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  • Lindsey Lewis Smithson 6:00 pm on 2016/06/02 Permalink
    Tags: a child called it, a good cry, looking for alaska, , , , the still point of the turning world, ,   

    7 More Sob-Inducing Books That Deserve to Be Made into Movies 

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    Me Before You

    Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You, the emotional bestseller that brought countless fans to tears, hits theaters across the country this week. On June 3rd many of us will be seen walking out of movie theaters with red-rimmed eyes and all the feels, glad to have been able to spend some time with Louisa and Will and to witness their unexpected love story on the big screen. Books and movies that have the ability to bring fans to tears often stay with us long after we have experienced them. If you enjoyed the Me Before You or the book (or film adaptations of) The Fault in Our Starsor Wildyou may also find yourself hoping for movie adaptions a few of the books below as well. Make it happen, Hollywood!

    We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart
    Everything changes for Cadence Sinclair during her fifteenth summer at her family’s beach. As Cadence struggles with memory loss, physical injuries, and a secret that no one is willing to share, she is also growing into adulthood. After spending the next summer in Europe, and then finally returning to the family’s beloved summer house on the island, Cadence has to face some harsh realities about herself and her cousins. In much the same vein as the twisty Gone Girl, readers will find themselves by turns sad, frustrated, amazed, and shocked. It’s nearly impossible to read this book without having some strong feelings, and a movie adaption would be irresistible.

    A Child Called It: One Child’s Courage to Survive, by Dave Pelzer
    I wept, a lot, while reading Dave Pelter series of memoirs. At turns devastating and hopeful, producers could film a heck of a tearjerking masterpiece of Oscar material with this set of books. Why this material hasn’t yet been tapped for a movie is almost inexplicable. Depicting Pelzer’s journey from an abused child to an adult who has to learn to cope with his terrible past, and eventually to thrive, is as heartbreaking as it is inspirational. A film that blends the realism of Wild with the elements of a damaged childhood like Room would no doubt rack up some nominations…and plenty of drenched hankies.

    The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
    Granted, there is a Bell Jar film from 1979. There is also the Gwyneth Paltrow/Daniel Craig film Sylvia, which loosely covers the author’s more autobiographical material. But a real, gritty, earnest look at the health care system and the borderline torture that Esther Greenwood underwent during a mental breakdown in the 1950s would make for a devastating film. This novel, which explores the pangs of teenage love and rejection, along with the pressures to achieve perfection in a competitive world, is timeless—maybe even more so today.

    Looking For Alaska Special 10th Anniversary Edition, by John Green
    John Green is the brains behind many of our beloved sob-inducing books and movies like Paper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars, and Looking For Alaska was his first novel. Miles Halter is a high school junior, with a penchant for darkness, who is on his way to a new boarding school. As he takes on new friends Chip “The Colonel” Martin, and Takumi Hirohito, along with crush Alaska Young, the journey unfolds into a series of pranks and personal revelations. The more that each character reveals, the more readers begin to worry. The end, which I won’t spoil here, is a heartbreaking series of events that places it among the ranks of A Separate Peace (another must read weepy classic) and Me Before You.

    The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
    Just ask any parent the last time they cried over a children’s book and you will mostly definitely hear someone say The Giving Tree. From the master of poignant children’s literature, this classic tale of self sacrifice to one’s children will make you cry every single time. And not just cry, I mean Dawson’s Creek ugly face cry crying. Given its brevity, the book may be hard to adapt, but if Hollywood can turn Where the Wild Things Are into an emotional film about parenting and birth, than I have faith that we will all be sitting together crying about The Giving Tree one day. I’ll save you a seat.

    Wonder (B&N Exclusive Edition), by R. J. Palacio
    A film based on Wonder is currently in production, and it is no surprise, seeing as this is a beautiful novel that is beloved by kids and adults alike. The story of middle grade boy with birth defects that leave him extremely disfigured, and the struggles he has while attending school for the first time, is a universal tear jerker. Who hasn’t felt out of place, or longed for acceptance in some way? Who hasn’t been betrayed, fought for, or lost a friend? Despite its middle grade labeling, all readers can find something of themselves in main character Auggie. In the same way that The Lovely Bones and The Fault in Our Stars touched fans of all ages, this movie could be popular among all ages.

    The Still Point of the Turning World, by Emily Rapp
    Emily Rapp’s second memoir is a book like few others. At six months old her son Ronan was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs, an always fatal genetic disorder. In an attempt to find a path in a world that no parent ever expects to inhabit, Rapp takes readers through the emotional, physical, and intellectual stages of grief. Readers also are shown the absolute beauty in loving the small things, in embracing the entirety of life. More than story of grief though, this is a story of fierce—even staggering—unconditional love.

    Which beautiful, sad, books do you want to see in theaters?

  • Monique Alice 6:00 pm on 2015/11/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , kate morton, , looking for alaska, the lake house, , the nightingale, why leave the house?   

    5 Books to Keep You Inside on Black Friday 

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    There are two kinds of people in this world: There are the people who love Black Friday (the hustle and bustle and holiday cheer), and the people who don’t (the parking, the crowds, the constant fear of being trampled for standing too close to the last half-price flatscreen). If you are one of the former, I commend your positive attitude and wish you a wonderful holiday season. If you are one of the latter, follow me down a rabbit hole of amazing books that will shelter you from the mayhem occurring at your nearest shopping outlet. If you dig into one of these reads after your turkey, you’ll be done just in time to fire up the laptop for Cyber Monday. Happy reading (and shopping) this holiday season!

    The Lake House, by Kate Morton
    The newest novel by the author of The Secret Keeper is a spellbinder of a book. Sadie is a young whip-smart detective who stumbles upon an intriguing old manse in the English countryside while visiting family. Captivated by the abandoned estate’s air of mystery, Sadie reaches out to its elderly owner, Alice. Sadie is soon astonished by the many layers of secrecy and deception that permeate the house’s history, beginning with a little boy’s disappearance in 1933. As the tale unfolds, the reader is never quite sure whom to trust—this book keeps you guessing right up until the sucker punch of an ending. You might want to make sure to have snacks on hand before you start this one, because you’ll be glued to your favorite chair until the very last page.

    The Martian, by Andy Weir
    Chances are, you’ve heard of the recent movie adaptation of The Martian starring Matt Damon. Well, as is always the case if you’re a book lover, the book is even better! Imagine, for a moment, the kind of guts it takes to not only be an astronaut, but to be among the first astronauts to go to Mars. Got it? Great. Now, imagine the guts it takes not to immediately lose it if, after an unforeseen crisis, the rest of your crew takes off and leaves you alone on Mars because they think you’re dead. You have no way of communicating with Earth, and even if you did, your supplies will never last long enough for help to arrive. This is exactly the pickle that Mark Watney finds himself in, but luckily, he is pretty dang gutsy. Mark is determined not to give up, and readers will want to hang in there with him for the long haul.

    A Little Life, by Hanya Yanigahara
    This story begins when four college friends make their way from a Massachusetts campus to the Big Apple to begin their respective careers. At first, it seems like the quintessential New York coming-of-age tale—a lawyer, an actor, an architect, and an artist adrift in the big city and trying to make their respective ways in the world. However, it soon becomes clear that this book is all that and so much more. Yanagihara’s finely wrought characters capture the reader’s imagination for the three-decade span of the book, careening back and forth between life’s most joyous highs and desperate lows. This is a book that tackles the complex manna of the human experience: friendship, love, trauma, disappointment, and the darkest of our secrets. A light read? Not so much. But this critically acclaimed book promises to make you see your own life and loved ones with a renewed sense of gratitude and inspiration.

    The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
    It’s 1939, and Europe is ablaze with the effort to repel the Nazis. Vianne sees her husband, Antoine, off to the frontlines and tells herself that the Germans will never set foot on French soil. So, she is beyond terrified when Nazi boots land not only in her town, but on her foyer when troops commandeer her home. She and her daughter are forced to live among the enemy, and to resist in whatever hidden ways they can without being discovered. At the same time, Vianne’s sister Isabelle is falling hard for a handsome rebel who may not be who he seems. In the pages that follow, Vianne and Isabelle fight to stay true to themselves and preserve their way of life. This historic novel is an ode to sisterhood, the French character, and the ways in which women also fought the Second World War.

    Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    The Fault In Our Stars author John Green has knocked another one out of the park with Looking for Alaska. This book is a heady brew, indeed—one part weirdness, one part infatuation, one part crisis, and several parts heartbreak. At first glance, it might appear to be a book about being a teenager, and in some ways, it is. In reality, though, just like The Fault in Our Stars, it’s a book about being human that happens to feature teens. When you think about it, there must be a reason we continue to find teenaged characters so compelling long after we leave our own teen years behind. John Green makes you wonder whether the reason is that the teenage years represent our best and worst selves—the time when we are full of hope and also full of anger, brimming with love and concurrently as selfish as they come. Like teenhood, the beauty of Green’s work is in its potential to be many things all at once.

    What book will you be diving into on Black Friday?

  • Melissa Albert 3:43 pm on 2015/04/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , looking for alaska, , , , teen fiction, ,   

    Before Seeing Paper Towns, Catch Up on Your John Green 

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    Last summer, the adaptation of John Green’s tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars became a historic hit. This July, a second John Green book will make the jump to the big screen. Paper Towns is a love story, a road trip movie, and a cautionary tale. Like all of Green’s books, it’s the perfect blend of funny and sad, specific and universal, with characters that are relatable, articulate, and weird in all the right ways. After obsessing over the killer trailer, we’re more excited than ever to see this adaptation on July 24. Before you join us, catch up on the John Green canon.

    Paper Towns
    When dreamy girl-next-door Margo Roth Spiegelman shows up at his bedroom window late one night, Quentin’s sure everything’s about to change. The two embark on a moonlit revenge mission on Margo’s enemies before sneaking back into their bedrooms after dawn. Quentin’s ecstatic…until Margo doesn’t show up for school. After her parents report her missing, he becomes convinced she’s left a trail of clues leading to her whereabouts, and that she might be in danger. Armed only with a hunch, he and his friends race across the country to find Margo, never considering the fact that she may not want to be found. This is a must-read (or a must-reread) before the book hits the big screen this June.

    Looking for Alaska (B&N Exclusive Collector’s Edition)
    When Miles Halter leaves his “minor life” behind to attend boarding school in Alabama, it’s with the intention of seeking, in the famous last words of poet François Rabelais, “the Great Perhaps.” What he finds is Alaska Young. She’s funny, beautiful, smart. She’s also damaged, elusive, and prone to self-destruction. On his way to falling in love with Alaska, Miles comes under the benign sway of his hardheaded roommate, the Colonel; takes part in a prank war between the Colonel’s gang and the school’s arrogant rich kid faction; and collects more famous last words to live by. The book is told as a countdown to an unknown event, ratcheting up the tension from page one (“one hundred thirty-six days before”), then counting back upward on the other side of an occurrence that will rock Miles’ world. This exclusive edition includes a letter from and a Q&A with Green, plus new endpaper art.

    An Abundance of Katherines
    Former child prodigy Colin Singleton is always the one getting dumped—and each and every time, it’s by a girl named Katherine. His Katherine obsession (or is it fate?) started at a tender age, but it’s only Katherine #19 who really manages to break his heart. He hits the road with his best friend, Hassan, in an effort to leave all his Katherine troubles behind, and ends up waylaid by a curious tourist trap in the tiny town of Gutshot, Tennessee: the alleged resting place of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Colin and Hassan get jobs in Gutshot as collectors of residents’ oral history, and Colin’s Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability is tested by a Gutshot girl named Lindsey, who just might break the Katherine curse.

    The Fault in Our Stars (B&N Exclusive Edition)
    This is the YA juggernaut that launched a thousand public ugly cries, as well as a hit movie. But behind the celebrity casting and best-seller status is the story, a clear-eyed, brimming-hearted romance between two teenagers who’ve been dealt a bad hand by fate. Sixteen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster’s terminal cancer has metastasized to her lungs, leaving her largely homebound between hospital visits and support group meetings. It’s at her support group that she meets charming, hyper-articulate Augustus Waters, whose cancer is in remission after the amputation of his leg below the knee. The two fall for each other the old-fashioned way: by swapping their favorite books. This beginning leads first to love, then to Amsterdam, where they track down the reclusive author of Hazel’s favorite novel, determined to find out what happens after its abrupt final page. Every twist in their love story is colored by illness and the fact that they can’t have forever—but what Green does with the book’s “little infinity” will astound you. This edition features exclusive endpaper art and redesigned jacket, plus a Q&A with the author.

    John Green Boxed Set
    For the John Green completist, this boxed set combines his four solo titles, from debut Looking for Alaska to most recent bestseller The Fault in Our Stars. We recommend pairing this gift with a box of Kleenex, a pillow to hug, and a journal, because reading all Green’s books in one go might cause an excess of feels.

    Shop all teen books >
  • Sabrina Rojas Weiss 7:00 pm on 2014/10/03 Permalink
    Tags: , a separate peace, , , , , , , , , , , john knowles, , , looking for alaska, , , , , the disreputable history of frankie landau-banks, , , ,   

    Belzhar and More of Our Favorite Boarding-School Novels 

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    Meg Wolitzer's BelzharIs there any teen out there who doesn’t occasionally fantasize about being sent off to school far, far away from their parents? Sure, there are rules and teachers and things, but a boarding school is also a microcosm completely devoted to high-school students, sheltered from the outside world, ripe for all kinds of trouble and adventure. No wonder they’ve made great settings for novels from Jane Eyre to The Catcher in the Rye, A Little Princess to Harry Potter. This isn’t a definitive list of the “best” in the genre, but a smattering of favorites, each fulfilling a different literary need:

    A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
    Forget for a second that John Knowles’ story, about a New England boarding schooler named Gene who thinks his charismatic best friend, Phineas, might be secretly sabotaging him, is a universal favorite of English teachers. This is a great example of how boys’ friendships can be just as messed up as girls. Also, don’t take dumb high jumps off of trees, everyone.

    A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray
    The world was still deep in the midst of Harry Potter mania when Bray published this very different tale of 19th-century boarding school girls dabbling in magic. While they’re learning how to be proper Victorian ladies at Spence Academy in London, Gemma Doyle and her friends are also exploring a magical realm that lets them fulfill their real (rather libidinous) desires for knowledge, love, power, and freedom.

    Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
    If no one told you Ishiguro’s novel is actually a cautionary sci-fi tale, you’d never know until the end. All you know at first is that Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy are in a boarding school for special students, and their love triangle is one of the most restrained and tense relationships you’ll ever read.

    Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    By now, you know that no one does teen loss like Green. No one does crushes like him, either. His debut novel features both, as we follow Miles “Pudge” Halter to a boarding school in Georgia, where he meets troublemaking but golden-hearted scholarship students Alaska and Chip. Naturally, he falls in love with Alaska. Naturally, she is unattainable. But we readers fall right with him.

    The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart
    Unattainable is no longer a word in Frankie Landau-Banks’ vocabulary when she comes back to her elite prep school newly hot and confident. Even when she finds out her boyfriend’s secret society won’t allow girls, she finds a way not just to infiltrate it, but to direct it from behind the scenes. Lockhart was a National Book Award finalist for this fine bit of feminist fun.

    Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins
    The one big flaw in this story about a girl coming of age in a French boarding school is the fact that Anna is really pissed off her parents are making her go to a French boarding school. Wha? And yet, the charm of Perkins’ books is also how much we’re dying to be in her characters’ shoes.

    White Cat, by Holly Black
    We’d probably never want to be in the shoes of Cassel Sharpe, the protagonist of Holly Black’s Curse Workers series. The scholarship boarding school student comes from a long line of con artists. He thinks he doesn’t have the same magical powers—the ability to control others’ emotions, wipe their memories, or give them good luck with a mere touch—as the rest of his family, who are caught up in a crime organization run by the father of his best friend and love of his life, Lila, who he suspects he killed years ago. This is a love story, a noir thriller, and a paranormal high school drama all in one.

    The Raven Boys trilogy, by Maggie Stiefvater
    The majority of Maggie Stiefvater’s series takes place in the rural town of Henrietta, Virginia, home to Aglionby Academy, the kooky psychic ladies of Blue Sargent’s family, and perhaps a long-buried Welsh king who will grant a wish to whoever finds him. We barely see the school, but we fall in love with its students Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah, as they team up with firecracker Blue, who’s pretty sure she’s going to kill her first love with a kiss. In Stiefvater’s hands, each of the characters’ inner conflicts is every bit as important as the story’s rich-kid/townie tension and mystical goings on.

    Winger, by Andrew Smith
    It feels like a privilege to be inside the head of a Smith character, even one as insecure as Ryan Dean “Winger” West, a 14-year-old junior at Pine Mountain Academy. The intermittent witty illustrations and internal (relentlessly horny) dialogue make this one of the funniest (and most Salinger-esque) of this group, but there’s a deeper theme, too, as Ryan Dean learns what it means to be a good, honorable friend—to his BFF/crush Annie, his gay friend Joey, and his other rugby teammates. We can’t wait to see how he navigates senior year in Stand-Off, out January 2015.

    Belzhar, by Meg Wolitzer
    Meg Wolitzer has often included elements of adolescent coming of age in her novels, but this is her first crack at a truly YA story. Jam Gallahue has been sent to a boarding school for emotionally “fragile” students after the death of her boyfriend. There she’s placed in a special English lit class, where she’s one of just five students doing a close study of Sylvia Plath’s work. Inexplicably, when they write in antique journals their teacher has given them, they’re thrown into a dream world where the horrible circumstances that brought them there are reversed.

    What’s your favorite novel set in a boarding school?

  • Melissa Walker 3:30 pm on 2014/09/10 Permalink
    Tags: cover reveal, it's kind of a funny story, , , looking for alaska, my life after now, , , the summer i wasn't me, what you left behind, ,   

    Exclusive Cover Reveal: Jessica Verdi’s What You Left Behind 

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    What You Left BehindYoung adult author Jessica Verdi has written about a teen living with HIV (My Life After Now) and a girl going to a “reparative therapy” camp to learn how to like boys instead of girls (The Summer I Wasn’t Me). Needless to say, Verdi doesn’t shy away from tough situations in her work—and her upcoming spring 2015 novel, What You Left Behind, is no exception. At left, an exclusive cover reveal of the forthcoming work. ”The book is written from the point of view of a boy, so I knew I wanted the cover to appeal to boys as well as girls,” explains Verdi. “Which meant no pictures of girls, no hearts, nothing too cutesy.” Here she is with the full story:

    I’m pretty much in love with this cover and am so thrilled to finally share it! This is my third published novel, and the first where I really didn’t have any preconceived ideas for what the cover should look like. So when my publisher asked for my input on cover brainstorming, I ended up giving them more sweeping, tonal ideas rather than specific imagery.

    I told them I was hoping for something cool and hip and eye-catching, that would appeal to both genders. The story is also pretty heavy (Ryden is a single teen dad struggling to understand what being a parent means while battling guilt and grief over the death of his girlfriend), so I knew I wanted the cover to have a ‘raw’ feel, depicting that mood, but also not be TOO dark because the book is also filled with JOKES! and ROMANCE! and TEEN BOY ANTICS! The cover designers probably wanted to kill me when they saw that vague, completely contradictory request.

    Another idea I had was to make the cover text-heavy. I love the current text-based cover trend in YA—far preferable, in my opinion, to the ‘nonspecific photo of a girl in a ball gown’ trend. (And yes, I’m aware of how ironic that is coming from me, since the cover for My Life After Now  featured a girl in a dress. Haha.)

    I also gave the designers some examples of ‘boy book’ covers that I really love. These included It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (the head map thing) and Paper Towns (the pushpin) and Looking for Alaska (the smoke), by John Green.

    I honestly have no idea how the cover designers took all these random, half-formed ideas and came up with the gorgeousness that is now the What You Left Behind cover. They captured the tone of the book PERFECTLY, did some super-cool things with font and color scheme, and included so many details that are specific to Ryden’s story. I love that he’s standing on a beach—there are several scenes that take place on the beach in the book, including some major moments. I also love that it’s not just any beach—it’s clearly a lakeshore, since you can see land across the water. Ryden’s beach is at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. I love that he’s alone in the cover image, with nothing to distract him from his thoughts, his sadness, his helplessness. Even though Ryden is surrounded by people in the book, he’s very much alone. And finally, I love that the font is handwritten, because handwritten journals play a huge role in the story.

    The first time I saw the cover I knew the design team had nailed it. This is my favorite cover of all my books so far, and I can’t wait to see it on the bookstore shelves!

    What are some of your favorite YA novel covers?

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