Picks and Pans Main: Books

updated 02/01/2010 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/01/2010 01:00AM

The Brightest Star In The Sky

by Marian Keyes |

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REVIEWED BY LIZA HAMM

NOVEL

In Irish bestseller Keyes' 10th novel, a very mysterious narrator introduces the seven residents of 66 Star Street in Dublin—then prepares to change at least one of their fates forever. There's a faint sense of impending doom, but the characters' daily lives are so involving you'll resist the impulse to rush ahead to see if they all survive. Will Katie, a successful music publicist who's just turned 40, get over her committment-phobic boyfriend? Why is Lydia, a twentysomething cabbie, so bitter? Can Jemima, the building's oldest member, survive her ne'er-do-well son's visit? And what's up with newlyweds Matt and Maeve's bizarre nighttime ritual? Somehow Keyes manages to stuff a smorgasbord of genres into one tasty tale. There are chick lit heroines (and heroes) real enough to root for, family strife that rings both hilariously and poignantly true, and very serious issues (which shall remain nameless here so that the plot twists aren't spoiled) handled with heart and sensitivity. By the end of the saga, all will be answered. But the real joy is in the journey itself: watching Keyes' quirky characters as they change partners, reveal battle scars and command your attention on every page.

Notes From The Cracked Ceiling

by Anne E. Kornblut |

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REVIEWED BY CAROLINE LEAVITT

NON-FICTION

Will we ever have a Madame President? Journalist Kornblut presents an unsettling look inside the Hillary and Palin campaigns, showing how sexism, media mockery and failed strategies keep women from higher offices. Full of astonishing anecdotes (Michigan's Jennifer Granholm became governor only after she minimized her beauty by running black-and-white ads), this book is an eye-opener.

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