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  • Melissa Albert 7:30 pm on 2017/06/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , elin hildebrand, summer reading   

    Elin Hildebrand Shares Her Favorite Summer Reads 

    In Elin Hildebrand’s The Identicals, out next week, Hilderbrand takes readers to the sunny shores of Martha’s Vineyard. There, we meet the 39-year-old Frost sisters: fun-loving, hard-drinking Harper, who’s allergic to responsibility, and her estranged identical twin sister, Tabitha, a cultured and elegant woman and single mother who lives a few miles away in Nantucket, where she struggles to keep their mother’s boutique afloat. The twins haven’t gotten along in years, but when scandal engulfs them both, they decide to swap islands—and lives—in a desperate attempt to help right each other’s wrongs. In preparation for Hildebrand’s latest scrumptious and intelligent beach fare, the author shared her picks for the best summer reads.


    For me, a great summer read does NOT have to be set at the beach.  It merely has to be completely engrossing, a real page-turner, and extra points for escapism.

    Saints for All Occasions, by Courtney Sullivan
    This is a good old-fashioned family saga.  It begins in Ireland in the fifties and follows the immigrant parents over to Boston right up to 2009. When tragedy strikes, the family gathers and all the secrets come out.  You may feel as though you’ve read this story before, but Sullivan’s gorgeous, precise, empathetic prose draws you in and makes the whole thing fresh and new.  You WILL fall in love with this family. Suggested for: New England beach vacations!

    The Vacationers, by Emma Straub
    Possibly the perfect beach read.  This novel follows an upper class American family to Majorca for the summer.  It’s whip-smart, erudite, and so, so clever.  It has sumptuous European details and juicy scandal.  Extra points for escapism! Suggested for: Your trip to the south of France or Santorini!

    Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley
    After a private plane filled with important people crashes off of Martha’s Vineyard, there are only two survivors, and authorities puzzle over what happened. This is a thriller AND a beach book!  It’s written in the kind of prose you can vividly see in your mind’s eye—I say it should be a movie!—and I devoured every delicious page.  Suggested for: anywhere BUT Martha’s Vineyard.

    The Admissions, by Meg Mitchell Moore
    This is one of my favorite books in recent years. It’s about a family with three daughters, and the eldest is desperately trying to get into Harvard.  Set in the high-stress, high-tech, high-property-value world of San Francisco, this novel keeps you guessing and cheering and biting your nails to the very end. Suggested for: summer college tours, parents only.

    Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult
    I read this novel while on St. John this past March and was both mesmerized and inspired. Picoult is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), especially when it comes to novels that deal with “issues.”  This novel takes on Race with a capital R, but Race takes a backseat to Picoult’s impeccable characterizations; you develop sympathy for all of the characters in this book, even those you might not naturally be inclined to like. And that, my friends, is a feat only the most masterful of storytellers can pull off.  Suggested for: everyone, everywhere.

    The post Elin Hildebrand Shares Her Favorite Summer Reads appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 2:00 pm on 2017/05/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , , served cold, summer reading   

    The Child Author Fiona Barton Shares Her Favorite Cold-Case Mysteries 

    Last year Fiona Barton told a tangled tale in The Widow, centered on long-suffering housewife Jean, her recently deceased husband, and the kidnapping he was accused of years before his death. Her latest thriller, The Child, out this June, sees the revival of another cold case when a journalist finds herself bound to chase the mystery of a baby’s skeleton found in the remains of a demolished house, to its roots.

    Barton is, unsurprisingly, a fan of the cold-case mystery in her reading as well. Here she shares with us some of her favorites, perfect creepy reading for cool summer nights.

    The righting of historic wrongs has chimed with something fundamental in me since I was a young reader. I love the forensic skills, the psychological insights, and the sheer bloody-mindedness of various detectives—professional or accidental—inching toward the truth of a long-buried secret. It will be no surprise, then, that I have gone down this route in my second novel, The Child, in which the discovery of a newborn’s skeleton sets in motion an investigation by journalist Kate Waters into the identity of the nameless child. I am following tentatively in the footsteps of some of the greats in the genre, starting with Agatha Christie, the queen of the uncovered clue, and finishing with my current read, Val McDermid’s latest starring her cold case detective, DCI Karen Pirie. Some of my choices for this list are hardboiled crime, some literary, some old, some new, but all held me spellbound.

    Five Little Pigs, by Agatha Christie
    This is often described as Christie’s neglected masterpiece and pitches Hercule Poirot into a 16-year-old-murder (with hemlock), a possible miscarriage of justice, and a convoluted family feud. So far, so what? But it’s not so much the plot in this novel that enthralls, it’s the way Christie presents the riddle of the murder from five different viewpoints. Her Belgian detective asks the five key suspects to write him a letter describing what they heard and saw on the day of the murder and sets out to solve the crime without visiting the scene. Elegantly resolved and an immensely satisfying ending.

    Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson 
    This is the novel that introduced me to Jackson Brodie, Atkinson’s troubled private investigator (are there any other kind?). As the title suggests, he deals with more than one cold case—there are three family tragedies, including the disappearance of a child from a tent in a back garden thirty years earlier, an axe murder by a new mother, and the stabbing to death of a solicitor’s daughter. Now, don’t say you are not getting good value… The stories intertwine expertly and unexpectedly, leaving you desperate to read the next one.

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
    This astonishing debut, published posthumously, was a fairly nuclear introduction to Scandi Noir. The story centers around the dysfunctional Vanger family and the unsolved disappearance of a young relative in 1966. The hunt for the truth is led by a journalist and the anarchic hacker Lisbeth Salander. The story is gritty, sometimes unbearably graphic, but swept me through its 463 pages to the awful, shuddering denouement.

    The Dry, by Jane Harper 
    The secrets of small towns have fascinated writers and readers since the first psychological thriller was penned. (Wikipedia tells me that was in 11th-century Japan, and who am I to argue?) Jane Harper has set her cold-case mystery in the worst drought in Australia in a century, teasing us with the irony of temperatures. Her Federal Agent Aaron Falk goes home for the first time in decades for the funeral of a boyhood friend. The friend is said to have committed suicide after murdering his wife and young son in horrifying circumstances, but all may not be as it seems, and Falk reluctantly becomes embroiled in reinvestigating the crime. Meanwhile, a much older crime that touches the investigator intimately is exposed as a rich seam of lies and collusion that underpin the community.

    The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt 
    Donna Tartt is a genius. This, her second novel, sets a 12-year-old heroine to solve the death of her brother, found beneath a tupelo tree on Mother’s Day when she was still a toddler. The 11-page prologue is a masterclass of building and sustaining unbearable tension before we are plunged into the mind of Harriet, the child determined to find nine-year-old Robin’s killer. It is complex, sublime, and has stayed with me. I am rushing to read it again.

    Out of Bounds, by Val McDermid 
    The latest outing for DCI Karen Pirie, head of Police Scotland’s Historic Case Unit, is my current book on the bedside table. The danger with having a known character who only deals with cold cases is that there may be nothing new to add to the genre, but McDermid is surprising me page by page. This time, the detective has to revisit a 20-year-old rape and murder after a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car and a routine DNA test links him to an unsolved crime. Fab twists and turns and am learning new Scottish words all the time…

    The Remorseful Day, by Colin Dexter
    Having lived for many years in Oxford, for me the last Inspector Morse novel is a must. I had been part of the backdrop to the Morse series for 25 years (my daughter was actually an extra in one episode of the TV version), and I grew to love the curmudgeonly copper and his long-suffering sidekick, Lewis. The duo are normally part of live investigations, but in this book they consider a cold case, which may or may not have personal connections for Morse. It is a wonderfully intricate valedictory for a brilliant character.

    Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier 
    I refuse to apologize for including this classic thriller in every literary Top Ten I’ve put together. It was in my Top Novels with Marriages with Secrets, the list of books that have influenced me most, and Best First Lines. It is a masterpiece with an unsolved murder at its heart, a second wife, and the scariest housekeeper ever created. What’s not to like?

    Fiona Barton’s The Child hits shelves June 27, and is available for pre-order now.

    The post The Child Author Fiona Barton Shares Her Favorite Cold-Case Mysteries appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Whitney Collins 5:40 pm on 2016/07/07 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , summer reading   

    Unforgettable Stories from a Hilarious Mother/Daughter Duo 

    The dynamic mother-daughter duo of Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella, New York Times bestselling authors known for teaming up to write their hilarious Philadelphia Inquirer column “Chick Wit,” are back with another collection of short, humorous essays. I’ve Got Sand In All The Wrong Places is the seventh installment in the entertaining memoir series by this prolific pair, and it’s the perfect take-along for wherever you’re headed this summer, beach or otherwise. With stories averaging about four pages, every one full of laugh-out-loud scenarios, this bright and breezy selection is custom-crafted for those in vacation mode.

    Within, readers will find touching and hilarious entries on everything from A(ging) to Z(oology), with stops at bachelorette party bouncers, Cartier excursions, and exes along the way. Need a giant laugh? Be sure to read Lisa’s “With Apologies to Mother Mary,” an entry on her unwillingness to wear anything but fleece. Need another? Don’t miss Francesca’s “A Thing of Beauty,” a piece on how clubbing and vodka Red Bulls are meant for an age group that somehow escapes hangovers that feel like “the afterlife.” Other lolworthy essays inlude ruminations on cremating pet chickens instead of barbecuing them, a homemade butternut soup disaster, and taking up golf at 60.

    Many of the essays are both wistful and witty. Lisa discusses her beloved parents’ deaths. Francesca opens up in a series of entries about an assault and mugging. And both women are fiercely honest (and funny) about sex (or lack thereof), anxiety (specifically panic attacks and bridge-crossing phobias), and feminism…not to mention male strippers dressed as handymen and Pope Francis’ message of love.

    While Lisa might be best known for her impressive bibliography of bestselling legal thrillers, and Francesca was thrice honored at Harvard University for her creative writing, we’re grateful these two have found their stride with humorous nonfiction. Chosen as “Best Beach Book” by People Magazine, the “Perfect Summer Must-Read” by O, The Oprah Magazine, and “the perfect present for moms, grandmas, and aunts” by CosmopolitanI’ve Got Sand In All The Wrong Places has earned a place in your travel tote.

    I’ve Got Sand In All The Wrong Places hits shelves July 12, and is available for pre-order now.

  • Dell Villa 5:00 pm on 2016/06/07 Permalink
    Tags: , summer reading,   

    Have You Lost That Summer Reading Feeling? 6 Ways to Get it Back 

    Back in the day, the library was my oyster. On any given weekday in the summer, instead of slathering my gangly limbs with SPF 4 and playing Marco Polo, I preferred to lose a whole afternoon to the musty stacks of my neighborhood branch. I had surely spent more than enough time at the card catalog throughout the school year, researching for one project or another, so summer was my time to wander the 800s aimlessly, and, depending on my mood, get lost in classic and/or salacious novels. These were the summers I finally understood what “love triangle” and “Beatnik” meant. Glued to the vinyl seat of my worn study chair, I was capsized and marooned on distant shores, I paced bleak English moors while my emotions raged inside, and I fell more than a little bit in love with Rhett Butler.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been whisked away by that summer reading feeling, and this year, I have a plan to get it back. Are you on board?

    Just add candy: While I was busy building character and vocabulary, I had little time to consider the inherent evil of empty calories. As long as I could sneak it past the watchful librarians, I typically squeezed a small bag of Twizzlers or gummy worms in my backpack—enough to carry me through 10 chapters, at least. It’s an ornery practice I left behind years ago, but I’m seriously considering swapping out my usual latte for some Swedish Fish this year—and I urge you to do the same.

    Pick novels by an author you haven’t read, or in a genre you don’t usually choose: Remember when you were a kid and you’d pick up and read anything you could get your hands on? If you really want to get swept away, there’s nothing better than losing yourself in a (fictional) foreign land. This summer, I am challenging myself to some genre-hopping, and will be choosing thrillers (like David Baldacci’s The Last Mile) and historical accounts (like Nathanial Philbrick’s Valiant Ambition) to accompany me on long, hot afternoons.

    Go hardcover: Just for this summer, go back to the basics, and take your hardback book wherever you go. Sure, the pages are going to get salty, sandy, and wet, and the spine will reek of Coppertone by the time you loan it to your mom, but something tells me that the summer reading feeling isn’t contained in an electronic device, and you’ll look pretty hardcore.

    Don’t forget the hammock: Pick up the things that remind you of the summer afternoons of your youth, and insert them into your routine. You can make a trip to your porch a staycation, if you just add a glass of frosty lemonade and a personal fan. And then you can feel free to read the afternoon away!

    Buddy system: If you’re a book nerd, then I’m guessing you have a tribe. Challenge one of your literary pals to some entertaining summer reading. Lounge side by side with a book like Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest, and discuss the juicy parts afterwards.

    Tune out: Adult Book Nerds, note the desultory adolescent with the “leave me alone” scowl, for he has demonstrated an amazing way to gain a few uninterrupted reading hours. Indeed, if we just practice, I believe each of us can perfect a courteous expression that tells the world we are immersing ourselves in an irresistible narrative, and there’s no possible way we can be bothered. I’m certain this is the silver bullet—there’s no better way to reclaim that long-lost summer reading feeling.

  • Jenny Shank 5:45 pm on 2016/05/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , summer reading,   

    The Perfect Read for Every Kind of Summer Vacation 

    Some of us are versed in the fine art of pairing wine with food. Not me, but I do know a thing or two about pairing books with vacations. Those of us who feel the reading enjoyed on a vacation is just as important as location know a trip can be enhanced by a perfectly chosen book. Here are some suggestions for what to pack on your next adventure.

    Camping Trip: For A Little While by Rick Bass
    If you plan to spend your vacation inhaling the smells of woodsmoke and pine needles at a campsite or in a national park, Rick Bass is your man. His new story collection is an essential greatest hits anthology for a Montana writer who has had a slew of hits. Bass often sets his sensitive and beautiful tales and novellas in the wilderness, but even those set near Houston keep the characters’ connections and interactions with their environment at the forefront.

    Road Trip: Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones
    So you don’t read books about werewolves? That’s what I thought before I picked up Stephen Graham Jones’ Mongrels and devoured it—not literally, though I was checking myself for fangs after reading it. This novel tells the story of a young man growing up in a werewolf family, watching for signs that he’ll transform just like his truck-driving, strawberry-wine-cooler-swilling Uncle Darren, and his nurturing yet occasionally bloodthirsty Aunt Libby. Werewolves tend to wear out their welcome wherever they land, which is why the narrator and his family move from Texas to North Carolina to Florida to Arkansas and beyond in this wry literary coming-of-age tale (with a dash of horror) that will suit your next road trip perfectly.

    Beach Trip: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
    The classic beach read is brainless and entertaining, but I always like my books to have a little more substance, and to be well-written, even when I read them near crashing ocean waves. Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld’s new reimagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, strikes the perfect balance of entertainment and insight. In Sittenfeld’s telling, Jane and Elizabeth Bennet are single sisters pushing 40, giving their contemporary husband quests more urgency. Their little sisters are jobless vulgarians addicted to Crossfit, and Mr. Bingley is an unattached doctor who appeared on a The Bachelor–esque reality show. Sittenfeld’s wit and astute social observations keep the pages turning.

    Ocean Cruise: This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison
    Jonathan Evison’s latest in a string of warm, funny, thoughtful novels will be the perfect accompaniment to a cruise ship vacation. Harriet Chance is 78 when her husband of 55 years passes away, and she decides to take the trip she’s always wanted, an ocean cruise to Alaska. Along the way she’s forced to reevaluate the twists and turns her life has taken, as her estranged daughter turns up on the cruise and Evison switches between present-day Harriet and Harriet of the past, narrating episodes from her life in a breathless This is Your Life–type voice.

    Vacation with People You’d Rather Avoid: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
    If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of a forced vacation with people whose company you don’t precisely enjoy, Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test will cheer you. Ronson writes his books as a charming hybrid of science, journalism, memoir, and humor, bringing readers along on his journey of discovery. In The Psychopath Test, Ronson trains in one researcher’s method for recognizing psychopaths, and then ventures out into the world, visiting residents of mental institutions, a ruthless, wealthy CEO, and a Haitian war criminal to test his new skills. This book is hilarious, disturbing, and diverting, and just might give you some ammunition to spot psychopaths and avoid them…at least once the vacation is over!

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