From Lev Grossman to Susan Vreeland | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Aug. 2014, Pt. 2

Grossman, Lev. The Magician’s Land. Viking. Aug. 2014. ISBN 9780670015672. $27.95. CD: Penguin Random. Audio. FANTASY
When he’s not reviewing books for Time, Grossman writes engrossing fantasy that has won grossmanlevhim the 2011 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best New Writer from the World Science Fiction Society. Here’s the conclusion to a trilogy that started off by sending Quentin Coldwater to Fillory, the magical land he thought existed only in his childhood books. Now he’s back at Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, having been expelled from Fillory, and with Brakebills undergraduate Plum goes on a mission that unearths old friends, new secrets, and a spell that could create a newer, better Fillory. In our dreams! With an eight-city tour.

House, Richard. The Kills: Sutler; The Massive; The Kill; and The Hit. Picador. Aug. 2014. 1024p. ISBN 9781250052438. $35. FICTION/MILITARY
Though classed as military fiction, this four-in-one work is described by the publicist as John le Carré meets Roberto Bolaño, cinematic in a Syriana kind of way, and one of those rare thrillers to get long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Plus, the author has had two short, moody novels published in the innovative “High Risk” series from Serpent’s Tail. So this is not your average contractors-in-Iraq book. In fact, it only starts out with contractors in Iraq, then leads us across continents, with some dark doings in Naples and a vanished German diplomat as part of the mix. A gritty, kaleidoscopic read, not for the faint of heart; originally published in four separate volumes and as an innovatively enhanced ebook in Great Britain.

Joyce, Graham. The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit. Doubleday. Aug. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780385538633. $24.95. SUSPENSE
England, 1976: it’s the hottest summer in memory, so why does the family of college student David object to his job at a beach resort, however rundown and tacky? Because David’s biological father disappeared there 15 years earlier. The family’s concern seems borne out by the weird events David experiences, including visions of a man with a rope and the plague of ladybugs infesting the town. Then things get really scary. Joyce has a good following here and the O. Henry, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy awards to his name, but the publisher thinks that this erotic and darkly supernatural work is the one to break him out.

La Seur, Carrie. The Home Place. Morrow. Aug. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780062323446. $25.99. laseurlrg. prnt. CD (POD)/downloadable: HarperAudio. THRILLER/FAMILY LIFE
An environmental lawyer in Billings, MT, who has earned a private pilot’s license, a Yale law degree, and a doctorate in modern languages from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, La Seur has a backstory as interesting as her debut novel. Heroine Alma Terrebonne, who hates Montana’s cold winters and small-town ways, returns home reluctantly when her sister is found dead, supposedly from exposure after wandering off drunk from a party. That doesn’t much surprise Alma, given Vicky’s party-hard ways, but meeting her orphaned niece gives Alma some other ideas. With an impressive 100,000-copy first printing.

Little, Elizabeth. Dear Daughter. Viking. Aug. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780670016389. $26.95. SUSPENSE
Imprisoned for reputedly killing her mother, former celebrity darling Janie Jenkins is released after ten years and starts hunting for the real killer. Her search leads her to remote South Dakota and the realization that her high-profile philanthropist mother’s past was far different—and far less lovely—than she imagined. A big debut with an eight-city tour, foreign rights sales to over a dozen countries, and rights optioned by Sony Pictures Television.

Vreeland, Susan. Lisette’s List. Random. Aug. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9781400068173. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780812996852. CD/Downloadable: Penguin Random Audio. LITERARY/HISTORICAL
Since the elegantly conceived The Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Vreeland has written a string of best sellers that typically blend art and history with strong character study, and her new book is no different. At the time of the Vichy regime, a young Parisian ends up in Provence, caring for her husband’s grandfather. Through the works of Cézanne, Pissarro, Chagall, and Picasso, she uncovers the glories of Provence despite wartime hardships. Not just art history, this book evokes key ethical questions, including the currently timely question of art stolen during World War II. With a West Coast tour.

Prepub Alert is taking a break on February 17 and will return on February 24.


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.