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  • Sarah Skilton 5:00 pm on 2019/11/08 Permalink
    Tags: christmas shopaholic, , , , josie silver, julia whelan, last christmas, london belongs to us, my oxford year, one day in december, , , sarra manning, , sophie kinsella   

    5 London-Set Books to Read After You See Last Christmas 

    Anglophiles, assemble! Last Christmas hits theaters today, about a young woman (GoT’s Emilia Clarke) who works at a year-round ornament store and whose holiday blues start to lift when a handsome stranger (Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding) enters her life. Besides the romance, what I’m most looking forward to are the scenes showcasing the beauty and quirks of London during the holidays. Here are five more new and recent romances set in Merry Old to keep you cozy this weekend.

    Royal Holiday, by Jasmine Guillory
    An impromptu mother-daughter trip to England to style a duchess for the holidays? So much yes. Guillory’s fourth book centers on an older protagonist, 50-something Vivian Forest, whose daughter Maddie (last seen in The Wedding Party) provides the impetus for the trip of a lifetime. When Vivian meets Malcolm Hudson, a veddy proper private secretary to the Queen, sparks fly. The problem is, Vivian’s due back in the States after New Year’s. Is a magical fling worth the possible heartache to follow?

    Christmas Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella
    Becky Bloomwood Brandon is eager to share a traditional English Christmas with husband Luke and daughter Minnie at her parents’ place, complete with ugly sweaters and caroling. Then her mum and dad drop a bombshell: they’re moving out of the village of Letherby and into a trendy London ‘burb. As such, they need Becky to host the festivities this time around. Bargain shopping, well-meaning yet screwball attempts to help loved ones, and surprises in the form of an ex-boyfriend, ensue. Like a mug of cocoa with marshmallows on top, this looks to be a sweet and heartwarming delight. This is Becky’s eighth outing, but newcomers to the Shopaholic series needn’t have read the previous volumes.

    One Day in December, by Josie Silver
    What happens when your best friend lands the guy you’ve been fantasizing about for a year? That’s Laurie’s predicament in this romance that spans a decade and begins with a missed connection out a bus window in London. When Laurie and Jack first glimpse each other from afar, their mutual and intense attraction is put on simmer—they have no idea how to find each other again—until months later when Jack shows up on the arm of Laurie’s mate Sarah at a holiday party. Does fate intend for them to pursue each other, or is it better for everyone if they walk away? Perfect for fans of Love Actually.

    My Oxford Year, by Julia Whelan
    When Rhodes Scholar Ella Durran arrives at Oxford to study English lit, it’s the culmination of a lifelong dream. Soon, however, she’s torn between her education and a job opportunity working for a rising politician. Then there’s the banter-filled and swoony romance she’s begun with Jamie Davenport, a young, mischievous professor who pushes all her buttons in the best ways. But Jamie’s hiding something from Ella that will change everything—and force Ella to make choices that all seem headed toward heartbreak. Have Kleenex on hand for this gorgeous and emotional debut.

    London Belongs to Us, by Sarra Manning
    Fans of fast-paced stories set in a single night will tear through this love letter to London. When teenage Sunny discovers the truth about her boyfriend—he’s two-timing her with a girl from another school, and has been for a while—she sets off on a cross-city trek for answers. Zipping through villages both lesser-known and iconic (Notting Hill, Soho, Camden…), she meets a colorful cast of characters and learns what she’s willing and unwilling to do for love—and herself.

     What London-set romance novels would you recommend to Last Christmas fans?

    The post 5 London-Set Books to Read After You See <i>Last Christmas</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sarah Skilton 4:00 pm on 2019/01/31 Permalink
    Tags: , , elizabeth letts, , finding dorothy, frances liardet, i owe you one, jill santopolo, more than words, , sophie kinsella, tara conklin, the girls at 17 swann street, the last romantics, , yara zgheib   

    February’s Best New Fiction of 2019 

    This month’s best books are all about love: love of siblings, love of spouses, love of work, love of children (both biological and adopted) and even love of oneself. Whether you’re a rom-com fanatic or prefer family sagas that span decades, these books will take you on emotional journeys you won’t soon forget.

    We Must Be Brave, by Frances Liardet
    Ellen Parr never wanted children. At least, that’s the story she tells herself, and to an extent, it’s true; her beloved, older husband is incapable of it, and she’s made peace with that fact. That is, until 5-year-old Pamela enters her life. It’s 1940 and Pamela’s been abandoned on a bus of evacuees that shows up in Southhampton. The bond between the surrogate mother and daughter is swiftly established but no less strong for it. Three years later, Pamela is returned to a biological family member, and Ellen is left behind, devastated. In the decades that pass, she leans on her husband, neighbors, and, eventually, a boarding school student who reminds her of the child she lost. This looks to be an extraordinarily moving and realistic historical.

    More Than Words, by Jill Santopolo
    In her second novel for adults (she also writes for children and young adults), Santopolo builds on the international success of The Light We Lost with a story about a woman whose sense of self is thrown into chaos. When Nina Gregory, a political speechwriter and hotel heiress, learns some hard truths about her late father, whom she idolized and adored, she is forced to view those closest to her in a new light. Her staid, childhood best friend-turned-fiancé, Tim, represents her father’s wishes for her, but her boss, New York mayoral candidate Rafael, is the one who ignites her passions. With her perceptions of the past shattered, how will she decide where her future, and her ambitions, truly lie?

    Finding Dorothy, by Elizabeth Letts
    Based on the real life of Maude Gage Baum, L. Frank Baum’s wife, Dorothy takes place in dual timelines: in 1938 during the filming of the Wizard of Oz; and in the later half of the 1800s as Maude comes of age as a suffragette’s daughter and grows up to become a married mother of four. Long widowed by the time MGM begins filming her husband’s book, Maude is determined to get on set and make sure L. Frank’s vision is properly reflected. She doesn’t expect to feel so protective of the movie’s teenage star, Judy Garland, who clearly needs an advocate and champion in her life. Letts’ previous books have been non-fiction, and her experience in that milieu help make this a heartfelt and detailed historical that’s perfect for film buffs and book clubs.

    I Owe You One, by Sophie Kinsella
    The Shopaholic books will always have a place in my heart, but Kinsella’s rom-com standalones have been knocking it out of the park lately. In the last two years alone we’ve been gifted with My Not-So Perfect Life and Surprise Me, and now there’s I Owe You One, which depicts the slow-burn relationship of selfless, responsible Fixie and investment manager Sebastian. After a meet-cute involving the near-death experience of a laptop, Sebastian writes Fixie an IOU, which she uses to secure her slacker boyfriend, Ryan, a job. Now she owes Sebastian a favor, and soon, the IOUs stack up in both directions in ways neither could have anticipated, making Fixie wonder if her penchant for helping others may be holding her back from pursuing the life she wants.

    The Girls at 17 Swann Street, by Yara Zgheib
    According to Anna Roux, former dancer and current supermarket cashier, her “real occupation” is anorexia. At twenty-six years old, having moved from Paris to St. Louis in support of her husband Matthias, to whom she’s been married for three years, Anna is a ghost of her former self. Dangerously underweight, depressed, and exhausted (she sleeps about three hours per night, and exercises relentlessly), Anna honestly doesn’t think she has a problem. Her admittance to 17 Swann Street, a residential treatment center, is the beginning of her journey back to health. As she gets to know her fellow patients and reflects on her life, she slowly gains insight into her condition. A poetic, deeply felt, and authentic debut.

    The Last Romantics, by Tara Conklin
    In the year 2079, elderly Fiona Skinner, an accomplished poet, thinks back to the 1980s, and the breakdown of her family life following her father’s death. The youngest of four siblings, Fiona and her two sisters and one brother (ranging in age from 4 to 11) were forced to raise one another for two years until their widowed mother crawled out from her debilitating depression. As an adult, Fiona filled her life with scandalous blog posts and a career at a nonprofit climate change organization, but her lasting legacy turns out to be the poem that made her famous, chronicling the story of her sisters and their concern for their brother Joe, who seems to have become the most damaged among them. A family saga that’s perfect for fans of Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists.

    The post February’s Best New Fiction of 2019 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Tara Sonin 4:00 pm on 2018/02/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , sophie kinsella,   

    A “Perfect” Marriage is Tested in Sophie Kinsella’s Surprise Me 

    Surprise Me is a new feel-good romance from Sophie Kinsella that touches on themes perfect for the new year: renewal, second chances, and remembering what’s most important in a chaotic, materialistic world.

    Sylvie and Dan have been together for a decade, and they’re happier than ever…or so they think. When a visit to the family doctor and a great health report card makes them realize they could be spending the next seven decades together, the quirky couple has a bit of a breakdown: it turns out happily ever after is an intimidatingly long time, and they’re terrified that their marriage has already failed before it, in the scheme of things, has even really taken flight. How will they keep up their sex life? Are they doomed to a life of picking up after their twins and petty arguments about taking money from Sylvie’s parents? Are their jobs satisfying enough…and what will retirement look like, if it’s twenty years long?

    All of these questions cause our heroine, Sylvie, to lose her grip in this caustically funny story of miscommunication and marriage revival attempts that go awry. She decides to make a deal with Dan that they surprise one another more…but of course, surprises are a double-edged sword, and when Sylvie finds herself getting surprised by more than just sexy escapades with the husband she thought she could trust—that perhaps Dan has real, possibly marriage-ending secrets he’s tried to protect throughout their life together—she wonders whether their relationship has been real all along, or just another unsatisfying surprise.

    Kinsella is at her best writing quirky, relatable women with self-aware, non-pretentious prose. Sylvie and Dan are a likable couple, and we believe their happiness at the start of the novel is genuine, even if it’s a little too perfect: they finish one another’s sentences, which is certainly a romantic notion, but definitely underscores a central part of Sylvie’s journey throughout the novel, which is that her marriage can only survive if she finds her own voice. Through her often misguided endeavors to “save” her already great marriage, Sylvie realizes there are things in her past—from her deeply flawed relationship with her wealthy and influential father, whom she revered, to Dan’s discomfort and her complacency with a job that doesn’t give her emotional satisfaction and checks her ambition—that she must save herself from in order to live a happy life. And of course, when family drama is unearthed from the past, all of Sylvie and Dan’s plans for fun and spontaneity go out the door, and they must fight to save the marriage they never thought would be in jeopardy.

    Life is a constant surprise, but the best one of all is finding a supportive, loving partner to share it with.

    Surprise Me is on B&N bookshelves now.

    The post A “Perfect” Marriage is Tested in Sophie Kinsella’s Surprise Me appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sarah Skilton 5:00 pm on 2018/01/30 Permalink
    Tags: a long way from home, , elizabeth crook, , house of impossible beauties, joseph cassara, , minrose gwin, only child, only killer and thieves, , peter carey, promise, rhiannon navin, robin oliveira, sophie kinsella, , , , the which way tree, , winter sisters   

    The Best New Fiction in February 2018 

    Historical fiction fanatics are in for a Valentine’s treat this month, with seven historical novels to choose from. Pick a locale, and there’s something for everyone, from the wild west of Civil War-era Texas, to 1880s and 1950s Australia, to 1970s Alaska, to 1980s Harlem and the rise of ball culture at the House of Xtravaganza. Or pick a season and read about man vs nature, with a devastating blizzard in Albany, New York in 1879, or a once-in-a-lifetime tornado in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1936. Contemporary fans are in luck, too, with Sophie Kinsella’s latest romantic comedy about a marriage that’s stuck in a rut, and Rhiannon Navin’s debut novel written from the viewpoint of a first grader who survives a school shooting.

    The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
    It’s 1974 and Ernt Allbright thinks he can escape the horrors of Vietnam by forcing his 13-year-old daughter Leni and tragically devoted wife Cora to move to Alaska, where a homestead in the wilderness of Kaneq awaits them. But Ernt’s struggles with violence and PTSD are just beginning, and his family is utterly unprepared to save him, or themselves. Isolated, off the grid, and surrounded by darkness in the unending wintertime, mother and daughter must find a way to survive. A chilling, worthy follow-up to Hannah’s 2015 smash The Nightingale.

    Surprise Me, by Sophie Kinsella
    Compared to the hapless heroine of last year’s delightful My Not So Perfect Life, which delved into the problems of a 20-something seeking career fulfillment and romance, the married couple in Surprise Me, Sylvie and Dan, appear stable and settled, happy to be raising their twin daughters together. But after it hits them that few, if any, surprises await them in life, they fight hard to keep the spark in their relationship alive. In the process, they uncover aspects of each other’s pasts that may not be so easily reconciled. Kinsella is always a cut above in her depiction of the wonderful, occasionally fragile joys of love and friendship.

    An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
    Newlyweds Roy and Celestial find their marriage tested after a cruel twist of fate sends Roy to prison in another state for a crime he didn’t commit. As the years of separation drag on, Celestial turns to her friend since childhood, Andre, for comfort, and Andre’s perspective provides new insight into her painful situation. Letters sent between husband and wife further illuminate this incredible, contemporary study of marriage, loyalty, and racial injustice. A thoughtfully rendered, realistic drama that’s especially perfect for fans of the TV series Rectify.

    Only Killers and Thieves, by Paul Howarth
    In 1885, Colonial Australia (where the indigenous people were targeted by the Native Police Force) is as wild and untamed as it will ever be—and this debut novel fully immerses readers in that world. In an outback suffering from devastating drought, two young brothers become caught up in a manhunt for an aboriginal stockman whom they believe has murdered their parents and little sister. But the truth is elusive, and the killing spree against native tribesman that results from their misguided “vengeance” has far-reaching consequences, and may haunt Billy and Tommy the rest of their lives.

    Only Child, by Rhiannon Navin
    Written from the perspective of a first-grade boy, and reminiscent of Room, by Emma Donahue, Only Child depicts the emotionally devastating consequences of a school shooting. When his older brother Andy is killed, six-year-old Zach (who hid with a teacher during the slaughter) is thrust into a new world he doesn’t recognize. His parents are unable to cope with the enormity of their loss—or its circumstances—leaving Zach to come to terms with the situation largely on his own. He builds a secret hideout in Andy’s closet, where he finds solace in the Magic Treehouse series, by Mary Pope Osborne. Expect to see this debut dominate book club lists with its timely and sensitive portrayal of a family’s grief.

    The Which Way Tree, by Elizabeth Crook
    An award-winning author with an abiding love for Texas and the West, Crook sets her fifth novel in Civil War-era Texas, in which an orphaned brother and sister conscript a Tejano outlaw to help them seek revenge against the wild panther that killed the girl’s mother. Fans of True Grit, by Charlies Portis; Little Big Man, by Charles Berger; and Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy, will want to get their hands on it ASAP.

    Promise, by Minrose Gwin
    As with her acclaimed debut (Queen of Palmyra), in Promise, Gwin tackles the relationship between races in the south. It’s 1936, and Tupelo, Mississippi is hit with a colossal tornado that kills hundreds of people and upends even more lives. An older black woman, Dovey, barely survives the disaster, but manages to use what strength she has left to navigate the wreckage of the town with Jo, a white teenager whose family is violently linked to Dovey’s.

    House of Impossible Beauties, by Joseph Cassara
    This glamorous, gritty, and glittering debut based on real events deals with the highs and lows of the ball culture scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s in Harlem. Angel, a 17-year-old runaway trans girl, is without a family to call her own, so she helps create one—House of Xtravaganza—and eventually becomes its house mother. Within the first all-Latinx house in the Harlem ball circuit, gay and trans performers strut and vogue on the runway to compete for trophies and prizes, while behind the scenes they deal with AIDS-related illnesses, drug addiction, and family betrayals.

    A Long Way From Home, by Peter Carey
    With two Booker Prizes (Oscar and Lucinda in 1988, and True History of the Kelly Gang, in 2001), and several other awards under his belt, Carey continues to delight and educate his readers with books related to his native Australia. This time he tackles the 1954 Redex Reliablility Trial, in which car racers compete across 10,000 miles of outback while maintaining a particular speed. This unique venue provides the perfect backdrop for a humorous adventure. That Carey includes a subversive deep dive into the clearly-still-relevant realities of racism against the Indigenous population proves why he’s won so many awards for his work.

    Winter Sisters, by Robin Oliveira
    Doctor Mary Sutter is back! When two little girls become lost in a blizzard in 1879 Albany, New York, the no-nonsense but empathetic Civil War midwife-turned-surgeon takes up the daunting task of finding them. It’s not necessary to read Oliveira’s bestselling debut, My Name is Mary Sutter, about the good doctor’s life on the battlefield, but two historical novels are better than one, and Winter Sisters will make you cross your fingers for a third installment about Mary. A suspenseful, gripping tale that never loses its historical authenticity while illuminating present-day parallels.

    What new fiction are you excited to read this month?

    The post The Best New Fiction in February 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • BN Editors 6:00 pm on 2017/08/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , sophie kinsella,   

    My Not So Perfect Life Author Sophie Kinsella Shares Her Summer Reading List 

    Sophia Kinsella’s latest, My Not So Perfect Life, centers on the FOMO-drenched existence of office drone and unlikely heroine Katie Brenner. Her obsession with the seemingly enviable life of her hip, brilliant boss, Demeter, crashes and burns after she’s fired without warning, sending her into a tailspin. Katie picks herself up and heads to her family farm in Somerset, where she’ll help set up a new business, find her footing again, and come face to face with Demeter again, learning more about the truth behind the image and setting a course to pursue her own (not so) perfect life.

    My Not So Perfect Life is a thoroughly perfect summer read, and here’s Kinsella to share six more of her own picks for the season.

    My Not So Perfect Life is a book about women, the workplace, the pressures of social media, life in London and the draw of the countryside. The books I’ve chosen all inform or entertain in one of these areas.

    The Circle, by Dave Eggers
    This chilling view of where social media might take us is a must-read.

    Read an excerpt on B&N Readouts >

    The Hating Game, Sally Thorne
    This is a great study of the ultimate love/hate work relationship.

    Read an excerpt on B&N Readouts >

    Not Working, Lisa Owens
    I loved this tale of modern not-office life – very fresh and funny.

    Read an excerpt on B&N Readouts >

    Ctrl, Alt, Delete: How I Grew Up Online, by Emma Gannon
    I love this memoir about growing up in the age of social media.

    A Room with a View, E.M. Forster
    This has the best love scene in the countryside ever!

    Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
    An sweeping, atmospheric novel set in the English countryside, with strong passions and even stronger characters.

    The post My Not So Perfect Life Author Sophie Kinsella Shares Her Summer Reading List appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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