Big Fiction Debuts | Fiction Previews, Jan. 2015, Pt. 3

Bailey, Martine. An Appetite for Violets. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Jan. 2015. 400p. ISBN 9781250056917. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466860711. HISTORICAL
Under-cook at dark and looming Mawton Hall, Biddy Leigh wants to marry her sweetheart and open a tavern but instead finds herself accompanying her new mistress to Italy, where she notes down her adventures in food and life in a recipe book called The Cook’s Jewels. Soon she’s uncovering secrets that could put her in danger. Bailey won the Merchant Gourmet lostandfoundRecipe Challenge and was a former UK Dessert Champion, so her descriptions of Biddy’s work should be scrumptious.

Davis, Brooke. Lost & Found. Dutton. Jan. 2015. 288p. ISBN 9780525954682. $26.95. CD: Penguin Audio. POP FICTION
Here’s the only novel you’ll ever read that started out its life as a PhD dissertation on grief. Seven-year-old redhead Millie is abandoned at a local store’s underwear department by her mother, who is mourning the death of Millie’s father; widowed Agatha hasn’t left her home or spoken to a soul in seven years; and widower Karl has escaped from a nursing home. After a chance encounter, they set off across Western Australia to find Millie’s mother. Davis has won numerous awards for her work, including the Allen & Unwin Prize for Prose Fiction; her debut has been sold to 23 countries.

Israel, Steve. The Global War on Morris. S. & S. Jan. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9781476772233. $26. POP FICTION/POLITICAL
When he’s not debuting as a novelist, Israel represents New York’s third Congressional District, serving in the House Leadership as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Naturally, his book has a political bent. After unassuming pharmaceutical salesman Morris Feldstein makes a hasty decision to charge a nonbusiness expense to his company credit card, he’s tracked by NICK, the computer that powers the government’s top-secret surveillance program, which manages to turn him into the new public enemy number one. Ha, we know where Israel stands on current NSA issues.

Oakley, Colleen. Before I Go. Gallery: S. & S. Jan. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9781476761664. $24.99. WOMEN’S FICTION
An Atlanta-based writer whose essays and interviews have appeared in venues from the New York Times to Marie Claire, Oakley crafts a heartbreaker about 27-year-old Daisy, overjoyed to be celebrating three years of being cancer-free—until her doctor announces that her cancer has returned in aggressive, stage-four form. Determined to secure a new wife for her brilliant but clueless husband, she finds the going more and more painful as she gets closer to her goal and must ponder an important question: what matters more in her final days, her husband’s happiness or her own? A featured title at BEA.

Scherm, Rebecca. Unbecoming. Viking. Jan. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780525427506. $27.95. THRILLER
Julie only appears to be just another American making ends meet by mending pottery and unbecomingjewelry on the outskirts of Paris. Actually, her name is Grace, and she’s fled her small town in Tennessee after planning an art heist that went wrong and led to imprisonment for two men—her husband and the man she loves. She’s got the stolen canvas carefully stowed away, but will she be able to maintain her deception and pull off an international art fraud? Big in-house excitement; some foreign rights have been sold, and there’s a five-city tour.

Scotton, Chris. The Secret Wisdom of the Earth. Grand Central. Jan. 2015. 480p. ISBN 9781455551927. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781455551934. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781455558803. CD: Hachette Audio. POP FICTION/FAMILY
A venture capitalist who is currently president and CEO of a computer-aided design (CAD) software company, Scotton has an unexpected background for a first novelist. The plot is unexpected, too. After he witnesses his younger brother’s death, 14-year-old Kevin travels with his mother to Appalachia, where they stay with his grandparents. Kevin soon makes a friend who introduces him to the majesty of the surrounding wilderness, threatened by a Mountaintop Removal operation that’s leveling hills and filling hollows. One of the publisher’s hottest titles at BEA.

Seskis, Tina. One Step Too Far. Morrow. Jan. 2015. 320. ISBN 9780062340078. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062340108. THRILLER
When Seskis published this work independently in the UK, it hit the top spot on the best sellers list almost overnight, so you’ll want to take a look. Having abandoned home and family without warning, Emily Coleman has morphed into Cat and is working at a cutting-edge ad agency in London and has wiped out her past. But she can’t dodge her memories. Reportedly, the reason for Emily’s deception will keep you guessing; there’s a “great twist” at the end (the Sun). With a wildalone100,000-copy first printing; rights sold to 14 countries.

Zourkova, Krassi. The Wildalone. Morrow. January 2015. 384p. ISBN 9780062328021. $25.95. OCCULT & SUPERNATURAL
In her first year at Princeton and homesick for her Eastern European homeland, Thea Slavin becomes involved with the handsome, ambiguous Rhys and his equally enticing brother, Jake, who introduce her to a mythic underworld shaped by Greek mythology and dominated by the Samodivi, or Wildalones. These forest witches of Bulgarian folklore ensnare men, and Thea is ensnared by their story, even as she learns something frightening about her family. Bulgarian-born first novelist Zourkova herself studied at Princeton before graduating from Harvard Law School; it’s not known whether there are any Samodivi in her past. Pushed back from September 2015; 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.