Bloom

by Kelle Hampton |

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REVIEWED BY MEREDITH MARAN

MEMOIR

Hampton, a photographer and blogger with a handsome regional-sales-manager husband and an adorable toddler daughter, was living what she calls "a perfect life"-until Jan. 22, 2010, the day her second daughter, Nella, was born. "I knew the minute I saw her that she had Down syndrome," writes Hampton, who was 31 at the time and had foregone prenatal testing, believing there was no reason to worry. "I held her and cried ... I held her and looked at her like she wasn't my baby and tried to take it in ... she locked eyes with mine and stared ... bore holes into my soul."

Bloom is the story of Nella's first year. Told in serviceable prose that too often falls back on cliche, it's a touching tale nonetheless, lifted by an abundance of color photos of the irresistible Nella and her sister Lainey. A constitutionally positive person with a close circle of family and friends, Hampton makes a convincing argument that grief and disappointment can be transformed into compassion and joy-"an opportunity to bloom where we are planted."

Paris in Love

by Eloisa James |

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REVIEWED BY LIZA NELSON

MEMOIR

After fighting cancer, James took a sabbatical from her university job as a professor and Shakespeare scholar to spend a year in Paris with her husband and two kids. In this delightful charm-bracelet of a memoir, James, also the author of 20 romance novels, offers quirky, often laugh-out-loud funny snapshots of her adventures as an American suddenly immersed in all things French-food, clothes, joie de vivre. Her portrait of her family is equally lighthearted, and her reference guide is indispensable.

Hand Me Down

by Melanie Thorne |

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REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT

NOVEL

Here's a mother every reader will love to hate: When her husband, a convicted sex offender, is released from prison, Linda must choose between him and her daughters, since his parole mandates that he not have unsupervised contact with teen girls. So she sends Liz, 14, off to an uncle and Liz's little sister Jaime back to her alcoholic dad. Soon the girls realize the only people they can depend on are each other. A sad, compelling read.

COOKING SOLVES EVERYTHING

by Mark Bittman

Learning his way around a kitchen changed Bittman's life; his memoir/manifesto (with easy recipes) might change yours.

AN UNEXPECTED TWIST

by Andy Borowitz

Comedian Borowitz finds humor and enlightenment in a scary medical crisis: the twisted colon that nearly killed him.

LIFEBOAT NO. 8

by Elizabeth Kaye

Based on records, survivors' letters and interviews, this gripping reconstruction of one lifeboat's journey brings the Titanic tragedy to life.

He's got 2.5 million Twitter followers and a new book of his collected tweets. Who better to advise you?

1. I don't understand how to tweet, and if you want to be good at it, you shouldn't either.

2. Sometimes meaning is hard for the reader to grasp, so use emoticons. You know, like Oscar Wilde did.

3. Very important: You can't use italics in Twitter.

4. Twitter is a fantastically complicated medium, useful for news, comedy ... uh, news and comedy.

5. If you really work hard and become a really good tweeter, at the end of the rainbow there is a pot of lead.

Steve Martin@stevemartintogo

Tired of sitting on my butt. Trying my shoulder.