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  • Sarah Skilton 3:00 pm on 2017/10/18 Permalink
    Tags: adam langer, andrew sean greer, bestseller, carlos ruiz zafon, cherise wolas, , , less, lucia graves, olivia goldsmith, the angel's game, , the resurrection of joan ashby, the right time, the thieves of manhattan,   

    6 Novel Novels About Novelists 

    Films-within-films (Tropic ThunderSingin’ in the Rain), plays-within-plays (Shakespeare does this a lot), and songs referencing songs (“You probably think this song is about you…”) provide entertainment while also poking fun at the business side of art. Naturally, novels are the perfect medium with which to tackle the publishing industry. Not only are these authors positioned to pull back the curtain on the lives of agents, publishers, and editors, but they’re eminently qualified to share the agonies and ecstasies of writing itself. Using humor, irony, and grace, whether they’re hot off the presses or set within the last century, these books bring special meaning to the adage “Write what you know.”

    The Right Time, by Danielle Steel

    A bright, precociously successful writer of complex thrillers, novelist Alexandra Winslow was told during her formative years that men will only read her genre of books if they’re written by other men. The warning stayed with her, and as a result, she decided to pursue her passion under a male pseudonym. Having overcome more heartache than most by her teen years, including an absent mother and the death of her beloved father (who shared his love of mysteries with her), Alex’s latest difficulties are compounded as she realizes the double life she’s living is slowly destroying her. Will she find the strength to reveal her true self to the rest of the world? Will the time ever be right for her to step out of her own shadow?

    The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, by Cherise Wolas
    Joan Ashby’s writing career is off to dazzling start. Adored by critics and readers alike for her dark prose, she’s poised to become a lifelong literary star. Children were never in the picture—until Joan’s husband Martin changes the rule they agreed to and urges her to succumb to motherhood. Raising her two boys isn’t easy, and her creative ambitions struggle against “the consumptive nature of love.” Wolas’ powerhouse debut novel promises to take readers on an emotional ride, while tackling questions about the ways in which women are sometimes forced to choose between love of family and self-actualization.

    Less, by Andrew Sean Greer

    “Minor novelist” Arthur Less is about to turn 50, and his younger, former lover Freddy is getting married. Down and out, and determined to escape the torturous nuptials—while not appearing as though he’s escaping—Less decides to accept every ham-fisted, bizarre invitation he’s received for the year. His writerly itinerary, which will take him from NYC to Paris, Berlin, and Morocco, includes teaching a class, attending an award ceremony (in which high schoolers are the judges), and interviewing a more successful author. A surprise narrator (whose identity is kept secret until the end) adds poignancy and tenderness to this lovely and comedic story.

    The Angel’s Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (translated by Lucia Graves)

    “A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story…A writer is condemned to remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price.” So begins a haunting, gothic love story set in 1920s Barcelona. Orphaned pulp novelist David Martin leaves his newspaper job behind when he receives a mysterious publishing offer that may prove to be a Faustian bargain, especially when people begin dying and David suspects that the crumbling, abandoned house he’s living in holds terrifying secrets.

    The Thieves of Manhattan, by Adam Langer

    A biting, genre-bending satire of the publishing industry, with hilarious literary in-jokes and slang aplenty (a “frazier” is a large advance for a book, a la Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain; an “atwood” is “a mane of curls sported by the author Margaret Atwood”; and a “tolstoy” is a large pile of manuscripts), Thieves depicts a down-on-his-luck writer who agrees to put his name on an absurd novel and pretend it’s true, so he can take advantage of the misery-memoir trend. “I wasn’t sure if I felt more frightened by the thought that his scheme would work or the thought that it wouldn’t, that I would ruin whatever reputation and self-respect I might have had for nothing, or that lying would make me…successful.”

    Bestseller, by Olivia Goldsmith
    As a bestseller herself, Goldsmith (The First Wives’ Club and many more) knows the heartaches and triumphs of the publishing world, and she recreates it here with intimate aplomb. Five authors whose books were selected by powerful publishing house Davis & Dash vie for the coveted number-one slot on the fall list. But the writers aren’t the only ones desperate to climb the ladder of success. Up-and-coming editors and their shady mentors, back-stabbing agents, brokenhearted parents, struggling indie bookstore owners, and midlist ghostwriters abound in this scandalous tale. There’s even a husband-and-wife writing team that splits up when one of them pretends the work was a solo effort. Enjoy!

    What novels about novels would you recommend?

    The post 6 Novel Novels About Novelists appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Nicole Hill 3:30 pm on 2014/10/20 Permalink
    Tags: arturo perez-reverte, book lovers, carlos ruiz zafon, , charlie lovett, first impressions, graham moore, , , ,   

    First Impressions and the Tale of the Bookish Mystery 

    Bookish mysteriesBibliophiles rejoice! The man who brought you last year’s Shakespearean whodunnit, The Bookman’s Tale, has returned, and this time he’s on the trail of another famed author—Jane Austen. Charlie Lovett’s First Impressions delves into the authorship of Pride and Prejudice—more specifically, the question of whether Austen wrote those famous words, or stole the idea from an elderly cleric named the Rev. Richard Mansfield. Don’t worry, Austenites, it’s not as sacrilegious as it sounds. In fact, it’s a story to do you proud, and in Sophie we have a true Austen heroine, in that she keeps getting bothered by disagreeable people when she’d rather be reading a book.

    You know the story: girl meets haughty yet handsome American. Girl’s book-loving uncle tragically meets his maker. Girl meets haughty yet handsome British man. Girl gets wrapped up in a mystery that could get her killed, or worse expelled, as well as expose possibly dark secrets about Jane Austen. But Sophie’s not merely an Austen heroine; she’s also a little bit Nancy Drew, whose sleuthing and research are sure to blow this case sky high.

    Once you’ve whet your appetite with First Impressions, here are a few more bookish mysteries to keep you sated:

    The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    Gothic noir set in and around a Barcelona bookstore and a maze of manuscripts, the aforementioned cemetery. You sold yet? There’s enough mystery in Zafon’s three books to fill a library, what with the enigmatic authors, murky wartime morality, and labyrinthine backstories. Not to mention, Fermin Romero de Torres is one of the great secondary characters of our time.

    The Club Dumas, by Arturo Perez-Reverte
    Quick: name your ideal career path! Now everyone who said “book detective” raise your hand. Well, that’s exactly what Lucas Corso does for a living, hunting down rare manuscripts. The plot runs on parallel tracks as Corso tracks the authenticity of two literary works, one of which is a fragment of The Three Musketeers. In doing so he ends up swirling in a stew of Satanism, the Inquisition, and salty women. All aboard.

    The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl
    The Dante Club—comprised of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, and James Russell Lowell, along with publisher J.T. Fields—are on the verge of unveiling America’s first translation of Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Of course, there’s also a group of nefarious, cerebral thugs that wants to keep the wisdom of those written words silent. Things, as is their way, get complicated after a series of murders that clearly resemble Dante’s descriptions of Hell’s punishments.

    The Sherlockian, by Graham Moore
    When Arthur Conan Doyle resurrected Sherlock Holmes, he didn’t send out a series of informative tweets or pen a blog post explaining his decision. But what if he did write it down in his diary? The hunt for the missing journal from the consulting detective’s interregnum is at the center of Moore’s thriller—that and the murder of a preeminent Doyle scholar. Basically, the game is afoot.

    What’s your favorite bookish mystery?

  • Katherine Monasterio 5:00 pm on 2014/08/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , carlos ruiz zafon, , , , , , , rivendell,   

    5 Fictional Libraries We’d Love to Visit 

    Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind

    Hey, we don’t have to tell you that libraries are special. We’re all book lovers here, we know what it’s like to walk into a space full of books knowing we’ll leave with an entire armload. But reading about libraries—that’s a different kind of fun, especially when the characters in the stories share our kinship with books. Here are 5 literary libraries we’d love to spend an afternoon or ten exploring:

    Matilda’s local library (Matilda, by Roald Dahl)
    The library in this story isn’t magical or even particularly remarkable, but it’s the place where one of our favorite readers fell in love with books. Though most of us didn’t go to an elementary school with a cartoonishly evil principal, we can all relate to Matilda’s excitement about reading. We can’t help but identify with the feeling of finding friends in books, of leaving reality behind in favor of something more splendid and hopeful. Mrs. Phelps the librarian was one of the first to recognize Matilda’s incredible talent (or whatever it is that could make a four-year-old love Dickens), and so sweetly encouraged her to take books home.

    The Miskatonic University Library (The works of H.P. Lovecraft)
    A university library full of occult works? Count us in! Lovecraft refers to this fictional library several times throughout his body of work, located on a Massachusetts campus at a university as prestigious as any Ivy League school. What kind of occult books are contained within this library? The most famous is the Necronomicon—the book that tells how to raise the “great old ones” (e.g., Cthulhu and other abominations). Another tells of ancient cults that worshipped pre-human deities, while yet another is written by an actual sorcerer.

    The library at Hogwarts (Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling)
    Is there a better way to draw attention to something than to put a Restricted sign on it? There’s nothing quite like the thrill of sneaking into the Hogwarts’ library’s restricted section with Harry for the first time, to read forbidden books to learn secrets of the magical world. It’s the place where our trio retreats to read up on their problems, as if Harry, Hermione, and Ron weren’t endearing enough already.

    The Cemetery of Forgotten Books (The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon)
    In this ethereal novel, young Daniel’s father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a large library full of out-of-print titles. Anyone who enters the library must take a book and, according to the curator, Isaac, protect it for life. Isaac tells Daniel that each of the books there were loved so dearly, it’s as though they have souls. The secrecy and implicit brotherhood of those who know about the Cemetery make it a place any reader would love to browse. We want to be invited in to see which forgotten book will speak to us, and to then take it home and make it part of our own story.

    Elrond’s Library at Rivendell (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien)
    We love the library at Rivendell from the Lord of the Rings series, as brought to life in the Peter Jackson films. It’s a beautiful library containing all kinds of wonderful nooks and places to read, and some of the most important events in the series take place there.  It’s open to the elements (which doesn’t damage the books—we credit elf magic), so you can bask in a summer breeze while you peruse the shelves. And can you imagine what kind of cool stories and texts are kept on an elvish bookshelf?

    Which fictional library would you most love to visit?

  • Joel Cunningham 4:50 pm on 2014/07/03 Permalink
    Tags: carlos ruiz zafon, , helena rappaport, housekeeping, , , joel dicker, lisa lutz, , markus zusak, , , the book thief, , , the last days of the romanovs, the romanov sisters, the shadow of the wind, the silkwrorm, the spellman files, the truth about the harry quebert affair, , ,   

    What to Read Next if You Liked Top Secret Twenty-One, The Book Thief, The Hurricane Sisters, The Romanov Sisters, or The Silkworm 

    photoAs someone who started reading Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels when the series was still in the single digits, I can honestly say that it isn’t the mysteries that keep fans coming back, it’s the characters: perpetually frazzled bounty hunter Stephanie, her push-pull love interests Ranger and Morelli, and especially her pistol-packing, porn-watching Grandma Mazur. If you’ve read the latest, Top Secret Twenty-One, try The Spellman Files, by Lisa Lutz, the first in a series about a colorful family of private investigators who spend as much time investigating one another as they do solving cases.

    The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, is, in one sense, a harrowing story of the Holocaust, one of the most hopeless periods in human history. And yet, it is also a story about the power of books to provide not just an escape from darkness, but also to spark a fire that can hold it at bay. If you were inspired by Leisel’s determination to rescue books before they could be destroyed by Nazi storm troopers, you’ll likely entranced by the literary mystery that drives The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, about a boy’s lifelong quest to safeguard a crucially important tome from The Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

    In The Hurricane Sisters, by Dorothea Benton Frank, two best friends take a gamble on turning a peeling family-owned mansion into a lavish Lowcountry resort, setting the stage for the perfect beach read, an engrossing, multigenerational family saga filled with lovingly crafted Southern locales and endearing, enduring characters. Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson, a 1980 Pulitzer nominee, is a clear spiritual forebear chronicling the lives of two orphaned sisters who are passed around by a series of relatives before winding up with their eccentric aunt in small-town Idaho. Over the years, as the trio grows apart then comes together again, the novel demonstrates that housekeeping, in the metaphorical sense, means creating a home and finding a family.

    The Romanov Sisters, by Helena Rappaport, is an impeccably researched, revelatory portrait of the daughters of the last Tsar of Russia, girls who were as famous in their day as any heiress whose photos are getting drawn on by Perez Hilton, and whose fame could not save them from a violent end amid revolution. For a complete picture of the tumultuous end of a centuries-old dynasty, pick up Rappaport’s exhaustive earlier work, The Last Days of the Romanovs.

    After venturing into the sordid world of high fashion in The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith (née J.K. Rowling) sends private investigator Cormoran Strike into the underbelly of the publishing world in The Silkworm, investigating the gruesome murder of a two-bit writer murdered before he could publish a scandalous roman à clef that promised to expose a lot of dirty secrets. For another mystery featuring an author behaving badly, check out The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, by Joel Dicker, a blockbuster in Europe, in which a struggling young novelist is drawn into a scandal involving his literary mentor, a famed writer accused of murdering his underage girlfriend.

    Have you read any of these books?

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