09 May 2016

BEA Preview: Must-Read Books from HarperCollins 2016 (Part 1)

One of my favorite yearly events at Book Expo American (BEA) is heading off to HarperCollins's offices and learning about all the amazing books they have lined up for the summer and fall. Because BEA will be in Chicago this year, the good people at HarperCollins (thanks Jennifer Hart @BookClubGirl) decided to hold a video presentation instead.

I've divided my summary of that presentation into two parts. Today I'll talk about four imprints, and on Thursday I'll talk about the remaining five. No matter what your tastes, I think you're going to find many books to add to your reading wish list.

For each imprint, I've listed all the presented titles (with my own description). For my top pick, I've shown book cover and publisher's summary. Hold on to your wallet, you're going to be hitting the bookstore hard.


  • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson: Set in the 1970s in Brooklyn, this book is told in retrospect as a young woman remembers past friendships and the optimism of youth and the events that dissolved both. A coming-of-age story.
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett: A romantic encounter both divides and unites two families. The story spans fifty years and explores the connections among and between the two sets of children.
  • Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen: The final installment of the fantasy trilogy featuring a strong, flawed, determined young woman and the courts of two realms.
  • Mercury by Margot Livesey: A midlife crisis story of how the stability of a marriage and family is threatened when a woman becomes obsessed with a Thoroughbred. Family secrets, a psychological thriller.
  • Moonglow by Michael Chabon: Part memoir, part family history, and part fiction, this story begins with a deathbed confession that unravels the veil hiding family secrets and history.
The Comet Seekers by Helen SedgwickThe Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick: A literary fiction / fantasy combination that was comped to Time Traveler's Wife. I'm so on board with this book.
A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic, that intertwines the past, present, and future of two lovers bound by the passing of great comets overhead and a coterie of remarkable ancestors

Róisín and François are immediately drawn to each other when they meet at a remote research base on the frozen ice sheets of Antarctica. At first glance, the pair could not be more different. Older by a few years, Róisín, a daughter of Ireland and a peripatetic astronomer, joins the science team to observe the fracturing of a comet overhead. François, the base’s chef, has just left his birthplace in Bayeux, France, for only the second time in his life. Yet devastating tragedy and the longing for a fresh start, which they share, as well as an indelible yet unknown bond that stretches back centuries, connect them to each other.

Helen Sedgwick carefully unfolds their surprisingly intertwined paths, moving forward and back through time to reveal how these lovers’ destinies have long been tied to one other by the skies—the arrival of comets great and small. In telling Róisín and François’s story, Sedgwick illuminates the lives of their ancestors, showing how strangers can be connected and ghosts can be real, and how the way we choose to see the world can be as desolate or as beautiful as the comets themselves.

A beautiful, skillfully crafted, and emotionally perceptive novel that explores the choices we make, the connections we miss, and the ties that inextricably join our fates, The Comet Seekers reflects how the shifting cosmos unites us all through life, beyond death, and across the whole of time.
Ecco Books
  • Brighton by Michael Harvey: A crime thriller set in the Boston area. Two friends share a shady past, but one has moved on to become a famous journalist. But when his old buddy is accused of murder, he must face the past to save the future.
  • Darling Days by iO Tillet Wright: This memoir is set in New York's Lower East Side in a 1980s heroin-fueled punk community. The author explores the culture, mother-daughter relationships, and gender identity.
  • Heat & Light by Jennifer Haigh: The politics, families, and economics involved in a small Pennsylvania town that's coping with the loss of the coal industry and the rising possibilities of "harvesting" natural gas. Environmental issues and class differences. 
  • The Muse by Jessie Burton: Two women, two time periods, two cities, and the one painting that binds them. Set in 1960s London and 1930s southern Spain.
  • Nicotine by Nell Zink: What happens when a recent business-school grad inherits her father's childhood home and discovers a squatter community. Generation and sociocultural clashes.
  • The Terranauts by T. C. Boyle: In 1994 in the Arizona desert, eight people volunteer to live inside a glass bubble to mimic life on another planet. Told from three perspectives, a thoughtful story with Boyle's trademark humor.
The Risen by Ron RashThe Risen by Ron Rash: I would read anything at all by Ron Rash and this novel sounds intense.
While swimming in a secluded creek on a hot Sunday in 1969, sixteen-year-old Eugene and his older brother, Bill meet the entrancing Ligeia. A sexy, free-spirited redhead from Daytona Beach banished to their small North Carolina town until the fall, Ligeia will not only entrance the two brothers, but lure them into a struggle that reveals the hidden differences in their natures.

Drawn in by her raw sensuality and rebellious attitude, Eugene falls deeper under her spell. Ligeia introduces him to the thrills and pleasures of the counterculture movement, then in its headiest moment. But just as the movement’s youthful optimism turns dark elsewhere in the country that summer, so does Eugene and Ligeia’s brief romance. Eugene moves farther and farther away from his brother, the cautious and dutiful Bill, and when Ligeia vanishes as suddenly as she appeared, the growing rift between the two brothers becomes immutable.

Decades later, their relationship is still turbulent, and the once close brothers now lead completely different lives. Bill is a gifted and successful surgeon, a paragon of the community, while Eugene, the town reprobate, is a failed writer and determined alcoholic.

When a shocking reminder of the past unexpectedly surfaces, Eugene is plunged back into that fateful summer, and the girl he cannot forget. The deeper he delves into his memories, the closer he comes to finding the truth. But can Eugene’s recollections be trusted? And will the truth set him free and offer salvation . . . or destroy his damaged life and everyone he loves?
  • A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean: This is the second book in the Scandal & Scoundrel series, which takes a modern-day celebrity scandal and sets it in regency times. In this one, our heroine poses nude for a private painting but must face the consequences when the painting is made public.
  • Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost: This is the last installment in the very popular paranormal romance series featuring the very hot (cold?) Vlad the Vampire.
The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill ShalvisThe Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis: Puppies, kitties, romance and Christmas? Okay, this looks fun.
If she has her way . . .

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her . . .

. . . He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him . . .

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice . . .

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but how can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish--and let the mistletoe do its work . . .
Harper Voyager
  • Lost Gods by Brom: A beautifully illustrated dark fantasy involving a man who faces the terror of Purgatory to rescue his wife and unborn child.
  • The Rift Uprising by Amy Foster: The first in a new trilogy that unites action/adventure with science fiction and military thriller. Time travel and strong female lead.
The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth DurstThe Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst: Epic fantasy with all its magic and politics and great characters.
An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.

With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.
NOTE: Look for part two on Thursday!


JoAnn 5/9/16, 8:27 AM  

All the Harper titles look good to me! Already looking forward to Thursday. Have fun at BEA!

Karen White 5/9/16, 9:00 AM  

OOOH a new novel by Ann Patchett. VERY excited for that.

I am recording the new series by Jill Shalvis and highly recommend the first book in the series, Sweet Little Lies, which will be out end of June. Looking forward to the Mistletoe book, too! She is one of the best writers of contemporary romance out these days, IMHO!

See you soon!

Katherine P 5/9/16, 9:07 AM  

So many great looking books! The only authors I've read out of this list are Sarah MacLean and Jill Shalvis and I love them both. I'm curious about so many of the others too!

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 5/9/16, 12:14 PM  

I'm so looking forward to Commonwealth - I loved State of Wonder!

Kailana 5/9/16, 7:08 PM  

The Comet Seekers sounds so good!! I hope you like it and can recommend it. :)

(Diane) bookchickdi 5/9/16, 9:38 PM  

This is a terrific recap, I was furiously taking notes during the presentation because there were so many books I want to read.

Nise' 5/9/16, 9:44 PM  

Quite a few books that I am planning to read! Wish I could work out coming to BEA since it is close!

Tina 5/10/16, 6:29 AM  

I would love to go to one of those expos. Thanks for the extensive list, I will be looking at what you post in Thursday!

Mae Travels 5/10/16, 11:46 AM  

I'm so glad to learn of new books by T. C. Boyle, Michael Chabon, and Ann Patchett. I definitely need to update my list.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Iliana 5/10/16, 8:46 PM  

Excellent post - although I think my bank account may not be too happy :)

Daryl 5/11/16, 9:30 AM  

oh my ... heading off to download some of these .. especially the Ann Patchett whose writing i adore .. thanks!

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 5/12/16, 1:02 AM  

That was an excellent presentation by Harper. So many good books. I had to watch it a second time to get all the details. I hope they do this again next year.

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