The September 2006 Book Sense Picks & Notables Preview

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Here are the full listing of the September 2006 Book Sense Picks, with booksellers' comments, and a preview of the month's Notables. Bookstores with Book Sense will be receiving their September fliers in the August Red Box. (The flier includes jacket images, bibliographic information, and bookseller quotes.)

September 2006 Book Sense Picks

1. THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER: A Novel, by Jed Rubenfeld (Holt, $26, 0805080988) "I inhaled this juicy murder mystery set in 1909 high society Manhattan. Rubenfeld spins an intricate and intelligent web of elegant young ladies, grand mansions and great construction projects, eager and earnest young men -- and Sigmund Freud. Readers will become entwined." --Rebecca Dayton, The Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury, VT

THE KING'S ENGLISH: Adventures of an Independent Bookseller, by Betsy Burton (Gibbs Smith, $15.95 paper, 1423601246) "Book clubs and solitary readers alike find The King's English an essential resource with its copious listing of Betsy Burton's favorites, as well as diverse recommendations from independent bookstores across the country. Add to that her thrilling tales of being a lifelong bookseller, and you've got the perfect book-lover's read." --Gwen Marcum, Capitola Book Cafe, Capitola, CA

ON AGATE HILL: A Novel, by Lee Smith (Algonquin, $24.95, 1565124529) "Set in post-Civil War North Carolina, Lee Smith's latest tells the love story of Molly Petree, orphaned by the war and its aftermath, and a free-spirited banjo picker and man of the mountains. Told by voices as clear and lively as a mountain stream, this may be Smith's finest novel yet." --Sarah Goddin, Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, NC

THE LAW OF DREAMS: A Novel, by Peter Behrens (Steerforth, $24.95, 1586421174) "This novel seems to have burst forth from a vein of genetic memory, so spot-on are the voices of its characters and the mood that is set. Recounting all the tragic details of the Irish diaspora during the Potato Famine of 1847 in language both lyrical and resonant, the book charts one man's desperate course. Poignant and vivid in details, this novel will haunt the imagination of its readers." --Nan Hadden, Books, Etc., Portland, ME

THE EMPEROR'S CHILDREN: A Novel, by Claire Messud (Knopf, $25, 030726419X) "A beautifully laced and layered novel of people finding and losing their way through life, purpose, and love in a New York City that almost seems of any time, yet subtly and powerfully becomes of a very certain, eventful time. The ways of individuals coming of age at 20 or 30, of couples, families, friends -- their couplings, betrayals, accommodations -- are written of with wit, empathy, and great knowing." --Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

THE LAST TOWN ON EARTH: A Novel, by Thomas Mullen (Random House, $23.95, 1400065208) "In 1918, the United States is fighting two wars -- WWI and the devastating flu epidemic. The inhabitants of a remote town in Washington State decide to quarantine the town to try to keep the flu from reaching its occupants; however, when two soldiers ask for sanctuary, the town is faced with far-reaching legal and moral issues. Mullen has managed to create historical fiction made for contemporary times." --Patti McCall, Queen Anne Books, Seattle, WA

SMONK: A Novel, by Tom Franklin (Morrow, $23.95, 006084681X) "In the Alabama town of Old Texas, Tom Franklin has created a world resembling a nightmarish cross between the lawless Old West and the worst of Dickens' London, so richly depraved and violent is his new novel. Since his spectacular Hell at the Breech, he has ratcheted up the body count but spared none of his sublimely beautiful prose and astonishing storytelling ability." --Stan Hynds, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

BILLY BOYLE: A World War II Mystery, by James R. Benn (Soho, $23, 1569474338) "It's 1942 and America is just entering the war in Europe. Billy Boyle goes from Boston cop to special investigator for his Uncle Ike, that is, General 'Ike' Eisenhower. Within 48 hours of his arrival in England, Boyle has a death to investigate and his attempts to avoid the horrors of war are lost. This is an engaging WWII novel with murders, thrills, spies, and, every so often, a little humor. A winner." --Mary Jane Weber, The Town Book Store, Westfield, NJ

MESSENGER OF TRUTH: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, by Jacqueline Winspear (Holt, $24, 0805078983) "Jacqueline Winspear has another hit on her hands. With each Maisie Dobbs book, I have learned about another phase of war, viewed another side of London, and become an even bigger fan. Messenger of Truth combines some of the worst of London after the war and another look at the human reaction to the Great War." --Barbara Theroux, Fact & Fiction, Missoula, MT

ST. LUCY'S HOME FOR GIRLS RAISED BY WOLVES: Stories, by Karen Russell (Knopf, $22, 0307263983) "In her astonishingly good and delightfully clever debut, Karen Russell unveils the magic realism of youth through her child and teen narrators. In these stories, her young heroes fight their fears and plunge headlong into the chimerical coves and sinkholes of their beautifully crafted worlds. These brilliant stories will transport you." --Michael Keefe, Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, OR

ANGEL'S REST, by Charles Davis (Mira, $21.95, 0778323048) "In this debut novel, an 11-year-old boy discovers the depth of his mother's love, the truth about his own actions, and the many angels who have come to rest near his life, as the violence and fear that surround him are overshadowed by deep love and compassion. Charles Davis has created a late-20th-century Huck Finn, whom no reader will be able to let go." --Peter Marsh, Briggs Carriage Bookstore, Brandon, VT

THE RETURN OF THE PLAYER, by Michael Tolkin (Grove, $24, 0802118011) "Tolkin's film executive from The Player, Griffin Mill, is back in a surgically funny novel that's like attending a literary version of Fight Club, where the savage beating of Hollywood culture by one of its own is the main event. Tolkin is able to masterfully describe and destroy the entertainment industry in the same scene. It violates the first rule of Fight Club, but I'll be talking about The Return of The Player with everyone I know." --Geoffrey B. Jennings, Rainy Day Books, Fairway, KS

THE ZERO: A Novel, by Jess Walter (Regan Books, $25.95, 0060898658) "Brian Remy, who is suffering from memory lapses, is working for an unnamed authority just after 9/11. As he (and readers) are dropped into situations without any knowledge of how they got there, Jess Walter wonderfully recreates the helpless feelings many of us have about our role in the post-9/11 world." --Lisa Sharp, Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, AR

DARK ANGELS: A Novel, by Karleen Koen (Crown, $25.95, 0307339912) "Twenty years I have had to wait for another swashbuckler of an historical novel from Karleen Koen. Well, it was well worth it. This marvelous prequel tells the tale of Charles II's court in the aftermath of The Reformation." --Sally Brewster, Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC

I'M PROUD OF YOU: My Friendship With Fred Rogers, by Tim Madigan (Gotham, $20, 1592402275) "Unconditional love could be the subtitle for this recounting of the special friendship between the author and Mister (Fred) Rogers. The book authenticates the value of the man and the 'Neighborhood' that charmed my children and me."  -- Sally Van Wert, MacDonald Book Shop, Estes Park, CO

LEAVING MICROSOFT TO CHANGE THE WORLD: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children, by John Wood (Collins, $25.95, 006112107X) "John Wood's life-changing decision to start up a library and school in Nepal has snowballed into a fantastic organization called Room to Read. To date, the program now supports small villages in building educational centers in Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and probably more as I write. An engrossing and inspiring story you can't put down." --Chris Vietmeier, St. Helens Book Shop, St. Helens, OR

THE DISSIDENT: A Novel, by Nell Freudenberger (Ecco, $25.95, 0060758716) "Nell Freudenberger sets her story in Los Angeles, where Yuan Zhao, a famous performance artist from Beijing's East Village, has come to teach at St. Anselm's School for Girls. Cultural issues are explored in both personal and art-historical contexts, as Yuan Zhao becomes enmeshed in his host family's dissolving marriage and in the brutal adolescent rivalries of his students. Flashbacks to the chaotic world of the Beijing art scene just after the Cultural Revolution punctuate -- and possibly mirror -- the drama in Beverly Hills." --Jan Weissmiller, Prairie Lights Books, Iowa City, IA

AFTER THIS: A Novel, by Alice McDermott (FSG, $24, 0374168091) "Alice McDermott's story of a Long Island Catholic family in mid-20th-century America, dealing with a world that is changing dramatically, is as wonderful as Charming Billy, one of my all-time favorites. She is a master, whose language and pace take you out of the present and into another time and place with incredible immediacy." --Carole Horne, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

SMALL ACTS OF SEX AND ELECTRICITY, by Lise Haines (Unbridled, $23.95, 1932961275) "From the provocative opening scene to the deja vu ending, Haines plucks us from our mundane lives and drops us into the chaos that is the lives of Jane, Mattie, and Mike, three friends with long histories. Haines looks at love and loyalty and relationships in this provocative and honest novel." --Keri Holmes, The Kaleidoscope: Our Focus Is You, Hampton, IA

ON BEAUTY, by Zadie Smith (Penguin, $15 paper, 0143037749) "With very vividly drawn characters, Zadie Smith's latest novel, set in New England and Britain, is at once both a send-up of academia, liberals, and conservatives and a warmhearted look at how families work. Smith's ear for language is superb." --Dede Gallagher, Book Ends, Winchester, MA

The September 2006 Notables Preview


THE BEDROOM SECRETS OF THE MASTER CHEFS, by Irvine Welsh (Norton, $24.95, 0393064530)
BREAKABLE YOU, by Brian Morton (Harcourt, $25, 0151011923)
DAWN OF EMPIRE, by Sam Barone (Morrow, $25.95, 0060892447)
THE EXQUISITE, by Laird Hunt (Coffee House, $14.95 paper, 1566891876)
GARDENIAS, by Faith Sullivan (Milkweed, $15 paper, 1571310525)
GOLDEN COUNTRY, by Jennifer Gilmore (Scribner, $25, 0743288637)
HAPPINESS SOLD SEPARATELY, by Lolly Winston (Warner, $21.99, 0446533068)
HOW TO COPE WITH SUBURBAN STRESS, by David Galef (Permanent Press, $28, 1579621317)
KNITTING, by Anne Bartlett (Houghton, $23, 0618499261)
REVENGE OF THE ROSE, by Nicole Galland (Morrow, $25.95, 006084177X)
SHRIEK: An Afterword, by Jeff  VanderMeer (Tor, $24.95, 0765314657)
THE TOWN THAT FORGOT HOW TO BREATHE, by Kenneth J. Harvey (Picador, $14 paper, 0312424809)
WINTER'S BONE, by Daniel Woodrell (Little, Brown, $22.99, 031605755X)


READING LIKE A WRITER: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them, by Francine Prose (HarperCollins, $23.95, 0060777044)


COPPER RIVER: A Cork O'Connor Mystery, by William Kent Krueger (Atria, $24, 0743278402)
LONG IN THE TOOTH, by David Turrill (Toby, $24.95, 1592641660)
SHADOW OF THE BOMB, by Robert Goldsborough (Echelon, $12.99 paper, 1590804910)
SNOW BLIND, by P.J. Tracy (Putnam, $24.95, 039915339X)
TRIPTYCH, by Karin Slaughter (Delacorte, $25, 0385339461)
WINTER'S CHILD, by Margaret Maron (Mysterious Press, $24.99, 0892968109)