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  • Tara Sonin 5:00 pm on 2018/03/09 Permalink
    Tags: , anita hill, , , , , children of blood and bone, , diary of anne frank, dread nation, erika l. sanchez, Fiction, , , , i am not your perfect mexican daughter, inspiring stories, , jessica spotswood, justina ireland, kate moore, , , , love hate and other filters, march forward girl, margot lee shetterly, meet cute, melba patillo beals, my beloved world, my own words, , nicola yoon, , option b, piecing me together, , , renee watson, , , ruth bader ginsburg, samira ahmed, she persisted, sheryl sandberg, , sonia sotomayor, speaking truth to power, , , the radical element, the scarlett letter, tomi adeyemi,   

    25 Must-Reads for Women’s History Month 

    It’s Women’s History Month, so to celebrate the women who have shaped our history, written characters we loved, lived lives we admired and learned from…here are twenty five books you should read this month!

    Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay
    An essential collection of essays perfect for women’s history month reading about feminism in the modern world, all from the perspective of writer and activist Roxane Gay. The intersections of race, gender, body politics, and much more collide in a poignant, funny, and striking collection.

    Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
    Told through poetry, the story of an African American girl’s journey through adolescence stings with the remains of Jim Crow and follows her through the Civil Rights Movement. But it’s also the story of a writer coming into her own, learning the power of words, and overcoming a childhood struggle with reading.

    March Forward, Girl, by Melba Patillo Beals
    Another memoir about a courageous, young black girl living in a racist, segregated society, this one will inspire you to action in your own life. You may know of Melba Patillo Beals as one of the legendary Little Rock Nine, but her story begins before that…and leads her to a lifetime of resilience.

    I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L. Sanchez
    Olga was perfect. She did everything her parents wanted. But then she died, and Julia has no chance of being the perfect Mexican daughter her sister was. That is, until she learns her sister may not have been so perfect after all. A story of family, Mexican culture, the American Dream, and much more.

    Hard Choices, by Hillary Clinton
    Not the memoir you expected, but an important one: one of history’s most influential women and former Secretary of State details her life experience in politics and during her time in the Obama administration.

    She Persisted, by Chelsea Clinton
    Like mother, like daughter! Chelsea’s picture book about women throughout history who have persisted during difficult times is inspiring and informative. Learn the stories of women such as Ruby Bridges, who triumphed during the Civil Rights Movement; Helen Keller, who owned her identity as a disabled woman and refused to let others define her abilities; Oprah Winfrey, media mogul and the first black female billionaire, and more!

    Love Hate and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed
    Another story about young women loving their families and yet, defying the cultures they come from. Maya wants to go to film school, live in New York, and be with a boy who isn’t Muslim. But her parents want the opposite. Can she reconcile the life they want for her with the life she wants for herself?

    My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor
    Yes, you need to read the book by the first Latina Supreme Court Justice! Sonia grew up in the projects in the Bronx and wound up on the most senior court in the land. How did she get there? By overcoming adversity, relying on family, and learning to love herself.

    My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    If there is a more incredible woman to learn from…well, we can’t finish that sentence, because there isn’t. RBG has seen it all, and in this collection of essays on everything from her early career, being a woman, the law, and much more, she shares her wisdom with us.

    Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly
    The book that became a box office smash is a must-read. The story of the NASA mathematicians—and African-American women—who changed the face of the race to space was lost to time and whitewashed history. But now you can read about the brilliance and ambition of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, and Gloria Champine.

    Radium Girls by, Kate Moore
    A new product hit the market that people all across the country used for beauty and medicinal purposes. We now know this dangerous product for what it really is: radium, and while people were using it to make themselves more beautiful and healthier, the truth was glistening beneath the surface. When the girls working in the radium factories got sick, it exposed an industry’s dark underbelly of corruption, abuse, and more.

    The Radical Element, by Jessica Spotswood (and others)
    The subtitle of this anthology tells you everything you need to know: daredevils, debutants, and other dauntless girls throughout history finally have their stories told. From some of the best YA authors come twelve short stories about everything from girls secretly learning Hebrew in the US South, to living as a second-generation immigrant, and much more.

    Meet Cute, by Nicola Yoon, Nina Lacour, and other authors.
    Another anthology written by women! Why this for Women’s History Month, you ask? Because the stories touch all intersections of love: interracial relationships, trans love, bisexual love, and so much more.

    Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank
    The haunting story of a girl’s innocence touched by the violence and hatred of the Third Reich has a message that still persists to this day: love one another, before it is too late.

    Shrill, by Lindy West
    For centuries, society has demanded women be small, warm, sexually open (but not too open), good mothers, good wives, smart but not too smart….the list goes on and on, but the one thing women are not supposed to be, is shrill. This memoir is about all the things women are, and more importantly, what we could be if we were set free.

    The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
    Starr is a girl living two lives: the one with her black family, in a neighborhood struggling with systemic racism, poverty, gang violence and police brutality…and as a student at a private school with white friends and a white boyfriend who are often insensitive when it comes to matters of race. But when her childhood best friend is maliciously gunned down by police, Starr bridges her two worlds with a message that all need to hear: black lives matter.

    We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Based on an essay by the same name, this book tackles the issue of feminism head on. Exploring everything from race and gender to sex and power dynamics, this incredible book is perfect for those just starting to break down the definition of feminism and how it applies to their lives.

    Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg
    When her husband died, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was faced with a choice: lose herself to her grief, or turn to option B and try to find a way forward. She chose the second option, but she did not do so alone. This book examines grief, and the multitude of ways human beings process it, and how to find happiness again “when option A is not available.”

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
    Don’t miss the unforgettable story of Henrietta Lacks, a woman whose cells were taken from her during cancer treatment…and without her knowledge, consent, or compensation, provided essential information to cancer research. Those cells are still alive today, and in them, her legacy lives on.

    Speaking Truth to Power, by Anita Hill
    The #MeToo movement has had many starts and stops, and one of them was no doubt spurred by the testimony of Anita Hill, who alleged that her former boss—and Supreme Court Justice nominee—Clarence Thomas, had sexually harassed her. The message in this book rings loud and clear: to be a woman in a man’s world, you must get comfortable standing up for yourself and what you believe to be true.

    Piecing Me Together, by Renee Watson
    To live the life she wants, Jade has to get out of her bad neighborhood…and its not enough that she already goes to a private school far away from home. But she’s not sure the way out is through the opportunities given to black girls from “at-risk” backgrounds, either. A moving portrait of living in systemic racism, about loving who you are, and wanting everything out of life.

    Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
    A fantasy inspired by the lore and culture of West Africa, this YA novel is one of the buzziest books of the year. Zéli’s mother was murdered, as were so many other maji, by a king who feared the magic they possessed. But now she has a chance to restore her kingdom to glory…if she can align herself with a princess, and outsmart a prince.

    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
    This story of a family of women bonded while the patriarch of the family is off at war has lasted generations for its timeless message of love, sisterhood, and fighting for what you want in life.

    The Scarlett Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    The book that explored the stigma of the fallen women has inspired many stories since. Hester has been branded with a Scarlet A to wear on her clothing a symbol of her sin: having a child out of wedlock, and refusing to name the father.

    Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland
    Jane McKeene was born during the Civil War…but when zombies start rising from the dead, the war becomes something else entirely. Indigenous and black kids are forced to learn how to eradicate the monsters. This one publishes in April, but you should pre-order it for Women’s History Month today.

    What books are you reading in honor of Women’s History Month?

    The post 25 Must-Reads for Women’s History Month appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 7:00 pm on 2018/03/07 Permalink
    Tags: Fiction, good bad examples, , , the end of the f*cking world, the end of the fucking world,   

    After The End of the F*cking World, 5 More Books Starring Adorable Teenage Sociopaths 

    If the surprise Netflix hit The End of the F*cking World (based on Chuck Forsman’s graphic novel) has taught us anything, it’s that sociopaths can be absolutely endearing (though it’s true James, one of two misfit teenagers who flee their homes seeking adventure and get wrapped up in a terrible crime, only suspects he’s a stone-cold killer). But of course, we already knew that: the disturbed teen at this story’s center is far from the first sociopathic child to charm our boots off—here are five other murderous kids found in literature who hide behind a facade of adorableness.

    Spoilers follow!

    Kazou Kiriyama in Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami
    Handsome, rich, intelligent, and a good student: you might imagine Kazuo Kiriyama be popular with kids and teachers alike. He’s also a pretty good fit for the Battle Royale, a brutal government program that pits students against each other in a fight to the death. After a car accident damages the part of his brain that processes emotions, Kazuo becomes an extremely bored genius who masters challenges with ease—to the point where his decision whether to play along with the government’s demand he murder his classmates is left to the flip of a coin. He proves to be as good at killing as he was at playing the violin.

    Steerpike in The Gormenghast Trilogy, by Mervyn Peake
    One of the tricks Peake pulls off in his classic work of grim fantasy is the character of Steerpike, initially presented as unattractive in just about every way. Despite this, he slowly evolves into an anti-hero worth rooting for, despite his horrific actions and complete and utter selfishness, and a self-centered worldview that suggest classic sociopathic tendencies. By the end, Steerpike’s rage and campaign of terror against, well, everyone who isn’t Steerpike somehow seems almost noble, and his aspects of the sprawling story are the most interesting and enjoyable. You might not want to hang out with him, but you won’t mind following him around and observing him.

    Rhoda Penmark in The Bad Seed, by William March
    Rhoda is eight years old, and the absolute definition of an adorable child. She’s pretty, polite, and obedient, she does her schoolwork, and she treats adults with respect. The fact that her classmates keep their distance and that people (and sometimes cute puppies) occasionally die when they irritate her (or when their deaths benefit her in even minor ways) doesn’t take away from the fact that if you were googling for stock photos of “adorable little girl,” Rhoda would show up every time. Using her cuteness and youth as a shield, Rhoda literally gets away with murder, and even when her own mother attempts to put an end to her tiny reign of terror, her age and appearance save her. Awww.

    Joffrey Baratheon in A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin
    Sure, now we know just how awful was King Joffrey I, first of his name. But Joffrey inherited his (true) father’s good looks and his mother’s superficial charm, and for a long time before ascending to the throne, he managed to at least appear to be a handsome, if unpredictable child. Of course, once he gains the crown, his sociopathic tendencies blossom into full-fledged tyranny as he declares a whole world his to torment for fun. No, no one shed a tear when he was assassinated (well, we assume Cersei shed a tear, and decided to launch a campaign of murder in his honor), but plenty of people in Westeros were charmed by this kid in the early going.

    Merricat Blackwood in We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson
    Jackson’s crowning achievement is the slow burn realization that Merricat is actually far from the damaged and persecuted teenager we think we meet early in Jackson’s most celebrated work. She is actually an unreliable and psychotic murderer. And yet, you never stop hoping she’ll find some kind of comfort and happiness, even after you learn she poisoned her family and burned down her own house because she was literally unwilling to accept a change to her small universe. Merricat seems like a sort of kooky twist on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl—until the inky blackness within her starts to leak out. The deep impression she leaves on readers is why she’s become one of the most interesting characters in literary history. The fact that she embodies many of Shirley Jackson’s own fears and struggles just makes her even more interesting.

    Who are your favorite fictional bad seeds?

    The post After The End of the F*cking World, 5 More Books Starring Adorable Teenage Sociopaths appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Sarah Skilton 4:00 pm on 2018/02/28 Permalink
    Tags: , alternate side, , auntie poldi and the sicilian lions, christina lynch, , Fiction, i'll be your blue sky, italian teacher, , john brownjohn, kristin harmel, leah stewart, mario giordano, marisa de los santos, , not that i could tell, speak no evil, the italian party, the room on rue amelie, , uzodinma iweala, what you don't know about charlie outlaw   

    The Best New Fiction of March 2018 

    This month brings us several poignant family dramas and plenty of neighborhood intrigue, from a wealthy New York City enclave to a scandal-plagued Ohioan suburb. A heart-pounding thriller aboard an airplane; a TV star’s abduction; and three books set in Italy will have you staying up late turning pages and practicing your grazies and pregos! Lastly, a long-awaited second novel from Beasts of No Nation author Uzodinma Iweala promises to leave you gasping.

    Accidental Heroes, by Danielle Steel
    This thriller set in the not-so-friendly skies finds a Homeland Security agent racing against the clock to prevent tragedy aboard a flight from New York to San Francisco. Assisting him in his tense mission are a group of “everyday people” whose fates have converged. Some of them work for the airport or the airline, and some of them are strangers thrown together from across the country. None of them expected to be heroes. Now boarding: A character study wrapped around an action-packed drama.

    Alternate Side, by Anna Quindlen
    A bestselling novelist (Miller’s ValleyObject Lessons) and advice-giver (A Short Guide to a Happy LifeBeing Perfect), Quindlen centers her latest novel on an elite neighborhood in Manhattan. Nora and Charlie Nolan, and the rest of their secluded, close-knit community, are thrown into chaos when an act of violence with racial undertones forces them to take stock of who and what they really are.

    The Italian Teacher, by Tom Rachman
    As with his first, critically lauded book The Imperfectionists, Rachman’s latest takes place in Rome, this time in the 1950s art world. Charles “Pinch” Bavinsky is one of seventeen kids produced by a philandering, impossible-to-pin-down father, Bear Bavinsky, who also happens to be a genius painter. At first, Pinch yearns to follow in his father’s footsteps, or at least become his biographer. Will Pinch’s job as a language instructor in London bring him the fulfillment he hopes for, or will his complicated relationship with his father be the only legacy available to him?

    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, by Mario Giordano (translated by John Brownjohn)
    Determined to spend her twilight years drinking wine and enjoying the beauty of Sicily, 60-year-old Auntie Poldi, a former costume designer with a wide variety of wigs, quickly discovers that a relaxing retirement is not in the cards. Eager to solve the mystery of her handyman’s disappearance, she throws herself into the official search, despite her lack of investigative credentials. It doesn’t hurt that the lead detective, Vito Montana, is dashingly handsome. The first in a decidedly cozy series, Lions is filled with humor, heart, and stunning locales.

    The Room on Rue Amelie, by Kristin Harmel
    Harmel’s poignant novels always tug at the heartstrings, whether they concern the past (When We Meet Again), the present (The Life Intended), or both (The Sweetness of Forgetting). With Amelie, she whisks readers to occupied Paris in 1939, where three people’s lives converge: an American newlywed unsure if her marriage can last, a Jewish child fearful of deportation, and a British RAF pilot who has lost his mother to the Blitz and now finds himself cut off behind enemy lines.

    The Italian Party, by Christina Lynch
    A sumptuous, detail-rich debut packed with secrets, it’s part spy novel, part political thriller, part mystery, and part relationship drama. Oh, and there’s satirical humor, too! Party takes place in Siena, Italy, in 1956, where just-married “American innocents,” Scottie and Michael Messina, have arrived for Michael’s job with Ford tractors. There are many problems with this scenario: Scottie is protecting a troubling personal secret, Michael is hiding an explosive professional one; and he also wouldn’t mind being reunited with his former (male) lover while they’re in town. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

    Speak No Evil, by Uzodinma Iweala
    A stunning, powerful follow-up to Iweala’s 2005 debut Beasts of No NationSpeak takes place in an America where immigrants continue to struggle with cultural integration. A Nigerian-American senior in high school living in Washington, DC, Niru has a bright future ahead of him, including a slot at Harvard in the fall. His homosexuality is a secret he must keep from his strict Nigerian parents, whose “cure” for his “corruption” includes physical abuse and a forced visit to Nigeria, a country Niru has never considered home. His white best friend, Meredith, in an attempt to help him, makes the situation exponentially worse. Their two stories will undoubtedly stick with readers for months to come.

    I’ll be Your Blue Sky, by Marisa de los Santos
    The compelling friendship between Cornelia Brown and her surrogate daughter Clare (first explored in the bestselling, warmhearted Love Walked In and Belong to Me) continues, alternating between the present and the past. Now a grown woman, Clare is engaged to a man whose temperament swings between charming and controlling. When an elderly acquaintance, Edith, helps Clare realize the situation’s inherent danger, Clare gets a new lease on life. The two women’s stories are further connected when Clare inherits Edith’s Delaware beach house, which served as a shelter for abused women in the 1950s.

    What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw, by Leah Stewart
    Charlie Outlaw, a TV actor overwhelmed by his recent fame, seeks refuge at a secluded island, where he’s kidnapped for ransom. Josie Lamar, the woman who dumped him, struggles with her own life in the spotlight—or, rather, out of it; the superhero she played on a cult TV show twenty years ago remains her defining role, and she’d love to move on with a new character. Despite their break-up, their love story isn’t over by a long shot, and readers will eagerly devour this showbiz-filled adventure.

    Not That I Could Tell, by Jessica Strawser
    Think Desperate Housewives meets Big Little Lies, with a dash of Where’d You Go, Bernadette thrown in for good measure. A thriller set in small-town Ohio, the mystery kicks off when Kristin, a soon-to-be-divorced mother of twins, disappears. The neighborhood moms can’t fathom what caused her to flee, and their curiosity about their friend’s secret forces them to examine their own home lives in greater detail.

    What new fiction are you excited to read in March?

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

  • Tara Sonin 4:00 pm on 2018/02/12 Permalink
    Tags: a line in the dark, a separation, , , , , , bad love, , , caroline kepnes, celeste ng, , , , everything I never told you, Fiction, , graham green, greer hendricks, , , , , jacqueline carey, , , 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.

  • Tara Sonin 4:00 pm on 2018/02/12 Permalink
    Tags: Fiction, , ,   

    A “Perfect” Marriage is Tested in Sophie Kinsella’s Surprise Me 

    Surprise Me is a new feel-good romance from Sophie Kinsella that touches on themes perfect for the new year: renewal, second chances, and remembering what’s most important in a chaotic, materialistic world.

    Sylvie and Dan have been together for a decade, and they’re happier than ever…or so they think. When a visit to the family doctor and a great health report card makes them realize they could be spending the next seven decades together, the quirky couple has a bit of a breakdown: it turns out happily ever after is an intimidatingly long time, and they’re terrified that their marriage has already failed before it, in the scheme of things, has even really taken flight. How will they keep up their sex life? Are they doomed to a life of picking up after their twins and petty arguments about taking money from Sylvie’s parents? Are their jobs satisfying enough…and what will retirement look like, if it’s twenty years long?

    All of these questions cause our heroine, Sylvie, to lose her grip in this caustically funny story of miscommunication and marriage revival attempts that go awry. She decides to make a deal with Dan that they surprise one another more…but of course, surprises are a double-edged sword, and when Sylvie finds herself getting surprised by more than just sexy escapades with the husband she thought she could trust—that perhaps Dan has real, possibly marriage-ending secrets he’s tried to protect throughout their life together—she wonders whether their relationship has been real all along, or just another unsatisfying surprise.

    Kinsella is at her best writing quirky, relatable women with self-aware, non-pretentious prose. Sylvie and Dan are a likable couple, and we believe their happiness at the start of the novel is genuine, even if it’s a little too perfect: they finish one another’s sentences, which is certainly a romantic notion, but definitely underscores a central part of Sylvie’s journey throughout the novel, which is that her marriage can only survive if she finds her own voice. Through her often misguided endeavors to “save” her already great marriage, Sylvie realizes there are things in her past—from her deeply flawed relationship with her wealthy and influential father, whom she revered, to Dan’s discomfort and her complacency with a job that doesn’t give her emotional satisfaction and checks her ambition—that she must save herself from in order to live a happy life. And of course, when family drama is unearthed from the past, all of Sylvie and Dan’s plans for fun and spontaneity go out the door, and they must fight to save the marriage they never thought would be in jeopardy.

    Life is a constant surprise, but the best one of all is finding a supportive, loving partner to share it with.

    Surprise Me is on B&N bookshelves now.

    The post A “Perfect” Marriage is Tested in Sophie Kinsella’s Surprise Me appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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