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  • Nicole Hill 4:00 pm on 2019/04/26 Permalink
    Tags: a wrinkle in time, , , , , , , , love medicine series, , , , thank you mom, , the house of the spirits, , ,   

    The 10 Best Moms in Fiction 

    There are lots of lists out there about literature’s worst mothers. The Mrs. Bennets of the world seem to suck up all the oxygen. (Something with which Elizabeth Bennet likely would agree.) But what of fiction’s fine motherly figures? What of those who try their best to do right by their children—whether they gave birth to them or not? The following ten characters, while never perfect, prove the virtues of motherhood in all its messy, complicated, astounding glory.

    Molly Weasley
    Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling

    Where else to start but with the harried matriarch of the unruly Weasley brood? A mother of seven and the wife of a moony Muggle enthusiast, Molly keeps her household running and her children awash in fine knitwear—and she still takes time to lavish the same maternal affection (and sometimes consternation) on her children’s wayward friends. She’s the unsung hero of the Order of the Phoenix whose bravery caused me (and all of you) to cheer aloud when she faced off with Bellatrix Lestrange.

    Mrs. Murry
    A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

    Mr. Murry often gets the credit for being brilliant, but Katherine Murry is an accomplished microbiologist whose professional accomplishments do not get her sucked through the space-time continuum. With her husband gone missing for years, Mrs. Murry keeps her family together, even the strange genius who is her youngest son. Meg leaves her mother behind as she goes on her tesseract adventures, but my secret hope always has been there’s an unwritten epilogue out there where Kate Murry gets to go on a vacation.

    Lulu Nanapush
    Love Medicine series, by Louise Erdrich

    Lulu is not a perfect woman or mother, but life hasn’t exactly treated her, or the Ojibwe reservation she calls home, with the utmost kindness. She encapsulates the challenges of both mother- and womanhood. We’re introduced to her in Love Medicine, in which she’s entangled in a decades-long love triangle with the man she’s always loved and the woman he married. In a story, and series, that spans generations, we see Lulu move on to other relationships and amass a family of nine children in the process. All the while, she’s remarkably unabashed in her strength and independence.

    Lisa Carter
    The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

    The Carters are a modern fictional family, and Lisa is the glue that holds them together. Lisa got pregnant as a teenager and dealt with her mother’s rejection. A nurse, she raised her children, Starr and Sekani, to be strong and well-aware of the racial injustice of their neighborhood and the world they live in. She’s forged a strong marriage despite her husband’s incarceration and affair, and she treats Seven, the product of that affair, with love. The Hate U Give is a story of strength in the face of adversity, and Lisa is one of the strongest characters in Garden Heights.

    Margaret March
    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

    Raising four daughters on your own in the middle of the Civil War and your own dire financial situation would be enough to crumple anybody’s spirits. But Marmee not only carries on, she does so with aplomb. The anti-Mrs. Bennet, Marmee puts her focus on treating her daughters with love and kindness and providing an example of how they should apply those same qualities to their own interactions with others. She’s no shallow perfect character either; her charity and compassion ring true, even 150 years later.

    Miss Honey
    Matilda, by Roald Dahl

    Look, mothers come in all packages, and Jennifer Honey proves to be more of a mom to whiz-kid Matilda than her biological mother ever was. As Matilda’s teacher, she’s the first person truly to recognize the unbelievable talents of a small, neglected girl. Not only does she encourage her, Miss Honey fights for her, too. (And Matilda returns the favor in spades thanks to her telekinesis, the oldest trick in the book.) Their shared happy ending makes them an adoptive family, but Miss Honey was a mother to Matilda way before those final pages.

    Suyuan Woo, An-Mei Hsu, Lindo Jong, and Ying-Ying St. Clair
    The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

    The relationships between mothers and daughters are never simple and rarely conflict-free. The beauty is in the way those bonds, when strong, are able to mend any tear. The four Chinese immigrants who get together each week to play mahjong in this novel, and the four daughters they raise, are perfect examples of this simultaneous tenderness and turbulence. In a story spanning 40 years, we see it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly. And still there is mahjong, and gossip, and storytelling, and the stitching together of generations.

    Lilith Iyapo
    Dawn, by Octavia Butler

    Lilith did have a biological son before the start of this novel, but her place on this list is because of a slightly different role she’s tasked with playing: mother to a new species. You see, Lilith is one of the few survivors of an Earth apocalypse, one human saved from extinction by an alien species. For centuries, Lilith and the other remaining humans have been asleep and their rescuers have worked to rehab Earth. Now, the Oankali, a, let’s say, tentacle-forward race, are ready to repopulate the planet … together … with humans. (You know.)

    Clara del Valle Trueba
    The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende

    In a sweeping story of family history, Clara is an otherworldly focal point. Her innate clairvoyance blossoms into broader abilities as she matures, abilities intimately tied to the fate of her family through the decades. In a story aswirl with chaos and trauma, Clara is a calming center, protective of her children, particularly when it comes to her volatile husband. Her presence imbues every aspect of the life of the Truebas, even after her death. Sometimes her powers make her dreamy and distanced, but her heart’s in the right place and she grows into her starring role.

    The Aunts
    Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman

    Again, circumstances beyond biology can forge some of the greatest mothers. The Owens family is decidedly non-traditional: two aunts raising two nieces, all witches. Also, there’s that whole family curse that spells doom for the unfortunate man who might fall in love with any Owens woman. While the hijinks that occur in Practical Magic may make you wonder about supervision Sally and Gillian’s aunts provide, their enduring encouragement to embrace the weird and witchy—and to give zero flips about what anyone else thinks—is an inspiration.

    The post The 10 Best Moms in Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 3:30 pm on 2018/01/10 Permalink
    Tags: a wrinkle in time, , , ,   

    16 Books Coming to the Big Screen in 2018 

    People sometimes say that they’ll wait for the movie version. That’s not us—we look forward to the movie precisely because we loved the book so much. On that score, there’s a lot to look forward to in 2018. Here are 16 books coming to the screen this year.

    12 Strong, based on Horse Soldiers, by Doug Stanton (January 19)
    Led by Chris Hemsworth, this film follows Stanton’s non-fiction account of a small band of Special Forces who, vastly outnumbered, captured Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan before finding themselves besieged. Michael Shannon and Michael Peña also star.

    Maze Runner: The Death Cure, based on the novel by James Dashner (January 26)
    The Maze Runner trilogy is set to conclude with this adaption of the final book (if you don’t count the ongoing prequel series). The truth behind WCKD and the tests will be revealed, but not before the Gladers run one more maze in the legendary Last City.

    Fifty Shades Freed, based on the novel by E. L. James (February 9)
    You know the score by now: Christian and Ana’s R-rated naughtiness is going to get complicated. Classed as an erotic psychological romantic thriller, the big finish sees the two happily married until Ana’s old boss begins stalking and threatening her, and Christian’s former dom and lover (played by Kim Basinger) pops back into town.

    The War with Grandpa, based on the novel by Robert Kimmel Smith (February 23)
    The multiple award-winning children’s novel is getting a film adaption with an all-star cast, including Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, and Uma Thurman. The novel is the story of Peter and the grandfather he adores—until grandpa comes to live with the family and takes over Peter’s room. From there, it’s war. With DeNiro in good form, it sounds like the movie will be fun.

    Every Day, based on the novel by David Levithan (February 23)
    Levithan’s young adult novel follows Rhiannon, a 16-year-old who develops a relationship with a traveling spirit named A. Every day, A wakes up in a different body and thus lives a variety of human experiences. Rhiannon encounters the traveller when A wakes up in the body of Justin, her troubled boyfriend. If the filmmakers can translate Levithan’s humanistic and empathetic style to the screen, it should do well.

    Annihilation, based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer (February 23)
    Multi-talented director/novelist/screenwriter Alex Garland is helming the adaption of VanderMeer’s first Southern Reach novel. The series is all about the mystery of Area X, a region of the southern U.S. that’s been cut off for decades by a strange barrier. Each expedition into Area X has produced wildly different results and observations, with the most recent trip leaving only one grievously injured survivor, husband to a biologist played in the movie by Natalie Portman. She volunteers for a new expedition into the zone in order to figure out what exactly happened. There’s been some behind-the-scenes scuffling about the finished film being overly cerebral (and diverging greatly from the source material), but that doesn’t necessarily make for a bad film.

    Red Sparrow, based on the novel by Jason Matthews (March 2)
    Matthews’ novel goes deep into the intertwined worlds of Russian and American espionage to tell the story of Dominika Egorova, an operative trained from an early age in the arts of infiltration and seduction, and whose synesthesia allows her to see the world in unique ways. She might sound a bit like Marvel’s Black Widow, but there are no superheroics in Matthews world. Jennifer Lawrence stars.

    A Wrinkle in Time, based on the novel by Madeleine L’Engle (March 9)
    It’s not the first adaption of L’Engle’s beloved, influential, and controversial 1962 science fantasy novel, but this one should make a much bigger splash than the earlier television production. For starters, multiple-award winner Ava DuVernay is directing an all-star cast, led by Oprah Winfrey. Newcomer Storm Reid stars as Meg Murray, who fights to save her father from captivity on a distant planet.

    Love, Simon, based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli (March 16)
    Greg Berlanti, best known these days for his work writing and producing the various DC shows on the CW, is directing the adaption of Albertalli’s coming-of-age story about a closeted high schooler coming to terms with his sexuality. Simon has an online relationship with a boy he knows as “Blue,” but the correspondence is uncovered by one of his classmates who blackmails Simon into setting him up with a girl named Abby.

    Ready Player One, based on the novel by Ernest Cline (March 30)
    Just a few months after the release of historical drama The Post, Steven Spielberg’s much-anticipated adaption of the Cline novel is coming to the big screen.  It’s the story of a dystopian future world in which there’s not much to do but hang out in a virtual space called the OASIS. The creator dies and promises ownership of the realm to anyone who can find his hidden easter egg. Like the book, the movie promises a plethora of 80s pop-culture references.

    Guernsey, based on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (April 20)
    Note to the producers: the original novel’s title is better, if tough to squeeze onto a marquee. Shaffer and Barrows popular novel introduces Juliet Ashton, a London writer looking for a new book subject following the Blitz. Unexpected correspondence draws her into the funny, eccentric, charming, and weird world of occupied Guernsey.

    Where’d You Go, Bernadette, based on the novel by Maria Semple (May 11)
    A new Richard Linklater film is always an event for true movie buffs. The Before Midnight/School of Rock/Boyhood director is taking on Semple’s funny, quirky novel about an agoraphobic mom who goes missing. Her daughter Bee, who had been preparing for a family trip to Antarctica, searches through documents and correspondence in order to figure out exactly what happened.

    Crazy Rich Asians, based on the novel by Kevin Kwan (August 17)
    Kwan intended his 2013 novel, based partly on his childhood in Singapore, to provide a contemporary view of Asian culture for Americans. Probably not a bad idea. It’s the story of a marriage between the incredibly rich Colin Khoo and his fashion icon fiancée. The original book has been followed by two sequels thus far, so a successful film could potentially kick off a franchise.

    Boy Erased, based on Boy Erased: A Memoir, by Garrard Conley (September 28)
    Conley’s 2016 memoir, describing his experiences in gay conversion therapy, serves as a testimonial to the dangers of such programs, as well as a nod toward the belief systems that encourage them. Conley was the son of a Baptist minister in a small town who was outed during college and pressured into conversion therapy. It didn’t go well. Lucas Hedges stars, with Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman as his parents.

    The Girl in the Spider’s Web, based on the novel by David Lagercrantz (October 5)
    Bear with me now: this is the fifth film adaption of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, about world-class hacker Lisbeth Salander and investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist. It’s based on the fourth book in the series, the first not to have been written by Larsson, but it’s also reboot of the David Fincher’s series of American adaptations, which only ever got around to adapting the first book. In short, it’s a whole new start, so don’t worry about it! The Crown’s Claire Foy takes over as Lisbeth, with Don’t Breathe director Fede Alvarez directing.

    First Man, based on First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, by James R. Hansen (October 12)
    Hansen’s 2005 biography focuses largely on Armstrong’s life before and after the moon landing, charting his upbringing and involvement in the space program, as well as life as one of the most famous people in the world. Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy star.

    What’s on your book-to-movie calendar for 2018?

    The post 16 Books Coming to the Big Screen in 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Rebecca Jane Stokes 3:30 pm on 2014/11/25 Permalink
    Tags: , a wrinkle in time, , , , , dysfunctional families, , , , , , , , , ,   

    10 Fictional Families We’d Love to Spend The Holidays With 

    Little Women movie castThe holidays are about spending time with your family. They’re also about drinking more wine than usual and stuffing your face with stuffing, various types of brittle, and all-of-the-cheese-there-is in a bid to keep you from throttling said family within an inch of their lives. That’s what family is: food and resisting the urge to sucker punch your brother for asking you why your new haircut makes you look like George C. Scott. Instead of adding another mountain of calories that no holiday sweater (no matter how ugly) could hide, why not spend this holiday season with some of fiction’s most interesting families? From kindly to eccentric, feuding to nerdy, each family listed below has one splendid thing in common: They aren’t yours.

    The Cratchit Family
    To be clear, I don’t want to bro down with the Cratchit family in that one scenario where Tiny Tim has been killed due to Scrooge’s lack of altruism. That would be one epic bummer of a holiday fete. But the Cratchit family throwing down and giggling over a Christmas goose? Bring. It. On. That said, I don’t think I’d want to be there the day Scrooge invites himself over for Christmas dinner, because yes, brilliantly kind gesture dude, but also dining with one’s boss is almost always ten shades of awkward.

    The March Family
    Spending the holidays with Jo, Laurie, Beth, Amy, Meg, and Marmie would be the greatest. Sure, you’d have to stomach a lot of religious instruction and hear lectures about kindness, but you know that nine times out ten their family meals end with them braiding each other’s hair in front of a fire while Jo wears a top hat and practices her gentleman walk.

    The Weasley Family
    Reason number one I’d kill to spend the holidays with the Weasleys: Magic. Powers. Reason number two: Gingers are the best and greatest breed of people who exist currently on our planet. Reason number three: You know they’ve got dirt on Potter. Reason four: At least three of the foods served will probably involve magical properties, and there is nothing un-awesome about that.

    The Quimby Family
    If you’re at a meal with Ramona Quimby and her parents and her sister Beezus, you don’t need to worry about being the center of attention or putting on a good performance as a host, because everyone will be in a tizzy about Ramona cutting her hair with pinking sheers or dying her entire body with bluing. As different folks yell and Beezus glowers, you can get blitzed on rosé and be all, “Ramona you lovable buffoon!” and then eat all the rolls free of fear of censure.

    The Capulets/Montagues
    Admittedly, this dual-family affair would be mad tense, but that’s only until ale has been quaffed and swords draw—then the drama kicks in! If you like reality TV, than dinner with Shakespeare’s dueling families should be right up your alley. Just avoid that Mercutio character: he talks, like, a lot.

    The Murry Family
    When I was a kid I wanted the Murrys to adopt me. Admittedly, I would not have done well in this math- and science-loving clan, but I get the feeling they would at least have been kind about it. Though frankly, if grasping math meant I got to travel through time and the universe, I’d probably be down. I like the idea of eating a big meal with the Murrys, because you know it would be served at least partially out of beakers and test tubes.

    The Cuthbert Family
    Being a part of the Cuthbert family means you’re probably getting blitzed on elderberry cordial and attempting (and failing) to color your hair for the big party. That said, while I wouldn’t necessarily want to be Anne of Avonlea, living on Prince Edward Island and hanging out with two dope as hecks old folks eager to impart wisdom and love sounds like the perfect way to spend the holidays.

    The Everdeens
    If I had to pick any family with whom to dwell during the holidays in an apocalyptic version of earth, it would have to be the Everdeens. That’s mainly because if I overindulge in my food rations, Prim or Mama Everdeen would be able to brew up some sort of herbal tincture to treat my indigestion. That being said, the “cornucopia” utilized in the Games themselves is a cruel mockery of the symbol of a day when the only battle to the death should be over the last piece of pumpkin pie.

    The Bennet Family
    You know what? I’d like to have my holidays with the Bennets because I think poor, homely Mary gets a raw deal! I’d go hang out with them, wear a dress that makes me look pregnant and a severe center-parted hairstyle, and listen attentively while she played the piano for hours and hours and hours. I’d also wisely impart to Kitty and Lydia the virtues of the single life, all the while being thankful for the opportunity to ogle Mr. Darcy to my heart’s delight.

    The Sedaris Family
    Anyone familiar with David Sedaris’s writing knows that holiday dinners are when his eccentric family comes most colorfully to life. Remember when Amy wore just the bottom half of a fat suit, sending her dad into a veritable fit? The idea of breaking bread with David Sedaris and his entire clan sounds unmissable. Though there’s always the chance you’d make it into one of his essay—a thought that does not rest easy in my mind.

    The Mortmain Family
    A family cool enough to move into an abandoned castle, ruled over by a writer-father and an artist stepmother: how can their parties not be epic?! Cassandra and her sister, Rose, are forever weary of their family’s artistic inclinations and bohemian life, but I’d gladly trade with them, especially on the holidays. You know Topaz makes excellent crafts.

     What fictional family would you love to visit this holiday season? 

  • Ester Bloom 7:00 pm on 2014/07/25 Permalink
    Tags: a wrinkle in time, , , , , hear my cry, howards end, , island of the blue dolphins, james m. cain, , , , madeleine l'engle, mildred d. taylor, mildred pierce, , possession, roll of thunder, scott o'dell, , the lord peter whimsey mysteries,   

    Our Favorite Fictional Feminists 

    Lonesome Dove

    From Jane Eyre to Janie Crawford, strong female characters make literature go round. All of the best authors seem to concur on their importance. They elevate and add more resonance to dystopian tales like The Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Gamesand make novels like the Song of Ice and Fire series even more worth reading.

    Picking favorite fictional feminists then presents a challenge. This list is composed of people who do not merely take charge of their own destinies and care about society’s treatment of women, but who would probably agree that they were feminists if you asked them (and, if necessary, explained the term). Clarissa Dalloway would probably smile politely at you and then excuse herself to find the ladies’ room; Miss Jean Brodie would laugh and blow cigarette smoke at you; and Scarlett O’Hara, though she is a successful, independent businesswoman and professional problem solver, would probably throw a drink in your face.

    The women of this list pass the Bechdel test, too: they have another female character around to talk to about subjects beyond men. That helps.

    Favorite Fictional Feminist—Western Division

    Clara Allen (Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurty)
    Virtually all of the women in Larry McMurtry’s fabulously entertaining historical epic about the American West are tough, canny, assertive, even the tertiary ones like the dissatisfied wife Elmira (“’Nobody run off with her,’ Roscoe said. ‘She just run off with herself, I guess’”). Like Lorena, the prostitute powered by the determination to get to San Francisco, they are limited sometimes by circumstance, but not by the inherent frailty of gender. Gus’s old flame, Clara, the tough-minded, practical mother with a Nebraska ranch she runs herself, takes the proto-feminist cake. The cake is red velvet, of course, as befits a queen.

    Shakespearean Division

    Beatrice (Much Ado About Nothing, by William Shakespeare)
    How powerful is Kate in Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew? So powerful that he has to insert a monologue at the end in which she supposedly repudiates everything she once thought. Yet, for all her anger, there doesn’t seem to be as much depth in her as there is in Beatrice, who mixes humor in with her candor and so gets a happier ending. One gets the sense though that she remains the same person from start to finish: intelligent and wry, with a gift for understatement (“I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight”).

    Classic British Lit Division

    Margaret and Helen Schlegel, (Howards End, by E.M. Forster)
    The earnestly intellectual Schlegel sisters don’t merely believe in progressive causes, they act accordingly, even when their activism makes their lives more difficult. Though their commitments to morality strain their relationship, ultimately they strengthen their bond as sisters and as friends. They’re even rewarded at the end, as though they have been playing The Price Is Right all along. (A new house!)

    Academia Division

    Dr. Maud Bailey (Possession, by A. S. Byatt)
    Overlook, if you would, the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow played her in the movie version, and Maud becomes much easier to identify with. A passionate scholar and keen literary detective, Maud finds love without letting that goal displace her desire to be successful and taken seriously.

    YA Sci Fi Division

    Meg Murry (A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle)
    Mathlete Meg Murry uses every resource at her disposal—including her awkward but fierce individualism—to save both her father and her younger brother from imprisonment on a distant planet. Yay, Meg!

    YA Survivalist Division

    Karana (Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell)
    Could you hold your own against ravenous wolves that killed your brother, ultimately mastering both your fear and the hostile environment in which you have been stranded? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

    YA Historical Fiction Division

    Cassie (Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor)
    Could you hold your own against the joint forces of The Great Depression and the White Supremacy in power in the Deep South? Yeah, I didn’t think so, either. Cassie comes to understand the grim realities of sharecropper life, but she never lets them dampen her spirit or her resolve.

    Mystery Division

    Harriet Vane (The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, by Dorothy L. Sayers)
    A middle class, Oxford-educated country doctor’s daughter, Harriet has only her stubbornness to help her when she finds herself locked up for a sensational crime she didn’t commit. From the depths of Old Bailey, she wins over the sensitive, self-mocking aristocratic detective who saves her life; but how can she marry him when she fears he will sap her independence? Over four hilariously unromantic books, they argue in Latin and simmer sexual tension at each other while solving, and writing, mysteries, and, without sacrificing their individuality, become one of the best couples in British literature. Harriet, especially, earns her happy ending.

    Noir Division

    Mildred Pierce (Mildred Pierce, by James M. Cain)
    Care for a pie, or some chicken? The no-nonsense housewife at the center of this small, midcentury masterpiece, tired of being subject to various men, launches her own entrepreneurial enterprise. It goes great! Until, at least, she is undermined by her conniving daughter, who represents Traditional Femininity and a patriarchal society’s desire to keep women in their place. Ultimately, though, we have no doubt that Mildred, like the other feminists in this list, will rise from her own ashes. She is too tough and resourceful to do otherwise.

    Who are your favorite fictional feminists?

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