The March 2006 Book Sense Picks and Notables Preview

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Here is the full listing of the March 2006 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 March Picks fliers in the February Red Box. (The flier includes jacket images, bibliographic information, and bookseller quotes.)

The March 2006 Book Sense Picks

1. THE BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DEAD: A Novel, by Kevin Brockmeier (Pantheon, $22.95, 0375423699) "Wildlife specialist Laura Byrd is at the heart of the story, and those whom she remembers while she struggles to stay alive wait for the final forgetting that will release them from their way station between life and oblivion. The Brief History of the Dead is astonishing both in its simplicity and its power. Brilliant!" --Lisa Wright, Oblong Books and Music, Millerton, NY

INTUITION: A Novel, by Allegra Goodman (Dial, $25, 0385336128) "A nondescript building in the shadow of Harvard holds multiple intrigues -- and, perhaps, a cure for cancer. Allegra Goodman's eager young researchers are sincere, bright, yet subject to carelessness and overreaching. They are credible and engaging, and their situation is as fresh as today's headlines." --Cheryl McKeon, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

HALFWAY HOUSE: A Novel, by Katharine Noel (Atlantic, $23, 0871139340) "Halfway House puts a real face on the problems families must face when dealing with a family member suffering from mental illness. High school senior Angie Voorster and her family are your next-door neighbors, your coworkers, your friends. I will definitely be recommending this to my customers." --Meaghan Leenaarts, Island Bookstore, Corolla, NC

MANHUNT: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer, by James L. Swanson (Morrow, $26.95, 0060518499) "This is a riveting account of the plot to assassinate the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State. Swanson's account is as engaging as detective fiction, but it's true and meticulously documented." --J.B. Hall, The Bethel Avenue Book Company, Port Orchard, WA

I AM NOT MYSELF THESE DAYS: A Memoir, by Josh Kilmer-Purcell (HarperPerennial, $13.95 paper, 0060817321) "Josh's drag queen alter ego, Aqua, is so fragile, so funny, and so hopelessly self-destructive that you can't help but want to follow her into this story and somehow protect her from the freaks, crack heads, and ad execs she must face. Outrageously vulgar, unexpectedly moving, and one of the most sincere love stories I've read in a long time." --Audrey Brockhaus, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

THE FALLEN: A Novel, by T. Jefferson Parker (Morrow, $24.95, 0060562382) "Thrown from the sixth floor of a San Diego hotel, Robbie Brownlaw survives, but he is secretly changed, his senses mixed up. Sometimes it's helpful for a detective to see colors in what people say, an ingrained lie detector of sorts, but not one he'd like his superiors to know about. Parker creates some of the most human characters in contemporary fiction." --Russ Harvey, Cody's Books, Berkeley, CA

FALLING THROUGH THE EARTH: A Memoir, by Danielle Trussoni (Holt, $23, 0805077324) "Danielle Trussoni's memoir is a riveting series of family snapshots, including both those showing the effects on the family of her Vietnam War veteran father and her own visit to Vietnam in hopes of finding understanding. A mesmerizing memoir of life with a combatant father and a daughter seeking his love." --Chris Vietmeier, St. Helens Book Shop, St. Helens, OR

IN THE COMPANY OF THE COURTESAN: A Novel, by Sarah Dunant (Random House, $23.95, 1400063817) "This marvelous historical novel of love and betrayal opens with the sacking of Rome in 1527. Fiammetta, the courtesan of the title, and the dwarf Bucino, her companion and business manager (and the book's narrator), are forced to flee to Venice, where they must rebuild Fiammetta's career and their livelihood. A vibrant, thought-provoking novel about the complexities of human interactions." --Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI

AND SHE WAS: A Novel, by Cindy Dyson (Morrow, $24.95, 0060597704) "Two story lines -- one, a centuries-old Aleutian native secret passed down from woman to woman, the other of a contemporary young woman from the Lower 48 -- converge in the remote fishing village of Dutch Harbor. Asides, like a brief history of graffiti, make it entertaining; Dyson's consideration of the deepest moral questions makes it compelling." --Russ Lawrence, Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton, MT

THE FUGITIVE WIFE: A Novel, by Peter C. Brown (Norton, $24.95, 0393061108) "A muscular tale of Alaska and the Midwest, with a compelling heroine, a love story, a 'villain' you can't quite hate, and great historical detail about the 'other' Gold Rush. A book that works for readers of both genders." --Lilla Weinberger, Readers' Books, Sonoma, CA

LABYRINTH: A Novel, by Kate Mosse (Putnam, $25.95, 0399153446) "Medieval intrigue, secret societies, fanatically devoted followers, parallel stories centuries apart, adventure, danger, devotion -- what more could you ask for? Only that the end did not come quite so soon." --Nicola Rooney, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI

PRAYERS FOR THE ASSASSIN: A Novel, by Robert Ferrigno (Scribner, $24.95, 0743272897) "A brilliant thriller, set 35 years in the future, in the Islamic States of America -- the result of simultaneous nuclear detonations in New York, Washington, D.C., and Mecca. Historian Sarah Dougan has uncovered evidence that implicates a radical Muslim for the nuclear attack, rather than Israel, and this evidence puts her life in jeopardy. I was held captive by strong characters, great dialogue, and a perfect mix of humor, terror, tragedy, and, ultimately, hope." --Janine Wilson, Seattle Mystery Bookshop, Seattle, WA

THE WEATHER MAKERS: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth, by Tim Flannery (Atlantic, $24, 0871139359) "Flannery does a masterful job shaking us loose from our societal stupor regarding climate change. This is a thorough, yet accessible, review of all previous research regarding climate change; a common-person's guide to how our planet's systems operate; and a passionate, fact-based call to action. I can't imagine reading this book and not being disturbed, alarmed, and ready to work for a shift in national priorities." --Chris Morrow, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

BEAUTIFUL MADNESS: One Man's Journey Through Other People's Gardens, by James Dodson (Dutton, $24.95, 0525949356) "James Dodson's account of the world of gardeners is a wonderful book for those with verdure in the blood, and even for those within whom it's still latent. Believe this old gardener. This is a perfect read for those rainy spring days when you can't be in the garden." --Cathrine Carpenter, Cate's Books and Stuff, Louisiana, MO

KILL ME, by Stephen White (Dutton, $25.95, 0525949305) "I loved this literary thriller from a pretty darn good writer, who not only presents you with believable situations and characters, but also makes you really care about them. The story revolves around the anonymous narrator, who has contracted for his own assassination, and what happens as he realizes what he's done." --Hester Jeswald, Sarasota News & Books, Sarasota, FL

THE TENTH CIRCLE: A Novel, by Jodi Picoult (Atria, $26, 0743496701) "You will be in knots as you read this story of a family dealing with a mother's infidelity, a father's hidden past, and a daughter's broken heart and subsequent date rape. Another winner for Jodi Picoult fans!" --Grace V. Roth, The Town Book Store, Westfield, NJ

THE BIG OYSTER: History on the Half Shell, by Mark Kurlansky (Ballantine, $23.95, 0345476387) "The history of New York City as seen from the oyster beds of New York Harbor. The Dutch lived in a New World Eden, but the surrounding waters gradually became an open sewer. Riveting and enlightening social and ecological history from a master." --Mary Muller, Market Block Books, Troy, NY

THE HOUSE OF SCORTA: A Novel, by Laurent Gaude (MacAdam/Cage, $23, 1596921595) "Winner of the 2004 Prix Goncourt and a bestseller in Italy, now translated. It's an epic tale of loves, lies, disgrace, and revenge in Italy's unforgiving south. Beginning in the 1870s, this is the story of the Scortas, seemingly a doomed family, but, in the end, surprisingly resilient against spite as they pursue their right to happiness." --Barbara Peters, The Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, AZ

PLUM WINE: A Novel, by Angela Davis-Gardner (University of Wisconsin Press/Terrace Books, $26.95, 0299211606) "This elegant, multilayered novel offers pure pleasure. An American woman teaching in Japan during the Vietnam War era inherits a Japanese friend's memoirs, which shed new light on the horrors of the Hiroshima bombing and its aftermath -- and compromise her love affair with a Japanese survivor. An altogether satisfying, beautifully crafted story." --Nancy Olson, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

THE ROCK ORCHARD: A Novel, by Paula Wall (Washington Square, $14 paper, 074349623X) "The women who inhabit Leaper's Fork, Tennessee, are like no others -- larger than life, sassy, magical, insightful, lustful, and hilarious, and the men who love them are just as unique. Truly a novel of epic proportions packed into a fast-paced saucy read. I loved it!" --Katrina Denza, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

The March 2006 Notables Preview


ABIDE WITH ME, by Elizabeth Strout (Random House, $24.95, 1400062071)
DOPE, by Sara Gran (Putnam, $21.95, 0399153454)
THE ETHICAL ASSASSIN, by David Liss (Ballantine, $24.95, 140006421X)
INTOXICATED: A Novel of Money, Madness, and the Invention of the World's Favorite Soft Drink, by John Barlow (Morrow, $24.95, 0060591765)
KORNWOLF, by Tristan Egolf (Grove, $14 paper, 0802170161)
THE LAST TEMPLAR, by Raymond Khoury (Dutton, $24.95, 0525949410)
A LITTLE WHITE DEATH, by John Lawton (Atlantic, $23, 0871139324)
LUCKY DOG, by Mark Barrowcliffe (St. Martin's Griffin, $13.95 paper, 0312342802)
ROSE OF NO MAN'S LAND, by Michelle Tea (MacAdam/Cage, $22, 1596921609)
THE SULTAN'S SEAL, by Jenny White (Norton, $24.95, 0393060993)
THE THIN PLACE, by Kathryn Davis (Little, Brown, $23.95, 0316735043)
THE TWO MINUTE RULE, by Robert Crais (Simon & Schuster, $24.95, 0743281616)


THE BABY BUSINESS: How Money, Science, and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception, by Debora L. Spar (Harvard Business School Press, $26.95, 1591396204)
EAT, PRAY, LOVE: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert (Viking, $24.95, 0670034711)
GINSENG DREAMS: The Secret World of America's Most Valuable Plant, by Kristin Johannsen (University Press of Kentucky, $24.95, 0813123844)
THE JUDGMENT OF PARIS: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism, by Ross King (Walker, $28, 0802714668)
MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH MODERN ART: Behind the Scenes With a Legendary Curator, by Katharine Kuh, edited by Avis Berman (Arcade, $27.50, 1559707690)
RED HERRINGS AND WHITE ELEPHANTS: The Origins of the Phrases We Use Every Day, by Albert Jack (HarperCollins, $15.95, 0060843373)
WHEN I WAS ELENA, by Ellen Urbani Hiltebrand (Permanent, $28, 1579621244)
THE WINDS OF CHANGE: Climate, Weather, and the Destruction of Civilizations, by Eugene Linden (Simon & Schuster, $26, 0684863529)