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  • Cristina Merrill 4:00 pm on 2018/06/13 Permalink
    Tags: all we ever wanted, by invitation only, calypso, cottage by the sea, , , , , , emily giffin, , , love and ruin, , , , rainy day friends, , , the cast, , the perfect couple   

    10 Beach Reads to Get You into That Summer State of Mind 

    Summer is nearly here! That means plenty of time for lounging about in the great outdoors. Here are 10 page-turning stories to enjoy as you soak up the sun. Some are light and breezy, and others are a bit darker—covering everything from murders to social media scandals. There are fresh starts and betrayals and secrets. They all have one thing in common, though: They’re each filled with beautiful, colorful characters who will make you want to keep turning the pages, even when the going gets rough. (Especially when the going gets rough, actually.)

    So put on your biggest shades, slather on the SPF-whatever-you-need, and enjoy! Just don’t forget to turn over once in a while.

    The Cast, by Danielle Steel
    Hoping to dip your toes into a glamorous, Hollywood-esque story? Seek no further! Steel’s yarn is about a woman, Kait Whittier, who has a respectable magazine writing career. After meeting Zack Winter, a television producer, Kait becomes inspired to write a TV series based on her grandmother’s life. She soon finds herself in the middle of a major production filled with all kinds of people. All is going quite well, until she is confronted with a major maternal-related issue. Will she be able to get through it? And will her new inner circle help her?

    The Perfect Couple, by Elin Hilderbrand
    Fans of The Castaways and A Summer Affair will have a chance to revisit some of their favorite characters in this novel! It’s wedding season on Nantucket, which doesn’t exactly thrill the locals. (So. Many. Tourists.) Then a bride-to-be is found dead just a few hours before the ceremony was supposed to begin, and many of those who were close to her are prime suspects. Chief of Police Ed Kapenash is on the case, and he soon realizes that no lovey-dovey couple—or family, for that matter—is perfect. He’s going to have to ask some difficult questions in order to solve this case and bring the bride’s loved ones closure.

    All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin
    Giffin’s latest tale is about a major incident that goes viral on social media. Nina Browning is living the good life in Nashville. Her wealthy husband just sold his tech company for a major profit, and their son got accepted to Princeton. Living a very different life is Tom Volpe, a single dad working multiple jobs to raise his daughter, Lyla, while making sure she doesn’t screw things up at her new prep school. One night, at a wild party, a scandalous photo is taken that can shake up everything these two families have worked for. Can they manage to survive the scandal and pick up the pieces of their lives?

    Calypso, by David Sedaris
    Humor book alert! Funnyman David Sedaris’s latest book is about his purchase of a beach house. This may seem like The Dream for just about anyone, but, as Sedaris learns, it’s not all fun and games. He thought it would be a relaxing retreat, but he still can’t escape the facts of life, such as middle age and mortality. There are plenty of his patented and hilarious ruminations on both in this volume, so be prepared for lots of belly laughs in spite of yourself—and maybe some stares from the people sitting nearby.

    Shelter in Place, by Nora Roberts
    Roberts’ latest book deals with a mass shooting at a mall, and how it affects the lives of the survivors for years to come. One man decides to go into law enforcement, while one woman finds a much-needed outlet in her art. Years have passed since that horrible night, but the pain still lingers, and it may not even be over yet. Let’s just say that someone bad is waiting to cause more chaos. Fans know that Roberts (and her alter writing ego, J.D. Robb) consistently delivers thrillers filled with the most wonderful human characters.   

    The High Tide Club, by Mary Kay Andrews
    Attorney Brooke Trappnell has been summoned by 99-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick to the old lady’s beach home. Josephine wants to make things right with the descendants of her old girl gang. They called themselves The High Tide Club back in the day, and let’s just say they used to have oodles of fun together. (Case in point: They went skinny dipping. A lot.) Of course, many things have happened since those days. Oh, and Josephine also wants Brooke to help her protect her land from greedy hands. Brooke soon finds herself in the middle of decades-old drama as she reunites everyone at Josephine’s home.

    Love and Ruin, by Paula McLain
    McLain is at it again! After the success of The Paris Wife, a fictional account of Ernest Hemingway’s marriage to Hadley Richardson, his first of multiple marriages, this new tome delves into Hemingway’s marriage with journalist Martha Gellhorn. Martha travels to Madrid to report on the Spanish Civil War and ends up crossing paths with the soon-to-be-super-famous writer. Throughout their relationship, one of her main struggles is to make sure she remains her own person, which many a modern reader can appreciate. Hemingway scholars know how this particular love story ends, but it’s still fun to read about a romance between two interesting and intelligent people with lots of inner turmoil.

    By Invitation Only, by Dorothea Benton Frank
    A wedding is about to take place, and let’s just say the bride and groom come from very different backgrounds. Fred’s family are Southern peach farmers, while Shelby comes from a wealthy Chicago family. One side is very hardworking, while the other side—or certain folks on it—have a bit of a sense of entitlement. Everyone is feeling a little bit out of their element, especially the two mothers. Will Fred and Shelby’s relationship survive class differences? And will everyone be feeling the love when Fred and Shelby say “I do?” (That is, IF they do?)

    Cottage by the Sea, by Debbie Macomber
    Annie Marlow has been through some pretty painful experiences, so she decides to hightail it to the Pacific Northwest. There she meets a colorful cast of characters, including Keaton, who helps her fix up her seaside rental cottage. He’s a very nice, zen kind of guy, which Annie really needs right now. Life is going smoothly, and then Annie gets a major opportunity thrown her way. Add to that a landlady with some major emotional walls around her and a teenager who might be in desperate need of Annie’s help, and you’ve got a page turner you won’t be able to put down.

    Rainy Day Friends, by Jill Shalvis
    Lanie Jacobs’ husband recently passed away, and she’s still getting over her grief when she discovers that she wasn’t his only wife. She’s devastated, to say the least, and she decides to make a fresh start for herself by working at the Capriotti Winery. It’s a family-run venture, and Lanie gets plenty of distraction from the noisy Capriotti family. There’s also the matter of Mark Capriotti, an Air Force veteran who is now the deputy sheriff. He and Lanie soon realize that they really like each other. Then a 21-year-old newcomer with some dark secrets shows up, which just might ruin everything that Lanie has worked for.

    The post 10 Beach Reads to Get You into That Summer State of Mind appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Lily Lawrence 8:00 pm on 2016/06/21 Permalink
    Tags: , emily giffin, first comes love, sibling rivalries   

    A Moving Story of Sisters, and a Perfect Book Club Pick 

    Sibling relationships of all kinds are complicated at best, coming by definition with a lifetime’s worth of family baggage. The relationships that should be closest are the ones most prone to stress, as Emily Giffin (author of bestsellers Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, and The One and Only) explores in new novel First Comes Love. The complicated bond between sisters Meredith and Josie, who share narration, forms the story’s crux, and the dual storytelling is crucial, giving us an intimate view of both sides of the long rift between them.

    From the start, we know theirs is not going to be an easy journey. The book opens with the death of their college student brother, Daniel, in a car crash that happens when he’s home for Christmas, with a beautiful woman he wants to marry in tow. It’s a tragedy whose effects ripple throughout the book. Meredith and Josie, despite their chalk and cheese personalities, share a caring bond—which their brother’s death begins to erode.

    Good girl Meredith presents a poised face: she’s a successful Atlanta lawyer, and mother to a young daughter. In the wake of the accident, she was seemingly “saved” by her husband, Nolan, Daniel’s one-time best friend, with whom she purchased the family home from her now-divorced parents. Nolan also gives the family a tangible link to their lost son. It seems that all is well, but the murky tang of emotional obligation underpinning Meredith’s marriage won’t stay submerged forever.

    Josie, on the other hand, has always been the wild one. Still single and harboring a broken heart from a previous relationship gone awry, Josie has a biological clock that’s not just ticking—it’s ringing an alarm bell. As a first-grade teacher and loving aunt, she’s coming to the conclusion that she’ll have to take matters into her own hands if she wants to become a mother.

    Readers will be rooting for these sisters to find some common ground, mend their differences, and move forward together. The route they take together will be a bumpy one, requiring they both revisit their painful past and start to let go of old feelings of guilt and regret. Readers will love joining them for the ride.

  • Kelly Anderson 7:29 pm on 2015/08/03 Permalink
    Tags: , , , elizabeth wein, emily giffin, , ,   

    7 Amazing Female Friendships in Fiction 

    Besties! BFFs! #SquadGoals! Whether it’s Taylor Swift and her parade of friends onstage, or adorable groups of puppies on Twitter, best friendship, and in particular best female friendship, is in the air these days. But of course, while others are into taking selfies or singing songs about it, as book nerds, our first way of joining in on a trend is always going to be via book. So that got me thinking: What awesome books are out there that celebrate female friendship? Here are 7 I love.

    The Neapolitan Novels series, by Elena Ferrante
    Speaking of names that are in the air these days, Elena Ferrante, guys! Over the past few years, as her later novels were translated into English, her star has just been rising higher, and for good reasons, such as her fantastic writing and fascinating exploration of complex minds and lives. But my favorite thing about Ferrante is her ability to write striking portraits of female psychology, particularly that surrounding female friendship. The best example of this is Elena and Lila, the central pair in her Neapolitan novels, which follow them from girlhood to late middle age in 1960s Naples. Ferrante memorably shows us both the inspiring, glorious side of having a brilliant best friend, as well as the less palatable underbelly of envy and competition that can arise. If you’ve ever had a long-term best friend and know just how much that experience can shape your life, you’ll recognize yourself here.

    The Secret Place, by Tana French
    Speaking of less palatable underbellies, Tana French’s The Secret Place is a memorably accurate exploration of teenage female friendship that has quite possibly gone horribly wrong. A teenage boy is found dead on the grounds of an all-girls’ prep school in Ireland, prompting an investigation with few leads—until one day someone anonymously posts “I know who killed him” on the school’s community bulletin board, known as the “secret place.” The detectives reopen the case and find themselves up against the psychological battlefield of high school girl cliques, frenemies, and social hierarchies, and all the secrets they hide. French paints a powerful picture of how deeply friendship matters to teenage girls, and does it with a depth of emotion sure to transport readers back to their own high school years.

    Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein
    A WWII story, this fascinating book focuses on the very active role two teens play in the conflict. Maddie is a pilot who sometimes drops agents and supplies into France to aid the resistance, and Julie? Well, she seems to do all sorts of things she doesn’t talk about, things that eventually deliver her into the hands of an SS officer who interrogates her for weeks on end. The novel opens with Julie in prison; as tells the story of her intense friendship with Maddie, we discover how everything came to be. Julie is one of those people you never forget—the kind who’s always in motion, always planning, always doing, and who hides damage and secrets you might never guess. Code Name Verity is one of those novels I just can’t say much more about until you’ve read it, so get to it! Trust me, this is a secret you want to be in on.

    Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
    The relationship between the sisters in this classic is usually what gets top billing (that is, if we’re not immediately talking about Darcy). And this makes sense. Between Lydia’s exploits, Mary’s preaching, Kitty’s slavish imitation, and Elizabeth and Jane’s quiet pact of sisterly sanity, all of these relationships give us something to talk about. However, what’s less often discussed is the one friendship not tied up in sisterhood: the one between Elizabeth and Charlotte. These ladies grew up together, and have clearly long been using each other as a rare sensible lifeline amid the nonsense of their families and neighbors. As the novel progresses, however, it becomes clear Elizabeth and Charlotte disagree on some fundamental principles of life, namely, love’s role in marriage. And yet, theirs is one of the few great examples of a friendship that manages to survive core differences and still end with both ladies rooting for each other.

    Borrowed & Blue, by Emily Giffin
    Giffin has written several books dealing with groups of friends making major life choices about marriage, children, and careers. But her gold standard remains the Something Borrowed/Something Blue duology (now a movie!), which explores the friendship of Darcy and Rachel, two women from Indiana who have been friends since elementary school. Darcy is blonde, beautiful, socially fearless, used to getting what she wants. Rachel is bookish, shy and awkward. But they show an incredible loyalty to each other—until the night something happens that tests the strength of their friendship and forces both to reexamine their relationship. These books are memorable not only for the capital-D Drama at their heart, but for being unafraid to dig into some uncomfortable issues about social status and the stories we tell ourselves to make our friendships work.

    The Desperate Duchesses series, by Eloisa James
    This series is an extended historical romance, set in the Regency era, about a bunch of women who all happen be married, engaged to, or running around with English dukes. So it sounds like this is going to be mostly about bodice-ripping sexytimes, heart-burning jealousy, and happy endings, right? Well, of course. (And what good fun it is, too!) But it’s also one of the few historical romance series I’ve come across that, in addition to the giggly fun times, ALSO insists upon the importance of female friendship. Although all the steamy romance you could want is in there, James never forgets to highlight that there are other relationships important to women’s lives, especially those they share with their female support systems.

    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
    Yes, yes, these are sisters. I guess I’m cheating a little bit here. But how many of you have sisters who are your best friends? Or at the least your yardstick or pacing partner, who help you decide your life’s path? The lives of Amy, Jo, Beth, and Meg March (and their mother) are conducted in an almost entirely female universe. Jo, the fiery center of our novel, has particularly strong relationships with her sisters, and even initially rejects the idea of marriage in favor of the life she already has at home. Although of course the novel encompasses jealousy and anger and all the emotions you share with your nearest and dearest, ultimately it shows the strength that lies at the core of the best female friendships and how this can get us through the hard times when it seems nothing else can.

    What other books do you love that feature awesome female friendships?

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