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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, , , Liane Moriarty, , 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 7:00 pm on 2016/07/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , Liane Moriarty, ,   

    The Truth Will Out in Liane Moriarty’s Gripping Truly Madly Guilty 

    In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, Truly Madly Guilty, a friendly barbecue explodes into a character study in friendship, obligation, mental illness, and parenthood. Two sets of friends and two irrevocable choices lead to a catastrophe that, in true Moriarty fashion, could have been avoided if people were kinder, more compassionate, and, most importantly, honest with each other.

    Clementine and Erika have been friends their entire lives, ever since Clementine’s mom took Erika under her wing in response to Erika’s eccentric and mentally ill mother’s hoarding. Clementine, a talented cellist, married and had two kids with her husband, Sam; Erika, staunch in her declarations that she doesn’t want children, is happy in her life with husband Oliver.

    Or so we think.

    Turns out, Erika does want children after all, and when traditional fertility treatments fail, she and her husband decide to ask Clementine for the ultimate favor: to be their egg donor.

    But Clementine’s negative reaction—one that edges on revulsion—causes events to start spinning out of control. On the day of a barbecue hosted by neighbors Tiffany and Vid, tensions rise among the two best friends and their husbands, until something devastating happens, forcing everyone involved to evaluate what they could have done differently.

    Narration is shared among all of the characters involved, and swoops between the past—aka, the day of the barbecue—and the present, a few weeks later, as the six adults reconcile who they were with who they have become. Moriarty is a pro at weaving tension into the everyday—or rather, revealing it, as truths about Clementine, Erika, their friendship, and all three marriages disrupt the normal lives they’ve tried so hard to cultivate within their small community. The revelations in this book may be less dramatic than those in previous Moriarty novels such as The Husband’s Secret or Big Little Lies, but may have more realistic resonance.

    The truth will out, or so they say—but in this novel, some secrets do stay buried. Truly Madly Guilty is an engrossing, believable, and perfect-for-the-beach read that will keep you up late at night wondering “what if?”

  • Ellen Wehle 3:30 pm on 2014/09/30 Permalink
    Tags: a. s. a. harrison, before we met, , , , Liane Moriarty, lucid whitehouse, , , the silent wife, , , you should have known   

    5 Marriage Thrillers, From Gone Girl and Beyond 

    You Should Have KnownHow much should we trust a spouse? Can we ever know anyone, really? Marriage thrillers trigger our deepest fears because they deal not with far-fetched themes and plots, but those all too close to home. In the books below, husbands and wives face off in the kind of gladiatorial combat that’ll give you a whole new tolerance for your honey the next time he or she leaves dishes in the sink, or forgets to pick up the dry cleaning.

    Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
    Arguably the granddaddy of all marriage thrillers. With the much-buzzed movie version starring Ben Affleck due out Friday, there’s not a moment to lose—if you haven’t read Gone Girl, pick it up now. No one does dark better than Gillian Flynn, and in her hands Nick and Amy’s relationship less resembles a marriage than a prolonged con-artist scam. But just who is scamming who? That’s the (guilty) question. One morning Nick goes off to work and Amy vanishes; the police naturally make him their prime suspect. But as the story seesaws between the couple’s points of view, we soon realize that getting at the truth will be anything but simple.

    Before We Met, by Lucie Whitehouse
    Hannah is single, living in New York, and enjoying a successful advertising career when she meets Mark, an expat Brit like herself. It feels like a fairytale when their whirlwind courtship leads to marriage and a move back to England. Then one rainy night Mark fails to return from a business trip, and as Hannah’s calls to his cell go unanswered, she starts to wonder if perhaps she married too soon. When she wakes up to find her bank account emptied, she realizes her nightmare is only beginning.

    You Should Have Known, by Jean Hanff Korelitz
    As a therapist with a thriving practice and a superstar doctor husband, Grace would seem to have it all. Certainly she thinks so: she’s just written a self-help book that tells women in bad marriages they have only themselves to blame. Lousy husbands leave plenty of clues, she scolds, so why weren’t you paying attention? But poor smug Grace is riding for a fall. Jonathan, the superstar doctor, often works all night, too busy helping sick kids to come home. Then Grace runs into one of his colleagues from the hospital, and with a single cheery question—“Hey, what’s Jonathan been up to?”—she realizes her husband has secrets of his own…

    The Silent Wife, by A. S. A. Harrison
    “She is deeply unaware that her life is now peaking…that her notions about who she is and how she ought to conduct herself are far less stable than she supposes, given that a few short months are all it will take to make her a killer.” Unlike the first two titles, where suspense lies in finding out what happens, The Silent Wife tells us the ending from the get-go; the mystery is how a bright woman like Jodi (another psychotherapist—physician, heal thyself!) can be driven to murder. She and Todd have been happily together for twenty years, his many affairs papered over by her denial. All of that changes when Todd gets a friend’s daughter pregnant. Now, like corrosive acid, Jodi’s silence begins to eat away at her, until tragedy is only a matter of time.

    The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty
    Weaving an intricate web, The Husband’s Secret takes us into the lives of three women connected by a school in Sydney, Australia. When Cecelia finds a letter her husband has marked “to be opened in the event of my death,” she knows that, like Pandora, she should leave well enough alone. But she opens the letter anyway, letting out a secret that could destroy her family. Meanwhile, Tess leaves her cheating husband and returns to her mother’s home in Sydney, where she falls for hunky Connor, a coach at the school. Little does she know the school secretary suspects Connor of murdering her daughter, Janey: after all, he was the last one to see Janey alive. Each shadowed by secrets, the women are on a collision course.

    What’s your favorite marriage thriller?

  • Joel Cunningham 4:24 pm on 2014/08/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , donald harington, , , in the kingdom of ice, jan karon, , Liane Moriarty, lightning bug, little children, , somewhere safe with somebody good, , , the terror, ,   

    What to Read Next If You Liked Paper Towns, The Goldfinch, Big Little Lies, In the Kingdom of Ice, or Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good 

    What to ReadPaper Towns, by John Green, has practically everything you could want in a YA novel: a mystery, a revenge plot, an epic road trip, and unrequited love. I say “practically everything,” because what it lacks, of course, is a screaming case of Mad Cow Disease. For that, you’ll have to turn to Going Bovine, by Libba Bray, winner of the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award. It’s a hilarious, surreal coming-of-age story about a boy with a weird terminal illness who hits the road with a punk-rocker and a lawn gnome for one last hurrah.

    The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, is the year’s biggest bildungsroman, a character-focused mystery in the best Dickensian sense. Though it doesn’t have quite the sweep of Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winner, Carol Rifka Brunt’s Tell the Wolves I’m Home tells an equally moving story of love and loss, following the journey of 14-year-old June Elbus to come to grips with the death of her beloved uncle after learning he wasn’t entirely the man she thought she knew.

    In Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty explores the darker side of suburban life, following the intersecting lives of three women in a well-off community whose children all attend the same preschool, and all of whom have told lies both big and little to cover up some scandalous secrets (the women, not the kids…the kids don’t seem to be hiding anything nefarious). For another twisted take on parents suffering through a midlife crisis, Little Children, by Tom Perrotta, offers a master class in the subject, tracking the fallout from the affairs (and affairs) of a couple trapped in a hermetically sealed marriage within a hermetically sealed upper-class neighborhood.

    In the Kingdom of Ice, by Hampton Sides, offers a thrilling, (literally) chilling, true-life account of an ill-fated 19th-century expedition to the North Pole. For a wickedly fictionalized take on a similar historical tragedy, grab a blanket and a copy of The Terror, by Dan Simmons. An arctic voyage to force the Northwest Passage goes from bad to worse when the HMS Terror is trapped in uncharted frozen waters and, already weak from scurvy and fatigue, the crew members discover they may not be alone on the ice.

    After a nine-year wait, Jan Karon finally returns to the sleepy, fictional North Carolina community of Mitford in Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, offering up another slice of downhome comfort food for her longtime fans. If you’re looking for another series of books that explores the ins and outs of small-town life, the late Donald Harington’s woefully under-read Stay More novels, which chronicle the history of a postage stamp of a town in the Ozarks, offer an invaluable literary experience, reminiscent of the best of John Irving. The series starts with 1970′s Lightning Bug.

    Have you read Paper Towns, The Goldfinch, Little Big Lies, or In the Kingdom of Ice?

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 3:30 pm on 2014/07/29 Permalink
    Tags: , amy bloom, , , , Liane Moriarty, lucky us, , ,   

    4 Heartwarming New Books About Family, Togetherness, and Other Hazards 

    Big Little Lies

    We read for pleasure of course, but also to help us understand the world around us—and what subject is more nuanced, complicated, and—ok, downright frustrating—than family? Summer may be the perfect time for fun, frivolous trips to the beach, but it’s also a great time for family road trips, family reunions, family barbeques, and of course, family drama. Since we all know that the best and most entertaining family drama is the kind that involves other people’s families, we’ve gathered a collection of great new summer reads that offer a welcome escape from your own familial disputes—and that just might give you a few insights into the mysterious (and wonderful) ties that bind us to our loved ones.

    Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
    Moriarty’s newest novel since her hugely popular book The Husband’s Secret starts out with a bang, featuring a disturbing murder in an unlikely place—during a school trivia night. The story behind it involves the lives of three women and their families: Madeline, whose ex-husband has just moved into town—with his new wife; beautiful, enviable Celeste with her perfect family and boisterous twin boys; and melancholy single mother Jane, who tries to hide her concerns about her odd young son. With humor and insight, Moriarty sheds light on the darker sides of family life, illuminating the truths lurking behind the innocuous facades we put up to keep our skeletons in their closets. As the tension heightens, you’ll be on the edge of your seat waiting to discover the series of events that led up to the tragedy in the opening act.

    A Perfect Life, by Danielle Steel
    Beautiful redhead Blaise McCarthy has it all by many standards—an enviable career in the world of TV news, a towering list of professional accomplishments, fame, fortune, and a gorgeous apartment. But all is not as it seems in Blaise’s world. For one thing, her personal life is nearly nonexistent. For another, her beloved daughter, Salima, blind since childhood due to Type 1 diabetes, has been living a sheltered life in a year-round boarding school for many years—but now, she’s being forced to move in with her mother. Salima’s new caregiver, Simon, refuses to go along with the status quo, challenging both Blaise and Salima’s expectations for themselves and each other. Blaise also faces a new and unsettling professional difficulty, in the form of a hotshot young anchorwoman who is gunning for her job at the network. As their previously stable lives are thrown into turmoil, Blaise and her daughter must confront the question of what really makes a perfect life.

    Nantucket Sisters, by Nancy Thayer
    Maggie and Emily are best friends who first met on a Nantucket beach one childhood summer—and have been in each other’s lives ever since. Although their backgrounds are very different—Maggie’s upbringing has been much more modest, and Emily’s mother would prefer that she associate with a more upscale crowd—they are able to see past those differences. Even when Emily falls in love with Maggie’s brother, Ben, and the two girls head down very different life paths, they manage to remain close. That is, until the appearance of the devastatingly charming Wall Streeter Cameron Chadwick threatens the very foundation of their friendship. Nantucket Sisters tells a bewitching story of young love, the mistakes we make, and the solace we find in enduring friendships.

    Lucky Us, by Amy Bloom
    Two half-sisters, aspiring star Iris and her devoted fan, Eva, leave Ohio in the 1940s to journey across America in search of fame and adventure. As the two careen through Hollywood and then travel to New York, they cross paths with a plethora of madcap individuals, reinventing themselves along the way even as they form relationships with new (and eccentric) friends who come to feel like family. Bloom’s lyrical prose brims with arresting truths and she weaves a story filled with hilarious—and heartbreaking—situations, beautiful historical details, and unforgettable characters.

    What are your favorite novels about family and friendship?

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