Mom, is that Mother's Day gift card burning a hole in your pocket? Consider new books by terrific female authors.
The Children's Crusade (Scribner) by Ann Packer is a sweeping family saga set in Northern California and spanning three decades and two generations, told from the points of view of Bill and Penny Blair and their four adult children.
Early Warning (Knopf) by Jane Smiley is another family saga, the second book (after Some Luck) in Smiley's intimate, engaging trilogy about the Langdon family of Iowa, this volume moving into the 1960s, '70s and '80s as the family grows and scatters.
Jack of Spades (Mysterious Press) by Joyce Carol Oates is a psychological thriller about a successful mystery writer whose envy of Stephen King leads him to write, under a pen name, luridly violent potboilers — which begin to intrude disturbingly into the real world.
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor