The May 2007 Book Sense Picks & Notables Preview

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Here is the full listing of May 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 May Picks fliers in the April Red Box. (The flier includes jacket images, bibliographic information, and bookseller quotes.)

The May 2007 Book Sense Picks

1. FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES: A Novel, by Min Jin Lee (Warner, $24.99, 9780446581080 / 0446581089) "Casey Han is well aware of the expectations of her parents, first-generation Korean immigrants. She has the Princeton degree, the smarts, and the connections to secure the law degree they hope for. But Casey is set on finding her own answers. There are many story lines and remarkably limned characters in this engrossing and satisfying novel." --Betsey Detwiler, Buttonwood Books & Toys, Cohasset, MA

THE VISIBLE WORLD: A Novel, by Mark Slouka (Houghton, $24, 9780618756438 / 0618756434) "In The Visible World, Mark Slouka invites us to think about memory, imagination, history, and the interplay of each. What is more real -- what really happened, or what we remember? This is a haunting and beautifully written novel, and it prompts the reader to reflect long after the last page is read." --Linda Ramsdell, The Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, VT

GHOSTWALK: A Novel, by Rebecca Stott (Spiegel & Grau, $24.95,9780385521062 / 0385521065) "Stott's remarkable historical thriller begins with the death of a female historian on the verge of completing a book on alchemy and Sir Isaac Newton, and it wonderfully evokes Cambridge through the centuries. From alchemy to glassblowing to the plague, the story combines the pressing plot of murder -- or suicide -- and the question of Newton: gravity and the grave." --John Evans, DIESEL, A Bookstore, Oakland and Malibu, CA

THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION: A Novel, by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins, $26.95, 9780007149827 / 0007149824) "Michael Chabon's best yet! In a Yiddish-speaking Jewish homeland of Sitka, Alaska, detective Meyer Landsman risks his life and races the clock to investigate the death of a heroin addict. He uncovers a plot with global implications -- and, like all of Chabon's heroes, also uncovers the basic human goodness in the unlikeliest of people, including himself." --Carol Schneck, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

THE BLUE ZONE: A Novel, by Andrew Gross (Morrow, $25.95, 9780061143403 / 0061143405) "A Colombian drug lord dies, and it's payback time. The perfect family is living the American dream when the past comes knocking at its door -- is the witness protection program the family's safety net, or something else entirely?" --Janet Bollum, The Muse Book Shop, Deland, FL

THE PESTHOUSE, by Jim Crace (Nan A. Talese, $24.95, 9780385520751 / 0385520751) "In Jim Crace's future, metals are preached against as tools of the devil and the pitiful remnants of America's population struggle eastward with emigration their only hope. And hope is rare in this dystopian depiction of the nation generations hence. Only a formidable imagination could concoct the fabulist backstory, limn its characters, and propel the narrative as if chronicled and not devised." --Kathleen McKeague, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

THE MINISTRY OF SPECIAL CASES: A Novel, by Nathan Englander (Knopf, $25, 9780375404931 / 0375404937) "Set in Argentina during the 1970s, when people disappeared with frightening regularity, Englander's novel tells the story of the Jewish Poznan family. He joins family members' mundane woes to the larger horrors of the time to create a layered, tense, and altogether compelling story." --Amy Hall, Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, CO

HICK, by Andrea Portes (Unbridled, $14.95 paper, 9781932961324 / 1932961321) "Luli McMullen, the 13-year-old narrator of Portes' debut novel, has a voice and determination that will keep you cheering for her and believing in her spirit as she marches and stumbles through a life of hard knocks and low-down joints to discover her place in this world." --Lisa Baudoin, The Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA

THE MOTEL LIFE: A Novel, by Willy Vlautin (Harper Perennial, $13.95 paper, 9780061171116 / 0061171115) "After reading this book, I'm not surprised that author Willy Vlautin is a musician and poet. His debut novel is bleak, sad, and beautiful. Brothers Frank and Jerry Lee are on the run after a hit-and-run accident, and their journey is full of sorrow and wrong turns. The Motel Life is a rare novel that is worth every word on the page." --Jason Kennedy, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, Milwaukee, WI

THE VARIOUS HAUNTS OF MEN, by Susan Hill (Overlook, $24.95, 9781585678761 / 1585678767) "If you like British police whodunits, this is your read. Hill tells the story of policewoman Freya Graffham who is investigating disappearances in an English town where the suspects are various New Age healers. With a wickedly dark twist at the end, this is the first of what should be a successful series." --Mary Muller, Market Block Books, Troy, NY

IN THE AGE OF LOVE, by Michael Stein (Permanent, $26, 9781579621506 / 1579621503) "When lovers meet many years after their breakup, do they behave with greater intelligence, or is there something about remembering young love that renders mature people immature again? Michael Stein has created a moving trip through memories for any reader who can recall a long-ago first love." --Tony Allen, Barrington Books, Barrington, RI

WHISTLING IN THE DARK: A Novel, by Lesley Kagen (NAL, $13.95 paper, 9780451221230 / 0451221230) "Set in Milwaukee in the summer of 1959, Kagen's novel is told in the voice of 10-year-old Sally O'Mally, who had promised her deceased father that she would protect her younger sister, Troo. When their mother is hospitalized, Sally and Troo are essentially on their own to face the dangers of a molester and a murderer. Told with a child's innocence, this is a heartfelt, enduring story." --Michelle Burcky, Cover to Cover Bookstore, Arlington, TN

THE SAVAGE GARDEN, by Mark Mills (Putnam, $24.95, 9780399153532 / 0399153535) "This intelligent mystery belongs at the top of the class, as it stretches your knowledge in horticulture, the classics, WWII, Italy, and even (or perhaps especially) Machiavelli. In the novel, mysteries are intertwined like garden vines, and the fun comes in watching the appealing characters intellectually unwind their stories." --Jeanne Regentin, Between the Covers, Harbor Springs, MI

ONE PERFECT DAY: The Selling of the American Wedding, by Rebecca Mead (Penguin, $24.95, 9781594200885 / 1594200882) "This insightful book is social commentary dressed in a wedding gown! Mead's witty expose of 'Bridezilla' and her wedding culture also shines a light on consumerism, loss of tradition, and how we all try to regain sentiment and romance against the odds." --Peggy Sands, Millrace Books, Farmington, CT

LUNCHEON OF THE BOATING PARTY: A Novel, by Susan Vreeland (Viking, $25.95, 9780670038541 / 0670038547) "I am no art buff, but this novel glowed with light in a true Impressionist style. Centered around the creation of Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party, Vreeland's latest novel illuminates the lives of many brilliant artists at the start of their careers, their models, and life in Paris. It's wonderful that so much detail is recreated from the inspiration of one magnificent painting." --Nicola Rooney, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI

EMPIRE OF BLUE WATER: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign, by Stephan Talty (Crown, $24.95, 9780307236609 / 0307236609) "If you like Johnny Depp, and if pirates are your thing, this account of real-life 17th-century buccaneer Henry Morgan is for you. After accepting a privateer's commission from the British, Morgan's target was Spanish silver as he challenged the Spanish empire." --Betty Jo Harris, Windows a bookshop, Monroe, LA

DEVILS IN THE SUGAR SHOP, by Timothy Schaffert (Unbridled, $14.95 paper, 9781932961331 / 193296133X) "Tim Schaffert has done it again. This novel, set in the Old Market section of Omaha, features zany characters, ranging from a teacher of erotic writing workshops to a woman who sells 'marital aids' at neighborhood Sugar Parties. You'll be surprised to find out what goes on in the suburbs, especially on Sugar Party night. This is a delightful, funny book." --Andra Tracy, Out Word Bound, Indianapolis, IN

SOME OF TIM'S STORIES, by S. E. Hinton (University of Oklahoma, $19.95, 9780806138350 / 0806138351) "Hinton, the author of The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, held me captive again. The style of these short stories reflects her earlier work, but here it's for adult readers. The book also includes interviews with Hinton that bring her to life." --Monica Robinson, Monica's Market, Marshfield, MO

ALL WILL BE REVEALED, by Robert Anthony Siegel (MacAdam / Cage, $24, 9781596922051 / 1596922052) "Like the stereoscope cards that made photos of women seem alive, Siegel's writing makes this story set in late 19th-century New York come to life. I could not put it down." --Chris Vietmeier, St. Helens Book Shop, St. Helens, OR

WITHOUT A MAP: A Memoir, by Meredith Hall (Beacon, $24.95, 9780807072738 / 0807072737) "Open adoptions and connections between birth mothers and their children were not the way of life for a young girl who got pregnant in the '60s. Meredith Hall, in her beautifully written, poignant memoir, tells us what life was like for a naive girl who found herself pregnant and abandoned by her mother and father. This is a tale of loss, of endless traveling in search of an intangible something, and, ultimately, of forgiveness." --Gayle Shanks, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

The May 2007 Book Sense Notables


BECAUSE A FIRE WAS IN MY HEAD, by Lynn Stegner (University of Nebraska, $24.95, 9780803211391 / 0803211392)
BLUEBIRD: or The Invention of Happiness, by Sheila Kohler (Other, $24.95, 9781590512623 / 1590512626)
BOOMSDAY, by Christopher Buckley (Twelve, $24.99, 9780446579810 / 0446579815)
THE ENTITLED: A Tale of Modern Baseball, by Frank Deford (Sourcebooks Landmark, $24.95, 9781402208966 / 1402208960)
ONE BIG DAMN PUZZLER, by John Harding (Harper Perennial, $14.95 paper, 9780061132186 / 0061132187)
THE PENNY TREE, by Holly Kennedy (NAL, $14 paper, 9780451220554 / 0451220552)
THE POST-BIRTHDAY WORLD, by Lionel Shriver (HarperCollins, $25.95, 9780061187841 / 0061187844)
RANT: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey, by Chuck Palahniuk (Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385517874 / 0385517874)
THE ROPE WALK, by Carrie Brown (Pantheon, $24, 9780375424632 / 0375424636)
SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN, by Paul Torday (Harcourt, $24, 9780151012763 / 0151012768)
SHEER ABANDON, by Penny Vincenzi (Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385519885 / 0385519885)
THE SUN OVER BREDA, by Arturo Perez-Reverte (Putnam, $24.95, 9780399153839 / 0399153837)
THE WEDDING OFFICER: A Novel of Culinary Seduction, by Anthony Capella (Bantam, $22, 9780553805475 / 0553805479)


DISHWASHER: One Man's Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States, by Pete Jordan (Harper Perennial, $13.95 paper, 9780060896423 / 0060896426)
FLORENCE BROADHURST: Her Secret & Extraordinary Lives, by Helen O'Neill (Chronicle, $24.95, 9780811859370 / 0811859371)
SAVAGE PEACE: Hope and Fear in America, 1919, by Ann Hagedorn (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9780743243711 / 0743243714)
SISTER SALTY, SISTER SWEET: A Memoir of Sibling Rivalry, by Shannon Kring Biro and Natalie Kring (Running Press, $19.95, 9780762429226 / 0762429224)
SOARING WITH FIDEL: An Osprey Odyssey From Cape Cod to Cuba and Beyond, by David Gessner (Beacon, $25.95, 9780807085783 / 0807085782)
WHEN SHE WAS WHITE: The True Story of a Family Divided by Race, by Judith Stone (Miramax, $23.95, 9780786868988 / 0786868988)

Mystery / Suspense

THE LISBON CROSSING, by Tom Gabbay (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061188435 / 0061188433)