The April 2008 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 April 2008 Book Sense Picks

1. GIRLS IN TRUCKS, by Katie Crouch (Little, Brown, $21.99, 9780316002110 / 0316002119) "This first novel by Katie Crouch turns the high-fallutin' notions of Southern debutante culture on its ear with a dark and frankly sexual tale of awakening. A page-turner by every account, Girls in Trucks blends steamy scenes and heartbreak with an infectious, dreamlike prose, to deliver a graceful work of literature -- not to be read while wearing white lace gloves!" --Kevin Hunsanger, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA

UNACCUSTOMED EARTH, by Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf, $25, 9780307265739 / 0307265730) "Jhumpa Lahiri's new collection of stories overflows with insights about the secrets we can hide. While these stories examine the crossing and commingling of Indian and Western cultures, the feelings of pride, love, and loneliness ring true in any society. They are jewels." --Rosemary Pugliese, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

THE OUTCAST, by Sadie Jones (HarperCollins, $24.95, 9780061374036 / 0061374032) "Sadie Jones displays rare skills in her debut novel. The story of a troubled young man in post-WWII suburban London is heartbreaking and wonderful. The book evokes both the best emotions of Catcher in the Rye and the spirit of quiet rebellion of The Razor's Edge, with characters who are well written and real. I love this book." --Brooke Raby, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lexington, KY

BELONG TO ME, by Marisa de los Santos (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061240270 / 0061240273) "Belong to Me is a portrait of suburban assimilation filled with heart, laughter, and recognition. Marisa de los Santos manages to write about the funny, awkward situations that so many of us have endured, while creating characters as real as your own next-door neighbors." --Danielle Marshall, Powell's Books, Portland, OR

HOUSE RULES: A Memoir, by Rachel Sontag (Ecco, $24.95, 9780061341229 / 0061341223) "Sontag's account of growing up in a home with a father obsessed with control is a story of conversations that spin in never-ending circles and the maze facing a young woman trying to learn what is true and what is not. House Rules is an honest and painfully accurate telling of the vague, convoluted, and terrifying experience of mental abuse." --Stacie Williams, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, Milwaukee, WI

GIRLS LIKE US: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon -- And the Journey of a Generation, by Sheila Weller (Atria, $27.95, 9780743491471 / 0743491475) "Sheila Weller's story of three of the most important women in the history of pop music -- Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon -- captures the '60s better than any novel, recalling the stories and songs that have become ingrained in the psyche of America's soul. I would rate this book a 98 -- it has a great beat and you can dance to it." --Jerry Brown, The Bookstore, Radcliff, KY

THE RESURRECTIONIST: A Novel, by Jack O'Connell (Algonquin, $24.95, 9781565125766 / 1565125762) "On the surface, The Resurrectionist is a story of just how far a father will go to get his son back. However, this is not the typical missing-child story -- it's a soul-searching adventure combined with dark humor, quirky characters, and an alternative world that, at times, seems all too real. The novel is unique and absolutely captivating. My advice to readers: Suspend all disbelief and hang on for the ride!" --Nancy Simpson, The Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA

OLIVE KITTERIDGE, by Elizabeth Strout (Random House, $25, 9781400062089 / 140006208X) "I have fallen truly, madly, and deeply in love with Olive Kitteridge. The artistry of Strout's craft is awe-inspiring, and the compassion and psychological depth which with these ordinary people are presented simply blew me away. This novel, presented in interlinking stories, serves to remind us that empathy is the true mission of fine fiction." --Andy Lillich, University of Oregon Bookstore, Eugene, OR

THE TEN-YEAR NAP, by Meg Wolitzer (Riverhead, $24.95, 9781594489785 / 1594489785) "Raised to believe they could do anything (and everything), a group of well-educated New York City friends now face difficult decisions after having spent the past 10 years as stay-at-home moms. There are no easy answers here, and Wolitzer brilliantly pulls off a satire of modern life that is also sympathetic." --Susan Fox, Red Fox Books, Glens Falls, NY

THE MAN WHO TURNED INTO HIMSELF, by David Ambrose (Picador, $13 paper, 9780312427689 / 0312427689) "After a bizarre car accident, Rick discovers that he is living within the brain of another version of himself -- Richard -- an appalling individual who has made all the wrong decisions in life. Rick's quest to liberate himself from this psychological prison and establish his 'real' self challenges the reader to consider the multiple personas that exist within our own minds. Part science fiction, part psychological thriller, this novel shocks with twist after twist." --Kelly Wells, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT

1858: Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant and the War They Failed to See, by Bruce Chadwick (Sourcebooks, $24.95, 9781402209413 / 140220941X) "By linking the stories of Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, and others, Chadwick creates the historical period at the near-end of the antebellum era. Included is a great portrait of a rather delusional president who is over-confident of his own policies and sure that history will absolve his stands." --Dan Domike, Jackson Street Books, Seattle, WA

KNOCKEMSTIFF, by Donald Ray Pollock (Doubleday, $22.95, 9780385523820 / 0385523823) "Knockemstiff is one of the best short story collections I've read in years, and, possibly, ever. Pollock somehow manages to portray some of the most damaged characters imaginable in a style that reads at a fast clip while maintaining strong literary skill throughout. Knockemstiff does for dark small-town America what Didion's Play it As it Lays did for 1960s Hollywood." --Katherine Whitfield, Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Memphis, TN

THE TENDERNESS OF WOLVES: A Novel, by Stef Penney (Simon & Schuster, $15 paper, 9781416571308 / 1416571302) "Backwoods Canada in the 1860s comes vividly to life in this cinematic historical mystery when a mother sets out in the snowy wilderness to find her son accused of a brutal murder. Penney's screenwriting experience shows in a riveting novel told in powerful short takes." --Marian Nielsen, Orinda Books, Orinda, CA

THE BLUE STAR: A Novel, by Tony Earley (Little, Brown, $23.99, 9780316199070 / 0316199079) "I have been recommending Earley's novel Jim the Boy for years. Now he has written a sequel, set at the outbreak of World War II, with Jim as a high school senior in the same North Carolina community. Highlighting the devastation of prejudice and the emotional turmoil of first love, it is just as wonderful as its predecessor." --Mary Gleysteen, Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, WA

TWENTY CHICKENS FOR A SADDLE: The Story of an African Childhood, by Robyn Scott (Penguin Press, $24.95, 9781594201592 / 1594201595) "An astonishingly written story of growing up in modern-day Africa with loving, eccentric, and adventure-loving parents. Every character in this book could fill a novel." --Lillian Kinsey, Bohannons' Books With A Past, Georgetown, KY

THE VIEW FROM THE SEVENTH LAYER, by Kevin Brockmeier (Pantheon, $21.95, 9780375425301 / 0375425306) "Heartfelt confessions scrawled in yearbooks, 'Choose-Your-Own-Adventure,' Captain Kirk's love life, and spontaneous periods of absolute silence -- these are just a few subjects touched upon in the new short story collection from the author of The Brief History of the Dead. Once again, Brockmeier beautifully demonstrates his unique gift for making the commonplace extraordinary and the extraordinary wonderfully ordinary." --Matt Kandarian, Books On The Square, Providence, RI

MEMORY, by Philippe Grimbert (Simon & Schuster, $19.95, 9781416559993 / 141655999X) "Philippe Grimbert has crafted the most amazing novel/memoir of his life as a Jewish youth in a family struggling to survive in Paris and Lyons during World War II. His images are memorable and breathtaking: his family, the 'sporting life' of the 1930s, and the cities, especially the shops. I could not put down this beautiful book!" --Kathleen Dixon, Islandtime Books & More, Washington Island, WA

THE BAUM PLAN FOR FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE: And Other Stories, by John Kessel (Small Beer Press, $16 paper, 9781931520508 / 193152050X) "John Kessel's writing exists at the edge of things, in the dark corner where the fiction section abuts the science fiction shelves, in the hyphen where magic meets realism. This is one of those too rare short story collections that you can recommend with confidence to both the literary snob and the hard-core computer geek." --Rich Rennicks, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC

THE FOURTH MAN, by K.O. Dahl (St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95, 9780312375690 / 0312375697) "K.O. Dahl's Detective Inspector Frank Frolich is a worthy addition to the Scandinavian sleuths created by Henning Mankell and Arnaldur Indridason. The entire cast of characters is composed of interesting people, in fact, and the plot is strong and original. I'm happy to find a new author for those who prefer mysteries with depth and complexity." --Betsey Detwiler, Buttonwood Books & Toys, Cohasset, MA

THE SHADOW YEAR, by Jeffrey Ford (Morrow, $25.95, 9780061231520 / 0061231525) "I loved The Shadow Year. In this story of the secrets of a 1960s Long Island suburb, Ford's writing is hypnotic, as he examines the dark side of living in a small town through the lives of three siblings." --Roberta Rubin, The Book Stall At Chestnut Court, Winnetka, IL

The April 2008 Book Sense Notables Preview


AFTER RIVER, by Donna Milner (HarperCollins, $24.95, 9780061462993 / 0061462993)
DEEP DISH, by Mary Kay Andrews (HarperCollins, $24.95, 9780060837365 / 0060837365)
THE DISAGREEMENT, by Nick Taylor (Simon & Schuster, $24.95, 9781416550655 / 1416550658)
THE ENGLISH AMERICAN, by Alison Larkin (Simon & Schuster, $24, 9781416551591 / 141655159X) \
THE NEW WEIRD, by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer (Tachyon, $14.95, 9781892391551 / 1892391554)
OUR STORY BEGINS: New and Selected Stories, by Tobias Wolff (Knopf, $26.95, 9781400044597 / 1400044596)
THE THIRD ANGEL, by Alice Hoffman (Shaye Areheart Books, $25, 9780307393852 / 0307393852)


ARMAGEDDON IN RETROSPECT, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (Putnam, $24.95, 9780399155086 / 0399155082)
FROM HARVEY RIVER: A Memoir of My Mother and Her Island, by Lorna Goodison (Amistad, $24.95, 9780061337550 / 0061337552)
I WAS TOLD THERE'D BE CAKE, by Sloane Crosley (Riverhead, $14, 9781594483066 / 159448306X)
1,000 WAYS TO BE A SLIGHTLY BETTER WOMAN: How to Be Thinner, Richer, Sexier, Kinder, Saner, and Happier Enough, by Pamela Redmond Satran (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, $12.95, 9781584796718 / 1584796715)
THE ONLY 127 THINGS YOU NEED: A Guide to Life's Essentials -- According to the Experts, by Donna Wilkinson (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, $14.95, 9781585426225 / 1585426229) On sale May 15.
PICTURES AT A REVOLUTION: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood, by Mark Harris (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594201523 / 1594201528)


DELUSION, by Peter Abrahams (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061137990 / 0061137995)
THE KILLER'S WIFE, by Bill Floyd (St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95, 9780312373399 / 0312373392)