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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, , , , , , , , jessica knoll, katie kitamura, kushiel's dart, , , , 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 2:00 pm on 2016/04/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , , dragon bound, , , kushiel's dart, , , , , the claiming of sleeping beauty, the white queen   

    5 Fantasy Romances Game of Thrones Fans Will Love 

    My favorite saying as Spring begins to bloom is “Winter is Coming.” That’s because the small-screen Game of Thrones returns to television for its sixth season on Sunday, April 24th. Known for gory, no-holds-barred battle scenes as characters vie for the Iron Throne, there’s also a ton of romance to be found in both the television and book versions of the series—however short-lived those rendezvous might be. (I miss you, Ygritte!) Looking for a book to grip your heart as tightly as the series that has captured millions of viewers? Check out the list below.

    Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey
    What do many of the characters on Game of Thrones have in common? They’ve been chosen; tasked with a destiny to fulfill or a prophecy to bring to life before their enemies can seize the throne instead. Phedre, the main character of Jacqueline Carey’s scintillating Kushiel’s Dart, has also been chosen. She has been brought up in service to the angel Naamah, living as a courtesan, trapped until she can repay her debt to her owners. But Phedre is no ordinary courtesan: she has been marked by a blood red spot on her eye, blessed (or cursed) to experience pain as pleasure. When a mysterious noble named Anafiel Delaunay purchases her bond from the Night Court, she is inducted into a world of conspiracy, power, and lust beyond her imagination. Tasked with using her talent to spy on the hearts and minds of dangerous men and women, Phedre soon realizes that the security of her kingdom may not lie in the wars waged by kings and queens, but in the kiss of a simple indentured servant. The first book in the Kushiel’s Universe series has all the eroticism of a tantalizing romance—with the conflict and worldbuilding of an epic fantasy.

    The White Queen, by Philippa Gregory
    Did you know that George R.R. Martin based A Song of Ice and Fire on the War of the Roses, a real series of wars fought for the English throne by two powerful families, the Yorks and the Lancasters? Whether you’re Team Stark or Team Lannister (coincidence how similar those two names sound to the original English families? I think not!), you should definitely read The White Queen by Philippa Gregory. When Elizabeth Woodville is widowed, her family is shamed into obscurity for supporting the Lancaster claim to the throne. But Elizabeth is not content to remain lost to the history books; her family comes from a long line of myth-weavers and sorceresses, including her mother, who convinces Elizabeth that she will rise again in status. Which she does, when she wins the heart of King Edward IV, the York claimant to the English throne—the man her first husband died trying to defeat. Elizabeth and Edward fall in love and marry in secret, but soon her ambitions become weighted with the obligations and fears of a Queen in a kingdom constantly on the brink of war. Passionate, mysterious and with a hint of magic, Phillipa Gregory’s The White Queen will delight any Game of Thrones fan who wants the women to win it all.

    Dragon Bound, by Thea Harrison
    Speaking of women who should win it all, Game of Thrones fans have been waiting for Daneyrus Targaryen to fly her dragons across the narrow sea and conquer Westeros—but also, since her first husband Drogo died, she hasn’t really had any romance. (To be fair, she’s had a lot of other things on her mind, such as, you know, her untamable dragons and also reclaiming the Iron Throne.) But if Dany happens to start an OKCupid profile looking for her next boyfriend, she should consider Dragos Cuelebre, the love interest in Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series. A dragon shifter, Dragos is the ultimate paranormal hero: possessive, powerful, and passionate. The object of all these things is his mate, Pia, whom he meets in the first book, Dragon Bound.

    Dragon Bound begins with Pia, a half-human half-wyr (aka dragon) living under the radar and trying to stay out of trouble. That is, until she is blackmailed into stealing a precious relic from a powerful dragon—and when she gets caught, in exchange for her life, Dragos claims her as his. The steamy scenes in this book will make the time between Game of Thrones episodes fly by! (Get it? Fly, because dragons.)

    The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, by A.N. Roquelaire
    The relationships on Game of Thrones—even the non-romantic ones—are often charged with sexual energy. That’s because most relationships are about power: who has it, who fears losing it, who seeks it. The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A.N. Roquelaure (aka Anne Rice, a venerable force in the romance and fantasy genres) is a retelling of a classic fairy tale that we all know and love—but instead of waking to a happily ever after, Beauty wakes to find herself the pawn in an illicit game. A Dominant Prince has made her his slave and decrees that he is taking her back to his kingdom as payment for peace. This read is heavy on the BDSM and not for the faint of heart, as Roquelaure focuses less on describing the beautiful fantasy world and more on describing the devious activities Beauty and her Prince participate in. Taught the art of servitude by using her flesh as a canvas for her Prince’s contentment, Beauty is brought from innocence to awakening. As you read, I bet you will be, too.

    Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
    Last, but certainly not least, I recommend Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, a romantic adventure of a woman caught between time and space—and the love of two men. When Claire Randall reunites with her soldier husband following a long separation during World War II, they visit the Scottish Highlands on a trip, both hoping to make up for lost time. Instead, the magical stones of Craigh na Dun cause Claire to travel back through time to the Highlands of the 1700’s—a time of warring clans and tension with the English crown. When she meets Jamie Fraser, a Scots soldier with a bounty on his head, she does not expect to fall in love…and yet over time, her desperation to return to her own time transforms into a certainty that she belongs nowhere else but in Jamie’s arms. Game of Thrones fans will appreciate the depth of historical detail, hint of magic, and breakneck pace in Gabaldon’s series—and when you’re done with all the books and Game of Thrones season 6 ends, there’s another gorgeous TV series you can get hooked on!

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