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  • 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, , , graham green, greer hendricks, , , , , , , janet fitch, 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.

  • Sarah Skilton 5:00 pm on 2017/10/30 Permalink
    Tags: a darker sea: master commandant putnam and the war of 1812, barbara taylor bradford, , displaced, , , future home of the living god, in the midst of winter, , ivy pochoda, james l. haley, janet fitch, john banville, , mrs. osmond, , secrets of cavendon, stephan abarbanell, the revolution of marina m., the story of arthur truluv, , wonder valley   

    The Best New Fiction of November 2017 

    This month’s new fiction will be especially pleasing to fans of James L. Haley’s The Shores of Tripoli, Barbara Taylor Bradford’s Cavendon Series, and Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady,  all of which receive the sequel treatment with exciting new narratives. More books to give thanks for: In her first novel in 11 years, the incomparable Janet Fitch (White Oleander; Paint it Black) invites readers to visit the Russian Revolution; Danielle Steele serves up a ghost story with an uplifting twist; and families chosen rather than born-into populate The Story of Arthur Truluv and In the Midst of Winter—perfect choices for the holiday season.

    Past Perfect, by Danielle Steele
    If you’ve ever wanted to read about a house that’s delightfully haunted, Ms. Steele has you covered. When the Gregory family—Mom, Dad, two teens and a 6-year-old—impulsively leave New York for San Francisco, and move into a tony Pacific Heights mansion, they experience an earthquake that brings them face-to-face with the multi-generational Butterfield family, the home’s initial occupants in 1917. Though separated by 100 years, the two families find much to appreciate in each other, and the magical friendships they form over meals and long evenings promise to provide comfort and solace to the characters as well as Steele’s readers.

    In the Midst of Winter, by Isabel Allende
    Richard and Lucia, two NYU professors in their early 60s who live in the same building (Richard is the landlord), agree to help Evelyn, a Guatemalan nanny and refugee who shows up on Richard’s doorstep, desperate for help. Thrown together on a winter night in Brooklyn, with an unrelenting snowstorm outside, the trio opens up to one another about their troubled pasts, Lucia’s in Chile during the coup, and Evelyn’s as a victim of gang violence. Allende is known for her powerful characters, intimate prose, and magical realism. Winter highlights a new element in her oeuvre, that of a suspenseful crime thriller.

    Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich
    The countless fans of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and its recent Hulu adaptation, will want to grab Erdrich’s latest, set in a dystopian world in which pregnant women are criminalized, hunted, and oppressed because the babies they’re carrying appear to be victims of reverse evolution. In fact, time itself seems to be running backwards, and Cedar Hawk Songmaker, born to an Ojibwe mother and raised by progressive adopted parents in Minneapolis, is caught in the middle of extreme circumstances. Bestseller Erdrich, who is half-Ojibwe herself, continues her tradition of writing thoughtful portrayals of Native-American life.

    The Story of Arthur Truluv, by Elizabeth Berg
    Three strangers form a bond of family in a heartwarming story that begins with deep, personal losses. The highlight of octogenarian Arthur’s day is eating lunch beside his late wife’s grave. When he meets ostracized teenage girl Maddy, who visits the cemetery to escape bullying at school, they become tentative friends. Then Arthur’s neighbor Lucille, she of the constant invites to join her for a chat and a home-baked treat, whom Arthur has been studiously avoiding, joins the duo. When new difficulties enter Maddy’s life, she turns to Arthur and Lucille, who have come to realize that it’s never too late to enjoy life, and that each of them contributes to the health and happiness of the group as a whole.

    The Revolution of Marina M., by Janet Fitch
    After two novels that beautifully depict the shiny and sharp contradictions of modern Los Angeles (White Oleander and Paint it Black), beloved author Janet Fitch takes readers to St. Petersburg, Russia, during the Revolution of 1917-1919. Gifted teenage poet Marina was born to a well-off family but empathizes with impoverished artists, exploited workers, and friends who are targeted by the secret police. As a result, she’s abandoned by her parents and forced to navigate the brutal yet invigorating collapse of the old world on her own, using her creativity to survive the chaos. Fans of the irrepressible Astrid in White Oleander should instantly warm to Marina.

    Secrets of Cavendon, by Barbara Taylor Bradford
    It’s 1949 at the Yorkshire country house of Cavendon Hall, and a new generation of heirs are at the helm. As with her three previous Cavendon novels, readers are privy to the romances, scandals, rivalries, and friendships between the aristocratic Ingham family and their cherished retainers, the Swanns, who have served them for several generations. With World War II in the past, and all of Britain struggling to recover, long-buried secrets of Cavendon threaten to tear apart the Inghams and Swanns for good.

    A Darker Sea: Master Commandant Putnam and the War of 1812, by James L. Haley
    Haley’s sequel to The Shores of Tripoli finds midshipman Lieutenant-turned-Commander Bliven Putnam once again battling Lord Arthur Kington, this time during the War of 1812, in which the British outman and outgun the Americans. The naval adventure series includes bloodthirsty pirates, deep sea battles, and an extensive look into the period of the Napoleonic Wars, which brought about the near-bankruptcy of the American government. Haley is a speaker and expert historian who brings the past alive with illuminating detail. 

    Mrs. Osmond, by John Banville
    In the vein of Heathcliff: The Return to Wuthering Heights, by Lin Haire-Sargeant, Osmond is a sequel to Henry James’s most popular work, Portrait of a Lady. It imagines the continuing saga of Isabel Archer, miserably married to the egomaniacal and manipulative Gilbert Osmond. Although Isabel seems to relinquish her freedom in the original text, here she gets a delicious second chance at creating her own narrative.

    Displaced, by Stephan Abarbanell
    A spy novel depicting the effects and cost of World War II, this debut introduces Lilya Wasserfall, a member of the Palmach army (Jewish underground resistance), who is sent from British-occupied Palestine to the bombed-out streets of Europe to locate a presumed-dead scientist. However, as she searches refugee camps and digs through British Secret Service files, a dangerous figure follows closely behind, determined to find the missing scientist first.

    Wonder Valley, by Ivy Pochoda
    Back and forth during the years 2006 through 2010, using events both surreal and desperate, criminal and heartbreaking, Pochoda dives deep into locations and elements of Southern California that are often overlooked. In theory we know L.A.’s surrounding cities are not the celebrity-soaked, glittering valleys of the movies, but it’s special and rare to see places such as Skid Row, the Harbor Freeway, and Twentynine Palms given their due. Teenagers stuck in a desert commune, a juvenile delinquent searching for his homeless mother, and a mysterious streaker who seems—to those stuck in traffic observing him—to be free from burdens populate this unique and invigorating book.

    What are you excited to read in November?

    The post The Best New Fiction of November 2017 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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