A rivalry between two magicians is the focal point of "The Night Circus," Erin Morgenstern's wholly original and entertaining first novel.

Book reviews:

- A rivalry between two magicians is the focal point of "The Night Circus," Erin Morgenstern's wholly original and entertaining first novel. Illusionists Hector Bowen and a man called Alexander have never gotten along. It seems only natural for them to pit their magically gifted and unsuspecting children, Celia and Marco, against each other in a contest only one of them will survive. Their playing field is the mysterious Cirque des Reves, which only performs at night.  Evening after evening the audience is enthralled as Celia and Marco try to outdo each other – until one day they fall in love.

- While countries around the world seem to have been struck by an epidemic of shaky economies, Sylvia Nasar chronicles the history of the "dismal science" and the people who have played a role in its development. In "Grand Pursuit" (330.150), her first book since 1998s "A Beautiful Mind," Nasar takes us back to Victorian London – a city of glittering wealth contrasted by abject poverty – and Charles Dickens, whose disturbing portrayals of England's poor inspired Henry Mayhew and others to begin exploring how those dire circumstances could be improved.

- By 1912, the uncharted lands of the world were dwindling. Both Norway and Great Britain, then, set their sights on Antarctica and the South Pole. In celebration of the centenary of Roald Amundsen's discovery of the pole, historian Edward S. Larson weaves together the story of the great explorers who vied to reach Antarctica - Amundsen whose goal was to reach the South Pole first, and England's Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton whose scientific research became an enduring legacy. He sets their expeditions in the context of the time for a wide-ranging look at "An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science" (919.890).

- Radio talk show host Michael Savage makes his fiction debut with "Abuse of Power."  Former war correspondent Jack Hatfield became a media darling for his insightful worldview, then lost his job as a network commentator when a radical group set up a smear campaign against him. Now a freelance TV producer in San Francisco, Jack is working on a piece covering the bomb squad when an explosive device is found while the police are working a car accident. It is a professionally made bomb using military grade explosives, and it leads Jack to a terrorist plot.  But the bigger news story is the U.S. government cover-up surrounding it.

- European author Tatiana de Rosnay is having a stellar year with her popular book, "Sarah's Key," coming out in movie theaters. Her second book to be published in English is "A Secret Kept," which begins as Antoine Rey waits at a hospital to learn if his sister Melanie will survive the car wreck that almost took his own life. It occurred on their way back from a surprise visit to the island where their family used to vacation. The visit, after a 30 year absence, brings back disturbing memoires for Melanie - so disturbing that she drives the car off the road.

- As fascinating as the A&E show "Hoarders" may be, the fact is that these people have some serious issues. Matt Paxton, the organizing expert on the show, found that out many years ago when he developed a gambling problem. That experience has made him uniquely sensitive to the men and women who appear on the show. He talks about the issues that contribute to hoarding, how to recognize a hoarder, and what you can do to head off the problem in "The Secret Lives of Hoarders."