BOY ON ICE, by John Branch. The author explores the life and death of hockey enforcer Derek Boogaard, who died at the age of 28 from an overdose of alcohol and painkillers. Branch examines Boogaard's unlikely rise to hockey, the contrast between his friendly nature off the ice with his fist-fighting prowess on it and the widespread impact injuries and concussions had on his life. (W.W. Norton, $15.95)

10:04, by Ben Lerner. In the past year of his life, the 33-year-old narrator of this novel has achieved unlikely literary success and been diagnosed with a potentially fatal medical condition. Even stranger, his best friend has asked him to help her conceive via in vitro fertilization. In a New York City undergoing large unrest, he must reconcile the prospects of mortality with that of fatherhood. (Picador, $16)

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WITHOUT YOU, THERE IS NO US, by Suki Kim. Kim details her time teaching upper-class boys in North Korea during the last six months of Kim Jong-il's reign. Kim looks at the structured nature of the boys' lives, the songs they're required to sing about the dictator and whether the gulf between North Korea and the outside world can ever really be bridged. (Broadway, $15)

NAPOLEON: A Life, by Andrew Roberts. The biographer uses the recent publication of 33,000 of Napoleon's letters, travels to 53 of 60 battle sites as well as St. Helena, site of his exile, to help flesh out this look at Napoleon's life. Roberts shows Napoleon as a decisive leader who was surprisingly willing to forgive friends and foes, and as someone who understood the importance of spinning his own narrative through his memoirs. (Penguin, $20)

MIGHTY, MIGHTY, by Wally Rudolph. Chicago tattoo artist Stefy is trying to provide for her ailing grandfather and sister, Amanda, a woman with a drug-addicted past and an abusive relationship with Georgie. When Georgie violently confronts Amanda one night, he ends up dead, and now the sisters are in the crosshairs of Georgie's vengeful father, a corrupt ex-cop bent on revenge. (Soft Skull, $15.95)