The April 2007 Book Sense Picks & Notables Preview

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Here is the full listing of April Book Sense Picks, with booksellers' comments, as well as a preview of the month's Notables. Independent booksellers in the Book Sense program will be receiving their April Picks fliers in the March Red Box. (The flier includes jacket images, bibliographic information, and bookseller quotes.)

Book Sense also sends a reminder that the March Notables flier and shelf-talkers are now available in PDF format on ABA's trade website,

The April 2007 Book Sense Picks

1. COAL BLACK HORSE, by Robert Olmstead (Algonquin, $22.95, 9781565125216 / 1565125215) "In the course of searching for his father, a 14-year-old boy wanders through Civil War battles and their aftermath. One of the best books on men and war I've ever read. A remarkable, haunting achievement." --Tom Campbell, The Regulator Bookshop, Durham, NC

THE GOD OF ANIMALS: A Novel, by Aryn Kyle (Scribner, $25, 9781416533245 / 1416533249)"One by one, the sentences in this debut novel create a story of unflinching honesty and biting humanity: the story of young Alice Winston, whose world is unraveling around her. The relationships between the adult characters are delicately depicted amid the illuminating, brutal truths of life on a horse ranch." --Darcy L. Himes, Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo, WA

THE BOOK OF AIR AND SHADOWS, by Michael Gruber (Morrow, $24.95, 9780060874469 / 0060874465) "What would the discovery of a lost Shakespeare manuscript mean? What if there was a code to decipher in order to find the location of said manuscript? Gruber has created a tale of murder, mystery and intrigue in the spirit of The Da Vinci Code. A great read!" --Jane Stroh, The Bookstore, Glen Ellyn, IL

THE RAW SHARK TEXTS, by Steven Hall (Canongate, $24, 9781841959115 / 1841959111) "Imagine Jaws as a literary mash-up eating its way through the contemporary information explosion. Now, imagine this creature has developed a taste for you...and only you. Hall pushes the boundaries of fiction and design in this unique first novel." --Colin Rea, University of Oregon Bookstore, Eugene, OR

PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN: A Novel, by Vanora Bennett (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061251832 / 0061251836) "Vanora Bennett has resurrected the enigmatic Thomas More and artist Hans Holbein, plus their acolytes and detractors, in a manner that makes them spellbinding, romantic and utterly real. This is a gripping and passionately told historical novel -- just what independent bookstores thrill to sell." --Diane Leslie, Dutton's Brentwood Books, Los Angeles, CA

KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED: A Walt Longmire Mystery, by Craig Johnson (Viking, $23.95, 9780670031573 / 0670031577) "Sheriff Longmire and sidekick Henry Standing Bear leave Wyoming for a photo exhibit in Philadelphia, where the sheriff's daughter is attacked, men are murdered, and art is appreciated. In his third Longmire mystery, Johnson weaves together city and country, Anglo and Indian, art snob and proud philistine and creates a laugh-out-loud, hard-to-put-down mystery." --Catherine G. Weller, Sam Weller's Books, Salt Lake City, UT

THE CAMEL BOOKMOBILE, by Masha Hamilton (HarperCollins, $24.95, 9780061173486 / 0061173487) "This poignant novel of a traveling bookmobile in the desert of Africa highlights the joy and -- yes, let's admit it -- tumult that reading literature can bring to the human race. Hamilton's writing takes us right into a small village and the lives of its inhabitants. An excellentbook club selection." --Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

BURNING BRIGHT, by Tracy Chevalier (Dutton, $24.95, 9780525949787 / 052594978X) "Chevalier has crafted another deft evocation of people, times, and places, this time William Blake, 1792 Georgian London, and Astley's Circus. The Kellaways, a country family, are susceptible to the big-city allure of London but nave about its dangers. The Blake family lives next door, and we are given a glimpse into William's poetic, painterly genius. Chevalier also offers a full view of 18th-century London in all its sordid and dirty glory." --Nicola Rooney, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI

DOG YEARS: A Memoir, by Mark Doty (HarperCollins, $23.95, 9780061171000 / 006117100X) "This beautiful memoir rings with truth, and great writing. From the very first page, Doty's careful observations -- and his intricate confrontation of loss, love, and the nearly unsayable bonds between dogs and humans -- catch you up in a world illuminated by his elegant language and steady gaze." --Lilla Weinberger, Readers' Books, Sonoma, CA

THE NAME OF THE WIND, by Patrick Rothfuss (DAW, $24.95, 9780756404079 / 075640407X) "This engaging tale of a childhood lost and a reputation made is nicely unique in its approach: it's chock-full of adventure, romance, and magic. A splendid debut novel from a talented fantasy writer." --Katherine Osborne, Books Inc., Portland, Maine

THE TESTAMENT OF GIDEON MACK, by James Robertson (Viking, $24.95, 9780670038442 / 067003844X) "Middle-aged Scottish minister Gideon Mack seems to have lost his mind due to a traumatic accident -- he claims to have met and spoken with the Devil. A year after his disappearance, Gideon's body is found with a manuscript he has written about his life, the real guts of which are about the philosophical question of faith. The best book I've read in a year!" --Meaghan Leenaarts, Island Bookstore, Corolla, NC

ANT FARM: And Other Desperate Situations, by Simon Rich (Random House, $12.95 paper, 9781400065882 / 1400065887) "These super-short, imaginative essays kept me laughing the whole way through. Each piece starts from idle speculation (What do video game characters say inside the cartridge? How do ant-farm inhabitants react to being stymied by glass in their tunneling efforts?) and follows through to its absurd conclusion. A perfect gift for a high school or college student!" --Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

THE UNNATURAL HISTORY OF CYPRESS PARISH, by Elise Blackwell (Unbridled, $22.95, 9781932961317 / 1932961313) "This slim, beautifully crafted novel is written in the voice of Louis Proby, a doctor in his 90s who, on the eve of Hurricane Katrina, remembers the fateful spring of 1927: He was 17, in love, and on the verge of big life changes. The story of the 1927 Flood (including the decision to save New Orleans by dynamiting levees that protected another parish) is intertwined with the story of Louis' family and his doomed town. A satisfying jewel of a story." --Elisabeth Grant-Gibson, Windows a bookshop, Monroe, LA

THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST, by Mohsin Hamid (Harcourt, $22, 9780151013043 / 0151013047) "Elegantly written as a monologue in the voice of Changez, a Pakistani man in conversation over a meal in Lahore. We learn of the charmed life he led in the U.S., and how perceptions of one's identity can radically fluctuate due to circumstance. An engrossing tale." --Caitlin Doggart, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Chatham, MA

SISTER MINE: A Novel, by Tawni O'Dell (Shaye Areheart, $23, 9780307351265 / 0307351262) "Shae-Lynn Penrose is a wildcat! A former big city police officer, she has returned to her small hometown. For many years she has dealt with the guilt of believing that her abusive Daddy got away with killing her little sister, but when she turns up alive, we're in for an outrageous romp." --Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR

TALLGRASS, by Sandra Dallas (St. Martin's, $23.95, 9780312360191 / 0312360193) "Sandra Dallas' new novel, set in Colorado during WWII, tells the story of teenage Rennie Stroud and her family -- and the impact of a new Japanese internment camp on their community. Dallas' characters and dramas ring true on every page. Tallgrass is memorable." --Anne Edkins, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, CA

LOVE IN A TORN LAND: Joanna of Kurdistan: The True Story of a Freedom Fighter's Flight from Iraqi Vengeance, by Jean Sasson (Wiley, $24.95, 9780470067291 / 0470067292) "Jean Sasson reveals the beauties and the horrors of Kurdish freedom fighter Joanna al-Askari's life in a compelling, heart-wrenching way." --Natasha Hayden, Summer's Stories, Kendallville, IN

THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT: Scenes from a Life, by Robert Goolrick (Algonquin, $22.95, 9781565124813 / 1565124812) "A powerful memoir from an extraordinary craftsman. Wielding chapters like wood chisels, paragraphs like a carpenter's plane, and words like a fine-grained sandpaper, the author lays bare a history of family secrets concealed under a well-polished veneer. Goolrick's writing evokes the elegance of Truman Capote and the earthiness of Rick Bragg." --Joe Drabyak, Chester County Book & Music Company, West Chester, PA

SHAKESPEARE'S KITCHEN: Stories, by Lore Segal (New Press, $22.95, 9781595581518 / 1595581510) "This book of short stories reads like a novel. Ilka Weisz is a new professor at a university think-tank, a New Yorker loosed in Connecticut. Told through a series of memorable parties, breakfasts, picnics, and dinners, Ilka finds friendship and love among her new colleagues. You will find people you know in this book, and may even recognize yourself at the party." --Elaine R. Cremaldi, Square Books, Oxford, MS

THE COLORFUL APOCALYPSE: Journeys in Outsider Art, by Greg Bottoms (University of Chicago, $20, 9780226066851 / 0226066851) "If you're looking for a trip to the farther shores of the religious imagination, this is your ticket. Bottoms takes a careful look at the lives and work of three Christian outsider artists and gives us a fascinating glimpse into the lives of people who have (at least partially) transcended their damage and depression through art." --Karl Pohrt, Shaman Drum Bookshop, Ann Arbor, MI

The April 2007 Notables Preview


BECAUSE SHE CAN, by Bridie Clark (Warner, $23.99, 9780446579247 / 0446579246)
FALLING BOY, by Alison McGhee
(Picador, $13 paper, 9780312425920 / 0312425929)
THE FORTUNE QUILT, by Lani Diane Rich
(NAL, $12.95 paper, 9780451220271 / 0451220277)
HEYDAY, by Kurt Andersen
(Random House, $26.95, 9780375504730 / 0375504737)
THE LIFE YOU LONGED FOR, by Maribeth Fischer
(Touchstone, $25, 9780743293280 / 0743293282)
MEDICUS: A Novel of the Roman Empire, by Ruth Downie
(Bloomsbury, $23.95, 1596912316 / 1596912316)
VALENTINE: A Love Story, by Chet Raymo
(Cowley, $24.95, 9781561012862 / 1561012866)
WHAT THE DEAD KNOW, by Laura Lippman
(Morrow, $24.95, 9780061128851 / 0061128856)


FAMILY ROMANCE: A Love Story, by John Lanchester (Putnam, $27.95, 9780399153006 / 0399153004)
THE GOLDEN ROAD: Notes on My Gentrification, by Caille Millner
(Penguin, $22.95, 9781594201097 / 1594201099)
NECESSARY SINS: A Memoir, by Lynn Darling
(Dial, $24, 9780385336062 / 0385336063)
A PIG IN PROVENCE: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France, by Georgeanne Brennan
(Chronicle, $24.95, 9780811852135 / 081185213X)
SUMMER AT TIFFANY, by Marjorie Hart
(Morrow, $14.95, 9780061189524 / 0061189529)
YOU, INC.: The Art of Selling Yourself, by Harry Beckwith and Christine Clifford Beckwith
(Warner Business, $23.99, 9780446578219 / 0446578215)

Mystery / Suspense

DAMAGE CONTROL, by Robert Dugoni (Warner, $24.99, 9780446578707 / 0446578703)
FEVER MOON, by Carolyn Haines
(St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95, 9780312351618 / 0312351615)
THE FIFTH VIAL, by Michael Palmer (St. Martin's, $25.95, 9780312343514 / 0312343515)
(St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95, 9780312341404 / 0312341407)
SCAVENGER, by David Morrell
(Perseus / Vanguard, $24.95, 9781593154417 / 1593154410)
WATER LIKE A STONE, by Deborah Crombie
(Morrow, $24.95, 9780060525279 / 0060525274)