Anne Rice’s genre-breaking tale of the early years in the life of Jesus Christ tops the list this week, along with a new Scott Turow, biographical works from Billy Crystal and David Halberstam, and a commentary on political virtues from President Jimmy Carter. Four for the younger crowd include a new Princess Diaries novel and three Narnia offerings.
Monday, October 31
With 700 Sundays to play with, comedian Billy Crystal re-creates the magic of his successful one-man Broadway show in this heartwarming memoir that brings to life his lovable, eccentric family and his happy childhood on Long Island’s South Shore. “Once Crystal is finished with shtick and on to the story of his marvelous Long Island family, readers will be glad they can savor it at their own pace. There’s the story of Crystal’s uncle Milt Gabler, who started the Commodore music label and recorded Billie Holiday singing “Strange Fruit” when no one else would… There’s even Louis Armstrong at the Crystal family seder, with Crystal’s grandma telling the gravelly-voiced singer, ‘Louis, have you tried just coughing it up?’” —Publishers Weekly
Tuesday, November 1
In Ordinary Heroes by Scott Turow, a man discovers the startling truth about his deceased father’s wartime activities when he stumbles across a secret stash of letters. Bestselling novelist Scott Turow departs from his courtroom thrillers for a spellbinding story of WWII intrigue. “Inspired by the experiences of his own enigmatic father, who served as commanding officer in a World War II medical unit, Turow weaves together numerous narrative threads, the most compelling of which is Dubin’s uneasy tenure as commander of a beleaguered rifle company. While Turow’s fans might prefer the lively verbal skirmishes that suffuse his legal fare, the author’s action sequences (like that white-knuckle free fall onto the battlefront) do plenty to quicken the pulse.” —Allison Block, Booklist
Vampire novelist Anne Rice departs her usual genre with Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. Rice brings her formidable storytelling talents to bear on a bold new literary endeavor ten years in the making—a fictionalized narrative account of the early life of Jesus, told in the words of the Gospels. “A triumph of tone… As he ponders his staggering responsibility, the boy is fully believable—and yet there’s something in his supernatural empathy and blazing intelligence that conveys the wondrousness of a boy like no other…. With this novel, she has indeed found a convincing version of him; this is fiction that transcends story and instead qualifies as an act of faith…” —Kirkus Reviews
In Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis, President Jimmy Carter turns his attention to the political arena. “[Carter's] assertion that Christian fundamentalists are uniformly rigid, domineering, and exclusivist paints with a broad brush. His concern over the doctrine of “pre-emptive” war is well argued, but his consistent criticism of Bush foreign policy drips with the partisanship he claims to decry. Carter may be a kind, decent, even admirable man, but this book preaches to the choir and will not change many minds…” —Jay Freeman, Booklist
For “All Things Elvis” you want The King by Jim Piazza. This is the ultimate tribute book, a gorgeously designed rhinestone-studded keepsake filled with little-known biographical and anecdotal information and crammed with hundreds of photos and illustrations, including movie stills and posters. “Romps through the decades, highlighting Elvis events with a chronological time line floating at the top of each page, while amusing anecdotes punctuate a striking selection of magazine covers, paintings, photos, posters and other entertaining ephemera, from cinema curiosities to Elvis imitators. Paging through, readers encounter an explosion of sidebars with revelations such as that a suicide note (‘I walk the lonely street’) inspired ‘Heartbreak Hotel.’” —Publishers Weekly
Warm up the oven! Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook arrives next Tuesday. Domestic doyenne Martha Stewart has returned from Camp Cupcake armed with dozens of tempting new recipes for scrumptious breads, delectable cookies, and other “good things.” “Here, you will find the recipes and how-tos for the popovers you dream about, the simple crumb cake that you always want to whip up on Sunday morning, the double-chocolate brownie cookies that will make you a bigger hero with the after-school crowd, and the citrus bars that you could only find in that little bakery that’s no longer under the same management…. Baking offers comfort and joy and something tangible to taste and savor. We all hope that these recipes provide you with years of pleasure.” —Martha Stewart (Publisher’s release notes)
Bill Bryson’s whirlwind tour of scientific imponderables, gets a first-class upgrade in Short History of Nearly Everything: Special Illustrated Edition, in this special collector’s edition teeming with illustrations that provide the perfect complement to the author’s witty, engaging prose. “Bill Bryson’s words are supplemented by full-color artwork that explains in visual terms the concepts and wonder of science, at the same time giving face to the major players in the world of scientific study. Eloquently and entertainingly described, as well as richly illustrated, science has never been more involving or entertaining.” (Publisher’s release notes)
The Education of a Coach by Pulitzer-winning journalist and author David Halberstam focuses on Bill Belichick, one of the NFL’s most successful coaches, and the game of football as a team sport with rich detail, exacting research and colorful anecdotes. “As he’s done in the past, Halberstam takes the classic sports-bio formula–one stellar performer’s rise to the pinnacle of American sport–and transforms it into a nuance-rich story of individual triumph and social history.” —Wes Lukowsky, Booklist
Holiday Princess: A Princess Diaries Book by Meg Cabot, with illustrations by Chesley McLaren, takes us to Genovia with Princess Mia for the holidays. “A princess always knows how to celebrate the holidays. There’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Chinese New Year, Saturnalia… to name just a few. Then there’s gift giving, the royal Genovian Fabergé advent calendar, hot chocolate with marshmallows—oh, and all those fabulous holiday movies. How will YOU celebrate this holiday season? Mia and her subjects have a few ideas.” (Publisher’s release notes)
Step into Narnia by E.J. Kirk is a guidebook to the places and characters of Narnia. “Just in time for the live-action movie The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in fall 2005, this companion book is perfect for children too young to read the original. It’s packed with fun facts about characters, places, and magic, and has interactive sections such as a bravery test and mix and match columns.”
Note: Although Amazon says Step into Narnia can be shipped today, it is actually not released until November 1st.
Also timed for release with the film, The Chronicles of Narnia Full-Color Gift Edition Box Set by C.S. Lewis, “contains paper-over-board gift editions of The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe and The Magician’s Nephew in a box set with full-color classic Pauline Baynes art.”
Note: Although Amazon says The Chronicles of Narnia Full-Color Gift Edition Box Set can be shipped today, it is actually not released until November 1st.
And finishing the trio of Narnia offerings, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Read-Aloud Edition is C.S. Lewis’ beloved classic, in a large-sized, illustrated read-aloud edition. “Pauline Baynes’ illustrations for The Chronicles of Narnia span a remarkable career, beginning with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 1949, and continuing with the hand-coloring of all seven books forty years later.”
Note: Although Amazon says The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Read-Aloud Edition can be shipped today, it is actually not released until November 1st.
I’ve waited as long as I can for Rice’s Christ, so that’s definitely on my list. The Martha Stewart cookbook is there too—she had me at “double-chocolate brownie cookies.” Ummmm, chocolate!