The January 2007 Book Sense Picks & Notables Preview

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

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

The January 2007 Book Sense Picks

1. SACRED GAMES: A Novel, by Vikram Chandra (HarperCollins, $27.95, 9780061130359 / 006113035) "Want to get lost in a big, sprawling hardcore mystery? Pick up this delicious new novel and revel in outsized gangsters, jaded policemen, and a story that stretches from the separation of India and Pakistan to modern terrorism. Chandra's subcontinent teems with all of the complexities of modern and ancient societies, wealth and poverty, crime and justice. Read long and enjoy!" --Jane Jacobs, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

RETURNING TO EARTH: A Novel, by Jim Harrison (Grove, $24, 9780802118387 / 0802118380) "Each section of this brilliant novel set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is told from the perspective of a different character dealing with loss and love. I think this is one of the best novels I've read in months, and if you're discovering Jim Harrison for the first time, this is a great book to get you started on his work." --Gayle Shanks, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

SILENT IN THE GRAVE, by Deanna Raybourn (Mira, $21.95, 9780778324102 / 0778324109) "Ideal for fans of Victorian London, diverting mysteries, enigmatic heroes, and feisty heroines. Lady Julia Grey becomes an amateur detective when an actual detective, Nicholas Brisbane, suggests her husband's death was not as it seemed. I happily followed them on their adventures well past my bedtime." --Lori Kauffman, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

KOCKROACH: A Novel, by Tyler Knox (Morrow, $23.95, 9780061143335 / 0061143332) "Kockroach has a fairly simple premise: What if a cockroach were to wake up one day to find he's been turned into a man? Knox's re-visioning of Kafka is a dark and grimly funny look at what it means to be human today, grandly told." --Russ Harvey, Cody's Books, Berkeley, CA

THE SAFFRON KITCHEN: A Novel, by Yasmin Crowther (Viking, $23.95, 9780670038114 / 0670038113) "Having been driven from her home in Iran, Maryam is now living in England with her husband. When her pain and longing for her homeland become overwhelming, she returns, and Crowther takes readers on an emotional journey to another time and place. I won't soon forget this powerful novel." --Dianne Aisenbrey, Best of Times Bookstore, Red Wing, MN

THE BLACK SUN, by James Twining (HarperCollins, $24.95, 9780060762148 / 0060762144) "A gripping and suspenseful story that takes historical facts -- the Hungarian Gold train and Himmler's SS -- and weaves them into a modern-day hunt to find the secrets of the past. This is a can't-put-down thriller." --Debbie Scheller, A Likely Story, Alexandria, VA

THE TEAHOUSE FIRE: A Novel, by Ellis Avery (Riverhead, $24.95, 9781594489303 / 1594489300) "When nine-year-old Aurelia Caillard moves to Japan with her missionary uncle in 1865, she can't foresee how dramatically her life will change. After losing her uncle in a fire, she's taken in by the Shin family, master teachers of the tea ceremony. Aurelia's struggle to fit into such a strict society echoes Japan's larger cultural changes as the nation arrives at a crossroad between new and old. This debut novel is sure to draw you in." --Megan Sullivan, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

FIND ME: A Novel, by Carol O'Connell (Putnam, $24.95, 9780399153952 / 0399153950) "I have been a fan of Carol O'Connell since the very first Kathleen Mallory book, and this latest book is by far her best, as she sets the well-worn serial killer format on its head. Here, the focus is not on the killer, but on the various agencies -- the FBI, the local law enforcement -- and Mallory, who operates outside any agency and outsmarts them all. A riveting story." --Ann Carlson, Harborwalk Books, Georgetown, SC

THE MATHEMATICS OF LOVE: A Novel, by Emma Darwin (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061140266 / 0061140260) "Take some artists, an imperfect liaison, historical letters, an undependable mother, a meek uncle, a wild child, and a Nikon camera. Add them together and they reveal The Mathematics of Love to a teenager of the 1960s and a young girl of the 1820s. These two share the ties of place, and maybe of something more." --Keri Holmes, The Kaleidoscope: Our Focus Is You, Hampton, IA

THE BLADE ITSELF: A Novel, by Marcus Sakey (St. Martin's Minotaur, $22.95, 9780312360313 / 0312360312) "This amazing debut is a well-written, fast-paced, character-driven crime novel set in Chicago. Danny and Evan are childhood friends whose lives took different paths after a pawnshop robbery went bad. When Evan gets out of prison, Danny faces a hard truth: The more you have, the more you have to lose. A compelling read." --Janine Wilson, Seattle Mystery Bookshop, Seattle, WA

LOVE IS A MIX TAPE: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time, by Rob Sheffield (Crown, $22.95, 9781400083022 / 1400083028) "This is Love Story updated for the '90s. The Year of Magical Thinking for the grunge set. Rob Sheffield's extended love letter to his dead wife is set to the soundtrack of the mix tapes they obsessively made for each other. I laughed, I cried, and if you have a heart, you will too." --Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

CHARITY GIRL: A Novel, by Michael Lowenthal (Houghton, $24, 9780618546299 / 0618546294) "This richly detailed story of a WWI-era shopgirl sent to a detention center for possibly transmitting a venereal disease is both an eye-opening look at an embarrassing blot on American history and also a poignant story of women bonding under adversity. Frieda Mintz is a terrific heroine and Charity Girl is a pleasure to read." --Daniel Goldin, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, Milwaukee, WI

THE TERROR: A Novel, by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown, $25.99, 9780316017442 / 0316017442) "Skillful writer Dan Simmons has reached new heights as he puts you in the story with the doomed Franklin expedition, which tried to find the Northwest Passage in the late 1840s. Simmons gives us fully realized characters, riveting action scenes, and mutiny and treachery galore, along with generous jolts of, well, pure terror. I couldn't put The Terror down." --Frazer Dobson, Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC

RED RIVER: A Novel, by Lalita Tademy (Warner, $24.99, 9780446578981 / 0446578983) "Lalita Tademy does a great job of telling the true story of the massacre of black men in Colfax, Louisiana, in 1873 and brings to life the story of three generations of African Americans who were affected by this horrific event." --Tiffany Dow, A Shade of Gray Bookstore, Indianapolis, IN

AGAINST THE DAY: A Novel, by Thomas Pynchon (Penguin, $35, 9781594201202 / 159420120X) "Pynchon takes us around the world in 30 years, from the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, through the war-rumblings of Europe, and to the Mexican revolutions. Look for cameo appearances by Bela Lugosi, Nikola Tesla, and Groucho Marx, all rendered in Pynchon's inimitable, exhilarating, and uncommonly perceptive prose." --Jesse Roberts, Olsson's Books & Records, Washington, DC

THE ECHO MAKER: A Novel, by Richard Powers (FSG, $25, 9780374146351 / 0374146357) "Richard Powers' National Book Award-winning novel is about a young man in Nebraska who wakes up from a coma believing his long-suffering sister is some kind of imposter. The result is a swirl of reflection on memory, belonging, self-creation, and our place as humans in the long picture of history. Read this to be challenged and shaken and fulfilled." --Jessica Stockton, McNally Robinson Booksellers, New York, NY

FINAL EXAM: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality, by Pauline W. Chen (Knopf, $23.95, 9780307263537 / 0307263533) "Final Exam is a vitally important book that everyone should read. It addresses the issues surrounding end-of-life care from an insider's perspective and focuses on issues rarely discussed: doctors' own fears of mortality and how emotions about death interfere with frank discussions about appropriate care." --Carol Schneck, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

SLIVER OF TRUTH: A Novel, by Lisa Unger (Shaye Areheart Books, $23, 9780307338464 / 0307338460) "This is Lisa Unger's second book, and it includes many of the characters from Beautiful Lies, including Ridley Jones, who discovers that a dead uncle is not at all who she thought he was. As in the first novel, Ridley doesn't know whom to trust or which way to turn. I love the way Unger builds the story around this strong, resourceful young woman." --Susan Wasson, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM

KILLING JOHNNY FRY: A Sexistential Novel, by Walter Mosley (Bloomsbury, $23.95, 9781596912267 / 159691226X) "In this sexually graphic novel, after discovering his girlfriend's infidelity, Cordell Carmel looses his bearings but learns to live as who he really is, rather than who he is supposed to be. A very powerful and disconcerting book." --Lisa Sharp, Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, AR

THE COLONY: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai, by John Tayman (Scribner, $16 paper, 9780743233019 / 0743233018) "The Colony is an adept and absorbing history of the most notorious island in the Hawaiian chain, Molokai, where lepers were forcibly exiled. The humanity and suffering of Molokai's lepers comes across as clearly as a scream across the ages." --Jessica Friedlander, Bay Books, Monterey, CA

The January 2007 Book Sense Notables Preview

Fiction and Poetry

THE AENEID, by Virgil, Robert Fagles, translator (Viking, $40, 9780670038039 / 0670038032)

BE MINE, by Laura Kasischke (Harcourt, $23, 9780151012732 / 0151012733)

THE DAY THE BOZARTS DIED, by Larry Duberstein (Permanent Press, $26, 9781579621346 / 1579621341)

A DEAD LANGUAGE, by Peter Rushforth (MacAdam Cage, $26, 9781596921924 / 1596921927)

LET THE NORTHERN LIGHTS ERASE YOUR NAME, by Vendela Vida (Ecco, $23.95, 9780060828370 / 0060828374)

VENUS ENVY, by Shannon McKelden (Forge, $12.95 paper, 9780765315854 / 0765315858)


ABOUT ALICE, by Calvin Trillin (Random House, $14.95, 9781400066155 / 1400066158)

CRUCIVERBALISM: A Crossword Fanatic's Guide to Life in the Grid, by Stanley Newman, With Mark Lasswell (Collins, $14.95, 9780060890605 / 0060890606)

DARK COSMOS: In Search of Our Universe's Missing Mass and Energy, by Dan Hooper (Collins, $24.95, 9780061130328 / 006113032X)

JAMIE'S ITALY, by Jamie Oliver (Hyperion, $34.95, 9781401301958 / 1401301959)

TALK TO THE SNAIL: Ten Commandments for Understanding the French, by Stephen Clarke (Bloomsbury, $14.95, 9781596913097 / 1596913096)

WIKINOMICS: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams (Portfolio, $25.95, 9781591841388 / 1591841380)

Mystery / Suspense

THE ARMAGEDDON PROJECT, by Tom Sancton (Other Press, $24.95, 9781590512524 / 1590512529)

BIG CITY, BAD BLOOD, by Sean Chercover (Morrow, $23.95,
9780061128677 / 0061128678)

A DEEPER SLEEP: A Kate Shugak Novel, by Dana Stabenow (St. Martin's Minotaur, $24.95, 9780312343224 / 0312343221)

THE MACHIAVELLI COVENANT, by Allan Folsom (Forge, $25.95, 9780765313058 / 0765313057)

NIGHT FALLS ON DAMASCUS, by Frederick Highland (St. Martin's Minotaur, $24.95, 9780312337896 / 0312337892)

THE SNOW ANGEL, by Michael Graham (Schaffner, $23.95, 9780971059856 / 0971059853)

STALKING IVORY: A Jade Del Cameron Mystery, by Suzanne Arruda (NAL, $23.95, 9780451220264 / 0451220269)

WILD INDIGO, by Sandi Ault (Berkley, $23.95, 9780425213698 / 0425213692)