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  • Ross Johnson 8:00 pm on 2018/08/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , in pieces, maxwell king, sally field, the good neighbor, top picks   

    September’s Best Biographies and Memoirs 

    In Pieces, by Sally Field
    For the first time, and with impressive literary style, Field reflects on a career that began with sitcoms in the ’60s and developed in movies like Sybil, Norma Rae, and Lincoln. She talks of the highs and lows of her impressive career, as well as about the troubled relationships and insecurities that have challenged her even as they helped to make her into the inspiring figure she has become.

    Every Day Is Extra, by John Kerry
    John Kerry appeared on the American stage more than 50 years ago, returning from Vietnam to testify before Congress about the state of affairs for soldiers on the ground. Since then, he’s been a prosecutor, a lieutenant governor, a senator, a presidential nominee, and secretary of state. Kerry’s memoir covers the entirety of his public life, offering reminiscences of some of the figures he’s worked with and his own feelings about our our modern way of politics.

    Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, by Sarah Smarsh
    Who better to tell the story of America’s working poor than a fifth-generation Kansas wheat farmer whose childhood during the 1980s didn’t see her family break a cycle of generations of poverty, but instead saw forces beyond their control lock them into their social class and economic status? Sarah Smarsh approaches the topic of poverty in America as both memoir and astute analysis, bringing her own experience to bear on an incisive cultural commentary.

    The Truth About Aaron: My Journey to Understand My Brother, by Jonathan Hernandez
    Just two seasons into what looked to be an incredibly promising football career, Aaron Hernandez was arrested for the murder of linebacker Odin Lloyd and subsequently sentenced to life in prison without parole. Just two years after that, he was found dead by his own hand in his prison cell. Aaron’s brother has penned this unvarnished memoir of his life with his infamous sibling, presenting Aaron as neither a victim nor a tragic figure, but as one who succumbed to rage and violence.

    The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie and Lee, by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger
    Decades after her death, Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis continues to fascinate, but the story of the Bouvier family as a whole is as interesting as that of the Kennedys, if less well known. Drawing on new interviews with Jackie’s still-living younger sister, Lee Radziwill, Kashner and Schoenberger chronicle the close, complicated, and sometimes rocky legacy of the glamorous socialite siblings.

    The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, by Maxwell King
    Mr. Rogers is having a moment, and is it any wonder? His lessons about the virtues of curiosity, honesty, play, and simple compassion are evergreen, and we seem to need them now more than ever. Arriving in the wake of the blockbuster documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? King’s new work is the first full-length print biography of the icon, and it’s no shocking tell-all: by all accounts, the Mr. Rogers we saw on TV wasn’t that far removed from the real-life figure. What does come to light are the struggles of his own childhood, as well as the savvy behind-the-scenes decision making that made his show a beloved staple for generations of kids.

    Whose story inspires you?

    The post September’s Best Biographies and Memoirs appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 7:30 pm on 2018/08/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , top picks   

    September’s Best Thrillers 

    Juror #3, by James Patterson and Nancy Allen
    Paterson, perhaps the world’s most successful and prolific thriller writer, teams up with Allen, a former attorney and seasoned writer to tell the story of Ruby Bozarth. Ruby is new to the Mississippi bar and the town of Rosedale, but she’s barely got time to find her bearings when she’s assigned to a sensational case. A rich girl is dead and a college football star stands accused, and the prosecutor and judge think Ruby’s inexperience will let them ram through a quick conviction. Ruby’s determined to prove them wrong, and with a little help from a well-armed fellow attorney and a short order cook with a lot of secrets she mounts a defense. But Ruby begins to suspect the biggest obstacle to justice might just be the jurors on the case, who have plenty of secrets of their own.

    Shadow Tyrants, by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison
    Cussler teams up with engineer and author Morrison again for the 13th Oregon Files adventure, which finds a mysterious group known as the Nine Unknown seeking to use ancient technology and knowledge to take control of the world for its own good. One member of the Nine, Romir Malik, dissents, however, convinced that the project—code-named Colossus—will destroy humanity instead. It’s once again up to The Corporation and the crew of the Oregon to put the deceptively-weathered high-tech ship on the front lines in order to save the world, as Malik’s solution is to use a network of killer satellites to destroy Colossus, a cure that might be just as bad as the disease.

    Lies, by T.M. Logan
    Logan’s debut begins with an innocent impulse. Joe Lynch and his son William are driving in North London when William sees his mother’s car and insists they surprise her. Joe follows Melissa to a hotel, where he watches her argue with her best friend’s husband, the wealthy Ben Delaney. Before he can confront her, Melissa drives off, so Joe confronts Ben instead, getting into a fight that ends with his phone missing and Ben unconscious. Joe leaves; when he comes back for his phone everything is gone. Melissa denies an affair, but when Ben is supposedly murdered her lie is revealed, and Joe finds himself framed for a murder he knows is impossible—because he knows Ben is alive. Behind the mystery is the real question: just how long has Melissa been lying—and why?

    Cross Her Heart, by Sarah Pinborough
    In Pinborough’s tense new book, Lisa is a tightly-wound overprotective mother. Her daughter Ava is a champion athlete who’s tired of being protected, and sneaking around with her first boyfriend behind Lisa’s back and communicating with a mysterious man online. Marilyn is Lisa’s bestie pushing her to ‛get back out there.’ But Lisa has secrets that have taught her to be careful, and when she drops her guard and lets her photo be taken when Ava is hailed a hero in the press, those secrets come crashing down on her, threatening her safety and her relationship with her daughter. She and Marilyn have to push through their own problems and join forces in order to save Ava from the past which has come back in terrifying force.

    The Labyrinth of the Spirits, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
    Bestselling Zafón offers up the fourth and final entry in his Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, catching up with the characters from the first three as they make their way under the repressive rule of Francisco Franco from the late 1930s to the 1970s. But the focus is on Alicia Gris, who survives a bombing as a little girl and carries the scars into adulthood as she works for the secret police as an investigator. Her final case involves the disappearance of the country’s Minister of Culture, Mauricio Valls. A rare book is her first clue in an investigation that begins to reveal the depth of cruelty and violence that Franco’s regime inflicted on the country—a truth so dangerous to the powers that be that Alicia’s soon has to make a choice: risk her life by pursuing the truth, or allow herself to be intimidated into silence.

    When the Lights Go Out, by Mary Kubica
    Jessie Sloane is 17 when her mother, Eden, passes away. Grieving and suffering from insomnia, Jessie decides to sell the house and move on to community college. But she discovers that 17 years ago someone filed a death certificate in her name, and now she has no official identity. As Jessie’s sleepless nights melt into a timeless nightmare, Eden’s heartbreaking story comes to the forefront. Two decades before, she and Aaron were in love and desperately wanted children, but couldn’t conceive. Eden’s obsession with having a child slowly transforms into a frightening compulsion, driving Aaron away. Separated by decades, a mother and a daughter both go down dark paths—and reach shocking conclusions.

    Leave No Trace, by Mindy Mejia
    Two fascinating characters collide in Mejia’s newest thriller. Maya Stark is a young speech therapist pushed by her former psychiatrist to take on a challenging case she doesn’t feel ready for. Lucas Blackthorn is a violent, mute man who’d been presumed dead for years after his father took him into the vast wilderness of Boundary Waters—until he was arrested after a botched robbery. Now Lucas wants nothing more than to escape back to the wilderness and tend to his father, and Maya finds herself being drawn to his perspective so strongly she makes decisions that are more than just ethically dubious—they might be extremely dangerous as well. As her secrets are revealed, Maya becomes increasingly determined to help Lucas no matter the cost.

    The Ancient Nine, by Ian K. Smith
    Smith’s followup to his debut, The Blackbird Papers, is a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Harvard’s tony secret clubs that drips with tension and bulges with secrets. In 1988, Spenser Collins is a champion African-American swimmer who gets a prestigious invitation to join Harvard’s Delphic Club. Intrigued by the idea of connecting with the elite, he begins to investigate the club’s history, discovering not only a mysterious disappearance by a student named Erasmus Abbott who broke into the club in 1927, never to be seen again, but also the existence of a secret club-within-the club known as the Ancient Nine. As Collins digs deeper he learns more and more about this secretive and powerful group—and about their dangerous secret agenda.

    Nomad, by James Swallow
    In Swallow’s newest surefire bestseller, Marc Dane is an MI6 field agent who’s very happy working the computers, far from the grisly action. When his entire team is wiped out and he’s framed for their deaths, he has little choice but to head directly into danger. Labeled a traitor, Dane makes contact with the Rubicon Group and their agent Lucy Keyes, ex-U.S. Army and exactly the sort of skilled agent Dane needs to help him clear his name. Their investigation reveals a historic terrorist plot that could result in the worst attack ever known—and none of the world’s intelligence agencies are looking at the right information to stop it. Dane and Keyes will have to put their own needs aside and risk everything to save the world.

    The post September’s Best Thrillers appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 6:30 pm on 2018/08/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , top picks   

    September’s Best History Books 

    This month’s crop of history books includes a fascinating look into the nature of leadership from one of our greatest living historians, a thriller-like recounting of one of the most incredible feats of spycraft ever, a long-awaited memoir from Kenneth Starr, and several books that try to peek into the future by tracing patterns from the past and present.

    Leadership: In Turbulent Times, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
    One of America’s most popular and accomplished historians, Pulitzer-winning Doris Kearns Goodwin examines one of the most important and least-understood of human attributes: leadership. Trying to figure out what leadership means and how it manifests, Goodwin returns to four presidents she has studied the most closely in her career: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson, seeking clues as to the nature of leadership and how it manifests in some but not others. Most importantly, she explores the question of whether leaders rise to the challenges they come across or if they shape the times around them instead. From someone as steeped in history as Goodwin, this is a thought-provoking work packed with almost casually-dropped insight and information that will help you better understand the people who have steered our country.

    The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War, by Ben Macintyre
    Times of London writer Macintyre expertly tells the true story of Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB agent who became the single most important double-agent in MI6 history until his cover was blown by CIA double-agent Aldrich Ames. Paced like a thriller, this incredible story doesn’t rely on guns and derring-do to get a rich sense of suspense and page-turning energy, but rather the constant paranoia and stress of the spy’s life as Gordievsky passes information to his British handlers via spy-movie tricks like microfilm, worries about his wife turning him in, and deals with sudden assaults from suspicious KGB superiors. A masterclass in modern-day espionage techniques and stakes, this is as entertaining as history gets.

    21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Noah Harari
    Harari, the author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankindand Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, offers up a sprawling contemplation of the future we are rapidly hurtling towards, speculating on economies that don’t require people to buy or sell anything and the prospect of losing control of our minds and bodies to those who have a better understanding of how to manipulate the data we carry with us. Without preaching any particular solution, Harari provokes thought and offers his remarkable store of knowledge as context for his explorations of different challenges we are all either facing right now, or will be facing very quickly. Those who wish to be prepared for the coming world would be well advised to read this book.

    Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation, by Ken Starr
    For all the ink that’s been used to study Bill Clinton’s presidency, his scandals, and his impeachment, the time has finally come for what may be the most important and conclusive perspective of all: that of Ken Starr, the special prosecutor who investigated the president. Starr was cast as a villain by much of the media during the investigation and impeachment proceedings that marred Clinton’s administration, but in this explosive new book he asserts that a goal that will no doubt resonate with people today: that he was simply trying to demonstrate that the president was not above the law. Starr includes many details and personal opinions he was careful to keep out of his official 1998 report, making this a must read for any history buff.

    These Truths: A History of the United States, by Jill Lepore
    Perspective is a powerful aspect of history, and Lepore, a Harvard professor and writer for the The New Yorker, offers plenty in her assessment of how the guiding principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence have been battled over through the course of our history. Ranging from colonial times all the way to the modern day, Lepore examines how the United States has lived up to the lofty expectations of the “truths” of political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people—and how it has failed to live up to them. Anyone who imagines that the political life of past eras was somehow more settled and civil might be surprised to find that politics has always been rough, rude, and locked in battles to define what liberty means.

    Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in History, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
    O’Reilly and Dugard bring their twin talents of thriller-style pacing and studious historical research to bear on the Nazi Party in their latest in the best-selling Killing series. In the wake of Germany’s defeat in World War II, thousands of Nazi war criminals fled and found sanctuary around the world. A disparate group of people from around the world, including an American veteran of D-Day, a German lawyer who’d once signed a Nazi loyalty oath, and highly-skilled Israeli Mossad agents came together to track the movements of these war criminals and bring them to justice in a story given a breathless sense of tension and suspense by O’Reilly.

    How Do We Look: The Body, the Divine, and the Question of Civilization, by Mary Beard
    Beard looks at two connected aspects of visual art throughout history in this book conceived as companion pieces to the PBS TV shows “How Do We Look” and “The Eye of Faith.” In part one, she examines depictions of the human body over the course of centuries, from the sculpted male bodies of Greek statuary to the domestic scenes of women on pottery that advertise a traditional feminine lifestyle that wouldn’t be out of place in 1950s America. In part two, she examines the way the divine has been represented in art, tracing our relationship with our gods through the way we have drawn, sculpted, and painted them over the years. Along the way, Beard entertains, informs, and offers plenty of fascinating detail that will illuminate your concept of both history and human nature.

    Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, by Francis Fukuyama
    Fukuyama turns his perceptive powers on the subject of identity politics, which he argues are inspired by the fundamental psychological desire for “recognition of dignity.” Fukuyama sees the results of identity politics on both the left and right side of modern politics; where some seek dignity through being recognized as equals (resulting in the left’s obsession with marginalized people), others seek it through superiority (resulting in dictatorships and support for authoritarians). Tracing the development of these ideas throughout history and turning to some of the great philosophical minds to explain the human nature involved, Fukuyama ends with suggestions for how to redefine identity in order to bring the world closer together. An inspiring and thought-provoking read.

    The post September’s Best History Books appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2018/08/01 Permalink
    Tags: , top picks   

    August’s Best New Thrillers 

    The dog days of August are known for their heat. Still, even with a nice shady spot and a tall glass of something iced, this month’s best thrillers may just get you sweating.

    Texas Ranger, by James Patterson and Andrew Bourelle
    Rory Yates is one of 200 lawmen who have been elevated to the status of Texas Ranger. Fast on the draw and dedicated to the Ranger creed of “never surrender,” Yates’ rise cost him his marriage to schoolteacher Anne. When Yates gets a call from Anne complaining of creepy phone calls and strange objects left at her home, he heads home, where he finds his former wife brutally murdered. Worse, Yates is the main suspect, and clearing his name dredges up connections and memories in he’d rather not recall. When a second murder occurs, Yates knows whoever’s responsible is targeting him specifically—and he will need his shooting skills and his reliance on the Ranger code to survive the twisted scheme.

    An Unwanted Guest, by Shari Lapena
    As a snowstorm surges in, a group of people arrive at Mitchell’s Inn deep in the Catskill Mountains. The storm cuts the power, and then Dana Hart is found dead on the very first evening at the bottom of the stairs. David Paley, an attorney, suspects her fiancé Matthew, but with no way to contact the outside world, he has  no choice but to wait out the storm alongside a potential murderer. Each guest has a dark secret to hide, and as more bodies turn up, it becomes clear the murderer isn’t done yet.

    The Other Woman, by Sandie Jones
    Emily Havistock meets Adam Banks, a good-looking, affluent IT recruiter in London, and thinks she’s found the perfect man. Then she meets Adam’s mother Pammie, with whom Adam has an unhealthy, extremely close relationship. Pammie clearly dislikes Emily, and does whatever she can think of to split them up, as Emily begins to suspect that the death of Adam’s previous girlfriend wasn’t an accident. Emily is willing to fight for Adam—even if it means ignoring the warning signs that there’s something deeply strange going on.

    Assassin’s Run, by Ward Larsen
    The fourth David Slaton novel opens with the professional assassination of a Russian oligarch on his yacht off the coast of Capri, killed with a single bullet. Because of the skill required, as well as other clues, Russian intelligence suspects a legendary Israeli assassin is responsible, but David Slaton knows the famous killer didn’t do the job—because he is that storied assassin. To clear his name, he travels to Capri and begins to investigate, pulling together the threads of an international conspiracy that leads directly to the Russian government itself.

    The Other Sister, by Sarah Zettel
    Geraldine and Marie Monroe’s mother died 25 years ago, and many folks still suspect their father did her in. Geraldine always blamed herself, and fled home as soon as she could. Marie stayed in the family home, called Rose House, with her emotionally abusive father and still lives there with her son Robbie. To the outside world, Marie is the good sister who stayed with her family and Geraldine is the bad one who ran away. When Geraldine returns home after losing her job, claiming to have come for Robbie’s graduation, she presents Marie with a plan to murder their father as final revenge for childhoods filled with harsh discipline and cruel lies. But Geraldine and Marie can’t even truly trust one another.

    The post August’s Best New Thrillers appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2018/06/30 Permalink
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    July’s Best New Thrillers 

    The Other Woman, by Daniel Silva
    Silva’s 18th entry in the Gabriel Allon series finds the art restorer and Israel’s most effective spy drawn back into the struggle against Russia’s to tip the balance of world power in their favor. When one of Allon’s best assets inside Russian intelligence is assassinated while trying to defect, he investigates—and is soon on the trail of one of the biggest and best-kept secrets of the last few decades: there is a mole inside the highest corridors of power in the west—someone who has bided their time and now stands at the summit of power. Allon will have to risk everything and give all in order to stop the unthinkable.

    Spymaster, by Brad Thor
    The 17th Scot Harvath book finds the skilled agent finally feeling his age—though he’s still the most dangerous and effective employee at private security and espionage endeavor The Carlton Group. Across Europe, someone is assassinating diplomats, and Harvath is ordered to find out who—and why. When it’s revealed to be part of a plot by Russia to leverage the NATO alliance to draw the United States into a war, Harvath is tasked with stopping the Russian plan, and he goes on the offensive, identifying and hunting down the assassins themselves. Meanwhile, the founder of the Carlton Group battles a declining mental state that means the secrets of his long career are at risk—and the new head, former CIA chief Lydia Ryan, must scramble to protect those secrets—as well as her agents in the field.

    Give Me Your Hand, by Megan Abbott
    As a teenager, Kit Owens isn’t particularly ambitious—until she meets Diane Fleming, a troubled girl with a troubled past who pushes herself to perfection in everything. Kit finds herself being pushed along with her as they both pursue an elite science scholarship, until one night Diane shares a secret with Kit—and Kit, horrified, turns her back on Diane. A decade later, Kit is working in a prestigious lab under a famous scientist and pursuing a coveted spot on the male-dominated team, and she is shocked to find herself suddenly competing against Diane. Kit struggles to keep the past in the past as she realizes her connection to Diane, so long buried, is as powerful as ever—and Diane’s secret, which she worked so hard to forget, is as terrible as ever.

    Double Blind, by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen
    The Johansens’ sixth Kendra Michaels novel finds the FBI agent drawn into a murder investigation when the victim, paralegal Elena Meyer, is found holding an envelope addressed to Kendra. Kendra doesn’t know Elena, and doesn’t recognize anyone on the video of a wedding reception contained on a memory stick in the envelope. She enlists the help of freelance investigator Adam Lynch—but the video suddenly disappears. As Adam and Kendra struggle with their attraction to one another, Kendra finds herself diving into a massive conspiracy—and tallying a rising body count.

    She Was the Quiet One, by Michele Campbell
    When their mother passes away, twins Rose and Bel are sent to Odell Academy, an elite boarding school. Rose is thrilled and immediately excels. but Bel falls in with a bad crowd. Both sisters forge unusually strong bonds with a married couple, Sarah and Heath, who act as both faculty advisors and dorm parents. When Bel gives in to peer pressure and hazes Rose, the bond between siblings is strained to the breaking point. Rose turns to Sarah and Bel turns to Heath, whose motives may be less than honorable. As the sisters’ relationship sours into violence, a deep and disturbing mystery arises, told through overlapping points of view and twisting timelines.

    Caged, by Ellison Cooper
    Sayer Altair, a talented special agent for the FBI, studies the patterns of serial killers in order to forget the tragedies that trail in her wake—parents dead in a horrific car crash, fiancé killed while working a mysterious case for the Bureau. She is forced to emerge from her research when she’s assigned to the case of Gwen Van Hurst, daughter of a senator who went missing a year before, who has been found dead in a cage in the basement of a booby-trapped house in Washington, D.C. Sayer learns that another victim may still be alive in a cage somewhere, kicking off a frantic race against time.

    Baby Teeth, by Zoje Stage
    Stage’s debut tells the story of fragile Suzette, battling with her distant, cold mother and the crippling effects of Crohn’s disease. Despite the physical risks, she and her husband Alex have a child. Determined to be a better mother than her own, Suzette tries her best, but Hanna is a difficult child. As the story opens, Hanna is seven years old and Suzette is home-schooling her because Hanna—who has yet to speak a word despite knowing how to read and write—refuses to behave. The only person for whom Hanna seems to have any affection is her father, and she views Suzette as a barrier between her and the total devotion of her dad. As Hanna’s behavior becomes more violent and unhinged, Alex doesn’t see the danger—but Suzette begins to fear for her life.

    Bound for Gold, by William Martin
    Rare-book dealer Peter Fallon returns along with his girlfriend Evangeline Carrington. At Peter’s son’s behest, the pair head out to California in search of the stolen journal of James Spencer of the Sagamore Mining Company, who searched for a legendary “river of gold.” Spencer’s story is one of violence and greed, racism and capitalism—in short, the story of America. And it’s a story that may not be quite over; as Peter and Evangeline hunt for the stolen book and stumble into a plot that threatens their lives.

    Four Dominions, by Eric Van Lustbader
    The third entry in Lustbader’s Testament series opens with Emma Shaw, artifacts expert, studying the recently acquired Testament of Lucifer onboard a private plane. Turbulence knocks lemon juice onto the parchment, revealing hidden writings that Emma reads before she realizes the danger—and finds herself possessed by the demon Beleth, who serves Lucifer’s plan to finally free Heaven itself from God’s tyranny. Beleth sets Emma to turning her brother, academic Bravo Shaw, towards evil as the demons plot their final victory.

    All These Beautiful Strangers, by Elizabeth Klehfoth
    Ten years ago, Charlie Fairchild’s mother Grace was seen on bank security cameras cleaning out the family’s safe deposit boxes—and never seen again. Now 17, Charlie is haunted by her mother’s disappearance, wondering if she truly abandoned her family, or if there is another explanation. Attending an exclusive boarding school, Charlie is pushed by the secret society she’s pledging to dig into her family’s secrets—and what she finds makes her head reel. forcing her to consider the possibility she never knew either of her parents at all.

    The post July’s Best New Thrillers appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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