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  • Tara Sonin 4:00 pm on 2018/02/12 Permalink
    Tags: a line in the dark, a separation, , , , , , bad love, big little lies, , caroline kepnes, celeste ng, , , , everything I never told you, , , graham green, greer hendricks, , , , , , , , jessica knoll, katie kitamura, , , , , malinda lo, my husband’s wife, , , , , , the immortalizes, , , the wife between us, , tiffany jackson, , white oleander, , you   

    Bah, Humbug: 25 Unhappy Books for Valentine’s Day 

    Love is in the air…but that doesn’t mean you have to drink the Kool-Aid. If you’re not feeling all the lovey-dovey stuff this year, that’s cool. Sometimes other people being happy is the worst. So here’s a list of tragedies, thrillers, and romances that do not end well for you to relish instead. Misery does love company, after all.

    The End of the Affair, by Graham Green
    This novel begins after an affair has already ended, but of course the question is why? Taking the reader back in time, this historical epic romance follows a vengeful man determined to bring down the woman who broke his heart…but when we learn the reason why she did, it will break ours instead.

    Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey
    Not a tragedy per se, but since this fantasy romance involves a special woman who feels pain as pleasure, it felt appropriate to include. Phedre has spent her life in the service of pleasure, but when she has an opportunity to use her talents for political gain, her entire world collapses and she must fight to rebuild a broken kingdom she leaves behind.

    The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
    Clare and Henry are in love, but timing is not their strong suit. Henry is a time-traveller, cursed to travel to different times in his life without warning. That’s how he met Clare, when she was a little girl…and how when, she grew up, they found one another again. In this lyrical, beautiful novel, what was the unique beginning of a love story soon becomes the unraveling of one.

    A Separation, by Katie Kitamura
    A Firestarter of a novel in which a woman’s ex-husband goes missing and she goes to search for him. The story of a marriage is never understood by anyone but the two within it…but the story of a separation is even more mired in mystery.

    Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn
    Gone Girl is where most people’s familiarity with Flynn begins and ends, but she wrote two earlier thrillers that are on the same level. Her debut, Sharp Objects, may in fact be her best, a taut psychological thriller about an unsteady reporter who returns to her hometown to write about a past tragedy there—and must face her own demons in the process.

    Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
    If you haven’t watched the TV series…I won’t blame you if you want to check that out first, it’s that good. But the book is just as intriguing; the story of a group of women in a community held atop pillars of class and status, and what happens when those pillars are shattered. What begins as a series of small untruths and deceptions grows beyond the scope of what they can handle, and someone ends up dead.

    Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll
    A piercing portrait of a woman determined to outrun the shadows of her past, but forced to confront them. Ani FaNelli suffered a mysterious trauma during high-school and has successfully managed to reinvent herself as someone who would never be humiliated like that again. But all that effort is about to become undone when the opportunity to get even with the people who harmed her becomes too tempting to ignore.

    The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn
    A twisty thriller about a woman with agoraphobia (and a drinking problem) sees something in a neighboring house. She sees something devastating, something she should never have seen—and suddenly, her life is upended.

    Atonement, by Ian McEwan
    One of the most tragic stories of sisterhood and first love involves a misunderstood moment which builds to a lie, and then a war comes along and lays waste to already ruined relationships. Briony is an observant child, always in the background—and when she sees what she thinks is a man assaulting her sister, she tells an adult. But is that what she saw? And is that why she told? The past and present intertwine in a moving portrait of what happens when jealousy gets in the way of love.

    We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart
    A genre-defying story that is part thriller, part romance…and 100% captivating. A privileged family spends a summer on an exclusive island, uniting a group of friends. But secrets twist their friendships into something rotten, something dangerous…a lie that unless confronted, will leave them forever adrift.

    The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks
    A co-written tragedy about a wife, her ex-husband, and the new woman he loves…in which nothing is real, or true, and each page keeps you guessing.

    White Oleander, by Janet Fitch
    A mother and daughter’s tumultuous relationship is explored in this haunting novel about a woman jailed for murder and her daughter passed between foster homes in search of the happiness she never had at home.

    The Magicians, by Lev Grossman
    All’s well that ends well where magic is concerned…perhaps in books like Harry Potter. But this is not that story. When Quentin is suddenly spirited into a world of magic, validating a lifetime of believing he was different and special, he also finds himself at the center of a terrible battle for power that will take everything from him—including the love of magic he once had.

    Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng
    A powerful novel about a Chinese family in the 1970’s, whose lives are ripped apart when their child is found dead. Each of them with their own perspectives, and their own secrets, the entire family is gripped by the need for the truth…and the desire to run from it.

    Call Me by Your Name, by Andre Aciman
    The Oscar-nominated movie should definitely be on your viewing list, but in the meantime, read the book it’s based on! This story of an unexpected romance between two young men during a hot Italian summer is as riveting as it is erotic.

    In a Dark, Dark, Wood, by Ruth Ware
    A night of revelry and excitement and old friends…that’s what was supposed to happen when Leonora shows up to celebrate an old—and estranged—friend’s impending marriage. But what happens is the exact opposite, and it leaves Leonora wondering what the truth is, and what she may have done to cover it up.

    In the Woods, by Tana French
    Mystery writer extraordinare French’s novel about a detective who returns to the town in which he himself was the survivor of a violent crime to investigate another. But the present is often a mirror of the past, and he finds himself growing unstable in the proximity of the case.

    Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
    A tragic origin story of one of the most captivating villains of all time: the Wicked Witch of the West. Meet Elphaba, who would grow up to face off with Dorothy…before the girl with the pigtails rode a tornado into Oz. An upbringing as an outsider, with magic she does not understand, Elphaba craves acceptance, and will eventually fight for it no matter the cost.

    You, by Caroline Kepnes
    A man becomes obsessed with a woman in New York City, following her on social media in order to orchestrate the perfect relationship…and if necessary, the perfect murder.

    The Lying Game, by Ruth Ware
    Here are the rules of the lying game: no lying to your friends and ditch the lie if you get caught. In this hypnotic and fascinating portrait of friendship, four girls used to play this game until they got the rulebook thrown at them and were expelled after the mysterious deaths of one of their fathers. Now, years later, that past is coming back to haunt them, but will they play the game again to survive?

    My Husband’s Wife, by Jane Corry
    Lily loves Ed, and wants nothing more than to be a wife and a lawyer.That is, until she meets Joe: a convicted murderer, and a man she finds herself drawn to. Carla is just a kid, but she knows a liar when she spots one. Years later, their paths collide, and nothing will be the same.

    Room, by Emma Donoghue
    The harrowing journey of a mother and son living in captivity thanks to a mysterious man who kidnapped her when she was a teenager. When she sees an opportunity to free them, she risks it all in order to give her son a chance in the real world beyond their room.

    The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
    The decision to hear a psychic tell them when they will die changes the lives of a group of siblings, all of whom pursue different paths—and are haunted by lives they could have lived—in this stirring tale of family and fate.

    A Line in the Dark, by Malinda Lo
    This YA psychological thriller puts two friends to the test when a third comes between them. Jess and Angie have always been best friends, but Margot’s spell takes Angie away. In a striking structural shift, the novel switches from the perspectives of the girls to court records and transcripts…when someone in their circle ends up dead.

    Allegedly, by Tiffany Jackson
    She only allegedly killed the baby. But then why did she confess? In this book that will make you forever distrust…well, practically everyone you know—Mary has been in group homes and institutions since she was convicted of murdering the baby her mother was charged with caring for. But now she is pregnant herself, and has decided to tell the truth before her own child is taken away.

    What Anti-Valentine’s Day novels would you recommend?

    The post Bah, Humbug: 25 Unhappy Books for Valentine’s Day appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2017/10/09 Permalink
    Tags: , big little lies, , ,   

    10 Novels That Teach You Something About Marriage 

    As anyone who’s been married for more than a minute will tell you, it can be hard work. Many books tellingly end on the “happily ever after button,” leaving the results to the imagination, making it easy for the reader to dream up perfect marriages in which no one fights, cheats, or googles “divorce laws in my state.” Yet there are those books with plenty of real-life marriage lessons to share. Getting hitched and wondering what to expect? Sure, you could talk to real, live people, or you could read these 10 books, which offer you all the marriage advice you’ll ever need.

    The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton
    Lesson: Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. Many people see Wharton’s high society tale of a man who yearns to throw over his wife in favor of her more alluring cousin as the story of an unhappy marriage. But read it again after being married a while, and you see a heightened version of what everyone goes through: moments of doubt, when escape seems like your only option. The real lesson is that marriage is about more than romantic passion: it’s time plus partnership, weaving together into a life.

    Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
    Lesson: Family matters. From the moment you start dating someone, their family looms in the near distance. The initial meetings, the sizing up, the parental approval—you are never just marrying a single person. You are marrying their whole family. This is a lesson that Austen’s classic brings home with poetic power. If you find yourself denying that someone’s family issues (yours or theirs) matter … you’re lying to yourself, and need to re-read P&P immediately.

    Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
    Lesson: The grass is always greener. Every married couple has at least one other couple they see socially whom they love/hate because they seem too perfect. They are financially affluent, they have great taste, their kids behave well, they are obviously affectionate. As Moriarty’s great novel reminds us, that’s often window dressing. Everyone has problems. Some of us are just better at hiding them.

    Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
    Lesson: You can never really know someone. Deciding to marry someone is a big step, and is reserved for people you know as well as you possibly can. After all, you’re linking your lives together in a myriad of ways—neither of you will ever be the same. Flynn’s ingenious thriller reminds us, however, that you will never know everything about your spouse. There’s a secret or two there, trust us, and if you discover it, you might find yourself uncertain whether you really know them at all.

    The Yellow Wall Paper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    Lesson: Take your spouse seriously. Getting married is sometimes described as two souls becoming one. Ha ha, no. No matter how close you are, you remain two separate nervous systems filtering everything through unique perspectives. Thus it will always be easy to dismiss a spouse’s concerns, worries, or fears as unfounded or silly. Don’t do this. Doing this is how people wind up crawling around on the floor muttering about wallpaper.

    Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
    Lesson: There are two sides to every marriage. Extending the previous idea a little, never assume that your spouse sees the marriage exactly like you do. There have been too many complacent spouses, certain that their relationship was fantastic, only to find themselves served divorce papers. In Groff’s fantastic novel, a husband and wife offer their own perspective on their marriage, and it’s interesting to see where they agree—and where they diverge.

    Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, by Edward Albee
    Lesson: Fighting in public makes you bad people.Albee’s searing story of middle-aged resentment and passive-aggressive subtext made howling text is a blistering read. You’re really watching four lives descend into chaos in front of you, but along the way he reminds us of a fundamental truth: fighting with your spouse at a party, or out at dinner, or in the movie theater, or literally anywhere but in your house when you’re alone, is a jerk move.

    Macbeth, by William Shakespeare
    Lesson: Don’t push your spouse outside their comfort zone. The day you wake up and realize you wish your spouse were more…anything is a dark day indeed. In the Scottish Play, Lady Macbeth wishes her husband were a bit more ambitious and murder-y, and her pushing him to grasp more than his reach can handle is what sets the violent tragedy in motion. Lesson? Remind yourself that you might be projecting your own issues on your spouse.

    The War of the Roses, by Warren Adler
    Lesson: Talk now or burn down your house later. Adler’s novel about a wealthy couple who go to war amid a divorce is black comedy at its best, but the chaotic, mean-spirited, and shockingly violent way the Roses go after each other holds a potent lesson: if you’re unhappy, say something. If you’re going to split up, start labeling your books today.

    Middlemarch, by George Eliot
    Lesson: Marriage is an ongoing process, and both partners will evolve. Middlemarch is a novel about marriage as much as it’s about anything else, and the basic lesson that Eliot imparts is that all marriages are different, and all people are different, and every day you’re going to wake up next to someone who is slightly different than the person you went to bed with the night before, and will be yourself a little different. Scary? A little. But also kind of exciting, no?

    The post 10 Novels That Teach You Something About Marriage appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Joel Cunningham 4:24 pm on 2014/08/28 Permalink
    Tags: big little lies, , , , donald harington, , , in the kingdom of ice, jan karon, , , lightning bug, little children, , somewhere safe with somebody good, , , the terror, ,   

    What to Read Next If You Liked Paper Towns, The Goldfinch, Big Little Lies, In the Kingdom of Ice, or Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good 

    What to ReadPaper Towns, by John Green, has practically everything you could want in a YA novel: a mystery, a revenge plot, an epic road trip, and unrequited love. I say “practically everything,” because what it lacks, of course, is a screaming case of Mad Cow Disease. For that, you’ll have to turn to Going Bovine, by Libba Bray, winner of the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award. It’s a hilarious, surreal coming-of-age story about a boy with a weird terminal illness who hits the road with a punk-rocker and a lawn gnome for one last hurrah.

    The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, is the year’s biggest bildungsroman, a character-focused mystery in the best Dickensian sense. Though it doesn’t have quite the sweep of Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winner, Carol Rifka Brunt’s Tell the Wolves I’m Home tells an equally moving story of love and loss, following the journey of 14-year-old June Elbus to come to grips with the death of her beloved uncle after learning he wasn’t entirely the man she thought she knew.

    In Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty explores the darker side of suburban life, following the intersecting lives of three women in a well-off community whose children all attend the same preschool, and all of whom have told lies both big and little to cover up some scandalous secrets (the women, not the kids…the kids don’t seem to be hiding anything nefarious). For another twisted take on parents suffering through a midlife crisis, Little Children, by Tom Perrotta, offers a master class in the subject, tracking the fallout from the affairs (and affairs) of a couple trapped in a hermetically sealed marriage within a hermetically sealed upper-class neighborhood.

    In the Kingdom of Ice, by Hampton Sides, offers a thrilling, (literally) chilling, true-life account of an ill-fated 19th-century expedition to the North Pole. For a wickedly fictionalized take on a similar historical tragedy, grab a blanket and a copy of The Terror, by Dan Simmons. An arctic voyage to force the Northwest Passage goes from bad to worse when the HMS Terror is trapped in uncharted frozen waters and, already weak from scurvy and fatigue, the crew members discover they may not be alone on the ice.

    After a nine-year wait, Jan Karon finally returns to the sleepy, fictional North Carolina community of Mitford in Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, offering up another slice of downhome comfort food for her longtime fans. If you’re looking for another series of books that explores the ins and outs of small-town life, the late Donald Harington’s woefully under-read Stay More novels, which chronicle the history of a postage stamp of a town in the Ozarks, offer an invaluable literary experience, reminiscent of the best of John Irving. The series starts with 1970′s Lightning Bug.

    Have you read Paper Towns, The Goldfinch, Little Big Lies, or In the Kingdom of Ice?

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 3:30 pm on 2014/07/29 Permalink
    Tags: , amy bloom, big little lies, , , , lucky us, , ,   

    4 Heartwarming New Books About Family, Togetherness, and Other Hazards 

    Big Little Lies

    We read for pleasure of course, but also to help us understand the world around us—and what subject is more nuanced, complicated, and—ok, downright frustrating—than family? Summer may be the perfect time for fun, frivolous trips to the beach, but it’s also a great time for family road trips, family reunions, family barbeques, and of course, family drama. Since we all know that the best and most entertaining family drama is the kind that involves other people’s families, we’ve gathered a collection of great new summer reads that offer a welcome escape from your own familial disputes—and that just might give you a few insights into the mysterious (and wonderful) ties that bind us to our loved ones.

    Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
    Moriarty’s newest novel since her hugely popular book The Husband’s Secret starts out with a bang, featuring a disturbing murder in an unlikely place—during a school trivia night. The story behind it involves the lives of three women and their families: Madeline, whose ex-husband has just moved into town—with his new wife; beautiful, enviable Celeste with her perfect family and boisterous twin boys; and melancholy single mother Jane, who tries to hide her concerns about her odd young son. With humor and insight, Moriarty sheds light on the darker sides of family life, illuminating the truths lurking behind the innocuous facades we put up to keep our skeletons in their closets. As the tension heightens, you’ll be on the edge of your seat waiting to discover the series of events that led up to the tragedy in the opening act.

    A Perfect Life, by Danielle Steel
    Beautiful redhead Blaise McCarthy has it all by many standards—an enviable career in the world of TV news, a towering list of professional accomplishments, fame, fortune, and a gorgeous apartment. But all is not as it seems in Blaise’s world. For one thing, her personal life is nearly nonexistent. For another, her beloved daughter, Salima, blind since childhood due to Type 1 diabetes, has been living a sheltered life in a year-round boarding school for many years—but now, she’s being forced to move in with her mother. Salima’s new caregiver, Simon, refuses to go along with the status quo, challenging both Blaise and Salima’s expectations for themselves and each other. Blaise also faces a new and unsettling professional difficulty, in the form of a hotshot young anchorwoman who is gunning for her job at the network. As their previously stable lives are thrown into turmoil, Blaise and her daughter must confront the question of what really makes a perfect life.

    Nantucket Sisters, by Nancy Thayer
    Maggie and Emily are best friends who first met on a Nantucket beach one childhood summer—and have been in each other’s lives ever since. Although their backgrounds are very different—Maggie’s upbringing has been much more modest, and Emily’s mother would prefer that she associate with a more upscale crowd—they are able to see past those differences. Even when Emily falls in love with Maggie’s brother, Ben, and the two girls head down very different life paths, they manage to remain close. That is, until the appearance of the devastatingly charming Wall Streeter Cameron Chadwick threatens the very foundation of their friendship. Nantucket Sisters tells a bewitching story of young love, the mistakes we make, and the solace we find in enduring friendships.

    Lucky Us, by Amy Bloom
    Two half-sisters, aspiring star Iris and her devoted fan, Eva, leave Ohio in the 1940s to journey across America in search of fame and adventure. As the two careen through Hollywood and then travel to New York, they cross paths with a plethora of madcap individuals, reinventing themselves along the way even as they form relationships with new (and eccentric) friends who come to feel like family. Bloom’s lyrical prose brims with arresting truths and she weaves a story filled with hilarious—and heartbreaking—situations, beautiful historical details, and unforgettable characters.

    What are your favorite novels about family and friendship?

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