I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: great covers can get me to read almost any genre. There’s something about a beautifully designed cover that just reaches out to me and I want — no, need — that physical book in my hand. So for this week’s Heat Index we’re absolutely judging these books by their covers. But it’s important to note that an attractive cover is not the only thing each of these books have going for them. The stories that live on the pages between the covers are just as beautiful, poignant and rich. So judging by these five hot new beautifully designed covers, I already knew I was going to go crazy for the tales they tell. Boy, was I right!
Cooking for Picasso: A Novel, Camille Aubray (Ballantine Books, July 26, 2016)
“A quest for the missing Picasso worthy of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn . . . an amuse-bouche filled with secret ingredients, covert liaisons, and hidden compartments.” —Kirkus Reviews
Heat Index: When 17-year-old Ondine unexpectedly spends the summer of 1936 with Pablo Picasso on The French Riviera, she creates memories of a lifetime. Fast-forward to present day New York City, and Ondine’s granddaughter Céline, a Hollywood makeup artist, learns of Ondine’s past with Picasso. She quickly embarks on a journey back to the the South of France where her grandmother once lived, to discover family secrets long kept hidden. Thanks to a cooking class held at Céline’s hotel, it’s not long before she realizes how little she knew about life, love and cuisine from the guests attending the class. A beautifully crafted story and delectable prose make this read fascinating.
My Name is Leon: A Novel, Kit de Waal (Simon & Schuster, July 26, 2016)
“This is the unforgettable story of a boy struggling to belong, and the author captures both his mindset and the period impeccably. Heartbreaking and uplifting—just read it.” —The Daily Mail
Heat Index: It’s the ’70s and Leon, a half-black 9 year old boy, is determined to do anything and everything to keep his white half-brother, Jake, safe. But as is the case for most children, he has no control. His mother loses custody of both boys and when baby Jake is quickly adopted, Leon is left to wonder what will happen to Jake and himself. Determined not to allow Jake to disappear forever, he embarks on a quest find him, tackling the big bad foster care system and encountering a number of eccentric characters along the way. Through it all, and though he doesn’t quite understand the situation, Leon knows that only he can do right by Jake and family always sticks together. Inspiring, intense and one that will stick with you long after you’ve finished the last page, My Name is Leon is one of those books that just doesn’t come along often enough.
Ashes of Fiery Weather: A Novel, Kathleen Donohoe (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, August 30, 2016)
“[Donohoe’s] depiction of 9/11 is by far one of the best fictional accounts by that terrible day in which 343 members of the FDNY perished. In the end, her novel is a moving testament to the men and women who risk their lives every day.” —Publishers Weekly
Heat Index: The Keegan/O’Reilly clan is full of tough women; Not much can bring them down. In fact, fire won’t even penetrate their strength. That’s because these women come from a family of firefighters. It’s not until we meet Eileen, adopted from Ireland and one of the first female firefighters in New York, that we see just how much havoc fire can truly cause. As she navigates through her morning, Eileen quickly realizes today is no ordinary day. Today is September 11, 2001. Though shock and horror begin to take over Eileen’s emotions, she knows she must persevere and help those in need. No synopses can do this book justice. You simply must read it. This debut from Donohoe is absolutely stunning and for everyone who remembers that day, you understand why that cover brings chills to my body.
The Trees: A Novel, Ali Shaw (Bloomsbury, August 2, 2016)
“An ecological sermon, bildungsroman, mystery, fairy tale, and horror story all combined into a novel about an improbable journey . . . it’s worth the effort to enter a world that is never what it appears.” ―Kirkus Reviews
Heat Index: Adrien has just been woken up by the invasion of the trees and the utter destruction they’ve left in their wake from his suburban street to the cities and even as far as the coastline and possibly beyond. Knowing that he must find a way to get to his wife, who is on a trip in Ireland, Adrien leaves behind what was once his home and sets out on a journey with Hannah and Seb, a mother/son duo who are in search of Hannah’s brother. But the forest is much deeper than they ever imagined and together they must face the enemies and allies that await them. The Trees is a story so different and completely impossible that it sucks you in from the very beginning and you never quite find a way out until that last page. A true journey into the mind for all who read it and a cover that makes you question the simplicity of the title itself.
We Are All Made of Stars: A Novel, Rowan Coleman (Ballantine Books, July 26, 2016)
Heat Index: Stella works the late shift at hospice and is hellbent on helping the ones she cares for before they pass on. It’s been a hard road for Stella now that her husband has returned from Afghanistan with more emotional wounds than she could have ever anticipated, and not a clue as to how to help him. So she offers her assistance to those that are willing to accept it, by helping her patients write letters to loved ones to read after they die. It’s not until she meets Grace, that all of that comes into question. Once she realizes the contents of Grace’s letter, intended for the son she abandoned years ago, Stella knows Grace’s long lost son must read the letter before Grace passes away. But not only would that go against Grace’s wishes, it could also put in motion a series of events that do not align with fate’s plan. Blown away by not only the story but by that cover that screams to us that the power of love and fate live within the pages of this book.