5 to Read

 

Summer's new selections spotlight everything from Jagger to Jack Kennedy.

OLYMPIAN DRAMA

Gold
(Chris Cleave; Simon & Schuster, 336 pages, July 3)

Who it's by: The author of the hit novels-turned-into-movies Incendiary (released in 2008 with Ewan McGregor and Michelle Williams) and Little Bee (forthcoming with Nicole Kidman). What it's about: Two British cyclists, rivals and training partners in their early 30s are gunning for the 2012 Olympics. It's the last shot for both, but their personal lives -- one has an 8-year-old daughter who suffers from leukemia -- threaten to derail that quest.

The word-of-mouth buzz on this book is huge -- advance readers love it. Cleave draws rich, deeply rendered characters and knows how to invest his plots with emotion and drama.

THE ROCK GOD'S LIFE

Mick: The Wild Life and Mad Genius of Jagger
(Christopher Andersen; Simon & Schuster, 384 pages, July 10)

Who it's by: A former journalist who has written biographies on everyone from Madonna to Michael Jackson to Prince William. What it's about: A look at the life and loves of The Rolling Stones frontman, pegged to the 50th anniversary of the group's first concert on July 12, 1962.

Veering toward the gossipy (all the better for the beach), Andersen focuses on Jagger's legendary love life (Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Carly Simon, former French first lady Carla Bruni for starters), famous friendships (Andy Warhol, Bill Clinton, Prince William) and his complicated relationship with Keith Richards and the rest of the band.

JFK, SECRET AGENT

Jack 1939
(Francine Mathews; Riverhead, 368 pages, July 5)

Who it's by: A former CIA staffer and best-selling thriller writer (The Alibi Club)What it's about: A crackerjack premise fuels this fun alternative history: Future president Jack Kennedy, 21, battles Nazi spies across Europe at the behest of President Roosevelt.

A little truth -- JFK did spend part of 1939 in Europe researching his senior thesis -- mixed with spy-novel thrills make this an addictive "what if" page-turner.

TWILIGHT FOR GROWN-UPS

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, Book 2)
(Deborah Harkness; Viking, 592 pages, July 10; movie rights to Warner Bros.)

Who it's by: A best-selling USC history professor. What it's about: The follow-up to last year's surprise hit A Discovery of Witches, the sequel follows Oxford professor/witch Diana Bishop and her 1,500-year-old vampire lover, Matthew, as they travel back in time to Elizabethan England to continue their hunt for a magical manuscript.

Twilight for grown-ups -- only better. The vivid descriptions of 16th century England enchant, and the romance between the two leading characters feels like a real adult relationship, albeit one between a witch and an immortal.

SMART CHICK LIT

The Next Big Thing
(Jennifer Weiner; Atria, 400 pages, July 3)

Who it's by: The author behind the movie Then Came You and the 2011 TV series State of Georgia. What it's about: A struggling screenwriter gets her sitcom greenlighted only to have her dreams challenged by difficult actors, cheap executives and her unrequited crush on her boss.

Weiner, who made her name with the deceptively smart hits Good in Bed and In Her Shoes, puts her later Hollywood experience to use in this fun romp that casts a sharp eye on how the town treats women.

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