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  • Cristina Merrill 4:00 pm on 2018/06/13 Permalink
    Tags: , by invitation only, calypso, , , , , , , , , , love and ruin, , , paula mclain, rainy day friends, , , the cast, , the perfect couple   

    10 Beach Reads to Get You into That Summer State of Mind 

    Summer is nearly here! That means plenty of time for lounging about in the great outdoors. Here are 10 page-turning stories to enjoy as you soak up the sun. Some are light and breezy, and others are a bit darker—covering everything from murders to social media scandals. There are fresh starts and betrayals and secrets. They all have one thing in common, though: They’re each filled with beautiful, colorful characters who will make you want to keep turning the pages, even when the going gets rough. (Especially when the going gets rough, actually.)

    So put on your biggest shades, slather on the SPF-whatever-you-need, and enjoy! Just don’t forget to turn over once in a while.

    The Cast, by Danielle Steel
    Hoping to dip your toes into a glamorous, Hollywood-esque story? Seek no further! Steel’s yarn is about a woman, Kait Whittier, who has a respectable magazine writing career. After meeting Zack Winter, a television producer, Kait becomes inspired to write a TV series based on her grandmother’s life. She soon finds herself in the middle of a major production filled with all kinds of people. All is going quite well, until she is confronted with a major maternal-related issue. Will she be able to get through it? And will her new inner circle help her?

    The Perfect Couple, by Elin Hilderbrand
    Fans of The Castaways and A Summer Affair will have a chance to revisit some of their favorite characters in this novel! It’s wedding season on Nantucket, which doesn’t exactly thrill the locals. (So. Many. Tourists.) Then a bride-to-be is found dead just a few hours before the ceremony was supposed to begin, and many of those who were close to her are prime suspects. Chief of Police Ed Kapenash is on the case, and he soon realizes that no lovey-dovey couple—or family, for that matter—is perfect. He’s going to have to ask some difficult questions in order to solve this case and bring the bride’s loved ones closure.

    All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin
    Giffin’s latest tale is about a major incident that goes viral on social media. Nina Browning is living the good life in Nashville. Her wealthy husband just sold his tech company for a major profit, and their son got accepted to Princeton. Living a very different life is Tom Volpe, a single dad working multiple jobs to raise his daughter, Lyla, while making sure she doesn’t screw things up at her new prep school. One night, at a wild party, a scandalous photo is taken that can shake up everything these two families have worked for. Can they manage to survive the scandal and pick up the pieces of their lives?

    Calypso, by David Sedaris
    Humor book alert! Funnyman David Sedaris’s latest book is about his purchase of a beach house. This may seem like The Dream for just about anyone, but, as Sedaris learns, it’s not all fun and games. He thought it would be a relaxing retreat, but he still can’t escape the facts of life, such as middle age and mortality. There are plenty of his patented and hilarious ruminations on both in this volume, so be prepared for lots of belly laughs in spite of yourself—and maybe some stares from the people sitting nearby.

    Shelter in Place, by Nora Roberts
    Roberts’ latest book deals with a mass shooting at a mall, and how it affects the lives of the survivors for years to come. One man decides to go into law enforcement, while one woman finds a much-needed outlet in her art. Years have passed since that horrible night, but the pain still lingers, and it may not even be over yet. Let’s just say that someone bad is waiting to cause more chaos. Fans know that Roberts (and her alter writing ego, J.D. Robb) consistently delivers thrillers filled with the most wonderful human characters.   

    The High Tide Club, by Mary Kay Andrews
    Attorney Brooke Trappnell has been summoned by 99-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick to the old lady’s beach home. Josephine wants to make things right with the descendants of her old girl gang. They called themselves The High Tide Club back in the day, and let’s just say they used to have oodles of fun together. (Case in point: They went skinny dipping. A lot.) Of course, many things have happened since those days. Oh, and Josephine also wants Brooke to help her protect her land from greedy hands. Brooke soon finds herself in the middle of decades-old drama as she reunites everyone at Josephine’s home.

    Love and Ruin, by Paula McLain
    McLain is at it again! After the success of The Paris Wife, a fictional account of Ernest Hemingway’s marriage to Hadley Richardson, his first of multiple marriages, this new tome delves into Hemingway’s marriage with journalist Martha Gellhorn. Martha travels to Madrid to report on the Spanish Civil War and ends up crossing paths with the soon-to-be-super-famous writer. Throughout their relationship, one of her main struggles is to make sure she remains her own person, which many a modern reader can appreciate. Hemingway scholars know how this particular love story ends, but it’s still fun to read about a romance between two interesting and intelligent people with lots of inner turmoil.

    By Invitation Only, by Dorothea Benton Frank
    A wedding is about to take place, and let’s just say the bride and groom come from very different backgrounds. Fred’s family are Southern peach farmers, while Shelby comes from a wealthy Chicago family. One side is very hardworking, while the other side—or certain folks on it—have a bit of a sense of entitlement. Everyone is feeling a little bit out of their element, especially the two mothers. Will Fred and Shelby’s relationship survive class differences? And will everyone be feeling the love when Fred and Shelby say “I do?” (That is, IF they do?)

    Cottage by the Sea, by Debbie Macomber
    Annie Marlow has been through some pretty painful experiences, so she decides to hightail it to the Pacific Northwest. There she meets a colorful cast of characters, including Keaton, who helps her fix up her seaside rental cottage. He’s a very nice, zen kind of guy, which Annie really needs right now. Life is going smoothly, and then Annie gets a major opportunity thrown her way. Add to that a landlady with some major emotional walls around her and a teenager who might be in desperate need of Annie’s help, and you’ve got a page turner you won’t be able to put down.

    Rainy Day Friends, by Jill Shalvis
    Lanie Jacobs’ husband recently passed away, and she’s still getting over her grief when she discovers that she wasn’t his only wife. She’s devastated, to say the least, and she decides to make a fresh start for herself by working at the Capriotti Winery. It’s a family-run venture, and Lanie gets plenty of distraction from the noisy Capriotti family. There’s also the matter of Mark Capriotti, an Air Force veteran who is now the deputy sheriff. He and Lanie soon realize that they really like each other. Then a 21-year-old newcomer with some dark secrets shows up, which just might ruin everything that Lanie has worked for.

    The post 10 Beach Reads to Get You into That Summer State of Mind appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jen Harper 5:00 pm on 2018/02/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , hild, , , jubilee, margaret walker, michelle moran, nefertiti, nicola griffith, paula mclain, Priya Parmar, , , tananarive due, the black rose, the dream lover, the invention of wings, , vanessa and her sister, women's history month,   

    10 Books Celebrating Influential Women in History 

    March is Women’s History Month, so to celebrate, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite historical fiction books about some awesome women through the ages. From the first professional female pilot and American’s first black female millionaire to well-known names like Zelda Fitzgerald, George Sand, and Nefertiti, these incredible women—and so many more—have had a profound impact on their communities, society, and the world. So in commemoration of Women’s History Month, these are her stories.

    The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
    With alternating narratives by two extraordinary female characters, Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings tells the incredible story of real-life abolitionist pioneer Sarah Grimke and urban slave Hetty “Handful” Grimke in early 19th-century Charleston. On her 11th birthday, Sarah is given ownership of 10-year-old Hetty, and the two go on to influence each other and the destiny of women’s and African-American rights over the next 35 years. In real life, Hetty died of an “unspecified disease” after being severely beaten as punishment for Sarah teaching her how to read. But Kidd knew Hetty’s voice was imperative to telling this powerful story.

    Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Therese Anne Fowler
    Zelda Fitzgerald was so much more than the beautiful, outlandish wife of famed This Side of Paradise and The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald. And Therese Anne Fowler’s impeccably researched novel brings her to life, starting with her whirlwind courtship with young army lieutenant Scott when she was just 17 in Montgomery, Ala. Despite her parents’ disapproval, Zelda falls for Scott, and what follows is an incredibly readable tale of the couple’s fame at the dawn of the Jazz Age; their days galavanting around New York City, Paris, and more; the alcoholism and infidelity that plague their marriage; and the talented and often scandalous Zelda’s struggles with mental illness.

    Circling the Sun, by Paula McLain
    From the author of The Paris Wife comes another riveting read for historical fiction lovers. Paula McLain has crafted a compelling story about real-life female aviator and author Beryl Markham in 1920s colonial Kenya. Following an unconventional upbringing by her father and the native tribe who share his estate, the bold and fearless Beryl goes on to become a horse trainer—during a time when there were no female horse trainers—and later the first professional female pilot and a record-setting flyer. Beryl also finds herself tangled in a love triangle with hunter Denys Finch Hatton and writer Karen Blixen in this rich and passionate tale.

    Jubilee, by Margaret Walker
    Margaret Walker’s powerful novel set in the South during the American Civil War tells the true story of Vyry Brown, a biracial slave who was the daughter of a white plantation owner and a black enslaved woman. Vyry’s tale is based on the life of Margaret Duggans Ware Brown, the author’s great-grandmother. Walker is able to seamlessly blend together her family’s oral history she heard from her grandmother along with extensive research to offer a deeply moving and realistic portrayal of what life was like for slaves in the deep South—their struggles and desires—from their own perspective.

    Saint Mazie, by Jami Attenberg
    Bringing not only Mazie Phillips Gordon to life but also the sights and sounds of Jazz Age New York City, Jami Attenberg’s Saint Mazie tells the story of a movie ticket seller, an ordinary woman who did some extraordinary things. Witnessing the hungry, addicted, and injured homeless people roaming the Bowery, Mazie selflessly helped them the best she could, giving them money and opening the doors of The Venice theater to those in need. With details of her life imagined through fictional diary entries and account from those who knew her and only knew her through her journal, Attenberg’s witty book allows the spirit of Mazie to live on.

    The Dream Lover, by Elizabeth Berg
    Nineteenth-century French novelist George Sand was an eccentric and passionate woman who embraced an unconventional lifestyle in the pursuit of her dream of becoming a writer. In Elizabeth Berg’s richly captivating novel, readers are initially introduced to Sand as Aurore Dupin, a woman in the process of leaving a loveless marriage to start a new life in Paris. She changes her name, defies the restrictions on women in society, and takes on a who’s who of lovers and friends including Frédéric Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt, Eugène Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Marie Dorval, and Alfred de Musset. Exploring themes of sexuality, gender, and art, The Dream Lover is a must-read for fans of historical fiction.

    Vanessa and Her Sister, by Priya Parmar
    History remembers writer Virginia Woolf much more so than her sister, painter Vanessa Bell. But Priya Parmar’s elegant and dazzling novel, set in early 20th-century London, brings Vanessa out of her sister’s shadow to show just how truly gifted and multidimensional Vanessa was as well as the profound influence she had on Virginia. The story is told through Vanessa’s invented journal entries and correspondence and follows the siblings as they buck convention and forge their own path toward artistic success. But when Vanessa unexpectedly falls in love, Virginia careens into madness, having been ever-dependent on her sister as a steadying force in her life.

    Hild, by Nicola Griffith
    For fans of A Game of Thrones and exquisitely written historical fiction, Nicola Griffith’s Hild sheds some light on the Dark Ages and one of its most pivotal women, Saint Hilda of Whitby. The well-researched tome set in seventh-century Britain introduces readers to Hild as a curious child with a plotting and ambitious uncle set on becoming overking of Angles. Hild finds a place at his side as the king’s seer, an indispensable role that leads to her being feared by many as she truly seems to see the future. Griffith manages to bring the harsh yet beautiful realities of Hild’s experiences to life in this impeccable read.

    Nefertiti, by Michelle Moran
    Michelle Moran transports readers to ancient Egypt in her novel about two influential royal women in history, Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet. Strong-willed Nefertiti is set to marry an unstable pharaoh named Amunhotep. Following her marriage, Nefertiti is beloved by the people of Thebes, but, unbeknownst to her, powerful priests are plotting against her heretical husband. The only person willing to brave the inevitable ramifications and tell Nefertiti of the plot is her younger sister. While Nefertiti longs for power, her sister only wishes for a quiet life and to follow the her heart. Moran manages to bring them both to life in vivid detail on the page.

    The Black Rose, by Tananarive Due
    Madam C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove, the daughter of slaves on a Louisiana plantation in 1867; she went on to become America’s first black female millionaire. After being orphaned at age 7, married at 14, and widowed with a young child at 20, she was not content to maintain her lot in life. She became an inventive entrepreneur, creating hair and beauty products like a potion that became Wonderful Hair Grower and a hot comb that allowed black women to straighten their hair. Walker rose from poverty to become the head of a hugely successful company and a philanthropist for African American and women’s causes. The Black Rose, started by author Alex Haley before his death in 1992 and completed by writer Tananarive Due, is the remarkable fictionalized account of her riveting life.

    What fiction would you recommend about influential women in history?

    The post 10 Books Celebrating Influential Women in History appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Amanda Wicks 7:02 pm on 2015/07/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , paula mclain   

    Paula McLain’s Glorious Tale Of An Aviatrix Circling The Sun 

    When you think “female aviator”—or “aviatrix,” as they are sometimes called, a delicious descriptor if ever one existed—chances are Amelia Earhart comes to mind. The dearth of well-known women pilots charging through gender barriers and stultifying period restrictions doesn’t mean they didn’t exist, but simply that so few of them were well-known.

    Aviatrix Beryl Markham, the subject of Paula McLain’s Circling the Sun, is no household name, despite becoming the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo in 1936. She flew east to west in a journey that began in England and ended in Nova Scotia. This accomplishment alone warrants attention, but Markham had many more to her name.

    Though she was born in England, her family resettled in East Africa when she was very young. Life there proved overwhelming for her mother, who returned to England and largely disappeared from her daughter’s life during her formative years. This meant young Beryl had to go one of two ways: allow her spirit to be forged by the molten landscape of her new country, or wither beneath the challenge.

    Had she been raised in England in the early 1900s, her life and spirit may have been very different. As it was, she became the first professional, licensed female horse trainer in Kenya, and eventually a passionate pilot. At a time when women were confined to the domestic sphere, she burst through barriers from early childhood. At a young age she befriended a Kenyan boy named Kibii, whose family took Beryl under their wing, teaching her everything they would their own sons—up to and including hunting in the bush.

    It has been said that “Well-behaved women seldom make history,” and it may, in part, have been Beryl’s fierce independent streak that kept her from history’s pages for so long. If word had gotten around about her back then, it might have given women ideas. For her part, McLain doesn’t whitewash her subject’s less pleasing moments. Markham’s three marriages, several affairs (one purportedly royal), and professional ambitions—all of which make her a fantastic subject for fiction—made her fodder for society gossip in her own time. In McLain’s hands, her voice is simultaneously introspective and unapologetic. Throughout her story, she refuses to give into the standard order: She refuses to stay in a bad marriage, she refuses to stay faithful, and she refuses to allow society to constrict her. She defied what men, and the world at large, thought a woman should be at the time: daughter, wife, mother.

    McLain’s earlier historical novel The Paris Wife won fans with its depiction of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley. Her clear, sure presence animated every page—but because we only really know about Hadley what can be gleaned from correspondence and other people’s writing, the woman herself must remain something of a mystery. Beryl is less hidden because she actually wrote a memoir, titled West with the Night. The work so astounded readers, Hemingway included, that many believed, incorrectly, that she had help writing it. For all her rough edges and wildness, Beryl’s writing has a lyrical quality, a kind of poetic rhythm. With that kind of material at her disposal, McLain was able to create a rich, beautifully observed picture of the real Beryl Markham, and climb into her head to tell a fuller story than the memoir chose to. Historical fiction treads a tricky line, because characters are both fictional depictions and real people. But, as she did in The Paris Wife, McLain finds the balance in Circling the Sun. Consider this moment, when Beryl attends a party and is introduced to her host’s new horse. She immediately wants to ride him. McLain writes:

    It didn’t take me five minutes to borrow trousers and change. When I came out of the house, a number of people had gathered on the lawn, and though Berkley laughed to see me in his clothes, I knew they fit me just fine and that I didn’t have to feel embarrassed about riding in front of this well-born crowd. Being on horseback was as natural as walking for me. More so, even.

    The love triangle at the heart of Circling the Sun, involving Beryl, Out of Africa author Karen Blixen, and Denys Finch Hatton, a big-game hunter (and subject of Blixen’s book), informs much of the action, though the book spans a quarter century. But while Beryl’s colorful love life and the heartbreak involved are fascinating subjects, the most interesting part of the novel is Beryl herself. She wasn’t great because she was perfect, but because her imperfections forged her iron will—and that will defied the times.

  • BN Editors 2:52 pm on 2015/06/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , brad thor, , , , , , paula mclain, , , , , ,   

    The Biggest Books of the Summer 

    This summer brings a fresh crop of brand-new books, including a creepy thriller by the king of creepy thrillers, the return of an author we’ve loved since childhood, and what might be the most anticipated novel of the century. Throw them in your beach bag, bring them on your road trip, or just use them to make your lunch hour awesome.

    Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee
    The release of a follow-up to American classic To Kill a Mockingbird promises to be the book event not just of the year, but of the 21st century so far. In this sequel of sorts—set 20 years after but actually written before Harper Lee’s debut—we meet an adult Scout Finch, whose visit to her hometown and to father Atticus Finch, literature’s most beloved lawyer, takes place against the shifting backdrop of 1950s America.

    Finders, Keepers, by Stephen King
    In this follow-up to last year’s Mr. Mercedes, King revisits the themes of obsession, inspiration, and the dangerous bond between an author and his fans that drove previous masterpiece Misery. Retired detective and Mr. Mercedes hero Bill Hodges is back, now attempting to save a young reader in possession of some very valuable notebooks: they’re filled with the unpublished writing of an iconic author, killed by a deranged fan who’s fresh out of prison and coming to claim them.

    Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari
    Ansari goes deep with his comic look at contemporary dating and relationships, with the help of a crack team of social scientists and findings culled from interviews held around the world. The result is a sharp, insightful marriage of humor writing and Ansari’s illuminating findings on dating, wedlock, and love. This is the most fun you’ll ever have reading a science book.

    In the Unlikely Event, by Judy Blume
    Blume’s first novel in 17 years is set in the 1950s Elizabeth, New Jersey, of her youth, inspired by a trio of three real-life plane crashes that happened there within a terrifying three-month span. She paints a portrait of a town under siege, drawing in the stories of the doomed, the grieving, and the helpless bystanders. Despite the dark subject matter, Blume writes with a light, engaging touch, making you care for her characters even as you hold your breath waiting to see how they’ll be caught up in the next crash.

    The Girl in the Spider’s Web, by David Lagercrantz
    Eleven years after the death of series creator Stieg Larsson, Lagercrantz is continuing the twisted story of damaged hacker extraordinaire (and avenging angel) Lisbeth Salander. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is back as well, in a pitch-black page-turner that takes readers by the throat from page one. Despite constant peril and vastly different agendas, the two rekindle their incendiary partnership when Blomkvist receives a news tip too hot to resist.

    The First Confessor, by Terry Goodkind
    In this prequel to Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, a heroine rises from the ashes of her former life. Magda Searus is the wife of a powerful leader, protected by her husband’s status and his gifts. But when he unexpectedly commits suicide, she refuses to give up on finding out why—and learns, on her journey, the true nature of the darkness overtaking her people.

    The Marriage of Opposites, by Alice Hoffman
    Hoffman takes as her subject the headstrong young woman who will become the mother of impressionist painter Camille Pissarro. Rachel belongs to a rigidly tradition-bound immigrant Jewish community on the lush island of St. Martin. At her mother’s command, teenaged Rachel marries a widower, becoming stepmother to three children. But when he dies, and his handsome nephew arrives to settle his affairs, she jumps headfirst into a scandalous affair with wide-reaching consequences, for both herself and the famous son who will be born of her remarriage.

    Circling the Sun, by Paula McLain
    In her follow-up to bestseller The Paris Wife, McLain breathes life into another fascinating 1920s woman: Beryl Markham, an adventurous aviatrix and horse trainer. Emerging from a bleak childhood, Markham grows into a powerful, unconventional figure in a vibrant British community in Kenya. McLain explores the adventures and love triangles of a woman who was way ahead of her time.

    The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny
    When a little boy with a penchant for telling tall tales goes missing, it’s up to Inspector Armand Gamache to figure out which of his wild stories was true, and how it ties into his disappearance. Guilt, sorrow, and an evil with deep roots thread together to enrich an increasingly twisted mystery. This is Penny’s 11th book following Inspector Gamache, whose retirement to the tiny town of Three Pines hasn’t made him any less of a magnet for intrigue.

    The President’s Shadow, by Brad Meltzer
    In Meltzer’s third Culper Ring book, inspired by a laymen spy organization founded at the behest of George Washington, the present-day first lady finds a severed arm in the most unlikely of places: the White House rose garden. The president turns to the Ring for help, despite his complicated relationship with one of its members, Beecher White. White takes the case when he learns the mysterious limb may have a link to his own father’s death, many years prior. If you can’t make it to D.C. this summer to see the sights, visit its shady underbelly with this well-researched page turner.

    Code of Conduct, by Brad Thor
    Thor’s latest military thriller finds counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath on a high-stakes, globe-trotting mission involving an untouchable organization that operates outside the law; four seconds of game-changing tape that can imperil everything; and an assignment that turns into a deadly personal war.

    Independence Day, by Brad Coes
    The fifth book in thriller writer Ben Coes’ Dewey Andreas series, Independence Day finds the disgraced Andreas, still grieving the loss of his fiancée, emerging from his hometown retreat to neutralize a perilous new threat: Russian hacker Cloud, who has both a nuclear weapon and a vendetta against the U.S. Against orders, Andreas goes rogue to join the investigation, and soon discovers a vast political plot set to endanger the western world—and he’s got three days to stop it.

    Second Life, by S.J. Watson
    Recovering alcoholic Julia has fought her way to a happy life: nice house, wealthy husband, adopted son. But the killing of her sister sets off a dangerous obsession with finding her murderer, one that draws her deep into her sister’s life, full of irresistible dark corners that have the power to destroy her.

    X Is For…, by Sue Grafton
    In the 24th installment of Grafton’s perennially bestselling Kinsey Millhone series, named for the trickiest letter in the alphabet, private investigator Millhone goes head to head with a serial killer. This isn’t a whodunit, but rather a nail-biting race against time, as Millhone tries to build a case that will get him locked away…and keep her out of his clutches.

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