Books for the Masses | Editors’ Picks BEA 2014

LJ's review editors braved the crowds at BookExpo America to find this fall's most intriguing and memorable reads.

July2014webBEApicksTopB Books for the Masses | Editors Picks BEA 2014

BookCon. What a scene! What a joy, too, to see crowds of children and adults at ReedPop’s May 31 literary festival that was perhaps the most talked-about part of this year’s BookExpo America (BEA). Beyond the borders of the public area, and over a more extended period, was the convention itself, which took place May 29–31 at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and showcased hundreds of publishers and distributors and their upcoming titles.

As usual, BEA was the center of a literary event that spread out over the city, with LJ’s staff as well as librarians generally hitting the town to learn about books and authors and to do what librarians do best: talk to one another and get great ideas.

In between the soirees, LJ’s review editors wore out some shoe leather visiting exhibit booths, going to presentations, and hosting our own event, LJ’s annual Day of Dialog (see p. 13). Along the way we learned about some compelling, entertaining, and sometimes quirky works that are hitting shelves soon. See the following pages for the ones that grabbed us hardest—I promise they’re worth a second look for your library.—Henrietta Verma

July2014webBEApicks1b1 Books for the Masses | Editors Picks BEA 2014

A secret surprise

With the forthcoming release of Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time (Ballantine, Oct.), the best-­selling author of such memorable titles as 2013’s The Storyteller announces her first publication with the Ballantine/Random House family. Librarians, get ready: readers are very excited about this book, which, as you know, if you were one of the many who picked up a signed ARC at BEA, delivers a mighty surprise. The author personally requests in a note on the back of the galley that readers “not reveal the ending or offer any spoilers in reviews or social media.” So, please, don’t do it!

Here’s what I can tell you: heartbroken 13-year-old Jenna Metcalf is determined to find her mother, Alice, who disappeared ten years earlier. Armed with hope, childhood memories, and clues taken from Alice’s surviving journals, Jenna sets out to solve the mystery of her mother’s whereabouts and to understand how this woman, a devoted caretaker and talented research scientist who pioneered the study of grief among elephants, could have abandoned her.

Jenna’s first stop for help is with former celebrity psychic Serenity, whose ability to communicate with the other side has seriously waned. However, moved by Jenna’s plight and some odd signals from beyond, Serenity agrees to offer assistance, even if it means faking her clairvoyant powers. Next on the team is Virgil Stanhope, a washed-up private eye with firsthand knowledge of the cold case connected to Alice’s disappearance. The novel’s heroine, however, is Alice, whose journey is one of marriage, motherhood, and a mind on the brink of discovery. Her voice, combined with Picoult’s fascinating research on elephants and their behavior, adds layers to the narrative’s complexity. At the end, readers will be stunned and satisfied, as the surprise is indeed a well-kept secret.

From secrets kept to secrets revealed and from the modern day to an earlier era. Readers will be captivated once again by the writing of historical romance author Grace Burrowes (Lady Jenny’s Christmas Portrait), whose new “Captive Hearts” series opens with The Captive (Sourcebooks Casablanca, Jul.). Christian Severn, Duke of Mercia, is recovering after enduring months of torture at the hands of French captors. Lady Gillian, countess of Greendale and recently widowed, has fresh wounds of her own. Captive is refreshingly complicated, but if its protagonists’ love is going to be everlasting they will have to fight: for each other, their family honor, and even their pleasure. Burrowes’s latest is fun and beautifully written (see LJ Xpress Reviews, 6/13/14).—Annalisa Pesek

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