By Stephen King ( Scribner’s/Simon & Schuster, 849 pages, $35.00). Movie rights to Jonathan Demme.
Deviating from his usual horror thrillers, King offers up a time travel story featuring an English teacher named Jake Epping, who travels from the present to 1958 to prevent President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and change the course of the 1960s. The classic King elements are all here — well-developed characters, a familiar plot made fresh, a fantastic climax. But there’s more here than the usual — a deep humanity to the characters, an element of romance and a thoroughly researched love of the period — that make this King’s best book in years.
By John Grisham (Doubleday, 400 pages, $28.99).
A young attorney with promise but problems joins a pair of old lawyers, ambulance chasers really, just as they stumble into a huge case involving a class-action lawsuit against a drug company. This is classic Grisham, which is to say it's full of drama, engrossing legal strategy and courtroom theatrics, but it also contains more humor and fun than many of his books — Grisham actually started this as a sitcom pilot.
By Michael Connelly (Little Brown, 400 pages, $27.99)
A new Harry Bosch story from the Lincoln Lawyer scribe. L.A. detective Bosch must decide whether new DNA evidence from an old case points to an 8-year-old killer or problems in the city's new crime lab. Perfect for fans of police procedurals.
The story of a fractured family facing down Hurricane Katrina was just the surprise winner of the 2011 National Book Award for fiction. The story centers around a pregnant 14-year-old Esch trying to help her three brothers as the hurricane approaches her hometown of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi. Even before it won the NBA, Salvage had won praise from critics from The New York Times to Oprah.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
By Mindy Kaling (Crown, 240 pages, $25)
Family stressing you out and need a good laugh? This is the season’s best choice. Kaling, better known as the dim-witted Kelly Kapoor on The Office, rolls off one hilarious essay after another about guys, friendship, her addiction to shopping and being famous. If Tina Fey had a little sister, she’d be Kaling.
By Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (Razorbill/Penguin, 356 pages, $18.99). Screen rights to Warner Brothers/Di Novi Pictures.
In 1996, Josh and Emma, two teens who had been lifelong friends, log onto AOL for the first time they discover Facebook — except Facebook won’t be invented for a few more years. The teens find themselves looking at their Facebook profiles in 2011 and what their lives look like 15 years down the road. Weirder still, every time they refresh the page, their futures change. As they grapple with who they will become, they wonder how changes they make now will change the future. A YA novel with crossover appeal.
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
By Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books./Abrams, 216 pages, $18.99). Two previous movies based on the books; A third is planned.
The sixth book in this mega-popular series finds Greg Heffley trapped at home with his family after a surprise blizzard hits. But for Greg, the only thing worse than being stuck at home is the prospect of returning to school, where he is about to be punished for a prank he’s innocent of committing. Last year’s Wimpy Kid book sold 3 million copies between its release on November 9 and Christmas -- expect this one to do the same.
Returning to the style of his Caldecott-award winner,The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Selznick tells two alternating stories, one in pictures about Rose, who sets off on an adventure in New York City in 1927 and the other in words about an orphan boy, Ben, who travels from Minnesota to New York 50 years later in search of his father. Both wind up hiding inside the American Museum of Natural History. Wonderstruck is slower paced and less complicated than Hugo Cabret but just as entertaining.
The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA
By Taylor Branch (Byliner, eBook only, $1.99)
Interested in putting the scandal in the Penn State football program into a broader context? Pick up this timely examination of the myth of the "student-athlete" by the noted civil rights historian. Branch argues that the NCAA cooked up the idea of the “student-athlete” to avoid being sued by injured athletes under worker’s compensation laws and college athletics has been going downhill ever since. He favors paying college athletes and giving them more say in how athletic programs are run, pointing to the end of amateurism in the Olympics as a positive sign.
The Limit: Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit
By Michael Cannell (Twelve, 336 pages, and $25.99). Movie rights to Tobey Maguire/Columbia Pictures.
In 1961, Phil Hill became the first — and only — native-born American driver to win the Formula One Championship. The season was marred by one of the sport’s worst accidents: A multi-car collision at the Grand Prix of Italy that killed 13 spectators and Count Wolfgang von Trips, Hill’s Ferrari teammate and main rival. As Cannell makes clear, Formula One was incredibly dangerous in the early sixties. The Limit is full of drama, macho drivers and duplicitous team owners, that brings alive an earlier thrilling period of a sport unfamiliar to most Americans.
Masters of Mystery: The Strange Friendship of Arthur Conan Doyle
By Christopher Sanford (Palgrave Macmillan, 304 pages, $27)
It was one of the oddest pairings of the 20th century: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, inventor of the super rational Sherlock Holmes but a dabbler in the occult, and Houdini, the illusionist who debunked the occult. Drawing on previously unpublished material Sandford details the little known relationship of these two men in a tale that is by turns comic and strange.
By Anthony Horowitz (Mulholland Books, 304 pages, $27.99)
The first Sherlock Holmes sequel ever officially authorized by Doyle’s estate finds the master detective moving between Boston and London to uncover a conspiracy that includes government officials. Mostly known for his kids' series Alex Rider, Horowitz has gotten good reviews for his take on Holmes.
By James C. Hormel and Erin Martin (Skyhorse, 287 pages, $24.95)
This fascinating memoir of growing up gay in a different era is a reminder of how much the world has changed. Hormel, an heir to the meat company fortune, grew up feeling different not only because he was in the richest family in a small Midwest town, but because he was knew he was gay at a time when it was impossible to be out. Inspired by the 60s movement, Hormel came out, became an antiwar activist, battled homophobia, lost dear friends to AIDS and ended up as America’s first openly gay ambassador for President Clinton.
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