"Marriage and Other Acts of Charity" (Little, Brown and Company, 224 pages, $24.99), by Kate Braestrup: In marriage, it helps to learn to apologize. Unchecked anger is bad and loving generously benefits both the giver and receiver. These are among the lessons Kate Braestrup shares in her new book. As a minister, she has advised couples wanting to wed, as well as those wanting to divorce. She herself has been married, widowed and remarried. Such a background, coupled with a prior New York Times best seller, leads you to expect great insights or at least inspiration. Unfortunately, this book contains neither. The writing is flowery bordering on saccharine and the substance is, unfortunately, often simplistic.

— By Rasha Madkour.


"I Am Ozzy" (Grand Central Publishing, 416 pages, $26.99), by Ozzy Osbourne, with Chris Ayres: "I Am Ozzy" is a ride through rock 'n' roll history with a driver saturated in controlled substances. It's Ozzy Osborne's stumbling, rambling, decadent-beyond-reco gnition memoir, as over-the-top as the author himself. The book would be heartbreaking if it weren't so hilarious. This autobiography of the indefatigable Prince of Darkness chronicles the often obscene life and times of John "Ozzy" Osbourne. It follows his winding path to stardom from a meager upbringing in Aston, Birmingham, in Britain, where he lived an unremarkable life in a post-World War II house with his parents and five siblings. As a storyteller, Osbourne is like an aging, long-winded sage with a pint on hand, and he's not a writer (the book was dictated). But he can certainly entertain us. He's been performing for nearly 40 years. And "I Am Ozzy" is an entertaining read.

— By Ryan McLendon.


"Ordinary Thunderstorms" (Harper, 416 pages, $26.99), by William Boyd: Life can change in a blink of the eye — completely and forever. It's a bitter lesson that Adam Kindred learns on a rainy evening in London in William Boyd's "Ordinary Thunderstorms." Kindred has what appears to be a successful job interview and, on a whim, decides to stop at a little out-of-the-way restaurant for dinner. While there, he strikes up a conversation with a fellow diner. That chance meeting starts a series of events that will change Kindred's life forever. Within hours, he has been framed for murder and is being chased by a relentless hired killer. It's all linked to a pharmaceutical scandal that Kindred slowly comes to understand. At times, the book loses focus and Kindred seems a little too naive. Still, Boyd's writing is lovely and he has a keen eye for detail. Overall, "Ordinary Thunderstorms" makes an interesting read.

— By Mary Foster.