The February 2008 Book Sense Picks & Notables Preview

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Here is the full listing of February 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 February Picks fliers in the January Red Box.

The February 2008 Book Sense Picks

1. NOW YOU SEE HIM: A Novel, by Eli Gottlieb (Morrow, $22.95, 9780061284649 / 0061284645) "This nuanced, intelligent novel is told from the point of view of Nick, a man in his thirties facing a collapsing marriage, and life, as tragic events send him on a completely new road. Richly written, this thrilling novel's twists and revelations gloriously delve into the nature of truth, friendship, marriage, and our own perceptions of ourselves." --Joe Eichman, Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, CO

THE MONSTERS OF TEMPLETON: A Novel, by Lauren Groff (Hyperion, $24.95, 9781401322250 / 1401322255) "This inventive and ambitious novel, nestled in a town with its own Loch Ness monster, is a refreshing and smart contemporary work superimposed with snippets of historical fictions and a chorus of voices rising to tell their stories. Lauren Groff's main character is resilient, intelligent, and anything but self-deprecating." --Cindy Dach, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

ROCK ON: An Office Power Ballad, by Dan Kennedy (Algonquin, $14.95 paper, 9781565125094 / 1565125096) "Ah, the glamorous life of a midlevel music executive: non-corner offices, awkward meetings between nerds and rock stars, and late-night car service vouchers -- not exactly the sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll you'd expect. Dan Kennedy tells all in his keenly observed, laugh-out-loud funny, insider's view of the music biz." --Allison Hill, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, CA

THE SOMNAMBULIST, by Jonathan Barnes (Morrow, $23.95, 9780061375385 / 0061375381) "Against the background of a grimy, post-Victorian London, this first novel hearkens to -- and pokes fun at -- the great detective stories of the past. At once both intellectual and grisly, this one is absolutely addicting." --Michael Lyle, Market Street Books, Chapel Hill, NC

FIREFLY LANE: A Novel, by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's, $23.95, 9780312364083 / 0312364083) "This is a heart-breaking, wonderful story that tells of two women's 30-year friendship. Kristin Hannah beautifully captures the complex relationship between mothers and daughters and best friends. This story will have you calling both your best friend and your mother the second you finish reading it." --Summer Moser, Summer's Stories, Kendallville, IN

THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE: A Novel, by Julie Buxbaum (Dial, $25, 9780385341226 / 0385341229) "When the narrator of this novel gets an inkling that her almost-too-perfect boyfriend is about to propose, she does the obvious: She dumps him. Faster than you can say 'early midlife crisis,' her life begins to unravel -- and to take her into directions that she never expected. Very entertaining!" --Carol Schneck, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

THE EYE OF JADE: A Mei Wang Mystery, by Diane Wei Liang (Simon & Schuster, $24, 9781416549550 / 1416549552) "Diane Wei Liang introduces readers to Mei Wang, the first female private investigator in modern Beijing. As she searches for a Han Dynasty jade believed to be looted from the Beijing Museum during the Cultural Revolution, Mei Wang unearths political and cultural intrigue as well as the complications of her own family's history. Here is a character mystery readers will want to get to know better, and the beginning of a great series." --Kelly Wells, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT

HIGH CRIMES: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed, by Michael Kodas (Hyperion, $24.95, 9781401302733 / 1401302734) "All the aura and allure of Everest pales in this story of oxygen theft, untrained guides, and the goal of summitting the world's highest peak. A well-told account, with both personal stories and wonderful facts about mountaineering above 8,000 kilometers." --Syrinda Sharpe, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

THE AGE OF SHIVA: A Novel, by Manil Suri (Norton, $24.95, 9780393065695 / 0393065693) "Meera is a modern woman determined to take her life into her own hands, even if it means making one mistake after another. Manil Suri places the young woman's life against the background of modern India -- with its combustible mixture of religion and politics. With this second novel, he displays an enormous versatility in style as well as subject." --Carla Cohen, Politics & Prose Books & Coffee, Washington, DC

GARDENS OF WATER: A Novel, by Alan Drew (Random House, $25, 9781400066872 / 1400066875) "First-time novelist Alan Drew has created a story that takes you just outside of Istanbul, where a massive earthquake creates circumstances that will bind an American family living abroad and a conservative Muslim family together in ways none could have dreamed. The longing, the hope, and the familial themes fill each page -- Gardens of Water is simply breathtaking." --Calvin Crosby, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

THE THING ABOUT LIFE IS THAT ONE DAY YOU'LL BE DEAD, by David Shields (Knopf, $23.95, 9780307268044 / 0307268047) "David Shields gives us a virtuoso performance: a meditation on our inevitable end; a compendium of quotes, scientific facts, and jokes about death; a loving (but sometimes critical) tribute to both his 96-year-old father and 17-year-old daughter; and a recounting of his own life and the growing awareness of the (hopefully) slow, but inevitable decline of the body and the mind. Brilliant!" -- David Unowsky, Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, MN

LIFE CLASS: A Novel, by Pat Barker (Doubleday, $23.95, 9780385524353 / 0385524358) "In this story, Pat Barker has captured it all -- the sounds, smells, and mystery of love and relationships during a time of newfound art and war in 1914. Her characters come alive with their passion and human behaviors -- a wonderful read by a noted author!" --Kathleen Dixon, Islandtime Books & More, Washington Island, WI

THE INVENTION OF EVERYTHING ELSE: A Novel, by Samantha Hunt (Houghton, $24, 9780618801121 / 061880112X) "In The Invention of Everything Else, an unlikely friendship develops between inventor Nikola Tesla and the curious maid, Louisa, who snoops in his hotel room. Through their relationship you get to know their quirks, sad pasts, and potentially magical futures. Full of vivid imagery, sounds, memories, and dreams, this is a wonderful, sweet story of just how normal it is to be different." --Sarah Farnsworth, Briggs Carriage Bookstore, Brandon, VT

THE RESERVE: A Novel, by Russell Banks (Harper, $24.95, 9780061430251 / 0061430250) "Over the course of one summer month in the Adirondacks in 1936, lives unravel and secrets are revealed in unexpected ways. Combining suspense and drama, Banks is in top form as he explores themes of old money, the working class, love, and honor. Finally, he illustrates how tenuous all our societal and familial roles truly are." --Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS

ICE TRAP: A Novel of Suspense, by Kitty Sewell (Touchstone, $24.95, 9781416539971 / 1416539972) "Meet Dafydd Woodruff, a successful doctor in Wales. Dafydd's life is going along quite well until he receives a letter from a 13-year-old girl from northern Canada, where years ago he worked as a doctor in a small town. In the letter, she claims he is her father, and Dafydd returns to the town to try and discover the truth. The twist and turns -- and final outcome -- will keep you reading this suspenseful first novel well into the night." --Sue Richardson, Maine Coast Book Shop, Damariscotta, ME

L.A. OUTLAWS: A Novel, by T. Jefferson Parker (Dutton, $25.95, 9780525950554 / 0525950559) "T. Jefferson Parker's L.A. Outlaws is a great mix of interesting, unusual, and totally believable characters: a thief descended from a famous outlaw, a cop trying to decide if he can be a police officer, and bad guys galore roaming Los Angeles in fabulous cars, frequently stolen.  All with a subtext questioning what is 'right' or 'wrong' -- and if whatever that is is illegal as well, should one continue doing it?" --Lise Friedman, Dutton's Brentwood Books, Los Angeles, CA

SONG YET SUNG: A Novel, by James McBride (Riverhead, $25.95, 9781594489723 / 1594489726) "Escaped slaves, slave catchers, murder -- a glimpse into pre-Civil War Maryland. I enjoyed the very realistic picture of the past this novel portrays, together with a dream of the future." --Barbara Rodean, A Likely Story, Sykesville, MD

THE BOYS IN THE TREES: A Novel, by Mary Swan (Holt, $14 paper, 9780805086706 / 0805086706) "This is an extraordinary work of interlinked stories centering on the tragic fate of an apparently devoted and loving family living at the turn of the century in a small town. We see the incidents through the eyes of the family, the town doctor and his sensitive son, a teacher, and other residents whose lives overlap in unexpected ways. The writing is beautiful, the story painful and haunting, yet lovely." --Leslie Reiner, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

SHARP TEETH, by Toby Barlow (HarperCollins, $22.95, 9780061430220 / 0061430226) "It's a dog-eat-dog world in Toby Barlow's spellbinding debut novel set in L.A., with a war going on that involves an ancient race of werewolves. There is also an inner story of romance between a werewolf and a local dogcatcher, and all of this intertwines with a Mexican dog-fighting crew looking to exact revenge on the people responsible for the death of its leader. This is an enormously enjoyable and eccentric tale!" --Susan Schlesinger, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI

HOPE'S BOY, by Andrew Bridge (Hyperion, $22.95, 9781401303228 / 1401303226) "I really like Andrew Bridge's memoir of growing up in the foster care system. Full of compelling characters, Hope's Boy is reminiscent of Angela's Ashes. I'd recommend it to all social workers." --Joyce Frohn, Apple Blossom Books, Oshkosh, WI

February 2008 Book Sense Notables Preview


THE ACCIDENT MAN, by Tom Cain (Viking, $24.95, 9780670018499 / 067001849X)
ALL SHALL BE WELL; AND ALL SHALL BE WELL; AND ALL MANNER OF THINGS SHALL BE WELL, by Tod Wodicka (Pantheon, $21.95, 9780375424731 / 0375424733)
THE BASTARD OF ISTANBUL, by Elif Shafak (Penguin, $14 paper, 9780143112716/0143112716)
CHARITY GIRL, by Michael Lowenthal (Mariner, $13.95 paper, 9780618919789 / 0618919783)
THE COMMONER, by John Burnham Schwartz (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385515719 / 0385515715)
EARTHLY PLEASURES, by Karen Neches (Simon & Schuster, $14 paper, 9780743292481/0743292480)
ELLINGTON BOULEVARD: A Novel in A-Flat, by Adam Langer (Spiegel & Grau, $24.95, 9780385522052 / 0385522053)
FIVE DAYS IN AUTUMN, by Langston Keane (White Elk Press, $11.95 paper, 9780977723720 / 0977723720)
OBEDIENCE, by Will Lavender (Shaye Areheart Books, $24, 9780307396105 / 030739610X)
MY REVOLUTIONS, by Hari Kunzru (Dutton, $25.95, 9780525949329 / 0525949321)
THE SECRET SCROLL, by Ronald Cutler (Beaufort Books, $24.95, 9780825305153/0825305152)


A CHANT TO SOOTHE WILD ELEPHANTS: A Memoir, by Jaed Coffin (Da Capo, $16 paper, 9780306815263 / 0306815265)
FLOWER CONFIDENTIAL: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful, by Amy Stewart (Algonquin, $13.95 paper, 9781565126039 / 1565126033)
THE REASON FOR GOD: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, by Timothy Keller (Dutton, $24.95, 9780525950493 / 0525950494)
SWIMMING IN A SEA OF DEATH: A Son's Memoir, by David Rieff (Simon & Schuster, $21, 9780743299466 / 0743299469)
TRAIL THOUGHTS: A Daily Companion for Your Journey of Faith, by Eric Kampmann (Beaufort Books, $14.95 paper, 9780825305801 / 0825305802)
ATOMIC LOBSTER, by Tim Dorsey (Morrow, $24.95, 9780060829698 / 0060829699)
MOONLIGHT DOWNS, by Adrian Hyland (Soho, $24, 9781569474839 / 1569474834)
SINS OF THE ASSASSIN, by Robert Ferrigno (Scribner, $24.95, 9781416537656/1416537651)
WATCHMAN, by Ian Rankin (Little Brown, $24.99, 9780316009133 / 031600913X)