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  • Tara Sonin 2:00 pm on 2019/10/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , family sagas, , , from screen to page, , little women, , , , queens of innis lear, rich people problems, ross poldark, , the dinner, the divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood, , , , the next, , the stationary shop   

    21 Books to Read for Fans of HBO’s Succession 


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    The second season of HBO’s Succession is in full swing, and I’m absolutely obsessed. The Roy family saga is one of constant undermining, financial deceit, cozying up to power, and lots and lots of secrets. But who would expect anything less from a story about a media mogul’s duplicitous attempts to secure his family dynasty and the ill-advised actions of his three children? If you love the show, here are twenty-one books full of family drama across all genres you might want to check out.

    Ask Again, Yes, by Mary Beth Keane
    Which moment was it, that defined the Gleeson and Stanhope families? Was it when they moved to the same neighborhood? When their children, Kate and Peter, became friends? Was it when Anne, Peter’s mother, started to suffer from mental illness, or when his father struggled with alcoholism? Or was it what came after, when a devastating incident of violence forces the two families apart and only the next generation can start to heal the wounds that came before? A triumphant novel about how individual people often are lost in the claustrophobia of family, and how the mistakes of the past can either condemn or liberate the next generation.

    The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
    When they were children, the Golds visited a psychic who claimed she could pinpoint the day they would die. It is the end of the 60’s and their entire lives are in front of them. After hearing the prophecies of their eventual demises, each of the children responds in differing extremes: Simon comes out as gay and finds love in San Francisco; Klara finds solace in magic and a family; Daniel joins the military; and Varya becomes a scientist determined to outsmart time itself. The novel follows each child on their journey, wrestling with whether the fate they were given is one they deserve, one that was destined, or one they should have attempted to escape.

    Flowers in the Attic, by VC Andrews
    After a terrible tragedy, four children are locked in an attic, presumably for their own protection—and that of their inheritance. Alone in their grandmother’s house with infrequent visits from their mother, the children must turn to one another in order to survive—even if the consequences are a forbidden love. Money, secrets, scandal and romance combine in this classic start to the Dollanganger series. If you didn’t read this family drama as a teenager when your parents thought you were asleep, then you should definitely try to emulate that experience when the 40th anniversary edition publishes this fall!

    Ross Poldark, by Winston Graham
    Ok, fans of another TV show should be familiar with this one, but there are so many similar elements to Succession in Poldark that I had to include it! Sure, it takes place after the Revolutionary War in Cornwall, Britain and not modern-day America, but— there’s a family feud that ends in bloodshed, new money vs. old money, forbidden love, and one man holding onto hope that he can make a better life for his family in an era that seems poised to make him falter. Money is largely the enemy, because it is what enables the Warleggans, the primary villains, to enact their spite and hatred on the Poldark family.

    One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    A multi-generational epic about the Buendía family, beginning with their founder, José Arcadio Buendía, who founded the fictional town of Macondo in Colombia. Lush descriptions infused with magical realism makes this one an intimidating selection for high schoolers (which is when I read it the first time), but it deserves returning to again and again. The story begins, and is punctuated throughout, with violence: a man and his wife flee their home after a murder, and everything that happens after seems rooted in the haunting lack of justice for that original sin. History repeats itself over and over throughout seven generations, and the ghosts of Buendías past watch as their descendants perpetuate their own mistakes.

    Fleishman is In Trouble, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
    Toby Fleishman is getting a divorce. He thinks. It’s not super clear right now, because his wife may have gone completely off the grid, leaving him to raise their two kids alone. This sharp examination of marriage, masculinity, and motherhood written from the perspective of one of Toby’s friends from high school as she watches him try to juggle single parenthood and her own marriage teeters on the edge of imploding. It is less of a sweeping an epic and more of an intimate drama, where every single line of dialogue and observation serves a purpose, leading to a fitting ending.

    Commonwealth, by Anne Patchett
    When Bert shows up at Franny Keating’s christening and unexpectedly kisses her mother, the ramifications spiral throughout two marriages and the generation that follows. The story eventually jumps forward in time to Franny’s twenties, when she makes a decision that, like that kiss, will also have unforeseen consequences: she tells a famous writer the story of her blended family, and he decides to profit from it. I love how this story directly confronts not only how a single action can reverberate through the ages, but how a story itself can do the same.

    The Leavers, by Lisa Ko
    Another inter-generational story where a single action has a lifetime of consequences, this time about a Chinese American boy and his mother, Polly, who suddenly vanishes without a trace. Deming is only eleven when this happens, and he spends the rest of his childhood and early adulthood in a state of looming and receding turmoil. Even though he is adopted by two white middle-class academics and has what most would describe as a “good life”, the scars of his mother’s abandonment never fade. As the novel traces his journey, it follows Polly’s as well, crossing the ocean to China, where her story began.

    The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells
    Succession is about the legacy of a domineering, abusive father on his two sons and daughter—but mothers leave an indelible imprint on their children as well, a dynamic explored in this by-now classic story of friendship, family, and how the fractures in those relationships can alter the future. When Siddalee and her mother, Vivi, get into a fight over the differences in their perception of events from when Sidda was young, Vivi’s friends (aka, the Ya-Yas) intervene to reunite them.

    The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
    Perhaps the most similar to the show that inspired this list (they even share a scandal in common), this novel features a wealthy family fighting over an inheritance. Leo Plumb was just released from rehab after a devastating tragedy when, under the influence, he caused an accident with an innocent passenger. His actions means that he, and his siblings Melody, Beatrice, and Jack might not receive their  trust fund after years of waiting for it. It’s money that everyone needs with varying levels of desperation, believing that it can rewrite the past and protect the future. Sweeney’s characters are inherently flawed and entirely relatable, with prose that is both effervescent with humor and laden with dread.

    The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo
    Four women—four sisters—struggle to come into their own in the looming shadow of their parents’ seemingly epic romance. Set in Chicago and its suburbs, this uniquely American saga spans almost fifty years and culminates when a long-buried secret shows up to unsettle their already trembling definition of family.

    A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin
    How could I not include the ultimate family succession drama on this list? Even if you take away the dragons and the blood magic (though why would you want to?) Game of Thrones is about feuding families, plain and simple. Combine torrid love affairs, secret alliances, hidden heirs and surprise deaths, and the saga of Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons, and Targaryens could look like something ripped from the headlines. (Also, since the last season wasn’t everyone’s favorite, now is the perfect time to re-read the books in case Martin finishes the next one!)

    Queens of Innis Lear, by Tessa Gratton
    A fantasy inspired by King Lear puts his daughters center stage: the ruthless and strong Gaela, seductress and political manipulator Regan, and the sweet priestess Elia. Each of them believes they have a part to play in the future of their father’s kingdom, even if it means rebelling against one another and turning towards dangerous magic in order to achieve their aims. Lear’s daughters were always the most fascinating part of Shakespeare’s play to me, and this inventive, impeccably-written novel explores each of them with depth, making even their most horrific choices relatable.

    Rich People Problems, by Kevin Kwan
    [Spoilers if you haven’t read the first two books!]
    In the third book in Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians series, an elderly relative on her deathbed inspires family to descend upon her in the hopes of claiming some of her riches for their own. Nick and Rachel are happily married in New York City when their lives are uprooted with the news of his grandmother, Su Yi’s illness. When he married Rachel, he forfeited his inheritance but now his mother believes that if he returns home to make amends, he might be able to get it back. But Nick isn’t the only one with a financial scheme against Su Yi. Different in tone to many of the other books on this list, this romcom features flawed characters with hearts of gold, and is as gilded in humor as it is in fun.

    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
    The trailer for the new movie has me in a mood to re-read this classic about four sisters and their mother living in Concord during the Civil War. With Mr. March away, Marmee must make do with what little they have to support the girls—unless, of course, they can be married off into better circumstances and gain some financial footing. It always comes down to money and marriage in the end—but each girl has their own beliefs about what kind of life that would mean for them. Most opinionated on the matter is Jo, who wants to pursue a career as a writer (unheard of at the time), and while she falls for two men over the course of the novel (and does marry one of them), she does it on her own terms. Alcott’s novel remains so loved today because the themes and characters ring true no matter the century or decade, as all young people (and women) wrestle with coming of age, family obligation, and love.

    The Stationery Shop, by Marjan Kamali
    Roya lives in Tehran, Iran in 1953, where she falls in love with Bahman, a budding revolutionary. They are engaged to be married when disaster strikes and instead of the life she had planned, Roya and her sister emigrate to America. She marries someone else, and has a family. But sixty years later, Bahman shows up with a stunning story to share about why they couldn’t be together, and the family secret that kept them apart. Told in alternating chapters between past and present, this beautiful novel about lost love is about the sacrifices we make for the people we love, that often wind up hurting them just the same.

    Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
    This coming-of-age novel infused with magical realism follows “Milkman” Dead III, the first African-American child to be born in his Michigan town. As he learns about his origins and grows into his destiny, he learns the jagged edges of family and the dark underbelly of love. How can a boy become a man and learn to love who he is, when he is born into a legacy of violence and anger?

    Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
    A teenage girl falling in love is a simple story. A girl in 1900’s Japan falling for a married man, and then getting pregnant…isn’t simple at all. The saga in Pachinko is tragic and hopeful; Sunja decides to marry a traveling minister, turning away from what her family believes is honorable and the powerful influence of her son’s father. Her choice has an impact on generations to come, turning a not-so-simple story into a beloved, award-winning epic.

    The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
    Two sisters engage with the trauma of World War II in different ways: Vianne works to save Jewish children in occupied France, even adopting a little boy she isn’t sure she will be able to save, and suffering severe consequences for her bravery; while her younger sister Isabelle joins the French Resistance and becomes a soldier for the cause. While war tears them apart, a secret unites them both that can only be revealed by the narrator, whose identity remains unknown until the end. If you’re tired of stories about sibling rivalry and betrayal, this is the antidote to Succession: a story of war where people fight for one another, in addition to against their enemies.

    King Lear, by William Shakespeare
    How could I not include this classic play about a larger-than-life King who destroys his family by using his kingdom as a bargaining chip? Lear is a play about family, greed, and what love looks like without any ornaments or jewels to make it shine. It’s also about how power can pollute the mind, and as his daughters watch Lear’s sanity unravel, they each have differing reactions including rejecting him, manipulating him, and trying at any cost to save him.

    The Dinner, by Herman Koch
    In this suspenseful thriller, two families meet for dinner to discuss the terrible thing that involved both of their fifteen-year-old sons, and the police. The catch? The two fathers are also brothers. Double catch? One of the brothers is running for prime minister, and has a lot to lose politically if the wrong decision is made over dinner. I love this story for doing what Succession does so well: examining how the actions of parents impact children, which then cause them to act in ways that impact parents—and on and on the cycle of family goes, until someone is brave enough (or angry enough) to stop it.

    What books would you recommend to fans of Succession?

    The post 21 Books to Read for Fans of HBO’s <i>Succession</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Nicole Hill 4:00 pm on 2019/04/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , little women, love medicine series, , , , thank you mom, , the house of the spirits, , , the rules of magic   

    The 10 Best Moms in Fiction 


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    There are lots of lists out there about literature’s worst mothers. The Mrs. Bennets of the world seem to suck up all the oxygen. (Something with which Elizabeth Bennet likely would agree.) But what of fiction’s fine motherly figures? What of those who try their best to do right by their children—whether they gave birth to them or not? The following ten characters, while never perfect, prove the virtues of motherhood in all its messy, complicated, astounding glory.

    Molly Weasley
    Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling

    Where else to start but with the harried matriarch of the unruly Weasley brood? A mother of seven and the wife of a moony Muggle enthusiast, Molly keeps her household running and her children awash in fine knitwear—and she still takes time to lavish the same maternal affection (and sometimes consternation) on her children’s wayward friends. She’s the unsung hero of the Order of the Phoenix whose bravery caused me (and all of you) to cheer aloud when she faced off with Bellatrix Lestrange.

    Mrs. Murry
    A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

    Mr. Murry often gets the credit for being brilliant, but Katherine Murry is an accomplished microbiologist whose professional accomplishments do not get her sucked through the space-time continuum. With her husband gone missing for years, Mrs. Murry keeps her family together, even the strange genius who is her youngest son. Meg leaves her mother behind as she goes on her tesseract adventures, but my secret hope always has been there’s an unwritten epilogue out there where Kate Murry gets to go on a vacation.

    Lulu Nanapush
    Love Medicine series, by Louise Erdrich

    Lulu is not a perfect woman or mother, but life hasn’t exactly treated her, or the Ojibwe reservation she calls home, with the utmost kindness. She encapsulates the challenges of both mother- and womanhood. We’re introduced to her in Love Medicine, in which she’s entangled in a decades-long love triangle with the man she’s always loved and the woman he married. In a story, and series, that spans generations, we see Lulu move on to other relationships and amass a family of nine children in the process. All the while, she’s remarkably unabashed in her strength and independence.

    Lisa Carter
    The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

    The Carters are a modern fictional family, and Lisa is the glue that holds them together. Lisa got pregnant as a teenager and dealt with her mother’s rejection. A nurse, she raised her children, Starr and Sekani, to be strong and well-aware of the racial injustice of their neighborhood and the world they live in. She’s forged a strong marriage despite her husband’s incarceration and affair, and she treats Seven, the product of that affair, with love. The Hate U Give is a story of strength in the face of adversity, and Lisa is one of the strongest characters in Garden Heights.

    Margaret March
    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

    Raising four daughters on your own in the middle of the Civil War and your own dire financial situation would be enough to crumple anybody’s spirits. But Marmee not only carries on, she does so with aplomb. The anti-Mrs. Bennet, Marmee puts her focus on treating her daughters with love and kindness and providing an example of how they should apply those same qualities to their own interactions with others. She’s no shallow perfect character either; her charity and compassion ring true, even 150 years later.

    Miss Honey
    Matilda, by Roald Dahl

    Look, mothers come in all packages, and Jennifer Honey proves to be more of a mom to whiz-kid Matilda than her biological mother ever was. As Matilda’s teacher, she’s the first person truly to recognize the unbelievable talents of a small, neglected girl. Not only does she encourage her, Miss Honey fights for her, too. (And Matilda returns the favor in spades thanks to her telekinesis, the oldest trick in the book.) Their shared happy ending makes them an adoptive family, but Miss Honey was a mother to Matilda way before those final pages.

    Suyuan Woo, An-Mei Hsu, Lindo Jong, and Ying-Ying St. Clair
    The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

    The relationships between mothers and daughters are never simple and rarely conflict-free. The beauty is in the way those bonds, when strong, are able to mend any tear. The four Chinese immigrants who get together each week to play mahjong in this novel, and the four daughters they raise, are perfect examples of this simultaneous tenderness and turbulence. In a story spanning 40 years, we see it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly. And still there is mahjong, and gossip, and storytelling, and the stitching together of generations.

    Lilith Iyapo
    Dawn, by Octavia Butler

    Lilith did have a biological son before the start of this novel, but her place on this list is because of a slightly different role she’s tasked with playing: mother to a new species. You see, Lilith is one of the few survivors of an Earth apocalypse, one human saved from extinction by an alien species. For centuries, Lilith and the other remaining humans have been asleep and their rescuers have worked to rehab Earth. Now, the Oankali, a, let’s say, tentacle-forward race, are ready to repopulate the planet … together … with humans. (You know.)

    Clara del Valle Trueba
    The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende

    In a sweeping story of family history, Clara is an otherworldly focal point. Her innate clairvoyance blossoms into broader abilities as she matures, abilities intimately tied to the fate of her family through the decades. In a story aswirl with chaos and trauma, Clara is a calming center, protective of her children, particularly when it comes to her volatile husband. Her presence imbues every aspect of the life of the Truebas, even after her death. Sometimes her powers make her dreamy and distanced, but her heart’s in the right place and she grows into her starring role.

    The Aunts
    Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman

    Again, circumstances beyond biology can forge some of the greatest mothers. The Owens family is decidedly non-traditional: two aunts raising two nieces, all witches. Also, there’s that whole family curse that spells doom for the unfortunate man who might fall in love with any Owens woman. While the hijinks that occur in Practical Magic may make you wonder about supervision Sally and Gillian’s aunts provide, their enduring encouragement to embrace the weird and witchy—and to give zero flips about what anyone else thinks—is an inspiration.

    The post The 10 Best Moms in Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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

    25 Must-Reads for Women’s History Month 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     
  • Jeff Somers 3:15 pm on 2016/03/17 Permalink
    Tags: bigger on the inside, , , little women, oz, piers anthony, xanth   

    5 Fictional Worlds That Are Bigger Than They First Appear 


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    The world of literature is vast, and getting bigger all the time. Thousands of titles are published each year. A precious few manage to break through and become universally known, and fewer than that manage to become mainstays of our collective imagination. And even when a book becomes a permanent part of the zeitgeist, many sequels and related works are forgotten over time, leaving new generations to believe that if they’ve read that one book, they’ve read it all—when the fact is, the series goes much deeper than you realize. If you ask most people about the five books series on this list, they may be surprised to learn there’s more to them than just a famous first entry.

    The Oz books, by L. Frank Baum
    Everyone knows The Wizard of Oz. The 1939 film version starring Judy Garland is so iconic, chances are people are aware of the visuals and tropes even if they’ve never actually seen it. Most people are at least aware that there’s a source novel, but what many don’t know is that L. Frank Baum wrote a total of 14 Oz books on his own, and other authors wrote 26 additional sequels, with more following all the time now that the originals are in the public domain. Even discounting the sequels penned by others, the fact that there are thirteen other stories about the charming and colorful inhabitants of Oz is worth celebrating.

    The Xanth books, by Piers Anthony
    Anthony, still going strong at 81, is one of the most prolific writers in the world, and his Xanth fantasy series is perhaps his most famous work—the first book in the series, 1977’s A Spell for Chameleon, won awards and was an instant hit. But even fans are sometimes shocked to discover he’s published 39 additional Xanth books, with three more scheduled. While the early Xanth novels (especially the first eight) are regarded as the best, it remains an incredibly popular series. If you lost track of it some time in the 1990s and assumed you’d read them all, you have a lot of catching up to do.

    The Aubrey-Maturin series, by Patrick O’Brian
    As often happens, a film adaptation raises the profile of a book, but when that book is the first in a series, some make the mistake of assuming it’s a standalone. In the case of the 2003 Russell Crowe film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, the producers combined three of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels into one story, but many people came away with the impression that 1969’s Master and Commander was a standalone. The fact is, the series consists of 20 complete novels that delve very deeply into the careers, personal lives, and politics of the characters, offering a deep-dive reading experience.

    The Giver series, by Lois Lowry
    The Giver is another book that got a splashy film adaptation that raised its profile. But if you watched the movie—or heard about its inclusion in school curriculums—you could come away with the impression it’s a standalone novel. The fact is, Lowry wrote three lesser-known sequels, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son. Some confusion no doubt arose from the fact that Gathering Blue was not a direct sequel, but rather a new story set in the same universe, and only linked back directly to The Giver by the events in the third book. Still, next time someone tells you they loved The Giver, ask them if they’re aware of the sequels.

    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
    Little Women remains one of the most-read and best-loved novels of all time, and Jo March is a key character for readers of both genders. Despite this fame, however, many people are completely unaware Alcott wrote two direct sequels to her classic: Little Men and Jo’s Boys, which continue the story of Jo March with similar charm and verve. Why the two sequels are so frequently ignored is a mystery, as they clearly form a trilogy and have enjoyed success in the past, including their own film adaptations.

     
  • Kelly Anderson 7:29 pm on 2015/08/03 Permalink
    Tags: , , , elizabeth wein, , little women, ,   

    7 Amazing Female Friendships in Fiction 


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    Besties! BFFs! #SquadGoals! Whether it’s Taylor Swift and her parade of friends onstage, or adorable groups of puppies on Twitter, best friendship, and in particular best female friendship, is in the air these days. But of course, while others are into taking selfies or singing songs about it, as book nerds, our first way of joining in on a trend is always going to be via book. So that got me thinking: What awesome books are out there that celebrate female friendship? Here are 7 I love.

    The Neapolitan Novels series, by Elena Ferrante
    Speaking of names that are in the air these days, Elena Ferrante, guys! Over the past few years, as her later novels were translated into English, her star has just been rising higher, and for good reasons, such as her fantastic writing and fascinating exploration of complex minds and lives. But my favorite thing about Ferrante is her ability to write striking portraits of female psychology, particularly that surrounding female friendship. The best example of this is Elena and Lila, the central pair in her Neapolitan novels, which follow them from girlhood to late middle age in 1960s Naples. Ferrante memorably shows us both the inspiring, glorious side of having a brilliant best friend, as well as the less palatable underbelly of envy and competition that can arise. If you’ve ever had a long-term best friend and know just how much that experience can shape your life, you’ll recognize yourself here.

    The Secret Place, by Tana French
    Speaking of less palatable underbellies, Tana French’s The Secret Place is a memorably accurate exploration of teenage female friendship that has quite possibly gone horribly wrong. A teenage boy is found dead on the grounds of an all-girls’ prep school in Ireland, prompting an investigation with few leads—until one day someone anonymously posts “I know who killed him” on the school’s community bulletin board, known as the “secret place.” The detectives reopen the case and find themselves up against the psychological battlefield of high school girl cliques, frenemies, and social hierarchies, and all the secrets they hide. French paints a powerful picture of how deeply friendship matters to teenage girls, and does it with a depth of emotion sure to transport readers back to their own high school years.

    Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein
    A WWII story, this fascinating book focuses on the very active role two teens play in the conflict. Maddie is a pilot who sometimes drops agents and supplies into France to aid the resistance, and Julie? Well, she seems to do all sorts of things she doesn’t talk about, things that eventually deliver her into the hands of an SS officer who interrogates her for weeks on end. The novel opens with Julie in prison; as tells the story of her intense friendship with Maddie, we discover how everything came to be. Julie is one of those people you never forget—the kind who’s always in motion, always planning, always doing, and who hides damage and secrets you might never guess. Code Name Verity is one of those novels I just can’t say much more about until you’ve read it, so get to it! Trust me, this is a secret you want to be in on.

    Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
    The relationship between the sisters in this classic is usually what gets top billing (that is, if we’re not immediately talking about Darcy). And this makes sense. Between Lydia’s exploits, Mary’s preaching, Kitty’s slavish imitation, and Elizabeth and Jane’s quiet pact of sisterly sanity, all of these relationships give us something to talk about. However, what’s less often discussed is the one friendship not tied up in sisterhood: the one between Elizabeth and Charlotte. These ladies grew up together, and have clearly long been using each other as a rare sensible lifeline amid the nonsense of their families and neighbors. As the novel progresses, however, it becomes clear Elizabeth and Charlotte disagree on some fundamental principles of life, namely, love’s role in marriage. And yet, theirs is one of the few great examples of a friendship that manages to survive core differences and still end with both ladies rooting for each other.

    Borrowed & Blue, by Emily Giffin
    Giffin has written several books dealing with groups of friends making major life choices about marriage, children, and careers. But her gold standard remains the Something Borrowed/Something Blue duology (now a movie!), which explores the friendship of Darcy and Rachel, two women from Indiana who have been friends since elementary school. Darcy is blonde, beautiful, socially fearless, used to getting what she wants. Rachel is bookish, shy and awkward. But they show an incredible loyalty to each other—until the night something happens that tests the strength of their friendship and forces both to reexamine their relationship. These books are memorable not only for the capital-D Drama at their heart, but for being unafraid to dig into some uncomfortable issues about social status and the stories we tell ourselves to make our friendships work.

    The Desperate Duchesses series, by Eloisa James
    This series is an extended historical romance, set in the Regency era, about a bunch of women who all happen be married, engaged to, or running around with English dukes. So it sounds like this is going to be mostly about bodice-ripping sexytimes, heart-burning jealousy, and happy endings, right? Well, of course. (And what good fun it is, too!) But it’s also one of the few historical romance series I’ve come across that, in addition to the giggly fun times, ALSO insists upon the importance of female friendship. Although all the steamy romance you could want is in there, James never forgets to highlight that there are other relationships important to women’s lives, especially those they share with their female support systems.

    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
    Yes, yes, these are sisters. I guess I’m cheating a little bit here. But how many of you have sisters who are your best friends? Or at the least your yardstick or pacing partner, who help you decide your life’s path? The lives of Amy, Jo, Beth, and Meg March (and their mother) are conducted in an almost entirely female universe. Jo, the fiery center of our novel, has particularly strong relationships with her sisters, and even initially rejects the idea of marriage in favor of the life she already has at home. Although of course the novel encompasses jealousy and anger and all the emotions you share with your nearest and dearest, ultimately it shows the strength that lies at the core of the best female friendships and how this can get us through the hard times when it seems nothing else can.

    What other books do you love that feature awesome female friendships?

     
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