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  • BN Editors 3:00 pm on 2019/09/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , exclusive, exclusive interview, , inspector gamache series, Interview,   

    An Exclusive Interview with Author Louise Penny, Plus a Behind-the-Scenes Look at A Better Man 

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    Deftly plotted, witty, and atmospheric, filled with memorable characters, and unafraid to confront uncomfortable truths about humanity, Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series is a true gift to mystery lovers. Penny was kind enough to answer a few of our burning questions, and to give us a fascinating glimpse of her thoughts during the writing of her latest novel, A Better Man

    The 15th novel in the series finds Gamache taking up the reins in his new position as head of homicide, after his recent demotion from head of the whole force. To make matters even touchier, he’s now working alongside his former subordinate, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, on a new case, that of a woman who has gone missing. Gamache finds himself sympathizing with her agonized father, asking himself what he would do, were he in the man’s shoes; when a body turns up, the question becomes even more urgent, and the answer more unsettling.

    Louise Penny, on A Better Man

    I wanted to give you all a little behind-the-scenes look at what I was thinking when I was writing A Better Man, by showing you a few lines and exactly what was going through my mind. Here are five of my favorite lines from the book, along with my personal annotations.  

    Ruth made a noise that could have been a laugh.  Or indigestion.  

    ‘I’ll tell you what is funny.  You crash and burn trying to do something different, while Armand destroys his career by agreeing to go back and do the same old thing.’ 

    I so enjoy writing Ruth, though it takes a, perversely, delicate touch. She needs to be honest and cranky, often insulting, while not descending into caricature or outright nastiness. Here that ambivalence is illustrated, I hoped, through their inability to know if the noise is amusement or indigestion. Though, once again, she uncomfortably states what most are thinking. 

    ‘Consequences,’ said Gamache. ‘We must always consider the consequences of our actions. Or inaction.” 

    This is an ongoing theme within the books, and with Gamache. Considering the consequences, knowing the consequences, weighing the outcomes….and still deciding to act. It’s one thing to act on instinct, and there’s often rare courage in that—but Armand tries to impress on his people that there’s even more courage in looking without blinking at what their actions might mean. Good and bad. Intended and unintended. He goes on to say that, in his opinion, that’s part of their contract with the Quebec population. That those with a badge and a gun, will have the maturity to think before they act.  

    He left the woods late that afternoon, shattered.  

    And now he was back.  

    A better man?  A bitter man?  

    They were about to find out.   

    The homicide team is about to see Armand Gamache, back at work as their Chief Inspector, for the first time since his suspension and demotion from Chief Superintendent. I loved writing this scene…of his return, and their reaction.  And my reaction, to having him back as head of homicide. Where the whole Three Pines series began. Older. More bruised. Both him, and me. And you too, I suspect. Have the years, the events, the vicissitudes made him, us, bitter or better?   

    ‘I see.’  Gamache lowered his voice, though all could still hear the words.  ‘When I was Chief Superintendent I had a poster framed in my office.  On it were the last words of a favorite poet, Seamus Heaney. Noli Timere.  It’s Latin.  Do you know what it means?’ 

    He looked around the room. 

    ‘Neither did I,’ he admitted, when no one spoke.  ‘I had to look it up. It means, Be Not Afraid.’   

    Not completely coincidentally, I have the same poster in my living room, where I see it every day as I write. I’m looking at it now. Fear is such a thief. If I only did what I was comfortable with, there’d be no books, no marriage, fewer close relationships. Less travel, far fewer, or no, risks. And my life would shrink to nothing. Armand knows that the bravest person in any room is the one who can admit he’s scared sh**less. But does it anyway. Here he’s encouraging a young agent to speak his mind, even though he’s afraid.  

    She also happened to be the chief of the volunteer fire department.  Not because she was a natural leader, but because most villagers would rather run into a burning building or a river in full flood than face Ruth Zardo’s sharp tongue.   

    Ha—I’ve used similar descriptions of Ruth, and once again I hoped to illustrate the contradiction that is Ruth…indeed, that is most of us. The elderly poet could stay home, ignoring whatever natural disaster has cropped up. Instead, she takes on a leadership role, whether her neighbors like it or not. Yet she’s strangely effective, partly because the very thing that makes her almost as terrifying as the catastrophe, makes her uniquely effective. Ruth Zardo never shies away from the truth. From a fight. In this book we see her doing just that, with some great success, and with some terrible result. 

    For more behind-the-scenes insight into some of my favorite lines from all of the books and the stories behind them, check out gamacheseries.com 

    Further conversation with author Louise Penny:

    What was the beginning of your fascination with mysteries?  

    Agatha Christie, of course. It was the first ‘adult’ book my mother and I shared. I will always remember her standing on the landing upstairs, a book in her hand. She looked at it, then at me, and gave it to me saying she’d just finished it, and thought I’d like it too. It was a Christie. A Miss Marple, I think, but can’t remember the exact title. It was thrilling, to share a book with my mother. To have that in common. Something that we shared the rest of her life. When things went bad between us, as they sometimes do between mothers and daughters, our truce sign was asking, “What are you reading?” 

    I went on to discover the Simenon books about Maigret. And the fabulous Josephine Tey, which are more crime novels than murder mysteries.  My favorite is The Franchise Affair.  Her books are gems, crystalline, every word, every phrase has a purpose. 

    How do you sit down and start a new novel? What’s the spark? 

    In The Long Way Home, I quote Robert Frost and a letter he wrote to a friend where he describes his creative process as a poet. And he says that for him, a poem begins as a lump in the throat. For me, each book of mine begins as a lump in the throat. Some emotion that I need to explore. My books are about many things, including, but far from exclusively, a crime. Murder is an act, and a dreadful one.  But I spend a year on each book and it must be about more than a crime. And so each book is inspired by an emotion, a theme, a piece of human nature that puzzles and fascinates.  A question that I do not really know the answer to. Most of my books are inspired by a poem, or even a few lines from a poem. I find a bit of poetry, I write it out on a Post-it, and I stick it on my laptop. So when I inevitably get all lost and confused, I can go back to it and say, ‘That’s what the book’s about.’ 

    What kind of entertainment interests you aside from reading? 

    I love music, and listen to it a lot, when not actually writing.  All sorts of music.  In fact, each book has its own playlist, made up of current favorites.  The one I’m listening to right now has Rag ‘n Bone Man, Bizet, Bach, X Ambassadors, some Gregorian Chants, Crash Test DummiesFlatt&Scruggs, Dire Straits, Leonard Cohen, Cosmo Sheldrake. And more. I also relax in front of the TV.  Mostly HGTV.  Trying to work out which home I’d buy.   

    How much of what you write is influenced by current events, by real people, by real places? And how much is completely invented? 

    People might read the books and think I’m creative, and the fact is I’m not. I just write what I see. And I write what I feel every day.  

    The books are definitely drawn from a whole bunch of things. Absolutely from the Eastern Townships of Quebec. The books are many things, probably least among them crime novels. They are definitely crime fiction, but they are love letters to the place I choose to live. I have never been made to feel a stranger in Knowlton. Michael and I were welcomed and embraced. It feels like there was always a place at the table just waiting for us. Much of my life I wandered, geographically and emotionally. Searching for home. I found it in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. I found it with Michael. I found it buried deep inside myself. And that’s what I write about. The yearning to belong.  The search for home.   

    What’s your daily routine? Can you describe for us a typical day at home?  

    Well, not to be too boring, but I write every day, except when I’m between books. I used to be a night person, as a teen (I guess most of us were). But my first real job was hosting a morning show for CBC Radio in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I had to get up at 4am. A few years of that, and voila. A morning person was created. I no longer get up at 4am, but I am up sometime around 6am.   

    I make coffee, and get to work right away, while fresh. I re-read what I wrote the day before, noodling with it a bit, then press ahead with the new writing.  I set a goal of 1,000 words a day. I’m very disciplined, mostly because I need to be.  All I really want to do is lie on the sofa eating gummy bears and watching HGTV.   

    Though it’s no secret why no reality show follows a writer around. At least not this writer. I essentially go from the dining room table, where I work, to the coffee machine. And back. And I stare into space. A lot. I often think it’s unfair that the creative process and doing nothing look exactly alike.   

    In the afternoons, after I finish writing, I often walk into the village for lunch with a friend. I am, by nature, a bit of a recluse, so I need to work at getting out. Though I love my friends and enjoy time with them.   

    Then I answer emails and do any other work that needs to be done, like interviews etc. Not, perhaps, a hugely exciting life. But it’s perfect for me. And I know how lucky I am. 

    How did you come up with the idea for the village of Three Pines? Is it based on a real place?  

    Three Pines has long been both a setting and a main character in my books. It’s fictional, for sure, but inspired by all sorts of villages. Some in Quebec, some elsewhere in Canada. Some Vermont towns have inspired the books, as well as English villages. Three Pines is an intentionally hyper-ideal village. Beautiful and peaceful. At least on the outside.  It plays into another theme throughout the series, one of duality.  The difference between perception and reality.  Between what we say and what we’re really thinking.  Between the public face and the inner turmoil.   

    I consider the books allegories and Three Pines a state-of-mind. A place we find only when we’re lost.  When we need it.  And not home to everyone.   

    I’ve been lost in my life, and tired of sarcasm and dark cynicism. I’d had too much of that. It drained me. Left me hollow and callow. I needed belonging, and kindness. I needed friendship. A warm hearth on a cold night. That’s Three Pines. But, like Gamache, while it’s good, it isn’t perfect. There’s always a serpent, even in Paradise. A shadow to the light. And that’s what makes Three Pines what it is, and the people who they are 

    What do you think it is about your books that makes them so successful? 

    I think the setting helps. As I said earlier, the books aren’t about murder, they aren’t even about death, they’re about duality and belonging, community and love. I think people are also fascinated with Quebec. They’re interested in the French/English culture and the history. I wanted to bring alive the life, culture, music and cuisine of Quebec. To make the books sensuous, engaging all the senses, so that anyone reading them doesn’t feel like a voyeur, but walks into the pages. Stands beside Gamache. Sits in the bistro with Clara and Gabri. Hopes Ruth doesn’t turn her rheumy eye on them.   

    Do you have a favorite character in your books? Do you find them easier to write now that they have been in so many books, or is that actually harder?   

    Trick question! Well, of course, Gamache. Ruth is fun to write. I love that she, like all the characters, I guess like all of us, has a saving grace. She genuinely is embittered, she’s drunk most of the time, she has a potty mouth, she says what she thinks and what she thinks is often not very kind, but she’s clever with it. It’s like she keeps all of her kindness deep down inside.  

    To be honest, I’m finding the characters increasingly interesting as the series goes along. As I get to know them. Like intimate friends, who never bore us.   

    There are, of course, challenges to writing a series with essentially the same characters and setting.  Not falling into a formula, becoming predictable, is a major one. But I get around that, I hope, by changing structure, theme, tone, and pace. By exploring new ideas, ones that make me think, and often make me uncomfortable. And so, also make the characters uncomfortable. And perhaps the reader.   

    I’m very aware that readers are spending precious time, and money, on the books, and I need to make it worthwhile.   

    I also have a duty to the characters who have given me a life beyond anything I could have dare dreamed.   

    A Better Man is on B&N bookshelves now.

    The post An Exclusive Interview with Author Louise Penny, Plus a Behind-the-Scenes Look at <i>A Better Man</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 6:00 pm on 2019/09/06 Permalink
    Tags: a piece of the world, , , , , , circe, , news of the world: a novel, , prairie fires: the american dreams of laura ingalls wilder, the essex serpent: a novel, the snow child   

    10 Books to Read if You Loved Inland, August’s B&N Book Club Selection 

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    The Barnes & Noble Book Club selection for August, Téa Obreht’s Inland, combines magical, mystical elements with historical fiction set in the rich, vibrant, gritty, and menacing American West of the late 1800s. In it, two unlikely lives intertwine—Nora, a fierce frontierswoman awaiting the return of her husband with water for their drought-ridden land, and Lurie, an outlaw haunted by the ghosts of people who want something from him. The vivid book is filled with suspense and surprises unveiled with every turn of the page.But what is a reader to do after finishing this incredible book and discussing it at your local B&N Book Club meeting on September 10 at 7 p.m.? We’ve rounded up 10 more reads to keep you busy until next month. Check out our readalike picks for Inland.

    Circe, by Madeline Miller
    For readers who loved the magic and mythical elements of Inland, Madeline Miller gives goddess Circe a rich and powerful retelling that will make readers feel as if they’re wandering amongst the famed characters of Greek mythology. Pulling her from the pages of Homer’s The Odyssey, Miller takes Circe from “the nymph with the lovely braids” that turns Odysseus’s men into pigs, and casts her as a hero in her own right with rich, cinematic storytelling. Daughter of Helios, god of the sun, and an outcast in her family for having no powers, Circe soon discovers she does indeed have powers that could threaten even the gods. Zeus, in turn, banishes her to an island, where she hones her witchcraft on her own and ultimately finds herself facing off with one of the most powerful and vengeful of the gods.

    All the Pretty Horses (Border Trilogy Series #1), by Cormac McCarthy
    Much like Inland, Cormac McCarthy’s profound first book in the Border Trilogy takes readers on a journey across an often unforgiving landscape as 16-year-old John Grady Cole leaves his home in Texas on horseback following the death of his grandfather. He is joined by his friend Lacey Rawlins and a 14-year-old sharpshooter named Jimmy Blevins. Together the three teens navigate not only the geographical terrain of their trip to Mexico, treacherous desert weather, wily bandits, and corrupt Mexican officials, but also the deeper meanings of friendship, life, love, and inhumanity. McCarthy’s literary prose transports the reader to the plains the boys themselves traverse, and the connection between the horses and humans is profound in this must-read bestseller.

    The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey
    Eowyn Ivey’s 2012 debut novel, a retelling of a Russian fairy tale about a girl made from snow who comes to life, beautifully blends magical realism and historical fiction, just as Téa Obreht did with Inland. Jack and Mabel, a childless middle-aged couple, struggles to build a new life for themselves in the brutal Alaska wilderness of the 1920s, and in an effort to distract themselves from the harsh realities of their surroundings and inner despair, they build a child out of snow during the season’s first snowfall. The next day, the show child has simply vanished, but Jack sees a real girl running through the woods. Jack and Mabel come to care for this enigmatic child called Faina as their very own, but they soon learn that everything is not as it appears.

    News of the World: A Novel, by Paulette Jiles
    Paulette Jiles’s National Book Award Finalist finds Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an elderly war vet in 1870s Texas, hired to travel 400 treacherous miles to San Antonio to deliver a 10-year-old orphan to her relatives. Recently rescued by the U.S. Army, the girl has lived for four years with the Kiowa tribe after they killed her parents and sibling. She has forgotten the English language and doesn’t remember a time before the Kiowas took her in. Having just been ripped away from the only home she knows, Johanna attempts to run away repeatedly during the pair’s long journey. Over time, however, she begins to trust Captain Kidd as they bond on a mutual quest for survival.

    Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by Caroline Fraser
    Inland readers who enjoyed the feeling of being transported through American history will find a new favorite read in this beautiful biography. Fans of Little House on the Prairie feel like they know Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the autobiographical children’s books. But Caroline Fraser, editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series, fully reveals the true story of Wilder’s life, which was far more difficult than the children’s books that encapsulated the pioneer spirit ever described. Pulling research from unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and more, Fraser paints an intricate portrait of a woman who lost nearly everything before spinning the tales of her impoverished upbringing into a treasured series of enthralling books adored by generations of children and adults.

    The Essex Serpent: A Novel, by Sarah Perry
    Magical realism and an incredible bond between two unlikely individuals tie together themes of Inland and Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent. Perry’s novel, set in 19th century England, finds Cora Seaborne, an intelligent and restless woman, pushed into a society marriage at the age of 19. When her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her with her young son and his nanny, Martha, Cora is glad to be free again. Headed to the country for privacy, she finds herself drawn to a local legend about a magical serpent blamed for a recent death. Cora decides she will prove the legend a farce and perhaps even discover a new species. In the process, she meets William Ransome, the local vicar, who seeks to do the same for different reasons. Their relationship is at the heart of this dark, magical story of love, mystery, and opposites attracting.

    Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
    Marilynne Robinson’s winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction will become a fast favorite among fans of Inland. In this tale of fathers and sons that covers three generations—from the Civil War to the 20th century—77-year-old Rev. John Ames in 1956 offers an account of his life, his father’s, and his grandfather’s—both preachers before him—in the form of a letter to his 6-year-old son with Ames’s young wife. Ames relays his meditations on faith, the spiritual battles raging at the heart of America, and the slow death of what the country once was in a remarkable book that will stick with readers long after they’ve turned the final page.

    A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline
    Many have gazed upon Andrew Wyeth’s iconic 1948 painting Christina’s World and tried to imagine just who this prairie woman was and why she had so very far to go. And Orphan Train‘s author took that very idea and put pen to paper in this beautiful collision of fact and fiction. In A Piece of the World, Kline imagines Anna Christina Olson, Wyeth’s dark-haired, enigmatic subject, with the same grace and vivid detail in which Wyeth famously depicted her as she crawls across a field toward her family’s farmhouse in Maine. Destined for small-town life, Christina is Wyeth’s neighbor, a woman who soon becomes his greatest inspiration in this emotionally resonant character portrait that will appeal to readers who loved Inland.

    Only Killers and Thieves, by Paul Howarth
    Inland readers looking to be once again transported to and immersed in a different place and time in history will find that in Paul Howarth’s Only Killers and Thieves, a gritty tale set in the Australian outback of 1885. Life in colonial Australia bears a striking resemblance to that of the early American Wild West—it’s savage, untamed, and the indigenous people are targeted by the Native Police Force. In an outback suffering from devastating drought, two young brothers search for justice for a shocking tragedy—the murder of their parents and sister by, they believe, the family’s former Aboriginal stockman. But the truth they discover on their quest for vengeance is far more complicated, with severe, far-reaching consequences the boys could never have imagined.

    Caroline: Little House, Revisited, by Sarah Miller
    Another one for fans of both Inland and Laura Ingalls Wilder, Sarah Miller’s Caroline: Little House, Revisited, a novel authorized by the Little House Heritage Trust, paints a vivid portrait of life on the frontier in all its joy and hardship with a focus on one particularly courageous pioneer woman—Caroline Ingalls, “Ma” in Wilder’s beloved Little House books. The book finds the Ingalls family in February 1870, preparing to leave Wisconsin via wagon for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Readers can witness through a fresh perspective the Ingalls family’s familiar story as Caroline learns to overcome the struggles of pioneer life and relish the promise of a new opportunity for her and her family.

    What books would you recommend for fans of Inland?

    The post 10 Books to Read if You Loved <i>Inland</i>, August’s B&N Book Club Selection appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 5:00 pm on 2019/08/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , ,   

    Don’t Miss It: An Excerpt from Stephen King’s Upcoming Novel The Institute 

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    Stephen King’s new novel, The Institute, is a riveting story with echoes of some of his greatest and most terrifying themes—from telekinesis, to children confronting forces of unfathomable evil. We’re thrilled to share an excerpt with our readers.

    The Institute Synopsis:

    In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did. In this most sinister of institutions, the staff is ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. As each new victim disappears, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.

    As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of ItThe Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.

    The Institute Excerpt:

    With the essay included, the SAT test lasted four hours, but there was a merciful break in the middle. Luke sat on a bench in the high school’s lobby, munching the sandwiches his mother had packed for him and wishing for a book. He had brought Naked Lunch, but one of the proctors appropriated it (along with his phone and everyone else’s), telling Luke it would be returned to him later. The guy also riffled through the pages, looking either for dirty pictures or a crib sheet or two.

    While he was eating his Snackimals, he became aware of several other test-takers standing around him. Big boys and girls, high school juniors and seniors.

    “Kid,” one of them asked, “what the hell are you doing here?”

    “Taking the test,” Luke said. “Same as you.”

    They considered this. One of the girls said, “Are you a genius? Like in a movie?”

    “No,” Luke said, smiling, “but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.”

    They laughed, which was good. One of the boys held up his palm, and Luke slapped him five. “Where are you going? What school?”

    “MIT, if I get in,” Luke said. Which was disingenuous; he had already been granted provisional admission to both schools of his choice, contingent on doing well today. Which wasn’t going to be much of a problem. So far, the test had been a breeze. It was the kids surrounding him that he found intimidating. In the fall, he would be in classes filled with kids like these, kids much older and twice his size, and of course they would all be looking at him.

    One of the girls—a pretty redhead—asked him if he’d gotten the hotel question in the math section.

    “The one about Aaron?” Luke asked. “Yeah, pretty sure I did.”

    “What did you say was the right choice, can you remember?”

    The question had been how to figure how much some dude named Aaron would have to pay for his motel room for x number of nights if the rate was $99.95 per night, plus 8% tax, plus an additional one-time charge of five bucks, and of course Luke remembered. It was a slightly nasty question because of the how much factor. The answer wasn’t a number, it was an equation.

    “It was B. Look.” He took out his pen and wrote on his lunch bag: 1.08(99.5x) + 5.

    “Are you sure?” she asked. “I had A.” She bent, took Luke’s bag—he caught a whiff of her perfume, lilac, delicious—and wrote: (99.5 + 0.08x) + 5.

    “Excellent equation,” Luke said, “but that’s how the people who make these tests screw you at the drive-thru.” He tapped her equation. “Yours only reflects a one-night stay. It also doesn’t account for the room tax.”

    She groaned.

    “It’s okay,” Luke said. “You probably got the rest of them.”

    “Maybe you’re wrong and she’s right,” one of the boys said. It was the one who’d slapped Luke five.

    She shook her head. “The kid’s right. I messed up the fucking tax. I suck.”

    Luke watched her walk away, her head drooping. One of the boys went after her and put an arm around her waist. Luke envied him.

    One of the others, a tall drink of water wearing designer glasses, sat down next to Luke. “Is it weird?” he asked. “Being you, I mean?”

    Luke considered this. “Sometimes,” he said. “Usually it’s just, you know, life.”

    One of the proctors leaned out and rang a hand bell. “Let’s go, kids.”

    Luke got up with some relief and tossed his lunch sack in a trash barrel by the door to the gym. He looked at the pretty redhead a final time, and as he went in, the barrel shimmied three inches to the left.

    The Institute is on B&N bookshelves September 10.

    The post Don’t Miss It: An Excerpt from Stephen King’s Upcoming Novel <i>The Institute</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 3:00 pm on 2019/08/13 Permalink
    Tags: , blood truth, , , , ,   

    A Guest Post from Author J. R. Ward on Blood Truth, the Final Chapter of the Black Dagger Brotherhood Legacy Series 

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    The world of J. R. Ward‘s Black Dagger Brotherhood series is darkly thrilling and addictive, filled with characters that fans are voraciously eager to learn more about. As the fourth and final novel in her Black Dagger Legacy series hits B&N bookshelves, Ward was kind enough to tell us a bit about the story behind the quartet.

    I am so excited for Blood Truth to be out! It is the story of Boone, the last of the Black Dagger Brotherhood trainees to get an HEA, and what happens as he goes on the hunt of a serial killer with Butch O’Neal, our former homicide cop, now full-fledged vampire and Brother. In the course of the investigation, Boone meets the female he is destined to be with, but as usual, things are not simple and he and Helania have to fight for their love—and fight to survive a madman!

    Or… is it a madwoman? #nospoilers

    This is the final book in the BDB Legacy series, and as such, it’s nice to revisit these novels and where they came from. This quartet was born out of two objectives: 1) I wanted to write the stories of the training class’s members, and show the fascinating journeys of these young males and females who are joining in the protection of the race; and 2) readers were asking for more on the original Brothers, and I needed to find a way to give them what they wanted.

    A little more on the second part of things. Every one of the big BDB books has an HEA at the end, but that does not mean that the couple in question stop living. In my head, they are all continuing on in the world, fighting in the war, loving their mates, living in the mansion. There is so much going on, and so many things I want to show readers, but there is only so much I can fit into any given book—and there is an argument to be made that, in some of the books, I’ve overdone it with the subplots. The thing is, with the BDBverse as big as it is, and as vibrant and dramatic as it can be, the biggest challenge for any of the books, no matter the series, is how much can I show without losing the impact of the main story.

    Thus, the BDB Legacy! In each of these books, an original Brother is highlighted. They are involved in the main plotline, and integral to it, and so it gives me a chance to update folks in an organic way. Each of these refocuses provides further insight into the original HEA and into the way that couple is evolving. Readers have commented again and again how wonderful it is to see favorite people returning—and I think this is more like we all are in real life. For the most part, people don’t just get married and fall off our radar screens. Even if we don’t see them face to face, or even if we lose touch, we still hear about them. I love being able to include readers into what’s going on in my head!

    As always, I am so grateful to everyone who supports my books and loves the Brothers as much as I do! I really think people are going to be surprised by the twists and turns in Blood Truth—and I have to be honest. Vishous has the best line in the book. Hands down. But he wouldn’t have it any other way, true?

    Happy Reading!


    Blood Truth is on B&N bookshelves now.

    The post A Guest Post from Author J. R. Ward on <i>Blood Truth</i>, the Final Chapter of the Black Dagger Brotherhood Legacy Series appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 6:00 pm on 2019/06/26 Permalink
    Tags: best thrillers of summer, , , , , summer chill, , , unsolved   

    10 Page-Turning Thrillers to Bring a Chill to Your Summer 

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    There’s nothing quite like a page-turning thriller to bring a few chills to your summer reading list. From salacious murders to mysterious disappearances to more monstrous threats still, here are 10 books that will hold you in their icy grip until the last page—making them a perfect choice for the hottest days of the year.

    It’s why we’ve declared it Thriller Week—and why the 10 can’t-stop-reading books below, and a wide selection of others, are buy one, get one 50% off for a limited time.

    Unsolved, by James Patterson and David Ellis
    James Patterson and David Ellis delivery the sequel to Invisible, which introduced the obsessive, genius FBI researcher Emily Dockery. Emily notices things others miss, and it has made her reputation in the bureau. Now, she’s seeing a string of murders across the country—deaths that appear to be accidental, and which seem to have no connection to one another. Whoever’s orchestrating them seems to know what Emily is thinking, and keeps one step ahead of her as she works the case hard. Meanwhile, Emily’s ex-fiancee and reluctant partner, Special Agent Harrison “Books” Bookman, suspects treason within the Bureau—and hasn’t ruled out Emily herself as the culprit.

    Cari Mora, by Thomas Harris
    The author of The Silence of the Lambs delivers his first standalone novel in four decades, a tense thrilling with a most unexpectedly dangerous protagonist. It’s the story of Cari Mora, an tenuously legal immigrant working in Miami as the caretaker of a luxurious beach house, having fled violence and brutality in her home country. What Cari doesn’t know is that her life in the U.S. will be no safer: a drug cartel has buried $25 million under the house, and a group of ruthless, driven men seek to claim it. The worst of them, a sadistic fiend named Hans-Peter Schneider, is willing to do whatever it takes to get to the money, but he finds himself distracted with the beautiful Cari, and decides to claim her as part of the fortune. But Schneider soon discovers that Cari has learned how to survive the hard way, and has the skills—and the desperate drive to survive—to match his own perverse desires.

    Run Away, by Harlan Coben
    First Simon lost his daughter figuratively: Addicted to drugs and involved with the wrong guy, her life had spiraled. Then he lost her literally, and when she disappeared, it was obvious she didn’t want to be found. But when she turns up in Central Park, playing the guitar—dirty, frightened, and unable or unwilling to recognize her own father, Simon must take matters into his own hands, risking his own life, and his family, to get her back. A dark novel of suspense from a master of the genre, Run Away will thrill longtime Coben fans, and hook new ones. The B&N special edition includes an interview with the author.

    Dark Sacred Night, by Michael Connelly
    Connelly pairs up two of his most enduring characters as Harry Bosch, now retired and working cases for his own reasons, and LAPD Detective Renée Ballard see their paths cross. After Ballard files a sexual harassment claim against the police department, she gets relegated to the graveyard shift. One night she catches Bosch looking through an old case file, researching the unsolved murder of a runaway girl in 2009. When she learns the girl’s mother, Daisy, is staying with Bosch as he helps her recover from drug addiction, Renée is moved to help. Meanwhile, Bosch’s other activities have put him directly in the sights of one of the most violent and ruthless street gangs in the area, Varrio San Fer 13, making the new partnership an extremely dangerous one—not that the detective is the type to spook easily.

    Long Road to Mercy, by David Baldacci
    Baldacci takes a break from Amos Decker to introduce FBI Agent Atlee Pine, whose skill set makes her one of the FBI’s top criminal profilers, but who chooses to work in solitude as the lone agent assigned to the Shattered Rock, Arizona, resident agency. Pine is haunted by the kidnapping of her twin sister, Mercy, when they were six years old; the kidnapper sang out an old nursery rhyme as they chose which twin to abduct. Mercy was chosen, and Atlee never saw her sister again, and dedicated her life to saving others. When a mule is found dead in the Grand Canyon and its rider missing, Atlee is plunged into an investigation that would be beyond most agents—but not her. At least not until she’s abruptly ordered to close the case just as she’s figuring out the terrifying scope of what’s she’s chasing after…

    The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pakkanen
    Take liberal doses of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Trainand mix them up in wholly unexpected ways, and you have this crackling new thriller from former book editors Hendricks and Pakkanen. Vanessa and Richard got divorced after a series of failed fertility treatments left them childless, but now charismatic, controlling Richard has married a younger version of Vanessa—or so it seems to her. Nellie, the new fiancée, is a bright-eyed schoolteacher uncertain she’s ready to leave her fun lifestyle for the suburbs. And Richard’s secretive destination wedding brings up haunting memories of a traumatic event in her past. Meanwhile, Vanessa unravels, drinking and pushing herself to the brink of unemployment as she becomes increasing unreliable and increasingly obsessed with Nellie. To say this setup doesn’t go where you might think is the understatement of the year.

    Bird Box, by Josh Malerman
    The basis for the meme-spawning Netfliz original film starring Sandra Bullock, Josh Malerman’s intense monster thriller tells of a world slowly crumbling as people begin succumbing to a mysterious plague of murderous madness triggered by a mere glimpse of a breed of mysterious creatures—referred to simply as The Problem—that suddenly appear and begin wreaking havoc on humanity. Though the events are massive in scope, the novel is supremely scary because of the limited perspective through which we view it: the reader only has access to the same information the characters do, and that’s not much. Our primary point-of-view character (though calling them that is darkly funny, as they spend much of the narrative blindfolded to avoid seeing the creatures) is a woman named Mallory who is desperate to shepherd her young children to safety. As the world collapses around her, Mallory has no choice but to try to stay one step ahead of an unknowable threat. Chilling.

    Tailspin, by Sandra Brown
    Rye Mallett is a “freight dog,” making a living flying cargo around the country. He accepts a strange job ferrying a mysterious black box through bad weather to a remote area of Georgia, where one Dr. Nathaniel Lambert will meet him to accept it. As Rye approaches the small airport, someone shines a laser into the cockpit. Rye is temporarily blinded, and crashes the plane while trying to land. He survives, and when he exits the wreckage with the box he meets Brynn O’Neal, a beautiful doctor who claims Lambert sent her in his place. Although Rye doesn’t trust her, he has no choice but to accept her help when it soon becomes clear there are others seeking whatever’s in the mystery box—and they’re willing to kill for it.

    Girl Last Seen, by Nina Lauren
    Nina Laurin’s debut thriller focuses on Laine Moreno, a young woman struggling to adjust to her normal life after spending three years as the captive of a man who kidnapped and terrorized her—and who is still on the loose. News reports of another disappearance—that of 10-year-old Olivia Shaw—finally give Laine purpose. Despite the fact that Olivia seems a far different sort of kidnapping victim—the pampered child of wealthy parents, as opposed to the daughter of a drug addict—the mere physical resemblance between the two is enough to convince Laine her captor has claimed his next victim. Her suspicion is shared by Detective Sean Ortiz, one of the cops who brought Laine back to civilization. But as both of them investigate, Laine quickly finds her carefully reconstructed life unraveling around her. It’s a haunting story of resilience in the face of trauma, with no guarantee of a happy ending.

    Killing Eve: No Tomorrow, by Luke Jennings
    Luke Jennings delivers a followup to his hit 2018 thriller Codename Villanelle, which served as the inspiration for Killing Eve, the breakout BBC America series starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer and created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. For her work tracking down Villanelle, a deadly assassin who targets figures active in dirty politics and organized crime, MI5 agent Eve Polastri lost her job, and she’s convinced it was because someone pressured her old boss, Dennis Cradle, to work on behalf of Russian interests. Now working for MI6, Eve attempts to strike a dangerous deal with Cradle to reveal who was behind the plot, but he’s unwilling to go quietly, and partners with none other than Villanelle, still on the loose, to take Eve down. The chases and spycraft are great fun, but the real thrills are found in the cat-and-mouse interplay between the exacting Villanelle and her increasingly desperate quarry. 

    What books are thrilling you this summer?

    The post 10 Page-Turning Thrillers to Bring a Chill to Your Summer appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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