From the ruined West Coast of Edan Lepucki's "California" to the perils of early 18th-century Mexico in Claudia H. Long's "The Duel for Consuelo," these new works of fiction, all by Bay Area authors, cover a vast terrain. Novels by Erika Johansen, M.P. Cooley, Angela Pneuman and Holly Brown complete the list of recent releases exploring a wide variety of themes, settings and stylistic concerns. "California" by Edan Lepucki (Little, Brown, $26, 393 pages) Author Edan Lepucki, of Albany, has been very much in the news this summer. She became central to the public brawl between Internet giant Amazon and publishing company Hachette when TV host Stephen Colbert told his legions of fans to buy her new book, "California," which Amazon was not moving. Overnight, Lepucki went from a little-known first-time novelist to one of the literary world's most talked-about stars. But here's the thing: She deserved the attention. "California," a dystopian novel set in the not-too-distant future -- Lepucki calls it "the afterlife" -- is a stunning debut. It's the story of Cal and Frida, who have fled a Los Angeles ruined by storms and earthquakes for an unnamed place somewhere in the woods. It's not the verdant paradise Frida imagined they'd find; they live in an abandoned shed and spend their days foraging for food. But when Frida finds herself pregnant, they decide to leave in search of a community. Lepucki is a terrific writer, and like the best stories set in a foreseeable future, "California" deftly weaves the terrifying strands of what we already know with what we can only imagine. "The Queen of the Tearling" by Erika Johansen (Harper, $26.99, 448 pages) Marin's Erika Johansen aimed big with her debut novel, "The Queen of the Tearling," an epic fantasy novel set three centuries after an environmental catastrophe. The central character of this sword and sorcery saga is Princess Kelsea, who is destined to become the seventh queen of the Tearling -- but not before she does battle with the malevolent witch who currently rules. Johansen's epic, the first in a trilogy, seems likely to find a ready readership with fans of "Game of Thrones." It's also being developed for a Warner Bros. film, starring Emma Watson in the Kelsea role. "Ice Shear" by M.P. Cooley (William Morrow, $25.99, 320 pages) M.P. Cooley, who lives in Campbell, introduces a strong central character in her new novel, "Ice Shear." June Lyons is a former FBI agent who returns to her hometown of Hopewell Falls, New York, to care for her dying husband. After joining the local police force -- her father is the retired chief -- she comes across a car accident one night and finds a woman's body in the icy Mohawk River. The deceased turns out to be the daughter of a congresswoman, and June is drawn into solving her murder -- a case that uncovers family secrets, dirty politics, biker gangs and meth labs. Cooley makes it a gripping ride all the way. "Lay It on My Heart" by Angela Pneuman (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.95 paperback, 269 pages) North Bay author Angela Pneuman delivers an affecting coming-of-age story in this novel set in Kentucky. Twelve-year-old Charmaine is struggling, trying to live up to the demands of her demanding mother and her increasingly unhinged preacher father while navigating school bullies and her own budding sexuality. Charmaine wants to be "a child of God," but Pneuman's sharp, insightful writing reveals the myriad challenges life can throw in a young girl's path. "Don't Try to Find Me" by Holly Brown (William Morrow, $25.99, 368 pages) Holly Brown, who lives in Oakland, begins her novel with a runaway. When 14-year-old Marley Willits vanishes, her family mobilizes to find her. Told from multiple points of view -- including those of Marley's parents, Rachel and Paul -- the book lets Marley tell her own story, even as it stays with the anguish of those left behind. It also shows the ways that social media can help and hinder the search; when Rachel gives an ill-advised television interview, the investigation takes an unexpected turn. "The Duel for Consuelo" by Claudia H. Long (Booktrope, $14.95 paperback, 235 pages) The daughter of a secret Jew in early 18th-century Mexico is the title character of Claudia H. Long's latest. The Lafayette-based author, who introduced the Castillo family in her debut novel, "Josefina's Sin," picks up the family's story in 1711 with Consuelo as the central character. Long, who grew up in Mexico, paints a vivid picture of private passions and public strictures during the waning years of the Inquisition.
Contact Georgia Rowe at firstname.lastname@example.org.