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  • Sarah Skilton 5:00 pm on 2017/12/26 Permalink
    Tags: , blood sisters, chloe benjamin, , dara horn, , eternal life, fall from grace, , fools and mortals, it occurs to me that i am america: new stories and art, jane corry, , jonathan santlofer, melanie benjamin, munich, robert harris, still me, the girls in the picture, the immortalists, the largesse of the sea maiden,   

    The Best New Fiction of January 2018 

    January brings us several irresistible pairings: Two historical novels about the acting and writing life, one set during the glitz and glamour of early Hollywood, the other set on the Shakespearean stage of 1595;  Jojo Moyes and Danielle Steel’s latest works both concern the pitfalls and triumphs of starting over and taking charge of one’s life under difficult circumstances; and the final pairing depicts immortality in various forms, with Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists and Dora Horn’s Eternal Life. Rounding out the new year is a thriller from Robert Harris, the late great Denis Johnson’s final short story collection, and an anthology about democracy timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Women’s March.

    Still Me, by Jojo Moyes
    Coming off the worldwide success of Me Before You (also a movie starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin), Moyes’ latest continues the uplifting adventures of Louisa (“Lou”) Clark, now living in New York City. Her journey of self-discovery includes choosing between her old life—in England with Sam—and her new one, as a household assistant for the powerful Gopnik family. As Lou becomes enmeshed in the ritzy, wealthy lives around her, she does her best to honor Will Traynor’s wish that she “live boldly.”

    Fall from Grace, by Danielle Steel
    When Sydney Wells’s husband dies, leaving Sydney with nothing, her luxurious existence comes to an abrupt end. With no place to call home, no source of income, and no help from her family, Sydney (who is pushing 50) is forced to start to over. Her new job in the cutthroat fashion industry finds her framed for a crime, but without anyone to rely on but herself, she must tap into reserves of strength she didn’t know she had in order to survive.

    Munich, by Robert Harris
    A master of historical fiction (Fatherland; Pompeii), Harris has earned fans the world over for his thrilling stories and complex characters. In depicting the run-up to Britain’s involvement in World War II, Harris focuses on the fateful Conference of Munich. Hugh Legat, private secretary to Prime Minister Chamberlain, and Paul von Hartmann, a member of the German diplomatic corps, are former friends who studied together at Oxford. Six years after their last meeting, they now find themselves on opposite sides of the looming war—or do they? Hartmann’s loyalties may not be as clear-cut as they first appear. 

    Fools and Mortals, by Bernard Cornwell
    Imagine watching the first stage production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1595 through the eyes of Shakespeare’s brother Richard, a handsome albeit grifting actor without a penny to his name. Jealous of William’s domination of the London stage, and bitter that William barely lifts a finger to help him, Richard is accused of a crime whose punishment is death. While showcasing the art of stagecraft in the Elizabethan era, Fools and Mortals also invites viewers to visit the darker underbelly of London as Richard tries desperately to clear his name.

    The Girls in the Picture, by Melanie Benjamin
    The bestselling author of Swans of Fifth Avenue sets her sights on the West Coast in a story about the friendship between two Hollywood legends at the dawn of Hollywood: “America’s Sweetheart” herself, Mary Pickford, and award-winning screenwriter (“scenarist”) extraordinaire Frances Marion. The year is 1914, the U.S. has not yet entered The Great War, and the silent film industry is thriving. Despite their financial and creative successes, both women find their ambitions curtailed to a degree, and the introduction of “talkies” may very well end Mary’s career, just as Marion’s is picking up steam. Perfect for fans of A Touch of Stardust, by Kate Alcott, and Silent Murders, by Mary Miley.

    Blood Sisters, by Jane Corry
    As a follow-up to My Husband’s Wife, Sisters provides even more twists and turns than Corry’s debut thriller. In 2001, a car crash claimed three victims. Although two of the girls survived the ordeal, fifteen years later their lives remain damaged. Kitty resides in an institution, unable to remember or communicate about her past, while Alison’s new job teaching art at a men’s prison puts her in more danger than she realizes. Dual POVs add to the rising tension throughout.

    The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
    When the Gold siblings (Simon, Klara, Daniel, Varya), growing up in New York City in 1969, hear rumors that a mystic fortune teller is in town revealing people’s death dates, they line up to have their fates revealed. Through the next fifty years, we learn how the answer to that question has informed and perhaps guaranteed the course of their very different lives. A story about family, faith, and the power of illusion to overtake reality, The Immortalists promises to be literary fiction of the highest caliber.

    The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, by Denis Johnson
    The great Denis Johnson (Jesus’ Son became a film starring Billy Crudup and Samantha Morton; Tree of Smoke won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize) passed away last May, but his final publication revives his trademark empathy for the downtrodden—the “losers” and “failures” of the world. This collection of short stories concerns alcoholics, criminals, advertising execs, and even a couple of writers, all of whom grapple for understanding in a tough world. In Johnson’s hands, the result will be pure poetry.

    Eternal Life, by Dara Horn
    Rachel made a bargain 2,000 years ago to spare the life of her son, and it worked. What did she give up in return? Her own death. In other words, she’s been forced to live forever but at this point—dozens of husbands and hundreds of children later—she desperately wishes to shuffle off this mortal coil. Her fellow traveler in the realm of immortality is a man she once loved, Elezar, who’s determined to keep her in his sights. Salvation may arrive in the form of Rachel’s latest granddaughter, who’s studying DNA and anti-aging and growing closer to discovering Rachel’s secret.

    It Occurs to Me That I Am America: New Stories and Art, edited by Jonathan Santlofer
    Some of the world’s finest and most beloved artists and writers have come together for this anthology of fiction and artwork dedicated to understanding, reaffirming, and celebrating democracy. Contributors include Mary Higgins Clark, Lee Child, Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Russo, Alice Hoffman, Elizabeth Strout, Louise Erdrich, Walter Mosley, Julia Alvarez, Art Spiegelman, Sara Paretsky, Alice Walker, Paul Theroux, Susan Isaacs, Ha Jin, Roz Chast, and Joyce Maynard, among others. Its publication couldn’t be more timely or important. As the Executive Director of the ACLU, Anthony D. Romero puts it, “History has shown the crucial role artists play in challenging injustice during times of crisis.”

    What are you excited to read in January?

    The post The Best New Fiction of January 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sarah Skilton 6:00 pm on 2017/11/30 Permalink
    Tags: , elif shafak, , , , , , , , , ,   

    The Best New Fiction of December 2017 

    The year is wrapping up, but great fiction isn’t slowing down. Reflecting on the past twelve months or creating a list of hopes and goals for the new year are both time well spent, but escaping from the chaos of the holidays is also vital. Much like the ghosts of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, this month brings novels from the past (Tudor Era and 1800s England, as well as 1950s Louisiana),  the future (in a book that’s been called The Hunger Games meets The Road), and the present (contemporary Istanbul). May your days of reading be merry and bright.

    Enchantress of Numbers, by Jennifer Chiaverini
    Ada Lovelace is now recognized as “the mother of computer science” due to her work with Charles Babbage, who invented the first mechanical computer. In this historical novel set in the early 1800s, her lineage is explored and explained. Ironically, her father’s genius becomes an obstacle to her own passions. As the sole legitimate heir of famed poet Lord Byron, “rescued” from her father’s bad blood by her mother, who raised Ada strictly without art, poetry, fairy tales, or other artistic pursuits, Ada discovers a love of mathematics. Ada’s fear that “…the list of those who might wish to read my memoirs will be very short indeed” is unfounded; her tale will fascinate readers, and her work in STEM changed the world.

    The Last Suppers, by Mandy Mikulencak
    In this powerful debut set in 1950s Louisiana, the head cook at a state penitentiary, Ginny Polk, sees men reduced to their most vulnerable states. Despite the crimes for which they’re imprisoned, Ginny believes that those slated for execution deserve a final meal of their choosing, including special family recipes that she painstakingly recreates. The suppers are a symbol of her humanity and theirs. As she clashes with the prison board over her culinary decisions, she comes to discover that her own father’s murder may have punished the wrong person. 

    The Forever Ship, by Francesca Haig
    The third novel in the Fire Sermon trilogy, Forever depicts a post-nuclear, dystopian future in which every child is born a twin, and each set of twins contains an Alpha (“perfect” specimens born to rule) and an Omega (“deformed” and “flawed” second class citizens). Complicating matters is the fact that when one twin is harmed or killed, the other suffers the same fate. In this exciting conclusion to the saga, Cass (an Omega plagued by psychic visions), must confront her difficult relationship with her brother, Zach (an Alpha elite) when he seeks asylum among her people.

    Ravenspur: Rise of the Tudors, by Conn Iggulden
    If Richard III is your favorite Shakespearean villain, the fourth book of Iggulden’s War of the Roses series will offer you a new perspective on the king. Packed with battles, betrayals, and murder, there is plenty of royal intrigue to captivate history buffs. Edward IV and his brother fight against their banishment as Henry Tudor prepares his rise to power, eclipsing the previous rivalry of House of York v. House of Lancaster. 

    Three Daughters of Eve, by Elif Shafak
    Set in modern-day Istanbul, and written by Turkey’s number-one bestselling novelist, Eve is a bittersweet rumination on love lost.  While attending a dinner party at an extravagantly wealthy seaside home, juxtaposed with terrorist attacks occurring in the vicinity, a woman named Petri thinks back to fifteen years earlier, during her stint as an Oxford student. The intense relationships she formed there, and the ways in which those relationships challenged her views on religion, nationalism, ideology, and feminism, affect her to this day.

    What new fiction are you excited about this month?

    The post The Best New Fiction of December 2017 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sarah Skilton 6:00 pm on 2017/11/30 Permalink
    Tags: , elif shafak, , , , , , , , , ,   

    The Best New Fiction of December 2017 

    The year is wrapping up, but great fiction isn’t slowing down. Reflecting on the past twelve months or creating a list of hopes and goals for the new year are both time well spent, but escaping from the chaos of the holidays is also vital. Much like the ghosts of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, this month brings novels from the past (Tudor Era and 1800s England, as well as 1950s Louisiana),  the future (in a book that’s been called The Hunger Games meets The Road), and the present (contemporary Istanbul). May your days of reading be merry and bright.

    Enchantress of Numbers, by Jennifer Chiaverini
    Ada Lovelace is now recognized as “the mother of computer science” due to her work with Charles Babbage, who invented the first mechanical computer. In this historical novel set in the early 1800s, her lineage is explored and explained. Ironically, her father’s genius becomes an obstacle to her own passions. As the sole legitimate heir of famed poet Lord Byron, “rescued” from her father’s bad blood by her mother, who raised Ada strictly without art, poetry, fairy tales, or other artistic pursuits, Ada discovers a love of mathematics. Ada’s fear that “…the list of those who might wish to read my memoirs will be very short indeed” is unfounded; her tale will fascinate readers, and her work in STEM changed the world.

    The Last Suppers, by Mandy Mikulencak
    In this powerful debut set in 1950s Louisiana, the head cook at a state penitentiary, Ginny Polk, sees men reduced to their most vulnerable states. Despite the crimes for which they’re imprisoned, Ginny believes that those slated for execution deserve a final meal of their choosing, including special family recipes that she painstakingly recreates. The suppers are a symbol of her humanity and theirs. As she clashes with the prison board over her culinary decisions, she comes to discover that her own father’s murder may have punished the wrong person. 

    The Forever Ship, by Francesca Haig
    The third novel in the Fire Sermon trilogy, Forever depicts a post-nuclear, dystopian future in which every child is born a twin, and each set of twins contains an Alpha (“perfect” specimens born to rule) and an Omega (“deformed” and “flawed” second class citizens). Complicating matters is the fact that when one twin is harmed or killed, the other suffers the same fate. In this exciting conclusion to the saga, Cass (an Omega plagued by psychic visions), must confront her difficult relationship with her brother, Zach (an Alpha elite) when he seeks asylum among her people.

    Ravenspur: Rise of the Tudors, by Conn Iggulden
    If Richard III is your favorite Shakespearean villain, the fourth book of Iggulden’s War of the Roses series will offer you a new perspective on the king. Packed with battles, betrayals, and murder, there is plenty of royal intrigue to captivate history buffs. Edward IV and his brother fight against their banishment as Henry Tudor prepares his rise to power, eclipsing the previous rivalry of House of York v. House of Lancaster. 

    Three Daughters of Eve, by Elif Shafak
    Set in modern-day Istanbul, and written by Turkey’s number-one bestselling novelist, Eve is a bittersweet rumination on love lost.  While attending a dinner party at an extravagantly wealthy seaside home, juxtaposed with terrorist attacks occurring in the vicinity, a woman named Petri thinks back to fifteen years earlier, during her stint as an Oxford student. The intense relationships she formed there, and the ways in which those relationships challenged her views on religion, nationalism, ideology, and feminism, affect her to this day.

    What new fiction are you excited about this month?

    The post The Best New Fiction of December 2017 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sarah Skilton 5:00 pm on 2017/11/22 Permalink
    Tags: a mcclendon thanksgiving, anna richland, her naughty holiday, his montana homecoming, his road home, how to bake the perfect pecan pie, jenna mindel, , pass the love, ready or not, , sean d. young,   

    6 Delicious Thanksgiving Romances  

    As the wind picks up outside and reunions bring loved ones together, it can be nice to sneak off for a moment, light a fire, put your feet up, and kick back with a romance. While everyone else sleeps through their tryptophan comas, why not enjoy a feast of a different sort? Our favorite Thanksgiving romances run the gauntlet from spicy to sweet, and historical to contemporary, but what they have in common is they’ll whisk you away to places where love conquers all and gratitude abounds.

    Her Naughty Holiday, by Tiffany Reisz
    An irresistible novel with a gorgeous single dad at its heart, Holiday finds put-upon Clover Greene determined to silence her irritatingly critical family by introducing them to her new beau at a Thanksgiving get-together. What begins as a ruse turns into something much, much better (and hotter). International bestseller Reisz may be best known for her Original Sinners series, and her talent for BDSM erotica is second to none, but Naughty proves she knows how to spin a tale as sweet as pumpkin pie, too.

    A McClendon Thanksgiving, by Sean D. Young
    In this friends-to-lovers tale set in Chicago over Thanksgiving, Faith McClendon has recently moved home, determined to hit the re-set button on her career after a painful divorce. Though she’s still gun-shy around men, there is one person who might be able to reach her: her childhood best friend, Michael, a photographer who’s been pining for her for years. A heartwarming story in which Michael and Faith’s supportive friends and family are key to helping the would-be lovers recognize their feelings.

    His Montana Homecoming, by Jenna Mindel
    Stranded in Jasper Gulch, Montana by a winter storm, ultra-rich New Yorker Dale Massey would rather be anywhere else. Small town life is not his jam. Hosted by the mayor’s family, including the mayor’s daughter, Faith, Dale’s gruff attitude slowly melts when Faith shows him just how healing an old-fashioned holiday can be. An inspirational romance from a master of the genre.

    Ready or Not, by Meg Cabot
    In this Young Adult romance, the second in the All-American Girls series, Cabot continues the story of teenage Samantha Madison and her boyfriend David, who happens to be the President’s son. Family perks include access to Camp David over Thanksgiving, and this year, he’s invited Madison! One problem: she’s pretty sure that means he wants to “take things to the Next Level” (i.e. sex), and she’s not sure she’s ready. A romantic comedy with a feminist bent, this book will have you laughing out loud and rooting for the young couple to figure it all out. 

    His Road Home, by Anna Richland
    A 2015 RITA winner, this novella touches on the emotional and physical effects of war. Prior to an explosion that took his legs in battle (he sacrificed his own safety to rescue a child), Reynaldo Cruz had pretended to be engaged to an acquaintance from home—lonely marine biologist Grace Kim, who doesn’t even remember him. But when his so-called fiancée is summoned to his hospital room at Walter Reed, she’s willing to offer her friendship to the brave soldier. As they connect and get to know each other, their initial hesitance turns into a deep and trusting love.

    How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie, by Gina Calanni
    In the first book in the Home for the Holidays series, it’s not exactly love at first sight between Lauren and Jack. Hapless in the kitchen, Lauren is nonetheless determined to find every ingredient required to fulfill the secret recipe list for her grandmother’s pecan pie. On the night before Thanksgiving, and running out of time, she must travel to a specialty shop in which she discovers to her horror that Jack has purchased all the pecans available and has no interest in sharing. But when her car breaks down on the return trip, guess who comes to her rescue?

    What romances are you tucking into over reheated pie?

    The post 6 Delicious Thanksgiving Romances  appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sarah Skilton 6:00 pm on 2017/11/09 Permalink
    Tags: , durian sukegawa, gourmet rhapsody, jael mchenry, marsha mehran, , pomegranate soup, robin sloane, sourdough, sweet bean paste, the elegance of the hedgehog, the kitchen daughter   

    5 Mouthwatering Books about The Joys of Cooking  

    Whether you’re the kind of person who spends all day roasting, basting, boiling, and baking for Thanksgiving, or whether you prefer to outsource it (buffet, take-out, Aunt Sally’s house), nothing beats a holiday feast. To celebrate this most delicious of holidays, we’ve gathered together some of our favorite books about cooking and eating, certain to tantalize your taste buds and introduce you to poignantly memorable characters.

    Sweet Bean Paste, by Durian Sukegawa (translated by Alison Watts)
    At the Doraharu shop on Cherry Blossom Street, a young man name Sentaro feels hopeless about the future because of his criminal past. When a widowed 76-year-old women, Tokue, who was quarantined most of her life, repeatedly asks him for a job making dorayaki (a honey pancake with sweet bean paste inside), he eventually relents, and they form a deep friendship that transforms both of their lives. Tokue’s exquisite version of dorayaki, and the tender care with which she makes the treats, astound Sentaro. When she offers to teach him her secrets, he’s able to envision a purpose for his existence. A beautifully rendered tale of outsiders coming together.

    Sourdough, by Robin Sloane
    The author of 2013’s critically acclaimed Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore is back with a new novel set at the intersection of San Francisco’s technology hub and competitive farmers’ markets. When Lois Clary, an isolated computer coder who works in robotics, is bequeathed a sourdough starter (the yeast used to make bread) by two brothers about to be deported, she takes their request of “raising” the dough—which seems to have a personality all its own—very seriously. She soon finds herself in an invitation-only club of eccentric, fanciful chefs who wish to combine Lois’s day job skills in robotics with her newfound penchant for baking.

    The Kitchen Daughter, by Jael McHenry
    Ginny is 26 and lives at home with her parents, where she can escape the anxiety she feels in crowds. But after her parents die, her Asperger’s syndrome requires comforting rituals, and she finds deep satisfaction in cooking. The recipes she selects call forth the ghosts of their creators, including her beloved Nonna. In this ghost story and cold-case mystery, Ginny’s layered narration will draw you in, while the meals she prepares will inspire you to plunder your relatives’ recipe books for family gems.

    Pomegranate Soup, by Marsha Mehran
    Having fled the Iranian Revolution for England several years earlier, the three Aminpour sisters seek “the flower of new beginnings” in Ireland, where they open the Babylon Cafe and introduce the villagers of Ballinacroagh to Persian food. At 27, Marjan the chef is the oldest and has long served as a mother figure to her siblings,15-year-old Layla and 24-year-old Bahar, who has escaped an abusive marriage. Not everyone in town is pleased by the culinary and cultural differences the sisters represent. But when their troubled pasts follow them to Ireland, their bravery inspires the members of their new community to stand by the sisters. Readers will delight in the recipes for dolmeh, baklava, chelow (rice), abgusht (lamb), elephant ears (sugar-and-cinnamon sweetened dough), and lavash bread, among others, which are included in each chapter.

    Gourmet Rhapsody, by Muriel Barbery (translated by Alison Anderson)
    Written prior to her bestselling, tearjerking book (and film), The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but released second, Gourmet takes place at 17 Rue de Grenelle, the same apartment depicted in Hedgehog, and concerns the last day in the life of an infamous food critic and self-described “encyclopedic esthete.” Arrogant Pierre Arthen, pushing 70, is loved and despised throughout France for his ability to create or destroy a chef’s career, and his family members are, quite frankly, ready for him to die. But Arthen refuses to shuffle off this mortal coil until he has experienced a particularly sublime taste one final time. A reminiscence of food (“potatoes bursting with gravy”, “green asparagus stems, plum and tender enough to make you swoon”) that reads like a love story.

    What are your favorite foods about savoring food preparation (and consumption)?

    The post 5 Mouthwatering Books about The Joys of Cooking  appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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