THE MONITOR' GUIDE TO BESTSELLERS

Favorable review Unfavorable review Mixed review No review noted

1) 1 7

THE LOST WORLD, by Michael Crichton, Knopf, $25.95

This is mostly a shameless reprise of ''Jurassic Park.'' Both T. Rex and the velociraptors are back, as bad as ever, chasing everyone and consuming all expendable characters. There is jungle, rain, lightning, and actual cliff hanging. And as usual, the author lectures during pauses in the action. He speculates on extinction. Dinosaurs died because they constantly developed, chancing dysfunction. The pace is relentless, and you never know just what will happen. (Monitor Review 9/20/95) By Ronald Preston

b

n

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b

CA

2) 3 3

The HUNDRED SECRET SENSES, by Amy Tan, Putnam, $23.95

Fans of Amy Tan will be on familiar territory with her latest, and they won't be disappointed. The narrator is a Chinese-American girl from San Francisco whose world takes a turn for the worse when an older half-sister arrives from China. Kwan speaks little English and talks to ghosts - a constant source of embarrassment for Olivia. Years later, when she travels to China with Kwan and her estranged husband, Simon, Olivia confronts ghosts of her own and learns the meaning of family. By Suzanne Maclachlan

b

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b

-

3) 4 9

THE HORSE WHISPERER, by Nicholas Evans, Delacorte Press, $23.95

The storyline is formulaic, cliche laden, and noticeably influenced by ''The Bridges of Madison County.'' It depicts a strong tight- lipped Montana rancher able to see into the ''soul'' of horses, and a British cum New York successful magazine editor who experiences a midlife crisis when her daughter-on-horseback collides with a semi-truck. The editor finds herself in an extramarital affair with the rancher. Parental guilt about putting career first emotionally tugs throughout this soap-opera. By Jim Bencivenga

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n

n

M

-

4) 5 2

SILENT NIGHT, by Mary Higgins Clark, Simon & Schuster $15

While an important part of the plot is a father recovering from cancer surgery, this little holiday heartwarmer is really about family and faith. When seven-year-old Brian chases down Fifth Avenue after the thief who unwittingly takes a St. Christopher medal meant for his father along with his mother's wallet, he becomes a hostage in a prison break. A suspenseful turn of events makes it a page-turner, and its real appeal is how faith and love strengthen Brian and his family. By Terri Theiss

b

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b

DN

5) 6 89

THE CELESTINE PROPHECY, by James Redfield, Warner, $17.95

Well-intended but poorly written, the plot is a cross between ''Indiana Jones'' and a self-help book. The hero is on a quest for a recently discovered Peruvian manuscript that details the progress of spirituality at the end of the 20th century. At different stages of the journey, he and his fellow searchers discover spiritual ''insights,'' nine in total. Rather than profound, the book is awash in cliches such as the need to ''become conscious of the coincidences in our lives.'' By Yvonne Zipp

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6) 9

7

MORNING, NOON, AND NIGHT, by Sidney Sheldon, Morrow, $24

Sheldon's latest McNovel follows the lives of a billionaire who drowns at sea and his three inheritance-hungry offspring. Controversy and mystery appear when an illegitimate daughter shows up in Boston to meet her long-lost siblings and claim her share of the empire. The book reads like a TV movie, hardly a surprise considering that Sheldon is also a screenwriter. His page-turner is full of plot twists and red herrings, but most of the author's devices are borrowed or just plain predictable. By Kim Campbell

M

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7) 5 11

COMING HOME, by Rosamunde Pilcher, St. Martin's, $25.95

A lovely, old-fashioned read set in Cornwall in the 1930's and'40s. Pilcher's smooth prose carries the reader effortlessly into the story of Judith Dunbar, an independent survivor who is left at school when her family moves to Singapore. She is soon swept up by the Carey-Lewises, a family whose prewar lives are as light and delicious as fizzy lemonade. Pilcher deftly recreates World War II England, chronicling the changes war brings to Judith and her adopted family. By Yvonne Zipp

b

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n

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b

AC

8) 14 2

THE CHRISTMAS BOX, by Richard Paul Evans, Simon & Schuster, $12.95

A glorious weep! (One personal caveat: Sadness isn't really the prerequisite to happiness.) A Victorian attic reveals an ornate box containing sorrowful letters from Mary, the mother of Jesus, to a lost little angel. Night music, wafting mysteriously from the box, draws Rick to discover its secret. Once emptied of its sorrowful burden, the Christmas box epitomizes the empty tomb that could not hold Jesus. The message is that materialism of Christmas cannot detract from the joys of family love. By Mari Murray

b

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9) 8

4

Finding Moon, by Tony Hillerman, HarperCollings, $24

In ''Finding Moon,'' journalist Moon Mathias enters the chaos of Vietnam during the fall of Saigon with the goal of finding his dead brother's child. Along the way, he's joined by two companions with their own missions. The three find themselves in some pretty tense dilemmas. While this new book departs from Hillerman's familiar Navajo territory, as always, the Southwestern author delivers likeable, contemplative protagonists, atmosphere-rich settings, and top-notch suspense. By Catherine Foster

b

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b

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b

SL

10) - 3

LOVE IN ANOTHER TOWN, by Barbara Taylor Bradford, HarperCollins, $15

Although about Tosca-loving electrician hunk Jake's search for a better kind of relationship following a failed marriage, this is basically a short romance novel. Noteworthy in the plot is the 15-year age difference (she is the more mature) and the transformation that a secondary character experiences . The writing is flat where it should be snappy and overdone where it should be lighter. Premarital sex is presented as though it is the closest thing to rapture. By Terry Theiss.

n

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b

RM

11) 9 19

BEACH MUSIC, by Pat Conroy, Doubleday/Talese, $27.50

Seemingly every memory, character, place, and event from not only Conroy's life, but also the lives of most of the people he's ever met are in this book. There is Conroy's own family, including abusive father, dying mother, and supportive siblings; the lush locations from Rome to South Carolina's coast; and defining moments, from high school to the Holocaust to Vietnam. ''Beach Music'' is told in elegant prose: lyrical, overblown, romantic. (Monitor Review 6/29/95) By Michele Ross

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12) 10

2

LOVE ME FOREVER, by Johanna Lindsey, Morrow $20

This romance novel is an enjoyable, humorous read from the days of country-house parties, formal balls, and tuxedo-clad aristocrats. The heroine is a gutsy charmer who snares the Scottish laird hero almost without trying. He arrives in quest of another female, but true to the genre, he cannot resist the heroine, a bedraggled woman who stares agawk at him while unwittingly wiping her nose on her sleeve. There are some steamy scenes before vows are taken as all ends well and wed. By Terry Theiss

b

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M

AC

13) 11 3

THE ISLAND OF THE DAY BEFORE, by Umberto Eco, Harcourt Brace $25

Beautifully written and deftly translated by William Weaver, this work of fiction is a novel in the original sense of the term: a novelty, a new combination of elements. It opens with Roberto Della Griva, a young Italian of good family, shipwrecked somewhere in the South Pacific. His belief in a comprehensible universe is shattered by his exposure to the multiple, often contradictory interpreations of reality he encounters. Eco suggests that too many possible meanings add up to no meaning. By Merle Rubin

b

b

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14) 12

5

POLITICALLY Correct Holiday Stories, by James Finn Garner, Macmillan $9.95

If you think Santa is the king of capitalism, and believe Rudolph to be a crafty labor leader of the oppressed, then these PC holiday stories are for you. Garner revises five seasonal favorites by correcting plot, language, and character motivation for the '90s. For some, this book of satire may provide a short laugh or two. And they may see irony in a man who lives in a wood-heated home criticizing cutting down trees to decorate for Christmas. By Janet C. Moller

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b

SP

15) 13 8

COME TO GRIEF, by Dick Francis, Putnam, $23.95

Someone has been lopping a hoof off expensive young horses on English country estates, and sleuth Sid Halley traces the crime to an old friend and fellow ex-jockey, who is also a beloved television sports personality. Francis's steeple chase of an investigation slams Halley into enraged fans and family of the perpetrator, tabloid journalists, greed-driven tycoons, and a tangle of emotions. A virtual absence of blood, gore, and sex, it runs on psychological tension alone. By Keith Henderson

b

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b

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IS

BESTSELLER RANKING FROM PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, NOV. 13, 1995 *CA: Commercial Appeal; DN: Detroit News; AC: Atlanta Constitution; SL: St. Louis Post; RM: Rocky Mountain; IS: Indianapolis Star

THERE is majesty in the way a tall cedar shakes white snow from its green branches to withstand the severity of winter. This 1994 award-winning novel evokes a greater majesty: the dignity of the human spirit overcoming the cold blasts of war and prejudice.

''Snow Falling on Cedars,'' by David Guterson, eloquently and lyrically examines ethnic and romantic rivalry set against the residue of desperate violence and racial animosity in World War II (at times graphically described).

The novel opens in 1954, in a packed courtroom at the start of a murder trial on the small island of San Pedro in Puget Sound. Snow falls outside, shrouding the small sea village of Amity Harbor. A fisherman has been found drowned in his nets. He is a veteran who fought in the Pacific.

Suspicion falls on a member of the island's Japanese community. The accused fought on the American side in Europe despite the fact that in 1942, he and all the Japanese of San Pedro were sent to Manzanar, a California internment camp.

Another veteran is the town newspaper editor. He lost an arm fighting on the island of Tarawa. The Japanese-American wife of the accused was his teenage sweetheart. Her words to her mother about him when she learns all Japanese must move off the island, ''Some hate, others don't,'' touch the inner life of every major character. Both he and she portray how individuals can ''overcome a universe full of injustice and chance,'' how each of us ''can control [our] own behavior and be responsible for our own actions,'' states Guterson.

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