The June 2008 Book Sense Picks & Notables Preview

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Here is the full listing of June 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 June Picks fliers in the May Red Box.

The June 2008 Book Sense Picks

1. THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN: A Novel, by Garth Stein (HarperCollins, $23.95, 9780061537936 / 0061537934) "Sometimes, if you are very lucky, fate gives you a special friend. Denny's friend Enzo will stand by him through some of the best and worst times of his life, his faith in Denny bone deep. Enzo is a dog, a dog with a very old soul. Denny is a race driver with natural talent, but sometimes life gets in the way of natural talent, and the road can have sharp bends. Suffused with humor, love, pain, and valor, this should be one of the year's best books!" --Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR

THE BILLIONAIRE'S VINEGAR: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine, by Benjamin Wallace (Crown, $24.95, 9780307338778 / 0307338770) "Benjamin Wallace has uncorked an absolutely fascinating account of the world's most expensive bottle of wine, an intoxicating read with the complexity and nuances of a great vintage. As your book 'sommelier' I recommend that you drink deep of this heady narrative concerning world-class connoisseurs, deep-pocketed collectors, and -- quite possibly -- a diabolically clever con man." --Joe Drabyak, Chester County Book & Music Company, West Chester, PA

DEAR AMERICAN AIRLINES: A Novel, by Jonathan Miles (Houghton, $22, 9780547054018 / 0547054017) "Jonathan Miles' first novel presents an unknowing catharsis through angst, jealousy, and helplessness. While delayed at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, writer Bennie Ford begins his tirade thinking he deserves a refund for a canceled flight that would have taken him to his daughter's wedding. However, this human rant develops into a backstory of his life. Witty, inspiring, and downright funny, Miles develops a novel with feeling and redemption." --Carolyn Espe, Powell's Books, Portland, OR

SUMMER BLOWOUT, by Claire Cook (Voice, $23.95, 9781401322410 / 1401322417) "Summer Blowout is vintage Claire Cook -- this funny and clever novel about a makeup artist beginning a new life is sure to be in beach bags this summer. Cook has a knack for turning the mundane into the unique, and her characters are eclectic and original." --Kathleen McGonagle, Buttonwood Books & Toys, Cohasset, MA

ANOTHER MAN'S MOCCASINS: A Walt Longmire Mystery, by Craig Johnson (Viking, $24.95, 9780670018611/ 0670018619) "When the body of a young Vietnamese woman is found along the road in Absaroka County, Wyoming, Sheriff Walt Longmire is reminded of his first homicide investigation as a marine in Vietnam. The plot moves in and out of Vietnam in a seamless narrative of a search for truth." --Barbara Theroux, Fact & Fiction, Missoula, MT

CITY OF THIEVES: A Novel, by David Benioff (Viking, $24.95, 9780670018703 / 0670018708) "Set against the war-torn backdrop of Leningrad, two teenage boys end up, through stranger and stranger twists of fate, traveling cross-country to find a dozen eggs in exchange for their very lives. In the process, they learn more about human nature, both in themselves and others, than can possibly be explained. Wickedly funny and incredibly sad, it's far too short to be this lovely -- and yet it is." --Russ Marshalek, Wordsmiths Books, Decatur, GA

FINDING NOUF: A Novel, by Zoe Ferraris (Houghton, $24, 9780618873883 / 0618873880) "A masterfully crafted mystery novel set in Saudi Arabia. Ferraris truly gives us a feeling of the world of the rich, and the not-so-rich, Saudis as the Palestinian desert guide Nayir tries to discover who killed his friend's beautiful sister." --Mary K. Cowen, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL

THE RICHEST SEASON: A Novel, by Maryann McFadden (Hyperion, $22.95, 9781401322700 / 1401322700) "Maryann McFadden's debut novel tells the story of Joanna, a suburban corporate wife and mother who walks away from it all in a search for something. What she finds is Grace, a woman who is reaching the end of her life, and what unfolds is a novel of expressive characters facing the loss of love, uncertain of the future, and longing for renewal. Captivating." --Rob Dougherty, Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, NJ

MISTRESS OF THE SUN: A Novel, by Sandra Gulland (Touchstone, $26, 9780743298872 / 074329887X) "Through the eyes of the young girl Louise de la Valliere, Gulland shows us how the sophisticated, wealthy, and dissolute royalty and nobility of France looked from the perspective of a naive, poor, but talented rural girl. Not only do we get a portrait of everyday life during the times of Louis XIV, the Sun King -- we also get a rippingly good plot." --Sue Bradley, Tinman Artworks, Spokane, WA

PROMISE OF THE WOLVES: A Novel, by Dorothy Hearst (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781416569985 / 1416569987) "After the beauty of Promise of the Wolves, my theory about the inner life of animals is confirmed. With all of the grace and eloquence of humans, Kaala and the other wolves tell their fantastic tale. I can't wait for the next book of the trilogy!" --Katie Glasgow, Mitchell Books, Fort Wayne, IN

THE MARRIAGE OF TRUE MINDS: A Novel, by Stephen Evans (Unbridled, $14.95 paper, 9781932961461 / 1932961461) "As husband and wife, Nick Ward and Lena Grant have been running a successful environmental law practice for many years. When the story opens, we find the marriage unraveling and Nick, always passionate, now certifiably insane. But we end up wondering: Like all the best madmen of fiction, is he crazy or is he just right? This is my summer book pick -- I love it!" --Kelly Justice, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

GOSSIP OF THE STARLINGS: A Novel, by Nina de Gramont (Algonquin, $22.95, 9781565125650 / 1565125657) "This is a wonderful novel describing the intense friendship of two girls attending a private girls' school in the 1980s. Not a predictable story at all, by the end of the book, I felt as if I was personal friends with the main characters." --Autumn Lynn, River Reader LLC, Lexington, MO

THE HOUSE ON FORTUNE STREET: A Novel, by Margot Livesey (Harper, $24.95, 9780061451522 / 0061451525) "Abigail shares the house on Fortune Street with Sean, her childhood friend Dara, and Dara's father, Cameron, the most chilling of the quartet we meet in another of Margot Livesey's complex and compelling novels. Friendships teeter on the axis of old loyalties, children are betrayed, relationships blossom and founder, and, in the process, Livesey illuminates not just character but also the mysterious cross-currents of fate and purpose that make us who we are." --Betsy Burton, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT

ALL THE WAY HOME: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House, by David Giffels (Morrow, $25.95, 9780061362866 / 0061362867) "Great memoirs tend to be stranger than fiction, and David Giffels' riotous recollection of human willpower versus decaying architecture, contemptible rodents, and one stubborn octogenarian is no exception. An utterly unforgettable chapter in one young man's life." --Katie Capaldi, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

THE WRITING CLASS: A Novel, by Jincy Willett (Thomas Dunne, $24.95, 9780312330668 / 0312330669) "I dare you to try and put this book down once you become a part of the writing class at the center of the story. The antisocial narrator/teacher at once repels, attracts, and entertains. By the way, it's also a murder mystery!" --Shiela Wood-Navarro, Carpe Librum Booksellers, Knoxville, TN

THE GARDEN OF LAST DAYS: A Novel, by Andre Dubus III (Norton, $24.95, 9780393041651 / 0393041654) "A masterful psychological portrait of three compellingly flawed, very human characters affiliated with a seedy strip club in Florida, where a little girl goes missing. You might cringe at their decisions once you embark on this steamroller of a book, but you'll devour every explosive page!" --Caitlin Doggart, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Chatham, MA

THE BOAT, by Nam Le (Knopf, $22.95, 9780307268082 / 030726808X) "One of the most impressive collections of short stories that I have ever read. Nam Le begins by capturing his own culture of Vietnam (with an ironic twist) and then reveals that he can master the language and feel of other cultures in the stories that follow. Using the specificity of time and place in order to speak universal truths, he has written an impressive debut." --Kester Smith, BookPeople, Austin, TX

NETHERLAND: A Novel, by Joseph O'Neill (Pantheon, $23.95, 9780307377043 / 0307377040) "In a wonderful understated tone, Netherland tells the story of how Hans, a Dutch banker in New York, tries to cope in the city after his wife and son flee to the UK in the wake of 9 / 11. Unmoored, but still generous at heart, he is brought back to a sense of his life and choices thanks to the colorful characters of the New York City and its surprisingly vibrant cricket community." --Marie du Vaure, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, CA

FINAL THEORY: A Novel, by Mark Alpert (Touchstone, $24, 9781416572879 / 1416572872) "When a dangerous stranger tries to murder one of the 20th century's great physicists, Columbia professor David Swift is caught in the middle of a deadly story of murders, dangerous chases, and the FBI turned bad. I couldn't put down this well-written, edge-of-your-seat thriller." --Diane Bader, Mysterious Galaxy Books, San Diego, CA

DEAD SILVER: A Novel, by Neil McMahon (Harper, $24.95, 9780061340765 / 0061340766) "Hugh Davoren and his compatriot, Madbird, return in what is quickly becoming one of the most intelligent series in crime fiction -- one that perfectly reflects the rugged Montana terrain and changing society. Doing a favor for an old friend soon envelops Hugh in murder, both past and present, while he also must confront his own conflicted emotions." --Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI

The June 2008 Book Sense Notables


BLACK OUT, by Lisa Unger (Shaye Areheart, $23, 9780307338488 / 0307338487)

CARELESS IN RED, by Elizabeth George (Harper, $27.95, 9780061160875 / 0061160873)

THE FOREIGNER, by Francie Lin (Picador, $14 paper, 9780312364045 / 0312364040)

MORALITY TALE, by Sylvia Brownrigg (Counterpoint, $24, 9781582434049 / 1582434042)

RED BIRD: Poems, by Mary Oliver (Beacon, $23, 9780807068922 / 0807068926)

THE SPIES OF WARSAW, by Alan Furst (Random House, $25, 9781400066025 / 1400066026)

STONE CREEK, by Victoria Lustbader (Harper Paperbacks, $13.95 paper, 9780061369216 / 0061369217)

THE YEAR OF DISAPPEARANCES, by Susan Hubbard (Simon & Schuster, $22.95, 9781416552710 / 1416552715)


THE CHRIS FARLEY SHOW: A Biography in Three Acts, by Tom Farley Jr., Tanner Colby (Viking, $26.95, 9780670019236 / 0670019232)

DEAD LUCKY: Life After Death on Mount Everest, by Lincoln Hall (Tarcher, $24.95, 9781585426461 / 1585426466)

ESCAPE FROM THE DEEP: A Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew, by Alex Kershaw (Da Capo, $26, 9780306815195 / 0306815192)

THE FILM CLUB: A Memoir, by David Gilmour (Twelve, $21.99, 9780446199292 / 044619929X)

THE FRUIT HUNTERS: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce, and Obsession, by Adam Leith Gollner (Scribner, $25, 9780743296946 / 074329694X)

SHOPPING FOR PORCUPINE: A Life in Arctic Alaska, by Seth Kantner (Milkweed Editions, $28, 9781571313010 / 157131301X)

SIMPLEXITY: Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple), by Jeffrey Kluger (Hyperion, $25.95, 9781401303013 / 1401303013)

SWAY: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman (Doubleday, $21.95, 9780385524384 / 0385524382)


THE BIG BOTH WAYS, by John Straley (Alaska Northwest Books, $16.95 paper, 9780882407326 / 0882407325)

BLOOD ALLEY, by Tom Coffey (Toby Press, $24.95, 9781592642236 / 1592642233)

BLOOD TRAIL: A Joe Pickett Novel, by C.J. Box (Putnam, $24.95, 9780399154881 / 0399154884)

THE CALLING, by Inger Ash Wolfe (Harcourt, $24, 9780151013470 / 0151013470)