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  • Tara Sonin 4:00 pm on 2018/03/16 Permalink
    Tags: , , anthony mccarten, , brave, , coco, daniel ellsberg, daniel kraus, darkest hour, darryl ponicsan, david finkel, deborah heiligman, diana lopez, first they killed my father, gillian flynn, greg sestero, , hillary jordan, in my own words, jeff bauman, john pearson, , last flag flying, loung ung, martin mcdonogh, molly bloom, molly's game, mudbound, munro leaf, nancy kerrigan, our souls at night, , painfully rich, r.j. palacio, reni eddo-lodge, rose mcgowan, , secrets: a memoir of vietnam and the pentagon papers, , stronger, thank you for your service, , the miracle of dunkirk, the shape of water, the story of ferdinand, three billboards outside ebbing missouri, vincent and theo, walter lord, why i'm no longer talking to white people about race,   

    24 Books to Soothe Your Post Awards-Season Letdown 

    And the award goes to…books! At least, it does in our world. But if you’re a film fan and looking to broaden your literary horizons, here are two dozen books to read now that awards season is over (and you’re probably tired of movies).

    Call Me By Your Name, by Andre Aciman
    The most buzzed-about book-turned-into-a-movie this season is definitely worth a read! A sensual, emotional tale of two young men tempted by lust, love, and passion for one another (despite neither of them being openly gay).

    Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, by Reni Eddo-Lodge
    Get Out isn’t based on a book, but that doesn’t mean one of the most important movies of this awards season (and all of film history) shouldn’t be talked about. This book is a great starting point for discussing the complicated intersections of black history, white supremacy, racism, gender, and much more.

    In My Own Words, by Nancy Kerrigan
    I, Tonya tells the story of the infamous rivalry between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding as a larger-than-life portrait based on real interviews. What happened between Nancy and Tonya, two skating phenoms, who were once colleagues on ice…that led to Nancy’s skating career being derailed by a bludgeoned knee? Read her own words to find out the other side of the story.

    The Shape of Water, by Guillermo Del Toro and Daniel Kraus
    Normally, book people advocate seeing the movie after reading the book, but since this adaptation of the award-nominated movie doesn’t come out until the end of the month, we’ll forgive you for doing the opposite. This ethereal, beautiful romance between a mute woman and a mysterious sea creature kept as a science experiment is set against the backdrop of the conflict between the US and Russia, and is as high-stakes as it is romantic.

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, by Martin McDonogh
    A grieving mother sets herself on the path of justice, violence, and retribution when she puts up three public billboards accusing the police department—and their beloved chief of police—of neglect after they fail to catch her daughter’s murderer. Brutal, emotional, and as impactful as the performances in the movie, this story is not to be missed.

    The Miracle of Dunkirk, by Walter Lord
    It’s 1940, and the allied forces have been forced to retreat after a terrible ai assult from Hitler. Over 300,000 men were stranded on Dunkirk until an evacuation was attempted…in which in which nearly the entire army was saved. This film is a riveting portrait of survival in war and the strength of the human spirit—and the book is just as fascinating.

    Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here, by Anna Breslaw
    Lady-Bird fans, this is the book for you! If you loved the honest voice, snark, and pop-culture references in the movie, you will love Scarlett. Her favorite TV show was just cancelled, so she resorts to writing online fanfiction of what could-have-been…but the problem is, it’s starring real people. When her secret gets out, Scarlett has to reckon with the relationships she has IRL, including a tense one with her Dad, as a result of her parents’ split.

    Darkest Hour, by Anthony McCarten
    If you’re making your way down this list, you will have read about Dunkirk…but who was the man who saved England’s army, and in history’s eyes, the world? Winston Churchill became Prime Minister right at the start of the war, and guided the allies through the most difficult fight of their lives.

    Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, by Daniel Ellsberg
    The Post is one of the most talked-about movies this season, starring an incredibly prestigious cast. But I knew very little about the Pentagon Papers, and that’s where this book comes in! Daniel Ellsberg was the man behind the release of this Vietnam-war-era document, and risked his life to expose the truth.

    Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn
    The Phantom Thread is an incredibly unique movie with lots of twists and turns about a couple in the fashion world of the 1950’s who manipulate one another. Without giving too much away about the plot of the movie to those who haven’t seen it, I think fans will love Sharp Objects! It’s about a murder, a complicated mother, a beguiling sister, and a town that hides lots of secrets.

    Coco, by Diana Lopez
    A fave animated movie of 2017 about a boy who wants to be a musician despite his family having outlawed music for reasons he doesn’t understand is now in book form!

    Painfully Rich, by John Pearson
    This movie starring Christopher Plummer, Michelle Williams, and Mark Wahlberg is based on who made himself very very rich…but ruined his family in the process. Drugs, suicide, a kidnapping, and much more feature in this saga that is as strange as it is true.

    The Disaster Artist, by Greg Sestero
    Have you seen The Room? It’s a cult movie written by a man named Tommy Wiseau which never earned any money and was panned by critics. And yet it’s had an enduring life among cult fans, and this book brings that story hilariously to life (the story you can also see in the movie starring James Franco!).

    First They Killed My Father, by Loung Ung
    Now a movie from Angelina Jolie, this story about a young girl who had to flee her home and train as a child soldier in Cambodia is heart-wrenching, but true. Reading the book will help give you an appreciation for the struggles of others, for family, for home, and for freedom many people have lost their lives for.

    Molly’s Game, by Molly Bloom
    Gambling’s never been my game, but fascinating women who infiltrate exclusive, underground societies totally are. This movie of the same name stars Jessica Chastain as the young girl running an elite poker ring in Hollywood, until the house of cards came crumbling down.

    Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
    Jane Fonda and Robert Redford are a star pair in this movie of the same name about a widow and a widower who have been neighbors for years…until one day they take the risk and decide to become something more. A story of second chances, love at all ages, and chosen happiness.

    Stronger, by Jeff Bauman
    The Boston Marathon Bombing was a horrible moment in history, and no one knows that better than Jeff Bauman, one of the survivors. He lost both his legs that day, and wrote a bestselling book about his journey following the terror attack, and it was adapted into a movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

    The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf
    A children’s book that will make you laugh and cry! Ferdinand the bull is sweet as can be. He has no interest in doing the things other bulls do. Fans of the movie, about a bull taken from his home after being mistaken for a violent creature, will love this heartwarming tale.

    Thank you For Your Service, by David Finkel
    Another movie about heroes and survivors that has a connected book. David Finkel was a different kind of hero; a journalist on the front lines of Afghanistan who documented the soldiers as they ended their tours of duty and started another war…the battle to rejoin civilian life.

    Wonder, by R. J. Palacio
    We could all use more kindness in our lives. That’s what the book—and movie—Wonder is all about. It tells the story of a young boy with a facial disfigurement who is afraid to let kids see what he really looks like, because he worries he’ll be bullied. This is the perfect gift for the sensitive kid in your life (after you watch the movie with them of course!).

    Brave, by Rose McGowan
    The harrowing story of one actress’ rise to activism through trauma is more than just a book; it’s the start of a movement. There’s no movie tie-in to this story, but we’d be remiss not to acknowledge the elephant in awards season…the systemic sexism and misogyny in Hollywood, now laid bare in part by Rose’s story.

    Last Flag Flying, by Darryl Ponicsan
    To truly understand Last Flag Flying, you should also read The Last Detail, the story of two soldiers escorting a man to a naval prison (which was also made into a movie.) This book, set over three decades after the events of the first, about three men escorting a young, deceased soldier home against the orders of their command.

    Mudbound, by Hillary Jordan
    In 1964, a woman from the city is trying to raise a family in the Mississippi Delta when two soldiers return from war and help out on the farm. One of them is black. In the Jim Crow South, bonds between family, between brothers, and friends, are all tested by the realities of the harsh world they live in.

    Vincent and Theo, by Deborah Heiligman
    There’s a non-fiction movie about Vincent Van Gogh and his brother, Theo, nominated for an award this year! I knew very little about them (other than the famous ear story) and so for those who, like me, are interested in learning about the brother who supported the genius artist—and 658 letters he wrote him over the course of their lives—this is the book for you!

    What books are helping you recover from awards season?

    The post 24 Books to Soothe Your Post Awards-Season Letdown 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, , gillian flynn, 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.

     
  • Lauren Passell 1:30 pm on 2017/07/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , gillian flynn, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    DO NOT READ THIS POST: The 10 Biggest Book Spoilers, Ever 

    Warning: if you like to be surprised, stop reading right now. Get a glass of water or look at Buzzfeed or start working on your memoir.

    But if you’re curious about these books and their kick-to-the-stomach endings, then by all means, read on. (Because I’m not completely cruel, I’ve whited out the spoilers—just highlight the empty space to see the hidden words.)

    Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

    The Sinner, by Petra Hammesfahr
    One of the best examples of a “whydunnit” in recent years, German author Hammesfahr’s twisty novel (soon to air as a miniseries on USA starring Jessica Biel) is largely told in flashback after Cora Bender, a seemingly normal mother and housewife, inexplicably stabs a man to death while on a beach picnic with her family. Cora confesses readily and claims to have no idea why she just committed homicide—but a patient policeman thinks there’s more to the story, and slowly susses out the truth—Cora’s younger sister was born extremely ill, and her mother became obsessed with caring for her, forcing her father to share a room with Cora, resulting in a creepily close relationship between the two that comes as close to abuse as possible without crossing that final line. Her sister Magdalena isn’t as innocent as she seems—despite her frailty, she manipulates Cora and also has an intensely, inappropriately intimate relationship with her. When Cora is 19, she takes Magdalena with her to meet a boy and his friends, not realizing that Magdalena is near death and wishes to die. Two of the boys rape Cora while the third has sex with Magdalena—who dies during the act, a specific piece of music playing on the radio. When Cora freaks out, one of the boys hits her in the head with an ashtray, and to cover up the crime, they hold Cora captive for six months. Years later, when the music plays again at the beach, Cora snaps, and strikes out with a knife.

    Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
    In Ender’s Game, the survival of the human race depends on Ender Wiggin, the child genius recruited for military training by the government… But while you (and Ender) believe he is fighting in mind simulation, in truth, he’s been  manipulated into fighting a real war, and actually killing the enemies, called buggers. He moves to a new colony planet with his sister, where he discovers that the buggers have created a space just for him. They didn’t know humans had intelligence, and they want to communicate with him. They show him what the war looked like from their point of view, and Ender and the buggers meet a point of understanding. He vows to live with them in peace, starts a new kind of religion, and writes a Bible-like book about the buggers, signing it Speaker For The Dead, which is a perfect segue into the Ender’s Game sequel.

    Atonement, by Ian McEwan
    Atonement is about misinterpretation and its repercussions. Briony observes her big sister Cecilia and Cecilia’s friend Robbie flirting and assumes something shameful has happened between them. She accuses Robbie of rape, and Robbie goes to jail. The story then follows Cecilia and Robbie as they go to war, fall in love, and wind up together forever. But at the end of the novel, you discover that Briony is actually the book’s narrator—and she’s been lying to you, too. She did accuse Robbie of rape, and he was jailed, but C & R didn’t live happily ever after together, after all. They both died in the war. Briony just wrote a happy ending for them to atone for her sins. That’s what she says, anyway. I’m not sure I believe anything she says anymore.

    And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
    Most Agatha Christie novels leave you gobsmacked (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, anyone?) But And Then There Were None is an absolute masterpiece of the whodunnit? formula. People invited to a party in a mansion keep on being murdered, but by whom? Well, if you’re sure you want to know…it was Judge Wargrave! Swaddled in a red curtain, he fakes his own death so that you, the reader, assume the murderer is someone else. But in a written confession at the end of the novel, you learn that he invited people to a desolate island in order to kill them one by one as punishment for the terrible things they’d done (and thought they got away with). Agatha, you sneak!

    Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
    In Gone Girl, husband and wife Nick and Amy tell the story of their tumultuous marriage. We read what we think is Amy’s diary, and it condemns Nick as a violent jerk. We start to believe that Nick is responsible for Amy’s disappearance and possible death. But in a series of twists, the truth is revealed—Amy and Nick are both liars. Nick was having an affair, and Amy has been alive all along, on the lam, trying to frame Nick for her death. What we thought was her diary is actually a cunning trap: it’s a piece of fiction Amy wrote for the police to find. Amy kills a friend and returns to Nick, pregnant with his child, claiming she was kidnapped. Nick takes her back even though he knows the truth. In the end, Amy says she’s getting ready to become a mom by writing her abduction story. She should hang out with Briony.

    Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
    Rebecca begins with one of the most mesmerizing first lines in literature—“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Things only get more interesting from there. The unnamed protagonist marries Maxim de Winter and moves into his home, called Manderley. She struggles to live up to the legend of Maxim’s late wife, Rebecca, who was seemingly perfect. Mrs. Danvers, the maid, almost gets the protagonist to kill herself in despair. But one day, divers find a sunken sailboat that belonged to Rebecca, revealing that Rebecca was murdered. Maxim then tells the truth: Rebecca was a wretched woman who had multiple affairs—one, with her cousin, resulted in her pregnancy. When Maxim found out, he killed her. In yet another twist, we find out that Rebecca was lying to Maxim—she wasn’t pregnant, but was actually dying of a terminal illness. In the end Old Danvers burns the joint down and disappears. As for Maxim and the protagonist? Happily ever after.

    The Dinner, by Herman Koch
    In Howard Koch’s The Dinner, two brothers and their wives sit down for a meal to discuss the horrific crime committed by their sons. The cousins have been caught on camera attacking a sleeping homeless woman in an ATM, throwing trash and a container of gasoline at her, and then burning her to death. Koch makes it clear that the family is bonded by a common sociopathology. The family argues over what to do. Serge, a politician, wants to come clean about the boys’ crime. Enraged by Serge’s stance, his sister-in-law Claire attacks him, disfiguring his face. Claire urges her nephews to “take care” of Beau, Serge and Babette’s adopted son, who witnessed the crime and is blackmailing the boys by threatening to reveal what they did. At the end of the novel, Beau is missing, and one of the cousins comes home covered in blood and mud. Wonder what happened to him?

    Harry Potter And The Deathly Hollows, by J.K. Rowling
    In J.K. Rowling’s seventh and final installment in the Harry Potter series, it’s revealed that Harry is a Horcrux, and must be killed before Voldemort can be. Viewing Snape’s memories in the Pensieve, Harry sees Snape talking to Dumbledore and finds out that Snape’s been his protector all this time. Snape loved Harry’s mother, Lily Potter, and spent his entire life spying on Voldemort for Dumbledore. Meanwhile, Dumbledore had been steering Harry to sacrifice himself for the larger good. Good and evil are blurred once again when Harry survives and learns that Dumbledore loved him, even if he expected him to sacrifice himself. Ms. Rowling, you’ve tricked us again.

    Rant, by Chuck Palahniuk
    This novel is an oral biography of protagonist Buster Landru “Rant” Casey, who has died. The reader gathers that Rant lived in a dystopian future where lower class citizens, called “nighttimers,” engaged in an activity called “Party Crashing,” a demolition derby where the crashers slam into each other in cars. The catch: if you crash in the right mental state, you’ll travel backwards in time. Rant disappears during Party Crashing, so his friends assume he’s time traveling. It takes some piecing together to figure out that Rant has been traveling back through time, raping his ancestors every thirteen years in an effort to become a superhuman. He isn’t one character; he is many. You can’t make this stuff up, but I guess Palahniuk did.

    Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
    Anna Karenina is about a lot of stuff, but the heart of the story lies with Anna and her downward spiral from captivating spitfire to insecure shell of a woman. The book is beautifully written. Much of its pleasure comes from the character studies and quiet plotting. Then, in one of the most shocking moments in literature, Anna throws herself under a train and dies and you are stupefied. One of my friends always says, of Anna Karenina, “if you only read one ‘old’ book in your whole life, have it be this one.” Agreed.

    Something Happened, by Joseph Heller
    You’ll spend more than 400 pages reading about not much happening, rolling around in the protagonist’s brain as he goes to work, cares for his son, and fantasizes about the secretary. I can’t tell you what happens, though. That would ruin the book completely. 

    Kidding, obviously. The whole point, here, is to ruin your enjoyment of surprising books!

    Slocum’s son is a weakling because Slocum never made him go to gym class. This son gets hit by a car. In sadness and despair, Slocum hugs him to death. I mean that very literally, not the new kind of “literally.” Slocum hugs his son until he dies from squeezing. 

    Even with the surprises spoiled, reading these books is still a worthwhile endeavor. You’re going to read all of them, right? What’s the best book twist you’ve ever read?

    The post DO NOT READ THIS POST: The 10 Biggest Book Spoilers, Ever appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Lauren Passell 1:30 pm on 2017/07/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , gillian flynn, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    DO NOT READ THIS POST: The 10 Biggest Book Spoilers, Ever 

    Warning: if you like to be surprised, stop reading right now. Get a glass of water or look at Buzzfeed or start working on your memoir.

    But if you’re curious about these books and their kick-to-the-stomach endings, then by all means, read on. (Because I’m not completely cruel, I’ve whited out the spoilers—just highlight the empty space to see the hidden words.)

    Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

    The Sinner, by Petra Hammesfahr
    One of the best examples of a “whydunnit” in recent years, German author Hammesfahr’s twisty novel (soon to air as a miniseries on USA starring Jessica Biel) is largely told in flashback after Cora Bender, a seemingly normal mother and housewife, inexplicably stabs a man to death while on a beach picnic with her family. Cora confesses readily and claims to have no idea why she just committed homicide—but a patient policeman thinks there’s more to the story, and slowly susses out the truth—Cora’s younger sister was born extremely ill, and her mother became obsessed with caring for her, forcing her father to share a room with Cora, resulting in a creepily close relationship between the two that comes as close to abuse as possible without crossing that final line. Her sister Magdalena isn’t as innocent as she seems—despite her frailty, she manipulates Cora and also has an intensely, inappropriately intimate relationship with her. When Cora is 19, she takes Magdalena with her to meet a boy and his friends, not realizing that Magdalena is near death and wishes to die. Two of the boys rape Cora while the third has sex with Magdalena—who dies during the act, a specific piece of music playing on the radio. When Cora freaks out, one of the boys hits her in the head with an ashtray, and to cover up the crime, they hold Cora captive for six months. Years later, when the music plays again at the beach, Cora snaps, and strikes out with a knife.

    Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
    In Ender’s Game, the survival of the human race depends on Ender Wiggin, the child genius recruited for military training by the government… But while you (and Ender) believe he is fighting in mind simulation, in truth, he’s been  manipulated into fighting a real war, and actually killing the enemies, called buggers. He moves to a new colony planet with his sister, where he discovers that the buggers have created a space just for him. They didn’t know humans had intelligence, and they want to communicate with him. They show him what the war looked like from their point of view, and Ender and the buggers meet a point of understanding. He vows to live with them in peace, starts a new kind of religion, and writes a Bible-like book about the buggers, signing it Speaker For The Dead, which is a perfect segue into the Ender’s Game sequel.

    Atonement, by Ian McEwan
    Atonement is about misinterpretation and its repercussions. Briony observes her big sister Cecilia and Cecilia’s friend Robbie flirting and assumes something shameful has happened between them. She accuses Robbie of rape, and Robbie goes to jail. The story then follows Cecilia and Robbie as they go to war, fall in love, and wind up together forever. But at the end of the novel, you discover that Briony is actually the book’s narrator—and she’s been lying to you, too. She did accuse Robbie of rape, and he was jailed, but C & R didn’t live happily ever after together, after all. They both died in the war. Briony just wrote a happy ending for them to atone for her sins. That’s what she says, anyway. I’m not sure I believe anything she says anymore.

    And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
    Most Agatha Christie novels leave you gobsmacked (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, anyone?) But And Then There Were None is an absolute masterpiece of the whodunnit? formula. People invited to a party in a mansion keep on being murdered, but by whom? Well, if you’re sure you want to know…it was Judge Wargrave! Swaddled in a red curtain, he fakes his own death so that you, the reader, assume the murderer is someone else. But in a written confession at the end of the novel, you learn that he invited people to a desolate island in order to kill them one by one as punishment for the terrible things they’d done (and thought they got away with). Agatha, you sneak!

    Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
    In Gone Girl, husband and wife Nick and Amy tell the story of their tumultuous marriage. We read what we think is Amy’s diary, and it condemns Nick as a violent jerk. We start to believe that Nick is responsible for Amy’s disappearance and possible death. But in a series of twists, the truth is revealed—Amy and Nick are both liars. Nick was having an affair, and Amy has been alive all along, on the lam, trying to frame Nick for her death. What we thought was her diary is actually a cunning trap: it’s a piece of fiction Amy wrote for the police to find. Amy kills a friend and returns to Nick, pregnant with his child, claiming she was kidnapped. Nick takes her back even though he knows the truth. In the end, Amy says she’s getting ready to become a mom by writing her abduction story. She should hang out with Briony.

    Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
    Rebecca begins with one of the most mesmerizing first lines in literature—“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Things only get more interesting from there. The unnamed protagonist marries Maxim de Winter and moves into his home, called Manderley. She struggles to live up to the legend of Maxim’s late wife, Rebecca, who was seemingly perfect. Mrs. Danvers, the maid, almost gets the protagonist to kill herself in despair. But one day, divers find a sunken sailboat that belonged to Rebecca, revealing that Rebecca was murdered. Maxim then tells the truth: Rebecca was a wretched woman who had multiple affairs—one, with her cousin, resulted in her pregnancy. When Maxim found out, he killed her. In yet another twist, we find out that Rebecca was lying to Maxim—she wasn’t pregnant, but was actually dying of a terminal illness. In the end Old Danvers burns the joint down and disappears. As for Maxim and the protagonist? Happily ever after.

    The Dinner, by Herman Koch
    In Howard Koch’s The Dinner, two brothers and their wives sit down for a meal to discuss the horrific crime committed by their sons. The cousins have been caught on camera attacking a sleeping homeless woman in an ATM, throwing trash and a container of gasoline at her, and then burning her to death. Koch makes it clear that the family is bonded by a common sociopathology. The family argues over what to do. Serge, a politician, wants to come clean about the boys’ crime. Enraged by Serge’s stance, his sister-in-law Claire attacks him, disfiguring his face. Claire urges her nephews to “take care” of Beau, Serge and Babette’s adopted son, who witnessed the crime and is blackmailing the boys by threatening to reveal what they did. At the end of the novel, Beau is missing, and one of the cousins comes home covered in blood and mud. Wonder what happened to him?

    Harry Potter And The Deathly Hollows, by J.K. Rowling
    In J.K. Rowling’s seventh and final installment in the Harry Potter series, it’s revealed that Harry is a Horcrux, and must be killed before Voldemort can be. Viewing Snape’s memories in the Pensieve, Harry sees Snape talking to Dumbledore and finds out that Snape’s been his protector all this time. Snape loved Harry’s mother, Lily Potter, and spent his entire life spying on Voldemort for Dumbledore. Meanwhile, Dumbledore had been steering Harry to sacrifice himself for the larger good. Good and evil are blurred once again when Harry survives and learns that Dumbledore loved him, even if he expected him to sacrifice himself. Ms. Rowling, you’ve tricked us again.

    Rant, by Chuck Palahniuk
    This novel is an oral biography of protagonist Buster Landru “Rant” Casey, who has died. The reader gathers that Rant lived in a dystopian future where lower class citizens, called “nighttimers,” engaged in an activity called “Party Crashing,” a demolition derby where the crashers slam into each other in cars. The catch: if you crash in the right mental state, you’ll travel backwards in time. Rant disappears during Party Crashing, so his friends assume he’s time traveling. It takes some piecing together to figure out that Rant has been traveling back through time, raping his ancestors every thirteen years in an effort to become a superhuman. He isn’t one character; he is many. You can’t make this stuff up, but I guess Palahniuk did.

    Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
    Anna Karenina is about a lot of stuff, but the heart of the story lies with Anna and her downward spiral from captivating spitfire to insecure shell of a woman. The book is beautifully written. Much of its pleasure comes from the character studies and quiet plotting. Then, in one of the most shocking moments in literature, Anna throws herself under a train and dies and you are stupefied. One of my friends always says, of Anna Karenina, “if you only read one ‘old’ book in your whole life, have it be this one.” Agreed.

    Something Happened, by Joseph Heller
    You’ll spend more than 400 pages reading about not much happening, rolling around in the protagonist’s brain as he goes to work, cares for his son, and fantasizes about the secretary. I can’t tell you what happens, though. That would ruin the book completely. 

    Kidding, obviously. The whole point, here, is to ruin your enjoyment of surprising books!

    Slocum’s son is a weakling because Slocum never made him go to gym class. This son gets hit by a car. In sadness and despair, Slocum hugs him to death. I mean that very literally, not the new kind of “literally.” Slocum hugs his son until he dies from squeezing. 

    Even with the surprises spoiled, reading these books is still a worthwhile endeavor. You’re going to read all of them, right? What’s the best book twist you’ve ever read?

    The post DO NOT READ THIS POST: The 10 Biggest Book Spoilers, Ever appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2016/08/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , gillian flynn, , , , ,   

    5 Authors Following in the Footsteps of Older Writers 

    We’re all of us only on this earth for a short time, which means the next generation is always going to be following close behind, ready to take over where the last leaves off. In the literary world, that means a fresh crop of talented writers working in genres and styles built upon what has gone before, even occasionally taking up the mantle of older writers. The five authors have done just that, and on a level that reminds us of their forebears in the best way.

    Ryan Gattis (The New Richard Price)
    Richard Price is far from retired, and is still among the modern day’s most compelling chroniclers of urban life, in all its violence and occasional grace. Gattis brings a mixture of Midwestern and West Coast attitude to his books, which explore the same territory: sprawling urban milieus packed with viscerally real characters struggling for and against monumental forces, finding small moments of triumph and emotion amidst the noise and dehumanizing bustle of modern life. Gattis taps into the same pulsing vein of gritty, violent, and of-the-moment stories that has supplied Price with so many memorable works, giving us books with the same you-are-there immediacy and dialogue that feels like eavesdropping on real people in real place.

    Mike Ransom (The New Michael Crichton)
    In the world of techno thrillers (and just plain thrillers), scientific accuracy is often a low priority; research sometimes seems to consist of walking through a room that contains an open Google search window. Michael Crichton made his name by crafting tense, imaginative stories that often crossed boldly into science fiction without ever forgetting the science part. With his electric debut The Ripper Gene, Ransom brings his scientific background (he’s a molecular pharmacologist) to bear in a story about the hunt for a serial killer that involves identifying a genetic trait shared by 70 percent of all known mass murderers, resulting in a story that slips perfectly into the vacuum left by Crichton’s passing.

    Gillian Flynn (The New Patricia Highsmith)
    As Gone Girl-mania subsides to merely fanatic levels, Flynn still reigns as one of the top writers of thrillers-with-a-twist working today. Her work is dark and edgy, infused with a strain of misanthropy that places most of her characters squarely into categories like “unreliable,” “unlikable,” and “unthinkable.” This is a trait she shares with Highsmith, the master of misanthropic thrillers, whose clever mind constructed the sort of twisting, unexpectedly dark stories in which people kill for small profits and become caught in webs of lies and violence of their own creation. Flynn’s bleak worldview continues in grand Highsmith tradition; Amy Dunne just might be the Tom Ripley of a new generation.

    Garth Risk Hallberg (The New Tom Wolfe)
    Hallberg’s much-anticipated opus City on Fire sprawls, an ambitious novel with scope and intent that will take your breath away. If Hallberg didn’t quite hit the heights that Wolfe’s all-time classic Bonfire of the Vanities managed 30 years ago, it certainly isn’t for lack of talent, incendiary writing, or willingness to dive into characters’ inner lives in a way few other writers would even attempt, much less pull off as thrillingly. When it comes to big, fleshy books that bring an entire world to life (even as they threaten to drown us in detail), we can never have enough. Hallberg’s attempt to step into Wolfe’s famous white-shoes is more than welcome—it’s necessary.

    Laird Barron (The New H.P. Lovecraft)
    Barron has been the thinking horror fan’s writer of choice for years, quietly building an empire of poetic horror fiction that explores much of the same psychological territory as Lovecraft, minus the problematic political and social beliefs, and with a firmer grasp on why the darkness can be so darn attractive. No other working writer can boast as great an excess of muscular imagery or as fluid and adaptive a style. Barron has turned Lovecraft’s epic mythology into something purely his own—a terrifying wordscape presented with such ornamental flourish, you sometimes forget you’re supposed to be terrified—until he forcibly, skillfully reminds you.

     

     
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