numerous North Carolina appearances.

Oates, Joyce Carol. Carthage. Ecco. Feb. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780062208125. $26.99. lrg. prnt. LITERARY
When Zeno Mayfield’s daughter simply can’t be found in the small Appalachian town of Carthage, the entire community joins in the hunt. Folks are dismayed when the trail leads, perhaps bloodily, to an Iraq War hero with a close association to the family—and terrible memories of wartime atrocities. Further complicating matters, it seems that the teenager in question may have been estranged from her family long before she vanished. Classic Oates; with a 50,000-copy first printing.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.


  1. Marsha says:

    I am a huge fan of Wiley Cash! I cannot wait for his second novel! He cannot write fast enough for me!!!